Archive | August 2016

Dazzling Diane’s Dessert Dip

dip and strawberries

 

So once again Diane dazzled our wine club with her amazing dessert dip. This is the recipe she used. The beauty is the simplicity. While she may not have developed this recipe it still was pure perfection and a perfect addition to our evening.

Here is the recipe:

32 ounces of low fat vanilla yogurt

8 oz low fat cool whip

1 box instant vanilla pudding

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  Just be aware that this makes a lot of dip so have a lot to dip with it.

While Diane served this with fruit (strawberries, pineapple, grapes) for the more health conscious minds, she added brownies and angel food cake to dip as well.  Brownies and dip, one word, decadent.  I say no more!

Red Red Wine

Tallying the scoreMartini Marge hosted  our wine club Meeting. She decided we would have  a red wine tasting.  There were some guidelines for picking the bottle each person could bring.

  1. The wine needed to be from any country other than the US.
  2. The price of the wine was set for $16 or under.  Each person needed to bring a wine that they had never tasted.
  3. It needed to be a red wine.

Bottles were wrapped so no one knew what they were drinking and who brought it.

Blind tasting

 

Each person had a card with 8 spots on it.  One for each of the wines.  Wines were graded using stars.  The worst the wine could be graded was a 1.  The best score was a 5.  There was a discussion about each wine.  Then the palate was cleansed.

The bottle of wine that came out on top, a lovely Chilean wine Casillero del diablo picked by Sharon.  We all were curious about why Sharon picked this particular wine.  Her answer; it was a red blend and she likes blends, it had the word diablo in the name and she was a bit  of a bad ass when she was in her teens and twenties.  She felt it fit her.  Go girl!

1st,2nd,3rd           sharon the winner

I found a little story about how the wine got it’s name: “In the closing years of the 19th century Don Melchor de Concha y Toro discovered that his most treasured wines had been pilfered from the “casillero” (cellar) beneath his family home. To discourage further theft, the enterprising Don spread a rumor that his deepest, darkest cellars were haunted by the devil.”

I also found the wine’s notes:

Casillero del Diablo Winemaker’s Red: The color is an intense, deep purple. Focused aromas of ripe black fruit, plum, and black cherry are apparent upfront, followed by dark chocolate notes. The palate has a velvety smooth and balanced texture, highlighting mild tannins with hints of toast and spice, and is followed by a long, satisfying finish.

By the way if you want to have some fun, watch this short “commercial” on the wine’s website.   Very intriguing.

 

Almost Heaven West Virginia

cabin

Margarita Maggie(Peg) makes our West Virginia weekends possible.  She and her husband Dan own this beautiful cabin up on the mountains.

The first time she invited us girls to the cabin we were expecting to rough it.  We all had our thermal sleeping bags and long underwear and we were a caravan going up the mountain.  When we turned of in the middle of nowhere we drove on this dirt road and at the end was this beautiful “cabin”.  Actually it is a beautiful house that surprisingly enough holds lots of people really comfortably.

The first night there we drank margaritas and ate pizza.  Peg officially became Margarita Maggie that weekend. In addition to Peg receiving her nickname a tradition was started. Pizza night became the first night of the weekend.  Stayed tuned for more on Pizza.

I remember waking up to watch the sunrise over the mountains.  They have a deck on the back of their house and all you see is miles and miles of tree lined mountains. I never felt more at peace than I did the first time I watched the sunrise that first  morning. All I can say is Almost heaven West Virginia.

Dazzling Diane’s Dynamite Dessert Martini

coffee martini

While wine club started out as wine, cheese and crackers only, it grew into something more.  This happened because we congregated right after work.  When you work in Home Health most of the time you don’t really get a lunch break.  You basically grab something and try to make it as healthy as possible.  Therefore, when you end your day you are running on empty so the food portion of the evening expanded a little.

While all of us generally serve something yummy as a main dish, Diane is definitely our dessert person.

Diane makes killer desserts so it was no surprise when she introduced the Coffee Martini to us.  I remember as if it was yesterday.  It has become a club favorite. Diane has agreed to share her recipe with us.

Here is the recipe:

2 shots vodka

1 shot of coffee

1 1/2 shot Bailey’s Irish creme

1 shot Kahlua

Try one you are so going to love it!  I speak from experience.

PS I must add Pam’s comment here “oddly enough, this martini will actually help you to sleep in spite of the coffee in it. Even a non-coffee drinker like me who doesn’t like vodka, loves this drink!”

 

Hummingbird Don’t Fly Away

Humming bird cake

Sadly cancer has touched every one of us in the wine club.  Seven months ago we lost a dear friend and colleague. Two of our members personally have had a brush with the disease.  That is why this story told to me by Mountain Mama really struck a chord for me.  I thought I would share the story.

Jenine got the recipe from one of her best friends, Donna.  Donna was one of nine women at her church who was pregnant when she was and they just hit it off.  She had a girl.  Jenine had a boy.  The kids hit it off as  well as the husbands. That is very rare.

Donna loved to bake and one of her favorite recipes was this humming-bird cake.  She wrote down the recipe on plain green steno paper in her own beautiful handwriting.  The paper is now well-worn and covered with grease stains. (see below) .  But it is one of Mountain Mama’s most treasured recipes.  She even made it for her daughter’s first birthday.

They had been friends for ten years when Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She fought a good fight but unfortunately did not win the battle.  And while she, the humming-bird did fly away everyone who knew her still cherish her memory and this wonderful cake.

Jenine baked the cake for us and all I can say is it is not to be missed.  She says she rationalizes eating it because it is healthy.  After all there is pineapple, bananas and nuts which negates the sugar and oil.  What ever!  Calories be damned. Its great and she has allowed me to share it with  all of you.

 

Recipe

Mix these 5 ingredients in a large bowl

3 c flour                     1 tsp baking soda

2 c sugar                    1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

ADD and Mix well with spoon.  “Do Not Beat”  Poured into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and let cool in pan

1/2 C vegetable oil    1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 Eggs                         1 c chopped nuts

1 8 oz can pineapple  1 c chopped banana

Frosting  Mix all ingredients

8 ounces cr cheese     1 tsp vanilla

1 stick butter                1 box confectionary sugar

humming

 

It’s Time to Wine Down

Wine and craft

Every time we meet, we try to share a new wine.  Lately we have been trying reds. The wine that caused the biggest stir at our wine night was Truvee.  Truvee means to find in French. This wine has a very special meaning to the two women that created it.

I did a google search on this wine because I became interested in what was written on the label.  Two women created this wine. They initially grew up and lived thousands of miles apart.  One was in New Zealand and the other in California. They did not know of each others existence. Both independently developed their own appreciation for wine making.

Turns out they were sisters.  Their father’s dying wish was “to find” and unite his two daughters.  With the help of friends and family they finally met each other in 1999.

Together they crafted Truvee.  We sampled their red blend.  The grapes in the blend are Grenache and Syrah red. There are hints of blueberry, black berries and red cherry.  We all gave it two thumbs up. If you have tried it, let us know how you liked it.

 

I never met a gnocchi I didn’t like

gnocchi

Remember my post on that Cada-rita created by Shop Babe.   Try it you might like it.

In the blog I told you I would try to cajole Pam and see if I could get her sweet potato gnocchi recipe.  Well she is sharing it with us and here is in her own words the back story on the gnocchi birth. The story is just as much fun as eating the gnocchi.

Per Pam “Here’s the evolution of gnocchi (a.k.a. how to NOT make wallpaper paste when trying to make and cook homemade gnocchi):

My daughter has always had an interest and an eye for photography.  In her last year of high school, she was in a magnet program for photography, so I took her to New York for a fun photo shoot and visit with my dear friend.  Sadly, the 1 day we spent in the city was a little rainy, so her shots were not as good as she wanted, but we still had some fun adventures.  One such adventure was to go to Jekyll and Hyde’s, a quirky little restaurant/show in Brooklyn.  While the show was cute and the trick of finding the bathroom was fun (spoiler alert: you have to find just the right book to pull in the library/hallway to open the door), the thing that really got our attention was the pumpkin gnocchi in a sage brown-butter sauce.  Until then, I had only had store-bought potato gnocchi, so you can probably imagine our surprise and delight at the delicious difference.
Once we got home, I found a gnocchi recipe and made the dough as I had done with pasta dough in the past (first mistake = way too tough dough).  Then, I cooked it like I did with the store-bought gnocchi (second mistake = it disintegrated into something similar to wallpaper paste).  Undaunted, I tried and failed a couple more times then gave up.  One day, I was watching Food Network and saw this man making potato gnocchi.  He pressed his cooked potatoes through a screen then gently mixed it with flour barely, lovingly forming it into a loose roll of dough.  He cut the dough into little nuggets and pan-fried them (who knew!?).  They looked like the fluffiest Tater Tots ever!  I had to try it (hence the reason for asking for a potato ricer for Christmas that year – yes, my family does wonder about me some times).
The next spring, during morel mushroom season, Tom was out of town and the culinary mad scientist (we should make that a degree – CMS) in me came out.  I knew I had to do something with the morels, one of the tastiest of all spring ephemera.  While wandering the grocery store trying to put a dish together I thought about what would go with the earthy savoriness of the mushrooms and decided on sweet potatoes and rosemary.  Using a light hand with the potato mashing/ricing and making the dough log is the key to a sweet-savory cloud that’s crispy on the outside and pillow soft on the inside.  Enjoy!
Sweet potato gnocchi for 1 (actually I only ate half of it as an appetizer and saved the other half in plastic wrap):
1 large sweet potato
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup finely shredded Manchego cheese (can probably use Parmesan, but I had some of this handy)
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Butter and olive oil
Cook the sweet potato any way you like until cooked but not soggy.  I baked mine for bout 30 minutes at 450.
Mash the potato or use a ricer (the ricer keeps it very light and fluffy; should have about 1 cup)
Mix the flour, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper together and spread on a clean counter or cutting board.  Using 2 scrapers or spatulas, mix/chop the sweet potato into the flour mixture until well blended (using the scrapers keeps you from kneading the dough).  Gently, form the dough into a 1inch thick log, and cut the log into 1/2-3/4 inch chunks.  Heat 1 Tbls of butter and 1 Tbls of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Gentle add the gnocchi and let brown.  Toss or gentle stir to brown all sides.  Serve with butter or sauce (sautéed morels in butter and Half and half was perfect.”  Pam and I would love your feedback if you make this recipe!