Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recipe: Hot Chocolate Mix

Don't judge me. I know VERY WELL that it is spring in most of the US.

Minnesota has not quite gotten the memo; this May is similar to last May; Rain Rain RAIN.

While I am thankful for no snow, I can't help but find my birth month super depressing here. The weather here is California's March. May should be sunshine-y, warm, and barbecue-y.

But when the weather is doom and gloom outside, it calls for some happy things to occur inside. Like Hot Chocolate.

I call it cocoa. You call it hot chocolate. Or whatever. It's all the same. Hot, chocolaty, and delicious.

1 cup cocoa Powder (the higher quality, the BETTER the cocoa)
3/4 c sugar
1/3 cup finely shopped dark chocolate
6 1/2 tablespoons powdered milk

To make 1 serving:

Heat 8 oz Milk, or any milk substitute of your choice I usually stock Almond Milk in my home.

Place 3 spoonfuls of your mix in the bottom of your mug. Once milk is heated, add to mug and stir stir stir.

This is perfection in a cup! The chopped chocolate adds a whole new depth of chocolate favor to the cocoa mix. You can rest assured you are trans fat free too, as most store bought mixes sneak that ingredient in there.

Add Chile powder, or cinnamon for a spiced blend.

And enjoy the warmth of your home because it's 40 degrees outside and raining for 4 days at a time.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Wine: Barnard Griffin Reisling

This Columbia Valley Riesling was easy drinking and not atypical. I enjoyed it immensely. I didn't find it dry, nor did I find it sweet. Light fruit notes that are not over powering, this lightly  hued wine is a mellow treat.

Barnard Griffin is very affordable ranging from 10-13 dollars a bottle depending on where you live. It is a nice summer wine, or starter wine for the rest of your evening's wine drinking adventures. I will be buying this wine again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Recipe: Cookie Dough Ice cream with Cookie Dough Bites

Taking Ice-cream to the next level.

I have Zite for my iPhone and iPad, and my usual stream is health, recipes, and natural beauty products. Mostly recipes though because I am crazy serious about food, how its prepared, and trying new things. I just love eating and the dining experience.

brown sugar is a key ingredient to the "cookie dough" flavor

So when a recipe for cookie dough ice-cream without any dough popped into my feed (via, I had to make it for the Husband. And threw in a little extra of the egg less dough I blogged about a few weeks back.

beginning the tempering process


look at the custard thicken!

almost there, just have to freeze it

Toasted butter is the secret here. It adds the complex flavor of cookie dough to this recipe and is genius. Yes, this summer is the summer of mastering the making of ice-cream.... and perhaps wine ice-cream as well!

perfectly soft and easy to scoop icecream

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wine: Club W Shipment - Brethren Syrah and Oliver Row Cabernet Franc

I must say that I am pretty disappointed with these two wines, which is why they are sharing a blog post instead of getting a singular one for each.

I will say the the Brethren of the Road Syrah was ridiculously disappointing and possibly the worst red I have had in a long time if not ever. It's initial palate and aftertaste was an alcohol fumed red - dry and akin to rubbing alcohol. As I said before I was not impressed. The Hubs, who loves Syrahs, spit his back into his cup and blankly told me he would not drink it.

Club W Describes this wine as "Berry Tart". I disagree. "Berry Tart" would have provided a flavor notes at the very least.

The Cabernet Franc was marginally better.  If anything it was unimpressive in the sense that it was similar to a table red - a 5$  table red, so this would be over priced at 13$ a bottle. There were no tasting notes that struck my palate - this is something I look for in every wine I drink and is part of my wine consumption experience.

There were no notes that struck my palate or made this wine remarkable in any sense. It's quite disappointing to have one wine, out of the three, be a worthy wine (see Cosmopolitan Sauvignon Blanc).

I have one more Club W Shipment coming in a few days and I am hoping that this one is more impressive (mostly because their newsletter caught my eye with an illusive Cinsault - not a varietal massively produced here in the US).

Believe me, I will let you know. But at this rate I think it's more important to support wineries directly. Go wine tasting. Find a winery you like and sign up for the wine club. Tasting wines before you buy them is a safer way to guarantee you will enjoy the wine experience.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Recipe: Soo Berag

Soo Berag is an Armenian pastry, though my husband insists on calling it "Armenian Lasagna".

And I would have to agree; the dough is very similar to pasta sheets or lasagna sheets. Which would make one wonder why would you go through the trouble of making your own dough and rolling it out by hand? Especially when we live in a time that pasta rollers are readily available to the home chef. Because, its the experience, if nothing else, that is all I have.  It's the experience that transforms my kitchen to my grandmother's farm house, and I imagine her rolling out the dough on her tile counter-tops.

While the husband was away at a bachelor party I calmed my bump-in-the-night paranoia's with baking, despite that what I was mostly doing was boiling dough. After you boil the sheets of dough they are layered with butter, MonterreyJack cheese and parsley.

It is definitely an arm-workout if you don't have a pasta roller. After making this recipe I feel the need to invest in one; if for nothing else, perfecting the visual nature of this dish.

It came out a little rustic, definitely rough around the edges. But it was good, so good that the Husband finished the pan when he came home.

4 cups sifted flour
4 eggs
1/4 cup water (add until dough combines)
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/4 -1/2 cup dried parsley
1/2 a stick of melted butter for brushing the dough

 To make the dough, mix the flour and eggs in a mixer at a low speed until combined. Gradually add  water until dough comes together. Once it has come together let sit in a bowl with a kitchen towel over it for 4 hours.  This is to bring it to room temperature and make the dough more pliable for rolling.

I divided the dough with a bread cutter into 8 portions and cut those in half to make a total of 16 sheets. They were not symmetrical by any means.

As I was rolling the dough, I boiled a large pan with water in it. I used a pan and not a pot because it was easier to lay the dough in and fish it out. I waited roughly 30 seconds - until the dough resembled cooked lasagna noodles and floated to the top of the water.

After removing the dough from the boiling water I lightly blotted it with a kitchen towel and commenced brushing it with melted butter, then layered it with cheese and parsely.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The whole process took 30 minutes, between rolling, boiling and layering. Not too bad.

I baked it off at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the edges were golden brown

look at all those layers married with butter and cheese!

You can enjoy this Berag warm and cold. It's insanely good with a cup of coffee and a good read.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recipe: Coconut Ice cream with Amaretto & Cookie Dough

The husband has found a new love for cookie dough icecream. He has been a vanilla lover all his life and doesn't open up to change in the taste bud department.

But what does he dislike about Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream? The chocolate part. 

So I took it upon myself to find an eggless cookie dough recipe that would quench his hungry need for doughy, sugary bites mixed into his icecream. 

I have an insatiable sweet tooth. I have ice cream or chocolate every night after dinner. I just do. A couple of peaces of rich dark chocolate. Two scoops (a serving size) of real ice cream or gelato (vs sugar loaded lighter counterparts) sends me to slumberland.

Making ice cream is hard. Half of it is getting the right texture. If it doesn't taste and feel the way you know ice cream should, you aren't going to eat it. And then it's a waste. And after you spent all that time and effort, you surely want to eat it.

So when I stumbled upon a coconut milk recipe I had to see how coconut fared versus all my failed attempts at dairy milk ice cream. (Coconut Caramel Ice Cream by BigGirlsSmallKitchen). 

Texture wise, it was great. I adapted the recipe from 6 eggs, to 3 eggs with a tablespoon of cornstarch, beat together and then tempered in. I topped it off with a shot or two f Amaretto Liquor.

Now enter the cookie dough balls by Bakerella. These are addictive, delicious, and actually the base of a cookie dough pop recipe. Eggless, did I mention eggless? Yes.

We are definitely taking Ice Cream to the Next Level in this household.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wine: 60 Degrees North Merlot 2012

I am normally not to into Merlot. Really, if there was a wine I was not so into, its Merlot. I would rather have Barbera or Sangiovese. I would rather have a Syrah or a Zin. I would rather have a Cab or a Pinot Noir.

60 Degrees North is a California Winery located in  Oakville, which geographically is a bit north of Napa. 

When poured, the wine has a gorgeous deep berry color. The label is fitting - juicy raspberries tumbling into view. I would call this wine juicy but dry.  After noting the color, the nose is the next thing that is lush: those berries make an appearance followed by spicy peppery notes, and more sublte dry woody oak ones. 

Once it hits your pallate it immeadiatly coats your tongue in a light velour of texture. This wine is not heavily tannic. The berries bring a burst of juice to the taste party as far as full bodied taste goes, but there is no sweetness.   The spice and woody notes quickly come into play and though you would think it would make this a dry dry wine it isn't heavily dry.

With all that said, I enjoyed this wine. I found it very easy to drink. I think it would hold up nicely at a BBQ ribs, a steak dinner, or as a simple red table wine. The Hubs was not so fond of it. Maybe it doesn't pair well with ranch dressing (he sipped it after our dinner salad) but it did pair nicely with meat loaf. 

And it defintiely went well with chocolate.

At 11 dollars a bottle I think this was a hit and worth sharing.