Wine Adventures

Last week, we attended our 3rd wine dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. These dinners are great because you get to eat your favorite recipes, sample dishes on their hidden menu, and taste four wines for between $40-50 per dinner. During our last dinner, a couple was asking us about our wine adventures. This is something people ask us from time to time so I thought I’d share. Jeremiah estimates we’ve been to 30 wineries for tastings. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Sommerset Ridge Winery and Vineyard – Located in Miami County, KS just about us_alter.jpga mile and half past the Louisburg Cider Mill, this is the home to absolutely one of our favorite wineries. On the weekends, they often have music in nice weather months and occasional food trucks. Here are a few of our favorites: Oktoberfest, Buffalo Red, Avalon, Ambrosia, Citron, and Tawny Port. Did I mention we love them so much that we used one of our wine corks from them on Jeremiah’s boutonniere he wore during our wedding?
  • Windy Wine Co. – Located just east of St. Joseph, MO, we loved so many of their wines. My husband and sister had a chance to sample them at the Northwest Missouri Wine Fest. It started storming by the time arrived so I wasn’t able to test any. That lead us to a Sunday Drive to the winery. They even have a bottle called Peanut Butter & Jelly. Apparently, the owner is a huge fan of giant Reese Peanut Butter Cups. I’m talking one of those several pounds big. His family bought him one from the store while we were sampling. Here are some of our favorites: White Chocolate Strawberry, Caramel Apple, Raspberry, Good News Dread, Spiced Pear, and Blackberry Cobbler.
  • Weston Wine Company – Located in downtown Weston, we sampled this winery IMG_0496on our way to my 40th birthday weekend at Arbor Lodge. It was raining and this cheery purple building was home to some delicious wines. I liked them so much, we joined their wine club. Quarterly, they host a “Book Club” where they review a wine related book and we get to sample some great wine. Trilliant Cut is my absolute favorite but I also like Navette Cut. If you are up for mixing, Princess Cut and Navette Cut are great mixed together. Although I am not a huge fan of Bubly carbonated water, the Mango and Apple to mix well with Princess Cut and Navette Cut to make a spritzer.
  • Van Till Family Farm Winery – Our first visit to this winery was on an icy morning IMG_0419after a December getaway to The Elms in Excelsior Springs. The owners were organic farmers in California before moving to Missouri just before September 11th. On Friday and Saturday nights, they crank-up a wood-fired oven on the outdoor patio they had brought in from Italy. Although it was starting to getting icy, we stayed for some pizza. OMG – it’s sooooo good. The recipes are the owner’s creation and use ingredients from their farm. The crust is light enough you can eat three pieces and not feel too stuffed. I’m not talking your traditional pizza topping either. Plus, they pay their employees a live wage so you don’t need to tip. In fact, they ask you not to. We like their: Peach Wine, Strawberry Festival, Farm Shed Red, and Prairie Fire.

Want to sample some dish food and wines for yourself? I hope you will purchase a ticket for Harvesters’ Forks and Corks. For $125, you get to sample food and libations from over 60 vendors. All proceeds help feed over 141,000 people in our community who rely on Harvesters to help feed their families. Who knows, you might just find a new wine you like or a winery you’d like to visit.

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Punch Bowl

When I was a kid, I remember my Aunt Joyce making this slush for a family holiday. All the kids wanted it but we couldn’t have any because it had alcohol. The next time my aunt made it, she didn’t put any liquor all her nieces could enjoy it as well. Probably ever since then, that’s how my aunts make it.

For those of you who attended my wedding shower, this was served as a punch in the bee hive container. Here’s hoping you have a baby shower, brunch, wedding shower, or summer party you can serve this tasty drink.

beehive

Photo courtsey of Pinterest

Fruit Punch/Slush by Joyce Miller
1 can frozen orange juice
1 can frozen lemonade
46 oz. can pineapple juice
46 oz. can apricot nector
1 – 2 liter bottle Sprite

Mix and serve. Add vodka if desired. Freeze for slush.

Notes:

  • I have a hard time finding a bottle of apricot nector in Kansas City grocery stores. I can usually find it sold in a six pack of cans near the tomato juice.

Raspberry Orange Smoothie

raspberry smoothieI was looking for a recipe to use up some raspberries in my freezer. I ran across this recipe which also used the one banana laying on my counter. Jeremiah and I decided it wasn’t too bad. No flavors were overwhelming and it’s a pretty healthy drinks.

Raspberry-Orange Immunity Smoothie by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen
1 c. nonfat milk or soy milk
1 c. frozen raspberries
1 medium banana
1/3 c. of orange juice & one ice cube or 1 T. frozen orange juice concentrate

Blend together and serve.

Purple Resolution Smoothie

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and I decided to make shrimp tacos. I found a recipe that included a slaw complete with red cabbage. Unfortunately we didn’t need very much of it so we went searching for recipes to make with the rest of it. I told Jeremiah that the Pioneer Woman had a smoothie recipe I’d tried before and it wasn’t bad. I’m not sure Jeremiah believed me. Red cabbage is really healthy and their aren’t a lot of recipes out there to make with it. We added it to Jeremiah’s green beans with bacon. It was ok but we didn’t like it as well as when he usually makes it with bacon, shallots, and garlic. So I made the smoothie for him. It’s super healthy and fills you up until lunch. Make it yourself and see what you think.

Berry smoothiePurple Resolution Smoothie by Pioneer Woman
2 c. Greek yogurt
2 c. mixed berries
2 c. blueberries
1/4 head red cabbage
1/4 c. honey
1 banana
1 c. cranberry juice

Blend together and serve. Makes four cups.

Nutritional Information (Based on a two cup serving): 524 calories, 2 g. fat, 5 mg. cholesterol, 163 mg. sodium, 988 mg. potassium, 106 g. carbs, 13 g. fiber, 83 g. sugar, 28 g. protein, 30% Vitamin A, 145% Vitamin C, 78% calcium, and 11% iron.

Notes: 

  • You could probably use regular yogurt but it will decrease the protein in this recipe.
  • You could probably use berry flavored yogurt and decrease berry content.
  • I used frozen berries and banana.
  • I used lite cranberry juice. The original recipe also suggest grape juice. 

Three Ingredient Smoothie

100_1193Some of my friends don’t like to cook with lots of ingredients. This one is for you. It’s a simple and tasty smoothie with just three ingredients. Did you know that eight strawberries pack the power of a day’s worth of Vitamin C? A few strawberries short but the orange juice will help you get there. This simple smoothie is also packed with potassium and folic acid.

Perfect Smoothie from Pinterest
1 banana
1 c. orange juice
6 frozen strawberries

Blend and serve.

Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

I’m a pretty practical person. When my mom ask me what I want for a holiday gift, I usually have a hard time coming up with stuff. This year, I decided to take my birthday money though and invest in a Ninja blender. Sure, we have all seen the infomercials for it – but does it really work? I did a little online research. I usually don’t read people comments on stuff because it just gets my heart racing. The anonymity of the internet makes people think they can say anything. But I figured if the major of the 100 reviews written on multiple websites were good, maybe all those people weren’t paying to write them. I also chatted with a friend of friend who said it worked good at everything but chopping kale. Ice was my biggest concern. I had some cheap blender and it couldn’t chop ice for anything. I wanted a Starbucks quality blender at a price that fit my budget. The basic Ninja is $99. I used my Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20 percent off coupon getting it down to $80. With birthday money, I could justify the expense.

This smoothie was one of my first test. I have to say, it work beautifully. (Just so you know, I haven’t been paid a dime to say this or anything else on my blog). In the weeks ahead, I will share how it did on other recipe. (I’m even going to give homemade ice cream a try even though I didn’t buy that level of Ninja.) This recipe is definitely a keeper though. I saw it while watching Pioneer Woman on the Food Network and found the exact recipe on the internet. It will be on my Pinterest favorites if you want to tag it for later.

Orange Resolution SmoothieOrange Resolution Smoothies by Ree Drummond
2 c. frozen mangos
2 c. peaches
2 c. Greek yogurt
1 c. Orange Juice
1 c. pineapple
¼ c. honey
1 banana
1 c. mini carrots

Blend together and serve. Makes eight servings.

Notes:

  • I used canned pineapple packed in natural juices.
  • I chopped up the carrots.
  • I cut the recipe to a fourth and it made a good cup and half smoothie.

Crispy Ritz Chicken

Ritz crackers are one of my nephew’s favorite snacks. I used leftover crackers from his visit to make this delicious looking recipe from Pinterest. If you like the flavors, I would suggest trying this breakfast recipe for Creamy Swiss Eggs on Biscuits.

Crispy Ritz ChickenCrispy Ritz Chicken
4 chicken breast
2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 c. buttermilk (or milk)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or cheddar cheese)
1 tsp. dried parsley

1 can cream of chicken
3 T. sour cream
2 T. butter

Dip chicken in milk, then cheese, and finally crackers. Sprinkle with parsley. Cover and bake for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. In a small saucepan, melt cream of chicken, sour cream, and butter. Pour over baked chicken and sprinkle with parsley.

Notes:

  • I used reduced fat Ritz crackers, skim milk, and fat free cheddar cheese. Just remember that skim milk doesn’t stick as well to the chicken.
  • I used 98% fat free cream of chicken and fat free sour cream. You could also substitute Greek yogurt.
  • I served it with mashed potatoes. Chicken gravy also tastes good on them. I would suggest maybe a green side dish like spinach or asparagus as well. One of the Pinterest recipes suggests making cilantro lime rice to go with the chicken. I liked the home cooked meal approach.
  • Another suggestion is to use the veggie flavored Ritz crackers.

Fall Changes

I know it’s been a few weeks since I wrote a blog post. Although the temperatures may be hovering around three digit heat, everything is changing as we approach fall. I dog sat for the first time in my life and just started a new job. After a quick afternoon nap, I’m back in the kitchen cooking up new recipes to share with you.

Today’s post is inspired by Starbucks. Last week, the fall specialty drinks reappeared on the menu. My personal favorite is Salted Caramel Mocha but I also love Pumpkin Spice Latte. For those of you who love the winter holiday drinks, today’s copy cat recipe is for you. Although this isn’t one of my usuals, it is one of my sister’s favorites. I think it taste pretty close to the Starbucks drink.

Caramel Brulee LatteCaramel Brulee Latte from Pinterest
2 T. caramel sauce
1-2 oz. vanilla syrup
4 oz. espresso
8-10 oz. steamed milk
whipped cream
toffee bits and caramel sauce

Place caramel sauce in cup. Add vanilla syrup. Top with coffee and milk. Garnish with whipped cream and toffee bits.

Notes:

  • I used half a shot glass of sugar free French vanilla syrup (1 oz.)
  • I don’t have an espresso maker so I made the Starbuck Blonde K-cup with 6 oz. of water.
  • I used 10 oz. of steamed skim milk.
  • I make froth from skim milk and skipped the whipped cream, toffee bits, and extra caramel sauce.

Orange Julius

My mother loves Orange Julius. You know, the orange fruit smoothie available in food courts everywhere as well as your local Dairy Queen.

One of my family’s favorite things to do is go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. For years, we have gotten up very early in the morning to catch the Black Friday sales and complete most of our holiday. As you know, many stores are now starting to open at Midnight to catch people before they go to bed.

This past year, we decided to swing by the mall in Norfolk on our way back to Columbus from dropping of my grandparents off at their home in Wayne. (For those of you not from northeast Nebraska, these towns are all about 30-45 minutes apart.)

Our first stop was at Target. Who doesn’t love a Target deal? And in our family, it also means our purchases are helping pay the salaries of two family members employed by the company. (I always encourage people to shop place that support your employer or others you know.) I love Target because their Black Friday deals last for two days. This usually means the store isn’t super crazy if you show up an hour or two after it opens. Our run through Target was quick and then it was time to split up.

Somehow, my mother and sister got stuck in a line at Herbergers (it’s like Dillards or Macy’s if you aren’t from a smaller community) for well over an hour. My nephew Brock and I had shopped the whole mall and were starving. What else would be open but the wonderful food court. We called my mother and she wanted a drink. My sister Stephanie wanted a soft pretzel. Brock and split up – one of taking Orange Julius and the other tackling The PretzelMaker. I hadn’t consumed an Orange Julius in years but it was quite refreshing. It gave us just the energy we needed to drive the last 45 minutes back to my sister and nephew’s home.

I ran across the copycat recipe in Pinterest fairly recently. I met it with a little skepticism since the recipe lacks fruit and contains sugar. However, I have to say this recipe taste just like an original Orange Julius. I think milk is the secret froth maker in this treat.

Orange Julius Copy Cat Orange Julius by Pinterest
1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate
1 c. milk
1 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
10-12 ice cubes

Blend ingredients together and serve. It makes approximately four – 10-12 oz. drinks.

Notes:

  • I used pulp free frozen orange juice concentrate and skim milk.
  • I halved the recipe crushing five ice cubes.
  • Since OJ is very high in sugar, I made one using a sugar substitute (Splenda) to decrease sugar in recipe. It tasted pretty similar.

Root Beer with a Kick

When I was a kid, we didn’t eat out a lot. In fact, ice cream was a special treat. One of my mother’s favorites was to make ice cream floats. What kid doesn’t love something that creates edible bubbles?

Adult Root Beer FloatI ran across this recipe for an adult root beer float on Pinterest a few weeks ago. As you probably imagined, it contains alcohol. I know my mother won’t be trying this but I hope some of you find this a refreshing summer treat.

Adult Root Beer Floats
root beer
vanilla vodka
vanilla ice cream

Fill a glass half full with root beer. Add a splash of vanilla vodka. Top with a scoop of ice cream and serve.

Notes:

  • I didn’t have vanilla vodka so I used regular vodka with a touch of Sugar Free French Vanilla Syrup (that I used for my coffee).
  • I made mine with cream soda. I thought it was very taste. Drink slowly!