Christmas with Maysara Wines

Hello dear readers!  I hope the holidays were good for you and that you have all been doing well!  2016 FLEW by, as did our holiday and time off. While I’ll give a recap of all that we did with our time off later this weekend, I wanted to share with you all that we ate for Christmas, and highlight some delicious wines that we tried, so that you can run out and try them for yourselves. There will even be an easy appetizer recipe that pairs perfectly with the wines, too. Are you ready for my recap of Christmas with Maysara Wines?

As you know, when my family cooks, we usually get a little crazy and cook too much. This Christmas we tried to dial it back a bit; I think we did pretty well!

Christmas 2016 Menu

Russian farmers cheese, bacon, and leek tart
Pomegranate-blackerry mimosas

Deviled eggs-regular and habenero
Caprese skewers
Bacon wrapped dates with blue cheese (recipe below)

Drinks to accompany our appetizers:
2013 Scarlett and Mac Chardonnay
Georgetown Brewing’s SparklePuss IPA

Main Course:
Honey and Orange Glazed Ham

Mashed potatoes
Curry spinach salad
Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic reduction

Maysara 2012 Jamsheed Pinot Noir
Georgetown Brewing’s BA Not Tom Rye Stout

Key lime pie
Chocolate bourbon pecan pie

The dinner came together perfectly and since we didn’t have 20 separate dishes, we spent less time in the kitchen and more time chatting as a family.  We lazily ate and sipped wine through the late afternoon and evening, and listened to music. It was wonderful and I can’t think of any other way to spend the day.

Day After Christmas Feast

Normally, we put together a pretty big spread for Christmas eve, but between long hours at work and fighting illness, we just didn’t have it in us to cook an elaborate meal for Christmas eve. Instead we took advantage of the time and prepped cassoulet, which we then ate on the day after Christmas.

Wait. You haven’t had cassoulet??  It’s a delicious, indulgent French dish with duck confit, pork,  sausage, herbs and white beans. It’s a labor of love and if you have the time, it’s a wonderful treat to make. We loosely followed an old Jacques Pepin’s recipe, but this one is also a handy guide.  We made our own duck confit, substituted a double smoked sausage instead of making our own sausage, and to add an extra layer of richness, we braised the pork butt in bacon fat, almost making a pork confit.  Meat cooked in its own fat (or with a little extra fat) is good guys, calories be damned. The richness of the cassoulet only needed a simple salad with spinach, pears, candied walnuts with a light vinaigrette. We happily sipped Maysara’s  2010 Asha Pinot Noir, an amazing accompaniment which cut through the fat in the cassoulet but also stood up to the bite of the vinaigrette.

Overall, I’d say that we ate well this holiday and I’ve ignored the scale just in case. We spent our energy by prepping the time heavy meal slowly and over time, so that the flavors built on each other and that was definitely the right call.

Now, here’s more on those wines, followed by a super quick recipe that you should try with both wines. I’d love to hear what you think!

About the wines:

The 2012 Jamsheed Pinot Noir was outstanding, and at $30 it’s a nice bottle to have for a holiday or a special day, that’s still affordable. It’s slightly spicy, earthy with dark fruit. It’s soft on your tongue in that it doesn’t overwhelm, with a touch of acidity. It stood up to the variety of foods, but went well with the sweetness of the ham. This was definitely my favorite wine of the night and the holiday.

Coming in at $39 the 2010 Asha Pinot Noir was also a hit. With a glass cork, you feel like you’re getting a  treat! It was interesting how different this Pinot Noir was to the Jamsheed. Still earthy with dark berries, but more rounded and floral than the Jamsheed. The tannins cut through the fat, but the flavor isn’t lost to the duck, nor the smoke of the sausage. If anything, the flavors were reflected more in the wine. Again, another solid wine that I enjoyed.

Now, for the quick recipe. I love  these bacon wrapped dates (you could also use slices of pear in place of the dates and a slice of heartier blue cheese to mix it up). These pair quite well with the Jamsheed Pinot Noir!

Bacon Wrapped Blue Cheese Dates
Makes 10

1/2 lb bacon, cooked until the fat starts to drip but not crispy (6-8min.)
10 dried, pitted dates
Soft blue cheese (Trader Joes has a good one!)

  • Cut the strips of cooked bacon into 4 pieces each or less if you want more bacon
  • Open the dates. There is usually a cut along one side, but if not, just use a knife and slice half way through the dates, so you have a place to put the blue cheese.
  • Scoop in some of the blue cheese using a small spoon, or your fingers.
  • Wrap with bacon and pin with a tooth pic.
  • Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees to finish the bacon and make the dates a little softer.
  • To finish, drizzle with a little honey, or balsamic vinegar.
  • Let cool slightly and enjoy!

A hearty thank you to Dominic and all of the folks at Maysara winery for helping to make this holiday particularly special. While I did receive these wines to try and this is considered a sponsored post, I do highly recommend these wines and cant wait to share one more recipe featuring their wines soon!

To you and yours, and delicious food!


Giving Thanks


The holidays have officially kicked off and I’m considering breaking out the maternity pants like Joey on friends.  We’re gathered with family, the buzz of stories and laughter with the recordings of “Alice’s Restaurant” playing in the background. Dinner is cooking, and the house smells amazing. I can’t wait to eat everything. This year, I am grateful for my health, a good job, wonderful friends and family. Things are so good, and days like this where we talk about all that we’re grateful for remind me of how far I’ve come and how fortunate I am.

This year, we went a little crazy on the menu for Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to eat it all and snack on the leftovers!  So what’s on tap for today?

Goat cheese, bacon, and leek tart with chanterelle mushrooms
Mango-orange mimosas


Deviled eggs-regular and habenero
Caprese Skewers
Cranberry Wine

First Course:
Mixed green salad with candied walnuts, pomegranates, and a raspberry walnut vinaigrette.
Beets with goat cheese crumbles and pistachios

Main Course:
Deboned, honey brined turkey
Rotisserie roasted pork shoulder

Mashed potatoes
Pear, cranberry, and port conserva
“Green Slime”-pistachio pudding, cool whip and marshmallows
Pineapple coconut salad
Roasted squash medley with port poached cherries, and almonds
Chorizo spinach stuffing (gluten free)
Turkey stock gravy
Wheat bread with orange cranberry pecan butter

Prosecco, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, more cranberry wine


Gluten free vegan cashew and date cheesecake
Cranberry walnut tart
Vanilla bean ice cream
Sandeman’s Port


There you have it!  I’m so excited to dig in and eat.  While it’s a lot of food for 8 people, we’ll all leave with a ton of leftovers. Full bellies and happy hearts, and isn’t that a great way to spend the day?

How are you spending the holiday and how do you give thanks?

Yours in food and happiness,


Back to a moment

It’s funny how a scent can do so much-bring you back to a moment, connect you to someone, remind you of a place. For me, scent is emotive, and I connect so many scents with memory.

Tonight, I reached for soap to wash my hands, grabbing blindly to wash off my kiddos bright blue bathwater after letting out the drain plug. I inhale.

Johnson & Johnson’s no more tears bath wash. I smile. I never buy it. It’s crap, but her dad picked some up.

I inhale and smile again. Instantly, I am at Seattle Children’s Hospital, out of the NICU and in specialty care. We’re being taught how to give our 5 day old baby a bath with an ng tube.

There’s squeals; mine and hers. Laughter; ours and the medical staff. Everyone has gathered around our little amazing baby as they know we’re on our way out of the hospital soon. That smell; that clean, soapy smell reminds me of every passed medical test we had to go through, every exam, every medical team amazed at how strong my baby was, at how strong we were.

I stop and look at Izzy now, post bath. Her hair is slicked down and she’s so big now, reasoning with me why she shouldn’t have to eat dinner or go to bed. She’s three and soon, she won’t need me. I inhale and smile. She’s still my baby girl.

Izzy pic

Yours in love


Sew Long

Hi there!

It feels like it has been a long time since I just sat down and was able to sew. I forget that it is really a relaxing activity for me. The feel of my scissors cutting through new fabric, matching up of corners, the sound of my machine whirring as fabric comes together into something more than it’s original  parts.

A few years ago, I started making quilts and clothes for myself and Izzy. I am by no means great at it, but I love teaching myself a new skill and enjoy watching something come together from a pattern, or a sketch. You know that feeling when you sit down and just focus on one task and when it’s completed, you feel both relaxed, but proud of yourself? Sewing does that for me. I love it.

I recently had a chance to try fabrics from the Little House on the Prairie Andover Fabrics Collection. The fabric has an awesome vintage look, with pretty colors and patterns. Even better? It holds up well when you have to pull out stitches after not lining up seams. Fabric that doesn’t fray when you pull stitches is great-you have less waste, less frustration and you can feel OK with having to redo a quilt patch when needed (even if you end up redoing it three times for one section like me). The fabric also has a good feel-thick and soft, right off the bolt.

Here’s a look into what I am working on! Its a few squares into a sampler quilt that will be twin sized. Izzy’s room is filled with vintage and antique items, and this quilt should fit right in!

First, I started off easy, making a patch quilt block, with a lot of little squares. It came together quickly, which inspired me to branch out and make something a little more complicated that I sketched out.


After that, I wanted to go bigger and make this next block, a Drunkards Path. This one was hard, was the one that I had to redo a few times and am still tweaking to get it just right.



Fun right? A little time, a little patience, and a glass or two of wine, and you have some fun quilt blocks. That’s my kinda craft.

Interested in getting your hands on your own fabric? You can enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win all of this awesome swag, valued at over $380! What could you win??

    • A fat-quarter bundle of all three Little House on the Prairie® fabric collections
    • A limited edition tote bag made of Little House on the Prairie® fabric
    • The Deluxe Remastered “Little House on the Prairie” Complete Collection DVD Set
    • “The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder” DVD
    • The Quilting with Laura book
    • The World of Little House book


So there you go. You have ideas, the allure of fun goodies; now all you need is to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information and ideas, please check out the Little House on the Prairie site!  Thank you all for reading! What would YOU make with these fabrics?

Yours in sewing,

Disclaimer: I did receive a sample of the fabric to help create this post, but the opinions are all mine! My promise to you, dear reader, is that if I don’t like a product you won’t see it here.

Making the most of local

I love making the most of local foods, idea of knowing my farmer, and exactly where and how my food is raised, and the idea of using all parts of an animal any time I can makes me happy. I feel good knowing that the meat I am eating was well cared for, loved and had the chance to roam. Guys, let me show you something.

okanoganKatahdin lamb

This is Island Mountain Farm, in the Okanogan Highlands, where I get my lamb. Lovely right? Those little guys are Katahdin lamb, a breed raised for excellent meat quality. They are happily raised and finished on dryland pasture and happy animals, raised well in open areas, means healthy and good meat. They are just one of the farmers you can connect with at Barn2Door.  Remember my Salmon Post? Local food delivered straight to you is amazing! Barn2Door is a marketplace where you can buy sustainably grown meat, fish, fruits, vegetables & items like lamb and even real maple syrup right from producers and growers. Farmers, fishers, ranchers and gardeners have their own store – like Etsy for farms –  where they showcase the food they have for sale, and manage direct communications, sales and fulfillment (local delivery, national shipping or both!). Want more info?  Check them out, sign up for their newsletter, and keep reading for a discount code! Who doesn’t love that?!

Over the next few weeks, starting with this post, I have a goal: I’ll stick with my love of showing you how good it can be to know your food and where it comes from, but I want to help you feel comfortable with different types of meat and cuts of meat. Are you ready?

Years ago, families used more of the animal than we do now-if you were to ask your grandparents, or your great-grandparents, likely they would tell you about how they ate things like organ meat, things like liver, kidneys. They used these other parts of the animal because they knew how to cook it, it was good nourishment, and often, it was something that they raised themselves. I love the idea of getting back using as much of the animal as often as possible. It’s respectful of the animal, and can be lower in cost. If you looked in my freezer right now, you’d see a lot of random things-tripe, beef tongue, hearts, various kidneys, beef and chicken bones for stocks. All good, tasty and nourishing things, but not the standard foods you may be used to seeing. At first, I was nervous about cooking them. Would they be good? Are they hard to cook? Would my family and friends think I am crazy for serving them this stuff? So far, the odds have been in my favor. Like any food, how you cook it, and how you present it is key. Keeping things simple, with good ingredients is a great way to make food approachable.

My recipe for you all today is Seared Lamb Kidneys With Red Wine Glaze. It’s super easy from start to finish, and if you can cook bacon, you’ll be more than good on this!  I’ll start with the basics and add a couple quick twists.

Seared Lamb Kidneys With Red Wine Glaze
Serves: 6-8 as an appetizer, 4 as a hearty side
Time: 45 minutes


1 lb lamb kidneys
4 slices thick bacon
1/4 c red wine-I used a Sangiovese
1 cup stock – I used lamb stock
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt or more to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 of a small bulb of shallot, finely chopped


Island Mountain Farm Lamb Kidneys

  1. Trim any excess tissue or fat from around the kidneys, cut them in half and remove the tough, white core.
    kindeys with skinkidney core
  2. Chop them in small bite sized pieces and set your kidneys aside.
  3. Mince your garlic and finely chop your shallot, set both aside.
  4. Chop your bacon into bite sized bacon and add to a cool, deep pan-I like my 3 quart dutch oven for this. Fry your bacon until crisp and remove-placing it on a paper towel to drain.
    chopped bacon sauteed bacon
  5. Add your shallot and sweat in the bacon fat, until they just start to get translucent – about 1-2  minutes and then add your garlic until it starts to turn a light, light brown. You’re getting close!
  6. Add your lamb kidneys and let them cook. You want them to get a little seared, and a little more yummy about 2-3 minutes Don’t stir!
    cooking kidneys
  7. Add your salt and your pepper and flip your kidneys. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until there is very little red remaining. Pull out, keeping any liquid (if any) in your pan and place off to the side.
  8. Add your wine and scrape all of those tasty bits off of the bottom of the pan (this is called deglazing).
  9. Add your lamb stock and your reserved bacon.
  10. Let this reduce to about 1/3. If it doesn’t thicken up, pull out a few tablespoons of the liquid, mix in a spoon full of flour until incorporated and add this all to your sauce.
  11. Plate your kidneys and drizzle your sauce over it all!

That’s it! Serve as a side, or as an appetizer on toasted baguette.

Now for the twist!

Do everything above, but throw your kidneys in a food processor and blend up until smooth to make a dip. Add to crostini and drizzle your sauce over them. If you’re not quite ready to try kidneys, this recipe works really well with liver, too (same amounts as the above!).

SO easy, right?

Are you ready to get local food straight from the farmer? Head on over to Barn2Door, enter your zip code, find something amazing, and add in the code MAKEMENDGROW15 -at check out for $15 off a $50 purchase – good from now through November 6. Please check out Barn2Door on Facebook, and Island Mountain Farm’s Barn2Door site, their Website, and Facebook Page!

I’d love to hear from you on what you pick up and make!

Yours in whole foods,

Disclaimer: While I do love Island Mountain Farms and Barn2Door, this is a sponsored post. Photos of Okanogan and the Katahdin lamb courtesy of Island Mountain Farms, all other pictures are my own.