Hopp Diva's Blog


February Beer Finds February 27, 2019

I think the older I get the harder it is for me to wrap my mind around how quickly the months pass!  I try to reflect back to see what I have accomplished in the few weeks the months offer me.  Although February has flown by for me (as has most months) I did discover a few very interesting beers to cook with.

Morning Nightcap by Arcadia Ales, http://arcadiaales.com/, has been a fun beer to not only make marshmallows but also the beer cake that I make so often (you can find the recipe under the dessert tab on my web site ).   The Chocolate Cheesecake Milk Shake Stout by Rochester Mills Brewery, http://www.beercos.com/our-story/production-brewery/, was the beer I used to make part of the Vanilla Porter cupcake with Chocolate Cheesecake Milk Stout filling topped with the salted caramel Vanilla Porter butter cream frosting.  The cupcakes were time consuming but ohhhhhh boy were they delish!!!!  You can find that recipe under the dessert tab also.   A truly unique beer, Milk Shake IPA also from Rochester Mills,  was a big favorite of my husband Forrest.  I used the Milk Shake IPA to make marshmallows and they were a huge hit with everyone who tried them.  The beer offered a wonderful little bite on the back side of the marshmallow taste.  I didn’t have to dry hop the marshmallows very much to achieve the taste I wanted.  Another great beer I found for making cupcakes, marshmallows and even soaking pears in was from Brewery Vivant, https://www.breweryvivant.com/   A Bourbon Barrel Aged Quadruple Ale called Wizard Burial Ground   was so much fun to play with.  I soaked some pears in the beer for a few weeks and then made a delicious almond tart where I topped it with my soaked pears.  Talk about tantalizing your taste buds!!

Forrest and I have been to Brewery Vivant   in Grand Rapids Michigan a few times.  They are known for their sour beers, which Forrest is not a fan of but they do have other beers that are pretty solid.  One of my favorite things to get at Brewery Vivant is their  Duck Confit Nachos.  Holy Batman are they awesome!

I have to say that Forrest didn’t suffer too badly from all of my finds this month.  There are a couple of other beers that were ok for drinking but I didn’t feel they were worthy of creating anything with them.

I will post the Almond Tart Recipe that I made with the soaked pears soon but if you now have a bug you want to make them right after you read the blog post you can find the recipe on this web site    https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/almond-tarts-recipe   

The only things I changed with the recipe is to not put the raspberries on top or the icing.  I felt the pears were a great touch and  I did not want to take away from that flavor combined with almond flavor. Too much sweet from the icing pulls the flavor combination away.

I have high hopes for March.  Lots of recipes as well as beers to sample.

Thanks for reading!




Vanilla Porter Cupcakes with Vanilla Porter Filling Topped with Salted Caramel Porter Buttercream February 16, 2019

This recipe can seem overwhelming because of all the steps but I guarantee it’s so worth it!

1 stick butter softened

4 oz. cream cheese softened

1 14 cup sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 T. canola oil

4 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 12 oz bottle of Vanilla Porter or Vanilla Stout will work too

In a medium sauce pan heat the Vanilla Porter over medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is reduced to half.  Set the beer aside to cool

Using an electric mixer cream together butter, cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar and oil until light and fluffy.  This will take at least 4 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time and be sure to mix well after each addition.  Add the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and the salt.  Mix until very well combined.

As you measure the butter milk into the 1 cup , leave room for about 2 tablespoons of the reduced Vanilla Porter.

Beginning and ending with flour, add flour alternately with the buttermilk, mixing between each addition.

Line 24 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.  Distribute the batter evenly between the muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 18/20 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Times will vary depending on your oven.

Cool completely on a wire rack.  When cool take a 1/4 tsp and carve out a hole in the center of each cupcake. but do not go all the way to the bottom.

While the cupcakes are baking and cooling begin making the filling.

Ingredients for the filling

1/2 cup of reduced vanilla porter

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup heaving cream

Take 1/2 cup of reduced vanilla porter and place in a saucepan.  Add the butter and sugars an warm until all is melted.  Be sure to stir frequently.  It should take on a dark amber appearance.

Gradually add the cream, stirring constantly and cook until the mixture is smooth – about 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely  When the mixture is cool and so are the cupcakes take the mixture and put in the tops of the cupcakes you carved out.  Keep a couple of tablespoons of the mixture for the top of cupcakes later.

Vanilla Salted Caramel Buttercream

1/2 cup of butter softened

3 oz cream cheese softened

2 tsp pure vanilla

1 # of powdered sugar

4 T. of reduced Vanilla Porter

15 Kraft caramels

Sea Salt

Using electric mixer beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla unitl light and fluffy ( about 4 minutes) Add 3 T of reduced Vanilla Porter and 1/2 of the powdered sugar.  beating the frosting well.  I don’t like real sweet frosting so I slowly add a bit of flour into the mixture to get the consistency I want.  cover and refrigerate.

In a small sauce pan add 1 T. of the Vanilla Porter along with the unwrapped caramels.  Stir constantly until the caramels are melted.  Set this mixture aside to cool but still soft and pliable.

Remove the frosting from the frig and with electric mixture combine the caramel with the butter cream. If you are still not happy with the “thickness” of the frosting either add more powdered sugar or flour.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle a little sea salt on top.  You can also drizzle with the left over filling if you want.



A Quick Escape To Arizona

Filed under: Hopp Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 1:01 pm
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First it was The Polar Vortex and then it was The Ice Age that we survived so I thought it was time to do a quick long weekend escape!  Probably not high on Forrest’s bucket list but I felt it really deemed a necessity after the extreme weather and his very long 60 plus hour work weeks. So  I found a couple of plane tickets to Arizona (where our son and daughter in law recently moved to), gave him the dates, packed our bags and drug him to the air port.

To keep Forrest from being bored we had a list of projects we told our son we would help him with.  Also on the list was finding a brewery, which are popping up like crazy around Phoenix and the rest of Arizona.  A place my son really wanted to check out was a brewery called Arizona Wilderness Brewing which is located in Gilbert Arizona.

Gilbert is about an hour from where we were staying.  So one day after our son was able to get out of work we decided to head out to The Wilderness Brewery for a late lunch.  The place was really quaint and they took the wilderness theme to heart.  The beer flights were brought out on logs.  There was a huge outdoor gas fireplace where people could sit outside all year around and enjoy a beer.  The decor was also rustic.  Forrest and my son each got a flight of 5 different styles of beer so they could try lots between the two of them.  I could list some of the beers but unless you are able to get there in the next week or so the flavors will probably change.  Both Forrest and my son felt all the beers they tried were “pretty solid”.  Forrest is a big hop fan so his taste buds were satisfied, the stouts and porters were also quite tasty (remember I only taste I don’t drink).  My son really likes sour beers so he too was happy.

Now onto the food!  I had pork belly sliders on homemade pretzel buns.  The belly was made to perfection and the buns really tasted like pretzels not bread.  There was just enough flavor with spices to round everything out.  Arizona Wilderness served a beer cheese on the side that actually tasted like something other than a plastic cheese dip, it was divine!  We were even dipping fries in it.  I believe they called it a wort cheese dip.  My son and daughter in law had burgers that looked and tasted really good.  Forrest had fries topped with pulled pork and the wort cheese dip.  Not exactly my cup of tea for a meal (too much going on and I don’t like to mess with my fries especially when they are truffle fries) but he loved it and said the pulled pork was done perfectly and he too loved the wort cheese dip.

If you are in Gilbert Arizona I would definitely recommend this brewery.  There are lots more things we want to try on the menu as well as try more of the beer. I have attached a link for the web site so you can check it out and learn more about how the brewery was started as well as read about the brewers.  They were not there the day we were so I didn’t get to talk with them.  I also had brought some of my beer marshmallows with me (the weather was cool enough for me to bring them to Arizona) and wanted to share some with the guys.  Our server was excellent.  Although the place was really hopping he took the time to answer any questions we had about the beers and was very knowledgeable which is always a huge plus.

Forrest and my son even got a 4 pack to go and a 40 of a sour .  One of things we found interesting is the cost of filling a growler, even your own was more expensive than  to purchase a 4 pack of beer. that was a first for us.  But as a side note this brewery did give very generous pours for their flights.




Until next time!


Survival of The Polar Vortex February 8, 2019

Filed under: Hopp Diva Blog — Hopp Diva @ 4:33 pm

In the Mitten we have heard the terms The Big Storm of 1978, Snowrmageddon and now the Polar Vortex (but they forgot to name the ice storm we have had for the last 3 days so I will call it “Ice Apocalypse” …..you are welcome weather people).  The Mitten was basically shut down for almost a week from the Polar Vortex which definitely was a first for Forrest and me.  Global warming?  I have no clue but in other huge snow storms in which the weather people always said this is ” the worst storm ever”  we all seemed to get out and about.

Anyway, being stuck in the house for almost 2 weeks without a lot of other human contact besides Forrest I was bored beyond believe.  The first week of the Polar Vortex I made the Hearty Stew, which is on the website, and a pot pie.  Going into the kitchen create new recipes is always an option but that also meant I had to have the ingredients for what ever I wanted to create.  Beer is basically  a staple in our house so that was not an issue, but other ingredients were.

What I ended up doing was taking 2 recipes that I had not tried yet and creating one  recipe where I had everything I needed and WOW were they delish!  I made Vanilla Porter cupcakes with Chocolate Cheesecake Stout filling topped with caramel Vanilla Porter butter cream frosting.  The name is a mouthful right?

I was so excited  about the cupcakes and the need for human contact that I invited a couple of my neighbor taste testers to come over and well the rest is history as are the cupcakes!  Sorry no pics but hopefully you can envision them in your mind as you read the title of them 🙂  I am not sure if I will try the original recipe but I know that I want to make more of the ones  I came up with because I found an area I want to tweak.

Check out the dessert tab on my site for the recipe.

Thanks for hanging out


Ahhhh so many beers to try………….


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