Monday, February 20, 2017

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rosé 2015, Côtes du Rhône, France - $10


This M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rosé 2015 is okay. It has a slightly bitter finish, which I don't prefer, especially because there are so many other great rosé wines around the same price point which are much more enjoyable.

I purchased this bottle at Costco for $10. I'm glad I just got one.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Chicken Chili - Recipe

This was my first try at making chicken chili. I really liked it! The original recipe is by Ina Garten and can be found here.

  • 4 cups chopped organic yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil
  • 1/8 cup minced organic garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 4 organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional toppings for serving: corn chips, grated cheddar, chopped onions,  sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt


  1. Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until translucent. 
  2. Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides - 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. 
  4. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. 
  5. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. 
  6. Add the chicken breasts.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove the chicken and let rest for 5 minutes. Shred the meat and return it to the chili for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve hot with optional toppings.

Makes 5 servings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Spicy Beef Soup with Udon - Recipe

I LOVE spicy beef udon soup, but ever since Noodle-ism in downtown Austin closed many years ago, I've just never been able to find the same version of this dish.

This recipe isn't the exact version that I loved, but it's pretty close. Serves 3.

  • 12 oz organic udon noodles, fresh or refrigerated
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons organic garlic, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon organice crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups/32 oz low sodium organic beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium organic soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sake, dry sherry, or mirin
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey
  • 3 cups sliced organic mushrooms (baby bella or Shitake, about 12 oz)
  • 2 organic carrots, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces top round beef, thinly sliced
  • 3⁄4 cup organic green onion, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 bunch organic bok choy, sliced into 1-inch pieces

  1. Add garlic, pepper, and broth to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add in mushrooms and carrots.
  4. Combine soy sauce, sake, and honey in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
  5. Stir in soy sauce mixture; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in beef.
  7. Cook 2 minutes or until beef loses its pink color.
  8. Stir in noodles, green onions, and bok choy.
  9. Serve immediately.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Adelsheim Pinot Noir Rosé 2015, Willamette Valley, OR - $15


This Adelsheim Pinot Noir Rosé 2015 tastes of strawberries and raspberries. It's light, dry, and good, but not my favorite. At $15 a bottle (Central Market), I'd rather spend my money on Domaine Houchart or Château de la Liquière.

Kind of a bummer, since I love their Pinot Noir.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mystery Red Wine Party

For anyone who wants to do a mystery wine tasting on a skinny table, this was a great setup!

Mystery wine parties are so much fun! To set one up, here are some things to consider:
  • Type of wine - Choosing one type is usually best so that you're not swinging wildly from bubbly to red back to white and then to rosé. Better yet, designate a specific varietal (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Malbec, etc.) - you'll learn a lot more trying to figure out the subtle (or not so subtle) differences between wines made from the same grape!
  • Price range - It's best to designate a price range for wines. Believe it or not, setting parameters helps guests feel a little more secure when they are choosing wines! The $15 price range seems to be a sweet spot - guests usually show up with wines between $12 and $20.
  • Pouring amount -Most guests not used to tasting wines regularly pour way too much for an actual tasting - usually a full glass (around 4 oz). 1 oz pouring spouts can help, but still that only yields approximately 25 pours per bottle. Help your guests by providing 1 oz pouring spouts or by pouring the wines yourself. The worst situation is when a guest serves herself/himself a full glass of wine only to discover that they hate it and have to pour it out. Encouraging guests to pour just an ounce for tasting is ideal - they can come back for more if they like the wine.
  • Butcher paper - Be sure you have your table or countertop completely covered in butcher paper so that you can protect it from damage and so that your guests will feel free to drink and comment as they please.
  • Markers - I've observed that permanent markers (e.g. Sharpies) in different colors are very popular, but you can provide any type of writing utensil you prefer.
  • Instructions - The fewer instructions the better. I've observed that it's best to model the type of behavior you would prefer at the wine tasting.
  • Bites - Food is so important to enhance the taste of wine and to also cushion the effects of alcohol. Having neutralizers between tastes is also helpful, but most guests won't differentiate between the two. Also, your guests most likely won't be professional tasters, so just provide enough delicious food to match with the wine and absorb the alcohol and don't worry too much about foods to neutralize the wines between tastes. Great foods for wine tastings are crackers, cheese, charcuterie, fruit, (strawberries, grapes), tapas, chips, olives, artichoke hearts, pickles, fresh veggies (carrots, celery, zucchini/squash, roasted eggplant, dolmas, spanakopita, meatballs, finger sandwiches, and desserts.
  • Glasses - Say no to plastic and any material that is not glass. Glass is essential for proper wine tasting. Dig out every glass or glass product you have. I don't care if it's a glass jar you're planning to recycle eventually - as long as it's not any other material. Wine tastes best in a neutral vessel, and the only truly neutral material for wine tasting is glass. Plastic overpowers wine, and metal (even stainless) reacts with it. Only taste wine from glass.
What are your tips for a successful wine tasting? Share them - I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2015, Cornas, France - $9


This Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2015 is a nice, light, simple wine with a dry finish. I'm expecting it to be food friendly. 

It is $9 a bottle at Costco. What a deal!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Seaside Cellars Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand - $11


This Seaside Cellars Pinot Noir 2014 is just wonderful! It's all about the dark fruit and cocoa, with a cocoa finish! Hubby will like this as it has barely any acid at all!

Such a value for just $11 a bottle at Costco!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Vino Rosé 2015, Washington - $12


This Vino Rosé 2015 by the Charles Smith Family is lovely! Light, bright, and dry, with a delicate light pink color and nice acid on the finish. It's 100% Sangiovese - makes sense!

I purchased this at Central Market for $12 a bottle. I'll be back for more!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Minestrone Soup - Recipe

This "copycat" Olive Garden Minestrone Soup recipe looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a try using as many organic and homemade ingredients as possible. This recipe makes 8 servings, and you can find the original version here.

  • 3 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup organic white, yellow, or sweet onion (about 1 small onion), minced
  • 1 organic zucchini, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup frozen organic green beans, chopped
  • 2 stalks organic celery, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons organic garlic (about 4 cloves), minced
  • 4 cups homemade organic vegetable broth, no salt added
  • 2 organic carrots, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans organic red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans organic white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1-1⁄2 teaspoons organic dried oregano
  • 1-1⁄2 teaspoons organic sea salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon organic ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon organic dried basil
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon organic dried thyme (or 5 branches fresh)
  • 3 cups fintered water
  • 4 cups fresh organic spinach
  • 1⁄2 cup small organic whole wheat shell pasta

  1. Heat the EVOO over medium heat in a large soup pot. Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes, or until onions begin to turn translucent. 
  2. Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, beans, carrot, hot water, and spices. 
  3. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. 
  4. Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency. 
  5. Serve hot with crusty bread.