Friday, September 16, 2016

Wine Time! ~ 2013 Local Flavor Pinot Noir

It's Friday night which means it's time for wine. Yay!

Today I (Allie) decided to give a pinot noir a shot. We're having salami and mushroom pizza, so I needed a red, but I wanted something on the lighter end of the spectrum. Thanks to my latest wine club order, I had a new Pinot Noir to try.

So let's get to it!

All right, I have mixed feelings on this wine. On first sip, I taste hints of wood and smoke. Just a touch mind you. It's actually rather silky in my mouth, light in flavor and rather pleasant.
Except it's almost too light.
I don't have the lingering taste of wine in my mouth.
In fact, after a moment or two, I can't even tell that I've had any wine. There's a vague taste of dry oakiness in my mouth but little else.

So this one is so-so for me. It might be nice for someone new to wine though, or someone who doesn't enjoy lingering flavors, but for my personal tastes I'm thinking this one is a letdown. Maybe I'll have different thoughts when I have it with my pizza later, but for just sipping I am less than impressed. Which is a shame, because when I actually drink it the flavor is nice.

Allie's Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Friday, September 9, 2016

Recipe - Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

I love finding new recipes, especially for fun and tasty international foods. So when someone shared a recipe for tikka masala on facebook I knew I had to make it.
I took ideas from a couple different versions of the recipe floating around on the web and made my own. This recipe is easy to adjust to taste by upping or reducing the spice amounts.

Success! It came out super tasty and the chicken was tender. Even my son (he's 8) enjoyed it. My daughter (5) is a little more picky lately and only wanted the coconut rice. Go figure.

Crock-Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I'll be honest here, I had enough sauce at the end that I could have gone up to 3 pounds of chicken.)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 chili peppers - OPTIONAL (Okay, I am not a pepper expert and the recipe never said what type, so I left these out My kids don't like hot spice anyway. Use your best judgment.) 
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika/smoked paprika (I used 1 tsp of each type because I wanted a touch of smokey flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (You can also use heavy cream or yogurt. All depends on your taste) 
  • Lemon juice - OPTIONAL
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Coconut oil
  • 2 cups cooked rice, to serve
  • Plain yogurt for marinating chicken - optional

Slightly Longer (and tastier) Prep Method

1 - Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and toss in a bowl with enough plain yogurt to coat every piece. Let chill for up to 6 hours.(Trust me, this is worth it.)

2 - Shake off excess yogurt as best you can and transfer the chicken to the crockpot

3 - Sauté the onions and garlic (and peppers if using) in a little coconut oil (yes, you can use olive oil) over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until fragrant. Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. (Again, trust me, this just added a nicer depth of flavor.

4 - Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. 

5 - Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk (or heavy cream or yogurt). If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt as needed. I also added a squeeze or two of lemon juice for another subtle layer of flavor.
Make your rice according to package directions. I used jasmine rice and put in a little scoop (1/2 Tbs maybe) of coconut oil and a tsp of kosher salt

6 - Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving.

As delicious the next day reheated as it was fresh from the pot. Maybe even better.

Throw it all in the pot method

Pretty much the same as above except you don't marinate the chicken in yogurt and you don't cook up your onions and garlic.
Toss the chicken (yogurt free), onions, garlic, tomatoes, spices in the crockpot - give them a good stir and proceed with Step 4.

Tea Time with Allie

Tea, tea, tea. I love tea.

I always love to have a cup of hot tea while I work on edits. It's soothing and gives me a needed caffeine jolt. Today I reached for a must-have in my tea collection - Earl Grey Lavender.

I get this particular blend from and have Nicci to thank for the introduction. Seriously, go get some now. The sample pouch is only two dollars and you get several cups worth out of it.
Let me try to describe the smell. It's sweet, like candied oranges and comforting lavender. I love the smell of bergamot. I wish I could find a soap that smells as good as this tea does. I may have to try making my own one day. Goals. 

This is a tea I enjoy with or without a splash of almond milk. It really depends on my mood (and whether or not I accidentally over-steep. Like today. Whoops!).

So, what's in your cup this morning? 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Please pardon our dust as we try to figure out this whole blogging bit.

Hey there! You've stumbled across Nicci and Allie's blog, where we'll share our musings on food, wine, games, and books. Anything goes! We're two besties who share a lot of common thoughts and loves, so much so that we have partnered up together for our publishing business. But this blog is promo free and just about our love of everything else in life.

So kick back and enjoy, maybe share your fave recipes and wine discoveries, tell us about the movies you love and hate, and simply have a good time.