Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

Hello again all!

This week's cheap wine(s) of the week comes from the spring wine tasting night we hosted on Friday. We tasted a lineup of eight different wines, and most of them were good, with the two Chards we had being notable exceptions.

Here was the list:

1) 2008 Cortijo Viura
2) 2008 Kilda Unoaked Chardonnay
3) 2007 Tulip Hill Oaked Chardonnay
4) 2008 Montinore Estate Muller-Thurgau
5) 2008 Chalone Pinot Noir
6) 2007 The Paradise Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
7) 2005 Zoom Vaca Mountain Vineyard Zinfandel
8) NV Orfila Tawny Port

Here they are, all bagged and ready to taste.

So my favorite white of the night was the Viura. I've never had this varietal before, and when I went to Lush Wine and Spirits to pick up the bottles for the night, I asked them for an Albarino, which they didn't have. But they suggested this instead, and it was really good. Very light, a little mineral-y, nice a smooth going down. I was a big fan. I'll definitely try this varietal again if I run across it. And this particular one, at $10 even, was a great deal and deserving of Cheap Wine of the Week status.

My favorite red of the night, and my favorite wine overall, was the Zoom Zinfandel. I got to cheat a little bit and try this at Lush when I was buying all the wines, so I knew how good it was going to be beforehand. In fact, I considered not even putting this in the tasting and keeping it for Brad and I, but I decided our friends deserved to taste the goodness too. At $15, it's a little steep for a truly cheap wine, but oh man was it worth every penny. Rich and velvety, smooth as all get out, strong flavors but not overpowering, yummy! And it tasted like Napa, so that was lovely. 

This is how much I liked it:

So there you have it. Oh, and a special shout-out to Orfila's Tawny Port. Though it's not my favorite style of wine in the world, three out of the ten people liked it best at the table. 

Enjoy, friends!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

This week's wine is a true cheap wine of the week. It's really cheap ($6.99!) and it was quite good. I don't expect all of the body I love in wine to be there in a wine that's this cost-conscious, so I wasn't disappointed that this wine was a little light. But it had a lot of structure and some good fruit. And it's made out of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese, three of my favorite grapes.

It's the 2007 Columbia Crest Two Vines Vineyard 10 Red Wine (long name, I know). And I found it on sale at Whole Foods last Friday.

We had it with pizza, very unsophisticated, but it went quite nicely. And it's not always easy to pair pizza with wine. Sometimes the cheesy-ness is overwhelming. But this was great. Good find, good buy, good glass of wine.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weekly Recipe Wrap-Up

Here's the food I've managed to cook over the last week or so. I've had this random temp job where I work at the mall handing out giftcards for a promotion they're doing, and it goes from 4:45 - 9:15 every day, so I haven't exactly been keeping up with the cooking lately. But I'm really grateful God's provided the job for me, so if dinner is lacking, so be it.

Anyways... here's a few of the things that we've eaten recently.

A while back, I wanted something that was completely comfort food. Brad was waiting (as he is still) for a letter from grad school, and some other circumstances had just kinda gotten us down. And since there was nothing I could do other than pray, which I know is not nothing, but still... I made chicken pot pie.

I've never made one, but there was nothing else I could think of that said "comfort food" to me quite as much. I found the recipe here, and it was amazing. I added some corn instead of peas, and didn't have any celery seed, so I left it out. Listening to the comments on the page, I also added some poultry seasoning to the sauce and one-and-a-halved the sauce portion. It turned out great. Tons of yummy veggies, and lots of homestyle goodness.

Another night, I wanted something easy, but full of flavor. In our house, we usually need some protein in our dinners. And I find that sausages are always a really easy go-to meat, because they're so easy to cook. For this dinner, I had some roasted red pepper chicken sausages from Whole Foods that I needed to use, and I had some piquillo peppers waiting in the pantry. (Awesome sweet but a little spicy peppers, if you've never used them). I found this recipe on epicurious that involved both ingredients, and the end result was great. 

Check out those piquillos... mmmm....

On another night, I wanted to find something really healthy, but really good for us to eat. I liked the idea of a chicken soup, but that gets a little boring. This recipe I found from Emeril combines plain ol' chicken soup with a ton of veggies and goodness. 

Look at all that, garbanzo beans, spinach, red and green peppers, onion, celery, carrots eggplant, bay leaves, garlic... it's rather awesome. 

Then throw in some roasted chicken, some chicken stock, and some rice, and you have yourself some really yummy, and really nutritious, soup.

One more recipe of the week was something that has become a bit of a go-to for me. I know it well enough that I can shop for it at the grocery store without writing down the ingredients, so that's something. It's a shrimp scampi recipe I found a few years ago that I really like. Nowadays, I cut down on the butter and add more olive oil. And this particular night I had some leftover basil, so I chopped that up into it too. But it's a great, flavorful, simple dish. And it's one I'm quite fond of. Cook's note, we only eat about half of the recipe at a time, it makes a lot of pasta.

And that's it from the Carters for now! Next week, plans for another wine tasting night with friends. Should be a good time!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cheap Wine of the Week Wednesday

Hello from snowy Utah!

Ski update, really quickly... we're getting a ton of snow and so it's awesome conditions. I skied through deep powder for the first time today, and it's like skiing on pillows. So much fun! Another good thing, I've broken nothing, concussed nothing, sprained nothing, and only jammed a finger so far. Brad and his Dad have been able to ski through a ton of trees and jump off cliffs and such as well. They enjoyed it. Lori and I enjoyed not doing it.

One of the perks of staying at the lodge here is that they have a wine and cheese night on Monday nights. So, naturally, we all went and ate appetizers and cheese for dinner. We also got to sample some wines that they had available for us. Luckily, one of them was pretty good. Also luckily, it's cheap. So... we have this week's winner!

The 2006 Wishing Tree Shiraz was a very nice surprise. Looking around the internet, it seems that it retails for around $11.99.

It comes under screw-cap, which a lot of Australian wines do, but as long as you're drinking this when you buy it, there's no problem with that. The wine was a little light, for a shiraz, but had a lot of good fruit flavors and some nice earthiness. It was, by far, my favorite of the reds I tried here. I've never seen it anywhere, although I've never looked. And the label above is slightly misleading. The bottle is more black and white and graphic in person. So, if you can find it, it's worth drinking! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We Drank No Good Cheap Wine This Week

As previously mentioned, we've really cut back on the amount on alcohol we're drinking, and it really puts a cramp in the Cheap Wine of the Week postings. But I'm going to stick with the alcohol-related theme and share a margarita recipe I've come up with since moving here.

Now, I really like margaritas. They, or variations on their theme, are definitely my favorite type of mixed drink. They don't beat wine out of its top drink spot, since they're super-caloric and super-filling, but I'm still a big fan. However, I've never been able to make one that was that great at home using the basic tequila + lime + triple sec method. And mixes always turn out mix-tasting. So a while ago I was trying to figure out a new mixing method for a drink. Actually I was trying to find a mixed drink that involved cranberry juice and ginger ale, two things we have in constant supply around our apt. And I was hoping for that something to include tequila, since I like the taste of it so much more than other liquors.

But the great grand internet turned up nothing involving those three ingredients. So I made something up all by myself. And since I made it, I'm naming it. And it shall henceforth be called the Carterita. Ingenious, I know.

Well, here's the secret recipe:

2 parts tequila
2 parts cranberry juice (exclusively Ocean Spray, if Brad's drinking it)
1 part freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 part triple sec/Grand Marnier/Cointreau
shake to combine with ice, pour into glass over ice
fill with ginger ale, to taste

And here's the beauty itself, in action being enjoyed with the Caldo de Cameron last week (which, if I haven't mentioned, is amazing). The background is a puzzle I did of a Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass saguaro window, which can be purchased here.

So if you also have a bunch of cranberry and ginger ale lying around, and if you've also got a hankering for a new yummy margarita recipe, then here you go! Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Recipe Wrap-Up, finally

It's been a good couple weeks since the last legit recipe wrap-up. We've been all over the place lately and it's meant I haven't been around to cook anything for a while. But when I have managed to get to the stove, I've made it worth our while. Here's a random recap of the last weeks in food for the Carters.

First a winter-y breakfast for myself. Brad's not really an egg person. Or rather, he is, but only at certain times. Whereas I could be an egg person every day if they magically cooked themselves. But when I've got some time/energy in the morning, I like to make yummy egg creations. And this is my favorite as far as flavor and ease. It's eggs, scrambled with milk, garlic salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence sprinkled in. The great thing about the herbs is that it gives you a ton of flavor, which means I never miss having cheese in them.

On the very same day in which I cooked that breakfast, I also cooked lunch and dinner. This is a rarity. In fact, it's possible it's never happened before. I forgot to take lunch pictures (grilled turkey sandwich on wheat bread with aged cheddar toasted onto them... not groundbreaking, but really yummy). But I did manage to remember dinner. I found this Three Mushroom Rigatoni recipe from Rachael Ray that looked good. I wanted something mushroom-y so I thought this would cover that nicely.

It looked and smelled amazing while it was cooking, all those mushrooms simmering away.

But, the final product was just good. It wasn't great. The shitake and rosemary combination gave off a little too much earthy flavor that didn't get balanced out by much fat or richness in the rest of the dish. Also, I used really, really cheap wine to reduce with, so that may have lessened the flavor quotient. Again, it wasn't bad... it just won't be a favorite.

However, the next two recipes may just end up being all-time favorites. In accordance with my attempt to possibly start experimenting with red meat, I decided to just go for it and cook us up some prime rib. Why not, right? Brad wanted a meal with cooked carrots and potatoes, so I was going to do roast chicken, But looking through recipes, I came across this roasted prime rib with carrots and potatoes and thought, let's see how it goes.

The thing that kicked this recipe over the edge was the fact that it's called Garlic Schmeared Prime Rib. I mean, how could you go wrong? I cut up some potatoes and carrots (using my hand dandy potato scrubbing gloves courtesy of Nana and Granddad from Christmas... which can be purchased here, or here)

I pureed a ton of garlic cloves with some leftover rosemary from the mushroom recipe and olive oil. "Schmeared" it all over the meat (which was not, in fact prime rib, it was some other cut of beef with a rib in it that was much less expensive, but thinner, so I cut the roasting time by about half, and I roasted the veggies a little bit before I put the meat in.)

And viola! Pretty soon, gorgeous yummy roasted carrots and potatoes, with some crunchy snap peas thrown in the mix. And some surprisingly great tasting, not chewy rib thing on top of them sliced thinly and ready to go! I must say, it was really good. Of course, anything with all that garlic thrown over it would be pretty good, but this did inch me closer to the red meat idea for sure.

And for the piece de resistance of this group of recipes... a mexican shrimp soup (courtesy of Michi's facebook suggestion when I pondered out loud as to whether to make fajitas, soup, or something with shrimp in it). Or, as it's more properly called Caldo de Camaron. I scoured the internet for a good mexican shrimp soup recipe, and this one won because of it's easy-to-make-yet-actually-authentic-sounding shrimp stock portion of the recipe. You peel the shrimp, and then boil the peels in chicken broth. When it was done cooking, I finally understood one of the myriad smells that always abound in my favorite taco shops. It's fish stock. And this is how I make one.

And then you throw in this pureed goodness of onions and garlic and serranos and tomatoes and cook it down to mush, and then you add in the stock and some potato pieces and then the shrimp and cook them almost enough. Then throw some lime on the side and some cilantro and avocado on top. And really, my friends, you have an incredibly delicious soup. One of my favorite things I've ever made. Ever. In my life. I wish I could eat it all the time.

There it is. The goodness itself. I think you should all carve out an hour of dinner time this week and make this. And eat it. You may want to double the recipe. It's amazing. And actually, pretty dang good for you too. So, enjoy that. And I'll salivate over here some more while I think about it.