Caprese Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze

I’m never quite sure what to bring when someone asks me to contribute an appetizer to an event.  I love making dips, but sometimes they clash with whatever is being served and I really wanted to make something that would look lovely, taste wonderful, and take advantage of the fresh tomatoes of the season.  Enter, the Caprese Salad!

Of course, since I was taking the dish to a fellow wine-friend’s home, I was going to need to incorporate wine somewhere, so I tried to find a recipe that would fit all the necessary categories.  Finding a few ideas on the web, I set to work creating a Toasted Caprese Salad on Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze.CapreseBruschetta&PortGlaze

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Port Wine (whatever you like or have on hand)
  • Butter (just a small tab is enough to “gloss the sauce”)
  • 2 loaves of long/thin French/Italian bread (I made my own, but store bought is also wonderful in this recipe)
  • Olive oil (enough to brush each side of the toast slices)
  • Tomatoes (I used two large, ripe tomatoes, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • Basil (Fresh is preferred, but I only had dried, which worked well)
  • salt/pepper (to taste)
  • White Wine (I used a Pinot Grigio, but use whatever you have available)
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese (I bought a log of sliced mozzarella and cut it into strips)
  • Extra basil (fresh is preferred but dried is perfectly acceptable)

I made the Port Wine Glaze first, since it would be need time to rest and thicken.  Pour the 2 cups of port into a sauce pan and simmer the wine until it is reduced to 1/2 cup.  You can tell it has thickened enough if you can see a faint/quick line after drawing a spatula through the sauce from top to bottom.  Add a small tab of butter to “gloss the sauce” and adjust seasonings using a pinch of salt/sugar as needed.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.  If you’re making this step a day ahead, keep the glaze in the fridge and warm slightly before using so the butter isn’t solid when spooning it over the bruschetta.

Next, make your tomato mixture.  I diced two tomatoes fairly fine and then tossed them with salt/pepper and a bit of Pinot Grigio.  The tomato was fairly juicy, so just before using it, I placed the mixture into a small colander to drain the excess liquid off to keep the bruschetta from getting soaked.

To create your bruschetta, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the loaves of bread into ~3/4″ pieces (as thick or thin as you like) and layer them onto sheet trays lined with foil.  NOTE: Using foil will make the final toasts easier to move to a serving tray.  LIghtly brush the top of each piece of bread with olive oil and allow to toast for 5 minutes.  Flip the toasts over and brush again with olive oil before toasting the second side for 5 minutes.

To assemble, top each toast with a layer of tomato mixture, a sliver or two of mozzarella, and a sprinkle of basil.  Once each toast is adequately topped, pop your bruschetta into the oven for a final 5 minute toasting to melt the cheese a bit. When they come out of the oven, spoon the Port Wine Glaze over top of each individual toast, allowing the glaze to pour over the edges and be soaked up by the bread.  Serve as quickly as possible – these are best when warm, crispy, and dripping with glaze.  NOTE: If you have leftover bruschetta, you can re-toast them the following day to brighten up the flavor.  You can also chunk them up and toss them into a salad to create your own version of a Panzanella salad.

This is a really beautiful appetizer that is surprisingly simple to make. Adjust or alter things as they appeal to you and your family.. that’s what makes cooking such an adventure!

Cheesy Red Chicken Enchiladas

In case I’ve never mentioned this, you should know that I love rotisserie chickens.  I take advantage of any chance I get, to pick one up and throw it into my freezer for use at another time.  It truly calms me to know that I can pull one out to make dinner on any given day.  I’m not sure when that started, but a full freezer and pantry can make me feel ready to tackle any obstacle that life may throw at me.  Maybe that’s why I love heading off to Sam’s Club or the local grocery store… but I digress… I want to share a great, easy recipe for chicken enchiladas that can be made from a rotisserie chicken and some staples from the pantry/fridge.  Doesn’t this look delicious??CheesyRedChickenEnchiladas (1)

Here are the ingredients:

  • a chicken from the freezer
  • dry red wine (use what you like or have on hand)
  • one can of pinto beans (or refried beans, your choice)
  • your favorite salsa – one jar
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt/pepper
  • flour tortillas (regular size, your favorite type)
  • cheese (I used an entire bag of 2% milk shredded sharp cheddar)

I pulled one of my frozen chickens out of the fridge and popped it into a large saucepan.  I added about an inch of water and about the same amount of red wine and let the liquid simmer around the chicken (flipping the bird over once or twice) until the meat was warmed and the liquid was nicely seasoned from the chicken.  I then lifted the chicken out of the liquid and allowed it to cool a bit before picking/shredding all the meat off the bones and poured the (now) broth into a measuring up for later use. NOTE: You can also use leftover chicken for this recipe.

I began to make the chicken mixture for inside the enchiladas.  Since I didn’t have a can of refried beans, I popped a can of pinto beans into a small chopper and pulverized the beans until they were *mostly* smooth. Since I had already used the large saucepan to cook the chicken (and so I didn’t have another pan/bowl to wash), I put all the shredded chicken back into the pan. I then added the smashed beans, some salsa, a little of the reserved broth mixture, and seasonings to complete the mixture for inside the enchiladas.

To assemble the dish, I put a bit of salsa and broth mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish to keep the enchiladas from sticking.  Put a heaping 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of a flour tortilla, fold the close end over the mixture and pull it back to make a “roll”.  Fold each side in, toward the center, and then roll the enchilada over to enclose the filling.  Place the enchilada, seam-side down, in the coated baking dish and repeat until all the chicken mixture is used and the baking dish is full.  I was able to make a total of 6 enchiladas with this amount of chicken/bean filling, but much will depend on how much you want to put inside each enchilada.  Once all the individual enchiladas are in the baking dish, coat lightly with salsa and sprinkle with lots of cheese (I used an entire bag of shredded cheddar).

You can pop this dish in the freezer at this point if you’d like.  I made this dinner in the morning and my family popped it into the oven so they had a hot dinner while I was at work.  You’ll pop this dish into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook it for 30-40 minutes… cover with foil to bake and remove foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to brown the cheese a bit.

You can serve this dish with a side salad, if you like.  My guys prefer to simply eat the enchiladas by themselves, so they each ate two, while I ate one when I got home.  It was great to have a home-cooked meal after work and I was so glad to have taken the time to put things together.  If you have the time, feel free to make this dinner in two separate dishes and pop one into the freezer for cooking later.  I’ve done this often and it’s a huge help to have a meal available for those days when you don’t feel like cooking or if you want to share a meal with a friend or neighbor.

Remember… I’m never far away if you’re having trouble with one of my recipes.  You can message me on Facebook (From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle) or via Twitter (@alisportshots) and I’ll get back to you asap!  Enjoy!

Starter Recipe: Easy Red Sauce

When you’re cooking, it’s always nice to have a great basic recipe for an easy pasta sauce in your arsenal.  Something that you can pull together with items from your pantry can make you feel prepared to whip up a great dinner any night of the week.  This is that sort of a recipe… it’s foolproof, yet easy to adapt to each family’s favorite tastes, which makes it a perfect “starter recipe” to have on hand.EasyRedSauce (1)

Ingredients:

  • 1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste (you’ll only need an amount the size of your thumb)
  • Seasonings (I like Italian Seasonings, Basil, and Oregano, as well as salt & pepper)
  • Red wine (Use as much or as little as you like – I used a dry red that I had in the fridge)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (One of my favorite ingredients to use to punch up the flavor)
  • Brown Sugar (I used 2 spoons-worth, but use as much or as little as you like)

In a medium saucepan, blend the entire can of crushed tomatoes, a thumb-worth of tomato paste, the seasonings and red wine.  Once this mixture simmers for a bit, add a bit of the vinegar and the brown sugar… make sure to taste your pasta sauce as it cooks and adjust the seasonings as needed.

For the latest dinner, I roasted a few turkey meatballs and added them to the sauce before dinner.  I served the meatballs and sauce on a bed of cooked thin spaghetti and it was a huge hit… everyone soaked up the last bits of sauce with pieces of bread, which is a positive sign in our house.

Hope you enjoy making this sauce for your own family… feel free to adjust and alter ingredients to make this sauce your own!

I’ve been asked to Guest Post on a blog!

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a guy named Julien Miquel, who asked if I might be willing to create a recipe for his wine blog, Social Vignerons. image

I had never been asked to “Guest Post” before, so this was a pretty big thing for me.  Couple that with the fact that Julien found me on my Twitter account (@Alisportshots), his blog was recently voted the 2015 Best New Wine Blog, and is a trained wine maker…. this was HUGE to me!

I decided to create Stuffed Pork Chops with Dry Rose’ Wine for his blog.  This is one of my favorite recipes but I had never posted it with a Dry Rose’ before… Sharing a special recipe with special people just seemed like the perfect fit.  Julien also linked my formally-posted Twice Baked Potatoes recipe on his site, so I hope people find both recipes enjoyable!

I do hope that all who read this blog will begin to follow Julien and his wine blog… he offers a new perspective on some old-world expectations.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Snow Pea Stir-fry

As promised via Instagram, I am posting my recipe for a delicious and amazingly simple dinner of chicken tenders, snow peas, and brown rice.  I have gotten this dinner down to a quick and easy “go-to” for our family and have altered it too many times to count.  I am sharing this basic version so you, dear reader, have a place from which to “jump off” and create something that will appeal to the individual tastes of your own families… so let’s get to it!ChickenSnowPeas&Chard

I started with one package of chicken tenders and most of a bag of snow peas.  I cut each of the tenders into bite-size pieces and then added salt, pepper, and parsley before setting the chicken aside for a few minutes.

In a large skillet, I melted a bit of coconut oil on medium-high heat and browned half a diced onion,  Once the onion was browned, I added the chicken tender pieces and gave them time to cook thoroughly before adding the sauce.  I created the sauce by pouring about a cup of Chardonnay (I used Bread and Butter Chardonnay, because that was what I had in my fridge… feel free to use whatever white wine you have or prefer) into a bowl, adding a large glug of a pre-made sweet and savory sauce from Sam’s Club that we had in the fridge, along with a “thumb-size” amount of cream cheese, and pouring that into the skillet.  I added the snow peas and stirred everything together until the cream cheese had melted into the sauce and the peas had a chance to cook a bit.  I then served the stir-fry over a bed of brown rice.  I should also note that I added a bit of the same “sweet and savory sauce” into the rice when it was cooking, so there was some syncing of the flavors between the stir-fry and the rice.

Honestly, this is all I did to make dinner last night.  I have made variations in which I substitute the sweet and savory sauce with some pre-made housin sauce but I’ve also done the same thing using wine, the juice of a lemon, and some light-colored jam (I like apricot, peach, or fig preserves).  Play around with this recipe on your own and find your favorite version to serve.  It’s amazing how fresh and wonderful things taste when you play with ingredients!

Red Turkey Lasagna

I have a confession to make…. I love lasagna.  Rarely will I order it in a restaurant because I know that I love the taste of this recipe and can’t imagine ordering something *out* that I can make myself.  I’m sure that there are tons of variations on this recipe… with or without meat, red sauce vs white sauce, cooked noodles vs the no-bake noodles… but this is my favorite “go to” recipe to use if I’m being honest.  It originally came from a Weight Watchers cookbook but, as with most anything I make, it’s been altered and adjusted to fit our unique tastes.  Here’s how I make it:RedTurkeyLasagna (1)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Dry red wine, about 1/2-3/4 cup
  • Spinach leaves (I used about 1 1/2 cups and sliced them fairly thin)
  • 1 large can pasta sauce (use your favorite… I like a basic meat sauce)
  • 1 16-oz container of low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Italian seasoning (1 teaspoon or so… I simply shake it on until it “looks right”)
  • freshly grated nutmeg (don’t go crazy on this… you just want a hint)
  • 1 package lasagna noodles (you won’t use the entire package… I typically use about 9 or 10)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium high setting.  Brown ground turkey, using a potato masher to break up the meat into small pieces.  NOTE:This is the BEST way to brown meat, in my humble opinion. Add onion and red wine to the meat and cook until the wine is thoroughly incorporated.  Add spinach (or any other vegetables you care to add), cook until spinach wilts, then add pasta sauce and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Boil noodles, as directed on package, or immerse them in boiling water until softened.  Drain and set aside.
  • Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, egg whites, Italian seasoning, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Begin to layer your lasagna together. NOTE: I used a 9×9 pan and a 9×3 pan – normally, I’d simply use a single 9×13 pan.  This is where your noodle amounts may vary.  I used 11-12 noodles to cover these two pans, but the rest of the ingredients remained the same.  I also vary the direction of the noodle placement with each subsequent layer so the finished lasagna holds together well.  
  • Start by spooning a bit of the sauce to lightly cover the bottom of your pan(s). Place noodles over the bottom in a single layer.  Top with 1/3 sauce mixture, then dollop half of the cheese mixture over the sauce.  Repeat noodle, sauce, and cheese layers.  Top with noodles and final third of the sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan.  NOTE: If making ahead or freezing lasagna, this is the place to stop.  Cover with foil and pop in fridge or freezer, then allow dish to thaw overnight before continuing.
  • Cover and bake lasagna for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake until lasagna is bubbling and cheese is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow the lasagna to set for 5 minutes before serving.

As I mentioned, this is my favorite lasagna recipe.  Not only is it easy to make, it has delicious flavor and is a simple way of getting vegetables into your meal without much effort.  I like to add a side of garlic toasts to accompany this dish.

NOTE: To make garlic toasts, I start with a roll from the freezer (Ciabatta rolls work well for this, as do sub rolls).  Slice the frozen roll into bite sized slices and lay them on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spray the slices with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic salt.  When you remove the lasagna from the oven, turn oven off and pop the baking sheet into the hot oven.  The toasts will crisp as the oven cools and be ready to eat by the time you finish plating the lasagna.  I put the garlic toasts into a wooden serving bowl and pitch the foil… no messy cleanup!

I hope you’ll try this lasagna recipe sometime… it makes an amazing dinner and is always appreciated by my neighbors if I am able to share.  Enjoy!

Lemon Wine Sugar Scrub

It’s officially spring around here and I have been searching for something to help get my winter skin ready… I think this recipe is a FABULOUS way to give you the soft skin you want as we start wearing less layers each day.  I looked at hundreds of recipes that called for so many wonderful-sounding ingredients, but it all came down to the idea that I wanted to find something easy to make (and remake) anytime I want.  I hope you’ll find this recipe to be the easiest… and one that can be altered in a myriad of ways to suit anyone’s taste preference.LemonWineSugarScrub (1)

I started with one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar.  To this, I blended in one quarter cup of coconut oil and one quarter cup of olive oil as well as one Tablespoon of lemon extract and one Tablespoon of white wine (I used a Chardonnay for this recipe).  Once all the ingredients are mixed together in the bowl, use a whisk and thoroughly incorporate the ingredients until they resemble a very light and airy cookie dough.  They will separate at a later point, but this is your scrub.

Once the sugar scrub is light and thoroughly blended, spoon it into resealable containers.  You can see that I chose one plastic jar and one glass jar for the photo – this is simply because I had both on hand.  Use whatever you prefer or choose to use.

This scrub will keep for a few weeks… it’s not necessary to refrigerate the scrub as the oils will solidify and have to be warmed up before use if you do so.  I like to use this scrub on my feet and hands to keep both soft and smooth.  Feel free to keep some by the kitchen sink to use after doing dishes or in the bathroom for use in the shower or at bedtime.  It smells lovely and your hands & feet will appreciate the attention. This makes a wonderful and thoughtful gift for anyone on your list.