Author Archives for Becky Ellis

About Becky Ellis

Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm Becky and I live in Roanoke, Virginia. I love all things sparkly including champagne, jewelry and cowgirl boots. I came up with the name "Bubblybee" by combining Bubbly (champagne!) and my initials BEE. My motto is "Don't wait to celebrate! Pop the cork now!" I personally taste each bubbly that I write about...life is good! I write my blog to help you take the mystery out of purchasing a bottle of bubbly. If you are looking for a inexpensive Cava to drink on a lazy sunny afternoon at the lake you will find it on my blog. You will also find recommendations for nice sparkling wines at a decent price to serve at a graduation or wedding. If you are planning to spend big bucks for fabulous champagne to serve on your wedding anniversary you will find it on my blog. Pairing champagne and food is fabulous fun. I practically live in my kitchen, cooking up delicious recipes to serve with bubbly. My husband is the best taste tester. He says that whenever he hears me knocking around pots and pans in the kitchen then he knows that something yummy is about to appear in front of him. I earned my BS in Food Service and 10 years later I went back to university to complete my MBA. My career was in healthcare food service management. After a 30 year career I decided to live my passion - creating recipes and tasting champagne! Along the way I won numerous recipe contests. Perhaps my most impressive win was the Colivita "Better Than Butter" contest in 2011. The contest challenged us to make something with olive oil that we normally make with butter. I made country ham biscuits which were delightfully delicious. The grand prize was a trip for two to Italy…one of the highlights of the trip was when we met the Colavita brothers. I also love cats and have four rescued fur babies. Please visit my instagram to see photos of these precocious and adorable kitties: bubblybeeboop (lots of my recipe photos too!) Please visit my facebook page: Bubblybee Follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Scallops And Firecracker Shrimp

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Sea Scallops

I wish you could have smelled the aroma of this smoky soy sauce in my kitchen as I was searing the scallops ~ it was heavenly! As promised here is one of my favorite recipes using the Haku Smoked Shoyu Soy Sauce that I bought at Fresh Market (also available on-line). This is a SUPER easy recipe!

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Sea Scallops

2 appetizer size servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons Haku Smoked Shoyu Soy Sauce + 1 teaspoon for finishing

6 large (10 scallops to a pound) sea scallops

2 crisp celery stalks, but into strips on a mandoline slicer

1/2 lime

Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Place vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a medium size saute pan. Heat until sizzling. Place scallops in hot oil and sear on one side. When the scallops have a nice caramelized sear on one side, turn the scallops and sear on the other side. Place strips of celery on top of the scallops and drizzle some of the oil over the celery. Spritz the scallops with the juice of the lime. Placed the scallops on appetizer plates for service.

Tips for searing scallops:

  1. Make sure the oil is sizzling hot.
  2. Use dry sea scallops. They have enough surface area for a nice sear.
  3. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels before searing.
  4. The scallops will stick to the pan until they are ready to turn. Nudge the scallop with a metal spatula and if it doesn’t easily give then it is not ready to turn.

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Firecracker shrimp are super easy to make!

Firecracker Shrimp

Firecracker Shrimp

2 appetizer size servings

1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 pound peeled deveined shrimp (26-30 count)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (I like Grama’s sweet chili sauce for this recipe – available at Fresh Market or on-line)

Juice and zest of 1/2 lime

Place flour and Old Bay seasoning in a plastic bag, seal and shake the bag. Place the shrimp in the bag, seal and shake to cover the shrimp.

Heat the oil in a medium size saute pan to sizzling. Add shrimp and cook until lightly browned then flip the shrimp to brown the other side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and discard the oil. Return the shrimp to the pan and cover with Asian sweet chili sauce. Stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce. Spritz the shrimp with lime juice and sprinkle with lime zest. Serve on appetizer plates.

Bloody Mary Chili

Bloody Mary Chili

When I woke up this morning the temperature was in the single digits. As I stayed snuggled under the covers I thought about what we would have for dinner. I found the answer when I opened the Parade magazine in the newspaper.  Food Network Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan’s Slow-cooker Bloody Mary Chili was in the “What America Eats Celebrity Kitchen” section. I made it this evening and it is delicious! I love the addition of fresh grated ginger in the recipe. The ginger gives it a bit of an Asian twist which may account for the slightly sweet taste of the chili. I added the entire small can (6 ounces) of tomato paste because I end up throwing out the rest of the can if I don’t use it all in a recipe. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy this winter:

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Slow-Cooker Bloody Mary Chili

By MANEET CHAUHAN

  • SERVES 6
  • ACTIVE TIME 20 min.
  • TOTAL TIME 4 hr. 20 min.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1½ lb ground turkey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (I used the whole can)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (32-oz) bottle Bloody Mary mix (I used Mr. and Mrs. T’s Bold and Spicy)
  • 1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-oz) can black or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped green onion, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt (if desired, this is my addition)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper and celery; cook 4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add turkey; cook 5 minutes, stirring with a spoon to crumble. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Stir in ginger, tomato paste and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Stir in Bloody Mary mix, beans, green onion, cilantro, paprika and cumin. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or until thickened. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve garnished with cheese, additional green onion, cilantro and lime wedges.
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  • You are invited to visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee
  • Please follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

Cava For My Valentine

Just because it is Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on bubbly. Spainish cava can be white or rosé and it is made with the same method as champagne “Méthode Traditionnelle “. This method requires a
second fermantation of the wine that takes place in the individual bottles which will later be sold. Cava is a refreshing aperitif or a lovely pairing with Valentine’s dinner.

Codorniu Anna Cava Brut
Rosé

I recently tasted several cavas that are available on-line and locally in Roanoke, Virginia. My favorite of the five was Codorniu Anna Cava Brut
Rosé. It was offered on our hotel breakfast buffet in Sevilla, Spain along with freshly squeezed orange juice to make mimosas. They had little orange trees on the tables in the outdoor courtyard.

Anna Cava was my favorite of the bunch. This pretty rose color bubbly would be a very nice aperitif or dessert wine for Valentine’s Day. Pair it with a white or milk chocolate dessert with strawberries since its flavor is predominantly strawberry. $14 range. Available locally at Earth Fare.


Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava

One of my all time favorite cavas is Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava. With the pewter base and family crest on the bottle…so pretty in a gift basket.  And now I’ve made the connection…the producer, Segura Viudas, is part of the Freixenet family of wines that includes Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma which is one of my favorite California sparkling wines.  The non-vintage Reserva Heredad is the label’s top offering, made only from 67% Macabeo and 33% Parellada grapes.  Aromas of smoke and honey and flavors of apples, dried fruit, and nuts. Creamy and crisp, it finishes clean and bright. Perfect pairing with almonds and walnuts to begin the meal. $30 range. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

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One of the cavas I tasted was Dibon. It is commonly found in grocery stores. This cava has grassy undertones with stone fruit flavors and mild minerality. It is crisp and light-bodied on the palate but in my opinion it is not the best sipping cava. I would serve this cava in mimosas or other sparkling wine cocktails. $10 – $12 range.


My favorite white cava of the cavas I tasted was the
Avinyó Reserva 2015. Fresh and vibrant with lemony brioche notes. A fun sipping bubbly. Available locally at Rock Fish Restaurant. $20 range

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You are invited to visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

Super Dips For The Super Bowl

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I just posted lots of yummy dip recipes to serve at your Super Bowl party ~ February 3 ~ on the Roanoker Magazine (Behind the Page) Blog: theroanoker.com https://theroanoker.com/blogging

Monte Cristo Dip ~ Jarlsberg cheese with raspberry habanero, Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip, Italian Artichoke Dip with crispy bacon on top. Plus one of my favorite “man cave” dips ~ Sausage Queso Dip that has only 4 ingredients…so easy and delicious!

Today I found a recipe on The Novice Chef Blog for Hot Crab, Corn and Bacon Dip. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make and the flavors are fabulous! This will be another super dip for the Super Bowl!

Here’s the link to the Novice Chef Blog: https://thenovicechefblog.com/

COOK TIME: 20 MINUTES

HOT CRAB, CORN AND BACON DIP

TOTAL TIME: 30 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large jalapeño, minced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 lb lump crab meat
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • crackers, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 1 (or 1.5) quart casserole dish with non stick spray, set aside.
  2. Add olive oil to a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Add jalapeño, garlic and shallots, cooking until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (including the crab) — saving a little cheese to add on top of dip. Add in jalapeño mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Transfer dip to prepared casserole dish. Top with the cheese you set aside.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling at the edges. Serve hot with crackers (it’s great with Ritz!).

Please visit my Facebook page: bubblybee and follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

The Japanese Cocktail

Sunday evening we attended “Behind the Stick” cocktail class at River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  Our talented “Cocktail Professor” was
was Shane Lumpp, Bar Manager extraordinaire (pictured below) of River and Rail. He provided us with lots of spirited information and here’s some of the highlights…

Shane Lumpp, Bar Manager, River and Rail

Our class was about rum and brandy.

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River and Rail snacks…house-made Chorizo Sausage with rum soaked pineapple and cheese including “Dancing Fern” a Reblochon-style cheese.

The first cocktail Shane served us was a classic daiquiri. This is one of his favorite cocktails and he said that he can tell the skill of a bartender by the daiquiri he/she makes. It all starts with the rum. Then the cocktail will have small bubbles on the top from shaking it properly before pouring it into the glass. It should be more tart than sweet and the lime flavor should pop on your tongue. Shane used Flor de Caña rum for our daiquiris. This rum is made in Nicaragua.

Shane shakin’ our cocktails!
Classic Daiquiri

Shane gave us a taste of Smith and Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum neat. Powerful stuff! He asked us to sniff the rum before drinking it, just like you would taste a fine scotch. He explained that when ice is added to a cocktail that the larger the ice cube the better. Large ice cubes do not dissolve as quickly as smaller cubes so they do not dilute the cocktail as fast.

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To make Shane’s daiquiri: 2 parts spirit (rum), 1 part citrus (lime juice) and 1 part sweetner (simple syrup).

He noted that lime gives a cocktail tart flavor and lemon gives it a sour flavor.

“Brandy” means burning wine. It can be made from many fruits including apple, peach, pear and apricot. Cognac is a variety of brandy named after the town Cognac, France. It is made from white wine.

Japanese Cocktail

The Japanese cocktail is a cognac and orgeat syrup drink with a bit of citrus. Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar, and rose water or orange flower water.
The story behind the name:
This vanguard cocktail perhaps had something to do with a visit (or four) paid to Thomas’s New York City bar on Broadway by a member of Japan’s first diplomatic mission to America, Tateishi Onojirou Noriyuki, or “Tommy,” as he was known among the ladies. The delegation resided quite near Thomas’s saloon, and Tommy quickly drummed up a reputation for spending plenty of nights out on the town. It can be assumed that a raucous evening or two spent at the bar would be enough cause for Thomas to christen a cocktail in honor of his Japanese regular. Imbibe! David Wondrich

Japanese Cocktail: 2 ounces cognac, 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup, 1/4 ounce lemon juice. Shake and strain into a Nick and Nora cocktail glass. Nick and Nora cocktail glasses hold just 5.5 ounces. Agent Nick and Nora glass, named after the cinematic husband-and-wife detective team, brings back the suave sophistication of 1930s high life.

Rémy Martin…how to taste cognac:

During the aperitif, the cognac is usually consumed neat, but adding a drop of water reveals more fruity, floral and spicy aromas and makes the tasting experience smoother. Similarly, adding two ice cubes will dilute the cognac and reduce the alcohol percentage, which reveals these aromas while making the taste more refreshing. The goal is that the ice cubes melt slowly, revealing new aromas at each step.

Cognac can even be consumed frozen, which makes the liquid very viscous (it does not freeze due to the high alcohol level), and gives an experience that is almost velvety in the mouth. This pairs particularly well with sea food: oysters, lobster, or sushi.

For a simple long drink as an aperitif, the cognac can be consumed with tonic or ginger ale. This brings out notes of fresh fruit, even liquorice, in a Rémy Martin VSOP. This is how cognac is normally enjoyed by the locals in the Cognac area as an apéritif.

Caipirinha ~ The national cocktail of Brazil made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. Cachaca is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice.

You are invited to visit my Facebook page: bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

Three Amazing Cocktail Recipes To Celebrate The New Year

Happy New Year! On New Year’s Eve we greet our guests with a glass of sparkling wine.

Aimery Cremant De Limoux Brut ~ perfect for a New Year’s Eve Toast!
Crisp and creamy with lemony flavors, $20 range.

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I like to have a delicately scented candle burning near my front entrance to welcome my guests. My friends at Goose Creek Candles sent me a Warm and Welcome candle. I love its warm glowing amber, vanilla sandalwood, white mocha scent. Very welcoming and relaxing. Goose Creek offers a wide variety of scented candles on their website: www.goosecreekcandle.com

Warm and Welcome Candle
I love the sweet kitty cat on the label!

Our friend Madeena makes the most delightful cocktails on New Year’s Eve this year she graciously shared her recipes with me to share with my readers:

Pomegranate Martini

Makes one cocktail.

1/2 ounce PAMA Pomegranate liqueur

1 1/2 ounce vodka

splash sweet and sour mix

splash Sprite

Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

S

Snowflake Cocktail

Makes one cocktail.

1/2 ounce Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur

1/2 ounce white creme de cacao

1 ounce vodka

1/4 ounce half and half

Mix ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

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Lemon Drop Cocktail

Makes one cocktail.

2 ounces Absolut Citron

1/2 ounce simple syrup

3/4 of a lemon cut into wedges (1 ounce lemon juice)

splash sour mix

splash Sprite

Mix juice of lemon wedges with other ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake over ice and strain into martini glass rimmed with superfine sugar. Garnish with lemon twist.

Please visit Behind The Page on theroanoker.com for more recipes and wine pairings.

You are invited to visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram:  bubblybeeboop

Cheers to 2019!

Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

man wearing black dress shirt holding a flute glass and black wine bottle

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Champagne Thought Of The Day ~ The Whisper Of Love

The sound of air slowly releasing from the Champagne bottle when de-corked is called ‘the whisper of love’. To hear this noise, place your thumb on the muselet, the wire cage that fits over a bottle of Champagne, and gently turn the bottle left. (Under pressure, the longer a cork stays in the bottle, the smaller and more narrow it becomes.)

Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

I love small plate dinners especially during the holidays. Wine pairing is easy with tiny bites of flavorful foods and no one gets overstuffed with huge portions. Here’s my recent menu from a festive champagne small plate dinner with friends.

We greeted our guests with Charles de Cazanove 2000 Stradivarius Brut Champagne. I served the champagne with delicate Boursin cheese palmliers. These cheese pastries are easy to make, light and airy that compliment champagne.

Boursin Cheese Palmiers

The palmiers can be prepared a day ahead of the party.  Prepare the palmiers, do not bake,  place them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Bake them just before service.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 (5.2 ounce package) package Boursin herb and garlic cheese

1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese (Mozzarella and Provolone, Parmesan,Fontina, Romano and Asiago)

Melted butter

Place puff pastry sheet on a cutting board that has been dusted with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 13 by 13-inches square. Spread the puff pastry sheet evenly with the Boursin cheese.  Sprinkle the Italian blend cheese over the Boursin cheese. Roll each short end to the center of the pastry, making sure to roll tightly and evenly. Freeze rolled log for 20 minutes, until very firm but not frozen. Slice crosswise into 3/8-inch slices. Place the palmiers on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Brush tops of palmiers with melted butter. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned. (Watch carefully so that they do not burn.)

champagne lobster

Our first course was Lobster Mashed Potatoes in a cocktail spoon paired with Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne. The lobster mash is super easy to prepare. Marinate lobster tails in Sprite or ginger ale and sprinkle the meat side of the lobster generously with Old Bay seasoning in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Broil or grill the lobster until the meat starts to pull away from the shell. Cool the lobster the remove the lobster meat from the shells and chop it into little pieces. Mix a little whipping cream into deli mashed potatoes, place a dollop of the mashed potatoes in appetizer spoon, top with chopped lobster meat, melted butter and chopped fresh chives. Broil until bubbly. Let the spoons cool a little before serving so they will not be too hot to handle. I bought two small lobster tails to serve 14 spoons (2 for each guest) along with 1/2 pound mashed potatoes from the Fresh Market deli.

theroanoker.com

Our second course was Braised Pork Ragout With Pearl Onions And Mushrooms.  The recipe is in the Roanoker Magazine Blog and here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogging/behind-the-page/how-the-french-warm-up-in-winter-ragout/

We paired the ragout with Isiri Barolo.

Our third course was mini shrimp and grits and fourth course was mini cheeseburger sliders with caramelized onions paired with Silver Oak Alexander Valley.

Pre-dessert is to dessert as amuse bouche is to hors d’oeuvre.  A small dessert-like course served before the main dessert. I served a tiny almond cake with espresso topped with sweetened whipped cream. I found both the cakes and the espresso coffee beans at Fresh Market.
The presentation is a metal electrical box I bought at Lowes covered with decoupage paper.

dessert

And the grand finale…Flourless Chocolate Cake with Sweetened Whipped Cream and Amarena cherries paired with 2004 Haut Charmes Sauternes. Here’s the recipe for this lovely cake. The cherries are available at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke or on-line. 

https://bakerbynature.com/flourless-chocolate-fudge-cake/

The next day we had a 14 inch snow. Our cats were fascinated when snow fell off the roof!

You are invited to visit my Facebook page:  bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

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