Goat Cheese Crostinis

IMG_1960Appetizers have become one of my favorite items to make! They can be quick, simple, yet filled with flavor. You are free to mix and match different items of your choice to make something for many people to taste and enjoy. These crostinis were made for a girls’ night when my aunt and cousin from Ohio came to visit. My inspiration for these goat cheese crostinis came from pinterest, and I chose to do my own rendition which I would highly recommend.

For my bread I used a french baguette and cut it into 1/2 inch slices. I then lightly drizzled the bread slices in extra virgin olive oil, pink himalayan rock salt, and pepper. I then put them into the oven for about 1Screen shot 2015-07-30 at 9.11.58 AM0 minutes at 325°F. On top of this crostini I had spread some regular goat cheese from Trader Joe’s. I’m sure an herb goat cheese would taste great and add a little extra flavor as well, although I felt the crostinis were packed with flavor with regular goat cheese. I then spread some caramelized onion jam from Dean and DeLuca, an upscale grocery store located in Napa, CA. To top the crostinis I wrapped a slice of pear with some Italian prosciutto. Lucky for me, I had a trusty helper (my cousin) to help me put these delicious crostinis together!

These crostinis were packed with flavor! As for a beverage pairing, I would suggest a chilled Prosecco, such as LaMarca. If you are looking for a white wine I would suggest a crisp, chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Ingredients:

  • 1 French baguette
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pink himalayan rock salt
  • Pepper
  • Goat Cheese
  • Caramelized onion jam (You can also use fig jam, or any jam of your choice)
  • 1 Pear, sliced
  • Italian prosciutto

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut baguette into 1/2 inch slices, drizzle with EVOO, pink himalayan rock salt, and pepper. Put in oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Spread goat cheese on top of crostini.
  3. Spread jam on top of the goat cheese.
  4. Wrap a slice of pear with prosciutto and place on top of the crostini.

Share your thoughts and favorite appetizer recipes in the comment section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

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Vodka Cream Pasta

IMG_1919Pasta is a fun and easy dish that can be made in a million different variations. You are free to add any vegetable, sauce, or protein that suits your needs! Tonight’s variation was a vodka cream pasta. I found inspiration from Rachael Ray’s You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta recipe. This meal was simple, yet fun to make and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a quick, yet tasteful meal on a week night.

I decided to add my own twist to this recipe by adding a little bit of bacon into the pasta. We had two slices left that needed to be used so I decided to chop it up and toss it in for a little extra IMG_1918flavor. I cooked it in when I added the garlic, which is one of the first steps. The instructions below show exactly how I cooked this delicious recipe.  I also added some mushrooms to the mix to get a serving of veggies into this pasta. Lastly, I added grilled chicken to the top of this dish to add a little extra protein. I seasoned it with Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute which happens to be a salt-free seasoning. I lightly grilled the chicken on a cast iron skillet and then put it in the oven to finish cooking. I made this meal a night before a hike, so I needed a little extra protein on this dish to keep me going on the trail!

All ingredients used in the process of making this pasta were fresh and natural. I was lucky enough to visit a family friends garden which we call Gail’s Garden to get some fresh basil. Wow did my hands smell delightful after snipping the fresh herbs. Gail’s Garden is filled with fresh herbs such as sage, italian parsley, lemon basil, lemon verbena, and tarragon in which I hope to feature in posts to come. She also has lemon cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and lemons.

IMG_1920The beverage that I paired with this meal was a pinot noir. It was a great addition to this pasta as it was a lighter red that complimented the slight smokiness of the bacon and the sweetness from the San Marzano tomatoes. The Tractor Guy is the bottle that is pictured. It was about $10 and can be found at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. If you are looking for a white wine, I would suggest a crisp dry white such as Verdicchio or Pinot Grigio.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • Bacon (I used 2 slices, feel free to use your own amount here)
  • Mushrooms
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano’s)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 16 0z. of pasta (I used Tortiglioni)
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 20 basil leaves, chopped
  • Bread

Instructions: 

  1. Start to heat a large pot of water for your pasta.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add EVOO, butter, garlic, shallots, bacon, and mushrooms. Let all of these ingredients saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add vodka to the pan, and let it reduce by half which should take about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock, and tomatoes, bring to a bubble and reduce the heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add pasta to water, also add a couple pinches of salt. Cook until they are al dente.
  6. Add cream to sauce. Remove the sauce from heat when it starts to bubble. Add al dente pasta to the skillet and serve with a slice of bread.

Share your favorite pasta recipes in the comment section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

Rachael Ray has always been a big inspiration of mine. I started watching 30-minute meals in middle school, and I was instantly hooked! I would find myself sauteeing up veggies, or putting together random dishes. This meal was inspired by Rachael Ray herself, and the recipe can be found here.

IMG_1684This dish was made on one of my wednesday night dinners with my good friend, Aundrea. We usually try to keep our meals low carb, at least most of the time! I was flipping through one of Rachael Ray’s cookbooks and stumbled upon this recipe. This was the most convenient for me since I’m in the middle of moving and no longer have my grill with me so my options were slightly limited. This chicken was made in the oven and required very little work so it gave me more time to enjoy company.

As my side to the chicken I decided to make balsamic glazed vegetables. The recipe for the veggies was also inspired by Rachael Ray and can be found here. I used zucchini, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. Your choice of veggies is completely optional, so be as creative as you’d like!

As for our beverage pairing, we had paired our meal with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Like I have said in a previous post, we are slightly bias because we love red wine! I like the way that the bold taste of the cab complimented the citrus and herb in the chicken. If cabs are a little bit too bold for you, try a lighter to medium bodied red such as a pinot noir, or syrah. If you are not a fan of reds at all I would suggest a citrusy sauvignon blanc.

Share your favorite Rachael Ray recipe with me in the comments section above!

Happy Cooking,

Dana

Gott’s Roadside

IMG_1618When visiting Napa, Gott’s Roadside is a must try! They have some of the best burgers that I have ever tried. This is a burger joint, but not your normal burger joint. I have had this a couple of times now and it seems to get better everytime.

I have gotten the ahi burger 2 out of the 3 times that I have been and it is phenomenal! It is sushi grade ahi with ginger wasabi mayo, asian slaw, and cilantro. It is not as heavy as a regular burger which I enjoy. I also like that the ginger wasabi mayo adds a slight kick to the burger. The burger is a close second to the one in my recent post about The Chef’s Table.

IMG_1627This restaurant in particular has a very fun atmosphere. Everything is outdoors, including the bar, and seating. Don’t be surprised when you drive up to see a long line of people. The one you can see in the picture took about 20 minutes to order. Don’t let discourage you because they have great food!

Another fun place to eat would be the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. This is a fun place to walk around, and get a bite to eat. It reminds me a lot of whole foods for some reason, but it is a bunch of little markets shoved under one roof. My family and I ate at Ca’ Momi. We had gotten their pizza and spatzle allo speck. The pizzas were very good, but the spatzle stole the show. Spatzle is a traditional dish that can be found in Germany which is basically homemade dumplings. The spatzle allo speck that we had tasted like glorified mac and cheese. It was definitely a comfort food, that my family and I recommend!

Share your favorite Napa restaurants with me in the comments section above!

Happy eating,

Dana

Stags’ Leap Winery

IMG_1586This past weekend we made a trip down to Napa Valley to celebrate my brother’s birthday. He has never been to Napa so it was the perfect time to go. I have been lucky enough to go a couple of times, and happen to enjoy visiting Napa. My brother is a fan of Stags’ Leap so we decided to book a tour and tasting.

Driving to the winery was one of my favorite parts of the day. It is located off a private road in the hillside so it is very quiet, and absolutely beautiful. The road in is lined with trees, it feels as if you are going down Magnolia Lane at Augusta National. It’s located off of the Silverado Trail in which there are some very good wineries such as Conn Creek, Silver Oak, and Silverado.

IMG_1589Upon arrival to the winery we were given a glass of chilled chardonnay. Our tour was at 10 a.m. so it was a little early to start drinking wine, but I don’t think it phased any of us. The tour lasted about an hour and a half and there were about 14 people on the tour so it was very personal and intimate. With such a small group it felt as if the winery truly cared about every single person there as if they were family.

The tour was very fun and interesting! The Stags’ Leap Manor House on the property was present through the prohibition and had a speakeasy room that we were aloud to tour (It was a male’s dream mancave!). There were also several cottages on the property that are now for artists to stay in and produce artwork that is hung on the property.

One of the most interesting facts that I learned about this particular winery is that there is a Stags’ Leap and a Stag’s Leap. The difference is in the apostrophe. The one with the apostrophe to the right of the s means that the wine comes from the winery and the one with the apostrophe to the left of the s means that the wine comes from the wine cellar. The color of the label is also significant. The black labels are estate produced wine and the white labels are the wine in which the grapes are sourced.

IMG_1609Overall, this tour and tasting was top notch. This was my first winery tour as I usually only taste and I found that the tour was very fulfilling. I learned so much about the history of the property and its recent and past owners that it was intriguing. When you are told about the history of such an old Manor House and property it truly gives you a deeper appreciation for the winery. If you are ever in the Napa Valley area, this is a must try!

Tip: If you have a long day of tasting ahead of you, be sure to try wine wipes to keep your teeth white and refreshed! They can be found at Cost Plus World Market, online, or select wineries.

Share your favorite winery and tasting tips with me in the comments section above!

Happy sipping,

Dana