What to do with your leftover keg of beer

Look, obviously if you have a keg at a party and the party ends and there’s still beer left — OBVIOUSLY you are going to try and drink it. This is reasonable. But there is a limit to one’s individual beer consumption, even if you invite all your neighbors and friends over. So the natural question is: Now that the keg’s no longer ice cold, what do you do with the beer?

Enter: Beer chicken!

Beer Chicken: Take however many filets of chicken you want. (I took three out of the freezer, but fresh would work as well. You could also use drumsticks, wings, whatever.) Marinate the chicken in beer. The meat should be fully covered. I just threw the frozen fillets into the beer and stuck it all in the fridge. Let sit at least overnight. Then, preheat the oven to 375. Coat all sides of the chicken with spices (I used a Cajun seasoning mix.) Pour some of the beer marinade into the roasting dish to keep it all moist. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.

Then eat, and delight in not having let that delicious beer go to waste.

Energy Balls (Vegan Hiking Snack)

I have been reading the blog Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon for a while now. She showcases vegan recipes that are tasty, nutritious, and show that vegan food does not consist solely of salads. I’m always fascinated by her recipes—I’m not vegan, but I like thinking about cooking vegan.

To me, any food/dietary restriction is like a challenge, whether it is being kosher, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc (and it’s especially challenging if it is more than one of those!). When I was in college, I lived in an 18-person co-op that had several vegans, many vegetarians, and many meat lovers. We all took turns cooking meals, and while we could make almost anything we wanted, the rules were that it had to be food everyone could eat. So we became experts at making side-by-side foods, like spaghetti with meat sauce and a vegan sauce. Or easily convertible foods, like mashed potatoes (vegan margarine instead of butter/milk—it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference).

I also like that vegan foods often challenge me to eat healthier, by focusing a lot on fruits/veggies/grains. (Don’t get me wrong, though, there are a lot of unhealthy vegan recipes out there! Chocolate chip cookies are still dessert, even if you make them with Earth Balance instead of butter.) So periodically I try out a vegan recipe to see if it will work in my life. Today I tried a great one!

This morning, in preparation for a hike in the Blue Hills, I whipped up a modified version of Angela’s recipe for dark chocolate energy bites. It took around ten minutes total, used ingredients I had on hand, and involved no baking or cooking. The combination of fruit and nuts and chocolate was perfect for the midpoint of our hike—there was sugar to jump start our engines, and protein to keep us going until our late, very non-vegan lunch at Miami Restaurant.

Recipe: The real beauty of this recipe is that you can vary the basic ingredients based on what you have on hand. The essential elements are sticky dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate. If you don’t get the consistency right, just add more of whatever you need until you do! I put one cup of almonds into a hand-held food processor and finely ground them. Setting aside 1/4th of a cup of the almonds, I put the rest in a bowl. Then I blended a generous handful of apricots with about a third of a cup of dried cranberries and a quarter of a bar of dark chocolate. Once that was all finely chopped, I threw it into the bowl with the almonds and stirred until it was well-mixed. It was a little dry (probably because my apricots weren’t as moist as they could’ve been), so I added some non-vegan moisture with a bit of honey. You could also use agave syrup or maple syrup. Then I picked up about a tablespoon or so of the mix in my hand and squeezed and rolled it into a ball. My balls were about the size of Lindt truffle balls. (This is a well-known comparative measurement in my life!) I rolled each one in the reserved ground almonds, and then set aside.

You can freeze or refrigerate the balls if you’re not going to eat them right away. I found that after a few hours in the freezer, they became much more like a solid mass rather than a bunch of ingredients stuck together. But either way they were delicious! This batch made about 14 balls—two per person on the hike was a great little snack. (Honestly, I would’ve had a third if I’d brought more!) I will definitely be making them again.

Tuna & Cannellini Bean Spread/Salad/Dip

A long time ago, I sat down at a Le Pain Quotidien in NYC with my good friend Tanya and had an incredible tuna and white bean tartine (open-faced sandwich). It was filling, tasty, and seemed so simple. I’ve tried a couple of times to replicate it and I think I finally found a recipe that I like. It’s easy and cheap, took under five minutes to make, and is also pretty darn healthy.

Note: It does call for blending the beans into a paste (kind of like the consistency of hummus). I’m sure you could not do this and just toss or mush the beans so it is more of a salad, but I really love the blended consistency, so I would give it a try at least the first time you make it.

Tuna & Cannellini Bean Mix

In a food processor (or using a hand-held mixer with chopping/blending attachment), add two tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, teaspoon of salt, several hearty grinds of freshly ground pepper, and garlic (one clove if you aren’t a huge garlic fan, two if you think it’s nifty, and three if you’re “a garlic person”). Blend, then add one can of drained cannellini beans. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you have fresh parsley or tarragon, that could be delicious here.

Mix in one can of drained tuna and then you can do several things: Spread it on bread (or matzah, if you’re like me and observing Passover), serve it as a dip (which I suppose you could also do without the tuna), or put it over spring greens and serve it as a tasty and filling salad.

Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

For when you want to eat an entire giant bowl of ice cream in one sitting but aren’t looking for that “oh crap, I just ate an entire giant bowl of ice cream in one sitting” feeling.

(For the record: No, it doesn’t taste like ice cream. It tastes like banana. But it also tastes frozen and creamy and sweet, so it kind of does taste like ice cream.)

Ingredients:

  • Multiple frozen bananas (and one un-frozen one too, if you have it)
  • Soy milk (optional)
  • Peanut butter or honey

With an immersion blender chopper thingie or a food processor, cream a frozen banana or two. For added creaminess, add an un-frozen banana or a few splashes of soy milk. For added yumminess, add a tablespoon or so of peanut butter and honey. Blend until it looks like soft serve. Put into bowl. Add random toppings if you want, or just proceed to television, turn on sappy movie, and indulge.

Champagne Punch

For your new year’s party, very appropriate. Also lovely for a summer party, as it is very fruity and refreshing!

Adapted from a recipe from Food.com:

  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate (small can)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate (small can)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate (or 1 small can pineapple juice concentrate)
  • 1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale
  • 1 (2 liter) bottle champagne
 Dump concentrates into punch container and add ginger ale. Stir to dissolve. Dump in a cheap champagne (such as Andre), and then don’t stir anymore (otherwise you lose all the bubbles)! Top with orange slices.
(If you’re lucky, like me, and have a friend named Melanie who can lend you her awesome punch dispenser, you can use that, which will keep everything cool. If not, I recommend freezing your orange slices in advance, and maybe investing in one of those neat ice cube trays that lets you make fun shapes.)

No-fry Latkes (Oven-Baked Latkes)

Thanks for the responses to the previous post about no-fry latkes. I wound up going with a recipe that my friend Michelle recommended from Kveller, by Zoe Singer. I liked the taste of the latkes, but her method of using aluminum foil had me cursing in front of the stove whenever I tried to flip the latkes.

So I definitely recommend her proportions of onion/egg/potato, etc. But next year, here’s what I’ll be doing to make it easier on myself:

  • Ensure that you have clean oven mitts on hand that cover your entire hand. Because you will be going in and out of the oven a lot, and this will increase the probability that you get burned.
  • Don’t use aluminum foil. Sturdy cookie sheets with rims worked great. (Just make sure they aren’t warped, because otherwise the oil will collect on one side of the pan.)
  • Use the recommended half-cup of oil per cookie sheet. It seems disgusting, but these are latkes, they really do need oil. Hey, it’s Channukah!
  • Make each latke smaller than you think. Each one should be about 1/4 cup of batter.
  • Turn the oven up to 450. I swear that my oven is pretty decent, but the batches I was doing took forever until I turned the oven up a bit.
  • If you’re making more than one batch of the recipe, designate a second in command to help you with checking the latkes. Because you will get sick of it.