Random Bits ~ My Week in Review

So another week has flown by, my to-do list hasn’t budged and I’m wondering what the heck happened.  Here are a few things I can account for:

1.  Pelligrino – Is it possible to become addicted to sparkling water?  When I first met my husband I couldn’t stand the taste of the stuff.  Now, I can’t wait ’till dinner to have a glass.  Today, I drank it straight from the bottle and it was only 2 p.m…..I think I have a problem.

2.  Pan-Roasted Brined Pork Chop


We made this for Hubby’s B-day celebration and it was Ah-mazing!  Be sure to use 2 inch bone-in pork chops as the recipe states and marinate no longer than 8 hours or they will be very salty.  We drank some good juice and started off with a 2010 Capiaux Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.  Earthy, medium bodied with cherry cola notes, just the way we like it….paired well with the pork.  Next up, 2009 Shafer Relentless, which is a Syrah/Petite Syrah blend from Stags Leap, Napa Valley.  The 2008 was Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year  and the 2009 was drinking beautifully.  I don’t usually buy into that stuff but my honey kept saying it over and over and by the end of the evening I was repeating him like a parrot.  Yeah we had a bit to drink….

Ron's bday

Two Ah-mazing wines and Grand Marnier in the snifter…

3.  Earlier this week it was Winter and all of our plants froze.  Yes, we did wrap them in sheets and burlap but Mother Nature laughed in our face.  Today, Spring is teasing us and I’m sweating just thinking about what is to come.  I can’t take the heat….Tell me again why we live in Phoenix??

4.  Twitter….I am now on Twitter (@cherylhjohns) and it’s my new crack.  I love that you can stalk follow peeps on Twitter without having to know them.  Here are a few of my new favorite “friends” Jerry James Stone  @jerryjamesstone – he’s all about cooking in SF,  Hot Food Porn @hotfoodporn – I’ll admit they had me at food porn, but when I saw the pigs on their Twitter wall I was a gonner!  And finally, an amazing photographer Nick Ulivieri @ChiPhotoGuy who uses Chicago as his photo backdrop.

5.  The Art of Barter.  It’s January and this is the month you are supposed to get rid of all the useless crap you have hoarded over the last year!  Don’t throw it in the landfill; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Sell it, barter for more useful items but don’t contribute to mass consumerism.  Seriously though….think before you buy.

pb8512clb6.  Jackie from Marin Mama Cooks  – my new blog crush… Lots of quoina, kale and veggie recipes.  She features meat as well as cookies and cakes but what I love most is her step-by-step pictures that work oh so well for the not so confident kitchen cook that is me.  When Hubby and I move to Northern Cali, Jackie will be one of my BFF’s she just doesn’t know it yet…

7.  This goofball keeps me on my toes.  Is she praying to the sleep Gods or practicing doggie yoga?  Either way I decided she needed a memory foam mattress in her crate since she has spent a bit of time there this last week while I was off getting myself beautified and what-not.

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

8.  Music finds – Macklemore…..Thrift Shop – Love this song!  It has a message with a bit of fun!  One kind reader was gracious enough to point out that I’m just tagging along to be weird and non-conformist and I should stop trying to sell a lifestyle that’s based on deception.  There was something in there about the relevance of this song with wine and blah, blah, blah.  I stopped listening because I was having too much fun and really life should be about having fun.  Be sure to check out Patty’s favorite “Same Love” – this brings me to tears every time I listen.  Also check out Heather’s favorite “Irish Celebration”.

9.  I love when my sister visits me, which happens several times a year.  She’s visiting again in a couple of weeks and I have a mile long list of things we “Have To Do”, most of which we never get to.  We do eat well thanks to her culinary skills and drink lots of good juice but don’t take my word for it, check out her latest post on the Rose Pistola Rocket Salad.  I’m hungry now!

10. Let’s end with some eye candy…..Adam Levine.  The Food and Wine Hedonist  did this so well I really don’t need to add much more except if you like men or have Man-Crushes be sure to check out his post and click on the link for the picture of Adam in all his glory.  And then check out this one on his FB page

Want to know what wine I paired with Macklemore’s Thrift check it out here.

Happy Weekend peeps and Cheers to you!  What’s in your glass?

Homemade Limoncello And A Shout Out From Joanne Weir!

We had good friends over for dinner last night and I usually like to end the meal with Limoncello, especially if I’ve indulged a bit.  The reason for that is that Limoncello is considered a digestif  as well as an aperitif – the idea is that it aids in digestion.  We had the most amazing organic pizza, so yeah, I indulged!  As I was serving the Limoncello I saw that we’re down to  our last 1/2 bottle and I realized it’s time to make more.  Well, lucky for me my sister Melissa/Foodie for Two, just posted on this very topic – check it out here! I love her specialty bottle and the handmade tags…..why didn’t I think of that!


The recipe she uses is from Joanne Weir and has been in our family for  years.  The really cool part is Joanne herself read Melissa’s post and liked it enough to comment on it – Whoo Hoo Melissa!


As fate would have it, Joanne loves wine as much as she loves food.  I found a post on her blog titled “how my love affair began“……See there is a Love Affair tie in.  In her post Joanne tells a wonderful story of how she came to experience French wine in the most unusual way.  My jaw dropped as I read the wine list; lucky lady!  She also offers Culinary Journeys where you get to experience hands on cooking classes, day trips and  local accommodations with her.  Hubs and I are planning a trip to Italy next year and the Tuscany region is one of our destinations – this could be a perfect match!

So be sure to visit Melissa’s blog for the Limoncello recipe and while you’re there check out the Julia Child Remixed video in celebration of what would be her 100th Birthday.

Here’s what I have waiting for me!

Before I go, I have to share something silly with you…I don’t eat at Jack in the Box, but Hubs is watching a football game as I am writing – this came on almost every time there was a commercial!  Here’s to Swavory and NoNookie…..

Cheers to you……..Cheryl

It’s hotter than blazes outside, so what better way treat yourself than with a cocktail and a tasty starter. Check out these Peach Daiquiris with Grilled Corn, Jalepeno & Queso Fresco Cheese Spread from Foodie for Two!

Foodie for Two

Two highly anticipated crops are finally available from the local Colorado farmers – sweet corn on the cob from Olathe and juicy, super sweet peaches from Palisade. Sure, you can enjoy both the traditional way – the corn grilled or boiled and slathered with butter, and the peach halved and eaten over the sink so the sun-ripened, sweet juices can run down your chin. But my quest here was to create something different that still made your taste buds zing. How about some Peach Daiquiris to enjoy with a delicious Corn, Jalapeno & Queso Fresco Cheese spread? The Daiquiri is super simple to make with the usual suspects: ice, fruit, sugar and rum – I like the flavor of dark rum but light works just as well. And the cheese spread offers up something refreshing and different with grilled fresh corn, buttery queso fresco cheese and spicy jalapeño.

For those who…

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White Socks, Chicken Noodle Soup and Rocking the Olympics

I’ve been sick for the last couple of days and my diet has been ginger tea and saltine crackers to quell my nausea.  If I didn’t feel so light-headed I might actually get some things done around here.  For some reason homemade Chicken Noodle Soup seems to be the cure for whatever is ailing me.   Soup in the summer?  Yes!  If you aren’t under the weather and want to try this, turn down the A/C.  As for me, I have thick white socks on….

For the Chicken Noodle Soup, I use fresh veggies: onion, garlic, celery and carrots.  After sauteing, I add chicken stock not broth.  Stock is much richer in flavor and adds more body.  To that, I add shredded rotisserie chicken (you could use fresh cooked) and let it simmer away.  Towards the end, I add frozen Reems egg noodles.  This causes the soup to thicken up a bit so add more liquid if necessary (water is fine at this point) and don’t forget to salt & pepper after each addition and taste for flavor.  Serve with a crusty garlic bread.  I get mine from my favorite grocery store – you know the kind, dense white bread with huge cloves of whole garlic in it.  To up the yum factor I lightly toast it and use it to dip in my soup….Food Heaven….I’ve been known to top the soup with fresh grated parmesan for more amazing flavor.

So now I find my self on the couch with my favorite soft pillow, mindlessly watching Olympic events that hold no interest for me. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a channel that you could customize and it would show a constant stream of all your favorites.  My line up would look something like this:

Ladies Gymnastics
Mens Gymnastics

That’s it…..

We taped the opening ceremonies and watched it last night – aahh, the magic of DVR.  Because of the time difference between London and the U.S. I guess it doesn’t really matter when I watch it, I’m already behind.  I live in my own happy little bubble and for the most part I find this works well for me 😉

To continue the Carly Rae Jepson video craze that  me and The Food and Wine Hedonist and are single-handedly fueling, here is a cute lipdub of the U.S. Swim Team doing Call Me Maybe.  They look like they are having some fun before the enormous pressure of competing in the Olympic Games.  Also, be sure to check out FWH post on the Milli Vanilli lipdub it’s one my favs and it offers some nice eye candy!

I noticed this link says it’s blocked, but when you click on “Watch on You Tube” it takes you there!

Back to the ceremonies…. I enjoyed the story told of the past, present and future U.K. but what I loved most was the light show and the MUSIC!!  As I’ve heard others say this did seem like the rock-and-roll Olympics.  Great Britain does have a sense humor and they have the ability to laugh at the many mishaps made along their timeline of history.  They also have amazing musical talent that hails from their shores!  For a complete list of the ceremony music, check it out here.

The orchestrator of this theatrical and musical spectacular is Danny Boyle.  You’ve heard of Slum Dog Millionaire and Trainspotting right?  Well, that’s him…I think he did an amazing job pulling all of this together.  I mean, he got the Queen to play herself in this video short.  That must have been years in the negotiating!  So, for those of you who missed it – the Queen Mum and Daniel Craig aka James Bond, parachute from a helicopter to the Olympic stadium.  I loved it and it shows you that yes, the Queen does have a sense of humor!  As you watch this, be on the lookout for her adorable Welsh Corgi’s.

Another favorite moment of mine was David Beckham driving a speedboat down the Thames…Again, nice eye-candy!  But more importantly he was transporting the Olympic flame and one of the teenage athletes who would later help light the Olympic torch.

Even the music for the Parade of Nations was stellar!  They started with one of my favorites, Galvanize by the Chemical Brothers seen below.

I noticed that Greece entered the stadium first.  That’s because the original Olympic Games held in 776 BC, took place in Greece. These games are commonly called the “Ancient Olympics”.  Because of that, Greece is honored by being the first country to enter the stadium during opening and closing ceremonies.

Enough of this!  Since I feel too crappy to slurp wine I’m going to slurp some yummy Chicken Noodle Soup!  For the record Hubby actually made it – I supervised from my spot on the couch with my favorite soft pillow…..

Until next time cheers to you!

Music Monday with Muse ~ Supermassive Black Hole and a bit of Linkin Park

It’s Monday and time again for Music Monday’s.  Today is really kicking my butt, so I searched for a song that could convey what I feel pent-up inside of me….

Yes,  I am a Twilight fan…..I have no shame in saying that.  I’ve read the entire series and watched the 1st three movies.  Ok, who wouldn’t want a boyfriend that sparkles like diamonds when the sun is cast upon him, AND has super un-human powers to carry you on his back while racing up a mountain and then jump from tree top to tree top?  It could be a bit more exciting than zip-lining don’t you think?

I happen to be fascinated by space and the concept of a black hole, which leads me to the concept of Forever.  Once you’ve been converted to Vampire you live FOREVER….just think of all you could accomplish in that amount of time.  I think I could go around and around with that one….

I do think this song fits perfectly into the above baseball scene.  As for Muse, they know how to speak to me via bass guitar and drums.

To back up just a bit, Saturday, I worked at my favorite Fry’s Signature Store and afterwards indulged in a glass of Pinot Noir called Cherry Pie.  With a big hit of dark Bing cherries this complex Pinot opens up with some time in the glass and is definitely enhanced by food.

Courtesy of Vintagepoint.com

For Father’s Day I got Hubby a rotisserie attachment for his new grill.  We decided to use it yesterday to cook our first whole bird on the grill.  I purchased an all natural hormone free chicken and I’m telling you – it does make a difference!  It was juicy and so full of flavor I can’t believe we waited so long to try this.

But, I’ve got ahead of myself.  As an appetizer we had Peach, Prosciutto & Ricotta Crostini.  Ah-Maz-Ing!!  After trying many brands of prosciutto we’ve found Boars Head or San Daniele to be the best.

Courtesy of bonappetit.com

After dinner, was a dessert of  Grilled Fresh Figs with Ice Cream and Honey.

Courtesy of finecooking.com

I used organic Black Mission figs from Whole Foods, fresh thyme and mint from our herb garden and Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato.  You have to try this!!!  In Arizona we have a small window of fresh figs (about 6 weeks) so I like to try as many of these recipes as I can.

In case you thought this post was about food and not music as I originally started out with, here is another favorite song of mine by Linkin Park with lots of drums, guitar and screaming angst called Bleed It Out….Crank.Those.Speakers.Up!!!

So,what did you do this past weekend ?  Did you try any new foods or wine?

Until next time, Cheers to you…..Cheryl

Thank you Missy….

Meiomi – My Oh My!

Love At First Taste
My first experience with Meiomi Pinot Noir  came in a round about way.  I was at a tasting for Caymus Cabernet and the Mer Soleil Chardonnay’s (the unoaked chardonnay called “Silver” and the oaked Chardonnay-Mer Soleil) and absolutely loved both of them.  A few weeks later I had an opportunity to try a Pinot Noir from the same family called Belle Glos “Meiomi” and it is now one of my favorite Pinot’s!

I have to admit I came to enjoy Pee-no’s (as I call them) quite begrudgingly.  Yes, I saw the movie Sideways – twice – even visited the Santa Barbara area looking for my own Pinot revelation….But it eluded me.  I just didn’t understand what all of the hype was about.  Pinot Noir the new Merlot?  Was that like 50 being the new 40?  I wasn’t convinced.  Then I discovered that terroir and the ability to coax beauty out of a finicky grape can yield some pretty amazing juice in the glass.

A Bit Of History
Meiomi (pronounced May-OH-mee) means “coast” in the language of the native California Wappo and Yuki tribes.  Grapes are sourced from Meiomi’s coastal vineyards in Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties.  Young winemaker, Joseph Wagner, has learned his craft from some of the best.  He is a fifth generation winemaker; his father being Chuck Wagner.  Yes, Caymus, Chuck Wagner.  So it stands to reason he knows a thing or two about crafting  beautiful wine.  And the fact that he has been working in the family business since age 16 gives him a leg up.  His wine label, Belle Glos, is named after his Grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, who at 95 is still very much a part of Joe’s life.

Cheryl’s View
I tend to like medium to heavy bodied Pinot’s with earth, spice and pronounced fruit that can stand up to food and still impart the nuances of the wine.  Well, Meiomi delivers on all accounts!  On the palette, I get dark cherry with some spice and a bit of earth, finishing with silky tannins.  Food enhanced all of these flavors so I knew we had a good pick to go with Melissa’s Ono and Black Bean Salad.  Ono is a mild white fish similar to Mahi Mahi and the Black Bean Salad was full of flavor with peppers, red onion and Italian parsley, so this wine was the perfect accompaniment.  Interestingly enough, both Melissa and Charlie (the wine steward at my favorite Fry’s Signature store) recommended the Meiomi to pair with the meal.

We finished the evening with Ethel M Chocolates.  The dark chocolate truffle and the milk chocolate caramel were given a resounding “Yes” from around the table for pairing with the wine.  Another successful night of  “Field Research” completed!

Meiomi is found at high-end grocery stores, big box wine stores and yes, even Costco!  The price ranges from $18 to $25 a bottle, so while you’re at it buy 6 – you get a better discount!

I’d love to hear about your favorite wine experiences, so please share.

Until next time, Cheers to you!