Monday, March 25, 2013

Domaine de Canton Cocktails

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the first dinner in a series hosted by Domaine de Canton in partnership with a local chef and restaurant – Thomas Cook at Prime 108 in the Union Station Hotel. I jumped at the opportunity since I’ve been a fan of Domaine de Canton for several years. The dinner did not disappoint. In addition to cocktails, Canton was also used in the food!

Seared Diver Scallop with fried green tomato, Benton’s bacon, smoked corn succotash, and Domaine de Canton ginger-tomato marmalade.


Although we have a bottle of Canton amongst our liquor collection, I hadn’t visited it in sometime and was reminded just how good it is. The combination of ginger, vanilla, honey, and ginseng added to a base of VSOP and Grande Champagne XO Cognac is complex and delightful. After the dinner, we were gifted with some swag including a recipe book for both cocktails and food. Having exhausted my beer palate during Nashville Craft Beer week, I was in the mood for a cocktail and broke out the shaker and some martini glasses.


First up was the Canton Negroni. Joe isn’t a big fan of Campari as he finds it too bitter. It is definitely an acquired taste. It seems like other countries and cultures have more of a tolerance for bitterness. One of the popular sodas in Kenya was Krest – a bitter lemon soda. This is not an easy-drinking porch-pounder kind of cocktail, but I enjoyed sipping it as I stirred some mushroom risotto. The Canton replaces sweet vermouth in the regular version of the Negroni, and I enjoyed how the sweetness and spiciness of the ginger muted some of the bitterness of the Campari.

Canton Negroni

1 part gin
1 part Campari
1 part Domaine de Canton

Stir and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange slice.


I knew Joe would be much more partial to a cocktail we had at the dinner – The Gold Rush. We had combined bourbon and Canton in the past. The Gold Rush is similar to a Whiskey Sour with the Canton replacing the simple syrup. This is a drink you could easily toss back.

The Gold Rush

1 1/2 parts Domaine de Canton
1 part bourbon
1/2 part fresh lemon juice

Build all ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Optional cherry garnish.

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Base-building and Ellie Product Review

After completing 4 marathons in seven months, Joe made me promise that I would take the spring off from marathon training. Given that our schedules are often completely opposed and Saturdays are sometimes the only day of the week we have together, a 3 hour training run plus recovery time takes a lot out of that time together. Instead, this winter, I’ve been lifting weights three times a week with some running and the occasional spin class thrown in. It’s been nice to not “have” to get miles in on a miserably cold day, to be able to take advantage of a nice day and go on a hike, and to sleep in on Saturday. I did sign up for the Southern Indiana half in early April just to have something to work towards, and Joe and I are tossing around the idea of doing the Derby Festival half in Louisville together. Like in running, it’s been encouraging to see progressions in strength-training. I’m able to lift weights that I couldn’t have touched 6 weeks ago, and I feel strong and healthy.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Ellie about trying some of their workout clothes. After filling out a style profile, my clothes arrived a few days later in a fun and shiny pink envelope.


They felt like they were made of high-quality fabric, and I was drawn to the ruching details on the top. Fashionable workout clothes aren’t a huge priority for me, as I prefer function over form, but I appreciated the details on the clothes. In preparation for a treadmill interval workout, I slipped the clothes on to see how they would do under pressure.


Getting the clothes on was a bit of a struggle. Let’s just say they have a more figure-conscious cut than I’m used to, and that’s a size medium bottom and a size M/L on the top. I liked the longer cut of the top but considering how tight it was, I thought it might ride up on a run (and – spoiler alert – it did). The top also had a built-in shelf bra, but a sports bra was definitely necessary.


While I wasn’t impressed with the top’s performance on the treadmill run, I was a fan of the capris. They’re just the right amount of thickness to hold everything in without being too warm. When I used the clothes again for a strength-training workout, it was evident that these clothes were designed for the gym and yoga. As much as I like the capris, they don’t have any of the pockets or extras that my running clothes do. Similarly, most of their tops have the shelf bra, meaning they aren’t conducive to high-impact activity. But for weight-lifting and other low-impact activities, they work great.

Every month, Ellie releases a new “collection”. My clothes came from March’s Little Black Collection. You can buy pieces individually or get a membership, where for $49.95 a month, they’ll send you two pieces automatically. And through this link, you can save 20%. So check out this month’s collection if you’re looking for some new workout clothes. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I’m partial to their inspirational pins on Pinterest myself.

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yes, it’s March in Tennessee, and yes, we had “snow” (some combination of sleet and freezing rain) this past week. So there’s not much better than a steaming hot bowl of soup. My craving for chicken tortilla soup started with a bowl last month from Newk’s. I’d never had much of a taste for it before; something about the soggy tortilla parts in it was a texture issue for me. And how, as a native Texan, I have waited this long to make chicken tortilla soup is also a mystery to me.

The Pioneer Woman’s version is an okay start. Some jalapenos would have upped the ante a bit, and I could have added some more chili powder. Ancho would’ve contributed some nice smokiness. I used homemade stock that spent most of Sunday afternoon simmering away and needed more salt than I normally use. Per most of her recipes, this made a TON of soup, and unusually, it’s actually relatively healthy so I don’t feel bad about loading up a huge bowl. I topped mine with light cheese, Greek yogurt, cilantro, and some avocado.


Chicken Tortilla Soup
source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Yields 8 servings


  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt (I used an equal amount of Penzey’s Southwest seasoning instead of the spice mix)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 10 Oz. Can Ro-tel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa
  • 5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in Ro-tel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed---add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.

Ladle into bowls, then top as desired.