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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Grilled Chicken and Grated Zucchini with Mercy Chardonnay

Here’s a good way to jazz up a simple chicken breast if you want something different or a little fancier –looking and tasting. The zucchini is also a fun and unique twist on this vegetable. Suggestion: the leftover goat cheese, basil and sun-dried tomatoes make excellent pizza toppings. Throw in some kalamata olives and you have one of my favorite pizza pies!

WINE: 2009 Mercy Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco (Monterey)

Mike and I discovered his Chardonnay at a recent wine festival. It was our favorite wine of the day. The aroma is full of tropical fruit with a hint of honey. The buttery mouth is simultaneously round, silky and creamy. It opens with pineapple and a touch of banana then finishes with butterscotch and a little vanilla. In a word….yum.

Chardonnay was a great pairing with this dish. If you want to try a red, I would experiment with a Grenache or Rhone blend. A medium body Pinot may be nice too. You need something with some body to stand up to the sun-dried tomatoes.

RECIPE: Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Grilled Chicken
Servings: 2

• 2 chicken breasts
• 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
• 1/2 tsp salt, divided
• 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
• 1/4 tsp dried thyme
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• ¼ cup white wine
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
• ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
• 2 oz goat cheese (this works best if room temperature)

1. Heat grill to medium heat
2. Brush chicken breasts with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and thyme on each side.
3. Grill chicken on medium heat until cooked through. This will largely depend on size of breasts. I find that it usually takes 6-8 minutes per side.
4. Once chicken is on grill, sauté garlic in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 1-2 minutes in a medium skillet over medium heat.
5. Add wine and lemon juice. Increase heat to medium high until it begins to bubble then decrease heat to a simmer. Simmer until wine and juice has reduced to half.
6. Stir in butter to skillet.
7. Add sun-dried tomatoes, basil, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper to skillet. Stir, remove from heat and set aside.
8. As soon as chicken is off grill, top each chicken breast with 1 oz of goat cheese. Spoon half of sun-dried tomato and basil sauce over chicken.

RECIPE: Grated Zucchini
Serves: 2

• ~ 1 lb of zucchini
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• ½ cup shallots, minced
• ¼ tsp of pepper

1. Grate the zucchini, using a cheese grater. I cut the zucchini into quarters first.

2. Toss with ½ tsp salt.
3. Place in a colander and let drain for 5-10 minutes.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter into the olive oil
5. Add shallots and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until shallots are tender.
6. Stir in zucchini and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until zucchini is tender.
7. Serve.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pesto Shrimp Quinoa Bowl with Thatcher Controlled Chaos

My day began with our coffee pot breaking, followed by a mad dash to Starbucks which caused me to be late to work. Throw in an unexpected and an especially busy day, and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was deal with dinner. This is a simple and healthy dinner that is perfect when you need a little lazy at dinner time. In addition to easy, this recipe is extremely versatile. You can use cooked shrimp, cooked chicken or langostino tails (I like the ones at Trader Joes). I have made this recipe with all kinds of different veggies: asparagus, broccoli, snap peas, green beans…whatever you like or have on hand. Tonight I went with langostino and asparagus! You can make your own pesto or use store bought.

Quinoa is one of those superfoods we keep hearing about. This whole grain is a complete protein and full of fiber. It is also higher in is higher in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc than other grains. It is also an anti-oxidant and is believed to fight diabetes and breast cancer. The only down side I have found with quinoa is that it needs to be rinsed before eating, and the seeds are so tiny that I have not found a way to do this without rinsing half down the drain. I solved this problem with spending a little more money on spouted quinoa at Whole Foods which doesn’t need to be rinsed.

WINE: 2007 Thatcher Controlled Chaos, Paso Robles

I wanted a lazy dinner, but I also wanted some wine. When trying to decide on a bottle, I saw this bottle of Controlled Chaos. After my crazy day, I had to select this 42% Zinfandel, 37% Mourvedre and 21% Grenache. The unusual blend was full of fruit, spice and all that was nice. Was it the perfect wine for my dinner? Probably not. Was it the perfect wine for my day? Definitely.

A Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc would be two good white varietals to try with this dinner. If you are looking for a red, I would suggest a robust Pinot Noir or a more traditional Rhone including GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre).

RECIPE: Pesto Shrimp Quinoa Bowl
2-3 Servings

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 cup quinoa
• 2 cups chicken broth (adjust if directions for quinoa call for a different amount)
• 12 oz cooked shrimp, langostino tails, or cooked chicken breast
• ~1 1/2 cups of chopped asparagus (1 inch pieces), snow peas, snap peas, broccoli or whatever vegetable you want etc
• ¼ cup Basil pesto (see below for recipe or buy some!)

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions using broth instead of water.
2. Heat olive oil on medium heat.
3. Add shrimp, langostino tails, or chicken and veggie to pan. Cook about 5minutes until shrimp etc is heated and veggies are tender.
4. Drain any excess water from shrimp and veggie pan.
5. Stir in lemon juice.
6. Add cooked quinoa and basil to pan and stir. Serve.

RECIPE: Basil Pesto
Makes about 1 cup (you can freeze remaining)

• 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp pepper
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place all ingredients in food processor or blender.
2. Combine well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Marinated NY Strips and Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes with Christopher Cameron Red Wine

I had a nasty cold for almost two weeks, so I was not preparing a lot of exciting meals. Now that I am healthy and caught up on everything else, I wanted to make my husband a special dinner. This marinade was inspired by some wine that was left over and forgotten from Friday night. If you want you can cook the remaining marinade and drizzle over the steaks themselves. The steaks were extremely tasty but the potatoes and the wine stole the show tonight. I have made several versions of these potatoes before. Tonight I actually used shallots instead of onions as it was what I had on hand. I have also used blue cheese instead of gorgonzola. I have peeled Yukon gold potatoes for guests who don’t like potato skins. It all works great. Tonight was actually the first time I added bacon to these. If you want a vegetarian option, I think you will still very much enjoy this dish without the bacon. However, the addition of the bacon took these mashed potatoes over the top. Ridiculously good! Now I just need to go to the gym.

WINE: 2005 Christopher Cameron Red Wine, Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)

This meal needs a substantial wine to stand up to the steak and the bold flavors of the mashed potatoes. A great Cabernet or Bordeaux/Meritage is the perfect accompaniment. Tonight I decided on this Christopher Cameron’s Bordeaux blend. Forgive me if I get ultra cheesy here as my taste buds are dancing. This wine is phenomenal!!! It smells so good that a couple of times I forgot to sip after breathing in the complex and delicious nose: berries, spice, hints of licorice, a little earthiness. Subtle cola and tea notes mingle with the plum, berry and spice on the palate. So smooth, so intricate. The the late spicy vanilla finish hits, and I can’t help but smile with every time taste. I am so glad I used some leftover Syrah in the steak marinade so I can savor every last drop of this bottle.

RECIPE: Marinated NY Strip Steaks
Servings: 2

• ½ cup red wine, dry (not cooking wine)
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 3 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp garlic
• 1 tsp dried basil
• ½ tsp dried thyme
• ½ tsp red pepper flakes
• 2 NY Strip steaks
• Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

1. Whisk together everything but steaks and fresh cracked pepper.
2. Add marinade to Ziploc bag.
3. Place steaks in bag and marinate for `~8 hours.
4. One hour before cooking remove steaks from marinade and refrigerator. Let sit out at room temperature.
5. Heat grill to high. Wait about 10 minutes until grill is ~500°.
6. Carefully place steaks on grill, do not slide. Cook on covered grill about ~5 minutes letting them get a nice sear. Flip, uncover grill and cook for ~5 minutes. This cooked our steaks to a nice medium-rare.
7. Remove steaks from grill and let rest 5 minutes before eating.
8. Top with fresh cracked pepper and sauce if desired.

OPTIONAL: Sauce for steaks
1. After removing steaks from marinade, save marinade in fridge.
2. When steaks are placed on grill, put marinade in small sauce pan. Bring to boil for about a minute then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until it’s time to eat.
3. Drizzle over steaks.

RECIPE: Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
Servings: 4

o 11/2 lbs red potatoes, cut into sixths or eighths
o 1 tablespoon olive oil
o 3-4 shallots or 1 medium (sweet) onion, diced
o 3 cloves garlic, minced
o 1 tsp dried rosemary or 2 tsp fresh rosemary
o 3-4 pieces of bacon, pre-cooked and chopped
o ¼ cup butter
o 1/3 cup half-and-half
o 1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese
o 1/2 tsp teaspoon pepper
o 1 tsp salt

Caramelized shallots
1. Heat oil in a skillet at medium heat. Add shallots (or onions) and cook, stirring frequently. Cook until they caramelize ~15 to 20 minutes.
2. Bring potatoes to boil in a large pot of water, cook until tender ~ 20 minutes.
3. Add garlic to onion/shallots and cook 3 minutes.
4. Stir in rosemary and bacon to shallots/onions and garlic, cook for one minute and then remove from heat.
5. Drain potatoes and add to mixing bowl.
6. Add butter, half-and-half, cheese, salt and pepper. Mix with electric mixer until blended. Taste. You can add more of any of the following if like.
7. Stir in onion/shallots,garlic, bacon and rosemary mixture.
8. If timing is off, transfer to an oven safe dish and place in warm oven until steaks have rested.