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Ice, Ice Baby

So this week here in the DC region, mother nature decided to provide us with a nice covering of ice. If you’re not from the area, any precipitation in this area really messes up any travel plans one might have. The best thing to do on a day where you wake up to a bunch of ice is to stay inside and get some chores done. My chores for the day included making some treats for work. Luckily, I had some help, one of my friends who lives a few blocks away came over to help.

We made some salted caramel popcorn and packaged them up in bags to be distributed to my coworkers this week. I used my mom’s recipe for caramel popcorn and added some Fleur de Sel – a french sea salt – at the end to give the popcorn some extra special flavor. We also made some scotchies (butterscotch rice krispie treats) which remind me so much of my childhood as my grandma made them every year. We dug into them while they were still warm and gooey.

Salty and caramely goodness

Still gooey!

Of course to help us along we had to have some wine! Since it was chilly out, I warmed it up for us. This is totally the season for some mulled wine! It’s basically like a warm, spiced sangria that is easily adaptable. I like to use a robust, full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. I picked Winc’s Pacificana Cab because it has a lot of red fruit flavors and would stand up to the add-ins. Also, this Cab is oaked which imparts some vanilla and baking spice flavors into the wine which will in turn help spice up mulled wine.

I’m calling this Cranberry-Orange mulled wine. To the wine, I added some cranberry juice cocktail, orange zest, freshly squeezed orange zest, fresh cranberries, a cinnamon stick, and a star anise. I let it sit in the crock pot to warm up for a few hours, allowing the flavors to really meld. The mulled wine has so much flavor, and you can easily add whatever fruit/juice/spices you want to make it unique. Want to make your own this winter? Try some at a discount by using this link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Pasta and mulled wine, I can’t think of a better pairing.

Also, we had to have a lunch break. We needed it to be quick and easy and we found the perfect Back to Basics recipe. The tagliatelle with truffle butter is so easy and SO good. Literally, this is one that you HAVE to make. The reicpe does require a few specialty ingredients but they’re worth it. Ina recommends Cipriani brand tagliatelle.

The brand is actually named after a man named Giuseppe Cipriani who opened Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy back in the 1930’s. This pasta is very high quality and it only cooks in 3 minutes flat! It’s super fresh and SUPER good. Here is a link where you can purchase it on Amazon: Amazon - Cipriani Pasta.

The other ingredient you’re going to want is White Truffle Butter. Truffles are extremely expensive to buy on their own but truffle infused butter is much more affordable. Visit http://www.dartagnan.com to purchase. I recommend stocking up and buying a few extra and keep them in the freezer then just pop them out when you need them. The butter is great in sauces, on chicken, potatoes, you name it. It’s especially amazing in this pasta dish because the tagliatelle absorbs the sauce.

A bowl full of goodness

Seriously this pasta could not be easier. The longest part is waiting for the water to boil. All you do is heat the cream and butter up in skillet over extremely low heat (I had mine on the lowest heat setting) and then add your cooked pasta and done. I served it directly out of the pan with the Parmesan shavings and chives on top. I can’t really think of any way to make this dish any better. Granted – it isn’t healthy by any means, but when you just need an easy, quick, and comforting meal, this is it.

With this being my last post before Christmas, I just want to wish everyone happy holidays and happy eating! 🙂

 

 

Print Recipe
Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 152
Course Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat the cream, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper over very low heat and mix to combine. Keep the butter and cream over very low heat.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. If using Cipriani brand, it'll only be 3 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, reserve some cooking liquid and drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the butter and cream. Add as much of the pasta water as needed to keep the pasta very creamy.
  4. Garnish with with chives and shaved Parmesan.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have tagliarelle (aka tagliatelle), fettuccine works well.

 

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Wine Tasting Featuring Winc

The holidays are fast approaching and that means one thing – parties. I actually was invited to attend a doterra essential oil party that one of my yoga friends was hosting. We decided to do the part potluck style where everyone chips in and brings something different. I offered to bring something snacky and some wine because of course I did. I figured this would be an excellent time to bust out some new and different Winc wines for my friends to try.

When I was looking through Back to Basics, I turned to the first recipe in the Appetizers section and I knew immediately that was what I needed to make. It is the recipe for Ina’s Parmesan & thyme crackers. Yes, homemade crackers and they are SO easy you won’t believe it. Essentially they are savory shortbread cookies. Shortbread being cookies that are butter and flour with no egg. Instead of adding sugar, the recipe calls for Parmesan cheese and thyme to give them lots of flavor. The result is a buttery cracker with great salty Parmesan and herb flavor. I actually decided to use some dried thyme when I made them because it was easier. I KNOW, I KNOW – Ina would not be a fan of using a dried herb here. However, I think dried herbs are great and convenient. Not everyone has time to run to the store to pick up some fresh thyme just to use a teaspoon for a recipe. This is where dried herbs are a savior.

No cheese for these crackers - only wine...

No cheese for these crackers – only wine…

I can’t wait to make these around Christmas and mix up the herbs and possibly the cheese a little bit. In fact, I was chatting at the party with a friend who is lactose intolerant. She gave me the idea of using Pecorino cheese instead of the Parm because Pecorino is sheep’s milk cheese and doesn’t contain the lactose that Parmesan (cow’s milk) does. You’d still get the same salty bite but it would be lactose friendly. These went great with the wine. They are perfect for neutralizing the palate when switching between different wines.

Now, on to the wines. I chose 3 to bring along that I thought would be different for everyone to try. Vinyasa Chenin Blanc, To Be Honest Red Blend, and Supercluster Tourigua Nacional.

Vinyasa Chenin Blanc:

vin-YAS-a

vin-YAS-a

The only white wine I brought, it’s totally self-explanatory why it was necessary. With the attendees being my yoga teacher training peers – we HAD to have some Vinyasa! Also, this wine is particularly interesting. First, it is low in alcohol by volume – only 11.8%. I like how I say “only”, I mean, it’s less than normal. Anyway, this wine is also…vegan. Before I found out, I thought all wine was vegan. I mean, it’s fermented grapes stored in either steel or oak barrels, what animal products could be involved. I decided to do some digging. Turns out A LOT of wine is not vegan friendly. Here’s the deal: when wine is made and the grapes are crushed, there is a lot of sediment that floats around in there, especially in very young wines that haven’t been aged very long. The producers put that wine through a processed called fining before bottling. This process is basically a filtration system that removes the sediment and leaves the wine clear. I figured they’d just run it through a fine sieve, but what producers do is pour animal casein (protein) into the wine. This casein attracts the sediment and it kinda congeals into larger clumps of stuff that can more easily be removed from the wine. To achieve this, vegan friendly wines use something like activated charcoal for the fining process. KNOWLEDGE DROP! I know what you’re thinking – MIND.BLOWN. I’m not actually sure if wines will actually say they are vegan or if you need to do your research before hand. It can’t hurt to do a little research if you want to maintain a vegan friendly diet.

Ok – so the taste. Even though this is a white wine, it definitely is not sweet. I tasted citrus and interestingly enough the pith of the citrus. There was some bitterness there like you were eating an orange or drinking unsweetened tea. I think this wine would be great with some peaches or raspberries in it to counterbalance the bitterness of it. Or it could definitely be great for a sangria.

To Be Honest Red Blend by Matt Bellasai

Nothing to whine about here, tbh.

Nothing to whine about here, tbh.

Oh Matt Bellasai, how I want your job. If you followed Buzzfeed on Facebook over the past couple years, you’ve probably seen Matt’s entrance into the wine world with their segment “Wine About It”. He basically sat at his desk, slammed some wine and got buzzed, then was given a topic to complain about. I specifically remember his segment where he did the Edward 40 Hands challenge with I think Pinot Grigo. He has since moved on from Buzzfeed and started his own segment now called “To Be Honest” and the premise is the same. However NOW he has his own wine! When I saw that Winc was collaborating with him I knew I had to try it. And Matt, if you’re reading this and you need an assistant or backup – let me know!

This is a great versatile red blend as most are.  A little bit of breathing on this wine really releases the fruitiness of it. It is quite complex as it is a blend of four grapes from the Paso Robles region of California. Best part of this wine, is that it is great, easy to drink and only $13 – very affordable and would make a great gift for anyone who likes red wine.

Supercluster Tourigua Nacional

Hipster chic

Hipster chic

This is what I call the hipster of the bunch. Tourigua Nacional is a Portugese grape that is grown in Paso Robles, California and is considered to be pretty rare. What makes this wine “hipster” is how it is made. When I think of the hipster scene, I think of cold-brew coffee and microbreweries with the whole chemistry set up. They are always looking for ways to incorporate science into how they make things. This wine is just that. It is made using the “carbonic method”. Like vegan wine, I had to do some research. Essentially, the grapes are harvested from the vineyard and instead of being macerated to let the juice ferment, they are place into large drums in tact. The winemakers fill the drums with CO2 and the grapes are left to ferment in tact. Meaning the juice ferments INSIDE the grape. This is to result in a lighter bodied red-wine and it’s just a pretty cool and modern method.

This was by far my favorite. It was super easy to drink right out of the bottle with loads of fruit flavors. It also had a little bit of syrupiness to it, so it had some weight to it. A great way to describe it is how one of my favorite vloggers, Whitney Adams puts it. She says it is like drinking whole milk versus skim. You know how whole milk is thicker and silky whereas skim milk is a bit watery. Yeah, Supercluster is like whole milk in that situation. It’s so great – and I’d definitely pair that with a cheese board because it would really go well with some bold flavored cheeses.

So there you have it, three interesting wines and some delish homemade crackers to go with. As the holidays are fast approaching, you might be wondering what to get as host/hostess gifts for any upcoming parties. WINE! Especially some interesting wine that would be a great conversation starter. Plus, it gets delivered right to your door! If you want to pick some up for a discount, visit my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Until next time, happy eating and stay thirsty!

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Print Recipe
Parmesean & Thyme Crackers
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 30.
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
crackers
Ingredients
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
crackers
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of water (mine took 3 teaspoons of water total).
  2. Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a sharp knife and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

You can totally make these WAYYYYYYYYYY ahead of time and put them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you need them, thaw them out in the fridge overnight, slice and bake.

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Fresh Mushroom Risotto

Well, Thanksgiving is officially over. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and ate all the things. I was hoping to put up a post last week, but I ended up getting sick after the holiday so I held out. This week,  I wanted to go for something a little bit different than anything we’d had for Thanksgiving so I decided to go for the Wild Mushroom Risotto featured in Back to Basics. Risotto is something that I’ve always felt is super fancy and always looks really, really good. However, I’ve tried to make it a few times before and never had any success at it. The rice would always be undercooked. I mean like still crunchy. I decided I would take my time with this one and follow the methodology that Ina laid out exactly when making it and hope that it would turn out.

img_0635The first thing that you’ll need is Arborio rice. This is the best rice to use for risotto as it is short grain and VERY starchy    which is what makes risotto creamy. You can find this in the regular grocery store in the rice isle. It’s pretty common now. If you use jasmine rice or brown rice, it will just absorb the liquid and won’t release the starch. You’ll end up with a pot of rice, which I’m sure will still taste good, but it won’t be creamy like risotto.

The one thing different that I noticed I never did before was to heat the chicken stock while I’m cooking the risotto. Essentially you’re stirring and stirring the rice while adding the stock a little bit at a time while the rice absorbs the liquid and releases its starches. In my prior experiences, I just dumped the stock in straight from the can or box. This go around I decided to take Ina’s word on it and I used my homemade stock I made a few months ago and I heated it in a separate pot on the stove over medium/low heat.  Honestly, this makes sense to me now. I took a cooking class a few years ago and the instructor told us that the quickest way to bring the temperature of a pan down is to add food to it. So, when I was making the risotto before and I was adding the room temperature stock to the rice, it was dropping the temperature of the pot and it wouldn’t cook through. If the stock is warm, then the cooking continues undisturbed and allows the rice to cook all the way through.

Passarola and Cremini

Passarola and Cremini

Now, let’s talk mushrooms. Ina recommends using dried Morel mushrooms. Morels are very rare to find fresh and if you do, they’re typically astronomically expensive. In an effort to make them more widely available, companies have started to dry them and sell them in stores. Then all you have to do is re-hydrate them in boiling water then you can use the broth as stock which adds even more flavor to whatever it is you’re cooking. I’ve done this with porcini mushrooms (and I will admit, it does add a TON of flavor to the dish) – I made some barley mushroom soup when I was on my vegan kick and it honestly gave the soup a beefy flavor. However, I had issues finding Morels except at the local Whole Foods for like $15 for a tiny little pack. I’d have had to buy two packs to make the risotto and I feel like $30 on one ingredient is a little too pretentious even for me. So, I improvised. I found some really cool oyster mushrooms that had a blue tint to them at Trader Joe’s and decided to use those and the Baby Bella (cremini) mushrooms. The risotto still turned out fantastic. If you want to use dried mushrooms, I provided an Amazon link at the bottom for some dried Porcini mushrooms and added a note at the end of the recipe on how to incorporate them into the risotto.

Beautiful Blue Oyster Mushrooms look just like a painting

Beautiful Blue Oyster Mushrooms look just like a painting

img_0636This also marked my first time working with Saffron. Just like the Morel mushrooms, saffron is a pretty expensive ingredient. It is the stamen of the a crocus flower. They have to be hand harvested and dried which is what gives them their mystique. It does add a beautiful yellow tint to the risotto and a spiciness that I can’t really explain. It is unique and really good. The good news is that you only need to use a tiny bit. This I did splurge on and got some from Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find any at the store, here is a link where you can order some online. I recommend this ingredient as it is difficult to duplicate the flavor of the saffron.

Overall, this risotto turned out perfectly. It was about 30 minutes of monotonous stirring, but if you have a little bit of time, it’s totally worth it. Also, it is very hearty and can easily be turned into a fully vegetarian meal, just leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock. Also, feel free to add whatever vegetables (you can use frozen) you want to this dish. It really is pretty adaptable to whatever you have going on in the fridge.

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I had to pair this dish with some wine – the recipe called for it after all! You’ll want a dry wine, meaning not sweet. If you add a sweet wine like Moscato, it will give the rice a sugary taste. I would recommend a Sauvignon Blanc as most of them have a lot of flavor and not much residual sugar. However, I used Winc’s Passarola Vinho Branco from Portugal. Vinho Branco literally means white wine in Portuguese. It is a versatile white wine and is absolutely delicious to drink with the meal and by itself to be honest. It has a lot of citrus flavor, think lemons and limes. It is also nicely balanced between acidity and sweetness. If you like Sauv Blanc, you’ll LOVE this and the good news, it is super affordable. One thing I love about Winc is how I get to try wines from all over the world, like Portugal, that I wouldn’t have normally tried otherwise. If you want to try Winc and get a discount on your first order, use my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Leftovers!!!

Leftovers!!!

 

Link for Porcini Mushrooms:


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Print Recipe
Fresh Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 144
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Remove and discard the stems of the cremini mushrooms and rub off any excess dirt with a damp paper towel. Don't rinse them! Slice and set aside. Slice the oyster mushrooms and set aside with the cremini mushrooms.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the bacon and shallots over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of the warm chicken stock to the rice plus the saffron, salt and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls with extra cheese.
Recipe Notes

If you use the dried mushrooms, decrease the amount of chicken stock by 2 cups. Steep the mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes. Run the mushroom stock through a coffee filter to remove the sediment. Mix the mushroom stock with the chicken stock and simmer in pan. Add the now hydrated mushrooms in with the cremini mushrooms.

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The Salad for All

This has been an emotional week for all, this whole election cycle has been quite a production and Tuesday was the finale. There seems to be a lot of divide on social media regarding the outcome – however, if there’s one thing I know is that nobody can disagree on good food. The kitchen and table are both places where we can all come together despite our differences. To help you find some solace in your week, I decided to try to find a recipe that I think anyone would like (this included either subbing or leaving out some ingredients, because of special diets and such).

While skimming through Back to Basics, I looked for a recipe this week that would easily appeal to all. I KNOW that some hate the idea of salad but this one is very easy and can be adapted to fit both carnivores and vegetarians alike.  Of course I am referring to the Cape Cod Chopped Salad. It has all the flavors of the season with maple syrup, orange, walnuts, blue cheese and cranberries. For the meat eaters, it has bacon which can easily be left out for a vegetarian option.

It's still healthy if it's still technically a salad, right?

It’s still healthy if it’s still technically a salad, right?

The dressing is very easy to make ahead has tons of flavor – orange zest & juice, maple syrup, dijon mustard, vinegar and olive oil. I’ve noticed that Ina is super into using dijon mustard in her vinaigrette recipes. I know that it has great flavor, but I’ve learned that the mustard helps the dressing emulsify. When you mix vinegar and oil alone, they never incorporate into one homogeneous mixture. The mustard helps to bind it all together and give it some creaminess that helps the dressing coat the salad just right.  I mixed it all up in a mason jar and I think I’m going to save it to have for lunches or dinner next week.

Using a jar makes me feel so hipster!

Using a jar makes me feel so hipster!

For the maple syrup, you’re going to want to choose the real stuff. This isn’t the time to use pancake syrup which is honestly just corn syrup with maple flavorings and dye. Real maple syrup is actually the sap of the maple trees. It is less viscous – kinda like a sugar water mixture and has much more sweetness and flavor over the generic version. I have some stocked in my fridge that I had picked up a few weeks ago from a local farm. You can find it in most supermarkets these days, however it is relatively pricier. Totally worth it though. Go ahead, splurge.

 

So pure

So pure

So this month in my Winc wine shipment, I was surprised to see something new. A Winc Journal. Typically they would send a card with each wine you received that told you about it with a recipe. This is a full on wine magazine with all kinds of interesting articles.

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This month includes several articles some of which are: the different kinds of reds wines that are good for drinking in the fall, a nice chart with pictures describing the different kinds of grapes used to make wine, some fantastic recipes and a listing of their wines they have to offer with a little bit of information about each. I enjoyed sitting down and reading it with the salad and a glass of wine to go with. 🙂

So pretty!

So pretty!

I paired the salad with a special Winc wine this week. They recently released a collaboration wine with a new up-and-coming clothing line, Baja East based in NYC. You can check out their website and clothing at: http://www.baja-east.com/. According to Winc, the designers of the brand wanted to make a wine that was perfect for the fall season. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, both are pretty full bodied wine which means that this is quite hefty with the tannins and will do well with some time to mingle with the air. It pairs well with this salad especially with the smokiness and meatiness of the bacon which mirror the flavors of the wine.

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The sweetness of the dressing contrasts the heft of the wine and brings out the fruit flavors. Honestly, this is a fantastic wine to save for a special occasion, I mean the bottle is pretty cool looking right? It features one of Baja East’s signature prints from their clothing line. I figured an election week is a pretty special occasion and putting recipe number 19 in the books is cause for a celebration, even if it is by myself, in the middle of the day, on a Thursday. Don’t judge. 😀 Check out Winc’s new website and get a discount on your first order of wine using my link: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Stay thirsty, friends!

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Print Recipe
Cape Cod Chopped Salad
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 78.
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Salad
For the Dressing
Course Lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Salad
For the Dressing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan (or line the sheet pan with aluminum foil) and lay the bacon slices on the rack. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the arugala, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese.
  4. For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a bowl (or mason jar). Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
  5. Chop the bacon in large pieces and add it to the salad. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat it lightly. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Serve immediately.
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Weekend Brunch

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With the weather cooling down and the mornings being a bit brisk, I kind of just want to stay inside in the mornings and enjoy a drink and something warm to eat. This weekend I turned to Ina’s Country French Omelet. In Back

Country French Omelet

Country French Omelet

to Basics, she states that when she travels to France, it isn’t the posh Michelin star restaurants that she loves to go to, it’s the small cafes where she can have some casual food and enjoy the bustling of the busy streets. Though I’ve never been, I can understand how she feels. Sometimes the fancier restaurants can be quite pretentious and the food doesn’t live up to the hype or the price plus keeping things causal can be relaxing especially after a long flight.

 

It's BACON!

It’s BACON!

The recipe starts off delicious enough…with bacon. Hahaha. Then once you cook the bacon and render the fat, you remove it and cook the potatoes. This actually reminds me of how my mom used to make potatoes for my brother and I when we were children. She’d save the bacon fat in a jar after frying some up on the weekends then use that to fry up potatoes with salt and pepper as a side dish for dinner. While it isn’t healthy at all, it is very delicious. The potatoes get brown and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Perfection.

I decided to add some fresh thyme to the eggs in addition to the chives. I had some fresh in the fridge leftover and I thought it would make a great addition. I also think some dried thyme or even oregano would be good as well. I think the extra herbaciousness gives the omelet more of a country feel. Also, lets talk for a second about this “omelet”. That is what the recipe is called, but this is actually more like the Italian fritatta. An omelet is typically folded over on itself in the pan and cooked very gently on the stove. However, this recipe calls for you to pour all the ingredients into the hot skillet and transfer it to the oven which is exactly what you do with a fritatta. Maybe this is how they serve them in Paris…guess I’ll have to go one day and check it out for myself.

Fried Potato Heaven

Fried Potato Heaven

Eggs in the pan

Eggs in the pan

A non-stick pan would work really, really well here as long as it is oven-safe. A trick that I’ve used before has been to wrap the handle of a non-stick pan with a couple of layers of aluminum foil tightly. I was really worried that the eggs would stick to the pan, but I made sure to swirl the butter around so that the pan was totally covered and surprisingly, it didn’t stick at all. Also – when you take the pan out of the oven, keep a kitchen towel over the handle at all times. This will help you remember that the handle is extremely hot and if you accidentally touch it, it won’t sear your hand. Trust me on this, several years ago I wrapped my hand around a searing hot handle and suffered for a while. Be careful! Also, I’d like to point out that this recipe serves 2 people. However, this makes A LOT. I think it could serve 4 with something else served on the side, like some fruit or toast. If you have a healthy appetite, then it could feed 2.

PYT - Pretty Young Thang!

PYT – Pretty Young Thang!

Soooooooooo just because it is morning doesn’t mean it is too early for some Winc wine. I received some bubbly in my last shipment and decided to break it open this morning. This is the PYT (Pretty Young Thing – go ahead, sing it, you know you want to) Malvasa Bianca. This was a limited edition offered by Winc with only 165 cases made. It is unfiltered, meaning there is some sediment in the glass and is has some honey and wheat flavors to it. While it is absolutely good on its own, I decided to make a mimosa with it. This sparkling wine is very bubbly and fizzes up a lot. In fact I didn’t read the card sent with it that says to open over a sink and opened it right in front of me and was soaked.

 

Anyway, I decided to make an apple cinnamon mimosa to get the most out of fall. I got some honeycrisp apple cider from the Farmer’s Market and decided to use it. Now, apple cider is typically sweet as is, but honeycrisp apple cider is even

img_0409sweeter due to the natural sweetness of the apple. It also has a golden color versus the typical brown and is more transparent than its counterpart. I dipped the rim of the glasses in lemon juice then cinnamon sugar, then I added about 1/4 cup of the apple cider and filled up the glass with the sparkling wine and added a cinnamon stick as garnish. The sweetness of the cider and the dryness of the wine really do balance each other well and the cinnamon from the rim adds a little bit of warmth. You could also use regular apple cider and it will still taste good, it will just have that signature apple cider cloudiness to it.

Apple Cinnamon Mimosa

Apple Cinnamon Mimosa


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Print Recipe
Country French Omelet
From Page 227 in Ina Garten's Back to Basics Cookbook
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and has rendered its fat. Take the bacon out of the pan and put aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  3. Place the potatoes in the pan and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned on the outside, tossing occasionally to brown evenly. Remove with a spoon and set aside with the bacon.
  4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper together with a fork or whisk. After the potatoes are removed, pour the fat out of the pan and discard (or save in a jar for later). Add the butter, lower the heat to low and coat the entire pan with the melted butter. Pour the eggs into the pan, right in the middle. Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes, chives and thyme evenly over the top and place the pan in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, just until the eggs are set in the middle. Slide onto a plate and serve hot.
Recipe Notes

The bacon fat can be saved in a jar in the fridge for like almost forever and can be used to fry potatoes or Brussels sprouts, honestly just about anything.

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“Healthier” Fries

So this has been a fun week – sarcasm intended – between it being both long and busy, it is safe to say that I’m glad it is the weekend! It is also the start of Fall, meaning the holidays are creeping ever closer and a trip to Thailand is in my future. I need to get my life together and start planning for it! If anyone knows of some good Pinterest boards or articles on traveling to Thailand, please let me know. I could greatly use it. 🙂

Since this was a busy week, I didn’t have much time to invest in dinner so I needed a recipe that would be quick, easy, and somewhat healthy. Enter Ina Garten’s Baked Sweet Potato Fries. Who doesn’t love fries? Potatoes are always delicious no matter how they are cooked. Carby, starchy goodness just waiting to be mashed, baked, fried, you name it. This recipe utilizes sweet potatoes which I’m sure everyone has seen or had before.

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The orange-toned flesh cousin of the common baking potato. It definitely has more flavor on its own than the regular baking potato which makes it perfect for light seasoning.

These aren’t your regular french fries. The common fry is peeled, sliced thin, and fried…twice. Once to cook it and the second to crisp it. Consequently they absorb quite a bit of the fat from which they are fried. That’s one reason they have come to be a no-no for diets everywhere (that and the simple carbohydrates they contain and the tons of salt typically poured on them). In order to minimize the fat absorption – these are sliced thicker and coated with a little bit of olive oil. These don’t get as crispy as regular fries but the brown sugar does caramelize and help out a bit.

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One important item to remember before starting this – please make sure your oven is clean! You’ll be turning up the oven to a rather high temperature of 450 degrees. Even though I did manage to clean out the oven before starting, I still managed to set off the fire alarm for a few seconds in the apartment. I cranked the temperature down for a brief moment then turned it back up after it stopped. 😀 Even if we had to evacuate – it would have been worth it. Fries are worth it. Don’t let that deter you from making these though. Another option is to only turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake them for about 5-7 minutes longer or until they are crisp.

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I paired these with some simple grilled chicken and a kale salad to complete the meal. Also, that is sriracha mayo I’ve got to dip it in. It’s just some mayonnaise with sriracha and garlic powder. The ratio of mayonnaise to sriracha I use is about 1 Tablespoon of mayo to 1/2 teaspoon of sriracha. I recommend starting maybe with 1/4 teaspoon and working your way up. Then I sprinkle in a little bit of garlic powder and done. The spiciness of the sriracha goes well with the sweetness of the fries and the brown sugar.

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Of course I needed some Winc wine to go with it so I went with a favorite of mine. Pinot Noir is a varietal of grape that usually is originally from France but is widely grown in California.

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This particular brand is called Local Flavor, and for every sale of the Local Flavor brand of wine, Winc donates a portion of the funds to help promote the arts in schools in California. It’s a great cause and the wine is delicious. To me, most Pinot Noir is an easy-drinking red wine. It’s not too tannic and has a lot of fruit flavors with some oak flavors as well. The flavors I picked up are cherry, licorice, vanilla, and cinnamon right off the bat. You really don’t need to aerate this wine at all and it will go well with literally any dinner option you can think of. Or you could simply pair it with some popcorn and a movie for one of those nights when you just can’t even.

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B2B #11: Baked Sweet Potato Fries
From Ina Garten's Back to Basics pg. 180.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 to 4 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle Lightly with salt and serve hot.
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Get Your Grill On

Happy September everyone! Even though it isn’t officially fall yet, the beginning signs are starting to emerge…that’s right – pumpkin spice. Everything from lattes to cereal, pumpkin spice is the poster child for the days shortening and getting cooler.

The first PSL of the season

The first PSL of the season

However, that doesn’t mean it is a total end to grilling season. We’ve still got some time to get our grills on and make the most of what warmer weather we have left. To be quite honest, I know plenty of people out there who will fire up their grills in the middle of winter, and why not? Grilling gives food so much flavor and is actually quite healthy as it doesn’t require any additional fat for cooking (#bonuspoints).

Ina Garten’s Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork is a recipe that I have made in the past and it is definitely one that is a great go-to especially during the week.  Pork loin is naturally tender, relatively cheap, and goes pretty far for feeding a crowd. The marinade is very similar to the Tuscan Lemon Chicken from last week, but I think it has more flavor. From a Back to Basics perspective this recipe highlights the meaning of basics.

Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork

The marinade is highly flavorful and extremely easy to make and marinading food is a great way to infuse flavor into an otherwise semi-tasteless piece of meat. You don’t need to spend hours cooking the pork, the marinade does all that work for you. Just about 20 minutes on the grill and it’s done! For a weeknight meal, just make your marinade the night before and place into a smaller container, in the morning, put the pork loin into a plastic bag and pour in the marinade and let it sit in the fridge all day. Then just throw it on the grill and make a quick side (salad or some sauteed zucchini like I did).

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Simple sauteed zucchini with Parmesan cheese

For this dish, I paired the pork with Winc’s 2015 The Bluffer Valdiguié. This wine has an interesting story, Valdiguié is a grape varietal that is not widely known. According to Winc, the farmers that were growing it in California didn’t even know that it was actually Valdiguié (they thought it was Gamay – a totally different grape). The farmers were corrected by a Frenchman who knew of the grape as France is its native country. In fact, the grape is only grown in France and California. The Valdiguié grapes for this particular wine were sourced from a vineyard in Paso Robles, California, and are the oldest in the state! If you love Pinot Noir you will love this, trust me!

The Bluffer Valdiguié is a perfect pairing for this grilled pork

It is a very fruity red wine with lots of cherry and strawberry flavors on the palate and the finish is very fresh and almost juicy. There isn’t a lot of tannin action going on with this wine so it is also perfect for those who are new to drinking red wine. If you want to try this wine or any other of Winc’s wine at a discount, use my link for a discount and take your palate profile: https://www.clubw.com/2lhy61q4ll7. If you have any reservations, fear not! You can cancel or you can postpone your account at any time.

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B2B #8: Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork
An easy main dish for weeknight/weekend grilling. Either marinade overnight or all day but at least for 3 hours to allow the flavors to get into the pork. Adapted from Ina Garten's Back to Basics book - page 126.
Servings
people
Ingredients
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
  2. When you're ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the residual marinade. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Grill the tenderloins, turning a few times to brown on all sides for 15 to 25 minutes until the meat registers 140 degrees at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch thick slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be pink (this is ok!). Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

If the whole meat being pink thing scares you, just grill for about 5 more minutes before removing from the grill.

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