Sunday Baking: Spanish Garnacha & Strawberry Cookies

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Bodegas Ruberte Tresor 2012 Garnacha corkMarch was a big work travel month for me. I spent the 9-17 in Austin for SXSWedu and SXSW, both of which were great conferences. I learned a lot at the sessions, had some fantastic networking opportunities, and even got to drink some great wine at places like Max’s Wine Dive. However, by the time I finally walked in the door late at night on March 17th, I was ready to be home. I missed Hubby and was tired of living out of a suitcase. Plus, conferencing is exhausting because you’re on all the time, so all I really wanted to do was to put on some comfy clothes, open some good wine, and hibernate for a few days. Since my cousin was coming into town that weekend, it wasn’t quite a full-on hibernation, but Hubby and I spent Sunday morning at brunch with her and her boyfriend, just catching up, eating good food, and enjoying each others company. After that, it was back home for some cookie baking and more relaxing.

By March 22, the weather was getting warmer, I had just spent a week in Austin with gorgeous weather, and I had a bad case of Spring fever. Nothing says Spring like strawberries, so I grabbed extras at the grocery store and decided to make Cream Cheese & White Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Cookies. To go along with the cookies, I opened a Spanish Garnacha.

2012 Bodegas Ruberte Tresor Garnacha

2012 Bodegas Ruberte Tresor Garnacha

The 2012 Bodegas Ruberte Tresor Garnacha (winery) is made in the Campo de Borja district in the northwest of the province of Zaragoza in Aragon, Spain. The wine was made with 100% Garnacha/Grenache grapes and was a bright medium-to-dark ruby red color. On the nose, there were Bing cherries and strawberries. In the mouth, there were Bing cherries, strawberries and hints of white pepper. The wine had a medium body, medium acidity, and low-to-medium tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $10 a bottle, this wine has a great quality/price ratio. It was easily drinkable on it’s own, and I was sorry that I didn’t have some Serrano ham or Manchego cheese to pair with it. It would be a great summer red because it’s flavorful without being too heavy or having too much heat, although it is 14% abv so don’t let the fact that it’s well-balanced fool you into thinking that it’s low in alcohol.

As for the cookies, they turned out to be easy to make, and while they were a little heavier than I expected (probably due to the combination of butter and cream cheese), the flavor made for a nice treat.

Overall, the combination of the strawberries in the cookies and the red fruit flavors of the wine made the two a nice, Spring-y pairing. It was exactly what I needed after leaving the nice Austin weather and a long work-trip behind.

Question of the Day: Have you started transitioning to Spring and Summer wines yet?

Cream Cheese, White Chocolate, and Strawberry Cookies
(*adapted from OMG Chocolate Desserts)
Yields: 2 dozen

Bodegas Ruberte Tresor 2012 Garnacha and Cream Cheese, White Chocolate, & Strawberry Cookies

Bodegas Ruberte Tresor 2012 Garnacha and Cream Cheese, White Chocolate, & Strawberry Cookies


  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons flour
  • 5 oz white chocolate chips


  • Pour lemon juice over chopped strawberries and let drain. Set aside.
  • In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
  • Add cream cheese, and mix until combined.
  • Add eggs, and mix until combined.
  • Add vanilla, and mix until combined.
  • On low speed, add dry ingredients, and mix until just blended (about 30 seconds).
  • Stir in white chocolate with wooden spoon.
  • Sprinkle strawberries with 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Toss until all the strawberries are coated with a thin layer, then add gently to the batter.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  • Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets. Keep cookies about 1-2 inches apart.
  • Press to flatten slightly.
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until edges become golden brown.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Beaujolais Nouveau…The Real Start to the Holidays

2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau top labelThe start of the holiday season is really the third Thursday of November—Beaujolais Nouveau Day!  Yes, I know that makes me a tool of the wine marketing machine, but I admit that and then open a bottle or two of Beaujolais Nouveau because it’s fun and festive.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this wine, Beaujolais Nouveau comes from the Beaujolais region of France.  The wine is made using Gamay grapes, but unlike most wines, it isn’t aged before it’s released for sale.  Within a 6-8 week period, the grapes are harvested, crushed, fermented, bottled, and shipped to distributors and wine stores.  It is a fruity, low-acid wine, and the whole purpose of enjoying the immature wine is to get a sneak peak at what the year’s vintage of Beaujolais will taste like.  Beaujolais Nouveau should really be consumed within the few months of its release.  I never drink it after January, as it’s not meant to age in a bottle.  The longer it sits, the less enjoyable it will be.

My first bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

My first bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

And with that, let’s take a look at the 2014 vintage…

I ended up with two bottles, one that I bought from Whole Foods  and another that a friend gave to me because he knows how ridiculously excited I get about Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  And, just like last year, the two bottles had different labels.  However, this year, I felt that they tasted similar.

The 2014 Georges DeBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (winery, snooth) is 100% Gamay grapes and is from Beaujolais, France.  The wine was a medium, watery ruby with purplish tints.  On the nose, there were candied strawberries and hints of white pepper.  In the mouth, there were strawberries, raspberries, and hints of white pepper, thyme, and orange zest.  The wine had a light-to-medium body with medium acidity.


My second Bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

My second Bottle of 2014 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

Is this worth a glass after work?  Definitely!  If you see this wine/beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $10 a bottle, this wine was surprisingly complex for being so young.  It has nice flavors and is very drinkable.  It’s a wine that, as we enter the final stretch of the the end of the holiday season, you should definitely keep in mind.  It’s perfect for a big dinner with family or friends because it’s not only affordable, but also food friendly.  It will pair nicely with a roasted turkey or Christmas ham.

As for me, I actually didn’t end up enjoying this wine on the Third Thursday of November.  I had a work event followed by a condo board meeting, so it wasn’t until Saturday night that I finally opened my first bottle.  Hubby and I had spent the day packing in preparation for our big move–we put an offer in on a house and it was accepted, so we’ll hopefully be in the new place by Christmas!  After a full day of packing, I was ready to put my feet up and just relax, so I poured a glass, pulled out my knitting, and turned on a movie.  The wine was enjoyable on its own and was a great way to decompress after the stress of packing.

Question of the Day: Are you a Beaujolais Nouveau fan or do you prefer to ignore the hype?

Second bottle closeup of Beaujolais Nouveau 2014


Price: $10
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 3.5 Corks

Chilling with an Infidel

While I was training for DC’s USA Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Mondays were hill training runs, which I did on the treadmill to make sure that I got a real hill workout.  Honestly, it’s the part of training I hate the most.  Usually, running is a mind-clearing activity where I burn off stress, get inside my own head, listen to music, and just…well, run.  Hill runs are not like that for me at all.  There is nothing fun or stress-relieving about hill runs.  In fact, I often find they have the exact opposite effect. I spend the entire time either hurling curse words at myself (usually in my head, but occasionally the curses accidentally slip out for others to hear) or silently reciting some ridiculous mantra over and over again in order to keep myself running instead of giving into the urge to just walk up the damn thing.   I hate every minute of those runs, but I do them.  They make me a stronger runner, and, as I was training for a half marathon in DC, it was a necessity because the city is anything but flat.

2011 Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company Infidel

2011 Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company Infidel

So, since Monday , February 17th was day 3 of a long weekend for Hubby and me, I made sure to get my 4-mile hill run in early.  I didn’t want it hanging over my head, especially since it was cold outside, and Hubby and I decided it was going to be a lazy, stay inside type of day.  We took turns heading up to the gym, as he was experimenting with a new slow cooker beef stew recipe and isn’t crazy about leaving it on when we’re not home.  For my part of the day, I was more than happy to spend it at home watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, knitting, and, of course, drinking beer.

The 2011 Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company Infidel  (brewery) was a Belgian-style IPA from Idaho.  The beer was a dark, clear amber with 3/4 of an inch of off-white frothy foam.  On the nose, there was some orange zest, pine resin, and hops with hints of pepper.  In the mouth, there were some oranges, apples, and pine resin mixed with hints of tea leaves, white pepper, and a not-too-bitter hoppiness.  The beer was medium-to-full bodied with a lot of lacing.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $9 for 22oz, this beer was smooth, well-balanced, and perfect for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  It paired very nicely with Hubby’s stew, complimenting the meaty flavors without overpowering the food (or being overpowered by it).  My one complaint was that I only had one 22 oz bottle, and the one I had went fairly quickly.

Question of the Day:  If you’re a runner, do you do hill workouts or do you just keep it to a simple run?

Price: $9 for 22oz
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

A Saturday Hop Session

Wine at Central InstagramThe week of February 3rd was a ridiculously busy week.  I started off Monday with a dentist appointment, had work events Tuesday and Wednesday night, ran four miles and celebrated Hubby’s birthday on Thursday, and finished off on Friday with dinner out at Michel Richard’s Central and The Importance of Being Earnest at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.   All that activity meant that I enjoyed a glass of wine or two while out, but didn’t have much chance to taste anything at home.

Running in DCSaturday, though, was a usual day for Hubby and me.  We spent the morning grocery shopping, picking up and dropping off dry cleaning, and finishing up the errands we needed to do before lacing up for our long run.  Since the weather was cooperating, I headed outside, running through the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor so that I could get in some hills in preparation for the half marathon.  It was a solid 13-mile run that left me hoping to get a little faster before race day, but feeling strong and ready.  Afterwards, as usual, I opened up a beer and just spent the evening being lazy.

White Birch Brewing Hop Session India Pale Ale

White Birch Brewing Hop Session India Pale Ale

The White Birch Brewing Hop Session Ale (brewery) is an India Pale Ale from Hooksett, New Hampshire.  As the beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, it was a hazy medium amber, with an inch of off-white foam on the top.  On the nose, there was some yellow grapefruit and hints of Cheerios.  In the mouth, there was lemon and caramel mixed with hints of pine and something herbal.  The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At $8 for 22oz, this IPA was a little lighter bodied than I expected, but it had a nice, balanced bitterness that kept the beer refreshing and enjoyable while still giving me some of the IPA qualities that I was really looking for.  We can have the debate about whether a brewery can make a “Session IPA,” but I think the Hop Session Ale embodies the idea well.  It embraced the hoppiness of an IPA without hitting me in the face with it, which meant the big, bold, bitterness that seems to be more and more common in many IPAs didn’t overwhelm this beer and let some of the other characteristics really shine through.  This was the first beer I’ve had from White Birch Brewing, and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more of their beers.

Question of the Day:  Are you an IPA fan?  Do you have a favorite?

Price: $8 for 22oz.
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

The Last of My Dogtoberfest

There are good running days and bad running days.  Saturday, February 1st was a bad one.  From the moment I started, my feet felt like cement hitting the pavement and I just couldn’t wait for the run to be over.  I’m not sure why it was so difficult.  I did my usual warm-up.  I didn’t run a more difficult route than usual.  Yet, I felt like my legs were letting me down.  I didn’t let the struggle keep me from running the full 12.5 miles, but it was a rough one.  As soon as I finished, stretched, and cleaned myself up, I headed to the fridge to grab a beer I knew would put a smile on my face.

Flying Dog Brewery's Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery’s Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery’s Dogtoberfest Märzen (brewery) is brewed with 100% German ingredients, although it is made in Frederick, Maryland.  The beer had a medium reddish-amber color with about an inch of off-white, foamy head.  On the nose, there was some nuttiness and maltiness with hints of caramel and black pepper.  In the mouth, there was a nice maltiness mixed with lemon zest, biscuits, and caramel.  The beer was a medium body with a mild bitterness and good balance.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At $2 a bottle, this Octoberfest beer offered something a little different.  After my run, I opened my last two bottles of the season, and I was sad to see them go.  The beer is refreshing, with good flavor, and perfect for drinking while trying to relax my sore muscles.  The nice thing about Dogtoberfest is that it’s also very food friendly.  It’s the perfect beer to drink while snacking on some cheese and crackers or having a German dinner complete with bratwurst.  I think it also might go well with something a little sweeter like teriyaki chicken.

Question of the day: Do you drink seasonal beers?  If so, do you have a favorite season?

Price: $2 a bottle (I bought 2 singles)
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 3.5 Corks