Sunday, August 25, 2013

Betsy's Bash - A California Bachelorette Party

In the beginning of the month I took my first trip to California for my Santa Fe Friend's bachelorette party.  I wasn't sure I was going to make the trip work, but a month before I pulled some strings and committed   I am so happy I did.  I met some amazing woman and had a blast! The weekend started early on a Thursday morning when four Santa Fe girls drove to Albuquerque to catch an early flight to the Bay Area.  

After a couple hours we landed in Oakland with an amazing mid-western pick up, one of Betsy's Chicagoan bridesmaids drove us to San Francisco to meet the other three ladies.  We check in at Parc 55 Wyndahm in Union Square, a lovely hotel, and set out to explore the city.  We dined at Café Divine, toured Fisherman's Wharf, and photographed Lombard Street, very cool! 

After an amazing afternoon of exploring, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a night out on the town and dinner at Basil, an amazing Thai restaurant.  We then continued our night at Asia SF, a unique nightclub with beautiful men in drag as entertainment.  We ended the night at Butter, a white trashed themed bar with amazingly fun drinks served in Mason jars, my kind of place.  I can't tell you exactly what happened after we entered Butter, everything is quite a blur.  I woke up the next morning with a killer headache and very upset stomach, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the ride to Wine Country!  

We arrived to Guerneville, a small vacation town located along the Russian River in Sonoma County and had a perfect and relaxing afternoon by the pool, took naps, and enjoyed lunch made by me.  We had an easy night and went out for dinner and headed back to the house awaiting the hours until we toured a few California wineries by limo!  

The next morning we enjoyed short hike in part of the Redwood Forest and then began our tour at Korbel Champagne Cellars.  After enjoying our tastings and some amazing mimosas, our limo picked us up and we headed to Rochioli Vineyards.  This was a very intimate tasting room and the views were absolutely stunning. Winery number three was probably the most beautiful vineyard.  Ferrari-Carano was very elegant and we had our very own wine tasting assistant, a very special experience.  Our final destination was Bella Wine Caves.  This was my favorite, very rustic and simple.  I bought a few of my favorite wines and can't wait to drink them all with Andy.  This is so much fun! 

We returned to our rental home just in time for fish tacos (again by me!) followed by gifts and games.  SO MUCH FUN.  I was sad to say good-bye to all my new friends, Sunday we enjoyed one final meal together and headed back to San Francisco.  We parted ways at the Bart station and departed from Oakland back to Santa Fe.  I had a wonderful time with eight wonderful woman.  I can't wait for the wedding festivities in just six short weeks. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Cherry Sauce

It's been awhile since I posted a recipe.  I have the house to myself for the weekend so I thought to catch up on a few me things.  

I don't remember where Andy and I originally found this recipe, but, like we do to a lot of recipes, we switched it around some.  I hope you enjoy it! 

Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Cherry Sauce

4 bone-in chicken thighs
2 shallots, chopped 
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs cherry jam
1-2 handfuls of dried cherries
olive oil as needed
salt and pepper to taste 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in large cast iron pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, place top-side down in pan.

Sear chicken until deeply brown and cooked halfway through.  Flip chicken and transfer to oven; bake until just cooked through, internal temperature should be 170.

Remove chicken from oven and transfer to a plate.  Add shallot to chicken drippings adding a dash of salt, pepper, and cardamom, cook over medium heat until shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add wine, stock, vinegar, and jam; bring to a boil. Reduce by half.  Stir cherries into sauce and return chicken to pan.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.  To serve, spoon equal amounts of sauce over each piece of chicken.

We think this meal is perfect with brussels sprouts cooked in bacon or asparagus on the grill.  I am no chef, but enjoy cooking.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding this recipe or others I've posted.  I hope you love this meal as much we do, we make it a few times a month!