Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Sorry for the radio silence, I've been enjoying every minute of time at home with family and friends.

I'm currently heading to Mexico to ring in the New Year on a lounge chair with a drink in hand.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy New Year.  So many more good wines and good times to come in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Recipe For Your Christmas Morning!

Looking for something yummy to dig into after opening presents this Christmas morning?  These cinnamon rolls should do the trick.  Warm and gooey, with a hint of banana and declines cream cheese frosting, they would make the perfect accompaniment to any brunch!  

I brought them to our family pre-Christmas brunch yesterday and they were a hit.  And while I won't say they were "quick and easy" - they were well worth the extra effort!

 Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls
*Adapted from Minimalist Baker

 Cinnamon Rolls:packet (2 1/4 tsp) instant/fast acting yeast1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk1/2 cup butter1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar, divided1/4 tsp salt1/2 cup mashed ripe banana + 1/2 cup sliced banana, divided2 3/4 - 3 1/4 cups flour1/2 - 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon1/2 cup raw walnuts or pecans, crushed (optional-I did not use) Cream Cheese Frosting:4 Tbsp butter2-2 ½ cups powdered sugar4 oz softened cream cheese1/4 tsp vanilla extract Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, heat the almond milk and 3 butter in the microwave in 30 sec increments (or heat over medium heat in a large sauce pan), until warm and melted (never reaching boiling). Let cool to 110 degrees, or the temperature of bath water. It should be warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast. (If you used a saucepan to heat the milk, transfer to a large mixing bowl now.)Sprinkle on yeast and let activate for 10 minutes. Then add 1 Tbsp sugar, salt and stir. Next add in 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana and stir.

Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so, adding flour as needed, until it forms a loose but still springy ball. Only use as much flour as it will take.Rinse out your mixing bowl, coat it with canola or olive oil, and add your dough ball back in seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a long rectangle ~1/4 inch thick. Brush with 1/4 cup melted butter and top with 1/3 cup sugar (I used a little brown sugar mixed in with the cane sugar) and 1/2 - 1 Tbsp cinnamon (up to preference). Then add about 20 very thin banana slices so it's easy to roll.

Slowly and tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. With a serrated knife cut the dough into 1.5 - 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8x8 square or comparable sized round pan *(you should have about 10 rolls). Brush with remaining 1 Tbsp melted butter and sprinkle with a bit more sugar (brown or cane).

Cover with plastic wrap and set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 28-35 minutes or until slightly golden brown.While rolls are baking whip up the frosting. Combine butter and cream cheese in stand mixer and beat until combined.  Add vanilla and beat again.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach desired consistency (I used about 2 cups)

One rolls are done, let cool for a few minutes,  frost, then serve warm. *I decided to cut thinner rolls and ended up with two round pans and approx. 2 dozen rolls.  Bake time was still the same.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wine Wednesday - Kim Crawford 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Sunday night was the second annual girls' holiday dinner and white elephant exchange.  We all met uptown to enjoy Tracy's beautiful apartment, roaring fire, and delicious salmon dinner with roasted veggies!

I also thoroughly enjoyed Erin's wine selection, Kim Crawford 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.  I first tasted Kim Crawford back in August as it was one of the wines in the bachelorette tasting I threw, but I forgot how much I liked it!  Super bright and crisp, but still fruity, not too acidic, which lately I've had more and more aversion to in Sauvignon Blancs.  

To end the night I brought these Peppermint Pattie Cookies - made GF by subbing Better Batter flour for AP.  They turned out delicious, although not the prettiest!

Peppermint Patty Cookies
*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 cup loosely brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Peppermint Pattie Cream:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 3 tablespoons evaporated milk (I mistakenly thought I had evaporated but turns out it was sweetened condensed milk, I used 2 tablespoons of that with 2 tablespoons of almond milk) 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil (I used coconut oil) 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped 2.5 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the cooled butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms.  Fold in chocolate chunks.
Roll dough into 1-1 1/2-inch balls and place on a nonstick baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the middles are just set (I ended up going for 12 minutes).  Let cool completely.  Drizzle ganache over tops and enjoy!
Why can't the holiday season last just a bit longer?  It really is the best time of the year! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Art Baseling in Miami

Last weekend a few girlfriends and I made the jaunt down to Miami for Art Basel.  One of the largest art shows in the world, it's a week full of fun, sun, sand, gorgeous art, people, culture and of course parties!  We had a blast running all over town, indulging in some old favorites (dinner at Scarpetta) and new experiences like touring the Wynwood neighborhood, and an epic, pop-up dinner party of never-ending sushi in an art gallery.

The weekend was so much fun we've actually already booked our hotel for next year!  Too early to start counting??

We started the weekend off with a pool party at Soho Beach House - pool toys as art, brilliant!

We spent Saturday afternoon enjoying the party at Freehand Miami - the coolest "hostel" I've ever seen.

Saturday night was an epic foodie adventure - Sushi Belly Tower is a pop-up supperclub that started in LA.  Location details are sent day of with a secret password to enter the event.  Once we arrived, we whispered the magic words to the doorman and we're poured a cocktail by their master mixologist before indulging in an epic 10-course feast of fresh cut sashimi, waygu beef, and teriyaki chicken.  The space was the beautiful Anthony Liggins Gallery in the heart of South Beach.  

This roll-up right here takes "sushi" to a whole new level - salmon, 2 kinds of tuna, scallops, waygu beef and uni rolled into one.  And I thought turducken was for the 1%!
Who knew real wasabi came from a root that gets ground on a shark-skin lined wooden board??  Apparently what we eat in sushi restaurants is horseradish dyed green!
"Food is Art"
Sunday morning we needed some sustenance after our sushi belly night out.  All that raw fish and protein was dying for some carbs ;-)

We headed to Puerto Sagua - our driver recommended as one of the best authentic Cuba restaurants in the area.  Ever since I watched the movie "Chef" over Thanksgiving I've been dying for a Cuban sandwich - craving satisfied!  We also sampled delicious fried yucca and ham croquettes, delicious! 

In a food-coma we headed to the beach for a perfect afternoon of napping and reading in the sun.  

Can't wait to return next year!

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