Get Thee to Whole Foods!

Food & Wine Magazine shared the tip that, today, Whole Foods announced it’s bringing back its popular 12 Days of Cheese promotion. Because Whole Foods loves us and wants us to be happy, ūüėČ from December 12 to 23, we can eat our way through a choice of high-quality artisanal cheeses at ridiculously prices!

Each day from December 12 to 23, Whole Foods’ will make a different one of its “highest-quality cheeses available at a generous discount, from artisans like 2019‚Äď20 World Cheese Award‚Äďwinner Rogue Creamery.” That discount: 50 percent off‚ÄĒwith an additional 10 percent off if you’re a Prime member. This is reason enough to renew my #AmazonPrime membership! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Here’s a cheat-sheet of the 2019 sale lineup – bonus, Whole Foods loves to let you sample:

Dec. 12: Roth Pavino
“Rich, earthy, medium-firm Alpine cheese with notes of sweet hazelnut. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 13: Istara P’tit Basque
“Aged a minimum of 70 days, this creamy and smooth sheep milk cheese has a mild, nutty flavor with a subtle, sweet finish.”

Dec. 14: Uplands Cheese Pleasant Ridge Reserve
“A cow’s milk Alpine-style cheese modeled after favorites like Le Gruy√®re and Beaufort, with flavors ranging from milky to nutty and grassy. The Pleasant Ridge Reserve is America’s most awarded cheese.”

Dec. 15: Neal’s Yard Dairy Keen’s Cheddar
“This cheese is dense yet creamy with complex flavors ranging from fruity to sweet butterscotch. Each wheel has been hand selected by our experts.”

Dec. 16: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog
“A goat’s milk soft-ripened American original with a beautiful ribbon of edible ash through the center. Floral, herbaceous overtones, buttermilk and fresh cream flavors.”

Dec. 17: Emmi Cave Aged Le Gruyère
“A firm, almost crumbly Alpine cheese. Robust, deeply flavored, with tangy fruit notes and classic nuttiness.”

Dec. 18: Sweet Grass Dairy Thomasville Tomme
“Raw cow’s milk, handcrafted cheese with a semi-firm texture. Rich, earthy flavors with a finish of light salt, grass and tangy cream.”

Dec. 19: Mitica Cordobes
“Made with Castellana and Merino sheep milk from Spain. Rich and buttery flavors balanced by bright acidity and nutty undertones. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 20: Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue
“Aged at least 90 days in Roquefort modeled caves, this organic cheese has briny, earthy flavors with notes of sweet cream and huckleberry. Rogue Creamery recently made history by producing the first American cheese ever to win top honors at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy.”

Dec. 21: Klare Melk Truffle Gouda
“Rich, flavorful, semi-firm cheese. Velvety notes of sweet cream and butter, generously laced with earthy truffles.”

Dec. 22: Cellars at Jasper Hill Harbison with Prosecco
“Soft-ripened, buttery, woodsy and sweet with balanced tones of mustard. A wash in Presto prosecco brings out bright citrus flavors. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 23: MonS Mary dans les √Čtoiles
“Stunning, ash-coated geo-rind goat cheese. Creamy and grassy, finished with light citrus notes. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Kumquat Margaritas

Kumquat-Margaritas

We have a Kumquat tree in our backyard and I honestly never know what to do with them!¬† Now I do.¬† As they say about lemons, when life gives them to you, make lemonade…well, apparently kumquats and tequila are a thing too!¬† Who knew?

Kumquat Margaritas

  • 1 Pint Kumquats (About 40)
  • 2 Medium Limes
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Silver Tequila
  • 1/4 Cup Grand Marnier
  • 3 Cups Crushed Ice
  • 3 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 4 wedges of lime (for serving)

Pressing down, roll the limes on your counter, or a cutting board, to release the juice.  Cut your limes in half, remove the seeds, and put 3 of the halves in your blender container.  Cut the remaining half in half again, then use the wedges to wet the rims of your margarita or old fashioned glasses, dip the rims in the salt, and set aside.  Drop the lime wedges into the blender container.  Slice the kumquats in half, remove the seeds, and add them to the blender container.  Add water to the blender and puree until mostly smooth.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard skins and pulp.  Add sugar and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 20-25 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes, then refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Mix tequila and Grand Marnier with 1/3 Cup of the kumquat reduction.  Serve over crushed ice in the salt rimmed glasses with a wedge of lime.  Makes 3 Drinks (about 2/3 Cup each)  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

The Wonders of Keto Cocktails

Woman (and) man cannot live on low carb food alone!¬† This woman needs, what my daddy used to call, a 5 O’Clocker when the stressful day is through.¬† Be it a lovely glass of red wine, a bubbly glass of Champagne, or a down and dirty cocktail, there is just something comforting about that time when I finally get to sit and pet my labs while I throw off the stresses and worries of the day.

vanillaoldfashioned

Thankfully, there’s no reason I have to ruin my diet while doing so.¬† There are no carbs in a 1+1/2 ounce pour of straight spirits like whiskey, rum, and vodka; a 5 ounce glass of red wine has 2.5 grams of carbs, and the drinks below, adapted from Lowcarb-ology, have 0-3 grams of carbs, so those of us who actively participate in the #KetoLifestyle can imbibe guiltlessly, as long as we also remember that frequent consumption of alcohol while dieting can stall weight loss (if that is our goal).

Vanilla Old Fashioned

  • 1″ piece of orange peel
  • 1″ vanilla bean, split in half
  • 2 ounces good quality bourbon (I prefer Maker’s Mark/Maker’s 46)
  • 1 tsp sugar free vanilla syrup (I use Torani)
  • Club Soda or Zevia sparkling water mandarin orange (I get it at Whole Foods) – optional

Rub the inner part of the orange peel around the inside and rim of the glass, then muddle the peel and vanilla bean at the bottom of the glass.

Add the bourbon and vanilla syrup.  Stir, add a single globe or block cube of ice (for slow melting) & top with an ounce of club soda (give a quick stir) if desired.  130 Calories / 0 Carbs

Arctic Mulearcticmule

  • 1 ounce Pineapple Vodka (I like Skyy Infusions Pineapple)
  • 2 ounces Vodka (Grey Goose is my preference)
  • 1 drop peppermint oil (it needs to be for ingestion) or 1 ounce sugar free Torani peppermint syrup (optional but for the minty taste, you need one or the other)
  • 1-2 drops blue food color or, if you have it, you can use blue zero calorie water enhancing drops like Zio blue
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 6 ounces sugar free ginger beer (I like 0 carb/0 calorie¬†Zevia – I found it on Amazon)

Add all ingredients, except the ginger beer) to a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, top with ginger beer and garnish with a wedge of lime & sprig of peppermint.  194 Calories / 0 Carbs

And, as always, my #MomReminder, anyone who drinks alcoholic beverages please do so responsibly.  Always designate a sober driver, pre-schedule the very inexpensive option of Uber or take a taxi. #DontDrinkAndDrive.

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

1985domwboxWhile we all love a bottle of something bubbly on New Year’s Eve, I’m a girl who likes to start the evening’s festivities off with something fun.

It’s even better when I can make that something fun by the pitcher to share with my like minded girlfriends, so I don’t have to pause during the fun of the evening to play bartender!

The fun of this big batch Cosmopolitan / Martini is that it gets made in the blender (my Vitamix) and strained into the pitcher.  No messy cocktail shaker to deal with and no sticky counter from prying the shaker lid on and off for each individual drink!

Pomegranate Cosmopolitanpomegranatemartini

  • 1 Cup Vodka (I prefer Grey Goose L’Orange)
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Liqueur (Grand Marnier / Cointreau / Triple Sec)
  • 1/2 Cup Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 limes, peel removed in strips and retained.¬† Fruit cut into quarters, seeds (if any) discarded.
  • 1/2 Cup Ice Cubes

Peeled lime, close-upScrape the lengths of lime peel so that no bitter white pith remains.¬† Slice into 1/2″ wide lengths and wrap around a straw to shape in a curl and put into the refrigerator for 10 – 15 minutes.

Put everything, except the lime peels, into the blender (or Vitamix) container, and blend on High (10) for about 30 seconds.

Pour through a fine sieve into chilled martini glasses or into a chilled pitcher to serve later.  Recipe makes 3 large drinks and can easily be doubled to make a pitcher.

pomfruitsUse the lime strips to garnish the glasses and drop a few pomegranate arils, coated in sugar, into the bottom of the glass if desired.

**TIP ‚Äď To coat the pomegranate arils, in sugar, put a tablespoon or two in a zip bag with a tablespoon of pomegranate juice and a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar.¬† Close the zipper on the bag and shake vigorously until the arils are well coated.

**TIP ‚Äď If you like your martini sweeter, add a tablespoon of simple syrup (a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in a tablespoon of hot water ‚Äď I make a cup at a time in the microwave to keep on hand).

**TIP ‚Äď If you like your martini with no evidence of the muddled lime in it, pour it through the sieve again when you pour it from the pitcher to the chilled glass.¬† #ThisGirlLovesHerCocktails

Adapted from the Vitamix Cookbook

Kicking Off Cookies & Cocktails Season

Molasses_Spice__Lemon_CookiesThanksgiving is over, #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday have come and gone and it’s time to dive into the annual baking of the holiday cookies.¬† The parade of visits, people visiting, and parties where you’ll need to bring something has arrived, but who want to bring the expected holiday cookies? Not me. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Last year Wine Enthusiast published a recipe for molasses cookies that paired perfectly with a cocktail that isn’t my usual glass of red wine, bourbon on the rocks, or old fashioned, the Palmetto.¬† Not hard to make, no fancy ingredients, and something different. Perfect!

Molasses Cookies With Lemon and Spice

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¬ĺ tsp salt
  • ¬ľ tsp ground cloves
  • 12 TBLS unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¬Ĺ cup granulated sugar
  • ¬Ĺ cup Sugar in the Raw
  • ¬ľ cup bootstrap molasses
  • 1 large egg

For Filling

  • 3 TBLS unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners‚Äô sugar
  • 3 TBLS lemon juice

Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, salt and ground cloves together in bowl. In second bowl, melt and cool ¬ĺ cup butter, and mix with ¬Ĺ cup sugar, molasses and egg, until combined. Stir flour mixture into molasses mixture. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Spread ¬Ĺ cup granulated Sugar in the Raw in shallow dish.

Heat oven to 375ňöF. Roll dough into ¬ĺ-inch balls, then roll in Sugar in the Raw. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and press flat. Bake until tops just begin to crack, 8‚Äď10 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Let cookies cool completely.

Make filling and assemble sandwiches

Whisk butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice in bowl until smooth. Spread 1 heaping teaspoon filling over half of cookies, then top with remaining cookies, pressing lightly to adhere. Let filling set for 1 hour before serving. Makes about 42 sandwich cookies.

Palmetto Cocktailpalmetto

In a mixing glass, combine:

  • 1¬Ĺ ounces aged rum
  • 1¬Ĺ ounces sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • ice

Stir until chilled and strain into a coupe (saucer champagne) glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Start Your Meal Off Right

Cheese-Moons-450x300

When you’re relaxing before you’re ready to have dinner, but don’t want to sip on your wine without a little something to take the edge off of your hunger, these decidedly Southern, half moon shaped cheese biscuits are just the thing!¬† #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Southern Cheese Moons (Wine4Food)

  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¬Ĺ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon salt
  • ¬ľ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¬ľ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¬ľ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¬ľ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350¬įF.

Cream together softened butter and finely shredded cheese, using the paddle on a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

Combine flour, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, mustard, and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk together well.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture and cheddar butter. Don’t over mix, just combine.

Transfer dough to parchment paper. Gently press into one ¬Ĺ-inch oval shape.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, press cutter in dough. Then, slice in half.

For any remaining dough, shape into ¬Ĺ-inch ovals.

Place the cut half moons onto a parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. The cheese biscuits should be a minimum of 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy these biscuits with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Petite Syrah or Sangiovese. #GirlsGoneWine

Boozy Dole Whips

delish-boozy-dole-whip-still002-1533300992

As much as I love bourbon and wine, sometimes it is just too hot to consider anything except something cool, fruity & boozy from the blender.  This timely little find from the team at Delish fits the bill perfectly!

Boozy Dole Whip

  • 5 Cups¬†frozen pineapple
  • 3/4 Cup¬†coconut milk
  • 1/2 Cup¬†coconut rum (Mailbu)
  • 1/4 Cup¬†sweetened condensed milk
  • Pineapple slices & Maraschino cherries for garnish

  1. Blend frozen pineapple, coconut milk, rum, and sweetened condensed milk in a blender.
  2. Pour into glasses and garnish each with pineapple and a maraschino cherry.

Homemade Amaretto

amarettoI have a recipe on my all things wine website, californiagirlsgonewine.com that calls for Amaretto in it.  I know that you can make homemade Coffee and Irish Creme liqueur, and a little internet sleuthing led to the discovery that you can easily make homemade Amaretto too!

Amaretto

  • 1 Cup Distilled Water
  • 1 Cup Superfine (I use C & H Baker’s) Sugar
  • 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 2 Cups Vodka (Any Vodka is fine)
  • 2 TBLS Almond Extract
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. Combine water and sugars in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Heat until the mixture is boiling, and all of the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Cook at a low boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir vodka, almond extract and vanilla extract into the mixture.
  6. Store in a well sealed bottle.

Perfect for mixing or sipping straight as an apéritif.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Frozen Margarita Pie

This dreamy pie comes from the magicians at Bon App√©tit.¬† It’s easy and boozy!¬† My favorite dessert combination. ūüėȬ† It’s not a pie you can make at the last minute though.¬† You need to allow for at least 8 hours freezing time so the consistency is right, so plan ahead if you’re making this.

The Tequila you use matters – don’t just pour any old tequila in or you could ruin this pie.¬† Food & Wine Magazine recently published a list of 10 Top Blanco Tequilas and any of these would be great in this pie:

  • Espolon Blanco $26¬†¬†100% agave tequilas, with a silky texture and a spicy kick
  • Tapatio Blanco $36¬†¬†Smoky & complex, w/anise and classic herbaceous agave notes
  • Astral $39¬† Potent, floral tequila, agave juice ferments w/the pulp‚ÄĒa long-abandoned traditional approach
  • Casa Noble Crystal $40C¬† Certified Organic;¬†Vegetal and funky (in a good way)
  • Siempra Valles Blanco $40¬† Earthy Agave from the Jalisco lowlands
  • Pasote Blanco $45¬†¬†This subtle tequila from master distiller Felipe Camarena heads toward the lighter, greener side of agave, with grass and mint
  • Fortaleza Blanco $50¬†¬†Guillermo Sauza started Fortaleza almost 30 years after his family sold its namesake brand. All of his tequilas‚ÄĒincluding this minty, unaged version‚ÄĒare superb
  • Expresiones del Coraz√≥ne Artisianal Edition Blanco $60¬†¬†Agave at two different sugar levels is distilled and blended for this flavorful blanco‚ÄĒthink eucalyptus, black pepper and plantain
  • Roca Patr√≥n Silver $69¬†¬†Emphatically agave-scented, this is made with the traditional¬†tahona¬†method, using a two-ton volcanic rock to crush the roasted¬†pi√Īas
  • Casa Dragones Blanco $75¬†¬†This one is smooth w/lime peel and pine needle notes

 

frozen-margarita-pie-2

Frozen Margarita Pie

  • 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter
  • 10 graham crackers
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. kosher salt. divided
  • ¬ĺ cup chilled heavy cream
  • 5 limes, divided
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 Tbsp. tequila blanco

Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cool slightly.

Crumble¬†10 graham crackers¬†into the bowl of a food processor. Add¬†3 Tbsp. sugar,¬†¬ľ tsp. salt, and¬†melted butter¬†to bowl and process until mixture resembles wet sand.

Transfer graham cracker mixture to a shallow 9″ pie pan. Using a measuring cup, press firmly into bottom and up sides of dish. Freeze 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk¬†¬ĺ cup heavy cream¬†in a medium bowl until cream begins to thicken to the point you see ripples and stiff peaks begin to form, 3‚Äď5 minutes.

Cut¬†4 limes¬†in half and juice into a fine-mesh sieve set over a glass measuring cup (you should have about ¬Ĺ cup juice). Pour lime juice into another medium bowl and whisk in¬†14 oz. condensed milk,¬†3 Tbsp. tequila, and remaining¬†¬ľ tsp. salt¬†until smooth.

Fold half of whipped cream into lime juice mixture, carefully folding under and over while turning the bowl. Add remaining whipped cream and continue to fold until no streaks remain.

Remove pie pan from freezer and pour in filling. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread filling to edge of crust.

Using a microplane, zest half of the remaining lime over pie.

Freeze pie at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Boozy Hot Cocoa

Last year the weather reports for California promised the El Ni√Īo was coming¬†which was supposed to mean many many opportunities to stay in, warm and dry, and sip on hot drinks. ¬†The weather reports couldn’t have been more wrong! ¬†Instead of rain filling up our reservoirs, lakes, and packing our mountains with snow, it was one of the hottest years on record! ¬†I barely had to wear more than a sweatshirt and my Uggs stayed clean and dry, unworn, in my closet. ¬†Hardly the kind of weather for enjoying hot drinks.

This year the weather reports predicted a La Ni√Īa, an unusually dry winter. ¬†Thankfully, once again, the forecasters have been completely wrong. ¬†We are just 3 weeks past the official start of winter and already we’ve had more cold days & nights, more rain than we’ve seen in years, and there’s more to come. ¬†Instead of bone dry reservoirs, we are seeing them refilling to levels of 75-80% of capacity. ¬†Thank you #PineappleExpress!

That also means that I can finally whip out the recipes I have been sitting on for boozy hot cocoa.  Yes!

Mint Cocoa Hot Toddy

  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnappsmintchocolatetoddy
  • 1 envelope hot cocoa mix
  • 6 oz hot water (or milk, if that’s what pkg calls for)
  • Miniature Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Shavings
  • Cinnamon Stick
  1. Make 6 oz. of hot cocoa in a 10 oz mug.
  2. Add the Kahlua and the Schnapps.
  3. Place 8 or so miniature marshmallows on top.
  4. Grate some chocolate over the marshmallows, and stir with a cinnamon stick.

Toasted Bailey’s Hot Cocoa

  • 3 cups Milk
  • 1/3 cup Half and Halfbroiledbaileyshotchocolate
  • 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • Marshmallows
  1. In a small saucepan, add milk and half and half. Turn on medium heat and let mixture warm up. Add chocolate chips.
  2. Let chocolate chips melt in milk mixture, whisking frequently. Once the chocolate has fully combined, add Bailey’s. Stir to combine and transfer to mugs.
  3. Place marshmallows on top of hot chocolate and toast the tops of your marshmallows with your mini-torch.¬†Once your marshmallows are browned and melty it’s time to enjoy!

Chocolate-Orange Hot Chocolate

  • 2/3 cups Milk
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Creamchocolate-orange-hot-chocolate
  • Zest of 1/2 and Orange
  • 2 oz Dark Chocolate chopped
  • 1 oz +/- Warmed Grand Marnier
  1. Heat the milk, cream and orange zest together in a saucepan until simmering then remove from the heat and pour through a sieve into a jug to remove the orange zest. Pour the infused milk mixture back into the pan and add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted and is really smooth.
  2. Put the pan back on the heat to warm through then add the orange liqueur. Pour into a mug and serve.

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