Monday, December 26, 2016

2014 Lyric Pinot Noir

Lyric by Etude Pinot Noir 
Santa Barbara County, CA

Price $15-20
Vintage  2014
Alcohol  14.2%
Clarity clear
Intensity medium  
Color purple ruby
Nose/Palate:  clean, dry, low acid, medium tannin, medium body. Prune/raisins on the nose. Blueberry, raspberry and a hint of cocoa. .
Personal rating  6.5  out of 10

Additional comments:  Very fruit forward for a pinot and not as earthy as a pinot would normally be. Nothing too exciting

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cranberry Maple Pork Chops!

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Happy Christmas Eve or Hanukkah or just a pleasant winter's night! In any case, its a festive time of the year whether you're spending it peacefully or surrounded by joyful cheers - be safe, be kind, and be thankful. For me, this year is going to be a quiet one but that's okay, you could almost say my holiday family gathering came early this year because I got to see all my relatives when I was in China last month and it was definitely full of joyful cheers and delicious foods!
And because we're in high spirits, here is a recipe to match! I'm so glad the internet the exists because when you have nothing planned for dinner, the internet to the rescue! I had pork chops I didn't know what to do with, then I came across this recipe and it was perfect because I also happened to have fresh cranberries and maple syrup sitting around the fridge, I love when things work out! .... except for the small battle scar from popping cranberries as they cooked down, never worked with them before, didn't know they did I know. Be careful!

These came out super tasty and I learned something new, how to brine! I've heard of it before but prior to, didn't really give it any thoughts. Basically you soak your meat in a cold salt water bath for a few hours and it makes the meat super moist. Why? Well actually Julie, from Bunsen Burner Bakery where I got this recipe does an awesome job explaining it (as a fellow science nerd, that made me all giddy inside!) just follow the link below. I'm going to have to do this brining business more often. It's easy and makes a huge difference, you won't regret.

Cranberry Maple Pork Chops
adapted from Bunsen Burner Bakery
  • 4 boneless pork chops (1.5" to 2" thick)
  • 3 cups of warm water
  • 2 cups of ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 3/4 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • 1 tbsp Grand Mariner 
  • 1 tsp fresh (or dried) rosemary
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  1.  Make brine: combine warm water, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl, stir until dissolved. Add in ice cube to cool water (approx 45F or lower). Completely submerge pork chops into the brine, refrigerate for at least 2 hrs or more.
  2. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry. 
  3. In a medium frying pan, heat up olive oil over medium high heat and sear pork on both sides until nearly cooked (about 140F internal temp) and remove from pan. Let rest lightly wrap in foil
  4. Make cranberry sauce: In the same pan, de-glaze with chicken broth, cranberries, maple syrup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Grand Mariner and mustard. Cook while stirring occasionally until thickens (about 10 minutes) 
  5. Return the pork (and its juices) back into the cranberry sauce and coat, then enjoy.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Filling!

Burr it's cold (for California) and yes, its less than 50F degrees thank you! Actually last night got down to 29F, it was frosty in the morning and so were the pipes, yikes!

So what do you do when it's cold outside? Well after the small stroll around the neighborhood - so we don't feel like complete couch potatoes - caveman and I settled down to a nice free afternoon movie thanks to Google Play (yay holiday promotions), we decided on Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children since I'm currently reading through the book series.

** insert movie review**
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children || Ever since the Twilight series and how those movies were so horrifyingly inaccurate from the books, I've become quite reserve when it comes to being excited for books turned movies, so that being the case, I kept an open mind on what I'd expect. Well, darn it, they actually got my hopes up in the first half of the movie in which they stuck pretty closely to the original story line from the book but then came the second half and I wasn't sure what movie I was watching anymore because it was kind of rushed to the finish with a splash of Pirates of the Caribbean. The story line got a little out of whack and completely strayed from the books altogether. I suppose overall it was an okay Tim Burton production, actually pretty light compared to some of his other works. If you've never read the books, I think for the most part the movie story line will work for you, although caveman has never read the books and questioned some of the less logical scenes. At the end of the day, I was so glad it was free. Actor performances were questionable at times, movie effects and scenes were not bad. Something to pass the time. If you don't mind reading, go read the books instead, it's a much more interesting story to follow! I'm surprised it got 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes...

Of course what's movies without some treats? So caveman whipped up some hot cocoa and we munched on some yummy shortbread cookies I had made a couple of days ago. I had no desire of any sort for shortbread cookies until it was recently mentioned in conversation and then I couldn't stop thinking about them! Don't you hate that?! After that it was just wrong not to make any AND it gave me the perfect excuse to use this adorable doggie cookie cutter! Small confession: cookies pictured here were the product of a cookie cutter (featured here) + shortbread cookie mix combo set BUT they came out just like the shortbread cookies I've made in the past (featured here and here) so I thought this would be the perfect time to finally share my go-to the shortbread cookie recipe :) 
Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Filling
adapted from Hersey's Kitchen
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
**for other versions, try/substitute:
  •  almond extract instead of vanilla + 1/4 cup of almond flour + nutella filling
  •  1 tbsp lemon zest + lemon curd filling instead of chocolate
  1. Beat together butter+sugar until creamy. Add in egg yolks + almond extract >beat. Slowly add in flour until well blended, refrigerate for about 1 -2 hours or until dough is firm enough to handle
  2. On a well floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8" thick, cut with cookie cutter and place onto greased cookie sheet
  3. Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cookies will be soft out of the oven, cool slightly before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before making cookie sandwiches
  4. FOR FILLING: in a small sauce pot over low heat combine chocolate chip +heavy cream and heat while stirring until melted and smooth. Cool to spreadable consistency before use. 
  5. Spread a light layer of chocolate onto one side of cookie, place another cookie on top to make a cookie sandwich >> enjoy!