I feel bad for neglecting you…

Here it goes…I’m sorry that I have not updated this site for a while. This stuff happens when you are too busy with life, work, writing for two additional websites, studying for class, and nursing an injury. Due to this long list of excuses unforeseen circumstances, it has impacted my cooking/baking. Not to worry, we still have wine reviews.

Let’s start with Easter dinner. My boyfriend and I hosted dinner at my apartment for our families. It was their first time meeting each other. The food was delightful, and I didn’t even have to cook, as my boyfriend prepared the meal. Our menu included: Country Ham basted in Dr. Pepper, Macaroni and Cheese, Easter Bread, and two salads. If I can get the recipe for the ham, I’ll include it in a follow up. Right now, we are finding creative ways to eat ham.

One way is to fry it like bacon and season it accordingly. My boyfriend likes to season it different ways using herbs. For one variation, he created a savory version using sage, thyme, rosemary and dill. This was my favorite version. Another variation was a more sweet-heat version, using cumin and Penzey’s Baking Spice. There was a barbecue version using smoked paprika, chipotle hot sauce, brown sugar, and cumin. This was awesome and made me crave some Riscky’s BBQ…can’t wait for Texas. The curry version was also yummy.

Aside from ham, I haven’t done much in terms of wine tasting. The day after Easter, my boyfriend and I wanted to try two awesome wineries near Front Royal. Philip Carter Winery was our first destination. When we arrived, we noticed that it was closed, despite what the website said. We decided to travel to Fox Meadow Winery instead, and it was well worth the trip.

Fox Meadow Winery offers some of the best red wines in the region. They were all so good that we had a tough decision to make. We loved their Syrah, which paired well with a good sharp cheddar. We also loved their Freezeland Red, which is a semi-sweet wine. The Cabernet Franc was out of this world and would have paired well with a steak. I also liked their Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

The atmosphere was great, and the owner of the winery did a superb job explaining the food pairings for the wines.

I’ll have more later. Hopefully, I’ll make that Piña Colada Cake over the weekend that I have been promising my boyfriend.

Can Red Wine Save the Day?

I love a glass of red wine. Whether it’s a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, the smooth and complex taste always seem to refresh my palate, as well as accompany a good dish. Recently, I have been reverting back to the reds, after a craving of Chardonnay in the fall after a trip to upstate New York. One thing is for certain, Virginia has no shortage of good red wines that are comparable to many in Napa Valley or Washington State.

Currently, after finishing my new favorite, Scarlet Oak Red (Naked Mountain Winery, Markham, Va.), I decided to try Rappahannock Cellars‘ Noblesse Rouge. Noblesse Rouge is a Bordeaux blend with blends of Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is smooth tasting with a lot of depth. The smoky hints are perfect, and it complemented the pizza I had earlier, along with the 72% Dark Chocolate I had for dessert.

This winery is one of my favorites in Virginia, and their red wines are excellent. As for the wine, it definitely provided some rescue from the stresses of tax season. Not to mention, the red wine is filled with flavenoids, which is good for you too.

Deadliest Catch Night: Pizza and Good Wine

Tonight was one of the most saddest episodes of The Deadliest Catch as Captain Phil Harris died.  While the episode made me cry, I decided to host a party featuring some yummy food.  No, it was not seafood that was the star of the show (that was last night’s dish and the featured star of a post for the weekend), but it was freshly made pizza with some awesome ingredients.  This pizza was made with three different kinds of cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan reggiano), two different meats (sopressata and bresiola), marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh sweet basil.

Alongside of the pizza, a friend brought a bottle of Summerfield Merlot (California) and my boyfriend brought two bottles of Rogue Northwestern Ale. While I did not particularly care for the bitterness of the ale, I did enjoy the Merlot (even though, my boyfriend also brought a bottle of Fabbioli Cellars (Va.) Chambourcin).  The Merlot was very smooth tasting and complemented the pizza with its sweet, jammy hints.  With hints of black currant and raspberry, this Merlot also worked with the chocolate we had for dessert.

While this was an emotional episode of The Deadliest Catch, the pizza received rave reviews.  My boyfriend even mentioned that it was better than the two area pizza joints nearby.

Krystle’s “Kitchen Sink” Pizza

1 package of prepared pizza dough (you can find this dough at Wegmans or any speciality grocer)

1/2 c. pizza sauce (I used marinara with burgundy wine)

2 c. mozzarella-provolone cheese blend (you can buy this pre-shredded at a grocer)

1 c. parmesan-reggiano cheese

4 tbsp. sweet basil, chopped finely

1/2 c. marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 c. sopressata, chopped

1/4 c. bresiola, chopped

Preheat the oven, according to package directions.  Grease pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil. Spread the dough to fit the pan and pour on the sauce (spreading evenly).

Then, layer in this order:

meats

cheese

artichokes

cheese

sun dried tomatoes

cheese

basil

Bake for the amount of time on the package directions.  I cooked the pizza for 18 minutes.  After pizza is done, remove from oven and cool for five minutes before slicing.

Serves 8.

Additional wine recommendations with the “Kitchen Sink” pizza:

Fabbioli Cellars (Va.) Chambourcin

Barboursville (Va.) Merlot

First Colony (Va.) Cabernet Franc

Columbia Crest (Wash.) Cab Sauv./Merlot blend

Yellow Tail (Australia) Merlot

Barefoot (Calif.) Cabernet Sauvignon