Slow Cooker Thai Carrot Peanut Soup + GIVEAWAY!

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Slow Cooker Thai Carrot Peanut Soup - Colleen's Kitchen

This time of year when I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, I love to break out my slow cooker. What’s better than throwing some ingredients in the slow cooker before you leave the house and have it all ready and waiting for you when you walk in the door? Plus, the house always smells amazing.

Slow Cooker Thai Carrot Peanut Soup - Colleen's Kitchen

The slow cooker is filled and ready to cook.

My first slow cooker recipe this season is this Thai inspired soup that is creamy, sweet, and mildly spicy, yet entirely vegan. I start by throwing everything in the slow cooker, covering the pot, and letting it cook on low for up to 10 hours. When I come home, there’s nothing left to do but to puree it up and serve.

But wait! There is one secret to the success of this dish: Nasoya Silken Tofu.

Slow Cooker Thai Carrot Peanut Soup

Add a few peanuts for garnish if desired.

Nasoya Silken Tofu is extra soft and creamy and makes a perfect substitute for cream in a dish like this. I simply puree it up with the cooked soup, let the soup reheat a bit, and serve. It’s thick, creamy, and you would never know that there’s tofu in there. Bonus: using tofu also adds a nice little nutritional pop of protein to the recipe.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS!

Would you like to try Nasoya Silken Tofu or other Nasoya product? The first 3 people to leave a comment below telling me what you’d like to make with Nasoya Silken Tofu will receive a coupon for a free Nasoya product!

Slow Cooker Thai Carrot Peanut Soup
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: 1½ cups
  • Calories: 204.0
  • Fat: 8.5
  • Saturated fat: 1.4
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5
  • Carbohydrates: 21.2
  • Sugar: 9.0
  • Sodium: 558.6
  • Fiber: 4.9
  • Protein: 9.9
  • Cholesterol: 133.5
Recipe type: Soup or Stew
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Creamy and brimming with sweet and spicy flavor, this vegan Slow Cooker Thai Carrot Peanut Soup will fill your belly with warm goodness on a cold fall weeknight.
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. carrots, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups homemade, salt-free vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp minced Thai basil
  • 2 kefir lime leaves, ribs removed and minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 16 oz. Nasoya silken tofu
Instructions
  1. Place the carrots, broth, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, red curry paste, kefir lime leaves, lemongrass, basil, and salt in a slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low.
  3. Remove the lemongrass and discard.
  4. Add the tofu and puree until completely creamy using either a blender or immersion blender.
  5. Return the soup to the slow cooker, cover and let heat on high for 20-30 minutes before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir

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Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir

One of my favorite go to wines for Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. It’s light and fruity, balancing out a heavy meal, and leaves me feeling satisfied yet not over-indulgent.

The Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir fits that description perfectly. The grapes are sourced from, as the name indicates, six different vineyards, all in Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley, yet hales from 3 difference AVA’s: Yamhill Carlton, Dundee Hills, and Chehalem Mountain. It’s a bigger Pinot Noir at 14.2% alcohol, but retains the classic pinot noir flavor of bright red cherry and earthy. The finish is silky and lightly peppery, perfect for a Thanksgiving meal.

Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir

I picked the Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir to pair with my Fall Raw Green Quinoa Salad. The bright cherry is perfect with the sweet-tart sensations from the apple, fennel, brussel sprouts, and dried cranberries in the salad. I can’t wait to pop open a bottle of this with the family for the holidays.

Get the recipe for Fall Raw Green Quinoa Salad here.

Buy a bottle of Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir here.

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Lemelson Vineyards 2012 Six Vineyards Pinot Noir

Cookbook Review: Skinny Juices by Danielle Omar, MS, RD

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Skinny Juices by Danielle Omar, MS, RD - Colleen's Kitchen

As you know, I did my first juice cleanse earlier this year with Suja Juice and I absolutely loved it. So when I had an opportunity to review Skinny Juices by Danielle Omar, MS, RD, I was excited at the opportunity to design my own juice cleanse and make my own juices.

Skinny Juices by Danielle Omar, MS, RD - Colleen's Kitchen

 

I have to warn you that I am in no way an advocate of using juice cleanses as a way to drop a quick amount of weight. While that is typically an outcome, I like to use a cleanse to detox my body and re-set and re-calibrate my appetite. I find that it also helps me build self-confidence: if I can live on nothing but juice for 5 days then I can certainly say no to the office candy bowl.

I started by first reading through Skinny Juices; there are excellent tips on choosing a juicer and juicing versus blending, as well as a sample detox plan. I decided to create my own cleansing plan using my previous juice cleanse as a template. I read through each of the 101 recipes and came up with a menu of 6 different juices for each day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert. My strategy was to pick more filling juices for my main meals, energizing juices for my snacks, and something to satisfy my sweet tooth for dessert.

Skinny Juices by Danielle Omar, MS, RD - Colleen's Kitchen

I intended to cleanse for 5 days and I need variety in my diet so I designed 2 different menus with 6 different juices for a total of 12 recipes to try. In the end, my plan looked like this:

Days 1, 3, 5:

  • Breakfast: Mornin’ Glory
  • Morning Snack: O2 Builder
  • Lunch: Minty Mojito
  • Afternoon Snack: Cleansing Lemonade
  • Dinner: The Feast
  • Dessert: Radiance

 

Days 2, 4:

  • Breakfast: Kiwi Cleanse
  • Morning Snack: Cosmic Love
  • Lunch: Red Fresca
  • Afternoon Snack: Citrus Delight
  • Dinner: Greek Goodness
  • Dessert: Kiwi Cooler

 

For the juicing, I decided to use a combination of my juicer and my new Ninja Nutri Blender Duo. Those fruits or vegetables that have a lot of pulp, such as carrots, beets, apples and cucumbers, went through the juicer. However green veggies like kale, spinach and lettuce as well as soft fruits like strawberries, pineapple and mango went through the blender. I found this gave the juices a little more heft while my Ninja Nutri blended everything so fine that I didn’t have the gritty texture that so often comes with blending greens.

The recipes in Skinny Juices are incredibly easy to follow, it’s simply a matter of combining the listed ingredients in either the blender or juicer, or a combination of the two as I did. In fact, most recipes have only one cooking instruction: Juice.

I found that the juices are also easy to prep ahead of time and keep well overnight. In fact, for recipes that use chia seeds, like Red Fresca, I actually preferred this as it allowed the chia seeds to expand in the liquid and become more digestible.

Every night before I went to bed I would prepare the juices for the next day rather than using valuable morning time to make them before work. I found they were very easy to store and transport in pint-sized mason jars. If a recipe didn’t quite fill the jar, I added a little unsweetened coconut water to make it more substantial.

My favorite juice of those that I tried was definitely the O2 Builder. There is something about the combination of beets, carrots, strawberries, and apples that was absolutely divine. It was sweet and creamy and absolutely filling. I also really enjoyed the Mornin’ Glory, Cosmic Love, Red Fresca, and Radiance. Heck, I liked all of the recipes I tried.

Skinny Juices by Danielle Omar, MS, RD - Colleen's Kitchen

My least favorite of those that I tried was The Feast. I wound up halving the recipe because it makes such a large portion, but I also didn’t care for the garlic and ginger in the recipe, it was just a bit too powerful for my palate. After making the juice as written on the first day, on the following days I left the garlic and ginger out and added a bit of fresh basil for extra flavor. I loved that!

I noticed a difference in myself after the first day of cleansing. I wasn’t hungry, I had a ton of energy, and my mood was very positive. By the time I finished my 5 day cleanse I had not only lost 12 pounds, but I had gained a renewed perspective into myself. I so enjoyed making my own juices and the way the cleanse made me feel that I’ve decided to change my morning breakfast routine from steel-cut oats with berries, hemp hearts, chia seeds, and flax seeds to a filling juice. I think that cutting down on the grains and increasing the raw fruits and vegetables in my diet will not only help my digestion but will also elevate my mood and energy levels. Below is the juice that I make, in my Ninja Nutri Blender, every morning.

If you’re interested in trying a cleanse yourself, I highly recommend snagging a copy of Skinny Juices and making your own juices. You won’t regret it.

*Important Note: This cookbook was provided to me at no cost to review. The opinions in this post are completely my own, other than the cookbook being provided at no cost, I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Rise and Shine!
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 1 serving
  • Serving size: 12 oz.
  • Calories: 181.3
  • Fat: 1.2
  • Saturated fat: 0.1
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3
  • Carbohydrates: 59.6
  • Sugar: 22.8
  • Sodium: 37.5
  • Fiber: 8.0
  • Protein: 2.7
  • Cholesterol: 0.0
Recipe type: Juice
This energizing breakfast juice will kickstart your day and get you going!
Ingredients
  • 3 small leaves fresh kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium honecrisp apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 persian cucumbers, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½" piece of fresh ginger root
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut water
  • dash of cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into the blender and puree until fine and the consistency of a smoothie.

 

Fall Raw Green Quinoa Salad

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Fall Raw Green Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

One of the traditional sides at our family Thanksgiving table is the waldorf salad: a mix of chopped apples, celery, walnuts, and raisins in a heavy mayonnaise based dressing. It’s always a favorite but this year I wanted to change it up a bit. So I deconstructed the salad into the pieces that I like about it: the tart of the apple, the crunch of the celery, the meatiness of the walnuts, and the sweet chewiness of the raisins. Thus began the foundational inspiration for this Fall Raw Green Quinoa Salad.

I started by shaving raw brussel sprouts, this is easily accomplished with a sharp cheese grater. Brussel sprouts are in season right now and I just love the pop of green they add to the dish as well as the punch of nutrition. Then I added in some thinly sliced and chopped fennel, a cousin of the celery family, to add some crunch to the salad as well as a light licorice flavor. In place of the raisins, I used dried cranberries which aren’t quite as sweet as raisins but provide a tart-sweet chewiness to the dish. Instead of the walnuts, I toasted some chopped hazelnuts to add a smokiness to the salad and a differently textured crunch from the fennel. I used a honeycrisp apple in place of the traditional granny smith apple to lighten up the tartness of the dish, added some shredded parmesan cheese for a nutty, salty flavor, orange zest to brighten up the flavors, and, finally, I added quinoa.

Fall Raw Green Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

Orange zest gives the salad a bit of brightness, both in color and flavor.

Why quinoa? It’s a fantastically versatile grain that packs a protein wallop. It makes the dish a wonderful add to a vegetarian Thanksgiving table, but it also makes it perfect for a stand alone entree salad. As I was working on the creation of this recipe that’s exactly how I consumed it: as an entree with a hunk of warm, crusty bread and a glass of Pinot Noir on the side. Perfect.

And the best part? The only piece of this salad that is cooked is the quinoa, which can easily be made a day or two ahead. This is such a bonus on Thanksgiving when oven and stove space are at a premium due to all of the cooking that is underway.

Fall Raw Green Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

Pretty on the plate and pleasing on the palate!

But wait, I haven’t told you about the dressing! Gone is the heavy, fat-laden mayonnaise dressing. Instead I mixed up a vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, tarragon white wine vinegar, whole grain dijon mustard, and a little honey to sweeten it up. The result is a light dressing that adds a nice tart, peppery, lightly sweet flavor to the salad. I can’t wait to introduce my family to my new creation at Thanksgiving!

What twists do you put on your traditional Thanksgiving dishes?

Fall Raw Green Quinoa Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6 servings
  • Calories: 166.6
  • Fat: 7.2
  • Saturated fat: 1.1
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Carbohydrates: 24.0
  • Sugar: 10.0
  • Sodium: 195.4
  • Fiber: 3.9
  • Protein: 4.8
  • Cholesterol: 2.4
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
This easy, colorful, flavor-packed Fall Raw Green Quinoa Salad is bound to become a favorite on your Thanksgiving table.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups shaved brussel sprouts
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, thinly sliced and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced and chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • ⅓ cup dry tricolor quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tarragon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium salad bowl, combine the brussel sprouts, fennel, apple, cranberries, hazelnuts, quinoa, parmesan cheese, and orange zest.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss, and serve. Salad can be made and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead of time.
Notes
To toast the hazelnuts, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat, add the chopped nuts, and cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing frequently, until the nuts are lightly browned. Let cool before adding to the salad.

This recipe serves 6 as a side, and serves 2 as an entree (make sure to adjust the nutritional content accordingly if serving as an entree).

 

Windsor Oaks 2009 Super Tuscan

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Windsor Oaks 2009 Super Tuscan - Colleen's Kitchen

This past weekend I was visiting family in California and I had the pleasure of visiting Windsor Oaks Winery, just north of Santa Rosa, during their wine club pick-up party. The property is simply lovely with a summit that overlooks the valley, providing for a prime late afternoon photo opportunity. Local caterer, Rosso, staffed an oyster bar and a mozzarella buffet that was a delicious accompaniment to the tasting of Windsor Oaks new releases. The staff eagerly talked about the vineyards and methods that went into the crafting of the wine, as we enjoyed the bounty of wine and food in the California sunshine. It was a perfect afternoon.

You might recall that a couple of weeks ago I featured the Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir, and, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that Windsor Oaks provided me with their wine and asked me to give them my feedback. I hope you know me well enough by now, though, to know that I would never endorse a product I didn’t stand behind, and that is absolutely the case with Windsor Oaks. I truly enjoyed their 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir, but this 2009 Super Tuscan is simply divine. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I picked up a second bottle at my own expense to share at a family birthday dinner.

In the style of a true Super Tuscan, this 2009 from Windsor Oaks is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It has the fruity red cherry notes of Sangiovese with dark anise and cedar from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It’s silky, smooth, and a truly delicious wine that deserves to be served with a rich meal.

Windsor Oaks 2009 Super Tuscan

 

I chose to use the 2009 Super Tuscan both in and with my Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole for this reason. The Windsor Oaks 2009 Super Tuscan imparts such an amazing flavor to the dish, and the rich wine pairs so well with the succulent beef, that it’s as if the two were made to go together. I could nibble and sip on the two all night.

You need to give this a try!

Get the recipe for Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole here.

Pick up a bottle (or two) of the Windsor Oaks 2009 Super Tuscan here.

As with any part of a  healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole

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Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole - Colleen's Kitchen

I’m not sure there’s anything better than spending a cold, rainy Sunday in the kitchen, slowly crafting a masterpiece. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been experimenting a lot with braising, which is perfect for such days. I casually yet deliberately layer in flavor after flavor, slowly cooking the tender meat and vegetables in a sauce that thickens  to tasty perfection. The result is a dish of warm, satisfying, comfort food at its best.

For this week’s recipe, I’m taking another trip to Italy with this Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole. I experimented with several cuts of beef when crafting this recipe and I ended up preferring flank steak the best. To keep the portion size in control, I use a 1 pound cut that I pound to about a 1/2″ thickness with a mallet. I then top the beef with tender leaves of fresh baby spinach, a blend of mozzarella, provolone and parmesan cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, and a bit of sharp garlic. To finish the preparation, I roll the steak up and secure it with kitchen twine. That’s the first layer of flavor.

Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole - Colleen's Kitchen

The rolled, stuffed steak is seared hot and fast in herbs and olive oil.

The next layer of flavor starts by heating olive oil on medium high heat in a dutch oven or deep skillet that can go from stove to oven. I add in some finely minced fresh herbs, basil and rosemary to be exact, letting them lightly crisp and brown in the olive oil to release their unique aromas. That’s the second flavor layer.

Next we add the steak to the herbs and olive oil. The key here is to sear the rolled flank steak hot and fast on all sides. The beef crackles and pops when it hits the hot oil and I use a pair of tongs to roll it in the oil, searing all sides. The meat is then removed from the pan and set aside.

Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole - Colleen's Kitchen

The tender steak and linguine tossed in the rich, red wine braising liquid are ready to be served.

And now we start the fourth layer of flavor, and I think this is my favorite part. Left behind in the pan after removing the beef are little bits of succulent deliciousness crusted and stuck to the bottom of the pan in the now browned oil. With the pan still on medium high heat, I quickly pour in a bit of red wine and a loud hiss of steam erupts. The wine bubbles and boils as I use a wooden spoon to stir it and scrape the bottom of the pan, releasing all these stuck on bits and starting the basis of the sauce.

And now the final flavor layer. The pan is removed from the heat and I add the beef back in with a bit more wine and a small handful of sundried tomatoes. Finally, I cover the pan and move it into the oven on a low heat, just 325F, and bake it for an hour. To get the beef evenly flavored and colored with the wine, I like to turn the stuffed and rolled steak over midway through the cooking process.

Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole - Colleen's Kitchen

A beautiful Beef Braciole sliced and ready to eat.

The resulting beef braciole, slices of meat that are pan-fried or grilled, often in their own juice or in a small amount of light olive oil, is so amazingly tender and full of flavor. And yet, there’s this thick, rich sauce left in the bottom of the pan. Who in their right mind would discard something so full of flavor?

So to finish the dish, given that this is of Italian inspiration, I like to stir some al dente linguine into the sauce and let it soak up the flavors of red wine, beef, olive oil, and sundried tomatoes. I then serve the sliced beef braciole over a mound of the saucy linguine for the perfect rainy Sunday Supper.

What’s your favorite rainy day dish to make?

Red Wine Braised Beef Braciole
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4 servings
  • Calories: 489.0
  • Fat: 16.5
  • Saturated fat: 6.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Carbohydrates: 39.9
  • Sugar: 3.7
  • Sodium: 284.0
  • Fiber: 3.1
  • Protein: 35.1
  • Cholesterol: 66.7
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Beef
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Tender beef is stuffed and rolled with baby spinach, cheese and sundried tomatoes then braised in red wine for the perfect cold, rainy Sunday supper.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup equal parts shredded mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone cheese
  • ½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 cup dry red wine, divided
  • 8 oz. linguine, cooked al dente according to package directions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Lay the flank steak on a large, plastic cutting board and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Use the smooth side of a mallet to pound the flank steak to ½" thickness. Discard the plastic wrap.
  3. Lay the spinach over the beef then the cheese then sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sundried tomatoes and all of the garlic.
  4. Roll the steak up along the longest side and wrap with kitchen twine to secure.
  5. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or deep skillet that can go from stove to oven, and preheat the oven to 325F.
  6. Add the basil and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes or until the herbs start to brown and release their aromas.
  7. Place the rolled beef in the oil and herbs and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side until browned.
  8. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
  9. Pour in ½ cup of the wine and use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any crusty bits. Remove the pan from the heat.
  10. Place the beef back in the pan and pour in the remaining ½ cup wine and ¼ cup sundried tomatoes.
  11. Cover and continue cooking in the oven for 1 hour, turning the beef halfway through the cooking time.
  12. Remove the cooked beef braciole from the pan and set aside to set for 5 minutes.
  13. Stir the pasta into the braising liquid, tossing it to coat well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Cut the twine off of the beef braciole and slice it into ½" slices.
  15. Serve the sliced beef braciole over the linguine.
Notes
Try using Trader Joe's Garlic and Basil Linguine for this recipe, it's absolutely divine!

 

Cañon de Sol Columbia Valley Merlot 2005

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Canon de Sol Columbia Valley Merlot 2005 - Colleen's Kitchen

I have a few bottles of various Cañon de Sol wines that I’ve been dying to try. As I was experimenting with my Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies, I found the perfect opportunity to uncork the 2005 Merlot and give it a whirl.

Located in the heart of Washington state wine country near Benton City, Cañon de Sol has the distinction of being the first Hispanic owned winery in Washington state, founded by Victor Cruz, a former engineer who caught the wine bug and followed his passion about 15 years ago. The results seem to be well worth the effort with Cañon de Sol taking “Best in Show” at the prestigious Northwest Wine Summit in 2004 and Victor Cruz serving as the winemaker for Irlandés Limited Reserve Winery (which shares his Woodinville tasting room) and Kennewick’s Anelare.

Canon de Sol Columbia Valley Merlot 2005 - Colleen's Kitchen

The Merlot is an excellent example of Victor’s work, full of dark fruits and a seductive cocoa finish. I loved serving this with my Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies because the smoky, sweet marsala paired so well with the juicy, chocolatey notes of the wine. It makes for a luxurious, warming meal on a cold winter night.

Get the recipe for Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies here.

Buy a bottle of Cañon de Sol Columbia Valley Merlot here.

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies

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Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies - Colleen's Kitchen

As the weather has turned cooler, I’ve found myself spending lazy Sunday afternoons experimenting with various braising techniques. To braise something, you really have to commit to a meal because it’s a lengthy, slow cooking process. However the resulting tender meat and rich sauce are so entirely worth the effort that you’ll soon find yourself making time to braise anything and everything you can.

For this recipe, I started by searing lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts in browned butter. I don’t use butter often in my cooking, but as I crafted this recipe I found it was absolutely essential to the dish. The trick is to heat the pan on medium-high and melt the butter until it’s foamy, lightly brown, and crackling on the stovetop.

I then add the fat chicken breasts and sear them hot and quick for just 1-2 minutes on each side until they’re lightly browned. When I remove the chicken from the pan, there are inevitably small crusty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. And this is where all the glorious flavor begins.

I pour in a bit of dry marsala wine that hisses and crackles when it hits the hot pan. A steady, quick scrub of the bottom of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon releases all of the browned, buttery bits of chicken from the bottom of the pan and begins the making of the sauce. And now, the slow braising begins.

Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies - Colleen's Kitchen

My second secret to the success of this dish is a parmesan rind. That’s right, I place the chicken back into the pot with the liquid, a little more marsala wine, a branch of rosemary, and the hard rind from a block of parmesan cheese then cover it and place it in the oven. The rind doesn’t melt or gunk up the braising liquid in the cooking process, rather it stays intact yet adds a complexity to the flavor that will leave you wanting more.

When there’s only a half hour left on the timer, I add in slender haricots vert (aka French green beans), sliced mushrooms, and chopped sundried tomatoes. This gives the vegetables enough time to cook without becoming mushy.

To finish the dish up, I discard the rosemary and parmesan rind then remove the chicken from the pan and chop it up. Before I add the chicken back into the vegetables and braising liquid, I toss in some cooked pasta and let it soak up the flavor. Finally, I add the chicken back in then dish out the goodness and top it with a little shredded parmesan cheese.

Now isn’t a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday worth that delicious effort?

Marsala Braised Chicken and Veggies
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4 servings
  • Calories: 426.2
  • Fat: 10.8
  • Saturated fat: 4.5
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8
  • Carbohydrates: 40.8
  • Sugar: 5.0
  • Sodium: 305.3
  • Fiber: 5.7
  • Protein: 35.9
  • Cholesterol: 90.5
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Tender chicken and veggies are braised in smoky, sweet marsala wine for a one pot meal that is perfect for a cool weather, lazy Sunday supper.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup dry marsala wine, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 8 oz. haricots vert
  • ¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 6 oz. whole wheat rotini, cooked according to package directions
  • ¼ cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Heat a deep, oven-safe pan on medium-high heat. Add the butter and cook until the butter is foamy and browned.
  3. Cook the chicken in the butter 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly browned on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Use a wooden spoon to stir in ½ cup of the marsala wine, scraping up the crusted bits on the bottom of the pan with the back of the spoon.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the seared chicken breasts back into the pan with the sprig of rosemary and parmesan cheese rind.
  6. Pour in the remaining marsala wine then cover the pot, place on the middle rack of the preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Add the mushrooms, haricots verts, and sundried tomatoes into the pan then cover again and continue baking for 30 more minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and discard the rosemary and parmesan rind.
  9. Remove the chicken from the pan and coarsely chop into 1-2" pieces.
  10. Add the cooked pasta into the braising liquid with the vegetables and mix well. Stir in the chopped chicken.
  11. Serve immediately with each serving topped with 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.

 

 

Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir

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Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir - Colleen's Kitchen

I was recently invited by fellow blogger Renee of Renee’s Enjoy The Journey to try some wines from her winery, Windsor Oaks Vineyards, in gorgeous Sonoma County, California. Of course, I happily accepted, you know I love discovering new wines and the research is the best part.

Owned by Renee and her husband, Bob, Windsor Oaks Vineyards overlook the Russian River Valley, between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. This area benefits from cool mornings and coastal evening fog, creating perfect growing conditions for Pinot Noir.Windsor Oaks Pinot Noir is estate grown, meaning that they grow the grapes themselves rather than sourcing them from another grower.

Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir is a recent release that is already garnering lots of attention, including winning the gold medal at the 2014 Sonoma Harvest Fair and scoring 96 points and the gold medal at the 2014 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge. It’s no stretch to see why once you taste this Pinot Noir.

Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir - Colleen's Kitchen

As far as Pinot Noirs go, the Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve is a bit bigger than most, which is exactly how I like them. It bursts with flavors of dark cherry cola, vanilla and spices and ends with a silky smooth finish. Yet it’s still light and fruity enough to pair with many different dishes.

I served the Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir with my original Fall Panzanella Salad for a scrumptious yet light autumn evening meal. The juicy Pinot Noir is perfect with the sweet cornbread, tart cranberries and earthy gorgonzola cheese in the salad. I may have gone back for another glass. Or two.

Get the recipe for Fall Panzanella Salad here.

Buy a bottle of the Windsor Oaks 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir here.

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation.

Fall Panzanella Salad

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Fall Panzanella Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

Have you ever had panzanella? It’s one of my favorite summer salads, full of juicy tomatoes, basil, capers, fresh mozzarella, and chewy ciabatta bread.

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that was created as a way to use up old bread. In fact, the secret to a good panzanella is to use stale bread, typically 3 days old. The tough bread soaks up the juices of the tomatoes and vinaigrette dressing making for a delicious and filling salad.

Fall Panzanella Salad - Colleen's Kitchen

I recently had some leftover cornbread and was inspired to create a fall-themed panzanella salad using the stale pieces of cornbread. I mixed the cornbread cubes with fresh leaves of baby kale, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, and — my favorite — roasted sweet delicata squash. For a finishing touch, I tossed the salad with a maple syrup based vinaigrette.

Ah-may-zing!!

Fall Panzanella Salad
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 3 servings
  • Calories: 390.9
  • Fat: 11.0
  • Saturated fat: 3.3
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9
  • Carbohydrates: 66.7
  • Sugar: 28.7
  • Sodium: 706.8
  • Fiber: 6.0
  • Protein: 9.1
  • Cholesterol: 26.7
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Sweet cornbread transforms the traditional Italian bread salad into a tasty and filling autumn treat in this Fall Panzanella Salad recipe.
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 delicata squash, seeded and cut into ½" cubes
  • 1½ cups stale cornbread cubes (1/2" cubes)
  • 2 cups loosely packed baby kale leaves
  • ¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate vinegar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Brush a baking sheet with the olive oil and spread the delicata squash on the sheet in a single layer.
  3. Roast the squash for 15-20 minutes until tender and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  4. In a medium salad bowl, combine the cornbread, kale, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and roasted delicata squash.
  5. Whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, and salt.
  6. Toss the salad with the maple dressing and gorgonzola cheese. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
Notes
If your cornbread is too fresh, cut it into cubes, spread the on a baking sheet, and bake in a 300F oven for 30-60 minutes until the cubes are dried.

To toast your pumpkin seeds, heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until the seeds begin to brown. Let cool before you add to the salad.