Blueberry Lemon Scones

I got to play in the kitchen today…. and chose to experiment with a scone recipe that uses my favorite @JiffyMixes baking mix. Jiffy mix has been made by the Chelsea Milling Company, a family-owned business started in 1901. Since we lived in Chelsea, MI for a number of years, I love to use this product for biscuits, scones, pancakes, or even fried chicken… it’s so versatile. Here’s a photo of the box – look for it in the baking aisle of your local grocery store.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups Jiffy Mix
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp lemon zest (I use the zest of one lemon)
  • 1/2 heaping cup blueberries, if using frozen, don’t thaw (I use 1 handful of blueberries)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP liquid (I used a mixture of half almond milk, half @BoordyVineyards white wine)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375* F
  • In a large bowl, blend Jiffy Mix, sugar, egg, liquids, and vanilla. Add zest and berries and mix thoroughly, but gently.
  • Lay a piece of parchment on cookie sheet and scoop out dough into small scones. I use a medium size cookie scoop and lightly press the dough down to flatten slightly. I like to lightly dust dough with sugar before baking
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until edges begin to brown.
  • Let cool for at least 5 minutes before drizzling with glaze.

If you choose, you can drizzle the scones with a simple glaze made with the juice of one lemon and confectioner’s sugar. In this case, I also added a dash of salt and a splash of fat-free half and half. This is all personal preference, but I think it makes the scones look delicious!

I’ve made this recipe using a lot of different blends of add-ins such as dehydrated raspberries with cocoa nibs and orange zest with mini chocolate chips. The basic recipe isn’t difficult and doesn’t take a huge time commitment, which makes it a winner in my book.

I hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know what different combinations you’ve found to be delicious as well.

Ali’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you come to my house, on any given day, you will find a large tub of homemade chocolate chip cookie dough in my refrigerator. I know that my boys are now “grown and flown”, but this is one piece of their childhood that I know will carry over for years to come. I will *always* have cookie dough in my fridge – the ability to quickly have homemade cookies available, whether to share immediately or to gift to someone stopping by, is something that truly brings me joy.

This is a freshly made double batch of my chocolate chip cookie dough

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 2 cups Butter Crisco
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T red wine (preferably dry)
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups of chocolate morsels (I use a mixture of dark/bittersweet, mini chips, regular chips, and a small amount of espresso chips)

DIRECTIONS:

  • In large mixer bowl, with a paddle attachment, blend the butter crisco, white sugar, and brown sugar together until well combined and very light in color. I let the mixer run while I put together the dry and wet ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, chili powder, and ginger. These are your “dry ingredients”. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl (I use a 2-cup silicone measuring cup), break the eggs and whisk together. Once the eggs are well combined, add the vanilla, almond extract, water, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Gently stir to combine. These are your “wet ingredients”. Set aside.
  • Once the sugar mixture looks “light and fluffy”, begin to slowly add your wet and your dry ingredients, alternating between wet and dry and mix well between each, NOTE: don’t use all the dry ingredients – leave a small amount in the bowl to toss with the chocolate chips.
  • As your mixer finishes blending your cookie dough, measure out your chocolate chips into the same bowl used to gather the dry ingredients and toss the chips with the small amount of the flour mixture that you saved.
  • Add in the entire contents of the bowl containing the chocolate chips/flour mixture. You can do this in stages or all at once, just make sure to add it all. Take time to mix everything well.
  • Transfer your completed chocolate chip cookie dough into a container and store in your fridge, baking cookies as needed… Mine rarely lasts more than a month.
  • To bake: preheat your oven to 375*F. Using a small cookie scoop, place balls of cookie dough on a tray covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake cookies at 375* for 11 minutes. If you’re making this recipe for the first time, bake cookies for 10 minutes and adjust cooking time for your oven.

The butter crisco/sugar mixture is ready for the next step.
Wet and dry ingredients are combining into cookie dough,
Chips have been added and the mixer is getting everything together.
Lots of chips make for cookies with different size chips in each cookie

There are many, many ways to make this recipe your own. I originally started with the traditional Toll House cookie recipe but got bored making the same… thing… every… time… especially when if felt like I was making cookies ALL THE TIME. Here’s the back story:

When we were originally stationed at the US Naval Academy in 1991, I had a 1 year old son and my husband was teaching in Seamanship & Navigation, attached to the Sailing Department. He filled out an application to be an Officer Rep for a sports team and was pleasantly surprised when he was selected to be the O-Rep for the Varsity Men’s Soccer team! I became involved when he came up with the idea of giving each player a bag of cookies for his birthday. I would make enough chocolate chip cookies to fill a gallon-sized ziplock bag, write “Happy Birthday to ___ from Mrs LT”, and drop it off at Main Office in time for each player’s birthday. This was a really fun idea… in theory. I think we had one birthday in the first month, but the next month we had four birthdays in two weeks! I quickly learned to make cookie dough in double batches and started experimenting with the recipe to come up with something unique and delicious.

Over the years, I’ve added and adjusted the recipe until I came up with the one I’ve posted here. I work for @BoordyVineyard, so I love to incorporate their wine into any recipe I create – and pairing their red wine with chocolate makes it such a happy experience! I hope you enjoy trying this recipe… and feel free to tag me (@AliSportShots) !

Another take on “Thank You Muffins”

I call these “Thank You Muffins” because I make them to thank anyone who comes to my house – our landscapers, the mulch guys, the electrician, the plumber, the septic guys, and sometimes even our UPS guy! It’s my personal way of letting them all know how much I appreciate the work these people do to make my life easier… and doesn’t everyone like to know they are appreciated?

I’ve been sharing this recipe for years… and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon. I love having a recipe in my arsenal that uses a short list of ingredients, comes together quickly, and is (in my opinion) fool-proof… this recipe hits every one of those criteria!

Chocolate Thank You Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box cake mix – I used chocolate cake, but you can use any flavor or brand you like best. Sale brands are great to keep on hand for this recipe.
  • 1 can solid pack pumpkin – I typically buy 10 cans at a time, simply so I am always able to whip up a batch of muffins whenever needed
  • A small handful of Mini chocolate chips – off-brands are fine to use – they play a supporting role in this recipe.
  • A small amount of wine – I use red wine with chocolate, carrot cake, or spice cake muffins…. white wine with yellow cake, or anywhere I don’t want that pink hue to show. This is a great way to use up any “leftover wine”.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat your oven to 375*F
  • Cover two large cookie trays with parchment paper.
  • Put your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. If using a carrot cake recipe, feel free to let the mixture rest a little to allow the dehydrated carrots to plump a bit… it’s not necessary, but can help as you’re doling the mixture onto trays.
  • Scoop mixture onto cookie trays using a small cookie scoop. NOTE: I use the smallest cookie scoop from Pampered Chef, but will occasionally use the medium sized cookie scoop. The only difference will be in your cooking time and the number of muffin balls you can make. If I use the smallest scoop, I can make approximately 25 muffin balls/tray. Using the medium scoop only allows me to make approximately 18 muffin balls/tray.
  • Bake muffins in preheated 375* oven for 15-18 minutes (18-22 min for medium muffins).
  • Remove and allow to cool – I pull the muffins/parchment off the tray so the bottoms of the muffins don’t continue to cook.

Here are some photos of the process:

A “large” example of a “handful” of chips.
The dry red wine I used for these muffins: @BoordyVineyards South Mountain Red
Scooping the muffin mixture onto a prepared tray, using the small scoop
Two trays of Thank You muffins go into the oven

Another alternative is to make this recipe into full-sized muffins, using a muffin tin, or even baking it in a 9×13 baking pan and cutting into pieces. The recipe itself is incredibly adaptable, but your baking times will need to be adjusted. I love having bites of cake to share with people, so this is my personal preference.

I hope you find this recipe helpful. I have written it down a few different times and have made many different versions, all of which have been delicious. Feel free to message me here, or on my FromTheBottomOfAWineBottle Facebook page, if you have any questions!

Thank You Muffins

It’s been ages since I last posted a recipe or a food pic here. I’ve been sharing things on my Instagram account (@AliSportShots), but sitting down to formally type out something has taken a back seat. I’ve posted *sooo* many recipes here (over 175, by last count) and I like to be able to share something totally new, if possible…. however, I realized that I’ve been mentioning “Thank You Muffins” on multiple platforms and have never written this recipe for others to use, so I’m fixing that now.

Here’s my very favorite recipe… the one that I make at least once a week… the one I use anytime I need to express my appreciation for someone… the one that I’ve made SO many times throughout the past year that it’s become a “thing” in our house. This is my recipe for Thank You Muffins.

The ingredients list is fairly simple and incredibly flexible:

  • 1 box cake mix (any flavor)
  • 1 can solid pack pumpkin
  • Add-ins (chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, seeds, etc. – a palm-full)
  • Wine (just a few splashes, to thin out the batter a touch)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375*. Place a large piece of parchment paper (or use a silpat) on two large baking sheets
  • In a large bowl, empty the cake mix, add the pumpkin, include whatever add-ins you’d like, then splash in some wine. Mix thoroughly.
  • Using a small cookie scoop (I have all three sizes from Pampered Chef and prefer using the smallest for these muffins), place small scoops of batter on the prepared baking sheets. I’ve been able to get as many as 42 mini-muffins from a batch but it varies.
  • Bake at 375* for 12-14 minutes, until the muffins spring back if touched on the top. Remove and allow to cool on the paper (I lift the paper off the baking sheet so the bottoms of the muffins don’t continue to cook). NOTE: if you’re making these as full-size muffins, in a muffin tin, you’ll want to cook them at 400* for 15-17 minutes.
  • Once muffins are cool, you can freeze them for later use. I typically get two plates of muffins (or two weeks of muffins for my landscapers) from each batch.

I have used every flavor of cake mix for this recipe and tend to try and pair the flavor of the wine with the flavor of the cake mix. I’ve used chocolate cake mix with red wines, spice cake with red (or white) wines, yellow cake with white wine, carrot cake with rose’ (or most anything)… I’ve even used a sweet red (or a little sparkling wine) with a strawberry cake mix. Each one has come out well and has conveyed the right message…. “thank you”.

I must confess that the origin of this recipe is from about ten years ago, at a Weight Watchers meeting. It started as a two-ingredient sweet… cake mix and a can of pumpkin… no eggs, no oil, no complications… but I couldn’t leave it alone. I liked the idea of making full-size muffins from this recipe, which you can do easily, but I am a big fan of “bite-size” treats. After monkeying around with the recipe, I came up with the one you see above. My boys loved when I would make this recipe for their friends… especially since the main ingredient was solid-pack pumpkin… and I was happy to make it because I felt good about serving something relatively healthy to people.

Try this and see what you and your family think… I hope you enjoy it as much as me!

Cookie for one?

Recently, I found a recipe I had saved for a “single-serve cookie”.  Is this even a thing that people do?  I typically make a double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, so that I’m able to whip up a batch of cookies in 15 minutes, if we’re expecting visitors or workers (roofers, plumber, electrician, the ADT guy… etc).  I’d never even considered making a single cookie, but I was intrigued.  I was also curious to see if I could make one with a little wine added… because, why not… #amIright?

SingleServeCookie

I have to confess that I was impressed with the final result.  It didn’t have quite the same consistency as I’d like for a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but it was certainly easy and tasty.  Let me know if you ever decide to try this option.  I’d like to add a little scoop of vanilla ice cream, but otherwise, this recipe was one that I’ll definitely keep in my back pocket for time when I just need one cookie.  Enjoy!

NOTE: if you don’t want to add wine, just leave it out and increase the vanilla.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1 Tablespoon white sugar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla (2 drops)

1/4 teaspoon red wine (2 drops)

pinch salt

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup flour

2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips (it may sound weird, but I’d actually use less)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together and spoon into a microwave-safe ramekin bowl.
  2. Microwave 60-90 seconds.
  3. Top with ice cream or eat straight out of the bowl.

Easy Peasy!  Now, you’re never more than 5 minutes from having a fresh chocolate chip cookie… and that’s not a bad thing, right?

Sausage Balls (Pork and Turkey)

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a complete wine blog post – please forgive me.  We moved last year and life got more chaotic than usual.  If you ever want to see what I’m doing with wine, or have any questions, please follow me on this blog’s Facebook page (FromTheBottomOfAWineBottle).

Today, I’m sharing this recipe from my childhood.  My mom found this recipe in our church cookbook and she used to make these sausage balls all the time.  They call for three main ingredients and are easy to bake/freeze for a quick breakfast, an after school snack, or even a light dinner.  I’ve added a little white wine, simply to make the finished product slightly less dense, but you can certainly leave the wine out if you prefer.

SausageBalls

Ingredients:

1 pound bulk pork sausage (I used pork sausage, but you can easily substitute ground turkey sausage, if you can find it)

3 cups Bisquik or Jiffy baking mix (I prefer Jiffy mix since we used to live in Chelsea, MI, where the Jiffy company is located)

10 oz shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

White Wine (I used a white wine from Boordy Vineyard, called Rockfish, but you can use your favorite dry white wine)

Fresh Rosemary (This is one of my favorite flavors with sausage – feel free to omit if you’re not a fan)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Blend sausage, baking mix, and cheese until it comes together thoroughly.  I use a mixer, but this can be made in the same way you would mix up a meatloaf.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, form balls of the mixture and place them on the prepared baking sheets.  They won’t spread out as they bake, but I like to spread them out on the baking sheets so air can circulate for cooking.
  4. Bake sausage balls for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  5. Serve warm or allow to cool and put into bags in the freezer.  These make an excellent snack or light dinner and simply need to be warmed up in the microwave.

FOR TURKEY SAUSAGE BALLS:  If you prefer to use ground turkey instead of ground pork, here are a few photos from that option.  I also adjusted them to a smaller size, using a 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) scoop.  Here’s a photo of them, in all their cheesy goodness:

TurkeySausageBalls

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  As an alternative, I like to make this recipe into even smaller balls for appetizers.  You can turn up the heat by using a hot sausage or you can make it even more savory by adding other herbs.  It’s a great basic recipe to have on hand to share with friends.  Have fun with it!

SIMPLI’ – handcrafted soaps with wine

This Christmas, I really want to support small businesses as much as I can and the idea of being able to purchase items directly from an individual is extremely appealing.  If you’re looking for a wonderful stocking item, present for a neighbor, or a hostess gift, this is a company you should consider supporting:  www.simpliartisan.com

Simpli’ is a Gaelic word for simple and straightforward.  My dear friend, J, is the artist who is handcrafting small batch soaps and body products.  She comes up with her own recipes, selects incredible “good for you” skin products, and works diligently to use high-quality ingredients to make her soaps, beard products, and body butters.  The scents alone are wonderful but the fact that her items are made with such pure ingredients is even better… until she started making soaps with WINE!SIMPLI.jpg

How cool would it be to use a soap made with wine?  Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Pinot Gris all have their own place in Simpli’ soaps.  Each has a wonderful scent, cleansing lather, and is handcrafted in Northern Virginia.  These are a wonderful example of an artisan combining two of her passions… wine and crafting soaps.

I recently visited with J at her home and had the privilege to watch as she created a cooked soap and it was a really fun experience.  Watching the ingredients come together to thicken and become a soap, ready to cool in a handmade loaf pan, was fascinating… and the smell was intoxicating!

If you live in the Northern Virginia/DC area, you should consider finding this company at one of the local craft shows that are coming up this holiday season.  At the very least, you should consider looking through the Simpli’ shop for soaps, body butters, bug balm, salves, and deodorant.

J has been very generous and is offering a special coupon code to anyone who subscribes to this blog!  Sign onto her website, www.simpliartisan.com and use the coupon code BOTWINE17 to receive 10% off everything in her shop… but don’t delay because this coupon expires on 12/31/17.

Summer Watermelon Salad

It’s summer!  The time of fresh fruit and lazy days… the time when you want to be able to go outside and enjoy your friends and family… the time for easy or starter recipes…  This is when I like to have a few recipes on hand that make my life a little easier, especially on those days when the temperature is high and my energy is not.  For those days, I give you the Summer Watermelon Salad!

PicMonkey Image

This recipe couldn’t be easier… four ingredients and easy to adjust for the number of people you’re feeding!  This is actually one of my favorite lunches… light and simple, it just screams “SUMMER” to me.

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon – cut into bite-size pieces.  Use as much or as little as you like, but this is your *main* ingredient.  I typically use about 3 cups.
  • Feta cheese – I like to use crumbled *light* feta, but you can use whatever type makes you happy.   I dump in some from the container – about 1/2 cup.
  • Basil – if I have fresh, I take a small handful and cut into a chiffonade (little ribbons).  If not, I take a generous pinch of dried.  I’ve done both and fresh is definitely better in this – it’s a wonderful flavor!
  • White wine – I use what I have in my fridge, about 1/8-1/4 cup total.  I’ve used dry (Chardonnay and Pinot Gris/Grigio) and I’ve used semi-sweet/off-dry (Vidal Blanc and Viogner)… use what you like!

Directions:

  • Cut watermelon into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and basil.  Toss lightly and adjust amounts as needed.
  • Thumb 1/8-1/4 cup of white wine over the salad and allow time to marinate before serving.
  • I typically drain a bit of the liquid off before serving.  This ends up being a mixture of wine and watermelon juice that isn’t really necessary.
  • Enjoy!

This is a great example of how I use “The Force” when cooking… so many variations to make this salad and it’s always delicious.  Hope you’ll try it and come up with your own favorite way to make this salad!

Sweet Potato Casserole

I got the basics of this casserole from my friend Jacqui, during our first duty station.  She called her recipe “Sweet Potato Pie with Cornflakes” but I’ve evolved it into something a bit different over the years.  My guys really love the topping and I adore the sweet potato itself, so it’s a great side dish for our holiday turkey menu.  I hope you feel the same!

sweetpotatocasserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cans sweet potatoes (or yams), drained
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2-3T white wine (semi dry or dry wine)
  • cinnamon to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 2-3 cups mini marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Mix drained sweet potatoes with pineapple and season with wine, cinnamon, and salt to taste.
  2. Spoon into 9×13 casserole pan and flatten with back of spoon.
  3. In a bowl, melt butter and mix with brown sugar.  Add cornflakes and mini marshmallows, mixing well to coat everything with the butter/sugar mixture.
  4. Spoon topping over sweet potato mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until marshmallows are toasty and bubbly.

This is a great side dish for those people who don’t really want a vegetable for holidays.  We have learned that the topping doesn’t reheat very well, so feel free to suggest that people eat the sweet topping before putting the leftover sweet potatoes in the fridge.

As for the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?  Here’s a link to figure out which tuber you might be using!

 

Mimi’s Peas

You’ve had the traditional “Green Bean Casserole“, right?  It’s the one on the back of the Campbell’s soup can…. the one that has been around forever… the one that everyone makes for holiday meals.  What would you think if I told you that we make this same casserole with PEAS instead of green beans?  THIS is a game-changer, people.  It’s absolutely amazing and is a staple on almost every holiday menu (or at least Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter) in our family.

mimispeas

Ingredients:

  • Frozen Peas (1- 1 1/2 16oz bags)
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 can French’s Onion Rings (reserve 1/2-3/4 cup for topping)
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup white wine (I like a dry or semi-dry wine)
  • 1 packet G. Washington Brown boullion *Trust me, this stuff is worth finding.  LOVE it and use it in so many ways!

Directions:

  1. Mix everything together, topping with the reserved Onion Rings.
  2. Bake in greased casserole dish at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly.

This is our family’s “must have” recipe on any holiday table.  It also works well when mixing with turkey, stuffing, and gravy (and topped with mashed potatoes) to make a leftover turkey shepherd’s pie.

Give it a try sometime… you may find that you like this even better than the standard recipe!