Hopp Diva's Blog


Kitchen Sink Beer Baked Beans January 31, 2013

I asked my mom, friends and anyone I met what their favorite recipe was for baked beans.  I received a huge variety of recipes and most had a few things in common; brown sugar, onion, molasses and ketchup.   Ok, well that was a start but not what I was looking for.  So I took all the recipes that I sort of liked, combined them into one and as I was making the beans I found myself constantly adding more stuff, thus the Kitchen Sink Baked Beans (the beer was an afterthought).   I know in my article this month in Women’s Lifestyle Northshore I told you not to heat up balsamic vinegar but as with most rules this  is an exception.  The “tang” part of the beans is from the balsamic vinegar and it give the recipe a great flavor!

Cooking time will vary with this recipe and it also depends on if you put them in the oven or in a crock pot.  I used a crock pot for this recipe (have 3 and don’t ever use them).    Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email Ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

 Kitchen Sink Baked Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ cup diced onions or leeks

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced carrot

¼ cup Balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon Mustard

1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/3 cup  brown sugar (start with this amount and you may decide to add more)

2 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 cups dried navy beans or other dried bean of your choice

1 can great northern beans (size is your choice)

5 cups water

8 oz. of any Porter or Stout beer (not sweet flavors) – keep 4 oz for the end of the cooking

6 oz. cooked and chopped up turkey bacon

Place dried beans in a pot and cover with water (you can use half beer and half water).  Leave them to soak over nights.

The next day drain beans and set aside.  In a non stick frying pan place the olive oil, add the onion, celery and carrots.  Cook until translucent – about 10 minutes.  Add in the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan for 1 more minute.  Add the tomato paste, mustard, rosemary, cocoa powder and paprika.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat

Set your crock pot on high if you want them done in about 5 hours.  Add the beans, vegetable mixture, water and beer.  Stir the mixture about every hour or so.  In the last 2 hours, add the canned northern beans and the cooked bacon.  I add the other 4 ounces of beer  at this time or more if I want my beans to have a bit more liquid.  There is nothing I hate more than having baked beans that are more like dry baked paste!

NOTE:  My friend Dawn browns up very lean ground beef or turkey and adds that into her baked beans during the cooking cycle.  The meat does give the beans a nice flavor.

baked beans


Beer Health News From A Blog Called The Weekly Pint January 28, 2013

Filed under: Diva's Brew-ha — Hopp Diva @ 3:09 pm

This article was sent to me from a blog that I follow called The Weekly Pint.  Normally I read and then delete but this one had some interesting comments about the health benefits of hops.  Now, I ‘m not a big hop girl but my husband tends to like an IPA or other beers that are loaded with hops, so I thought for those of you hop lovers out there you may appreciate this bit of good news about hops!

Article from The Weekly Pint

Hanging out with friends and family this time of year can be a roll of the dice, as the nation continues to battle epidemic levels of influenza and, of course, the common cold. And while such pathogens won’t survive in beer, sharing glassware or bar food with sniffling friends could easily lead to infection (pro-tip: don’t share; wash your hands constantly) But don’t let the fear of flu keep you from enjoying a good craft beer. According to recent studies, moderate beer consumption can actually be good for the health of adults.

According to AFP (Agence France-Presse), results of recent medical tests in Japan show that ingesting large amounts of humulone, the key ingredient in hops (which give beer aroma and bitterness), might help fend off a form of seasonal sickness in adults, specifically “RS”, or Respiratory Syncytial virus, which can lead to severe forms of pneumonia and bronchitis in children. We’ll note loud and clear here that the test itself was commissioned by Sapporo Breweries through Sapporo Medical University, which in turn points out it would take about thirty cans at once to achieve an effective dose, which, of course, could kill you six ways to Sunday (don’t try it). Nevertheless we’ll raise a salutary glass in hopes that further medical testing confirms that hops are indeed the happiest, healthiest plant.

In the meantime, take solace in this Time magazine article outlining several other health benefits to beer, from healthier blood and bones to the lungs, skin, hair, and even brain.


Adding Flavor To Your Beer July 30, 2012

While I  was talking to Bob, Clay Avenue Cellars, he gave me some great tips on flavoring my beer.  I wanted to share some of these  ideas with you and yes, I have tried one of his suggestions and actually my husband finally used one too.

(Here is the first tip he gave me and I actually tried it with one of the “kits” I  purchased from him). Add specialty malts.  You don’t have to be bre3wing all- grain to experiment with small amounts of specialty grains.  All you have to do is soak the grains in 170 degree water for about 20 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the intensity of the flavor you want) before you brew your main beer.  I followed this advice when I made my recent chocolate, coffee, vanilla porter.  I only soaked my grains for about 15 minutes and then addend that water to my kit ingredients.  I added 1 large vanilla bean when I placed the beer into the primary fermenter and have not decided if I will add more vanilla when I rack it today into the secondary or not.

Another option is to use fruit or spice extracts.  You can brew any basic ale or wheat beer and make it into an Oberon clone or add lime extract for a different flavor.  Flavor extract is not like a cooking extract and you can find these in most beer stores.  You can also add some fruit like an orange but you still need the extract because the fruit will not give enough flavor to make your efforts worthwhile.  My husband has used the zest of an   orange for his orange wheat beer and I kept encouraging him to add some extract too if he really wanted the flavor to pop a bit more.  After about 3 batches, he finally listened 🙂

Yeast is a crucial part of brewing beer and so is having the correct yeast.  Sometimes kits will supply you with some low end yeast but it really does pay to pick up a few different packs of good quality yeast at the brew store of your choosing and keep it on hand.  There is a pretty good shelf life to the yeast as long as it’s stored properly in the frig.  Paying attention to your yeast will be the difference between a good tasting beer and one that has poor character or lacks mouth feel (I know I’m really getting the hang of the brew lingo).

Happy Brewing.  Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com


Pretzel Based Chocolate Stout Cupcakes July 19, 2012

We finally had some rain here in the Mitten and it was awesome!  Not only did it rain but the temps finally dropped a bit where working in the test kitchen was not a chore, it was delightful.  This new cupcake is what came of about 2 hours of research and a couple more hours of creating, but oh what a creation.  The taste is out of this world and craft beer lovers will so appreciate it as well as anyone who likes the combination of beer and pretzels.

Awhile back I was doing some research on beer infused cupcakes and was not finding a great deal that would work for me.  But, I did run across this web site called Cupcake Project (http://www.cupcakeproject.com/).  It was on this site I discovered  a pretzel base that was used for a cupcake they were making.  The concept was right on however the fat content was out of site and so not my style, so I decided to see if I could make over their idea.   I worked around with a couple of different versions and really like what I came up with.  Instead of 132 grams of butter in just the crust I made mine with only 40 grams, can we say huge difference?  I also decided not to re-invent the wheel regarding great cup cakes, I mean I already had an awesome chocolate porter cupcake recipe with chocolate ganache on top.    Enjoy!!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Pretzel Based Chocolate Stout/Porter Cupcakes

1 stick of room temp Blue Bonnet Lite (it will be very soft)

3-4 Tlb. honey

2 1/2 cup crushed pretzels

Mix the crushed pretzels with the honey and the Blue Bonnet Lite until it’s totally incorporated and will stick together.  Line 24 muffin tins with liners.  With a small ice cream scoup drop mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Using a spoon or a muddler, press the pretzel mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  While the base bakes start making your cupcake batter.


 12oz. Porter Beer or you can use Chocolate Espresso Stout or a Chocolate Ale – yummmm

½ cup No Fat ½ & ½

3 Tablespoons Canola Oil

2  Tablespoons  No Fat Vanilla Yogurt

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

¾ cup Egg Beaters

¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa (Hershey)

¾ cup no fat sour cream

2 cups white sugar

2 ½ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the liquid ingredients.  In separate bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups with the pretzel base.  Bake 15 minutes (depending on oven) or until risen and set in the middle (toothpick comes out clean but still tender)  Cool before removing from the tins.  Make a chocolate ganache and dip tops of cakes in.

Chocolate Ganache

 In sauce pan bring 2/3 cup of No Fat ½ & ½ to a boil.  In a bowl place 6 ounces of chopped white/semi sweet  baking chocolate. When ½ & ½ is boiling, remove from heat, add 6 tablespoons of no fat sweetened condensed milk and 2 teaspoons of Blue Bonnet Lite.  Whisk until combined. Pour over  chocolate, wait 5 minutes before whisking the chocolate and cream mixture.  Whisk until chocolate is very smooth.  I also add about 3 Tlb of dark chocolate cocoa powder.  Chill until mixture has firmed enough to spread or dip the tops of your cup cakes.  You can also drizzle it over a cake (don’t chill as long).  If ganache is too firm, you can lightly warm the mixture over very low heat to get the consistency you want.  Be sure to whisk the ganache after chilling before you use it.



Beer Marinated Flank Steak July 17, 2012

Filed under: Diva's Brew-ha,Main Dishes & Sandwiches — Hopp Diva @ 9:13 pm

Flank steak is already quite tender (as long as you don’t over cook it) but his really makes it even more yummy!  Be sure to use a dark beer or an ale but not one that has a great deal of hops because the hops will make the food taste bitter.    Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Beer Marinated Flank Steak

2 (16 ounce) flank steak pieces

1/4 cup dark beer

2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1-2  teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Preheat grill for high heat.
  2. Use a fork to poke holes all over the surface of the steaks, and place steaks in a large baking dish. In a bowl, mix together beer, teriyaki sauce, and brown sugar. Pour sauce over steaks, and let sit about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 the seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder; set aside for 10 minutes. Turn steaks over, sprinkle with remaining seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and continue marinating for 10 more minutes.
  3. Remove steaks from marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for several minutes (it will thicken up a bit)
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate with Pam Spray for grills . Grill steaks for 5 minutes per side, or to your preferred meat color, but remember flank steak will become very tough if you need your steak to be well done.   During the last few minutes of grilling, baste steaks with the boiled marinade to enhance the flavor.    Enjoy !!!!

There are so many different beers you can enjoy for your marinade.  If you use a beer with fruit, you may want to reduce the quantity of sugar in the recipe.


Beer Butt Chicken

Filed under: Diva's Brew-ha,Main Dishes & Sandwiches — Hopp Diva @ 8:42 pm

You would have to be living under a rock if you have not heard the term “beer butt chicken”.  I  remember years ago my dad gave my husband a contraption he found at a flee market in Florida that was especially for making beer butt chicken.  We laughed at the gift but one day decided to give it a whirl, ok, I decided to try it.

The chicken was delicious, tender and very moist so I was sold on the idea.  I actually still have my beer butt chicken contraption that dad gave us and use it during the grilling season a great deal.  I now use a soda can (because we don’t purchase can beer anymore since we brew our own) and add what ever flavor of beer I want.  Last night (only 92 degrees outside instead of the 99 today) I made a beer butt chicken and put my husband’s clone of Oberon, I also cut up some oranges to put in the cavity of the bird, a bit of fresh garlic, some cilantro and some pepper.  The bird was wonderful!!!

You can use what ever beer type you would like.  Just pour some (3/4 of the can full) in a soda can/beer can, season the inside of the bird with what ever seasonings you would like but that would also compliment the beer (would not recommend a beer with a great deal of hops like an IPA – this might make the chicken too bitter), place the can with the open side up into the cavity of the bird with legs dangling and place on the grill over indirect heat.  If you have the contraption for beer butt chicken, the chicken will sit much better 🙂  A 3.5 – 4 pound chicken will take about 1.5 – 2 hours to cook, depending on your grill.  Just be sure to place the bird over indirect heat so you don’t burn it.  I have also placed this contraption in my smoker and it was so tasty.    Enjoy!!!!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com


Chocolate Espresso Stout Brownies July 16, 2012

My son came to visit from Washington DC this past weekend so it was a perfect reason to not only taste test some of our brews but also to head out to the store to purchase a variety of other local brewery beers.  One I picked up was called Decadent, that one we made beer floats using mocha coffee ice cream – oh my that was decadent!  One of the blueberry beers I just make some as awesome cake, which I will share with you very soon.  We also sampled my son’s  home brewed stout as well as a couple of other stout beers.

I noticed while cleaning up I had some stout left in a bottle, about a cup or so.  I put a lid on it and thought I would do some baking after the hustle  of the weekend was over.  Well, I didn’t expect the temperature to climb back up into the high 90’s but I was determined to make something with my stout anyway!  I mean why else do we have AC 🙂  The recipe that I came up with was Chocolate Espresso Stout Brownies and although they are in the oven right now and I can’t say for certain they will be wonderful, the smells are telling me I did the right thing by baking in this 90 degree heat!!  Enjoy!!!  For comments/questions email me  ramona@lowfatdivablog.com


Chocolate Espresso Stout Brownies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Blue Bonnet Lite stick margarine
  • 8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Egg Beaters at room temp
  • 1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) stout beer.  You can use Guinness Extra Stout if you do have any home brew or you can’t find a micro brew that you like.  Do not include foam as part of your measurement.
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.

Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate, and white chocolate chips in a double-boiler over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg beaters and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.

Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in room temp stout beer. The batter will seem a bit thin. Drop semisweet chocolate chips evenly on top of batter.

Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes on center rack in the oven, time will vary depending on your oven.  Check after 20 minutes to see if tooth pick comes out clean.

Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature.  YUMMMM


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