Imagine your favorite snack items, laid out in a delicious ensemble, paired with a refreshing glass of wine. Sounds good, right? That’s exactly what Brittany and I thought, as we planned a day of eating and drinking, while taking in the breathtaking scenery of Lake Michigan. To top it all off, we asked Ted Woodcock, from Malbec Millennial to help us pair our creations with a glass of wine. Ted is the an expert in wine, and in his blog features incredible and unique wine blends. We hope that you would agree that this lovely spread is perfect for a hot summer day!
First, let’s dive in to the most colorful dish on the table, the Creamy Goat Cheese Bruschetta. The recipe is super simple, but let’s talk about the ingredients. The recipe calls for goat cheese, tomatoes, basic, and a baguette. During these difficult times, I was motivated to seek out the most fresh sourced goods for this recipe. The creamy, spreadable goat cheese is from The Cheese Lady. The bright, red color tomatoes and mixed basil microgreens were purchased from Crisp Country Acres, who is a popular weekend vendor at the Muskegon Farmers Market. The baguette was purchased at Morat’s Bakery, who also makes some of the best donuts in town. The recipe calls for:
- 1 Baguette
- 2 Large Tomatoes (Roma Tomatoes are good too)
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
- Creamy Goat Cheese
- Basil or Microgreens
- Balsamic Reduction for drizzling. (I used Rachael Ray’s Balsamic Reduction)
Instructions: Line sliced baguette slices on a baking sheet, line with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes, or until browned to add a crunch. Once you let the bread cool, spread goat cheese on sliced baguette pieces. Now, take the tomato mixture and top each slice, drizzle balsamic reduction, and then sprinkle basil/mixed microgreens over each piece.
Ted’s Wine Pick #1: “While an Italian Prosecco could also be appropriate, I tend to go for wines that offer more citrus flavors, especially to contrast with the goat cheese and herbs with this appetizer, like a Spanish Cava. A sparkling cava is a great aperitif as it’s light, mildly dry, and is a citrus bomb with tropical flavors like lime and melon. Grocery store offerings of sparkling cava can be limited, so try any you can find. Personally, I recommend the NV Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava Brut.”
Ted’s Wine Pick #2: “There are plenty of still wine options for the creamy bruschetta as well. My recommendation would be a South African Chenin Blanc. With a similar flavor profile as a Spanish Cava, but with a touch more body and complexion, this pairing is also fantastic. I recommend the 2016 “The Rustler” Chenin Blanc from Clarksburg, South Africa. Bonus pick: 2018 Essay White Blend is a blend with Chenin Blanc in it and could be easier to find for the average consumer.”
This Lemon Chicken recipe is super easy and delicious! It’s a go-to in my house. The lemon is not over powering for those that are a little nervous of too much lemon taste.
- 3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs (highly recommend rather than any other parts of the chicken), skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat
- 4 teaspoons lemon zest (about zest from 2 lemons)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Lemon slices for garnish
- Marinate the chicken:
Place lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, whisk to combine.
With the tip of a sharp knife, cut into the underside (skinless) of each chicken piece one or two times by about 1/2 an inch. (This will allow the marinade to penetrate the chicken.)
Place the chicken pieces in the bowl and turn to coat with the marinade.
Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
**I will be honest here. When I first started making this recipe, I would marinate the chicken for an hour or two; however, I found myself getting lazier and lazier and began skipping this step. I found that if I sliced the bottom of the chicken parts and place them in the baking dish, the mixture would still penetrate the chicken throughout baking. Here, I would dip the chicken in the mixture and place the chicken in the baking dish. The chicken tastes just as delicious! But, do what you think tastes best 🙂
2. Preparation for Baking:
Preheat the oven to 425°F
Place the chicken in a large baking dish with the skin side up. Reserve the marinade. Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter on each piece of chicken.
**If you decided not to marinate the chicken: This is where I would use the remaining mixture and pour the mixture into the baking dish. This will allow the chicken to absorb the mixture.**
Bake for 20 minutes and baste the chicken pieces generously with the reserved marinade, if you reserved the marinade.
**If you did not reserve the marinade, here is where I would either make more marinade (if I feel there is not enough marinade in the baking dish) and/or I would brush more butter on the top of the pieces to see the skin become more crispy brown. IT all depends on how much marinade you want. You might like a little or you might be like me and like a lot. There is no right or wrong way here!**
Continue baking for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the skins are crispy brown, and the chicken is cooked through.
Note: “Depending on the size of the breasts, they may be ready before the thighs, so if you are cooking a mix of chicken parts, keep that in mind, you may have to take them out of the oven before the thighs.” Simplyrecipes.com
4. Let it cool
Let the dish cool down for 10 minutes covered in foil.
5. Eat up!
This dish is delicious to eat on its own or with sides of your choosing! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Ted’s Wine Pick #1: “As stated in my first pick above, I tend to choose wines that have a strong, noticeable citrus profile. While white wines often pair more successfully with contrasting flavor profiles of the food, I’m going to complement the lemon chicken with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. I recommend the 2015 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc or the 2017 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Both offer citrus flavors with a crisp mineral finish. The wine would also pair with the assorted vegetables of your choice as well.”
For dessert, I decided to go with a refreshing chocolate covered strawberries. Not only are they super easy to make, but until Valentine’s Day, I can’t think of another time when we get to enjoy fresh strawberries.
- 1 Lb of Fresh Strawberries
- 1 Cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- First, rinse and clean the strawberries.
- Set strawberries aside for an hour or 2, until completely dry.
- Now, heat chocolate chips in a microwavable safe bowl. I would set mine for increments of 30 seconds, until melted.
- Once chocolate is melted, quickly take each strawberry, and dip into the chocolate.
- Once all of the strawberries are covered, place in refrigerator for an hour or two, until chocolate has hardened.
Ted’s Wine Pick #1: “There’s a lot of different ways to go with this pairing. For my first pick, I focus on the fruit for the pairing. The champagne-strawberry pairing is the classic here, but I’m going in a bit of a different direction. I recommend the NV Freixenet Ice Cuvée Especial. This Spanish sparkling cava is a rosé that bursts of red fruit that compliment the strawberry. It’s light body also doesn’t clash with the chocolate. Win-win.”
Ted’s Wine Pick #2: “This pick will focus on the chocolate – the best part if you ask me. Depending on the chocolate that is used or preferred, one can pick any number of red wine varietals. I recommend the 2017 Bar Dog Cabernet Sauvignon or the 2018 Tailored Republic Pinot Noir. The Cabernet is a full-bodied wine complete with dark fruit and vanilla smoothness. The Pinot Noir provides a lighter body with more red fruit but with a smoky, more acidic finish. Both are great options that will also compliment the strawberry fruit.”
Pictured above is the creamy white goat cheese and a Fontina Fontal cheese from The Cheese Lady. The Fontina is my favorite Asiago cheese. Very light, and is paired great with the Asiago crusted sticks and Sweety Bombs, also from The Cheese Lady. Pictured below is a White Sangria that I had made with 1/2 cup of Three Olives Rose Vodka, 1 bottle of White Sangria from Leelanue Peninsula, and topped with club soda and fresh fruit. Enjoy!