dinner by peter!

We went over to our good friend Peter’s the other night for a lovely dinner!  This entry is somewhat of a guest blog entry… I’m writing it, but the dinner was all Peter’s work!  The meal centered around a Capture Sauvignon Blanc Les Pionniers 2009 that he had discovered recently.  Amazing.  It was crisp and citrus-y at the beginning, then got increasingly more herbaceous as it breathed and warmed to room temperature.

We brought along some good ole Humboldt Fog cheese (Whole Foods and Screwtop are both carrying it right now!), and it was a GREAT match.  Peter added champagne grapes for a perfect side spread.

Capture Sauvignon Blanc Les Pionniers 2009, Humboldt Fog, & Champagne Grapes

Peter cares a lot about where his food comes from, which is just awesome.  He gave us all the background details, so I will include them all!

The main dish was Chicken Pesto Pasta.  The pesto was made from scratch the day before with homegrown basil, store-bought pine nuts, shredded romano cheese, parsley, and garlic. Here it is being prepped…

Peter's Homemade Pesto (photo credit: Peter)

The chicken (from Magruder’s) was marinated overnight in lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, lemon pepper, and garlic seasoning.  Yum!  Then it was sautéed with a store-bought onion, pepper, and yellow squash from Biggs Riggs Farm in Romney, West Virginia.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Dessert was amazing, in a jaw-dropping way!!  Peter sliced up some peaches from Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and paired it with Trickling Springs Ice Cream from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  He topped it all with Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Granola!

By the way: I have not been to Pennsylvania many times, but I happened to have traveled to both Chambersburg and Shippensburg before!

Vanilla Ice Cream with Peaches and Granola

Thank you, Peter!  The meal was deliciously fresh, and the Sauvignon Blanc was so memorably intriguing!  What a perfect summer meal.  :)

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a bachelorette party spread!

As the matron of honor (I know, “matron” sounds so old!), I was in charge of throwing my dear friend Lauren a bachelorette party!  She wanted margaritas, a request I was happy to comply with, so I planned the spread to be mostly Mexican-themed. :)

Bachelorette Party Spread

MENU

  • Margaritas (2 shots quality tequila, 1 shot cointreau, 1/2 shot lime juice, 1/2 shot agave nectar for 1 strong serving)…  very pure and lovely margs!
  • Lemonade
  • Barbacoa Sliders
  • Mini homemade pizzas (pepperoni and cheese options, garlic & herb dough from Trader Joe’s)
  • Exotic Fruit (thanks to Julianne)
  • Homemade Guacamole (avocados, lime juice, fresh cilantro, sea salt, and pepper)
  • Salsa (thanks to Kim)
  • Tortilla Chips (thanks to Kim and Carrie)
  • Queso (thanks to Chaney)
  • Spicy Artichoke Dip (thanks to Carrie… I sure need to get this recipe!!)
  • Cheese-Stuffed Peppers (Poblano & Sweet Peppers stuffed w/a ricotta, cream cheese, cayenne pepper spice, & red pepper flake spice blend… then coated in olive oil and broiled!)
It all turned out AMAZING, and I was so thankful to have great contributors help out!  Lauren had a wonderful time, and felt very celebrated.  Hooray for love, and for good food! :)  Here is a close-up of the sliders… I used the same barbacoa recipe from this post… I added lots more jalapenos and such, but still couldn’t get it very spicy!  Oh well, still good.  The coleslaw was from the recipe I referenced in this post.

Barbacoa Sliders

I was inspired to make Barbacoa Sliders, because of my obsession with the happy hour at La Sandia in Tysons.  Seriously, their happy hour has SUCH great deals on food and drinks.  In fact, they just extended happy hour until 9pm on weekdays!  You bet I’ll be there on Friday before seeing the new Harry Potter movie!

easy seafood meals.

This is a post about nothing revolutionary… just two meals I’ve made lately that are EASY and involve seafood.  First, salmon!  It is my goal to cook salmon once a week.  (We’ll see.)  Today I was skimming an article on the Spanish Mediterranean Diet (from one of Chef José Andrés’ websites), and it really affirmed me in this meal:

Salmon w/Broccoli & Brown Rice

I think I tend towards Mediterranean ways in general… it’s probably the Greek in me.  For this meal, I used organic broccoli, brown rice with NO added anything (so the rice took 45 minutes or so to cook), and Atlantic Salmon (thanks, Harris Teeter, for your half-price deal!).  The salmon marinade consisted simply of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper… and I cooked the salmon in 5 minutes on our George Foreman.  I finally watched Food Inc the other weekend, and it inspired me to eat as purely as possible!!

Of course, to balance out Food Inc, I suggest watching this.  The other extreme… so funny.  :)

Here is the second seafood meal I made recently:

Garlic & Basil Linguine w/Shrimp & Spicy Tomato Sauce (w/Broccoli & Squash)

The caption describes what’s going on here.  The garlic and basil linguine is from Trader Joe’s (I love it, because it cooks in just around 5 minutes or so.).  I made the spicy tomato sauce (really an “arrabiata sauce“) from tomato paste, water, and tons of different dried spices.  I was going to put ground beef in the sauce for a standard meat sauce concoction, but Chris and I had just eaten Elevation Burger for lunch (YUM!  And so in line with Food Inc… grass-fed, free range beef, and fries cooked in olive oil!), so we decided to go with fresh shrimp in the sauce instead.  It was a lot lighter, but still filling.  Delicious! :)

mexican, mexican, mexican.

I have SO much Mexican food to share!  Next post, I promise to move on to something else.  :)

Last weekend (not this past weekend, but the one before), I made my favorite casserole for our friends who just had a baby.  Here is a link to the recipe for the Southwest Pasta Bake…. I just call it “Mexican Lasagna.”  Tired of making the same old boring casserole?  Here is something that will wow your audience.  I made extra to enjoy with my dear friend Arielle, who was in town from Seattle.  We had a yummy South African Sauvignon Blanc (wine maker: Zafrika) from Trader Joe’s, which complimented the meal nicely.

Mexican Lasagna

Next, quesadilla madness.  Are you surprised?  I obviously love quesadillas.  :)  We had friends over a week ago, and this was the spread… Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw… (I know they are called “tacos,” but I really made them more quesadilla-like!)

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Cabbage Slaw

That’s Mexican rice in the crockpot, that our friend Sarah brought along.  I promise I will post the amazing margarita and guacamole recipes at some point!  A staple for Chris and I’s food life.

Tonight, I made similar quesadillas (with tomatoes added and pepper jack cheese, instead of feta).  I also wanted to share this Corn & Avocado Salad, from this month’s Real Simple issue.  Light and easy!  I used green onions instead of scallions.

Corn & Avocado Salad

The next meal will be more Italian-based… my other favorite cuisine besides Mexican.  :)

a sediment-al night.

Monday night, we had a dear friend over for dinner to drink a special bottle of wine that he gave us for our wedding!  A 2000 Domaine Cros Minervois Vieilles Vignes.  Most wines people buy these days are made to drink right now.  This wine is unique (for modern wine-drinking), because even at 11 years old, it was still hitting its peak!  All wines were once made this way… built to grow better with time.  Very cool.

The 2000 Domaine Cros Minervois Vieilles Vignes

I didn’t do the best job of pairing the meal with the wine (steak probably would have been a better fit), but the cheese I selected for a pre-dinner appetizer matched beautifully.  I highly recommend this French Morbier cheese, bought at Trader Joe’s!  It was stinky, pungent, and it brought out lovely dark berry flavors from the wine.  The vegetable streak through the middle of the Morbier is crazy!  (Crazy good.)

The French Morbier Cheese

Even though the meal might not have been the best choice for the wine, it sure was delicious!  I served prosciutto-wrapped grilled chicken stuffed with goat cheese & herbs, along with sautéed squash, steamed broccoli, and French bread.  The chicken was as easy to make as it is to write out!  I took chicken breast fillets, made a slit with a sharp knife, then stuffed in goat cheese (this particular cheese came already mixed with fresh herbs… you could also mix in your own!).  I tried to seal up the opening as best possible, then cooked the fillets in our George Foreman counter grill for about 5 minutes.  After that, I took the chicken out and carefully wrapped each fillet in prosciutto.  I cooked the chicken for about 2 more minutes, and the result was delicious!  It was like the prosciutto had been welded on — yum!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken, Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Herbs

It was a sediment-al night, because I have never seen such crazy sediment from a wine!  Truly an Old World style wine.  :)

Sediment!

i just can’t get enough goat cheese & pesto!

Some foods are just made for each other:  Peanut butter and jelly.  Chips and salsa.  Goat cheese and pesto!  This heavenly combo won me over in pizza form on Saturday night.  This morning, the memory was lingering so strongly that I decided my usual bagel with cream cheese just wouldn’t do.  (Sometimes when I find a food combo I love, I become a serial eater.)

First, the pizzas.  I had been intrigued by a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook (can also be found here).  We made some adaptations though.  Chris and I don’t like eggplant, so we used portabella mushrooms instead.  We also added some chopped onions and pizza sauce, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really in the mood for pizza, a sauce-less one just will not make the cut.  Finally, whenever we’ve been making pizzas lately, we use garlic-and-herb pizza dough from Trader Joe’s.  It adds a lot of party to a pizza.

We are unfortunately between pizza stones right now, so we used a quiche dish (actually turns out beautiful results!) and a 9 x 9 pan.

Pizzas in the Oven

By the way, Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest newsletter was on homemade pizza.  I think the main things I took from it were: 1) Don’t use too much sauce, and 2) I really want a wood-burning oven someday.

Trader Joe’s was our source for wine again.  A Lazy Bones 2009 Cabernet Franc from Paso Robles (very cheap, as usual).  Chris has been loving Cabernet Francs lately.  Though this one was from CA, it is a very popular grape in VA wines.  He read to me from The Wine Bible that Cabernet Francs usually have pepper and violet aromas.  I’ve never noticed the violet aspect, but the pepper definitely always stands out to me.

Goat Cheese, Portabella, & Pesto Pizza with Cabernet Franc

Finally, my Memorial Day brunch meal.  It felt like such an elegant way to start a day-off.  Basically, I toasted a plain bagel very lightly.  Then I brushed it with olive oil, adding freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.  Then came globs of goat cheese, drizzles of pesto, and some chopped sweet red peppers.  I popped it all back in the toaster oven for a few more minutes, and the meal turned out AMAZING.

Goat Cheese, Pesto, & Red Pepper Bagel

Also, I highly recommend making your own pesto.  It is SO easy, and SO worth it!  I always use a recipe out of a vegetarian cookbook I have, but it is similar to this.  You can refrigerate the pesto for up to a week, and freeze it for even longer!

asparagus tortellini + new zealand sauvignon blanc.

I always know I’ve fallen in love with a meal/food idea/type of wine/etc when I can’t stop thinking about it, and start feverishly finding out how to recreate it… or at least somehow have it again!  The asparagus sauce on my red snapper at Kinkead’s Thursday night was SO divine, it made me think back to the other delicious asparagus experiences of my life… asparagus soup at Teatro Golodoni during Restaurant Week two years ago… “asparagus three ways” at Citronelle the night Chris and I got engaged…

So yesterday I started searching the internet for an asparagus sauce recipe to use with pasta.  Amazingly, this was not easy to find, and I began to wonder if pasta with asparagus sauce was a strange idea?  I eventually found this yummy recipe from The Cooking Photographer.  I set to work and followed the ingredients and instructions pretty exactly.  I probably used more than a pinch of red pepper flakes (which gave it a really nice spicy element), and I also used cheese tortellini instead of ravioli.  The result was very nice!

Cheese Tortellini in Asparagus Cream Sauce with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Cheese Tortellini in Asparagus Cream Sauce

The wine was a 2010 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (around $10 at Trader Joe’s).  It had all of the nice lime and citrus flavors that I remembered from the one I had at Kinkead’s.  I really like the asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc combo.  I’m not an expert though, so I searched the Internet for affirmation.  Apparently, asparagus is quite a challenge to pair with wine!  It felt good to see “crisp, and refreshing wines like Sauvignon Blanc” on the list though.  The cashier at TJ’s said her opinion was that New Zealand is the place for SB, and after two nights in a row of enjoying it… I may have to agree!