Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Rustic Apple and Almond Cake

Thank you “The Traveling Pantry” for this lovely Apple and Almond Cake recipe. This will be a very good recipe for us Virginia cooks to tuck in our file to make in the Fall when apples are in abundance!

The Travelling Pantry

This wonderfully rustic and fail-safe cake is thanks to Mary Berry, I just add more apple. Delicious served warm with a scoop of ice-cream or at room temperature with some thick Jersey cream.

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Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a loose bottomed 20cm cake tin and line the bottom with parchment.

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Use a large bowl to combine and blend together 225g self raising flour, 225g caster sugar, 1 ½ tsp of baking powder, 2 large eggs, 1tsp of almond extract and 150g of melted butter. Beat well for a few minutes then spread 2 thirds of the mix into the cake tin.

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Peel 3 large cooking apples, slice into segments then lay in spirals over the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the apples and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean and the top turns golden. If the top gets too dark, cover with foil for…

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Food Tour – Lexington, Virginia – How Sweet It Is!

food tour sign

 Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts about the Lexington Food Tour that I enjoyed with my bubbly friend on Saturday. The tour treated us to all kinds of healthy and delicious foods followed by fabulous desserts.  Life is short…so let’s eat dessert first!

shoes Amelia

To start the tour us gals need shoes the color of sherbet…these lime sherbet shoes belonging to our fabulous tour guide Amelia are appropriate walking shoes for the tour.

food tour shoes

My shoes the color of rainbow sherbet are not appropriate for the tour. Fortunately I did not wear them on this walking tour.

robert e lee hotel

We started our tour at the Robert E. Lee Hotel, home of the Rocca Bar and Restaurante. On this particular day the restaurant graciously offered samples of Zeppoli…delicious ricotta fritters, powdered sugar and nutella sauce on the side…to visitors who happened by. The people in this town are so friendly!


When was the last time you saw one of these?!  Pay telephones in booths in the Robert E. Lee Hotel lobby.

pure eats photopure eats

One of our stops on the tour was this  1930’s cottage style gas station that used to be a Pure Oil. The current building (photo on right) still has many original details including the blue tile roof and the “P’s” on the chimney. Since 2011, the building has housed Pure Eats Restaurant.

Pure Eats DoughnutsPure eats doughnuts maple

Pure Eats Restaurant DELICIOUS doughnuts ~ made fresh every day in the restaurant. IF they have doughnuts left over at the end of the day they take them to the Security guards at Stonewall Jackson Hospital and Washington and Lee University. Now that is SWEET!

Pronto gelato


Although we were served  a lot of delicious food on the tour we were always ready for the next course because we knew it would be tasty and delightful and the walking in between the seven tasting venues gave us a little respite between bites. Our last course was Fig and Cardamom Gelato at Pronto Caffe & Gelateria. We enjoyed talking with one of the owners Franky who shared how he learned to make gelato in Italy – a fascinating story that you will enjoy on the tour. His teacher told him that Vanilla Gelato should “taste like a butterfly on your tongue”.

This lovely caffe also serves Espresso Affogato (1 flavor gelato “drowned” in espresso)  and Moscato Affogato (1 flavor gelato “drowned” in moscato wine) delizioso!  Over 15 types of gelato offered daily. Salads, soups and sandwiches are on the menu too.

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 coffee sweetcoffee sweet cup

After the tour relax and have a cup of Lexington Coffee Roasters coffee…take some beans home to enjoy the next morning.


We were pleasantly full at the end of the tour but we wanted to take a little piece of Lexington home with us so we stopped at the Cocoa Mill Chocolatier to purchase some delightful and delicious chocolates to take home.  We brought a refrigerator bag with some bags of ice in it in anticipation of purchasing perishable goodies to take home. The Cocoa Mill Chocolatier makes award winning handmade artisan chocolates…received accolades from the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, CBS Morning News and the Washington Post.

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If you love food…love the charm of Main Street…love friendly people…love local…you will LOVE LEXINGTON!  I will post more photos and memories from our Lexington food tour soon.


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Millennials Drink Wine In The Form Of SLUSHY ~ Guest Blog ~ The Millennial Spectacle


I am very pleased to introduce you to my new blogger friend, Erica, creator of The Millennial Spectacle.  We met through the Virginia Bloggers Network Association.  Here’s the link to her blog ~ please visit, enjoy and follow:  One of my favorite things on Erica’s blog are her notes on her travel adventures…from Thailand, to the rooftops of New York, and then back to  our own backyard in Virginia.

Her home is in Washington, D.C.  Don’t miss her life hacks link on her about page! We both love wine and Erica has a new millennial twist on enjoying wine…Slushy!  I appreciate her point of view especially because it is 96 degrees Fahrenheit in Roanoke, Virginia today and I could use a slushy!

Here’s Erica…

Millennials Drink Wine In The Form Of SLUSHY

Everyone loves sipping on a fine glass of wine, but what if we could make sipping on wine trendy? The food world is blowing up with different trends from cat cafes to colorful rainbow bagels.  What you don’t know is, the booze world is changing to.  Classic drinks will always be “in”, but why not try something new?

When I was at Myrtle Beach, I went to a place called Wet Willie’s…and it was amazing. There was a beautiful wall of alcoholic slushies, anything you had in mind they had. The next day, I saw wine based ones when passing a restaurant. That’s when I knew it was big, and that’s also when I thought: How can I make one?  How did I miss such an awesome trend?! Therefore, I’m going to tell you how to create a few of my favorite wine slushies that are perfect for any happy hour or hot day in the summer! Each recipe only calls for 3 easy ingredients!  But what fruit goes best with which wine? Take a look below, and enjoy the cooling, refreshing drinks!

Peach Mimosa Slushy

Ice + Peaches + Champagne

The Pink Slushy

Ice + Pomegranate + Sparkling wine

Pinot Slush Crush

Ice + Pineapple + Pinot Grigio (a dash of orange juice makes it extra tasty)

White Watermelon Slushy

Ice + Watermelon + Moscato Wine

Sour Red Slushy

Ice + Citrus mix (lemon, lime and orange) + Red Shiraz

Berry Palooza Slushy

Ice + Mixed Berries + White Zinfadel

To make them a little fancier, add some garnish.  This could be a sprig of mint, a couple of blackberries or a slice of lemon.  You could also make a rainbow slushy by blending the wine with different fruits and layering the different flavors (such as blackberry on the bottom, watermelon in between and lemon on the top). Let your imagination go wild!  If you have kids, virgin ones can be made easily as well.


Becky shares a few thoughts on wine slushies:

If you want to add more sweetness to your wine slushy try Agave Simple Syrup:

Combine equal parts agave nectar and hot water and stir to dissolve. Chill in the refrigerator. Add a little of the agave simple syrup to the ice and other ingredients in the blender when making the slushy

Erica’s slushy recipes reminded me of my bubbly friend Susie’s recipe for Pink Lemonade Slushies…enjoy!

Susie’s Pink Lemonade Slushies

4 decaffeinated tea bags

6 cups water

12 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate

12 ounces frozen pink lemonade concentrate

2 cups vodka

1 cup sugar

Ginger ale

Lemon slices and raspberries dipped in sugar for garnish


  1. Boil teabags in 2 cups water and let steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 4 cups more water.
  3. Mix in all other ingredients (except ginger ale) until sugar is dissolved and freeze in 5 quart plastic freezer container with lid.
  4. To serve, using ice cream scoop, scoop 2-3 scoops in a glass and top off with ginger ale. Mix with a fork to blend. Garnish with sugared lemon slices and raspberries.







World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain

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A World Class Chocolate Fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas

A very pleasant surprise at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada…the “World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain” (recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records) displayed in the Jean-Philippe Patisserie on the promenade of the Spa Tower.  Created by their world-famous pastry chef, Jean-Philippe Maury, the fountain circulates more than 2,100 pounds of melted dark, white and milk chocolate dripping from 500 feet of pipes.  The fountain stands 26 feet tall surrounded by 300 pound glass viewing panels.  

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chocolate lady

Jean-Philippe Patisserie is also home to the “Chocolate Lady” (pictured above).  Made of 60 pounds of rolling fondant, 33 pounds of chocolate, 220 sugar flowers…it took the Jean-Philippe Patisserie team 150 hours to create this lady.

champagne and chill

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My Favorite Summer Sangria Recipes

On these lazy hazy crazy days of summer I am being a bit lazy but hopefully not crazy by posting some recipes that have been previously published…but they are so perfect for summer that they are worth repeating…relax and enjoy!

Peach on leaf


This recipe was originally published in the South Roanoke Living Magazine, July 2016 issue.

Peachy Rosé Sangria

1 bottle Rosé

5 ounces Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach

6 ounces fresh raspberries

12 fresh strawberries, capped and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

3 small fresh peaches, pitted and chopped

1 cup seltzer water

Ice for service

Place strawberries in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar, stir to combine. Set aside.

Place Rosé in sangria pitcher.  Add Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, raspberries, sugared strawberries and peaches. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator overnight.  When ready to serve, add seltzer water and stir lightly to combine with other ingredients.  Serve in glasses over ice.


Peach Mimosa ~ Fountain Drink!

This is a recipe that I shared with my readers last summer…

Sandy’s Peach Mango Sangria 

In a large pitcher mix together:

10 oz. frozen peach daiquiri mix

2 cups sparkling water (I like S.Pellegrino sparkling mineral water for this recipe)

1/2 cup triple sec

1 ripe mango, pitted and chopped into small pieces

1 large ripe peach, pitted and chopped into small pieces

After all ingredients are mixed together, add:

1 bottle chilled (750 ml) rosé Korbel sparkling wine or cava

Garnish with fresh raspberries.

 Serve well chilled.

I enjoy Korbel Sweet Rosé “California Champagne” for this recipe.


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Champagnes To Celebrate Summer!


soutrin champagne

Soutiran Brut Grand Cru Champagne NV

$45 range

50 percent Pinot Noir and 50 percent Chardonnay grapes from Grand Cru vineyards.  Full bodied. Toasty baked apple notes. Wine Enthusiast gives this bottle a rating of 93 points.

Hablin champagne

H. Blin Champagne Millesime

$40 range

Wine Spectator rated the non-vintage H. Blin Brut Champagne 91.   Wine Spectator  tasting notes: Kumquat, pastry, poached pear and macerated apricot notes mix in this creamy version, backed by a steely spine of acidity.

Vintage 2006 H. Blin Champagne

$48 range

Wine Enthusiast tasting notes:  Crisp, tight acidity and still-young, fresh fruitiness give this wine its initial brightness. Rich and full in the mouth, it also has a range of complex fruit flavors followed by hints of toastiness that will only continue to develop. It should be aged further, so drink from 2016.

champagne remington

$50 range.  You’ll recognize the name “Louis Roederer” as the same name you see on the Cristal champagne label. Fresh and creamy with almond, toast and citrus notes.

  • Wine Spectator rates Louis Roederer 92:
    Finely knit and elegant overall, this vivacious Champagne is creamy and satiny in texture, with layers of yellow plum, chalk, toast, glazed apricot and lemon curd. Offers a lingering, smoke-tinged finish. Drink now through 2020.
  • Wine Enthusiast rates Louis Roederer 92:
    To judge by the cork, this bottling has some age, giving it a toasty as well as fruity character that adds complexity to this baked-apple and citrus-flavored wine. 

    Chocolate Paper

    And this is how I like to consume craft beer – in chocolate!  These Deschutes Brewery chocolates are available at Chocolate Paper in Roanoke, Virginia.  A reduction is made out of the Deschutes Porter then combined with a rich chocolate ganache. Yum!


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Pickle Me Shrimp and Perfect Crémant d’Alsace Pairing

From one of my favorite cookbooks ~ recipe for Pickled Shrimp ~ perfect for summer entertaining.  Gabrielle Hamilton, bestselling author of Blood, Bones & Butter, presents her fabulous cookbook debut filled with signature recipes from her celebrated New York City restaurant Prune.

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8 orders

I serve this pickled shrimp with Remoulade sauce that I purchase at Fresh Market. It is also delicious with our favorite cocktail sauce.

2 pounds shrimp in shell (16/20s) (I bought raw frozen jumbo shrimp, shells and tails removed, deveined for this recipe because I avoid shelling shrimp whenever I can)

For the boil:

(I purchased just the amount of many of these herbs/spices that I needed for this recipe at the Roanoke Co-op on Grandin Road in Roanoke, Virginia. They did not have allspice berries so I omitted that ingredient from the recipe. I also omitted the salt in the boil because I try not to add much salt to my food.)

10 bay leaves

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon allspice berries

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon cardamom pods

1 piece cinnamon stick

1 cup kosher salt

6 branches fresh thyme

1 unpeeled head of garlic

8 cups cold water

For the pickle:

1 cup paper-thin sliced lemons

1 cup paper-thin sliced red onion

1 cup thin-slivered garlic

1 cup beautiful celadon inner celery leaves

3 tablespoons celery seeds

3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

12 fresh bay leaves

3 cups extra virgin olive oil

3 cups rice wine vinegar (only use rice vinegar – we want its low acidity)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel the shrimp, devein, and leave the tails on.

Combine the boil ingredients in a large stockpot with cold water and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook for just a minute or two until the flesh turns pink/orange.  You can pull one out and test if it’s finished before you pull out the whole bunch.  Remove the shrimp with a spider or drain through a colander.  Ice down the shrimp to get them to stop cooking, but don’t let them soak in the melted ice after they are cooled or you will waterlog them and undo all that nice seasoning you just gave them.
Combine all of the pickle ingredients, rub the fresh bay leaves between your hands to open them up a bit, toss with the cooled shrimp, and marinate 24 hours in the refrigerator. The shrimp will continue to “cook” a bit in the pickle marinade, so take care in the initial batch to keep them rare; we don’t want to end up with mealy, overcooked shrimp after 24 hours in the marinade.

Let recover to almost room temperature before serving.

To plate:  4-5 shrimp per order and a little of all of the goodies, in a neat jumble, in a small shallow bowl.

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A perfect paring for the Pickled Shrimp: Willm Crémant d’Alsace. This bubbly has a burst of toasted brioche at the first sip followed by pleasant lemony flavors which compliment the shrimp. I found this lovely sparkly ($17 range) at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar in Roanoke, Virginia.

Tasting notes from the Willm Crémant d’Alsace website:

From the Pinot Noir varietal but vinified as a white sparkler. This means that a rapid separation was necessary as well as a particularly soft pressing to avoid any color from the skin in the juice. This sparkler offers all the delicacy of red fruits and flowers with good structure at the mid palate and no tannins.

For those  seeking a  reasonably priced French sparkler, Alsace has its own version, the Crémant d’Alsace; try the kirsch- and currant-inflected Willm Crémant Blanc de Noirleasvirginiabloggers11

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