Tag Archives: Wine

Seafood Pasta Supper

We love seafood, well, you know being from Hawaii. Now that we live in the middle of the desert, it’s a little difficult to find anything fresh. While out shopping the other day, I spied frozen Green lip Mussels from New Zealand, my husband’s favorite, and Jumbo Shrimp, mmm…

seafood pasta dinner

I can’t eat Mussels and my husband can’t eat Shrimp, so I made two different dishes for our supper last night.

Mussels Marinara with Rigatoni

My Husband’s plate of Rigatoni and Mussels Marinara

The Mussels Marinara is a super easy dish to make.

Simply wash the mollusks, remove them from the shell and be sure to get any beards. Next, throw the meat of the Mussels into a pot with just a splash of white wine or water, cover and steam gently until barely cooked through, about 3-6 minutes, depending on their size. Drain well; toss in your favorite sauce (I already talked about my Marinara that I canned and have at the ready at all times) and heat. Serve over your choice of pasta, maybe some polenta or straight up.

My bowl, Shrimp Scampi-style with orecchiette and lots of fresh Italian Parsley

My bowl, Shrimp Scampi-style with orecchiette and lots of fresh Italian Parsley

For the Shrimps, I made them Scampi-style, one of my favs.

Again, very simple.

In a medium sized pan, melt equal amounts of butter and olive oil (I used about 2 tablespoons of each, I like a lot of sauce to dip my bread in) on a low heat. Add in as much minced garlic as you like (I put in 4 LARGE cloves). Just before the garlic starts to color, add in the cleaned shrimps; as soon as you see some pink on the crustaceans, turn and add in your el dente pasta (I used orecchiette) and a splash of white wine along with as much chopped flat leaf parsley as you wish. Finish sautéing for about another minute or so, until the Shrimp is just done.

It’s a nice touch just before you place the bowl in front of your guest to sprinkle with more chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan (I shaved the cheese this time for effect).   A slice or two of a good quality bread, a glass of wine and I’m very happy.


*Note: If you can find the New Zealand Green lipped Mussels, do try them.  They are so much larger and very plump and juicy, much better.  You can usually find them in the freezer case on the half shell, par steamed.


A Blast From The Past

I didn't know this stuff was till being made!


I was poking around in the market (no, we don’t have to go to a State Liquor store here in the middle of the desert) and look what I found.  I had no idea that they still made this stuff.  So I bought a JUG  and you know what?  I kinda liked it as a wine spritzer.


Happy Belated Valentine’s Day

I know I’m late, but my darling husband and I just got back from a terrific long weekend away. We went to visit with our friends in Northern Arizona once again, this time it was just that little bit, more. We all went this great little organic vineyard in Chino Valley, Granite Creek Vineyard.

This is such an adorable place, I only wish that I had not been having such a good time as to walk around and ask questions about the place, but we’ve all decided that in the Spring, when everything is in full leaf, we’ll go back again. DH says that we should make sure to buy a nice bottle of wine to enjoy on the grounds next time and spend more time there.  HE even liked it and he doesn’t drink (he was our designated driver).

There’s this delicious catering truck out back of the tasting room that serves up some mouth watering treats to go along with your glass or bottle, as the case may be. Block Six Catering. We were each offered a complimentary dessert, (sorry no photos, they went so fast and I was having so much fun) of Carrot cake, Chocolate layer cake or Cheesecake. Our choices were three Cheesecakes and one Carrot cake, yum! For a savory, we opted for the Cheese plate, WOW!

An unusual lavash on top, that hit both the sweet and umami on my tounge; Brie, Manchago, Triple Cream Bleu and Smoked Provolone (all of my personal favs), Candied Pecans, Kalamata olives, some sliced tart Green Apple and a sort of Compote (I forgot to ask, maybe too much wine ?) that we think was made of cherries. The four of us shared the dish, which was plenty as a late lunch.

I want to return to this oasis in the middle of NO WHERE  not only for the wine but the food as well.

Valentine Day Sunset in Chino Valley, AZ

This was the end to the perfect Valentine’s Day weekend with my sweet-heart and two righteous friends.


Pot Roast with an Italian Twist

I enjoy watching America’s Test Kitchen as well as Cook’s Country on PBS. Both are spin offs from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. They’re all about the food, equipment and the ins and outs of cooking, no commercialism.

One Sunday afternoon, I watched as they made Italian Pot Roast, hmmm, that looked pretty darn good, so I printed out the recipe and there it sat in my binder over the kitchen stove for 2 years.

The recipe calls for a cut of beef that I just couldn’t find here in the middle of the desert, chuck-eye roast, so I went for the always at the ready chuck-blade roast.

This is an easy enough recipe, the thing is, my pot roasts come out terrible! So I made no other alterations, and followed the instructions as set forth:

*This is my adaptation from Cook’s Country TV*

3 ½ to 4 pound chuck roast

2 Tbsp. Oil (olive or canola or vegetable, no matter)

1 medium Onion, chopped

1 rib of Celery, chopped

1 lb. Crimini Mushrooms, quartered

2 Tbsp. Tomato paste

1 15oz. can diced Tomatoes (I use no salt-added)

½ C. Tomato sauce (any kind will do)

2 tsp. sugar

½ C. water

1 C. light, sweet, Red Wine such as a beaujolais or merlot (it doesn’t need to be expensive, I got Trader Joe’s merlot for $3.99 and it taste good too)

1 head of garlic, paper skin removed & cut horizontally

½ tsp. each dried Thyme and Rosemary (recipe calls for a sprig, but I only had dried)

Italian Pot Roast, the cast members

Preheat the oven to 300⁰

Pat the meat dry and season with S&P

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat, just until you see a wisp of smoke. Brown the meat on all sides and set aside on a plate.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the onion, celery mushrooms and paste, just until the veg is barely tender. Add in the canned tomatoes, sauce, sugar, water and ½ cup of wine, garlic and thyme; stir well and added back in the meat with all of the juices.

Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot tightly with tin foil and then the lid, put the pot into the oven to cook until the meat is fork tender, maybe 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours, turning the meat over in the pot after 1 hour.

leave the meat to rest IN THE POT that was my mistake until now

When done, remove the lid and foil and leave the meat in the juices to rest for 30 minutes, skimming any fat off after about 20 minutes. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent with more foil. Remove the garlic head and set aside.

Add the remaining ½ cup of wine to the pot and bring to a boil of medium-high heat on the stove top and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10-15 minutes. Squeeze the now soft garlic cloves out of the papers on a plate and mash to a paste; add the rosemary and garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant.


Italian Pot Roast

It was wonderful with roasted potatoes and veggies!

the finished product on the table

Here’s something that I learned: you know those cans of tomato paste that never get used up in one recipe?  I put the rest of the can into freezer zip bags in tablespoon portions and freeze it for later.  Why pay the big bucks for the stuff in a tub?

call me cheap, I freeze tomato paste from the can


Merry Christmas One And All


Raise your glass of cheer

Mele Kalikimaka



Do You Have To Drink Wine From A Fancy Pants Glass?

Something Different To Take Home

I say NO, my friends and neighbors.

For many years, well, as long as we lived in Hawaii anyways, we did not  have an automatic dishwasher, I washed everything by hand. One time I was washing a stemmed wine glass and it broke in my hand and gave me a nasty gash, three stitches worth. My dearest husband went out and bought me what he said his family always drank wine from, little juice glasses if you will. You know the ones that you get your chianti in when you go to those cute American-Italian restaurants with the red and white checkers plastic table clothes. I love it!

my last wine glass of a set DH gave me years ago

I still have one of them left after all of these years.

Wine Glasses don't always have to have stems

Recently I added a new one. I found this at Crate & Barrel. It was a bit rich for my blood, but really adorable.

There’s a set in a catalogue that we get that I hope Santa brings me.


Something Different To Take Home

Whenever DH and I travel, whether it’s across the country or the Pacific Ocean, I like to bring back different types of souvenirs. Last year from Hawaii, I brought back a Maki Sushi form so that we could make Cucumber Sushi the easier way. Now each time that I make it, I think about that trip.

Last week we were at the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are no words in any language to describe it, you just have to go there and feel it, not just see it. I could easily have sat in one spot (preferable outside on the patio at the El Tovar with a glass of wine), and simply stared off into the abyss for a day. Our time at the Park was spent primarily on the Eastern side of the South Rim; we plain needed more than one day. At each of the different venues that we stopped to look at wares for sale, I was thinking of something different, but nothing struck me. Later that evening, while wondering around the small town of Williams where we were staying, our niece and I went into one of many cute shops along Historic Route 66, and there sat a bar in the middle of the trinkets. Interesting. A lovely woman offered us wine samplings from some of the local vineyards that she had. I chose a nice dry white wine and asked if there were glasses for sale as well. Why, yes, yes they did. NICE!

There’s my memento to take home! No one else in our party found theirs, unfortunately.


Lunch Out In A Very Small Town

DH and I were out and about yesterday, running errands and it was WELL past lunch time. When you are dieting, I mean have changed the way that you look at food, one needs to eat on a regular timetable. There are only certain foods that we can eat as well as how they are prepared.

As we drove on, I remembered a place that we’ve been to a couple of times, Oracle Inn Steakhouse located in the small town of what else, Oracle Arizona.

Here in the middle of the desert, there are not many choices to get food out other than a chain fast food joint. Not for us. Nothing fried, breaded or soaked in butter, no can do on this diet. What we can eat is sirloin steak and chicken breast, which are both on the menu at this quaint restaurant.

This is not like a big city, slick, fancy kinda’ place, but just plain ole’ folk from around these parts, kickin’ back a few, havin’ a steak and maybe a piece of pie.

We already knew what we wanted to order: top sirloin, double the veg, no starch, hold THE most-delicious-fresh-hot-house-made bread (today it was marble rye), but NO (at least I said no), hold the bread and whipped honey butter, raspberry vinaigrette dressing on the salads, steaks medium with sauté mushrooms.   We’re not always a fan of sirloin, but they do it right at the Oracle Inn.

Hmmm, it’s Wednesday, that means two for one drinks (excluding shots) !

What a lovely afternoon out, were I didn’t have to cook, had a nice meal, TWO glasses of wine and a relaxing time with me very sweet husband.