Friday, October 31, 2008

Wine of the Week

Every Friday I am going to try and review a different wine on my blog. I personally try and get a different bottle of wine every week as it is, so I thought I'd share my experiences on my blog! The only thing you will not see on here are sweet wines. I just can't stomach them. If you want a review of a sweet wine, you can call my mother.

Woodbridge "Red Dirt Ridge"

Earlier this week I picked up this wine at my local liquor store. It was right by the register on sale, of course, in order to try and catch people in a moment of weakness. And how could you resist after reading the back of the bottle?!

"It′s all about red dirt and great vines. Struggling through the rusty red soils of California′s historic Lodi region encourages Cabernet vines to develop grapes with deep color and a myriad of flavors. That′s why our Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Red Dirt Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon has layers upon layers of velvety blackberry, black cherry, violet and chocolate character. The rich, bold flavors are structured with firm tannins that stand up to hearty foods, like barbecued steak. We age the wine with a generous number of new oak barrels to infuse its dark fruit character with elegant vanilla and spice nuances."

So of course, the elegantly worded description worked and I got it. Boy am I glad I did. This was a great wine. So great, I went back yesterday and bought a case....seriously. I don't want to be out of this wine! My elementary palate has a hard time trying to describe this one. It certainly wasn't sweet but it wasn't too dry either. It had a great balance of flavors that blended perfectly with one another. In my opinion, this would be the perfect wine to serve at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I think it would please many palates because it's not really too "strong". Oh, and if this wine couldn't get any better? It was $7.00/bottle! I definately reccomend this economic and overally very pleasing Cabernet Sauvignon.

Halloween Treats

I'm pretty much a sucker for any holiday...I love decorating the house and getting into the "spirit", but most of all I love to cook and/or bake holiday-themed treats!

This year at work the girls and I decided to bring in a dish to pass and I, being the overachiever that I am, brought in two Halloween treats!

Spooky Witches Fingers

Adapted from

These little fingers were really fun to make and were really a delicious sugar cookie. I think I will use this recipe for my Christmas sugar cookies this year, with a few changes.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract (next time I make this I will use 1/2 teaspoon. It was just a bit too much for me)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole almonds (I used slivered almonds)
1 (.75 ounce) tube red decorating gel

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer; gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt, continually beating. Here, I added 4 drops of green food coloring to make the fingers look more witch-like! Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease baking sheets.
Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles. You can also cut into the dough with a sharp knife at the same points to help give a more finger-like appearance. Arrange the shaped cookies on the baking sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the almond from the end of each cookie; squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity; replace the almond to cause the gel to ooze out around the tip of the cookie.

Some Tips: Roll out your dough on the thin side...the cookies will get bigger as they bake. Also, use some variation in terms of length and thickness. Not all witche's fingers are the same after all!

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Adapted from

Well this was my first attempt at a cheesecake! Overall I think it went well. I'm not a huge fan of cheesecake myself (which is why I've never made one until now) but I thought this would be a good Halloween treat to bring in for everyone at work, which it was! This was actually a very yummy was more of a cross between pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Everyone at work really loved it! It wasn't too sweet and for cheesecake it had a nice light texture.

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (instead of using all Gingersnaps, I used half Grahm Crackers. I thought all that gingersnap might be too much)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.
Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Tips: I watch Food Network religiously, and I thought I remember someone saying to put a cheesecake in a water bath so it doesn't crack on the top. So I did, and it didn't crack! Yay!

Happy Halloween!!!

My 1st Blog

Well I've finally jumped on the blogging bandwagon! I love to cook, I love to bake and I really love good wine. I hope to combine the three of these things into an informational and hopefully somewhat entertaining food & wine blog. As a 20-something newlywed I'm by no means an expert in any of these arenas, but I hope that by blogging my progress I'll get better in time! Enjoy!

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