Pasta with Whiskey, Wine, Spinach and Mushrooms

I have been a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s cooking blog for years. I have mentioned her here before, and she even commented on my Poached Egg and Avocado on Toast recipe on Tasty Kitchen (eek!). I have loved watching her and her family in real life on her Food Network Show, and when I make her recipes, they are always boyfriend-friendly.

Tim loves whiskey (ha), and when Ree posted recipe for pasta with whiskey in it, I knew he would love it. The only problem is, we are trying to eat healthy, and with lots of carbs and cream, it wasn’t the best option. So I took matters into my own hands and adapted Ree’s recipe to be a little healthier, but still delicious.

This is my healthy take on The Pioneer Woman’s Pasta with Whiskey, Wine, and Mushrooms. I added spinach, used extra onion and mushrooms, and swapped out most of the cream for Greek yogurt. I left the alcohol proportions the same (why not?!), and swapped regular pasta for Barilla Pasta Plus. At 316 calories per serving, it was diet friendly and “cowboy-approved!”

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Tomato Risotto

I have to tell you: I’ve fallen in love with risotto. It’s versatile and able to incorporate whatever produce I have on hand. It is an elegant dish but just takes a little time and a lot of wooden spoon action. It’s a great way to showcase spring ingredients while still feeling cozy on cool evenings…and while I don’t need an excuse to stand at the stove sipping white wine, this certainly is a romantic way to do it.

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Halibut and Vegetables en Papillote

Tim and I have a fantastic 2011 resolution (one that we actually started in December – how’s that for being early birds?)…and let me start out by saying that it was his idea! We are trying at least one new recipe each per week. It has to be either a food or cooking technique that we have both never tried, and those are the only rules. My secret goal is to show him how non-meat dishes can be filling and delicious.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the most fail-proof, delicious, healthiest way to cook fish: en papillote! Papillote sounds fancy and French, right? So misleading (ha)…it just means that you fold parchment paper into a little pocket, add fish, veggies, and wine, and let it bake for a few moments. The fish and veggies steam in the packet, and you end up with the most tender, flavorful fish imaginable.

This was probably the most fun we’ve ever had cooking together, and having our own individual packets made it easy to customize our dinner to our individual tastes – definitely a great date night cooking recipe!

Can you tell whose papillote was whose?

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Pink Port Sparkler

Last weekend, Tim and I poured wine at the Atascadero Wine Festival. If you’ve never been to a wine festival, you should definitely find one in your area (or come visit Paso Robles Wine Country…we have lots!). As long as you keep it responsible and don’t try to taste every wine there, you will learn a lot and maybe find some new favorites!

During the event, we traded shifts with our fellow pourers so that we could walk around and taste. I had some friends visiting from New York (Hi, Mike and Kate!), and the timing worked out perfectly so that they were able to come to the festival. They had never been wine tasting before (and of course, we took them tasting the next day, too!), and I had a fabulous time sharing my passion with them.

My two favorite tastes of the day were both bubbles! Domaine Le Mieux was a new discovery for me. They are opening a tasting room up in Templeton, hopefully by the end of summer, and they make Vin de Pomme…that is, Apple Champagne! (technically, Sparkling Apple Wine). I wish I had taken some photos, but I’m sure I will be mentioning them on here again – they are definitely a new favorite!

My other favorite taste was what the team at 15 Degrees C, our fabulous local wine shop, was pouring – Cava and Pink Port cocktails. Pink bubbles can do no wrong in my book; the next day I stopped by the shop to pick up the makings. The four of us polished off the champagne part of the mix before dinner – at $8 a bottle, I definitely should have picked up two!

p.s. Become a fan of Sweet Life Laur on Facebook!

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Citrus Sangria

The first time I had Sangria was in Ecuador. It was one of the last days of my study abroad there, and our professor, Nancy, made a big batch to accompany our dinner of grilled chicken, veggies, potatoes, and grilled pineapple for dessert. We ate and drank on the beach, and after dinner, my friends and I hung out and ate the fruit from the bottom of the pitchers – hey, we were 19, in a foreign country, and excited to get tipsy!

Nancy, who is from Venezuela, told me how to make Sangria in these words: “Cut up whatever fruit you have into small pieces, and add wine!” There are endless sangria variations – white, red, citrus, berries, bubbles, a splash of liquer – you really can’t go wrong!

A couple weeks ago, my cousin Erin wrote asking for a Sangria recipe. Thankfully, I had started making Sangria at the Bistro and was in the final stages of perfecting my recipe. Not too sweet, lots of flavor, and of course, refreshing! A double recipe has been selling out at the Bistro, which in my eyes is the best compliment.

Cheers!

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Perciatelli with Cacio e Pepe

With my mom out of town and my tasting room employees on spring break, I had a crazy-busy week among the feeding of the animals, the watering of the plants, and the extra hours at work. On Friday night, all I wanted to do was veg out and eat something comforting…sometimes, you just feel like a bowl of noodles.

Perciatelli is a thick spaghetti-like pasta shape that has a hole in the center – it’s like a spaghetti tube. Even when al dente, it doesn’t twirl because it’s so thick. I broke the noodles in half for this recipe, which made it a dantier dish. And of course, what’s a meal without the perfect wine and cheese pairing?

The other night, I had a bottle of Chronic Cellars (one of my FAVORITE wineries) 2007 La Muneca, which is 50% Roussanne and 50% Viogner, chilling in the fridge. I picked up a hunk of parmigiano reggiano from the cheese side of the operation (The operation being my place of work, Vivant Fine Cheese), headed home, and threw together this delicious dinner.

"The Doll"

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Pizza Margherita

pizza marg close

Wow, so time flies/disappears when you work three jobs. I haven’t posted since the 16th!  I am so sorry, dear readers….I’ve been busy pouring wine, eating cheese, chasing around an adorable two-year-old, writing newsletters, and sending out press releases.

Three jobs, two college classes, and I love it all. This means I’m happy but tired. Most days, I come home ready to crawl into bed and snug the dog. On the days when I feel motivated, it’s usually because I have pizza and wine on the brain.  Oh yes. Nothing beats a homemade pizza, straight out of the oven, paired with a fabulous wine.

My recent pick? Vihuela Incendio, a blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Cab. It’s a fantastic pizza wine, with just the right amount of acidity to balance out that of the tomatoes in this classic Pizza Margherita. I feel more relaxed already…

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