Saturday, March 27, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

(Sorry for the crappy quality...I took it with my phone and it's after midnight!)

Here are all of the names written on strips of paper, folded, and put in a bowl. (Don't worry - I wasn't cheating. I was recycling! The reverse side had my notes for a review of one of the wines.) Mr Mary Cooks drew the name and definitely did it blind as I made him do it after he had gone to bed and his glasses were off. Heh. Timing is everything! ;-)

Alena is my winner of the $50 Grocery Outlet gift card! Yay!!! Check out her fabuLESS life here. It's a great blog!


And a special thank you to all who entered the drawing. It was really fun to do and my very first giveaway with special thanks from Grocery Outlet!

Friday, March 26, 2010

2005 Yering Station MVR

I'm a bit late on this entry as well. Came home from work and napped for a few hours. My immune system seems hellbent on catching a cold! Boo!

It's not going to stop me from posting about this fantastic wine, though!!

Front of the bottle:

Back of the bottle:

2005 Yering Station MVR!

To say that I was looking forward to this wine is a vast understatement. The second I put it in my cart at Grocery Outlet (a bargain at $5.99! Elsewhere it's $18.99) I knew I'd want to drink and drink and drink it. This wine is comprised of 54% Marsanne, 36% Viognier, and 10% Roussanne. There's a hint of pear on the nose. Drinking the wine, it's crisp and clean. This is definitely not a sweet white wine. While I was drinking the wine I kept imagining a backyard barbecue with chicken and pasta salads and sun. It's definitely a summer wine so if you have the chance to buy it during GO's wine sale from March 30th through April 3rd you should do it! Summer is not so far away.

But, back to the wine. I definitely get a lot of green apple with this wine. Mr Mary Cooks had only one glass (he's not a fan of whites) but I easily drank the rest of the bottle. I am an equal opportunity wine drinker. If you're only a marginal fan of white wines you may not like this. The Mr said it smelled like Play-Doh. While I could see how he could smell that I didn't think it was a bad thing.

By the way, we drank this with a whole chicken cooked in the slow cooker.

I was intending on blogging the recipe but, quite frankly, the chicken turned out dry (!!) and not all that great. I was disappointed but it reinforces my desire to have a programmable slow cooker vs. my old-school "off-low-high" model.

I have more wines to blog about even though the "official" period has ended. I have three bottles left and I'm intending on sharing them all with you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2009 Buckley's Cove Merlot

I'm getting this one in right under the wire. I had a crazy day at work and then right after some friends and I went to a book reading and signing by Christopher Moore. It was good fun but we were in line for about 2 hours. Totally worth it, though!

But, to the wine please! We drank a 2009 Buckley's Cove Merlot with polenta pasticciata (recipe coming tomorrow!). The wine costs $2.99 at Grocery Outlet compared to $12.99 elsewhere.

Front of the bottle:

Back of the bottle:

There are berries and cherries on the nose as well as a bit of a buttery caramel. For my money, it is far better than "2 Buck Chuck". It is mild, with very few tannins. It was better than I thought it'd be and fairly charactered for a three dollar wine. There are pepper notes at the end but no bitter lingering flavor. It would be good with a sharp cheese such as cheddar or parmesan. It's not very complex but, then, I didn't expect it to be. We did drink the whole bottle. Most of the time I drank it while sitting at the table surfing the internet on my laptop. It's perfect for sitting, lingering at the table with conversation.

I don't think I would actively seek this wine out but I wouldn't turn it away, either.

The back of the bottle is worth a read! It's very funny!

Here's a teaser of the polenta dish:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick Note

Quick note about comments: I've been having problems with my email from Comcast so I have moved all of the notifications to a Gmail addresss (marycooksblog). I sincerely appreciate all of the comments from new readers! It's amazing and so flattering.

Thank you!

Dragon Xanadu Cabernet-Merlot and Bacon Wrapped Tenderloins

Yes, it's bacon wrapped tenderloin time again. (We had six of them...) They were just as delicious the second day in a week.

Obligatory food photo:

Now, on to the wine! To go with this dinner we chose a 2005 Dragon Xanadu Cabernet-Merlot purchased from Grocery Outlet. It was $5.99 (elsewhere $8.99).

Front of the bottle:

Back of the bottle:

This is a wine that needs its breathing room. Once you let it open up it is very pleasant, almost jammy. We were getting a spicy finish. It tasted of allspice and nutmeg. The wine was also a little on the peppery side but definitely not overwhelming. The tannins were medium but not intimidating. It was so good with the steak. Mr Mary Cooks thinks it'd be good with duck or lamb. He said he'd prefer it to go with fatty food and definitely not with a lean meat. I think it'd be excellent with a creamy brie or some other soft, mild cheese. We would definitely feel confident serving this to guests or bringing it to a party.

We drank the whole bottle which, I have to tell you, seems to be the true test with our week of wine tasting!

I liked this wine. I am going to be keeping an eye out for other Xanadu wines from Down Under.

Win a $50 Grocery Outlet Gift Card!

Comment here on this post if you'd like to be entered to win a $50 Grocery Outlet gift card!

The contest will end at 8 pm Pacific time, Friday, March 26th. I will notify the winner by 10 pm Pacific that same night.

Here are the conditions:
1. If you win, you agree to post on your blog what you have purchased with the gift card at Grocery Outlet.

2. Once you post you agree to email me at marycooksblog @ so I can notify Grocery Outlet.

And that's it! Easy peasy!

So please comment away!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two Wine Reviews and a Salmon Recipe

Grocery Outlet wines again tonight. In case you're wondering why I was given this opportunity and why GO is ramping up their wine presence online, it's because they're going to be having a fantastic sale March 30-April 3. 20% off all wines! This is a great event and there will be some terrific bargains to be had so do not miss it!

Tonight's first wine was a 2007 Sylvester Vineyards & Winery Rosé.

Front of the bottle:

Back of the bottle:

I bought this with the gift card given to me by GO for $3.99. Their sign said elsewhere it was $8.99.

When I opened this and poured it in my glass the first thing I smelled was vinegar. This did not bode well. It's dry and Mr Mary Cooks claimed it tasted like "Kool-Aid rainwater." (Hey, I couldn't make that up by myself!) There's an unpleasant aftertaste with a sourness that's almost lemony. The text on the back label matches the flavor and character of the wine: vague and nondescript. I would have felt obligated to finish the bottle but since I didn't pay for it, I didn't.

However, we did figure out a good use for it: it'd be a decent sangria wine. It also makes a good wine spritzer if you add lemon-lime soda. Just sayin'...

We drank it with salmon that was still great after being in the freezer for a year and a half. This is salmon that we caught ourselves in Ketchikan, Alaska. I was overjoyed that not only was it still good but it was delicious! Are you ready for the food interlude?

4 4 oz. salmon fillets
2 Tbsp. canola oil
4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. finely minced onion
2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Pour over the salmon fillets.

Let them marinade for 30 minutes.

Flip 'em over and let them go for another 30 minutes.

Put them in a pan and cook them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then, broil them for about 5 minutes or so.

Ahhhh... I live a tough life, don't I?!

Okay, back to the wine. After the dismal performance of the rosé (and I truly was disappointed because I love a good rosé!) I decided to open a 2008 Le Baron Ranch Late Harvest Riesling.

Front of the bottle:

Back of the bottle:


Apple and apricot on the nose. It was only lightly syrupy but very, very sweet. It would make an excellent dessert wine. It was such a treat, literally candy for adults! There were pear and apricot notes with a peach aftertaste. It was almost effervescent on the tongue when it touched. It finished clean on the palate. I knew it might yield a nasty hangover in the morning (due to the sugar content) but I didn't care! The bottle was completely consumed, mostly by me. There was a bit of a starfruit note as it warmed. I loved, loved, loved this wine. If I could drink it every day I would do it.

It was $10.99 at Grocery Outlet, elsewhere $44.99. Honestly, for a Late Harvest that might be a wee bit inflated (I'd believe it more for an ice wine) but no matter. It was definitely worth the eleven bucks. I am going to head back to GO for more! You should, too, if you know what's good for you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Grocery Outlet Wine!

Can you believe I bought all 9 of these bottles from Grocery Outlet for $50? Okay...I fib just a little...I went over by $1. ;-)

Grocery Outlet gave me a $50 gift card with which to buy wine and review it here on my blog. Sweet! The first wine I am reviewing is a 2007 Renovales Malbec. I have been trying to research this on the internet but have come up with nothing. My Google-Fu is failing me! I bought this at Grocery Outlet for $4.99 and their price tag said to compare it to $9.99 in other stores.

Front of the bottle:

Back of the bottle:

I do know that Mendoza is a good place for Malbecs. I have a soft spot in my heart for Malbecs so that's why I decided to start with this one.

I poured it in my glass and let it breathe for a little bit. It looked beautiful and dark.

At first there was an oaky taste to it but that dissipated the more it breathed. Also at first there was a bit of a dull pomegranate taste to it and Mr Mary Cooks swears there was a ruby red grapefruit taste to it (I didn't get that at all). The tannins are very tame which makes this wine very approachable for someone who maybe has not had a lot of experience with red wines. This wine would be awesome with a creamy cheese like perhaps a chevre or even a stilton. I can imagine eating a salad comprised of arugula, rocket, pear, walnuts, and chevre while sipping on this wine.

Instead, we had bacon-wrapped filet mignon (which will make another appearance later this week) and twice-baked potatoes.

This was a Christmas present from family of Mr Mary Cooks so it made this meal very economical!

Anyway, back to the wine. It's much better when consumed with food. We drank the whole bottle so it definitely passed the test as it took very little effort to drink it all. It was mildly fruity and I bet it would age pretty well for another year.

The only negative thing I can say about this wine is that there was an odd sedimentation in the first pour which was strange because it had been sitting upright for two days prior to opening it.

I would definitely buy this wine again. It was delicious and for 5 bucks, an incredible deal!


Stay tuned later this week for an announcement! Grocery Outlet has given me a $50 gift card to give away here on the blog! There are some stipulations (you have to have a blog and post what you bought with it) which I will list tomorrow. I'll start accepting entries to the giveaway on Wednesday and announce the winner on Friday evening. Hooray!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wine + Grocery Outlet = LOVE

(Note: these are not the wines I have purchased from Grocery Outlet...I still have to do my shopping!)

I am super excited to announce that I am going to be blogging my wine purchasing experiences with Grocery Outlet next week! During the remainder of this week I will be putting together a menu comprised mostly of the awesome bargains you can find at Grocery Outlet along with the fantastic wines they offer.

What?! You didn't know G.O. sold wine?! What?! You didn't know G.O. sold AWESOME wines?! Where have you BEEN???

Stay tuned. They have provided me with a gift card for me to purchase wines and another gift card to give away to my readers. I'll announce how to get in on the drawing for the gift card over the weekend when I announce my meal plan for next week along with wine accompaniment provided by Grocery Outlet.

This is going to be so great!

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad

This is so easy to make it's ridiculous. It can also easily be made vegetarian.

3/4 c. to 1 c. kalamata olives, halved
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
2-3 roasted red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 c. feta
1/2 red onion, cut into slices then quartered
2 chicken breasts, grilled then cut into 1" chunks
1 lb. rotelle pasta, cooked and rinsed with cold water
1/3 c. or so Greek salad dressing

First, I sliced half a red onion then quartered the slices so they became manageable pieces for eating.

Meanwhile, I grilled two chicken breasts that I had seasoned with Cavender's Greek Seasoning. (So delicious! Good on french fries!)

Quarter the artichoke hearts. I like to get these in cans without marinade. That way you control the flavor AND the fat content!

I get my roasted red peppers in a jar without any fat also. I sliced these into strips.

Cut the kalamata olives in half. Try not to eat too many as you're prepping this dish!

After the pasta has cooked, rinse it with cold water until it has totally cooled.

Admire the feta and the dressing since you don't have to do anything to prepare them...

Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, let it cool for about 15 minutes.

Cut into bite-sized chunks and add to your salad bowl.

Add the pasta, feta, and dressing. I "eyeballed" the dressing. In the end it was about 1/3 cup but you can use more or less, depending on your tastes. In our house we like a lightly dressed salad in general for just a hint of flavor. I don't like to overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients.

Now it's done and time to serve! This pasta salad is excellent for a weeknight dinner and if you double it, I can definitely see it being very popular at a potluck. If you leave the chicken off it's vegetarian friendly (so I'll add the vegetarian tag anyway).

Everyone in the family loved this dish. The preschooler picked out the onions but liked everything else. Middle son and husband had three servings!!