Recipe: Zinful Orange Cranberry Sauce

If you’d been given the task of bringing the Cranberry Sauce to the family Thanksgiving table, this is definitely a recipe to try. The flavors of the red wine and cranberry, combined with a citrus-y touch of orange make this cranberry sauce recipe a simple and delicious addition to any style of holiday spread.ZinfulOrangeCranberrySauce

The recipe is incredibly simple.  Into a medium sauce pan, mix 1 cup of dark red wine (I used a deep, dark Zinfandel but you’re welcome to use whatever wine you like.), 1 cup of sugar, and most of a bag of fresh cranberries (saving 1/2 cup of berries to add at the end of the cooking process), the zest and juice of one navel orange, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook this mixture on medium until it starts to boil, then reduce and cook at a low simmer until the sauce becomes thick and all the berries have popped.

While the sauce is cooking, chop the saved 1/2 cup of berries to a fine dice.  Once the sauce is thoroughly cooked, stir in the diced berry pieces and remove from heat.  Move the completed sauce into a resealable container and store in the fridge until you need it.

If you only have a white wine on hand, feel free to use that in place of the Zinfandel in this recipe, or check out the other cranberry sauce recipes on this blog.  While I don’t remember ever enjoying cranberry sauce when I was younger, it has become one of my favorite sides for holiday meals.

Happy Holidays!

Recipe: Red Turkey Chili

Last night was windy, cold, and rainy here in Maryland, so my first impulse was to make chili.  This dish is one of my favorite things to make, especially in the fall and winter, because I can change out the recipe so easily.  I’ve made it many different ways, but last night’s was a much healthier rendition that still warmed us up nicely.  See if you and your family notice a difference if you try this version!

I started by heating a large stock pot on the stove and dropped in one diced onion with some olive oil. Once the onion was translucent, I added one package of ground turkey and took some time to let it all brown thoroughly.  To add a bit of smokiness to the finished product, I added a bit of bacon that I pulled from the freezer and gave that some time to cook. RedTurkeyChiliNOTE:  I had previously taken a one-pound package of bacon and sliced it into 8 portions.  Each portion went into a small freezer bag and I use a portion any time I want a little bacon flavor without having to thaw or cook an entire package.  I diced this portion so the bacon wasn’t discernible, but the flavor permeated the chili nicely.

I then added about a cup of diced sweet pepper (as you can see, I used a variety of green, red, orange, and yellow peppers) as well as a generous pour of red wine.  NOTE:  For this recipe, I had a bottle of red wine from Adams County, PA, but any good dry red wine is great to add, provided it’s a red wine that you like to drink.  Don’t ever add wine that you wouldn’t drink to a recipe, since cooking will concentrate the flavors from the wine.  

Once the vegetables and wine are incorporated into the chili, I then added one can each of light and dark red kidney beans (rinsed and drained) and one can of diced tomatoes (not drained).  I was now ready to add my spices to make this dinner into something memorable.

Since my family is not a fan of hot/spicy flavors, I used a conservative amount of dark chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprikaone teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, along with some salt and pepper.   At the very end, I drizzled in a bit of a prepared Balsamic Glaze, which really gave this dish a bit of zing without overpowering the traditional chili flavors.

I do hope that you’ll try your hand at this chili recipe.  Feel free to substitute other meats, beans, or vegetables as you like – that’s what makes each person’s recipe unique and special.  We thought this version had a great balanced flavor… exactly what I wanted on a cold, rainy fall evening.  This would be a great dish to share with friends and will freeze nicely, so feel free to double or even triple the recipe if you have the time (and freezer space)!

Recipe: Red Breakfast Hash

I’m sending this recipe to The Today Show for a segment by Joy Bauer on healthy apple recipes. The writing below is a bit different than my typical babbling about how to make something (I thought this might sound more professional) but I wanted to share this recipe with you all first.  It’s just so darn tasty… I hope you agree!

I make a Red Breakfast Hash that is a great brunch recipe – full of flavor and color!  I’ve put a few variations on my wine blog (www.fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com) but this is one of my favorite offerings.  The recipe can be increased or decreased as needed and it uses up any leftover baked potatoes or extra veggies left in your fridge, so it’s healthy AND a good value.RedBreakfastHash

Basic Ingredients for two:

*1 tablespoon butter

*one baked potato, diced

*one onion, diced

*one apple, cored and diced (I like to leave the skin on)

*Red Wine (I use whatever is in my fridge at the time)

*Salt/pepper to taste

*2 eggs (plus some white vinegar to poach eggs)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet and saute’ potato, onion, and apple until browned and a little crispy.
  2. Add red wine to your skillet and give your potato mixture some time to soak up all that flavor and color. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. While you’re working on #1 and #2, boil some water with some white vinegar added and drop the eggs in to poach just before your wine is totally absorbed.
  4. To serve, divide the red potato mixture onto two plates, top with the poached eggs and break the yolk to share that yummy goodness with the rest of your food.
  5. ENJOY!

I came up with this recipe while working at a winery in VA.  There’s an old joke that goes “what do you call a meal without wine?  Breakfast”, so I decided that I had to fix that problem.  This can be made healthier by using more of the onion/apple mixture, but I really like using a 1:1:1 ratio so the flavors are easily recognizable.  You can also add sautee’d peppers into the mix, if you’d like.  If you’re not a “poached egg fan”, feel free to fry the egg or simply use Fat-free egg substitute as your egg choice.

Note:  the photo mashup I included was created on Picmonkey, using iPhone photos of the food in various stages of creation.  I like to use these on my website to entice people into trying to make my recipes, since they tend to be fairly easy and enjoyable to make.

Recipe: Red Meatloaf & White Carrots

Dinner last night was one of those “comfort meals” that everyone talks about… meatloaf and mashed potatoes… classic, right?  I have a habit of taking classics and adding a new “wine’d up” spin on things, so this dinner was no different.  I was craving meatloaf and I had a small bag of baby carrots in the fridge, so I came up with a way to cook both dishes at the same time.  Brilliant, right?  Actually, it was more of a fluke the first time I tried it last week, but it really does work!RedMeatloaf&WhiteCarrots

I started out making the meatloaf.  I used one package ground turkey, two palms full of seasoned bread crumbs, some dark red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon that my neighbor had given me… yummy!), a hefty squirt of dijon mustard, some Montreal Steak Seasoning, an egg, and some parsley.   I mixed everything together until it was nicely combined (feel free to add a little more of the bread crumbs if it’s too moist).  Then I assembled the baking portion of the meal.

Using a loaf pan, I sprinkled a layer of baby carrots on the bottom of the pan and poured some white wine (I used the Chardonnay I had in the fridge) over top.  I then put a large piece of foil over the carrots, to create a new “loaf pan” for the meatloaf, and sprayed it with cooking spray.  I formed the meatloaf into the pan and made a bit of a well down the center.  Before I popped the pan into the 375 degree oven for an hour, I added a touch of ketchup on top for color and sweetness.

  DOnce the meatloaf had cooked for the hour, I removed it and let the pan sit for 5-7 minutes before lifting the meatloaf off the carrots and slicing the loaf for dinner.  The white wine had cooked the carrots to a perfect al dente’ and the meatloaf was dense and tasty.  Adding some homemade mashed potatoes was just the perfect accompaniment.

If you’re looking for a simple way to make comfort food, this really did it for me.  I hope you’ll try it and let me know how it turns out for you!  Enjoy….

Recipe: Red Mashed Potatoes

Yes, this is a strange way to use wine, but I was curious.  I had time on my hands, two potatoes, and some red wine… so what else was I to do, but to try out this recipe?RedMashedPotatoes

I started with two potatoes, a small amount of crushed garlic, about a cup of James River Cellars Hanover Red wine, and some herbs de provence.  I diced the potatoes into even cubes, added them along with the garlic and the herbs into a small saucepan, and then poured in the wine to almost cover the potatoes.  I cooked the potatoes in the wine until much of the wine had been absorbed.  NOTE: Next time, I think I’ll add a small amount of chicken stock along with the wine… the potatoes didn’t cook quite as much as I would have liked before the wine was absorbed.

Once the potatoes were ready, I mashed them until they were fairly smooth before adding a touch of margarine and some milk to turn this into a rather unique side dish.  NOTE: I wasn’t thrilled with the final purple color – next time, I think I’ll smash the potatoes and then just add a little butter, to allow the red and white colors to show through.  When the potatoes were totally mashed, they turned purple…. before that, they were really pretty.  I might even just toss the cooked potatoes with a small bit of olive oil and roast a touch so the colors don’t change.

Sometimes we all have “less than favorite” final results when trying out a recipe.  I wanted to post this so you know that we’re all in that same boat.  I have the occasional flop, just like everyone else… the idea is to learn from any mistakes and keep trying.

Enjoy the journey and keep cooking!

Recipe: Red Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan is one of those “easy/go-to” recipes for me.  Saute up some chicken, add sauce, top with cheese and serve with spaghetti noodles.  That’s the quickest way to explain this dish, but I love to add a little bit of flair when I’m cooking (almost always with wine), so my version is a little snazzier.

I start with two chicken breasts and roll them in a little egg white substitute before patting them down in some seasoned bread crumbs.  NOTE:  This is where you have some creative and quantity options – if you’re serving more than two people, use more chicken.  If you want to use Panko or cracker crumbs or even parmesan cheese at this point, feel free.  This is your meal, so enjoy using your favorite products.  RedChickenParm

Once the chicken is prepared, you need to prepare your pan.  Using a nice size saute pan, melt a mixture of a little butter and a bit of olive oil until it’s starting to sizzle a bit.  Place your chicken, breast side down, into the hot oil and allow the meat to cook until it lifts up easily (this will tell you when it’s done).  Flip the chicken and allow it to cook the same way on the other side.  Your chicken is now seared but not thoroughly cooked.

Since the “pretty” side is facing up, I like to leave the breasts alone at this point.  I add some red wine to give the chicken breasts some liquid to soak up and allow to cook thoroughly.  Note: Use as much or as little red wine as you’d like at this point.  You can also substitute chicken stock if you’d prefer, but I do love the depth added by the wine.  I usually use a favorite dry red wine, but I don’t mind using a lovely tasting Malbec or a Meritage if that’s what I’ve got in my cabinet. The idea to remember is to use a wine you’d like to drink because if you cook with wine, you’re concentrating the flavors and if you wouldn’t want to drink it, you definitely don’t want to cook with it.

After adding the wine, I also add some tomato sauce.  I love having the time to make my own sauce, but for the ease of apartment living at the moment, I use some jarred sauce, mix in the wine and the pan drippings, and pop the entire pan into the oven to allow it to bake (usually around 325 degrees or so) until we’re ready for dinner… just remember to leave enough time to cook your pasta so that’s ready when you want to plate your meal.  An extra note:  I have found if you pop a few ice cubes into the pasta when it’s finished cooking, your pasta won’t stick.  I’m not exactly sure why this happens, but it works well for us… better than adding oil or butter to keep the pasta from sticking to itself.

A few minutes before you’re ready to pull dinner out of the oven is when I like to top the chicken breasts with cheese. How much or how little is really up to you.  For the meal pictured, I placed a slice of provolone cheese each breast and then sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese to melt in the oven before serving the chicken and sauce over the pasta.

Enjoy personalizing this meal and making it your own… before long, you’ll have come up with your own favorite variation!

Recipe and a Bonus: Double Duty Red Pasta

Have you ever wondered what pasta looks like if you cook it entirely in red wine?  I was curious and, since I worked at a winery, had access to some good red wine that was left over from a festival.  This was my opportunity to cook some corkscrew pasta in red wine, so I ran with it!

I decided to make a very basic recipe using chicken breasts and corkscrew pasta.  I diced the breasts into thick 1″ cubes and sauteed them in a small amount of butter and a touch of olive oil until they were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  This recipe was going to be my first go-round, so I wanted everything to be very simple and “clean”, so I wasn’t playing with lots of extra flavors… I really wanted the taste of the wine to shine.

In a stockpot, I poured a bottle of red wine and a box of corkscrew pasta together and let the pasta cook in the wine until it was done to al dente’.  Since the pasta had cooked in the wine, there was a nice amount of starch in the cooking liquid, so I ladled some in with the chicken to create a bit of a sauce and added a pat of butter to gloss the sauce.  The only addition to the sauce after this was some salt and pepper to taste… it was delicious!  I served it with some lightly steamed broccoli for color, but the dinner was grand. Deep purple in color from the wine, everything looked and tasted just as I’d hoped.  Score one for the cook!DoubleDutyRedPasta

The bonus came when I realized that cooking an entire box of pasta made too much for two people to eat in one sitting.  A day or two later, my cousins came by unexpectedly and I needed to throw a quick, late night dinner together for them.  Since they weren’t looking for a three course meal, I decided to make a quick pasta salad to tide them over for the night.  I had rolls that I could slice up and serve as garlic toasts on the side, so I set about creating a new Leftover Recipe from the red pasta.

Since I had saved the red pasta in a plastic bag, I just had to add a few ingredients that I had on hand: frozen fresh corn off the cob, frozen peas, finely diced onions, one can of Veg-all, and some italian salad dressing that I had in the fridge.  I ran the frozen veggies under hot water in a colander so they would thaw and then dried them off before adding them to the pasta.  The canned veggies included carrots and potatoes, so that added just enough extra colors to the salad to make it look great.  I also had one extra cooked chicken breast that I diced fairly fine and added it into the pasta salad as well.  It was a great leftover meal that would have been terrific for a picnic or as a complete meal with a burger or steak.

Never discount what you’ve got in your fridge… remember that the most expensive ingredient is one that you throw away, so try and find a use, no matter how obscure, for anything you bring home.  Food can be a challenge but it can also be a lot of fun!  Enjoy creating your own bonus meals…

Recipe: Red Chicken and Pasta

I made a really delicious dinner last night that I want to share with you.  It was very simple, as most of my meals are in our current apartment situation, but the result was great.  Feel free to add a salad or green vegetable if you so desire… and bread or a dinner roll is always a great way to stretch your dinner.

I started by marinating two chicken breasts in a mixture of a lightly sweet red wine (Boordy’s Chambourcin Merlot blend could work here), a touch of olive oil, some garlic salt, honey, and herbs de provence.  I put everything into a plastic, resealable bag and left it in the fridge for the day.  NOTE:  I always place a plastic bag into a bowl if I’m leaving it in the fridge for the day so there’s no risk of mess to the fridge if anything happens.

I also reconstituted a half cup of dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes and sliced them to add to the pasta for flavor and color.  This was easily done by pouring some hot water over the dehydrated tomatoes and then allowing them time to plump up before slicing them.  Doing this early in the day (or even the night before) makes things so much simpler when you start cooking.

When I started cooking, I decided to toast some whole wheat pasta in garlic butter to add some flavor to the side portion of this meal. Rather than leaving the whole wheat pasta (spaghetti) whole, I chose to break it up into 2″ pieces so the garlic butter would have a better chance of toasting all the pasta.  Once this was done, I added a handful of bowtie pasta and the sliced sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture and allowed the pasta to pick up some of the flavor before adding a few ladles of chicken stock and some red wine to cook the pasta thoroughly. RedChicken&Pasta

I then began cooking the chicken.  I heated a touch of olive oil in a large skillet and sauteed the chicken breasts on both sides until they were nicely browned but not cooked through.  I added the leftover marinade from the plastic bag and stirred up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  At this point, I could have simply left the chicken on the stovetop to cook (with the lid on), but I’m not entirely comfortable with the electric stovetop that I’m currently using so I chose to alter the recipe in mid-stream.

I pushed the chicken off to the sides of the pan and added the pasta/liquid into the pan.  I then put the lid on the pan and popped it into a 350 degree oven to braise everything in the liquid until we were ready for dinner.  Just before serving, I added a Tablespoon of soft cheese to round out the flavors of the pastas, sun-dried tomatoes, *and* the chicken.  NOTE:  Some of the bowtie pasta didn’t get all the way into the liquid and ended up a little crunchy, which is NOT something my husband enjoys. Make sure to keep stirring the pasta throughout the cooking process to make sure that all the pasta is cooked thoroughly before serving.

I really liked this meal – the difference in pasta shapes was fun to me and the chicken was flavorful and yummy.  I’m not always sure how a meal is going to turn out when I start without any sort of structure, but this one was fun.  Next time, I think I will adjust the flavors a bit and make sure that all the pasta is thoroughly cooked before serving… otherwise, this was a good one to repeat.  The basics are all there… now to play with it…

Enjoy!

Recipe: Easy Wine’d Beef

Since the weather was so chilly last week, I was searching out a way to make something for dinner that would warm us up.  Stir-fry would have been tasty, but since I don’t have a good non-stick pan at my disposal yet (still in the apartment), I opted to make a faster version of a traditional Beef Bourguignon.  EasyWine'dBeef

I started with a piece of beef that was on sale at the local grocery store.  I’m not exactly sure what cut of beef I purchased… I just know that there was some great marbling of fat (for yummy flavor) and it was boneless.  I popped it in the freezer for a bit to make it easier to cube, then tossed the cubes of beef with some flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

In the meantime, I heated some olive oil in a large stock pot and then sauteed a diced onion, a little green pepper, and a few handfuls of celery until they were softened and fragrant.  I love the way the smells in a kitchen can permeate the entire apartment and make the place smell “homey”, don’t you?

Once everything had a nice browned glaze to it, I moved them over and added the flour/seasoned beef to the pot.  I added a little more fat (some olive oil and a little margarine) to start the browning process for the beef.  This took some time, but it was well worth it.  NOTE: You’re not trying to cook the beef the whole way through, you’re just browning it in preparation for the slow cooking it will do in the liquid you’ll add next.

Once the beef is nicely browned, you are now going to add liquid.  I like to add a half bottle of a delicious red wine (like James River Cellars Merlot, Meritage, Rad Red, or even Hanover Red).  I also add about a cup of water and a beef bouillon cube to add some depth of beef flavor to the meal.  Your seasonings can be added now – I like to use a bay leaf or two, some herbs de provence, some worchestershire sauce, and a glop of ketchup.  Mix everything together, pop a lid on the top, and put the entire pot into a preheated 300 degree oven for an hour or two.  Stir it occasionally, to make sure that you’re getting the right blend of thickness and flavors… feel free to add more liquid if it’s getting too dry and don’t forget to remove the bay leaf before serving.

When you get close to dinner time, choose and cook a vegetable and a pasta of your choice.  As you can see by the photo, I used spaghetti noodles and broccoli.  Since my pantry is limited at the moment, I have an abundance of spaghetti, so I just broke the noodles in half and cooked them in salted water.  I then put a small bag of broccoli into the microwave and cooked it until it was bright green and cooked through.  I love serving this meal with wide egg noodles, but those didn’t make the cut when I was choosing what to bring to the apartment… feel free to use whatever pasta (or even a baked potato) you and your family like best.

I hope my recipes give you some ideas of meals you can make for your family, even if you don’t have a lot of “extras” at your disposal.  Play with what you’ve got on hand, pick up one or two essentials, and you can make a delicious dinner at home instead of spending extra money on dining out every night.  I have a hard time going to a restaurant and ordering something that I know I am able to make at home.  While I believe that going out should be a special experience, I do believe that staying in and making dinner for your family can bring about some pretty wonderful satisfaction as well.  It’s all in how you frame the experience.

Wishing you fun as you re-frame your own cooking experiences with your family!

 

 

Recipe: Wine’d Up Meatloaf

Since I’m trying to make healthy recipes that also count as comfort foods and tasty dinners, this recipe ended up as a triple winner.  My husband actually went back for seconds and I had another serving for breakfast… that, for me, makes this dinner even better.  Aren’t we always looking for a new and unique meatloaf recipe?  This one definitely earned a gold star in my book.WinedUpMeatloaf

I started with a package of ground turkey.  NOTE: I like using ground turkey instead of ground beef in most of my recipes because I think it takes flavors better and more thoroughly than beef… but you should feel free to use whatever sort of ground meat you like best.  I placed the thawed meat in a bowl and added a palmful of parmesan cheese, a half an onion (diced), 1/3 an apple (diced), two cloves of garlic (diced fine), a big squirt of horseradish mustard, some red wine (I love using James River Cellars’ Rad Red or Boordy’s Petite Cabernet for this sort of dish), and seasonings (I used herbs de provence and salt/pepper).  I also needed some breadcrumbs, and I didn’t have any on hand, so I diced four pieces of toast and added that to the mixture as well.  Once everything was in my bowl, I gently blended it all together with my hands… best tools ever!

I like to change up how I form meatloaf patties from time to time, but I decided that I’d go “old school” and just bake this recipe in a traditional loaf pan.  Since I didn’t have ketchup in the fridge (I’m going to have to get some at the store the next time I go), I spooned a bit of spaghetti sauce over the top of my meatloaf and then sprinkled it with a bit of sugar to replicate the taste of ketchup.  Once baked (in a 375 degree oven for an hour), I found this dish to be thoroughly cooked, yet still moist enough to be flavorful.  I loved it.

Meatloaf is a fun recipe to use when you’re feeling creative.  I don’t always use horseradish mustard… I rarely use apple… it’s just a great way to play with different ingredients to make a delicious meal.  Try it sometime and let me know what you think… It’s fun!