Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Getting Ready for #LanguedocDay 2014

This Friday, May 30, is #LanguedocDay. "Every wine has its day," your boss may comment when denying your request the day off to honor this wine from Southern France. True enough--many wines to have their own hashtagged day to call attention to the merits of the particular wine. I can't manage to participate in all the days for the wines I enjoy, but when I was asked to host a #LanguedocDay gathering, I readily jumped on the opportunity.
Lineup of 4 wines for #LanguedocDay 2014
our starting lineup for #LanguedocDay
I've enjoyed a few of Languedoc's food-friendly whites. The Saint-Peyre Picpoul-de-Pinet is one of my main go-to value whites, at around $10 a bottle, it's hard to beat. Great with light seafood and pasta dishes. I suspect my frequent tweeting about the merits of this one is one reason the #LanguedocDay folks reached out to me about hosting. Languedoc's earthy red wines also appeal to my taste, though I don't have one particular Languedoc red I gravitate toward.

While I know Languedoc has some very good wine at reasonable prices, I don't come into this event with deep knowledge of the area. Part of the fun of jumping into a wine day like this is getting more acquainted with a region. Understanding more about the terroir of a region, including its designated appellations, helps to put a particular bottle in context. To get ready, I've been perusing this site, shared by Boston's own "Languedoc Lady" Jo-Ann Ross, to learn more about the AOC Languedoc and its various appellations. Some of these, like AOC Corbieres and AOC Minervois, are areas I know of but didn't necessarily associate as being part of Languedoc. I also found the map of the region included in an overview post from Wine Folly to be helpful.

Our plan for #LanguedocDay: I've invited a group of friends that appreciate good wine and enjoy trying new ones to gather for the day. Several of us will be live tweeting our observations, including fellow blogger Jennifer from Vino Travels. We'll be sampling these wines sent by the event organizers:

2012 Domaine Felines Jourdan Picpoul-de-Pinet
2012 Saint-Peyre Picpoul-de-Pinet
2013 Chateau de Lancyre Rosé
2011 Jacques de la Judgie Minervois

For me, food and wine go together. So as we sample our Languedoc wines, we'll be nibbling on some food to go along with the vino. I've done a bit of reading about food from the region, but have concluded I don't quite have the 24 hours or so necessary to make cassoulet. So rather than trying to do authentic dishes for the region, I think I'll settle for food that ought to go well with the wine. I've got the menu more-or-less formulated, stay tuned for the post-event food details and a report on how it worked with the wine!

Picpoul de Pinet is a good pairing for a plate of pasta with pesto
pesto & picpoul make a nice pairing!
How you can participate: You don't need a special invitation to participate in #LanguedocDay 2014! Simply head to your local wine shop and grab a bottle or two of wines from the region, and sample it with some friends on Friday. If you're on Twitter, be sure to share your comments with the hashtag #LanguedocDay, and follow that hashtag stream to see what others are sampling and saying about the wine. You can also share your comments here and over on my Facebook page, where I'll be looking to hear what friends are saying about the wine. The event organizers have prepared this one pager for the day that you can check out and share.

One final tip for the day--check out this video on how to pronouce Languedoc and learn what it means! However you say it, I hope you get a chance to enjoy some good wine from Languedoc this Friday or some time soon. Cheers!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Grilled Swordfish with Garlic Soy Marinade

Grilled Swordfish with Garlic Soy Marinade and side of Farfalle with Feta and Chipotle

I was surprised to realize I hadn't yet posted my basic recipe for grilled swordfish. In fact, I would have taken a photo with the fish in a more starring role than the shot above, had I known at the time I needed to get this one on the blog. Sure, I like to get fancier with swordfish on the grill, dressing it up with pineapple salsa, for instance. But when we finally had a beautiful Saturday evening, and I had a small window of time to cook after our Little League game, this simple grilled swordfish was the perfect choice to welcome the grilling season. Healthy, easy, and tasty, you might want to make it a regular part of your repertoire, too!

1 swordfish steak, about 1.25 inches thick and 10 to 12 ounces (that's the quantity I had, this marinade would stretch for a good bit more if needed)

1/4 cup soy sauce, preferably lower sodium
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp canola or similar oil
1 tsp brown rice vinegar
tsp honey
generous pitch ground ginger

Preheat the grill. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Gently toss the swordfish with the soy garlic mixture so that it well coated, and let the fish rest in the marinade for about 15 minutes.
swordfish in garlic soy marinade. Cooking Chat recipe.

Remove the swordfish from the marinade, scraping the larger bits of garlic off--leaving a bit on is good though. Reserve the marinade.  Place the swordfish on the grill, medium high heat, and cover. Grill for 6 minutes, then flip it to the other side. Brush some of the reserved marinade to coat the cooked side of the fish (see "safety tip" below). Grill for another 6 minutes. This timing was perfect for our swordfish, but check for doneness as cooking time will vary based on the heat of your grill and size of the swordfish.

When cooked to your liking, remove the swordfish from the grill and place on platter to rest for a few minutes. Divide the swordfish and plate. I served it with a side of this Farfalle with Feta and Chipotle and some sauteed baby broccoli. A nice combination!

grilled swordfish with bowtie pasta and baby broccoli. Healthy & tasty!

Wine Pairing: I often go with pinot for substantial fish like swordfish and salmon. I sort of did that this time--served it with the 2013 Banshee Rosé of Pinot Noir from Sonoma County.  My tasting tweet on this one simply said "yum!" but I suppose I should attempt to elaborate. This rosé has enough body to stand up to this substantial grilled swordfish, with plenty of good fruit flavor of its own. As you might suspect, it had a nice refreshing quality one appreciates when it's finally warm enough to get the grill going. I've also enjoyed the Banshee Pinot Noir, and have another bottle on hand. But I'm glad I went with the rosé for this first night of grilling, and will save that pinot for a time I have chicken or pork on the grill.

Banshee Rosé of Pinot Noir from Sonoma. Refreshing with Cooking Chat's Grilled Swordfish!

Safety tip: Marinades should never be used as an uncooked sauce for your food. In the this recipe, a bit of the reserved marinade is applied mid-cooking, allowing a chance it to be cooked through.
Grilled Swordfish with Garlic Soy Marinade and side of pasta.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Join us for the first Wine Pairing Weekend [Bloggers Event]

Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers will share their great food and wine pairings. #winePW
Join the #winePW conversation: You've found your way to the post introducing our first Wine Pairing Weekend held in June of 2014. This is good reading for the back story on the event. The next #winePW is coming up on Saturday, July 12, with the theme "Refreshing summer wine pairings". Head over to the new post for more details on how you can join us!

Introducing Wine Pairing Weekend #winePW
Do you enjoy the interplay of good food and wine? Do you relish the challenge of finding a great wine pairing for your weekend meals? I love the way a good wine pairing enhances a meal. Sure, I enjoying sipping wine on its own sometimes, but for me, the real pleasure with wine comes when it accompanies food. If you have similar inclinations, I'd like to invite you to participate in the first Wine Pairing Weekend blogging event on Saturday, June 14, 2014. This event will be held the 2nd Saturday of each month at the outset, with potential to increase the frequency if the interest warrants that.

I've noticed that I connect with food bloggers around my recipes and cooking interests, and wine bloggers on the wine topic, but haven't found a lot of space on the social web for those of us interested in food and wine pairings.  My first goal for the Wine Pairing Weekend is to create a place for food and wine pairing mavens to share great pairing ideas.

Another goal for Wine Pairing Weekend is to serve as a resource for people searching the web for wine pairing ideas. My blog traffic reports tell me this is info that people what to know. Out of my nearly 500 posts here on Cooking Chat, the most visited all time is Pairing Wine with Indian Food, followed by Wine Match for Roast Pork? Interestingly, the pork one was actually seeking input rather than offering advice! This has encouraged me to blog about any good pairings I come up with here. 

Wine Pairing Weekend #1: Wine Pairings for Grilled Meat
Coming up with a theme for the first Wine Pairing Weekend (#winePW for short and for Twitter) wasn't too hard. Here in New England, grilling season is just getting going in June. Plus, our first event comes shortly before Father's Day, so your post can help ensure Dads who like wine can really enjoy their day.

Wine Pairing Weekend coming up June 13 with the theme "Wine Pairings for Grilled Meat". #winePW

For #winePW posts, we are looking for wines that go with specific dishes or foods. So the post should contain a description of the wine you paired with the food, and details on the wine's grape varietals and region, so that readers could try a similar wine if they don't have the particular bottle you've described.

Your #winePW post should describe the food your paired with the wine. You can include the recipe in the post, or link to a recipe elsewhere. If you're not including the recipe in the post, be sure to describe the ingredients in the food, and how that informed the wine you selected for the pairing. If your pairing is for something really simple like grilled burgers, a full recipe isn't needed, but be sure to detail the kind of meat and toppings used that influence your pairing.

To recap: #winePW posts should describe how specific wines work with specific foods. While articles that might provide general tips on wine pairing are useful, that's not what we are seeking with this event...but feel free to include links to such advice.

One other content note. You don't have to blog about perfect pairings for #winePW. I'd love to see some posts that talk about pairings you tried that weren't as good as you anticipated. What was the thought process behind what you chose, and what elements wound up not working so well? Maybe based on the experience you have thoughts on what you'd try next time.

Details for participation
Are you ready to jump in and participate in the inaugural #winePW? Here are the details:

  • Send an email to tell me you're in: Include your blog url, Twitter handle, link to your Pinterest profile, and any other social media detail. If you know your blog post title now, include that...but you can send me that a bit closer to the event, I'd like to get a sense of who's participating and give some shoutouts and links as we go. The email is winepairingweekend AT
  • Send your post title to me by Tuesday, June 10 to be included in the preview post. I will do a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title should include "Wine Pairing Weekend". If you want to get involved after Tuesday June 10, just drop me an email letting me know you plan to post so I can add you to the link list.
  • Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-7:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 14. 
  • Include a link to the other #winePW participants in your post, and a description of what the event is about. I'll provide the html code you can easily put in your initial post--which will link to people's general blog url--then updated code for the permanent links to everyone's #winePW posts.
  • Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts' to comment and share. I'll follow-up later with some specific strategies for that social sharing.
  • Sponsored posts OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.
OK, that's all I can think of for now. Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments; or you can also email me at winepairingweekend AT Cheers!

Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers will share their great food and wine pairings. #winePW

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tasting and Pairing with Pouilly-Fuissé and Pouilly-Fumé Wine

Quick, do you know the difference between Pouilly-Fuissé and Pouilly-Fumé wines? At a basic level, I knew that Pouilly-Fuissé is a Burgundy appellation for white wine made from Chardonnay grapes. I've had that more often than Pouilly-Fumé, a Loire Valley white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc. The similarity of names make it easy for the casual wine fan to get them confused.
Pouilly-Fuissé and Pouilly-Fumé #wine side by side

Recently I had a chance to get a better handle on the distinction between the two wines, and thought I'd share my findings here. At the spring Grand Pairing event at Pairings Wine and Food, one of the four tasting tables had a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé followed by a Pouilly-Fuissé in their tasting lineup. I thought they were both great, especially for the price of around $20 that day. So I grabbed a bottle of both, and decided to do my own sort of side by side tasting at home. Last weekend I served them on back to back nights, to see how they compared with each other and how they would work paired with the foods we were serving.
2012 Jonathan Didier Pabiot Pouilly Fumé is a nice expression of this type of #wine.

Friday night we were having pasta with andouille turkey sausage and collard greens, similar to this recipe. I thought the "smokiness" of the Fumé might match the similar characteristic in the sausage, so I paired our pasta dish with the 2012 Jonathan Didier Pabiot Pouilly Fumé. I got lemon zest on the nose and some grapefruit as my initial taste. I definitely got some distinct smokiness on the back end of the taste. However, that smokiness in the wine didn't quite work with the sausage the way I'd hoped. There was a good bit of heat in the sausage, and the Fumé is a very dry wine. Next time I serve the dish or something similar I'll opt for something that has a touch of sweetness to offset the heat, maybe a Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

Pouilly Fumé paired with pasta with andouille sausage and collard greens.

Don't get me wrong, the Jonathan Didier Pabiot Pouilly Fumé is a great wine. I appreciated it more when sipping it along with a bit of the shrimp I had alongside the pasta. The shrimp had been sauteed with a bit of soy and honey, a winning combination with the Fumé. A quick web scan for pairing pointers with Pouilly Fumé underscores the idea of serving it with seafood.

Saturday night I was making fettuccine with a creamy alfredo sauce. I often serve this with a Chardonnay, so it set us up nicely to follow the Pouilly-Fumé evening with some Pouilly-Fuissé. So we went with the 2011 Domaine Manciat-Poncet Pouilly-Fuissé. I got flint on my first taste, followed by some nice melon fruit. I also picked up just a hint of lemon. Nice round mouthfeel. That substantial mouthfeel gives the wine weight to stand up to the creamy sauce, and the melon and flint marry nicely with the flavors of the dish. I'd be hard pressed to pick which of the two wines is of better quality on their own, but the Pouilly-Fuissé with fettuccine was definitely the winning wine pairing of the weekend!
Domaine Manciat-Poncet Pouilly-Fuissé, a nice pairing with creamy fettuccine.

So how about you? Do you like Pouilly-Fuissé or Pouilly-Fumé? Have any pairings to suggest with either of them? Do tell!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mac & Cheese Dressed up for Mother's Day #SundaySupper

Mac and Cheese Dressed Up for Mother's Day #SundaySupper

As soon as the heavy old door creaks open, I smell the beefy aroma of the burger sizzling in the skillet. The more subtle scent of stewed tomatoes simmering soon follows. This is the smell of a childhood Friday evening at my Nana's home. Mac and cheese, stewed tomatoes and burger (if we weren't in Lent). My mother has never been one to get preoccupied with the details of food (like me), though she managed to get healthy family meals on our table each night and somehow kept up with my ravenous teenage appetite. But spending time with family, including her mother and the extended group of my aunts, uncles and cousins, has always been very important to her. Growing up, those family gatherings on Thomas Street always featured a meal prepared by my Nana.

On Sundays, regardless of how hot it might be in those pre-central air days, Nana would cook a large roast beef with plenty of potatoes to feed whoever might make it for the week's family meal. Friday evenings were a simpler affair, with mac and cheese ready for those of us who dropped by. When thinking about a memory and recipe to share for this Mother's Day #SundaySupper, something from my Nana's kitchen seemed to make sense, given the importance my mother places on our extended family gatherings. Though the roast beef dinners have special memories for us all, my mother is more likely to enjoy pasta these days, so I decided to do an updated version of my Nana's Friday evening meal. She loves a good salad, too, and goes nicely with the entree.

In my Mac and Cheese Dressed Up for Mother's Day, a hearty mac and cheese casserole is topped with a sauce that has savory beef and tomato, which also has a touch of sweetness from the onions. Ingredients like feta cheese, sauteed onions, low-fat yogurt and pumpkin seeds pack in a lot of flavor without using as much cheddar as one might otherwise for mac and cheese. This experiment was definitely a winner here. Give it a try next time you are looking for some flavorful comfort food!

Mac and Cheese Topped with Beef Stewed Tomatoes, served with a big salad for #SundaySupper

For the Mac and Cheese Casserole
12 ozs elbow macaroni
2 tbsp olive oil
2/3 of a large sweet onion such as Vidalia, chopped
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
6 oz plain low fat yogurt
3/4 cup shredded cheese that melts well--I used mostly cheddar with a bit of Tomme I had on hand.
1/3 cup feta
1/2 tsp garlic powder
handful kalamata olives, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
generous handful pumpkin seeds (sliced almonds would work, too)
salt and pepper to taste

For the Beef Stewed Tomato Topping
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 of a sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400. Start water to boil to cook the pasta and cook al dente according to package instructions as you prepare the onion mixture in the next step.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet, then add the larger portion of onions. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the red pepper and Herbes de Provence and saute for another 5 minutes.

adding feta for a tasty mac & cheese casserole topped with beef and stewed tomatoes. Cooking Chat recipe.

Drain the pasta when cooked al dente. Don't overcook as it continues to cook in the oven. Toss the pasta with 1 tbsp olive oil and the garlic powder. Stir in the yogurt, the feta, olives, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/2 cup of the cheddar.  Pour the pasta mixture into a casserole dish and spread it around so that it is evenly distributed. Top it off by sprinkling around the remaining cheddar, breadcrumbs and pumpkin seeds. Spray it with a bit of oil to help with the browning of the top.

mac & cheese casserole fresh from the oven. Cooking Chat recipe

Cover the casserole dish and put in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes to brown the top.

adding stewed tomatoes to beef for mac & cheese topping. Cooking Chat recipe

Get the topping going after placing the casserole in the oven. Heat the remaining tbsp olive oil in a skillet or sauce pan. Add the diced onion, saute on medium for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another minute, then push the onion to the edges of the pan. Add the beef to the pan, breaking it up with a heavy spoon. Let the beef cook for a few minutes before stirring it together with the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until the beef is browned on the outside. Stir in the stewed tomatoes, and simmer gently as the casserole finishes cooking.
Mac and Cheese before getting the beef & tomato topping for #SundaySupper.
mac & cheese ready for topping
When the casserole has finished cooking, remove it from the oven. Plate a serving of the mac and cheese, topping it with a generous scoop or two of the beef and tomato mixture. Serve with a green salad and a hearty red wine, such a grenache/syrah blend.

Mac & Cheese Dressed Up for Mother's Day, served with a green salad.

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Check out all the great #SundaySupper creations from my fellow bloggers! And a big thanks to That Skinny Chick Can Bake for hosting this week's event!

Mother's Day Breakfast:
Mother's Day Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Mother's Day Main Dishes:
Mother's Day Desserts:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

9 Great Mother's Day Recipes for Kitchen Rookies

A couple years ago, I wrote "12 Tips for Dads Cooking on Mother's Day", targeted for Dads that might be newer to the kitchen and planning to do the cooking on Mother's Day. My first tip is to keep it simple, and I'd intended to follow-up sooner with some of my favorite simple recipes. Better late than never! For this Mother's Day, I share some of my favorite easy recipes that can be prepared a by rookie cook while still offering some great taste and presentation. If none of these strike you, I've got over 80 recipes here with the "Quick/Easy" tag.

Fettuccine Primavera with broccoli and carrots. Cooking Chat recipe.

Fettuccine Primavera I'll start with this one because it was the first meal I cooked for Jodi on one of our first dates, at a time I was very much a kitchen rookie. The creamy sauce is very satisfying and easy to make, and broccoli and carrots give you veggies and some color.

Penne with Baby Red Lentils and Ginger

Pasta with Baby Red Lentils and Ginger Sticking with pasta because its pretty easy to cook, this one has some nice lively flavors. Like the fettuccine, this is another meatless dish, if that appeals to mother(s) you are cooking for. The one trick on this is to keep an eye on the lentils to keep them from turning to total mush. It actually still tastes OK if that happens, but doesn't present as nicely!

Tuscan Inspired Arugula Salad getting tossed. Cooking Chat recipe.

Tuscan Inspired Arugula Salad A good salad served along with the entree is sure to please on Mother's Day. This recipe comes with a simple dressing and a "feeling fancy" version. The simple one is so easy, it's worth the effort to be able to offer this homemade dressing. That said, if you feel like you've got enough to worry about pulling the meal together, there's nothing wrong with using a good quality store bought dressing.
Simple Pan Seared Salmon.

Simple Pan Seared Salmon with Soy Ginger Marinade If you're cooking for a seafood fan, this is definitely an easy recipe that doesn't sacrifice on flavor. This takes only about 15 minutes to make. It works well served with the pasta with lentils above, too. Or a simple side of couscous works well.

Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa. Cooking Chat recipe

Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa Sticking with seafood, this gets a bit fancier than the salmon. But particularly if you have some comfort grilling, this is still not that hard. Grilled pineapple gives this salsa some great flavor, and making your own salsa definitely can impress!

Steak with Mushroom Sauce from Cooking Chat

Steak with Mushroom Sauce We love mushroom sauce on steak and other meat here. The sauce adds a nice touch and isn't too hard. I've linked to a recipe that calls for roast steaks. You can serve the sauce with grilled steak, too, just start the mushroom sauce in a new pan as opposed to using the roasting pan. 

Creamy Bowties with Chicken and Asparagus

Creamy Bowties with Chicken and Asparagus Here's a recipe that combines chicken and pasta and presents very nicely. I got this from "125 Best Chicken Recipes" and it is definitely an easy one, with just a few simple ingredients and steps.

Cumin Sage Butter for Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes with Cumin Sage Butter I know, this might sound fancy for a cooking rookie. But just mixing a few things in with some softened butter delivers a lot of flavor, and isn't very difficult. This is one of my favorite side dishes, and goes well with the steak or the swordfish.

Strawberries with Melted Chocolate

Strawberries with Melted Chocolate You may well feel like cooking an entree is enough, and want to buy some dessert. I've certainly done this even after getting quite into cooking. But if you want to try something easy, get some nice fresh strawberries and serve with a bit of melted chocolate!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

5 April Wines of Note

After consolidating February and March into one big post, I'm back with a quick overview of some of my favorite wines from the month of April. I actually sampled and bough some other great bottles, but I'll save those for later when I open them up for a dinner. I'd love to hear about your recent favorites too!
2011 La Pousse d'Or Chambolle-Musigny was the Cooking Chat fav pick from a recent Burgundy tasting.
plenty of good wine to try in April!
2011 Chambolle-Musigny La Pousse d'Or It was hard to pick favorites out of the lineup of Burgundies we had at a recent wine club gathering. But I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway! This bottle is a great expression of Burgundy grown Pinot Noir, refined elegance in a glass. If you're looking for a splurge wine, you might give this a try!

2012 Macrostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay--A bit of that California chard butteriness, but not so much that it overshadows the fruit. I get a bit of kiwi tasting this one. My sense is the proximity to the coast produces a chard a bit more subtle than some for the state.
2007 Tenuta San Pietro Viper Super Tuscan. Cooking Chat April #wine pick.

2007 Tenuta San Pietro Viper We did a fun little vertical tasting this one along with the 2010 of this Super Tuscan, which I'd tried previously. The '07 was a big hit, things had softened and integrated nicely. The distributor is more focused on the 2010 now, so Pairings was able to get the '07 for under $20, a great buy. If you're in the area stop by and see if they have any left! This is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Syrah.

2010 Chateau Mourgues du Gres Terre d'Argence "A real pretty syrah-based wine from Costieres de Nimes" I tweeted upon tasting it. Was a nice pairing for the Lamb Tagine with Green Olives and Lemon we had.
2011 Halter Ranch Syrah. Cooking Chat April #wine pick.

2011 Halter Ranch Syrah If the Syrah I just mentioned about finesse, this 100% Syrah from Paso Robles is about power. A nice big red to stand up to Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub! Glad to include a Paso wine this month, seeing as it was my Paso wine friend Matt's posts on the Hoot N Annie Blog that got me going on my own monthly roundups!