Sunday, October 18, 2009


I have always loved Fall. As a kid, it meant going back to school, new clothes, great food, and that the holidays were coming.

As an adult, I still love the weather, warm soft clothes, great food.

But it means the holidays are coming.

It's very easy for me to get so wrapped up in planning for all the busyness of the upcoming holiday season (multiplied by impending deployment this year) that I completely forget to enjoy my favorite season. So, this morning, I took a moment to enjoy the sunshine after a week of gray and rain.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A great new Wine Find

I'm a big fan of promoting local businesses. Even better when that business makes my new favorite wine!

With family visiting this past weekend, we stopped by Beachaven Winery on Sunday afternoon. They offer free tours and wine tasting (something we've paid up to $20/person for at other wineries). The winery is very pretty and the staff friendly. They kindly offered to hold my stroller behind their desk since the tour went up and down stairs.

As a bonus to a really pleasant afternoon, Beachaven offers a Chablis style wine that neatly stands in for one my personal favorites at a much lower price. Kevin and I were introduced to Joesph Drouhin Chablis by a server at the Melting Pot in Tacoma, WA on our 1st anniversary. Paired with tart green apples (and a sharp cheese fondue on that occaision), it is fabulous and one of my favorite treats. Beachaven offers a wine with similar notes but a significantly lower price tag in Melody.

Melody, along with a few others, will undoubtedly be taking up permenant residence in our wine fridge.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicken Ragout with Polenta

Adapted from a Sandra Lee recipe.

3 C frozen primavera vegetables (I used green beans because that's what I had)
6 naked chicken breasts (I used 3)
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper
1 1/2 tsp italian seasoning (I make my own: parsley, oregano, basil, garlic powder)
1 14oz jar pasta sauce (I used one can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp crushed garlic (2 sm cloves or 1 large chopped very fine)
1 24oz tube pre-made polenta, sliced 1/2" thick

Slow Cooker:
Combine frozen vegetable medley in the bottom of a 5 qt slow cooker. Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. Place chicken on top of vegetables.

In a large bowl, stir together pasta sauce/tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic. Pour 2/3 over chicken and vegetables. Top chicken with polenta slices and cover with remaining sauce. Cover and cook on the LOW setting for 4-5 hours.

In the Oven:
Preheat over to 400 degrees.

In a 13"x9" greased pan, layer chicken, vegetables, and polenta. Stir together pasta sauce/tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic and pour over chicken. Cover with aluminum foil, and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

We really liked this recipe. It was easy to assemble. I cooked it in the oven because the little man didn't take a long enough nap until the afternoon. I put it together in minutes around 3 pm and put in the oven at six. I used frozen breasts and it worked perfectly. This was the first time Kevin had polenta and he really liked it. If you've never experienced polenta check here.
It's a great alternative starch that is made REALLY easy if you use the prepared tubes. A great, quick alternative if you really like risotto. It has a similar creamy texture.