Wining Wife®

Because housework goes better with Malbec...

Tag: Cook

Planning a Thanksgiving Menu

Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s Wining Husband’s favorite holiday. I rather like this holiday too. When it comes to planning our menu, we’re taking the following into account:

  • I believe it will just be the three of us – myself, Wining Husband, and the Tiger Boy, however, we would like to have the full turkey-day experience 😉

    Thanksgiving Turkey

    Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • We want to use as many organic products and products from our CSA as possible
  • We want to have enough leftovers to make dinners and lunches so that we are able to relax for a little while as a family.
  • We want enough food if we wind up with last-minute stragglers

So far, we’ve come up with the following ideas for our menu (though, not all will be made):


Salad, Soup, and bread:

Turkey and Stuffing:



What’s on your menu for Thanksgiving? What do you plan to make? Post your thoughts below in the comments section.

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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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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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Happy Birthday, Julia Child!


English: Julia Child, Miami Book Fair Internat...

English: Julia Child, Miami Book Fair International, 1989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s Julia Child‘s birthday! She’s one of my favorite pop culture figures, and she’s a huge inspiration. To be honest, when I make her recipes I will scale back on the butter – in a big way. However, the end result is still a spectacularly awesome meal. In honor of her birthday, I made her recipe for yellow beans (well, to be honest, it was her recipe for green beans, but I figured it would work for yellow wax beans as well.)

Julia is such a cultural icon. Not only was she the subject of a movie, Julie and Julia, but she also revolutionized cooking television. Before Food Network, there was Julia. My favorite Julia recipe is the crepe recipe. What’s your favorite Julia recipe? How do you plan to celebrate her 100th birthday?


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Swedish Meatballs and 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Ethos Chardonnay Reserve

Tonight for dinner, I made chicken Swedish meatballs and we paired it with a 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Chardonnay Reserve.

Chateau Ste. Michelle

Chateau Ste. Michelle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Swedish meatballs recipe came courtesy of Cooking Light. I’ve made it many times before, however, usually instead of the rye bread, I use a garlic bread produced by our local supermarket. This time, I used sourdough bread. While the recipe was still quite delicious, it wasn’t as spectacular as it had been in the past.

Because the sauce is based on light sour cream, the creamy texture of the Chardonnay was lovely. The sauce helped to bring out the buttery qualities of the Chateau Chardonnay. This pairing is highly recommended (and the recipe is even lower in fat than you would think!)

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Menu Planning with Pinterest

English: Red Pinterest logo

English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had a lot of friends ask me about what I do to plan menus. I figured I would make a blog post to help those out who want to know how The Wining Husband and I go about planning out our menus for the week. Before getting into the details, let me discuss a little bit about the considerations that go into planning a week’s worth of meals.

We are members of a local CSA – each week we receive veggies and fruits from GRUB. When we pick up the veggies, we then are able to start planning our menu.

We also like to spend as little as possible on groceries while maintaining a healthy diet. This means that we won’t sacrifice health for cost. We will start out at Grocery Outlet for canned and dry goods (and sometimes wine, as they do have some finds among their shelves!) We then head to SaveMart, and finally for specialty foods, we will go to Raley’s. It helps to know what is on sale where. For instance, SaveMart often has a 5 meats for $25 deal. When this is going on, we’ll stock up on tilapia, chicken breasts, pork chops, etc.

We also like to experiment with new foods and new recipes. For instance, we recently found a good deal on both calamari and shark fillets at SaveMart. Since we try to incorporate fish into our diets two times a week, we snatched them up. This also means that I subscribe to a lot (and I do mean A LOT!) of food and cooking blogs. When I see something I like, I will pin it to my Pinterest account.

  • Fish two times a week
  • Vegetarian at least once a week
  • Use as much of what we have on hand as possible
  • If chicken, pork, or beef is on the menu for dinner, fish or vegetarian must be on the menu for the following evening
  • The meal plan must consist of a balance of known recipes and new recipes

Following those rules, we look to see what we have on hand. We’ll fill in some of the slots with things that we like that we’ve made in the past and staple recipes.  When filling in slots, we also look at our week’s calendar to see what events are going on. For a busy day, it will be unlikely that either one of us will want to put together an intricate meal. Instead, that night will be something easy like a chef salad or fish, rice, and steamed veggies. I will search my Pinterest account for relevant recipes that we want to try. When I select a recipe, I will tag it “Monday – Dinner” so that it’s easy to bring up in the search later.

curry butternut squash soup with fresh bread &...

curry butternut squash soup with fresh bread & baked pumpkin seeds (Photo credit: valkyrieh116)

A sample week might look like this:

  • Sunday: Falafel Pitas with Grape Yogurt Salad
  • Monday: Chicken Swedish Meatballs and steamed summer squash
  • Tuesday: White Fish Cooked in White Wine with Rice, Mushrooms, and Wax Beans
  • Wednesday: Pork Ribs, Mashed Potatoes, and Salad
  • Thursday: Lemon Caper Calamari and Garlic Summer Squash
  • Friday: Chicken Tacos
  • Saturday: Curry Butternut Squash Soup and French Bread with Side Salad

What tools do you use to plan out your menus? Post your tips in the comments!

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