Good Friday

I haven’t met a bad Friday.  But today I’m not here to blog.  I’m here to tell you that I’m spending the day (and the weekend) with my family.  I’m going to live presently this weekend.

And I’m going to enjoy every moment of every second that I’m given with the ones I love.

Thursday Thoughts

1.  It’s my Friday.  And I am so pumped about a 3-day weekend.

2.  The past two nights have involved girlfriends and good food.  I’m not used to being such a social butterfly.  But I like it.

3.  On Tuesday night I dined in Raleigh at Cantina 18.  I tell ya, that place is just so incredibly delicious.  And it’s the best sangria on the face of the Earth.

4.  The sangria was especially delicious considering it was the most stressful tax day in all my 30 years.

5.  Last night was sushi night!  I think I could eat sushi every day.

6.  Rumor has it that rose is delicious with Easter dinner.  So I bought some to share with the family.

7.  Let’s be honest, the only thoughts I have today are about the weekend.

8.  Let’s get this workday and workweek over with.

9.  And finally, I really hope my Momma wants me to help in the kitchen this weekend.  I haven’t been in the kitchen nearly enough this week due to my social calendar.

 

 

 

Chicken Parmesan with Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Al fresco dining is one of my favorite parts of Spring.  In the summer, the humidity and bugs take over and make eating outside miserable.  But in the Spring, it’s not unbearable hot and the bugs haven’t made their way into my backyard.

 

This truly is a lightened-up comfort food kind of meal.  The tomato sauce is a combination of roasted tomatoes, garlic, onion, thyme, chicken broth and white wine.  Allowing the tomatoes to roast before making the sauce (more of a chutney, in my opinion) adds such a depth of flavor.  And despite not having any sugar added, the sweetness of the tomatoes really shines.  The chicken cutlets are coated in a mixture of mayonnaise, almond milk and Parmesan cheese that serves as the “glue” for the panko-coating.  The result was super tender yet crispy chicken that was full of flavor.  The panko-coating was a mixture of gluten-free panko (which worked fantastically), Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Once the chicken was cooked through, a sliced of mozzarella was added to the top before broiling for the perfectly browned crust and melted cheese.  The chicken was topped with basil confetti before serving for a pop of freshness.

On the side, a simple spinach salad with a sweet and sour bacon vinaigrette.  Bacon fat is used instead of oil and is mixed with apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper for a simple but amazing flavor combination.  But is bacon ever bad?

 

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The end result, a meal that made me smile.  Comforting, fresh, healthy and full of flavor.  I couldn’t ask for much more.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Spring Wine Dinner

This past Saturday night, we attended our wine clubs (Friends of the Vine) Spring Wine Dinner featuring Rodney Strong Vineyards.    Wine dinners are one of my favorite things in the world and if given the opportunity to attend a wine dinner I will do anything in my power to make sure I am there.

Our story begins more than 50 years ago, when a celebrated American dancer named Rod Strong settled in Sonoma County to pursue a second lifelong creative passion: winemaking. Rodney Strong Vineyards was the 13th winery bonded in the newly discovered Sonoma County wine industry. A trio of winemaking paths crossed when Rick Sayre joined the team as Winemaker in 1979, and again when the Klein Family, 4th generation California farmers, purchased the winery in 1989 and initiated a renewed commitment of modern artisan winemaking. Through the years, Rodney Strong Vineyards has earned the reputation for critically acclaimed Single Vineyard and Reserve wines, stand out Estate releases and best-in-class Sonoma County varietal wines.

 

The evening began with a Passed Hors D’Oeuvre:

Chilled English Pea Puree
Crispy “Heritage Farms” Bacon Crumble
2012 Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County

Wine tasting notes:

Light, crisp, and highly aromatic, the warmer climate Alexander Valley fruit gives this wine ripe peach, tangerine, and pineapple character,while the ocean cooled Russian River Valley fruit offers citrus, lemon grass, and slightly herbaceous qualities.

I adored this soup.  And I was really surprised that Big Guy loved it, too.  The soup was crowned with a drizzle of olive oil and bacon that gave the peas a little more heartiness.

First course:

Delta Asparagus Salad
Crisped Bacon, White Truffle Aioli
2012 Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill

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Wine tasting notes:

Encouraging malolactic fermentation added additional character, and in the glass the wine is both creamy and crisp, with abundant fruit character, mineral, and toasty oak.

Another one of my favorite plates courses.  While the wine wasn’t necessarily my favorite, I understood the pairing.  The best part of this plate:  the white aioli.  Holy deliciousness.  I want that sauce with a plate of fries.  Please and thank you.

Second course:

Thumbelina Carrot and Maine Lobster Risotto
Arborio Rice, Fontina Val D’Asta, Fine herbs
2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

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Wine tasting notes:

Soft and silky, with intriguing rose petal and crushed pomegranate aromas, this medium bodied wine was aged for 10 months in small French oak barrels, which added a hint of toasty vanilla and spice complexity.

Creamy, delicious risotto.  The arborio rice was cooked to perfection.  The flavors were out of this world.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had a risotto quite like this.  And the wine was one of my favorites.

Quite possibly my favorite course of the evening.

Third Course:

Boneless Rack of Domestic Lamb
Great Northern Bean Puree, Fennel Compote, Oven Dried Tomato, Nicoise Olive Bordelaise
2011 Symmetry Meritage, Alexander Valley

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Wine tasting notes:

The 2010 Symmetry greets you with an opulent bouquet of blackberries, cassis and sweet spices which unfold on the palate with layers of black fruits, dark chocolate and spice.

The lamb was cooked perfectly.  I loved the addition of the fennel to this plate.  The sauce was decadent and paired perfectly with the wine.

Dessert:

Hillsborough Creamery’s “Sweet Ash”
Candied Pecans, Fig Jam, Port Reduction
2010 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet, Alexander’s Crown

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Wine Tasting Notes:

The Crown expresses Cabernet in an almost Bordeaux-like style, with ripe flavors centered on red fruit, soft tannins, and balanced acidity.

Pecans, fig and port – three of my favorite flavors.  I’ve had the opportunity to try this cheese several times and every single time it’s an experience.  The flavor is simply incredible.  The chef took a risk and paired a Deviled Quail egg with this course.  The egg was originally planned to go with the asparagus salad.  I applaud the Chef for making such a bold move but I think I would have preferred it with the salad course.  This particular wine was the most expensive of the night and worthy of a special occasion.

I cannot say enough things about this brilliant menu.  Every course made sense with the wine pairing.

Weekend Review {pizza, wine dinner and Sunday stuff}

Oh, Monday.  You arrive way too quickly.

But the weekend was absolutely gorgeous.  Gorgeous weather and gorgeous food was the theme of this past weekend.

On Friday night, we kept it low-key with a pizza night at home.

Mini Meatball Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Red Peppers via How Sweet It Is

The only changes I made to the recipe – I used a gluten-free pizza crust kit (Cup 4 Cup) and I used gluten-free panko in the meatballs.

Saturday, Big Guy finished up the fire pit in the back yard.  I did not work so hard.  I did hit the gym for my favorite Saturday morning class.  But after that, it was manicure and pedicure time.

Therefore I can’t take any credit for the fire pit.  I see many nights being spent out here.

On Saturday night we had a wine dinner to attend.

To say I was excited is an understatement.

The Friends of the Vine Wine Club’s Spring dinner featured various wines from the Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards.

The food and wine was all delicious.  I will have more thorough recap of the night later in the week.

After a little too much wine on Saturday night, I needed a boost of nutrients to get me through Sunday.

So I sipped a green smoothie and planted herbs.  Actually, I arranged the herbs.  Big Guy planted them.

Sunday night’s dinner was amazing.

Chicken Parmesan with Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce.  More details on this dinner later in the week, too.

Post-dinner, we sat outside and enjoyed the most amazing Spring evening.  I had to drag myself inside.

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Insta-Lately {Siggi’s, PBJ, #tbt, most “likes” ever}

This might be one of the most random Insta-Lately posts ever.  But I’m going to roll with that.  Because it’s Friday.  And I haven’t wanted to see Friday this bad since last Thursday.  (wink wink)

I’ll be back on Monday with a recap of my weekend.

TGIF!

Seriously thick.  Seriously tasty.  I need to find more.

April 2nd was National PB&J Day.  Naturally I had to participate.

Probably one of the best #tbt pictures I’ll ever post.  Absolutely hilarious.  And slightly awkward.

On Monday I did something I’ve talked about for years – I cute more than 2 inches off my hair.

I’m guessing she chopped off about 6-7 inches and I’m obsessed with my new ‘do.

Little did I know that a requested selfie would generate so many “likes.”  In fact, it was a record for me.

Big Guy was jealous.

Especially since he gets his hair cut every 2 weeks.

The past Wednesday I had a sushi and bubbles date with one of my favorites.

It was a wonderful evening and the night solidified why gal pals are so important.

Happy Friday!  And enjoy your weekend.

 

20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas

In order to use up corn tortillas that kept eyeing me in the fridge, I put 20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas on the menu for the week.  But I’m going to go ahead and warn you, they took me 35 minutes to prepare.  Considering you make your own enchilada sauce, though, I’d say 35 minutes isn’t too shabby.

Restaurant enchiladas are loaded with calories and not-so-healthy fat.  But these enchiladas are full of protein and fiber and there’s not a drop of oil in the recipe.

 

The sauce is made from chicken broth, onions, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder and cornstarch (about 1/2 tablespoon to thicken the sauce instead of flour).  While the sauce was simmering away, I shredded the rotisserie chicken.  Seriously, the best buy you can make at the grocery store.  I left the black beans out of the recipe – no particular reason – but I didn’t really miss them.  Unfortunately I only had about 1/2 cup cheese so I rolled with that.  Once the sauce is made and the chicken is shredded, the rest of the recipe is a piece of cake enchilada.  Fill each warmed corn tortilla with the chicken (which is added to the sauce) and arrange in a prepared baking dish.  The top is smothered with more of the delicious sauce and cheese.  Since the tortillas are warmed before they’re filled and the chicken is warmed from the sauce all you really have to do is melt the cheese.  The enchiladas are thrown into the oven for less than 5 minutes and dinner is ready.

enchilada 002

 

I topped the hot enchiladas with a sprinkling of cilantro and some pickled jalapenos for added heat.  I served the enchiladas on top of shredded purple cabbage for some added nutrients.

Delightfully delicious and filling.