Start Your Meal Off Right

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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
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

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 ½-inch oval shape.

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

For any remaining dough, shape into ½-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

Aguachile de Camarón

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Photo By Chelsea Kyle

It seems like every appetizer served at parties, large or small, is forbidden to those who follow the low carb lifestyles touted by the Keto, Paleo and Atkins diets, but who has the time, or patience, to spend making some of the recipes for snacks that are allowed?

I went to a couple of my favorite “regular recipe” resources, Epicurious.com and Emeril’s on Planet Green, to see if there were any easy snack recipes that were low carb friendly and was pleasantly surprised! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Aguachile de Camarón

  • 2 Quarts Water
  • 2 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 1 Pound Fresh Jumbo Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 English Cucumber, peeled
  • 1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 to 3 Fresh Serrano Chiles, sliced
  • 1 TBLS Chopped Fresh Parsley
  1. Combine 2 quarts water and 2 TBLS cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  2. Butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
  3. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat.
  4. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place shrimp in colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  6. In a blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, chiles, and 1/4 cup of cold water. Process until smooth then season to taste with salt.
  7. In a non-reactive bowl combine the shrimp with the dressing.  Cover and put into the refrigerator for 1 hour. (Can be made up to 4 hours before serving)
  8. Cut the cucumber into thin rectangular slices, about 3 inches long, and divide among 4 small plates.
  9. Arrange the shrimp on top of the cucumber slices, season as needed, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

**Non-Reactive Bowl:  Stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan.  Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor

Salami Crisps (Epicurious)Salami-Crisps

  • 1/4 Pound (very thinly sliced) Genoa Salami, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Pancetta, Jamón Ibérico, Finocchiona, Coppa, or other charcuterie type dry cured meat
  • Cracked Black Pepper (if using an unspiced meat)
  • Parmesan Cheese (if desired)
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Arrange salami slices in 1 layer on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. If using Parmesan Cheese, sprinkle slices lightly.
  4. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are crisp and beginning to curl, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Transfer slices to a rack to cool. (They will crisp as they cool.)

Serving Suggestion:  Small slices of cheese, olive oil marinated feta, or some herbs mixed into cream cheese are all Keto-friendly and would be good served with these crisps.

Boozy Dole Whips

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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.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

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PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Seared Scallops with Pan Sauce

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Scallops are one of the most delicious seafood dishes when prepared properly.

In a November 2016 posting, Mark Bittman of epicurious.com shared some of his tips and tricks for making a foolproof seared scallop dinner.   This #FastAndEasy recipe will make anyone you’re serving them to think you slaved all day!

Seared Scallops with Pan Sauce (Serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  1. Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into pea-sized pieces, put it on a small plate, and stick it in the freezer. Heat a large skillet over medium-heat high for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil and wait for the butter to melt.
  2. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, add them to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper; work in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the skillet. Cook, turning once, until they are well browned on both sides but not quite cooked through, 2 minutes per side (less if the scallops are under 1 inch across; more if they’re over). Transfer the scallops to a plate.
  3. Stir in the garlic, lemon juice, and wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet with a spatula. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the liquid in the skillet thickens, a minute or two, then whisk in the butter you chilled in the freezer, one bit at a time, to make a creamy sauce, adding another tablespoon or two of liquid if necessary.
  4. Return the scallops to the skillet and add the chives. Adjust the heat so the sauce bubbles gently and toss to coat the scallops with the sauce. To serve, transfer the scallops to a platter and spoon the sauce over all.

Variation:

  1. Seared Scallops With Cherry Tomatoes and Basil: Skip the lemon juice. Cut 1 pint cherry tomatoes in half. Add the tomatoes with the garlic and wine and cook until they wrinkle a bit and release their juice, 2 or 3 minutes. Use chopped fresh basil leaves instead of chives.

Cooks’ Notes

  1. Releasing From The Pan: The scallops will offer no resistance when they’re ready to turn. Press down gently while the scallops cook to encourage full contact with the pan, then listen for a hiss: That’s moisture heating and evaporating.
  2. Getting A Good Sear: The idea is to brown the scallops well on both sides without overcooking them, so keep the heat as high as you can without creating too much smoke.
  3. Building Sauce With Butter: After you add the liquid and deglaze the pan, the addition of butter develops fantastic creaminess and richness.
  4. Finishing The Dish: As soon as the scallops are cooked through completely and coated with the sauce, remove the pan from the heat; they will continue to cook. Nick-and-peek into one if you need to check for doneness.
Tips**
  • Make sure you pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.  Only a dry scallop will sear properly.  A perfectly seared scallop should be nicely browned on the outside and buttery in the middle.
  • A paring knife should slide in and out with almost no resistance, but as always, the best way to check it is to make a small slice into one and look (or taste).   The inside should remain translucent.   High-quality scallops are delicious raw and tend to dry out quickly: It’s better to undercook than overcook.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

I love a big, juicy cheeseburger but they can get boring after a while.  This recipe is one that will definitely take away the boredom and might even be one that I can whip out at a tailgate this football season to change it up a bit!

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both), casings removed
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried-tomato pesto
  • 4 round ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

In a large skillet, bring 1/4 inch of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 1 minute; drain and press out as much water as possible. Wipe out the skillet.

In the same skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using slightly moistened hands, form the sausage meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over moderate heat until browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers. Top with the cheese and grill until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. Spread the pesto on the rolls. Top with the burgers and spinach and serve.

These burgers would be great paired with a fruit forward zinfandel like a 2015 Sextant Zinfandel Holystone out of Paso Robles, CA or an Artezin 2016 Old Vine Family Farmed Sustainable Zinfandel out of Mendocino County, CA.   #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto & Arugula Salad

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It’s been TOO DAMN HOT to cook this week.  When not wearing out my #DoorDash app, I’ve been looking for as many cold dinner solutions as possible.  I found one I love on Emeril Lagasse’s website: www.emerils.com.

It’s quick & easy to throw together and pairs well with pre-cooked, chilled jumbo shrimp or  maybe a sandwich made from a leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken or deli turkey breast.  Add a glass of perfectly chilled Sauvignon Blanc with melon undertones, like the 2014 Westerly Sauvignon Blanc has, and you have a terrific weeknight meal!

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, & Arugula Salad

  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or vegetable-olive oil blend
  • 1 tablespoon minced mixed fresh herbs (such as basil, chives, and parsley)
  • 8 ounces fresh arugula, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cantaloupe, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into thin wedges
  • 6 to 8 thin slices prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces

In a mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. While continuously whisking, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated. Whisk in the herbs, and set aside while you prepare the salad.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula and red onion. Drizzle in 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette to taste, if desired, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Arrange the cantaloupe wedges on a large serving plate, top with the arugula salad and the prosciutto. Serve immediately.

**Tip:  Any unused vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to flipflopwineglass2 days.

A nice big pile of this salad and cold glass of Westerly Sauvignon Blanc in my sassy Lolita wine glass is sure to make me feel instantly cooler! #ThisGirlLovesToEat