Wining Wife®

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Tag: Food (page 1 of 2)

It’s Tax Time and Budget Wake-Up Call Time

Photo by:  Alejandro EscamillaHave you done your taxes? If not, don’t worry, I’ll be here when they’re done. 

There’s nothing like going through and analyzing all the figures during tax time to make you say, “Hey, we spent how much on what?” In fact, I’m thinking that a regular (weekly) analysis of our spending will help us stay on track for our financial goals. We’ve done well in a lot of areas. We cut back spending at thrift stores, on sewing supplies, on our entertainment expenses, alcohol, and on buying books. But holy WOW do we spend a LOT on food. Like a lot too much a lot.  We’ve even cut back on eating out, the past month excluded (because hey, who wants to cook in a half-packed and then half-unpacked kitchen?). But our grocery bill is still way too much each month. 

I know a lot of the standard tips – coupon, meal plan, shop the sales. And they are good tips! But I still haven’t managed to get my food bill down to a more reasonable figure. Here are some of the challenges:

  • I have food allergies. I can’t do conventional foods. I’ve tried. I break out in a terrible case of hives. I also have to have GMO free foods. I’m allergic to GMO corn, soy, and wheat. I wish I were making it up/overreacting, but the last time I ate Green Giant corn, my tongue swelled up. 
  • We don’t do many processed foods…so we tend to avoid the things that coupons are made for – boxed foods, many canned prepared foods and soups, frozen meals are all things that very, very rarely make it to our list. Pretty much the only processed foods here are snacks for the kids. I’d love some good kid-friendly snack recipes 🙂 (particularly picky toddler friendly ones). 
  • We’ve already pretty much cut out soda. Every once in a great while, we’ll treat ourselves to a bottle of Izze soda, but we have a Soda Stream. I’d love more recipes for it! 
  • I try to include fish twice a week. It’s hard to do when you’re also trying to be environmentally conscious/avoid factory farmed fish. It’s expensive! Ideas for how to save money while having a conscious in this respect would be great. We also don’t do the big fish (tuna, shark, etc) b/c I’m breastfeeding…and, well, mercury. 
  • We do beef once a week or so.  You know, to protect our hearts and all. It’s definitely cheaper in the food-run, but more expensive in the long run in terms of medical bills.
  • That leaves chicken and pork – both are expensive! I try to do thighs, but I’ll be honest here folks – I HATE them! Plus they’re high in cholesterol…which leaves roasting a whole chicken. And I do it, but I’d love to buy antibiotic/hormone free chicken breasts at a reasonable price! 
  • Being organic means there aren’t a lot of coupons out there. If you know a resource, please share it in the comments. 
  • We do meal plan. That really hasn’t made a big dent in our grocery budget. I’m not sure why not.
  • We just bought our house, and I’m excited to garden, but I don’t have a lot of uh…green thumb experience. Do you have resources? Favorite sites? Best things to plant for a novice food gardener?

Okay, so here’s the thing! I’m opening this up to your ideas. One lady in one of my Facebook groups suggested making a budget based upon caloric needs – which is a great idea – has anyone tried that? 

Please, please, please, share your ideas with me in the comments! I’d love to shrink down the grocery budget a good bit.

My Top 10 Fall Cozy Essentials

Fall is my favorite season of all. The leaves turn color, there’s a certain smell in the air (I know, it’s weird, but there is!) And the cooler weather is a wonderful reprieve from hot summer days. It helps that Halloween, my birthday, and Thanksgiving are all in fall, and while I’m not a fan of the pumpkin spice latte (I KNOW!), I do like a good pumpkin spice chai. I’d also love a good Cabernet Sauvignon, but that’s not happening this fall! Here’s a quick list of things I like to do in order to enjoy the fall season. Continue reading

From Battlefield to Mexican Delight: The Story of Tamales

two tamales on a plate

two tamales on a plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This guest post comes from D. Holdeman. 

The original purpose of tamales is ironic when compared to modern evenings at Mexican restaurants, eating tamales, and drinking margaritas.  Tamales were first created to be used as war food for the Aztecs because they were easy to carry along on battlegrounds.  Over the 5,000 years later they now represent festive evenings out with friends and family enjoying a delicious meal and holidays.

What are tamales?

In some ways, Tamales are similar to pocket foods that have popped up in the cuisine of other countries all over the world.  In Chinese cuisines, won tons bear some similarity to this food.  In Europe, you may see this technique used to ravioli or pirogues.  The main idea is to use a mixture of ground grains to form a soft shell, which is then filled with some sort of paste or meat and cooked later. It is a very versatile food to make, so you’ll never get bored with the seemingly endless amount of recipes.  Tamales are also a great food to make before you hit the road, since they are pocket-sized and easily transported.

A basic recipe for tamales will begin with making the dough for the exterior. As seen on Mother Shuckers Tamales, the dough will usually be made of a ground corn mixture that has been beaten with flour or some leavening agent. The main idea is to create a pastry dough that will bake into a crispy crust, a trademark tamales trait. The filling can be just about anything you want it to be. Traditional tamales usually include beef or chicken meat that has been spiced and mixed with a sauce. A hot sauce can also be added to the exterior while eating the wrap, which gives the meal the commonly used American moniker of “Hot Tamale”, found at many baseball stadiums sold by vendors.

Creation of Tamales

Originally the first tamales were made by women in the Ancient Aztec tribes.  The tamales were baked over an open fire or coals on the ground.  The woman would make huge amounts of these for the men to carry along during battles.  This way the women didn’t have to accompany men during battle as cooks.

Since then tamales have been a staple of Hispanic diets for millenniums.  But the way Tamales are cooked may vary slightly from region to region due to the time span they have existed.  Traditional practice involves wrapping each hand-made tamale in a corn husk that can be used to shield it from direct flames while it is being baked.  Other methods include cooking inside a plantain leaf or cooking directly on a grill or fire with no leaf at all.


Tamales are now commonly eaten in America, Mexico, and many Latin American countries.  It’s not surprising that they are used on many holidays like Christmas celebrations and Mexico’s national Independence Day.  Tamales have grown to become a delicious and festive treat that people associate with fun times with loved ones.

Relishing the chance to support U.S. businesses through guest posting, is My Marketing Team’s D. Holdeman.  He is lovin’ California with his beloved , their 2 sons and daughter, and he invites readers to stop by his profile and say hi.

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December Wine Events Around the North State


Wine-tasting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you looking for something to do that’s wine related? Are you winery, cellar, or restaurant that would like publicity for wine events? If you are interested in having your event featured, please email us at We would like to offer our readers a full list of wine events across the country. The deadline for each month is the last Thursday of the month preceding (i.e January’s deadline will be December 27th and February’s deadline will be January 31st.) Please email for information on how YOU can have your wine event featured on Wining Wife today!

Butte County, California

Creekside Cellars – Thursday, Friday, Saturday Weekly – Wine tasting – there is a different theme each week; tastings are priced by the half glass and glass. A cheese plate is specially prepared to accompany each week’s featured wines. Upcoming themes: A Little of This a Little of That; Christmas Dinner Selections; Wines to Give, Wines to Receive

Hickman Family Vineyards Holiday Open House – 11am-5pm December 8th and 9th

Grey Fox – Wine Club Christmas Party – 5-7pm December 8th

Sierra Oro Holiday Farm Tour 11am-5pm December 15th and 16th – featuring Long Creek Winery, Bertagna, Hickman Family Vineyards, Grey Fox, Gale, New Clairvaux, LaRocca, and Honey Run – There is no charge for the tour; $5 for wine tasting, refundable upon purchase of wine.

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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: Falafel Pita

English: Stella Artois Polski: Stella Artois

English: Stella Artois Polski: Stella Artois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We have a favorite vegetarian meal around here – the falafel pita. I got the basic recipe from Cooking Light, and I can’t imagine a better treat. It’s a quick meal for a weeknight, or it can be a really nice lunch. We like to make the grape salad with it as a side dish, but it would also be nice with tabbouleh or hummus and an additional pita. Here’s my modified version of the dish. (Note: It pairs well with the Bertagna Sangiovese Rose, but it would also be very nice with a lighter bodied chardonnay. For beer drinkers, try it with Stella Artois.)




  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs (I make our own from bread we have on hand or use panko crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro – or basil both work very nicely in this dish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 4 six-inch whole-wheat pitas
  • lettuce and tomatoes


  1. To prepare falafel, place first 8 ingredients into a food processor. Process the mixture until it is smooth and has an almost peanut butter like quality. Divide the mixture into 16 equal portions and pat into small patties. Wet your hands if necessary to keep mixture from sticking.
  2. Heat olive oil in skillet and add patties once it’s hot. Cook about 5-7 minutes on each side over medium high heat until the patties are browned.
  3. Prepare sauce by mixing yogurt through dill together with a whisk. Let stand while patties cook.
  4. In each pita pocket, place one and a half tablespoons or so of sauce, patties, lettuce and tomatoes.


Serves four.



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Wine Events around the North State

This image shows a red wine glass.

This image shows a red wine glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Are you looking for something to do that’s wine related? Are you winery, cellar, or restaurant that would like publicity for its wine events/ If you are interested in having your event featured, please email us at We would like to offer our readers a full list of wine events across the country. The deadline for each month is the last Thursday of the month preceding (i.e November’s deadline will be October 25th and December’s deadline will be November 29th. Please email for information on how YOU can have your wine event featured on Wining Wife today!





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What’s in Your Home Bar?

A well stocked bar IMG_4352

A well stocked bar IMG_4352 (Photo credit: tomylees)

What sorts of spirits do you have stocked in your home bar? We have a collection of wine, but we also like maintaining a full bar in case we would like a decadent cocktail at home. Generally, one has vodka, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey on hand – but what other alcoholic spirits do you like to keep? We’ve found of course that both sweet and dry vermouth, Pernod, green Chartreuse, and canton are used a lot, to name a few.

Please list the staples of your home bar below. What is your go-to beverage? What alcohols do you make sure you always have on hand? Leave your thoughts in the comments, please.


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Non-Traditional Places to Look for Wine



English: Photograph of 2 bottles of Mollydooke...

English: Photograph of 2 bottles of Mollydooker Wine side by side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A lot of the time, people pick up wine in one of three places: at the grocery store, at a winery, or at a wine cellar store. However, there are a lot of other places to look for wine including food co-ops, corner stores, and discount grocery stores. While some of these places have a reputation for having horrible wine, there can be good finds. For example, 7-11’s Fat Cat Pinot Noir is a decent drinking wine. Grocery Outlet’s Les Deux Rives also is a decent wine (both the red and the white varieties). Trader Joe has some fabulous finds (We found Mollydooker‘s The Boxer Syrah recently), but their Ferme Julien white wine is a good general drinking wine.


Where are some of the unusual places where you’ve found wines? What wines did you like that you found there? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.




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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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