Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Covenant 2009 Lavan Chardonnay

This week, something a little different than the typical Chardonnay.  Covenant Wines is a certified Kosher winery based in Berkley, CA.  They source fruit from several well-known Napa Valley Vintners including Rudd Vineyards (Leslie Rudd is part owner of Covenant).

We recently tried the 2009 Lavan Chardonnay while dining at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena.  Kosher or not, this wine was delicious!  

"Lavan" means "white" in Hebrew, and this Chardonnay was the first white wine in the Covenant portfolio.  Made with grapes from the Russian River Valley, fermented and aged for 12-14 months in French oak, this wine was rich but remained balanced, with pear and citrus notes blending with a mineral backbone and a kiss of oak on the finish.  It certainly lingered in the best way.  

Whether you're in the need for a Kosher wine option or not, I'd highly recommend this delicious and food friendly wine make it to your table soon!

Wine:  2009 Covenant Lavan Chardonnay
Price:  $38 retail
Would Buy Again:  Yes

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Banshee Wines

Last year my mom surprised me with an overnight getaway to Healdsburg for a New Years staycation. While we were there I tweeted out to the inter-webs looking for suggestions on where to go wine-tasting.  One response was Banshee Wines right in the center of town. While we didn't make it to taste that time, I've had it on my list ever since.

Fortunately this year we did a day trip to Healdsburg and I made sure to stop by Banshee for a quick tasting.  Famous for Pinots, we posted up in their fun and funky tasting room and tasted through a delicious flight.  

Surprise, surprise we loved the Chardonnay and ended up taking a bottle home with us.  But all of the wines were delicious.  I would highly recommend stopping by Banshee for a glass, a flight, some nibbles and good vibes!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The BEST Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

These little loafs made an appearance on Christmas morning.  It's funny, 5 years ago if you had told my future self that I'd enjoy banana anything, let alone banana bread I would have laughed in your face.  Growing up my Mom and Brother couldn't get enough of this combo, my mom perfected a chocolate-chip banana bread recipe over the years; once finally convinced to try it, I realized it was pretty darn good.

Fast-forward a few years (give me allllll the banana things), I wanted to make something to bring to a beach weekend and emailed Mom for the recipe.  I was shocked at the amount of sugar it called for!  This was certainly "cake" not a bread or muffin, or anything that we should be eating and calling breakfast!

I was determined to healthify the recipe.  Had I not said anything and played it off as if these were the original recipe I think these little cakes would have fooled even the most discerning banana-bread critics.  Good tasting and better for you, win-win!

Hot out of the oven, basking in the Christmas morning sunshine!
Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread Loaves
Makes 1 loaf or 12 mini loaves

1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana (2 large bananas, I used 2 and a 1/2)
2 tsp banana extract (can omit, but I wanted more of a banana punch!)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease loaf pan.

In bowl of your electric mixer, combine eggs, applesauce, sugar, vanilla and banana extract until you get a smooth mixture.

In another bowl sift to combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients into wet and mix until well combined.  Add in mashed bananas and yogurt and mix.  Toss chocolate chips with 1 tsp flour to coat, then add to batter, stir to combine.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Approx. 1 hour for standard loaf, 30 minutes for mini loaves or muffins.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - T-Vine Cellars 2012 Grenache

I recently enjoyed this 2012 Grenache from T-Vine cellars.  I visited T-Vine back in 2013 so I was excited to try their wines again!  The Grenache did not disappoint!  This varietal is right up my alley, combining the fresh red fruit of a Pinot Noir with the lusciousness of a Cab.  Fine tannins and a hint of vanilla on the finish make this an easy wine to drink and enjoy!

I paired the wine with roasted chicken and artichokes with a cilantro-caper sauce.  Essentially a one-pan meal and a delicious wine; the perfect combo!

Image Via
Wine:  2012 T-Vine Cellars 2012 Grenache
Purchased:  Graciously brought over by a friend
Price: $42
Would buy again: Yes

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas Vacation Recap

The way the holidays fell this year I managed to go home for two full weeks!  While it always goes too fast and is never enough time, I got in some serious shopping (grocery)/cooking/eating/drinking (and cleaning) and lots of quality time with family and friends.  For New Years we headed down to Puerto Vallarta for some fun in the sun, the perfect way to end a fabulous vacation.  If only the holidays could last for months!

We made several batches of Mom's famous fleur de sel caramel - recipe coming soon!
Sweet potato prep for Christmas Eve dinner - I made these delicious bourbon whipped sweet potatoes with bacon and sage
I made Momofuku Milk Bar's "Crack Pie" for Christmas Day dessert - turns out we had so many leftovers from the night before we really didn't need it....but is dessert ever really a need?
My aunt does a themed table every year - this year focused on the grandkids from the late 80s-early 90s at Christmas time.  There were some winning photos!
I love our party popper and paper crown tradition!

A boy and his dog

Christmas morning sweet potato hash - might be my new favorite egg dish!
For Christmas Day lunch I built a gourmet grilled cheese bar!  Prosciutto, persimmons, white cheddar with caramelized onions on Model Bakery Asiago bread!
I love cooking every year in this big spacious kitchen!
Allllll the desserts!
The Christmas Day crew - with our epic dessert spread and prior to the funniest game of Cards Against Humanity I've ever played!
We've arrived!!!!  Upgraded to family suite with ocean view!
NYE champagne toast!

Party animal

I perfected the buffet breakfast - my favorite masterpiece, waffle stacked breakfast sandwich with a fried egg!

It's not a Riu without a Michael Jackson show!
Or towel animals….
Party tricks

"I want to go to Riu" - our daily entertainment team, shoutout to Stefano!
Where to next year??

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Tasting With My Favs

Happy January.  It snowed yesterday; what a way to welcome me back NYC!

I guess I'll have to console myself by reliving the amazing 2 week holiday vacation.  Working on a full recap, but for today's Wine Wednesday I wanted to share a day of wine tasting.  I met up with some friends from high school to relive our youth and explore all that the valley has to offer!

Hitting the road, selfie-stick in hand!
We started our day at Pine Ridge.  I had never visited but after tasting their Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend earlier this summer I was eager to see what else they had on offer.  I was really impressed with all of their wines.  The Chardonnays were delicious as were the reds!  I particularly enjoyed their 2013 Les Petit Clos Chardonnay with a strong citrus nose and a creamy vanilla finish as well as the 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which had just the right amount of acid and that classic juicy "Napa Cab" taste.  

Our new party trick - the perfect pour!
That guy in the back is seriously jealous of our selfie-stick

After Pine Ridge we made our way up valley to Honig Winery.  Honig is famous for their Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc which can be found on many restaurants nation-wide.  A special treat at the tasting room was their 2013 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc which I really liked.  Softer than your typical Sauvignon Blanc, with notes of lemon, vanilla, and toasted oak which really gave it structure and roundness.  

"True happiness"
We stopped for lunch at a favorite spot, Rutherford Grill which did not disappoint.    

After lunch we headed up to Angwin to visit O'Shaughnessy, where my friend Chris' brother works.  He gave us a fab tour of the caves, tasted us through the 2014 whites, 8 of 2013 red varietals in barrel which have yet to be blended together, as well as the finished 2011 Cabs.  All of the wines were excellent and it was really cool to taste all of the separate varietals to really pick out the characteristics of each before they get blended together.  

Getting sassy
Love a good egg!
One more, it's just too good

The selfie-stick makes multi-tasking (drinking and photo-taking) a breeze!
I'd like to have a wine cellar like this - although my indecisive tendencies would make choosing a bottle an arduous process!
Tasting for two!

Amazing color!
All dressed up!
I may not have appreciated this "farm town" growing up - but I sure can appreciate it now.  And I am so thankful for such amazing friends that to this day make me laugh until I cry.  #thegoodlife indeed!

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