Let’s Talk Pink: My Favorite Rosé

As summer arrives, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share with you the list of some of my favorite rosé wine. While I am no wine expert, I have a serious love and appreciation for this pink drink. I have tried many variations over the years, with many more to try. I recently joined a local rosé wine club for the summer to introduce myself to some new wines I would have not otherwise tried. Always looking for my next favorite bottle (I have many).

I have decided to condense down the list to those favorite brands I have drank or purchased most often, some more than others. You will find that all of the wines I have selected are budget friendly while maintaining strong quality. I also have an affinity for dry rosé so none of these recommendations will fall on the sweeter side. Sorry, to my sweet wine enthusiasts. So, here they are in no particular order.

Please note: I live in Madison, Wisconsin so when I indicate where I have found these wine’s, it is around the Madison area. Most are popular brands that you can find in your city or online.

Natura Rosé

“Au Naturel”

This is my go-to rosé of choice, the one I buy most often. In fact, I drink most of Natura’s selection of wines. Their unoaked chardonnay is divine. And, it’s organic!

  • Made in Chile
  • Price Point: $8.99
  • I have found at most grocery and liquor stores

Pool Boy Rosé

“The Beach Buddy”

Looking for the perfect wine for a day at the beach or pool? This is it! Pool Boy wines are high quality with fabulous flavor, and they come in plastic bottles. This makes them perfect to enjoy by the water. Their Gamay is also fabulous and best served chilled.

  • Made in France
  • Price Point: $12.99
  • I have found at Whole Foods

La Vieille Ferme Rosé

“Simple and Classic”

This rosé is fresh, easy, and cheap with expensive quality. I highly recommend this as the wine you have on hand for dinner parties, ladies wine nights, etc. because it will be a crowd favorite. Bonus, it comes in a box as well.

  • Made in France
  • Price Point: $8.99 or less (depending on the store)
  • I have found at most grocery and liquor stores

Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County Rosé

“California Dreaming”

Made in the U.S.A., specifically Sonoma, this rosé is light in color with a light floral spice. I also, love the simplicity of the label design (says the graphic designer).

  • Made in California
  • Price Point: $15.99 (750 ml); $9.99 (375 ml)
  • I have found at Whole Foods

Forty Ounce Rosé

“The Cult Favorite”

Colt 45 and two….oh wait. Not only, does this wine come in a fun 40-ounce bottle, it tastes fancy. This rosé is great for sharing with friends, due to the 3 extra glasses of wine the bottle holds. Please note, that it is made in limited quantities, not always making it the easiest to acquire.

  • Made in France
  • Price Point: $15 to $20
  • I have found at Whole Foods (only in the summer months)

Les Portes De Bordeaux Rosé

“I went to Trader Joe’s…”

Honestly, if you are looking for great wine on a budget, Trader Joe’s is where it’s at. TJ’s has never done me wrong when it comes to high-quality, cheap wine. This light and fruity Bordeaux Rosé is my favorite of their rose selection. Please note that some of the wines sold in store are only sold at Trader Joe’s.

  • Made in France
  • Price Point: $5
  • Trader Joe’s

Protocolo Rosé

“Wait, this isn’t expensive?”

This is the wine that you serve when you want to be fancy, but spend very little. The Dominio De Eguren Protocolo brand can do no wrong. I enjoy them all, especially their red. I have had a harder time finding the rosé in stock.

  • Made in Spain
  • Price Point: $4.99 to $6.99
  • Woodman’s Market and Metcalfe’s Market

Pampelonne Rosé Lime

“The Rosé Cocktail”

While this is not a bottle of wine, it deserves a place on the list as one of the top rosé wine cocktails. While most sparkling wine cocktails are super sweet, this mixture remains dry and crisp. If you can track them down, all the Pampelonne Cocktails are magical and perfect on a hot day.

  • Made in France
  • Price Point: $11.99 (4-pack)
  • In Wisconsin, I have found at a specialty Italian grocery store. More widely available in other states.

Sunday Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients:

As a lover of savory breakfast, I am a huge fan of the breakfast casserole. Why eat meat, eggs and potatoes separately, when you can combine everything together with cheese, and bake until golden bubbly. Of course, you do not need to make this dish on a Sunday. I have added “Sunday” to the name because it just seemed to fit. Whether you are hosting a brunch or baking breakfast for the week, this casserole seems like the perfect dish to whip up on a Sunday morning with a coffee in hand.

1 dozen eggs
10-12 breakfast sausage links,
20 oz (2 ½ cups) of refrigerated fresh shredded hash browns (I use Simply Potatoes)
Note: you can also use unthawed frozen hash browns or get really fancy and shred your own.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
8 oz (1 cup) white button mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ cups preferred shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, mozzarella, etc.)
2 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
Chopped parsley (optional)

Heat oven to 350℉

Grab a pan and saute your sausage links until they are nice and brown.

Once complete, set links aside and add butter, mushrooms, onions, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until onions and mushrooms are cooked down and soft. Set aside to cool.

Crack eggs into a large bowl. Add heavy cream and whisk. Slice all of your sausage links into little medallions and drop into the eggs. Add cooled down mushroom/onion mixture and cheese. Stir mixture.

Grease or butter a 9×13 pan or casserole dish. Dump in hash browns, garlic, paprika, pepper, and a good pinch of salt. Spread the hash browns evenly across the bottom of your pan.

Pour egg mixture over the hash browns and spread around. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes, uncovered.

Remove from the oven and let it stand for about 5-7 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. Pour some more coffee and enjoy!

Matzo Chicken Milanese Salad

Servings: 2

Ingredients

2 Thinly sliced chicken breast
1 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 egg
I cup flour
¼ cup oil for frying
Spring Green Lettuce Mixture
Fresh basil, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Kalamata olives
Grated parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Set up your dredging station with 3 shallow bowls. Add 1 cup of flour to your first bowl. Beat the egg into your second bowl. Mix matzo meal, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper in the third bowl.

Pat your chicken breast dry with a paper towel and begin breading the chicken. First, coat your chicken with flour, followed by egg, and then completely cover in the matzo meal mixture. Set your chicken breast aside on a rack.

Heat your frying oil on the stove on medium-low. Once oil is nice and hot drop in your chicken breast and cook each side for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. It is important you only flip your chicken once. Once chicken is cooked, place it on a rack to cool and sprinkle with sea salt.

Plate your lettuce mixture, tomatoes, olives, and basil. Slice fried chicken breast and lay on top of the salad. Drizzle balsamic vinegar, EVOO, and sprinkle on parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Quick Pesto Cellentani

This is the pasta content you have been craving! Ok, maybe just the pasta content I have been craving. Anyways, this dish is a favorite for me. I have really been into pasta without meat lately, keeping a strong focus on fresh produce and herbs to create flavorful, yet hearty sauces. A great pasta dish does not require a lot of ingredients, and this recipe proves that. The mushrooms, pesto and tomato come together to provide the perfect trio. Make sure you use strong pasta that will soak up the sauce, such as the cellentani or rigatoni. You do not need to make fresh pesto. Fresh is great, but pesto from a jar is quick and can be just as tasty. Most importantly, serve your pasta at room temperature. For those that require their food to be steaming hot, look away. I am a true believer that pasta is best when served lukewarm. Just trust me on this.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
½ 1b of dry cellentani pasta (1 ⅛ cups)
6 oz sliced white button mushrooms
3-4 oz jarred or fresh pesto (6-8 tablespoons)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Grated parmesan (for topping)
Salt and pepper

In a large kettle bring salty water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to help keep the pasta from sticking together.

In a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add in mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and continue to saute for another minute.

Once, water has reached a boil, add your pasta and cooking until al dente.

Add in chopped tomatoes to your mushroom mixture while continuing to saute. Add half of your pesto. Once pasta is cooked, take a slotted spoon and move pasta directly from the kettle to your sauce. Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Add in the second half of your pesto, fresh basil, 1 tbsp of butter and reserved pasta water. Continue to saute pasta, allowing sauce to thicken and noodles to become completely covered. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Plate your pasta and garnish with parmesan cheese and more fresh basil. Let cool to room temp before eating…trust me!

Blake’s Breakfast Sandwich

I am definitely a savory-over-sweet breakfast person. A breakfast sandwich is also a rare treat because it can often lead to needing a midday nap. However, when I have the ingredients on hand and am in the mood, it’s sandwich time. This is more of a suggestion than a recipe because you can really use any ingredients you like to build your breakfast sandwich. From vegetables to meats and breads to cheese, the options are endless. There are various ways to even cook your egg! Simply, there is no right or wrong. So here is the suggested recipe for how I make a breakfast sandwich.

Serves 1
Ingredients:

Toasted onion bagel
Slice of cheddar cheese
1 fried egg
Smoked deli turkey or ham
Sriracha
Butter (for frying egg and spreading on bagel)
Salt & Pepper

Melt a little butter into one side of a medium to larger size frying pan. Crack in your egg and then take your spatula and break up the yoke. Let the egg fry until the side touching the pan is firm, then flip. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

On the other side of the frying pan drop in a couple slices of smoked deli meat and a few squirts of sriracha. Mix the meat around allowing it to heat and even slightly brown (do this simultaneously as your egg cooks).

Toast and butter your bagel.

Once the egg is cooked, place the deli meat and slice of cheese on top of the egg. Turn down the heat, cover your pan and let the cheese melt.

Place your egg, cheese and meat mixture on your toasted bagel, pour some coffee and enjoy!

Baked Tilapia Over Brothy White Beans and Kale

Beans are taking over! In the midst of social distancing, this pantry staple is finding its way into our dinners week after week. I don’t normally give beans a regular chance, but tonight they were calling my name. No, you don’t need to mess with fresh beans. Canned beans are equally as lovely. Just remember to give them a good rinse. A light fish over brothy beans…it’s the perfect combo.

For the Tilapia

2 fresh tilapia fillets
Juice and zest from half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of butter melted
Salt and pepper

For the Beans

1 can white beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 medium fresh tomato, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped kale
1 tablespoon white cooking wine
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400℉.
Place 2 tablespoons of butter and a splash of olive oil in a pan. Add in shallot and garlic and saute until soft, (1-2 minutes).

Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add in fresh and canned tomatoes. Continue to saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Add in smoked paprika.
Rinse beans and add to the pan, continuing to let beans simmer.

While beans simmer, combine melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic. Place tilapia on a sheet pan and sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Brush lemon butter over the fish and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until flaky.

While fish bakes, add chopped kale. Continue to let beans simmer until fish bakes, add more salt and pepper to your beans.

Plate the beans in a shallow bowl with fish on top. Garnish with parmesan cheese (optional). Enjoy!

Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Flaky Sea Salt

I will be the first to tell you that I am not a baker, but being stuck inside has clearly messed with my brain. I told my mom that I was going to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and her immediate response was, “You don’t eat that stuff…what you are going to do with it?” Her concern was valid. I am one of those people that will eat one or two warm cookies right after they make their way from the oven. After that, it is unlikely I will touch a cookie again. However, for the right cookie I will make an exception. The right cookie needs to be soft, chewy, and rich. A burst of sweet with a slight hint of salt. My Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Flaky Sea Salt pass the “right cookie” test. Two kinds of sugar combined with melted butter give this cookie the perfect chew.

Makes One Dozen Cookies

Ingredients:
¾ cup light or brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt (½ a teaspoon is using salted butter)
½ cup unsalted or salted butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of baking soda
5-6 oz dark chocolate chunks
Flaky sea salt (for sprinkling on top of cookies)

In a large bowl, combine sugars, salt, and melted butter.

Whisk in eggs and vanilla until mixture is combined and smooth.

Sift in flour and baking soda, then folder the mixture with a spatula. Do not overmix. Overmixing will result in a fluffier, cake-like cookie. (we are not about cake-like cookies over here)

Fold in the chocolate chunks and place the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The longer you chill the dough the deeper in color and more intensely flavored your cookie will be. I recommend chilling the dough overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Scoop out your cookie dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. You should be able to fit 6 cookies on a sheet, leaving at least 4 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 10 minutes, sprinkle a dash of flaky sea salt on each cookie and then bake for another 2 minutes until the edges of the cookie have slightly browned.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool before serving.

Airplane Bloody Mary

On a Delta flight to NOLA, my friend and I ordered a couple Bloody Marys to celebrate our arrival. Because we were on a plane, the bloody was simple. Ice, a lime wedge, Finlandia vodka, and a can of Mr. & Mrs. T’s bloody mix, nothing else. Maybe I was tired or it was just because we were about to descend into a new city, but the bloody tasted so crispy and perfect. So here is my take on the airplane bloody that I crave now and then.

Serves: 1
Ingredients:

1 ½ ounces Finlandia Vodka (or any other vodka)
4 ounces Mr. & Mrs. T’s Bloody Original Bloody Mary Mix
2 lime wedges
Garlic green olives (see below)
1 pickle wedge (preferably Claussen)

For the Garlic green olives:
1 jar of green manzanilla olives
8-10 cloves of garlic, quartered

Empty around half of the jar of olives into a bowl. Add half of chopped garlic and mix. Place the other half of the olives and their juice back into the jar. Add the rest of the garlic and mix. Cap the jar and place back in the fridge to marinate for 24 to 48 hours. The longer they marinate the more garlic flavor they will take on before you eat them.

For the Bloody:

Squeeze one lime wedge into your glass. Fill the class with ice. Add vodka and then the Bloody Mary mix. Stir. Garnish with pickle wedge, lime wedge, and garlic green olives. Sip while imagining you are on an airplane headed somewhere fabulous.

Classic Creamed Spinach

Growing up in Wisconsin, my family frequented supper clubs on the weekends or special occasions for steak dinner. One of my favorite side dishes to have with my steak is a true steakhouse classic, creamed spinach. In fact, my love for creamed vegetables runs much deeper than that. From creamed corn to cream peas, the combination of a hearty vegetable with simple, yet savory, cream sauce is what I am all about. I also enjoy the occasional steak fry at home. This recipe is my take on the classic side.

Ok, I understand that cooked spinach is not a favorite for most, and many of you are going to breeze by this recipe in disgust. That is fine. However, the next time you make a steak, take a chance and give this recipe a try. Your disgust may turn to love.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic or 4 small cloves, minced
2 to 2 ½ pounds fresh spinach, rinsed and trimmed
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
Salt
Pepper
1 tsp flour (if needed)
Nutmeg (optional)

Saute half of your butter, chopped onion, garlic in a pan. Add a couple pinches of salt to draw the water from the onion and some dashes of pepper for taste.

Once the onion is soft, add in your spinach and saute until spinach is wilted and cooked down.

Pour in bring heavy cream and bring mixture to a boil. Add in the other half of your butter and a dash of nutmeg. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for about 15 minutes allowing the sauce to thicken and all the flavors to come together. Add a couple more pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

Note: If you find that your sauce is not thickening enough, whisk in a teaspoon of flour until dissolved and continue to let the mixture simmer.

Serve with your favorite cut of steak! I prefer a bone-in ribeye (a recipe for another day).

Zero-Waste Vegetable Soup

As we find ourselves stuck inside, many of you are cooking more than usual. I am here to help you navigate what is currently in your pantry and fridge and turn it into something tasty. This particular recipe focuses on using up vegetables that are past their prime in an attempt to prevent wasting perfectly good food and turning it into something delicious. There are really no rules to this recipe. Feel free change up most, if not all of the ingredients based on what you have. The key is to use up produce or items that will potentially go to waste in the next day or so. The key to starting off any good soup is your mirepoix, or mixture of sauteed chopped vegetables. A typical mirepoix consists of chopped onion, carrot, and celery that is sauteed in some kind of fat (butter, oil, etc.) with salt to help release water from the vegetables. For this recipe, I only had carrot and onion, which is just fine. Feel free items such as spinach, kale, cauliflower and/or any frozen or fresh vegetable you have on hand. Like I said, no rules!

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
Chopped carrots, about 1 ½ to 2 cups
8 cloves of garlic; 4 for roasting and 4 minced directly into soup
Fresh tomatoes of any kind (I had a cherry tomato mixture) or 1, 15 oz can of tomatoes
64 oz (8 cups) of stock of choice (vegetable, chicken, turkey, etc.)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of sambal oelek (optional)
1 can of beans of your choice (I used garbanzo beans)
8 oz (1 cup) dried pasta of your choice
Handful of fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425℉.

In a large kettle or dutch oven, melt butter and saute onion and carrot until just soft. Add a couple pinches of salt to help draw water out of the vegetables. When mirepoix is soft, add minced garlic, bay leaves, and other seasonings and continue to saute for 1-2 minutes. Add in stock and bring the soup to a simmer.

Chop tomatoes in half and place on a sheet pan with 4 cloves of garlic. Toss with olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for about 10-12 minutes until tomatoes and garlic are soft. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, blend with a food processor or blender until you have a smooth paste. Add to soup and continue to let soup simmer for 20 minutes.

Please note: The step above is optional. You do not need to roast fresh tomatoes and garlic to still make this recipe great. Feel free to simply add in a can of tomatoes and mince the rest of your garlic right into your soup. I opted to roast my veggies and create a simple paste. This is not necessary.

Drain and rinse beans and add to soup. Continue to let your soup simmer while you cook your pasta.

In a separate pot, bring about 6 cups of salty water to a boil. Add in a splash of olive oil to keep your pasta from sticking together. Add in dry pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse your pasta under very cold water to help halt the cooking process. Add your pasta into soup and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaves. Ladle finished soup into a bowl and garnish however you wish. I like to use fresh basil or parsley and parmesan cheese. Serve with toasty, crusty bread.