Recipe: Zinful Orange Cranberry Sauce

If you’d been given the task of bringing the Cranberry Sauce to the family Thanksgiving table, this is definitely a recipe to try. The flavors of the red wine and cranberry, combined with a citrus-y touch of orange make this cranberry sauce recipe a simple and delicious addition to any style of holiday spread.ZinfulOrangeCranberrySauce

The recipe is incredibly simple.  Into a medium sauce pan, mix 1 cup of dark red wine (I used a deep, dark Zinfandel but you’re welcome to use whatever wine you like.), 1 cup of sugar, and most of a bag of fresh cranberries (saving 1/2 cup of berries to add at the end of the cooking process), the zest and juice of one navel orange, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook this mixture on medium until it starts to boil, then reduce and cook at a low simmer until the sauce becomes thick and all the berries have popped.

While the sauce is cooking, chop the saved 1/2 cup of berries to a fine dice.  Once the sauce is thoroughly cooked, stir in the diced berry pieces and remove from heat.  Move the completed sauce into a resealable container and store in the fridge until you need it.

If you only have a white wine on hand, feel free to use that in place of the Zinfandel in this recipe, or check out the other cranberry sauce recipes on this blog.  While I don’t remember ever enjoying cranberry sauce when I was younger, it has become one of my favorite sides for holiday meals.

Happy Holidays!

Recipe: White Apple Tart

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be making a few additions to my traditional menu.  We’ll be spending Thanksgiving Day with relatives (instead of just having our family of four) and I’ve been tasked with bringing the apple pies.  Since I get bored making multiples of the same recipe, I’ve decided to make a lovely apple tart as one of my offerings.  I had to try out the recipe before the big day, so here’s the recipe that I’ll be making for our Thanksgiving day meal with the cousins… my White Apple Tart.

I found a great recipe for “Sweet Pastry Dough” as well as one for a “Rustic Apple Tart” from Perfect Little Desserts by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim. This cookbook is absolutely mouthwatering and worth purchasing if you’re looking for a dessert cookbook.  Because I always use wine in my recipes, this is where I began when I made both the pastry dough and the tart itself.

I started with the Pastry Dough.  I put 1 cup of flour, 3T sugar, 1/2 t baking powder, and 1/4 t salt into my food processor and I blended the dry ingredients.  I pulsed in 3T butter until the dough looked like wet sand.  I then added 1 egg and 1T cold Sauvignon Blanc (white wine) and ran the processor until the dough came together into a ball.  The dough was a bit wet, so I rolled it up in plastic wrap and popped it into the fridge for a few hours.  NOTE:  I intentionally made this in the morning so I could make the tart later in the afternoon… you can make this dough a few days ahead of time but the tart itself is best if made the day you want to serve it.  

A few hours later, I was ready to make the tart.  I actually had never made a tart before, so I had to purchase a tart pan for this dish.  Thankfully, we had an amazing kitchen store nearby, so that task was easily handled.  I pulled the pastry dough out of the fridge and gave it time to get to room temperature, then preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  I rolled out the dough and then fit it into the pan, using a scraper to take off bits of the crust along the top of the tart pan.  The dough was soft enough that I really only had to push and move around the dough to fit it all into the pan.  It looked lovely. WhiteAppleTart

The next step was to prepare the apples for the tart.  I used 3 large Honeycrisp apples (feel free to use your own favorite type of apples). I cut them in half, removed the core and skin, then sliced each apple into thin slices, across the width from bottom to top. Since there were 3 apples, you’ll use five halves to go around the outside of the tart and then use one half to fill the space in the center.  I’ll try and do a cleaner job of this on my next attempt, but I thought it turned out nicely. I then sprinkled everything with a blend of 2T sugar and 1/2 t ground cinnamon.  Once everything was nicely coated with the cinnamon/sugar mixture, I put the tart on the bottom rack of the preheated oven and cook for 40-45 minutes.  Note:  I think the apples needed a little more cooking time, so I will probably increase cooking time to 55-60 minutes when I next make this tart.  Once the tart was nicely browned and the fruit was bubbly, I removed the tart to a wire rack to allow it to cool a bit before glazing the tart.

While the tart is baking, I needed to make the glaze.  I simmered 1/2 cup apricot preserves mixed with 2T white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc) until it boiled a bit and then strained the glaze into another pan so it was as liquid as possible.  Note: I used a small saute’ pan for the first step, then strained the mixture into a small sauce pan, since I only have one “small saucepan”.  Before glazing the tart, I warmed up the glaze until it was thickened.  I used a brush to dab the glaze all over the tart and make it all look glossy.

When I had to unmold the tart, the easiest way was to use a thick, flat object – like a large-wide can or a squat-sized canister – to allow the outside rim of the tart pan to drop away.  I then put the tart on a large platter… it made for a beautiful presentation.

I hope you’ll consider trying to make this tart sometime.  If you don’t want to use wine in this recipe, you can follow the original recipe and simply use water.  I thought the addition was fun and added a light edge to both the crust and the glaze. Whichever way you choose to make it, it’s worth the try.  I thought it was simple, yet spectacular.  Totally worth the price of an actual tart pan!

Sharing a new wine-related challenge

Starting this Friday, I will be working for Opici Family Distributing doing in-store tastings.download  I am very excited about this new challenge as it will offer me the chance to learn about a large number of imported wines and allow me to share that knowledge with the general public.  I will have a day or two to become familiar with the 3-5 wines I’ll be pouring at the event, then be present to share these wines with anyone who comes into the store in which I’ll be working.  I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity and hope that I will meet people who share my interest in wine.

One of the best things about this new job is that I will be working with some pretty interesting and fun wines.  I’ll be working for Opici Family Distributing and  I get to represent the sister company’s – Opici Wines, Wine Enthusiast Importer of the Year – portfolio.   Even so, it’s hard *not* get excited about working with wine and sharing information with others.  Check out the links I’ve included – the Opici Family Distributing Company is linked first… the Wine Enthusiast’s article is linked second.

Stay tuned for info on the wines I get to share with people and find out more about this great opportunity.  I’m really excited to share the Opici wines as well as my recipes and blog with those who might be interested.

The only questions now are… Red or White… dry or sweet… serious or sparkling…

Recipe: Apricot Chicken and Snow Peas

This recipe was such a huge success this week!  I was trying to come up with a simple recipe to use a sweet/spicy sauce with chicken and I ended up with this winner of a meal.  You’ve GOT to try this one… truly!

I started with a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  I salted/peppered each side and seared them in a medium-large skillet pan into which I had melted a small amount of olive oil and sesame oil.  Once they were nicely browned, but definitely NOT cooked through, I added a rather creative sauce.ApricotChickenSnowPeas

My sauce consisted of the following ingredients:  Gewurztraminer (dry) wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, apricot jam, commercial orange sauce, and soy sauce.  All these ingredients can be used, to varying degrees, depending on your taste preferences. NOTE: I chose to use a dry Gewurztraminer wine because of the heat that was going to come out from the orange sauce, but you could easily switch out a sweeter Riesling or Vidal Blanc white wine (or even chicken stock if you don’t want to use wine) but if you choose a sweeter wine, I’d decrease the amount of jam used.  It’s totally up to you!

Once I rolled the chicken in the sauce, I chose to roast this dish, covered, in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours.  I had the time and really wanted to have the scent permeate the house before we had dinner.  If I were more pressed for time, I could easily have left this on the stove top and kept the heat on medium for about 45 minutes or until the chicken thighs were cooked through.

Once the chicken was done, I added half of a small package of snow peas (sugar snap peas would be a great substitute) and allowed them time to cook in the sauce. Just before serving, while the sauce was still a bit runny, I mixed a few tablespoons of sauce with a little bit of cornstarch to make a slurry and added that into the sauce to thicken the mixture.  NOTE:  Make sure to add the cornstarch to a small amount of liquid rather than adding the cornstarch directly to the pan to prevent lumps in your sauce.

When I added the snow peas, I started cooking a small batch of egg noodles so they would be ready in time for dinner. This was a great bed for the dish and really allowed the flavors to pop.  If you prefer, brown rice would also make an excellent accompaniment.

I do hope you’ll try this recipe sometime.  I’ll be using the basic idea of this sauce for a shrimp dish tonight for dinner and expect it to present the same stellar results.  It’s all about finding the flavors that mix best for your family and playing with them to make your own arsenal of go-to recipes.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Red Turkey Chili

Last night was windy, cold, and rainy here in Maryland, so my first impulse was to make chili.  This dish is one of my favorite things to make, especially in the fall and winter, because I can change out the recipe so easily.  I’ve made it many different ways, but last night’s was a much healthier rendition that still warmed us up nicely.  See if you and your family notice a difference if you try this version!

I started by heating a large stock pot on the stove and dropped in one diced onion with some olive oil. Once the onion was translucent, I added one package of ground turkey and took some time to let it all brown thoroughly.  To add a bit of smokiness to the finished product, I added a bit of bacon that I pulled from the freezer and gave that some time to cook. RedTurkeyChiliNOTE:  I had previously taken a one-pound package of bacon and sliced it into 8 portions.  Each portion went into a small freezer bag and I use a portion any time I want a little bacon flavor without having to thaw or cook an entire package.  I diced this portion so the bacon wasn’t discernible, but the flavor permeated the chili nicely.

I then added about a cup of diced sweet pepper (as you can see, I used a variety of green, red, orange, and yellow peppers) as well as a generous pour of red wine.  NOTE:  For this recipe, I had a bottle of red wine from Adams County, PA, but any good dry red wine is great to add, provided it’s a red wine that you like to drink.  Don’t ever add wine that you wouldn’t drink to a recipe, since cooking will concentrate the flavors from the wine.  

Once the vegetables and wine are incorporated into the chili, I then added one can each of light and dark red kidney beans (rinsed and drained) and one can of diced tomatoes (not drained).  I was now ready to add my spices to make this dinner into something memorable.

Since my family is not a fan of hot/spicy flavors, I used a conservative amount of dark chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprikaone teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, along with some salt and pepper.   At the very end, I drizzled in a bit of a prepared Balsamic Glaze, which really gave this dish a bit of zing without overpowering the traditional chili flavors.

I do hope that you’ll try your hand at this chili recipe.  Feel free to substitute other meats, beans, or vegetables as you like – that’s what makes each person’s recipe unique and special.  We thought this version had a great balanced flavor… exactly what I wanted on a cold, rainy fall evening.  This would be a great dish to share with friends and will freeze nicely, so feel free to double or even triple the recipe if you have the time (and freezer space)!

Recipe: Red & White Stir Fry Salad

Here’s a recipe PLUS a bonus!  Each part of this recipe deserves it’s own post, but since they are connected, I decided to post them together.  It’s a recipe for “stir fry” AND a chicken salad recipe…in one recipe!RedNWhiteStirfrySalad

I was trying something new… I wanted to make a shrimp stir fry, but wondered how it might work if I tried to “bake” the ingredients for a stir fry.  To do this, I sliced a pound of de-shelled shrimp length-wise and used them to cover the bottom of a 9×9 pan.  I sprinkled a  package of slaw (the kind with shredded cauliflower and broccoli) over the shrimp and then made a sauce of hoisin sauce, red wine, garlic, ginger, and a little cornstarch (for thickening) to pour over the entire pan.  I covered the pan with foil and allowed it to bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  A package of microwave brown rice finished off my first meal nicely (see top right-hand photo).  While the technique was unconventional, it was a great way to make a simple dinner without standing beside the stove top.

The second half of this recipe (the “Salad” portion) came about from my need to use up the half-cup of leftover stir fry.  I had a chicken breast in the fridge that also needed to be used, so I decided to try putting everything together to make a chicken-shrimp stir fry salad sandwich.  Weird, but it really was tasty.  I combined the following ingredients: leftover stir fry, one diced chicken breast, one diced stalk of celery, a small palmful of craisins, some mayo, white wine, salt and pepper.  I mixed everything until it was well combined, adding either mayo or white wine, depending on the desired texture, and then put the mixture on some toasted low-calorie bread to make a sandwich.  The threads of veggies from the stir-fry provided some interesting texture in the salad, but it was a great mix and the bits of leftover stir fry sauce added some zing to the flavor.  It was definitely a great way to use up leftovers in my fridge.

I hope this set of recipes gives you some ideas of ways to re-use foods in your own fridge.  Using red wine in the stir fry and white wine in the chicken salad was a fun inspiration as well… see what you can create when you go beyond the traditional and let your creative juices flow!

Recipe: Red Breakfast Hash

I’m sending this recipe to The Today Show for a segment by Joy Bauer on healthy apple recipes. The writing below is a bit different than my typical babbling about how to make something (I thought this might sound more professional) but I wanted to share this recipe with you all first.  It’s just so darn tasty… I hope you agree!

I make a Red Breakfast Hash that is a great brunch recipe – full of flavor and color!  I’ve put a few variations on my wine blog (www.fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com) but this is one of my favorite offerings.  The recipe can be increased or decreased as needed and it uses up any leftover baked potatoes or extra veggies left in your fridge, so it’s healthy AND a good value.RedBreakfastHash

Basic Ingredients for two:

*1 tablespoon butter

*one baked potato, diced

*one onion, diced

*one apple, cored and diced (I like to leave the skin on)

*Red Wine (I use whatever is in my fridge at the time)

*Salt/pepper to taste

*2 eggs (plus some white vinegar to poach eggs)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet and saute’ potato, onion, and apple until browned and a little crispy.
  2. Add red wine to your skillet and give your potato mixture some time to soak up all that flavor and color. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. While you’re working on #1 and #2, boil some water with some white vinegar added and drop the eggs in to poach just before your wine is totally absorbed.
  4. To serve, divide the red potato mixture onto two plates, top with the poached eggs and break the yolk to share that yummy goodness with the rest of your food.
  5. ENJOY!

I came up with this recipe while working at a winery in VA.  There’s an old joke that goes “what do you call a meal without wine?  Breakfast”, so I decided that I had to fix that problem.  This can be made healthier by using more of the onion/apple mixture, but I really like using a 1:1:1 ratio so the flavors are easily recognizable.  You can also add sautee’d peppers into the mix, if you’d like.  If you’re not a “poached egg fan”, feel free to fry the egg or simply use Fat-free egg substitute as your egg choice.

Note:  the photo mashup I included was created on Picmonkey, using iPhone photos of the food in various stages of creation.  I like to use these on my website to entice people into trying to make my recipes, since they tend to be fairly easy and enjoyable to make.