Sunday Football Tailgating

Sorry, it has been a while since I posted.  I’ve been sick and I hurt my back packing up boxes, my wife and I are moving.  This will be a quick one.
Two things I’m excited about:

We are going to the Jets vs Colts game today.  Now this isn’t exciting because we are planning to see a high scoring fast paced game, it should be just the opposite.  What is exciting is that we may see the second coming of Tebow today, who last week would have had a deep bomb for a touchdown had the receiver not dropped the ball.

Also, we get to see the highly touted rookie QB, Andrew Luck toss the ball a bit today.  This kid has been referred to as the next Peyton Manning.  No other rookie has had this much hype coming out of college and the last few weeks he has really been playing like it.

We may tail gate today at the game, not sure, depends if my back isn’t bothering me.  If we do, you will see pictures and recipes from it.  Also, I have been keeping tack of the recipes from this past week, so I will post with them as well…Stay tuned.

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One Drink, One Beer, Monday Night Football – Week 5

First, a rant. Week five comes to an end this week, and it couldn’t come soon enough. It is pretty bad when the most exciting thing this week is my fantasy football team winning a close match-up. This week has been full of horrible games. Thirteen games took place and more than half of the teams that played scored under 20 points. There were five games in which neither team scored 20 points and one in which a baseball score was posted where the Baltimore Ravens scored 9 points against the Kansas City Chiefs 6 points, neither team scoring a touchdown – 3 other teams were unable to score a TD as well. At least Jamaal Charles proved that knee ligament surgery is no longer career ending. He looks like he hasn’t skipped a beat since his injury with 140 yards on the ground, but no score. There were three blow outs including the Titans losing to the the Vikings 30-7. The ex-stud Titan RB, Chris Johnson, formerly known as CJY2K when he ran for over 2000 yards three seasons ago, did nothing yet again – I’m done giving this guy excuses.  To top it off, the Titans can not move the ball; you know it is bad when the most exciting part of the Titans offense is when they cross the 50 yard line, which they only did 4 times yesterday while only ending one of those drives in a score.  Today’s game with the Houston Texans taking on the New York Jets in New York (Jersey) doesn’t seem to be any better.  Look to the bottom of this page for details.

Good things happen every week, great things happen almost every week, this week there were a few of both.  The Giants won in amazing fashion; Bradshaw rushed for 200 yards, Eli Manning threw for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns, and all three touchdowns went to my fantasy MVP and salsa dancing fool, Victor Cruz.  The Indianapolis Colts are much better than they were last season when they had no quarterback.  The highly touted rookie Andrew Luck, the second coming of Peyton Manning, had his first of hopefully many to come great game winning drives.  The New Orleans Saints get their first win while Drew Brees shatters the record for most consecutive games with a TD pass by throwing four of them.  This record spans over 4 seasons, including two in which he threw at least one TD in all 16 games.  The way Brees finds the end-zone, I don’t see his streak ending any time soon.  The next closest is Tom Brady who is currently on a streak of 37 games with a TD pass.  When Brees stops throwing TDs for a game, Brady will have to do it 11 more times.

Weeks like these drive me to drink, luckily I keep good company.

This could be a daily drinker for me if I drank daily.  Its a 12 year Auchetoshan (pronounced Aw-khen-tosh-an) single malt highland whiskey.  Its got a nice deep caramel/honey color.  This is my favorite smell, and as their website states correctly, it smells like creme brulee; I also get a good nuttiness.  This is as smooth as a single malt neat gets.  Sweet caramel and almond strike the tongue first, finishes with vanilla.  Water really opens the up the vanilla and nutty flavors.

Stone 16th Anniversary Ale

Every year, the fellas at the Stone Brewing Co. on Escondido, CA brew an anniversary ale.  This is the 16th anniversary IPA from perhaps my favorite brewery and it is a good one.  They really try to make a unique flavor profile every year for this specialty beer.  This is brewed with rye malts, Amarillo an Calypso hops among other unnamed ones, lemon verbena, and lemon oil.  This is unique in that it is the first beer that I have tasted in which sweet, sour, and bitter all mingle together like long lost friends.  The subtle fruity nose fits the initial flavors perfectly.  The bitter and floral hops are the high notes, and the smooth lemon flavors with hints of grapefruit round out this palette as they draw the bitterness from the roof of your mouth to give this ale a great finish.  I could drink this all day.

Fact of the Week: Did you know that Wrangler now make jeans with a comfortable, non-binding, penis-pocket?  At least that is what Brett Farve and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are promoting these days.  Hey, it’s football related, kinda.

Real Fact of the Week: Five running backs have 4 rushing touchdowns two of them are rookies, Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson

Monday Night Football:

Houston Texans (-8.5) @ New York Jets

Final Score: Texans 27 Jets 17

The Houston Texans are playing the best football the team has ever seen;they may be the best team in the league.  Matt Shaub  is off to a good start averaging 250 yards and almost 2 TDs a game.  Their star RB Arian Foster should be the league leader in rushing TDs after today’s game.  If he can find the end-zone, he’ll be alone in the league with five.  The Houston defense also boasts the second best numbers in the league giving up under 200 yards of passing 2 out of 4 games, and not allowing a running back to score a touchdown on the ground. WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels both have over 230 yards and 2 reception touchdowns.  These guys are firing on all cylinders right now and the pace they are going should not be slowed down by the pallid Jets tonight.

The New York Jets started off hot scoring 48 points in their season opener against the Bills.  They lost against a better team in the Steelers.  And then won yet another division game against the Miami Dolphins, but it was during that game where they lost their best player Darrelle Revis for the season.  The next game, Mark Sanchez led his team to zero points.  ZERO!  He has never looked like an elite quarterback, but he has never looked this bad either.  It is his fourth season and he has gone backwards after leading the Jets to AFC conference playoff games in his two first seasons in the NFL.  Now Tim Tebow is knocking on the door to take the reins in New York a la last year in Denver.  I was against the addition of Tebow this off season as I thought that it could mess with Sanchez’s confidence; it sure did.  He looks like a freshman division college player.  His line gets him sacked, and doesn’t help any of the running backs gain positive yards, he is almost as good throwing the ball to his opponents as he is to throwing the ball to his teammates in the endzone with a 5:4 touchdown to interception ratio.  Chances of the Jets winning this game are somewhere in the 5% range.  It would have to be a perfect storm for the Jets here today.

Keys to Jets Victory :

1) Get a non-existent running game off the ground with one sub-par back, Shonn Greene, and one unknown commodity, Bilal Powell.
2) Have a great game through the air as well as on the ground against a defense that has been good against both the pass and the run.
3) Have a wide receiver and tight end pick up a lot of slack for the injured WR Santonio Holmes and TE Dustin Keller
4) Play a great defensive game against one of the best offenses of the year with out the best defensive player in the league, CB Darrelle Revis.
5) Get Tebow more involved especially when in the red zone.
6) If Sanchez can not move the ball, let Tebow get a real shot at leading the team.

Projected Stats:

Jets

QB Mark Sanchez: 15-35, 180 yards, 1 TD
Or
QB: Mark Sanchez: 11-26, 130 yards, 0 TD
QB: Tim Tebow: 8 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD; 4-9, 50 yards, 1 TD
RB Shonn Greene: 12 carries, 30 yards
RB: Bilal Powell: 10 carries, 42 yards
WR: Jeremy Kerley: 6 receptons, 55 yards, 1 TD
WR: Chaz Schilens: 4 receptions, 35 yards, 0 TD
TE: Jeff Cumberlan: 4 receptions, 40 yards, 0 TD
1 field goal

Texans

QB: Matt Schaub: 26-35, 275 yards, 3 TD
RB: Arian Foster: 21 carries, 125 yards, 1 TD; 5 receptions, 44 yards, 1 TD
WR: Andrew Johnson: 8 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD
WR: Keshawn Martin: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 0 TD
WR: Kevin Walter: 4 receptions, 35 yards, 0 TD
TE: Owen Daniles: 6 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD
2 Field Goals

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Sunday’s Football Picks…Coffee from Ethiopia

You may have read it in my earlier post, but my favorite part of Sundays other than football is making a fresh pot of coffee.  During the week, my wife and I don’t have much time to make coffee in the mornings.  So come the weekend, especially Sunday, we make a nice breakfast and brew one of our “exotic” coffees.  We try to buy coffee that we have never tasted before and it has really opened up our eyes to the vast varieties that come from many different regions and the characteristics that are unique to the climates.

For those who have a Trader Joe’s near by, this is a great place to try coffees from all over the world without breaking the bank.  They all tend to be very good, even their house brand.  For today I brewed the Organic, Fair Trade, Shade Grown, Ethiopian coffee.  This is a medium-dark roast which gives the coffee a great medium body and well rounded, slightly acidic flavor, or as my wife says, “it tastes like coffee.”  Thanks babe!

Ethiopia may perhaps be the best region to grow coffee in the world for it is where the Arabica bean originated and still grows wildly.  Ethiopia is the largest coffee producer in Africa and 25% of the Ethiopian population relies upon the production of coffee for their livelihoods.  For Ethiopians, it is their major export and is referred to by traders as “black gold.”  Though the coffee can demand higher prices than most other African varieties, the farmers who produce the beans are often poor.  Buying free trade coffee helps farmers get the proper value for the hard work they put into growing this crop for the rest of the world to enjoy.  A new deal with Starbucks will also help the Ethiopian coffee farmers obtain the fair wages they deserve and help bring their coffee to a wider audience, thus, leading to higher profit margins.
WEEK 5 – Sunday Football, Baby!

I already gave my favorite player match-ups for the week so I am going to keep this short an sweet and just give my picks to win the games, with and without the spread.

Straight up picks:

Eagles       @ Steelers – Steelers; only because I want the Eagles to lose more
Packers     @ Colts – Packers; Packers are the better team
Browns     @ Giants – Giants; Come on now! Worst team against the Superbowl Champs at home!
Falcons     @ Redskins – Falcons; they are playing better than any other team in the league, the ‘Skins are not
Dolphins  @ Bengals – Bengals; they are playing very well offensively. I don’t give Dolphins a shot here
Ravens      @ Chiefs – Ravens; Chiefs will be hard pressed to get anything going through the air.
Seahawks @ Panthers – Panthers; Despite their record, I think the Seahawks are one of the worst teams in the league.
Bears         @ Jaguars – Bears; Despite the QB blowing off the offensive coordinator, the Bears have a good offense that is getting over their problems
Broncos    @ Patriots – Broncos; I am going against the grain and everything that I believe, but Broncos have a chance here and I would bet on them – Patriots have lost to lesser teams this year.
Bills          @ 49ers – 49ers; Great defenses almost win Superbowls, see last year’s NFC championship
Titans       @ Vikings – Vikings; Vikes QB Christian Ponder has zero interceptions; in this game that may be all all you need; plus they have Adrian Peterson and quite frankly, that is all you need.
Texans     @ Jets – Texans; the poor Jets have no one left on their team.

Picks Against the Spread:

Eagles @ Steelers (-3.5) – Eagles; this is the battle for Pennsylvania, this will be close
Packers (-7.5) @ Colts – Packers; I only give the Colts 1 TD today
Browns @ Giants (-8.5) – Browns; it would be hard to bet against the Giants but they tend to let bad teams keep it close.
Falcons (-2.5) @ Redskins – Falcons; giving only 2.5 points to the ‘Skins is a gambler’s wet dream
Dolphins @ Bengals (-3.5) – Bengals; unless you think the rookie QB is gonna keep up with A.J. Green and Dalton
Ravens (-6.5) @ Chiefs – Chiefs; Raven’s D has been good, but not that good
Seahakws @ Panthes (-2.5) – Panthers; I just don;t see the Seahawks
Bears (-6) @ Jaguars – Jaguars; they have the skill to keep it close
Broncos @ Patriots (-6.5) – Broncos; see above!
Bills @ 49ers (-9.5) – Bills; 49ers just don’t score a lot of points
Titans @ Vikings (-5.5) – Vikings; no faith in titans offense
Chargers @ Saints (-3.5) – Saints; Saints are mad, they will take it out on the Chargers
Texans (-8) @ Jets – Texans; and it isn’t even close.

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Drink: Grapefruit Margarita


My wife loves to mix up random new drinks.  This is one of her latest concoctions.  The picture is not mine, it is just there to give you a visual representation of this drink.

Grapefruit Margarita

Ingredients:

Drink:
1 1/2 oz. Tequila Blanco
3/4 oz. orange liqueur
Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
Spalsh lime juice
Splash pomegranate seltzer water

Rim:
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Garnish:
lime wedge
grapefruit wedge

Directions:
Rim a tall glass with the salt and zest mizture. Fill glass with ice. Pour in tequila and orange liqueur. Fill glass almost to the top with grapefruit juice. Add a splash of lime juice and fill rest of the way with seltzer water, stir. Garnish with a lime a grapefruit wedge.

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Thursday Night Football and Players with Meatball Matchups.

     Week 5 of the NFL season is set to kick off tonight when The Arizona Cardinals take on the St. Louis Rams at St. Louis in what looks on paper to be a pretty boring game, at least fantasy wise.  The Cardinals are the real story hear as they are one of three teams left in the league who are unbeaten at 4-0, a feat they haven’t achieved since the 70s when they were the St. Louis Cardinals.  In my opinion the Cardinals are the most overrated team in football.  They have won three of four games by four or less points, have a shaky situation at quarterback, and have zero aability to run the ball.  Two of their wins came against the rookie QB lead Seahawks and rookie QB lead Miami Dolphins.  The real surprise games for Arizona was the wins against New England by 2 points and the crushing win against Philadelphia beating them by the tune of 27-6.  It is hard to count those wins as flukes and is a testament to how well the Cardinals defense is playing so far this season, perhaps the only saving grace the team has.  But can they keep it up?  For this week, I think they can.  Here’s why.

Arizona is coming off a big OT win against Miami where the Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill threw for over 400 yards, but the Cardinals only allowed 1 TD while gaining two interceptions in all those yards.  The secondary unit of Arizona just do not give up touchdowns.  These guys are firing on all cylinders right now and this week, against the Rams, I don’t see that changing.  While the Cardinals were having some problems deciding which quarterback should lead the way, an injury gave Kevin Kolb a few unchallenged weeks to earn that spot.  In three games he has 750 yards, 7 touchdowns, with only 2 interceptions.  His ability to take care of the ball when he has it has helped Arizona keep their unbeaten streak alive, who knows what will happen when their “starter” Skelton returns.  As long as he can keep that up, the Cardinals will play well, but St. Louis is averaging 2 interceptions a game so Kolb will have to be extra careful with the ball.  With no real impact in the running game, this one all comes down to Kolb, his receiving core of Larry Fitzgerald who is always a threat no matter who is tossing him the ball and the new league leader in receiving touchdowns, Andre Roberts, and the Cardinals defense.

St. Louis, on the other hand, has been very inconsistent on offense and it all starts with their third year QB Sam Bradford who is not quite living up to his Rookie of the Year status from two years ago.  He hasn’t progressed at all over the past two season. A lot of that comes down to the lack of talent the Rams have catching the ball.  They don’t have a starting WR who has ever gained 1000 yards in a season.  Their leading receiver, Danny Amendola, is doing well so far this year with 350 yards and a pair of scores but don’t count on him doing much against the NFL’s top defense.  The St. Louis running game has also not been able to get anything going on the ground.  A good ground game, something both teams are lacking, is important in opening up more of a team’s playbook including play-action passes and screens.  The running game in St. Louis revolves around Steven Jackson who hasn’t had a season in which he gained less than 1000 yards  since his rookie year 9 years ago.  He has always been one of those rare workhorses in a league that is full of running back committees.  I can’t help but think that his overuse is finally catch up to him as he reaches his 30s this season.  He was sidelined two weeks ago with a groin injury, which is still lingering and, along with rookie Daryl Richardson averaging 5 yards a carry, Jackson’s chances of having a big game are slim tonight in Arizona.

Game Predictions:

Arizona 26

QB: Kevin Kolb – 22/34, 230 yards, 2 TD
WR: Larry Fitzgerald – 6 rec, 85 yards, 1 TD
WR: Andre Roberts – 5 rec, 65 yards, 1 TD
WR: Early Doucet – 4 rec, 40 yards, 0 TD
RB: Ryan Williams – 15 carries, 55 yards, 0 TD
TE: Rob Housler – 4 rec, 35 yards, 0 TD

St. Louis 16

QB: Sam Bradford – 25/37, 235 yards, 1 TD
WR: Danny Ammendola – 7 rec, 75 yards, 1 TD
WR: Brandon Gibson – 6 rec, 70 yards, 0 TD
WR: Chris Givens – 4 rec, 45 yards, 0 TD
RB: Steven Jackson – 13 carries, 45 yards, 0 TD
RB: Daryl Richardson – 10 carries, 30 yards, 0 TD
TE: Lance Kendricks – 5 rec, 30 yards, 0 TD

Even writing these stats were boring.  You would think that if the league is going to make sure that teams have even less rest throughout the year by mandating Thursday night games for more than 2/3rds of the season that they would at least make the single game on Thursdays be a good match-up.  The next good Thursday game is when the Saints take on the Falcons the last Thursday in November.  Thankfully I, nor many others, don’t have any players from this game to worry about fantasy wise.  Luckily for me, I have a good place to go for cheap drinks and the best buffalo wings one can buy.  There is also the fact that I don’t have to watch Footlocker employees blow a game again, I can go back to booing the real refs and let them blow the game the way they are paid to do.  Or, maybe I can get the barkeep to put The Office on at 9pm.  In lieu of that, lets take a look at other players around the league who have cupcake match-ups this week.

Meatball Match-ups:

QB:

Matt Ryan ATL – He is off to a great start and is leading all the conventional passers in fantasy points.  He gets a start no matter who he is playing but this week is special as he takes on a Washington secondary who has given up 300+ yards and 3 TDs to all but one quarterback so far.  Look for Matt as a lock for those stats or more.

Andy Dalton CIN- This second year, the fiery redhead sure plays a mean football.  In his rookie season he showed us his potential.  Over the last three games he has lived up to that potential.  Throwing for 318 yards and 3 TD, 328 yards and 3 TD, 244 yards and 2 TD over the past three games respectively, look for him to have another 300+ yard 3 TD game against the dolphins who just lets everyone throw for 300 yards against them.

Eli Manning NYG- The 2 times Superbowl MVP is indeed ELIte.  He is second in passing yards with 1320 and has a healthy 7 TDs – 4 INT (3 of those interceptions coming in one game) ratio.  This week will be one of Eli’s softest match-ups of the season when takes on the Cleavland Browns.  The Browns are averaging 300 yards passing against their D and they haven’t even faced one of the leagues top dogs yet.  Look for Eli to have 350 yards and at least 3 TDs.

Sleeper: Andrew Luck IND - The rookie sensation who is supposed to be the next coming of the football god, Payton Manning, should look quite like his successee this week as the Colts take on the Packers in Indianapolis.  I’m not saying the Colts will win, they probably won’t against such a potent offense as the Packers, but playing from behind will force Luck to take it to the air, and the Packers pass defense is nothing to write home about; all signs point to “great success.”  Luck has already thrown for 300 yards in two of his three games and against much better secondaries than the Packers have.  Look for 300 yards and 3 TDs for Luck this week.

WR:

AJ Green CIN- With the easy match-up I described above for Amdy Dalton, look for Green to be the main beneficiary of those stats with two of Dalton’s touchdowns coming his way.  As a rookie last year, Green and Dalton grew leaps and bounds together and I think the success of each is due to the confidence and camaraderie  one has for the other.  This may end up being the best QB/WR duo of all time.  I see them doing great things in years to come.  This is what football is all about.  Look for at least 100 yards for Green along with those two TDs.

Julio Jones ATL- There is a pattern here, QBs with great match-ups will lead to WRs with great match-ups.  As if you weren’t going to start Jones of Green if you have them, these guys may be the reason you win this week.  Jones has been huge when on the road.  Facing the ‘Skins at home who have given up 100 yards and a score to each of the last three #1 receivers they have faced, there is no reason for Jones to kick the coming-up-big-on-the-road habit just yet.  Pen him in for 110 yards and 2 scores.

Reggie Wayne IND- His name was made a fantasy commodity when Payton was his QB in Indianapolis and is proving to be just as helpful with the rookie Andrew Luck taking over.  After one of the worst downfalls a team has ever seen last year, the Colts are poised to be one of the top teams in the recent years to come.  With a great match-up against the swiss cheese holes in the Packers secondary, look for Reggie Wayne to have a big game because Luck relies upon him so heavily.  100 yards and 1 TD.

Sleeper: Malcom Floyd SD- His name has not always been synonymous with fantasy starter, things have changed for the San Diego Chargers veteran wide out.  He is no longer living in Vincent Jackson’s shadow.  He has Phillip Rivers all to him self now.  While I have never been a fan of Rivers, the guy puts up a lot of yards.  This week the Chargers take on the Saints who have given up 100 yards or 1 TD to the top receiver for 3 out of the last 4 weeks.  This is as good a week as any for Floyd and Rivers to get on the same page.  They should be able to compile 90 yards and a score together against the 0-4 Saints.

RB:

Ryan Matthews SD – Ryan Matthews was highly touted in the off-season due to his success last year, but he is a risk this game because San Diego is playing backfield games.  Nonetheless, I don’t see any reason why Matthews shouldn’t have a great game if he gets a good amount of carries against the worst run defense in the league, The New Orleans Saints.  The Saints have given up over 400 yards and 5 scores to running backs in the first quarter of the season.  Look for Matthews to regain his starting role and have 150 total yards and 1 touchdown.

Marshawn Lynch SEA – This pick should come as no surprise as Lynch has been a top 5 running back since last season and is the only piece of ‘real’ offense the Seahawks have.  Not to mention they are facing the Carolina Panthers who are giving up on average 100 yards to running backs on the ground.  While not every running back scores on the ground, they also give value to running backs through the air as well.  Look for Lynch to have 150 total yards and one rushing score.

Frank Gore SF – While Gore is not the back he used to be and is being spelled by backup Kendall hunter, he still can break tackles and tastes blood once he gets near the end-zone.  Against Buffalo who has given up six scores so far and last week gave up 100 yards to two different backs, Gore looks set to have his biggest game of the season.  Look for 110 yards for the old wrecking ball and if he doesn’t get too many goal line touches hawked by Hunter he may very well end up with 2 TDs.

Sleeper: Cedric Benson GB – Green Bay hasn’t been known as a running team since before Brett Farve.  With talent like Farve and Rodgers, they don’t need a great back to win Championships.  Against the Colts, Green Bay should have the lead and will use Benson to manage the clock.  Given that the Colts gave up 190 yards and a score to Maurice Jones-Drew and 120 yards and score to Matt Forte plus two more TDs to Forte’s backup, Benson looks in line to pick up where the Colts left off before their bye week.  I like him for 130 total yards and 1 score.

So that wraps up my potential big game match-ups.  If there is interest for my thoughts on tight-ends, kickers, and team defenses leave a comment otherwise I’ll keep the section like this for most weeks.
Thanks for the read.

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Filed under Fantasy, Football, Meatball Matchups, Thursday Night Footbal

One Drink, One Beer, Monday Night Foodball

This is a Laphroaig 10 Year Single Malt Scotch from the Scottish Isle of Islay. It is unique in its peat and smoke notes, it goes down as smooth as caramel, and smells as good as its bright gold color looks. The alcohol is slightly medicinal and really comes together with a splash of water. I prefer this on the rocks so I can taste the transformation in flavors as the ice melts and not only cools the drink but dilutes some of the alcohol flavor which, in turn, brings out the peat and earthiness. A few swishes from the front of mouth to the back back of mouth warms it back up to a perfect temperature that allows it to coat your tongue and brings out the saltiness.

Looks: This is as gold as a whiskey as you are bound to find.

Smell: As soon as you pop the top your nose is struck with the whiskey’s deep smoke notes and a hint of sweet woodiness.

Taste: There is peat throughout the palate with hints of salted wood and sweetness.

Finish: Wonderfully long and delightful

Smuttynose makes some fantastic beers, their Old Brown Dog Ale is by far my favorite. It is an American Brown Ale brewed in New Hamshire, US with an alcohol content of 6.7%.

Coincidentally it pairs nicely with the Laphroaig above as the saltiness of the whiskey really brings forth the sweet malts of the ale. Now don’t get scared of the hops here, this is not an IPA. Though the hops are there, the sweet caramel malts shine above all.

Looks: Great, dark and cloudy. Decent head when poured aggressively but doesn’t last long.

Smells: toasted malts and caramel stand out here though the smell is faint

Taste: If you like toasted malt you’ve found your beer. Some deep fruit flavors of fig come through along with nuts with a present alcohol flavor on the finish that rounds out the flavors. There is a good effervescent feel here followed by a crisp, smooth swallow. A minute later I’m getting a few hints of citrus, pleasant.

I would highly suggest a beer like this to pair with a pork chop or a cheesy, bacon topped meatloaf. If you are into shots, I can see this as a great chaser for the harder, less sweet ones. Grab one while you are grilling as the crispness can help battle the heat. Both the Laphroaig and the Smuttynose will be a ‘hit’ at any football party and to any wallet. But on a Monday Night during football season, there really is nothing to complain about.

Monday Night Football week 4 promises to be a good one. The Chicago Bears taking on the Dallas Cowboys in Texas has all the makings of a classic drama. On one side there is Chicago who is trying to battle injury while trying to keep their highly talented team from imploding, starting with their Quarterback, Jay Cutler, who seems to blame everyone on his team except for himself for their low productivity – he is only averaging 154 yards in his past two games and Dallas is a much tougher defense. They are lucky that they are 2-1. This game lies in the sole hands of Cutler to get it done. They have young talent everywhere else on the offense with Matt Forte and Michael Bush at running back, a the rookie wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery who is poised for his first big game, though he will have his hands full against a tough Cowboys D at home. Hopefully veteran Brandon Marshall can help stretch this pack field and give Jeffery some wiggle room while make a decent stat line for himself. But it is the Chicago defense who is going to have to get it done tonight.

The Dallas Cowboys have been stacked on the offensive side of the ball since they were created it seems. Their two wide receivers, Dez Bryant and New Jersey’s own Miles Austin, are among the best in the league. Though their production relies heavily upon two factors, their health and their quarterback. They have both battled injuries over the past few seasons, but the Cowboys have found suitable replacements every time one goes down. The real problems stems from which quarterback they play with week in and week out. QB Tony Romo is night and ay different from game to game. Some times he looks like the best quarterbacks in the league as he seemed to be when he took down the New york Giants with 300 yards and 3 TDs. At other times, he is abysmal, like he was replaced with a clone from his freshman college days as he was the last two games where he threw for only 1 TD and 2 INTs combined. He has help standing right behind him in DeMarco Murray, who coming off of a good rookie season where he ran for multiple games of 150+ yards and one over 200 yards. He is off to a slow start this season but look for him to pick it up here against an overrated run D.

Predictions:

Dallas: 24

QB Romo: 265 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 20 yards rushing

WR Miles Austin: 65 yards, no TDs

WR Dez Bryant: 90 yards, 1 TD

WR Kevin Ogletree: 50 yards, no TDs

TE Jason Witten: 50 yards, 1 TD

RB DeMarco Murray: 95 yards, 1 TD

Chicago: 20

QB Jay Cutler: 220 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT

WR Brandon Marshall: 80 yards, 1 TD

WR Alshon Jeffery: 65 yards, no TDs

TE Kellen Davis: 30 yards, no TDs

RB Matt Forte: 60 yards, no TDs, 30 yards receiving

RB Michael Bush: 40 yards, 1 TD

While this won’t be the most exciting game points wise, it may turn out to be a dramatic filled game with much screaming and yelling amongst either team and across the field. Jay Cutler may actually go crazy and pull his hair out, while Dez Bryant may just lash out and punch some one. I’m hoping for the Bears to win so that the Giants still have a better shot in our division, but that doesn’t seem likely. Oh well, I have my scotch and beer to keep me me warm and fuzzy.

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Filed under Beer, Football, Monday Night Football, Spirits

Simple Italian Bread

There are few smells from my childhood that I remember more than brewing coffee, simmering tomato sauce, or sauteing garlic.  One of them is the smell of fresh bread coming out of the oven.  I used to think it was amazing that my mother made fresh bread.  I used to think it was just one of those things that you have to buy because you just can’t make it yourself.  Well, a simple loaf should never be hard to make.  The hardest part might be keeping it around for more than 20 minutes.  The recipe below is just a collection of recipes I have tried over the years and picking from them the techniques that I liked best.  The best part about making bread besides eating it is that it is very easy to experiment with by incorporating different ingredients into the dough.  You can add substitute whole wheat flour for part or all of the bread flour to get a more rustic, wheat flavored bread.  Or you can add herbs like rosemary or thyme in the final five minutes of mixing the dough to give it some earthy flavors.

Ingredients:

1 cup of 100 degree water
1 1/4 teaspoon sugar (I prefer organic brown sugar)
1 pack of active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
3 cups of high-gluten (bread) flour
2 tablespoons extra-vrigin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon milk

Preparation

Pour water into bowl of electric stand mixer.  Stir in sugar and then add yeast.  Let stand for 5 minutes this will let the yeast ‘bloom’, the yeasty water should have bubbles on the surface when it is ready.  Add oil, salt, and 2 cups of flour to the water.  Attach bread hook to electric mixer and mix on low speed for 1 minute.  Once all elements are combined add remaining 1 cup of flour to dough 1 tablespoon at a time allowing the flour to be incorporated before adding the next (about 30 seconds in between tablespoons).  You will know when enough flour has been added when the dough is smooth and soft.  If it is wet and sticky add more flour.  The dough should spring back when you push it with a finger and you should be able to stretch it out in a thin transparent square without it breaking.  If the dough is too dry, looks rough, and is pulling apart you will have to start over – it is very important to not over flour the dough for you can not add more water back into the dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Increase the speed on your mixer to medium and let it knead for 5 – 8 minutes – the dough should be smooth, firm and elastic.  Place dough in large, lightly oiled bowl.   Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot (85 degrees) and let it sit for 30 minutes, the dough should have doubled in size.  Punch the dough down and let sit covered for 10 more minutes.  Turn dough out onto lighted floured surface.  Roll dough up from the long sides pinching the seam together and form a elongated loaf about 12 inches long.

Whisk egg and milk together in a bowl.  Brush a light coating over the top of the dough.  (Note – The egg wash step is optional as it is mostly to give the loaf a nice brown color.  Skip the milk and use just the egg if you want a darker looking loaf, remove the yolk and use just the egg white for a lighter colored crust.  This where you can also add sesame seeds if you feel so inclined.)  With a sharp pairing knife, cut 3, 1/4 inch slits into the top of the loaf on a diagonal.

Place on an oiled baking sheet and pop in the oven for 16-20 minutes, until golden browned.  For a crispier crust, spray bread lightly with water at the 7 minute baking mark.

Enjoy with pasta, salads, or my Pumpkin Chili recipe: The bread is wonderful straight from the oven with butter, it usually does not last past this point.  Recipe can be doubled by doubling flour, water, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Use same amount of the rest.

Helpful Pics and tips:

The yeast will look like this when it is bloomed and active

Dough should look like this when it is done kneading and ready to rise.

 

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Filed under Bread, Food, Recipe

Pumpkin Beer Chicken Chili

This recipe was adapted by my in-laws from an old cooking light magazine.  My wife has been eating this since she was a little kid and was excited to make it for the first time a few days ago chronicled in an earlier post here: http://croe33.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/pumkin-chili/.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons jalapeno pepper — seeded, and minced
2 clove garlic — crushed
1 cup beer – I prefer an ale (Smuttynose Old Dog Ale is great here)
1 cup Swanson organic chicken broth
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 – 28 ounces can no-salt-added whole tomatoes — drained, seeded and chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts — cut in tiny pieces
2 cups cooked fresh pumpkin (1 medium-small pumpkin)– cubed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
16 ounces canned pinto beans — drained
6 tablespoons sliced green onions
6 tablespoons sharp cheddar cheese — shredded (1 1/2 ounces)
6 tablespoons nonfat sour cream

Preparation:

Step 1 – Pumpkin

Peel one medium-small sized pumpkin, cut in half and remove seeds and stringy guts.  chop into 1 inch cubes and boil for 15-30 minutes.  You will know it is done when you poke it with a fork and the fork pulls right out without much force.

Step 2 – Chili
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add beer and next 7 ingredients (beer through chicken); bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in pumpkin, cilantro, cocoa, and beans; cook 5 minutes.

Enjoy over rice or fresh baked Italian bread.

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Filed under Chicken, Chili, Food, Pumpkin, Recipe

My Sunday Revolves Around Football and Coffee

“My son, you’d sleep through an earthquake. Now, get up.”

This was not an uncommon quote I’d hear my father say to me weekday mornings during the school year. Sometimes he’d yell it, sometimes he’d say it quietly while shaking one of my appendages, but it was always accompanied with a warm cup of coffee.

These days, I have to make the coffee myself if I want some in the morning. Also, I’m not sure my wife would get out of bed if I didn’t make it. While I’m not the biggest fan of waking up before 9am, for a good cup of coffee, I’ll do just about anything, that includes buying a $300 coffee maker because it is the only one on the market that will consistently hit the perfect water temperature for brewing, 200 degrees.

We didn’t always have the luxury of this do-all coffee maker. When we first got married, I was making a french press, sometimes two, every morning. In my opinion, there is no better way to make a pot of coffee then to let your coarse grinds steep in almost boiling water for 4-5 minutes in a french press. But I became lazy and my wife broke three of my French presses. I needed a less involved way to make coffee. Something that I could get started and then forget about while I got ready for the day.

Moccamaster and grinder

I heard about the Technivorm Moccamaster in an issue of Cooks Illustrated. It was their only recommended auto-drip coffee maker. This intrigued me. I did my own research and the consensus was the same as Cook’s review, it simply made great coffee. And it really does. The reservoir holds ten cups of water. The water is drawn down into the heating element, when it boils, the pressure pushes the water through a clear plastic tube that passes back through the reservoir where the water cools to the a near consistent 200 degrees (optimal brewing temp) and then is slowly trickled over the coffee grinds and slow dripped through the brew chamber and into a carafe that can keep the coffee warm for hours. This remains the best present my wife ever bought me.

For a while, in between school and a “real” job, I worked as a barista in an upscale breakfast and lunch restaurant in New Jersey. This is a place that was serious about their coffee. They served their specialty coffees in french presses to every guest, and they carried ten different coffees from all over the world that had their own unique characteristics. From the floral and fruity, acidic Kona coffee from Hawaii, to the dark, molasses, and caramel chocolate notes of coffee from the Blue Mountains in Jamaica that retails for forty dollars a pound. I still like to think that I’m not a coffee snob, I think of myself as an educated consumer.

Today, like most other days, I’m not using any fancy coffee, just some basic, moderately inexpensive, Trader Joe’s coffee. But I’ll tell you what, it tastes like an eight dollar cup of coffee from an upscale coffeehouse or breakfast joint. When you throw in a better coffee, you get even better results.

~ FOOTBALL WEEK 4 ~

Enough about coffee. Let’s talk football. Welcome to the first week of byes. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts take a seat for the week and get to watch the games like ordinary people. For the rest of us we struggle to fill the holes the bye weeks leave in our fantasy teams. But it is Sunday nonetheless and this week is packed with great games. I’ll express how I feel about a few of the good match-ups and try to predict the outcome. If you live in Vegas, please do not head to the nearest sports-book to place a bet based on my words – if you do, only let me know if and how much you’ve won.

Carolina Panthers 24 @ Atlanta Falcons 30.

Matty Ice, Matt Ryan. I was hyping this guy earlier in the week when I was discussing who to start at QB for my fantasy team. This guy is on fire this year and I don’t think he stops any time soon, and he is one of the main reasons the Atlanta Falcons are off to a 3-0 start. Not only does he have two of the best receivers in the league with Julio Jones and Roddy White, but he’s also got a future Hall-of-Famer @ tight end in Tony Gonzalez. This should be a big game for Ryan playing against a team that has been average against the pass, allowing atleast one TD to each quarterback they have faced thus far. Look for Ryan to throw tree touchdowns for 320 yards, plus another 30 yards rushing and maybe a rushing TD himself. I’ll give Gonzalez a touchdown as he is just a huge target in the endzone. Between Jones and White there will be two touchdowns and 220 yards.

Last year’s Rookie of the year, Carolina’s Cam Newton, is off to a rough start, compared to the record pace he started off with last year. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a threat, even against one of the top defenses in the league. He will have his hands full, but keep in mind that this guy can run fast and hard, is a threat to run in a touchdown anytime they are within the redzone, and has a rocket launcher for an arm. If the receivers aren’t there, which I don’t think they will be for much of the game, Newton will have a great game running the ball. Look for Newton to have 200 yards passing with a score, and 90 yards rushing and a score. On the receiving side of the ball, Steve Smith with have a decent game of 70 yards and the only TD, leaving the rest of the guys to scramble over the scraps. The running game will have some yards, maybe 110, split between DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart with Stewart getting the only rushing score there, if he is playing – he was limited in practice all week so keep an eye on this.

New Orleans Saints 27 @ Green Bay Packers 34

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has been nothing short of disappointing so far this year. Look for that to change this week against the worst defense in the league, and maybe of all-time. Yea, I said it! If there is ever a game to give Rodgers confidence going into it, it is this one. The Packers are not a run first team so Rodgers will throwing the ball all over the field today. He has no shortage in quality receivers either. Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings should both have nice games with 80 yards and a touchdown each. Then you have Jermichael Finley at tight end who, when he is having one of his games, is un-coverable. Look for a good game from him with 70 yards and a score. This leaves three other receivers James Jones, Randall Cobb, and Donald Driver with little production to share. 150 yards and one touchdown between them. This gives Rodgers a huge game, 380 yards and 4 touchdowns – it will happen.

The Saints are really living up to their alter-ego this season as the Aints. They just ain’t getting it done. Drew Brees and his offense are putting up the points scoring 32, 27, and 24 points respectively over the last three games but none of those scores have been enough to win a game. This week doesn’t look promising as they are up against one of the most potentially explosive offenses in the league. They have to do a better job at stopping the other team from scoring when it matters. But Brees should still have his normal good game, 300 yards and three touchdowns against a defense that isn’t exactly stellar themselves. The touchdowns will go one each to the big, talented, tightend, Jimmy Graham, the ever present Marques Colston @ WR, and the versatile running back, Darren Sproles. Doesn’t matter who scores on offense, it won’t be enough this week.

Game of the Week

New York Giants 30 @ Philadelphia Eagles 27

Of course this is the game of the week for me, I am a Giants homer. Nonetheless, this game will be good. The past few years, the Eagles have almost always found a way to stop the Giants; I guess that is what happens when you play a team twice in a year. It is always nerve-racking to watch my guys play the Eagles. But I think the Giants have this in the bag. Eli Manning is proving that you can’t spell elite without ELI. He is averaging over 300 yards a game, in one of those games he threw for 510 yards and three TDs. He won’t replicate those numbers today, but he will get the job done with 280 yards and two touchdowns. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks (if he plays) will be factors splitting 180 yards but only one score, I’ll give that score to Victor Cruz because Nicks is a little banged up and Cruz is on my Fantasy team. The other touchdown from Manning will go to Martellus Bennett at tight end. Manning has always gotten the tight ends involved an made relevant since he started. That won’t stop this game, as he is averaging 60 yards a game and has scored in every outing so far. Look for nothing different today from him. Ahmad Bradshaw and rookie Andre Brown will split carries depending on who is having the most success. Coming off an injury, look for Andre Brown to have the better game with 65 yards and a score.

I have a hard time writing about the Eagles because I just don’t know what to make of them. Michael Vick should be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks on the field with his powerful arm that can throw the ball clear across the field to his legs that make him one of the fastest players in the game, but he just can not stay healthy or keep the turnovers from piling up. He already has nine turnovers and it won’t get any easier as he faces probably to most formidable defensive lines in the NFL in the New York Giants Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre-Paul. These guys get on the QB, and never let him rest. Outlook for Michael Vick’s injury prone ribs: Not so goo!. But Vick knows how to find a way to be productive against the G-Men so he should have a decent game. 240 yards and two touchdowns, two interceptions, plus 40 yards rushing, sounds about right for him. DeSean Jackson looks in line for a good game, 80 yards and a score. And the tight end, Brent Celek, also looks to have a chance today – I’ll give him 40 yards and a touchdown. Leaving Jeremy Maclin with the big bulk of the remaining yards but no score. LeSean McCoy will working hard today to find the holes, but the kid has moves, and will rack up another good game her as the Giants D Line are much better against the pass then against the run. McCoy should turn in 100 yards and a score today, keep it a close game til the very end.

Fantasy Standouts: Week 4 Dream Team

QB: Aaron Rodgers: 380 yards, 4TDs = 31.2 Points

RB: Ray Rice: 180 total yards, 1TD = 24 points

RB: Maurice Jones-Drew: 160 total yards, 1 TD = 22 points

WR: Calvin Johnson: 115 yards, 2 TDs = 23.2 points

WR: AJ Green: 110 yards, 1 TD = 17 points

WR: Victor Cruz: 80 yards, 1 TD = 14 points

TE: Vernon Davis, 70 yards, 1 TD = 13 points

Kicker: David Akers: 3 FGs, 2 PAT = 11 points

Total Points = 155.4 Points

Happy Sunday!

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Filed under Coffee, Fantasy, Football, Weekly Matchups

Fantasy Football and Pumpkin Chili

While my wife is in the next room making pumpkin chili, moaning with exertion with every knife stroke that slices its way through the orange, vegetal flesh of the pumpkin, I am stewing over my fantasy football line-up for tomorrow’s games.  QB: do I start Atlanta’s Matt RyanAKA Matty Ice because he is so cool under pressure and has been

Wife (Erica) cutting pumpkin for pumpkin chili

tearing up the football field from under center this season, or do I start the rookie, the phenom, Washinton’s Robert Griffin III AKA RG3?  This kid can do it all, throws the ball like a shot from a cannon, runs like Usain Bolt, and is big enough to take a hit with the rest of them.  I’m going with RG3 on this one, though I may change my mind tomorrow, probably not.

Then, at wide receiver I got my boy Victor Cruz who has shown his ability to lead the Giants to one Super Bowl already, :cheers: and hopefully to another this season.  But I am torn between two up-and-comers who have come on hot as of late and are really showing that they have the ability to perform at the highest level.  First we have a big, quick, athletic dude in Leonard Hankerson playing for the Redskins and will be taking his throws from my man RG3 all day, but he is a hit or miss type player.  I like his skill though and with the Redskin’s number one wide receiver banged up and maybe even sidelined tomorrow, I gotta like Hankerson’s chances here. On the other side of the coin I have the speedy, agile small man, Andrew Hawkins from Cincinnati who has the wiggles to beat any defender and is always a threat to score from anywhere on the field.  In three weeks, he has 208 yards and 2 TDs, both his touchdowns coming off of 50+ yard catches and he shock off multiple defenders along the way.  Now that is a tough decision!  Wife’s calling….

…I’m back.  I had to chop some jalapeno’s for the chili, Erica is scared to touch them any more because the last time they made the tips of her fingers feel like they were on fire.  I ate a seed…yummy!  Then I touched my ear, it stings.

Here’s a few pictures of what she is doing in there with this pumpkin chili.  Recipe to follow, its a good one and one of my wife’s family recipes, so don’t go telling everybody like I just did.

There is that jalapeno that is currently burning the inside of my ear, but when I came back to my computer, there was a beer sitting next to it, so that makes up for the pain.  Thanks hun.  Maybe I could pour some on my ear to make it feel better.  Funny though, lips aren’t burning. I can tell you one thing, this pumpkin chili smells amazing from where I’m sitting.  It better be good because its 8pm and I’m starving.

A few notes about this beer she left by my computer.  It is from Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire and it is their Old Brown Dog Ale.  It pours with a nice, inch thick head that quickly dissipates leaving you with a warm, deep caramel color that matches it’s smell plus the the added earthy tones.  The taste starts off with a nice woody malt which matures as it warms in your mouth and finishes with a nice, subtle hoppiness that is very welcome.  I think I’ll have another with dinner.

That’s it for now, I have bread dough that is ready to be turned out and baked to go with my wife’s pumpkin chili.  Check back tomorrow for the recipes and some real football talk.

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Filed under Chicken, Chili, Food, Football, Pumpkin