Easy School Night Dinners

Cheesy Beef Enchilada Soup
Tomato basil soup and chicken broth make the base for this filing weeknight soup. Quick additions of ground beef, cheese, taco seasoning, some herbs and veggies, and you’re on your way. Cornbread or tortillas from our bakery are the perfect accompaniment.
 
    Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie    
Easy, filling, and fun for the kids.

Baked Cod Fish Stix
You can fry them, but baking means you can step away while they cook. It’s a simple recipe, and you’ll be happy to put fresh fish on the table for the kids. Tarter sauce and ketchup for dipping and your crew is set.
 
One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce from Food Network Kitchen
Forgot about that "Meet the Teacher" meeting? No worries, this dinner will be ready before you can find your keys.

Total Time: 20 min.
Prep: 5 min.
Cook: 15 min.
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
12 ounces spaghetti, broken in half
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Directions
Put the spaghetti, oil, tomato paste, garlic, tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt in a high-sided medium skillet. Add 5 cups water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring the spaghetti frequently to keep it from clumping, until it is al dente and the sauce has reduced and thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan (the sauce will thicken more), and season with salt if needed. Divide the spaghetti among 4 bowls, and garnish with more Parmesan and torn basil leaves.
 
No time for a recipe? If you need something even faster, zip through Chef Prepared and grab a rotisserie chicken and your family’s favorite sides. You can’t go wrong there. 

Easy School Night Dinners

Cheesy Beef Enchilada Soup
Tomato basil soup and chicken broth make the base for this filing weeknight soup. Quick additions of ground beef, cheese, taco seasoning, some herbs and veggies, and you’re on your way. Cornbread or tortillas from our bakery are the perfect accompaniment.
 
    Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie    
Easy, filling, and fun for the kids.

Baked Cod Fish Stix
You can fry them, but baking means you can step away while they cook. It’s a simple recipe, and you’ll be happy to put fresh fish on the table for the kids. Tarter sauce and ketchup for dipping and your crew is set.
 
One-Pot Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce from Food Network Kitchen
Forgot about that "Meet the Teacher" meeting? No worries, this dinner will be ready before you can find your keys.

Total Time: 20 min.
Prep: 5 min.
Cook: 15 min.
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
12 ounces spaghetti, broken in half
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Directions
Put the spaghetti, oil, tomato paste, garlic, tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt in a high-sided medium skillet. Add 5 cups water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring the spaghetti frequently to keep it from clumping, until it is al dente and the sauce has reduced and thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan (the sauce will thicken more), and season with salt if needed. Divide the spaghetti among 4 bowls, and garnish with more Parmesan and torn basil leaves.
 
No time for a recipe? If you need something even faster, zip through Chef Prepared and grab a rotisserie chicken and your family’s favorite sides. You can’t go wrong there. 

Make Moo Mondays Milkshake Mondays

(Here's another question: How long has it been since your kids or grandkids have had an honest-to-goodness homemade milkshake?)

Milkshakes are just as much a part of warm-weather fun as popsicles. Take that fun up a notch: Skip the drive-through or the restaurant, and make your own milkshakes. 

First thing you'll need is milk. You're in luck. Mondays are Moo Mondays at Central Market: 
Every Monday, get two gallons of Central Market Organic Milk for $9 with your purchase of $25 or more. 

Of course, Moo Mondays will come up double-handy if back-to-school grocery shopping is on your radar. But between now and then, dive into milkshakes.

Here are some delicious recipes we're dying to try. Whip up some yourself and let us know how they taste.

Vanilla Milkshake – The old favorite still hits the spot every time. Simply blend 1 pint vanilla ice cream, ¼-cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. 


S’mores – Broil 8 marshmallows on foil, turning until browned. Blend 1 pint chocolate ice cream, ¼-cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 6 of the toasted marshmallows. Top with crushed graham crackers and the remaining toasted marshmallows. 

Banana Coffee – Blend 1¼ cups of milk, 4 teaspoons coffee powder, 5 ½ oz. vanilla ice cream, and 

2 bananas. 

Fig, Black Pepper, and Goat Cheese – Don't be afraid to try something new! Go for good and gourmet. Gather: 6 fresh figs, halved; 2 tablespoons of fig syrup; ¼ cup milk; 6 tablespoons soft fresh goat cheese; freshly ground black pepper, and 1 cup vanilla ice cream. Blend figs, fig syrup, milk, and goat cheese until smooth. Then add ice cream and black pepper, and blend just until smooth. 

Sweet Corn Honey – This one sounds equally like Texas and Heaven to us. You'll need: ¾ cup Sweet Corn kernals, scraped from fresh cobs; 1¾ cups chilled skim milk, and 1-2 tablespoons of honey depending on the sweetness of the corn. (If you're near our Dallas Lovers Lane store, pick up a jar of our Central Market Raw Hyper Local Honey from beehives installed on the roof of our Dallas Lovers Lane store.) Blend corn kernels, milk, and honey together until the corn has puréed well. 

The best part of making milkshakes at home is the amount of combinations you can create. How many fruits, nuts, candies, veggies, spices, herbs, or yogurts can you blend with vanilla ice cream? Speaking of ice cream, our Frozen Case is full of flavor-filled ice creams that make excellent bases and additions. Don't forget our beer-inspired ice creams for grown-up milkshakes! Flavored syrups are not just for coffee or breakfast. Add another layer of flavor to milkshakes with fruit syrups you'll find in our Grocery aisles! 

What Exactly Is Beer? Part IV: Water

Have you ever noticed how tap water can taste different from city to city? Now think globally! Breweries in different parts of the world use different water sources which have unique flavor profiles and mineral contents which are sometimes better for one type of beer over another. So, they tend to focus on specific styles of beer. For example, the water in the Czech Republic is perfect for Pilsner, but horrible for IPA. The water in the UK is great for malt-forward styles of beer, but not ideal for hop-forward styles.
 
Ph is a great way, but not the only way, to judge what style of beer is ideal for a water profile. A higher water Ph is well-suited to styles such as Pilsner, Stout, Porter, British Mild, and Special Bitter. Lower Ph is better suited for the hop-forward styles, such as Pale Ale / Session India Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, and Double India Pale Ale.
 
With the level of knowledge available today, many brewers make adjustments to their brewing water to achieve to desired result in the finished beer, by adding mineral salts, filtration, and many other methods.
 
As you can see, beer isn’t just a hodgepodge of random ingredients that occur by magic. All beer, save for a few ancient styles, contains the four ingredients we have discussed this week: malt, hops, yeast, and water.
 
I hope you feel like you’ve learned something from this series – and that you had fun reading because I had fun writing! I love teaching and talking about beer, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I’m always willing and happy to assist in educating people on all things related to beer — and there is always more to learn when beer is involved!
 
I will close by wishing you a pleasant tomorrow, and a cold, tasty pint of your favorite brew!
 
Cheers!
 
 
Matt The Beer Guy

What Exactly Is Beer? Part IV: Water

Have you ever noticed how tap water can taste different from city to city? Now think globally! Breweries in different parts of the world use different water sources which have unique flavor profiles and mineral contents which are sometimes better for one type of beer over another. So, they tend to focus on specific styles of beer. For example, the water in the Czech Republic is perfect for Pilsner, but horrible for IPA. The water in the UK is great for malt-forward styles of beer, but not ideal for hop-forward styles.
 
Ph is a great way, but not the only way, to judge what style of beer is ideal for a water profile. A higher water Ph is well-suited to styles such as Pilsner, Stout, Porter, British Mild, and Special Bitter. Lower Ph is better suited for the hop-forward styles, such as Pale Ale / Session India Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, and Double India Pale Ale.
 
With the level of knowledge available today, many brewers make adjustments to their brewing water to achieve to desired result in the finished beer, by adding mineral salts, filtration, and many other methods.
 
As you can see, beer isn’t just a hodgepodge of random ingredients that occur by magic. All beer, save for a few ancient styles, contains the four ingredients we have discussed this week: malt, hops, yeast, and water.
 
I hope you feel like you’ve learned something from this series – and that you had fun reading because I had fun writing! I love teaching and talking about beer, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I’m always willing and happy to assist in educating people on all things related to beer — and there is always more to learn when beer is involved!
 
I will close by wishing you a pleasant tomorrow, and a cold, tasty pint of your favorite brew!
 
Cheers!
 
 
Matt The Beer Guy

What Exactly Is Beer? Part III: Yeast

It’s pretty simple: without yeast, there would be no beer. Yeast eats fermentable sugars, and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol, but also contributes an endless rainbow of other flavor and aromatic compounds during fermentation, called “esters.” Many people can differentiate specific beer styles, simply by the aromas of the esters apparent in a finished beer!
 
There are two main types of yeast we will discuss, and in doing so, will demystify the difference between Lagers and Ales.
 
Ale Yeast, or Saccharomyces Cervisiae, is a top-fermenting yeast, meaning that the yeast work at the top of the fermentation vessel. Cervisiae also prefers warmer fermentation temperatures, dependent on the strain, typically varying between 58 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This warmer fermentation temperature is responsible for a good deal of the esters mentioned earlier, and can be the main differentiator between beer styles.
 
Lager Yeast, or Saccharomyces Pastorianus, is a bottom-fermenting yeast, meaning that the yeast work at the bottom of the fermentation vessel. Pastorianus prefers cooler fermentation temperatures, and can be a slower worker. Lagers usually start fermentation at a cooler temperature than most ales, around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the brewer will start to drop the temperature down by several degrees each day, ending up in the high 40s to mid-30s. For the uninitiated, the word Lager is actually derived from the German word “Lagern,” which means “to keep.” Due to the lack of ester production during fermentation, Lagers can be fairly similar in flavor and aroma, but thanks to hops, also wildly different.
 
That’s today’s beer lesson! Tomorrow we wrap up the series with a look at ingredient number four: water. Don’t laugh, it’s not * quite * as straight-forward as you might think. See you then! 

What Exactly Is Beer? Part III: Yeast

It’s pretty simple: without yeast, there would be no beer. Yeast eats fermentable sugars, and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol, but also contributes an endless rainbow of other flavor and aromatic compounds during fermentation, called “esters.” Many people can differentiate specific beer styles, simply by the aromas of the esters apparent in a finished beer!
 
There are two main types of yeast we will discuss, and in doing so, will demystify the difference between Lagers and Ales.
 
Ale Yeast, or Saccharomyces Cervisiae, is a top-fermenting yeast, meaning that the yeast work at the top of the fermentation vessel. Cervisiae also prefers warmer fermentation temperatures, dependent on the strain, typically varying between 58 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This warmer fermentation temperature is responsible for a good deal of the esters mentioned earlier, and can be the main differentiator between beer styles.
 
Lager Yeast, or Saccharomyces Pastorianus, is a bottom-fermenting yeast, meaning that the yeast work at the bottom of the fermentation vessel. Pastorianus prefers cooler fermentation temperatures, and can be a slower worker. Lagers usually start fermentation at a cooler temperature than most ales, around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the brewer will start to drop the temperature down by several degrees each day, ending up in the high 40s to mid-30s. For the uninitiated, the word Lager is actually derived from the German word “Lagern,” which means “to keep.” Due to the lack of ester production during fermentation, Lagers can be fairly similar in flavor and aroma, but thanks to hops, also wildly different.
 
That’s today’s beer lesson! Tomorrow we wrap up the series with a look at ingredient number four: water. Don’t laugh, it’s not * quite * as straight-forward as you might think. See you then! 

What Exactly Is Beer? Part II: Hops

Hops
Hops are like the herbs and spices in a soup. While malt provides fermentable sugar and sweetness, hops provide more depth of flavor, and bitterness to balance the beer. They also aid in head-retention, body, flavor, and aromatics.
 
The scientific name for hops is “Humulus Lupus”, meaning “Wolf Vine,” and it was actually first mentioned in writing by the Greek philosopher Pliny the Elder. (Russian River Brewing Company out of Santa Rosa, California has an IPA named in his honor!)
 
Geographically, hops are grown all over the world, although the areas most known for hop-production are the United States, Europe, and in more recent years, Australia and New Zealand. Even Japan is in on the hop-game, breeding an incredible hop named Sorachi Ace, most well-known for extensive use in The Brooklyn Brewing Company beer of the same name.
 
Hops contain dozens of different oils and flavor and aroma compounds, with names like Citronellol, Isobutyl Isobutyrate, Humulene, and Myrcene. Even with modern technology, like gas chromatography, the thousands of different compounds in hops aren’t even close to being dissected. The important thing to focus on here, is alpha-acids. The bittering, flavoring, and aromatic compounds found in hops mostly spring from alpha-acids. This is the compound that provides the “spice” to beer, by contributing bitterness, as well as all sorts of other flavors. 
 
Hops are added during the boil portion of producing beer, and one should note that the longer hops are boiled, the more bitterness they can impart to the finished beer. Holding that in mind, hops added at this point are referred to as “bittering hops.” A good portion of flavor and aromatic oils boil off quickly, which is why hops are typically added in the last 15 to 5 minutes of the boiling process. These hops, of course, are called “Flavor” or “Aroma” hops.
 
I could talk more about hops – so much more, in fact, that I wrote another blog about hops to share another day. For now, though, we’ll continue learning about the main ingredients of beer: malt, hops, yeast, and water.
 
Tomorrow: Yeast! It's not just for doughnuts. 

What Exactly Is Beer? Part II: Hops

Hops
Hops are like the herbs and spices in a soup. While malt provides fermentable sugar and sweetness, hops provide more depth of flavor, and bitterness to balance the beer. They also aid in head-retention, body, flavor, and aromatics.
 
The scientific name for hops is “Humulus Lupus”, meaning “Wolf Vine,” and it was actually first mentioned in writing by the Greek philosopher Pliny the Elder. (Russian River Brewing Company out of Santa Rosa, California has an IPA named in his honor!)
 
Geographically, hops are grown all over the world, although the areas most known for hop-production are the United States, Europe, and in more recent years, Australia and New Zealand. Even Japan is in on the hop-game, breeding an incredible hop named Sorachi Ace, most well-known for extensive use in The Brooklyn Brewing Company beer of the same name.
 
Hops contain dozens of different oils and flavor and aroma compounds, with names like Citronellol, Isobutyl Isobutyrate, Humulene, and Myrcene. Even with modern technology, like gas chromatography, the thousands of different compounds in hops aren’t even close to being dissected. The important thing to focus on here, is alpha-acids. The bittering, flavoring, and aromatic compounds found in hops mostly spring from alpha-acids. This is the compound that provides the “spice” to beer, by contributing bitterness, as well as all sorts of other flavors. 
 
Hops are added during the boil portion of producing beer, and one should note that the longer hops are boiled, the more bitterness they can impart to the finished beer. Holding that in mind, hops added at this point are referred to as “bittering hops.” A good portion of flavor and aromatic oils boil off quickly, which is why hops are typically added in the last 15 to 5 minutes of the boiling process. These hops, of course, are called “Flavor” or “Aroma” hops.
 
I could talk more about hops – so much more, in fact, that I wrote another blog about hops to share another day. For now, though, we’ll continue learning about the main ingredients of beer: malt, hops, yeast, and water.
 
Tomorrow: Yeast! It's not just for doughnuts. 

What Exactly Is Beer? Part I: Malt

According the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law of 1516, beer should only be produced with malt, water, and hops. It wasn’t until a long time later that yeast was discovered as the organism that causes fermentation, which ultimately results in beer. Luckily for us, not all breweries subscribe to the German Purity Law! Making beer, much like baking, is an experiment in controlled chemistry, requiring knowledge of what steps and processes result in the most favorable, and desired outcome. So let's begin with the basics and a look at the first of the four main ingredients: malt.  
  
Malt
Simply put, malt is the backbone of beer. It provides body, mouthfeel, and most importantly, fermentable sugar for the yeast to eat. “Malt” is somewhat of a catchall term, because while the most common malted grain used in beer production is barley, wheat, spelt, rye, and sorghum, and even corn can be used in the production of beer.

Consider malt as the “stock” used in making a big pot of soup, and you would be in the right neighborhood. The process of malting involves taking barley, or another grain, and soaking the grains until they start to sprout. The grain in then quickly dried, and in some cases roasted or kilned to caramelize some of the sugars, creating amber- to black-colored malts that can add color and flavor to a finished beer.

In some cases, flaked grains, such as oats or rye are used in the brewing process, to add more protein to the beer. This results in more body and heft on the palate. When it comes right down to it, without a source of fermentable sugar, yeast would have nothing to eat, and beer as we know it would not exist.  
 

Tomorrow: What in the world are hops?