Holiday & Dinner Wine Guide

Ian has ruined me! Feeding me all types of wine and champ that I can’t afford and now my bougie taste buds can’t enjoy the cheap stuff like I used to. Just for you I went through the ruling process of tasting all these delicious wines and discussing flavor profiles, food pairings, wine tips and much more with Ian.

Sparkling

Non-Vintage Trevisiol Extra Dry Prosecco Veneto, Italy | $16

WINE TIP: Buy two bottles of this, one for before dinner one for a gift.

Non-Vintage A.R. Lenoble Grand Cru Rose Champagne Champagne, France | $58 WINE TIP: Ask for grower produced

White

2013 Chateau Bianca Riesling Willamette Valley, Oregon | $17

WINE TIP: Off dry is more palatable

2012 Smith-Madrone Estate Riesling Napa Valley, California | $36

Red

Lone Birch Syrah Washington State | $15-20

2012 Navarro Pinot Noir Anderson Valley, California | $38

WINE TIP: Spend AT LEAST $20 on Pinot

DIY Holiday Gift Ideas

Its crunch time people! And I have several super simple DIY gift ideas for the holidays.

Infused Liquor Set
I already have a post about infusing liquor here. The bottles are from ikea, you can also get them from Target or Walmart on the cheap.

What you’ll need:

  • Glass bottles.
  • Alcohol: don’t buy anything too expensive.
  • Flavor ideas: orange, chocolate, vanilla, dried candied pineapple, dried candied ginger.

Tips:

  • Boil the bottles to sanitize.
  • Go light on the sugar you can always add more. Measurements do not have to be exact.
  • The contents should be shaken and tasted weekly.



Cigar Box
I bought a plain wood box from Joann’s Fabrics and painted it with a leftover paint sample that I had in my house. I also bought a clear spray paint gloss from Home Depot to give it a glossy finish.

Super size this gift by adding:

  • Cigars
  • A bottle of wine or cognac
  • Gift card to cigar shop

Infused Oil Set
I always have a set in my kitchen. It is an easy way to layer flavor in dishes like omelets, stir-fry and homemade salad dressings.

What you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Flavor ideas: Garlic, Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage

After you sanitize the bottles, pour the olive oil into the container to measure how much you’ll need. Add the flavor component(s) and let the oil come to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer the oil for as long as possible. Let it cool down and add it to the bottles.

Infused Honey
It is cold and flu season so this is a perfect option! There are two ways infuse here. The first is by using a double boiler and adding the flavor components, is to add the flavor components to the honey and let it infuse over time.

What you’ll need:

  • Glass Jars
  • Honey
  • Flavor: Sage, lemon bomb, citrus (zest/peel), ginger



Sage Simple Syrup

Equal parts water and sugar plus a flavor component and voila! My favorite is sage simple syrup, which I love to put in my coffee. Yeah I know sounds real but it’s magically delicious.

You know the drill, glass bottles, twine, pretty package, hooray!

Anywho! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! xoxo

Cast Iron Cornbread | WHAT TO MAKE FOR THANKSGIVING

I’m not big on bread, but for thanksgiving you have to have cornbread. My family has two types of cornbread. This version and then a pan fried cornbread which is just water and cornmeal fried using olive oil. Sounds simple but it is so delicious with greens. My nephew who tends to be a picky eater always requests that my mother make several corn cakes for him during thanksgiving. 
We also have traditional cornbread, which I love making in a cast iron skillet. It just taste so much better when it’s baked in a cast iron skillet. The crust around the outside comes out perfect and I prefer a pie slice rather than a square slice or muffin. That is oddly specific I know, don’t judge me lol. Anywho, you can bake it in whatever you want it will come out great either way.
Tip: Save your butter milk by portioning out what you're not using by freezing ziplock bag. 

What you’ll need
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 2/3 cup white sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 cup cornmeal 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease your pan. Use olive oil or butter. If you are using a cast iron skillet pop the greased pan in the oven to warm once the oven is hot until you are ready to pour in the batter for baking.
Melt the butter in a pot on low/medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and beat until well blended. Make sure mixture not too hot! You don't want the eggs to cook. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in the pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and no lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool a bit before serving.
If you have questions about what you should cook for any occasion let me know! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
Brownbelle’s Thanksgiving Menu 
  • Turkey Roulade
  • Cast Iron Cornbread 
  • Holiday Spiced Sangria 
  • Sage Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes | WHAT TO MAKE FOR THANKSGIVING



If you've been following me for a millisecond you know I love fresh herbs. This dish is a small twist on traditional mashed potatoes perfect for thanksgiving. This recipe was a happy accident, sage happened to be the only herb that I had on hand while I was making this dish one evening. The sage complimented the sweet potatoes so well, I loved it so much that I have been making it with sage ever since.  

What you'll need
  • About 1 lb of potatoes
  • 3 Sprigs of fresh sage, 1-2 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • Heavy cream as needed

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes. Add to a pot and fill with water just until the potatoes are just covered.

Add three cloves of garlic, 2-3 sprigs of sage and 1-2 sprigs of thyme or rosemary. Cook until tender.

Strain water and remove herbs. Add the butter and begin to mash with a spoon.

Once butter is incorporated, whip until smooth adding heavy cream when necessary.

If you have questions about what you should cook for any occasion let me know! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

Brownbelle’s Thanksgiving Menu
  • Turkey Roulade
  • Cast Iron Cornbread
  • Holiday Spiced Sangria
  • Sage Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Holiday Spiced Sangria | What to make for Thanksgiving

I make about three batches of this sangria over the holiday season.  It is always a hit and couldn’t be easier to make. The best thing about this sangria is having leftovers. The more it sits the spicier it gets! When I have time I like to make the spiced apple cider a day or so in advance so that it really infuses with all the flavors.  I usually stack the carafe with slices of orange and apple, which not only look great, but I love eating them after the sangria is finished.
What you’ll need
Spiced Apple Cider
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/3-cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves or 3-4 whole cloves
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • zest of 1 orange
Sangria
  • 1 bottle inexpensive Spanish red wine
  • 2 cups spiced apple cider
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2+ cup brandy
Bring all the spiced cider ingredients up to simmer. I leave it on the heat for about 5-10 minutes then take it off the heat and let it cool completely.
If you don’t want to sangria to continue to get spicier, strain out all the ingredients. I usually leave them in because I love the flavor.
Mixed the cider, oj, and 1 bottle of Spanish red wine into a carafe/pitcher.  Add in a healthy ½ cup of brandy.
Serve over ice and garnish with an apple slice.
If you have questions about what you should cook for any occasion let me know! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

Brownbelle’s Thanksgiving Menu

  • Turkey Roulade
  • Cast Iron Cornbread
  • Holiday Spiced Sangria 
  • Sage Sweet Mashed Potatoes

Slightly modified from this recipe.