Friday, October 30, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Pumpkin Caramel

If you have a Halloween party this weekend and are looking for something tasty to bring, look no further than these easy-peasy oatmeal cookies!  The pumpkin-caramel takes them to a whole new level, chewy centers with crisp edges!  

I happened to have a leftover jar of pumpkin caramel from last year's pumpkin season; if you can't find you can sub in Trader Joe's fleur de sel caramel sauce with a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.  

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Pumpkin Caramel
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 2/3 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats
1 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chunks (I used semi-sweet)
1/2 cup pumpkin caramel sauce

Beat butter and sugar together until smooth.  Add the egg and mix.  Add vanilla and mix on high until combined.  

In a separate bowl combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  (If you are using regular caramel+pumpkin spice add pumpkin spice to dry mixture now).  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine.  Fold in chocolate chunks.  Stir in caramel and mix to combine.  

Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Roll dough into balls and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Pull out of oven and sprinkle top with flaky sea salt.  Return to oven for a minute or so until edges are lightly browned and middles are set.  

Remove from oven and let cool completely.  I froze half the dough into balls and baked at a later date which worked perfectly.  Just place frozen dough balls on baking sheet and bake as directed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Walt 2013 La Brisa Chardonnay

My brother hosted a BBQ to share the spoils of his recent hunting adventure.  He cooked up quite the feast including venison and quail as well as store-bought skirt steak for those less-adventurous.  I made a version of my favorite salad (arugula, nectarines, goat cheese, and tomatoes) and we had grilled veggies and potatoes on the side.  It was one of those perfect Napa Valley nights, warm enough to linger outside long after the sun went down.  

There was lots of wine to go with of course, but a favorite of mine was this 2013 Chardonnay from Walt Wines.  With grapes sourced from Green Valley in the Russian River appellation, the wine was bigger than I would have expected.  With a nose of tropical fruit, pineapple, and lemon, the palette was creamy and luscious, with nice acidity and minerality to balance out the fruit, just they way I like it!

The Walt tasting room is located right on the square in downtown Sonoma.  When friends ask me for advice on where to go tasting in the Napa region, I tend to default to Napa and Up-Valley (St. Helena etc) as I am not as familiar with the Sonoma area.  I will definitely be adding Walt to my list of Sonoma recommendations and can't wait to check out the tasting room next time I'm home!  

Purchased:  unknown
Price:  $35
Would Buy Again:  Yes!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Weekend Escape - Seven on Shelter

Summer may officially be over, but some may argue that this is truly the best time to explore the North and South Forks of Long Island.  The beach crowds have all gone home and traffic has slowed; the beauty and splendor of the region are there for the taking!  

In between the two forks is a special escape, Shelter Island.  After a day of touring the wineries on the Northfork, we hopped on the ferry to rest our heads at Seven on Shelter, a boutique bed and breakfast.  I prefer the accommodations of a b&b, and I tirelessly scroll through Trip Advisor reviews choosing a place based on it's location and breakfast reviews, Seven on Shelter excelled and surpassed all of my expectations.  

Wine and afternoon snacks were waiting for us upon arrival.
We stayed in Room #1.  The duvet was so soft I could have stayed in bed all day.  

Thoughtful touches including restaurant recommendations, local activities, water and chocolates!

A quaint sitting porch off of the back of the house
Our hostess, Beth, was a former art dealer.  Her beautiful art is showcased throughout the house.

After a delicious dinner at Vine Street Cafe, I was so excited to go to bed so that I could wake up and experience my favorite part of any B&B, breakfast!

All of my favorite things greeted me in the morning!  Fresh pastries, organic eggs, yogurt, berries, and not 1 but 2 different kinds of granola to choose from!  It was a beautiful spread that we enjoyed in the sunshine on the front porch.

Blue eggs!

After fueling up, we jumped on Seven's cruiser bikes for a ride around the island.

Beth's puppy, Evie, was there to greet us on our return.

Being from the West Coast, it was a bit disconcerting when I first realized that the sun doesn't set over the ocean on the East Coast.  The one place I've found on this coast to watch the sun set over a body of water is from Crescent Beach on Shelter Island.  A 5 minute walk from the B&B, we grabbed a bottle of wine and headed down just in time to catch the sun melt into the horizon.  

If you're looking for an easy escape from NYC I would highly recommend a stay at Seven on Shelter.  This sunset is waiting for you!

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