never say no to napa!

back in early november, ibi and i made plans to do a quick getaway to napa during the last weekend of january. we had busted our butts in 2020 in ways we didn’t know possible so it was time to let our hair down and celebrate. little did we know that even outdoor options in napa would close shortly thereafter. we were bummed but determined to see one another. lucky for us, on the last monday of january, napa announced they’d be reopening starting that friday. it was official – napa was back on and we were pumped. i quickly rebooked all of our reservations. the first stop? brunch at celadon.

this wasn’t my first trip to celadon and it certainly won’t be my last. we started off the day with peach bellinis. because i knew we would do a little nibbling at the wineries, i wanted to keep this meal a bit lighter. a half caesar with avocado and their calamari (that comes with this delightful chipotle chili and honey glaze) hit the spot.

we realized we were ahead of schedule for our reservation at domaine carneros so we pit stopped at madonna estate. ibi loves a good pinot noir and they have one of my favorites. unfortunately, it was reservation only to be mindful of numbers due to covid. however, when bob realized it was me (i have visited quite a number of times, including in november for kendall’s birthday), he graciously accommodated us. i was sure to tell him we didn’t need a formal tasting – a bottle of pinot noir and a couple of glasses would do the trick. i knew i was going to be seeing marilena the next day for coffee so i picked her up a bottle of their rosé – it’s made with a pinot grape and is subtly sweet. our visit to madonna was short and sweet. i made sure to set an alarm so we weren’t late to our reservation at domaine carneros. with ibi and i both loving bubbles as much as we do, i couldn’t wait to take her. the weather was absolutely perfect!

the tent definitely helped to shield us from the wind and the heat lamps were an added bonus. our sparkling flights refreshing and paired perfectly with our charcuterie boards. before we knew it, we had been there for 2.5 hours!

we were excited to check into our hotel. neither of us had ever stayed at the archer but between recommendations and reviews, i couldn’t wait to check it out! something that really appealed to me (outside of its beauty and central location) is the idea of the double rooms coming with two cal king beds. talk about perfect for girls trip. while there were only two of us, four could have definitely stayed comfortably. there were so many great touches from cute slippers to tasty caramels to high end toiletries to a wine fridge. the list is truly endless. we will certainly be back again.

before even solidifying our hotel choice, i had made us a dinner reservation at this italian restaurant – ristorante allegria. at domaine, our server recommended the mushroom ravioli and i did exactly what he said. i had zero regrets.

if you are headed to napa, call ahead or use open table to make reservations. it will make it substantially easier. the most important thing, however, is your company – ibi and i laughed, cried and laughed so hard that we cried. there is nothing better than feeling reinvigorated after a trip.

what way are you going to treat yourself this month?

xoxo,

k. tap

never say no to napa!

back in early november, ibi and i made plans to do a quick getaway to napa during the last weekend of january. we had busted our butts in 2020 in ways we didn’t know possible so it was time to let our hair down and celebrate. little did we know that even outdoor options in napa would close shortly thereafter. we were bummed but determined to see one another. lucky for us, on the last monday of january, napa announced they’d be reopening starting that friday. it was official – napa was back on and we were pumped. i quickly rebooked all of our reservations. the first stop? brunch at celadon.

this wasn’t my first trip to celadon and it certainly won’t be my last. we started off the day with peach bellinis. because i knew we would do a little nibbling at the wineries, i wanted to keep this meal a bit lighter. a half caesar with avocado and their calamari (that comes with this delightful chipotle chili and honey glaze) hit the spot.

we realized we were ahead of schedule for our reservation at domaine carneros so we pit stopped at madonna estate. ibi loves a good pinot noir and they have one of my favorites. unfortunately, it was reservation only to be mindful of numbers due to covid. however, when bob realized it was me (i have visited quite a number of times, including in november for kendall’s birthday), he graciously accommodated us. i was sure to tell him we didn’t need a formal tasting – a bottle of pinot noir and a couple of glasses would do the trick. i knew i was going to be seeing marilena the next day for coffee so i picked her up a bottle of their rosé – it’s made with a pinot grape and is subtly sweet. our visit to madonna was short and sweet. i made sure to set an alarm so we weren’t late to our reservation at domaine carneros. with ibi and i both loving bubbles as much as we do, i couldn’t wait to take her. the weather was absolutely perfect!

the tent definitely helped to shield us from the wind and the heat lamps were an added bonus. our sparkling flights refreshing and paired perfectly with our charcuterie boards. before we knew it, we had been there for 2.5 hours!

we were excited to check into our hotel. neither of us had ever stayed at the archer but between recommendations and reviews, i couldn’t wait to check it out! something that really appealed to me (outside of its beauty and central location) is the idea of the double rooms coming with two cal king beds. talk about perfect for girls trip. while there were only two of us, four could have definitely stayed comfortably. there were so many great touches from cute slippers to tasty caramels to high end toiletries to a wine fridge. the list is truly endless. we will certainly be back again.

before even solidifying our hotel choice, i had made us a dinner reservation at this italian restaurant – ristorante allegria. at domaine, our server recommended the mushroom ravioli and i did exactly what he said. i had zero regrets.

if you are headed to napa, call ahead or use open table to make reservations. it will make it substantially easier. the most important thing, however, is your company – ibi and i laughed, cried and laughed so hard that we cried. there is nothing better than feeling reinvigorated after a trip.

what way are you going to treat yourself this month?

xoxo,

k. tap

mac & cheese

whether you are a person that cooks daily (like me) or a person that cooks once a week, i have found that pretty much every person has a go to dish that they love and are even confident enough to serve it to guests.  for me, that dish is a baked macaroni and cheese.

growing up in a household with parents and grandparents who cooked regularly, specifically, a grandmother with midwestern/southern roots, we were all about soul food.  when i was in fifth grade, i went to a friend’s house after school and mentioned i was hungry, she told me she could make us some mac and cheese “real quick”.  i was shook.  i had never seen mac and cheese take less than one hour start to finish.  this was the day i discovered that easy mac existed.  now, as a tipsy college student, easy mac definitely did the trick.  pushing 30, i now want something more substantial and would like to cook with ingredients that are actually easy to identify.  so over the years, i have tweaked the mac and cheese recipe my grammy and mom served to us as kids.

for me, meat is not a necessity to make something a meal.  i am happy having mac and cheese by itself or paired with a salad + some cornbread with honey butter. now, if i am cooking for guests, i normally pair this with both fried chicken and a baked bbq sriracha glazed chicken, something green (i lean towards steamed broccoli with garlic and lemon or a caesar salad with bacon and avocado) and the aforementioned cornbread.

while this is called mac and cheese, i actually use medium sized shells because i noticed they cup all of the cheesy goodness in a way the small elbow macaroni i grew up on could not.

*warning – i do not measure when i season – it is more of a feeling but i am happy to do this via instagram live if that is something you all are interested in at a later date

now, onto the ingredients/necessary cookware:

one box of medium sized shells (do not buy whole wheat – the brand does not matter)
one stick of butter (plus an extra sliver)
one can of campbell’s cream of mushroom (be sure it is not low sodium or low fat)
2% milk
2 cups of grated pepper jack cheese
3-4 cups of colby jack cheese
garlic salt, black pepper and seasoning salt
a rectangular pan that is well coated with pam or your cooking spray of choice
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the recipe is fairly simple:

when you put the water on to boil your pasta, turn the oven on to 350
pour pasta in to pot once boiling with a sliver of butter and a couple dashes of garlic salt
cook until finished (more on the firm side since it will be smothered with ingredients and baked)
take coated pan and pour drained pasta into pan
add can of cream of mushroom (save can)
slice stick of butter and evenly distribute within the pan
pour milk into can until full
add to pan
add pepper jack cheese to pan
stir until mixed
season with garlic salt, seasoning salt and black pepper
stir again
add light layer of black pepper
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cover entire top with the colby jack
bake for 35-45 minutes depending on the oven (for my oven, i do 38 minutes)
let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving
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one of my favorite things about this dish (aside from how delicious it is) is that it does not turn my kitchen into a disaster, it reheats so well (especially because there are no breadcrumbs) and takes about one hour from start to finish.  there is something about mac and cheese that is good for the soul.
if you decide to make it, let me know how it goes!
xoxo,
k. tap