October Update

Morning Light

Welcome to October! The months are flying by but I can’t say that I’m upset about this.  Fall is my favorite time of year and I’m completely in my element right now.

The blog has been silent for about a month at this point and that was half unintentional and half intentional. I needed a break from blogging to get grounded and gain some stability.

I started a new job in August. A job that I have been working towards and trying to get ever since we moved to Fort Collins over 3 years ago.  While I have a passion for healthy living, I also have a huge passion for craft beer and everything involved with it.  Once I realized that I could actually work at a brewery (this was a new concept to me 3 years ago), I have been doing everything I can in order to help build my resume and my craft beer knowledge.

In August I got a job at a brewery.  Whoo hoo!  Hard work does pay off! I work in the taproom and it’s been a huge adjustment.  Not just learning the work but also getting used to a new schedule.  The change in schedule was the biggest challenge to get used to.

I love my job (seriously cannot stress this enough) and the people I work for, they have been amazingly awesome to me right from the start.  Plus they encourage my desire to learn more and patiently put up with my never ending questions.

After two months I feel a lot more grounded and solid.

Which means that I hopefully can get back to blogging regularly.  Don’t worry, the blog is going to still be about healthy living but with a slight twist.  It’s going to be about how I still maintain a healthy lifestyle while working at a brewery and working nontraditional hours and days.

My goal is to blend these two passions and showcase them a little more.



Alcohol Free February Recap

Funkwerks White

For the month of February, Scott and I challenged ourselves to abstain from alcohol.  There were two “treat” days since Scott’s birthday was during the challenge.  So for 26 days we didn’t have a drop to drink.

Bah.  That sucked.

I did learn a lot during this challenge though.

For one, beer and I currently do not get along.  It screws up my digestive system and gives me a headache along with making me feel like crap.  Like I’m coming down with the flu.

I did miss drinking wine and cocktails more than beer.  I think it’s because since our move to Colorado we have been hardcore beer focused for the past couple of years.  I’m at a point where I’m good with beer and my drink of choice is wine or a mixed drink.

Does that mean I’ll never have beer again?  Heck no, we’ve got a cellar full that we need to work through.  But beer is getting put on the back burner for a bit.

The biggest surprise of all is the discovery that alcohol seems to mess with my sleep.  After the challenge, when I was able to have alcohol again, I also started having restless nights.  Waking up in the middle of the night only to lie in bed awake for hours.


I love sleep so this news does not sit well with me.

I am positive my body’s negative reaction to alcohol is the result of wrecking my digestive system with too much beer over the past couple of years.  Which means it is time to work towards getting my body back to tip-top shape.

Since December, I have been working towards getting back to a healthier me, but now I realize how much of a beating my body has taken over the past two years with too much beer and unhealthy food.

My focus will be centered around healing my gut through healthy foods and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum.

While the No Alcohol challenge was difficult and did stink, it helped me realize where my body’s current level of healthiness is along with what steps I need to take to fix the situation.  2015 is definitely the year to get back on track!




Halfway Point No Alcohol Challenge

Avery Barrel Aged Beers

Earlier this month I announced that I was going alcohol free for February. I’ve had two cheats days (hate that term but it applies), one was at a media event where I had some wine because I’m not passing up free wine!  And the second was for Scott’s birthday, we went out to celebrate and I had a couple of beers.  Not a big deal and not something I’m beating myself up over.

Other than that, no alcohol.

I’m extending the challenge to include the first week of March because of a new fitness challenge that I’m doing.

Surprisingly I’ve learned a lot and it’s only been a few weeks.

I miss wine more than I miss beer.  This was a STOP THE PRESSES moment for me.  I love beer and have expanded my palate and educated myself on it more over the past two and a half years.  Yet at the moment I really would like to have a glass of red wine and not beer.  When the challenge is over I’m probably going to opt for wine and pass over beer.

I’ve realized that it isn’t the alcohol content (ABV) of beer that was causing me digestive issues, it was the beer itself. Wheat and all it’s gluteny goodness wasn’t playing nice with my digestive tract. I have to limit my beer intake and when I do have it, I cannot combine that with other wheaty things (no pasta, no breads, etc) or else the results are not good.

So far the challenge hasn’t been terrible though I do have moments where I stomp my feet and just want a glass of wine.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to the end and counting down the days till I can partake.

Scott is doing this with me and that has been a huge benefit.  I’m not sure I would have lasted if he was sitting there having a drink of his own.  That would be too tempting!

Two more weeks and then this lady gets a drink!


The One With No Alcohol

Pomegranate Fizz

One of my February goals is no alcohol for the month except for one cheat day. This is kind of a big deal because for those that have been around for a while, they know how much I love my beer and booze.

That may sound worse than I intend, but I’m just a very appreciative fan of good craft libations.

Two main reasons I’m giving up alcohol for a bit:

  •  Still having digestive issues.
  •  Jumpstart my weight-loss journey.


Here’s the thing, after giving up milk I’m still seeing some digestive issues. Eliminating milk has helped a ton but it isn’t enough.  I still need to take action to help heal my gut.  The only other thing that could be a problem is alcohol. I feel like my increased beer consumption over the last few years has damaged my digestive tract.  It’s time to correct that and get on the path of better health.  By eliminating alcohol for a bit (not forever, I’m only human.) that will give my gut time to heal and repair itself.


Hands down, alcohol is the main reason I have gained so much weight over the past two years.  Yes, lack of exercise is the other is the other half of the equation but it didn’t have quite the impact as beer.

When Scott and I first moved to Fort Collins, we were like kids in a candy store because we suddenly had access to all this amazing beer.  So our life revolved around trying new beers, going to releases, and enjoying the hell out of the abundance of craft beer available. And most of that beer that we were enjoying had an ABV of 7% and higher.

Sometimes 10% and up.  And occasionally some serious bombs of 15% and up.

I know that beer has empty calories but I never really paid attention to that.  Whatever, it’s a beer, it’s a treat, right?

I used to feel that way, then last year I found out that the higher the ABV = more calories in that beer.

Well there’s your problem, Andrea.

Maybe this isn’t news to you but it was news to me.  After researching a bit more, I was kind of shocked at how much calories are in beer.

Roughly, a bomber size (24oz) of a 9% beer is around 500 calories (different styles have different totals, this is just a super basic example). Have two bombers in an evening and there is 1000 extra calories tacked on to your day.


Here’s an article I found on beer and calories (For example 6oz of Black Tuesday is 500.  6 freaking oz. Damn)

While I’m not one to actively count calories, it’s time to wise up and realize that these extra calories aren’t helping.  If I want to get serious about getting back in shape and getting back to the real me (I’m tired of everyone here only knowing the chunky me because that isn’t ME.) then it’s time to cut my losses and take charge.

So I’m giving up alcohol for a bit save for one cheat day (maybe 2, I have an event next week that might be hard to resist).  Scott’s birthday is this month AND Avery will be opening their new brewery next week so at some point we’ll be heading over.  I’m saving my cheat day for that.  Sorry, I’m not missing out on beer at my favorite brewery in Colorado.

Then it’s back to no alcohol.  It probably won’t be until mid-March when I have the sweet nectar again because March 2nd is when I start my new fitness challenge which I’ll share more about next week.

It’s back to mocktails for me in the evenings.  Just because I’m not actually having wine doesn’t mean I can’t use the glasses, right?  So I enjoy a little bit of juice plus seltzer in wine glasses.  It makes things more fun and a lot easier when it’s not the real thing.

Have you ever given up alcohol completely or for a challenge?  How did it go? And if you want to join me in this challenge, let me know and we can keep each other accountable!


Chilled Mulled Beer

I working on a lot of cocktail recipes for this holiday season so prepare yourself for #BoozeyHoliday! I’ve got three more cocktails in the works after this one!

For the holiday season I wanted to create a beer drink that was festive while still being light to drink and super easy to put together.  No one wants to fuss at holiday parties mixing a bunch of drinks.

I started thinking about festive drinks at the holidays and naturally eggnog and mulled wine came to mind.  But mixing those with beer?  Heavy cream and beer just sounds gross.  A hot steaming mug of beer doesn’t sound appealing at all.  The idea of a mulled beer drink intrigued me though and I put my thinking cap on to try to come up with a way to make it work.

It would be served cold and instead of red wine I used unsweetened cranberry juice that I spiced up using spices that are familiar to us this time of year.

And the Chilled Mulled Beer drink was born!

Chilled Mulled Beer


Andrea’s Chilled Mulled Beer

For the Mulled Cranberry Juice:

  • 4C Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
  • 1 Orange, quartered
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Star Anise
  • 1TBSP Whole Cloves

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Then cover and immediately reduce to a low simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool for another 30 minutes.  Squeeze the orange quarters into the mixture, then remove.  Strain the cranberry juice into a heat proof container and place in fridge.  Makes 1 quart of mulled cranberry juice.  Allow to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

For the Mulled Beer:

In a glass add 1/2C Mulled Cranberry Juice then add 6oz of Beer.  A pale ale or a lighter brown ale is perfect for this drink.  I used Odell’s 5 Barrel Pale Ale and their seasonal, Isolation ale with this drink and both worked out well.  You want a beer that is light in flavor so I would avoid something really hoppy as that would clash with the cranberry juice.

You can garnish with more star anise or frozen cranberries!  Serve and enjoy!

The cranberry juice can be made ahead of time and will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Store in an air tight glass container.  I used a mason jar.  Feel free to make a huge batch, just remember you’ll have to up the spices a little as well.  Give the cranberry juice a good shake before pouring it out so the spice redistributes.

Perfect for the holidays and something a little different to serve your guests!


Weekend Getaway Takeaways

w00tstout 2.0 from Firestone WalkerScott and I headed down to Denver last weekend for The Great American Beer Festival (If you’re interested in beer, you can read my article here).  I was covering the event for the beer blog that I write for so we decided to make a weekend out of it.  There was lots of events going on around town as well, like extra special beer tappings and we spent the weekend exploring and sipping on fantastic beers.

We kept our eats clean while in Denver which is easy to do because Denver has plenty of restaurants that use high quality ingredients.  One of our favorites is Freshcraft which offers up amazing food and great beer.  I had cassoulet, and oh man and it was so rich and delicious.

Many lessons were learned from this past trip down and our next trip will be tackled much differently.

Changing up our approach to dining out

Currently when we go to Denver and Boulder we gravitate towards pizza and burgers because we don’t care for the options here in Fort Collins. It’s hard to find a good grassfed burger!  Yet this past trip, going for those types of dishes left us feeling bloated and crappy.  Bah!  So our focus is going to switch to quality veggie and meat dishes (which thankfully Freshcraft has!).

Going for a rental instead of hotel reservations

LoDo is our preferred place to stay when in Denver but it’s expensive as hell.  The hotel rooms we’ve stayed in have been nice but there’s no fridge and no wifi.  No fridge means we can’t bring back leftovers (along with no way to reheat them) and no wifi means we can’t work while away.

Rentals tend to be cheaper and come with a full kitchen and wifi.  We’d be able to cook breakfast at the rental saving us some cash and frustration (breakfast places in Denver serve horrible coffee for some reason and don’t provide enough creamer).  Along with the ability to bring back leftovers and reheat them.  Plus wifi that doesn’t cost extra.  The tricky part will be trying to find a rental that also offers a parking space.

So the next time we go (which won’t be for a while) we’re changing up our approach!

I was definitely ready to be back home and back with the pups, who were totally pissed off that we left them.  They gave us the cold shoulder for hours when we got back.  I was ready to get back in the kitchen and have control over what went into my food and I wanted a good night’s sleep. Down pillows at hotels are for the birds.  Bah!

Egg sandwich

For breakfast yesterday we had fried egg sandwiches on 365 Whole Wheat bread with romaine, pepper jack, and crispy prosciutto.   On Monday we had huge bowls of oatmeal and even though I added fruit and grassfed butter to it, that didn’t last all of two hours before I wanted to gnaw my arm off.  No more oats for breakfast for a while.

In the middle of the day, I had a small snack of yogurt and granola (just oats, no nuts or seeds).

Dinner was glorious!

Chicken and sweet potato coconut curry soup

I made a coconut curry soup with leftover chicken and some sweet potatoes.  I stupidly bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco when we were there on Tuesday.  I thought it would be clean but after checking the ingredients realized that it is in fact full of junk.  Hopefully your Costco has better quality chicken!

I used the leftovers in soup and this was super easy to make.

Andrea’s Quick and Easy Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

  • One small onion, finely chopped
  • One green pepper, finely chopped
  • One jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Leftover roast chicken (I used breast and leg meat)
  • 1.5 QT Chicken Stock
  • 1 Can full fat coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2.5TBSP mild yellow curry powder
  • 1TBSP Ghee (or butter)

In a soup pot, heat ghee over medium heat and add in the onion and peppers.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until softened.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Add in the stock, chicken, and sweet potatoes.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Add in the curry powder and stir.  Cover and reduce heat to where the soup is just simmering.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes then add in the coconut milk.  Simmer for another 10 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

So easy to throw together and transform leftover chicken.  We’re having leftovers tonight for dinner.

Asparagus and tomato fritatta

Breakfast this morning was a fritatta with chopped asparagus and sliced up tomatoes.  I love fritattas because it also provides enough for breakfast the following day as well.   This also had some chopped red onion and a little dijon mustard added in for extra flavor boost.

Loving the eats this week!  How’s everyone doing this week?




Monday Meals: A Little Off Plan

So my attempts to follow a meal plan last week didn’t happen.  We did have all the things that I mentioned previously, just not really in the order that was stated.  I tried!  And failed.  However we still ate at home and I’m feeling pretty good about last week’s eats.




Sweet potato and chard

I have been off sweet potatoes lately.  I just don’t like them much anymore but I’m trying to change that and add them back into my diet for variety.  This breakfast bowl is getting me there!

Sauteed chopped sweet potato with swiss chard and onions. Topped with crispy prosciutto. First I crisped up the prosciutto in a skillet with a little olive olive.  Once crisp, I chopped it up and set it aside.  Sweet potatoes and onions got cooked in the same skillet in some ghee.  Once the potatoes softened, I added in the chopped chard.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Once it all was cooked, I added in the crisp prosciutto and served it up.  The ratio was:

  • Half a medium onion
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 large sweet potato

This made enough for two big bowls.

Cauliflower fried rice with scrambled eggs

There was cauliflower fried rice.  It had onion and shredded carrot, all sauteed up with ghee and seasoned with:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Garlic Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder

Cooked it until all the veggies were soft and the moisture from the cauliflower was cooked out.  Then I added scrambled eggs on top which was cooked in a separate skillet.

If you have never had cauliflower rice before, keep in mind,  it does not taste like rice.  It tastes like cauliflower with a rice texture and consistency.  So you have to like cauliflower to like this.  I used one head of cauliflower to make the rice and it was too much.  We had leftovers the next day but there was more left over from that.  Next time I’ll use half a head of cauliflower.

Pork fried cauliflower rice

Leftovers and this time I added in some chopped fried pork side.  Basically sliced pork belly that has not been cured or smoked.  I cooked the full strips first, chopped them up and re-fried them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


Scrambled eggs, sausage patties, tots

Don’t judge the tots!  Sometimes really crispy potato puffs are what life demands.  I cook the tots in a 400 degree oven, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Along with some scrambled eggs and sausage, this was a filling breakfast!

The tots were 365 brand and had simple ingredients.  365 also makes sweet potato tots as well.

Grain free scone with blueberries

Still working to perfect my grain free scones.  This go around was much better!  These were topped with blueberries, coconut cream, and there was bacon on the side.


Pork chop and roasted veggies

Bone-in pork chops with roasted carrots and zucchini.  The pork chops and the veggies were seasoned the same way:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • All Purpose Seasoning (Can use Poultry Seasoning)
  • Tarragon

The chops were cooked in a cast iron skillet in some lard and the finished in the oven with some stock added to the pan.  Pretty simple dinner that was satisfiying.

Burgers and tots

Burgers and tots!  Salt, pepper, and worcestershire seasoned the burgers and they were also cooked in a cast iron skillet in some lard.  I also topped mine with ketchup and mustard.

Avocado and carrot salad

We had burgers again the next day and I made a quick simple salad for the side.

Shredded Carrot, Chopped Avocado, and Chopped Cucumber.  It was dressed with:

  • Juice of one lime
  • A little olive oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Garlic Sauce
  • Cilantro

Very quick to put together and very refreshing on a hot day!

Chicken leg and veggies

This dinner could not have been any easier.  A roasted chicken leg with some fresh carrots and cucumbers.  The legs were roasted at 400 for about 30-40 minutes.  Rubbed down with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

The chicken is fresh from the farm so it doesn’t need much done to it in order to be flavorful.

Brats, kraut, coleslaw

Sunday dinner, again super easy to make!  Since I’ve been making homemade mayo, we’ve been eating more of it.  Which means we have been back to eating mayo based coleslaws again.  So yummy!

Coleslaw on the side with a very basic mayo/vinegar dressing and lots of dill.  Along with some very spicy chili brats that were cooked in kraut, onions, and peppers.  Beer was added to that mixture and the brats simmered in all of that in the oven at 325 for about an hour.  I removed the brats and crisped up the skins in a skillet with a little olive oil.

We didn’t do too shabby this week!

I admit that I’m struggling with breakfast a little bit.  Not only deciding what to eat/make for the day but also with portion sizes.  Since protein fills me up so much, I don’t want to have a huge breakfast and miss lunch during the week (I don’t mind that on weekends).  I enjoy salads and smoothies mid-day and miss that experience if breakfast is really hefty.

So breakfast will be a work in progress for a while!

Because I didn’t plan ahead, I don’t even remotely have a meal plan in place for this week. I told you that this was a brand new thing for me to work on! I’m going to have to try and come up with something today.

What did you have yummy last week?

For The Locals:

Chicken, eggs, and pork all are from Jodar Farms

Brats and beef from Whole Foods

Breakfast sausage is by Boulder Sausage Company


Spring Clean Eats: Days 19-21, Catching Up

I’m back!  Thanks for being patient while I was squirreled away for the weekend.  I was at the blogging conference put on by The Scoop Blogs this past weekend and when I got home in the evenings I was wiped out.  Sitting down at the computer was the last thing I wanted to do!

So I sat on the couch with Scott and the pups instead.

Let’s get caught up on the past three days!  I’m going to break this up by Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  A little easier that way.


Blueberries, GF granola, coconut creamDay 19: Blueberries, grain free granola, and coconut cream.

Scrambled eggs, mandarin orangesDay 20: Scrambled eggs and mandarin oranges.

Scrambled eggs and sausageDay 21: Scrambled eggs and sausage


Turkey, beets, asparagusDay 19: Turkey, golden beets, and asparagus.  All sauteed in ghee then I added a little splash of stock, dijon mustard, and maple syrup to create a sauce.  Delicious!

Duck poutine and 90 ShillingDay 20: Even though I was at the conference, I was still able to have Odell Day on Saturday!  Pulled Duck poutine with a maple bourbon gravy (From Common Link) and a glass of 90 Shilling.  Thanks to Kristin for being my lunch date!  Both of us were not about to pass up some duck poutine!

Day 21: An unpictured (because I was too hungry to take one) salad from Avogadro’s Number.  And a little side of sweet potato fries which were alright.


SushiDay 19: Sushi!  We tried out Jaws Sushi and loved it.  I had an avocado roll with cucumber and a shrimp tempura roll with avocado.  It wasn’t till after I ordered that I realized that the shrimp probably isn’t challenge friendly.  Regardless it was delicious! And I’ll probably have more. Sorry I’m not sorry.   If you’re curious Scott had their spicy tuna roll and  The After Burn roll.  He enjoyed both of those.

Chili and cheddarDay 20 & 21: Chili both nights!  I put together some chili on Saturday before I left for the conference because I knew I wouldn’t want to have to cook when I got back in the evening.  Thank goodness for prepping ahead and leftovers!







Craft Beer Meal Pairing Posts And How We Can Fix Them

Pouring Shipyard's Smashed Pumpkin Craft Beer is definitely becoming more and more popular as people explore beer beyond the boundaries of the Big Breweries.

Many sites are trying to ride this wave by providing beer pairing lists to go with your holiday meal, and this is where I get grumbly.  Looking at some of these lists, it is very clear the author isn’t familiar with craft beer or how to approach the topic.

My two biggest complaints about these types of lists is that I feel the author does not take into account;

  1. The availability of each beer
  2. The ABV of each beer

First up (and the most ridiculous one I found) is from The Daily Meal.

Reading the article you can gather that this author might not be a beer drinker.  She states:

“In Boston, the long-awaited release of Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead is accompanied by wringing hands, and excited squeals from grown men.”

Do men in Boston do this for Shipyard? Perhaps they do, but Shipyard is based out of Portland, Maine so I’m not sure why she’d be discussing the Boston male population.

Regardless, let’s look at her list of pumpkin beers for Thanksgiving:

The first one listed, right out of the gate, is Avery’s Rumpkin.

Ok, this is where my head might have exploded.

Rumpkin is a very limited release beer and it is not widely distributed.  So good luck getting one.  Not to mention this beer comes in at 18% ABV so if you drank this after a huge day of heavy food, it will knock you on your ass.  Well, at 18% it’s going to knock you on your ass regardless unless you share a 12oz bottle with someone else.

Beer #2 is Blue Moon’s Harvest Moon.

Just no.  You can’t list a highly coveted and sought after craft beer in one breath and then follow that up with a beer from Coors. (Didn’t know Blue Moon is actually Coors brewing? Lots of big brewers are starting to do this sleight of hand now.)

While I won’t dissect the whole list here, I will say that her other picks are at least a little better.

The Rumpkin aside, the big issue with this list is distribution and availability.  Smaller breweries don’t have a wide distribution area so most people aren’t going to be able to find those beers.

Thanksgiving 2011The Beeroness does a better job with beer pairings for Thanksgiving. Though I do feel that again, availability is playing a factor here.

And some of the beers, while not clocking in at 18%, do have a higher ABV that needs to be taken into consideration.

For Thanksgiving in particular, ABV plays a huge factor because this is a whole day of eating and sipping in most households.  Sipping 9% and up beers all day long is going to catch up with you after that slice of pie.  Especially if that slice of pie is accompanied by a 12% or higher barrel aged stout.

My recommendations for creating beer pairing lists for Thanksgiving is to seriously consider the ABV and try to stick with sessionable beers in the 5-7% (no higher than 8%) for during the day and then maybe a something slightly higher for dessert provided that it gets split up amongst guests.

For beer pairings in general, I think lists should provide styles of beers as recommendations verses listing a specific beer.  This way everyone can take that list and go to their local store to see what is available to them.  A style list will apply to everyone where a specific beer list can potentially frustrate folks trying to buy beer for a dinner.

Especially if those folks are just getting into beer and aren’t sure what to get.  They would be able to present a style list to someone at the store and ask for suggestions for those styles.

I realize that articles can’t get away with this fully and that they do have to list some specific beers because people are going to ask.  However, if the emphasis is on the style of beer, then readers will still have something to reference when they are out purchasing beer.

Seek A Brew will let you know which beers are distributed to which states.  It’s very helpful when trying to locate beers. By checking, the author would be able to provide a couple of suggestions that should cover most areas.

Keeping availability and ABV of the beers in mind will lead to a solid beer pairing list.

With all of that said, what are you serving with your holiday meal this year?


Ham Hock Bean Soup

Bean SoupGrowing up I didn’t really like beans.  The only beans I really willingly ate were green beans.

My mom and dad loved bean soup and they would eat it often for lunch during the winter months.  As a kid, I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of bean soup.

Who wants to eat a huge bowl of only beans?

The answer now is me! I love beans as an adult and make up big batches of them to have on hand.  Cooking beans in a slow cooker is a breeze and it’s much cheaper to buy dried beans over canned beans.

Since the weather is turning colder, I decided to tackle making some bean soup from scratch starting with cooking up the beans.

I recently saw this recipe from Lori over at Fake Food Free where she used a wheat beer while cooking her beans.  This sparked the idea to use some beer while cooking up the beans for this soup.

Andrea’s Ham Hock Bean Soup

For The Beans

  • 1lb Navy Beans
  • 1 Large Smoked Ham Hock (or 2 if you want more ham)
  • 1/2 Large Onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 Bottle Dark Beer, (I used New Belgium’s 1554)
  • 10C Water
  • 3 Cloves of garlic

The day before you make this soup, soak the beans in water for 24 hours.  Drain, remove any debris and add the beans to the slow cooker.  Add in the ham hock and the remaining ingredients.  Cook on high for about 6-8 hours or until the beans are soft to the bite.

Remove the ham hock and drain the beans.  Be sure to save the liquid from the beans, you’ll need this for the soup (plus you just made awesome ham hock stock).

Once the ham hock cools, shred and set the meat aside.

For The Soup

  • 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  • 3 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4C Navy Beans
  • 4C Ham Hock Stock
  • 4C Chicken Stock
  • Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
  • 2tsp Ground Garlic
  • 1/2tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1TBSP Olive Oil for sauteeing

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and add in the onions and carrots.  Sautee for about 5-7 minutes until everything starts to soften.  Add in the seasonings and stir.  Add in the stocks, the beans, and the ham. Stir and then add in the Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour or until the carrots are cooked through.  Stirring occasionally.

Once the soup is ready serve with cornbread or biscuits and enjoy!

Bean SoupThis soup was everything I hoped it would be.  The dark smokey beer paired perfectly with the ham hock.  If you want, you can sub out some of the stock in the soup with another bottle of the beer.

Yes this took all day but it was totally worth it.  You can break this up and cook the beans one day and the soup the next.  Or you can freeze the cooked beans and shredded ham hock so that they are ready when you would like to make this soup.

I think the addition of maybe some greens would be great in this soup and I might do that next time.  Perfect soup for a chilly fall day.

You’ll have more ham hock stock then you’ll need for the soup so keep the leftovers for other uses or freeze to save for later.  And keep that bone so you can make more stock with it later!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!