Wine Not? Amarone, AKA: my new favorite

amarone

Hey y’all! What’s new? Tried any good wines lately? I’d love to hear about them! We recently got a new wine in our monthly Winc shipment called Negrette. I’m not entirely sure what I think of it and I’m still mulling it over. I’ve never heard of it before, but google tells me “it’s low in acidity and not especially tannic”; also “it tends to lack personality”. Hmm. Now, I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that means I need to drink the whole bottle as to not hurt its feelings (also, I’ll take those remarks with a grain of salt, coming from a website that uses the Comic Sans font…).

Anyway, what I came here to talk about is my new favorite wine! EVER! It’s so, so, so amazingly good, you guys. Like, life-changing good. It’s called Amarone (ah-mah-roh-neh. So-dee-lih-shus!). 

Get this, Amarone is made by first drying the grapes out in the sun, then pressing them to make wine. So essentially, they’re making wine out of raisins (is your mind not blown?! ‘cuz mine is!). Which means, the sugar content is higher, which means ultimately, the alcohol content is higher. Which means, it’s going to be fuller and richer and beautiful-er. WHICH MEANS IT’S DELICIOUS AND AMAZING AND OMGYOUHAVETOTRYIT.

Ok, sorry for my shouting, but y’all. Every time I would take a sip of this wine (paired with juicy, medium-rare ribeye steaks), I felt like doing a happy dance it was so delicious. Because of the way it’s made, you’d think it would be sweet, but it’s not! It’s nicely dry, has some lovely acidity (the thing that makes a wine taste “crisp” or “refreshing”), but it’s very full-bodied; like heavy cream vs. skim milk. A real treat.

But an expensive treat. Upon researching it and talking to a wine rep at Total Wine, Amarone usually runs anywhere from $35-$75, or more. BUT, luckily Amarone’s lesser known cousin, Ripasso is here to save the day! Ripasso is often referred to as “Baby Amarone” and is made by a similar process. It’s not exactly the same, but for around 15 bucks, who cares?! Drink the Ripasso as often as you want and save the Amarone for special occasions!

If you get a chance, give this a try and let me know what you think!

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Wine Not? Monthly Wine Subscriptions

winc

Let’s have story time. Once upon a time, there was a beautiful (more or less), young(ish) woman who spent all her days raising 3 small children. One dark, gloomy day, after picking up dried, crusty playdough, cleaning up uneaten lunches, fighting naptime battles, and one long, harrowing quest to locate a missing Blankie, our young(ish) mother found herself tired, rundown, and in desperate need of a shower. But alas, there was no time for rest; and the mother sat in the corner and cried while her children ran amuck through the house with underwear on their heads.

Just then, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly. The woman opened her front door just in time to see a handsome prince in a white, shining Fedex truck. He strode up to the door, knelt before her, and presented her with a magical box. And inside the box was wine! The mother was saved! And in that moment, there was much rejoicing and she knew she was going to be alright. The End.

 

LOL. Ok, so my life is really not that dramatic. And I love my kids to pieces so I really don’t mind when they run around with underwear on their heads (I’m usually running right along behind them snapping pictures, so…). BUT, that one Friday out of each month certainly is rejoice-worthy. A few months ago, I joined Winc, a monthly wine subscription service that delivers new bottles of wine right to my door. I decided to treat myself since I seldom go out and spend tons of money on clothes/shoes/purses, etc. And let me tell you, it’s one of the coolest things ever! I went online and filled out a little quiz to determine my “palate”, and then they sent me 3 bottles to try for free. I was immediately hooked and have kept up the subscription with no plans of ever canceling it. I look forward to it every month.

winc2

I can pick which wines I want, or they’ll choose for me, based on my palate quiz. And they always include info cards for each bottle, along with a recipe that pairs well with the wine. I love, love, love it. I’ve tried so many new kinds of wine that I never would’ve picked for myself, which means now I have so many new favorites. I really just can’t say enough good things about Winc.

And I’ve seen several other awesome looking monthly wine subscriptions out there, as well. Including Bright Cellars, which is created by a couple of MIT grads with a passion for wine. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these (although I’ve noticed Winc is one of the less expensive ones, so…win-win!).

Since I have no idea what I’m doing as far as wine goes, I’m always super overwhelmed when I walk into a big wine store with shelves and shelves of different wines. That’s why I love having this subscription. Someone else chooses for me, and I can go online or to the app and rate the bottle. Based on my ratings, my flavor profile gets more and more fine tuned. I mean, seriously! How cool is that?!

If you think you might think you’d like to give Winc a try*, click HERE and get started. They’ll take care of shipping AND send you a bottle for free! Yay for free wine!

Do you have a wine subscription? What kind? I’d love to hear from you!

*Winc didn’t hire me to write this post or compensate me in any way, and all opinions are 100% my own. But I’m not gonna lie, if somebody paid me to drink wine…well, I wouldn’t be mad about it. 😉

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canned

Before I start, let me just go ahead and get something out of the way- I am in no way, shape, or form a “wine snob”. K? I don’t discriminate when it comes to wine. I don’t care about “vintages”. I embrace and even welcome a good boxed wine. Screw top? Cork? Who cares! I don’t care if it’s “cheap wine”; if it tastes good, I’ll drink it. I once saw a sign that said, “Life’s Too Short to Drink Cheap Wine”. Hmm. Agree to disagree, I guess. While I absolutely love splurging on an expensive bottle every now and then, I have no problem with stocking my wine rack with $10 (or less) wines. So there. I’m glad I got that off my chest!

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So. Canned wine. You’ve probably seen this trend really picking up lately. Especially among those pesky hipsters (but the good news is, you don’t have to grow a handlebar mustache or wear dark rimmed glasses to enjoy it). I first saw canned wine on a trip to Target back in the Spring. They had a couple of different options, including this adorable little four pack (it even comes with a cute little straw, just like a juice box! Mommy’s special juice box…) and these Fresh Craft wine cocktails, which were really good. Very fruity and refreshing.

I think the biggest draw for canned wine is its ability to go almost anywhere. The beach, the park, on picnics…anywhere glass isn’t allowed. Plus, you get to feel all hip and trendy while you drink it. I guess the only downside to canned wine would be it’s inability to age well. The corks on bottled wines allow tiny amounts of oxygen to come in contact with the wine, so it helps it age (according to google). Canned wine is in an airtight aluminum can, so no air can get in, which means no aging. But this is a non-issue for me since I do not care.

But doesn’t it taste different? Newp. I’ve actually done a fair bit of reading about it, including this article from Time.com and this article from Bon Appetit. I mean, if it’s crappy wine to start with, chances are it’ll still be crappy in a can, but great bottled wine = great canned wine. And there are plenty of great canned wines out there nowadays. And lots of wineries are jumping on the bandwagon.

I think this is the best one ever- Underwood by Union Wine Co. First of all, they have some HILARIOUS videos (seriously, watch them all- you’ll laugh out loud), and their motto is “Wine doesn’t have to be this hard.” #pinkiesdown. Seriously, I think I found my people. I found these cans at my local Trader Joe’s and got the Rosé and the Pinot Noir. They’re around 5 bucks each and perfect for two people to share (each can equals about 2 glasses).

The Rosé was a little on the sweet side for my liking, but I still enjoyed it. As for pairing- I paired mine with a glass and a cantankerous 4 year old and lemme tell ya, it paired BEAUTIFULLY. After a long day of parenting barn animal children, it hit just right on the palate. I haven’t tried the Pinot Noir yet, but I believe it’s their most popular one, so I’m looking forward to it.

Ok, so. We’ve talked about canned wines. What are your thoughts? Personally, I’m all in. I love the concept, I love the portability, I love the ease. It’s win-win. Yay, cans!

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Wine Not?

wine pic resized

HI EVERYBODY! Betcha didn’t expect to see me again, huh? I know, I know. I have a good reason for my absence, though- I had a chunky, almost 10 pound ginger baby back in January! Yay! His name is Andrew and he’s just…perfect. He’s the last piece of the puzzle and he brings our family so much joy and laughter. Life is really good, but a lot has changed. I still cook and bake a lot, but I find myself not very interested in food blogging anymore. It makes me kind of sad, but…it is what it is. I honestly just don’t have time to do it anymore. And when I do have a little free time, I use it to do important things. Like binge-watching Jane the Virgin and drinking wine.

Which brings me to the fun news. I’m not getting rid of this blog. I can’t. I love it too much. It’s such a huge, huge part of me and I love it dearly. So obviously, I had a dilemma- I really love writing, I really love my blog, but I don’t really love taking pictures of/editing my food (ain’t nobody got time for that!) anymore. But you know what I love almost as much as food and could talk about pretty much all day? (No, I’m not talking about my kids; I think the world has more than enough “mommy blogs” these days).

WINE, people. WINE.

Wine is fun, wine is art, wine is delicious; it’s fascinating, it’s complex, it’s been around for literally ages. I mean, it’s practically the official drink of JESUS. The Son of God don’t play around, y’all! There is SO MUCH to learn about wine, and over the past few years, Joel and I have really begun to take a real interest in it (read: drinking as much as we can between the hours of 8pm-10pm). I’ve recently decided I want to  learn everything there is to learn about wine- how to drink it, how to smell it, what wines come from what regions, etc. I am SO excited to start this new chapter and I think there are a few, if not a lot, of you out there who wouldn’t mind learning right along with me. I’ve been testing the waters a little bit with my Instagram account, and the response has been pretty great- there are quite a few of you who are as interested as I am about wine! So let’s do this together!

Come hang out with me as I ramble (and trust, it will most definitely be rambling- I literally have ZERO idea what I’m talking about, but that’s what makes it fun) about my favorite and sometimes not-so-favorite wines. It’s gonna be fun!

P.S. If you like the way this is heading, help a girl out and leave me a comment or email or something to let me know! I welcome your feedback and need encouragement/suggestions/whatever you got!

I’M PUMPED, Y’ALL!! Cheers!

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Here We Go Again…

pregnant ecard

Yeah. So….there’s that. Let me start off by saying: babies are a wonderful gift from God.* Believe me, I know; I have 2 of them already. I was just hoping to STOP at 2. But apparently my uterus was like, “naw, we’re good, let’s go again!” Of course there have been lots of emotions over the past few weeks. Like, all of them. But I’m not here to rehash it all; I’m basically just here to announce the news to you.

And to poke fun at myself a little.

*If any of this subject is trigger-y for you, you might want to go ahead and skip this post. I would never, ever want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or hurt anyone’s feelings. I know how emotional babies/trying to conceive/pregnancies/etc are and I don’t want to diminish anyone’s feelings. Right now, for me, the best solution to a very unexpected, unplanned pregnancy is humor. So, that’s how I’m choosing to cope with this massive shock.

SO, here is a very helpful list I have put together for those of you ladies who still value your youth, good looks, and sense of humor. Read it closely and pay attention, lest you want to end up like me- the old lady who lived in the shoe.

What NOT to do if you don’t want to end up pregnant:

1. Join a gym. Don’t do it. Joining a gym will make you look good. Looking good will give you confidence. Confidence makes you do things like buy pretty black nightgowns.

2. Do NOT buy pretty black nightgowns. Just don’t. Just go ahead and stay away from any and all black undergarments. Unless it’s granny panties. Those are perfectly acceptable. And welcomed.

3. Don’t read fanfic. Reading fanfic will only put ideas in your head and give you thoughts like, “hmm. I could try that!

4. Don’t install a shower speaker. Listening to Ed Sheeran and shaking your booty while you soap up can only lead to one place: Preggosville. If you must listen to music while you shower, I recommend Hanson. Or Church Lady Hits, Vol.1.

5.  Avoid wine. All alcohol, really. When your husband gives you that knowing look and offers to refill your wineglass, JUST SAY NO. Let’s keep those inhibitions alive and kicking, ladies.

6. And lastly and most importantly, when your husband gets a vasectomy and the doctor’s assistant says, “nah, you don’t need to get your sperm count tested- just wait a month or so and you’ll be fine“, DO NOT LISTEN. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest urologist and get those puppies tested!!!

So, there it is. There’s the news. A few details- the baby is due January 20th (very close to Cassidy’s birthday!). Yes, I’m sick, just like every time before, unfortunately. Yes, we’re happy. After the initial shock faded and the dollar signs stopped dancing before our eyes (we’ll have to buy a new car and relocate Joel’s home office to the garage, and hello, THREE college tuitions…), all that’s left is happiness. I mean, yeah, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “AAHDKGKGDPPTTKJJJTTKAPPTTTTIIIII’MPREGNANTHOLYCRAP“, but you know, that’s normal, right? I guess? Anyway, thanks in advance for your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes. We’re gonna need ’em.

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Parmesan Crusted Cod

Parmesan Crusted Cod

Sorry for yet another long hiatus. It’s really not my fault this time. Game of Thrones sucked me in and literally ALL my spare time went to getting caught up to the current season. Then we were so far behind on all our other shows I had to catch up on those. It’s just a never ending time-suck, television.

On top of that, Elliott has been sick SO much lately. Ugh. First he had RSV, then a few weeks later he caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease from the church nursery. And let me tell you, THAT IS NOT FUN. Hopefully he’s done being sick for awhile. Poor baby.

To make up for my time away, I made you some delicious fish! And it is so, so easy. I don’t know about you, but I get kinda bored with fish. I run out of interesting ways to cook it and get stuck in a rut. This recipe pulled me right out, though. The crust is so nice and crunchy with so much good flavor. A great healthy dinner option!

Parmesan Crusted Cod

4 Alaskan Cod fillets
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (this really isn’t the time to use the powder in the green can, use fresh)
handful chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Crack the egg into a pie plate or shallow platter and whisk. Set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, paprika, and salt and pepper in a separate pie plate or platter.

Dip both sides of the fillets in the egg, then dredge in the crumb mixture, making sure to coat the fish evenly. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the fish is flaky and no longer translucent. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired. Serves 4.

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Sugar Cookie Bars with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting-2

So, Joel finally talked me into watching Game of Thrones with him. He’s been a hardcore fanboy for years now and I’ve always made fun of him for it (breastfeeding dragons? Really?), declaring stuff like that too geeky for me. However, I read fanfic and listen to One Direction…I don’t think I’m really in any position to judge anyone’s so-called “geekiness”. So, I succumbed (I still have to close my eyes for all the nasty bloody parts, and prosthetic peen scenes because…ew.). But here I am, hooked on Game of Thrones.

I’m almost halfway through season 2 and so far it’s been pretty good. Granted, there are still some epic “WHAT THE CRAP?!” moments (um, shadow babies…wut??) and some things that I really wish I could UN-see, but against my better judgement…I like it.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting-1

 

Since we’ve been having lots of GoT binge-watching sessions after the kids go to bed, I decided we needed yummy treats to go with. The cookies are thick and chewy (but not too sweet) and the frosting is light, fluffy, and perfectly chocolatey. Cassidy helped me make them and we were very pleased with how these came out! Satisfying, sweet, and just plain FUN.

I think these would bring a smile to even King Joffrey’s face (little craphead…).

Sugar Cookie Bars with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)

Chocolate buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
pinch salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 square baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides and set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed, until smooth and pale. Add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough will be thick. Once combined, gently fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles using a rubber spatula (or by mixing on low speed).

Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-26 minutes or until very lightly browned on top. You want the cookie bars to be extra soft, so careful not to overbake. Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting. The center will slightly sink – that’s normal.

For the frosting: With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and pale. Stir in the melted, cooled chocolate, salt, and vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the frosting reaches a fluffy, spreadable consistency. If you like your frosting a little thicker or thinner, use more or less powdered sugar. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

Spread the frosting over the cooled cookie bars, then cut into 12 squares.

Recipe source: cookie bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction; frosting is my own recipe

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5 Ingredient Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

Get ready for the easiest enchiladas on the planet! All thanks to my sister’s friend, Megan (thanks, Megan!). These are a family favorite and I make them ALL the time. 5 ingredients, that’s it! Chicken, cheese, Ro-tel tomatoes, tortillas, and enchilada sauce. Boom, done! You can easily customize these based on what you’ve got in the pantry/fridge -black beans, corn, peppers…whatever. Thumbs way, way up.

5 Ingredient Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken*
8-10 flour tortillas
1 10-oz can Ro-tel tomatoes, drained
1 14.5-oz can salsa verde (green) enchilada sauce (I like Old El Paso brand)
shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and Ro-tel tomatoes.
Spoon the chicken/tomato filling into each tortilla, roll, and place in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and top with cheese. Cover and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until bubbly. Serves 4.

*You can use a rotisserie chicken, or cook and shred your own. My grocery store sells pre-cooked, seasoned, shredded chicken that makes these even easier!

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Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

I’m going to keep this short and sweet: dramatic 3 year old girls and teething 9 month olds are HARD, yo. Like, thank-the-Lord-and-pass-the-wine-and-xanax-we-survied-another-day HARD. These days, I can barely be expected to keep myself from getting in my car and driving to the nearest liquor store to buy out their entire inventory of tequila, let alone cook a decent dinner. Thank goodness for crockpots. Because, after my first cup of coffee and before the first meltdown of the day, there’s still a glimmer of hope. Like, I feel like I could accomplish anything right after that first cup of coffee. Got my energy; got my caffeine; I CAN COOK DINNER TONIGHT! Bring on those poopy diapers! Hit me with your best toddler tantrum! I GOT this! I’m gonna thaw that meat today, dangit!

Then it usually starts to go downhill around 9am. Clingy, crying baby. Whiny toddler. By the time naptime rolls around, I’m a shell of a human. Wishing I could crawl into the fetal position and pray for death.

Obviously, I’m kidding (sort of). My life is very full (sometimes). I’m a very happy mommy (except when I’m not). 😉 Really, though. If I’m being serious, of course life gets a little cray (ok, a LOT cray), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. On those freaking ridiculous days where I can’t be expected to function normally, this dinner is SO VERY EASY. And really, really good. Everybody will love it. And you can save yourself a little trouble. You deserve it. I know I do.

Pork. Dr. Pepper. BBQ sauce. Do it.

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

pork roast (about 2-3 pounds)
1 can Dr. Pepper
1/3 cup BBQ sauce

Put the pork roast, Dr. Pepper, and BBQ sauce in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When the pork is very tender, shred with 2 forks and toss with the remaining cooking liquid. Serve on hamburger buns. Serves 4.

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Easter Bunny Cake

Easter Bunny Cake-1

I don’t get tired of making this cake. Every Easter, this is what we do. We dye eggs, we read Easter books, we make an Easter bunny cake. Tradition! My mom always made this cake with us; now I make it with mine. It really couldn’t be easier- just a little bit of cutting, then simply frost and decorate! It’s so much fun for the kids to help with- the sprinkles, the jellybeans…such fun!

Easter Bunny Cake 3

Just start with 2 round cakes (mine are 8 inches). I’m not including a recipe, because I take the easy road and just use a boxed mix. Funfetti is always good. 😉

Easter Bunny Cake 4

Then cut 2 football-shaped pieces out of each side. These pieces will be the ears and the bow tie. Then, simply frost and decorate! Simple and fun!

bunny cake 2   bunny cake

 

Here’s my frosting recipe:

Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
pink food coloring, if desired

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk, vanilla, and almond extract. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is a good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar (or if you like it thicker, feel free to use more). Stir in a few drops of food coloring until the desired color is reached. Use the icing at room temperature and store in the refrigerator. If you’re not using it right away, allow it to set out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before use.

Easter Bunny Cake-2

 

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