Wine Recap – August 2018

Wine Recap August

Welcome to the Wine Recap for August. I kind of realized that I forgot some July drinks in the last recap after it was posted so added them into this month’s recap. However, lucky we did because after some issues, my husband and I went on a few weeks of what I’d like to call an alcohol detox unintentionally but I always like to do that every once in a while after going to social events frequently and socializing with alcohol. Its nice to dial back and drink a lot of water and detox/flush the system a little. Which means that the next month’s recap might be a little thin, but we’ll see when get there, right? Let’s focus on the present!

Schweppes Blueberry Elderberry
(Signature Cocktails)

Schweppes Blueberry Elderberry

Producer: Mott’s Canada
Alcohol content: 5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

I honestly never knew that Schweppes made a Signature cocktail line of alcohol beverages. No idea whatsoever. Did you? Its a pretty cool discovery though since I like blueberry and especially elderflower flavored drinks. The combination here definitely sounds like it works and for the most part it does. Its also very light and fruity and sweet. Its definitely for the most casual drinker, which I definitely am considered.

Black Tower

Black Tower Wine

Producer: Hermann Kendermann GMBH
Alcohol content: 9.5%
Location: Germany
Taste Tag: Fruity & Sweet

The only wine of the batch this month goes to Black Tower. My husband apparently knew about this one before and said that it is a fairly common and known wine. I’ve never heard of it before. However, German white wines do have quite a knack for being on the sweet and crisper side and this one absolutely delivers. Its not my favorite wine that I’ve tried since we’ve started this journey but its one that I fairly enjoyed.

401 Brewery Orchard Blend Cider

401 brewery cider

Producer: 401 Cider Brewery
Alcohol content: 6.5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

If you haven’t realized by now, we love easy drinks, especially ciders. Now, for those who don’t know (but we do because we visited a cider place who told us about it), Quebec ciders are unique because of certain components to them making them local and exotic. Whereas, when you drink ciders from other provinces like 401 Cider Brewery, I’m not exactly sure what qualifies them. Its something I need to look up and read on when I have time but its a little different. While I only have the picture of the apple one here, we also tried the pear and the peach flavors. Apple was still the best one. I can’t say however that its exactly to my palette. Its not bad per se and its still has that apple cider texture to it that is decent but something about the taste doesn’t appeal to me as much as other ones that I’ve tried.

401 Brewery Sparkling Oaked Cider

401 Brewery Oaked Cider

Producer: 401 Cider Brewery
Alcohol Content: 6.5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

While I batched the three flavors of ciders together, I figured that I’d do this one separate because it is a little different from the others. We are big fans of oaked stuff. My husband likes the flavors that come with it usually. I do have to say that the 401 Brewery Sparkling Oaked Cider is alright. Its better than the normal ones above. There’s a distinctive taste to it that works pretty good.

That’s it for this Wine Recap!
Its pretty much a cider and cocktails post more. Its lighter but still fun to try out!

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Wine Recap – June 2018

Wine Recap

Another month is past and its been a fairly light month, mostly filled with ciders and less wine. Perhaps its the busy time or just the fact that I like cans of cool fruity drinks when the summer kicks in.

Okanagan Apple Cider

Okanagan Pomme

Producer: Mike’s Beverage Company
Alcohol Content: 5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Medium-Sweet & Fruity

Fruity is absolutely when describing Okanagan Apple Cider. The reason being it tastes exactly like apple juice. The normal apple juice like Rougemont brand or something along those lines. It tastes really fun and honestly, the 5% is completely not apparent. It surprised me just how much it was like drinking a juice but then, drinking this too much might be dangerous.

Pelee Island Lighthouse Riesling VQA

Lighthouse Riesling VQA

Producer: Pelee Island Vineyard
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Light & Crisp

Lighthouse was pretty good. Its kind of average on the scale of like and dislike. I remember it having a fairly balanced taste with lighter notes. It was more dry than sour for one but its the type of gentleness that I usually first like about Riesling. However, it lacked some depth to the notes.

Shiny Apple Cider

Shiny Apple Cider

Producer: Stonechurch Vineyards
Alcohol Content: 7%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Medium-Sweet & Fruity

Shiny Apple Cider was a pretty good choice also. Its a little bit more on the tart side but it has a smooth balance to it. I worked for myself quite well. Actually, it might be one of the apple ciders that I prefer the most that feels like drinking an alcoholic drink but also getting the fruity kick to it but not too sweet either which I like in an apple cider.

Sandbanks Riesling VQA

Sandbanks Riesling VQA

Producer: Sandbanks Estate Winery
Alcohol Content: 11.8%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Aromatic & Flavorful

I have a feeling that I’m starting to grasp the aromatic taste tags quite well now. We’ve tried a few and these always have some depth to it. The first taste of Sandbanks was a little tart but when you swallow it, it actually tastes pretty smooth. With that said, the second sip of it was better than the first.

Somersby Red Rhubarb Cider

Somersby Red Rhubarb Cider

Producer: Carlsberg Breweries
Alcohol Content: 4.5%
Location: Denmark
Taste Tag: Sweet & Aromatic

For those of you who have frequented here the last few years will know that I love rhubarb so when the intriguing idea of red rhubarb cider popped up in front of me, I was really excited to try it out. Rightfully so, because out of all kinds of cider that I’ve had, Red Rhubarb is amazing. Literally, I think about going back to Ontario and finding an LCBO to pick up some more. Its so delicious. It had the perfect kick of alcohol but never kills the fantastic mild taste to create this lovely balance. Honestly, we drank this on a lovely sunny day by the pool and it was just the perfect choice. Consider this my new favorite.

That it for the past month of Wine Recap!
There were some new faves added in which is quite rare.

Have you tried any new wines or any to recommend?

Toronto & EGLX Haul!

We sneaked off for a little work and play trip to Toronto to cover EGLX and explored a little. To be accurate, we were in the surrounding Toronto areas and stayed in Markham. And of course, we met up with Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews, my darling Ultimate Decades Blogathon co-host like the past two years for celebration and fun friends hangout. This year, we decided to not go to Toronto Comicon and switched it to EGLX (Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo…something like that).

With that said, we picked up a few things here and there.

First stop: Pacific Mall

Glasses at Noble Optical

I have gotten my last three pairs of glasses here and my husband got his last pair here so when time to change, we got our new prescriptions and came to look for a new pair. He ended up with his 4th pair in a row of Hugo Boss glasses (never intended) and I had some struggles with this year’s style and ended up with a slightly bigger frame Ray-ban. Never thought I would get Ray-bans but they had a lovely matte finish and looked pretty good. I am still adapting to this new look but it happens all the time after a big purchase.

Noble Optical is pretty cool because they can get the glasses done the day of purchase which is useful for us because we come from out of town so we wanted it to adapt to new glasses over the weekend with our new prescriptions and everything worked out great.

The Best Shop

A little houseware shopping here as we picked up some kitchenware and a shower curtain. Nothing special just a little random purchases we found.

Egg Rolls

A staple of Toronto is picking up these sweet egg rolls usually as a little gift. They are delicious.

Location: Toronto Zoo
Toronto Zoo Cap

My husband loves caps. He gets a good few every year and the Toronto Zoo one had nice colors and the logo was really stylish. So it worked well for him.

Victoria’s Secret

I initially went into Victoria’s Secret to see what style of sports bras were available and whether they were on sale. To my surprise, the quality and design just wasn’t what I wanted. Walking out I saw these T-shirt bras that were so cute plus they had a 2 for $55 sale so I went for it, considering one is usually $43.

LCBO

It wouldn’t be a trip to Ontario without stopping at LCBO for some VQA wines which we can rarely find in SAQ stores. First one is the seasonal rose wine called Sibling Rivalry. The next is a new tasting white Moscato wine called Fresh Beginnings. My husband chose the Innis and Gunn ale beer and I chose a local apple cider drink called Queen Street 501 by Brickstreet Ciderhouse. The next wine recap will review these ones.

Location: EGLX 2018

Studio VTAS

The big day for the trip was definitely EGLX for myself since it is kind of work and play. We didn’t pick up any games however, we did have a goal to fill up a few walls in our house with art and we found two places that we just loved. I had never seen these two artists either so it was a lovely find. The first above is from Studio VTAS. Not sure what the name is exactly but you can find her on Instagram and Twitter. The silhouette ones are beautiful. She also has a fantastic Studio Ghibli collection. Lots of great art here.

Mariya Haponenko

The second artist created these original art called Crystal Monsters at least the one on the right is that. There is an obvious influence for its general design but its inspired by the galaxy and botany for artist Mariya Haponenko. They were slightly pricey but I do love to support indie artists and they were just too awesome to pass up. I love the design of the galaxy one but the botany ones have a really cool technique of pressing glass together or something like that. I’m not artist but the way she described it was very cool.

Location: Vaughan Mills
Disney Store

In theme with yesterday’s Moana review, I actually picked up Pua. There was a sweet deal on plushes at the Disney outlet there and I just couldn’t resist. On a side note, over on Avenue of Daydreams, I will be archiving my Disney plush collection. Still thinking of how to structure it but it will happen soon.

Location: Big Apple

Final stop whenever we go to Toronto by car is The Big Apple where they have a ton of pies and other apple baked goods. This, time, my husband wanted the brownies (not apples at all) but he said it tasted delicious. I got the Apple Strudel and we got an apple pie for my mother in law.

Thats it for this Toronto and EGLX haul!
Enjoy this post as I sort through 1000+ photos for the trip to share!

Recap: Miss Fresh #9

As I’ve been talking about recently, its been a busy time so what better week than to order another Miss Fresh box. The last one was just two weeks ago. However, this menu fit what we liked so why not, right?

Let’s get cooking! ūüôā

Miss Fresh #9

Miss Fresh

Shrimp Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Miss Fresh

Shrimp Rolls with Peanut Sauce

This box was quite the adventure since I found my cooking motivation early in the morning as I scrambled to get this together and prepare for heading out to work. Particularly the first two recipes were made in the early hours however, they did turn out pretty good. The first was this shrimp rolls. I used to my shrimp rolls with my best friend however, she always took point and I just had to put it together so learning how to make this felt great because I’m a huge fan of this plus Miss Fresh’s recipe avocado which is a really nice twist since I don’t eat raw veggies so my husband made them with the cabbage while I had a simple one with vermicelli, shrimps and avocado along with the peanut sauce. The peanut sauce was really awesome and really made this dish delicious.

Asian Tofu Stir-Fry

Asian Stir-fry

¬†The first two meals are very easy to make. In fact, they are delicious as well. I’m a huge fan of stir-fry and its not only because I’m Chinese and grew up with it. The idea of tossing a bunch of stuff together in a wok and it turning into a meal is efficient. Of course, it is never as simple as tossing it together but how to cook what and when. We don’t get a lot of tofu and my husband’s not a huge fan of mushroom although he does tolerate shitake mushrooms. This dish made the house smell so nice and it is incredibly easy to do. Maybe one of my faves Miss Fresh recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping

Miss Fresh

Miss Fresh

Shepherd’s Pie

My husband loves Shepherd’s Pie. I just never make it because its a bit of a hassle. I hate meals where I need to cook and then bake. As you see, I’m all about efficiency. Shepherd’s Pie also has that mashed potato aspect which only is good with a decent amount of milk or butter. While I digest butter, I know my husband prefers milk and then there’s the whole corn issue. My health is ridiculous, I know. The price for not taking better care when I was studying in university. Now I’m getting preachy, so I’ll stop and get back on track. However, this one does a nice twist with a mix of mashed potatoes and cauliflowers. I do like the texture of it even though it only uses butter. The minced meat is seasoned well and its all very tasty. Definitely one worth giving a go a second time.

Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Brussel Sprouts and Rice

Miss Fresh

After the searing part…

Miss Fresh

Pork Tenderloin with Apples & Brussel Sprouts

The pork tenderloin is pretty easy to put together and it does taste good with just coating with coriander and a spices blend (cinnamon and something else). The searing part after 10 minutes each side gets about that look up in the top picture. Sorry for the blur. However, we’re not much for seared foods so I decided to cook it through instead in making the veggies portion. It turned out for the better and I really liked this one a lot as well. The apples add a little acidity to it that works well with the dish. I’m not huge on the apple cider vinegar part. I’ve tried it out a few times in some other Miss Fresh recipes and it adds a weird taste to it that takes time to like. Overall though, this one is good. I’d redo it but maybe change out the apples or maybe use something else than vinegar.

Overall…

Miss Fresh doesn’t fail us. I’d venture to say that this is one of the better boxes because all the meals were winners even if I would have tweaked it to match our tastes a little better. Shrimp Rolls definitely take the win for this one. That peanut sauce is to die for and the rolls are good even in its simplest form. I’m actually craving it as I write this up (not only because it is during my lunch break).

BBQ Dessert: Apple Brownies

The past Sunday was an evening at my girl friend’s place for BBQ. ¬†Her and her husband both provided the main meals and we each had to bring a little something. ¬†As always, I never pass up the chance to bake. ¬†I’ve been craving the opportunity to bake but with moving and Fantasia and work, it just didn’t fit in.

Usually, I’d flip through my crazy amounts of cookbooks and dig something out but this time, I decided to go search on the internet for Summer desserts for BBQ. Among a list of 10 recipes or whatnot, I decided on this one: APPLE BROWNIES!

Ever since I’ve become intolerable of chocolate, I’ve pretty much stayed away from brownies. ¬†And before that, I wasn’t much of a baker so I never ate a lot of that anyways. ¬†Either way, I’ve never heard of Apple Brownies. ¬†So I was curious about how they would turn out.

Here’s what it looked it out fresh out of the oven!

Apple Brownies

Fresh out of the oven!

If you are interested in trying this out, you can find the recipe following this link:

http://www.beyondkimchee.com/apple-brownies/

Making Apple Brownie is pretty quick and simple. ¬†The most time consuming part might chopping up the apples. ¬†I did this all without an electric mixer and it still turned out rather well. ¬†They asked for a 9×13 inch pan however mine is 0.5 inch longer and wider so the brownies were thinner than they asked for, I believe. However, it tasted pretty good.

Apple Brownie

There are a few modifications that were made to the recipe.

  • Omit vanilla (ran out)
  • Used gluten-free flour (Cloud 9’s from Costco)
  • Omit baking soda (ran out)

Compared to normal, the changes are very little this time. ¬†It was a sudden decision so I didn’t even realize that I had ran out of these. ¬†My mom bakes also, so it could be that she used the last bit and we never got around to replenishing it.

Apple Brownie

Despite the changes, Apple Brownie (or any fruit brownie) would be something I’d revisit. ¬†Its soft and fluffy, fruity and just so delicious. ¬†Brownies in general are in the sweet area so if you’d like to lessen the sugar that shouldn’t affect it much. ¬†I thought it was a good balance. ¬†This is a healthier option.

I just wonder what other variations I can make, such as what other fruits. ¬†Maybe strawberry and rhubarb. ¬†I’ve only done crumb bars for that. ¬†Or maybe plums or peaches? I’m guessing something with a more solid texture.

Do you like brownies? Have you tasted any other than chocolate brownies? Would you give these a shot? Do you like apples (in desserts or simply as a fruit)?

Raw Apple Muffins!

Ever since I saw this recipe earlier this year on a fellow blogger’s post, I’ve been wanting to make it. ¬†I never actually had bought apples and when I did I always went and made the familiar pies. ¬†It turns out my friends (and even myself) we’re not much of a muffin person. ¬†Everyone always had other choices for apples, even if it meant just slicing it and eating it by itself.

Now, these muffins looked amazing.  They looked downright delicious.  Here is the link to her post on Raw Apple Muffins.

Recipe: http://saltandserenity.com/2012/05/28/raw-apple-muffins/

Last night, the initial plan was to make Pumpkin Spice Muffins, but I didn’t have time to head out to buy groceries after work. ¬†So seeing as I had bought apples last week to make this and never got around to it, I thought it’d be the perfect time. ¬†I have a gathering with my friends again. ¬†I can’t believe its been a month (or so). ¬†Remember last time, I made ¬†Apple and Oat Scones, and before that it was Banana Gingerbread Slices? Other than dicing the apples took a crazy amount of time, this was a fun recipe. ¬†I pretty much put on a movie and started chopping and mixing.

This recipe really suited my taste a lot. ¬†I didn’t really have to change anything at all. ¬†It turned out as promised to be moist and delicious from the apples. ¬†I did have to make some little changes. ¬†Salt and Serenity suggested to use Granny Smith and Macintosh apples. ¬†I didn’t have those, so I used Cortland apples. ¬†I think it didn’t make too much of a difference. ¬†Second modification was that I replaced raisins with dried cranberries. ¬†It added a little extra colour to each muffin and usually is a good replacement for raisins.

 

Wait before you go, there’s more. ¬†There was one extra little part I had to change–the topping. ¬†It was supposed to be dipped in melted butter than into the sugar. ¬†I’m lactose intolerant for one and I had run out of butter and margarine. ¬†So I just sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top. ¬†Trust me, it still taste fantastic. ¬†Honestly, I’m not sure melted margarine would’ve tasted the same as melted butter, maybe I’ll try it on one of them later on.

 

This was how they looked when they first got out of the oven.  Nice little muffins, eh?

I’d like to give a big thank you to Salt and Serenity for sharing this with everyone. ¬†If you haven’t been to her blog, you definitely should, she has awesome recipes¬†there.

So, just a little update: Those other muffins I talked about will be coming up soon. ¬†As much as I’m not much of a muffin person, I think I’d prefer that over making a pumpkin pie or something. ¬†Its going to be the first time I bake anything with pumpkin so, I’ll start it off in an easy fashion.

If you do have any suggestions for pumpkin recipes, I’d love to hear it.

Apple and Oat Scones

Today I had my monthly brunch with two of my girl friends. ¬†Its always nice to sit around and chat over food and drinks about whats happened over the last while. ¬†This time we were hosted by one of my friends and I had contributed some baked goods. ¬†After some long thought and debate, I came to the decision that I’d make some scones. ¬†Please note that I haven’t made any scones since I was 15 or something like that. ¬†It was a long time ago. ¬†And let me tell you, finding a recipe was hard because there are just so many choices nowadays.

After flipping through my cookbooks and then looking through Martha Stewart‘s recipes, I came to two choices: Apple and Oats Scones with Cinnamon and Nutmeg *breathes* (why the need for such a long name?) ¬†or Cranberry Scones. ¬†I’m pretty sure you know which one won.

Thats right! Apple and Oat Scones!

Here’s the link:¬†http://www.marthastewart.com/874312/apple-and-oat-scones-cinnamon-and-nutmeg?czone=food/brunch-center/brunch-baked-sweets&center=276953&gallery=275051&slide=874312

 

I had actually forgotten how easy and fun making scones were.  These actually have a really nice texture to them.  The apples add a nice moist taste.  Thats pretty good because I feel sometimes scones tend to be on the dry side and its hard to control that.  As for the oats, I really like it as a little decoration on the top as well as being in the dough because it makes it a little chewy.

 

These scones were loaded with apples on the bottom.  I think the only thing was that I could have cut it in smaller pieces.  In the end, it still worked out decently.  This recipe made exactly 12 scones.

 

Other than the wonderful texture of the scones, it was pretty good because the apples gave it the little light sour taste and it offsets the sweetness of the scones.  The scones are moderately sweet (just enough for me) so it was perfect.

Just try to not misread (as I did) the quantities for flour and oats. ¬†Its funny because I didn’t see the 1 in front of the 2/3 so it turned out crazy little ingredients and I had to add it in after the apples. ¬†Still, I think it didn’t make much of a difference. ¬†It still looked great and tasted fantastic.

Give it a shot if you like it! How did it turn out? Are there other type of scones that you like? Give me some suggestions as to what other baked goods I could make.