Return To Granite Creek Vineyards and Block Six Catering

Well, it took us long enough but we finally made it back to Granite Creek Vineyard.  The last time that Mister and Missus Dear Friend’s joined us here was more than three years ago… WOW how time flies, right?  On our last adventure to this organic winery, we had some great food provided by Block Six Catering and on this outing, this was no exception.

Mrs. DF ordered the Hummus with Pita and Veggies, MMM, very good Hummus!

DH requested the Philly Cheese Gyro on Pita, stuffed with NY Strip Steak, Red onion Aioli, grilled Peppers, Tomatoes and Mixed Greens; oh, for sides some nice pickles, pepperoncini and a Pesto Pasta salad with Sundried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and we think that was a bit of Feta Cheese too.  There was enough for all four of us to share.

Of course, this go-around at the winery we bought a bottle of wine to share, WONDERFUL!  Superstition Gold is a nice crisp, clean easy drinking wine.  This wine pairs so well with just about anything.  Next visit, I’d like to try the Prairie Sun Pinot Gris.  You can order by the glass and keep the beautiful glass or go for it with a flight or tasting of five different wines.

But wait, there’s more!  Live music, featuring local artists that will entertain you during the “season”.  This week Pat Beary had his acoustic guitar and was softly playing in the back ground, what a perfect day!

On this fine blustery Spring day, we were informed that they were hosting their first wedding of the season!  That’s right, these beautiful grounds make the PERFECT setting for your nuptials.  They were setting up the event next to all the vines, so Mrs. DF and I didn’t get a chance to go looking around as we had hoped to, but there’s always next time!

As we were all leaving, DH noticed this basket …

… how thoughtful Granite Creek Vineyards!

Girl’s Day Out At The Raven Café

In the past month or so, Missus Dear Friend and I have been doing a Girl’s Day Out every other week.  We’ve been meeting at different local restaurants for lunch and then we go grocery shopping together.  My favorite green grocer, Sprouts, opened a second location in our area and we both wanted to check it out.  So what to do about lunch?  The Raven Café, they offer lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options and a lovely menu of beers and wine, that’ll work for us.

This a cool, funky, laid back joint; they have loads of unique works of art for sale on the walls.  You order your food and drinks at the bar; you get a “letter” and find a seat.  We both decided that it was close enough to noon that a glass of wine would be a good thing.

Mrs. DF ordered Sweet Potato fries and Guacamole with Blue Corn Chips.

For myself, I decided on a Turkey Panini and a side salad.  Everything was yummy.

What I enjoyed about the Raven Café is that we never felt rushed.  We sat, chatted and savored our wine for more than two hours.  As we looked around, we noticed that there were several “business meetings” being conducted over lunch.  I mean we’re talking about folks with their easel stands, presentation boards and all!  We’ll need to go back again and try some of the other dishes as well as the upstairs outdoor patio.

I’m Not Going To Try It, You Try It

Since first making this dish, Whole Wheat Penne pasta with Chicken Italian sausage and Broccoli Rabe, I have found that if you add a small amount of grated fresh Nutmeg, this will heighten the dish even farther. Let me know if you try this dish; I think that even the fussiest non-veggie-eating kiddo will enjoy this pasta plate as much as my husband does 🙂

My Kitchen In The Middle Of The Desert

When I went to the green grocer the other day to replenish our fruit and vegetable supplies, I spied some Rapini or Broccoli Rabe. Normally, I go right past it because it’s so terribly expensive, even by mainland standards. Back home in Hawaii, fresh fruits and veg that came from the continental United States are shipped in. They’re tasteless and I think way over priced. But these bundles looked like they had just been laid out, still warm from the sun, there wasn’t even any pricing on them yet. I made an inquiry as to the cost, not bad at $3.99 per pound. I figured we’d give it a whirl. I had seen an extremely simple dish on some TV program, it couldn’t be that difficult.

Whole Wheat Penne pasta with Chicken Italian sausage and Broccoli Rabe

This was as easy as pie (which I wish I could eat, but alas, not yet). I did a search on the WWW and found…

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Chicken Marsala, My Way

Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite dishes not only to make but to eat as well.  I’ve tried several different recipes and have mashed together my own version.

Auntie Doni’s Chicken Marsala

4 boneless-skinless Chicken Thighs (or Breasts), diced into bite sized pieces

1/4 C. Flour

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Pepper

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

10 oz. Crimini Mushrooms (Baby Bellas), diced

1/2 of small White Onion, diced fine

1 Garlic Clove, mined

3/4 C. Dry Marsala Wine

1 1/4 C. Chicken Broth

2 Tbsp. Butter, cold

In a large pan, heat the oil; sauté the Mushrooms until nicely brown, remove to a bowl.  Add more oil, if needed and sweat the White Onions until translucent; add the Garlic and sauté until fragrant, transfer to the bowl with the Mushrooms and set aside.

Toss the Chicken in the flour, salt and pepper, shake off any excess.  Add more oil to the pan if needed and brown the Chicken, about 3-5 minutes per side; transfer to a plate and set that aside as well.  Add the Wine to the pan and scrape up the nice brown bits in the pan and bring to a bubble.  Pour in the broth, add back in the Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic, stir well and simmer for a few minutes; add back in the Chicken, stir to combine it all and continue simmering until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Add that cold Butter and swirl the pan around to melt and incorporate it into the sauce.   The sauce will thicken further, but don’t let it reduce too far.

Serve over Pasta, Rice, Polenta or even mashed Potatoes.  Garnish with some chopped Parsley and grated Cheese.

ENJOY!

 

Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies For Mom

Back home in Hawaii, we can get these a~maz~ing Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies from The Big Island aka Hawaii Island.  Now that we’ve moved to the mainland, NOPE, NADA, NO CAN GET!  So once again the mother of need raises her head and says, MAKE YOUR OWN!

My Mom no longer lives 12 miles away from my DH and I, so I make up my version of a care package for her every so often.  I’ve added these to her most recent box.

Auntie Doni’s Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies

½ C. Macadamia Nuts, Roasted, unsalted and coarsely chopped

1/3 C. granulated Sugar

½ C. Unsalted Butter, softened

½ tsp. Salt

1 ¼ C. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

½-1 C. Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers

In a food processor, pulse the nuts until ground fine, set aside.  In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and those ground nuts.  Mix in the flour, just until combined.

Macadamia Nut Cookie logs

Form the dough into two 14 X 3 X 1” logs and wrap them in plastic.  Stash them in the `fridge for 1-24 hours.  Preheat the oven to 350⁰.  Line a **baking sheet** with either parchment paper or a Silpat® Mat (optimum choice).

place slices 1 inch apart

Slice the dough in ¼ inch widths; place on the sheet pan one inch apart.

Bake for 10 or until just lightly golden on the edges.  Place on a cooling rack.  Melt your dipping chocolate as directed on the package.

Chocolate dipped Macadamia Nut Cookies

Dip half of the cookie in the melted chocolate;

Place back on the Silpat® Mat (or parchment paper),

oh my, garnished chocolate dipped macadamia nut cookies

Add optional garnish of ground Macadamia Nuts;

Allow to cool completely, wrap and gift.

ALOHA!

**It’s best to use a light colored baking sheet for lighter colored baked goods**

a lighter colored pan makes for lighter colored bottoms on my our baked goods

Kewpie Mayonnaise And Tuna Sandwiches

If you’ve been following along for awhile now, you’ll remember my post about Tuna Sandwiches.

Having lived the majority of my life in Hawaii, THE  mayonnaise of choice is Best Foods (it’s known as Hellman’s on the East Coast of the US).  Although, there is a brand from Japan that has some pull in certain circles…

           Kewpie Mayonnaise, YUM!

Kewpie Mayonnaise, not cheap stuff!

I’ve never bought this brand of mayo before, mainly because it’s not cheap!  As you can see, I got the smaller, less expensive bottle  😄

So I’ve had this container in my pantry, waiting for the right moment to break it out… Today’s the day!

Coral Brand Tuna From Hawaii

 

I brought back a BUNCH of these lovely cans of my most favoritest canned Tuna in the whole wide world (along with an entire suitcase full of other goodies … all food items, of course 😎 ) the last time we went home to Hawaii; I figured if I was going to do it, let’s go whole hog!

In Hawaii, we LOVE our mayonnaise and make our Tuna Salad very simply.  Tuna and mayo, that’s it, well, you do need to use alot of mayo.  My husband doesn’t do care for mayonnaise, so he can’t watch when I do this, “Don’t tell me what’s in there! All I know is that I like your Tuna Sandwich.”  Ssshhhh! Don’t tell him, but I only use a little mayo in the salad, just enough to moisten it all up and then slather GOBS of it on the bread for my sandwich, MMM.

The Kewpie was phenomenal!  I turned the packaging over to look at the ingredients, thinking how different could this be?  MSG, Pepper, Pepper Extract and Apple, interesting (and yes I know that MSG is not good for you, but if you don’t eat it everyday…).  Since DH wasn’t looking, I figured I’d taste-test the two brands side-by-side… WOW!  They’re worlds apart.  That MSG gives the Kewpie Mayo a very savory flavor, they call that Umami.

If you get a chance, do try this different mayonnaise.  If you don’t see it in any of your neighborhood markets, you could always order it on line.

ENJOY!

*Note: As I’ve made mention previously, products that appear here on my personal blog are items that I enjoy and want to share these thoughts about them with you the reader.  I am not compensated in anyway by any company, corporation, individual, group or foundation.  If you see any advertising on this site, it is placed there solely by WordPress.com and I have not done so.  I’m not in this for money, just my own amusement.  🙂

 

 

Trader Joe’s Soft Pretzel Sandwiches

A few days back, I was telling you about a new find I discovered at Trader Joe’s,  Soft Pretzel Sticks.

YUM!

WELL!  On my most recent journey to one of my favorite places to shop for food, I grabbed a bunch of these culinary delights and stashed them in the deep freeze for later.  I was looking for something for lunch a coupla days later and thought THAT  would make a terrific sandwich!

TJ's Soft Pretzel Ham & Cheese Sandwich

DING DING DING!  We have a winner folks.

I heated the rolls, split them open, slathered them in some Spicy Brown Mustard and lastly layered on Ham and Swiss Cheese.  DE~LI~CIOUS!!!

Me: So how’s that tastin’ ?

DH: MMM [garbled mouth-full mumbles] Where did you get this, this is really good!

Me: Trader Joe’s

DH: Can you make this again?

Me: YUP, you betcha.  😉