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Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

We Have Our Own Kind of Scrum…

Hello Smoker

Hello Pressure Cooker

–Your summer vacation is OVER!

Hello Crockpot

Hello delicious, Fall Sunday Dinners

Venison Stew with Cinnamon & Wine
Recipe by: Edgar Navarrete, Affaire Bistro & Lounge, NYC

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 lb. venison meat diced for stew (leg)*Venson can be substituted with lamb. It’s just as awesome!!  :)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 celery root, peeled and diced
3/4 cup flour
1 bottle of red wine *(2010 Graffigna Centenario Malbec was used in this recipe)
2 quarts beef broth (canned)
5 cinnamon sticks
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste


Heat up a large braising pan. Season the meat with half of the olive oil (1/4 cup), salt and pepper. Heat the rest of the olive oil (1/4 cup) in the braising pan and cook the venison for about three minutes on each side. Remove from pan. Put the vegetables in the pan and sauté for about three minutes, season with salt and pepper. Once the vegetables begin to soften, add the venison and mix. Sprinkle flour on top and continue mixing. Once the flour is cooked (when you can no longer see it) add the wine, beef broth, cinnamon sticks, parsley and thyme, and bring it to a boil. Add sugar and tomato paste, and stir until incorporated. Cover with aluminum foil and reduce heat to a simmer (very slow boil). Cook for one hour, adding water if needed. Once the meat is tender, it is ready to serve.

Hello dark, peppery fruit bombs

2010 Graffigna Centenario Malbec (Sample, MSRP: $13 US)

Hello, you lovely vision in green

  –I’m starting to tear up…

Welcome back NFL…welcome back

I missed you… and all of the great food and wine that goes best with this time of year!  :)

Don’t Call It A Comeback

Well, how you doin’?  I know, I know…it’s been forever since my last post.  I could provide you with a host of excuses for my mysterious disappearance -  some interesting and others not so interesting – but what’s the point?  Let’s move on and talk about LOVE!  What about it, you ask??

The simple truth of the matter is that I’ve fallen in L-O-V-E:  not with one, but with 2 very special things since the start of 2012.

I’ll describe my first love of 2012 as restoration from devastation.  After 15 years with our beloved cats, they both passed away within weeks of one another at the end of 2011.  Noodle, our terrific alley cat who loved Fancy Dinner Friday and a big old plate of spaghetti and meatballs, passed away just before Thanksgiving.  Then to our complete shock (just a few weeks later) Noodle’s housemate and our soft and cuddly roomie, Church (who bore a striking resemblance to the cat from Pet Sematery), also passed away.  We bawled and then bawled some more all the way through the holidays. 

Shortly after the first of the year, my kids pulled me aside to ask the question, “Dad, can we have another pet?”  “What do you have in mind…a kitten…a litter of kittens?” I asked.  “No. Can we have a DOG this time?”  I did what every good father would do in this instance:  I turned to them and said, “Umm…I dunno, talk to your mother.”

A few mornings later, as we were waking up, my wife asked, “Can we get the kids a dog?”

I couldn’t believe it?!  They got to her.  The person who said that we would NEVER have another pet.  BRAINWASHED.  My immediate response:  “Are YOU going to get up at 4:30 in the morning to take it out?”  As far as she was concerned, that was the end of the conversation.

Later that day, something came over me and I thought to myself that it wouldn’t hurt to check out some cute dogs on  I sent my wife a couple links of some cute dogs, and that was the end of it:  A Mom’s love for her boys kicked into full gear.

It sure didn’t take her very long to track down the cutest, sweetest little doggie in the whole wide world to join our family and fill that open void in our hearts.  Nothing like gushing and being a proud new daddy (and all it took was a little coaxing :) )…

Meet the newest addition to our family, Billie.

Look at that cutie! 

We adopted Billie from Paula’s Dog House, a dog rescue in Mount Olive, NJ.  She was aptly named by the people at the rescue:  she has the cutest underbite that sort of makes her look like a little billy goat.  We’re not quite sure what breed she is, but whatever she is there might be some bunny rabbit mixed in since she loves to hop up and down the stairs!  ;)    What else can I say  – she’s adorable, super friendly, and a great new addition to our family!  Something tells me that you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about Billie. :)

Not a pet person?  Well I have another true love that has recently entered my life.  The second love is a kitchen super-tool that every aspiring master or top chef needs:  a pressure cooker!! 

After watching countless episodes of cooking shows last year, I decided that I needed to take my Poor Man’s Chef Creations to a whole new level.  I became infatuated with pressure cookers and begged my wife and friends for one of these nifty kitchen devices.  So what makes a pressure cooker so damn great you ask?  Well, imagine cooking something in an hour (or less!) that would take a crockpot/slow cooker all day. 

Ask and you shall receive!  The pressure cooker that I received as a gift was the Fagor Futuro 10-Qt. Stovetop Pressure Cooker.  One word for you – AMAZING!!

It’s even inspired my wife to get down, MasterChef Style!  It’s dishes like this one that make us want to use it nearly every night of the week.  Chicken Adobo!

Here’s a link to the recipe.

I decided to give our chicken adobo dish a go with two different wines:  the 2010 Morro Bay Split Oak Vineyard Sur Lie Chardonnay from California (Sample, MSRP: $11 US) and the 2009 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (Sample, MSRP: $16 US).  I figured the sweetness of the molasses would be a good fit for a Chardonnay.  Why the Cabernet Sauvignon?  Well…just because I was feelin’ Cabernet.

Brimming with tropical fruits such as fig, papaya and pineapples, the 2010 Morro Bay Split Oak Vineyard Sur Lie Chardonnay had bright acidity with a touch of sweet spices that was a perfect complement to this chicken adobo recipe. 

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2010 Morro Bay Split Oak Vineyard Sur Lie ChardonnayNot oaky in the least – it worked perfectly with this chicken dish, but would have been just as enjoyable all by itself.

For the red wine, I opted for the 2009 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for no other reason besides wanting a Cabernet – you know how that goes.  :)

I’ve reviewed several Los Vascos wines before and have found them to be reliable, go-to wines.  However, there was something different about the 2009 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was the first Cabernet Sauvignon that I’ve tasted from Los Vascos that teetered a little too much (for me) into that juicy-sweet New World style.  The 2009 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon delivers a sweet flow of cherries, blackberries, cinnamon and chocolate flavors from start to finish.

2 Stars out of 4 for the 2009 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  I tasted this Cab over the course of three days with similar results:  it made me want to search through cabinets looking for the half-eaten Whitman’s Sampler that was leftover from the holidays.

Here’s to great new beginnings!


Fall Back

We also have a great spirits section, shop today!

I have no idea what to call the fall feast that went down at my good friend Bruce’s house.  In a nutshell, it was a nosh-up of towering proportions that can only be summed up in one word – EPIC.

While the kids were running rampant, dancing and roasting marshmallows around the bonfire, and elbowing one another to get the most candy from the broken piñata, there were several adults having some fun of their own! 

Supervised, of course! :)

Every kid for themselves!! 

Earlier this year, I received several samples from brothers, James and Mark Blanchard of Blanchard Family Wines.  Located in Healdsburg, California, Brothers Blanchard operate a small family winery that produces and sells hand-crafted, limited production wines – only 1500 cases to be exact.  I took a real interest in their personal journey into the wine business, and thought it would be fun to share their wines with friends.

Our first selection on this beautiful, chilly fall evening was the 2009 Blanchard Family Sauvignon Blanc (Dry Creek Valley) (MSRP: $20 US).

Our group of tasters described it as being “citrusy, tart, possessing a grassy New Zealand-esque quality to it with very good acidity.” A few detected an “oniony” quality.  However, the group was unanimous and rated the 2009 Blanchard Family Sauvignon Blanc (Dry Creek Valley) 3 Stars out 4.

Onto the delights that had us all practically licking our bowls and plates all night long!

First up… Arugula, Apple, Pear with chopped Pecan and crumbled Blue Cheese Salad topped with an Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

I paired this simple, yet terrific salad with what turned out to be one of the favorite wines of the night – the 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris (Russian River Valley) (MSRP: $30.00).

2010 was the inaugural vintage of the Blanchard Family’s Russian River Valley Pinot Gris.  Its special name “Peoria Pink”  is inspired by the wine’s color, which is a light pink.  Another thing worth mentioning is 20% of all sales from 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris go to breast cancer awareness.  How great is that!?

Here’s what people were saying about the 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris (Russian River Valley)“Nice body, citrusy, sexy color! Great match with this salad!  Medium acidity and good structure.”  Tasters were split – some gave it 3 Stars, while others (including me) gave it 4 Stars out of 4!  Overall, it was a crowd-pleaser.

After finishing the 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris, we headed into hedonistic ecstasy when bowls of homemade pumpkin soup made their way out to the dining room table.

This soup, I tell you, was absolutely INCREDIBLE!!

I asked my friend Bruce to share some of his insights, secrets and tips for making this bountiful bowl of orange goodness, and this is what he had to say:

“In preparing the pumpkin soup, I found out very quickly that pureeing pumpkin is not as easy as it sounds.  Seems like it should be simple, right?  Place pumpkin in the blender/food processor; turn it on and instant pumpkin puree –right?  WRONG!  As it turns out, pumpkin is too dense to puree on its own, at least in my blender.  So my brilliant solution was to blend the pumpkin with chicken stock (the soup’s other base ingredient).  The trick, as I learned after much trial and error…and cleaning up pumpkin splatter on the walls, cabinets and ceiling is to have the right pumpkin to chicken stock ratio.  Oh yeah, two other notes: 1) Don’t lift the blender lid to peak in as pumpkin is being pureed unless you like wearing pumpkin and 2) Don’t wear a white shirt while trying to puree pumpkin.”

Thanks Bruce for sharing!

Now where were we?  Oh yeah, here’s the killer recipe for that pumpkin soup:


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups cubed, peeled, chopped fresh pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley and fresh chives
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups milk or heavy cream


  1. Cut pumpkin into small pieces.
  2. Heat the chicken stock and the other ingredients *(minus the 2 cups of milk and/or cream)   on the list in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
  3. Puree the fresh pumpkin in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender and stir in with the other ingredients in the large pot.
  4. Return to pan and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Finally, stir in milk/heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh chives and parsley.

I’d suggest pairing this soup with a Chardonnay; but if you’re an ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) person, give it a go with a Viognier or Dry Riesling.

Our next course was Alaskan Copper River Wild Salmon from 2 Sisters Alaska Seafood.  Nothing like the real deal!

Check out the thickness of this salmon!

My pal Bruce used this recipe Salmon en Papillote from Julia & Jacques.

While he was on the fish station, I was in charge of cooking the side dish that he selected, which was a Herbed Quinoa Pilaf with Vegetables courtesy of

*Note: You may want to deviate a bit from the recipe and add more vegetable stock, butter and other interesting spices that you can find in your buddy’s spice rack to really make this recipe pop!!  Just a suggestion.  :)

We downed it all – “deadliest catch” and “ancient Peruvian grain” – with a couple of Oregon and French Pinot Noirs.

And were we done yet?  Heck no!  After going to Alaskan heaven and back, we had to have some beef, right?  In the words of Sarah Palin, “You Betcha!”

So we did.

Yup, we were gluttons for punishment!  This delicious Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Basil-Curry Mayonnaise is courtesy of Food Network’s resident hottie, Giada De Laurentiis.

We had such good fortune with the first two wines from Blanchard Family Wines that we decided we’d give it a go with both the 2008 Blanchard Family “Amber Monique” Syrah (Russian River Valley)(Sample, MSRP:$25) and 2009 Blanchard Family “Red Scarf Blend” (Sonoma County) (Sample, MSRP:$26.50).

The 2008 Blanchard Family “Amber Monique” Syrah (Named for Sylvia and James Blanchard’s daughter) packed a good punch of cherry-vanilla, black pepper, dark chocolate and light smokiness.  The group was divided on the 2008 Blanchard Family “Amber Monique” Syrah; some awarded it 2 Stars, while others gave it 3 Stars out 4.

Our last wine of the night from the Blanchard brothers was the 2009 Blanchard Family “Red Scarf Blend” (Sonoma County).  This wine was created to honor the men and women of the MH-53 Pavelow helicopter.  10% from all sales of this wine is donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, whose mission is to provide full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.

The 2009 Blanchard Family “Red Scarf Blend” consisting of Cabernet, Syrah, Sangiovese and Zinfandel was a very successful mission with the entire group.  We found lots of explosive black fruit and a long finish that complemented every last bite of Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Basil-Curry Mayonnaise.  The group again was split, yet again; some awarded it 3 Stars, while others gave it 4 Stars out 4.  Another great wine for a great cause.  Note:  This is a very limited wine – get it while you can.  

And what would a dinner like this be without dessert?  For those that could hang, it was lights-out with Fresh Figs with Mascarpone and Warm Spiced Honey.

Night, Night…

Poor Man’s Chef: Replace the L with C

Does it get any better than a classic BLT sandwich on a summer day?  It’s pretty ingenious when you stop to think how a simple homegrown tomato, combined with crispy bacon, lettuce and mayonnaise, between two slices of bread can be so damn good. 

Last night, I was really jonesing for a BLT… but I thought I’d to add a touch of gourmet to the classic standard with my own no-fuss variation.


  • 1 fluffy, soft sesame-seed bakery roll 
  • 1 homegrown super-ripe tomato 
  • 4-6 slices of fully cooked bacon (the pre-cooked kind like Hormel, Oscar Myer, store brand, yadda yadda) 
  • Monterey Jack Cheese with Hot Peppers
  • Balsamic Vinegar 

Split the roll in half and add a few drops of balsamic vinegar to both halves.  Place strips of bacon, a slice or two of the tomato, and top with a thick slice of Monterey Jack Cheese with Hot Peppers.

Place in toaster oven and cook until toasty and melty.

I decided to pair my little BLT BCT creation with the 2009 William Cole Columbine Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (MSRP: $18 US, Sample).

It’s not one of those big and bad, club-you-over-the-head Cabs, but it did show some attitude with its black cherry, plum, black current, vanilla and oak flavors.  It’s definitely the kind of Cab that demands a little food.

3 out of 4 stars for the 2009 William Cole Columbine Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  It showed some spunk, but fell in line perfectly with our BCT!


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