5 Tips for Your Next Wine and Cheese Pairing Party

When you invite friends over to try an array of wines and cheeses, you want to make sure you select the right ones that complement one another beautifully. For example, a sauvignon blanc will pair nicely with a fine mozzarella while pinot grigio is better with ricotta. The last thing you want is for the taste of the wine to be compromised with the wrong cheese. To help you with planning the festivities, here are some pointers for getting the right cheeses with the wine you want to provide.


1. Match Intensity

As a general rule of thumb, you want to match the intensity of the wine with whatever cheese you choose. If the wine you have has an ABV less than 12 percent, then you will want a more delicate cheese. However, if the wine has an ABV greater than 14.5 percent, then you can opt for a more intense cheese.


2. Sweet Wines Go With Funky Cheeses

It is a lot of fun to branch out and try some funky cheeses at a pairing event. You need to go about consuming these cheeses wisely because tasting them with the wrong type of wine can leave a bad taste in your mouth. A good rule to follow is to pair funky cheeses with sweet wines. These wines are generally considered to be “dessert wines,” and the “stink” associated with the cheese makes it almost creamy when paired with a sweeter wine.


3. Firm Cheese Is a Safe Bet

When in doubt, you cannot go wrong with firm, nuttier cheeses for your wine and cheese pairing. This is a good route to take when there will be several different wines available, and you do not want people searching for the right cheese to use. The best cheeses to use in this instance include gouda, abbaye de belloc, gruyere and Swiss.


4. Red Wines Work Excellently With Aged Cheeses

Aged cheeses are popular because they come with numerous health benefits. Cheese is described as aged when it loses a significant amount of its water content. As a result, it works best with red wines high in tannins. Your best bet will be to go for a cheese that has been aged for at least one year.


5. Go for Wines and Cheeses From the Same Region

It is always fun if your party can have a theme, and you can be certain the wines and cheeses will work well together if they come from the same area. For example, you can pair goat cheese from Loire Valley in France with a sauvignon blanc from the same region.


You want your wine and cheese pairing event to go off without a hitch. The last thing you want to do is select a cheese that leaves an unpleasant taste in people’s mouths when served with a certain wine. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you pick out the right items to go with each other. With the right pairings, your friends and acquaintances will talk about your party for years to come.

Organic Wines from Spain

Yes There are Organic Wines!

You care about what you put in your body and likely to some extent try to buy organic foods and body care products. It is important for our health since we are fueling our lives with what we eat. That being said there are areas I never even thought about going organic, like my wine. It was my time at ShiftCon, an amazing conference run by mommy blogger and social media influencer Leah Segedie of Momavation, that opened my eyes and introduced me to Natural Merchants for family produced organic wines..

Natural Merchants Organic WinesSo I have now been trying two amazing wines that give you a healthy edge while still letting you enjoy a glass or red or white. All wines are vegan-friendly, and Non-GMO Project Verified.

Tarantas Sparkling White

This sparkling white wine is definitely crisp and dry, which I enjoyed. It is not a sweet wine also something that works well with a nice meal. There are definitely fruit undertones, but I confess to not being refined enough in the palate to differentiate. The official description says “dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a silky, crisp green apple and lemon finish with no oak.” I paired it with lemon chicken and it was a huge hit.

spartico wine from natural merchantsSpartico Tempranillo/Cabernet – Contains no detectable sulfites!

I definitely have friends who can not handle sulfites and I was so excited to share this wine with them. 50% Tempranillo and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon this wine is a delicious mix. All the ladies at cards night raved about it and enjoyed the rich taste.

One of the cool things about these wines is that they come from vineyards which are in the middle of a National Reserve Park so you know that keeping all stages of growing natural and organic is a top priority in an environmentally protected area. The winery, Bodegas Iranzo dates back to 1335 when the land was granted by the Castilla King. Located outside Valencia Spain they have a long history of producing high quality wines.

You can find these wines and more at Natural Merchants. They even have fun things like wine and recipe pairings, including suggestions for these two wines – you can find those HERE. Also a fun map so you can find wines by country. Visit their site at Naturalmerchants.com or check them out on Social Media – TwitterFacebookInstagram

Toast & Co. at Copper Mountain

A Must Stop when Skiing Copper Mountain Colorado

Toast & Co logo at Copper Mountain ColoradoWhen every item on the menu looks so good you can’t chose, you know you are in the right spot. Toast & Co. at the Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado is the dining destination not to be missed. Located just outside the main square in picturesque Center Village you can walk right over from the slopes then hop right back on a lift and keep riding. They only serve breakfast and lunch so don’t wait too long or you might miss out for that day.

All of the options we tried at Toast & Co were amazing and trust me we were repeat visitors. French toast, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs… how can you pick between pumpkin ginger cakes and caramelized pineapple pancakes? Or between the BBA sandwich, thick cut bacon cherry wood smoked, fried egg, bacon aioli, greens, roasted tomatoes, avocado on a telera roll, or the Chuck’s sandwich, a toasted pretzel roll, crispy prosciutto, scrambled eggs, Swiss cheese and a Beemster Gouda sauce? Come on!

French Toast at Toast & Co at Copper Mountain ColoradoI know you are dying to hear what we did finally pick. (PS. we took both of the above mentioned sandwiches to go and thoroughly enjoyed each, but since I am partial to avocado I would say the BBA was my top pick.) Alright enough suspense. I sat down to the Amaretto French Toast which sounds amazing right off the bat and just gets better. Made from slices of moist fresh banana bread this french toast is then dipped in an Amaretto custard to deepen the flavors. A soft mountain of Chai spiced whipped mascarpone is a decadent addition. Perhaps my favorite detail is the candied pecans for that final sweet crunch.

Steak and eggs at Toast & Co at Copper Mountain ColoradoTo balance out that sugary delight I confess to stealing some of my friends marinated beef tenderloin steak and eggs. The meat was medium rare as advertised and melt in your mouth delicious. The house chimichurri sauce they put on took this dish to the next level. Eggs, toast, and potatoes finish off this dish which might sound pretty standard, but they were anything but. I am usually a pass on breakfast potatoes, if I am going to have the carbs I choose the toast. The potatoes at Toast & Co. changed my mind completely, worth every carb.

Coffee at Toast & Co at Copper Mountain ColoradoThey also have a full bar and great coffee drinks to get you moving and compliment whichever tummy filler you prefer. Toast & Co. has everything you could want. I adore that they are “Colorado Proud” and use products from our local Colorado companies. Also that all of their eggs are 100% cage free/non GMO/free range eggs from nearby Denver. Now how can you pick anywhere else to eat while visiting Copper Mountain Resort? Ski/snowboard the mountain to build up your appetite then sit down for a great meal at Toast & Co.

Read the Toast & Co Menu – Here

Visit Copper Mountain’s Site at Coppercolorado.com or find them on Social Media – TwitterFacebookInstagram

Why Walnuts Are Good for Your Family


The walnut is one of the tastiest and most popular nut varieties around, so much so that you can enjoy it in a whole cavalcade of ways. You can have it in cakes, in chocolate bars, in candies, and you can even have it in your glass as a milked walnut beverage.

However, did you ever stop to think about the health benefits of walnuts? Are walnuts actually good for you and your family, for something that tastes so good? You may be surprised to find out that yes, walnuts do have numerous health benefits, some of which might encourage you to consider including them in your family’s daily diet, rather than just enjoying them as occasional snack.

Walnuts can improve heart health

Walnuts are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, both of which have been found to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels in people who love snacking on the tasty nut variant. This is good news, as having high LDL levels can put you at a higher risk for life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack. Lower levels of LDL, on the other hand, means your risk for these conditions go down significantly. So if you or any member of your family is concerned about their cholesterol levels, then skip the chips and snack on a handful of walnuts instead.

Walnuts can help you lose weight

Looking to lose a couple of pounds or just want to fit better in your clothes? Then you could do well by adding walnuts to your diet. Not only do they boost your metabolism—which means that you burn off more energy even when you’re not exercising—but they also have quite a lot of protein and fiber, which are components that promote satiety and improve bowel movements. All of these can help you lose more weight and make you feel lighter and healthier overall.

Walnuts can improve bone health

Walnuts contain a healthy amount of copper, manganese, and magnesium—three minerals that can help keep your bones strong and even make them stronger in the long run. Copper and manganese help prevent osteoporosis and poor bone density, both of which can make your bones fragile and prone to breaks and fractures. Magnesium on the other hand helps make bones absorb calcium better, thereby making them stronger and helping them develop faster—perfect for growing kids!

Walnuts can help prevent gallstone disease

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that the frequent consumption of walnuts as well as other nut variants can help reduce the risk of developing a case of gallstone disease that’s serious enough to warrant cholecystectomy, i.e. the surgical procedure performed to remove one’s gallbladder.

Walnuts may help strengthen your immune system and prevent certain cancers

A recent study performed in mice showed that the omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants found in walnuts may have an anti-cancer effect, especially with certain types of malignancies such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. While this has yet to be proven to be the case in humans, the fact that it does work on another mammalian species is still a great sign that this nut may have therapeutic effects just waiting to be discovered.

With all these health benefits, surely you can snack as much as you want on walnuts without feeling guilt-free, right? Not particularly. Remember, walnuts and other nut varieties are still dense in calories, so make sure you only take the recommended amount of servings per day. Yes, we know it’s difficult, but too much of a good thing can make it bad for you in the long run. Moderation is always key when a healthy diet is desired.

The Fritz, Salida Colorado

Small Plates, Great Big Flavor

Don’t read that wrong, The Fritz in Salida, Colorado has options of all sizes, but they are known for their deliciously tempting variety of small plates on the menu. Literally every person we spoke to in town recommended The Fritz as a place to enjoy heart and tummy warming favorites and each had a personal favorite small plate to recommend. So our approach to the menu was to give as many as we could a try and I confess we were successful and left more than satisfied.

The Fritz in Salida Colorado near Monarch MountainWe hit the Fritz after a long day of skiing at nearby Monarch Mountain and with embarrassingly noisy stomachs. Options like Tuna Sashimi & Poached Prawn’s which are served with crispy onion, pineapple Ponzu sauce, and jalapeño jam were instantly eye catching. Our first pick, this dish was a cool treat for the palate, refreshing and light with a nice spicy heat giving each bite contrast and depth.

The Fritz near Monarch Mountain in Salida ColoradoPick 2: Brussel sprouts tantalizingly prepared with an orange reduction, walnuts, parmesan, and brown butter. On a cold winter night this is comfort food at its best. I am always a sucker for the warm richness of butter on my vegetables, but the addition of the orange reduction, the sharp flavor of the parmesan, and the crunch of the walnuts took this dish to the next level. It also came highly recommended by our ski instructor.

Pick 3: As suggested by our awesome waitress the Grilled Romaine with dates, pears, Manchego cheese, and finished with a creamy avocado dressing. I nearly stabbed my dining partner with a fork to get the last bite. A mix between a cooked greens and a fresh salad, this is a unique approach I have not had before and thoroughly enjoyed. Plus anything with dates! Which brings me to our next selection and which comes neck and neck with the grilled romaine as my favorite…

Pick 4: Bacon Wrapped Dates! Stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, hazelnuts, and red wine gastrique this could have been sweet enough to serve as our dessert, but the cheese and other flavors tempered the sugary date to perfection. I can not recommend this highly enough.

To close our meal at The Fritz we had the tough decision of one more small plate or pie… when I saw the baked Portobello Ravioli with marinara and basil pesto dropped off at our neighbors table and they raved about it the decision was made. Hot melty cheese, the portobello flavor of the ravioli filling, and the bite of the pesto is something I would enjoy any evening.

When you find yourself in Salida make sure to drop in at The Fritz for a relaxed atmosphere and some divine food. I definitely had the energy to hit the slopes again the next day after refueling here.

Find out more on their website – TheFritzSalida.com

Or on Social Media – FacebookInstagram


Think You’re Not a Chef? You Can Prepare Gourmet Meals at Home – We Promise!

You don’t have to be a good cook to make great meals. The thought of coming up with your own recipe might boggle your mind, and you might be confused about what some of the fancy kitchen gadgets you see on cooking shows are even for, but even you can create delicious, gourmet meals that your family will love and that will impress your guests. 

Here are the easy things you can do to prepare your own gourmet meals at home:

Start with the Best Ingredients

You’ll elevate your cakes with gourmet vanilla syrup. You’ll create mouth-watering roasts with high-quality, grass-fed beef. You’ll actually love vegetables again with organic asparagus grown in season and artisanal cheese. Just choosing the highest-quality ingredients that you can get will make your food taste amazing.

Don’t limit yourself to what’s at your local grocery store. Shop at the farmer’s market, find small specialty shops in your area or order online. If you aren’t sure what makes ingredients good, do a little research online or get to know your grocers and ask them a lot of questions. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have about the ingredients you use, the more powerful you will be in selecting the best ones and in creating delicious dishes.

Get a Few Basic Tools

Besides the ingredients you use, the tools you use will have a big impact on the quality of your meals. You need the best basics to get started: A high-quality knife set, cookware set, and baking materials. A few notable choices include a stand mixer, a culinary torch, and a thermometer. If you really want to get fancy and throw down some big cheddar, you can upgrade your oven, as well. 

Know that you can work miracles with utensils you find at the dollar store, but having high-quality tools at your disposal will make your work easier. You aren’t Gordon Ramsay, so you can’t expect to get top results with little more than your skill and innovation. You need the help, so get it in the form of great kitchen tools.

Find Great Recipes

Most recipes that you will find on popular websites are designed for mass audiences. They are typically for meals that are easy to cook and that will be ready quickly. These are not the kind of recipes you want to use if you want to make gourmet meals that will elevate your everyday menu. Instead, you should search for gourmet recipes provided by reputable chefs.

Know that you will most likely need to pay for access to these recipes. You may be able to get a subscription for online access, or you may have to buy a hard copy of a cookbook. Just do your research first to make sure you are getting recipes that are truly gourmet and that have been created and vetted by experienced and celebrated chefs.

Follow Directions to the Letter

You aren’t Julia Child yet, so don’t try to be. You should not be trying to experiment while you are in the kitchen — at least not until you master the basics. If you want to cook a gourmet meal successfully and you don’t have the formal training to do it, you need to let the recipes created by the professionals guide you. That means that you need to follow the directions to the letter. If the recipe says to sift the flour first, do it and don’t just dump the flour in straight from the bag. If the recipe says to marinate the meat for two hours, leave it for exactly two hours. Don’t try to rush the process, and don’t let it sit for too long.

You may not have disastrous results if you cut a few corners or make a few changes to the recipe, but any success you have will be luck. You’ll be able to improvise once you’ve gained some experience and have a lot of successes under your belt.

Follow these simple tips, and you’ll soon be creating meals that your guests will think you had prepared by a gourmet chef. You don’t need culinary training — you just need to have the right tools and the right recipes, and you need to follow directions.

5 Best Brands of Cottage Cheese


Cottage cheese is one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to get lots of calcium. It can be added to recipes for extra texture and flavor or it can be eaten on its own. There are lots of cottage cheese brands to choose from, which can make it a bit difficult sometimes to know which one to purchase. We have five great cottage cheese brands you should consider buying. 

Lactaid 1% Milkfat Low Fat Cottage Cheese

For people who want a low-fat option that retains all of the flavor and texture of regular cottage cheese, this one is the one to purchase. It is lactose-free, so it is also the perfect choice for people who are lactose-intolerant. It is considered to be one of the best cottage cheese options for people watching their weight, as well, since it provides all of the nutritional value of regular cottage cheese with half the calories. It is the perfect choice for lasagna and for eating with fruits, and its light tangy taste works very well with sweet options like jam or honey. Some people even eat it alone, like yogurt! You should not have to worry about your waistline when eating cottage cheese, and this brand allows you to truly enjoy the taste without guilt.


Breakstone’s is one of the most delicious brands of cottage cheese and one that you can easily find in most supermarkets. It is made with whole milk, giving it a rich, creamy texture and with a good balance of sweet and sour. Cottage cheese can provide all manner of nutritional benefits, and one that is made with whole milk, like this one, can be a good choice for added healthy fat and calcium. This brand also has uniform curds, so the texture is even and great for adding it to baked goods.

Horizon Organic Cottage Cheese

One of the best things about this brand of cottage cheese is the size of its curds. They are large, pebble-like, but soft and entirely delicious. It may look different than other options, but it has a wonderfully rich taste, with a perfect salt balance. It has a bit of a tangy edge that pairs well with fruits or honey. Do not be intimidated by the large curds: this is a cottage cheese that is soft and delicious. It can add great texture to any dish without overwhelming your taste-buds.

Friendship 2% Low Fat Large Curd Cottage Cheese

Another low-fat option that can be an excellent choice, especially if you like large curds, is this one. With only 2% fat, it can help you stay in shape without giving up a rich flavor. It has an excellent salt balance, though you should keep in mind that it is a bit drier than the other options we have mentioned. The first flavorful spoon will make you forget it is low fat. Add it to pasta dishes or eat it with crackers for a great snack.


Mountain House Cottage Cheese

This is another low-fat option that is made from skim milk. It lacks nothing in flavor, while staying low in calories. It has a perfectly balanced level of salt and tangy qualities, so that you can add it to a wide variety of foods. This one does require that you add water to prepare it, so keep that in mind if you prefer an option that is ready to serve. Because of this, however, this brand of cottage cheese tends to last a bit longer than other brands, which can be helpful. It is a bit more expensive than the other options, but it is well worth it.


These five brands above are the best options when purchasing cottage cheese. Just because you choose low fat does not mean that it has to be low in flavor, and many of the above options bring all of that great taste without the worry of high fat or high caloric content. Whether you want to add it to dishes like lasagna, or just eat it with fruit and crackers, cottage cheese can be a highly beneficial food to add to your diet.

Looking for New Snacks? Look No Further

Looking for some new snacks for lunchboxes, take alongs, and movie nights?

From new versions of the classic Welch’s Fruit Snacks and roll ups, to oatmeal on the go, ice cream bites and more, the below snacks are easily available for purchase at major grocery stores and perfect for switching things up and easy to take with you or snack on the couch.

  • Welch’s Fruit Rolls deliver the same quality consumers love in Welch’s Fruit Snacks in a NEW format. Featuring fruit as its first ingredient, the Fruit Rolls are gluten free, preservative free and available in three mouthwatering flavors. (Available nationwide)
  • Go Organically Fruit Snacks are USDA-certified organic, made with real fruit, GMO-free, gluten-free and preservative-free. Even better, these tasty and smart snacks are only 70 calories for each individual pack. (Available at Shoprite, Stop & Shop, Giants and more)
  • Munk Pack’s ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes, packed with whole grains and fruit bites, are perfect for a quick breakfast or snack on the go! Available in five delicious flavors, including Apple Quinoa Cinnamon, Maple Pear Quinoa, and more, they are gluten-free, non GMO, vegan and high in fiber.(Available at Target, Whole Foods and more)
  • My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream is a carefully crafted snack made with a scoop of premium ice cream wrapped in delectably soft dough. The new 6-pack boxes are available in seven flavor varieties and each ball of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream is only 110 calories each! (Available at Gristedes, ShopRite, Costco, Kroger, Safeway and more)​