A Mischievous Wine for Wine Wednesday

2011 Macchia “Mischievous” Zinfandel

2011 Macchia Mischievous Zinfandel

We were having guests over for dinner last night and I  was serving some delicious looking steaks with zucchini and prosciutto skewers and wanted a full-bodied wine that would compliment the meal such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a rich Zinfandel. After perusing the wine store aisles I found this California Zin that had a high rating of 92 and also a recommendation from the wine buyer. What more could I ask for? And they were right on the money – a super fantastic wine for under $20 that tasted more like a $60 bottle.

Macchia winery, located in Acampo California, gives their Zins very interesting names such as Outrageous, Adventurous and Oblivious and I am sure each one lives up to its namesake and this 2011 Zinfandel is no exception. Blended from 5 different vineyards, using the grapes from the stronger older vines, Macchia has produced a classic fruit-forward wine with rich berry flavors, just the right amount of oak, some earthiness and a subtle hint of vanilla. It has a wonderfully smooth finish and is the perfect accompaniment to steaks, grilled dishes as well as rich pastas.

Note: This wine has a higher alcohol content than most wines coming in at 16%.

Price Range: $17.99-$19.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

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Tipsy Tuesday – A Kicked Up Strawberry Lemondade

My daughter and her husband recently went to the theater with my husband and I and they served us one of the most delicious and fresh tasting drinks I have had in a long time. I just had to try and make a similar version at home. Here was my take on a Strawberry Lemonade.

Strawberry LemonadeStrawberry Lemonade

Ingredients:

For Strawberry Vodka:

  • 1 pint organic strawberries
  • 1/2 bottle (750ml) Vodka (can use inexpensive brand)

For Strawberry Lemonade:

  • 2 parts strawberry vodka
  • 4 parts lemonade
  • Slightly crushed strawberries
  • Lemon slices

Directions:

For Strawberry Vodka:

Use only organic strawberries as vodka acts as a solvent and you want to extract only the juice of the berries not additional pesticides or chemicals.

Rinse strawberries. Remove stem and cut into quarters.  Place cut-up strawberries in a large glass jar that comes with a lid. Pour in the vodka and secure lid. Shake well. Store in a cool dark place for approximately 3-7 days, shaking jar once a day.  You can check to see if the flavor has been absorbed on day 3.  If the strawberries are white and the vodka pink, extraction is complete.

When ready, strain with cheese cloth and discard strawberries (they should not have any flavor left). Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or keep in freezer for longer.

For Strawberry Lemonade:

In a cocktail glass, add strawberry vodka and lemonade, a couple tablespoons of crushed strawberries and 1-2 lemon slices. Serve over ice with straw and enjoy!

Linda's Signature

Guacamole Inspiration

Mango Pineapple GuacamoleI thought for a long time when someone mentioned guacamole that there was only one kind and that was that. To my surprise there are some really interesting variations and I I want to try each and every one!

Here are just a few recipes that I have tried and they each have their own individual taste, one sweet, one more roasty, one more herbal and one full of lovely chunks of crab. Any of these would be perfect for serving at your next wine tasting or cocktail party.

And don’t stop with just serving these as a party dip but try on a grilled cheese sandwich or just about any sandwich in place of mayonnaise.

Mango Pineapple Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup medium Vidalia onion, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 medium ripe mango, diced
  • 1/2 can pineapple chunks, drained & diced

In bowl or molcajete, mash avocados. Add minced onion, jalapeno peppers, salt and cilantro. Add lime juice and mix well. Gently stir in mango and pineapple.

Serve with tortilla chips, vegetable chips or pita chips. For a healthier alternative, serve with cucumber slices or carrots.

– A little more rustic version is this roasted guacamole. This is actually one of my favorites.

Roasted Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • 2 medium ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tomatillo, finely chopped

Preheat broiler. Set tomatoes and green pepper on a non-stick cookie sheet, sprinkle with little olive oil, and place under broiler. Keep a close eye on them and keep turning until all sides are blistered. It will probably take about 5 minutes. Place in large glass measuring cup or bowl and seal with plastic wrap for 10-20 minutes.

While tomatoes and pepper are cooling, place avocado in medium bowl and mash. Stir in lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin, pepper and tomatillo.

Take the pepper and tomatoes out of bowl and remove the skins. Chop finely and add them to the avocado. Stir and place in refrigerator.

Serve with tortilla chips, vegetable chips or pita chips. For a healthier alternative, serve with cucumber slices or carrots.

– If you love Italian then you will love this one with basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

Guacamole with an Italian Flair

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe Haas Avocados
  • 1 Tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

To toast pine nuts, place in dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking to ensure even browning. It usually takes about 3 minutes.

Mash avocados but still leave slightly chunky. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Serve with bread sticks or crostini.

– And lastly, if you want to add some protein to the mix, try this variation with crab.

Crab Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe avocados
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped fine
  • 1Tablespoon jalapeno, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup red onions, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh jicama, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat

Directions:

In a large bowl, mash avocados but keep chunky. Add remaining ingredients except for crab and stir well. Fold in crabmeat and chill.

Serve with tortilla chips, vegetable chips or pita chips. For a healthier alternative, serve with cucumber slices or carrots.

Let me know how you like these recipes.

Linda's Signature

Peanut Butter Love

Every once in awhile I get this HUGE craving for peanut butter and today was no exception.  What I really wanted was a quick and easy yummy dessert, without a lot of effort, but that’s also gluten free.  Enter…the flourless peanut butter cookie.  🙂  (Make sure to use all gluten-free ingredients)

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Total time: 40 minutes – Makes 36 cookies

Peanut Butter Love

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Heat over to 350º F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together until smooth.

Shape dough into small balls and place 2″ apart on lined baking sheets.  Using the tines of a fork, flatten each ball in a crisscross pattern.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Let cookies cool slightly then transfer to a rack to cool completely.  Cookies will deflate as they cool.

Enjoy…and try not to eat them all in one sitting!  🙂

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Gluten Free Pesto

One of the many things I love about going gluten-free is that I have chosen to make my own foods instead of buying them pre-made.  This way, I know exactly what ingredients are being used and what I’m putting into my body.

For a super-quick dinner, try this delicious pesto sauce over gluten-free pasta and chicken.  Delicious!

Gluten Free Pesto over pasta and chicken @2CookinMamasGluten-Free Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed (2 if you don’t like it spicy)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded manchego cheese

Directions:

In food processor, mix together first 5 ingredients until blended well.  Transfer pesto to bowl and fold in manchego cheese.

Pesto is great served over pasta, chicken, omelets, salads or tomato & mozzarella and it keeps for weeks.  Just transfer to mason jar, cover with a layer of olive oil, cover and refrigerate.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

 

Singer/Songwriter Dave Matthews Becomes Winemaker

2010 Dreaming Tree CabernetWant to serve a nice red wine with your next steak dinner? Well, you can’t go wrong with this 2010 Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, especially if you like a more medium-bodied wine and one that is not too dry.

And there is an interesting story behind this wine. It has a very famous singer/songwriter to thank for its origin – Dave Matthews, as well as a famous winemaker, Steve Reeder. Dave & Steve were eager to create a wine that was both flavorful and “full of soul” as well as one that had the least amount of environmental impact. They achieved their goal by sourcing grapes only from sustainably-farmed vineyards on California’s North Coast, producing labels that are made of recycled paper, using a bottle that is 25% less dense than standard bottles and stopping with corks from sustainably grown trees.

Now, without a good tasting wine these noble ideals wouldn’t be that important but, thankfully, the wine is very enjoyable. Upon opening, aromas of dark fruit and plum meet the nose followed by a taste that is full of intense cherry and blackberry flavors and just a touch of vanilla and licorice. It has a nice smooth, velvety texture and a finish that has a hint of sweet spices and vanilla. Great wine for the money!

Food Pairing: Serve with beef such as steaks and standing rib roasts, grilled leg of lamb and pork loin as well as coal-fired pepperoni pizzas, Eggplant Parmesan and hard cheeses.

Price Range: $12.99-$16.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Make Your Next Tabouli Gluten-Free

Quinoa TabouliMy daughter has recently begun a gluten-free diet and has gotten me interested in how to take much of the gluten and GMOs out of my diet as well. Tabouli, or as some people say Tabbouleh, has always been a favorite lunch for me and I hated to have to give it up because it was made of bulgur wheat but… TADA! Quinoa to the rescue! And it tastes just as good as the original!

Quinoa Tabouli

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2-1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 -1 medium green/red or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh onion, chopped
  • 2-1/4 oz black olives, sliced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Dash cayenne

Directions:

Place water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir. Mix in tomato, parsley, pepper, cucumber, onion and olives. Stir together lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss well. Cover & place in refrigerator. Let stand at minimum 1 hour or better overnight. Serve chilled.

Serves 8.

Linda's Signature

Our Cookbook is Here!!

We did it!   After a year of hard work, determination, and a LOT of cooking – our cookbook is finally here!  Introducing the 2 Cookin’ Mamas first ever cookbook: The Pregnancy Cookbook.

@2CookinMamasThe Pregnancy Cookbook @2CookinMamas

Available on Kindle & Kindle Readers Now!

Only $5.99!

Click HERE to purchase.

Not pregnant?  That’s OK!  It’s a heart-healthy cookbook for everyone!

We’ll be launching our Kickstarter campaign soon so we can complete our android & apple cookbook app, get hard copies printed, and publish the e-book on Nook & iBooks readers.  Stay tuned for that information and if you purchase our cookbook – please share your thoughts with us.  We would LOVE to hear what you think of our recipes!

Thank you!

christina-linda

Meatless Monday – A Savory Sweet Potato Side Dish

Sweet Potatoes and OnionsI love sweet potatoes and I will try just about any recipe that comes my way. It is also nice to know how good they are for you so you don’t have to feel guilty eating this sweet side dish.

Sweet Potatoes are one of the best vegetables you can eat. They are full of carotenoids, a plant pigment that the body can turn into Vitamin A, and are a great source of antioxidants that may help prevent certain cancers and heart disease as well as strengthen your immune system. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Convinced? If you are, here is an easy recipe that lends a bit of sweet onion flavor to the mix.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onion

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium peeled sweet potato, cut in large chunks
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion (Vidalia), cut in ¼” thick rings
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper blend
  • 1/8-1/4 garlic powder
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place sweet potatoes, onions rings that have been cut in half and remaining ingredients in 8” square baking dish and stir to make sure all potatoes and onion pieces are well coated. Vary quantity of spices to your liking. I like to use the full amount of seasoned pepper and garlic powder but did cut the salt to 1/8 teaspoon.

Bake for 40 minutes, stirring half way through cooking time.

Serves 2.

Linda's Signature

Spice up your Health

Spices @2CookinMamasWant to add a little zest to your dish?  Check out these 5 spices that are calorie-free and full of phynutrients!

  1. Oregano – 1 tsp. contains 6 micrograms of vitamin K and the same amount of antioxidants as 3 cups of spinach!  Stir in soup, shake on pizza, or add to your favorite pasta sauce.
  2. Cinnamon – The antioxidant compounds in cinnamon help prevent hunger cravings by improving the way your cells metabolize glucose.  Add a dash of cinnamon to your sweet potatoes, coffee, or water.
  3. Cayenne Pepper – This spice contains Capsaicin, which helps turn up your body’s thermostat & revs up your metabolism to help burn extra calories.  Stir in to your favorite guacamole recipe, hummus, or shake on popcorn.
  4. Ginger – This awesome spice helps settle upset stomachs and can also lessen workout-induced soreness.  Add 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger to pancake batter, peanut butter, or sprinkle over vanilla frozen yogurt.
  5. Nutmeg – Nutmeg can help prevent cavities.  Add 1/4 tsp to ground coffee for a hint of sweetness.

Oregano Salad Dressing  Oregano Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano

Directions:

Heat olive oil, red pepper flakes, and oregano in small sauce pan over medium-low heat for 2 minutes or until fragrant.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas