2009 Cecchi Chianti Classico

Wine Wednesday – Go Italian with Chianti

2009 Cecchi Chianti Classico

2009 Cecchi Chianti Classico

A pleasant Chianti imported from the Tuscany region of Italy. Made with a blend of Sangiovese grapes, this red wine offers up floral and red berry aromas along with a well-balanced structure. It is on the dry side, although with a slightly fruity tang, has a nice minerality and flavors of cherry and oak. Decant prior to serving to open up the aromas and tone down the acidity.

A great Chianti for the price and one I will stock up on while still available.

Food Pairing: This spicy, fruity wine compliments most foods and pairs best with tomato-based foods such as lasagna, pizza, bruschetta and Veal Parmesan, light meats, Italian cheeses and the more pungent vegetables such as zucchini, asparagus and roasted garlic.

Price Range: $11.99-$14.99

3 and one half out of 5

Linda's Signature

mashed potatoes and gravy

Tipsy Tuesday – Wine & Gravy

mashed potatoes and gravyYes, you can put wine in gravy and it tastes delicious! Try this recipe out next time you have mashed potatoes with poultry for dinner. It really seems to add a more gourmet dimension to your typical chicken gravy.

Chardonnay Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Chardonnay
  • 2 Tablespoons green onions or leeks, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

In a medium skillet, melt butter. Add mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes or until softened, stirring often. Mix in cornstarch, stirring continuously until  incorporated. Add in chicken broth, wine, green onions, salt and pepper. Cook, continuing to stir, until thickened, about 3-4 more minutes.

Serve hot with mashed potatoes.

Linda's Signature

Black Bean Salad

Meatless Monday’s Protein – Black Beans

Black Bean SaladOnce in a while my husband and I like to have a meatless meal just for a nice change-up. Black beans are such a good source of protein, 1 cup offers about 30% of your daily protein requirement, as well as providing high percentages of iron, folate and fiber, that they are always one of our top choices for just such a meal. Black beans have also been recognized as providing health benefits for the digestive tract and the colon. Research has found that eating 3 cups of legumes a week will provide optimal health benefits.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Once Upon A Chef and it proved to be absolutely over-the-top delicious! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. By the way, this also makes an excellent side dish for fish or chicken dinners.

Black Bean Salad with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15.25 oz. can sweet corn, drained (of which you use about 3/4 can)
  • 1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped + additonal for garnish
  • 1 Haas avocado, chopped

Directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients together, except avocado, and place in refrigerator for flavors to mix for about 6 hours.

To serve: Prepare avocado and gently mix into salad. Let sit for an hour at room temperature, garnish with additional cilantro, and serve.

Serves 6.

Note: By rinsing or soaking the beans you can reduce the flatulence-related substances by as much as 33%.

Linda's Signature

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

T.G.I.F!

Friday is finally here!  The long weekend is behind me and my birthday weekend can now begin!  To start things off right, I’ve made my first batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  Just what the birthday girl ordered! ;)  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields: 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter or Earth Balance 50/50 sticks
  • 1/2 cup Swerve
  • 1/2 cup blue agave
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 droppers Liquid Stevia Vanilla Creme
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1.75 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free baking soda
  • 1 tsp. xantham gum
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cream butter, swerve, agave, egg, vanilla, and stevia in mixing bowl.  Mix in coconut until just combined.  Add next 3 ingredients to wet batter and blend well.  Hand stir in chocolate chips.

Place 2 inch scoops on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake for 11-13 minutes or until edges start to brown.  Let cookies cool slightly and use a spatula to remove from cookie sheet and place on wire rack.

Have a sweet weekend!

Christina Russell @2CookinMamass

Fruit Popsicles

A treat for all ages

Nothing says summer, quite like an ice cold popsicle.  Today, I was inspired by my 2 year old son, so we set off to make some homemade popsicles to get us through this Florida summer heat!  Enjoy!

Fruit Popsicles @2CookinMamasFruit Popsicles – Yields: 6 pops

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon chunks
  • 1 banana, peeled & sliced
  • 1 peach, peeled & cubed
  • 2 kiwi, peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

Place watermelon into blender, puree & set aside.  Place 2 slices of each banana, peach, & kiwi into popsicle mold, followed by equal amounts of blueberries.  Use popsicle stick to mix fruit together and push against the mold walls.  Fill all molds with watermelon puree, add sticks, and freeze.  To remove popsicles, run hot water over outside of mold until loosened.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamass

2009 Veranda Cabernet Carmenere

A Delicious Chilean Wine – 2009 Veranda Cabernet-Carménère

2009 Veranda Cabernet CarmenereAfter my wine tasting in Chicago, I had to search out and find a Chilean wine that stood as a good example of the delicious wines that can be found in that region. The 2009 Veranda Cabernet-Carménère is an excellent example of just such a wine.

The Veranda Cabernet is an estate bottled wine from the Colchagua Valley of Chile where Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah wines are predominant. It is a medium-bodied red wine blend with dark fruit and earthy aromas and just the right hint of smoky notes. Its flavors are well structured and primarily of blackberry and plum, courtesy of the Carmenere grapes, but the finish is all Cabernet, with the taste of black cherry coming to the forefront.  A wonderfully rich wine that will pair well with heavier meals. I recommend everyone stock up on this one while it is still available.

Food Pairing: As with the fuller Cabernet Sauvignons, this blend of Cabernet and Carmenere, pairs best with the rich and powerful flavors of grilled meats as the dark fruit and spiciness compliments the smoky taste of the grill.

Price Range: $16.00-$19.00

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Bin 36 Wine Flight

Wine & Cheese Tasting Chicago Style

Bin 36 Wine FlightLast week I took a trip up to Chicago to visit my sister and we wined and dined ourselves at some interesting and tasty restaurants. And one of the most fun adventures was our wine and cheese tasting at Bin 36.

Bin 36 is just a little off Michigan Avenue and is a popular place for early evening get-togethers. The restaurant is very spacious with tables for dining, at least 2 bars and a private party area upstairs. They have a menu which groups both cheeses and wines into regions where you can pair the wines with similar area cheeses or just order individually. We decided on a flight of wines, each to our particular tastes, and shared a cheese flight as well.

Cheese Flight BoardOur cheese flight, better known as Positive Algebra, consisted of 4 cheeses, Cocoa Cardona from Wisconsin, a creamy, mild goat cheese dusted with cocoa powder (excellent), Bella Vitano, also from Wisconsin, with a nutty flavor and bathed in balsamic vinegar (oh so excellent), a Spanish manchego marinated in olive oil and rosemary (again an excellent choice) and lastly Barely Buzzed from Utah, a heartier cheese with an expresso crust. All this is served with green apple slices and wonderfully crisp crostini.

2011 Hacienda Los Haroldos MalbecMy wine flight consisted of 4 red wines from Argentina & Chile. I have to say that the first wine was really the best of the four. The first was a 2011 Malbec from Hacienda Los Haroldos. The bouquet was not as evident as I would like but the fruit forward taste was definitely enjoyable. Flavors of dark cherry and plum were most prominent with balanced tannins and notes of vanilla, chocolate and toasty oak.  I would rate this a 3.5/5 and would order again. Purchase at the store for around $9 a bottle.
2012 Merino SyrahMy second wine was a 2012 Merino Syrah, a medium weight red wine from Chile. This was another fruit forward wine with a nice balance and some acidity. Not as rich in flavor as I would have liked following the Malbec but I could detect tastes of blackberries and raspberries with a long minerality and spiciness at the finish. Rating of 3/5. Purchase for around $17 a bottle.
.
Crios red blendThird was the 2012 Crios Red Blend from Argentina. A long name for this varietal that encompasses the Malbec plum flavors (40%) with the cherries and raspberries from the Bonarda (40%), the blackberries and blueberries from the Tannat (15%) and spicy black pepper and cloves from the syrah (5%). As you can see it is a veritable fruit cocktail and is slightly different than your average blend, however it does hold its own and the finish is enjoyable. Rated 3/5 or maybe 3.5/5 and averaging about $12 per bottle.
2010 Morande CarmenereLastly was a 2010 Morande Carmenere from Chile. This red was the most complex of the four with flavors of ripe blackberries and hazelnuts and an earthy texture with hints of green peppers and smoke. It had a rounded mouth feel with soft tannins and a somewhat long finish but didn’t sit well on my palate. It also seemed out of order with the flight choices. Rated 2.5/5 and runs about $12 per bottle.
Cheers!
Linda's Signature
Pineapple Fried Rice

Meatless Monday – Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice Recently my husband and I went to a cool sushi bar called Buddha Sky Bar in downtown Delray Beach, Florida. If you are ever in the South Florida area this is definitely a restaurant you should make an effort to visit. It is small and decorated very nicely, with superb food and service as well as a nice view over Atlantic Avenue, the main attraction.

During our visit we had the most delicious Pineapple Fried Rice that i just had to try and duplicate it. And I have to say, it came out pretty well. If you get all the ingredients cut up and separated ahead of time it is really quick and easy to make. Hint: Make the rice the day before and put it in your refrigerator overnight.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine or chicken stock (if not going meatless)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry powder (although I used the paste)
  • 2 green onions, slice thin
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Cook rice according to directions. This recipe works best if the rice is cooked the day before so it dries out slightly. If cooking the same day, cook earlier in the day and place in refrigerator without a lid so it dries more quickly.

When ready to assemble ingredients:

Place onion, garlic and red pepper flakes together in bowl.

Place carrots & peas in a second bowl.

Place rice mixed with 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil, pineapple chunks and cashews in another bowl.

Mix soy sauce and Thai curry paste together and set aside.

To cook: Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture from the first bowl and stir-fry for about 1 minutes. If pan becomes a little dry add a little chicken stock or white wine. Add the 2 eggs and scramble quickly mixing in with onion mixture. Add the carrots and peas from second bowl and stir-fry another minute or two.

Now add the rice mixture to the pan along with the soy sauce/curry paste and stir-fry about 5-8 minutes. They usually say to cook until you hear the rice making popping sounds.

Place into serving bowl and garnish with green onion and cilantro.

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is gluten-free if you use both gluten free soy sauce and brown rice or a jasmine rice that has not been over processed.  For a meatier option, add shrimp or chicken .

Wine Pairing:  A white wine with a little citrus flavor blends well with the pineapple in this dish. Try a Pouilly-Fuisse, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc although some Chardonnays will work here as well.

ranch smashed potatoes

Kid Friendly, Mother Approved

Having a picky eater always makes dinner a challenge.  To make tonight’s dinner ‘kid friendly’ I took the traditional meatloaf and turned them into ‘mini meatloaves’ and added some ranch smashed potatoes that anyone would love.  Coupled with a ham & cucumber salad, the dinner turned out to be a success!  Oh, and it’s gluten-free too! :)  Win-Win!

Mini Meatloaves Mini Meatloaves @2CookinMamas

Yields: 12 mini meatloaves

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 grass-fed, organic ground beef
  • 1/2 large while onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • Dash of hot sauce, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450ºF.  Spray muffin tin with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray.

Place ground beef in large mixing bowl.  Add in grated onion, carrot, & garlic and mix.  Add in salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and egg.  Mix with hands until blended well.  Portion mixture into muffin pan evenly.

In small bowl, mix together ketchup, honey, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if desired).  Spoon on top of each mini loaf and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Ranch Smashed Potatoesranch smashed potatoes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup dairy free milk of choice
  • 1/2 packet Hidden Valley GF Original Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
  • 2 tbsp. dairy free butter substitute
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Scrub potatoes with vegetable brush and cut into 1″ chunks.  Add potatoes to large pot of salted water, cover, and bring to a boil.  Cook until tender – approximately 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes and return to hot pot.  Smash potatoes with a potato masher and add in milk , ranch mix, and butter.  Continue mashing until all ingredients are mixed well.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cucumber Ham Salad Cucumber Ham Salad @2CookinMamas

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 8 oz diced ham
  • 3/4 Greek vinaigrette dressing

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in medium-sized bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 25 minutes.  Stir well prior to serving.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Gluten Free Pancakes @2CookinMamas

Gluten-Free Silver Dollar Pancakes

Gluten Free Pancakes @2CookinMamasSaturday mornings are my favorite!  Sleeping in (well as much as you can with a toddler), staying in your pj’s, and serving up a creative & fun breakfast for the entire family.  This past weekend, my husband took the reigns and made us our first batch of gluten-free pancakes.  What a treat!  Serve these with your favorite fruit or sweeten them up for special occasions with chocolate chips & whipped cream.

If you extra pancakes left over let them cool, wrap them in plastic, and freeze.  To reheat just pop in the toaster or microwave for 30-60 seconds!

Gluten-Free Silver Dollar Pancakes

Bobby Flay Pancake Pan

Bobby Flay Pancake Pan

Yields: 20 pancakes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup gluten-free pancake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. water

Directions:

Combine all ingredients together and mix until smooth.  Preheat pan over medium-low heat.  We used the silver dollar pan by Bobby Flay, but any pan will do.  Lightly spray non-stick cooking spray on pan and pour in batter.  Cook on one side until you see small bubbles forming on the edges.  Flip once and continue cooking until golden brown.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas