Sexy little dish…

I recently started following a page on Facebook called Cheese Sex Death. It’s basically cheese porn. All manner of cheeses: soft, hard, smelly, earthy are introduced and pairings suggested. It’s pretty brilliant actually, and makes me want to become a certified fromagier and play with cheese all day. (Adding that to the bucket list.) In any event, on CSD, I came across an interesting recipe for a goat cheese dill pasta with acorn squash. These are all things that I enjoy, particularly in the fall, so I picked up a few items & planned to give the recipe a spin when I got home. 

“The best laid plans of mice & men often go awry.” – Robert Burns 

These were not particularly well-laid plans, as I was missing a few of the things I needed for the dish. I did, however, have some butter, wine, and black garlic & was able to whip up a different but equally sexy dish. 

Sexy Little Dish 

(Orecchiette with a Black Garlic Brown Butter White Wine sauce and Roasted Acorn Squash)


  • 16 oz orecchetiette pasta 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4-6 cloves Black Garlic
  • Dry white wine (I used the end of a Sauv Blanc from my fridge.)
  • 4 oz goat cheese (cut into small pieces & softened)
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled & diced 
  • EVOO
  • dill
  • Kosher salt


Roast the squash: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 
  2. Peel the acorn squash. Cut it in half & remove the seeds. Cut into evenly- sized cubes. 
  3. Drizzle with EVOO and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a little dill and Kosher salt. 
  4. Roast for about 30 mins until softened & browned. 

While you are making the sauce, cook the pasta according to package directions. I like  orecchetiette for this recipe; the tiny ear-shaped shells are a great vehicle for the creamy sauce. 

Make the sauce:

  1. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. 
  2. When butter has melted, add the black garlic. Mash the garlic as it cooks & cook the butter and garlic slowly until it is browned & fragrant, 5-10 mins ​
  3. Pour in the wine (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and cook on medium high until reduced, 5-10 mins. ​
  4. Whisk in the goat cheese over medium-low heat. Keep whisking until all the goat cheese is worked in and smooth. ​
  5. Combine pasta & sauce & toss with the squash. 
  6. Enjoy a hearty, earthy sexy little dish! 🙂

Be a wine pro (or how to fake it)

Let me start this off with a little good news/bad news. The bad news is, no how-to article will teach you how to be a wine pro. The good news is, the only way to talk about wine & sound like you have a clue is to: 


It is 100% true that whenever I taste a new wine I learn something. It can be anything from a new combination of flavors that I love, to ‘Oh wow, this wine compliments what I’m eating so well.’, to ‘OMG, I definitely never want to drink this again.’ 

You can read books about wine, and flavor profiles of different wines. A simple Pinterest search will bring you an info graphic that tells you that the flavor profile of a particular Cabernet has red currant notes with some tobacco on the back, along with a leathery mouthfeel. I’m here to tell you that the light will not go on until one day you experience that leathery mouthfeel. The bottom line: it doesn’t take a lot of work. Just drink. 

2. Listen to the guy at the store.

This tip will usually work if you’re buying your wine at a reputable place. In general, most serious wine drinkers will love to tell you about their favorites, recent finds, and what they would drink with certain meals. If you have a general idea of what you’re looking for (i.e. a wine to go with some steaks I’m grilling, a good wine to take on a picnic) they will generally steer you in the right direction. Example: one summer I walked into my local spot looking for a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (if you’re looking for a refreshing summer wine, this is a great choice). My spot had 6 of them; so I asked the guy which one he would recommend. Without hesitation, he recommended Kim Crawford. I told him if it was terrible, I would be back to give him a piece of my mind. He laughed & told me I wouldn’t be. He was right. It was excellent & Kim still holds a spot in my summer wine rotation. 

3. Experiment 

Try different wines with different foods. It’s fun, and every once in awhile you will have a ‘there’s a party in my mouth’ moment. And it will be glorious. Many wineries and higher-end shops will offer hands-on events where they pair their wines with different foods. I once hosted one with aphrodisiacs that was outside the box, but a fun way to spend an evening.

4. Don’t follow the rules.

Are there “rules” for wine? Sure. But much like ‘don’t wear white pants after Labor Day’ you don’t have to follow them. Drink what you like. If you only like sweet white wine, then drink it with your steak if that’s what makes you happy. If you want to put a couple of ice cubes in your Chardonnay, ignore the side-eye and do it. Don’t like room temperature red wine? Chill that puppy in the fridge for a bit. 

For more wine, food, and snark follow my Pinterest feed! 

Not-Marionberry Syrup

Recently, I was watching the “Brunch Village” episode of Portlandia. In it, amidst other shenanigans, there’s a ridiculously long line at a brunch restaurant that specializes in Marionberry Pancakes. What’s a Marionberry you ask? I had no idea so I looked it up. Apparently, it’s a certain breed of blackberry that’s indigenous to Oregon. On the episode, Celeb Chef & Resident Hottie, Bobby Flay argues that they’re just blackberries. The episode was hilarious & left me with a craving for pancakes & berries. I improvised & whipped up this tasty syrup with items I had around the house…

Not-Marionberry Syrup


  • 1- 12oz package frozen berries (I used a blend of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.)
  • 1 C white wine (I used a bit of leftover Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom


  1. In large saucepan, mix the strawberries, wine, sugar and allspice.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat slightly and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Carefully pour the hot mixture into a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency.
  4. Cool completely and enjoy over pancakes, waffles, or desserts.

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #4 This is My Jam! Jam

Folks would have you believe that making jam is super-hard. It’s not, but you do need the right materials & equipment & good instructions. I whipped up this jam that’s perfect for gifting while my kids were at martial arts class one evening. I even had most of the items on hand. Here’s how:

This is My Jam! Jam

makes 5 12oz jars


  • about 1 1/2 C mixed berries (I used a mix of frozen blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries I had in my fridge from my smoothie-enthusiast days.)
  • 1 bottle of wine (I used a Missouri Chardonel)
  • 5 C granulated sugar
  • 2 packets pectin (I have had best results with Certo brand)


  1. Wash your jars with soapy water & set them out on the counter on a clean towel with lids and rings. For gifts, I like 12 oz or smaller quilted jelly jars.
  2. In a pot larger than you think you will need (gotta leave room for that rolling boil) combine berries with 1 C of the wine.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower to medium-high and simmer for about 15 mins.
  4. After 15 mins, pour entire mixture into blender and puree until the berries are pulverized. Add a little extra wine to facilitate blending if needed.
  5. Pour puréed berries & wine back into same saucepan. Add the rest of the wine, and all of the sugar. Stir to combine.
  6. At this point, I recommend clipping a candy thermometer into the side of your pan, to monitor the temperature of your mixture.
  7. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
  8. Add all the pectin & stir to combine. Continue that rolling boil for 1 minute, or until your mixture reaches about 220F. (Sometimes it will take longer than 1 minute to get there.)
  9. At this point you will start pouring your jam into the jars. I like to pour the mixture into my large, glass measuring cup and pour from there into the jars, but you could use a ladle as well.
  10. Fill your jars to the fill-line and immediately cover tightly. If your jam still looks loose at this point, do not despair, as the jam cools it will firm up for you.
  11. Putting the hot jam into the jars will often pop the seals, but you can also process the jam using a canner for about 5 minutes, if desired.
  12. Allow jars, processed or not, to cool for 6-8 hrs, or overnight.


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #1: Wine Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #2: Porcini Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #3: Seaweed Salt


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #2 Porcini Mushroom Finishing Salt

I promise these won’t all be salts, but I’ve been experimenting with infusing salts with different flavors & I’m mostly pleased with the results. The wine salt posed a bit of a challenge, it didn’t dry as well as the others I have done since.

I regularly purchase dried mushrooms to use in various applications: soups, sauces, etc. They are easy to use and keep almost indefinitely since they’re dried. To use them, all you have to do is put them in hot water and soak for about 15 mins. Typically, I will save the soaking water & use it for a greater depth of mushroomy flavor, kind of a stock of sorts.

You can use any type of dried mushroom here. Porcinis, Chanterelles, and Shittakes are all available dried.

Porcini Mushroom Infused Finishing Salt


  • 1 pkg dried mushrooms
  • 1 C kosher salt
  • 4 C water


  1. Remove mushrooms from package and soak in 4C hot water (I use almost-boiling water from my electric kettle). Use a wooden spoon to push the mushroom down into the water as they float to the top. Soak for about 30 mins.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the water & set aside.
  3. Pour the mushroom water into a small saucepan.
  4. Bring to a boil & reduce heat to medium-high.
  5. Summer mushroom water at medium-high heat for about 45 mins. Liquid will reduce to around 1/4 C.
  6. Remove from heat & stir in salt. If there is still liquid that has not been absorbed by the salt, add more salt. You may need 1 1/2-2C.
  7. When liquid has been absorbed by the salt spread salt mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  8. Place in a warm oven for about 2 hrs or until dry, moving the salt around occasionally for even drying.
  9. Place finished salt in an airtight container & use within 6 months.


Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends #1: Wine Salt

Holiday Gifts for Foodie Friends: #1 Wine Salt

What can you do with leftover wine? Leftover wine? What’s that? I kid, I kid… if you’ve got some leftover red wine hanging around there’s a few things you can do with it, but since it’s the most wonderful time of the year, I would suggest making a red wine finishing salt.

Disclaimer: Please, never, ever cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. When you cook with wine, the flavors get concentrated, that’s the reason you’re cooking with wine in the first place, so bad flavors will definitely not get any better…

This is a finishing salt, it has big flavor, and a little bit goes a long way. Your friends can think of you all year long as they sprinkle salt on their steaks and roasts…

DIY Red Wine Finishing Salt


  • 1 bottle (750ml) red wine (I used a Shiraz for a deeper flavor)
  • about 2 C Kosher salt


  1. Pour entire bottle of wine into a medium saucepan. I used 2/3 of one bottle, and 1/3 of another. Both were leftover from my wine club.
  2. Bring wine to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-high & simmer for about 45 mins. After the first half-hour the wine will reduce by half, watch carefully for the last 10-15 mins as the wine thickens to a syrup.
  3. Pour 1C of salt into the pot. Stir salt until it absorbs the wine-syrup. If there’s still excess wine in the pot, add another 1 C of salt.
  4. Spread the wine salt onto a plate or sheet pan & allow to air dry, tossing occasionally to expedite drying. This may take several hours to a day. I ended up putting it in a warm oven for several hours to speed things along. 
  5. Store in a covered jar, use within 1 year.

For more ideas on adding wine to your recipes, check out my Pinterest board Cooking with Wine.

Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog

It’s that magical time of year, so here’s pumpkins, apples, and all things fall!

Originally posted October 2014.

Yesterday I went apple picking and picked out some pumpkins. Yes, I was THAT GIRL, walking around the orchard in a scarf and a chambray shirt, picking apples. Today I have more apples than you can shake a stick at. Hence, today’s Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog: apples, pumpkins, and warm spices. Put on your riding boots and let’s embrace autumn!

Slow-Roasted Pork Loin with Apples, Carrots, and Onions

4-5 apples, skins on, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Pork Loin, about 3 lbs
Salt & pepper, to taste
Wine, enough to cover

1) In a crockpot or slow-cooker spread a layer of apples, onions, and carrots.


The apples we picked were golden delicious and another one that was “like a Jonathan”. I used a little of both, and threw in a couple of carrots since I had them laying around.

2) Lay the pork loin over the apples, onions, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.


My 3-pound pork loin actually ended up being 2 smaller ones packed together. I’m cool with that, leftover pork loin makes awesome sandwiches and can even be chopped and used as an omlette filling!

3) Pour wine over everything until mostly covered. I used Briolette Apple wine (shout out to my new gig) but you could use a Riesling or even beer in it’s place.


The wine pictured is Briolette Cut, a seasonal Apple wine from my new gig at Weston Wine Company!

4) Slow cook at 200F 8-10 hours or until tender, serve over noodles, or with roasted potatoes.

Roasted Pumpkin Purée
Make your own puréed pumpkin and never buy canned again! The possibilities are endless!

2 pumpkins, I used one regular pie pumpkin and one Amish pie pumpkin


On the left is the regular pie pumpkin, on the right is the Amish. Pie pumpkins are in general better for making pies because there is way more flesh inside. I decided to try both to see what the difference was.1) Preheat oven to 350F

2) Cut the pumpkins into quarters and remove the stems. The stem on the Amish pumpkin popped off much more easily than the stem on the regular pumpkin.


Here’s the inside of the Amish pumpkin. The seeds are quite a bit smaller than a traditional pie pumpkin. No extra charge for dramatic lighting. 🙂

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o' lantern out of this baby.

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o’ lantern out of this baby.

3) Scoop out the seeds and gooey stuff and set aside. Toasted pumpkin seeds are yummy!

4) Place skin-side-down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 45 mins.
5) Remove from oven and allow pumpkins to cool at least 10 mins until able to handle easily.

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

6) When cooled, remove flesh from skins and place in blender. Blend flesh until smooth. I added about 1/4 C of water to help it blend more smoothly.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

7) Allow to cool at least 30 mins. Maybe be frozen or used immediately in place of canned pumpkin, such as in pumpkin pie. This recipe made enough pumpkin purée for 2 9-inch deep-dish pies. The equivalent of about 2 cans.