Tuesday, April 30, 2013

(Light?) Southwestern Casserole

I'm posting about a go-to comfort food of mine, the Light Better-for-You Southwestern Casserole.  It's my modified version of the Light King Ranch Casserole, but I can assure you, there is nothing 'light' about this.  Sure, the recipe calls for everything 'light' and 'reduced fat,' but you just have to laugh at any recipe that consists mostly of opening canned goods.  When you add up all the sodium, you're looking at THOUSANDS of mgs of sodium per serving!  The sodium levels in even the most fat free of canned foods will bloat you up faster than a can full of calories will.  My version adds corn for color, beans for protein and iron, uses a quarter less tortillas to save a total of 440 calories, and adds carrots for a dose of anti-oxidents, vitamin A and beta-carotene.  Still not ideal, but better than the boring Southern Living recipe

Z is away for two weeks and I'm on my own during one of my busiest work seasons.  That's why I am nixing the recipes that have me chopping, stirring and stewing all night (you may have noticed I like to make everything fresh and from scratch, including sauces and salsas) until he returns.  My waistline suffers more than my stress levels when he's gone!

Anyway, this recipe is always delicious and makes servings and servings of leftovers, which means I only have to cook once this week so that I can spend the rest of my nights playing and bonding with my adorable little love and squeezing in some work before bedtime.

1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
shredded carrots
1 can 98% Fat Free Cream of Chicken soup
1 can 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and well rinsed
1 can no salt added diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained and rinsed
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can green chiles
8 oz. shredded cheese (I suggest not cutting fat here, as recommended in the King Ranch Casserole recipe)
8 corn tortillas, torn in half
3 scallions, green parts only, for garnish
1 lb chicken breast, fully cooked and shredded
2 tbsp corn oil

Heat oven to 375F

Layer tortillas in bottom of greased 9x13 baking dish.  Heat 5-7 minutes.  Let cool.

Heat corn oil in large skillet.  Add onion, pepper, and carrots and cook until onions are translucent in color, about 5 minutes.  Add next 7 ingredients.  Cook until well blended and the mixture begins to bubble.  Reduce heat to low and cook an extra 5 minutes. 

Once the tortillas have cooled, remove 8 halves and cover the bottom of the dish with 4 tortillas (8 halves).  Spoon one layer of the soup mixture over the tortillas.  Cover soup layer with shredded chicken.  Spoon another layer of soup mixture over chicken. Top with remaining tortillas.  Cover with shredded cheese.

Bake in oven until cheese melts completely, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

{Wine Wednesday} El Cortijillo Tempanillo

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Sometimes, Wine Wednesday feels like a long awaited holiday and that's exactly how it went this week.  In fact, I rushed to my computer late last night frantic about forgetting to post on Wine Wednesday.  Then I realized it was ONLY Tuesday.  Pour me a glass anyway, please!

This week I'm enjoying a favorite varietal, Tempranillo by El Cortijillio.  I've enjoyed Tempranillo by the bottle before, as Spanish wines are a go-to for me, but this time I noticed the "DenominaciĆ³n de Origen" (DO) was La Mancha.  I've never noticed this on a bottle before, but now I'll pay attention, as I've come to find out that La Mancha is the LARGEST designated wine region in Europe and home to some of my favorite wines!  Sounds like paradise. 

Here is what I taste in a sip of this wine: tannins, bitterness, heat, spice, earthiness.  It is a plump wine, and ruby in color.  I enjoyed a glass with beef empanadas and frijoles negros (black beans), because hey, when in Rome La Mancha, right?  

Photos: my own

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Red and Green Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Hello good grapes!  Sorry for the lack of posts lately... It's going to be a busy few weeks for me all the way through mid May.  Anyway, despite the lack of posts I have been enjoying this warm weather and great wine!  You know what else goes with warm weather?  Fresh salads.  

This Red and Green Salad (I made the name up myself, am I not so clever?) was my favorite salad until I made tonight's salad - stay tuned.  Anyway, why the name?  Well, all the of the ingredients are either red or green.  I mean, some are technically purple, but if I told you  to add purple cabbage and purple onion to your grocery list, you'd look at me funny.  The grocery list is pretty simple.  I actually used left over ingredients from my fish taco recipe and added a new protein and a can of kidney beans.  

Avocado, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves + 1 tbsp, chopped and separated
1/2 small red jalapeno pepper, finely diced (optional)
1/4 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small head romaine lettuce, torn to small pieces
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and well rinsed 


1 lb boneless chicken breast
olive oil
pinch kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp cilantro leaves

1 large naval orange
2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro (from above)

For salad dressing, pour olive oil into large measuring cup (I used a 2 cup OXO), juice orange and limes.  Add to blender or food processor.  Add cilantro and garlic and puree until smooth.  

Prepare chicken breasts.  Place over foil on baking sheet.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.   Sprinkle with garlic clove, tablespoon of cilantro, pinch of salt and pieces of remaining orange.  Broil on low for 15-20 minutes.  

Add salad ingredients to bowl.  Top with slices of broiled chicken and dress with the cilantro-lime dressing.  

Pair with unoaked Chardonnay.  Suggestion:  Mer Solei Silver



Thursday, April 11, 2013

{Thrifty Thursday} Eclectic Tablescape

Hola!  I am in LOVE with my newest tablescape and I just have to blog about it!  I hadn’t set my formal table since my birthday dinner and I literally woke up one day, and tired at looking at a sad, lonely table, I marched myself to Homegoods and browsed the web in search of a collection that would add color, cheerfulness, and an eclectic air to our formal dining and living space.  I looked through what I had and decided that I wanted to use my formal place mats and my pink napkins, which are a carry over from my informal Easter setting.  

Anyway… the details.  I gave myself a budget of $100.  Here’s the run-down:
        Large Dinner plate – HomeGoods, $5.99/each ($24 total)
        Large gold-rimmed salad plate – Pottery Barn, $23.99/4 plus free shipping with code
        Peacock Salad Plate – Macy’s $23.99/4 (Reduced from $50.00 to $29.99 plus my 20%
        Star Reward discount)
        Japanese noodle bowls - HomeGoods, $3.99/each ($16 total)

Total for new dishes: $88.00  I bought a small wine carafe ($7 on clearance) with the remaining budget money, and even had money to spare!

Photos: My own

Now the test, do you like it as much as I do?  What do you think of the mis-matching?  My favorite part is that since these dishes are all mismatched, I can reuse them with other china patterns I already have.  I’ll keep you posted on how I reuse these pieces to create different tablescapes as the seasons, and my mood, change. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{Wine Wednesday} Fancy Pants

I totally bought today's wine pick because of the label.  And when I say I bought it, I mean the Easter Bunny did, ooops.  But seriously, how cute is this? And the tag line, I Wear the Pants, um, hello?  That's ME!  I TOTALLY wear the pants in our house.  That is, when it comes to picking out and buying our wine.  So needless to say this pretty little lady came home with me while I the Easter bunny chose something a little more 'macho' for Z's basket. 

By printing the question, "Who Wears the Pants?" the cork becomes a conversation piece
So while the gorgeous label and pretty packaging are what sold me on this wine, I found it to be a pleasantly versatile red, dark in color but light on the nose and in body.  With the sun staying out long enough to enjoy some time on the patio before bed, I'd say this is a perfect patio red wine.  And how appropriate would this be on a girls' night?  

I have no idea who produces this wine, but I know it is produced in St. Helena, California. I had a hard time finding this bottle for sale online but I heard the Easter Bunny has been spotted at Target lately.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Taco Tuesday: Fish Tacos

It’s Taco Tuesday, good grapes!  Don’t worry, we won’t have tacos as our main recipes forever, but we’ve been on such a kick lately that I wanted to share our latest homemade creation.  I saw tilapia filets on super sale at the grocery as well avocados for $1.00/each, so my mind told me to make simple fish tacos for dinner.   Can it get any easier than that?  Here’s what we did:

image: my own


1 bag red cabbage, shredded

1 avocado

1 bunch cilantro

2 limes

1 red bell pepper

1 red chile pepper (or jalapeno, or Serrano, or your favorite pepper)

1 pound tilapia filet

1 bag corn tortillas

½ tsp. corn oil (substitute oil you have at home if you don’t have corn oil)

Pinch salt

Pinch pepper

½ tsp Adobo seasoning (I use the salt free kind)

First I patted the filets dry, then lightly drizzled them in corn oil – PS – I use corn oil on any recipe that will be eaten with corn tortillas – then I mixed up my seasonings and seasoned the fish.  I put them in the broiler on low heat and just watched them until they were done, about 10 minutes, turning them once half way. 

In the mean time I put 4 tortillas in the oven and let them broil directly on the oven rack for a few minutes on each side until they were JUST starting to crisp up.  You want them crisp but still flexible enough to fold.

Then I pulled a handful of cilantro leaves, removed the stems and chopped up the leaves along with half of the red bell pepper.  I put the cilantro and red bell pepper in a small bowl and added the red cabbage until it looked pretty balanced.  I added the juice of one lime and mixed everything up (you can add a pinch of salt and/or pepper here too).


By now the tortillas are ready and so are the filets, so I took two tortillas and filled them with the cabbage mix, I halved each filet and put one half in each tortilla, then garnished the plate with more cilantro and a couple of slivers of red chile, for heat.  I took ingredients I had on hand (Greek yogurt, mayo, Sriracha sauce and honey) and mixed up a tiny bit of sauce to go with the tacos, but you totally don’t need this unless you want extra ‘tang.’  Mexican crema would have worked fine too.  

Salsa and guacamole recipes here

To these, add a few extra garnishes, such as avocado or queso fresco (I used leftover guacamole and salsa with these tacos) and sprinkle with lime.  That’s it.  These tacos were so easy to make, super tasty and definitely restaurant grade.  My hubs likes everything I make, but he liked these so much he started thinking of special names for them.  Cute, no?  Let us know if you love these as much as we did!

Pair with a fresh vinho verde if you're enjoying outside for lunch or a crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc for later in the day.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekend Recap: Go, Eat, Wear

Happy Monday, Good Grapes!

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!  I'm starting a new series on this blog called "Go, Eat, Wear."  In short it summarizes my weekend, covering where I went, what I ate, and what I wore.  I want to write more about the amazing ways I enjoy all that this wonderful city has to offer, share my absolute favorite food finds, and catalog a sampling of the gems that are hanging in my closet. 

My Friday was fabulous - Z and I enjoyed a double date with another couple.  We devoured every bit of the four course chef's table prepared for us at DC's contemporary brasserie,  Brasserie Beck.  We loved our main course so much, I forgot to take pictures.  Brasserie Beck is a place I've enjoyed on multiple occasions, each time savoring something different and wanting to return for more of what chef Robert Wiedmaier invents.  

Went here: 
Brasserie Beck Chef's Table

Ate this: 

mussels with two sauces - white wine and red curry

frites and three sauces

dessert trio

Drank this:
Clos Pissarra "El Ramon" Granache/Cabernet/Carifnane blend
Wore this:
Work-to-evening outfit with pants by Theory, Sanctuary Clothing embellished button down blouse, Banana Republic Jacket and Christian Louboutin heels

I loved how the collar folded nicely over the coat and the shirt cuffs peeked out of the coat sleeves as well

Friday, April 5, 2013

{Five for Friday} Funnies

Happy Friday Good Grapes!  Welcome to "Five for Friday" a new column where we'll share five of something that we've been musing over all week. 

While exploring the Twitterverse that past few days, a few tweets made me LOL and I could not thank these darlings enough for the laughs that got me through this exhausting week.  Of course these favorite, funniest tweets had something in common - WINE!  It's just that kind of week, y'all.

Corsica Wine Decanter: on sale at Pottery Barn

April 5th Five Funniest: 
5. "I don't taste the Michelle Tannins but it still has a Full House flavor." --wine jokes that were prob a stretch even in the 90's. (@albz)

4. Here's how to tell if you've been married a long time. I'm on my own tonight but, out of sheer habit, just poured out two glasses of wine. (@prodnose)

3. What do you mean wine isn't a food group? (@princessprobz)

2. What does a grape say when it gets stepped on? Nothing, it just lets out a little wine. (@badjokesguy)

1. It never fails- every time I wear white, I spill a whole bottle of wine down my throat. (@RobinMcCauley)

This set of three sisters loved @albz's reference to our idol sisterly trio, The Tanners.