Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wine Glass Fetish

Hi.  My name is Maureen, and I am a wine glass-o-holic. I seriously can't stop collecting wine glasses.

It started innocently enough in my early 20's when I had my first apartment and bought the cheap six pack set at Target.   Not long after, I realized they were white wine glasses, and I must have some reds as well.  So, I bought some of the larger size "all purpose" ones, like you see in restaurants and bars.  Years later, and more wine experience under my belt, I yearned for Riedels.  I was celebrating my 30th birthday, single, and thought "what the hell, I'm treating myself."  (I mean, who knew if I'd ever get married!?)  I started with 4.   After I was hooked, I had to have more. 

Fast forward a couple more years, and low and behold, I do get married!  We decided to register for some nice, but basic red wine glasses at Crate and Barrel for "everyday."  (A few to many broken riedels made us think maybe we were being to extravagant using those on a nightly basis.)  Then, there's the hand painted Christmas set for the holidays, the champagne flutes, the acrylic "picnic" set, etc. 

So, this picture represents one stem, out of all my sets.  I have at least 4 (if not 8) of all the glasses shown.  We have them in our cupboard in the kitchen, in our wine "bar," and in the formal hutch... 

I've run out of space to acquire any more...

I'm entering a 12 Step program tomorrow. 

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Flavors of Fall

Although afternoon highs are still in the 90's around here, it is fall.  How do I know that?  Well, for one, the evenings and mornings are cool and brisk and absolutely perfect for patio dinners and long walks.  Other signs of fall around here; spectacular sunsets and fall food favorites!  Honeycrisp apples ( I could do a whole post on these), pumpkin, cranberries, winter squash, and pomegranates.   Oh, and we are so backwards here in Arizona, that not only do we not do the time change thing, our Farmer's Market's are just ramping up for the season now.

  So, with all of the spectacular fall bounty, I have been craving a comfy fall flavored meal.  One of my favorites is stuffed acorn squash.  This is a dish that is versatile enough to be a hearty side dish, or add some protein and make it the star of the show.  I chose to add some pork to this and make it a main dish with a few other additions for added "fall flavor." 

I started with an acorn squash, halved, and seeds scooped out.  On our way out to walk Chase and catch the sunset, I put the halves on a baking sheet and stuck it in a 400 degree oven.  Perfect, because during the walk, I was able to come up with the combination of ingredients I would use to "stuff it."   Approximately 25 minutes later we returned and the house smelled of wonderful roasted squash.  I made a quick filling of pork, apples, shitake mushrooms, and seasonings.  After filling each squash half I topped with a generous sprinkling of blue cheese and pomegranate seeds. 

Ready to go back in the oven:

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The great thing about a meal like this is the ingredient combinations are endless.  I typically would stuff with a mixture of wild rice and and dried cranberries.  Use whatever fall favorites you have.

 

Pork and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash  (serves 2)

1 acorn squash

1 pork loin chop, cut into pieces

1 small chopped apple (best if it's a nice sweet fall apple like Honeycrisp, McIntosh, etc.)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 cup sliced, shitake mushrooms

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

blue cheese to sprinkle on top

1.  Cut acorn squash in half and bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes

2.  On the stove top, saute onion, apple, mushroom and pork, until cooked through

3.  Add the thyme, salt and pepper and maple syrup. 

4.  Stuff the acorn squash with the pork filling and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and blue cheese.  Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

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I drizzled a little leftover pomegranate molasses/merlot reduction sauce on top - optional and only because there was some in the refrigerator.  (Also, is it just me or do my pomegranate seeds look a little anemic??)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lotus Root

On the never ending quest to try new foods and expand our taste horizons, I picked up some lotus root the last time I was at the Asian Market. 

It turns out that lotus root has a place on honor in the history of Egypt, China and India.  Images of the flower are a symbol of purity, perfection, and beauty.    And, interestingly, all parts of the plant are edible and used in different culinary creations in many Asian countries. 

I decided to try this interesting root in it's simple raw form to get an idea what it was all about.   So last Saturday, I was planning an Asian chicken salad for lunch and thought I'd add some of the lotus root.   Cleaning the skin, then delicately peeling it, the root is ready to be sliced.  I sliced some thin 'discs' of the root and decided it was to pretty and unique to be thrown into the salad, and instead wanted to use it as edible "decoration." 

The texture was very firm, actually hard.  A bit chewy, but in a crunchy way.  I'm not sure I'd buy it for the flavor, because there wasn't a whole lot.  But, it does make a unique addition to the salad doesn't it?

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This was my simple Asian chicken salad.  Basically I take ground chicken, and cook it with about 1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger, a couple teaspoons rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and a bit of brown sugar.  It tastes close to the filling for lettuce wraps at PF Chang's.

I put the mixture over a bed of mixed greens, added some broccoli slaw, and bean sprouts.  I also added my favorite non-homemade salad dressing.  Galeos Miso Ginger Wasabi. I usually NEVER buy bottled salad dressings, but seriously, this stuff is my crack!  And, know that it is low fat and made with simple natural ingredients makes it even more virtuous to top off a salad. 

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Let me know what you think of Lotus root if you've ever tried it. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

DogToberfest

Note: This is a guest post by the male side of PawsAndPours.

Its been a while since I did a beer review. A few nights back, one of our friends brought over some Bowser Beer. Now, this friend has known Chase since he was a puppy, so just seeing him is a treat for Chase. But when he brought over an even more special treat, he definitely moved to the top of Chase's "favorite visitors" list.

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I'm sure you are all dying to know....what exactly is Bowser Beer? Its the PawsAndPours way of sharing the pours with Chase. The Bowser Beefy Brown Ale is described on the their web site best:

"Put some party in your animal!! - Dogs are known to love beer and now their owners can treat them to their own festive, delicious brew. Why share when you have a better alternative? Hops and alcohol free, Bowser Beer is made with 100% American-made beef broth (made from real beef, not out of a can) and malt barley (good for their coats). Low in calories and fat, we have now added glucosamine! It’s a party in a bottle! Bowser Beer is a unique gift for the pet who has (almost) everything."

Note that we don't have a special drink bowl for Chase, but he is still anxiously waiting for it...Chase gives it two paws up! (Or is it bowl-licking good?)

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Now that Chase his his drink, time to figure out what I'll have. During a recent trip to Total Wine, I picked up a selection of seasonal beers. It seems that the craft brewers are following along the winemaker trend, and creating catchy labels with off-the-wall names. So of course like any good consumer, I looked for those. Tonight's selection: Dogtoberfest.

Dogtoberfest Marzen is made by Flying Dog Ales. The Dogtoberfest has a deep mahogany color with a caramel finish. Like most Marzen's, it has a malty finish. Not my favorite Marzen of all time, but definitely one that I would get again.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Paws and Pours at the Drive-In

We made it through another summer, and now we are rewarded with absolutely spectacular weather.  The days are sunny and warm, and the evenings are cooler and perfect for patios.  Or drive- ins!    So, this past Friday, we packed up the wine, and the dog and our comfy chairs and took Paws and Pours on the road. 

Here is what we saw on the way out.

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The best part of going to the drive-in instead of a theaters is bringing wine!  (Oh, and the dog.)  We packed a cooler with a bottle of white, and some sandwiches, for a little sustenance to get us through 2 movies.  Here is the first glass, just poured, sitting on the back of the SUV. 

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(Notice the glasses are are the acrylic ones from Crate and Barrel that I had picked up for our beach vacation.)  Turns out they work well for the drive-in as well, with the no-glass rule.

Chase had a great time to.  Not only does the drive-in mean not getting left at home, but he enjoys the attention from other movie goers.  I think he liked the big screen.

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I didn't get a photo of the wine bottle, as we were trying to be a little incognito with that and kept it in the cooler.  We enjoyed the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling.  Riesling is the wine that got me "into" wine, if you know what I mean.   I rarely drink them anymore, but this dryer version went very well with our picnic food.  (aka sandwiches and chips)  It has that nice fruity aroma, but on the palate is not cloying. 

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We stayed for the second movie and a second glass of vino.  Cheers!

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