Pepita Chicken Bake
- 4 small chicken breasts
- 1 15-oz can pure pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cu pepitas, ground to crumb consistency
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin, oil, spices and brown sugar. Spread over chicken and place chicken on prepared cookie sheet.
In small bowl, mix panko crumbs, ground pepitas, honey and oil. Place on top of pumpkin mixture n chicken.
Bake 45 minutes and serve immediately with squash au gratin. (recipe follows)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 medium zucchini, washed and sliced into 1/4″ thick round pieces
- 1 medium yellow squash, washed and sliced into 1/4″ round pieces
- 1/2 onion, sliced into thin rings
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used non-fat half & half)
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup Pecorino-Romano, grated
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a 2-qt baking dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large skillet, melt butter then throw in zucchini, squash, onion slices, garlic and slat & pepper. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cream and stir continuously until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup panko crumbs and 1/4 cup cheese.
Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining panko crumbs and cheese.
Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until top is golden.
Note: If cooking with Pumpkin Chicken bake (recipe above), turn oven up to 450 degrees during last 10 minutes of chicken’s baking time, cover chicken lightly with foil then bake squash as directed above.
Wine Pairing: Pair the sweetness of pumpkin and the earthiness of the spices with a light but zesty wine. Suggestions include Fume Blanc, Alsace Riesling or a Pinot Gris.
2008 Pieza El Coll Red Wine
This wonderful, medium-bodied red wine from Spain comes from century old vineyards located in the mountains that produce wines with distinct aromas and flavors. All of this wine’s varietals, which include, Aragón, Cariñena and Provechon, are bio-dynamically cultivated and follow the regional and ancestral viticulture traditions in order to maintain the natural yeasts of each vineyard.
Upon opening, let breathe for an hour to enjoy this wine to the fullest. Aromas of chocolate covered cherries and a rich earthiness are prominent and just urge you to take a sip. Flavors of black cherries, raspberries and coffee greet the palate and ends with a spicy, oaky finish.
This wine is excellent with food and reminds me of another one of my favorites, a Chilean wine, Casillero del Diablo. A definite re-purchase for me at a great price!
Food Pairing: A very food friendly wine pairing with everything from artisanal cheeses, chorizo and bacon salad, seafood such as pecan-crusted snapper or fish stew, oysters, beef tenderloin, braised lamb and pork with grilled vegetables.
Rating: 4/5 corks
You might also enjoy these other red wine posts.
I always want to get a lot done on my weekends so I sometimes opt for taking out my slow cooker and letting it do the cooking while I get other things accomplished. I thought about cooking this particular recipe because my Facebook group recently did a vinegar contest and I had just gotten done with looking through all my recipes for something I could enter. Hope you enjoy this as much as my husband did. He’s even looking forward to some pulled pork sandwiches for lunch!
Slow Cooker Balsamic-Glazed Pork Loin
- 3 lbs. pork tenderloins
- 2 teaspoons sage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon flour or cornstarch
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (you can use the cheap kind )
- 2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
In a small bowl, mix sage, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Rub all over the pork tenderloins.
Pour 1/2 cup water in your slow cooker then place pork tenderloins in bottom. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
45 minutes prior to tenderloins being done, prepare glaze. Mix 1/2 cup water, brown sugar, flour, vinegar and soy sauce in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until thickens, about 5-8 minutes. Brush glaze over tenderloins once 30 minutes prior to finishing and again 15 minutes prior to finishing. You will still have glaze left over for final broiling stage and to serve as a side with meal.
When pork is finished cooking, preheat broiler. Lift tenderloins from slow cooker with a wide spatula so they don’t break apart. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet and brush glaze over the top. Place under broiler for 4-5 minutes. Brush more glaze on top and broil again for another 3-4 minutes. Watch carefully so the glaze crisps but doesn’t burn.
Slice and serve with remaining glaze on the side.
Wine Pairing: Pork tenderloin is probably the least porky of all the cuts of pork. It has a more subtle flavor and therefore needs a wine that will not overpower it. This recipe has both a savory and sweet edge to it and calls for a wine with good acidity and some juiciness. My favorite pairing would be a light-boded red such as St. Amant Old Vine Zinfandel or a Granache. If you are more of a white wine lover, I would look to counter-balance the flavors of this dinner with wines that have good acidity such as Hook & Ladder Chardonnay or a nice fresh Pouilly-Fume.
I was surprised to find that the person behind these wines was a favorite musician of mine, Dave Matthews. He and his friend, Steve Reeder, who is well-known as a top-notch winemaker, found they both had a passion for creating wines that would be accessible to everyone. They were eager to create wines that were both flavorful and “full of soul” as well as ones that had the least amount of environmental impact. They achieved their goal by sourcing grapes only from sustainably-farmed vineyards on California’s North Coast, producing labels that are made of recycled paper, using a bottle that is 25% less dense than standard bottles and stopping with corks from sustainably grown trees. Now, without good tasting wines these noble ideals wouldn’t be that important but, thankfully, the wines are very enjoyable.
This 2011 Chardonnay has aromas reminiscent of a fruit orchard, with sweet scents of apple, pear and citrus. Upon sipping, these same flavors explode on the tongue with hints of spice followed by a rich, creamy oak finish. The wine has a wonderful balanced acidity, medium body and just the right amount of minerality. This wine is a real find and an excellent bargain at below $20.
Rating: 4/5 corks
Check out my review on Dreaming Tree Cabernet here.
You might also be interested in these Chardonnay wines as well.
My banana trees in my backyard are going crazy producing so many hands I think it must be clapping for itself. Now my creativity is kicking in and I am up to my ears in mashed bananas, sliced flambéed bananas and banana smoothies. Help!
So today I am bringing you a recipe using bananas. Now how surprised are you at that? This one I mixed together with coconut that I always have handy for my granola and pecans. It smelled heavenly coming out of the oven and looked so beautiful that I couldn’t wait to have a piece. Take a look at this scrumptious specimen!
Enjoy this tropically flavored banana bread with friends along with a cup of coffee or your favorite cup of tea.
Tropical Coconut Banana Bread
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons rum
- ¼ cup plain lowfat yogurt
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/4 cup)
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup toasted coconut
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour loaf pan.
Crumb sugar and shortening together. Add the eggs, vanilla, rum and yogurt and mix well. Stir in mashed bananas.
Combine all dry ingredients. Mix into banana-egg mixture. Fold in toasted coconut and nuts. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for 75 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to make sure top is not getting overly brown. If so, cover top loosely with aluminum foil.
After 1 hour, test for doneness by inserting pick in center of bread. It is done if pick comes out clean. If not, place back in oven in 10 minute increments until pick comes out clean. Remove from oven, set on wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and finish cooling on rack.
Note: Can be frozen for later use. Wrap in aluminum foil and then place in ziploc bag for best results.
Makes 1 loaf.
This seemed like an apropos time to post about the wines that scream how good they are and their names scare the pants off you. Some are great, some are average but they all are perfect for the Halloween season.
The night was “Ghostly White” and I was standing in a grove of “Twisted Oak” near the “River of Skulls”. It was Halloween and anything could happen. Out from behind the trees stepped a blood red“Vampire” bent on re-enacting “Slaughterhouse”. I ran for cover and hid in “Caillero del Diablo” (Cellar of the Devil) and came face to face with the smooth-talking “Velvet Devil” himself. My mouth went “Bone Dry” and I turned “Gray” as a “Ghost”. My heart was beating out of my chest and I thought this was the end. Suddenly the good “Witch from Witch Creek” flew in and transported me away to her den and proceeded to offer me a sip of “Evil Cabernet” as a night cap. Hopefully that was a peace offering and not a pre-dinner drink!!
Ghostly White Chardonnay by Elk Creek Vineyards – an unoaked Chardonnay, that is crisp with fruity flavors of apple, apricot, melon and peach with hints of citrus.
2008 Twisted Oak River of Skulls – a California red wine that is comprised of Mourevdre grapes and a small amount of Syrah. An excellent wine with flavors of cherries and raspberries with lingering hints of smoky vanilla and tobacco. One to purchase for your wine rack.
2010 Charles Smith Velvet Devil Merlot – a Washington state wine that combines Merlot, Malbec , Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes to produce a ripe and balanced red wine. Aromas of raspberry, vanilla and a touch of spice greet the nose while the smooth flavors of dark cherries and plums with just a hint of oak and chocolate flow smoothly across the tongue. Click here for full post.
Bone Dry Red Cabernet Sauvignon – from Elk Creek Vineyards in Kentucky. This is a dry, rich wine with ripe cherry and other berry flavors with notes of chocolate and spice. It is very oaky and strong but is particularly nice with your favorite steak. (3.5/5)
2008 Gray Ghost Chardonnay Reserve – a wine from the state of Virginia with bright tropical fruit flavors and hints of vanilla. The oak is ever so subtle and pairs well with poultry and seafood.
2009 Witch Creek Winery Cabernet Franc – a wine from Carlsbad California offering up aromas of cherry, mint and vanilla with an earthy tone and flavors of cherry, cardamon and oak notes as well as a long, spicy finish.
2005 Evil Cabernet by R Wines of Australia – A medium-bodied red with aromas and flavors of black berries with both floral and licorice hints. It has nice structure with moderate acidity and finishes very delicately. (3/5)
Glazed Pork Loin Chops
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons steak seasoning (I used Montreal Brand seasoning)
- 2 1” thick pork loin chops or about ¾ lb.
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine (I used a zinfandel but a merlot or carmenere could also be used)
In a small bowl, combine garlic, sugar and steak seasoning.
Cut excess fat from pork chops and cover with seasoning mix, patting into meat.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter then add pork chops. Cook for 14 minutes, turning often. While cooking, if butter is getting to brown and pan is too dry, add some olive oil.
Remove pork chops from pan then add remaining tablespoon of butter and wine. Stir to get all the bits of garlic off the bottom of the pan then add pork chops back in. Cover and cook an additional 6-8 minutes or until pork is cooked through.
When ready to serve, place on platter and cover with pan juices.
Wine Pairing: It is always a good rule of thumb to serve the same wine that you added to the dish, in this case a light to medium Zinfandel. One of my favorites is the 2010 St. Amant Zinfandel. You might also try a Grenache, such as the 2010 Monte Oton Granacha, or Shiraz as long as there is enough acidity to stand up to the pork.
Rioja wines, are so called because they come from the Rioja wine region of Spain. Rioja is a blend of grapes which can produce either red (tinto), white (blanco) or rose (rosado) wines, reds being over 85% of their production.
The red or tinto variety consists of mostly Tempranillo grapes with smaller percentages of Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo grapes. Each grape adds a unique quality to the wine – Tempranillo contributes the main flavors while Garnacha adds body and alcohol; Mazuelo adds seasoning flavors and Graciano adds aromas.
The designation “crianza” means that this Rioja has been aged at least 2 years, with at least one of which was in oak. It is comprised of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Mazuelo and was aged over 16 months in oak barrels. The aromas are of sweet red berries with hints of plum, fig and hazelnut and the flavor is dominated by red berries along with the typical characteristic notes of oak and spice. The finish is long, smooth and well rounded and worth savoring every sip. Serve at a cool temperature between 61-65 degrees. This is a fantastic wine for the price and one that is worth stocking up on while still available.
Rating: 4.5/5 corks
Last night I had friends over for dinner and wanted to think of something different to fix that I hadn’t served on our previous get-togethers. I knew they weren’t picky eaters so the options were wide open. I decided to stick with chicken and make something that I could slip into the oven easily when we were done with our hors d’oeuvre. This Italian dish can be prepared ahead of time and is wonderful when accompanied by a salad, rosemary bread and a medium-bodied Rioja.
Italian Chicken Roll-ups
- Non-stick olive oil spray
- 8 chicken cutlets, pounded thin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup seasoned panko
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 6 Tablespoons egg whites
- 6 oz frozen spinach, thawed
- 6 Tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 7 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray an 7×11-inch baking dish with no-stick spray.
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place each cutlet in a resealable plastic bag and pound thin. Remove and season with salt and pepper.
On a large plate, combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Pour 4 tablespoons egg whites in another bowl.
In a small bowl, combine spinach, which has been squeezed until no more water can be removed, ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1-1/2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese.and remaining egg whites.
Lay chicken on flat surface and spread spinach-cheese mixture over each cutlet. Starting at one end, roll each cutlet up, jelly roll fashion, dip into egg white mixture, then into crumb mixture and place seam side down in prepared pan.
When all cutlets are in baking dish, spray lightly with nonstick olive oil spray.
Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top with marinara sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese. Return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is golden.
You can also take the last 3-5 minutes and place under broiler to get that cheese nice and brown.
Wine Pairing: The best wine to pair with tomato sauce and cheese-based dishes is a wonderful Rioja or any of your medium-bodied reds such as Sangiovese, Tempranillo, I like the 2010 Volteo Tempranillo, Malbec or a Pinot Noir. If you prefer white, try a Pinot Grigio, such as 2008 Kris Pinot Griogio, dry Riesling or an unoaked Chardonnay and enjoy.
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