Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy Ravioli with Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce

Tonight's dinner is an original recipe.  I wanted to experiment with some ready made sun dried tomato pesto sauce, a can of diced tomatoes and some heavy cream (and a little pinch of crushed red peppers).  And by serving it over pre-made ravioli - it came together in no time!

In a saucepan I added the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the tomato pesto, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper and brought to a boil then added a half cup of heavy cream.  I used an immersion blender to break it down some (left some tomato chunks) and served it over the ravioli - from start to finish, it took about 15 minutes.  Mr. John really liked it and he even used some bread to enjoy more of the sauce!

I like the quick, easy and delicious dinners!  Leaves more time for me to dream up some new projects!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Simple Taco Salad

It's Taco Tuesday Monday!  Went grocery shopping before coming home tonight and just had a craving for tacos... well, I usually make mine into a salad and Mr. John has the whole deal.  I kick it up a notch with these 2 ingredients

On a bed of lettuce, I top with rice, beans, taco meat, cheese, tomatoes and top off with sauce... and sometimes I crush the shells to put on top

Super easy and hit the spot tonight!

Wine Tasting Party Part III

Dessert first!  Well, this how we ended the night but I think it deserves top billing.  MJ made this New York style family favorite recipe and it was a huge hit - so creamy and perfect with the berries.

So more on the apps we had.  The Gewurztraminer (say that fast 3 times) was paired with Confetti New Potatoes and Beef Satay with Spicy Szechuan Sauce.  MJ takes small red potatoes, scoops them out and fills them with a potato salad  - these are cute and bite size.  I love these!

While I don't have a picture of the Beef Satay - the recipe is from the Food Network.

The other Pinot Gris we had was paired with Roasted Shrimp and Mini Quiche Lorraine
The Roasted Shrimp is from  the Food Network - The Barefoot Contessa - great app and great presentation.

MJ made these from scratch - I was impressed.   When I asked if she had the recipe - she said she just kinda made it up as she went along... I can believe that, I've been known to do the same!

The last two apps were paired with a White Stag - a semi-sweet wine.

Rachel Ray's Baby Stuffed Bellas

Black Forest Ham and Pear Crescents

Well, that is it for our little wine party and just because I like desserts... another look!!

Thanks Dave and MJ for an enjoyable evening!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wine Tasting Party Part II

Here are the cast of characters we sampled last Saturday.  Up front I'll tell you my favorites were the Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Gris (served first) and the Dr. Konstantin Frank Meritage (served last).  Really enjoyed getting to try some different wines.

As mentioned in the last post, there were 6 couples.  Dave and MJ rented wine glasses and that worked out really slick - they also had these cute charms to put on them

Now for the apps that I made.  This first batch was paired with the Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Gris.   I provided Bacon Wrapped Scallops and I have to admit I was pretty disappointed in them.  First I ran all over town to find them pre-made - just thought it would be easier to pop them in the oven but found out at places like Trader Joes and Sam's Club that they are only sold during the holiday season.  I found some at Hy-Vee but I don't think we baked them long enough and the bacon could have been crisper...and I've had better.

But next up is one of mine and Mr. John's all time favorite!  It is from the December 2002 Betty Crocker cute little Appetizer book and called Greek Marinated Roasted Peppers, Olives and Feta.  I have made this many times and many friends have requested the recipe.  (recipe link here)  Please take the time to roast your peppers - no pre-made ones!  It will be worth it.  I do mine on the grill.

The next course I did was paired with the Red Cat... I just loved the bottle...

John made chili and I made an appetizer called Endive Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Walnuts .  However, I used pecans and again, after running around town I could not find endive lettuce so I trimmed up small slices of romaine lettuce.  These were a huge hit - I was kind of worried - so I was glad people enjoyed them.  A mandarin orange (fresh) is placed on a leave, some goat cheese and candied pecans on top then drizzled with a balsamic vinegar and honey reduction and topped with fresh chives & fresh cracked pepper.  Interesting combination of flavors..

The last wine pairing of the night was the Meritage.  Dave had made some Blue Cheese Steak Bites (will ask for recipe) and I made a Mushroom Risotto from scratch.  Well, I must confess I had help that night from one of the guests - he provided the stirring power.  Wow - the combo of these 2 items together were awesome and I am now no longer afraid to make risotto..  it involves a lot of stirring but it turned out so creamy good! (recipe link here) The only change I made is to use all baby bellas.

What a night!  Good wine, good food and good friends!  But wait, I'm not done yet... part III will feature MJ's delectable delights!  Coming soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday!

It suddenly dawned on me late last night that today would be Fat Tuesday.  Mr. John would have been disappointed if I forgot to make our annual treats (me too!)

Last year I blogged on our tradition and how to make them (post here).  They are Oh so Good!  In fact, other than a small salad, this is all we ate tonight... sometimes it is all you need - something fried with warm honey poured on top... and worth a second look

Wine Tasting Party

This past weekend our friends Dave and MJ hosted a wine tasting party.  Last fall they were in the New York Finger Lake region and toured some of the wineries and brought home several bottles with a tasting in mind.

When they first mentioned the idea and asked if I would help make some appetizers, I was game!  We had a planning meeting and decided on one hot and cold app for each wine.  MJ and I both researched what to pair with each and went from there - MJ made seven, four for me and one for Mr. John (he made his Lucky 27 Chili).

In addition to making food, I offered to make a table centerpiece.  If you don't know it, Sam's Club has beautiful flowers - I bought a dozen roses and a bunch of mums for under $25, got some candles and floral foam for about $6 and used a ceramic container I already owned.  I love flowers and think they add such a nice touch to a party. 

On MJ's table
MJ and Dave also provided some noshing food to greet their guests (6 couples total).

Cheeses from Zzest

Cheese Straws - these were awesome!  Must get recipe!

Spicy Mixed Nuts

Different chocolates and some with infused with chili

Leftovers flowers in a small square vase
I have lots more to share with you!  So come back for part II - more food and wine!

Interesting fact - I grew up very close to the Finger Lake area and Mr. John and I back in the day were known to do a little wine tasting ourselves.  We would get a bunch of our friends, tour a few places and stop in Corning, NY (yes, the glass place!) on the way home to stop at a Mongolian Grill!  This was about 30 years ago.  Fun memories!  Here's a little information on the area if you can't afford to go to Napa!  Finger Lake Area