Friday, October 22, 2010

Wine Pairings

Today I am working on wine pairings for my cousin's menu. I know wine...but the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know much about it!

I have got one pairing down. I need to do two more. I wish I could sneak my camera into the event tonight to show photos. I may be able to sneak some cell phone photos, though!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I have moved to a new place and am just getting my bearings. After Mr Mary Cooks died I barely cooked, if you can believe it. This is the first week I have even taken the time to create a weekly meal plan. Although this week has been a little crazy and we haven't always adhered to the plan it still gives me comfort that it is there for me as a guideline.

Last night I made the most fantastic cocktail but I don't have a name for it yet. I am open to suggestions.

I have to keep the exact proportions under wraps for just now (sorry!!) but I will tell you it contains gin (Aviation Gin, to be exact), lemon juice, and rosemary simple syrup. It's delicious served up (as pictured).

There is something completely exciting happening right now in my life as regards food. When things go through I will share but, at this point, I feel like I have to keep things a little close to my chest until they are resolved. I do need whatever good mojo you can send me, though, because this thing is HUGE!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buitoni Ravioli Blind Taste Test

When Foodbuzz asked me to make two vegetable side dishes to go with Buitoni's new frozen meals for two I jumped at the chance. Foodbuzz gave me 10 coupons for free Buitoni meals and a stipend. My middle son's birthday was just in time to take advantage of this. Plus, my little foodie wanted a fancy birthday dinner for himself and his friends. Done!

First, the side dishes. I made a salad with spinach and arugula mixed about 50/50.

I bought some glazed walnuts at teh store and used the bag.

Then, I sliced some strawberries.

I chunked off goat cheese from the log and put it in the salad.

Then, I made a simple vinaigrette: 1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, shallots, salt and pepper.

I whisked it together and mixed it in with the salad.

Guest starring in this blog post is Grandma Mary Cooks! She chopped the vegetables for me.

In olive oil, I sautéed zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, red bell pepper, shallots, and cherry tomatoes with some white wine.

After all of the vegetables were crisp-tender I sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top.

I cooked all of the raviolis and their various sauces.

We made three types of Buitoni raviolis:

Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli

Four Cheese & Spinach Ravioli

Chicken & Mushroom Ravioli

The Tween rings the triangle for his friends to come to the dinner table:

The spread!!

Everyone really loved the Four Cheese & Spinach ravioli and the Chicken & Mushroom ravioli. I was surprised that the Shrimp & Lobster ravioli was not hit harder but I liked it a lot. As usual, I cooked so much food! No one knew I had heated up the sauce instead of cooking it myself! Score! Buitoni's stuff is spot on as usual. The preparation was so easy. As the water was heating up, I put the sauce packets in the pot. Once the water boiled, the sauce was ready to come out and the ravioli went in. Easy peasy.


Here's where we get to a difficult part of the blog. Mr Mary Cooks unexpectedly passed away just two days before we had this birthday dinner. I mention this because we had to buy a cake from the store. We will all miss the awesome cakes that he made (along with every single thing about him).

All in all, The Tween had a good day surrounded with his friends, their families, and love.

Special thanks to Foodbuzz and Buitoni!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Polenta and Mushroom Tomato Sauce

At the store the other day I got a copy of the newest Clean Eating magazine. They have a great recipe in there for pork tenderloin that makes two meals.

2 lbs. pork tenderloin
2 cups polenta
24 oz. jar natural tomato basil pasta sauce
1 lb. mushrooms
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray and place the pork tenderloins on it. Season them with oregano, sea salt, and pepper. Put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms.

Spray another jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the mushrooms on the pan and sprinkle with pepper. After the pork has cooked for 10 minutes put the mushrooms in the oven with the pork and roast both for about 20 minutes.

Pour 8 cups of water into a large pot and bring to a boil.

After the water is boiling, pour in the polenta slowly and stir.

Stir the polenta with a long handled wooden spoon until it is cooked, about 10 minutes.

Get the pork out of the oven and let stand for 10 minutes or so.

Heat the pasta sauce until it is warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce and heat through, about 2 minutes.

Slice the pork in order to serve. Only slice one tenderloin.

After serving polenta to everyone's plates pour it in an 8x8 pan for the next dinner.

I served about 1/2 cup of polenta, 1/2 cup or pasta sauce, and a quarter of one of the tenderloins on each plate. The leftovers will be used for a different meal in a few days.

This was delicious comfort food. Everyone except the preschooler loved it, but she doesn't like anything. ;-) (Okay, she did love the banana bread in the previous post!)

Banana Bread

I can't believe it has been since April when I last posted. I am going to be more dedicated to this blog now and suddenly seem to have a lot more spare time. Economy, anyone?

Yesterday was my daughter's "Special Sharing Day" at preschool. What this means is she gets to bring a toy or two to share and talk about at school. It's sort of like show-and-tell only she gets to let other kids play with her special toys. It's optional, but she can also bring in a snack for all of the kids. Since we had four overripe bananas in the house I decided to get up early and make banana bread. I want to tinker with the recipe to see if I can make it ultra-healthy (it's already healthy) using wheat flour and agave nectar instead of sugar so we'll see. Next time I have bananas in need of mashing I'm going to play!

Here's the healthy recipe:


Healthy Banana Bread

Makes one loaf
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour


* 2 eggs
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* 2 ripe bananas, mashed
* 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
* 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like Almond Breeze)
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and lightly flour the pan.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the sugar on medium together for 5 minutes. At the end you should have a custard consistency. Turn the beater to low and beat the bananas, yogurt, almond milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract until all liquid ingredients are incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold into the liquid ingredients with a spatula until just moistened. Do not overly mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and put in the oven for about 1 hour. Check after 50 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean the bread is done. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then remove from pan and continue to cool the loaf on the rack for another 30 minutes if you can resist the pull of warm banana bread.


I was only able to take two photos since I was in a hurry to get it done and get my daughter to school. First is a photo of the batter in loaf pans ready to go into the oven and second is a photo of the delicious bread. I made two loaves but please note the recipe above is only for one loaf.

Unfortunately I did not get to taste this. However, every single person who I saw at the daycare yesterday evening told me how delicious it was. One of the women who works at the daycare said there was a little left and wanted to have it for breakfast this morning! My daughter said, "I LOVED it!!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wine Photos

For the second year in a row I have come home from a wine event with more whites than reds. Hmmm... White wines tend to be more affordable, especially in Woodinville. Finding a $10 bottle of wine was impossible, which is frustrating. When I go to the Spring Barrel Opening in Yakima Valley there are plenty of decent $10 wines.

Anyway, here we go.

Brian Carter Cellars Corrida.
According to the website: Spanish-style Red Blend (Exclusive to Wine Club members)
Modeled after the noble Tempranillo based blends of Spain, the wine also contains Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Granacha. A beautiful dark garnet color greets you with aromas of blackberry, rose petals, cedar and spice. Plenty of fruit flavors envelope the mouth along with soft tannins and a long juicy finish.

Because I joined the wine club yesterday I was able to get two bottles and a tasting of it. It was delicious! Seriously - so yummy. It was smooth but complex.

Brian Carter Cellars Oriana. Again, from the website:

ORIANA (Latin for 'golden lady')
Uniquely Aromatic White Wine Blend
Oriana utilizes two grapes originally from the Rhone Valley of France. The core variety, Viognier, is rich in aromas of peaches and apricots and Roussanne deepens the peach character and adds a hint of melons. Then blend is finished with Riesling to add a touch of pears and apple blossoms. This richly textured wine finishes with food friendly acidity.

I've had this wine before (a couple of years ago) and loved it. Brian Carter is a mad genius of wine blending. Seriously.

Northwest Totem Cellars Salish. It's a white blend that is refreshing and semi-dry. It will be perfect for a summer dinner.

Airfield Estate Winery's Bombshell Red.
From the website: 41% Syrah, 35% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Sangiovese, 4% Malbec, 3% Cab Franc

A beloved favorite of many, this approachable signature red table blend has overlapping aromas of oak, vanilla, raspberry jam, and blackcurrants, leaving lingering flavors of dark fruit and toasted oak on the palate. With a rounded, full-bodied mouthfeel, this red blend provides supple tannins ample for pairing with a wide range of foods.

Airfield Estate Winery's Unoaked Chardonnay. I have discovered that I rather enjoy unoaked Chardonnay (but still don't like oaked Chardonnay). From their website:
Crisp, dry, and refreshing with aromas of honeysuckle, melon, and tropical fruit, this 100% stainless steel fermented Chardonnay showcases authentic varietal characteristics. Citrus flavors engage the palate with a round, lively mouthfeel and a lingering finish. This wine is enjoyable on its own or pairs nicely with seafood and pan-Asian cuisine.

This is the wine I was waiting to taste. I was pretty excited! It is Northwest Totem Cellars Late Harvest Viognier. To say this is delicious is a vast understatement. It is definitely a dessert wine but not overly syrupy or sickly sweet. I love it!

Efesté Evergreen Riesling. From their website:
The Evergreen Riesling combines mineral and slate with flavors of white peach and linden. This wine finishes with wonderful focus and a backbone of mandarin orange.

This wine would be fantastic with Asian food. I could easily see drinking it with some nice Thai food.

Hestia's Chenin Blanc. This was crisp and wonderful! This would be really great with chicken or a light fish like tilapia.

Chatter Creek's Orange Muscat. For some reason this wine is not on their website. This was sweet, light, and a perfect brunch wine.

Page Cellars Lick My Lips Syrah. Are you joking me? Did I really pay $27 for a bottle of Syrah? Oh, yes, I did. It is soooooooooo jammy and yummy. My undying love for the Syrah grape lives on.

Cuillin Hills Dungeon Syrah is another delicious Syrah! From their website:
Varietals: 86% Syrah, 14% Grenache
Vineyards: Snipes Canyon, Meek, Sagemoor Weinbau
Cooperage: 35% New, Mixed
Aging: 20 Months

Tasting notes provided by Wine Advocate-
“The 2007 The Dungeon Syrah also contains 14% Grenache. Dark ruby/purple in color, it offers up a spicy nose of meat, game, underbrush, kirsch, and blueberry notes. Layered, dense, and sweetly-fruited, this impeccably balanced, large-scaled effort will drink well for another 8 years.”

Recommendations: Decant min. 15 to 30 minutes.

Oh yes, yes, yes. I am going to be cellaring this one for a while, I think.

Gifford-Hirlinger Stateline Red. We tasted this one, then a 100% Merlot and a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a blend of the two and, believe me, the best. These two grapes bring out the best in each other like an old married couple or best friends. From their website:
The Wine

The Stateline Red is a simple blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is a very food-friendly, versatile wine with enough structure to pair with a steak, but also fruit forward enough to pair with seafood dishes!
Case Production:
* 418

Varietal Composition:
* 50% Merlot
* 50% Cabernet Sauvignon

Barrel Aging:
* 17 Months

Oak Program:
* 100% Neutral Oak

And that's it! I am really excited to be tasting these lovely Washington wines.