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Category Archives: Food and Drinks

Wine with Cheese Party

Basically, all you need are wine glasses, some small plates, cocktail napkins (paper is fine) and you’re good to go. You don’t need an assortment of wine glasses if you don’t already have ones for red and white wine. Likewise, you don’t need a collection of plates..just some small party plates will do. Napkins… go to your local party store and get some small cocktail napkins in colors/patterns to match the occasion or décor.

If you want to add some flair, use tea lights or small candles for atmosphere and mood setting. Light music adds to the entertaining atmosphere.

Now for the most important part… the wine and cheese!

In its simplest form, you can get your favorite dry red and white wines and a sweet red or white to complete the selection and cover everyone’s tastes and serve them with assorted cheeses like Swiss, brie, cheddar, bleu, Gouda and an Italian favorite. There are also a variety of cheese “spreads” and flavored cream cheeses that can add different flavors and textures. A bunch of fresh grapes adds some additional personality and flavor to the presentation Assorted crackers and crusty bread complete “the meal”. Another option is to add a selection of sliced meats to the cheese board. A small bowl of assorted olives is another nice touch.

Note… with a little careful shopping, you can easily get a nice quality bottle of wine for $10 or less. Also..from my experience… guests will offer to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to share with everyone which adds more variety and personality to the selection.

Easy Dessert Recipes for Dinner

You will need the following ingredients to make the Peanut Butter Pie:

  • 2 cups whipped topping
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 block cream cheese, very soft

Mix the whipped topping, powdered sugar, peanut butter and cream cheese together until very smooth and then pour into your pie crust. You can buy a pre made graham cracker crust or use the recipe below to make one of your own. When you have the pie in the crust cover and put in the fridge until firm and then serve.

To make the graham cracker pie crust you will need:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar together and then mix into a pie pan and bake at 400 degree F. for 10 minutes. Let cool and the put the pie filling in the crust.

Tip for Making Peanut Butter Pie:

  • You can also use a regular pie crust instead of a graham cracker crust.
  • You can put whipped topping on top of the pie or wait and put it on each slice when served.
  • You can try crunchy peanut butter (I have only used creamy peanut butter in mine).
  • Can be made the day before and stored in the fridge until time to serve.

The next Easter dessert recipe is for Amber’s Apple Dessert and you will need the following:

  • 1 crust (I use refrigerated canned crescent rolls)
  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Put the crust in the pan and spread the apple pie filling over the crust. Mix the flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon together. Cut the butter into the mixture with a fork or pastry blender or you can even use your hands. Mix the butter in until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and bake at 350 degree F. for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and pour the glaze on top of it.

To make the glaze you will need:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until very smooth.

Tips for Making Amber’s Apple Dessert

  • For the crust you can use crescent dough or pre-made pie dough that you roll out or you can make your own pie dough.
  • You can also use other pie fillings in the place of the apples such as peaches, strawberries or blueberries.

Tricks Grill BBQ Quick

1. Buy an organizing station
Barbecuing need several tools. The labor is a lot easier if you have all the tools and instruments needed, well organized in one place. That’s why you need a station. Keep all your utensils, sauces, and uncooked items there. If your station is a roller, you’re too smart.

2. Foil clean your grill
You might consider cleaning your grill to be a big task, but here’s a simple trick. Have you ever used a scrub on your face? It’s a similar procedure. Roll a piece of aluminum foil to make a ball. Now use this ball to scrape off all the things you don’t want on the grill.

3. Pizza is better grilled than oven cooked
Grilled pizzas taste much better than oven cooked ones. The level of cooking that the grills provide can never be achieved with ovens. Add to that the delicacy that smoked pizza feeds.

4. Grill taco shells
It won’t take much to grill taco shells, and the taste will be even better. So why go shopping for them? Grill your own taco shells at home for the most delicious and crisp tacos.

5. Cloves and lemons as pest repellents
Are insects and pests flying around? There’s a natural DIY cure. Take some cut lemons and cloves together and keep them near your grill. That makes sure you don’t invite the flies for the meal.

6. Keep clean with a well-lubed grill
Use grease to lubricate your grill before you start to cook. A lubricated grill means nothing’s going to stick to it after you’ve finished cooking. You neither loose bits of your food nor you get your grill dirty with scraps.

7. Boil before you grill
Nobody enjoys standing in the heat for an hour or more of grilling during hot days. So to cut down the cooking time of your meat, brine and boil it before you grill it. This will make your BBQ faster.

8. Two skewers to keep it from slipping
This is a crucial trick on this barbecue hacks list. If ever you see your food moving on the grill, you have to do this. Put two skewers through your food to keep it stable. Now your food can’t rotate, and you can easily cook it on all sides.

9. Have mason jars for a lot of things
There’s a reason that these jars are favorite of so many people. The number of things you can do with these jars is amazing. Fill them with drinks, use them as dispensers, or make them hold utensils and tools. The applications are immense.

10. Brine your fish to keep it together
Fish often falls apart after you grill it. Add a tablespoon of salt to four cups of water and make your fish swim in that for about ten minutes. Pat your fish dry and grill it. Now it won’t fall apart.

Information of Inverted Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients needed for the chocolate cupcake:

2 teaspoons of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
¾ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of softened butter
1 ½ cups of white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
¾ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Ingredients for vanilla cupcakes:

¾ teaspoon of baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of white sugar
2/3 cup of milk
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Ingredients for chocolate frosting recipe:

1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
5 cups of confectioner’s powder sugar
1 ½ cups of softened butter
½ cup of milk
½ teaspoon of espresso powder
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Ingredients for the vanilla frosting recipe:

3 cups of powder sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of milk
1/3 cup of softened butter

Ingredients needed for cupcake toppers:

Chocolate candy melts
Vanilla candy melts
Piping bag with a small tip (2)
Wax paper

Once you have made both the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and both the chocolate and vanilla frosting, you may being preparing and putting together the final product. Grab the set of chocolate cupcakes and the set of vanilla frosting. Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of frosting. Now repeat the steps, but with the vanilla cupcake and the chocolate frosting.

Out of a Wine Tour

Hold the glass well

Experts often advise people intending to be a part of wine tours to hold the glass well before they taste it. When they serve you freshly prepared wine, it is likely to be in the room temperature, and it would taste best as when aerated well. Holding the glass at the stem and swirling it would aerate it well. Holding it at the base would transfer heat from the hand which may not give you the right flavour.

Wear cool clothes

As you are likely to stay outdoors most of the time visiting the vineyard and checking on the grapes that are to move in for wine production, it is best advised for you to wear breezy clothes that aren’t dark coloured. This would allow you to manage to stay outdoors for long. Even if you are addicted to using deodorants and perfumes, ensure that it isn’t strong on the nose as you may not be able to taste the wine with the fragrance overpowering your sense of taste.

Purchase moderately

If you intend to take home a few bottles of the wine that you have just tasted, you could consider making moderate purchases. Keep in mind the process in which you would be taking the bottles along with you in a way not to break them while on your way. If you have visited a different country and are a part of the tours, you could ask the authorities to deliver them to your address and ensure that it would reach you safely when you get back home.

Bottle Service

You can enjoy the evening even more with your own private table and place. Dance the night away and mingle without others bumping into you. In addition, you can also sit comfortably. With your own table, it is easier to make new friends and ask them to have fun with you. Though table service may be absolutely more expensive, it is a faster way to get noticed by everyone else in the club, and get the best views of the live performances, including DJs.

You have your own bussers, waitresses and security to serve you and those with tables. Table services include full services. For this reason, there is no need to go to the bar to mix your own drinks. A very attractive waitress will be at your service for the rest of the night. Security personnel will see to it that no unwanted individuals will go close to your table area, while bussers will be available to provide services so you can have a worthwhile experience.

  • When you spend more on bottle service, you will get a better table location. The tables closest to the dance floor, live performers and DJs are more expensive than those located on the second floor or in a second room.
  • For sure you will go beyond your expected minimum expenditure by 1-1/2 times. As the night continues and you start drinking, the alcohol can be finished in a jiffy. You also meet new acquaintances with whom you can share drinks.
  • Inform your waitress that you, alone, will be in control of ordering. In this way, the whole group will not just order and increase the bill.
  • Make sure to request for bottle service specials, which are available during week nights. Remember that giving tips to hosts and others that provide services can entitle you to get better deals and arrangements.
  • Bigger clubs do not necessarily mean they are better. You can have fun at smaller clubs as well.
  • Do not wait until it is too late to reserve for bottle service. Tables are always in demand. Waiting too long could leave you with sold out venues.

About Vegetables On Grill

Use an oil base. Olive oil is popular. Grapeseed, sesame, and coconut oils are healthier.

Add lots and lots of herbs and spices.

Coat the grill with peanut oil to prevent sticking.

Grill quickly, but don’t over cook. Vegetables on the grill need to be done quickly.

Any vegetables can be done on the grill. Larger ones can be cut into smaller pieces. Zucchini, corn, green beans, asparagus, tomato (firm ones), onion, garlic (whole cloves), potato, squash, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, turnips are all good candidates. All fruit that are a little more solid are also good.

Get your fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. That way, you get the freshest vegetables. Fresh is important because fresh vegetables retain their structure. Firm vegetables are better.

Ever tried grilled peaches or watermelon? You don’t know what you are missing!

All meats can be done on the grill. Eggs and fish should be done in a pan or on foil, because they can fall through the grates.

Obtain your meats from a local butcher that uses local meats. This is far healthier, with a better fat profile (more heart healthy omega-3s). Find a local farm that sells eggs. See if they let their chickens run around and eat weeds and bugs, their natural diet. The meats and eggs taste better on a natural diet, and cook up so much better. Yes, you will taste the difference.

Best of all: you can’t cook breads, pastas, or any junk on the grill! Just don’t go adding it in.

Love Red Wine

It is made of dark grapes, it takes intense violet color initially but later it takes red brick color as it matures with time. Its production is a long tedious process but it could be understood in short. This red color comes from the skin of the grapes which consists of anthocyanin pigments which give rich texture, taste, besides colour that attracts all. Red wine is given treatment at the winery during fermentation. The process starts with selected grapes going through stainless steel crushers and later preservatives are added which help on timely fermenting as well as maintain good quality and texture to the drink. Yeast is added and later is goes through the cooling process and then the pressing, the second transformation through microbiological takes place. This is a very important process in wine making. Later it is kept to mature and the process is called racking and ageing. The older the wine is the better quality it would be. Then fining is done to rectify any faults in post production of the wine. Wine is filtered and finally bottling takes place. Bottling is generally done in glass bottles with cork stoppers which give it a classic look.

Consumption of wine depends on the menu being served with it. Red wine is always preferred with heavy red meat and roasted, roasted, cuisine whereas white wine is taken with light snacks like fish and poultry items. Red wine is the most loved liquor or drinks in this universe for various reasons. The foremost reason is that it is good for health if taken in a moderate quantity. It lowers the cholesterol and its consumption prevents heart ailments and some form of cancer as well. As grapes contain antioxidants which prevent oxidative damage to our body and act as a preventive measure in many types of cancer. In a recently published journal is stated that intake of red wine lowers the blood sugar level. In women, if taken in small quantity, it can prevent type 2 diabetes and it lowers sex hormonal levels and protect against breast cancer. Thus we can make out why it is so highly rated by everyone, as it takes care of our heart which is the most important part of our body. Today’s life is full of stress and pressures and we take various measures to release stress including medicines which may have some side effects but your friend red wine can relieve stress and relax your nerves. Well if you catch a cold you do not have to take any specified medicine for it, just a regular glass of red wine will solve your problem. We do not have to think twice as it takes care of our health as a trusted doctor and friend.

Drink To Health Organically

To get a real bottle of certified organic wine, consumers need to become familiar with what “organic” means and the process it takes to become certified organic. Further, a 100% organic wine must come from organically grown grapes and the juice must be processed according to stipulated standards. In the U.S. there are two certifying organizations that authored real organic regulations: Demeter-USA (1985) and USDA-National Organic Program (2002). These are uniform documented certification programs.

But, certified organic is not immune to clever games of semantics. Winery marketing departments will use such words as: Sustainable Practices, From Organic Grapes, or Natural. These definitions do not carry any legal authority and are pretty much self defined by any number of trade organizations.

Demeter-USA’s patented certification approach recognizes a farm (vineyard for our discussion) as a self contained living organism, known around the world as Biodynamic Certified. This certification dictates a stringent practice of grape production that basically says no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers may be brought into the farm environment. Only unaltered natural products produced from within the farm may be used to produce grapes. Biodynamic certification even dictates how much of the farm/vineyard must be set aside for natural habitat.

Demeter-USA also stipulates a minimal manipulation of the wine, prohibiting non-natural yeasts, heavy use of sulfites, water, even malolactic fermentation. But they do allow the use of natural egg whites and bentonite to adjust wine minimally.

Bottom-line, Demeter-USA is the highest certification of organic wine attainable and Biodynamic certification can only come through Demeter-USA.

USDA-National Organic Program came about in 2002 to set a minimum standard for a product to be labeled “organic”. Several organizations can certify wines as organic, as defined by USDA regulations. Some states such as Oregon do their own USDA organic certification as do other entities.

Generally speaking, USDA Organic is not as strict a certification as Biodynamic certification. There are USDA restrictions on synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers; however there are no standards relative to the whole farm approach to managing the farm as an organism. In a winery, the USDA does allow more intervention with yeasts, sulfites, and acids in the wine making process. (Check the regulations for specific approved additives.)

Note: Wine may also be labeled as “From Organic Grown Grapes” and still not be an “organic” wine.

In summary, the differences between Biodynamic and Organic are:

· Biodynamic–the vineyard is to be viewed in the context of soil, all plants, and animal interaction in a defined area.

· Biodynamic–no dependence on imported or synthetic materials for fertilizing, weed control, and pest control.

USDA Organic-no synthetic materials in the vineyard but natural products can be brought into the vineyard.

· Biodynamic–focus is on sustainability of the farm/vineyard and minimized waste of water and natural resources. In reality, biodynamic wines have the smallest carbon footprint of any agricultural method.

· Biodynamic– wines must be produced with Biodynamic approved natural ingredients and protected from manipulation in the process of fermentation and putting into the bottle. These conditions are outlined in a Biodynamic Processing Standards document.

USDA Organic-allows the winery to manipulate the wine but only if they use approved materials.

· Biodynamic–the vineyard must be a self-contained eco-system.

· Organic is a less regulated wine than Biodynamic yet is still a powerful approach to healthier wines.

Other verbiage that might be misleading consumers looking for organic wine: Sustainable, Natural or just the words “From organic grapes”. Sustainable seems to be most indicative of vineyards or wineries who strive to conserve water, conserve energy and minimize their waste. In California there are grower associations who certify their members under – “SIP Certified” and “Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing”. This has nothing to do with use of pesticides, etc.

Comfort Foods and Wine

One of my favorite comfort foods around the holiday season is ham and cheese scalloped potatoes. My Mom used to make this every year when we had leftover ham from Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, potatoes were always plentiful around the kitchen.

This rich, wonderful casserole is a mixture of potatoes sliced thinly, bite sized pieces of ham, onions, peppers and canned cream of mushroom soup. Dotted with real butter and sprinkled with grated cheddar this is one of my guilty pleasures. It is easy to put together and I have even learned to use my kitchen mandolin to thinly slice the spuds. The most difficult part of the whole dish is to wait for it to cook in the oven! The last time I made this treat, I paired it with a crisp green salad and unoaked Chardonnay from Heron Hills, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is a crisp white wine which reminds me a lot of Pinot Grigio, one of my faves, and it pairs well with a lot of food.

After a busy day of holiday shopping, what could be better than to call up your local pizza parlor and order a double pepperoni pizza with thin crust and have it delivered directly to your home. Set your table with cloth napkins, light a candle and pair this with inexpensive Chianti served in your best crystal wine glasses. This is definitely a guilty pleasure delight!

The night before any big holiday celebration try treating your self to warm from the oven, double fudge chocolate chip brownies. The cake portion of the brownie will be moist and the dark chocolate chips will still be gooey, OH MY! Pair this with a full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and it will bring out the best in the chocolate as well as the wine. Total decadence!

I could, of course, go on and on about the joys of wine food pairing with comfort foods, but I am sure you get the idea. It is easy and fun to do.