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Tag: Black pepper

Food: The Pasta That Made Sarah Cry

English: An example of ground black pepper.

English: An example of ground black pepper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If you’re looking for a pasta that will bring tears to someone’s eyes, this is it. Back in grad school at NIU, I served this dish to a friend, and she literally cried. This would go well with a bold Zinfandel. The base of this sauce requires that you purchase andouille sausage and port. Try to find a sausage that has as few preservatives as possible, you won’t regret it.

The Pasta That Made Sarah Cry
Amazing pasts sauce when working from a jar of marinara sauche
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  1. One package whole wheat spaghetti
  2. One jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  3. One yellow onion, chopped
  4. One green and one red bell pepper, both chopped
  5. 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  6. One package andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks
  7. 1 small package baby bella mushrooms from the produce department
  8. 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  9. 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  10. 2-3 green onions, chopped
  11. 1 cup ruby port wine
  12. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  13. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  14. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  15. 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Boil water with a splash of olive oil for pasta.
  2. While water heats, sauté onion through garlic in 1 tbsp butter.
  3. When veggies appear soft, add sausage and brown.
  4. Drain fat.
  5. Add mushrooms, sauce, and seasonings.
  6. Refill jar to label (about one cup) with port and add to pasta sauce.
  7. Simmer 10 minutes.
  8. When pasta is al dente, serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste.
Wining Wife®


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Cheeseburger and French Fries

English: Homemade cheeseburger with french fries.

English: Homemade cheeseburger with french fries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Remember that lovely Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon I talked about a couple weeks ago that paired well with lasagna? Well, it also pairs well with burgers. I’m a fan of a good burger, and I’ve got a recipe that is (at least in my family and friends’ opinions) outstanding. I also make killer fries. Here are the recipes. Try them out. I guarantee you that they are better than anything you can get out at a fast food restaurant. Besides, in the time it takes to get everyone together, get in the car, head out, pick up food, and drive back you could have a hot and delicious meal on the table that pairs well with wine.


French Fries:


Frying french fries

Frying french fries (Photo credit: fritish)




  • 1-2 potatoes per person, depending on size
  • Canola oil, enough to have 2-3 inches in the pan you are using
  • Seasoning Salt


Slice potatoes into thin fry wedges while oil heats. When water dripped into oil sizzles, add a handful fries to oil, more depending on the size of the pot. Fry until they float about 5-10 minutes per batch. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with two paper towels to absorb oil. Sprinkle with seasoning salt to taste.






  • 6 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1 pound ground chuck, 98% fat free (or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs – I used bread crumbs from roasted garlic bread in the food processor, you can use Italian bread crumbs, if you like
  • 1 small white chopped onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp tobasco sauce
  • Splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp organic Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 thin slices cheddar cheese
  • 6 thin slices pepper jack cheese
  • Your favorite burger toppings (We use tomato, romaine lettuce, brown spicy mustard, and mayonnaise


Toast buns. Mix together ground meat through pepper flakes in bowl using hands. create six balls and flatten into patties. Place in frying pan coated with thin layer of olive oil, turning halfway through, until burgers approach desired level of doneness. Place one slice of each cheese on burgers, turn heat down, and melt cheese. Place burger patties on buns and add desired fixings.



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Smothered Pork Chops

Hickman's Pinot Grigio is an outstanding white wine

Hickman’s Pinot Grigio is an outstanding white wine

Sometimes you start a meal by making a dish and then pairing a wine with it. Sometimes, you want to start with a wine and then match a dish to it. That’s what we did this evening. We matched a local favorite, Hickman Family Vineyards’, Pinot Grigio with pork. I decided that the best way to pair this outstanding wine was to pair it with something equally delicious. I decided, then, that I would make a Southern-inspired dish, smothered pork chops.

To start with, we pan-seared the pork chops using olive oil. To each chop, we added balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, salt, cayenne, and black ground pepper. Once they were browned on each side and done throughout (about 7 minutes each side), I removed the pork chops from the stove and placed them into the oven. I then made a roux. I started by adding a splash of wine to deglaze the pan. I scraped the good bits of the pork and then added a couple tablespoons of butter to the pan and an equal amount of flour. Once the mixture is bubbly, add enough milk or cream (about a cup), slowly. Mix with a whisk. Add white pepper and salt to taste. Once it thickens, spoon over pork chops. We enjoyed this dish with steamed vegetables. It was outstanding.


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New Clairvaux New Release Party

English: Wine tasting sign outside of New Clai...

English: Wine tasting sign outside of New Clairvaux Abbey in Vina, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


New Clairvaux Vineyard is a personal favorite. They always deliver when it comes to good, quality wine. They had a release party for their Aimée Old Vine Zinfandel and Napa Valley Primativo, and they allowed us to taste many of their quality wines. Here’s a rundown of our notes.


2011 St. James Viognier 12.6% alcohol ($16) – This wine’s nose had a peach and lemon bouquet. The wine was nice, sweet, and off-dry. It would pair very well with white fish with sauteed mushrooms.


2011 St. James Syrah Rose 13.4% alcohol ($14) – This was very summery. It had a smokey nose and had notes of orange and strawberries. This New Clairvaux wine would pair quite well with sausage.


2009 St. James Syrah 14.1% alcohol ($17) – This wine had a lovely, buttery nose. It was full bodied and had notes of black cherries, white pepper, and plums. It would be a very nice pairing with pasta – especially a pasta with a white, creamy sauce.


New Clairvaux’s Aimée Old Vine Zinfandel and Primativo wines

2010 Aimée Old Vine Zinfandel 15.1% alcohol ($28) – This was my favorite wine of the tasting. The vines were planted seventy years ago in Napa. They produce less fruit, but more flavor. They were aged in American-French Oak for 18 months. The wine had notes of plums, cherry, vanilla, cloves, anise, licorice, and oak. It would be a lovely pairing for a Greek eggplant feta cheese casserole Wining Husband makes.


 2011 Aimée Napa Valley Primativo 16.2% alcohol ($22) – The Primativo grape is genetically the same as the Zinfandel grape, though the wine is higher in alcohol content which makes it slightly sweeter and bolder. The Primativo grape is the first grape to ripen, and legend has it that wine from the Primativo grape was the wine to be served at the Last Supper. This wine gave off a bouquet of licorice on the nose. It was sweet and had notes of berries, milk chocolate, mocha, cigar box, tobacco, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. It was a robust wine with a lavender color that would pair very well with Wining Husband’s spicy chicken recipe.

2009 Poor Souls Petite Syrah 13.1% alcohol ($18) – This wine had notes of almonds and a nutty flavor to it. It also had notes of Italian spice, allspice, cherry, and plum. It was dryer, and was more of a cheddar than a mozzarella. This was also quite nice as far as wines go.

If you’re close to Vina, California, I strongly suggest visiting this vineyard and tasting their wines. They are consistently very good.



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Birthdays Rock! (And so does lasagna!)

This lasagna paired perfectly with the 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon.

Birthdays are great, aren’t they? Our son had a birthday, and we celebrated appropriately – with whole wheat lasagna and a bottle of Louis M. Martini 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Friday night’s Creekside tasting. It was a perfect pairing. We all had a lovely time, we went to see the new Batman movie together, and we went to play miniature golf and hit up the batting cages. In the spirit of sharing a perfect wine and food pairing, here is the recipe for the lasagna (note, I adapted it from the back of a Ronzoni Healthy Harvest lasagna box):


  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • Splash of Worcester sauce
  • 3 cups pasta sauce (I used my own home-canned pasta sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 15 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella (the recipe calls for 2, originally, but we love cheese)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • A splash of red wine
  • lasagna noodles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Saute chopped onion, minced garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil.
  3. Add ground turkey to onion and bell pepper and brown. Drain the fat. Add a splash of Worcester sauce, a splash of red wine, and red pepper flakes along with the spaghetti sauce and water. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes
  4. While waiting for the meat sauce, mix together ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pour about 1 cup of meat sauce into the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish. Top with 3 lasagna noodles. Cover with one cup of sauce. Spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Repeat layering. Top with a layer of sauce followed by the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes while you enjoy a glass of wine (and make a salad!) Slice and serve hot.


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