Authentique Wine Cellars – Pinot Noir, 2015

  • Basic info: Authentique Wine Cellars “The Corridor” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR – 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $35 (Backcountry Wines)
  • Look: Dark garnet in color. Good legs.
  • Smell: Subtle alcohol with dark berry aromas.
  • Taste: Raspberry, black cherry, caramel and a little milk chocolate. There is a black forest cake note in this wine and the finish is pretty good with the caramel and cherry flavors lingering.
  • Conclusions: I liked this wine. It was really nice to drink, but it wasn’t one that blew me away. I’m not sure why, either. Looking at the description it should be something I’m ga-ga over, but it just wasn’t. It was good, very good, but not one I’m probably going to remember six months from now.
  • Other notes: We had this when John came to town – I showed him the spreadsheet of wine and said, “pick.” It was nice to share a bottle with him and get another opinion on the wine.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the winery, “Enigmatic. Pomegranate, bergamot and dusty raspberry.  The palate is bright with yellow raspberry and great tension lingering for a long baking spice finish.  16 months elevage in 40% new French Oak.” (I forgot to write down the abv and can’t find it on the website. Oops.)


Lemon Cupcakes

Cupcakes. Just say the word and you almost have to smile. I love cupcakes and have been getting better about the icing, so I seem to be making them with a little more regularity these days. It also helps that I’m not swamped with school and work and whatever else always seems to come up.

With summer here, I wanted something fresh and refreshing. I thought about strawberry or peach (one of those may be next) but I went with lemon. I love lemon flavor and since I had a number of lemons in the fridge that needed to be used quickly, why not go for lemon cupcakes. Perfect portions, convenient icing delivery system and easy to make.


  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup self rising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Heat over to 350. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light yellow in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and continue beating. Add lemon zest and juice and just combine. Add half the four and mix well, then add half the milk. Repeat. Add vanilla extract if using and mix all ingredients so they are combined but do not over-mix.

Use an ice-cream scoop (if available) and divide batter among a 12 cupcake pan, lined. Bake for about 18 minutes. Let cook completely before icing.

For the icing, combine lemon juice and butter in mixing bowl and beat on high until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, about a 1/3 cup at a time, scraping the side of the bowl about every 2-3 additions. Add the zest and combine well.

I just used a regular knife to ice the cupcakes, but you could pipe it on for a prettier effect. Candied lemon slices would also look fantastic on these, but I was going for simple and flavorful instead of really pretty. Maybe next time.


Peterson, Zinfandel – 2013

  • Basic info: Peterson “Old School Zinfandel” Dry Creek Valley, CA – 2013
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $20
  • Look: Dark garnet in color. Opaque. Nice legs with a little time in the glass.
  • Smell: Cherry, oak, fresh tobacco and strawberry.
  • Taste: Tart cherry, dark fruit with a touch of vanilla and oak. Black cherry on the finish maybe a touch of chocolate in there.
  • Conclusions: I loved this wine. This is what zinfandel should be for me. Lots of layers of flavor with none of the bitter notes that some reds can get. Deep cherry and a touch of chocolate with a hint of sweetness, but not a sweet wine by any stretch. Yeah … this one goes on the “get again” list.
  • Other notes: I was nervous when I saw the bottle because I was a little afraid that the wine would match the art and I’d have an over-heavy punch-you-in-the-face wine. But it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of flavor in this wine, but it held back the punch. Just lots of great drinking here.
  • From the bottle: The bottle itself doesn’t have any notes, but from the website, “Blended primarily from vineyards in the Northern Dry Creek Valley, Old School has a style that is full of flavor and character but not over the top. We want a wine that is refreshing and “highly drinkable” and satisfying; the type of Zin you can either open on a weeknight or take to a party without hesitation. As a bonus to an already great wine, each year our designer Chris Blum comes up with a new image and accompanying story to entertain and amuse, starting on the front and finishing on the back label.Robust dark-toned aromatics—briary berry, plum, spices and oak—fill the senses and lead into this easy-sipping wine.” 13.9% alcohol by volume.

img_20180522_193327Yes, I went heavy on the pour after tasting it. And I don’t regret it in the least.



Mom said  I could write this month’s update. She says we kittens have grown so much but are still really cute. I think we are still little and like to run around and play, especially with the dog. He’s a little scary just because he is so big, but he’s really nice to us. He even let me play with his fur when mommy was brushing us all the other day. (I don’t like the brush, but I love the dog fur!) Mom said she could make a small dog with the fur she gets from brushing him, but I don’t want her to make a small dog, I like Arthas.

img_20180611_124455Tigger was a little grumpy the other day, he went to see the doctor. Mom said it was his “once a year” check-up, but he still was not happy. Tigger said he was fine and the doctor told him he was super cute and in purrfect health and mom said he did’t have to go back until next year. It’s a good thing too – he was really cranky when he came home.

Tigger is a lot larger than Alinea and I, but I’m getting to be bigger than her. Mom says Alinea is her little kitten even though we are the same age. We still play all over the house, but when she gets tired she either go to Tigger or climbs the tree in the backyard. Mom said she may have a heart attack one day because Alinea goes so high in the tree. I don’t like going up in the tree, but I do love playing with all the leaves. Mom said I’m a great leaf hunter!

Mommy says we are all good babies, but she tells Arthas he is a good boy a lot. He tries to help around the house but I don’t know that he is really helping – I think he makes a mess, but I’m just a cat so I’m not sure. He does guard the front door a lot and he barks when other dogs walk outside the house. I’m glad he does that because we don’t want another dog.

I’m going to go chase Alinea some more and maybe catch some leaves. Mom’s garden has a few fun ones to play with and it’s nice and warm out there.

Love, Ella



I was looking through my fridge and wasn’t sure exactly what to make. I tend to shop based on what I am going to cook, so there are few days with “extra” food in the fridge but I did manage to make a quiche.

Simple was the objective. I had a Pillsbury pie crust so I used that. For the filling I used onion, garlic, tomato and spinach.  I pulled out some cheese we had from the cheese chop and I went with one I can’t remember the name of, but it had a taste similar to cheddar but with a slight parmesan note. The egg was just egg, yogurt, salt and pepper. Again – simple.


  • 1 pie crust
  • 1/4 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ~2 cups baby spinach
  • cheese to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 container plain Greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper

Par bake the pie crust in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. While this is baking, prepare the filling. Once out of the oven, reduce heat the 350.

In a pan over medium heat, cook onions, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook 2 minutes then add spinach and toss until wilted. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, mix eggs and yogurt. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Crumble cheese (cheddar would work really well here, but use what is on hand) over the bottom of the pie crust. Add vegetable mixture, then another layer of cheese. (This sounds really cheesy, but I think I used about 2 ounces of cheese total – I could have used more, maybe a quarter cup) Pour egg mixture over and shake pie plate to set.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minute, just until set. Cover part way through if crust browns to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let rest 5-7 minutes. Slice and serve.


J. Bucher, Pinot Noir Rose – 2016

  • Basic info: J. Bucher “Rose of Pinot Noir” Russian River Valley, CA – 2016
  • Type: Rose/Pink
  • Price estimate: $25
  • Look: Electric dark pink, almost a light red in color. Vibrant.
  • Smell: This was weird, but I swear it smelled like herbed butter.
  • Taste: Pine, strawberry, sour apple and watermelon. Finish was fine, but not anything memorable.
  • Conclusions: Bob liked this a lot more than I did. I thought it was okay – pretty good, but not great. The first few sips were odd, and I think some of that had to do with the smell of the wine, but it was okay. It isn’t one I’m going to seek out again, but it was nice.
  • Other notes: This was one of the six wines we got from Underground Wine Events, which focuses on small producers. The Longboard was so good, I had really high hopes for this one, but it just wasn’t fantastic for me.
  • From the bottle: “World-class wines start in the vineyard. For over 50 years, our family has farmed in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley. Our passion and dedication for producing the finest agricultural products ensures exceptional fruit from out vineyard. We look forward to sharing our wines and our Journey with you.” 13.1% alcohol by volume.


My favorite pizza

Every now and then I come up with a flavor combination that just works. This pizza is one of those. We have a spot in the cafeteria at work that will do to order personal pizzas and on one of those days when I forgot lunch, I grabbed a pizza and came up with this combination. I then recreated it at home and its just as good.

Usually I make my own crust using a Rick Bayless recipe for the dough. But I was going for simple here, so Pillsbury to the rescue – instant pizza dough. The Rick Bales recipe is better, but it’s been a hectic month (yes, I know it’s still early).

Sauce is pesto. I went with a classic basil pesto with almonds, garlic, cheese and lemon for the sauce. I like the really garlic-y nature of the pesto and made it a little thinner than I usually do so it would spread easily.

Toppings are simple – spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. That’s it, nothing else. Handful of spinach leaves and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes gives you a bright, yet earthy flavor. I thought about kale for the homemade version since I have so much in the garden, but really, the spinach is best.

Cheese should always be classic – mozzarella and a little Parmesan. I did try with gruyere once, but the classic pizza cheese works best.

The best compliment I got on this pizza came from a student and a coworker who each asked for a piece and then exclaimed how good it was despite having no meat on it. For die-hard meat eaters, that was high praise indeed.