Just a Little Kiss of Chocolate

One of my favorite new treats when I’m craving just a little something sweet are Pretzel Kisses. A wondrous blend of chocolate and salt (two of my ultimate downfalls) and easy to pop, Pretzel Kisses are a delicious and savory snack. Oh…and the best part, they are super simple to make!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of Hersey Kisses (any solid flavor)
  • 1 Bag square style pretzels

Step 1: Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay down a piece of wax paper or foil on a large cookie sheet and cover with the square pretzels.

Square pretzels flat on cooking tray

Step 2: Unwrap chocolate kisses and place upright on top of the square pretzels.

kisses on pretzels

Step 3: Place the cookie sheet on the middle rack in the preheated oven. Check on the kisses every couple minutes until they look soft but not completed melted (they should still be holding their general kiss shape.) Remove from oven and place on heat resistant surface.

Hersey Kisses in Oven

Step 4: Press a second square pretzel on top of each Kiss until the chocolate flattens and slightly pushes through the pretzel wholes. This will help keep the pieces all stuck together.

flattened Hersey Kiss treats

Step 5: Place tray in refrigerator to cool. Once the chocolate has solidified remove from refrigerator & enjoy!

2009 Agate Ridge Vineyards’ Grenache

Rosemary on the nose and ripe red fruits on the lips.

Agate Ridge Vineyards Grenache

Agate Ridge Vineyard’s 2009 Grenache shows like the color of cranberry grape juice with an aroma of strawberry and raspberry with undertone of sweet herbs like a fresh, ripe garden. On the palate the wines demonstrates the clear flavors of rich and silky red fruits and finishes with a lingering hint of rosemary and cinnamon.

Perfecting Rhone varieties in southern Oregon, Agate Ridge Vineyards produces rich, flavorful wines in its unique microclimate with dedication and quality that shines clearly through their wines.

Located on a 126 acre century farm with 30 acres of vineyards, the estate was established by the Kinderman family in 2001. With new winemaker Brian Denner at the helm, Agate Ridge Vineyards crafts seven white varietals, a rose and eight red varietals.

See Agate Ridge Vineyards’ website for tasting room hours.

1098 Nick Young Rd., Eagle Point, Oregon 97524 (541) 830-3050

6 DIY Wine Cork Crafts

I don’t know about you, but I drink a lot of wine. And with each bottle I add one more cork to my collection. Dropping into a draw to mingle with my spatulas and whisks in the kitchen, the corks seem to be piling up. Soon I will need to find them a less crowded home.

Why do I save the corks you ask?

  1. Out of pure habit – I’m a bit of a pack-rat
  2. To remember the different wines I’ve tried
  3. TO MAKE AN AWESOME CRAFT WITH!

Here are 5 Do-it-Yourself Wine Cork Crafts:

Cork Board

Spotted by Moms Budget

wine cork message board

Place Card Holders

Spotted by Bell Maison 23

Wine cork name place holders

Bath Mat

Spotted by Crafty Nest

cork bath mat

Animal Decorations – Giraffe

Spotted by 9bytz

Coffee Table

Spotted by Crafts For All Seasons

cork coffee table

Or if you are feeling really adventurous try this advanced crazy cork craft:

Comfy Chair

Spotted by Vinography

cork chair

Have you ever made something from your left over wine corks?

Check out more DIY wine cork craft ideas on my Pinterest Page and pin some of your own!

Need a Little Passion?

Pink little bubbles and a sweet citrus nectarine flavor to sass up any night.

Noble Estate Passion

Looking to sweeten things up this Valentine’s Day? Try Noble Estate Winery and Vineyard’s 2011 Passion. A light pink blend with 4% residual sugar, this wine features notes of stone fruit, apple and a kiss of strawberry on the finish.

Though I don’t typically drink sweet wines, Nobel Estate’s Passion is a perfect Valentine’s Day treat and for $19 it is a delicious addition to any romantic evening with its festive color and playful bubble. This wine recently took a silver medal at the 2012 Portland Seafood and Wine Festival.

Serve chilled with a side of fresh fruit and cream for a light, sassy and ever-so-perfectly-pink evening.

Noble Estate is a small, family-run winery located just 2 miles south of Eugene. Producing a wide range of varieties from Pinot Noir to Merlot and Pinot Gris to Riesling and a handful of sparkling wines, Noble Estate creates quality small-batch wines for all tastes. Their tasting room is open seven days a week from noon – 5 p.m. or order online.

One Big Table at the Oregon Truffle Festival

As the first dish made its way around the continuous rectangle table, the savory scent of Truffles wafted from table setting to table setting like a hungry game of telephone. With lights low and a moving rumble of chatter like our anticipating stomachs, the dishes were ready…the musky truffles waiting.

The Oregon Truffle Festival, a three-day phantasmagoria of foraging, food and fantastic wine, was held this year in Eugene, Oregon from January 27-29, 2012. Celebrating the wild and native Oregon Truffle, the festival features grand meals served up by top chefs, dog training seminars, truffle forays, cooking classes and truffles galore.

Welcoming all the festival participants to Eugene, the event kicked off in true truffle style with a glorious opening dinner, themed eloquently One Big Table. Based around the recently release book by Molly O’Neil “One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking,” the dinner revolved around uniting the guests for the traditional American gathering, sharing a meal and its gourmet goodness like a family.

Hosted at the Emerald Valley Golf Course and Resort just south of Eugene, the dinner set the mood with low lights, shimmering stemware and in fitting style one large rectangular table stretching around the room. With around 150 guests, the room quickly filled with a low excited hum for our first taste of truffle.

Additionally as part of the Truffle Festival and the One Big Table dinner, the festival hosted a truffle recipe contest. With over 50 entries the top recipes were reduced down to the top three, which we had the joy of tasting this evening.

Coleman Vineyards Pinot Gris

Coleman Vineyards Pinot Gris

Dish 1: Parsnip and Celery Root Soup with Shaved Oregon White Truffles and Pomegranate Arils

This first dish was a soup that dreams of made of. With a creamy, thin broth and silky texture, the soup featured a rich yet not overwhelming flavor highlighted by pomegranate arils that contrasted the truffle with a pop of tartness. Leaving a fantastically smooth, almost windblown, lick-your-lips film like a delicious truffle lip gloss, this dish lingered heavenly as the last spoonfuls disappeared.

Complimenting perfectly, Coleman Vineyards’ Estate Pinot Gris 2010 balanced the truffle essence of the soup with its citrus structure, light body and clean texture.

The recipe was crafted by Merry Graham from Newhall, California. Her soup ended up winning overall for best dish by a vote of all the dinner attendees and she was my top choice as well. Find her recipe on the Oregon Truffle Festival website to give it a try yourself.

Dish 2: Black Truffle, Venison Ravioli with Three Onion Reduction

Ravioli and Rockfish Small Plates

The second dish of the night introduced the first protein pairing with the native mushroom. The delicate, ravioli square with light pasta coating and soft, oily meat showcased a less obvious truffle flavor. Using the savory mushroom as more of a garnish that slowly built upon the senses with each bite, the venison with syrup-like consistency broth balanced its saltiness with this growing flavor.

Also served with the Coleman Vineyards’ Pinot Gris, the ravioli brought out a less citrus profile in the wine instead highlighting an almost grassy quality.

Recipe by Pam Norby from Amery, Wisconsin

Dish 3: Pacific Rockfish “Brandade” with Fresh Oregon White Truffles

A triangle of stacked ingredients, this dish featured a trifecta of complimentary and contrasting flavors. The rockfish, which was pureed with crème fraiche and potato and then mixed with the fresh white truffle, was spongy and light with a very subtle flavor. Sandwiching the rockfish, a refreshing crisp cucumber and a red, peppery gelatin triangle, the garnishes livened the fish with a variety of flavors that fought on the palate.

Unfortunately the wine stayed with the same Pinot Gris which was overwhelmed by the flavors of this dish for me.

Recipe by Erika Kerekes from Santa Monica, California

Main course

Main course with wine

Starting with the three top truffle recipes, I didn’t think the meal could get better, but was I wrong. Bringing in Chris Czarnecki, the chef for The Joel Palmer House Restaurant in Dayton, Oregon, the festival blew my mind with this amazing entrée. A meal that easily takes top marks for one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

Coming out in waves by the chefs, staff and students of Lane Community College’s Culinary Institute, the meal additionally was as beautiful as delicious. Forming a trophy of superbly cooked meat, the white truffle infused filet mignon with Pinot Noir and black truffle veal demi-glace was tender to the point that it melted in your mouth – I never understood how a meat could do this under now; but that was nothing compared the mash potatoes, which literally just disappear as soon as their buttery, truffle infused flavor tipped your tongue.

Accompanying the filet, vegetables with white truffle polonaise and white truffle powder, which offered a lovely light crispness to contrast the protein.

Served with the main entrée for the night was Coleman Vineyards’ Reserve Pinot Noir 2008. This deep, cranberry red wine with aroma of forest leaves and musky dark cherries featured a flavor profile of earthy tones. Finishing with hints of cinnamon and black licorice, the Pinot Noir was a tad harsh alone but once paired with the food mellowed to fit with the rich flavors.

Dessert

After so much rich food and wine I wasn’t sure if I was up for dessert, but then the plates rolled out and the sweet scent enveloped the room blending with the truffle aroma and I could almost feel my stomach instantly rearranging to find a little extra space.

Yum...dessert!

Plated for the last savory bites, the meal dished up a meringue of white truffle and grapefruit with roasted banana and black truffle cake, honey syrup and a dollop of strawberry and white truffle relish with warm beurre noisette.

I first sampled the white, sweet meringue with its soft peaks. Alone the fluff was way too sweet after the super savory meal but once paired with the grapefruit wedges, the citrus cut the sugary quality and left my mount feeling fresh almost like pink citrus mouth rinse. Followed by the banana, truffle cake, which was like Christmas all over again, by my second bite I was all in for the dessert and slowly entering the blissful post meal coma.

Amazingly this dessert also paired well with the Pinot Noir from dinner. At first I thought the servers crazy for topping off my glass, but the forest leaves and deep dry flavor actually countered the dessert without either item out blasting the other.

With each outstanding taste the long table burst with delicious exclamations until the final bites and sips were savored closing the first evening of festivities.