Archive for the ‘wine’ Category

easy pork tenderloin

For a long time I have avoided cooking pork.  There hasn’t been a pork chop or pork loin in our house for a very long time.  There, I have said it.  That very statement alone may cause avid foodies (and Emeril) to stop reading right there.  I have avoided pork because my husband and I both have memories of dry, bland pork that required shake n’ bake  or honey mustard to cover the fact that the pig had died in vain. 

In my quest to cut back on red meat (see previous posts),  I knew that I needed to explore the world of pork before we were left with nothing but poultry, fish and pizza!  I was wandering around the blogosphere earlier in the week  when I stopped in at another blog that I enjoy reading, The clumsy cook.  There was a beautiful picture of heirloom pork tenderloin that made me decide to do something daring.  I went out and bought a pork tenderloin, and we had it for dinner tonight. 

I decided to start slow, so the recipe I used was ridiculously easy, and I have to admit I stole it right off the ww website.   I mixed the olive oil and spices and tenderloin together in the morning before I left for work and let it sit in the fridge all day.  Hubby had the right description when he called it “zippy”.  If you don’t like things well seasoned, you might want to use less of each spice, or just mix it right before cooking.  We had this with mashed potatoes and a salad.  I thought it went well with the Parducci Pinot Noir we got in our case of the week from Chapel Hill/Hillsborough Wine Co (more on that later).   It is now my favorite weeknight dinner, and I will try all kinds of other seasoning combinations in the future. 

One important note:  It is imperative that you use a meat thermometer, preferably a digital one, so that you don’t overcook the pork.  One overcooked pork dinner could cause you or your children slip into the same black hole of pork-avoidance that I have just crawled out of!  Insert the thermometer probe into the center of the meat before cooking and monitor throughout the process. This will make things much easier. 

Thanks to the Clumsy Cook for my inspiration!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 pound lean pork tenderloinPreheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.
    Combine thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
    Rub oil all over pork. Sprinkle thyme mixture all over pork and transfer to prepared pan.
    Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of pork reads 160ºF, about 30 minutes.
    Let stand 10 minutes before slicing crosswise into thin (about 1/2-inch thick) slices. Yields about 3 ounces per serving.  3ww units


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 I am all for the “eat local” trend if it means I get to eat chocolates!

The other night, the hubby and I went out for dinner in downtown Hillsborough at the Gulf Rim Cafe.  On the way up Churton Street to the restaurant, we passed a new store front right next to the cafe…Matthew’s Chocolates!

Hubby took one look at me and said “Yes, we will stop on the way out.”  I love him so.

After our great dinner at the Gulf Rim, (I had a mahi mahi burrito and hubby had the crawfish pie, both excellent), we stopped in to check the place out.  The woman behind the counter explained the different pieces to us.  We picked two of Matthew’s signature candies and one that had a hazlenut filling.  The signature candies were painted yellow, blue and orange.  They were filled with real coconut and a whole almond.  We enjoyed them with a Cabernet Sauvignon we got from Chapel Hill Wine Co.  Yum.

Matthew’s logo


If you live in the area, you should definately make a point to take trip into downtown Hillsborough, NC.  The restaurants there are all local and they are great.  Even better you can support the local economy with great chocolate!



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Well, ten years ago on this very night, a young biology student collided with a strapping physics major during dollar pitcher night in Bloomsburg, PA……   

So, to celebrate our ten years together, the hubby and I went out to dinner at Pancuito in downtown historic Hillsborough.  It is a great little restaurant, only seating 50 people. Tonight must have been a  weird slow night for them because we were one of the few people in the place.  I guess Thursday night isn’t a huge dining out night in our little town of Hillsborough, because Pancuito is certainly not empty because of the food!

When you first sit down, they bring you a tiny glass of prosecco to put you in the right frame of mind.   They make all of their own pasta and bread at Pancuito, and if it isn’t in season locally, it isn’t on the menu. Green Gourmet..  I love it!

To start:

Beef Tenderloin carpaccio with roasted sweet potatoes in truffle cream vinaigrette

Grilled bruschetta with goat cheese spread, proscuitto, fried egg, golden chanterelles and pea shoots.  (YUM!)

Second Course:

Black spaghetti with sauteed shrimp, calamari, sopressata  and arugula in saffron-tomato butter

Grilled trout “alla porchetta” with wilted mizuna greens and gnocchi in lemon-egg cream (Amazing gnocchi!)

Third Course:

Pumpkin ricotta cheesecake with graham cracker cookie, cardamom maple syrup and maple leaf crisp  (This was so good, it was beyond words; autumn on a plate)


We had a bottle of really wonderful Niedermayer Pinot Nero from Italy.

My favorites were the bruschetta, the gnocchi, and the cheesecake.  Mmmmmmmm.

If you live within 20 miles of Pancuito, you MUST go there. It is wonderful and the staff is so nice.  Someone came in to sit at the bar and they really wanted ravioli.  No ravioli on the menu, but what came out?  A butternut squash ravioli that was made special in the kitchen . That is service.  Our waiter could have rushed us out so that he could close up and go home, but he let us take our time and enjoy our special night out.

So there is my raving review.  Pancuito has special wine dinners throughout the year, one of these days we are going to get to one before they sell out.  Check it out if  you can, they have a special email list if you are interested!

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Great Pino Noir

Tonight was the first night in a little while that we both got home from work at a decent hour and could sit down and enjoy a nice dinner together. Plus, it was one of my favorite nights of the week… Thursday!  To me, Thursday night is as good as Friday, the weekend is so close you can feel it.

We had grilled salmon with parboiled/grilled new potatoes and a salad. I picked the fixin’s up at the grocery store during lunch,  and wandered through the wine aisle of the grocery store on my way to the check out. Lots of people automatically think white wine with fish, but I think that salmon stands up to red wine pretty well.  This pinot noir that I got at the grocery store was really smooth and went really well with the horseradish in the salmon marinade.

 We have never had a bad Pinot Noir from the Willamette valley of Oregon. 

 Happy Thursday from me to you!  Hope you have a good weekend.  Eagles and Giants play on Sunday night, I am trying to think of something good for dinner to get the Philly mojo’ goin.  I can’t do justice to cheese steaks, so I will have to think of something else.

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Baked Ziti

 Sorry to be away for a while, things have been hectic!  This is the blog I meant to post on Monday of this week 🙂

I was catching some flack around the house lately because we hadn’t had a pasta night the past few weeks.  I know that will disappoint my Dad, who must have pasta once a week, preferrably on Wednesdays.  Sorry Dad.

Anyway, so I thought I would suprise Jason when he came home from his trip last weekend with something involving homemade tomato gravy.  Meatballs seemed like lots of work to someone in such a lazy mood, so I looked online for a basic baked ziti recipe.  A quick stop at www.allrecipes.com and I had found a few recipes containing an ingredient I had never seen in baked ziti… sour cream!

 I LOVE sour cream, and this was a chance to combine it with another ingredient I love – CHEESE!  I can hear my italian mother right now “Maria – step away from the sour cream, it doesn’t belong in baked ziti!”

Here was my doctored version of the allrecipes.com recipe:

  • olive oil to coat a heavy pot

  • 1lb ground sirloin

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced eggplant

  • 2 26oz cans crushed san marzano tomatoes

  • dried italian herb mix

  • 1/4 -1/2 cup good italian red wine (see below)

  • 3/4 cup light sour cream

  • 3/4 cup light ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1lb cooked ziti or rigatoni

Brown the ground beef, onion, garlic and eggplant in the pan with the olive oil. When beef is browned, drain the oil out of the pan. Add the tomatoes to the mixture, bring to a simmer with the italian herb mix to taste.  Cover and let cook for a long time (I let it go for about an hour). 

While the pasta is cooking,  mix the ricotta, sour cream, parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella in a large bowl.   This is the time to add the wine to your slowly simmering meat sauce.

After draining the pasta, add it to the ricotta cheese mixture with over half of the meat sauce.  Tranfer this to a buttered glass baking dish, top with the rest of the sauce and then the rest of the mozzarella cheese.   Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and you can see the liquid in the dish starting to bubble.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

I have to tell you, this was some kick-a@@ baked ziti.  Jason agreed, and he got his fix of italian food for a welcome back home treat, plus lunch the next day!

 All of those reviews on allrecipes.com were right. Sour cream does belong in baked ziti, at least in my world it does.

This was the wine we used in the sauce and finished with dinner.  The picture I took wasn’t very pretty, but it was good, so click the link to learn more about it.

 Talk to you soon! 

Edited to add:  This is my most popular post!  If you try this and love it or hate I would love to hear about it! (more…)

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Bring out the bubbles!


 Did you ever have one of those days where it starts out with nothing going right, then at some point during the day the powers-that-be come along and hit you upside the head with some news that will put everything back into its proper perspective?  That was my day yesterday, and it was definately a good thing. 

Celebration was in order.  Lucky for us we were prepared.  Some good friends had given us this bottle of Asotoria 2006  prosecco  for our anniversary,  knowing our fondness for italian bubbles.  I know the picture isn’t the best, but this prosecco was very nice.   I only wish a certain cancer-defying family member lived closer so she could try some with us.

We did have dinner while the celebratory bottle cooled off on ice.  I don’t know what I was thinking actually using the oven in 100 degree heat, but lets just say the dinner was not as nice as the liquid dessert.  Turkey cutlets pounded thin and lightly coated with flour and parmesan cheese.  I browned them in the skillet and finished with a white wine pan sauce.  It sounded better than it was.  Maybe if the weather was a bit cooler outside and I had gone a little lighter on the salt.   Jason said he thought it tried too hard (?).  What’s done is done, I was too happy to worry about a salty dinner!  The picture was nice, so I will throw it in for good measure. Talk to you soon!

turkey culets

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White Sangria

sangria picture

This past weekend, we celebrated my parents’ 75th birthdays.  The party was in Pennsylvania, so we had to fly up there on Friday night.  Our contribution to the menu was this nice bowl of white sangria, it was easy to throw together the night before.  I like both types of sangria, but I thought this was great since it was so nice and light.  My sister seemed especially fond of the fruit that had been soaking all night! 😉


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