Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pretend it’s wine… and some Chase pictures!

The other day while I was meandering at Safeway, I came across this new product called First Blush.  This is a line of teas and juices that are made from premium varietal wine grapes.  (Think cabernet, merlot, syrah, and chardonnay.)  The website touts that these juices and teas give you the same health benefits of wine (mostly from the antioxidants and resveratrol) but without the fermentation/alcohol.  Being the wino that I am,  I decided to give these a try.  I chose the syrah juice, and the cabernet white tea.  These were featured for $2.99 per 12 oz bottle. 

 

IMG_2500 

I tried the syrah juice first.  It was a deep purple, and looked like a fine glass of wine.  While it was quite sweet, not more so than an ordinary 100% grape juice.  I liked it, but could only handle about 4 oz. due to it being a bit sweet for my taste.  I had a hard time pretending it was a glass of wine. 

A few days later I tried the cabernet white tea pictured above.  This is a blend of half cabernet juice and half white tea, and is billed as the antioxidant super tea!  While it’s true that it probably is high in antioxidants, I was not a fan of this one.  I just did not care for the blending flavor of grape juice and tea.  I thought I would really like this since I love Arnold Palmers, the POM tea blends, etc.  But, it was NOT for me.  As you can see from the photo, this one is lighter in hue, from the dilution of the tea. 

Would I buy these again?  Probably not.  Even though I enjoyed the 100% juice version, it is a bit pricey for grape juice.  As a dietitian, I believe you can get the same health benefits whether it is from a glass of Welch’s Concord grape juice, or First Blush cabernet juice.  The clever marketing drew me in as a wine lover, but even pouring into a fancy wine glass did not make me think I was drinking a glass of vino. 

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think.

 

Chase wanted to be pictured today, since this is called Paws and Pours

DSC_0256

(relaxing at the top of Camelback Mountain)

DSC_0266

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meatless Mondays – Thanks Foodbuzz and Buitoni!

About a week and a half ago, I got this big unexpected box from the UPS man. 

IMG_2482

After I got through the immense amount of packaging, I found this:

IMG_2483

I couldn’t wait to try it and knew it would make the perfect Meatless Monday meal for this week. 

The Wild Mushroom Agnolotti ravioli are part of the new Riserva pasta line by Buitoni.  The ingredients are 100% natural with lots of parmesan, mushrooms, and garlic.  There are 2 servings per package, so it was the perfect amount for Scott and I to enjoy for dinner.  To bulk up the servings, I added a leftover fresh portobello which was sliced and sauteed in a bit of olive oil. 

IMG_2507

Topped with a sprinkling of fresh basil, and Trader Joe’s marinara, this was fantastic!  So mushroomy and cheesy.  I liked that it didn’t have a fake taste, and the pasta was not slimy or to chewy like some refrigerated pastas can be.  I will definately be on the lookout for this in the grocery store.  Thanks again to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program!

We had the 2007 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon with the pasta.  I had tried this wine many years ago and do remember enjoying it, however have not really thought to pick it up again.  After having it at my friend’s dinner party this weekend, I had to go to Costco the next day and get a bottle.  It is such a easy sipping, go-to wine.  And for right about $10, don’t we all need some good ‘ol tried and trues?  I forgot to take a picture, I think I had pasta on the brain, but here is the label you are looking for.  Easily found at Costco, or your regular grocery and liquor stores. 

Seven-Oaks-Cab-label

What are your favorite tried and true value wines?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clearing out the sinuses

IMG_2499

I don’t know what is wrong with me, but the past several days I have been miserably congested, sinus-y, and unable to breathe very well.  It could be allergies, but I’ve never suffered from allergies.  It could be a cold, but I have absolutely no other symptoms.  Ack – I hate when I don’t know what’s causing my ailments! 

So because Sudafed, Afrin, and Nasogel have failed me, I decided to try my homemade method for clearing things out…wasabi!  (aka green powder crack!)

I found this recipe for wasabi roasted asparagus the other day on the Fatfree Vegan’s blog.  Of course, she had me at wasabi, but the asparagus really clenched it.  When I found asparagus on sale yesterday at the market, I knew I would be making this recipe soon.  I could have stopped there, but I decided to couple that with my wasabi salmon recipe and really feel the burn! 

First, the star of the show:

IMG_2497

You can buy wasabi paste premade, but I find the powder more convenient.  It lasts longer and you can make as much or as little as you need anytime.  Mix, equal parts powder and water, and let stand for a few minutes.  I made enough for both of the recipes. 

Instead of roasting the asparagus, I bathed it in the marinade and put it on the grill with the salmon.  I think it would have been better roasted, as I really could not taste the wasabi sauce at all.  Or maybe I should have just used more?   Did I mention that I love wasabi? 

IMG_2498

Nothing that a little extra sauce from the salmon couldn’t fix.  I boiled the leftover marinade from the salmon and topped both the salmon and asparagus with it. I served the salmon over sauteed radiccio. 

The verdict:  wasabi, you didn’t let me down!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day and Meatless Mondays

One of the downfalls of the Internet is that when you think you have a good original idea, you realize that someone else already had that concept. Such is the case with the Meatless Monday posting. The real Meatless Monday organization is a not-for-profit public service organization in association with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

33603

The organizations goals are help people see how going meatless once a week can help reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health. In honor of Earth Day 2009, the Meatless Monday organization has posted a video called Inspiring a Movement.

We have really been interested in this type of movement for some time. Over the last couple years, we have been trying to make little changes like Meatless Mondays, to help conserve our natural resources. One of the first things we incorporated in efforts to reduce/reuse was the cloth grocery bags. It is now a habit for us to bring one of our many reusable bags in for every shopping trip. We have gradually added many other little bits here and there, that will hopefully reduce the carbon footprint that we at Paws and Pours leave.

Meatless Monday wouldn’t be complete without showing you what we made today!

It started with a few of these…

IMG_2485

I found some huge fresh portobellos at Sam’s Club the other day. Mmmhmm, I have plans for you Mr. Portobello.

Portobello pizza!

IMG_2492

Such an easy way to satisfy your pizza craving. I scooped out of bit of the gills and mushroom meat, chopped with some fresh spinach and onion. Sautee this mixture and stuff into your naked portobello. I added some capers and then topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella and feta. Grill or bake for 10-15 minutes.

To add variety, I also did a “Greek” version.

IMG_2494

Pretty much the same, except to add some kalamata olives and fresh oregano, omit the pizza sauce and mozzarella, and instead, double up on the feta.

Both were delish!

I’d like to say we drank an organic or biodynamic wine with this meal in honor of Earth Day, but instead we tried this little bargain bottle we found at Total Wine over the weekend.

IMG_2488

The 2007 Snap Dragon red is a blend – of what we do not know, because it wasn’t listed on the label, and I couldn’t find any info. when I googled it. We love red blends, as usually the winemaker combines the best lots of the varietals used. They are usually a great marrying of taste and complexity. That said, this one was not a favorite. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t a repeater. I could definately taste a lot of cherry, but found it a little lackluster and didn’t have enough body to hold the tannins. But hey, for $6.99, it was a perfect Meatless Monday night vino!

What do you do, if anything, to reduce your carbon footprint on the earth?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Green Papaya Salad – Som Tum

One of my favorite starters when I go out for Thai food is the Green Papaya Salad.  I love the salty tangy flavor, and light enough to not ruin my appetite for the rest of the meal.  It’s also perfect to have with a bowl of Tom Yum Gai soup for a quick Thai lunch.  While I’ve made the soup at home, I’ve never thought of making the salad because I thought it would be a lot of work, not to mention ever finding a green papaya. 

IMG_2475

Well…

Last weekend while browsing the produce at our local Asian Market, I spied a green papaya!  Now I had to try to make that salad. 

Not knowing quite what to expect when cutting this open, we expected there to be some seeds.  Take a look at the “seeds.”  Aren’t they cute?

IMG_2468

They kind of look like white capers. 

The next order of business was to find a recipe.  A quick google search later, I had 4 somewhat similar recipes, and kind of melded them all together. 

This is what I came up with:

Serves 2:

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. Fish sauce

2 limes, juiced

1 big Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp garlic chili sauce

Salad:

about 4 cups of shredded papaya (we used a peeler that does the little thin strips, but a mandolin would be great here)

handful of bean sprouts

1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1 tomato, sliced into strips

2 green onions, cut into match stick thin pieces

1/2 pound cooked shrimp

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

fresh basil and mint –finely chopped, for garnish

Mix together the dressing ingredients in small bowl.  Add to salad ingredients and mix well. 

 

Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and garnish with extra herbs. 

*Note- I didn’t use all of the dressing.  I maybe left 1-2 Tbsp in bowl and there was plenty on the salad. 

IMG_2476

Light, refreshing and full of flavor, we will definitely be making this one again!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2006 Central Coast Bridlewood Syrah

One of the fun things for me about going out to new restaurants is studying and tasting through the wine list.  It is very often how I discover wines that become part of our wine inventory and occasionally on our “favorites” list.

Such was the case this past weekend when we were treated to a dinner out at a local restaurant.   We got there and didn’t have a reservation, so we happily waited in the bar.  A nice wine and drink menu always passes the time quickly don’t you think?   Scott chose the Tobin James “Notorious” Cab, which was excellent, while Courtnay started with a dirty martini.  (Which I was envying once the bartender poured it into the chilled glass with some blue cheese stuffed olives.)    I decided to go with the  2006 Bridlewood Syrah.  Great choice!

CEC_syr

Many years ago – before I was really into red wines, I visited the Bridlewood winery when I was in Santa Barbera/Santa Ynez valley.  In fact, I still have the tasting glass, and that was how I decided to try the Syrah the other night.  I knew back then, if I had tried the syrah, I certainly wouldn’t have known it from any other red wine, so I thought it might be fun to “try” it again.

The wine opened with a lot of rich berry, which I love!  I think I also tasted a little bit of chocolate, and while it had some oak, it wasn’t overly so.  It had a smooth and long finish that just hinted of pepper, and was just what I was looking for.  Interestingly, when I looked up this wine it is 94% syrah, 3% petite syrah, and 1% viognier, with 2 % “other”.  I let Courtnay taste it, and she was won over as well, so we both enjoyed another glass for round two, aka dinner. 

I will certainly be on the lookout in my retail wine shops to add this smooth sipper  to our wine refrigerator. 

What has been your favorite recent wine find?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Phoenix Farmer’s Market

I have mentioned before, my obsession with Farmer’s Market’s.  The dietitian in me thinks of all the magnificent nutrition from fresh, organic local produce.  The foodie in me starts planning recipes and creations that will surely delight the tastebuds.  I know some of my friends think I’ve gone mad when I will happily pass up a shopping mall, to spend my time at the Farmer’s Market. 

It all started a few years ago, when I visited the mother of all markets – the one outside of the Ferry Building in San Francisco.   I think I lunched my way through all the samples of fresh peaches, nectarines, tomato, etc.   Then, there’s the glorious San Diego area markets, where I could spend half my day just sauntering, all the while being so close to the beach.    And then, there’s the Phoenix Public Market, which we try to hit a few Saturdays each month.  Now, Arizona climate and soil are not as conducive to the wide variety of fruits and veggies that are able to grow in CA, but we do pretty well.  Here is a sampling of what I picked up this weekend. 

IMG_2465

Rainbow chard, sweet potatoes, fennel, and red baby carrots. 

This guy deserved his own picture…

IMG_2310

Isn’t he beautiful?   Purple being my favorite color, I just had to get it. 

Oh, and here’s an idea of how big the chard is, when you see it next to my husband’s hand.

IMG_2315

Unfortunately, as our days are starting to warm up and we are rapidly approaching our never ending 100+ degree temperatures, the selection at the markets becomes pretty nil.  I guess we will have to hit up San Diego soon! 

So now, I ask you, my readers, to give me some ideas for some of this wonderful produce.  I have some ideas, but it is always fun to see someone else take it a whole different direction. 

What do you look forward to getting at your local Farmer’s Market?