Pairing Review: Rosenblum Cellar’s The Great American Wine Company 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Great American Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon

The Great American Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon

The third wine sent to me from Wine Chateau for sampling was The Great American Wine Company 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon by Rosenblum Cellars. For this wine, I created a menu consisting of soup, salad, main course, cheese course, and dessert. It was a lot of fun to consider what menu items I would pair with a young Cab.

I wound up serving Caesar salad, savory beet soup, steak with gorgonzola sauce, sautéed rutabagas, cheddar, blue cheese, and molten chocolate cake. (I told you I went all out!)

The wine was nice – and it’s a good value (it retails for under $20, and Wine Chateau has it available for just under $10). On the first nose, the wine had hints of vanilla, berries, and chocolate pudding. After the swirl, mushrooms, celery, and fennel notes became apparent. I could sit and smell this wine all day.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

We started off with the caesar salad. I went ahead and made the salad from scratch following the directions for the Classic Caesar Salad from the Eatin’ on the Cheap blog. Yes, I made the dressing the traditional way – making an emulsion of the egg and the oil. The salad was delicious. It paired nicely with this cab, and it tamed the clove and vanilla flavors. The wine retained its dry heat on the back end. I made the croutons from scratch, cutting up some french bread , tossing it in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Savory beet soup

Savory beet soup

The next dish of the evening was the savory beet soup. This soup was amazing (and it was easy to make, though peeling beets is always an interesting endeavor – anyone know how to do it super-efficiently? Post your tips in the comments section). Nevertheless, we’ll be making this one for Thanksgiving this year. The beets brought out the fennel in the Cabernet as well as sour cherry, cloves, and nutmeg. It was also a really nice pairing.

Steak with gorgonzola sauce and pan roasted rutabaga

Steak with gorgonzola sauce and pan roasted rutabaga

For the main course, I served steak with gorgonzola sauce and pan roasted rutabaga. Let me say, the sauce for the steak was absolutely amazing. While I used sirloin instead of filet mignon, it came out great, and it paired wonderfully with the wine. It really brought out the balance of the Cabernet. The rutabaga (my first time trying this delicious vegetable, thanks to our CSA), was also delicious. It brought out the tannins and the heat in the wine.

DSC_0461After the main course, we took a small break and cleaned up a bit before sitting down to enjoy the cheese course. For this course, I used cheddar and blue cheese. The cheddar brought out the cloves and vanilla notes in the wine more. The blue cheese was really nice with the Cabernet. It smoothed the wine out a bunch.

DSC_0462You would think that we would be completely stuffed after all this food, but I had designs on dessert. I got out the mixing bowl, and began making the last course: A molten chocolate cake. The trick to making these cakes is to avoid overcooking them so that the center remains smooth and uncooked. Unfortunately, I overcooked mine a little, but they were still really great.  The wine, having decanted for some time, had become more tannic and mild. The wine went very well with these small cakes, and was enjoyable.

In all, I would recommend the Great American Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’ve tried it, what did you think? What did you pair it with?

 

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Triathlon Training, Here I Come!

Triathalon reference material

triathlon reference material

A few weeks ago, I was sitting around, thinking about how best to lose the pregnancy weight, and the pre-pregnancy weight that was hanging out after my bout with tendonitis.

I cannot remember what it was that made me say, “Hey, this would be cool; I’m going to do a triathlon this year.” It was something! Swim ~ Bike ~ Run – what a way to get back into shape!

So, I went in search of some triathlon reference material. I already had several books on running, but recently found the book Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals at a used bookstore. The great thing about this book is that it has workout plans. Before I can even think about starting to train for a triathlon with Wining Husband (yes, I rope him into every adventure I undertake…we walked across fire on our wedding night, after all), we need to get into good cardio shape. This book takes readers from not running at all to triathlon. It may not be this year, but we are definitely going to do a triathlon. (And hey, I have my designs on doing a half-marathon at some point as well).

So while we’ll focus on the walking to running part at first, I’m looking forward to swimming again. I’ll need to get ahold of a swimsuit and eventually a bike as well. Since I have no delusions that we’re just doing this to finish, neither of those items will probably be particularly expensive – just enough so that they are safe and get the job done.

I’m really excited. Our first workout is tomorrow night.

Have you trained for a triathlon? What was your experience with it?

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100 Happy Days Challenge

Last night, I was checking out some of my favorite blog RSS feeds, and I came across a post over at A Beautiful Mess taking up the 100 Happy Days challenge. The idea is that for 100 days, you take a picture of something that made you happy, post it on social media, and tag it with the hashtag #100HappyDays.

Will you take the 100 Happy Days challenge with me?

Will you take the 100 Happy Days challenge with me?

This sounded like a great idea to me. As a new mom, I have been feeling quite harried lately. It seems as though I’m always task-oriented, and even in my “down time,” I’m trying to tick things off my task list while Baby Girl sleeps. It would be good to stop and smell the happiness, so to speak. Let’s face it, I think that every person stops at some point and says “Hey, I could be happier.”

It will be interesting to take a challenge that would involve creating happiness. Sure, we all have those moments where, as in Reality Bites, where we say “I’m really happy right now.”

So, I figured I’d go ahead and get started on the challenge, using Instagram as the medium. Will you take on the 100 Happy Days challenge with me?

 

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Game Review – The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die

The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die game is a riot!

Who doesn’t love Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride? The movie is one of my absolute favorites, and his character is great. “Hello, My  Name is Inigo Montoya, prepare to die.” Great quote – as is “Ever hear of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.” And yes, part of the reason I love that second quote so much is that I was a philosophy major. What happens when other people use the phrase? For example, “Hello, my name is Thomas Crapper. You ave me a nice paper cut and poured lemon juice on it. Prepare to die!” Hours of laughter. That’s what happens. In The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die, that’s exactly what you do – pair the famous (and infamous) with reasons they might tell someone to prepare to die.

So when I saw this game for sale at ThinkGeek I had to get it for my husband for Valentine’s Day. I figured it would be a great game to play as a family, given how much we enjoy playing games and how much we enjoyed the Princess Bride.

There are three different ways to play the game; all three resemble game play for another of our favorite games, Apples to Apples. All three “games” involve having a judge while the other players select their cards.  In one game, the judge puts down the “Hello my name is” card and players throw in their “prepare to die cards.” The judge then chooses the “best fit.” In another, the “prepare to die card” is put down, and the “hello my name is” cards are played and chosen from.

“The Full Montoya” version was my favorite. In this version, you play both a “Hello” card and a “Prepare” card. The judge then selects the best combination of the two.

The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die was a lot of fun to play. Have you tried this game? What was your favorite pairing?

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CRAFT: St. Patrick’s Day Baby Headband

St. Patrick's Day baby headband

St. Patrick’s Day baby headband

I bought a cute outfit for Baby Girl, and I wanted a headband that would match. I figured I would go ahead and make her a headband myself, using felt and a ready-made stretch headband. I had Wining Husband take me to Michaels so that I could pick up my supplies.

I used the following supplies to make the headband:

  • Green felt
  • White headband
  • Embroidery floss
  • Glitter glue
  • White button
Supplies for making a Saint Patrick's Day baby headband

Supplies for making a Saint Patrick’s Day baby headband

The first thing I did after purchasing the supplies needed for making Baby Girl’s headband was fold over part of the felt about two-inches in; I wanted the 4-leaf clover to be large. I then cut out four hearts from the felt. Then, I used part of the scrap material from between the hearts I cut out as a stem, and trimmed it appropriately. Finally, I cut out a large circle that would form a base for the 4-leaf clover.

Felt cut into shapes to create 4-leaf clover

Felt cut into shapes to create 4-leaf clover

After cutting out the pieces, I then sewed each to the large circle.

Sew the hearts to the circle

Sew the hearts to the circle

Once the 4-leaf clover was sewn together, I decorated it with the glitter glue. However, after constructing the headband, I realized, I probably should have used the glitter glue last. Nevertheless, I outlined the leaves and dotted the middle of the leaves.

Decorating the clover with glitter glue

Decorating the clover with glitter glue

Once the clover dried, I cut out another circle from the fabric. I then used the button and the second circle to attach the clover to the baby headband.

Sewing the clover to the headband using a button and a second piece of felt

Sewing the clover to the headband using a button and a second piece of felt

Finally, I used some blue glitter glue over the button to make it sparkle (and to cover my stitches. I am in love with the final product – AND she looks so cute in it, doesn’t she?

St. Patrick's Day baby headband on Baby Girl

St. Patrick’s Day baby headband on Baby Girl

DSC_0716

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Pairing a Dinner to the Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2010

2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva

2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva

When I received the 2005 Fratelli Recchia Ca’Bertoldi Amarone, I received two other wines from Wine Chateau. I decided that I would put together a wine pairing with each of these the same way I had for the Amarone. I paired the 2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva, the next wine we tried, with a three-course meal: soup, main dish with a side, and then a  cheese course.

The wine had a lovely nose – it was must, burnt chocolate, and as Wining Husband said “wet towels” – but in a good way! Upon first tasting, it was smoother than some of the other Malbecs we’ve tried. It was also at the edge of inkiness that Wining Husband can tolerate. The wine was spicy with a kick, and there was a lot of alcohol on the nose with the swirl, as well as unripe raspberry at the beginning and sour cherry at the end of the palate. The wine was very dry, and almost too bitter.

Carrot and Red Wine Soup

Carrot and Red Wine Soup

The soup I paired the wine with was a roasted carrot, onion, and Malbec soup with some changes. Rather than using Malbec in the recipe, I used the cheap Cabernet Sauvignon that comes in the 4-pack. We had a ton of carrots from our CSA, so coming up with three pounds of carrots to cut up and roast wasn’t too difficult. I cut the carrots into sticks, and added three onions, thickly sliced, to the cookie sheets (the onions we had were smaller, and I’m glad I added extra. Many of the onions got a little too roasted!). I tossed the veggies in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then put them into the 450 degree oven for 45 minutes. Like I said, they got a bit too roasted, so I think 30 minutes will be perfect next time.  When the carrots and onions were looking roasted, I put them into our Dutch oven, where I’d melted 2 tbsp. of butter. I sautéed the vegetables in the butter for a few minutes, and then added half the small bottle of Cabernet. Once the Cab had cooked off for a few minutes, I added a 32 oz. box plus 2 cups of chicken broth to the pot, added two bay leafs, and brought the soup to a boil. Once it reached a boil, I reduced the heat to a simmer, and let it do its thing for 45 minutes while I worked on the side dish. I removed the bay leaves, put it in the blender to puree it, and then garnished each serving with a tablespoon of olive oil drizzled over the top and yogurt.

With the soup, the Malbec was tamed. The soup highlighted the coffee and chocolate flavors in the wine. It really highlighted how dry and tannic the wine was; Wining husband found it a bit bitter on the back-end. In all, it was a decently good pairing.

Pulled pork and broccoli bacon salad

Pulled pork and broccoli bacon salad

For the main course, I paired slow cooked pulled pork and a bacon-broccoli salad with the soup.  I followed each of those two recipes exactly as written, though I found the pulled pork could have used some salt. It was deliciously spicy, and it brought out the spice in the Bodega Malbec in a wonderful way. It also brought out the paprika flavors in the wine.  The broccoli salad brought out a burnt honey and coffee flavor in the wine, and highlighted the creaminess of the wine. This Malbec is bold enough to be out of control, and it needs to be paired with foods that will rein it in. Both the pulled pork and the broccoli salad did that nicely.

From left to right: Iberico, "Tipsy Goat," and Manchego to pair with the 2010 Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec

From left to right: Iberico, “Tipsy Goat,” and Manchego to pair with the 2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva

Following the main course, we enjoyed three types of cheeses (we found in a three-pack at the grocery store): Iberico, “Tipsy Goat,” and Manchego. The Manchego was the best of these three – it was very nice and smoothed out the Malbec, pulling back the fruit forward flavors to tannin. The “Tipsy Goat” was not a great pairing. Instead, it brought out the wine’s acidity. The Iberico went very well with the wine, smoothing it out and bringing out the fruit flavors.

In all, the 2010 Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva was a decent wine. It was smoother and more finished than many wines we have tried, but I don’t know as I’d go and seek it out even though we liked it pretty well. If I came across it on a menu, and I really wanted a Malbec, and neither Finca el Origen nor Antigal 1 was available, then I’d choose this one.

 

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Pinterest Project: Making a Bow and Hairclip Holder

Bow and Clip Holder

Bow and Clip Holder

While wandering around the Internet, I find lots of great things to pin to my Pinterest boards. While I make a lot of the recipes I come across, I don’t often make any of the crafts I pin. I decided to change that.

Baby Girl has a LOT of headbands, clips, and bows for someone so little, and I’m sure her collection is only going to grow since I have a baby clothes problem. Hey, everything’s cuter when it’s smaller! The problem is, currently all those headbands and bows were shoved into a drawer. When I saw the bow and headband holder created by Becca at The Paro Post, I knew i wanted to make something similar.  I didn’t add hooks on the bottom, because I have another plan for the headbands, but I did need something for all the clips.

I’ve been looking for a frame that was 1) cheap and 2) a light color, so that when I applied stain to it, it would be pretty true to the wood stain color. I found this:

I found this frame at the Salvation Army for a couple of bucks.

I found this frame at the Salvation Army for a couple of bucks.

I discarded the cracked plastic and the “Dear Mom” poem since it was personalized, and I kept the mat for a future project. Then, I gathered my supplies:

  • Ribbon in 3 colors to match the colors of Baby Girl’s room
  • Wood stain
  • A sponge brush
  • Sandpaper
  • My Staple Gun
  • Staples
  • Screwdriver (to pop the stain can top off)
I have all my supplies ready for crafting!

I have all my supplies ready for crafting!

I started the project by sanding the frame to help the wood stain adhere better.

Sanding down the frame

Sanding down the frame

Then, I applied several coats of stain, wiping the frame down 15 minutes after each application.

Applying stain to the frame

Applying stain to the frame

Once the frame was a color I was happy with, I let it dry then sprayed polyurethane coating over it to seal the wood.

The frame had to completely dry before I could do anything else with it.

The frame had to completely dry before I could do anything else with it.

After the frame dried, I stapled my ribbon to it, pulling the ribbon tight, so that it stretched across the frame.

Stapling ribbon - maybe one of these days I'll get round to painting my nails!

Stapling ribbon – maybe one of these days I’ll get round to painting my nails!

When I was done, it looked like this

The ribbon is attached, and the frame is ready to be hung on the wall.

The ribbon is attached, and the frame is ready to be hung on the wall.

I hung it on the wall above Baby Girl’s changing table and dresser.

The bow and hair clip holder is on the wall!

The bow and hair clip holder is on the wall!

For my next craft project for her room, I’m going to paint wood letters to hang above the bow holder. I also plan to cover an oatmeal box with fabric to match her sheets so that I can put her headbands around it.

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