Soup Bowl for the Soul

“Soup is cuisine’s kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o’clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.”
— Louis Pullig De Gouy

Today is National Soup Day! A warm bowl of soup regardless of the temperature outside can transform your day. Soup is comfort food at its best and it can go a long way in warming you and your soul. With so many soups to choose from, a creamy bisque, rich chowder, or a savory broth base soup can be a day-long simmering meal or a last-minute dinner. One thing however is for certain, soup will always hit the spot.

When I think of a thick and hearty soups like my Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder I always like to serve it with fresh baked bread. Of course the only thing better than a slice of bread with soup, is a bread bowl to fill with soup.

Havarti Cheese with Dill Bread Bowl

Soup has been traced back as far as 6000 B.C., notably it seems that Hippopotamus was the first known meat used for soups.  In early Greece, Greeks sold soup in the streets of their market places, which means soup could be considered one of the first “fast foods”.  Before soup makers began adding beans and other ingredients, soup was really just broth, the broth was used to pour over or dip bread into.  The bread was called sop, which then became the word we are more familiar with, “soup”.

Havarti Cheese with Dill Bread Bowl

This recipe is an upgrade from a standard bread bowl recipe and incorporates layers of flavor with the addition of Dill Havarti Cheese and Garlic Infused Olive Oil. I used my bread machine to make the dough for this recipe. Also, by coating the shredded cheese in flour prevents the shreds from sticking together in the blending process.

1 cup Warm Water (110 – 115 degrees)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Garlic Olive Oil
1 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3 cups Bread Flour (or All Purpose Flour )
1 Tbsp Dough Enhancer
2 Tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp (Flour to coat shredded cheese)
1 1/2 cups Havarti Cheese with Dill. Shredded.

1 Egg White and 1 Tbsp Water whisked together for egg wash

Place the ingredients in the order listed into the bread machine (I layered the flour coated cheese between cups of flour to get a more even blending in the finished dough) and run the dough cycle. When finished, lightly knead the dough on a clean and floured surface. Divide the dough into 6-8 equal parts and form into the shape of a ball. Lightly sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking sheet and place balls of dough on top and allow to rise. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. When dough has risen, brush the top of each ball with an egg wash for a crisp and shiny finish. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or golden brown. Let cool slightly before cutting the tops out with a bread knife or scoop part of the inside out.

You can really used any flavored cheese with this recipe or a plain cheese that has been combined with your favorite herb.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight. “
M.F.K. Fishe

With the Bread Bowl ready to be filled, now is the time to craft the perfect Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder.

I like to add my dry spices to the Mirepoix as it is softening.

Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder


  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup chopped Celery
  • 1 cup chopped Carrot
  • 1 cup chopped Onion
  • 1 (4 ounce) can Diced Green Chilies
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried Oregano
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Cups Homemade Chicken Stock or 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Chicken Stock
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed Russet Potatoes
If you like a little kick then add a Pepper Jack Cheese to this soup.
  • 1 Package frozen sweet corn
  • 1 (2.5 ounce) package country style gravy mix
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded White Cheddar Cheese (or any cheese that you like)


  1. In large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add first 6 ingredients with a dash of salt and pepper; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; cook over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Dissolve gravy mix in milk; stir into soup mixture. Add cheese and corn; cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
A hearty soup, ready in about 35 minutes.

Now your ready to enjoy a Bread Bowl of Cheesy Potato Chowder. Enjoy!

“Soup is cuisines kindest course.”
Virginia Wolff

Tea Inspired Cocktails

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”
Chaim Potok

As much as I love a good cup of tea, sometimes I crave something unique and a little bit stronger. As so much of the United States is recovering from the Polar Vortex, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite tea-inspired cocktail recipes. Let’s face it, the only thing that can elevate a good cup of tea to new heights, is the addition of a great companion, booze.

As some of the country is experiencing 100 degree temperature swings, I decided to share two tea inspirations. My twist on hot Blueberry Tea, and also a cold tea cocktail, a Chai Tea Cream. A great thing about both tea cocktails is that they are completely adaptable to your own taste.

A Blueberry Tea Cocktail is typically made with an Orange Pekoe Tea. At my local grocery store they carry a Private Selection Tea called Blood Orange Rooibos Herbal Tea which was used in this recipe.

In classic bartender guides there really aren’t many blueberry drinks. One exception is the Blueberry Tea Cocktail, which contains no blueberry or blueberry flavored ingredients. It’s one of those cocktail concoctions that draws on a handful of ingredients to transform it into something completely different. Hence, a classic Blueberry Tea cocktail that only resembles the taste of blueberries. 

Blueberry Tea Cocktail

This warm and delicious tea cocktail has Grand Marnier, Amaretto and Orange Tea, which gives off hints of blueberry flavor.

Ingredients for one cocktail

  • 1 fluid ounce amaretto liqueur
  • 1 fluid ounce orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier(R))
  • 4 fluid ounces orange pekoe tea, or an orange tea of your choice like the blood orange rooibos herbal tea used in this cocktail.
I doubled the recipe to make two cocktails.


  1. Combine amaretto and orange liqueur in a brandy snifter or glass.
  2. Seep Tea bag in hot water and add tea to glass.
This is a great winter cocktail.

The history of Chai tea can be traced back to the mid-1800s in India, and has long been a favorite in cafés and tea rooms. Now drinks are being crafted with the spiced tea as a way to develop more depth to cocktails. Whiskey and Rum are two of the more popular flavor pairings with Chai tea, because of their complementary oak and vanilla flavors. This Chai Tea Cream cocktail is paired with an Apple Brandy to include a mellow apple flavor. A simple syrup has been infused with a cinnamon stick to add an additional level of warmth to the cocktail.

CHAI INFUSED VODKA: place 2 Chai tea bags (I used Twinings Chai) into 1 cup of Vodka. Allow to infuse for at least 2 hours. Remove tea bags and use in desired cocktail recipe, or store in fridge for 2 weeks.

Chai Tea Cream Cocktail

CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP: mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add a cinnamon stick and remove from heat, cover and let cool for 20 minutes. Pour into a glass jar and cover. Makes about 1½ cups and will keep in the refrigerator for a month.

You can easily add more of any of the ingredients to make the cocktail to your specific taste.


  • 1 oz Chai infused Vodka (see photo with note)
  • 1 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup (see above)
  • 2 oz Apple Brandy
  • 2 oz Light Cream


  1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, cover and shake vigorously for about five seconds. Open the cocktail shaker again and add 2 ice cubes. Shake again for 20 seconds.
  2. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with fresh or dried apple slices.
Make sure that you use a good Apple Brandy for this cocktail. I used an Estate Apple Brandy from Wilridge Winery & Distillery in Washington State.

These cocktails are sure to keep you going through all the remaining long Winter nights!

Baked Gouda Cheese Dip with Bacon Jam

Wow your guest during a Super Bowl Party with this amazing dip.

First a warning. This Bacon Jam may just become your newest addiction.
It is insanely good on all kinds of dishes like quesadillas, sandwiches, burgers, breakfast, or served up on a dip. I added an extra step to a traditional Bacon Jam, but it will add a whole new level of flavor to your finished product.

Begin the Bacon Jam by roasting the onions in a flavorful red wine like this Merlot from Silvara Cellars.

3/4 cup Red Wine (I like to use a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp fresh Thyme chopped
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground Pepper
2 large Sweet Onions, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick.
4 tbsp Butter


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Layer the bottom of a baking dish with the sliced onions. Pour red wine in the baking dish. Top each onion with 1/4 tablespoon of butter, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper. 
  • Roast uncovered in oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown, basting once or twice during roasting. Add a small amount of water if red wine starts to evaporate to much. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • When onions are cooled place them in a strainer to remove excess liquid.
These onions would also be great on a burger, sandwich or pizza.

Bacon Jam

1 pound Apple Smoked Bacon
Roasted red wine onions, minced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 cup Strong Brewed Black Coffee
1/4 cups Pure Maple Syrup

Preparation Instructions:
Cut the bacon slices into 1-inch strips. Add the bacon to a Dutch oven or frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until the bacon is browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.

Place the Dutch oven or frying pan back over the medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Stir well and reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Add coffee, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup, stir well.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and boil hard for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, stir the browned bacon into the onions and liquid.

Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure things aren’t sticking, adding 1/4 cup of water if it seems to be drying out. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes until the liquid is thick and syrupy, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Any left over Bacon Jam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Smoked Gouda Dip

Smoked Gouda Dip – A quick and easy dip recipe that is perfect for a party. Smoked gouda, cream cheese, thyme and spinach, baked together. Top with finished Bacon Jam and serve with baguette.

Gouda Dip

  • 7 oz Smoked Gouda, shredded
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup fresh Spinach, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded gouda, cream cheese, spinach, thyme, worchestershire sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Transfer dip to a cast iron skillet or a pie dish.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the dip starts to brown.
  4. Top with bacon jam and serve immediately with sliced baguette or crackers.
This recipe can easily be doubled to serve a bigger crowd.

Recipe and Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

A Grape Odyssey-Maréchal Foch

“It is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool – it drives the
man to dancing… it even tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told.”
― Homer, The Odyssey 

Late last summer I took a road trip from Washington State to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada to share with my son his first wine tasting experience and discover some new Canadian wines.

Although my trip to the Okanagan Valley was hampered by extreme smoke from wildfires, the beauty of the land was ever present.

What once was a huge glacier, the Okanagan Valley is comprised of soils that are mostly sandy, with white clay-silt on top of a gravelly sand made up of limestone, granite and other forms of ancient volcanic gravels. This soil combination is ideal for generating some intensely aromatic wines with layers of mineral flavors and a subtle level of tannins. Being in the 50th parallel, the Okanagon Valley has a short growing season and is most commonly known for its production of Ice Wine.  Although the climate during the growing season is hot, dry and sunny, it is still quite short. To help ripen the red grapes the additional daylight hours in the summer months work in the Okanagan Valley’s favor.

Agriculture has a long history in this region, also known for growing apples, peaches, and cherries, the Valley is now becoming recognized for growing the grapes that produce the regions authentic wines. The wines of the Okanagan are more extensive than would be expected, to include Syrah, Bordeaux Blends, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay to name a few. There is one varietal that I want to focus on from this wine region, Maréchal Foch.

Wine tasting at Quails’ Gate in Kelowna, BC

I was introduced to the Maréchal Foch grape during a wine tasting at one of the first wineries that I visited in Kelowna, Quails’ Gate Winery. Quails’ Gate is a check off your list destination with a beautiful winery and impressive vineyards that overlooks the immense Okanagan Lake. Maréchal Foch is a hybrid grape variety that is grown in parts of the United States and in Canada. Cold hardy and disease resistant, the Foch grape was first developed in France in the 1910s by Eugene Kuhlmann, who crossed GoldRiesling and a native American Vitis riparia-rupestris to create what was then named Kuhlmann 188-2.  In 1946 Maréchel Foch arrived in the U.S., where it was subsequently renamed, Maréchal Foch in honor of Marshall Ferdinand Foch, a distinguished French General in World War I. There is a rumor that this name was given to the grape do to the extensive casualties sustained by Foch’s troops, as Maréchal Foch wines are distinctly noted for their deep, blood-like color.

2015 Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch

The grapes for this wine are sourced from 37-year old vines planted in a southern most vineyard located in Osoyoos, B.C.

2015 Old Vines Foch, this wine opens with rich aromas of cherry, tobacco and hints of coffee. On the palate you experience smooth dry tannins and notes of tart juicy cherries, dark chocolate, and a lingering smokey vanilla undertone. Decanting this wine for an hour or two before serving will enhance your tasting experience. For pairing try this Old Vines Foch with roasted beef, blue cheese or a sausage and mushrooms pizza.

Foch is a quirky hybridization of native American red varieties (a ripara X rupestris hybrid) with Goldriesling, which is itself an unusual modern cross of Riesling and Muscat. Once commonly grown in the Loire, today the Maréchal Foch grape is limited to a small number of hectares in Europe, it is restricted by European Union regulations because it is a hybrid variety. It’s one of a number of French-American hybrid grapes that were developed, mostly, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the dual purpose of creating new varieties that would be resistant to the phylloxera scourge in France and that would grow well and produce quality table wines in the relatively harsh climates of the Eastern U.S. and Canada.

Little Straw Vineyards-Family Estate Winery in Kelowna, BC

Little Straw Vineyard 2014 Single Vineyard Maréchel Foch

My last tasting was in Kelowna at the Little Straw Vineyard, a wonderful estate winery flanked by vineyards. Little Straw is a family owned established winery which strives to provide the customer with a true Okanogan wine tastng experience. The highlight of the winery was the last tasting of our trip, a 2014 Maréchal Foch. I knew instantly that I needed to bring home multiple bottles for myself and to give as gifts to friends.

This vintage Maréchal Foch has an incredible silky-texture and is deliciously fruit-forward. Jammy notes of blackberry, sour cherry and black currant greet the nose and palate, with subtle hints of smoke and coffee lingering on the finish. This wine is wonderful enjoyed on its own or paired with moderate curries, red meats, or strong cheeses.

“Life is too short to drink bad wine.”

Light and easy to drink the nature of the Maréchal Foch grape is what compelled me to share more about this wine grape. Musky with aromas of dark fruits and vanilla, the wines produced with this hybrid “forbidden fruit” would be a compliment to any wine collection.

Having now discovered the hidden treasure in the Okanagan Valley Wine Country, I am looking forward to another trip to visit wineries not yet explored and tasting wines exclusive to this wonderful region. I hope that you get the opportunity to explore this fantastic Wine region for yourself someday.

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Blueberry Bourbon Hand Pies with Ricotta & Rosemary

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” David Mamet

Fruity and boozy with hints of ricotta and thyme in every bite.

Today is National Pie Day, an annual celebration of pie which started in 1975 when Charlie Papazian a nuclear engineer, brewer and teacher who declared his own birthday, January 23, to be National Pie Day. Why not celebrate the day by making a pie, full of flavor and fits in the palm of your hand.

For this recipe I used the strained pulp from Blood Orange juice along with 1 tbsp of the juice. Any Orange will work in this recipe.

This recipe yields 8 hand pies.


For the Crust:  Use your favorite pie crust recipe or simply use a store bought  pie crust.

For the Blueberry Bourbon Filling:

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice with pulp from the orange
  • 1 tbsp minced candied ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp bourbon 
Any quality Bourbon will work for this recipe, for more bourbon flavor you can add an additional tablespoon.

For Ricotta & Rosemary Filling: 

Combine 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan salt, and 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary.

The creaminess of the ricotta and the freshness of the rosemary adds something unique and special to this pie.

For the Topping:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Crystal sugar


To make the Blueberry Bourbon Filling:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the blueberry filling to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  • Combine ricotta cheese filling.

Assembly and Baking:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°(F). place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough into a large square, about 16″ x 16″.
  • For square pies, use a pastry wheel or pizza cutter to cut out sixteen even squares.  Using a small knife – or small cookie cutter – cut a vent into eight of the squares.
  • Brush a little bit of the beaten egg wash along the edges of each square. Spread a layer of the ricotta cheese mixture on 8 pieces of pie crust.
  • Divide the filling among eight of the squares (or half of the cutouts), using about two tablespoons for each.
  • Top each filled square with a vented square, and press along the edges with a fork or a pie crust crimper. Make sure the edges are sealed well!
  • Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Transfer the pies to prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake the pies for 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
The whole house will smell wonderful when baking these pies.

Baby don’t you cry
I’m gonna make a pie
I’m gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Quincy Coleman – Baby Don’t Cry lyrics

I hope that you enjoy this recipe and I look forward to hearing how your Blueberry Bourbon Hand Pies with Ricotta & Rosemary turn out.

Recipe and Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.