Sunday, October 19, 2014

New York Wine & Culinary Center - what a culinary experience!

I was in Rochester, NY this week for work.  What a beautiful place to be in the fall!  The leaves are already beginning to show their color and the views from every angle in that city were just stunning. It was that sweet reminder that you get in the fall, that there is always a new beginning and a chance to change, revive and evolve from the space that you are currently in.  It was really beautiful.

While I was there, I had the opportunity to participate in a really fun experience.  One of the ladies that set up the training that I attended had a wonderful idea to host a group event at the New York Wine & Culinary Center.

This organization is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3, founded in 2006 to educate visitors while showcasing New York's dynamic agriculture, wine and food industries.  They feature state-of-the-art facilities overlooking Canandaigua Lake.  

I got to participate in a Hands-On Kitchen experience where we did a formal wine tasting of five different wines that were the Best of the New York Wine & Food Classic.  These included:

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Tocai Friulano 2013 ~ Best Other White Vinifera

Chateau Layfayette Reneau Semi-Dry Riesling 2013 (this was my favorite - one of the smoothest, and very light white wine I have ever tasted) ~ Best White Wine

Lucas Vinyards Cayua White, Fulkerson ~ Best Cayuga 

Fulkerson Winery  Zwiegelt, 2013 ~ Best Other Red Vinifera

Marcari Vineyard & Winery, Cabernet Franc 2010 (this was the favorite of the bulk of the group - very hearty red wine) ~ Best Red Wine

All five featured wines!

This was my favorite wine that I tasted

Chateau Lafayette Reneau - my favorite - Peach nose & honeysuckle with delicate fruit flavors with a spicy pear finish.  YUM!
Our host Taylor sharing the method of tasting and details on each wine.  She was fantastic!

In addition to the wine tasting, we also had some culinary instruction from Executive Chef, and New York native, Andrew E. Chambers.  In this class, Chef Andrew taught us how to make a tasty Basic Vinaigrette, the perfect Risotto, an Apple Tarte Tatin.  He was very engaging, and WOW the food was awesome!!

Chef Andrew sharing with us the basics of a vinaigrette dressing

A really nifty method for peeling a clove of garlic - two metal bowls and you just SHAKE IT!

Our prepared salmon and sirloin with the risotto recipe he shared with us

Chef Andrew preparing the apples for the Apple Tart Tatin

The finished product - Apple Tart Tatin
What is even more exciting is that not only did I get to participate in this wonderful culinary experience, but I have two of the recipes to share with YOU so you can try this at home!  Please enjoy these wonderful dishes and know that they were created by an executive chef that really knows his stuff! Thank you Chef Andrew for sharing your knowledge and skills with my work team and for my readers as well!

Basic Vinaigrette Recipe

1 oz desired vinegar
1 oz desired mustard (he used a Dijon mustard)
1 oz desired aromatics - these can be shallots, garlic, fresh herbs (he used shallots, sage, garlic & rosemary)
2 oz canola or vegetable oil (he used grape seed oil)
1 oz extra virgin olive oil

In a small mixing bowl add mustard, vinegar and aromatics and whisk together and mix well.
After all is mixed slowly drizzle the canola oil while whisking (it's best to drizzle the oil into the path of the whisk) then finish with extra olive oil and season to taste with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Apple Tarte Tatin (serves 8)

For the Tarte Tatin:
1 cup of sugar
4-7 apples - cut 1/4 inch thick with the skins still on the apples 
(you can use Granny Smith Apples, McIntosh - he used Empires)
4 tbs butter
1 sheet of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farms works well for this)
Ground Cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10 inch round saute pan (one that can go in the oven as well)
Place apples and sugar in pan and saute until they become tender
Cover the pan with a rolled out 10 inch round piece of puff pastry and bake until the dough is golden brown.
Take out of the oven and let it cool, once cooled, heat on a burner until the sugar releases from the pan.  Invert the tart onto a plate and cut into 8 pieces.

For the Apple Syrup:
1 part water
1 part sugar
Cores from the tart tatin

Over medium heat simmer all ingredients together
Once the mixture has become viscous (sticky or thick) remove from the heat.  Use this syrup to garnish the dish.

I do hope you try these recipes at home.  I know I will be using them to impress my family with my new culinary knowledge and show them that I learned a thing or two from my week in Rochester, NY!

And a sincere thank you to my leadership team at work for lining up such an awesome experience!  It is really nice working for a company that would provide such a wonderful team building experience for their employees!  

My team at myStaffingPro all gathered around the state-of-the-art kitchen 

Have you ever taken a cooking class or participated in a formal wine tasting?  What did you take away from that experience?  Would you do it again?  I know I would!  I learned so much from my evening at the New York Wine & Culinary Center.  For more information check out their website at  

~Until Next Time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

What I Wore Wednesday (even though it's Friday)

So I am a little late this week posting my "What I Wore Wednesday" with The Pleated Poppy.  However, I have been traveling with work and spent three days this week in Rochester, NY.  Having said that though, you will notice that I actually donned some suits for the first time in several months.  That felt nice to be back in the corporate world for a couple of days.  I'm not gonna lie though, it was really nice to be back in jeans yesterday!  So to keep it short and sweet, here is what I wore last week:

Shirt - American Eagle (Thrifted), Jeans - Abercrombie & Fitch (Gifted), Scarf - Kroger Grocery Store (I'm serious), Shoes - TOMS, Watch - Casio
Jacket - Banana Republc - (Thrifted), Pants - Worthington (Ebay), Shirt - Cato (Thrifted), Necklace - Estate Sale
Shirt - Ann Taylor (ebay), Suit - Limited (Thrifted), Necklace - Tiffany & Co.
Pants - Limited (Thrifted), Shirt - Limited (ebay), Scarf - unknown (Thrifted)
Suit -  Limited (Thrifted), Shirt - Limited (ebay), Necklace - Tiffany & Co.

Cardigan - GAP (Thrifted), Shirt - JCrew, Jeans - Lucky, Shoes - TOMS, Necklace - Fake Tiffany & Co (Chinatown, NYC)
My Bling - 1st Bracelet - Fake Tiffany & Co. (Chinatown, NYC), 2nd Bracelet - handmade - has my kids names on it

Shirt - Banana Republic (Thrifted), Jeans - Hollister (Thrifted), Cardigan - Lily Pulitzer - (Thrifted), Shoes - Converse, Necklace - Tiffany & Co, Watch - Casio

These outfits are not in order, not that it matters, but as you can see, I wear A LOT of thrifted items.  I am happy to say that it is really fun way to build your wardrobe in an inexpensive manner.  And when I get tired of my clothes, I just donate them back!  I hope you have had a wonderful week!!  Hop on over to The Pleated Poppy to see the other What I Wore Wednesdays from other super talented bloggers! 
I have a couple more posts coming today from my week in Rochester, NY.  Stay tuned!!
Until Next Time...


Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Family Hates Crockpot Meals

Follow">">Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Yes it's family hates Crockpot meals.  They can deal with some cheese dip, and some little smokies and meatballs.  But a full-on, made from a recipe, slow-cooker meal, they have never enjoyed.  And the good lord knows that I have tried so many times to make the magic Crockpot meal that will make them smile.  I have tried the recipes on Pinterest, where you plan out the ingredients for a week in advance, and even I have to say they were YUCK.  I have searched high and low for a meal that they would rave about that came out of my super duper Crockpot.  I had yet to succeed, until last night.

You see, I did a sneak attack on them.  What they didn't realize is that 75% of the meal was actually made in a slow-cooker.  I found a recipe on Pinterest that linked me back over to Jo Cooks where I found a really EASY recipe for Salsa Chicken.  It's a recipe that starts in the slow cooker and ends in the oven.  And if you time it just right, your family will have no idea that you DIDN'T cook over a hot stove all day long!  Remember sneak attack...

Salsa Chicken
1 Jar of Salsa (HOT if preferred)
1 lb of Chicken Breast Cleaned
3/4 cups Shredded Cheese
1/2 cup of Velveeta White Cheese w/ Jalapenos (cut into small squares)
Pickled Jalapenos for flavor 

In a large Crockpot, mix in the Salsa and Chicken Breast, cook on high for 2 hours.  

After the chicken is done, place the chicken in an 8x8 pan, and spoon the liquid back over the chicken.  Add the velveeta cheese, shredded cheese and jalapenos.

Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is completely melted and browned just a little bit.

And here is what you get...

I served it up with Vigo Yellow Rice and tortilla chips and dip!

My family had no idea I had hoodwinked them into eating a Crockpot meal!  It was festive, yummy, cheesy, spicy and tasted like we were at a Mexican Restaurant!  Thank you Jo Cooks for the great recipe!  If your family is picky too, this is a great meal for them to enjoy!

~Until Next Time...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What I wore Wednesday Link Party with The Pleated Poppy

In my new life at the lake, I work from home.  I couldn't be more blessed if I tried and honestly I pinch myself every morning as I start my work day from my home office, pictured below.  Mr. Handy had this little area built for me so I could have a place to actually sit down and work that would have the feel of an office space, but still fit nicely into our little home.

I love what I do, I am in software sales.  And I am so grateful to be able to have a full-time job and never leave my house.  What I have discovered though is that working from home presents a challenge personally in fashion.  The first few days of working, I wasn't 100% sure how to dress.  Do I dress UP or dress DOWN?  I actually put on a dress my first day of going to work in my kitchen.  A little overkill for sure. I found a way though, through one of my favorite blogs The Pleated Poppy, to create some accountability for my work-at-home fashion.  Every Wednesday she features a "What I Wore Wednesday" link party that features some really great bloggers and their really great sense of fashion.  

Now I am not saying I have a really great sense of fashion, but what I am saying is that this link up party may just keep me out of my pajama's and in a better mind set as I start and work my day for my home job.  So drum roll is what I wore this week:

Shirt - Old Navy, Cardigan - Target, Jeans - Lucky (Thrifted), Watch - Casio, Pearls - Estate Sale
Cardigan - Ann Taylor (Thrifted), Scarf - J Crew, Leggings - Old Navy, Shoes - TOMS

I added some bling to my outfit yesterday and whipped out my Rolex and Tiffany Jewelry (which I never, ever wear).
The other bracelets are made by a friend of mine Amber Sherrill, her Etsy shop is Blissful Bangles!  Adorable!

Black Shirt - Target, Sweater Vest - Ann Taylor (Thrifted), Jeans - Mudd,
Small Necklace - Origami Owl, Large Necklace - Etsy

I added some bling today too - gift from my mother-in-law - from Three Sisters in Canton, GA

Not too bad for the first few days of the week.  I will be doing a feature every Wednesday for "What I Wore" joining in on the fun over at The Pleated Poppy.  I hope you link on over to her site and check out all of the other Pinterest worthy outfits and bloggers!  Its  fun way to get ideas and for fashion ideas, and this will keep me out of my flannels!!  Happy Hump Day!!

~Until Next Time...

Monday, October 6, 2014

This is not a white flag surrender...

I turned 40 in August.  I came into this year with the mindset that turning 40 would be a celebration of life of sorts.  I had a number of personal goals that I set out to do, that for the most part I actually achieved.  It felt good to turn 40.  Leading up to the big 4-0 I made a decision that goes against almost everything that society tells women is acceptable.

Let me backtrack just a little bit...I have a thing in my family called early on-set grey hair in your 30's.  And to make it even better, the grey hair in my family is also resistant grey hair.  That is exactly what it sounds like...resistant to color, resistant to soften, resistant to attempt to NOT be grey! I have spent the good portion of my 30's coloring every six weeks different shades of dark to try and keep these little boogers covered.  As I got closer to 40, every six weeks started to turn into every three weeks. Coloring your hair every three weeks is expensive, time consuming and just flat out NOT FUN.

It was the tail end of last year that I had a very meaningful conversation with my daughter while on a walk in our neighborhood.  I was talking with her about how it was that time again to go attempt to cover up my color.  I was going on and on about how much I hate having to get it colored and how frustrating it was to have hair like this.  And it was in this moment that my daughter looked at me and asked the question "Why don't you just let it go grey Mom"?  It hit me at that moment that she was right...why didn't I just let it go grey?  I couldn't give her a good reason other than it would make me look old.  But honestly, how did I even know that it would do that?

After some contemplation, I couldn't come up with a good reason to NOT give this a try.  My only reason not to do it is that society tells women they have to color their hair.  It tells us that you can't be attractive or sexy with grey hair.  Men become sexy and more distinctive with salt and pepper hair...women become old.  Total double standard. Even though this is what society says, it certainly doesn't make any of that true.  So I thought what the heck, I will give this a try.

I'm not gonna was a tough road.  Fortunately I keep my hair short, so the time it took to get it FULLY grown out didn't take that long.  But what was interesting was the response of the people around me during the process.  First of all, my kids were crazy supportive.  Andersen sited a number of beautiful Hollywood stars that rock their grey hair - Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep...there are even stars that are "grey-lighting" their hair on purpose.  Kelly Osbourne and Kate Moss both recently have donned grey hair on the red carpet.  My son, who is a HUGE Walking Dead Fan, sited the character Carol, played by Melissa McBride who has a sassy short grey hair style and is beautiful. And Mr. Handy of course supported what ever I decided on, he's happy if I am happy.

But I had actually folks tell me it was terrible idea.  As I went through the process, I got a lot of stares and funny looks  Even my hair dresser was pretty much confused as to why we wouldn't be coloring my hair anymore.  Of course it's his job to color hair not talk people like me off the fence to actually keep it grey!

I found myself in the beginning pointing out to everyone what was "wrong" with my hair.  There was a perfectly straight WHITE line along the top of my hair. It was there for quite some time too.  I felt like every time I was in a big group, I had to explain this experiment that was unfolding on the top of my head.  But as time went on, and the old color was cut off and the natural color started to really blend in.  Before long, my feelings began to change about my hair.  And here I am one year later, all natural, grey hair and all.  I turned 40 in August, and I have embraced exactly who I am supposed to be right now.  I have no judgement what-so-ever for anyone who is okay spending time, money and energy coloring their hair.  It's a big decision to not do that any longer.  But for me, I can say I am so much more confident today in the way I look than I ever was when I colored my hair.  By week three and four of my hair coloring timeline I was feeling insecure about my head.  And the crazy thing is, I get more compliments today on my hair style than I ever did as a brunette.  Mr. Handy says it looks more blondish than grey.  That's a bit of a stretch for me...but what I do know is I genuinely like the way I look, I love my hair style and know that it's style that works for me.

I was in the Dr.'s office the other day and the nurse that was taking my stats looked at me and said "your face is too young to have that much grey hair".  It took me a minute to decide what to answer was this awesome quote from Jayne Mansfield "It's not a white flag surrender, I am just trying a new color that happens to be grey".  She smiled and carried on...and I smiled knowing I was confident with what is on top of my head!  I rock my grey hair...I love my grey hair!

Have you made the plunge?  Or have you been thinking about going all natural and grey?  What was your experience and how do you feel about the change?  I would love to hear from you and learn your plunge into the deep.  Grey is beautiful, natural and I embrace it!

Here is the outcome of me embracing the grey:

~Until Next Time...