Birthday Boy

by Jenn (eating bender) on September 14, 2012

Although we broke the tradition of visiting McCormick & Schmick’s for Karen’s Bobby’s birthday this year, we still managed to have an amazing celebration. Easy for me to say since Mama Bender and I are the ones who planned it, but Bobby also agreed. šŸ˜‰

When Bobby requested that we stay in to watch the Packers beat the vs. Bears game last night, I gave an enormous cheer. And then I went about deciding what surprise dinner I would make for him. It didn’t take me long to choose risotto-a-go-go.

We haven’t made this recipe in quite a while, but it is as delicious as ever. I used the usual chicken sausage and portabella mushrooms, but switched up the shrimp by adding clam meat into the mix instead (thanks for the idea, Mama B).

My brother didn’t want the clams, so I threw just the chicken sausage and mushrooms into the pot of risotto at the end of the cooking process and set the clams aside for the rest of us.

The result was fantastic! The clams added a new flavor element to spice things up.

Mama Bender also made a delicious Caprese salad with heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The yellow heirlooms were sweeter and very tasty.

After dinner, we settled in to watch a fantastic Packers game. Never mind what happened against the 49ers last week. The Pack is BACK! Between the defensive plays and the touchdowns from Masthay (the punter) and Driver, it was an exciting night for cheeseheads everywhere.

While we were watching the game, Mama Bender also had the excellent idea of doing a fall beer tasting. She picked up a selection of six different seasonal brews at the store yesterday and brought out small cups for each of us to try them out.

Starting at the top and working down the rows left to right, here were my reviews:

  1. Pretty good considering I’m usually not a fan of darker beers. I wouldn’t choose it over others.
  2. A very subtle pumpkin taste – excellent! I would definitely drink it more often.
  3. One word: spicy! Not “hot” spicy – more like “holiday pie” spicy. It went well with our dessert.
  4. Definite pumpkin taste and somewhere between light and dark beer. It was just OK.
  5. Delicious! I could tell it was seasonal but it also seemed to taste the most like a “normal” beer.
  6. Good for people who like dessert beers. I’m not a big stout person but it was interesting to try.

In the end, Bobby chose number five as his favorite, while I was on the fence between five and two. Mama Bender really liked three. She brought out the bottles for the big reveal…

Sierra Nevada Tumbler, Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Wasatch Pumpkin Seasonal Ale, America’s Original Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams Octoberfest and Chocolate Box Dark Oatmeal Stout.

That last one has quite the bottle, huh?

I had heard of Punk’n before and now I know I’m a fan! Thanks for the great tasting, MB. It’s always more fun to be able to try a variety of beers without drinking the whole bottle. šŸ˜‰

My mom also had the delicious idea of stopping by Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up a special treat for the birthday boy who, as you might recall, is quite the donut fan. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a chocolate glazed donut and who needs cake?

I opted for a seasonal pumpkin donut – I’m sensing a trend here – topped with a smaller scoop. The pumpkin donut was dangerously good. Fall is almost here and there’s no way I’m turning back!

It was a great night for celebrating. The Packers went on to win 23-10 and Bobby marked 26 years. The past 12 months have been full of adventure and I can only imagine that the next 12 will hold even more excitement. I can’t wait to go on the journey with this guy. Who could resist?

Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend?

We’ll be starting the house search process. Wish us luck!


1 Shannon September 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

happy birthday bobby :) sounds like you had quite the night! enjoy the rest of the weekend guys!
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2 Jenn (eating bender) September 18, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Thanks, Shannon! :)

3 Cara (Twinthusiast) September 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

RISOTTO! Love pumpkin beer – what a great tasting idea. Glad Bobby got his bday donut.
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4 Jenn (eating bender) September 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I need even more risotto in my life!

5 Jess September 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Your mum sounds awesome! Beer tasting and donuts!!! And that risotto looks so good!!!
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6 Jenn (eating bender) September 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Thank you, Jess! She is pretty cool if I say so myself. :)

7 Wendi September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Happy happy birthday to Bobby!! And what a better present (other than that ahhhmazing meal you made) than the Packers absolutely schooling da Bears! You better believe I was doing the endzone dance like a maniac last night lol. Hope you’re having a great start to your weekend girly! And congrats again on the move!! I am so sorry I have been so busy; I’ve been meaning to congratulate you and see how Arizona has been treating you guys but every time I get a free second, something else is piled onto my plate haha. Oh the life of a grad student. Love ya sweety!

8 Jenn (eating bender) September 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Thank you, Wendi! That game was awesome – so glad the Pack is back! We were doing end zone dances, too. :) I am so sorry that I have been so busy, too. I can imagine the life of a grad student is equally full – hope you’re enjoying every minute and I will definitely be in touch soon. Much love right back at you!

9 Susan September 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Ooo… looks like Karen had himself a great b-day! haha. I, too, am a huge fan of the pumpkin beers. My Boston friends will appreciate the birthday Dunkin… it’s probably a good thing that I no longer work right down the street from a DD. :)

10 Jenn (eating bender) September 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Haha! Karen did, indeed. I love Dunkin, too! Doesn’t “everybody” as the slogan goes? šŸ˜‰

11 Caroline September 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Looks like a lovely birthday! Especially the fall beer tasting, what a great idea :)
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12 Jenn (eating bender) September 19, 2012 at 12:41 am

I’ve realized that beer tastings are always a great idea! :)

13 Marianne September 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Holy crap that risotto looks delicious. I have the sudden urge to buy clams and mushrooms and make my own!
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14 vista orthodontist September 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Belated happy birthday to him! That risotto recipe looks scrumptious. I’ve never tried making a risotto, but this one might be a hit for my family, they love seafood. Can you easily get the seasonal beer at any stores, or are they available in select groceries?
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