Recipe: Petit Goulash

I’ve been told that this isn’t really a goulash recipe, but since that’s what my husband called it, that’s what I’m going to call it as well.  This was a two-pot dinner… one medium pot for the pasta and one large skillet to brown the meat and mix everything together.  Simple and comforting… that’s what I was craving last week when the snow hit our area.

PetitGoulash

I started by dicing together a large onion and half a large green pepper and sautéing them together in a pat of butter.  Once the vegetables were browned, I added a package of ground turkey and cooked this until the meat was thoroughly browned.  To this mixture, I added a healthy pour of a dark Petit Verdot and cooked the meat mixture until the wine had been thoroughly absorbed.   The last “flavor addition” was a can of petit diced tomatoes, which added some great color to the dish.

While I was cooking the meat, I started cooking a pot of water with jumbo elbow macaroni and salt.  Once the pasta was cooked, I drained it and added it into the large skillet and stirred everything together, seasoning with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika.  This recipe is very similar to the mazetti that my mother-in-law makes (which is absolutely delicious) and was a huge hit with my family.  The flavors melded together nicely and the dish was hearty enough to be filling without adding bread on the side.  A simple green salad would have been a nice addition, but not totally necessary.

Enjoy playing with this recipe if you choose to make it for your family.  A wonderful Hungarian smoked paprika would be fabulous – Think  I might be able to talk my local grocer into stocking this spice if I whine about it enough?  Have fun making your own family’s favorite “goulash”… after all, you’re creating something for those you love.  What could be wrong about that?  Enjoy!

Advertisements

Recipe: Petit Veggie Pizza

Since the winery is going to have a Petit Verdot Vertical weekend soon, I’ve been working on creating some new recipes that utilize this amazing wine.  This recipe is one of the creations I made when trying to come up with something that’s vegetarian.  You could easily add some sort of protein as a topping, but I thought this was really tasty by itself.  PetitVeggiePizza

I started with the whole-wheat pizza dough recipe that you can find on my blog.  If you have a pizza dough recipe you like, by all means, use that one.  If you don’t want to be bothered with making your own pizza dough, feel free to stop by your favorite pizza place and ask them for some dough – many are happy to sell you enough dough for a small/medium/large pizza.  I really wanted to know the nutritional analysis for the dough, so the recipe I used worked well for me.

Once I stretched out the dough to the size I wanted for my pizza, I started working on my vegetarian topping.  In this instance, I used Gunther’s Spicy Black Bean Dip (I had about 1/2 cup left over in my fridge), some salsa, a handful of frozen corn, some taco seasoning, and some James River Cellars’ Petit Verdot red wine.  After mixing this together, I realized that I needed something to give it more volume, so I grated one small green zucchini into the salsa mixture (see the middle photo on the left).  This is what I used as my base/topping for my veggie pizza.  I spread it over the entire crust and then topped it with a cup of pizza cheese before popping it into a 425-degree pre-heated oven to bake.

As easy as this sounds, it was just as delicious.  The zucchini gave enough volume to the pizza so my dinner was very satisfying as well as being really tasty.  Pizza is one of those meals where I could put almost anything on a crust and I can be happy, so this was a fun meal.  If you’re getting bored with your own meal planning, try putting something unconventional on a pizza crust…. you might find that you’ve created a new favorite dinner.

Have fun being creative!

Recipe: Petit Venison Chili

I confess…. I was a slacker over Christmas break and didn’t post any new recipes.  I made a few fun things that I’ll post ASAP, but spending time with my kids ended up taking precedence.   Since the winery has a Chili Cook-off coming up this weekend, I had chili on my mind when it was so rainy yesterday, so this recipe just came together for me.  As with all my recipes, I used “The Force” with regards to the amounts of spices and such, but this is a fairly standard way for me to make chili.  I do alter the meats, types of beans, and amounts of spices at times, but this is a workable recipe to use as a jumping off point if you have never made chili before.

PetitVenisonChili

I start with 2 onions, 2 spoons of garlic, and 1 large green pepper, diced well.  I saute them in a little bit of olive oil until they got slightly toasty and then added one pound of ground venison.  (Note:  I got the venison from a friend… I would have used a package of ground turkey if I hadn’t had the venison to use.)  Once the venison is thoroughly cooked, I add 1/2 cup of James River Cellars’ Petit Verdot red wine.  This wine is smoky and deep… a great pairing with the lean game meat in this dish.  Take your time here…. you want to allow time for the wine to be totally absorbed by the meat and vegetables before moving forward in the recipe.

Once the wine is totally incorporated, you can add the tomato/bean side of the chili.  I use one 28-oz can crushed tomatoes and four 15-oz cans of beans, undrained. For this recipe, I used one can each of pinto, light kidney, dark kidney, and white cannellini beans. I also like to add one 6-oz can tomato paste to thicken the chili.

Once your beans and tomato products are incorporated into your chili, it’s time to think about spices and seasonings.  I like to add a variation of spices… typically a blending of salt, garlic salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, and a touch of honey or a little sugar.  I used varying amounts of these spices, tasting the chili after incorporating each flavor until it all meshed well and tasted the way my family likes.

I know many people who like to add chipotle seasonings, hot sauce, or spicy peppers, but since my family isn’t fond of too much heat, this is the way we like our chili to taste.  There are a multitude of “official” recipes for chili – some have specific ingredients while others simply give you generic ideas of what “should” be used.  Lots of people also have accompaniments that they like to have with their chili… corn muffins, cornbread, saltines, spaghetti noodles, cheese, onions… the list can be endless.    No matter what you use, or how you make it, enjoy the process of making chili for your own family.  What you choose to use in your chili is completely appropriate – as long as it’s what you and your family enjoy, that’s all that matters, right?

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Recipe: Chicken Chardonel Cassoulet

I truly love having an afternoon when I have time to make a hearty, warming, delicious dinner.  I love to start with a few ingredients and turn them into something that just screams “Fall” to me and my family.  This was just such a meal. I make a lot of cassoulets, but this one turned out really well… so well that I wish I had doubled the recipe so I could have it for another few meals.

Tradition dictates that a “Cassoulet” is a French dish made with meat and beans.  It’s actually named after the slanted-side earthenware bowl (called a Cassolein which it is to be cooked.  I don’t own such a cooking vessel, so I use a large heavy stockpot that will stand up to some good old-fashioned cooking.  I don’t subscribe to the notion that you have to purchase a ton of different individual utensils to make a good meal.  It’s not necessarily about the final presentation… it’s about the care and love that goes into anything you make.  I realize that this can sound pretty hokey, but it’s honestly how I approach cooking in general.

This recipe was fairly simple and came together extremely well.  I used the following ingredients:  olive oil, one package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, one thin slice of ham steak (thinly diced),  2 cans of cannellini beans (I used one can of pinto beans and one can of cannellini beans, because that’s what I had on hand), well-chopped Mirepoix (a mixture of carrots, celery, and onion…. don’t let the “big word” bother you), 2 bay leaves, salt/pepper, a can of chicken broth, a can of James River Cellars’ Chardonel, 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin puree, and 1/4 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt.

NOTE:  As you may know (if you read this blog at all), I cook using “The Force”.  I look at my fridge and pantry when cooking and adjust my ingredients based on what I have available or what might look good to me at any given moment.  This was one of those recipes.  If you’re starting with a recipe (especially one of *my* recipes), feel free to add or subtract ingredients to tailor the meal to your family’s taste preference or pantry contents.ChickenChardonelCassoulet

I started with a heavy, rounded stockpot.  I added some olive oil and sauteed the diced ham until it was fairly crispy and the fat had rendered out of the ham.  Using a slotted spoon, I removed the ham and added the mirepoix to saute and soften for a few minutes before popping in the chicken thighs and allowing them to brown a bit.  The meat is going to cook for an hour or two, so don’t worry about whether it’s browned long enough… you simply want the color on the meat before adding in the rest of the ingredients.  Once the chicken and veggies were sauteed (see top left hand photo), I replaced the ham into this mixture and started layering everything into the pot.

The middle photo on the left shows the cassoulet after I added the can of pinto beans (WITH liquid), can of cannellini beans (WITH liquid), can of white wine (James River Cellars’ Chardonel), can of broth, and seasonings.  I put the lid on the pot and allowed everything to cook together for an hour before starting to adjust seasonings.

The bottom photos show the cassoulet after I added a bit of pumpkin puree.  I realize that this is a strange ingredient to add to a cassoulet, but (as I keep saying) it was in my fridge and I knew that this small amount would thicken the sauce a bit without changing the flavor significantly.  I could have made a roux (butter and flour) and slowly added it to thicken the sauce, but I really felt that would have thickened the cassoulet too much.  It’s really up to you as to how you thicken (or not thicken) your meal… that’s the glory that *is* cooking… make it your own!  My final addition was a huge spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of non-fat plain Greek yogurt.  I could easily have used sour cream, but I try to always have Greek yogurt on hand for just such an occasion.   I absolutely could have left the yogurt out at this point, but adding that light touch really finished the cassoulet and made it special.

That’s a cassoulet, in a nutshell.  Not too hard, right?  This recipe is something that can provide you and your family with a filling, one-pot meal that only needs some crusty bread on the side to complete your dinner.  I hope you’ll try your hand at making this recipe… and making it your own… you may even find a new family favorite!

 

Recipe: Easy Chicken Divan

I was recently tasked with using our new Cabernet Franc Blanc wine (James River Cellars’ 2012 Montpelier) in a recipe and this fabulously easy recipe was the result.  It uses both Montpelier wine AND Monterey  Jack cheese in a sauce that has it’s beginnings in my childhood, so for me, this was a win-win recipe.  I hope you find it that way as well!

EasyChickenDivan

I started with a leftover chicken carcass that I pulled from the freezer.  Typically, I’ll purchase a roasted chicken from our local grocery store and cut out the breast meat to use in a meal early in the week.  Once the white meat is gone, I like to bag up the chicken remains and pop it in the freezer for just such an occasion.  While the original recipe called for a can of cream of mushroom soup, I wanted to make my version a little healthier, so I put the frozen chicken into a large stock pot with about 2 inches of water and set it to a low simmer until the chicken was soft and easy to pick off the bone.  Most of what was left on the bone was dark meat, which suited me just fine.  I transferred all the meat into a large casserole dish and tossed the bones in the trash.   I quickly cooked a bag of broccoli florets in the microwave and layered them on top of the chicken in the dish.  Now to make the sauce that would pull everything together.

The remaining liquid in the pot had a deep chicken broth smell and taste, so that was the beginning of my sauce.  I added one pat of butter and a few spoons full of flour and whisked everything together until the flour had been thoroughly cooked and all lumps were gone.   I slowly introduced the Montpelier wine (you could certainly use a white wine, but a lightly dry rose’ would handle the flavors a bit better, in my opinion) and added a handful of Monterey Jack cheese, whisking again until the cheese melted nicely and the wine was thoroughly incorporated.  I also added a few spoons of Miracle Whip Lite and a generous amount of curry powder.  NOTE: I like to sweet/tangy addition of Miracle Whip in this recipe, so if you really want to use traditional mayonnaise, I would suggest adding a touch of sugar.  Once your sauce is smooth, creamy, and tasty (you HAVE to taste-test the sauce to make sure your flavors are combined well), pour the sauce over the chicken/broccoli in your casserole dish.

Using the same stock pot that you used to warm your chicken (and then make your sauce) add some butter, olive oil, salt, crushed garlic, and pepper.  Allow the seasonings to blend over medium heat and then toss in a few hands full of bread crumbs.  Toast the bread crumbs until they have soaked up the seasoned butter/oil mixture and become a bit crispy.  Layer them on top of your casserole dish and plan to bake your final dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

You can absolutely plan to serve this with a simple green salad and some bread, but we love it just by itself.  The flavors combined nicely and everything tasted clean and fresh.  While it reminded me of my Aunt Treva’s Chicken Divan, it seemed a little healthier to me… maybe part of that is mental, but I do know that I was using fresh ingredients so I did feel better about how I made this version.

Try it with your own favorite childhood recipe… maybe you’ll come up with an updated recipe of your own!

Recipe: Stephanie’s French Toast Bites with Blueberry Wine Sauce

I have to start this recipe by saying that I love breakfast foods.  Eggs Benedict… pancakes… french toast… hash browns… sausage… waffles… bacon… you get the picture.  I could have breakfast-for-dinner at least once a week (although my husband much prefers to limit breakfast foods to “breakfast/brunch time”).  Because of this love affair I have with breakfast, I enjoy creating different sorts of recipes that showcase some of my favorite options, especially when I can incorporate wine into the mix.  The best of both worlds, right?

This recipe was created for my dear friend, Stephanie, who’s having a difficult time eating full-size servings of food these days.  To tempt her into eating breakfast one day, I came up with the idea of having small crouton-size bites of french toast that she could eat with her fingers or dip into a fruity sauce.  It was a big success, so I thought I would share this special recipe with everyone here.  I’ve named this recipe in her honor because without her, I wouldn’t have thought to make this delicious breakfast dish in such a unique manner.

I started by cutting up a few slices of whole wheat bread into bite-sized cubes.  Using my memory, I blended an egg (you can absolutely use egg substitute if you prefer), some milk (I like using almond milk if that’s on hand), some white wine (I used Vidal Blanc last time but use whatever you may have in your fridge… just decrease the amount of sugar if you’re using a sweeter wine), a sprinkling of sugar (as desired), a touch of vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon (to taste).  Using a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture until it’s just becoming frothy.  I wanted something that would taste light, so I opted to whip the mixture until it was light and airy.  I then tossed the bread cubes in the egg mixture until all the cubes were soaked with the egg-y-yumminess.  When you’re ready to cook the toast bites, melt a pat of butter (and a touch of olive oil if you’d like) and transferred the toast bites to a very warm saute pan to cook.  Note: don’t crowd the pan, so feel free to do this in two sections if necessary.  

Stephanie'sFrenchToastBites

In the meantime, using a small saute pan (or sauce pan), melt a pat of butter and add a handful of blueberries,  Feel free to use whatever berries you have on hand or prefer.  We had quarts of blueberries in the fridge, so they were the natural choice when I was creating the sauce to go along with these toast bites.  As the berries begin to warm and pop open, add some red wine (I went around the pan twice with a lovely Pinot Noir… again, because that’s what was in the fridge.  If I’d had a different red wine available, I might have changed to that one instead.  Use what you have and what you enjoy!) sprinkle some sugar to sweeten the sauce, and I decided to add a dash of cinnamon, to mirror the taste from the french toast bites themselves.  Allow the sauce to cook until it reduces and thickens.  If it gets too thick, add a little more wine… if it’s not thick enough, feel free to add a little more sugar.  This is a Use The Force sort of recipe… make it your own!

You’ll notice that there are also some bites of sausage on the serving plate in the photo – we had turkey sausage that needed to be used (and it was a good source of protein), so I browned the sausage until it was crispy and delicious.  It’s not a prerequisite… just another flavor to temp my dear friend into eating more than she had planned.

Sometimes, you’ll find that you need to expand your horizons when it comes to feeding your loved ones.  If someone isn’t feeling particularly well, feel free to play with your recipe to tempt them into eating something tasty and good for them.  It’s not about who’s doing the cooking or even about how they’re cooking… it’s about the love that is conveyed by the simple act of feeding people.

As you cook, may you enjoy the challenge and turn it into an expression of love.  That’s what it’s all about…

Recipe: Chardonnay Broccoli Buds

Hey, James River Cellars’ Wine Club Members!  Are you looking for an interesting recipe that uses the Stainless-Steel Chardonnay that you got at tonight’s release party?  You’re in luck… I’ve got just the thing… Chardonnay Broccoli Buds.  It’s a recipe that can be either an appetizer or side dish (cold OR roasted).  YUM!

ChardonnayBroccoliBuds

I first had this recipe as a child, during Sunday picnics at summer camp with relatives and friends.  I had never had broccoli as a cold appetizer before and it was delicious… crisp, tangy, and flavorful.  I have made this recipe many times throughout my adulthood but it always seemed a bit too oily, so I decided to remake it.

Since I used an actual recipe to start, it’s only fair that I give you the new recipe as one with specific ingredients (but please realize that I’ll always alter things slightly when I remake a recipe, so even these are guidelines).

Start by mixing 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup oil (I used canola oil), 1/2 cup James River Cellars’ Chardonnay, 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon dried dill, 1/3 Tablespoon accent, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt together in a large resealable bowl or resealable plastic bag.  Add 1 1/2 to 2 bags fresh broccoli florets and toss well.  Allow broccoli to marinate for 24-48 hours, re-tossing in the dressing occasionally.  Once the vinaigrette has thoroughly flavored the broccoli, they can be served cold (drained of any access vinaigrette) as seen in the left photo OR drained and roasted in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes as seen in the right photo.

I hope you and your family enjoy this side dish/appetizer as much as I always do… it reminds me of the magical summers I spent in PA as a child and it makes me happy.  I hope it becomes a recipe that makes you happy as well!

Enjoy… from my childhood and family to yours!