Wednesday, May 15, 2013

{Wine Wednesday}

 Wine Wednesday is here!  This week I'm writing about a wine I tasted at my first Wine Wednesday wine tasting.  A few of my neighborhood friends and I have decided to make Wine Wednesday a little more social and so two weeks ago we kicked off the Summer Wine Wednesday tasting parties.  The featured region was Piedmont and we each picked a wine from that region, read up on it, and came prepared to share with the group.  

The crowd favorite was the Terre d'Aleramo Barbera del Monferrato.  It was a good group choice because it wasn't to heavy but wasn't too light and had fruity notes on the finish yet was a bit earthier than some of the other wines we tried that night.  It was young, and we agreed we'd love to try it again after keeping it in the cellar a couple of years.  I'm growing to really like wines from the region, and have enjoyed the Barbera varietal in particular.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Lovely Salad!

Greetings, fellow good grapes.  I don't know what's gotten into me, or why I'm eating so many salads, but that's what I'm craving and that's what I'm making.

This is a salad I wanted to recreate at home after a recent trip to visit friends and family in Dallas.  Inspired by a salad I enjoyed at a restaurant there, I thought what so many of us think when we over pay for something because it happens to sound delicious: "This is so good.  I bet you I can MAKE this!"  So that's what I did and I will share how:

Summer salad
romaine lettuce (1 head shredded)
chicken breast, seasoned and cooked
grape tomatoes

dressing (recipe previously posted)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1 large orange
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil

Prepare chicken as desired, slice or shred.  I seasoned with a little bit of Adobo, a little paprika, and some pepper, then broiled on low until cooked throughout.  
Chop fruit, avocado and tomatoes (technically a fruit, I know) to portions of your choosing.
Tear lettuce leaves and add to salad bowl or plate and top with fruit, tomatoes and avocado.  Add chicken.  Serve with cilantro lime dressing, recipe here. 

This was truly a refreshing and delicious salad and allowed me to reuse my cilantro-lime salad dressing that I love so much!  As a bonus, it called for ingredients that were a perfect dinner for the baby, and he loved it as much as I did.  I need more of these time-saving dinner ideas!

For the baby: salad and tomatoes excluded, and peas (for iron) added.  Photos: my own.
Pair with Sauvignon  blanc, suggesion: Concha Y Toro Explorador ($10, Chile)


Friday, May 10, 2013

{DIY} Chalk Board Server

This is perhaps the easiest DIY I've ever done.  I'm pretty busy, and it took me about 10 minutes to complete, including drying time.  

I got the inspiration from our mother, who has been quite the little DIY-er in her retirement.  Our family recently hosted an engagement party for dear friends, and my mom thought to make a chalk board serving tray the length of the entire outdoor table.  It was beautiful, and much more impressive than mine.  I wish I had pics. 

Anyway, I totally ripped off her idea and made the project myself, with cheaper material.  You will need: 1) Ready-to-install shelves (available from any hardware store) 2) chalk board paint (I used Rustoleum brand) 3) cabinet door pulls 4) Chalk.  Make sure the shelves you buy are already primed.  This makes the project very easy.

Give each board 2-3 coats of paint.  The paint dries so quickly.  Each board was ready by the time I gave the other a coat.  I kept alternating them until all coats were on.  Drill door pulls onto painted shelves and you are done!

Total Cost:
Small Shelf               $ 5.98
Large Shelf               $ 7.98
Paint                         $15.00
4 Pulls ($1.29 ea.)    $ 5.16
Trim Kit                    $ 5.97

The boards serve multiple purposes and take up very little storage.  Has anyone completed any fun DIY projects lately?


Thursday, May 9, 2013

{Thrifty Thursday} The Simple Summer Wedge

Happy Thursday! 

It's no surprise I'm blogging about shoes today, because I am seriously OBSESSED.  I have ish-shoes.  Get it?  Okay seriously, motherhood for me has been all about balance.  Literally.  What is a style-conscious mama to do when my usual sky-high heels and wedges just won't cut it for a day of errands with the little nugget?  The answer: I need shorter heels, or wedges, to be perfectly honest.  I found the cutest pair at DSW last month that I am sure to wear over and over again all summer.  And you know what, they sort of look just like those Manolos I thought I had to have.  I am one happy, well-heeled mama!  And now that I have my new thrifty pair, those Manolos don't even look as cute anymore.  I actually prefer the pair I bought instead!

Splurge: Manolo Blahnik Shala Wedge, $725, Nordstrom

Steal: Tahari Leola Wedge, $60, DSW
Which shoe styles are you most coveting this summer?  I'd love to know!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

{Wine Wednesday} Forefront by Pine Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

First of all, the HAPPIEST of Wine Wednesdays to my fellow Good Grape Lovers.  And what a happy Wine Wednesday it is!  Without stalling further, let me tell you about a love story.  

My dear friend Sarah and her lovely beau recently celebrated their engagement.  It was fortuitous that I was able to leave the party with the beautiful bride to be, her fiance and their closest friends and walk to the nearby Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C.  First of all, I'm NEVER out late and second, I NEVER stay out long enough to have a THIRD glass of wine, so it was my good fortune that brought me to this wine. 

Enter love story number two of the evening.  I reviewed the wine list and had already heard from friends that there isn't a wine to disappoint.  When I know this, and when the wine list is THAT well curated, I'm not going to lie - I usually just order the least expensive one.  But then I noticed they had Forefront by Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon and it happens that this winemaker follows me on Twitter, so I felt I owed it to them to try out their glass.  

My goodness, this is by far the best glass of wine I've enjoyed in a few months, in all honesty.  I must have looked foolish clutching my glass so tight, savoring every sip, but that is exactly what the wine called for.  It was beautiful.  Everything a Cabernet needs to be and everything you wish all wines to be.  This wine was rich, full bodied, and intense with flavors of fruit, but low on acidity and smooth, and I mean SMOOTH, on the finish.  And to think, if it weren't for Twitter, I would have never ordered the most expensive glass on the menu.  I'm not only thankful for a new follower on Twitter, but for the opportunity to connect with wineries I am not familiar with, including Pine Ridge and Forefront Vineyards.  


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ginger-Sesame Chicken Salad

THIS is a salad I am SO excited to share with my Three Good Grapes readers.  I tore it out of a Redbook Magazine (May 2013) and knew I had to make it.  The result was just beyond refreshing, delicious, and included a dose of healthy.  I can't say enough about this salad.  It's incredibly satisfying.  Before I fill up your whole screen with praise, let me go ahead and share the recipe and let you decide for yourselves.

I swear the chicken is cooked! The pink hue is probably a combination of my crappy phone camera and the red-brown marinade color


Marinade and dressing

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp very finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

3 Tbsp canola oil

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp sriracha

1 tsp kosher salt

2 (9-oz) boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup minced scallions (white and green parts)

Photos: my own


1 lb napa cabbage, halved lengthwise, very thinly sliced crosswise

2 carrots, shredded or cut into matchstick-size strips*

½ cup shredded red cabbage*

3 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced on a sharp diagonal

⅔ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted

1 tsp black sesame seeds (optional)


In a medium bowl, whisk soy sauce, ginger, canola oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and salt to blend. Transfer 3 Tbsp of the marinade to a baking dish, add chicken, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.*

Dressing: Whisk vinegar and scallions into the remaining marinade. Set aside.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, add to grill pan, and cook about 4 minutes per side, or until chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced in the thickest part with the tip of a small sharp knife. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes.

Cut chicken crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices.

In a large bowl, toss chicken, cabbage, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and half of the almonds with enough dressing to coat lightly.

Mound salad in center of 4 plates. Re-whisk dressing and drizzle a little over and around salad. Sprinkle with the remaining almonds and sesame seeds.

* The only thing I did differently was buy pre-shredded carrots and added shredded red cabbage.  Half cup of each.  I broiled the chicken on low for about 20 minutes and didn't let it sit in the fridge first (short on time), and still felt the end result was divine.  Also, because I was in a hurry and rushed through directions, I added all ingredients to the marinade (including vinegar and scallions) and it was fine.  As you can tell in the pictures, I forgot to add the sesame seeds and almonds. Shoot. 

I took this salad over to a friend's house for an impromptu dinner date this weekend and I've enjoyed the leftovers since.  If I had used the entire head of cabbage (I only used half) and all of the carrots and red cabbage and a bunch of cilantro, I could easily feed 10 by cooking more chicken and adjusting the marinade proportions.  Go ahead, give it a try.

Enjoyed with: a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc.  Suggestion: Kendall Jackson


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Guilt-Free Jalapeno-Infused Margarita

Happy Cinco de Mayo, all!

I've been so slammed with work this week.  I took a weekend-long professional workshop that had me up at 6 a.m. and studying until the wee hours, so the first thing I wanted when I was 'released' today was a delicious margarita in the spirit of this Cinco de Mayo.

Of course, after three days of company sponsored carbo-loaded meals, and no time to think of preparing something healthy as an alternative, I wanted to indulge but also avoid the extra calories that a simple margarita can pack, since margaritas often contain more than a whole meal's worth of calories.  Stunning, I know!

So fear not, my waistline-watching good grapes.  This recipe is fresh, easy, delicious, and tastes better than most on-the-rocks-margaritas.  As an added bonus, it also has a subtle kick of heat in the aftertaste. This is your chips and salsa and margarita all in one!


Fresh limes (~1 small per serving)
Tequila (I prefer Patron Silver)
Lime flavored sparkling water
Jalapeno, thinly sliced
Strawberries, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Preparation (1 serving):
Squeeze 1 oz. lime juice into measuring cup
Add 1 oz. tequila
Add 1 oz. sparkling water

Add jalapeno and strawberry garnish to glass.  Pour ingredients into shaker and shake well.  Pour into glass.  Enjoy!

All photos: my own

Thursday, May 2, 2013

{Thrifty Thursday} Sam&Libby for Target

I remember being much younger and loving the brand knows as "Sam&Libby."  You could find these shoes, most known for their ballerina flats adorned with a tiny little bow in a rainbow of colors at moderately priced retailers like Dillard's and Mervyn's, but suddenly you didn't see the pair but rather the pricier "Sam Edelman" at only higher-end retailers.  I quietly wondered if the pair (or were they a made-up couple or just a brand?) broke up but I went on with my life. 

Well, either I've been asleep for a few years or this couple is passionately reunited, because on May 5, 2013, they are coming back to Target stores near you.  And, by the looks of it, they've gotten a total makeover.  The new Sam&Libby styles have me swooning and there are three pairs in particular that I am eyeing.  These shoes are so awesome, I've already blogged about similar, more expensive pairs here and here.

And PS, Sam and Libby are a real life couple and together they founded the higher-end Sam Edelman after they launched their original brand in 1987.  They are still married.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

{Wine Wednesday} Wine 101: You Can't Take the Heat

Wow, has it already been a month since this series launched? I can't believe it, but it's true!  Happy May, my friends.  In DC, we are used to May being our last taste of tolerable weather before the unbearable and humid months of the summer so graciously greet us. 

We wrote a little last month about the importance of storing wine at the right temperature, but today we will give you the reasons behind this guidance.  Wine is complex, and not for any intimidating or discouraging reasons, but because, like our mother reminds us often, that is the way it is.  Think of wine as a temperature-controlled chemistry experiment and the change of a single element (heat) will change the 'chemical makeup' of everything else in the bottle. 

Storing, or even exposing your wine to heat, can cause all sorts of problems and quickly turn an unsuspecting bottle into an undesirable, and often undrinkable situation.  This is known as 'cooked' wine.  While wine ages slowly, and very well, in desirable temperatures, heat swiftly speeds up the aging process and causes its deterioration.  Have you ever heard of someone saving a bottle of wine for years and years only to open it and taste dirty grape juice?  Well, that is what even the best bottles of vino can become when left in extreme heat from 75 degrees F and higher for several hours.  

Signs of cooked wine include a pushed cork (when the cork looks like it's trying to open itself off of the bottle), or worse, the wine will bleed through the cork and begin to spill all over the place - be it the trunk of your car or your wine storage area. 

If you don't have a proper way to cool down your wines from that brutal summer heat, invest in a wine fridge, or, unscrew those corks and start drinking!  What are you waiting for?

Our basement - naturally cool and a great home for our wine collection