Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wine Weekend with the Girls

Last weekend a few friends and I traveled to the Yakima Valley in Washington state for the Spring Barrel Opening event. It was loads of fun. I came home with 9 bottles of white wine and 9 bottles of red wine for me (totally unintentional to have it so even) and 3 bottles of dessert wines for my parents. This has left me with the pleasant situation of having entirely too much wine in my house! I think I need to start drinking it and stop hoarding it. Perhaps I can open one bottle per Saturday and review it here on the blog. That's a great idea!

This is at Kiona, our first stop on Saturday morning.

This is at Hightower. They used to have a lovely Golden Retriever named Murray but he died over a year ago. Now they have another Golden named Riley.

Now, Terra Blanca, which is usually my favorite. This year, however, I was not quite as impressed with their wines. Still, it's beautiful. This is also where we ate lunch (we made all the food ourselves - well, not me but my friends did). One of my friends made a lovely white bean and tuna salad. Another friend made roasted asparagus that we had with canteloupe, bocconcini, and prosciutto. It was all delicious!

Our awesome food!

This is the barn outside our hotel.

The sunset Saturday night:

This is one of the wineries we visited on Sunday. It's called Bonair and is beautiful!

Finally, this is at a winery called Silver Lake. We went here Sunday as well. It was delicious!

Here are the wines I bought:

Stay tuned for weekly wine reviews!

Also, I want to make the white bean salad sometime very soon and I'll post the recipe when I do.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Buitoni Pasta - Wild Mushroom Agnolotti

Being a Foodbuzz featured publisher has its perks. One of those perks is occasionally they send out a product to try and review. This past Friday I came home to a huge box. I opened it and was so pleased to find a lovely note from Foodbuzz along with a package of pasta!

Not just any pasta, but Wild Mushroom Agnolotti by Buitoni.

For the next 36 hours I thought and thought about what kinds of sauces would go well with this agnolotti. I contemplated alfredo sauce and while that would be good, it would overpower the mushroom. I felt the same way about a marinara sauce. In the end, I developed a flavorful sauce with chicken broth as its base. (Vegetarians: you could easily substitute vegetable broth and make this a vegetarian meal.)

Here is my recipe:

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Asparagus, Spinach, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

1 9 oz. package Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti
1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
4 oz. spinach leaves, washed
7 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not packed in oil*), sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
3 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

*I found sun-dried tomatoes at Trader Joe's that were not packed in oil. They were just dry, in a bag. There are some similar tomatoes here but I've never purchased from this vendor and can therefore not verify how good they are.

1. Prepare the pasta per the package instructions.
2. Heat olive oil in a wide, deep pan over medium-high heat.
3. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir for about 30 seconds.
4. Add spinach and stir until the leaves have completely wilted.
5. Add the chicken broth and white wine. Bring to a simmer.
6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Add the asparagus and cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until asparagus is mostly tender and bright green.
8. Gently add the agnolotti and stir - gently - to coat with sauce.
9. Put the butter in the pan and stir gently until it is melted.
10. Remove pan from heat, stir in the grated Romano and pine nuts gently.
11. Serve and enjoy!

First, the pine nuts were toasted.

The garlic was first up in the pan. This starts the magic.

Next, the herbs were added.

After about 30 seconds, the spinach went into the pan.

It wilted so nicely, don't you agree?

Next up is the chicken broth and white wine. I just used a white wine blend from Metropolitan Market.

After the liquid came to a simmer I added the sundried tomatoes. I wanted to add them now as opposed to reconstituting them in separate boiling water because I wanted to retain all that lovely tomato flavor and color. These look a little dark because they are sulphur-free. I got them from Trader Joe's.

After about 5 minutes I added the cut up asparagus.

4-5 minutes later I added the agnolotti into the sauce mixture.

Butter, of course, is a wonderful finish to any sauce!

Stir gently... Do not break up those beautiful agnolotti!

Remove the pan from heat and add the grated Romano.

Finally, add the toasted pine nuts. Remember to stir gently!

The finished dish is a sight to behold.

This was delicious!

I have, in the past, picked up some refrigerated ravioli and sauce as a quick meal for the family. Honestly, it is a decent meal but not exactly awe-inspiring, know what I mean? This agnolotti, though, was different. This was special. Gourmet! The flavor was out of this world amazing. It tasted like we had made them at home. The sauce balanced the agnolotti perfectly. This is exactly what they were asking for.

Do you want to know the best thing about this Buitoni pasta? It inspired me to think of other ways to cook it. I wonder how this would taste with beef broth and red wine instead of chicken broth and white wine. Ooooh! And I'd bet it would be lovely with duck broth and fennel!

We will definitely be purchasing this agnolotti as it has totally won us over. And special thanks to Foodbuzz for introducing this wonderful pasta to our kitchen!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Turkey Kielbasa Stir Fry

I made au gratin potatoes with kielbasa and edamame for the kids and Mr. Mary Cooks. Knowing that it isn't very healthy and I am trying to shed some pounds, I decided to make a special dinner for myself.


One package of stir fry veggies (no sauce, rice, or noodles - veggies only)
2 ounces turkey kielbasa
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Spray your pan with nonstick cooking spray and put the sesame oil in.

When the pan is hot, add the kielbasa.

After the kielbasa has browned a little, add the frozen vegetables.

Also, add the soy sauce.

Sauté until the vegetables are hot. Serve immediately.

You know, I am all about volume for low calories. This fit the bill! It was delicious and easy. You can vary it, if you'd like. I think some crushed red pepper flakes might be good, along with some garlic and/or ginger.

Made as above, this was about 240 calories for the entire thing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Dinner

Tonight we had a lovely dinner. My parents brought the ham and the fruit salad. I made a potato side dish and the vegetables.

The spread:

Honeybaked Ham:

I roasted asparagus (and green beans) with about a tablespoon of olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and about a tablespoon of salt. (Gently mix all of the ingredients together, put on a cookie sheet, and bake in a 425-degree oven for about 15 minutes.)

We tried white asparagus for the first time. Honestly, the white is lovely and nice to look at but I liked the flavor of the green asparagus better.

Now, for the potato side dish.

2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
Kosher salt

Using a mandoline, cut the potatoes into thin slices. (We cut them into 1 mm slices.) Put olive oil in an 8-inch nonstick pan that can also go in the oven.

Lay the first layer of potatoes down in a circle in the pan. This will be the top of the dish at the end so you'll want to make it look pretty.

Brush each layer of potatoes with olive oil.

As you lay down the potatoes, press the layer down. Every other layer, sprinkle with kosher salt and grated Romano cheese.

Keep layering until you reach the top of the pan.

Put the pan over medium-high heat until the olive oil sizzles and the bottom is browned.

Once the oil is sizzling, put the pan into an oven that was preheated to 425 degrees. Cook for 20 minutes.

Before flipping, be sure to drain off any extra oil! You don't want to burn yourself.

You may have to loosen the potatoes with a heat resistant spatula prior to the flipping.

Flip it onto a lid.

Gently put it back into the pan.

Put it back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

Take it out, let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then cut into wedges and serve.

The true test for this dish? Everyone wanted more! Next time we will definitely have to make it in a bigger pan. It was the perfect accompaniment to ham and looked very elegant.

I hope everyone had a great Easter!