5 Wines I’ve Bought This Summer

5wines

This post from Meg reminded me that I’ve been meaning to do a wine roundup this summer, so here we are! Full disclosure here: I don’t know much about wine…at all. It’s kind of embarrassing; I’ll drink (and generally enjoy) most things, but am partial to light and crisper types on a hot summers day or night.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you may recall that I do nearly all of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. So naturally, that’s who stocks my wine rack! A few of these are definitely exclusive to TJs, so hopefully you have access to one. Also–while I’ve graduated from Three Buck Chuck, the sub-$12 varieties consistently get my business. Here are five goodies I picked up this summer…

Le Ferme Julien Rosé, $5.99: First off, cute label. Taste wise, it’s crisp and on the drier side. TJs says it pairs great with pastrami or a tomato salad…I’d agree, but can can say it tastes great with anything–even by itself.

Les Portes de Bordeaux Rosé, $6.99: This has probably been my favorite rosé/wine in general this summer…it’s a combination of dry and sweet thanks to the fruity tones…you can definitely taste some strawberry. Not to bring this up again, but the label…looove. It’s light and no-nonsense…highly recommend!

Espiral Vinho Verde, $4.99: I don’t really know how to describe this except for that it’s really light, refreshing, and is almost a little bubbly. It’s wonderful! TJ’s description does say it has a “light sparkle,”….so that makes sense… composition wise, it’s made from grapes that are harvested before they’re fully ripe. This wine also has a lower alcohol content than many others!

Barbadillo Castillo de San Diego, $5.99: Slightly sweet, light, and crisp (like everything else I’ve drank this summer). I’d say this falls into the “nothing special, but very solid” category. A good one to have in the fridge for impromptu gatherings–just like my friend and I did for an hour during Bachelor in Paradise last night!

Kung Fu Girl Riesling, $11.49: A friend first introduced this to me four or five years ago and it’s probably my favorite riesling. The description says it has peachy and lychee notes, and I can definitely tell (that’s a lot coming from me…someone please recommend a good wine course). Grab a bottle for next time you get takeout Indian food!*

*Riesling pairs well with Asian food–I do know that much :)

I’d love to know: are there any great wines you’ve tried this summer? Send ’em this way!

How to Build A Simple Cheese Plate

Easy Cheese Plate

Anyone else love playing hostess? Even if you’re in a shoebox sized apartment (my roommate and I share a converted one bedroom…you can see part of it here, though it looks pretty different a year and a half later), it’s nice to have a little group over once in awhile for a casual night of drinks + good conversation. Our living room only comfortably fits about 6 people, so any more means getting creative with the setup and consolidating the food spread as much as possible. But no matter who’s coming over and how many people there are, one thing stays consistent: cheese is served.

Overnight Nutella & Berry French Toast

French Toast Casserole with Nutella & Berries
You know those recipes that you make once, promptly fall in love with, and then add to the shortlist of dishes you’ll rely on in a pinch? That happened to me the moment I took my first bite of this baked french toast. It’s quick (start to finish with cleanup took me about 30 minutes) and its three primary ingredients are almost universally crowd favorites: Nutella, bread, and eggs.

This was my first time trying an overnight breakfast recipe and it certainly won’t be the last. Highly recommend if you’re hosting several people for brunch or, in our case, were attending brunch potluck with girlfriends. I threw this together Friday night after work, my roommate put it in the oven in the morning, and we Ubered to our friend’s apartment with the warm pan on a dishtowel on my lap. So, so easy! And very easy to freeze and reheat, in case you have leftovers.

French Toast Casserole with Nutella & Berries
Overnight Nutella Berry & French Toast

Ingredients

3/4 jar Nutella
1 loaf challah bread (you could use French or another plain bread in a pinch)
1 cup strawberries (I used whole frozen ones, but you could use fresh and chop them up if you’d like)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Drizzle of honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Slice challah bread loaf into approximately 1/2 inch thin slices. Spoon a generous helping of Nutella onto one side of a piece of bread and use a second to make a sandwich. Repeat until all slices of bread are made into sandwiches.

Slice each sandwich each into several small bite-sized pieces. Arrange all the pieces in a greased 13×9 pan (it’s okay if you have to stack one on top of one another as long as the whole bottom of the pan is filled first). Once all the bread is transferred into the pan, take the strawberries and stick them between the bread at random (I made sure some were under pieces of bread, too). Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, and vanilla and whisk until slightly frothy. Pour into the pan, covering as much of the bread as possible. Gently press down on the top of the bread to ensure that pieces are fully coated. Drizzle a generous amount of honey over the whole thing and bake for 45-55 minutes. If a knife stuck in the center comes out mostly clean at 45, take it out of the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Photos by Monica Dutia for Cake & Lilies