Friday, January 30, 2009

Sipping Shardonnay in Sonoma

Okay okay I KNOW that Chardonnay is spelled with a C and not the above S...but I just couldn't resist the alliteration title or the urge to tell everyone in the blogshpere that erin and i officially booked our trip to SONOMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so excited and have been doing research about wine country forever. I kept telling myself to wait for a special occasion or when i have all the money saved...but frankly I feel like there is always a reason NOT to go and really you only live once. So i jumped in with both feet, or shall i say both hands, and purchased the flight tickets last night! Now we know there is no going back on that!

I have already picked the brains of
Kath and Caitlin about their amazing experiences in Wine Country. Please send me any info that you think would be helpful.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Early Valentines Day

I wanted to pass along this link :
for a great valentines day exchange.
Head on over and sign up...
who doesn't like getting mail?
on valentines day?
from a foodie?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Granola bar goodies

I had been seeing that the blog world has been receiving their tastemaker's Quaker True Delights...and I was getting quite jealous. UNTIL...i arrived home from the gym to a nice little package myself (it looks like my zip code was wrong!). I tore open the envelope and found six samples of the delightful delights! They sent three flavors: Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry, Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut and most intriguing to me was Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond.

Of course I sampled the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond one first! The first thing I noticed was the WHOLE almonds and bits of both chocolate and dried raspberry. It was definitely on the chewy side and was alot sweeter than I thought it would be. I think i would opt to have this more as a dessert. Same goes for the Cashew flavor which I nibbled on my way to the gym this morning. I only ate half because it was a bit too sweet for a morning taste test!

Sadly I have read, and must note myself, that the ingredients aren't as "natural" as say Larabars...As Caitlin put it "if i can't pronounce it I probably shouldn't be eating it..."

These were quite tasty and would definitely hit the spot if you are looking for something somewhat wholesome and still sweet!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gingersnap Larabars

okay so in all fairness to the flavor...I was exhausted this morning AND on my way to the gym AND it was freezing but I wanted a bit of sustenance before hittin the treadmill (most mornings i really don't like to have anything before working out other than coffee). I remembered that I had stashed a Gingersnap Larabar in my glove compartment for just this occasion. I knew that I didn't want the whole bar but decided to break off a piece to sample....
I gotta say...
Not my favorite flavor! I actually LOVE ginger too, i eat it raw with sushi, but I just didn't enjoy as much in this form. It definitely tasted like a gingersnap cookie but was a bit dry with the taste then some of the other flavors. After reading the ingrediants I honestly think it was the cloves...

Now I wouldn't completely rule this flavor out, but perhaps it would pair better with a strong cup of coffee or tea...

anyone else a huge fan of this one???

Oh and for the record I still LOVE larabars...i just don't think every flavor is for everyone.

Wine Tasting 101

So I have worked in restaurants for awhile now and Erin and I celebrated her 22nd birthday with a wine tour of the Long Island Region (yes they have wineries!), so we like to say we know a thing or two about wines...but there is ALWAYS more to learn. Sometimes learning about wines can feel a bit overwhelming because there are so many different kinds of grapes and regions and years and colors...AHHHHH. But i will just keep sipping one kind at a time :).

Erin's cousin, who is currently writing a book about wines!, gave me some great advice about learning. He told me that the thing to do is read about a wine while you sample it. So say you love Chardonnays...pick up a book about them and some different bottles and then taste and read, taste and read. Just make sure you stop reading after a few tastings haha!

As previous mentioned our friend Molly had spent her honeymoon in Napa and she was more than willing to tell us all she learned. We had planned a girls weekend so while we were out and about we picked up a few bottles of wine to sample. In total we had: a chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, a Temparillno, a sparkling white chardonnay, Lambrusco and a Chianti!! HOLY MOLY.

So the first thing we learned is you should taste it twice. Once right out of the bottle and the 2nd time after swirling it around in the glass to let it "breath". We tried the Tempranillo/Cab mix. I had tried this type of wine before at a Spanish tapas bar that erin and I loved so we picked one up. Everyone loved it! There was a HUGE difference between our first and 2nd taste. Molly and Nick also bought a cool device called a "Rabbit" that you can pour wine through to help it breath right away. Alot of times people will decant wine for this exact reason.Lesson two was that you never rinse your wine glass with water after a taste as this will dilute the flavor of the next wine! We moved onto the sparkling white after this one. The wine was a sparkling from Barefoot. It was tasty. I am also a huge fan of Yellowtail Sparkling! Both of these wineries are really affordable yet good quality (at least coming from my young palate).

The next wine was the Chianti. We were all a bit confused on whether Chianti was a grape or we looked it up in Molly's Wine Bible!! I, like most, associate Chianti with cheap Italian restaurants, not that I have a problem with that. We all like this one as well. (okay something to note...we liked pretty much everything we tried haha).
Our final wine tasting of the night was Lambrusco. I had recommended this to Molly because she mentioned how much she loved sparkling wine and red wine...and well Lambrusco is both! My parents introduced me to this one and since I also love red and sparkling wines I thought I would pass along the wine. Now, i must not have had this for awhile because this was alot sweeter than I had remembered. I may also have had a different variety of this grape. Molly said she didn't mind it but I passed my glass for a nice tall glass of WATER....boy was I all wined out.

Erin and I have been wanting to take a trip to Wine Country for awhile now. I think this was just the weekend we needed to kick off the planning. Now that we are pros and everything....haha.

Let me know if you have any suggestions about travelling to wine country!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gourmet Chocolate Goat Cheese

Erin and I headed to Portsmouth, NH this weekend to visit our best friend Molly and got to hear all about her honeymoon to Napa Valley! Of course we knew there would be plenty of wine knowledge to absorb and thought we would absorb the wine as well!

After a snowy Sat. night we woke up to some snowy streets and hungry stomachs. We all decided that we would make up some snack trays and hold out for dinner to eat a full meal. We ventured out in the snow to Fresh Market which was this great supermarket that reminded me alot of Whole Foods! As soon as you walked in the smell of homemade food hits you. There is a quaint coffee shop in the corner and the store opens up into the fresh produce and prepared foods. Now i have a love for grocery stores that sometimes even erin feels threatened by...okay not really ;), but lets just say she knows what she's in for when we head to the store! This store also has a great wine and beer selection and hosts wine tastings as well. We walked around ooooing and ahhhing over the homemade hummus, various spreads and cheeses!! Molly and I are both fans of goat cheese so when we saw this treat we had to pick it up at try it!

It was soooo good. we had put it in the fridge when we got home so it was too solid at first, but the longer it sat the better the consistancy was. It definitely had the texture of goat cheese but the coco flavor came through far more than your typical goat cheese flavor. even erin liked it...and she is SO not a cheese person! It paired nicely with the strawberries as well! Although there are numerous varieties of goat cheese, it is all rather low calorie on the cheese spectrum. Low cal but not low in flavor!

Our snacks for the day included: Lime tostidos (one of my HUGE loves and vices), grapes/strawberries and cheese, broc/carrots and my homemade black bean dip (this recipe is really making its rounds :). Everything was delish and of course we had room for Chinese food later on in the evening.

Hold on to your stemware for the next post about a proper wine tasting...!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday night mexican fiesta!

Who says you can't start the week off with a party? I had a hankering to cook AND we badly needed groceries for the week. We also had a six pack of Corona light in the fridge that i really didn't want to go bad...(nice how I refer to the corona as a produce item that could possibly go bad right? and in full disclosure we bought it on Sunday! no chance of it going bad that quickly :).

So it was an Easy pick: Mexican Ole!

We did in fact have two avocados that were on their way out and i love making homemade guac so that pairs perfect with Shrimp Fajitas! Surprising, or not so surprisingly if you follow my blog, i have made this meal before! I don't typically blog about repeat recipes but this one is so simple and it was almost a year ago that I made these (although i'm sure i have made them since and just not documented it with pictures and blog entries).

When I got home from the grocery store it was only 5:30 and erin and I typically eat around 7 so i had plenty of time to prep while she played some Wii bowling. (both of us starting Monday off with the things we love :). Okay I should be fair, she first juiced me about three limes that i needed for the marinade, which when you are a teacher with various paper cuts on your hands :( that task can be quite a feat!

I made the guac so it could sit in all the great flavors for an hour, cut up the peppers and onions and started the shrimp marinating (the need to sit for about 15 mins)! I realized that I was all out of chili powder ;(, so I threw in a little bit of red pepper flakes. Just added a little kick.

Then I joined erin for a Corona light and a round of bowling.

The peppers and onions took about five mins to soften up, then you move them into another pan while you sautee up the shrimp (marinated and all) for about 3-4 mins. then combine all to warm. It smelled and looked soooo good. I love all the different colors with the orange peppers, pink shrimp, green cilantro and peppers, purple onion...l it was like a little rainbow of flavor! They do say you eat with your eyes first.

We had some Joesph's flax and oat bran wraps on hand to use for our shells. A side note: these wraps are really tasty and have great fiber and are quite filling! I used one and cut it in half because I really wanted to fill up on the fajita filling. The whole wrap has only 70 cals, 1.5 fat grams and 6 grams of fiber! Did I mention it taste great and they make pitas and flat bread. Definitely give them a try!!

We paired the fajitas with the guac, fat free sour cream, salsa, chips and Corona Light. Erin loves this picture on the right...just look at that steaming bowl of yumminess!

There was definitely a fiesta that our bellies!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snowed in with spinach wraps and snacks!

This morning we woke up to yet another nasty weather day in New England...what does that mean? Snow days for teachers (and erin just happens to be a teacher). So I opted to work from home and join her! We both were enjoying our morning coffee and working on our respective laptops when hungry hit. we were about to reach for oatmeal/cereal and toast when I suggested making our own breakfast wraps. when we lived in brooklyn we used to order take-out from a diner that knew my order by heart "a spinach and egg white wrap with one slice of american cheese" YUM. I really miss that place :(.
Back on task: we had made homemade quesadillas the night before so we had left over wraps, cheese and i usually always have spinach and egg whites on hand. erin went to work on cooking the spinach (which she wanted me to note really cooks down alot so make sure you add enough). Also another tip from the chef: make sure to let the egg whites sit in the pan with a top on it for a little bit. Due to all the water in spinach it causes the egg whites to take a lot longer to cook than normal.
These were great. A bit of furit salad and ketchup on the side!
Next I headed to the gym and thought i was on my way to work at night...but surprise surprise got the night off! I headed home where erin and i were hungry yet again!!(hey it had been at least four hours :)
Erin suggested that we make our own pizzas and since dinner was still a few hours away we tied our stomachs over with a nice fruit/hummus/melba toast plate. YUM.
We tried star fruit for the first time...not a big fan. Doesn't have much of a flavor to me. Maybe it wasn't ripe enough?
Oh and just to be complete my wine is on the left, erin's beer on the right!
I love snow days!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year...New Flavor

We still have sooo many flavors to try, not that i'm complaining! Sampling seemed to take the back burner around the holidays.

Today we decided tried Cinnamon Roll Larabar. Now i love cinnamon. I add it to my oatmeal. seriously! I also love to add it to my coffee. I just think its a nice spice to add some subtle flavor.
i guess everyone is not AS MUCH of a fan as I am...erin specifically.
Again she enjoyed the textures and flavors of this one, but she thought the cinnamon was a bit overpowering. I however LOVED it. It completely tasted like the center of the cinnamon roll that everyone waits until the last moment to eat :). YUM.

I would place this as my top flavor thus far.