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Sonoma

For our one year anniversary last month (sorry for the delay – the past month is a blur) we jumped coasts to check out Sonoma. I LOVE wine and my husband will enjoy wine with me. He has been to Napa before but I had heard amazing things about Sonoma. We spent 3 full days and had 2 travel days, but the day we flew out was essentially a full day with an early flight and gaining time. I loved our itinerary so I thought I’d share. We had a wonderful and relaxing trip, even days before closing on selling a house and buying a house.

Travel Day/Day 1

We took an early flight so we would have most of another day. We landed in San Francisco around 10am. After getting our luggage and car, it was lunchtime and the obvious first stop on the west coast is In-n-Out Burger. Every time eat there it is just as delicious as I remember. Sonoma is about 1.5 hours from the airport and we had no set plans for that day, so we made a pit stop on the way at Muir Woods.

Redwoods are amazing trees. They are old and massive and just really cool. Nowadays, you have a reserve a parking time – a 30 minute window – before arriving. We actually waited to do it until we arrived in San Francisco just in case something happened with our flight, which was easy to do since it was a Thursday. On a weekend, though, I am pretty sure parking slots sell out. Once you’re there, you can spend as much time as you want. There were a good number of people there, but once we got into the woods a little there weren’t many people around. You can take the paths, hiking trails, take lots of photos. We spent 1-1.5 hours walking around and it was a beautiful stop to make.

We continued to Sonoma – where the weather was significantly warmer – and checked into our AirBnb. The cozy guest cottage was perfect. It wasn’t a huge space but we weren’t planning on spending a ton of time there anyway. It had a little kitchenette, a comfy queen bed, a tv, it was private, and the host had a wonderful welcome basket with snacks. We had dinner at El Molino Central, which had delicious authentic Mexican cuisine.

Day 2

We wanted to have one day that we didn’t have to worry about driving and too many tastings. So for months I checked out different tour companies and driver services and kept an eye out for different deals. I don’t remember how I stumbled across Valley Wine Tours, but they seemed to be the best deal so I booked a semi-private tour (not knowing how many people would actually be on the tour with us). I will say they are a very simple operation, so if you want a lot of details about your day, you have to ask questions. But we were happy to be surprised with the exact details.

David picked us up around 10am in a mini van and then we picked up a mother-daughter pair and that’s who we spent the day with! David asked what kinds of wines we liked and what we were expecting out of the day. He had a tentative plan but wanted us to have input if we had any, which was nice. We went to 4 wineries: Larson Family Winery, Loxton Winery, Little Winery, and Muscardini Winery. We had more than enough time at each one and had a delicious picnic lunch (included in the tour, with actual china!). Wine tasting fees were not including in the tour price, but many wineries will waive the fee if you buy wine and we obviously bought wine. I was pleasantly surprised by the prices of bottles at most wineries! We were back at our AirBnb around 4pm. It was really a great day! We took a rest then went to Mary’s Pizza Shack for dinner (which was delicious).

Day 3

Our last full day in Sonoma we wanted to hit up a couple more wineries but take more time and maybe do an actual tour since we only did tastings the day before. We started the day with a yummy breakfast at Picazo Cafe. So we did a leisurely morning tasting at B.R. Cohn Winery, grabbed lunch in the little town of Glen Ellen, then headed to Benziger Winery. Benziger was definitely the largest winery we went to and we wanted to do an interesting tour, so we went with the Tribute Estate Tour & Exclusive Wine Tasting. The winery is biodynamic, which is one step higher than organic (which I didn’t even know existed), and it was really interesting to hear about how the winery works. Then we did a tasting in the wine cave. Very cool. It was a perfectly chill winery day.

We wanted one nice dinner, so we had made a reservation months before to The Girl & The Fig in downtown Sonoma, which was recommended to me by a friend who lives in San Fran. And it lived up to the hype. The atmosphere was great and the food was delicious. We also walked about downtown Sonoma before dinner which is a really cute little square with a park in the middle.

We absolutely loved our trip to Sonoma. There are SO many wineries so you could visit numerous times and have a different experience every time. All the wine was delicious (although I can’t say I am picky). All the food was delicious. All the service was great. I highly recommend it.

Day 4

We spent our last full day in San Francisco seeing a friend for brunch and going to a Giants baseball game (we try to hit up different baseball stadiums when we can). Since the post is getting long – the baseball game was fun and food before and after the game was great (highly recommend the nachos at Public House next to the stadium).

All in all, it was the perfect one year anniversary trip. I have done a quick itinerary below in case that is helpful to any planning a trip to the west coast and looking for pointers. Enjoy!

DayActivity/WineriesRestaurant(s)
Thursdayo early flight ATL > SFO
o drive to Sonoma
o Muir Woods
o In-n-Out Burger
o El Molino Central
FridayValley Wine Tours:
o Larson Family Winery
o Loxton Winery
o Little Winery
o Muscardini Winery
o Mary’s Pizza Shack
Saturdayo B.R. Cohn Winery
o Benziger Winery
o Picazo Cafe
o Garden Court Cafe
o The Girl & The Fig
Sundayo drive to San Francisco
o Giants game
o MarketBar
o Public House
Mondayo early flight SFO > ATL


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French Boneless Chicken

I have a wonderful cookbook called Entertaining with Friends and it was made by the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, where I was a patient through college. It was a wonderful place that does great things for kids and families. I think a friend gave me the cookbook but honestly I can’t remember.

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t do a great job of using my cookbooks. I usually have a couple of recipes from it that I make and then it gets put to the side and forgotten about. This is one my go-to recipes from this cookbook that I wanted to share.

It’s a pretty easy recipe and we actually had everything we needed when I thought to make it recently. I remembered to take pictures a little late so they’re not quite as detailed as I usually like for recipe posts but you’ll get the idea!

Start with your ingredients and some prep. Pound and season the chicken. I also cut the breasts in half. Chop the onion and quarter the mushrooms. We accidentally chopped the mushrooms because the recipe right next to this one requires chopped mushrooms. But it’s still mushrooms all the same!

Briefly sauté the chicken then place in a baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken. Then make the sauce in the same pan, adding each ingredient and letting it cook. First the onion, then mushrooms, then the wine and simmer.

Pour the onion mixture over the chicken and bake!

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We also baked some delicious brussel sprouts with our go to recipe – salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Add a salad, bread, rice, whatever other sides you want!

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French Boneless Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken pieces
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • ⅓ to ½ C white wine
  • 1 C (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰
  2. Pound the chicken to a uniform thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Heat 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a skillet. Add the chicken and sauté briefly. Remove to a baking dish.
  4. Melt the remaining 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in the same skillet. Add the onion and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender. Stir in the wine. Simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top of the chicken. Top with mushroom mixture.
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the chicken is cooked through.

Yields 4-6 servings

Happy cooking! Print the recipe here: French Boneless Chicken

 


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Peanut Butter Cookies

I can’t believe it took me this long to share this recipe – and that this is only the fourth dessert/sweets recipe I have posted on my blog. I bake a lot. I have no excuse. Anyway, this is literally the easiest cookie to make. If you are not a baker you can make these, and if you are a baker you will love how easy these are. And many of you may recognize these cookies. My mom made these a lot growing up and you can easily find the recipe online. Some call them Magic Cookies – not because of any “special” ingredient – but because they are that easy and they are that good.

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You start with your ingredients – only 4 of them. Well, technically 5, but the flour doesn’t go in the cookies. And you don’t have to have a Kitchen Aid mixer. You can use a hand mixer or you can even use a blender or food processor.

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Mix the peanut butter and sugar until combined.

 

Go ahead and beat the egg a little with a fork. Add an egg and vanilla. Dough will be moist but slightly crumbly.

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Roll dough into balls. I usually make them pretty small – max the size of a golf ball. Place onto cookie sheet.

 

Pour a little flour into a cup or bowl (just a few tablespoons). Dip a fork into the flour, then flatten the cookies with the floured fork.

Bake ’em up and sit back and enjoy! Little time, little clean up. 1 recipe makes about 20 cookies, give or take, depending on what size you make them.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 C peanut butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • flour (~2-3 Tbsp.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°

In food processor or mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and sugar. Mix well.

Stir in egg and vanilla.

Roll dough into ~3/4 inch balls and place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with a floured fork.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.