Breakfast in Bed + A Few Bottles of Wine

Last weekend while we were out at Travaasa Austin we signed up for a culinary class and a wine tasting.

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Executive Chef Benjamin Baker led a group of five of us in Jean’s Kitchen during the “Breakfast in Bed” themed culinary class.

We each had our own cooking station and immediately got down to work. First up on the menu: Almond & Cranberry Scones with Honey-Banana Cream Cheese and a salad comprised of Blueberries, Strawberries, Cinnamon Honey, and Fresh Mint.

Scones are a baked good I’ve steered clear of in the kitchen so I was excited to learn how to make them. They were much easier than expected!

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Next was Seared Steel Head Trout with Grilled Heirloom Tomatoes, Asparagus, Basil and Toasted Pine Nuts.

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Trout isn’t my favorite fish and asparagus is a vegetable I never eat, but I devoured every bite. We kept the flavors very simple (salt, pepper, white wine, lemon juice) and everything came together perfectly. This is definitely a recipe I’d recreate in my kitchen at home.

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Huge thanks to Ben Baker for opening his kitchen to us Saturday afternoon and showing us how to prepare this sweet and savory breakfast in bed menu!


After the cooking demo we headed down to The Spur for our wine tasting.

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Our master sommelier (or as he preferred, “wine geek”), Edward, was AWESOME. He was super knowledgeable, had a great sense of humor, and really kept the conversation flowing throughout the class.

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We tasted two sauvignon blancs: Sancerre (France) and Jules Taylor (New Zealand). I preferred the latter, which is considered a New World wine.

New World: The Americas (United States, Canada, South America), Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa

Old World: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Austria

I’m a sucker for strong grapefruit notes in my SB and generally lean towards the bottles from New Zealand.

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Next we tasted two reds: Chateau Laplagnotte-Bellevue (Bordeaux, France) and Deerfield Ranch “Merlot Cuvee” (Sonoma). Again, I preferred the latter, as did the majority of the room. It was a very smooth, rich red. (We were planning on ordering a bottle of the Deerfield with dinner but later decided on a bottle of malbec instead.)

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Edward provided each of us with a packet of information that included the distinction between Old and New World, common questions + answers, detailed notes on each of the bottles we tasted, wine region maps, and a scent wheel.

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Our discussion throughout the class ranged from glassware to sulfites to why wine hangovers can be so painful. For a reason I can’t remember (I blame it on the wine…) the conversation turned to Riesling and then Edward decided there was a bottle we needed to try. So we did.

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Look at all those wine corks, we did some damage!

This was the first real wine tasting we had ever attended (there were a few informal ones I went to while bartending in Florida) and we were both really impressed. At first I was nervous it might be a bit too pretentious but once Edward introduced himself, my worries disappeared! He was very personable and is incredibly passionate about his job. I would love to attend another wine tasting out at Travaasa since their wine list is pretty extensive and unique. I highly recommend putting this on your to-do list during your stay.

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LDW Wrap-up & September Changes

I’d be hard pressed to think of a long weekend that was more relaxing than this one. It consisted of a ton of cooking, three coffee-fueled trips to the dog park, adult beverages, and sleeping in. Sounds terrible, right?

Here’s an Instagram tour of the weekend:

Caprese Spaghetti Squash

Bo and American Mastiff

Bo Dolphin

3 Olives Loopy

Beer and Wine

The final meal of the weekend was inspired by a recipe from The Wannabe Foodie: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese. Because I have a realllyyyy hard time following directions, I revamped the recipe as follows:

  • 1 container DePasquales fresh pasta (or 1 box gemelli) 1 box Ancient Harvest Quinoa Veggie Curls
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons fat free half and half
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth vegetable broth
  • 1 heaping tablespoon 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese smoked gouda
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup onions, sliced thinly leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 glove garlic, sliced thinly or grated
  • 1 large crispy apple, grated
  • 4 tablespoons crumbled bacon
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage fresh basil
  • freshly grated Fontina for garnish

Did you think I was exaggerating when I said “revamped”?

I knew I’d end up omitting the bacon so I wanted to add something to enhance the flavor of the dish a little. The smoked gouda was perfect for that. I think it would definitely be better with bacon BUT if you’re a vegetarian, this recipe is still a homerun. Make it. You won’t regret it. I’ll be happily eating leftovers all week.

Pumpkin Quinoa Pasta with Smoked Gouda and Apples


So back to that whole vegetarian thing. Yesterday I mentioned we were embarking on a meat-free journey for the month of September. I’m trying to broaden our horizons when it comes to meals so this will force me to try a few new (to me) things, like spaghetti squash. Cooking is something I’m really passionate about and I think this month will really push me outside my comfort zone and get a little creative.

I used to be a vegetarian so this isn’t a “see if I can last a month without bacon” challenge. I know I can do it, and physically (and mentally) feel better when following a plant-based diet. I’d like to get back to that point. Brad is joining me for the month, but may not stick to it 100%. If he wants meat, he says he’ll cook it himself. And once that calendar flips over to October 1st I’m sure he’ll go running back to his carnivorous ways. As for me? I wouldn’t be surprised if I remained an ovo-lacto. We shall see.

Are you a vegetarian? If no, have you followed a plant-based diet in the past?

Link to your favorite vegetarian recipes below!  {please&thankyou}

Remind me to thank John for a lovely weekend {Ian Malcolm}

Base building for Philly is well underway and I’m really happy with the way things are going. Our Tuesday/Thursday runs have been pretty consistent pace-wise and as the Saturday long run mileage increases, the pace has been decreasing. Definitely headed in the right direction! There’s still two weeks until training “officially” starts, but going into it with a solid base will without a doubt help kick it off on a high note.

Believe it or not, the training plan for Philly is STILL under construction. I made the mistake of playing around with SmartCoach on the Runner’s World website and now I’m rethinking some of my training paces. However, it WILL be done soon and then I can finally stop obsessing (and stressing!) over it.


Saturday morning Brad and I ran a steamy six (well, 6.2) miler at Brushy Creek.

Brushy Creek 7 14 2012

We recently upped our intervals to 4:1 and surprisingly, we haven’t been struggling. Ideally I’d like to keep bumping up the intervals a little every couple weeks so eventually (after 10:1) walk breaks will be wiped out completely. Probably could have done this from the beginning, but after a few low mileage months I didn’t want to push it right off the bat.

Our running pace was in the 11-12:00 min/mi range, with a final overall (with walk breaks) pace at 12:43. Still not where I’d like to be, but getting there. Temps were at a comfortable 73 but the humidity was at 93% and the air was THICK. At one point we stopped to stretch, using a railing for balance.The entire railing was covered in condensation! The run was a certified sweatfest. BUT! We were done by 8:30 and had the rest of the weekend to do important stuff…

like stop for some caffeine to power us through grocery shopping with the crazies

iced coffee

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and use a $3.50 coupon + rogue gift card in my wallet to update my summer nail polish collection:

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watch a Friends marathon

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cook a super clean dinner Saturday night {I shared the giant piece of pork with Bo – he’s most certainly not spoiled. at all.}

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read this bookJackie Warner

watch the CMT Top 20 Countdown {love the top 3}

 

prep meals for the week {asian turkey meatballs + fried rice}

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wonder why our Body Issue of ESPN the Magazine had Jose Bautista on the cover instead of Gronk

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uncork a bottle of cab mid-afternoon on Sunday {hello, cheat day!}

Simi Cab

inhale a delicious plate of Chicken Tikka Masala

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and watch Jurassic Park for the 37893rd time.

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After grocery shopping post-run on Saturday morning, we didn’t leave the house for the rest of the weekend.

And it was AWESOME.

How was your weekend? Do you like country music? What’s your favorite part of Jurassic Park?

Brick House Tavern + Tap

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The Brick House Tavern + Tap is quickly turning into our favorite restaurant. It’s located right next to the local Mexican hot-spot Chuy’s, which means the parking lot is always SLAMMED. Luckily when Chuy’s is on a 35-45 minute wait, Brick House is still pretty empty. We’ve been a few times now around 6pm on Friday night and had no problem sitting down at a table right away.

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The wine list is a little sparse for my liking but their beer selection more than makes up for it:

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AND they have beer bongs. Yes, I’m not kidding.

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We contemplate trying a new appetizer every time (there’s so many!) …

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… but somehow always default back to their buttery soft pretzels with a trio of dipping sauces:

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Oh look at that, I still ordered a glass of wine anyway. Shocking.

Anyway, back to those phenomenal pretzels

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So. Damn. Tasty. I’m a sucker for a good soft pretzel.

This particular time I ordered the Steak + Eggs: filet mignon, two eggs any style (I went over-easy), crispy potatoes (sub french fries) & buttered texas toast

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I was thoroughly enjoying my dinner, until I took a bite of Brad’s Drunken Chops:

drunken chops

Wow. Incredible. And HUGE!

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Once I sampled his dinner, I quickly lost interest in my own. The pork chops were perfectly cooked and the whiskey glaze went extremely well with them. Tip: ask for an extra side of glaze for dipping – you won’t regret it!

Unless I was in the mood for steak I probably wouldn’t order the Steak + Eggs again. There are SO many other options worth checking out.

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I’d also highly recommend the kobe, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had:

the kobe

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and their Chicken + Waffles, simple yet delicious

chicken and waffles

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And for the Happy Hour lover, you can get your drink on early or late – with the added bonus of discounted apps!

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It’s definitely a restaurant worth checking out. Don’t be discouraged by the parking lot situation – Chuy’s takes most of the business. The food at Brick House is fantastic and the service always excellent.

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Wine Wednesday

There’s a few wines I generally steer clear of: Woodbridge, Vendange, Beringer, Barefoot, Yellowtail, etc. You know, the ones that come in the gallon jug. I’m more about quality over quantity.

One night while attending a gathering at a friend’s home, I was happily sipping away on a delicious glass of pinot noir which had been poured for me. I was positive it was a higher end glass of red but when I went to refill my glass I noticed it was a 2010 BV (Beaulieu Vineyards) Coastal Estates Pinot Noir. I was shocked, and then impressed.

BV is a super affordable wine, with the pinot noir coming in at $5.99. Seriously, $5.99. I easily would have priced it at $14.99 judging by the taste. It had a bit of a kick at first sip, but finished incredibly smooth and almost sweet. I’d recommend pouring a glass and letting it sit for a bit before enjoying.

This pinot noir would be a great beginner wine for someone trying to break into the red wine world

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This next bottle was a last minute add to the cart. I passed it on the way out of the wine aisle, but it caught my eye so I pulled the cart to an immediate halt.

At the end of the beer/wine aisle in Target they generally feature 5-9 different up-and-coming wines they recommend you try. There were a few I picked up in the past which just didn’t do it for me, but I still try to keep my eyes peeled for new potential favorites.

This Joel Gott Pinot Gris fit the bill. The only other pinot gris I really enjoy is King Estate. It’s kind of a rarity as most people prefer pinot grigio. The difference between the two is many pinot gris are from Washington, Oregon or California, while pinot grigio is from Italy.

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The Joel Gott from the Willamette Valley in Oregon was a GREAT pick and didn’t break the bank at $11.99. It was fruity and slightly sweet, with a smooth clean finish. It would be best paired with a mild fish such as mahi or halibut, or a crisp spring salad. Hopefully Target move take this from their “try this” area to their regular selections. I will definitely be purchasing this one again.

Duo of Chardonnays

 

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A bottle of chardonnay doesn’t come home with me nearly as much as sauvignon blanc or dry rieslings. I’m incredibly picky when it comes to chardonnay, as I prefer a smooth buttery finish. One of my tried and true favorites which fits the bill is Toasted Head.

This Dunnigan Hills wine is affordable, generally coming in at the $9.99-12.99 range.

From the website, on the name:

We named our wine for the age-old practice of toasting the inside of the barrel heads with fire, which helps create the rich toasted flavor in all of our wines.

 

While this chardonnay is definitely fruit-forward, the rich smooth finish has traces of butterscotch and coconut. As is the case with some reds, I prefer to pour a glass and let it breathe for a bit first before sipping.

I’ve been coming back to this chardonnay for several years now, and will definitely be staying in the rotation in the future.


In my opinion, Cupcake’s Sauvignon Blanc leaves much to be desired. Their Red Velvet, however, makes me one very happy lady. Target was having a sale on Cupcake wine last week. While I wouldn’t have minded picking up the cab, I already have two bottles of red in my wine rack. Obviously I wasn’t going to head the sauvignon blanc route, so my only option was their chardonnay. (Well, and their moscato – but you know my feelings on that “wine” and it was NOT an option). I had my reservations but bit the bullet and purchased a bottle.

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This ended up being a rich, creamy, full chardonnay with the smooth finish I love. The vanilla notes won me over. Surprisingly delicious and I will certainly be adding it to the list of regular whites I keep on hand in the fridge.

While perusing their website I noticed they now sell an Angel Food wine. I’ll be keeping my eye out for that one!

What’s your favorite chardonnay?

Firesteed Pinot Noir

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It’s no secret I love a good pinot noir. If I could, I’d keep a case of La Crema on hand at all times. So smooth, so light, so delicious. Mirrasou is my more affordable, go-to pinot noir. Recently I found Firesteed on sale at HEB for the same price as Mirrasou so I gave it a shot.

I was disappointed. It was light, as expected, but not as smooth as I would have liked it to be. It was a little dry, with more of a tangy finish. Not a terrible choice if you don’t prefer a smoother finish to your pinot, but personally I wouldn’t pick this bottle up again.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2011

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I almost didn’t try this one. It eerily resembles another “wine” in color: white zinfandel. Can we please agree white zin is most certainly not wine? And while we’re striking out imposters, let’s knock moscato off that list as well. Can someone also please tell Target they don’t need to stock eight different brands of it?

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Rosé 2011. It looked different, which was what initially intrigued me. Mulderbosch Vineyards has never previously let me down (one-time fling with Chenin Blanc and repeat-offender with Sauvignon Blanc) so I felt confident I would enjoy this bottle. I still had reservations about it’s white zin-ish color, but sent caution to the wind and took the plunge.

This South African wine was a winner. It was light and fruity, yet still tasted like a cab despite the fact I sipped it chilled. It would be refreshing and perfect for an afternoon summer (or spring in Texas) happy hour.

Food Pairing: I made Thai Turkey Burgers last week and this complemented them well. It would pair well with many Thai or Asian inspired dishes.

What I’ve Been Up To

Merry {belated} Christmas!

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I’ve been pretty much “unplugged” for the past week and it was glorious! Sometimes you just need to take a little time for yourself.

Leslie and I met up at Brushy Creek on rainy and cold Christmas Eve morning. The weather may not have been ideal but the company was great and we chatted the whole time, making the 4 mile run pass by fairly quickly.

I spent the remainder of Saturday planted on the couch watching football with a mimosa in hand.

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I’m heading into week 2 of the fantasy football championship down by 2 points. Not happy.

Saturday night I recreated Carrabbas’ Chicken Bryan dish for dinner, and then we watched Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who and Jim Carrey as the Grinch in ``How the Grinch Stole Christmas.''

Christmas morning we each opened our gifts and sent Bo on a treasure hunt to find his present.

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Only a few short hours later it looked like this:

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Then we feasted on eggs benedict and popped open another bottle of champagne for mimosas.

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Around 4pm we switched from mimosas to wine and got started on dinner.

On the menu: Spinach Salad with Pears, Candied Walnuts, and Blue Cheese.

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Followed by Ribeyes with Burgundy Butter and Garlic Stuffed Hasselback Potatoes with Herbed Sour Cream. Heavenly.

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It was such a relaxing day and an absolutely great first Christmas together!

Monday was the 2nd Annual Operation Jack Satellite Run.

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I covered the 10k distance in 1:13 and then tacked on a bit more to round it out at 8 miles. I didn’t PR, nor was it the most enjoyable run I’ve ever done (due to the mimosas & wine the day before), but I went out there and got it done.

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And for that, I get a medal.

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