Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher

The best of both worlds!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - The perfect cocktail OR mocktail for late spring celebrations like Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

In multiple senses of the words 😉 I’m super excited to bring you this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher today for a couple of reasons:

  1. It can be made virgin or alcoholic – you choose depending on your situation or personal tastes.
  2. It combines some of my favorite spring produce (strawberries!) with some of my favorite summer produce (watermelon!)

If those aren’t the perfect excuses for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and beyond, I don’t know what would be!

I first made this incredibly refreshing beverage for our monthly SB Foodie Gals meetup we had a couple of weeks ago at the Santa Barbara Mission. I love when we host our meet-ups at the Mission because we do them picnic potluck-style…everyone brings blankets, wine, cheese, cookies, you name it, and we relax and chat about our recent trials and triumphs goals for the future, etc. I feel so lucky to have met such a great group of local gals that share so many of my same passions and ambitions.

We were all sipping on this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher, that I had totally made off-the-cuff and with no intention of sharing it on the blog, but after receiving so many rave reviews from the gals and requests for the recipe, I decided I better recreate and share it so everyone can make it for all of their celebrations this weekend!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - An icy glass of one of the most refreshing cocktails or mocktails you'll ever taste. Incredibly easy to make with all fresh ingredients. The perfect drink for Mother's Day!

I love making drinks with watermelon because you can easily “juice” it without a juicer (because unfortunately neither our kitchen nor our budget can handle one right now.) And when I say “juicing,” I mean whirring it up in a blender (with some fresh strawberries, in this case) and then passing the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any seeds or other things that didn’t break down during the pureeing process. Sure, it takes a tiny but of extra time, but the deliciously thirst-quenching result is soooo worth it.

So, I mentioned the watermelon and the strawberry, but there are a few other ingredients that take this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresh from “just juice” to over-the-top. We’re lucky enough to have a ton of wild mint growing in our backyard (which also happens to be about the only thing we can keep alive back there) so I threw a big handful into the mix to give the drink an extra hit of flavor. I also added some fresh lime juice to balance out all the sweetness, as any cocktail or mocktail should have.

And last, but not least, the big question: to make it alcoholic or not to make it alcoholic? This is totally up to you! It will taste REALLY good either way you try it. For the non-alcoholic version, simply add sparkling water or club soda. To booze things up, simply use sparkling wine in lieu of the soda! And, if you can’t decide, you can always break the juice into two batches and add club soda to one and sparkling wine to the other. See, so easy!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - These refreshing drinks with fresh strawberry and watermelon can be made alcoholic or non-alcoholic and are the perfect drink for summer holidays!

I am personally becoming quite a pro at making this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher (and subsequently cleaning out our local TJ’s of most of their strawberries and watermelon,) so I think I am definitely going to have to whip up a batch for the weekend. We’re headed over to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a BBQ on Sunday and I know it will go over well with both the kids and adults alike. 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend celebrating all of the beautiful mothers in your life! Xo

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - The perfect cocktail OR mocktail for late spring celebrations like Mother's Day and Memorial Day.
Print
Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher
Prep Time
20 mins
 

This refreshing drink filled with fresh watermelon and strawberries can be made into a mocktail OR cocktail. The perfect sipper for spring and summer occasions! 

Course: Drinks
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 cups cubed watermelon (about 1 baby watermelon)
  • 3 cups hulled strawberries
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups chilled club soda or sparkling wine
Instructions
  1. Combine watermelon and strawberries in a blender and puree until no chunks remain. 

  2. Place a fine mesh sieve over a wide-mouthed pitcher and, in batches, slowly pour the watermelon mixture through to strain. To speed up the process, use a pestle or some other utensil to help push the mixture through the sieve more quickly. It took me about 4 sieve-fuls to get through the entire batch of juice from the blender.

  3. Remove sieve from pitcher and add lime juice and mint leaves. Stir to combine and refrigerate for at least a half hour. Add chilled club soda or sparkling wine right before serving. Serve over ice or neat, up to you!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

If this doesn’t scream “Mother’s Day,” what does??

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co.

In-season fresh strawberries dot a vanilla- and lemon-laced Bundt cake, topped with the sweetest, tangiest lemon drizzle. This Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze is one for the books and I can guarantee that just about any mom in her right mind will go crazy for this if you make it for her this weekend.

This is yet another post I’ve created with my friends over at Sonoma Syrup Co., and I must say it was so fun to make and came at just the perfect time. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll know that over the past year or so I’ve partnered with Sonoma Syrup to make some really fun drink recipes, like this Honey Citrus Detox Elixir and this Spiked Lavender Lemonade, but every once in a while I love to flex my creativity and use their amazing syrups (and, in this case, vanilla extract) in a super tasty baked good, like these Vanilla-Ginger Doughnuts with Pomegranate Glaze.


So when they approached me to create a fun Mother’s Day recipe using their Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush,” I jumped at the chance. And of course I couldn’t stop there, I had to add some of their No. 1 Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup as well because who doesn’t love hints of fresh lemon paired with strawberry and vanilla?

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m even more excited for this Mother’s Day for a few very important reasons that I have to keep under wraps for now, but I promise to let you know soon! We have both of our parents coming to town, plus some siblings, and a couple of big surprises to unveil that are going to really put the icing on the cake for the weekend (pardon the pun.) All the more reason to have some Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze to celebrate!

And really, this recipe is not at all hard to make. That’s one of the greatest things about Bundt cakes. They look so pretty and elegant with almost no effort at all. Forget the fancy frosting techniques, let the shape of the cake mold do all the work!

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - A beautiful and delicious Bundt cake laced with fresh strawberries, vanilla and lemon. The perfect spring dessert!

So, we start with a fairly basic Bundt cake batter, with a hefty dose of Greek yogurt to be sure it turns out nice and moist. We happened to have a huge jar of homemade limoncello in our refrigerator, so I added some of that to the batter to really up the lemon factor, but you could just as easily use fresh lemon juice if you don’t have any limoncello on hand. We’re saving the Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup for the glaze so it can REALLY shine.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - Moist cake batter in Bundt pan laced with fresh strawberries.

I also put in a hefty dose (we’re talking one whole tablespoon) of Sonoma Syrup’s Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush.” Now what, you might be wondering, is the difference between the Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” and regular vanilla extract? Well, the crush is not only made from some of the finest vanilla beans you can get your hands on, it’s also laced with actual vanilla bean SEEDS, making it especially delicious and intense in flavor. I love the extra-vanilla-y taste it gives all of my baked goods, I’ve even been known to throw some into a smoothie every now and then!

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - Baked cake without glaze.

Once our Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake has baked and cooled slightly, it’s time to put together the super-simple Lemon Glaze. This glaze is really similar to the Pomegranate Glaze I made for the Vanilla-Ginger Doughnuts I mentioned above, but using the No. 1 Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup instead of the pomegranate. To really punch up the flavor, I also added lemon zest and even MORE of the Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush.”

I really love that the light glaze is not too overwhelming with the delicate, fresh flavors of the cake, which also makes it just as suitable for brunch as it does for dessert after a heavier lunch or dinner. This means that you have no excuse not to order some of these syrups right this instant and make a Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze for all of your favorite moms this Mother’s Day.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - A slice of this cake and a hot cup of coffee is all you need this Mother's Day!

Even better, Sonoma Syrup is offering all of you, my dear readers and biggest fans, 10% off of your next purchase. Simply use the special discount code CALI10 at checkout on their site and you’ll be well on your way to making a delicious dessert that all your guests will love. Now hurry up and order so you can get to baking!

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

A moist, delicious cake filled with fresh strawberries and laced with hints of lemon and vanilla, all topped with a tangy lemon glaze.

Course: Dessert
Servings: 10 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush"
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello (or fresh lemon juice)
  • 3 cups flour, divided (plus more for pan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
For the glaze:
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons Sonoma Syrup Co. No. 1 Meyer Lemon Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush"
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a Bundt cake pan with shortening or melted butter and then coat with flour. Set aside.

  2. First, make the cake. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla bean extract, limoncello (or lemon juice) and Greek yogurt. Beat until combined.

  3. In a separate, medium mixing bowl, sift together 2 ¾ cups flour, the baking soda and the salt. Add this mixture to the wet mixture and beat until just combined. 

  4. In a separate bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup flour. Fold the strawberries into the batter. 

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before turning out of pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  6. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over the cooled cake and let set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream

I’m going to blow your mind today!

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com

If you’ve never heard of or yet gotten to experience the magic of candy cap mushrooms, that is. I have to admit, it’s taken me quite a while to figure out how I wanted to showcase these little gems here on the blog, but now that I have this recipe for Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream under my wing, I’ll never think twice!


Yes, we’re talking about MUSHROOMS here, and mushrooms that shine their brightest when used in sweet, rather than savory, dishes. Don’t be scared. These things seriously taste like maple syrup. No joke. Which is why I naturally decided to add them to syrup’s ultimate breakfast vehicle – Belgian waffles!

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com

I had heard some buzz about these magical candy caps around the interwebs last year, but I hadn’t really had the opportunity (or motivation) to track some down and try my hand at cooking/baking with them. But my whole outlook changed when my friend and fellow blogger Hana-Lee and I headed up to Napa at the end of last year, and had none other than CANDY CAP CHURROS for breakfast at Sam’s Social Club one morning. We both took one bite and immediately fell in love. The little flecks of candy cap mushrooms that you could barely see speckled throughout the churro dough added such an intense, delicious maple-y flavor, I really couldn’t believe that something so small could have such a big impact on the taste buds. Pretty amazing.

So, I finally had the extra motivation I felt I had been waiting for to give these candy cap mushrooms a shot in my own kitchen, now all I had left to do was track some of these bad boys down. I found a rather large pack of candy cap mushrooms on Amazon (my usual go-to for any slightly “out there” food products that I don’t feel like going on a wild goose chase to find locally) but was still a bit hesitant to make such a big purchase when I had never even cooked with these things before (although I am happy to say that, after the success of these Candy Cap Waffles, I would easily make that investment so I could have them for breakfast every weekend morning from here to eternity.)

It wasn’t until the hubs and I took another trip up to Napa a couple of months later and visited the new Culinary Institute of America site at Copia that I truly discovered what I knew I had been looking for to embark on my candy cap mushroom culinary journey: candy cap sugar!!! That’s right, the cute little store at the CIA was selling sugar that was already infused with small flecks of dried candy cap mushrooms. It started perfuming our car with that heavenly scent of maple syrup as soon as we started driving north to our accommodations for the night. I couldn’t wait to get back in the kitchen and use it!

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com

But if you can’t find any candy cap sugar in your neck of the woods (or don’t feel like ordering it here), have no fear, you can easily make your own! Simply get your hands on some dried candy cap mushrooms (like these ones you can get on Amazon) and mix them with ohhhh, about ½ cup to a cup of sugar in an airtight container. Let the ingredients sit and get to know each other for a day or so and you’ll be ready to whip up some Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream just in time for the weekend.

And after some brainstorming and messaging back and forth with some other culinarily adventurous friends, I settled upon these Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream. I’m so glad I did. To be fair, this recipe is nearly identical to a Belgian waffle recipe my mom passed down to me at my cooking-themed bridal shower last year, and yet another thing that has been on my “to-make” list for way too long. I mean, we even got the fancy shmancy Belgian waffle maker to go with it!

It’s not a quick-and-easy recipe, yet it’s not difficult, more just a little time consuming. This is mostly due to the fact that you separate the egg yolks and whites and fold in the stiffened whites at the very end of the batter-making process to yield an incredibly light yet moist flavor. That being said, if you find yourself up early one morning or able to tide the troops over with some fresh fruit or cartoons for a later breakfast, this recipe is TOTALLY worth it.

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com

The only change I made to my mom’s recipe to make these Candy Cap Waffles was subbing in the candy cap sugar for the regular amount of sugar called for. It’s only two tablespoons, but that’s all you need to really make that signature maple flavor pop (and make your house smell like breakfast for a good couple of days.)

Oh, and then there are the sautéed maple apples and fresh whipped cream, which you probably shouldn’t skip out on. You see, I figured that since the waffles would already taste like maple syrup, they might need a little more of a three-dimensional topping than just MORE maple syrup. To me, there’s hardly anything better than warm, cinnamon-y sautéed apples gracing the top of a baked breakfast item, so that was an easy solution for me. And whipped cream, well, you’ve just got to!

Once you have the batter made, you’ll be turning out waffles as quickly as your waffle maker’s light turns from red to green. If you’re cooking for a crowd and want to serve everyone at once (including yourself,) simply preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and throw the waffles in, right onto the oven rack, to stay warm while you cook the rest. Be sure not to place them on a baking sheet or paper towel, as this will make them soggy, and no one wants a soggy waffle!

I might also take this opportunity to mention that, conveniently, there is a very special holiday coming up this weekend that perfectly warrants a big batch of these. I mean, what mom wouldn’t want a heaping plate of Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream placed in front of her on Mother’s Day morning?

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Belgian waffles get an elevated twist with the addition of candy cap mushroom-laden sugar, sauteed maple apples and homemade whipped cream.

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 4 waffles
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the waffles:
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons candy cap sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the apples:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 Fuji apples, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. First, make the waffle batter. In a large bowl, sift together both flours, the sugar, the baking powder and the baking soda. Set aside.

  2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, egg yolks, butter and vanilla.

  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently until a lumpy batter forms.

  4. In a separate, small mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Let batter sit while you make the sautéed apples and whipped cream.

  5. To make the apples: melt the butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices, cinnamon and maple syrup and saute until the apples are crisp tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn heat to low and set aside.

  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a clean hand mixer) combine the whipping cream and vanilla extract. Beat on high until a whipped cream forms. Place in refrigerator while you are making your waffles.

  7. Scoop approximately ¾ cups of the batter (depending on the size of your waffle maker) onto a preheated waffle iron and cook according to the iron’s directions. 

  8. If you’d like to serve everyone at once, place waffles directly onto the rack of a 200 degree preheated oven to keep warm while you make more. Remove right before serving. 

Recipe Notes
  • You can purchase the same candy cap sugar that I used here.
  • If you'd like to make your own candy cap sugar, simply purchase candy cap mushrooms from Amazon here, dice them up finely and add them to regular granulated sugar. Let sit for at least a day before using.

Candy Cap Waffles with Sauteed Maple Apples and Whipped Cream | CaliGirlCooking.com

25 Wines That Shine for Mother’s Day

We’re mixing things up today! I figured that since I’ve now been posting weekly cocktail recipes for over 6 months, you should have plenty of options to choose from if mixed drinks are more your jam for celebrating Mother’s Day. BUT I’m also well-aware that many of you may not want to “hit the hard stuff” on this family-oriented occasion, so I thought I would tap in to my wine knowledge and share a little bit of it with you.

25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

I’ve gathered 25 wines in varietals/styles that I’m pretty sure most moms would thoroughly enjoy, and today I’m not only sharing them with you, but giving you the tools you need to REALLY sound like you know what you’re talking about.


But before I try and tell you how YOU’RE going to sound like a first-rate sommelier at your Mother’s Day celebrations, let me tell you a little bit about myself and my wine background (I promise I know my stuff, guys!)

I started studying wine when I was living in Honolulu and just getting ready to start culinary school back in 2009. I had decided I wanted to take my First Level Sommelier Exam (from the Court of Master Sommeliers) and jumped into reading all of the “suggested literature” from cover to cover. I ended up moving back to California in the summer of 2010, and took my First Level Sommelier Exam at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena that July. That was my first “adult” introduction to the Napa Valley and I fell in love immediately.

Shortly after I received my Level One Sommelier Certification, I decided to branch out and start the Society of Wine Educators program. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Court of Master Sommeliers program focuses on knowledge, tasting and service, whereas the Society of Wine Educators program has far less emphasis on tasting and service and is almost solely dedicated to the knowledge/educational component. I took (and passed) the Certified Specialist of Wine exam in February of 2011.

25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

I have all intentions of continuing my wine education one day, but at this point in time I’ve transitioned out of such a heavily wine-focused role, plus I have a few other things on my plate that have been keeping me busy!

Now that I’ve gone on and on about my personal life, are you ready to get into the good stuff and learn about what wines you’ll want to be serving for Mother’s Day this weekend? Disclaimer: I want to apologize in advance because no, I did not include any red wines in this roundup. Call me biased or opinionated, but I just didn’t feel that red wines are the drink of choice for Mother’s Day being that it’s celebrated in the heart of Spring, and usually during the day. BUT, if you are dying to hear my red wine suggestions, please shoot me an email or comment below and I’ll be happy to give you some recommendations!

Also, I’ve categorized all of the below wines using a few keywords to make your selection process super easy:

Supermarket find – These are wines that you should be able to find at your local supermarket that has a decent wine selection, BevMo, Costco, etc.

Bargain buy – These are wines that are (typically) under $20 a bottle.

Hidden gem – These are wines that you will most likely have to buy directly from the winery or online, not typically available at everyday supermarkets.

Amazon  – These wines are available to order off of Amazon (I get so excited about this) and I have conveniently included some links so you can order them right away!

Splurge  – Wines that are a little higher priced, but well worth the money. Invest in these if your Mom loves wine and would truly enjoy it.25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

Okay, on with the roundup:

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles

If you ask me, bubbles (that’s sparkling wine in its official capacity) are the answer for any and all celebrations (okay, maybe even when there aren’t celebrations to be had.) I LOVE BUBBLES. They’re my fave. Not only because they’re so festive, but because they can be enjoyed at ANY time of day, in any season, with so many different types of food (my favorite pairings include fresh seafood, any and all cheeses, and breakfast/brunch.) This makes them the perfect choice for Mother’s Day! Here are a few of my faves that fall under a wide range of style and price:

  1. Segura Viudas Brut CavaSupermarket find; Bargain buy
  2. Domaine Chandon Brut ClassicSupermarket find; Bargain buy
  3. Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc or Blanc de NoirsHidden gem; Splurge 
  4. Gruet Brut RoseSupermarket find; Bargain buy; Amazon
  5. Michel Olivier Cremant de Limoux NVHidden gem; Bargain buy

Chardon-hey-hey!

That’s Chardonnay for all of my mature readers out there. I’m just going to put this right out there – Chardonnay is SUCH the cougar wine. And I’m totally comfortable claiming this because I am one of those people that loves a good Chardonnay, so I’m basically making fun of myself. Yes, Chardonnay has been a favorite of Moms everywhere for quite some time now. It’s also one of the most common varietals you’ll see featured on wine lists and in stores when you’re out and about, so it’s great to know a thing or two about it! The great thing about Chardonnay is that there are soo many different styles out there. There are the stainless steel-fermented versions, that tend to be lighter and crisper, and then there are the oaked versions, which tend to be fuller-bodied and have a more buttery flavor. Chardonnays go well with what I like to call “heavy-light” dishes. These are dishes that are lighter in color (think cheesy, creamy, etc.) but definitely don’t skimp on the calories.  One of my absolute favorite pairings with a good Chardonnay is Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam. Delish! Here are some of my faves along with where you can find them:

  1. Alpha Omega Chardonnay (both the oaked and the unoaked versions) – Hidden gem; Splurge
  2. Sanford Chardonnay Sta. Rita HillsSupermarket find (in the SB area at least)
  3. Zaca Mesa ChardonnaySupermarket find; Bargain buy; Amazon
  4. Frank Family Vineyards Carneros ChardonnaySupermarket find; Amazon
  5. Summerland Winery Santa Barbara Chardonnay Hidden gem
  6. William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley ChardonnayAmazon
  7. Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast ChardonnayHidden gem; Splurge

Rosé all day!

I know it has a certain reputation, but I just love rosė. Especially when there’s something to celebrate like Mother’s Day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am VERY picky about my rosė. It must be perfectly balanced and not too sweet (although if sweet is your jam, by all means have at it.) I love rosė because it can pair well with lighter dishes, but can also hold up to something a little more hearty. Items such as ham (or maybe bacon?) are the perfect example of something that would be much better paired with rosė than with a lighter white wine. I’m sure most of you are aware of this, but I think it’s important to point out that “rosė” wine can be made out of many different varietals. Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah are a few common ones that come to mind. That being said, if you’re willing to give them a shot, I feel that there is a rosė out there for everybody. Here are a few of my faves:

  1. Uproot Wines Santa Ynez Valley Rosė Amazon
  2. Silver Mountain Rosė of Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains Bargain buy; Amazon
  3. Becker Vineyards Jolie Rosė BlendBargain buy; Amazon
  4. Cornerstone Cellars Corallina Napa Valley Syrah RosėAmazon





Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to varietal for all of my freshest, healthiest meals. It pairs wonderfully with fresh vegetables, anything with lots of herbs, citrus, and so much more. Making a kitchen-sink salad for dinner? Reach for a Sauvignon Blanc. At an outdoor party enjoying a fresh crudité platter? Reach for a Sauvignon Blanc. I usually sort my Sauvignon Blancs into two basic camps (okay, actually three) – those from the U.S. and those from abroad, specifically Australia/New Zealand and France. I find that the U.S. Sauvignon Blancs (most of which hail from California) tend to be more fruit- (specifically citrus-) forward while the Australia/New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are more herbaceous and the French Sauvignon Blancs are a great embodiment of terroir (i.e. all of the environmental factors surrounding the growth place of the grapes.) Below are my current top picks:

  1. Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon BlancSupermarket find; Bargain buy
  2. Barnett Vineyards Dry Creek Andrews Vineyard Sauvignon BlancHidden gem
  3. Holman Ranch Carmel Valley Estate Grown Sauvignon BlancBargain buy; Amazon
  4. Hartwell Estate Carneros District Napa Valley Sauvignon BlancAmazon; Splurge
  5. Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon BlancAmazon




Aromatic Varietals

Although this isn’t one particular type of wine, I thought it was important to touch on some aromatic varietals, as they tend to be enjoyed by those (especially females, i.e. Moms) who might not typically be the most seasoned wine drinkers. These include varietals such as Riesling, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Gewurtztraminer (say that ten times fast.) I’m not a huge fan of sweet wines unless (a) they’re actually being enjoyed for dessert or (b) they’re paired with super spicy food, but I realize not everybody is in the same camp. Because of my preferences, you’ll find that most of my selections below tend toward the less-sweet versions of these varietals, but rest-assured that there are sweeter versions out there. Nevertheless, all of these wines would pair well with lighter breakfast or brunch dishes that we’ll all likely be enjoying for Mother’s Day this weekend.

  1. Lucas & Lewellen ViognierAmazon
  2. The Ojai Vineyard Kick On Ranch Riesling Dessert WineAmazon
  3. Gundlach Bundschu GewurtztraminerHidden gem
  4. Inglenook BlancaneauxHidden gem; Splurge



And that wraps up my 2016 Mother’s Day Wines that Shine! I know this is a little different than my typical recipe post, so please leave some feedback on whether you liked it or not either via email (robin@caligirlcooking.com) or in the comments below.  Now that I am getting into more of a groove with posting regularly on the blog, I’m looking for ways to diversify my content and keep you coming back. Tell me, would you like to see more of this type of “informational” post? Based on my food, wine, traveling, entertaining, and sports background, what type of content would you like to see more of? I look forward to reading all of your feedback! XO

25 Wines That Shine for Mother's Day | CaliGirl Cooking

Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream

This one goes out to all of my moms out there. Consider this Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream my personal gift to you to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.

Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream | CaliGirl Cooking

I’m not yet a mom myself, but I have MAD respect for all of you out there who are. I have so many mamas in my life – friends that are moms, family members that are moms, soon-to-be family members that are moms (and of course, most importantly, my mom) – I see on a daily basis what hard, yet rewarding, work it is. I look forward to the day that I join the ranks but, for now, I’ll stick with showering all the moms I know with delicious treats like this one.


This Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream is one for the books. No joke. The cake is dense, syrupy, and fruity, and the light-as-air whipped cream is the perfect contrast with that little hint of boozy flavor. If you think about it, it’s sweet (as moms undoubtedly need to be) but has that extra kick that proves we’re not messing around.

Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream | CaliGirl Cooking

And let me tell you a little bit about this sweetness. This sweetness comes from the amazing Heavenly Organics line of honeys which have become my absolute favorite as of late. You may have noticed I already started sneaking them into recipes like this Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing, because I just can’t NOT use them when I’m looking for that little hint of sweetness. They come in three flavors: Acacia Honey, White Honey and Neem Honey, and all of them are fab. The Acacia Honey is more your classic honey, light and drizzly with a slight tang, it’s perfect for everyday use because it blends in easily to anything. The White Honey is creamier, with a more floral hint to it, and the Neem Honey is the thickest, most robust…perfect to serve on a giant cheese platter!

The other HUGE reason why I love Heavenly Organics honeys is because they are all ethically farmed. Guys, this is really big. I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz lately (sorry, pun intended) about how all of our bees are disappearing because of unethical farming practices, smoke outs, etc. Well, Heavenly Organics is soooo not about that. Their honeys are collected from naturally occurring, wild beehives using smoke-free methods that not only protect the bee colonies, but also prevent forest fires.

Even better, these honeys are produced by worker-owned cooperatives in remote and conflict-ridden areas such as Northern and Central India and the Himalayas, helping to better these communities and create long-lasting, sustainable economies. Is Heavenly Organics awesome or are they awesome? You know I’m all about that balance, so I am totally behind this company and their message.

Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream | CaliGirl Cooking

So let’s get to this Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream using not one, but TWO of these amazing products. Because of its delicious creaminess and floral notes, I used the White Honey as the “glue” to hold the orange slices on to the bottom/top of the cake. And for the whipped cream, I used the ever-so-versatile Acacia Honey for its easy blendability.

Not only is this cake absolutely delicious, it is incredibly easy to make (the most difficult part is slicing the oranges) and, best part ever, it’s perfectly fitting for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. I mean, it involves Greek yogurt and fruit which makes it pretty much a health food, right? And this means you’re covered no matter how you’ll be celebrating all of the moms in your life this weekend. Now hurry up and get to baking! We only have a whole day devoted to celebrating these fabulous human beings once a year, after all 😉

Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream | CaliGirl Cooking

Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream

Yield: Makes one 8-inch cake and about 2 cups of whipped cream

A delicious upside-down cake laced with honey and fresh oranges, topped with homemade, spiked whipped cream.

Ingredients

    For the bottom of the cake pan:
  • 2/3 cup honey – I prefer Heavenly Organics White Honey
  • 2 oranges, peeled and sliced into thin wheels (not wedges)
    For the cake batter:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey – I prefer Heavenly Organics Acacia Honey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of sprayed pan with parchment paper, then spray top of parchment paper with cooking spray one more time.
  2. Spread White Honey on bottom of cake pan, carefully making sure it reaches as far to the sides as possible without moving the parchment paper. Place orange wheels atop honey in bottom of cake pan. Set aside.
  3. Next, make the batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate, medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, yogurt, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Using a hand mixer, mix until these ingredients are combined, then mix in the dry ingredients.
  4. Once all ingredients are incorporated, pour batter into prepared cake pan. Place in 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate to finish cooling.
  5. To make the whipped cream, combine heavy whipping cream, vanilla and bourbon in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix at medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes, or until the mixture resembles whipped cream. Serve alongside slices of cake.
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Honey-Orange Upside Down Cake with Honey-Bourbon Whipped Cream | CaliGirl Cooking

A whole lotta sweet love right there.

This post was created in partnership with Heavenly Organics. Although I did receive product in exchange for this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I truly LOVE Heavenly Organics products and their mission so I am honored to work with such an amazing company!