Thursday, June 25, 2009

Great Value Wines, Part 2

Always willing to do my part, I have been trying lots of new (to me) budget friendly wines.  It involves a lot of long, thirsty research, but I withstand.  Hold the applause until the end please. LOL!

A couple of wines I enjoyed recently both fit the bill as good value and great tasting.  I love that kind of outcome to the research!


First off, the Velvet Moon 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This had a medium body and mild tannins.  Not as big and bold as some cabs, but nice and easy.  It actually went great with some homemade pizza.  This sells at Trader Joes for $5.99.


Next up the 2007 Mirassou Chardonnay.  Now, I have seen this popular label in grocery stores, wine shops, etc. but never paid much attention to it.   The winemakers notes are as follows, and I really thought it was spot on.  I prefer low to no oaked chardonnays and this was perfect with just a very slight touch. 

winemaker's notes:

Our 2007 Mirassou Chardonnay exhibits intense aromas and flavors of stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines, as well as tropical fruits like pineapple. Secondary flavors of melon, pears, citrus, floral, and vanilla notes combine with a creamy mouth feel which culminate in a pleasantly concentrated finish.

This made a refreshing late Saturday afternoon sipper.

What’s a great wine you’ve had recently?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meatless Mondays – Peanut Tofu

I know, I know, it seems that all we have been featuring on Meatless Mondays is tofu lately.  I must say, we actually CRAVE tofu and usually have it more often than once a week.  I love the quickness, versatility, and ease of cooking with tofu.  Not to mention that it’s healthy and cheap budget-friendly.  Meat and seafood account for the most expense in many people’s grocery bills, so eating tofu and other meatless meals a couple days per week can really help cut costs. 

This weeks was a real winner. 


I marinated the sliced tofu in some soy sauce and sesame oil.  Then grilled for approximately 4-5 minutes per side.  After plating the veggies, tofu and rice, I added a drizzle of peanut sauce.  This really took the meal from good to great! 


Served with baby bok choy and sauteed shitake mushrooms

Thai Style Peanut Sauce

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1 1/2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar

1 tsp minced ginger

1-2 tsp. yellow miso

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

fresh cilantro, minced (approx 2 tsp.)

Mix well.  Double if you want extra for use on salads or dipping veggies.  (Great with steamed broccoli.)


Here is a picture of Chase with his girlfriend, Sydney, who is sleeping over for a few days.  She is also a Golden Retriever, who got a summer haircut. 


Thursday, June 18, 2009

It’s Halibut Season!

As you can tell from my posts, I love all fish and seafood.   I have lots of favorites…one of them being halibut.  Noticing fresh halibut in stores the last few weeks, I have been so tempted to buy some.  But, as we have been trying to tighten the old belt lately, I resisted due to the $14.99 per pound price tag.  This weekend, however, while I was shopping at Sprouts, I saw some very fresh looking halibut advertised for $8.99 per l –b. Ah hah!  I could no longer resist and picked out a nice thick fillet to prepare that evening. 

While I have tried many different preparations for this fish, I always come back to my tried and true favorite, Asian Steamed Halibut.  


Back in my 20’s when I was just beginning to get the cooking bug, my friend and I had a dish similar to this at PF Changs.  Hello food orgasm!  We loved it, and came very close (if not right on) to replicating it at home.  It has been a favorite ever since.  It is also a pretty fool proof method of cooking the fish, as it stays moist and very flavorful, without risk of getting tough and overcooked. 


1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp. sake

1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar

1-2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

1 lb fresh halibut fillet

chives, shallots and cilantro for garnish and extra flavor


I put all of the ingredients in a wide shallow bowl and put the halibut in to start “marinating.”  Get a pan with steamer insert prepared on the stove.  When water starts boiling, put the whole bowl of halibut +ingredients into the steam basket (including bowl as you want it to steam in the sauce.)  Steam for 10- 15 minutes, or until fish is flaking easily with fork. 

I serve this on top of rice of noodles to soak up some of the flavorful sauce.  This time I used the Pasta Slim noodles from the sample that Wildwood sent me a few weeks ago.  Steamed snap peas and shitake mushrooms on the side and it was just like I remembered – sitting in the restaurant 10 + years ago. 


We had this meal with a bottle of the Kono Baru Unoaked Chardonnay from 2006.  I reviewed this wine last summer, and enjoyed it again just as much.  I probably would have had a better food/wine pairing for this delicious and tropical chardonnay, but we had opened it to sip earlier in the afternoon, and wanted to finish the bottle with dinner.  If you like a nice medium bodied chard without the wood, this is it.  There probably isn’t any more of the 2006, but later vintages should be just as good. 


Monday, June 15, 2009

Meatless Mondays – Tofu and Asparagus!

I love this time of the year when you can wear shorts everyday, sip white wine or frozen cocktails, take a dip in the pool after work, and eat fresh new asparagus! 

So, last Monday we paired asparagus with tofu and a brown and wild rice blend for a deliciously satisfying meal.  Not to mention that this dinner came together in about 15 minutes.  (Using leftover rice we pulled out of the freezer.)


I roasted the asparagus at 400 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.  Spray or coat with a bit of olive oil and season with Kosher salt first.  While the asparagus was cooking, I simply seared the tofu in a grill pan, and seasoned each side with a bit of Spike seasoning.  We had a bit a fresh heirloom tomato left, so that was included as well.  Oh, and everything is better with a healthy sprinkle of goat cheese and sweet balsamic syrup.  How could something so simple taste oh so good? 


3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup red wine

1 Tbsp brown sugar

Simply stir together in sauce pan and simmer to reduce until there is about 1/4 cup and it is slightly thick.  Yum!

Also great over fresh strawberries.


Here is a picture of Chase since he’s felt a little neglected on the blog lately.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

A couple great value wines

With the economy these days, everyone seems to be making cut backs in their daily living.  Maybe not eating out as often, shopping at discount stores, curbing the entertainment budget or whatever ways one can think of to decrease their own spending.  So, what’s  diehard wine lover to do? 

I have to admit, we haven’t curbed our practices to much, and we certainly aren’t going to give up our wine habit.  However, we have searched out a couple great value wines that are perfect for everyday drinking. 

First off, the Trader Joe’s Coastal Zinfandel


A total steal at $3.99 per bottle, it is nice and jammy with a bit of pepper for character.  It is lighter than some of the “heavy” zins, but that is a welcome change for the hotter temperatures anyhow.  I only picked up one bottle as a trial, but after this I will be getting it by the case!  Perfect sipper for a bar-b-que!

Next up, the Gato Negro 2008 Chardonnay.


Now, I’ve mentioned before how my dislike of many chardonnays, but this one is a winner. It hails from central Chile and is produced by San Pedro vineyard.  Pale gold, and unoaked, it is a refreshing summer wine.  It has overtones of peach and pineapple, and even a hint of green apple.  It has just enough acidity and crispness to really hit the spot with a salad or a grilled seafood/salsa type meal

As a bonus, it is a screw top, which is perfect for picnics and not having to remember the cork screw.


(love the little black kitty)

At $4.99 per bottle, we did in fact, buy a case of this. 

What are your favorite value wines?  Have you changed your wine drinking at all due to economic reasons?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meatless Mondays – A simple grilled dinner

After a weekend of traveling and dining out, a healthy, meatless, meal was a welcomed change of pace.  I wasn’t in the mood to be to creative this evening, so we relied on our favorite cooking method of veggies and tofu…the grill!  I get a lot of questions from friends and bloggers on how we grill our veggies, or what veggies are good on the grill, so I thought I’d show you what we do.

First, we had a bountiful supply of fresh squashes, zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms and even some ripe peaches.  Some may slice the zucchini and squash into chunks and put into a grill basket, but we prefer to cut it lengthwise, and lay it directly on the grill.  We do use the grill basket for the cauliflower (which, by the way, is great roasted on the grill,) broccoli, small mushrooms, and onions. 

Set grill to medium high heat – about 400 degrees.  Lay out veggies and grill approximately 5 minutes per side (or until desired marks and doneness) and flip.  Note:  spray or oil veggies before laying on grill so they don’t stick.  Also, microwave butternut squash for a minute or 2 or it will be to crunchy. 




Altogether with tofu and grill basket.   Tofu can be marinated in advance, but tonight we just seasoned it heavily with Spike.   As the zucchini gets done, put on top rack to keep warm until everything is finished. 

The final product with a little black beans to round out the meal.  Simple, healthy, and most importantly – delicious!


After taking the photo and eating dinner, I realized I forgot to add the roasted cauliflower when I snapped the photo.  I think my brain is still on vacation.

What are your favorite vegetables to put on the grill?