Wine Country

Over the weekend I got to escape the city and spend a mini-break in wine country with friends!

Michael stayed home with the baby and after the gym on Saturday I drove down to McMinnville for my cousin Anna’s bachelorette party weekend. The group had gone down Friday night for a show, and then stayed in the house we rented for the weekend. A few of Anna’s friends from the Peace Corp flew out from DC to celebrate with her! That was so awesome!

I got to the house a little after noon and they were all at the first winery only about 3 miles or so from the house we rented. I got in the house and did some decorating to surprise Anna later that night.

The house was so darling inside! I don’t know how old it was but it was clearly an old farmhouse and it had three bedrooms upstairs, with a large bathroom, and one bedroom and bathroom downstairs. It was decorated in a traditional way.

There were lots of cute built-in cabinets and drawers in the walls and there was even a working laundry chute!

The house was so cute.

Then I met up with them at their second winery stop. They weren’t a fan of of that winery so we all moved on to the next one: Brooks.

The tasting room was PACKED! But somehow we managed to snag a private back room. The girl helping us, I think her name was Allison, was super awesome and very generous and nice. It was cool that she let us use the private room. It had a huge, long table, it was quieter and private and we were able to eat our sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookies for lunch while we tasted the wines at Brooks.

Several of us split tastings. I shared the Pomona Flight (3 reds, 3 whites) with Erin. I loved the Pinot Blanc and ended up buying a bottle to bring home. There was an awesome wall behind us made of corks!

After our tasting and lunch we decided to buy a few bottles to drink there. Another big group was supposedly going to show up (and they had reserved the big room we were using) so Allison moved us outside and hooked us up with a bunch of blankets and turned on the heat lamps and we hung out outside with a bottle of Pinot Noir and a Rose to share amongst the group.

I had a glass of the rose, which I didn’t love but it was okay. It had a sparkling wine quality to it.

We hung out and enjoyed our wine and talked and celebrated!

It was starting to get a little late and we wanted to make one more stop before calling it a day.

The last winery of the day was Keeler.

I was really glad we were able to hire Anna’s sister to be our driver for the day! It meant no stress and everyone could just enjoy themselves. I’m also kind of glad I missed out on the first two wineries they went to because honestly I’m a lightweight and two tastings is enough for me. LOL

The group had some buy one tasting get one free cards for Keeler that they had picked up somewhere so we were lucky that we didn’t have to really pay for tasting fees or share tastings at the last place.  The wines were pretty good. I didn’t love them but I liked two of them a lot–I ended up buying a bottle of the Chardonnay (which is weird for me because I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan, but they did theirs in steel instead of oak and I tend to enjoy that flavor most) and Anna bought a bottle of the Pinot Noir Reserve, which was outstanding!

After the afternoon of wine tasting we went back to the house for the night. Anna loved the surprise decorations! 😀 We had dinner–homemade soup, bread and salad. Everything was so tasty!

Shawna made a delicious salad dressing that I’m going to make because it was so good:

 

After dinner we all got comfortable and then settled in for a few hours of card games, some chocolate cake for dessert and then bed! In the morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast together and then packed everything up.

I was home by lunch time to snuggle my baby, then off to the pool for me! It was a weekend of indulging but it was fun and I don’t do that often so it was a fun little splurge.

It was so much fun! I got away, made some new friends, got to try some new wines and see a part of Oregon I haven’t really explored much. In two short weeks Anna will be saying “I Do”!

 

Summer Cravings

When the heat wave hit Portland (high 90’s) I decided I wanted to get one of those plastic kiddy pools for Bella. I searched everywhere and couldn’t find anything! I ended up going to 5 different stores and they were all sold out (or only had the inflatable pools that Bella would pop in one second).

One evening I was driving home from work through Sellwood and spotted a pool outside a hardware store. I immediately pulled over and ended up buying the last pool they had! It BARELY fit in my car. I was so excited! I took it home and couldn’t wait for Bella to frolic in the pool and cool down.

pool2

Yeah, I apparently just bought a giant water dish. That above photo is Bella drinking out of her pool. 😛 We keep trying to get her to play in it but she won’t. I don’t get it. It’s almost 100 degrees out and you’d think she’d love it. I sent a video of her drinking out of it to her foster mom, Jen. She promptly sent me a picture from last summer when Bella played in her pool! So I know she likes them, why won’t she get in our pool?!?

pool1

Maybe by the end of summer she’ll be into the pool. Anyways, on to dinner.

Despite it being a hot summer day and a cold salad or seafood would have been more appropriate, I was craving homemade marinara sauce and gnocchi. When I got home from work I started to simmer the sauce immediately. I added some fresh oregano and rosemary from my garden, too, with a splash of red wine. While the sauce was simmering, Michael and I took Bella for a long walk. It was stifling outside.

When we got back from the walk I cooked the beef with a chopped up onion and added that to the sauce. The recipe called for it to simmer for about 2 hours, or longer, and I’d say it cooked for about 1.5 hours before we ended up eating. Here is the recipe for the sauce:

While I liked the sauce a lot (it was thick and creamy), it could have used some more garlic and maybe some more salt. Other than that I enjoyed it. I made some gluten free spaghetti for Michael and I had gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (I love that stuff).

While everything was finishing up I made a salad and dressing from scratch. I know that’s not a big deal but I rarely make my own dressing and I really want to try and do this more often. It’s pretty easy and you can make it any way you want, really.

dressing

I mixed up this dressing, using a Pomegranate balsamic in the recipe. It made enough for both of us to have a salad and there’s some leftover for maybe two more salads. Here is the recipe:

Balsamic Dressing
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup balsamic
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or agave
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a tightly closed bottle and shake thoroughly. Shake before each use.

Salad was greens, grape tomatoes and orange peppers. I loved the dressing. It was mild and delicious. I’m definitely going to experiment with more homemade dressings. I found a few that sounded really good on Pinterest using Greek yogurt as a base.

salad1

 

Dinner was served! I topped the sauce with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I love gnocchi. I’m not a huge pasta eater but gnocchi is fantastic! (One of these days I will try and make my own…) I opened a bottle of Claret wine to go with dinner and it a nice combination.

spaghetti1

 

claret

There was enough pasta sauce leftover that I have enough for some leftovers and then I froze the rest for another evening when I crave this but don’t have 2 hours in me to cook…

What is your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe?