Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

Here's our cheap wine of the week this week! We enjoyed this with some friends who made us delicious chicken and pork tacos. Yummy! I brought a straight cabernet and this cabernet/syrah blend because both would have a little spice to pair with the tacos. And both were good with it, but this one was better. Both Brad and I really liked it.

The Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red was about $11.99 at Jewel, and it was smooth and great next to the tacos and guac.



So next time you have good friends that make you tacos, bring this along and have a lovely meal!

Merry Christmas friends! We hope it's a blessed time of family and joy for all of you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekly Recipe Wrap-Up

Hello all,

In keeping with this week's short posts, here's another one to add. I suppose when the holidays come around, I get to just enjoy the fruit of other people's cooking labor more often, and don't have time to make food for us as much.

So my one night of cooking this week yielded a really tasty BLT salad. Brad finished his final project for school and this was his celebration dinner. He wanted a salad, but I knew it needed a little bit of protein substance or it wasn't going to cut it for a whole meal. This turned out to be perfect. A little saltiness from the bacon, a little sweetness from the tomatoes, and a little tang from the dressing. I ended up using spinach for the salad instead of lettuce and it was great.



Lots of yummy grape tomatoes were a bright, delicious touch.



And the only other thing I took a picture of is truly not creative, but it's such great morning comfort food and it made me happy. We had leftover bread from the salad dinner and I knew it would got to waste if I didn't use it, so I ended up making cinnamon sugar toast.


This, a cup of Earl Grey, a blanket, and some falling snow outside my window was the perfect way to start a morning.

Have a truly blessed Christmas week!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

Hello friends,

A short post about our cheap wine of the week. This week's was the Toasted Head Cabernet Sauvignon. I know, I know. Somewhat of a cop-out. Admittedly, this is not a creative pick, everyone already knows about Toasted Head. But it's cheap, it's good, and we drank it this week. So it wins. I think I spent $9.99 on it at Jewel, and we enjoyed it.



Hope you enjoy it too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekly Recipe Wrap-Up

Another week, some more good food!

This week was full of some yummy meals. The first was a turkey burger night. It was based off of this Southwestern Turkey Burger recipe, though I used some white cheddar on top and turkey bacon. It turned out lovely, at any rate!



The next meal was one I've been craving for a while. I've made it a few times before, and it's a delicious four-cheese baked macaroni and cheese dish. Emeril's recipe is the baked macaroni recipe I tried first, and it was so good I've never thought to try and find another. You can't see it quite as well in the picture, but it's creamy and nutmeg-y and yummy goodness. I was so excited to finally cook it and serve it. (But we needed a bit of a break between the Thanksgiving amount of food and serving this monster.)



The last recipe was a new one for me. A friend on Facebook was talking about a Greek shrimp recipe and it made me think about making shrimp. I went searching for a shrimp meal that sounded delicious and like something I've never made. This is what I came up with. Good ol' Ina Garten. Always good for some really great food that taste wonderful. (Cook's note, I used half the butter it called for, and next time I'll add another half cup or so of bread crumbs to get a little more crispiness.) It was delicious. Both brad and I really liked it. And I like that it didn't include the pasta that's usually in shrimp scampi.

Here's the shrimps before cooking.



And here they are all finished and bubbly. Mmmmmm.



The side salad with the shrimp was a really easy spinach salad with some hard boiled eggs (thanks Trader Joe's for selling those by the bag), and a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette to go with the shrimp.



So there you have it. Christmas is coming! And I'm hoping to have some very fun pictures of snow and cold up soon. You can enjoy our white christmas vicariously (or you can live here too and wish you were in sunny so cal... either way). Have a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Homemade Holiday

Hey friends. I thought I'd share this idea with you all. I'm sure Christmas is tight for everyone right now, but that doesn't mean that there are less people in our lives that we want to honor and thank and give something great to! I really wanted to give something to the other members of our small group at our new church, because they have been so welcoming and awesome by allowing us in their lives this semester. But with everyone in the group, giving a separate, store-bought gift to all of them wasn't probably feasible. So I decided to do something homemade. And these paint tins of brownies emerged.



I found this great Chocolate Chocolate Chip Brownie recipe on another blog (well, I'm assuming it's great, I've never actually tried it... if you're in my small group, let me know how they turned out). I just used the dry ingredients to make the layers (my friends will have to find their own butter and eggs). I found the paint tins at Michael's, and added some candy cane ornaments I had from an event I was part of at our old church a few years back.



The walnuts were an addition of mine into the recipe, but I left them in their own compartment so people didn't have to add them if they didn't want to. And I put a circle of wax paper in-between the layer of flour/cocoa powder and brown sugar so that it would help with the mixing process.



Lastly I tacked on the name tags with the recipe written on another card and voila! Homemade holiday goodness! I hope they all enjoy them, and I hope this may spark some creative juices in you for your friends too!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

You know what is perfect with a -20 degree wind-chill night? A cheap wine of the week, of course! (Yes, that's really what the weather will be here tonight... be jealous.)

And this week's was great. We're finally back to a cheap red, yay!

I found this at Whole Foods, one of their 10 great wines under $10 they are showcasing through the season. It's the 2007 Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha. It was $9.99, and worth every penny. A little light, but some great structure and really smooth flavor. Mmm mmm.



We've met a couple here who are just recently getting into wine, and this will be one I introduce them to for sure. For 10 bucks, this is a great wine, and something I think anyone can enjoy.

Okay, there's the shortest post I've ever done, but the Top Chef finale starts right now, so I gotta go. Enjoy!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekly Recipe Wrap-Up

So this one's on a Monday, oh well. And this is about two week's worth of recipes and goodness, so be prepared for a long one with lots of yummy photos!

It all started the weekend before Thanksgiving when Jonathan was in town. He was here for a work training deal and stayed over the extra weekend to hang out with us. Fantastic. A new person to cook for! I was in the mood to cook scallops again after the great Charleston scallop sucess. But most of the recipes I found were of the same variety. But then Epicurious saved the day with this fantastic Nantucket Scallop Chowder recipe. It's like clam chowder, but with scallops and bacon. So, yeah, it's delicious. (Cook's note, I added corn, and next time I'll use my immersion blender and add in some more potatoes that have been all creamed together to add a little more of that chowder thickness... but it was still amazing.)

The finished product with some lovely paprika and bacon all over it


The best part of that meal, though, was the appetizer. I've made quite a few caprese salads in my day. My roommate in college, Elissa, taught me the beauty and deliciousness of them in college and I've loved them ever since. What's not to love about tomatoes, mozzarella and basil? But this caprese was the absolute best caprese I have ever had in my life. Everything was perfect. Heirloom tomatoes (on sale at Whole Foods), buffalo mozzarella, and Thai basil (a little spicier than regular basil). Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmm. I could probably eat this every day. And the heirloom tomatoes looked really cool too with their scalloped edges and such.




And what's the fun in having heirlooms if they aren't different colors? Bring on the yellow tomatoes!


The next couple dinners that week were just fun, easy dinners. I knew I'd have more cooking than even I would want to do on Thanksgiving, so I took a bit of a break.

Here's one of my favorite things, breakfast for dinner!


And here's a great chicken corn salad that's one of my go-tos whenever I see boston lettuce in the store. It's based off this recipe, though it's been modified a bit over time.




And last, but not least, was the turkey tortilla soup that I was forced into post-Thanksgiving. So, as you know, I didn't roast a huge turkey for thanksgiving. I did this Turkey Osso Bucco recipe instead. It turned out wonderfully. But I way overbought on the turkey parts. We just used the turkey breast pieces I'd gotten, and so I had these two gigantic turkey legs left over that I didn't know what to do with. (Those large dinosaur legs in the boiling pot of water in the Thanksgiving post.) So after some thought and worry, because I didn't want them to go to waste, we finally hit on a spin off chicken tortilla soup, just with turkey. I boiled those legs for almost an hour, forgetting that this was not the most efficient or effective way to deal with really large pieces of meat. But they finally got cooked, and they were shredded into a lot of spices and goodness and topped with tortilla chips. It worked out. But I'll try and not recreate that next year...


Phew! That's all of them! Have a great week! And for all you west-coasters out there, just know that we had the first legitimate snowfall of the year over here! So it's awesome for now, but I'll soon be rather jealous of you all. :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

It's baaaaaaaack! Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday has also returned from its hiatus. First a little news, I took the GRE yesterday and it went really, really well. The new computerized version lets you know your score right at the end of the test, so you don't have to wait around and wonder how you did. It was such a relief to see that score pop up on the screen and know all my hard work the last couple weeks has been worth it. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts for me, I know this is just another confirmation that God thinks I should go to grad school. On to the applications!

Anyway, in honor of the occasion we opened a bottle of Frank Family Blanc de Blancs Champagne to celebrate. (Not a cheap wine of the week by any stretch of the imagination, but I'll include a picture anyway)



But our real cheap wine this week was one my parents and Brad and I enjoyed at Fontana Grill and Wine Bar in our neighborhood. The name of the wine is actually "Reds", which is, obviously, a red blend. It's a blend of carignane, zinfandel, and petite sirah. At the restaurant the bottle was $22, which means in real life it's probably about $15. Still not crazy cheap, but it's a great deal. The wine was silky smooth, very velvety without being overpowering. My Dad and Brad and I really liked it, and my Mom, who normally doesn't like reds, even enjoyed her sip. We'll definitely be getting it next time at Fontana. (Great restaurant, by the way... my Mom and Brad and I had been there when she was in town last, like 6 weeks ago, and the waitress remembered us, very nice)

So if you see it on the menu someday, go for it! I can't find it online (you try searching for "Reds" as a wine and finding it...), so you don't get a picture, but try and remember it if you can.

Enjoy!