Sunday, January 31

Flavor of the Month: Zinfandel Ice

'Tis pity wine should be so deleterious, for tea and coffee leave us much more serious”
~ Lord Byron

After following Bake at 350's Flavor of the Month parties for several months, I now have a blog and am actually participating.  It probably sounds silly to say that I am nervous, but I have the greatest respect for Bridget and her baking.  Have you seen her cookies?  They are absolutely stunning.  I find myself just staring at the photos and drooling.  I have often wondered if I could be her next door neighbor.  I would gladly be a guinea pig for her creations.  Then again, that would also make it really hard to lose baby weight.  Oh well.

Bake at 350
Back to this post... without further adieu (and just a few butterflies), may I present my contribution to this month's theme of Boozy... Zinfandel Ice.

When my husband and I were first married, we kept ending up with bottles of Merlot.  I can't remember why.  Maybe they were house-warming gifts.  Maybe they were wedding gifts.  Whatever the reason, we had quite a bit of wine in the house.  However, our tastes run toward the sweeter end of the spectrum.  Give me a Riesling or an Asti and I am a happy woman (add a hot bubble bath and an hour of quiet and I am even happier).  But Merlot... I can only drink it on a rare occasion.

[Pink Tea Warning:  Wine Aficionados should stop here, lest I offend.  Enjoy your glass of wine for its pure flavors and pretend you never heard of anyone turning it into a dessert.]

One day I came across a recipe for a Merlot Ice in my Southern Living Cookbook.  It was delicious, simple, and a great use of merlot.  While thinking about this month's challenge, I got to thinking about that old recipe.  However, I don't have any Merlot in my house right now (and there is a foot of snow outside, so I am not planning on picking any up).  But I do have a number of other wines, and since necessity is the mother of invention, the recipe has been reinvented based on my snow-bound pantry (and wine rack).

3/4 cup White Zinfandel
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Boil the water and add to sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Allow to cool slightly.  Add wine.  Pour the liquid into a shallow pan, cover, and freeze until firm.  Once ready to serve, let stand for 5 minutes.  Scrape the mixture with a fork until fluffy crystals.

Yields 2 servings

This is such an easy recipe to customize with different wines.  Use a little more sugar with a drier wine and less sugar with a sweeter one.  You may also want to vary the amount of water depending on how full-bodied the wine is.  I am dying to try this with a Shiraz as well.

Keep in mind that the alcohol is not cooked out in this case.  My friend and I forgot this once and then wondered why we were feeling a little light-headed.  Have I mentioned that I can be a bit ditzy at times?

Hope you enjoy.  Let me know what versions you try. Pin It

Saturday, January 30

Snow Day and Snow Cream

“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”
~ Dylan Thomas

I love snow days.  They are such a wonderful excuse to be a homebody.  With a foot of snow outside, we aren't going anywhere any time soon.  And after a long week at work, I don't mind some time at home with my family.  So, I am embracing this snow day as my Sabbath... my day of rest to celebrate the blessings in my life.  No housework.  No errands.  Just enjoying time inside our warm and cozy home.  (Due to bad colds, we are not allowing the children outside in the cold.  After all, the oldest is only 2 1/2.  Maybe tomorrow when it is warmer, meaning 30 degrees.)

For us, this day of rest means sitting down for breakfast together to enjoy warm blueberry muffins, warm tea, and make-shift coffee. (My husband's coffee machine broke this morning, so we are trying to make it on the stovetop.  I am so thankful that I drink tea.)

From then on, our day has been one of cuddling up and watching "The Little Mermaid," building towers out of blocks, playing dress-up, reading "Green Eggs and Ham," a little "sewing" on my part (I'll explain my lack of sewing skills one day), and, of course, tea parties like this.  (I'll be posting more details on these little goodies in the coming weeks.)

Our newest adventure was Snow Cream.  After reading many facebook comments on this subject (our area really doesn't get much snow, so all of our friends have been posting how they were celebrating in the snow), we decided we had to try this.  There seem to be two recipes.  Since we had heavy cream and did not have condensed milk, we went with the heavy cream version.  How have I not known about this on previous snow days? 

Assuming this powdery beauty continues and we have clean snow, we're going to have to try this again tomorrow.  I'm hoping to try it with a ginger syrup that my husband gave me for Christmas.  Mmmm.  Or maybe peppermint extract.  I can think of all sorts of ways to flavor this.  Ah, an excuse for experimentation.

3 cups clean powdery snow
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
vanilla extract to taste (I like a strong vanilla flavor)

Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Stir in snow until an ice-cream-like consistency.

Bon appetit!  And let me know how you flavor your snow cream.
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Friday, January 29

My Top 20 Winter Loves

“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.” ~ William E. Gladstone

It's supposed to snow tonight... something unusual in our area.  All week we have watched for the latest reports to see how much we'll get.  Even knowing that it isn't to start until later tonight, I keep glancing out the window to check for those first flakes.  There's something fun about the anticipation.  It reminds me of my school days when I would anxiously await to hear if we had a snow day.  You see, when you live in places where it rarely snows, every snow day is a celebration.

Sitting here, in the joy of expectation, I find myself thinking about all the joys of winter.  So, here's my list of my top 20 winter loves...

(1) Hot Chocolate, particularly stirred with a candy cane
(2) Cuddling up on the couch with a blanket and a good book
(3) Roasted winter vegetables
(4) Crisp walks
(5) My daughter responding to any discussion of snow with "I want to throw snowball at Mommy"
(6) Throwing a snowball at my daughter
(7) Towels warmed from hanging over the vent
(8) Chocolate... the perfect seasonal treat
(9) Wine on a cold night
(10) Candlelight
(11) Fires in the fireplace
(12) Sweaters
(13) Snow Days!!!
(14) Florida citrus (clementines, grapefruit, oranges... oh my)
(15) Chili
(16) The melancholy solitude
(17) Being at home with my family
(18) the Winter Olympics, particularly the Figure Skating
(19) Paperwhites
and, of course,
(20) Hot tea

What are your favorite things about winter?
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Class Valentines

"Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.”
~ Henry Fielding

It's that time of year.  Soon the class lists will be coming out and it will be time to write Valentines for every classmate.  Since my daughter is only two and a half, this means that the responsibility falls to Mommy.  I have trouble buying most of the Valentine cards at the store, though I'm not sure why.  So, I find myself researching the web for inspiration for something a little more fun.  The great thing is that it is so easy to make your own.  All I use is Microsoft Word.  With a little clipart and a few shapes, you can create something unique.

Last year I took inspiration from my daughter's nickname... little monkey.  Here's what I came up with:
This year the choice was easy... Owls.  They are everywhere.  I see them in stores and on blogs.  So, I figured I'd join the foray.  The slogan is a little cheesy, but that seems to work for 2 year olds.  Here's my idea:

What do you think?  Isn't clipart amazing!
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