Thursday, June 25, 2020

Wines to Celebrate a Milestone During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: The Food Hunter

Like it or not you or someone you know is going to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having to forego celebrating milestones with your family and friends is difficult for sure, but hosting a virtual wine tasting can provide lasting memories. 

This month both my husband and I turned 50 and although there was no chance of a birthday bash at our house we did celebrate virtually with our friends and loved ones. We planned a virtual Happy Hour on Zoom which turned into several virtual hours and lots of wine pours.  

We started the evening with some lighter wines from the California based Justin Vineyard. Both varietals were very affordable and delicious.  The crisp & refreshing Justin Sauvignon Blanc retails at $16 and the Paso Robles Rose (my favorite) at $20. 

Before switching over to reds for the rest of the night we decided to try a bottle of Landmark Chardonnay. Landmark Vineyards is a sister to Justin; both of which are owned by the Wonderful Company. The Overlook Chardonnay was a nice option at $27 and offered flavors of white peach and apricot along with hints of citrus.

Moving on, we enjoyed 3 reds during our virtual event. The first: Justin Justification is a very full bodied Bordeaux-style red. In contrast the Landmark Overlook Pinot Noir ($27) was more of a medium bodied wine.  The star of the evening though was the Hop Kiln from Landmark ($40); a complex medium bodied yet extremely balanced Pinot Noir. There was something for everyone in our happy hour line-up....if only we could have shared them in the same room.

Although not the 50th celebration we had originally been planning it is definitely one we will remember for years to come. If you are looking for wine recommendations I highly recommend the ones featured here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Octopus & Celery Salad

By: The Food Hunter

Octopus is typically prepared boiled in salted water to tenderize it, then grilled to give the flesh a charred edge. Once cooled it is amazing sliced, and served with celery as a salad with the most basic of dressing. I like a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, basil, and parsley.

Octopus & Celery Salad
1 pound octopus, boiled
6 stalks tender celery ( from the middle) leaves still attached.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated zest from one lemon
crushed red pepper

Slice the octopus into thin pieces. Slice the celery on the diagonal, thinly.
Mince the  celery leaves. Place the octopus, celery and leaves in a bowl.
Add olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Toss and season with salt and crushed red pepper.
Let sit for about 30 minutes so that the flavors can blend. Add chopped basil and serve at room temperature.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Making Buttercream Flowers #BetterYourBake

By: The Food Hunter

“This post and recipe was created for #BetterYourBake but as always opinions are 100% mine.”

Making buttercream flowers is much easier than you think. The most important things to have are the right piping tips, a delicious homemade buttercream and a lot of patience.

The #BetterYourBake series from Nielsen Massey includes a video tutorial and written instructions to guide you through the process of making beautiful buttercream flowers to embellish any cake.

A few tips to keep in mind before getting started to guarantee success:

1. Fill your piping bag with only as much buttercream that fits in your hand. This will improve your control over the bag and prevent discomfort.

2. Before piping use a bench scraper or your hand to push the buttercream toward the tip of the bag so there are no air pockets in the frosting. Twist the end of the bag close, so no frosting spills out as you begin to pipe.

3. A stiff buttercream frosting is better when making flowers. Add in additional powdered sugar to thicken your frosting as needed.

4. To easily transfer flowers, pipe them onto a square of parchment paper and then freeze them for 10-15 minutes. Once they are firm and frozen, you can easily peel your flowers off the parchment paper and place them onto your baked item.

Once you are ready to get started you will need:
Buttercream frosting (1-2 colors)
Piping bags
Parchment paper
Piping nail
Piping tips
Petal tip (#101-#104)
Closed star tip (#1B, #2D)
Tall glass cup

Prepare a piping bag with buttercream frosting and a petal piping tip (#101-#104). For basic tips on how to fill a piping bag see our “How to Fill a Pastry Bag for Piping” tip.

Prepare a piping nail with a small dot of buttercream and place a square of parchment paper on top.

Hold the piping nail in one hand and the piping bag in the other. Ensure the tip is angled inward slightly and the thin end of the tip is pointing up.

Begin piping, rotating the piping nail as you pipe, to create a small cone as the base of the rose.
Move the tip halfway up the cone you created and pipe another layer around the cone.
Move the tip to the base of the cone and pipe an arc of frosting a third of the way around the base. Repeat this twice more, beginning at the halfway point of the previous arc.

Continue creating petal layers by piping overlapping frosting arcs around the center petals, beginning in the middle of the previous petal. Each time you create a new layer, angle the thin end of the tip outward slightly to create the effect of petals opening up.

Remove the parchment paper from the piping nail and place it on a baking tray.

When you are finished making your roses stick them in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes until the flowers are firm. Once frozen, peel away the parchment paper and place on the item you are decorating.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Roasted Potatoes, Zucchini & Onions

By: The Food Hunter

An easy side-dish the whole family will love. 

Roasted Potatoes, Zucchini & Onions
(adapted from Italian Food Forever)

  • 1 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cut in cubes
  • 1 Medium Onion, Sliced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme, Minced
  • 1 lb  Zucchini, Trimmed & Cut in Cubes
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the potatoes, onions, and whole garlic into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and thyme and toss well to coat.
  3. Place mixture on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are just about tender when pierced with a fork.
  4. After 30 minutes add the zucchini to the potato mixture.
  5. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the zucchini and potatoes are very tender when pierced, and the mixture is golden brown.
  6. Add the fresh parsley leaves, mix, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Cod in A Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Sauce

By: The Food Hunter

An easy-to-make weeknight dinner. Try it tonight.

Cod in A Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Sauce
(adapted from April J
  • 2 cod fillets preferably skinless and boneless
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
  • 2 generous tablespoons of flour
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh spinach small, tender leaves if possible
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup singlecream
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Lay each piece of fish in the middle of one of the pieces of foil.
  • Seal the foil into parcels and place on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Fish is done when it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Remove the fish from the oven and keep sealed in the foil packets.
  • While the fish is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan.
  • Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften
  • Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mushrooms and stir in.
  • Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly.
  • Add half a cup of the water, a bit at a time, stirring after each addition and allowing the sauce to thicken.
  • Add the spinach and stir into the sauce.
  • As the spinach begins to wilt, start to add the cream, a bit at a time, stirring after each addition.
  • If the sauce becomes to thick, add a bit more water.
  • Taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Remove the fish from the foil packages, place on a plate and serve the spinach and mushroom sauce over top.