Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Echelon Vineyards.... sharing the love!

Hey there my peeps!!
I have a couple of things I need to talk to you about so I'm just going to plow through them one at a time over the next couple of days and hope I don't get too sidetracked and forget.
The first concerns wine and a kind of funny story.  I'll attempt to shorten the story as to not bore you to death!

One day last week my doorbell rings and it's my friendly UPS guy.  He has a big box with bright orange stickers all over that say "must be 21 to sign for package".  So I sign and bring in the box, cause I'm like over 21 and all, wondering the whole time what on earth was in the box!
I opened the box and lo and behold I find these lovely things!!  That's a good day!!
Of course they were all full when they arrived!

I have no clue who they are from as the card only says Enjoy and is printed with a name I am unfamiliar with!! 
So the investigation begins; I call the shipping company on the return label.  Tell my story a couple of times and the guy gives me an email address as the only shipping information he has. Fortunately the email address goes back to Echelon Vineyards so I email the person about the wine.
Just as I send the message I have another doorbell ring and this time the Fed Ex guy (who is a scream---is it bad I'm so familiar with our delivery guys??!!)  anyway, he has a package for me.  I open it and there is a letter from Echelon Vineyards, a corkscrew and a paper coaster with their logo and a nice letter.   hmmmm, part of the mystery solved!!!   I send a second email and in that time I managed to receive several emails from the fine friendly folks at Echelon Vineyards and Clever Girls and my memory was restored!!
It seems I had signed up some time ago for a promotion through Clever Girls Collective network (their logo is down in the left sidebar) and just clean forgot about it!! Seriously how bad is my memory that I forget about anything that involves wine??

This was also perfect timing because my Wook Club (part book but mostly wine club) was meeting at my house on Thursday evening.  Well mark the wine off the grocery list!!

Before the Wook ladies arrived (& we had a small group this month) I got the wine all ready.
I made The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup from her new cookbook.
I tell you what people...that was some kind of good soup!!!  I mean so good it alone justifies buying that cookbook.  Here, let me save you the trouble and give you the link so you can just go order it.

Now if you look really close you can see that the Echelon Red Blend California 2010 bottle is bone dry.  Well that's just because we LOVED IT!!  It was perfect with that Tortilla Soup too!
Really we loved this wine and if we'd had a second bottle of it we'd probably finished it too!!

Here's a close up of the label so you can find some yourself.
Here's the link to the Red Blend in case you like to see what the company has to say about it.
My opinion....I'll buy this again even if I have to order it.

This was the other bottle we had.  The Napa Valley collection Chardonnay.
I'm not a huge chardonnay fan but I gotta tell you....I REALLY liked this one too!
Here's the link to this one in case you'd like to get technical about it. Echelon chardonnay
My opinion....I'll probably buy this one too!!   It wasn't too dry and I really enjoyed it.

I have not opened this one yet and I'm not sure why because Pinot Grigio is one of my favorite wines.
Here's the link to the specs on this one....Pinot Grigio.  I'm SURE I will love this one as well!!!

Here's another shot, an empty Red Blend, a 3/4 empty Chardonnay and a full Pinot.
Now the confession time... I think only 4 of us were even drinking wine that night....but not to worry, we DID talk about the book for oh,  a few minutes!!  

I like buying things from companies who have such great customer service and I found that in this company.  They have a great product and even greater folks working there!

Go to their  Where to Buy page and find out where you can buy your bottle of wine today.
Support the good ole' US of A and a wonderful company that makes a fabulous product.
Can't go wrong there!!!

What companies do you buy items from because of their customer service?

Peace, Love & Yummies!!


disclaimer: Echelon Vineyards working with Clever Girls collective network so very generously sent my wine samples to review and taste.  I am not being compensated by Echelon Vineyards and all opinions expressed are 100% solely mine.  I'm simply reviewing the wines because I liked them however if they wanted to send me more.... I really wouldn't complain at all!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Bakers Dozen of Kitchen Favorites

Oh wow oh weee wowza peeps!!!   I'm so sorry, I don't know where I've been or why I've been gone so long!   Well other than the fact that we've pretty much eaten some form or fashion of salad for the last few weeks and quite frankly I'm bored enough with salads much less push that boredom to you!!!

Today I'm going to search the ole' Pinterest and see what kind of goodies I can whip up with all these veggies I have from my basket last week.
You can't see it all but I have a LOT of zucchini in there.

However today I am finally doing a post that I had the thought to do last week (hey, at least I got pictures when I had the thought!!).  Our beautiful Court will be getting married in June and of course this brings the thoughts and questions about what do I register for and what do I really need??   So for Court and all you other budding home cooks out there I'm going to show you a Bakers Dozen of my favorite and most used kitchen items.    They are in no particular order, just the things I use the most and have found to serve me well in the kitchen.  I've tried to include links where possible and please forgive the "condition" of my kitchen items.....remember they are used OFTEN so they are display worthy  :0)

A good cookie/sheet/jelly roll pan.   This is used for everything from cookies to sheet cakes to bacon wrapped little smokies to well you name it!!    I use this pan several times a week and the versatility of it    is fabulous.  As a matter of fact, I'm thinking of buying a second one.

These lovely things are cooling racks.  I use them for lots of things besides cookies.  I like to sit my loaf pans on them when I bake bread. I can stretch bacon across them and nest inside that handy pan above to bake in the oven.  They are very versatile and these are nice and cheap. I have two square and two round and they serve me well.  Inexpensive & worth buying.

My sweet Mama gave me this one year (many years ago) in my stocking.
It fits inside that jelly roll pan (see how versatile that pan is??).  It's a Silpat mat and if you bake cookies then you need this.  Skip a few days at the Starbucks or take your lunch to work for a week but it's worth the $20 to not burn your cookies again!!!

This goodie is a little more expensive but honestly I cannot begin to tell you the amount of money this thing saves me year after year!!!  My beloved FoodSaver.   I buy so much fruit and veggies and meat on sale then bring it home prep it and toss in the freezer. Bye Bye Freezer burn peeps!!! 
Save the pennies, it's worth it!

I think if I had to run out of the house and could only grab one thing in my kitchen this would probably be the one thing I grabbed.  Sure they come in prettier newer colors but you know my little old white KitchenAid mixer is a trooper.  It makes baking a breeze.  Ask for one for your birthday or a wedding gift.  My sweet Mama gave me this one years and years and years ago, it's still going strong!

A good baking dish. This is probably my favorite.
Le Creuset  makes wonderful stoneware pieces and no they are not inexpensive but they are an investment.   I'm not a fan of the clear glass pyrex for baking.  I feel like this gives me more even consistent baking results.  Plus this one is the PERFECT size for making my Chicken Pot Pie and brownies.  

This is my Pampered Chef Measure-All cup and I adore it!!  It's very old and as long as you don't let anyone slap it in the dishwasher it will serve you well for many years!  It's great especially for measuring sticky things like peanut butter, shortening, corn syrup, etc. because it pops them out and you don't have to dig and scrape to get everything out of the measuring cup.  

Another Pampered Chef item is my Food Chopper and seriously I could NOT live without this.  I mean seriously...why would I ever chop onions any other way.  It's fast, easy cleanup and so much easier.  When I buy onions in bulk I chop them up with this and put them in the Food Saver and toss in the freezer. Next time I need chopped onions for something, they are chopped and ready to go!! It chops everything but onions are my fave use for this little gem AND I'm gonna need another one soon, I've darn near worn this one out but it's at least 10 years old!!

A BIG ole' iron skillet.  (no that's not rust...I just didn't scrape off the last thing I cooked very well)
Seriously, there is no better more versatile skillet on the planet.  It goes on the stove and in the oven and as long as you don't wash it with anything but hot water, you'll have it forever.  It gets super hot and you get the added bonus of a little extra iron in your food and seriously don't we all need that!!!
The best way to find these are at flea markets, garage sales.  Season them well and enjoy for the rest of your life!!   It's the only skillet you really need!

This is one of those items that you won't use that often but man when you need it NEED it!
It's an Oil & Candy Thermometer. I put this thing to the test this past Christmas when I was making Peanut Brittle nonstop.  Like I said it's not going to get used a lot (unless you fry very much) but it's worth it when you need it and this one is digital for those of us with more "mature" eyes!!

My beloved Crock Pot.  Not going to lie, I have more than one of these!!  This is my favorite, I like the shape and the size.  It gets a work out and there really is nothing like coming home to a fully cooked dinner.  I use mine all the time and some form of slow cooker is a definite necessity in your kitchen.

ok, we all think our cookware is the best and it's an investment.  Good cookware is truly an investment and I finally have cookware that I love. It wasn't cheap but I think it was worth the money.  I am not a fan of non-stick cookware.  I just don't feel like feeding my family that non=stick coating with their food.  I'm sorry, I just think those are avoidable chemicals we don't need in our bodies!!  So moving on My choice is this Calphalon Hard Anodized cookware and this big 7 quart pot is my absolute favorite!!
It's a big pot but it does everything I need it to do and it's just awful looking but it ALWAYS get hand washed and used.  A pot this size is worth the money and you'll be surprised that it will be your go to pot..worth the money!

My last item is an assortment of handy kitchen tools.  Most are Pampered Chef and all are used!! We will start from left and move to the right.
Sifter....seriously if you read this blog you know how I feel about sifting.  Just get one and use it!
Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter- fun and easy to cut up potatoes & veggies
Potato Masher - I don't use it for potatoes, I use it to mash up ground beef more than anything.
Pastry Blender-  nice to have when you need it 
Pampered Chef Scoops-- I have these in two sizes.  It's the hygienic way to eat raw cookie dough :0)
Actually these are very useful items and I use both sizes equally.
Pampered Chef egg slicer- I use it mostly to slice eggs, shocking I know. It also does strawberries, bananas, kiwi, and mushrooms.  It's a nice quick handy tool. I use it almost everyday on the hard boiled eggs that I keep in the refrigerator for breakfast.  

There you have it my peeps....My Bakers Dozen of kitchen favorites.  I hope I've given you some thoughts of new ways to use your kitchen tools, something new to save for, or for Court and any other new bride, some things to make sure you included on your registry.  Ask me questions if you have any.  I love to talk about my favorite things!!  And if you sell Pampered Chef then contact me, I think we could talk about an ad for you on the ole' blog here!!  

Have a great weekend my peeps!!! I'll be watching my not so little grown up baby boy play baseball!!!

Peace, Love & Yummies!!!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cowboy Stew & Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

Howdy ho my peeps!!!
WOW....I don't really know what has happened to me, I promise I haven't neglected you guys for vacuuming my house!! haha  It's just been a bit crazy around here and I'm gonna be posting better in the next few weeks but it's spring and you peeps know me well enough by now to know that my poor house cleaning and cooking get put on the back burner this time of the year.  I mean hellooooooo it's GORGEOUS outside.  As for this past weekend all the kids were around for some or part of the time.    The Abogg likes to rub it in to his sisters this time of year as he gets Good Friday and Easter Monday off from school.  He was happy not to deal with Easter Sunday evening traffic back to Waco.

We had Cowboy Stew and some bread last week sometime or another and I know both of these I've made for you before but's worth giving them a bit more time!!

Let's make the Cowboy Stew first......

Take 1 onion and chop it up nicely and then brown some ground beef with it.

Now grab these things:
28 oz stewed tomatoes 
2 cans corn
2 cans white or green beans
1 can red beans
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

You can see that I used 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of rotel this time
A large bag of frozen corn instead of can and no I didn't unthaw it
I usually use 1 can of white beans and 1 can of green beans
The oregano and cayenne pepper are heaping measures for us

Once you have everything opened up just dump it all in a big pan (no draining of any of the cans)
and bring it to a boil and then turn it down, cover and simmer for a minimum of 45 minutes but the longer you can let it cook, the better it will reward you!!

So now let's make some bread, once again it's a repeat but it's worth it!

3 cups flour (sifted multiple times...sorry)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 cup sugar
12 oz. beer (don't use a light beer in this one)
couple of sliced jalapenos
1 cup shredded cheddar (overflowing cup)
4 Tbsp melted butter, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Mix the dry ingredients and sift

then sift again...and hey for good measure sift it again.
I'm completely serious it needs to be sifted AT LEAST twice
we don't want to bake bricks in the oven

Now mix in the beer and 3 of the Tbsp. of melted butter

and the cheese
then put it into a loaf pan (sprayed really well with cooking spray)

Now pour the last Tbsp. of melted butter over the top
Bake for 1 hour

Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes

attempt NOT to dig in with a fork and start eating it

I seems like a REALLY REALLY long 15 minutes

Turn it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool
you know try to refrain from cutting it until it cools a little more

if you do then you'll be blessed with this beautiful sight

it will slice up beautifully 

but still warm enough to smother with some butter 

and warm your soul!!

Now it's time to bring the Cowboy Stew to the table and have a mostwonderfullydelicios dinner!

So what kind of lovely soups do you guys like to whip up together.  I kind of really need to know this since I'm hosting book club next week and I need some ideas!!! Don't fail me peeps!!!

Peace, Love & Yummies!!!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Honey Lime Grilled Chicken ....bring on summer!!

well how-deeeee my peeps!!!

I've just bustled and hustled around lately with so many fun and exciting things to do and somewhere along the line I TOTALLY missed that this coming weekend was Easter!!  I'm seriously behind on my Easter planning so if the ham gods are out there...please smile down on me when I go to Costco tomorrow and let them have plenty of spiral cut hams left. Please and thank you! oh and some of those nice croissants would be delightful too :0)

Now LL and I had our first trek of the year up to Canton, Texas to First Monday Trade Days.  No, I don't know why they call it that since they aren't even open on Mondays but let's move along.  Let's just say that LL and I have a great appreciation for all the wonderful and delightful goodies you can find at this monthly event and the aching tootsies and empty wallets that result in our trips up there are well worth it in our humble opinion.  I mean hellooooo.....the Deco Mesh haul alone is worth the trip!
Well this time we kinda sorta got caught up in the whole flowers and plants aspect and man, did we rake it in!!
That there cart on the left is mine, there was more...lots more!  You see the fine vendors at this little shindig are kind enough to allow you to purchase your items earlier in the day and then hold them at the booth until you are ready to depart so you don't look like a homeless florist all day!!    So we are making our rounds about 5pm trying to collect all of our goodies and we were a little "goofy" tired by this point and found the state of our carts to be quite hilarious.  Pushing those suckers all the way across the area, not so funny.  Let's just say those carts get really heavy with all those flowers and those hills will work out the thighs!!!   Fun day as usual and now my back porch is beautimous!!!  (oh and the cart, best 25 dollars I ever spent at that place because our Sonic Tea cups MUST have a safe place to ride all day!)

Ok, so let's fire up the grill because Texas is already warm and sunny.  I think we skipped spring and went right to summer!!!   This is super easy and a new little twist for your chicken marinating pleasure.

3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lime- juiced
1 tsp minced garlic

Mix all ingredients well

If you look closely you can see that I scored my chicken breast a bit.
I read somewhere that this helps the marinade sink in and also with cooking.  I dunno if it does or not but I do it anyways!!  Some rules I just don't break you know??!!
Now just pour that marinade over the top of the chicken and cover and let it hang out in the nice cool refrigerator for the day you know before it throw it to the fire!

Get that grill nice and heated up and slap that baby right on the grill!

Here's our chicken cooking away and that little foil packet?  Well it's the dinner rolls getting all warm & toasty up there on the grill rack.

Cook the chicken throughout until the juices run clear

We served it up along side some nice yellow squash and roasted asparagus and of course, our warmed up little dinner rolls.

We even had dinner outside that night!   Ahhhhh, I love early summer!!!

How are you and your family celebrating the summer so far??
Eating outside, grilling, swimming already??   

Peace, Love & Yummies my dearies!!!


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