Wednesday, February 11, 2015

3 Wines for Valentine's Day

The masses are rushing to make Valentine's Day reservations. But don't panic, friends, don't get caught in the fray.  Fighting the V-Day crowds for a table can be annoying -- plus, some of the best meals are made at home with love. But to ensure your dinner will compete with the "dining out" experience, you must have some great wine to accompany what you're cooking. Here are 3 that I recommend.
Nothing says Valentine's Day like bubbles and you can never go wrong with Chandon Rose. With vibrant fruit  forward flavor, it's known to pair well with shellfish like oysters or shrimp cocktail. True as that may be, sparkling wine is a great pre-dinner look, too. If you're cooking together for Valentine's Day, why wait for the entree to be served? Pop the bottle early and the cooking part will seem more like a party than a chore.
Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon is a new one for me. I recently tried it with bison burgers and it really stood up nicely to the red meat.  This wine has an earthy, savory taste that would pair well with that filet mignon you're planning to grill.
I love a Washington State wine and Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot 2012 is another great wine to pair with your romantic dinner. With flavors of ripe cherries and dark fruit, this wine would be fantastic with Italian food or pasta dish, like a lobster ravioli or shrimp scampi. Whether you're cooking an elaborate meal or ordering pizza, remember: life is too short to drink bad wine! Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recipe: Meditteranean Mahi Mahi

This is a colorful and healthy fish recipe that is made all in one baking dish, which allows you to hang out with your guests instead of tied to the stovetop preparing your meal. You can prep this prior to guests arriving and then pop it in the oven 20 minutes before you're ready to serve dinner.
  • 6 six-oz Mahi fillets
  • 2 cups quartered marinated artichoke hearts (with marinade liquid, do not drain)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamara olives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 1 package crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • Spray baking dish with cooking spray and place fillets down with a little space in between
  • Season with salt and pepper  
  • Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and pour them evenly over the fish fillets
  •  Slice lemon into wheels and
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Serve with a side of orzo. I chopped up a tomato, a handful of parsely and used some extra feta on the orzo as a side.
I served this with a salad on New Year's Eve and it was a hit! My wine pairing reccomendation is Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay 2013.
 It actually has pineapple flavors and a creamy texture which pairs nicely with white fish and the saltiness of the capers and olives.
Do you have any super easy fish recipes? I'd love to check them out, leave a comment below.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wines to Serve with Christmas Dinner

Happy holidays! How has 2014 treated you? It's been quite a year. I've had a couple of big changes in my life, including (but not limited to) welcoming a precious new family member and taking on a new job. At times, things have been a little hectic juggling everything, but overall this year has been pretty excellent.
I have a couple days of downtime to enjoy for the holidays, so I thought it's about time to post some Christmastime wine recommendations. We're spending time now in a part of Florida I've never discovered before, Rosemary Beach. It sits right on the Gulf of Mexico in between Destin and Panama City Beach -- and it's simply beautiful here. The weather has been crisp and cool, the white sand beach is gorgeous, the water crystal blue. And the Main Street area is as quaint and charming as can be.
I took this photo last night as we were walking up from the beach. I mean, couldn't this be mistaken for a little European village or what? We're celebrating the holidays here with family, and the traditions we maintain are many. My husband's family is Italian and they maintain is the tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes. Basically you fill the day eating 7 courses of seafood, each meant to represent one of the 7 Sacraments. I'll try to snap some photos -- between lobster ravioli, stuffed clams, and calamari fra diavolo, we have some tasty things on the menu for Wednesday.  One wine I brought to pair with the seafood dishes is Gia Pinot Grigio.
Named after Francis Ford Coppola's granddaughter, Gia, It's a light-bodied, refreshing white with flavors of pineapple and and peaches. It has a hint of sweetness which should complement the spiciness of some of the dishes we have planned. This bottle is around $15 and can be found at Total Wine.
 Another wine we've set aside for 7 Fishes is Bonterra's 2013 Viognier. I've long been a fan of Bonterra, a vineyard that makes organic and biodynamic wines out of Mendocino Country, CA.  I like so many of the wines The flavor profile of this one is also full of citrus and peach -- and you can't beat the price point of around $12 or $13.
Another holiday tradition we uphold is serving pierogis, or Polish dumplings that can be stuffed with potato, cheese, cabbage and sometimes even blueberries. The cabbage variety, in my opinion is the best.  I grew up in a Polish family and we always celebrated Wigilia, which is the traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast that takes place after the sun sets. Pierogis are served at the start of the meal and frying them up in a pan with butter and onions always brings back childhood memories. My dad always ships me a few dozen pierogis to cook up for the holidays and they made the trip to the beach with us, of course. With this meal, I plan to serve Kendall-Jackson's 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabbage pierogis have an unmistakeable and delicious flavor and served with sour cream, they warrant a full-bodied red as their pairing.
The fourth and final wine I'll reccomend here is one I brought along to serve with one of my favorite appetizers, baked brie. Here's the recipe I always use, it's super simple and perfect for holiday entertaining. Chardonnay is my go-to white and Chateau Ste Michelle's Indian Wells Chardonnay is buttery and delicious. This one can be found for under $20 at most grocery stores.
It goes great with this baked brie, served inside a flaky croissant crust, with apples on the side. Which wines are you serving this holiday season? Have you tried any of the wines I listed here? Leave a comment below and enjoy your traditional holiday favorite meals.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Homemade Baja Fish Tacos

Tacos and beer is a classic and beloved pairing, but who says you can't pair tacos with wine? That's right: wine.
I did my study abroad program in Guanajuato, Mexico, where street tacos are a classic 'quick food' staple. Mexican food and culture holds a special place in my heart. But then again, so does Washington state wine. The 2013 Chardonnay by Chateau Ste Michelle is a food-friendly wine with bright apple and sweet citrus flavors. It's a full-bodied white that pairs well with not only with the fish in the tacos but also all the bright and flavorful toppings, like pickled onions and cilantro.

Here's a quick recipe that feeds 4: Slice a 1/2 red onion and marinate it in white vinegar and 2 heaping spoonfuls of sugar. While that's pickling, finely mince one large bell pepper (red or orange), 1 cup of cilantro, and half a head of purple cabbage. Finally, cook 1 1/2 lb filet of white fish (tilapia or cod are great for this). Once the fish is cooked, microwave your corn tortillas for about 10-15 seconds so they are malleable and don't break when you stuff them. Create your tacos with your chosen ingredients and enjoy with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

48 Hours in New Orleans

Oh, New Orleans, you foodie mecca. You have won my heart. 
Recently we traveled to NOLA to witness the wedding of our friends Megan and Gabe. 
In the quintessential New Orleans nuptials, they wed in historic Jackson Square and then we all took part in a Second Line Parade to an incredible reception at the beautiful Hotel Mazarin. A big Congrats to the Copellos! When we weren't toasting the happy couple, we spent the weekend eating and the next eating destination. Here's a glimpse at some of my favorite dishes and drinks.
 Loved this muffuletta from Napoleon House. They serve them hot and chock full of olive relish, which in my mind, makes the best type of muffuletta.
Warm, soft, buttery beignets fresh from the kitchen at Beignet Cafe. The line outsie of Cafe du Monde was way too long to wait in. This place around the corner is said to be just as good and while I have no basis for comparison, I'd venture to say these were stellar.
Our one fine dining meal out was at Restaurant August. This is " huitlacoche agnolotti, with slow roasted Sandy Hook rabbit and smoked chilis." It was amazing and I would happily eat a plateful of this. After every bite I was raving.
We took Megan's advice and sought out the best Moscow Mule in town at Bar Tonique. This was definitely tasty - you have to love a place that makes their own ginger bitters.

This pasta dish is Buccatini Nero from Emerils' New Orleans, one of the entree courses in their 3-course lunch menu for $22.50. Squid ink pasta, corn, tomatoes, shrimp and tasso ham. Delicious!  Another meal, not pictured, but worthy of mention, was the Fried Peacemaker Po' Boy we had at Acme Oyster House -- piles of fried shrimp and oysters on a fresh white baguette, covered in hot sauce.  New Orleans has so much great food, I think you'd have to spend weeks there in order to experience all the amazing flavors the city has to offer.

What are your favorite NOLA foodie spots?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Wine Wednesday: Sauvignon Blanc Picks & Pairing Ideas

Two new Sauvignon Blancs I am loving these days are both crisp and great for fall sipping. The first is Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2013. This one has aromas of grapefruit, nectarine and lemon and bright acidity.
I paired the Matanzas Creek with a seared tuna steak, rubbed with spices I got at Sanwa Market and my zucchini noodle salad -- here's the recipe

The second one that has recently found it's way on to my Total Wine shopping list is Chateau Ste Michelle 2013 Sauvignon Blanc.
The mostly stainless steel fermentation makes this a very crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It has hints of melons and herbs. I paired this one with grilled turkey burgers topped with sharp cheddar. On the side, grilled peaches. This was my first time grilling peaches and it won't be the last. It's such a simple side dish, and you could easily turn it into a dessert topping it with ice cream. Why not?! 

What are your favorite Sauvignon Blancs? Leave me a comment below!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tampa Tailgate 2014: Kickoff to a Cure to be Held at Amalie Arena, Sept. 20

The 13th Annual Tampa Tailgate: Kick-Off to a Cure, an event to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will return to the Amalie Arena (formerly the Tampa Bay Times Forum) on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 6pm–11pm. The event combines football, food and festivities with the goal of raising funds to go toward Cystic Fibrosis research and patient services.
The event: Saturday night college football will provide the entertainment, while fans celebrate with an indoor tailgate party. Guests will enjoy food and drinks from premier Tampa-area restaurants that have donated time and services to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Plus, a silent and live auction will include sought after sports memorabilia, spa packages and vacation getaways. Individual tickets are $100 and include unlimited food and beverage (beer, wine, cocktails) from a wide variety of Tampa's top restaurants. Buy tickets.

The reason: Tampa Tailgate was founded by Chip and Heather Bauder soon after their son, Logan, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was 5 months old. The Bauders are my neighbors and one of the nicest families you could ever meet. I've learned a little more about CF over the past few years through their fight, and I've always been in awe of Logan's positive attitude as they all battle for a cure together by way of this event.
Logan and his dad, Chip at last year's Tampa Tailgate. Logan spoke to the crowd about his battle against CF and did such an amazing job sharing his story -- he brought the house down!
Logan has never known what it's like to just wake up and start his day -- or go to bed at night without doing treatments for his condition.Funds from this event are put directly toward research toward a cure for this
 Each year Logan creates original artwork to promote the event, and it's featuyr. This piece was entitled "Buccaneers Assault on CF." 
For ticket and sponsorship information, visit or call (813) 374-9041. Like Tampa Tailgate on Facebook for up-to-date event information.