Chateau Montelena Winery, Napa Valley

Handsome and I took a few days after my blogging conference to travel up to Napa Valley and go visit a few wineries.  For the next few weeks I will be highlighting a winery every wednesday.

 Winery Wednesday.

So here is the first winery…

Chateau M. castle

Our first stop in Napa Valley, Chateau Montelena Winery, a stone castle overlooking a Chinese garden located at the base of Mount Saint Helena.

Chateau M. bridge & water reflection

We pulled into the parking lot that had a view of Jade Lake, such incredible grounds.  It doesn’t get more picturesque than this.

Chateau M red bridgeThis is a perfect spot for a picnic.

Chateau M. 1 barrel

On the way up to the wine tasting room we passed the Chateau Montelena Barrels which were located in front of the castle.Chateau Montelena Winery. 3 barrels

I would love to turn one of those barrels right side up, add a glass top and make a adorable wine tasting table for my backyard.

Chateau Montelena. wine tastingI could not wait to get starting tasting Chateau Montelena wines.  After all, this was the winery that put Napa Valley on the map!  Oh, they were good, I knew we were in trouble from that first sip, we would be going home with many bottles of wine from here!

Chateau Montelena. private tasting roomAfter our tasting, we took a tour of the facility.  I love the stone walls through out this castle.

Chateau Montelena. bottle sizesIt sure makes a average bottle seem small when it is compared to the Imperial size!

Chateau Montelena Winery. !st place wineI loved seeing this bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973 in person!  The 1976 grand tasting was held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Paris, France.  4 white burgundies where tasted against six California Chardonnays.  This bottle of Chateau Montelena rated above all other wines.

Have you ever seen the movie Bottle Shock?  If you haven’t, you should.

It is a film {comedy-drama} from 2008 based on the 1976 “Judgement of Paris” blind taste test wine competition held in Paris, France.  And you guessed it…Chateau Montelena Winery won that competition with their 1973 Chardonnay.  You need to see the movie to see what happens in between. The 1976 win forever changed the way California wineries are thought of, especially those in Napa Valley.  The win also changed the global wine industry.

There is a bottle of Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay 1973 on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

The movie was filmed at Chateau Montelena and other wineries around California’s Napa Valley/Sonoma wine country.

Chateau Montelena Winery

1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515

707 942-5105

Psycho Donuts, San Jose

A few weeks ago, I was in central California at a blogging convention in San Jose.  Handsome and I decided to take a few days after the convention ended and travel up to Napa, then down through Paseo Robles on the way back home.  Sunday morning we set out on our wine adventure from San Jose up to the breathtakingly beautiful California wine country.

As we left our hotel, I remembered a fellow blogger telling me about a psycho themed donut shop in San Jose by the name of, what else, Psycho Donuts. I knew we could not pass up a donut for the road!

Psycho Donuts store front

The Psycho Donuts shop is totally decorated on the outside in the psycho theme, it would be hard to miss if you are anywhere in the vicinity.

Psycho Donuts menu

And followed through to the inside with their menu.  They even serve wine and beer!

Psycho Donuts Donuts

These are just a few of the dozens of donuts they have.

Strawberry Fields – A square donut topped with strawberry icing, chocolate chips, and freeze dried strawberries.

Cereal Killer- A square raised donut with vanilla icing, marshmallows, and Cap ‘n Crunch cereal

Cinnamon Troll – This massive cinnamon roll donut has a light glaze.

Lil’ Kooky - A vanilla cake donut with vanilla icing topped with Oreo chunks.

That One – An old fashioned donut dipped in chocolate with a white glaze drizzle.

Psycho Donuts donut Desserted Island

Handsome got the Desserted Island donut.  A vanilla cake donut coated with sweet coconut and cinnamon.  This donut was huge!

Psycho Donuts skull donut

I got the Skull donut. A tasty Boston cream donut with a powered sugared skull.

San Jose, California Psycho Donuts sign

Psycho Donuts

288 S. 2nd Street, San Jose, CA 95113

If you live local, they even have a delivery service!

Click here for their Psycho Donuts merchandise.

Check back to see what wineries we tasted at!

Cannoli Dip

If you have ever ordered a delicious cannoli in an italian restaurant or bakery you know how utterly deliciously finger licking good they are!  If you have ever tried to make them at home, you know how difficult they are.  You need to make the dough for the shells and roll the dough out very thin, then wrap the dough around the cannoli forms and then deep fry them in the hot oil.  Then you make the cannoli filling and fill the cannoli shells with the filling in hopes you don’t break too many shells in the process.  Then you finally get to eat one.

Because they are not the easiest dessert to make, I have come up with my version of the cannoli.

 The Cannoli Dip.

It is the best of both worlds, it has that great cannoli taste and easy to make!

Canolli Dip The first time I made this and brought it to a party, it was gone in minutes.  I like serving it with all sorts of different dipping vessels.  Fruit, sweet crackers, any type of non-filled cookie.

Cannoli Dip
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 32 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar {add more if you like it sweeter}
  • Optional ~ Any Items Below
  • 4 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Chopped Nuts (pistachio, peanuts}
  • Zest from any citrus {lemon, orange, lime}
Directions
  1. Mix together all ingredients together.
  2. Serve with anything type of item you can dip with.

Let me know what you would use to dip your cannoli filling on!

Enjoy!

Tito’s Tacos in Culver City

Titos Tacos, Los Angeles, CaliforniaI have heard people rave about Tito’s Tacos in Culver City for years, and for years I have been meaning to give their tacos a try.  Well, the day finally arrived!  Handsome and I were driving through Los Angeles in no particular hurry back home to Orange County.  We were enjoying the beautiful weather and soaking up the ocean scenery as we were driving south from Santa Barbara.  We decided we could use a taco break. Thank goodness for GPS to show us the way to the famous Tito’s Tacos!

When we pulled up in front of Tito’s Tacos we scored a prime parking spot on the street {definitely, a good sign}.  There were 3 out of the 4 windows open and the lines were long (another good sign}.

 At first, I was a bit confused on how to order.

 This is how you do it…

1. When it’s your turn at the window, place your order and then stand to the side of the window {don’t venture too far, but get out of the way so the next person can order}.  They will NOT take your name or give you a number.

2. The person that takes your order then leaves to go make your food.  Upon their return {it’s crazy how they remember your face} you then pay, in CASH ONLY and they hand you your food!

While I was waiting at the window, which was not very long, Handsome got lucky and found an open table in the outside seating area {there are only 3 tables}.  There is also a large indoor dining room.  It is a very eclectic customer base, the people at the table behind us had a very interesting discussion about politics and the table on the other side were talking about an underground LA band.  While we were eating, a fire engine with 5 firemen along with 2 police officers were also taking time for some delicious Tito’s Tacos.

Titos Tacos in Los Angeles Order

 We ordered…

2 tacos ~ $1.90 each w/o cheese $2.60 each w/cheese

1 beef burrito ~ $5.60

1 enchilada ~ $2.70

1 side of rice ~ $1.60

 chips and salsa ~ $1.20 & $1.05 {respectively}

Tito's Tacos in Culver City Food

 The food was good and for the price you just can’t beat it!  I will stick to the tacos, the rice, and the chips & salsa, next time.  They give you a pretty large size salsa, so it was perfect to dip our chips in and also add some to our tacos, I even added a spoonful to the delicious rice which gave it a little extra kick.

Tito’s Tacos

11222 Washington Place, Culver City, CA 90230

310.391.5780

Titos Tacos, Culver City, Hours

Amaretto Biscotti

Amaretto Biscotti with chocolate

 Have you ever eaten cookies right out of the freezer?  I can’t explain why they taste so good, they just do.  My favorite cookie straight out of the freezer is biscotti, amaretto biscotti to be precise.  Although, any cookie will do.

Amaretto Biscotti cookie dough rectangles

Make two rectangles after you have split the dough in two.  Depending how wide you make your rectangles will determine how wide your finished cookie will be.  Remember you will be cutting these cookies on an angle.

Amaretto Biscotti sliced cookies

Place the amaretto biscotti cut side down and place back in the oven to crisp up the cookies a little bit more.

Amaretto Biscotti with almondsDon’t forget to stick some in the freezer.

Amaretto Biscotti
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoon Disaronno Amaretto
  • ⅛ Teaspoon salt
  • 3¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, optional
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper to fit a cookie sheet.
  3. In a mixer combine the oil, eggs, sugar and Amaretto.
  4. In a separate bowl combine baking powder and flour, sift together.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture until completely combine.
  6. Divide dough in half, place both halves on the cookie sheet and form each dough into long rectangles.
  7. Sprinkle sliced almonds over rectangles of dough and press down slightly.
  8. Place cookie sheet in oven for 25 minutes and then remove from oven.
  9. When cool enough to handle, cut each rectangle into ½ inch slices.
  10. Place cookies sliced side down and bake for an additional 12 minutes until lightly brown.
  11. Optional~
  12. Heat chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for 30 second increments until chocolate is completely melted.
  13. Coat the bottom of the biscotti with the chocolate. Place chocolate biscotti chocolate side down on parchment paper until chocolate is completely dry {place in the refrigerator to speed up the drying time}

 Enjoy

Mason Jar Mud Pie

My daughters love Trader Joe’s mud pie.  I don’t buy it very often, but every once in a while for a special occasion I like to surprise them with their favorite mud pie for dessert.  The last time I was at Trader Joe’s I was told by one of the crew members they are no longer carrying mud pie.

So, I went to the grocery store bought all the ingredients and decided to make it myself!

Mason Jar Mud Pie with Oreos

I don’t know why I didn’t do this before…Individual Mason Jar Mud Pies!

And, it can be customized to all the gooey, chocolatey, carmel, oreo, and whip cream goodness your heart desires!

Mason Jar Mud Pies crush oreosCrush the Oreos in a ziplock bag to your desired crumb chunkiness.  While you are doing this, take your first ice cream flavor out to soften.

Mason Jar Mud Pies coffee ice creamThen layer the two ice cream flavors with all the goodies and top with whipped cream!

Mason Jar Mud Pie
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 container of Dryers Coffee ice cream 1.5 quarts
  • 1 container of Dryers Vanilla ice cream 1.5 quarts
  • 1 package of Oreo cookies
  • 1 jar of Hershey's chocolate fudge
  • 1 jar of Smuckers carmel
  • 1 can of Reddiwip whip cream
Directions
  1. Take out the coffee ice cream for the first layer, to soften.
  2. Place Oreos in a ziplock bag and smash with a rolling pin to your desired crumb size. Add some Oreo crumbs to the bottom of each mason jar and top with the softened coffee ice cream. Place mason jars in the freezer for about a half hour for the ice cream to harden.
  3. Take out the vanilla ice cream to soften.
  4. Once mason jar ice cream is hardened take out of freezer and top the coffee ice cream with chocolate fudge, carmel, Oreo crumbs and the second ice cream layer of vanilla. Place mason jars back in the freezer for the ice cream to harden and continue the ice cream layers until you reach the top.
  5. Before serving add whip cream and top with remaining Oreo crumbs

Mason Jar Mud PiesEnjoy!

Favorite Foodie Finds

In my never ending quest to find new shiny kitchen and entertaining products I can’t live without and fascinating tidbits on the internet, I thought I would share with you some of my most recent favorite foodie finds.

Favorite Foodie Finds #1

1. Planning a camping trip and don’t want to be without your favorite coffee?  Take a look at this Voyager brew kit, it includes everything you need but the hot water. $125.00

2. How cute are these biodegradeable eco-friendly chalkboard spoons from Tulle and Twig!  Perfect for a ice cream party or a girl’s night in!  Tulle and Twig also has the forks and knives to this set.  Go to their site to check out all their adorable patterns, I promise you will want to buy them all! 20 Pieces ~ $8.00

3. How many of these words do you say correctly?  30 Commonly Mispronounced Food Words.

4. Do you struggle with making your pastry dough the correct thickness?  With this Joseph Joseph 100 Collection Adjustable Rolling Pin you will never roll uneven dough again. $29.99

5. Inspired by the classic southern icon, the Mason Jar, The Mason Shaker makes its home in Brooklyn, New York.  $29.00

6. Make your outdoor barbecues feel like you’re eating out on the range with this Dinner Bell hand made from Lightning Creek Forge. $35.00

7.  Dig that egg slicer out of the back of your drawer because Justin Chapple from Food & Wine is going to show you Why You Should Steal Your Grandmother’s Egg Slicer.

8.  Looking to add a new cookbook to your collection?  Take a look at Eater Spring 2014 Cookbook Preview.

9. Love jalapeño poppers?  The BBQ Guys have what you are looking for, a Stainless Steel Jalapeño Poppers Grilling Rack.  The grill rack keeps the jalapeño’s upright so they can be filled with your favorite tasty ingredients. $14.99

Orecchiette with Summer Vegetables

It's SUMMER!!!

 Orecchiette with summer Vegetables

That great time of the year, every weekend is full to the brim with outside activities.  Picnic's, outdoor concerts, baseball games, spending time at the beach or river, camping, hiking, gardening, or just running through the sprinklers...the summer fun list can go on forever.

I find myself cooking healthier, eating lighter and cooking fresh summer vegetables, that I buy at the local farmers markets.  I try to come up with way to incorporate at least 3 vegetables with every dinner.  Orecchiette with summer vegetables is one of my families favorites.  I love it because it's a snap to cook and get on the table...and it's so very yummy!

Summer Vegetable Orecchiette

I just love the shape of orecchiette {little ears} pasta.

summertime Vegetable Orecchiette

Orecchiette with Summer Vegetables
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Lb. orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons of salt, for pasta water
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, clean trimmed and cut into bite size pieces, set aside.
  • ½ bunch of spinach, cleaned and roughly cut into large pieces, set aside.
  • 5 mini sweet bell peppers, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces, set aside.
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shaved parmesan pieces.
Directions
  1. n a large pot bring water to a boil and add salt and pasta. Cook for 2 minutes less then package directions. Drain, toss with 1 tablespoon of butter, and set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil, remaining butter and all the vegetables.
  3. Season with salt, pepper and cook for about 8 minutes until vegetables are just tender.
  4. Toss vegetables and pasta together, top with the parmesan cheese.
  5. Serve immediately.

Summer Vegetable Orecchiette Enjoy!

Fried Zucchini Rounds

Fried Zucchini Rounds with dip

I remember when I was younger, when my family went out for dinner my Mom would always order deep fried zucchini.  Every restaurant had it on their menu back then, I think it was a thing.  I remember fighting with my brother over the last, slightly spicy, crunchy fried zucchini round, each and every time.  The outside was crispy fried perfection and the zucchini was tender inside, there was the perfect amount of spice.  They were always served with a creamy ranch dressing.  Most of the time, my brother and I ate so many we would end up taking our dinner home.

I haven’t thought about deep fried zucchini in many years until recently.  I went out to eat with my girl’s and the restaurant had fried zucchini on the menu.

I had to order it!

My girl’s loved it.  How could they not?  Anything fried is good, right?  And it is a vegetable, after all.  This time, I let my girl’s split the last one.

Fried Zucchini rounds

Cut the zucchini into thin rounds.

Fried Zucchini rounds flourDredge into the flour mixture,

Fried Zucchini Rounds  Egg mixture then into the egg mixture,

Fried Zucchini Rounds Panko Breadcrumbsand finally into the Panko, Parmesan mixture.  To make sure you get lots of crispy goodness, you may need to use your hands to pat the Panko mixture on.

Fried Zucchini Rounds

Fried Zucchini Rounds
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ¾ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced into ¼ inch rounds
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. In a large shallow bowl, beat eggs and add a pinch of salt, combine.
  3. In a separate large shallow bowl mix the flour with the remaining salt.
  4. In another separate bowl add the Panko, Parmesan, pepper, and cayenne, stir together to combine.
  5. Working with about 6 rounds at a time, dredge into the flour mixture, then into the eggs, and finally into the Panko mixture.
  6. With tongs drop about 6 rounds in the oil at a time. Fry until both sides of the zucchini are golden brown. Place cooked rounds on to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  7. Serve immediately with a side of ranch dressing.

 

Fried Zucchini Rounds close up

 

 Enjoy these tasty fried zucchini rounds!

 

 

Hummus

I love Friday nights during the Spring and Summer!

One of two things usually happens

1. Handsome and I go out for Happy Hour

or (my personal favorite)

2. Handsome and I stay home and have our favorite finger foods for dinner.

Our current Friday night favorite is hummus!  Ever since I found out how easy it is to make, I’m hooked.  I like that it doesn’t contain any preservatives when it is homemade and I can taylor my hummus to what I have in my pantry and fridge, like adding artichokes or black beans.  It stays in the fridge for up to a week in a airtight container.  What’s not to love?  It can be served with the traditional pita wedges or vegetables are great to dip in, but my favorite is kettle potato chips, they could be original or the salt and vinegar taste great dipped into the hummus.  I figure with the healthiness of the hummus, what’s a few kettle chips?

Hummus

When making hummus it makes a huge difference when the skins are peeled off the garbanzo beans, in order to get that truly smooth consistency.  It does take a bit of time but so worth the extra effort.

Hummus in red clay pot

Hummus
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained & skins removed
  • 1¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste)
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 3 dashes of tabasco
  • ¼ cup of hot water
Directions
  1. Make sure the skins of the garbanzo beans have all been removed. It is tedious, but worth the extra work.
  2. In a food processor add ingredients one at a time. Blend each added ingredient until smooth.
  3. Continue this process until all ingredients have been added and the hummus is pureed to a smooth constancy.
  4. Taste hummus and adjust any seasoning.
  5. Hummus can be served at room temperature or chilled.
  6. When serving, sprinkle a bit of paprika and dried basil on top for presentation.

Hummus 3 Enjoy!