"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Who Says Chicken Is Boring? This Portuguese Chicken Dish Is Anything But!

Today's post is about a little bit of planning ahead and a lot of flavorful ingredients packed into a pot to enjoy a delicious weeknight meal for your family at the end of a long, hard day at work.

Today, I had one of those non-stop, never-ending, adrenaline-rush types of days.  Anyone with small kids knows that the house may not always be the most peaceful place to be after you've had a crazy day at work.  But, I usually find that my evening's tempo changes during the first five minutes when I walk into the door.  No matter how bad of a day I have had, the reception I get form my children usually changes my mood instantly.  

Tonight, when I pulled into the garage, I was welcomed by the most amazing aromas emanating from fresh herbs (such as Bay leaves and parsley), pearl onions and garlic, sweet paprika, Tawny Port, and dijon mustard.  Then, I opened the door, my three little kittens gave me the best welcome hugs that any mom could ask for.  I then lifted off the foil covering the platter of the most enticingly beautiful-looking chicken.  I, of course, took a little taste.  I literally felt that I somehow had been transported into heaven on earth.  In my mouth was the most delicious chichen dish that I have ever tasted.  This was courtesy of a Bon Appetit recipe that I found over the weekend: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/02/portuguese_chicken

I prepared all the ingredients this morning before I went to work.  I put everything in a dutch oven pot and placed the pot in the refrigerator. Our fabulous Au Pair, Ten, put it in the oven for us 2 hours before I got home.  The dish was so flavorful.  We served it with steamed rice and a roasted corn salad.  Our daughter absolutely loved the chicken, especially the sauce (which she kept saying was tasty). For an 8-year-old picky eater to say something was "tasty", that was a successful dish in my book.

NOTE: This is also a perfect dish to make on a Sunday, and save the leftovers for the week.  

Patrick and I enjoyed a glass of a Reserve Malbec from Argentina (Graffigna Centenario 2008), which I had picked up from Costco for $9. It was a delicious pairing with the chicken. It tasted like a Merlot-type blend - easy to drink, smooth, with mild tannins, and not overpowering.  For this hearty chicken dish, you could pair any wine that you like, including a Cabernet.
Until next time . . . Cheers! ZinAdel

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Right In Your Slow Cooker: A Delectable Bolognese Sauce With Spinach Pasta

If you have school-aged children, you probably are very aware that the summer is about to come to an end.  You probably either have already purchased, or are in the process of, purchasing school supplies, uniforms, school clothes, etc.  Well, today was "back to school reality" day for us.  We spent the day shopping for not one, but two sets of school supplies/uniforms.  Yep, we have one peanut going into 4th Grade, and another peanut starting Kindergarten in the Fall.  Hard to believe!

Although I was determined to get some of the back-to-school shopping done today, I also wanted to make a delicious/comforting meal for my family.  The kids love it when we do Sunday dinners.  Frankly, so do we! It's a great way to end the busy weekend by sharing a relaxing meal together, and get ready for the workweek ahead.  So, before we left the house to tackle the much-delayed school shopping, I wanted to throw something in the slow-cooker (a busy-woman-who-loves-cooking's best friend!).  I wanted something delicious and comforting.  I recently came across this Bolognese Sauce recipe from OregonLive's website: http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2008/06/recipe_detail.html?id=7580.  Bolognese sauce is a meat-based Italian sauce typically served with pasta.  It's called Bolognese because it originated in Bologna, Italy.  Patrick and I fell in love with this type of sauce when we went to Italy on vacation a few years ago. It is one of our favorite sauces.  It appears that the author of this recipe also got her inspiration from a trip to Italy.  Take a look at her story: http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2010/11/beef_pork_make_richer_bolognes.html.

Well, we put the sauce in our slow cooker when we left this morning.  When we return, the first thing that greeted us at the door was the aroma of the sauce from the onions, celery, bay leaf, Parmesan rind, and garlic (I added some garlic for extra flavor).  As we entered the kitchen, and I lifted up the lid to the slow cooker, I found a pot full of delicious, fragrant, and savory sauce.  I finished the sauce with some fresh chopped parsley and basil.  Then, I stirred the heavy whipping cream.  When I tasted the finish product, my mouth literally exploded with flavor. 

I cooked some spinach pasta that I had in the pantry from Berkeley Bowl market.  With a heavy meat sauce, I find the spinach pasta a little lighter and healthier than regular pasta.  It's also a whole grain pasta.  The whole dish really was about comfort.  We had a wonderful family dinner.

NOTE: If you have picky eaters (like we do), this is a great meal to make because, well, I don't know too many kids who don't like pasta.  Plus, with the diced carrots in the sauce and the spinach whole grain pasta, you get them at least a serving of vegetables.  Even if you use regular pasta, it's still a good dish for the whole family to enjoy.

As an accompaniment to the dish, Patrick and I had a glass of one of our all-time favorite Italian wines -- Villa Antinori Toscana 2006.  This is a Super Tuscan-type red wine, which is a blend of various grape varietals consisting of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah http://www.winespectator.com/wwdn/show/id/44307. If you like Italian wines (or if Italian food is on your next dinner menu), I highly recommend this wine.  It's reasonably priced (I found it for $13 at Costco, and Safeway typically has it for $16).

I hope you had an enjoyable weekend with your family.  Until next time . . . Cheers!