Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Honey Bruschetta

Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Basil Bruschetta

This post is sponsored by Rioja Wine. The opinions are all my own.

Despite my husband’s best efforts, I will always prefer a glass of wine over beer. Maybe it has to do with my upbringing—my parents drink solely wine—but I imagine it has a lot more to do with the possibility of an outstanding food pairing. Good wines make for great meals.

When Honest Foods and Rioja wines asked me to create a recipe that would pair well with one of their lovely wines, I was thrilled. Rioja, a region in Spain, offers some of the best food wines in the world. They are beautifully balanced in their alcohol content and acidity and pair well with everything from fish to veggies to meats and cheeses. Of course, traditional Spanish tapas go beautifully with Rioja wines, but they pair with food from all over the world (you can find more inspiration here).

Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Basil Bruschetta

Unlike many other wine regions, winemakers in Rioja don’t rush their wines to market. They only release their wines when ready to drink, which means that you know your bottle is going to be great as soon as you pick it up.

And if I wasn’t already sold, wines from Rioja are a great value. I purchased this beautiful Vivanco Rose for under $15. It’s a purchase we’ll be making again and again.

This Rosado (rose) from Vivanco is an ideal summer wine. On a hot day, a glass is particularly refreshing. Never bitter and with just the right amount of fruit flavor. After sampling the wine, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. A simple and delicious goat cheese bruschetta featuring toasted walnuts, lemon basil, and local honey. Heaven in a glass. Heaven on a plate. If you’d like to find out more about Rioja wines and all the culinary possibilities they afford, be sure to look for this hashtag: #matchmadeinheaven

Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Basil Bruschetta Goat Cheese, Walnut and Honey Bruschetta

1 baguette, sliced into 2 inch slices

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

¼ cup basil leaves, chopped

¼ cup local honey

In a small bowl, gently mix goat cheese, walnuts, and basil leaves. Generously spoon mixture on top of baguette slices. Drizzle with honey and serve.

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Stay connected to your favorite wine region by joining the Rioja Wine mailing list. It’s fast and simple! Just click on the banner above and fill out the form. You’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win a festive wine dinner. Good luck! #riojabuzz

Favorite Apple Pie

Favorite Apple PieI can turn down a piece of chocolate cake, a bowl of ice-cream, or a cookie the size of my face without blinking. Most baked treats don’t tempt me (which I think allows me to bake as much as I do). I’d rather have a bowl of roasted vegetables or a thick piece of sourdough bread with melted cheddar. I’d rather enjoy the first piece of a slowly roasted chicken or a salmon taco with homemade salsa.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dessert…but my standards are high. If it doesn’t come out of my own kitchen, it better be made with care. When we were in Paris, I ate my weight in pastries and desserts because they were astounding in their taste and presentation. But here in Colorado? Well, let’s just say I don’t order dessert often.

Favorite Apple PieBut while cakes and ice cream and cookies don’t tempt me, apple pie is another story. I’ve had a love affair with apple pie for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the few desserts my father enjoys, and his fondness for itmust have rubbed off on me at a young age. If I’m offered a slice of apple pie…well, there’s usually no turning back. My will-power is reduced to zero.

And it’s even worse when I make this apple pie. An all-butter crust encases thinly sliced apples that are tossed lightly with cinnamon and sugar. The smell of butter and flour and softening apples fills our house, and I’ve already set the plates on the table before it’s left its oven home. Everyone, yes everyone, should know how to make a good apple pie. And this, my friends, is one of the best. Believe me, my family makes apple pies month after month, year after year. We’ve had a long time to get the recipe right.

Favorite Apple Pie

Favorite Apple Pie

1 cup butter (2 standard sticks), chilled and cut into small pieces

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

6 tablespoons ice water

3 pounds granny smith apples (about 6 large, or 8 medium)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg, beaten

Using a food processor with the blade attachment, mix flour, tablespoon sugar, and salt together. Sprinkle chilled butter pieces on top of mixture. Pulse until pea-sized clumps form. Slowly pour water, tablespoon by tablespoon, over mixture while continuing to pulse. Once the dough starts to come together, stop adding water.

Turn dough out and form into two equally sized balls. Flatten balls into 5-6 inch wide discs. Wrap well with plastic and allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove pie dough from refrigerator. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside. Peel, core, and thinly slice granny smith apples. Place apples in a large bowl and pour lemon juice over top. Add sugar-cinnamon mixture and gently stir until apples are evenly coated. Allow to sit while you roll out your pie dough.

On a well floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough wide enough to cover the bottom and sides of your pie pan (about 10 inches in diameter). Carefully place pie dough in pan, making sure that all cracks are sealed and the round easily reaches up and slightly over the rim of the pie pan. Spoon apples into pan. You will have a huge heap of apples (this is good…apples shrink when they bake.) Repeat the same rolling out process with the remaining piece of pie dough. Carefully place pie dough on top of apples and seal edges of the bottom and top crust. Crimp as desired and brush some of the beaten egg over top crust. Place aluminum foil around edges of crust to prevent browning. Cut vents into top crust using a sharp knife.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until pie crust is a rich golden color and the juices from the apples are bubbling. Remove, allow to cool, and serve with a large scoop of ice cream.

 

Little One Eats: Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers (made with coconut sugar)

I’m having one of those evenings. I want nothing more than to curl up with a good book, a glass of milk, and a plate of graham crackers. In other words, I’d like to be nine again. I’m tired from a few Lucy all-nighters, and I feel like my to-do list is surprisingly simple for how difficult it’s been to scratch off just one item lately.

But seriously, doesn’t a good book paired with a delicious snack cure most ills in this world?

GrahamCrackersLuluWEB

Growing up, I had several snack obsessions: cinnamon toast, goldfish, apples with peanut butter, grape popsicles, graham crackers…And although Lucy is only 13 months old, I enjoy seeing her own tastes and preferences evolve. She fell hard for avocado during her first few months of eating and now beans and rice take the prize as her favorite. She’s not much into reading (yet) but she does like to keep snacks nearby.

Lulu eats Graham CrackersWhile Whole Foods sells some great graham cracker options, I woke up this morning with a strong desire to make a healthy homemade version that both she and I could enjoy. These graham crackers came together before breakfast, and the smell of cinnamon, coconut sugar, and butter helped us all wake up after a night of little sleep. Much to my delight, Lulu took to these graham crackers more than any other cookie or bar she’s been offered in her short life. I think she knew they were made with love, and I know she could taste the goodness and simplicity of butter, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, honey, and raw coconut sugar. And guess what? I’m just about to enjoy my glass of milk, my book, and my plate of graham crackers. It’s going to be a good night after all.

Homemade Graham Crackers (with coconut sugar!)

Graham Crackers

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup (1 standard stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In the bowl of your kitchen aid or stand mixer, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and coconut sugar. Mix until well combined. Add butter and mix until coarse crumbs develop. Add water and honey, mix until dough comes together easily into a ball.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. The thinner you roll your dough, the “crisper” your crackers will be. The cookies above were rolled out to about 1/2 inches. Cut into desired shapes and sizes and place on cookie sheet (these cookies hardly spread so you can space them tightly). Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges turn a golden brown. These cookies will keep in an airtight container up to one week.

Summer Power Salad

Summer Power SaladI should have finished this post a lot earlier…but my-oh-my we’ve been busy around here. Afternoon hikes, dozens of muffins, coffee with friends, and weddings. I’ve shot two beautiful weddings in the last 10 days, and my computer is almost exploding with all the gorgeous megabytes. If you want to be on the forefront of what’s happening with our photography/videography business (yes, our!) then vist our brand-new page on facebook. I’ll be sharing more details soon (but please know, we do travel!)

LizReidIn the meantime, we’re fueling ourselves with the best that summer offers. Fresh produce hasn’t been better this year, and I’m finding my grocery cart swelling with ripe tomatoes, corn on the cob, peaches, berries, and the list goes on and on. This summer power salad has been on the dinner rotation for the last month, and for good reason. My sweet mama first made it for me last summer, just a few weeks after Lulu’s birth. I couldn’t stop eating the salad, and each time I make it, we have a hard time not polishing off the entire bowl. Spinach, feta cheese, grilled chicken, toasted pine nuts, ripe tomatoes, and creamy avocados…I know you’re hungry now.

Summer Power SaladAnd if the ingredient list wasn’t enough to woo you, this simple yet delicious vinaigrette will win you over. Just a simple melding of olive oil, Dijon mustard, a dash of honey and white wine vinegar. After you’ve poured a heavy heaping over your salad, you’ll find yourself dipping bread or extra chicken in the jar.

Summer Power Salad

Summer Power Salad

16 oz baby spinach

2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into strips

1/2 cup feta cheese

1 cup sweet grape tomatoes

1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1-2 avocados, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place greens in a large bowl and arrange chicken, feta cheese, tomatoes, pine nuts, and avocado on top. In a jar, combine olive oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper. Stir or shake vigorously. Drizzle on top of salad and enjoy.

Roasted Strawberry Thumbprints

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies - Anecdotes and Apple CoresStrawberries. A baker’s worst enemy. You might have experienced this: you have a carton of summer strawberries on your counter, the idea of muffins or cookies or pie sounds oh-so-appealing, you pull out your mixing bowls, find a good recipe….and then you watch, with increasing levels of horror, as your strawberries go from ripe, plump, and red to mushy, watery, and brown.

“I will never again bake with strawberries.” Or so I thought.

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies - Anecdotes and Apple CoresI spent Tuesday with one of my dearest friends in the world. She showed me her backyard garden, verdant with herbs like cilantro and basil, with vegetables like kale and squash. She also showed me two small strawberry bushes…with a few ripening berries making their entrance into the world. As I drove home, I thought about those tiny berries and how lovely they’d taste in a few weeks’ time. And the baking dilemma bit me. I wanted to make strawberry cookies so badly…but dare I try?

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies - Anecdotes and Apple CoresA few traffic jams were good for my thought-process because by the time I reached Colorado Springs and our neighborhood Whole Foods, I knew just what I needed to do. Roast. I needed to draw out the liquid of the berries and intensify their sweetness before adding them to my cookies. And the stars seemed aligned with my plan because when I walked into the grocery store, there were my organic strawberries, almost 50% off.

These thumbprint cookies are buttery and not too sweet. I used coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar which added a wonderful color and nuttiness to my thumbprint. And the strawberries? Well, I roasted them with a few tablespoons of raw honey, and my house smelled delightful as they caramelized in the oven. I took them out and tried a bite before spooning them on top of my thumbprints (I had a jar of jam as a back-up). Hallelujah. My fear of baking with strawberries was finally gone.

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies - Anecdotes and Apple CoresRoasted Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

1 pound strawberries, washed and hulled

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss strawberries with honey and place in a deep baking pan. Allow to roast in oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the juices are thick and bubbly. Set aside to cool

In a medium bowl attached to a stand mixer, beat together coconut sugar and butter until smooth and creamy, about five minutes. Stir in egg and vanilla. Beat until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture. A soft dough should form. Allow to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Scoop dough out in one-inch balls. Place about two-inches apart on baking sheet. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, form a small indentation into each piece of dough. Generously spoon roasted strawberries into center. Bake cookies until the edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Remove and serve warm.