Important Announcement!

Hello friends, family and followers!

I am very excited to announce that I am starting a new blog! (this one) will stay around for life updates, friend information, and more about our life. But, all of the cooking and wine and such will be moved to (that's my name!). So please bookmark the new blog and keep an eye on all the goodness happening over there. You'll notice that, for the moment, it looks eerily similar to this blog. It's exactly the same, minus some life updates. But, I assure you, it will soon start a new little life of its own.

See you at cassia kathleen!

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

Hello friends! This week we found a very good cheap wine of the week. There is a wine shop near us, Que Syrah, that I really like and they have a wall of cheap options. I've rarely been led astray by Don and his picks, and today's was great.

It's the 2007 Saurus Cabernet Sauvignon. It's from Patagonia in Argentina, and I was very pleasantly surprised. When the wine first hit my mouth, I admit to thinking I was going to be disappointed. It has a very light, almost floral characteristic that I'm not usually a fan of. But the minute you swallow, the aftertaste hits, and then the pepper and the jammy fruit and the cab flavor I was waiting for all came flooding in. Still not a super full-bodied wine, especially for a cab, but a really nice, smooth representation. We're about to eat it with a yummy smelling lasagna. I'll let you know how it pairs.


Recipe of the Moment - Turkey Bolognese

On to some real food now! Not that appetizers aren't real food, but this is going to be an entree post for those of you who actually need to cook a dinner every now and then. This post is a turkey bolognese that I adapted from Pioneer Woman, who is an incredible food blogger. And, in fact, she got the recipe from a pastor friend of hers, Ryan. So this is really just a passed down recipe that's been passed down again right on for your consumption.

I chopped the recipe in half, which was more than enough for Brad and I. (We ate the whole thing, but that's just because it was so good, I don't recommend it.) And I used frozen ground turkey I had in my freezer instead of ground beef (no, not awesome, but good enough, and free, since I already had it).

The results were stunning. The bolognese has a little hint of sweetness from the carrots and lot of good, hearty flavor from the tomatoes and the meat. I added some extra garlic and some extra red wine to "beef" up the flavor of the turkey (ha ha, get it? ...), and it all worked out quite nicely. I am a big fan. I liked it way too much to not share with you all.

Why not finish off the bottle you used to cook with while you enjoy your dinner? Guaranteed perfect wine pairing for the meal.

Turkey Bolognese

2 glugs olive oil
3/4 cup grated carrots (use your cheese grater, just on the smaller side)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
3 ounces tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 T Worcestershire
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Parmesan, for topping
1/2 pound cooked pasta

Directions (see Pioneer Woman's site for detailed pictures of each step)
1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat
2. Add carrots and onions, and cook till not quite soft
3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add ground turkey, stir and cook till browned
4. Add oregano and basil, and stir to combine everything
5. Make another well, this time adding the tomato paste in the center, stirring till heated through
6. Add garlic and cook till somewhat soft
7. Make another well and add red wine and Worcestershire, stir to combine
8. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your spoon
9. Add milk, stir all together, season with salt and pepper, turn heat down to low and let flavors meld for at least 30 minutes
10. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan


Recipe of the Moment - Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

This was another piece of our appetizer dinner last weekend. My parents had these frozen breaded shrimp that are perfect for an easy appetizer, but I wanted to make some sort of dipping sauce to go with them. A little snooping around online got me to this recipe. I adapted it slightly for what we had on hand, and it worked out beautifully.

The peanut butter/soy sauce/lime mixture was perfect, and really easy to make since you just stick it in a blender. And paired with the shrimp, it made a perfect appetizer. Thinned out with a little fish stock, this could also make a great sauce for rice noodles or for an asian casserole. I'd eat pretty much anything dipped in this stuff. Mmm mmm mm.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T brown sugar
2 T lime juice
1 1/2 T minced ginger (we used jarred, and it was just fine)

1 t minced garlic
1/2 t chili flakes
1 shallot, chopped

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth
2. If desired, serve with chopped cilantro on top

Sauce will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator


Recipe of the Moment - Turkey Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

The next fews days will be showcasing the appetizers from the wine tasting at my parent's house in Phoenix last weekend. I wanted there to be a lot of variety, yet with components that were easy to make and filling, so that there didn't need to be a ton of different appetizers to make.

My parents already had some great looking asparagus in their fridge, and so I immediately thought of doing a bacon-wrapped asparagus dish. To be fair, I merely conceptualized this dish and told my Mom what to do. All of the arranging of the food was done by her, so the final result is her handiwork. And they turned out wonderfully. Simple to make, one-pan prep and clean up, and a delicious outcome. Sounds like a staple to me!

Turkey Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
(adapted from this recipe)

1 large bundle asparagus, ends trimmed (we had about 20 spears)
1 pkg turkey bacon (can use real bacon, if you prefer)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and freshly-ground pepper over all the asparagus spears on a foil-lined baking pan
3. One by one, wrap a strip of turkey bacon around each spear, taking care to place them on the baking sheet so that both ends of the bacon are held underneath the spear while baking (alternatively, you can use soaked toothpicks to hold the bacon in place, but we found it wasn't necessary)
4. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, until the bacon starts to look crispy but without drying out the asparagus


Recipe of the Moment - Earl Grey Cookies

With visions of Alinea dancing in my head, I wanted to come up with something wonderful for the Project Runway finale last night. Sarah was doing the salad and I was doing the sangria (and Brad was just enjoying it all). However, since I don't own any liquid nitrogen or agar or lecithin, not to mention truffles or shad roe or hibiscus, I had to settle for something a little less gastronomic.

One of the Alinea courses was an Earl Grey course, which happens to be my favorite type of tea. There were little tiny bits of crumbled Earl Grey cookies at the bottom of the plate, and they were delicious. Cookies I can do. Especially because I already have the tea handy.

This recipe is from Real Simple magazine, and I figured I could trust Martha to make some great tea cookies. I adapted it to fit my kitchen and ingredients. What you see below is my slightly different version. They were delicious, as predicted. And very easy to make. They were like my family's classic Faircakes, only with a light tea flavor and less butter. And I topped them off with some homemade Earl Grey whipped cream. Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
2 T. Earl Grey tea leaves (cheap bagged ones are actually better, as they have smaller leaf bits)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 t. water
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Grind tea leaves with a mortar and pestle until fine.
2. In a stand mixer, mix the two sugars, tea leaves, and salt together
3. Add vanilla, water and butter and stir until combined
4. Add flour slowly and mix until dough comes together
5. Divide dough in half, roll each half into a 2 inch diameter log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
6. When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees
7. Slice logs into 1/3 inch disks, place on parchment-paper lined tray, 2 inches apart
8. Bake 10 - 12 minutes, until edges are just slightly browned (my oven runs hot, it only needed 10)
9. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool, then serve!

Earl Grey Whipped Cream

1/2 bag's worth Earl Grey tea leaves, ground fine
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 t. vanilla
1 - 3 T. sugar

1. Whisk chilled cream vigorously in a bowl, until it starts to thicken (alternatively, use a hand mixer, a much faster method, but one unfortunately unavailable to me)
2. Add in the tea leaves and vanilla, whisk to combine and thicken more
3. Add sugar to taste, I only used about a tablespoon and a half, but if you want sweeter whipped cream, use more
4. Whisk till peaks stay set and it looks ready to enjoy! (If preparing early, put cream in the fridge and whisk again right before serving)


Place of the Moment - Alinea

Last night, Brad took me out to dinner for my birthday. No big deal, right? Wrong, my friend, very wrong. This place was incredible. It's called Alinea, and to show why this was the best meal I have ever eaten, I'm going to walk you through each of the 12 courses we ate, one by one. I did not take my camera, every picture on this site was taken by the blogger of Gourmet Pigs. They posted these the day before we went, so the food looks very, very similar.

The format goes thusly... you have no idea what you're going to be served, and the food comes at its own pace, one course at a time. I also did the wine pairings with the food, so the memorable ones of those I'll mention as well. Each course is different and delicious in and of itself, and each has its own utensils and serving apparatus. You'll see... On to the food!

English Pea

This was frozen peas (and by frozen, I mean dehydrated and/or frozen with liquid nitrogen, or some such awesomeness), honeydew melon, iberico ham, sherry vinegar, burreta cheese, basil, and other bits all put together for a few great bites. It was like biting into delicious, savory dippin' dots

This was served with my favorite drink of the night. It was a Szigeti Cuvee Prestige Brut with some drops of Iqhilika mead and Peychaud bitters. Yes, sparkling wine with mead and bitters swirled in. The best sparkling wine I have ever had. Flavorful, full of body, I wished I had another few glasses... until there were so many other wines served to us. 

Shad Roe

This had a bay branch growing out of it for the aromatic properties, and it was a tempura battered and fried single bite of shad roe, wrapped in bacon, with shallots and Dijon mustard.


This looked like a shot of liquor of some sort, but it was, in fact, a distillation of thai flavors. You should have smelled this thing. It was so aromatic, and tasted just like all the flavors of the Thai food we'd eaten the night before in one little swallow. 

Pork Belly

So we'd already had these little flags of rice paper on our table, and we'd been told we'd use them later. So sure enough, they're set out on this little holder contraption, filled with a bunch of pureed pork belly, then you're told to garnish the whole thing however you want with the bits on the glass plate. There is black salt, cucumber, dehydrated garlic flakes, bananas dipped in chocolate powder, lime gelee, coconut, red onion, basil seeds in a lime juice thing, cashews, and two other bits. It was amazing.


This was a deconstructed sturgeon potato leek soup. There was an applesauce ribbon over it all, with bits of pureed leek, some crouton dust, radishes, a potato crisp, and who knows what else. Yummy.

At this point, Brad got a glass of a 2005 Anima Negra from the island of Majorca. The major varietal is Callet, and it was a very delicious wine. I loved the creativity of the wines they offered and the fact that so many were so new to me. 

King Crab

So this was a three-course course. The top was some crab and fennel with a lemon foam (I think) and some other jellied/frozen bits. Then the top of the bowl comes off and there's more crab and fennel flavors in a slightly more substantial/traditional form. Then down blow, there's a creamy reduction of the flavors with some more crab bits floating in it that tasted like the best crab bisque you've ever had, if it was in Thailand. Very fun.

This was paired with a 2006 Albert Mann Pinot Gris 'Hengst' Grand Cru. It was a grapefruit-crisp Pinot Gris that was very nice.

Filet de Boeuf

This was a plate of beef/meat bits. It was the most substational course of the night. There was a wagyu round in the center, a sculpted button mushroom, a cockscomb, sweetbreads, and some other pureed beefs. I'm still not turned on to red meat, so this wasn't my favorite. But the flavors were wonderful. 

Hot Potato/Cold Potato

This was a paraffin wax bowl with a cold potato soup in it, then a skewered bit of hot potato and truffle that you let fall into the bowl and slurp like an oyster. 


This was a few different preparations of duck surrounded by a chamomile foam with some morel mushrooms as well. One of the bites was the most tender piece of meat I've ever had. And it was my first taste of foie gras, which I didn't know I was eating or I would have left it on the plate on principle. Though, admittedly, delicious.

This was served with a 2005 Quinta de Foz de Arouce 'Vinhas Velhas de Santa Maria' from Portugal. A red varietal called Baga, which I'd never had, with a lot of structure and good flavor, it was my favorite wine that was served. Though there were some fine pairings with the other offerings, this is a wine I would drink on its own and truly enjoy. 

Black Truffle

This was called a truffle explosion, and we were warned to take it in one bite or it would explode everywhere. A sort of ravioli filled with truffle and topped with a parmesan sliver, a very juicy bite that just melted in your mouth. 

Earl Grey

This started the dessert courses. The pillow was inflated with the aroma of Earl Grey and it slowly deflated as you ate, swirling the smell around you. On the plate was some white chocolate, some bits of earl grey cookies, caramel (I think), and other sweeter flavors. It was my favorite of the desserts. 


This picture is actually from the full 24-course tasting menu, and it gets served on your actual table. Ours was the same components, just served on a plate. Frozen dark chocolate, solidified chocolate mousse, menthol cream, and coconut. The dark chocolate was amazing, but the menthol was a little overpowering for me. Still an intriguing presentation.

Bubble Gum

This was our last course of the night, and it shows up in this tube. It is hibiscus bits, creme fraiche, and bubble gum flavored tapioca at the end. You just suck it out in one go and swallow it down. Definitely tasted like bubble gum.

So I'm sure you can all see why I was so enthralled with this place. It was the most interesting meal I've ever had. Bravo Chef Achatz, bravo.