This Wine Wednesday Go Organic

2011 Natura CarmenereThis 2011 Natura Carmenere is a wonderful example of a true organically grown wine, allowing the true flavors of the grapes to shine through. The Natura vineyard, located in Colchagua Valley, Chile, is comprised of winemakers who understand that the best way to obtain healthier vineyards & wines, help protect the environment, as well as its workers, is to farm with organic and biodynamic agriculture. In other words, replacing the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers with natural products such as compost from the actual grape plants themselves, fertilization by planting grasses and legumes around the plants that help contribute nitrogen to the soil and allowing animals to graze to help control the weeds. This also serves to protect the soil from contamination and degradation and reduce the vineyards overall carbon emissions.

Their ruby red Carmenere is composed of 85% Carmenere, 8% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot grapes and has repeatedly won awards through the years sponsored by such notables as Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate.

The wine has earthy aromas of dark cherry & blueberry and a touch of black pepper and is velvety smooth.  On the palate, there are prominent tastes of blueberry and boysenberry as well as hints of sassafras, black tea, vanilla, mocha and chocolate. The finish is fruity but not overly complex with a touch of mint and chocolate.

A medium-bodied, dry red wine that has light spices and a smooth texture and makes a perfect everyday drinking wine. A steal at $8.99! Serve chilled between 60-65 degrees.

Food Pairing: Serve this wine with grilled red meats as well as poultry, ham, pastas and ripe cheeses.

Price: $8.99

3 and one half out of 5

Linda's Signature

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Go Gluten-Free with Almond Flour Waffles

Almond Flour Waffles with blueberriesChristina, the other cookin’ mama, is going to start a gluten-free diet come August and has done quite a bit of research on the best foods to eat and where to purchase them. It is amazing how much is done to the foods we buy everyday without our even being aware of it. Did you know that much of the gluten-free foods on the shelves in your local grocery store contain highly processed and starchy ingredients like potato starch, corn and soy ingredients, rice flours, and refined sugars! This recipe is both a gluten-free and paleo recipe for waffles that is much more tasty than the mixes or even homemade wheat or regular flour varieties. It was a surprise to my husband just how much better they tasted.

My tip today has to be that less processed foods without all the carbs of wheat and white flour are so much better for you and not a hard change to make at all!

Almond Flour Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond flour or almond meal (meal is just a little grainier so I prefer the flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on your taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Non-stick spray or coconut oil

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Whisk together the eggs, honey and vanilla extract and add to the dry mixture, stirring well.

Heat waffle maker and spray with non-stick spray. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot iron. Cook until browned then top with real maple syrup or yogurt with fruit.

Serves 2.

Linda's Signature

White Lasagna for National Lasagna Day

White Chicken or Vegetable Lasagnacat in lasagna dish

It’s National Lasagna Day so what better dish to write about than a delicious vegetable or chicken lasagna. It can be a low-fat dinner using chicken or a nice vegetarian meal using zucchini noodles and mushrooms in place of chicken.  You’ll want to be sure to make enough as this always goes fast in our house.

White Chicken/Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles or thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or white wine
  • 1-3/4 cups low fat milk or plain almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or can use mushrooms if want to leave meat out altogether
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 9-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 12-oz box frozen mashed squash, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with Pam or other non-stick spray.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. When done, rinse well with cold water and set aside. If using zucchini strips, cut into 1/8″ thick long strips, lightly salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. Lightly dab with paper towel to help get rid of excess moisture. On a grill or under broiler, cook zucchini strips for 1-2 minutes per side then place on paper towels to drain.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic (and mushrooms if using them to replace chicken) then cook for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir well, cooking for about 1 minute. Add chicken broth or white wine slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Add milk, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Set cheese mixture aside.

Lay out remaining ingredients – mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, cooked chicken (if using), spinach (that has been squeezed to get out all liquid) and squash.

Begin assembling lasagna by putting a small amount of cheese sauce in the casserole dish and spreading to cover bottom. Place 3 lasagna noodles/zucchini strips on top of sauce forming the first layer. Place 1/2 of the remaining cheese sauce on top of noodles/zucchini strips, 1/2 of the chicken (ignore if omitting chicken) and then spread ricotta cheese on top. Layer 3 more noodles/zucchini strips. Spread remaining cheese sauce on top of noodles and top with chicken (if using), spinach and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Add last layer of pasta/zucchini strips and spread butternut squash over the top. Add remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and allow cheese to brown, about 15 minutes. If cheese is still not browning, turn on the broiler and watch carefully until browned.

Tip: If you let the lasagna cool for about 10-15 minutes it will be easier to cut and serve.

Note: You can prepare ahead of time, up to the covering with foil then store in refrigerator until ready for dinner. You may need to cook it slightly longer since the casserole will be cold.

Serves 6-8.

Wine Pairing: Choose a wine that will compliment the cheeses such as a Sauvignon Blanc or one that will suit the spinach and squash as well like a nice oaked Chardonnay or a Viognier.

Linda's Signature

Makeover your Mayo!

Switch out your mayo this BBQ season with a more natural version that doesn’t come from a jar!

AVOCADO MAYOPicture from AdorasBox.net

Yields: 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender and mix together until smooth.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Hot Fudge Sundaes!

Mexican Hot Fudge Sundae @2CookinMamas

Mexican Hot Fudge Sundae

Sundaes are the perfect treat for a hot summer day! Ice cream, hot fudge, cherries, nuts, and whipped cream – it doesn’t get much more perfect than that!  Today, we’ve put together our favorite sundae recipes – click the links below to see each recipe.  Need an excuse to indulge?  Ok – It’s also National Hot Fudge Sunday Day! 😉

Mexican Hot Fudge Sundaes

Italian Hot Fudge Sundae

Peppermint Hot Fudge Sundaes

Mexican Hot Fudge Sundae @2CookinMamas

Peppermint Hot Fudge Sundae

Marshmallow Creme – Hot Fudge Sundaes

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Deep Dish Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes For Two

and last but not least!:  Betty’s Hot Fudge Sundae            

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Wine Wednesday – 2009 Baronia Del Montsant Flor D’englora Roure

2009 Baronia Del Montsant Flor D’englora RoureWhen I first saw this wine on Total Wines’ Top 15 Summer Wines under $15 and listed at #5, I wondered what type of red wine it actually was. It turns out that it is a combination of 5 different grapes, 60% Red Grenache, 35% Carignan, 2% Merlot, 2% Syrah and 1% Ull de Llebre, some of which I had never heard of, but thought with such a high recommendation I would give it a try.

This wine is from Spain and made from grapes grown at the foot of the Montsant in the Siurana Valley. Most of the vines at the vineyard actually date back more than 80 years. This blend has a high percentage of the Grenache grape, which is the grape primarily used in Riojas and light Rosé wines, but with the addition of the Carignan and Syrah is much more full-bodied than its counterparts.

Upon opening, aromas of black cherry, plum, Asian spices, smoke and licorice drifted to my nose while the first sip brought flavors of plum, dark cherry, a  hint of mocha and some complex minerality to my palate. It is definitely a full-bodied Spanish red but with a little too much of a sour taste for my liking. I did find that after letting it breath for an hour it was a little less sour but I  would probably not purchase this wine again as I feel there are better full-bodied red wines available for a more reasonable price.

Food Pairing: Serve  with red meat, heavier fish, pizza, pasta, tapas selections and hard cheeses.

Price:$14.99

3 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Tipsy Tuesday – Wines & Hot Dogs

variety of hot dogsOK, that is one strange title but I thought it would be fun to tie in my wine posting with National Hot Dog Day (and incidentally National Hot Dog Month) and see where it took me.

2010 Cooper Station Pinot NoirThere are three perfect choices for those lovely grilled dogs, plain or with just a little mustard and sauerkraut on top, and they are Rose, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. All are full of fruitiness and crispness that compliment the sausage itself as well as the sour character of the sauerkraut. So this week I bring a delicious and inexpensive Pinot Noir to your attention that goes perfectly with your outdoor barbecue.

And a little extra info for those that like their favorite dogs in other than the classic style.

Chicago-style dogs – stick with a light to medium-bodied crisp white wine that matches the saltiness of the pickles and peppers and choose a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Chili dogs – opt for a full-bodied Zinfandel or Shiraz that helps cool down the spiciness and cut through the fat.

2010 Cooper Station Pinot Noir

A wonderfully crisp medium-bodied wine with musky floral aromas and smooth berry flavors of  cherry, strawberry and blueberry. Notes of spice, cloves and herbs give this Pinot Noir a nice complexity and the hint of toasty oak adds just the right touch. It is a great wine for your backyard barbecue that can hold its own against many of the pricier brands.

Price Range: $9.99-$14.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Meatless Monday – Grilled Mahi with Basil Butter

Mahi Mahi with Basil ButterFish is a healthy and delicious way to give your body the protein it needs without all the fat. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids that keep our heart and brain healthy as well as important vitamins such as D and B2. It is also a great source of calcium, phosphorus and minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. All that in a little piece of fish!

This meatless Monday is a great time to start eating one of your two recommended servings of fish a week to help you on your way to a healthy diet.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Basil Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-oz. mahi-mahi fillets
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, 1 Tablespoon olive oil (cuts a little of the fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:

Preheat grill. Prepare a grill pan by spraying with nonstick spray.

I like to purchase the fillets that still have the skin on one side. This helps hold this delicate fish together on the grill. Sprinkle fish with a light coating of cajun seasoning and place flesh side down on hot grill. Cook 4 minutes on flesh side, turn, and cook 4-6 minutes, skin-side down, or until fish flakes easily with fork.

While fish is cooking, combine butter, oil and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter has melted then turn heat to low and keep warm until fish is done.

To serve, place fish on platter and top with some of the basil butter. Garnish with slices of lemon and a sprig of basil.

Serves 2.

Tip: Serve with steamed broccoli as the basil butter makes a delicious topping for this as well.

Wine Pairing: Choose a light white wine for this delicate, flaky fish so as not to overwhelm the dish itself such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin blanc or Pinot Grigio. You might also try an unoaked Chardonnay as these are much lighter than their oaked counterparts.

Linda's Signature

Caviar Kisses

caviar @2CookinMamasLooking for a great standout appetizer or a romantic treat for two?  This recipe is sure to be a big hit!  Go ahead & splurge a little – today is National Caviar Day!

For even more flair – pair with your favorite champagne from France.

Caviar Kisses

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • small cucumber, scrubbed well
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 jar red salmon caviar
  • fresh dill sprigs, garnish
  • 8 thin slices whole wheat bread
  • butter

Directions:

Slice cucumber into 1/4″ rounds.  In small bowl mix sour cream, dill, and pepper.  Place one teaspoon of the sour cream mixture on each cucumber round.  Top with caviar and dill sprig.  Toast bread, cut into shapes using your favorite cookie cutter, and butter.  Place toast shapes around outside of serving platter, cucumber rounds in the center, and serve immediately,.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Two Amazing Tropical Smoothies

We just returned from the El Dorado Royale Resort in Tulum, Mexico where one of their featured lunch restaurants, Health Bar, had an out-of-this-world smoothie bar.  Here are two of my favorites that I will be trying to recreate at home.  Now, where can I find some cactus?

Tropical Shakes @2CookinMamasTropical Protein Shake:

Strawberry, Banana, Mango, Pina Colada & Protein Powder

Fiji Tropical Smoothie:

Jugo de Toronja, Nopal, Apio y Perejila or Grapefruit, Cactus, Celery, & Parsley

Salud!

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas