Friday, September 27, 2013

Tiny Dancer

This was all over the interwebs this week. I feel it is my duty to make sure you've seen it. So I am sharing it here.  It's a sing-along contest and Joseph Gordon Levitt killed.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Farmer's Market Find: Lamb Chops

Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon with my mom at the Ripe Farmer's Market at Eilan. We went to a cooking demo with Sustenio's executive chef and enjoyed a tasty arugla, fried okra salad with corn vinaigrette

Of course the chef's knife skills were amazing and I learned a thing or two about how to properly dice a tomato.  

After the demonstration we wandered out to the meat vendor, Alamo Cattle Co., and I ended up buying some lamb chops and a package of bacon wrapped chicken breasts stuffed with de-seeded jalapenos and cream cheese. 

Let me say a thing or two about these chops.  Upon first glance, you might think $12 is too much to pay for them.  But au contraire.  With the right seasoning, these were amazing and I'm pretty sure I am going to be dreaming about them tonight.

The recipe we used to cook these can be found here- 10-minute Rosemary Lamb Chops.  It says it's for 12 chops, so my sous chef, Justin, and I just adjusted down a little bit. One of the coolest parts about it- we got to use the Rosemary from one of the bushes we have out back. We bought it to help keep the mosquitos at bay over the summer.

You can see that they are sizzling in the pan.  Well I heated it up under the broiler just as the instructions said to do.  And then they got 5 minutes in the oven. 

They weren't medium rare, but they weren't overdone either.  I definitely look forward to cooking these again. 

As a side I thought a cauliflower gratin might be good.  So I found this recipe for a skillet cauliflower gratin. And took a head of cauliflower from this:

To this!

Because I am trying to eat lower carb, I subbed out the regular flour for soy flour and the bread crumbs for pork rinds.  As a whole this was also pretty delicious. 

So for dinner we had a pretty full plate:

Justin wouldn't mind having something green on the plate next time, but I know he's gonna go to bed and dream of the lamb chops too.  

Side note- this was my first attempt at cooking lamb chops ever, so this recipe is pretty fail proof. Also my first attempt at the cauliflower gratin.  Obviously I would happily make both again!

Monday, September 16, 2013

32 is Pretty Awesome- Becker Vineyards

Our second stop on the Fredericksburg Wine Road, Ariana's 32 Birthday Extravaganza was at Becker Vineyards.

Justin had gone ahead and booked us two spots on the Library tasting tour which meant we would get to see more than the average tour.  Tours of this nature at Becker are considered at capacity with 20 people on them. The day of our tour they only expected six people, including us.  Something about school getting started. We figured we were pretty lucky.

Well the other four people didn’t show up so Justin and I basically got a private tour with the Becker Vineyards General Manager, Bret Perrenoud. Bret was cool and walked us through the barrel rooms where we got to sample two different Merlots, one aging in stainless and another in oak. Turns out that rather than pick one over the other to sell, when their head winemaker blended the two together and the Beckers and Bret did a blind taste testing, people thought the blend was the strongest because the two were better together than either one alone.

It was pretty cool, because Becker has what are the first Texas coopered wine barrels and like any proud Texan, we had to get our picture taken with them.

Made in Texas!

Then it was on to the Becker Library.  

Here the bottles really did go on and on and on. 

We were fortunate enough to do a library tasting of the single vineyard Canada Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  This a wine made from grapes grown near Plains, Texas by the Canada family.  The grapes are not from Canada.  They get that question a lot there. We got to taste the years 2008, 2009, and 2010.  I think Justin’s favorite was 2009. You can buy the 2010 on their website, but you can only get the other two when you do the Library tasting!

I couldn’t pick one.  So we got four of each so I can figure out which I like the best. However the production on all of them is limited, so I better just savor every glass I get no matter what. Especially with goodies like what they gave use for the tasting.

We also got to enjoy a little grape stomping before we got to the grape tasting.  

That look of what appears to be pure joy is also of I’m not sure how I feel about this feeling.

Justin also looks like he’s tired of the pictures and we’re only about half way into this trip at this point.

Look at how red those feet are!

I wanted to make shirts with our footprints, but Justin pointed out that was cute when little kids did it, but not so cute when adults did it.  And here it is for all the world to see: Justin’s right. About that.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

32 is Pretty Awesome- Grape Creek Winery

For my 32nd birthday my husband and I went to visit Fredericksburg to do a little wine tasting and enjoy the sights of the Texas Hill Country.  

We visited three tasting rooms/wineries, walked the sleepy streets of Fredericksburg (everything but the restaurants close down at 5 or 6 pm), enjoyed an awesome dinner with some yummy game meat and then walked it all off by climbing Enchanted Rock the morning after. 

Since that's a lot for a day and a half, I'm just going to talk about our first wine-tasting stop in this post.
Hamming it up at Grape Creek like we do.
Lucky number one was Grape Creek Winery - their winemaker is a gentleman named Jason (we didn't get to meet him), our tour guide was Maureen. 

Some tools of the trade:
The containers in which they receive their grapes
The mashers
Shiny gadgets
Stainless Steel Fermentation Tanks
Some fun facts about Grape Creek:
  • All their whites are aged in stainless steel
  • All their reds are aged in French or American oak barrels
  • At Grape Creek they have happy cows. They feed the cows on their property with the fermented skins from the red wine (the skins stay in with the reds during crushing and early in fermentation to give them the color).
Happy cows
Fun facts about all wines we learned at Grape Creek:
  • Barrels are typically only used twice- they char the inside for flavor and the flavor is typically gone after the second aging
  • When a wine is dry that means it has little to no sugar
  • The date on the bottle is the vintage date- that's the date the grapes were picked
We learned these fun facts because we did the tour and tasting and it was totally worth the $32 per person.

We got to do a barrel tasting of a 2013 Sangiovese- from the following barrels:
  • First-time use American oak
  • Second-time use American oak
  • First-time use French oak
This Sangiovese was a nice, easy-to-drink table red from all of the barrels. Justin said he preferred the French oak.  I’m thinking I did too, but the tasting pours were generous and at this point in time we were only fortified with a Whataburger taquito breakfast.
The winner!

**Disclaimer I don't know that much about wine but I am learning and this was an awesome learning experience. I started drinking wine with sweet Rieslings.  Justin naturally tended to favor the big bold Cabernet Sauvignons and over time I've dried out my palate and now tend to prefer these dry, bold flavors as well.** 

The tasting room for those on the tour was in the Barrel Room with all of the barrels aging.

View from the inside!
They had orange and blue pens for taking notes on which wines you liked best.  In my head that means they cheer for the Gators, but that's only cause Orange and Blue makes me swoon (proof positive is my Pinterest board).

Naturally, there were lots of barrels aging and they have them labeled with their own secret codes.  We tried to guess what barrels had what grapes, but apparently some of the coding also indicated what vineyard the grapes are from.
Shh, the code is a secret
Leading into the barrel room was the owner's wine library- impressive collection of his vineyard's wines.  
Homer Simpson would say "Donuts." We say "Wine."
Of course the door was locked. So all we could do was point.

While this area may not yet be seen as being on par with Napa/Sonoma and Paso Robles, it is coming into its own and it's only 45 minutes from our house versus a half day of air travel.  

Our glasses are empty.  More wine!
During our tasting we only had the reds.  And while we enjoyed tasting the reds - and I know what I said about our preferences - we both really enjoy their Cuvée Blanc. This wasn’t our first Grape Creek rodeo.   The Cuvée Blanc is a light, dry, white wine that can go with anything or nothing at all.  It is a go-to bottle for us that we can comfortably serve to anyone who comes to our house and feel confident that they will enjoy it.  It might not blow someone away, but it's also not going to make them grimace and ask for a chaser.

The timing of the trip was perfect because we'd almost gone through the case I bought in 2012 when I went for a bachelorette party.  When you buy the case it comes out to about $14.50 a bottle.  To us that's not an awful value for something you can serve anytime.

To learn more about the history of Grape Creek visit their website.
Where the Grape Creek wine magic happens.

Next time I’ll talk about our fun private tour at Becker Vineyards.

Monday, September 2, 2013

60 August Miles Success.

Boom! Done.  60 Miles in August. More than actually. Here's proof:

And it wasn't that bad. I was nervous about making it. But I laced up my sneaks, walked the pooch, climbed a pink granite rock the weekend of my 32nd birthday and am ready to tackle a new year and all the opportunities that lay ahead. 

Some of the sites along the way:

August 5k

One of my awesome running buddies and that hatch plotter:

Another awesome running buddy- we are in fact in matching shirts from the August 5K:

My lifelong running buddy who never let's me quit:

Let's see what happens in September. I spent the first two days in Vegas celebrating my best friend's bachelorette. Walking on the strip counts right?!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Whooah, we're half way there...

Livin' on a prayer...

At least I am.  I'm not livin' on a prayer- no, no- but I am half way there in my quest to complete 60 miles in the month of August (on Instagram and Twitter #60AugustMiles). Actually I am about 68.73% of the way there, having logged 41.24 miles as of yesterday.  I'm counting some leisurely dog walks (in purple), but I'd say that is still pretty darn impressive. This crazy idea is courtesy of Elizabeth (she's also more than 1/2 way there) and Erica (she did #100JulyMiles).
I use MapMyRun

Also, my shoes. My shoes! Here's a shot of what my "new" shoes looked like in comparison to my old shoes about 26 weeks ago.  

Here's a shot of the "new" shoes in comparison to the old shoes now.

It might be time for my some newer "new" shoes. Maybe I'll give that to myself for my 32nd birthday, which is this week. Not a bad way to ring in a new year. 

Only thirteen days left- counting today.  That means not even 1.5 miles per day and I'll be there.  Then I'll find a new tune to share.

In the meantime enjoy:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's been too long, but I've been busy.

It's been too long since I last posted. And I'll readily admit that there's not enough hours in the day combined with the fact that I was too tired to divide my attention between watching Scandal and writing blog posts.  Some things just deserve a person's full attention.

Ya know?

Along with my commitment to JLSA (winning JLSA 2012-2013 Board Member of the year! what?!)
Justin's first JLSA meeting EVER!
The award!

helping a dear friend raise funds to beat blood cancers ($130,000+ for the LLS Man and Woman of the Year competition),
Justin, Bryce, Erin and me celebrating Team Bryce!

focusing on my running (which has gone past a jogrun to an actual run),
Beach 2 Bay half marathon relay team: Coastbusters (Lake, Erica, Matt, Mireya, Justin and Me).
#AintFraidOfNoCoast.  We finished in 4:43:21 with an avg pace of  10:48.
going to community events at awesome places like SAMA,
Justin, Elizabeth and me holding art we liked. Duh.
keeping my Mom happy on Mother's Day (don't knock the bowling),

and visiting my best friend, Amy, in San Fran,
They have happy hours at places with views of things like the light show on the Bay Bridge. (Me, Tori and Amy) #LivinsEasy
I've also maintained my sanity by watching TV that makes the hubs retch (no pics of the poor programming choices or pics of Justin looking ill are necessary).

But I also go to Scorpions games with him, so you won't hear any real complaints.

They won!
So that's a quick recap of the last month.  What's new with you?