Wine Tasting: 2011 Apothic Red

6562565813_eda947f70f_zI’ve been seeing this wine everywhere lately.  It’s at wine tastings, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, wine stores…can’t imagine what the company must be spending on marketing for their red and white blends.  It is a very affordable bottle, between $8-10 on average.  I decided to buy their Red Winemaker’s Blend to see what all the fuss was about.  Overall, I thought it was a good, dark berry/spice red wine (mixture of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Syrah).  It wasn’t great, but it was good.  I’d venture to say it’s moderately above average, as it lasted well over a couple of days, though ultimately it was forgettable. Learn more about it here and here.  I’d be interested in anyone’s take on the Apothic white blend, too.

Wine Tasting: 2010 Montebuena Rioja


I tried this wine through the recommendation of the sign in the wine store.  It is an amazing price (less than $10 most places) and is rated 90 points.  Excellent value and an even better wine.  I would totally buy this again.  I got it to celebrate signing my contract at my new job, and it came through.  Fruity red Tempranillo with a bit of spice.  Better with some time after uncorking; I didn’t decant it but after some time with the cork out it opened up more.  Just as good, if not better, the next day.


Read more here.

Chipotle Chicken Chili



This recipe was a quick weeknight meal this past winter.  Takes about 30 minutes.  I only added one chipotle chili, but that’s because we don’t like that much heat.  From Serious Eats.

Chipotle Chicken Chili

  • 3 Tb olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • salt
  • 2 jalapenos (or green chilies), finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, finely chopped (I used one)
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans white beans (such as great northern or cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (I didn’t have this)
  • Avocado, tortilla chips, limes for garnish (optional)


  1. In large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add jalapeños, garlic, cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add chicken and cook until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add chipotle chilies, beans, and broth and bring to simmer. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add corn to just heat through. Season to taste. Stir in cilantro and serve with avocado, chips, and lime.  Serves 4.

Beer Tasting: Magic Hat #9, Magic Hat Circus Boy, Leinenkugel Canoe Paddler



I tried three beers from the grocery store:  two from Magic Hat and one from Leinenkugel’s.

Magic Hat #9:  Named a “not quite Pale Ale,” #9 is a pretty familiar brand, available year-round.  Pretty refreshing.

Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler:  This is the newest of the seasonal beers from Leinie’s, described as a “Kolsch style with rye,” which is a type of German beer brewed for hot weather.  A bit of rye and also malt flavor.

Magic Hat Circus Boy:  This was a good, bright kind of flavor (lemongrass) in this German-style beer.  American Hefeweizen.  This is also available year-round.

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels at Home



I got this pretzel-making kit at the grocery store on sale over the winter, and it became a fun at-home date for the two of us.  The kit comes with enough supplies to make about 10 pretzels, either cinnamon-sugar or traditional kosher salt pretzels, and there are recipes inside to explain how to make other things with the pretzel dough.  On the inside of the box there’s a coupon for a buy one pretzel get one free at an Auntie Anne’s store, too, so if you really screw this up you can at least get a free pretzel from them.



Here’s most of our handiwork, and as you can see it’s pretty simple to make.  The directions are clear and the ingredients are of good quality.  Remember, though, like any soft pretzel, they don’t last long before getting hard and chewy.  Otherwise, I’d say this was a good baking kit to buy.