Two New Winners From Ghirardelli

My mother is a confirmed chocoholic and sweet lover. I grew up amidst a plethora of Hostess, Drake’s and Entenmann’s products as well as a wide assortment of chocolate bars and candies. Our freezer was always filled with a variety of ice creams. We had hot fudge, sprinkles, whipped cream. marshmallow topping and more. My house was a favorite after school stop for my friends.

So when Thirsty Girl asked me to participate in a TGTaste involving chocolate I immediately knew who my tasting companion would be.

Ghirardelli has come out with two new flavors of which I was fortunate enough to get samples- Mint Cookie and Toffee Crunch.


I invited my mom and daughter over for dinner and surprised them with this dessert sampler.


My first thought when seeing the chocolates was that I loved the fact that they were breakaways. You could savor a square or simply devour as much of the bar as you wanted.


The Mint Cookie was crunchy, minty, creamy and as per the chocolate maven- it had a very good taste!! It was as though the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie- always a  favorite- had been transformed into a bar. Absolutely awesome!!! We all agreed on this one.

Next up was the Toffee Crunch. This was so buttery, creamy and smooth tasting. I love butter crunch bars and this reminded me of that treat. I was secretly pleased that George liked the Mint Cookie more since I knew it would rapidly disappear and I would be left with the Toffee Crunch to enjoy over a few nights.

You can find out more about Ghirardelli and all their chocolates here-

Ghirardelli has come up with two winners with these. So glad I could be a part of another Thirsty Girl adventure.

Thanks Thirsty Girl and thanks Ghirardelli for providing these chocolates!


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My Family Went to Puerto Rico and…

Some of our family moved to Puerto Rico last year. They are loving the Puerto Rican island lifestyle -and they are not at all missing the Long Island lifestyle!! Part of us had hoped they would miss it. But we are happy that they are happy and we were thrilled when they came back for a visit last week.

They brought some little gifts for us. This is what I got…


A little alcoholic punch in a pouch!!

I have seen and tasted wine in a box and Smirnoff makes Pina Colada and Cherry Limeade drinks in a bag. But I was intrigued by the cute packaging of these pouches. Capri Sun- look out- these are perfect for bringing along to the beach or park. They even come with their own straw. You can freeze them and make your own little slushie or just drink them ice cold from the fridge or cooler. Alcohol included.

Gasolina Urban Blends comes in six flavors including – Original !Tu Madras! Pink Martini, Mojito, Sea Breeze and Sangriiia. I got the Original, Sangriia and the Sea Breeze.



The iTu Madras! was the stronger of the ones I had. I could definitely taste the passion fruit.


I am not sure exactly what I expected this to taste like but it was my least favorite.


The Sea Breeze was the clear winner for me. Lighter than the other two,  the grapefruit and cranberry balanced out the vodka nicely.

They are surprisingly smooth drinking.

Unbreakable, easy to tote and easy to drink. They come in a 200ml aluminum pouch. Right now, other than Puerto Rico, they can be found in Florida. You can buy them individually or by the box or case. Perfect for a large group. Throw them in a cooler and go. I think they will be successful in making their push north and west of that. Alcohol content varies from 7.5% to 11%.  Party in a Pouch is their slogan.

Guys – you know what to bring me next time you come to New York!


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Memorial Day

Memorial Day has a lot of tradition for me. It’s always about the local parade. Can’t beat those Firemen in their dress blues!!

The first time I went to the parade I had just left my husband. My girls were 3 and 8 months old. I felt beaten and bruised but my brother and sister-in-law insisted that I come with them and watch the parade. It took my mind off my troubles and inspired me to be strong and move on with my life. It became a tradition to go each year. My girls used to march in the parade when they were younger. I remember many a cool, gray Memorial morning walking down to the staging area early; my kids freezing in their Twirler costumes. Or the hot days when it was hard to walk the parade route without feeling like you might pass out.

There was always a barbecue after and maybe a dip in the pool.

My girls have grown up and moved away. Twenty five years is a long time and wow- how our lives have changed. Changed in amazing ways that I could not have imagined. There have been ups and downs but I am grateful for each and every one of those. It has made me stronger.

And now we have new traditions.

I walk Mickey down to the parade and we watch together, cheering on the town.

And George and I watch the Air Show.

It wasn’t the best weather to be down at the beach but yesterday we took a drive to Jones Beach to watch the Bethpage Air Show. I love these Air Shows. We have gone to many of them. My favorite are when the Blue Angels make their soaring passes in the sky, flying in fantastic formation. Roaring and thundering overhead, they awe with their power and regimen. This year there were different planes. But a fantastic show nonetheless.

air show

Saturday was a washout. Sunday was windy and cool. But in a testament to the people of Long Island and their resiliency in the face of Hurricane Sandy, thousands turned out to watch.  Some watched from Jones Beach , some from other smaller beaches and shoreline. We return to the water and try to erase the memories of that October night when the water became the enemy. It looked so benign yesterday.

nautical mile

After the show we took a drive to the Nautical Canal, a long strip of street that has bars and restaurants catering to the seasonal summer crowd. This area took a big hit last year and suffered devastating storm damage. But now we saw that while some places closed their doors forever, others have been busy rebuilding.

nautical mile

This simple duct taped message means so much. It is how we all should live our lives. We take a hit but get back up and stand stronger then ever before.  It’s what we do in our personal lives and it’s what we as a country have done.This Memorial Day we remember and thank those serving in our Armed Forces here and overseas and we remember those who gave their lives or suffered injuries so we could be free. We are back and we will be stronger than ever.

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Making the Moonshine!

Last weekend we went down to the Jersey Shore with some friends. We go every year. It has become something of a tradition. Invariably the weather leaves something to be desired.


But the weather is not what it’s about; although it would make the 3 hour ride on the bike much more tolerable. This year we got smart and took the car down.


And that gave me the opportunity to bring down a little something I cooked up on the side. That’s right -I cooked up some moonshine! I found the recipe in the May edition of Bon Appetit.

It is very simple. So easy to make and dangerously easy to drink.

All you need are dried peaches, canned peaches in heavy syrup and the beverage of your choice, vodka or what I used – white whiskey.

MOONSHINEPour the canned peaches and the syrup into a glass jar and add one cup of cut up dried peaches and one 750ml bottle of vodka or whiskey.


Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least one day and up to one week. Strain into the reserved bottle. The recipe said to discard the solids but we tasted them and wow were they powerful. We decided to freeze them and save them for another day. ( maybe an awesome addition to some homemade Sangria?? )

I poured the Peach Infused Moonshine into a travel safe container and brought it down to Wildwood.


The reaction it got was surprising. Not everyone wanted to try it- thanks, Doug, for making urine specimen jokes! And not everyone likes whiskey. But George and I loved it!

We mixed it with a little club soda. It is a wonderful, subtly sweet, lightly fruity, easy to down delight.

MOONSHINEWe just might finish the rest of it this rain filled New York weekend.

Here is the recipe if you would like to try some yourself.


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Pursuing Pinotage!

I have been obsessed with this wine since the New York Wine Expo. I have been dreaming of Pinotage. I have been lusting for the earthy aromas and long full bodied finish of this South African beauty. Pinotage is an unusual South African varietal that is a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage. I am in love with it.

So on my last trip to Stew Leonard’s I eagerly searched the South African shelves and was thrilled to pick up this wine. Dark Lady of the LabryinthI paired it with grilled lamb chops in an impromptu barbecue.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the nose I got plum, mocha and berry. And then, I was awestruck by the taste of coffee, mocha, cherry, plum and spice. The wine is very layered and keeps surprising you with more and more; licorice, pepper and chocolate come next. It is truly fabulous. I love Pinotage. I wish it were easier to find. If you do find it run- don’t walk- to the liquor store and buy some. You will not be disappointed.

Priced at $15.00 it drinks like a whole lot more!

Doolhof ‘Dark Lady of the Labyrinth’ Pinotage 2011!!!

Get it now!

At the Wine Expo I tasted Passages Pinotage. It was truly wonderful. Try to get your hands on some of this if you can.


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A Knock Your Socks Off Pinot Noir

Yesterday was a pretty tough day all around. It started with the dog.

He looks cute but what a troublemaker!

He looks cute but what a troublemaker!

He’s been acting weird lately. He won’t come when I call him. When he is outside he will run to the back  door barking to come back inside. I open the door and he runs away. I think this has become a game in his dog mind. I don’t like this game. Especially because he plays it when he knows I have to leave the house or want to go to bed at night. Not funny and I don’t know how to break him of this annoying new behavior. So that was how it started.

Work was very hectic and it was a very long day.

I got home and George was in a bad mood. He had grilled sausage and peppers for dinner. The best dinner is always the one someone else makes! But I made one small comment about the temperature he had the grill at and that was the end of that. He walked away and left me to finish cooking the meal. Not really what I wanted to do. I decided I needed something nice to change the flow of the day.  I have had a bottle of Passaggio Unmarked  Code Seven Pinot Noir for a few weeks now just waiting for the perfect pairing. I wasn’t sure this was it but I needed something a little special. I opened it.

Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven

You will notice the bottle is empty- that is because I finished it the next night!!

In the glass it was a beautiful deep red color. This is a wine to enjoy with all your senses.

Dark cherry and cola on the nose.  In the mouth more dark cherry and cola, a bit of spice and a hint of raspberry as well. The wine has a nice long finish. Very smooth drinking. This Pinot Noir is a killer.

Bliss. This is a wine I will be re-buying.

Let me tell you a little something about the name of the wine. The winemaker, Cynthia Cosco, is a former police officer. Unmarked refers to the unmarked vehicles that detectives drive and the Code Seven is police speak for “officer out on lunch” .  The blue line on the label represents the Thin Blue Line of police officers. Five percent of the sales go to the 100 Club of Contra Costa County which benefits families of fallen officers; a worthy cause.

The wine turned my night around and ended the day on a more pleasant note.

I went to bed and was awakened by the sounds of shouting. There had been a hit and run directly in front of my house. A poor man on a bike had been left to lie in the street, bleeding and broken, while the car that hit him took off. Thanks to the rapid response of the police and ambulance crew the bicyclist was treated at the scene and taken to the hospital. I was reminded of Cynthia and her wine and the brave men and women who come to our rescue all hours of the day and night.

Cheers to them and to Cynthia for creating a wonderful Pinot Noir!

I enjoyed the rest of the wine the next night with grilled pork loin and vegies.

Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Pinot Noir

Here is where you can purchase Passaggio Unmarked Code Seven Pinot Noir.


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It’s Finally Spring and I Am Craving Rose

Wow – it was a rough fall and winter here in New York and especially on Long Island. The warmer, milder weather has been a long time coming. But this weekend, so far, has finally brought a break. I think we’ve actually gotten past the real cold. You can just feel Spring waiting to really pop. The trees are all budding, spring bulbs have flowered. The stores are bursting with baskets and flats of annuals. You can actually breathe again. And I love Daylight Savings and the longer days that it brings. Finally!!!

So naturally my mind has turned to warmer weather wines. And most prominent in my mind is Rose. I love a good Rose. A crisp, clean bright and lively pink delight exploding with delicate cherry, strawberry and rose. That’s what I’m talking about!!!

Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence 2012

Yesterday I hung out on the deck and enjoyed a glass of Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence 2012. Priced at around $12.00, it was a fantastic buy. This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre.

Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence 2012

And it fulfilled my Rose craving beginning with it’s beautiful salmon color, fresh berries and roses on the nose and cherry, strawberry, citrus and rose in the mouth. What a terrific clean, crisp finish. Nice minerality here.

A great start to a new season.

Today we are looking forward to getting out on the bike for the first time since October,  breathing in the warmer air and clearing the debris from the week and the winter from our minds.

Maybe I will finish off that Rose when we get back.


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Best. Fried. Chicken. Ever.

We spent last weekend in Connecticut with family- who also happen to be friends. An amazing and awesome coincidence !! Lucky us- they also happen to love food and wine. Umm… Wait- maybe that IS the reason they are friends!
The conversation came around to a favorite of mine…food and wine and…. fried chicken. And suddenly I had a craving. One that didn’t go away.
So, the next day, when I saw this recipe for fried chicken tenders with mango slaw I knew I had to try it. I will be making this in the future for my fellow foodie and wino, Mary.

Normally I am a purist when it comes to fried chicken. Fried chicken. Biscuits. Just regular, down home fare. But something about this recipe called to me.

Here is what you need:

Mango Slaw

1/2 cup diced mango

2 large jalapenos, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 small shallot minced

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

salt and freshly ground pepper

7 cups shredded coleslaw mix ( 1 entire bag )

Chicken Cones

3 cups cornflakes

6 tablespoons slivered almonds

6 tablespoons sesame seeds

6 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

all purpose flour for dredging

six 5 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced lengthwise 1 inch thick

vegetable oil for frying

6 10 inch flour tortillas, warmed

Fried Chicken

In a saucepan,  combine the mango, jalapenos, vinegar, sugar, water and shallot.

Fried Chicken

Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or until mango is softened.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree. Scrape into a large bowl.

Fried Chicken

Stir in the mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Add the coleslaw mix and toss to coat.

Fried Chicken

Cover and refrigerate.

Next came the chicken.

Wipe out the food processor and add the cornflakes, almonds, sesame seeds, sugar, red pepper and salt.

Fried Chicken

Pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a shallow bowl.

In a second bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Fill a third bowl with flour.

Fried Chicken

Dredge the chicken strips in the flour. Dip them in the eggs and then roll them in the cornflake mixture. You know the drill.

Fried Chicken

Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil.

Working in batches, fry the chicken over moderate heat, turning once, until golden brown, about six minutes.

Fried Chicken

Transfer to rack.

Set the fried chicken on the tortillas and top with the mango slaw. Roll and eat.

Now truthfully, I made these ahead of time. I planned on serving them for dinner and I didn’t want to be prepping and cooking and frying. I wanted to enjoy the company.

But, I couldn’t resist a little taste for myself. Immediately after cooking.

Fried Chicken

Best. Fried. Chicken. Ever.

Oh yes!!!

Oh my! Did you ever eat something and all the while you were eating it you just kept making these sounds and noises that were completely out of your control. Oh, that is exactly what happened to me when I ate this chicken.

The magic of the funky sweetness of the slaw and the spicy, crunchy, sweet heat of the chicken combined in a perfect pairing and simply made this the best fried chicken ever.

I couldn’t wait to get George’s reaction.  Normally a man of few words when it comes to food,  he practically waxed poetic about these fried chicken roll ups. He too proclaimed them the best fried chicken ever. And then he actually told me never to make any other kind of chicken. Wow. Double wow.

We couldn’t get enough of these. We were supposed to have someone over for dinner. Lucky for us they never showed and we could devour these fried chicken tenders all by ourselves. Sorry Brittany!  Greedy fried chicken eaters that we are, we didn’t stop until they were all gone..

I followed the recommendation at the bottom of the recipe that we drink a full bodied, fruity Chardonnay with this.

Fried Chicken

We drank this MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2011. Priced at just under $20.00

Elegant and full bodied with crisp apple and ripe pear, this wine is dry with a great long, smooth finish. And on the finish there was lime, mango, lemon and pineapple. A real fruit explosion. Delicious.  Loved the wine, not sure however, that it was the best pairing.

Next time I might try this dish with a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or a Prosecco Rose.

Anyway,  this is a simple recipe to make and one you will add to your roster of great dishes. And the slaw would also be fantastic atop a tuna burger or a regular burger. Or just as a side with… use your imagination!

Thanks to Food and Wine for sharing Jeff Blank and  Executive Chef Robert Rhoades recipe for Hot and Crunchy Chicken 


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A Marvelous Malbec

Last night I opened a bottle of wine. Not so extraordinary for me. But what was extraordinary was the absolute deliciousness of this Malbec.

It was a bottle of Finca Flitchman Malbec Roble 2012 from Argentina. First of all it was priced at under $10.00.

Secondly I was impressed by the inky dark purple color of this wine. Just beautiful!

And lastly- and most importantly- it was wonderful!!

Finca Flichman Malbec Roble 2012

This wine rocks plum and cherry and spice. This wine is so plummy I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. There is oak on the lovely lingering finish. I will definitely be buying this one again and again.

I did not pair it with any food. I just enjoyed it and savored the end of day!

Buy this one for sure if you happen to see it.


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Matzoh Balls-Cheese Balls – Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!

My family celebrates both Passover and Easter.

This year my personal work schedule does not allow me to make a Passover Seder. I thought to make it on the Sunday before the official start of the holiday but that day happens to be Palm Sunday. So this year both holidays will cancel each other out.

Not that I won’t be doing something; just that that something does not include a big family gathering for either event.

Sunday I will be making Cheese Balls. In George’s family the holy trinity of foods consists of bread, cheese and eggs. So healthy, yes?? And what better way to follow the no meat tradition of Palm Sunday by combining all three of these ingredients and maybe just a touch of parsley to make it appear healthier. Not really fooling anyone. But it does taste good. So for those of you who have never had these pseudo meatball marvels I will share the simple recipe. It is kind of a grandma recipe. You know – the one where when you ask how to make it they just list the ingredients and tell you to use your best judgement. You will know when it is ready they always say. So here you go- use your judgement. You will know when the consistency is right.

Cheese Balls

Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a 1/3 to 2/3 formula.

Add beaten egg.

Cheese Balls

Parsley and pepper to your liking.

Cheese Balls

Do not add salt – the cheese makes it salty enough.

Mix ingredients together and form meat (cheese) balls.

Cheese Balls

And of course the grand finale to this healthy combination is to fry them up until nicely browned.

Cheese Balls

Add to a simple marinara sauce.

Cheese Balls

And there you have it.

Cheese Balls

Serve these over your favorite pasta.

And what wine pairs with these funky, nutty, salty, savory, buttery morsels? Something  festive – Prosecco!

Ponte Prosecco

This Ponte Prosecco is priced at under $15.00. A bit of floral on the nose, it is fresh and fruity with a hint of lemon and mineral.  It is a good balance for the richness of these cheese balls.

Monday night, in dietary diligence,  I will resign myself to eating a piece of matzoh.


Maybe I will spread a bit of fig preserve on this matzoh and wash it down with some more of the Prosecco- if there is any left!

Happy Easter and Happy Passover!!!


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