Tag Archives: easter

Beer Tasting – Yes, This is Still Caitlin

I’m having a great day so far! I woke up at 5:30am for no reason, feeling ready to go, so I had time to hit the gym for a workout, something I often don’t get a chance to do on Thursdays since I have class after work (and refuse to get up at 5:30am to work out unless it happens on its own). Did not bother to put in my contacts, though.

Rocking my ALA Stair Climb shirt for a stair-climbing workout of course!

I did 20 minutes of HIIT on the StepMill and the following bicep and tricep workout from Heather. Ended with some oblique #PlankADay, of course!

Heather continued to make my day by notifying me that I won her Naturebox giveaway! They send out a monthly box of new snacks – it’s like Birchbox for food! I don’t know how I didn’t know about it. I can’t wait to get my box of snacks and share my thoughts with you all 🙂

I also enjoyed about 15 minutes of sun time before clouds rolled in during my lunch break (I’ll take what I can get) with a new book that is super-weird, but also super-interesting. Has anyone read it?

The coffee is a new flavor from a local cafe, Almond Joy! Another day-brightener.

Let’s move on to the surprising part of this post – I hosted a beer tasting at my house during our Easter party. Yes, me, as in I, as in Caitlin. Just had to clarify that. I’m not shy about the fact that I’m not a big fan of beer. I know many of my readers, particularly the runners, feel differently. I find that so many runners I meet just love their beer! My mom is no exception. But I’m also an adventurarian, so I went to the best possible source for beer advice and suggestions, Elliot of Sonoma Wines & Spirits.

He helped me pick out the above selection of seven different beers (at Sonoma, if you buy six you get 10% off!) – the Sierra Nevada holder (is there a proper name for those?) is just what they had on hand. I was “sitting on them” for about a month, and decided the Easter party was the perfect time to do a tasting because plenty of people could join in! I wanted to try them all at once but needed enough other people around to help me finish them.

The beer tasters (well, not all of these youngsters had beer).

We all tried different beers at different times, I didn’t bother trying to keep any “order” to it. My sister was kind enough to pick up a bunch of cups at the store the day of the party.

I’d already heard of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but since I’m so carbonation-averse, I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it. It was better than I thought it’d be though. I can see myself getting used to it. My friend Stacy’s dad LOVES this beer – he wasn’t even gonna participate in the tasting until he saw this was involved. Then his eyes got very wide and he asked for a cup!

This Smuttynose Robust Porter was more my style for sure! Less carbonated, though not TOO heavy. Think of it as a lighter Guinness. I was one of the few who enjoyed it, probably because I’m one of the few who doesn’t care for carbonation – or most beers in the first place.

The Konig Ludwig Weissbier was a crowd favorite! Seriously, no one disliked it. I think everyone was doubly impressed as well because no one had ever heard of it before. I’d call it a nice middle-ground beer. Just a medium body, not too hoppy, not too heavy either.

Elliot referred to the New England Brewing Co. Elm City Lager as a much-classier “college beer”. What those New England preppy frat boys drink, ya know? Too light and hoppy and Bud Light-like for me – and many who tasted it. Though it was thought of as a good beer for a boat ride on a hot day. Of course, I don’t know when my next boat ride on a hot day will be. I wish I did! Anyone know?

A lot of those who sampled the Boddington’s Pub Ale had already heard of and/or tried it, so it was not received as warmly as some of the other selections. More of a “meh, this is fine”.

The Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA was definitely the hoppiest – and rarest – of the beers in this tasting. However, I think I can definitely appreciate its high quality because despite the fact that it was very hoppy and, as Andrea called it, “intense”, I enjoyed it more than the other pale ale I tried from Sierra Nevada. You’d think I’d go for less bubbles, but this beer was just quite cool! Who knows, maybe its “rare-ness” went to my head, but I don’t think so!

I saved the one I was most excited to try, and knew I’d like the most, for last in this discussion. The first beer I asked Elliot to recommend to me was the best chocolate beer he knew of, and this was the one he mentioned without a second’s hesitation – Southern Tier Imperial Chocklat Stout (FYI I next wanna do a tasting with ALL the beers on that page – YUM). It was so good!!! I even had half a cup with my chocolate cake for dessert. I was one of the few who liked this beer. All the other tasters were fairly regular to very seasoned beer drinkers and since this tasted least like beer, they liked it the least. More for me?! What’s also cool is that you don’t have to worry about finishing this guy in one sitting (it’s a bigger bottle) because it actually keeps pretty well in the fridge for a few days after opening if you stop it up with a wine cork!

Nice, Mollie.

Thanks to my beer tasting companions – and observers – for joining me on my quest to become more adventurous with my alcohol! Because that’s SUCH a necessity, right? 😉

Are you a beer drinker? Have you ever tried any of these beers, and/or attended a beer tasting?

Easter 2012: Party at Mi Casa!

We have a great group of family friends that get together for every major holiday (every major excuse we can find to get together, more like it) to eat, drink, chat, laugh, play, and just enjoy each other. We all moved up to CT from Florida, so we have that common bond, even if all the parents don’t still work at the same company like they used to.

Oh that moment before a photo is taken…

You may have read recaps of past shindigs:

There we go! Can you find me?

My family decided to host the Easter get-together (because we knew there’d be one) at our house. Perhaps that’s what inspired me to become a chef for a day and contribute a dish!

Mr. Pereda contributed the above (delicious) Chilean Merlot.

I also enjoyed several small glasses of different wines, and even a sampled a few beers (more on that to come…)

Hanging out on the deck with my wine! Isn’t the little glass cute?

I also got to hang out with my friend Andrea, who I hadn’t seen in forever. We’ve known each other since our sophomore year of high school, when we were seatmates in AP Bio (shudder…I was so bad at that class). Her boyfriend’s aunt lives in my neighborhood (I used to babysit for the family, small world right?) and the two of them were there for his family’s Easter party, so I asked them to stop by.

Andrea and her boyfriend enjoying a dessert at the end of the party!

My mom had some tasty apps set out and ready for our guests’ arrivals!

I know I have a lot of guac-lovin’ readers!

The sweets were present from the beginning!

Our friends brought some good apps too!

Essential veggie/hummus plate – don’t you just LOVE the colors?!

Mrs. Aubuchon’s famous deviled eggs – I had one and it was all I could do to not fill up on them before dinner. AMAZING!

Time flew as I caught up with old friends and before I knew it, dinner was served.

My sister (right) leads a prayer.

Mashed potatoes and a cheesy corn casserole.

A mini-salad-bar on a plate of sorts, and a whole grain side salad!

Everyone dug in and was certainly hungry. We did not have that many leftovers, when you consider how much food we had!

Can you spy my mom overseeing it all?

We had many meats – grilled chicken and pork tenderloin! My mom accidentally bought 8 tenderloins instead of 6, so she froze 2 for our family to use later. Turns out she should’ve had my dad cook them all up…we ran out of meat completely!

My apologies to all non-meat-eating readers 😉

My mom used the rub I got in my last foodie pen pals box when prepping the meats – so thank you so much, Loy! It was delicious!

My FAVORITE dish of the party, prepared by my madre, was the amazing cold salmon platter above with dill, capers, asparagus, red onions, and tzatziki on the size. Meg, I know you’d have died over this. I did too. It was the only thing I had seconds of because it was the only thing I wanted seconds of, I just loved it so much!

First plate!

Damn sun ruined this shot, but I went for everything except the mashed potatoes and corn casserole (those make me too sleeeeepy).

People brought a seemingly endless supply of cupcakes! Cupcakes are cool but I can take them or leave them. I was more interested in one of the things pictured below…

Above left is some kind of berry crisp, but above right is Mrs. Aubuchon’s famous chocolate Coca-Cola cake. Yes, Coca-Cola is an ingredient! This is the only time you will find me consuming soda 😛 I had one of those nice corner pieces (corners are the best!)

Great job, mama!

What a fun party – everyone had a blast and we only just finished the leftovers last night! Or shall I say, I only just finished them last night 😀 oh, I also passed out after this thing at about 8:30PM. THANKS WINE.

Cupcakes – take them or leave them?

Pieces of cake – aren’t corners the best?!

What’s the best thing you ate on Easter Sunday? Even if you weren’t celebrating Easter!

Lisa’s Five Bean Salad

Believe it or not, I don’t cook. That’s right – I mooch. I live at home and eat my mom’s cooking. I make a salad every day for lunch, but I don’t consider this cooking. I go out and pay restaurants to feed me. I have not cooked or baked anything since the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap in December.

Talk about working backwards…this is me on Easter Sunday with the finished product!

But this year Easter was being celebrated at my house, and I felt like contributing. I felt domestic. And thanks to Lisa, I felt inspired when I was reading her blog one day and saw that she had posted a recipe for a Five Bean Salad.

Missing from this photo are olive oil and frozen shelled edamame.

I followed Lisa’s recipe, but used goat cheese instead of feta. I love feta cheese, but goat is my favorite!

I started by rinsing and draining the chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans in a colander.

The above green beans came in their own steam-able bag, so I microwaved them and set them out on a plate to cool off a bit. Per Lisa’s instructions, I cut the ones that were going into the salad in half and also cut the “string” ends off.

I smugly put the rest of the green beans in a container to use throughout the week. In fact, I added them to both yesterday and today’s lunch salads, and last night’s dinner too! Helps to be prepped when eating healthy.

I added the green beans to the other three beans in a mixing bowl, and threw in minced onions, salt, pepper, and lime juice as well.

Then it occured to me that I’d forgotten to prepare and include the frozen shelled edamame. D’oh! It was super easy to defrost in the microwave. I’ve never bought edamame before, I just eat it when I’m dining out at Asian restaurants or at my local Whole Foods salad bar. I think I’ll have to reconsider.

MORE smug leftovers that I’ve been nommin’ on already!

I added the edamame and then the GOAT CHEESE. Of course I saved the best for last!

An unexpected perk that came from using goat instead of feta – goat cheese has a creamier consistency and totally coated all the beans (yes, all five types ;-)). Win!

This forgetful cook was then reminded by her mother that she’d forgotten the olive oil. First the edamame, now this! Can’t forget that EVOO. I added 1.5 tablespoons.

TA-DA! Was there ever an easier side dish for a non-cooking moocher like me to make?! I don’t think so!

I let it veg (ha – punny) overnight in the fridge. I also didn’t try it before I served it. Yes, I like to live on the edge! Or…that thought didn’t even occur to me. I am NOT used to cooking, I told you!

The results though? Everyone LOVED the dish. There was barely any left but I’m honestly glad there was some because I was able to finish it off at dinner last night 🙂 mixed with extra green beans, edamame, black beans, marinara sauce, and turkey meatballs! It was what I like to call a hodge-podge of leftovers.

Thank you so much to Lisa for providing such an easy, healthy, tasty recipe for me to make and share with family and friends!

How often do you cook? Are you a “fraud” aka a food blogger that doesn’t cook, like me?

What are your favorite healthy dishes to bring to parties?

Why I Didn’t Go To Church Today

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the last few days, folks. There’s been a lot of exciting, fun things happening in my life. I may not have won any of the categories I was nominated in for the Websters (but a HUGE THANKS to those who took the time to vote for me – and the winners totally deserved it!), but I was invited by FitFluential to attend an amazing event in NYC next month. It’s hosted by Fitness Magazine! I will join other FitFluential Ambassadors (including Heather, we are driving to the city together, YAY) at Fitness HQ, where we will get to meet editors and other staff, preview new products and fitness/nutrition trends, have a special lunch, try out a pop work-out class (um, RIGHT up my alley), and – best of all – learn about blogging from a panel of four ladies that I admire in a HUGE way!

I will also get the chance to hang out with so many amazing bloggers that I have been wanting to meet for ages. I’ve been reading these blogs for almost three years, and meeting their authors is so important to me. I’m fangirling like mad right now, but I don’t care!

So as you can see, big things are happening for Cait Plus Ate! I am so thankful to you guys for sticking with me since I started this blog in September and being interested in what I have to say. Every moment like this seems more and more surreal and just makes me stop, take a deep breath, and feel extremely lucky.

Example of my great luck – an amazing dad!

That segways a bit into the title of this post, because I recall hearing a Sunday School teacher tell me when I was very young that there is no such thing as “luck”, because that implies something just happened by chance, when God is the one who determines everything that happens in our lives. I’ve always considered myself a Christian. After all, I celebrate all the holidays like Easter and Christmas. And by “celebrate”, I mean my family observes them in some way. I guess I can’t really say that I myself technically observe in a religious way, because I didn’t go to church this past Christmas Eve, and I didn’t go to church this morning. I actually left the house today to come blog at La Petite France right after the rest of my family left for church.

La Petite France has a fabulous new barstool area!

But why didn’t I go to church when my family asked me to join them? The answer is pretty simple – I didn’t want to. I didn’t think I’d get anything out of attending the service. I never have. I wonder sometimes if I should consider myself a Christian, because at times I feel like religion doesn’t play any role in my life at all. I’m not an Athiest, and I don’t even know if I’d call myself an Agnostic – that implies to me that I don’t care. Clearly I do, because every time I listen to a friend’s opinion on religion, whether it be one of deep spirituality or one of extreme atheism, I ponder my own views and wonder where religion fits in for me.

I’ve never gotten comfort out of a church service, a powerful sermon, a moment of prayer, or a Bible scripture. You know, your typical “church things”. Nothing like that has ever resonated with me. Instead, the things that resonate with me and provide comfort and a sense of purpose are, for example, my own accomplishments, a good deed a family member does for me, a moment when I feel like a friend understands EXACTLY what I mean before I even explain, or a particularly well-written passage from my latest pleasure read. The little things. And I know someone could turn around and say to me – well, God created those things and those moments. So you can find comfort in the fact that He created them for you.

But did He? I just don’t know if I buy it. Sometimes I wish that I could close my eyes, pray, and find strength in moments of weakness. But it just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I call my mom. I text my sister. I take a walk. I immerse myself in “the little things”.

A big carnival ride can be a little thing.

So maybe “the little things” are my religion. I wonder about all this, but then I always end up taking a step back without answering my questions about what religion means to me, because the little things seem like enough. When times get rough, at least I know what makes me happy, and at least I know what gives me inner strength. It may not be God, or a church service, or a prayer, but at least I know what it is and can use the little things when I need them.

I was feeling particularly insightful today folks – blame it on the 1.5 hours of thinking I did this morning while sweating buckets during Bikram Yoga. 🙂

Do you consider yourself a religious person? Do you associate yourself with a religion?

What gives you comfort and inner strength – religious or not?

Please let me know any other thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear feedback on this post!