Artichokes With Roasted Garlic Wine Dip

home-artichokeI love living in Southern California where there is the availability of local fruits and vegetables in the stores, as well as what is trucked and flown in from around the country and from other parts of the world, pretty much year-round.  It really makes cooking and eating fun! #ThisGirlLovesToEat 

One of the few things that I do have to be patient for are artichokes.  Nowhere grows them as big and meaty as we do in California.  In fact, 99.99% of all commercially grown artichokes are grown in California. 

CAF_fest_logo-2017Since I happen to love them, it’s a pretty good thing that Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom named artichokes the Official State Vegetable of California on April 10, 2013.  Artichokes from California are so fabulous that they’ve had their own festival for the past 56 years: Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival.

Some people dip their leaves in mayonnaise (which makes me want to gag), others in various aiolis, dips or other concoctions, but I’ve been a ridiculous creature of habit for as long as I can remember, eating my artichokes one way and one way only: dipping each succulent leaf into a bowl of melted butter.  Occasionally I may deviate in the preparation of the steam that surrounds my artichoke, adding some white wine, maybe some garlic or some lemon to the water, but I never deviate on my buttery leaf bath.  Until now.

This long forgotten recipe I’d clipped from the May 2007 edition of Cooking Light Magazine convinced me to change my ways (at least temporarily).

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Artichokes With Roasted Garlic Wine Dip

  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • 4 medium artichokes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat Oven to 400° F.
  2. Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 400° F for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.
  3. Cut off stems of artichokes, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. Place artichokes, stem ends down, in a large Dutch oven filled two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Remove artichokes from pan.
  4. Combine half of garlic pulp and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Add broth; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter and salt. Pour mixture into a blender; add remaining half of garlic pulp. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Sprinkle dip with parsley, if desired. Serve dip with warm artichokes.

If you’re interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, gadget reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.

SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING

The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Oreo Red Wine Nutella Cupcakes

red-wine-nutella-cupcakes-with-oreo-nutella-filling-and-red-wine-frosting-767x1024I was sourcing articles related to wine and the picture, almost as much as the title convinced me, although I am seriously deficient in the cupcake decorating department, to give these a try.

I’m not sure what appealed to me more, the wine or the chocolate, but I figured I could manage combining them without staining everything in my kitchen.  I might even be able to pipe on the frosting without too much problem, so I’m off to the store to make these grown up delights!

I found this little bit of deliciousness at a blog I saw on Pinterest: www.yummyaddiction.com.

One thing: I noticed the blogger didn’t specify what type of wine she used or recommend a type.  For my own personal taste, with the cocoa, cinnamon and brown sugar in the cake, I am going to go with a red wine with a similar flavor profile like a Zinfandel, Petite Syrah or maybe a Pinot Noir or Malbec.

Oreo Red Wine Nutella Cupcakes

Makes: 10 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup red wine, any kind you like
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Nutella
  • 10 Oreos
For the filling:
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 5 Oreos
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup red wine, any kind you like
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 10 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. The cupcakes. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Stir in Nutella and red wine until evenly combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Place an Oreo cookie on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Pour batter over each Oreo cookie and fill each cupcake liner about ¾ of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. The filling. In a ziplock bag, place the Oreos and use a mallet to crush the cookies into small pieces. In a small bowl, combine Nutella with crushed Oreos. Set aside.
  4. The frosting. In a small saucepan, combine red wine and sugar. Cook over mediumoreo-red-wine-nutella-cupcakes-center heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and wine comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes (until the liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup or a light syrup texture). Let cool.
  5. Beat the butter until until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar (1/2 cup at a time), vanilla, and ¼ cup of prepared wine syrup. Beat until no lumps remain. Taste the frosting and add salt to cut the sweetness, if you prefer.
  6. Assembling the cupcakes. Cut out the center of each cupcake with a sharp knife. Fill the cupcakes with Nutella & Oreo filling. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cupcake. Enjoy!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too:https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Darkest Chocolate Cake With Red Wine Glaze

chocolate-red-wine-cake-101916

I keep old copies of Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Food and Wine, and other cooking magazines for when I want to break out of a recipe rut.  Lately I have been experimenting with wine more in my cooking and baking, but wasn’t happy with the texture of the last couple of cakes I’d made, so I thumbed through in search of professional guidance so I’d be able to share something decadent at an upcoming dinner party.

I found exactly what I was after in the February 2014 edition of Bon Appétit.  

**Tip:  I always read the reviews of those who have made the recipes, paying particular attention to those who have made them more than once.  Those changes have been included in the recipe below.

Darkest Chocolate Cake With Red Wine Glaze

  1. Cake:
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
    • 8 ounces unsweetened cocoa or 100% cacoa baking chocolate chopped
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 6 large eggs
    • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  2. Glaze and assembly:
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup red wine (such as Pinot Noir)
    • Blackberries, Raspberries and/or Strawberries (1-2 baskets total) washed, stemmed (if necessary) and laid on paper towels to dry
    • Special equipment: A 9″ Springform pan
  1. For cake:
    1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and (powdered) sugar the pan.
    2. Melt the chocolate and the butter.
    3. Separate the 6 eggs.
    4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the eggs are thick and pale in appearance.
    5. Pour a little of the chocolate mixture into eggs to temper it and then add the egg mixture to the chocolate and mix well.
    6. Add the flour and the salt and mix til combined.
    7. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
    8. Add a bit to the batter and gently mix in.
    9. Add the rest of the egg whites to the batter and gently fold until completely incorporated into the batter.
    10. Pour batter into pan, it should go almost all the way to the top.
    11. Bake for 43-45 minutes, check with toothpick for doneness, if it comes out clean–it’s done.
    12. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan before turning out.
    13. Cool completely before releasing pan.
    14. Glaze as directed and pair with some of the berries to balance out the chocolate.
  2. For glaze and assembly:
    1. Heat chocolate, butter, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate and butter are melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar.
    2. Meanwhile, bring wine just to a boil in a small saucepan.
    3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in wine; let cool until slightly thickened and a rubber spatula leaves a trail in mixture when stirring, 8–10 minutes.
    4. Set cake on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour glaze over cake and spread it across the top and over the edges with an offset spatula. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze is set, 2–3 hours.
    5. DO AHEAD: Cake can be made and glazed 2 days ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Alternative Preparation:  You an substitute an equal amount of Chambord Liqueur for the wine and you will get a sweeter dark raspberry taste to the chocolate glaze.

The cake is very rich.  Slice into very narrow pieces – you can easily serve 12-16 with this decadent cake!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too:https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Holiday Gifts For the Cocktail Lover

tistheseasonIt’s the time of year when we all exchange gifts with friends.  If you’re college age to not-yet married or perpetually single and loving it, chances are you and your friends also love getting together for cocktails.

Since we all can likely name our best friends’ go-to drink orders here are a few ideas for inexpensive ways to make sure they can make themselves a “five o’clocker” using the proper tools and vessels to drink them from without breaking the bank.

You can probably figure out gifts for a wine drinker – glasses, a pretty corkscrew, funnychampagne napkins, an aerator, or a decanter.  For a beer drinker there is always the bottle opener, pilsner glass, mason jar glasses, or even (for the guy who hasn’t outgrown college) beer pong supplies/table.

If your gift is going to a margarita or  daiquiri lover:

Is your gift going to a Martini aficionado?

And finally, gifts for lovers of mixed drinks or straight up spirits:

None of the gifts we exchange with friends need to break the bank to show that we care. With a little forethought and a handy 20% coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond  (you can use 5 per purchase you know) you might even save enough to grab a bottle or two to share with them!

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Bedtime Red Wine Hot Cocoa

red-wine-cocoaRed wine to ease away the stress and tension from a day filled with kids, husbands, work, traffic, housework, bills, etc., then hot cocoa laced with more read wine to pave the way to bedtime?  Sounds too good to be true, but Scary Mommy says it’s so, so I believe!

Now, if you can keep yourself from chugging the entire bottle down you wino 😉 here is how you make your Bedtime Red Wine Hot Cocoa:

In a small saucepan combine:

  • 3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8th tsp salt

According to http://www.scarymommy.com, you are to, “Mix that shit together.”  Then stir in:

  • 2 to 3 TBLS milk
  • 1/4 Cup + a few more TBLS “to taste”
  • 1 tsp vanilla (if desired)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (if desired)

I like my wines to be hearty in body and bold in taste, so I use a Zinfandel, Meritage, Red Blend, Red Table Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Petite Syrah.  Simmer until just warm.  You don’t want to cook off the alcohol!  I like to add a tsp of vanilla and a cinnamon stick to the pan while it’s simmering.  Top with some whipped cream and shaved chocolate if you’re feeling fancy.

Here’s another way to make it that’s even more decadent:

  • 3 Cups Dark Chocolate Chunks
  • 1+ ½ Cups Milk (Substitute Half & Half or Cream if desired)
  • 1 Cup Red Wine

red-wine-hot-chocolate-5In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and chocolate chips. Whisking constantly until chocolate is melted into milk and you have a thick and creamy chocolate milk. Pour in red wine and heat until everything is hot. Pour into 2 mugs and top with whipped cream.

You can also add in marshmallows, sprinkle more cocoa powder or cinnamon on top.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, how much you love wine, and/or how bad your day was.

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Get Rid Of Garlic Breath!

bowl-of-garlic-clovesI LOVE garlic! 

If a recipe calls for 1 clove you can guarantee that I’ll be adding at least two, but more than likely three.  Unfortunately, I am one of those people who doesn’t just get garlic breath, I sweat garlic for at least a day after I’ve eaten it in any form.

One of my favorite aggressively garlic forward meals is Shrimp Scampi.

Extra Tasty Shrimp Scampi

  • 1 + 1/2 Pounds Large Fresh (or Frozen) Shelled & Deveined Shrimp
  • 1/2 Pound Asparagus Chopped into 1″ Chunks
  • 4 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 6 TBLS Butter
  • 1 Cup Dry White Wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 TBLS Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 4 to 6 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (or more to taste)
  • 2 TBLS Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Steamed Jasmine Rice
  • A Freshly Baked French Baguette (for sopping up the extra sauce)

scampi

Leaving the tail on or removing it from the shrimp is an individual choice.  I prefer to leave it on so the maximum shrimp taste is passed into the sauce, but my husband complains about having to remove them, so I usually do just to avoid listening to him bitch…

  1. Prepare the jasmine rice and set aside (keep warm)
  2. Heat a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat
  3. Add olive oil, butter, garlic, and red pepper flakes
  4. Sauté about 30 seconds then add chopped asparagus
  5. Sauté about 90 seconds then add shrimp
  6. Add the wine and make sure that the shrimp is covered completely with the sauce
  7. Spread the shrimp so they are in a single layer in the pan and cook for about 3 minutes
  8. Turn the shrimp over and cook for another minute
  9. Remove the pan from the heat
  10. Squeeze the lemon over the shrimp, lightly salt & pepper and toss shrimp & asparagus with the chopped parsley

Serve the shrimp & asparagus over a bed of the steamed jasmine rice along side a hunk of the baguette, making sure to pour a generous amount of sauce over it all. Enjoy!

Once dinner is over and you’re ready to start getting kisses from your grateful family, you might want to start thinking about the garlic breath you’ve unleashed on an unsuspecting audience…

Apparently the Italians, who serve a salad and/or a fruit course after a pasta course, have known what they were doing all along.  The September 2016 issue of the Journal of Food Science reported the findings of a study that concluded that chewing on lettuce,  raw apples, or fresh mint after consuming a meal high in garlic reduced the concentration of the garlic smell on the subjects’ breath by 50%.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood