Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew

Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

Getting back into the kitchen after my injury has not been so easy. I find that even minimal effort leaves me with an aching ankle and as exhausted as if I had just completed a hard workout.

Thank goodness for my slow cooker.

I use my slow cooker this time of year for many a dish, but I’ve found myself using it more since I’ve been slowly getting back into the kitchen. I can set it in the morning, dinner is ready for me at the end of the day, and I have leftovers to keep me fed for at least a few more days.

Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chorizo Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

This Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew makes some of my favorite leftovers. Rich red Rioja wine makes for a complex and tasty broth that swims with creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo sausage. Chorizo sausage made from chicken lowers the fat and calorie content, making a great stew also good for you.

Bonus? The stew also freezes well. I like to ladle it into containers in individual serving sizes. Then it’s just a matter of popping the container into the microwave for a satisfying lunch or dinner.

What are you making in your slow cooker?


Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 5 servings
  • Serving size: 1½ cups
  • Calories: 304.6
  • Fat: 8.5
  • Saturated fat: 2.2
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.0
  • Carbohydrates: 32.7
  • Sugar: 6.2
  • Sodium: 499.4
  • Fiber: 4.1
  • Protein: 16.3
  • Cholesterol: 120.0
Recipe type: Soup or Stew
Cuisine: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Rich Rioja wine makes for a tasty broth swimming with creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo in this Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt crystals
  • ½ lb. bulk chicken chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup Rioja red wine
  • 1½ lbs red potatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups homemade, salt free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and salt and cook until the onions are transparent.
  3. Stir in the sausage and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and crumbly and the onions are browned.
  4. Add the red wine and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, getting all the cooked bits off the bottom of the pan.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the contents into the slow cooker.
  6. Stir the potatoes, tomatoes, broth and paprika into the chorizo mixture in the slow cooker.
  7. Submerge the bay leaf in the stew, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
  8. Stir in the fresh cilantro and ladle yourself up a bowl of steaming deliciousness.
Rioja wine comes from the Rioja appellation in Spain and is made primarily from tempranillo grapes. The wines from this region are beautiful and worth seeking out. If you're looking for a domestic wine, though, seek out a tempranillo for this recipe.


Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage with Fruited Couscous

Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage with Fruited Couscous - Colleen's Kitchen

A couple of weeks ago, my local grocery store was hosting a tasting of many of Aidells sausages. Now I’ve had Aidells before, in fact I used their Andouille Chicken Sausage in two of my recipes previously: 3 Pepper Potato and Sausage Skillet and, one of my favorites, Slow Cooker Red Lentil, Sausage and Kale Stew.

And then I tasted their Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage. Wow!

Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage with Fruited Couscous - Colleen's Kitchen

The smoky bacon and sweet pineapple combine in perfect harmony. I knew I had to create something with this deliciousness, so I grabbed a package (or two) and headed home to my kitchen.

I start by dicing up the sausage and sauteing it with thin slices of red onion. I only use a little bit of olive oil in the pan as the sausage will release some fat when it cooks that helps keep everything from sticking.

Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage with Fruited Couscous - Colleen's Kitchen

Then I add in some chopped, dried cherries and crushed pineapple, toss it with whole wheat couscous and fresh arugula, and that’s it! The entire dish takes about 15 minutes to prep and cook, making it perfect for those busy weeknights.

What’s your favorite Aidells product?


Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage with Fruited Couscous
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 servings
  • Calories: 445.5
  • Fat: 11.9
  • Saturated fat: 3.0
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.5
  • Carbohydrates: 71.3
  • Sugar: 32.8
  • Sodium: 419.1
  • Fiber: 8.4
  • Protein: 14.8
  • Cholesterol: 42.5
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Pork
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Sweet and smoky Aidells PIneapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage combines with red onion, fruit, arugula and whole wheat couscous for an easy, delicious dinner.
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 link Aidells Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage, halve lengthwise and diced
  • ½ red onion thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice
  • ½ cup dry whole wheat couscous, cooked according to package directions
  • 1.5 oz. fresh baby arugula
  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the sausage and onion and cook until the onion is slightly transparent.
  3. Stir in the dried cherries and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until the onions are starting to brown up.
  4. Add the entire can of crushed pineapple, including juice, and cook for just 1 minute to let the pineapple heat through.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked couscous and arugula.
  6. Serve and enjoy!


Terra d’Oro Sangiovese 2012

Terra d'Oro Sangiovese 2012 with Tuscan Chicken Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

This week as I crafted my Tuscan Chicken Stew, I just had to have an Italian varietal wine to use in the recipe. I mean, anything else in a Tuscany inspired dish such as this would just be a crime. Plus, what better way to warm up on a cold winter night than with a glass of Italian red wine?

Normally, I would select a Chianti or Chianti Classico for this recipe. But as I searched for just the right bottle of wine, I decided to look closer to home. After all, while the Italians have been crafting old world varietals into delicious red wines for centuries, there are so many great varieties being produced domestically. Chianti wines are primarily Sangiovese grapes, which can be found in the warmer climes of California and south-central Washington state.

Plucked from carefully groomed vineyards nestled in California’s Sierra foothills, the Sangiovese produced by Montevina Winery under their Terra d’Oro label is an excellent example of new world craftsmanship of an old world varietal. Established in the early 1970’s by Cary Gott and his father-in-law, Walter Field, Montevina Winery has the distinction of being the first post-prohibition winery in the Sierra foothills.

Terra d'Oro Sangiovese 2012 with Tuscan Chicken Stew - Colleen's Kitchen

The warm summer days and shallow, rocky soil of Amador county are well suited for growing Sangiovese, but the grape’s thin skin also means that it burns easily and requires a lot of attention on the vine. Workers take particular care in grooming the vineyard as well as trellising and irrigating the vines. The attention pays off in a quality wine to rival a classic Italian Chianti.

Aged in American oak barrels, Terra d’Oro’s Sangiovese is light, smooth and supple. It’s rich with fruity cherry and raspberry flavors, peppery, and spicy. It’s absolutely perfect with the rich, creamy flavors of my Tuscan Chicken Stew and a great companion to warm up with on a cold winter night.

Get my recipe for Tuscan Chicken Stew here.

But a bottle of Terra d’Oro Sangiovese 2012 here.

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

Tuscan Chicken Stew

Tuscan Chicken Stew Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

This past week has been so cold and blustery here in the Portland area that my dog has taken to lying directly on top of the heater vent. The wind gusted through the city, knocking down limbs and and blowing over my trash and recycling cans. The rain pelted down, turning my backyard into mud. And I? I sat inside, still confined to my couch with my injured leg, and listened to the commotion outside.

In other words, it was the perfect weather for stew.

Tuscan Chicken Stew Recipe -  Colleen's Kitchen

I love a thick, hearty stew this time of year. It warms me from the inside out and is so much more filling and satisfying than soup. Of course, it must always be accompanied by a hunk of hot, crusty bread. Buttered, preferably.

This week I decided to craft a Tuscan-inspired stew, full of chunky red potatoes and hearty cannellini beans, slowly simmered in a red-wine based broth. Doesn’t that sound divine? I added in some tender chicken breast and juicy tomatoes to bulk it up, as well as some fresh rosemary for flavor. I think this may be the perfect cold weather stew.

Tuscan Chicken Stew
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6 servings
  • Serving size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 314.9
  • Fat: 5.9
  • Saturated fat: 1.5
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8
  • Monounsaturated fat: 3.0
  • Carbohydrates: 39.5
  • Sugar: 5.8
  • Sodium: 322.9
  • Fiber: 8.1
  • Protein: 25.8
  • Cholesterol: 110.0
Recipe type: Soup or Stew
Cuisine: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Red potatoes, creamy cannellini beans, and a red wine based broth make this Tuscan Chicken Stew perfectly hearty and filling on a cold winter night.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ¾ lb. diced red potatoes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced, no salt added tomatoes
  • 2 15.5 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups homemade, salt-free chicken broth
  • ¼ tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chicken and sear just until lightly browned on the outside but still pink on the inside, about 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the carrots, onion, salt, rosemary and garlic to the pan. Continue cooking about 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent.
  5. Add in the potatoes and cook about 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. There should now be a good amount of crusty goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Pour the wine into the pan, over the vegetables, and use the back of a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, scraping up all that crusty goodness from the bottom of the pan. Let cook until the wine reduces by half.
  7. Add the chicken back into the pan then stir in the diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, chicken broth, and red chile pepper flakes until well combined.
  8. Submerge the bay leaf in the stew then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour.
  9. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste (not included in the nutritional information).
  10. Serve yourself a steaming bowl of stew and enjoy!
Be sure to use a good Tuscan-style wine in this recipe. A Chianti is always a good choice, which is made from Sangiovese grapes.


Jones of Washington 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Jones of Washington 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - Colleen's Kitchen

Can you believe that I went over a month without drinking any wine? Because of the pain medication I was taking following my accident and surgery, I was forced to abstain from any alcohol. For a girl who loves her wine and wineries as much as me, this was pure torture.

However, I have now been able to level back on the prescription medication and indulge in a glass or two each week. And what better way to start than with a nice, big cab from Washington’s Wahluke Slope?

The Wahluke Slope AVA is situated in south-central Washington state, bounded by the mighty Columbia River on it’s south border. It has one of the driest and warmest climates in the state, making it perfect for bold, red wine varietals like this one.

Jones of Washington is a family-owned and operated winery in Washington’s Columbia Valley that owns, farms and produces all of it’s own grapes, ensuring high quality wines. The attention to detail and craftsmanship has resulted in numerous awards, including being named Washington’s Winery of the Year in 2012.

Their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a good example of the Jones family’s commitment to producing exceptional wine. Peppery with notes of juicy cherries and blackberries, it’s complex and smooth on the palate.

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

I especially loved the 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon with my Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams. The meatiness of the wine gave the dish heft while balancing the spicy and sweet flavors. It was a delicious welcome back to my cherished world of wine.

Get my recipe for Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams here.

Buy a bottle (or more) of Jones of Washington 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon here.

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

Krusteaz Gluten Free Giveaway!

Gluten Free Chili and Cornbread Pizza - Colleen's Kitchen

You might remember that I was invited to participate in the Krusteaz Blogger Bakeoff late last year using one of their delicious new gluten free baking mixes. As a result of that I created this scrumptious Gluten Free Chili and Cornbread Pizza. I should hear this week if my entry resulted in any award, but in the meantime how about a giveaway?

Gluten Free Chili and Cornbread Pizza - Colleen's Kitchen

I knew right away that I wanted to make something with Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread.

I have a Krusteaz Gluten Free prize pack for one of my lucky readers! The winner will receive:

  • A handy jute tote shopping bag
  • A Krusteaz rubber spatula
  • Krusteaz Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix
  • Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix
  • Krusteaz Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancake Mix


I had the pleasure of trying each of these as I experimented with my recipe creation and I have to say I was not disappointed in any of them. In fact, the texture and taste was so good that I was surprised they were gluten free. I must admit I was especially enamored with the Double Chocolate Brownies. I love a good, gooey brownie and these definitely filled that bill with dense, chocolately, chewy flavor.

To enter, simply login to the widget below and then tell me in the comments what mix you’re most looking forward to trying!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

It seems like forever since I’ve posted on my blog. Not being able to really get into my kitchen, and advised by my attorney to limit any discussion of my accident and recovery, I’ve been at a loss for writing material.

Until now.

I moved back into my house 2 weeks ago, after outfitting it with wider paths for my crutches and scooter, a shower chair, and toilet safety rails, and moving my bedroom things downstairs into the spare bedroom since I still am unable to navigate stairs. My cooking, however, has primarily consisted of reheating frozen food in the microwave or assembling the basic sandwich. Not my idea of culinary fun, but it’s a start.

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams Recipe - Colleen's Kitchen

This past week, though, I started accessing my kitchen muscle memory with some extremely effortless dishes, like these Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams. I mean, I simply bake the yams whole, let them cool for a bit, scoop the meat out and mix it with some additional goodness, then spoon it back into the skin and bake it a little more. Easy peasy.

The bonus? It’s also scrumptious, filling, and perfect for Meatless Monday. As I’ve said many times, going vegetarian 1-2 times a week has been a cornerstone of my success in both losing and maintaining my weight.

What’s better than an easy, delicious and good-for-you meal?

Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 stuffed yams
  • Serving size: 1 yam
  • Calories: 364.1
  • Fat: 8.1
  • Saturated fat: 4.0
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.0
  • Carbohydrates: 62.0
  • Sugar: 2.4
  • Sodium: 309.5
  • Fiber: 8.5
  • Protein: 12.4
  • Cholesterol: 15.0
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
These effortless, vegetarian Chipotle Quinoa Stuffed Yams are full of scrumptiously sweet and spicy flavors that will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free!
  • 2 yams (5.3 oz. each), baked and cooled to the touch
  • ⅓ cup raw tricolor quinoa, cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 oz. part skim queso fresco, shredded (divided)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Cut the top of the skin of each baked yam lengthwise to create a boat-shaped opening.
  3. Scoop the cooked yam meat out and into a medium mixing bowl. Place the yam skins, intact, into a shallow baking dish.
  4. Mix in the cooked quinoa, chipotle pepper, tomato, cilantro, and 1.5 oz. of the queso fresco.
  5. Spoon the mixture back into the yam skins. Sprinkle the remaining queso fresco over the top of the stuffed yams.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the stuffing is warmed through.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes and dig in!
To prebake the yams, simply pierce them a few times with a fork, place them on a baking sheet, and bake them for 45-60 minutes at 375F. Test with a fork before removing from the oven; it should pierce the yam easily.


10 Drool-Worthy Recipes

Drool Worthy Recipes - Colleen's Kitchen

This week has been a better one for me as far as my recovery goes. I started doing some exercises at home that the Physical Therapist had suggested for me before I was discharged from the hospital. I went on an outing to a friend’s house for dinner and movies, keeping my leg propped up the entire time per doctor’s orders. I managed to crutch up and down a whopping 8 steps to get in and out of the hair salon to have my roots touched up and hair trimmed. (This was my first encounter with a flight of stairs so I’m more than a little proud of that accomplishment.) And  I had friends, family and coworkers coming out of the woodwork for me this week with calls, texts, and visitors every day of the week. I feel incredibly loved!

But I am still dying to get back in the kitchen.

As of today, it has been 3 weeks since I’ve cooked anything. When the accident first happened, I avoided my Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook feeds. I just couldn’t handle even looking at all of the scrumptious recipes my fellow bloggers were crafting. This week, though, I’ve found myself poring over the pages for inspiration and jotting down ideas for recipes that I want to experiment with as soon as I’m able to move around better.

Here are 10 recipes that I’m particularly drooling over today:

Braised Beef with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes Braised Beef with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes from Life Currents: I have been craving beef like crazy since my surgery. Normally I only indulge in red meat maybe once or twice a month, but right now it’s all I want to eat. My doctor says that the protein found in red meat is good for healing bones, so maybe that’s why my body is telling me to eat more. Regardless, the idea of juicy tomatoes roasted in sweet balsamic vinegar and combined with tender beef is making my tummy growl. I think I might twist this recipe to use a chopped up cut of lean bottom round roast. It has all kinds of possibilities.
Asian Salmon and Green Beans Stir Fry Asian Salmon and Green Bean Stir Fry from iFOODreal: There’s something about the salty, spicy, sweet combination of flavors found in Asian recipes that I just can’t get enough of. Add to that the fact that salmon is crazy good for you, and this recipe is definitely in my drool worthy top 10. I like the idea of using tender french Haricots Verts (green beans) in this dish, but I’m also thinking that as asparagus comes into season in the very near future those fresh baby spears would be an excellent sub for green beans in this recipe.
Crispy Buffalo Style Quinoa Sliders Crispy Buffalo Style Quinoa Sliders with Sweet Corn and Sliders from How Sweet It Is: I am a sucker for anything with buffalo sauce. The salty, spicy tang is so perfect balanced with a little blue cheese. I love that these gorgeous looking sliders are vegetarian yet still packed with protein, it’s exactly what I need right now.
Chicken and Artichokes in Wine Sauce Chicken and Artichokes in Wine Sauce from The Kitchn: My mom says my love affair with artichokes started in utero when we lived in Pescadero, California, where artichokes were an agricultural commodity at that time. These pretty, flavorful globes will be in season soon and the moment I spotted this recipe in my feed I new I had to add it to my menu planning. Lean chicken? Artichokes? Wine? What’s not to love about that?
Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup with Saffron Lentil and Roasted Tomato Soup with Saffron from Katie at the Kitchen Door: This week my mom said to me “I have a bunch of lentils that need to be used. What can I make with them?” Ding! Ding! Ding! I’ve made lots of lentil soups in my time, but this one with sweet roasted tomatoes and spicy saffron is calling my name. Plus I had the pleasure of meeting Katie at IFBC in 2013 so I know it has to be a quality recipe.
Coq au Vin with Brown Butter Sage Mashed Potatoes One-Pot 45 Minute Coq au Vin with Brown Butter Sage Mashed Potatoes from Half Baked Harvest: I think it was the idea of the brown butter sage mashed potatoes in this recipe that captured my attention. I mean, there are hundreds of recipes for Coq au Vin out there, it’s been done. But ladled over a pile of creamy mashed potatoes mixed with sage cooked in browned butter? Oh. My. Deliciousness. I can’t wait to try this one. It is comfort food at its best.
African Chicken Peanut Stew African Chicken Peanut Stew from Simply Recipes: Exotic spices, creamy peanut butter, tender chicken, and sweet potatoes? Yes please! Plus with the cool, wet weather rolling through the Pacific Northwest right now, a hearty, warming stew is always welcome.
Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Salsa Chipotle Lime Shimp Tacos with Strawberry Salsa from How Sweet It Is: This recipe is going into my future file for when the strawberries in my garden start pumping again. The idea of spicy chipotle peppers with tart lime and sweet strawberries is making my mouth water. What I really love though is how lean and clean this recipe is.
Farro Carrot Pomegranate Salad Farro Carrot Pomegranate Salad from Nutmeg Nanny: I love a good entree salad. They make for an easy filling dinner, and great leftovers for lunch the next day. I also have a fondness for farro, the nutty, slightly crunchy texture is perfect for entree salads. Add to that some sweet carrots and tart pomegranate seeds in a simple dressing of freshly squeezed orange juice and this recipe is a must try for me. I also love that she’s using garam masala, perhaps my favorite Indian spice blend.
Roasted Greek Lemon Cauliflower and Potatoes with Feta Cheese Greek Roasted Lemon Cauliflower and Potatoes with Feta Cheese from Jeanette’s Healthy Living: My list would not be complete without a good side dish recipe, and this one is at the top of my list. I love that Jeanette used ruby red potatoes in this dish, they add such a pretty pop of color to the beautiful photos on her site. Top it off with tart lemon, briny Greek cheese, and fresh mint and I’m definitely drooling over this recipe.

That Bionic Feeling

Road to Recovery - Colleen's Kitchen

My New Year’s Eve did not go exactly as planned. As I told you last week, I was hit by a car just before Christmas while riding my bike home from work. So I spent the holidays recovering with my parent’s help and learning to manage the pain.

On Tuesday, December 30, I checked in at 1:00 p.m. for a 2:30 p.m. surgery to repair my leg and quickly learned that the surgeon was behind in schedule. Not just a few minutes behind, but hours behind. It wasn’t until about 7:00 p.m. that the nurse came to administer a pre-surgery drug cocktail and wheel me back.

After 2 hours in the OR followed by about 2 hours in the recovery room, shortly before midnight I was transitioned into the hospital room where my mom was anxiously waiting for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to see my mom. Emotional from the drugs and the pain, I squeezed her hand and cried like a baby while she soothed me like any good mommy does.

Road to Recovery - Colleen's Kitchen

A front view shows a metal plate with 6 screws holding my fibula together while 2 very long screws anchor the pieces of my tibia together.

Luckily the drug cocktail worked its magic and mostly knocked me out for the night. When the xray technician came in the morning to take new pictures of the surgeon’s handiwork, I was eager to see the results. I had seen the pre-surgery xrays of my bones snapped like twigs, I wanted to see what sort of Frankenstein-ian work the surgeon had done on me.

I wasn’t disappointed.

A metal plate now runs up the fibula on the outside of my right leg, secured with no less than 6 screws holding all the pieces of my bone together. From the opposite side, 2 rather large, menacing-looking screws jut up at a diagonal through my tibia, securing the pieces together.

I stared at the image aghast. Was this really inside of my body? What is this going to mean for my workouts? Am I still going to be able to run? And what in the world is going to happen when I go through airport security?

I instinctively wanted to flex my leg, point my toe, feel the stretch of muscle against bone and see if I could feel that alien metal in there. Of course between the pain and the rather large, heavy splint encasing my leg, that wasn’t a possibility.

Road to Recovery - Colleen's Kitchen

The side view taken from the outside of my leg.

So I now sit pondering the future. I have some exercises from the physical therapist that I’m working with so that once the splint comes off and I’m able to put weight on my right leg again, I will be able to resume normal activity faster. But I still wonder how this is going to impact my physically active lifestyle.

My mind flashes back to one of my favorite TV shows as a kid, The Bionic Woman, and suddenly it hits me. Maybe my physical activity will be different, but different doesn’t have to be bad. Maybe this alien being in my body will teach me to move and groove in different ways.

Maybe I too will be bionic in my own way.


Desert Wind 2011 Ruah

Desert Wind 2011 Ruah with Cherried Brussel Beef Stir Fry from Colleen's Kitchen


Ruah is a Hebrew word meaning “breath” or “spirit.” Just pronouncing it “rue” – “ahhh” invokes the meaning of it for me, as my voice trails off the end of the word in a delicate breath.


Ruah is also the name for a delicious red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc from Washington state’s Desert Wind Winery. Located in Prosser, Washington, Desert Wind is owned by the Fries family. Doug and Jo Ann Fries hail from central California and moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1980s where they started Duck Pond Cellars, today a leading producer of Oregon’s Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

In the early 90s, the family acquired a 540-acre parcel on Eastern Washington’s Wahluke Slope, famous for producing some of the states best big red wines. Dubbed Desert Wind Vineyard, the family began planting Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and more.

And thus, Desert Wind Winery was born. Still owned by Doug and Jo Ann Fries, today son Greg is the president of the company and oversees the winemaking, having earned his enology degree from UC Davis, while daughter Lisa manages day-to-day winery operations.

Desert Wind Winery boasts a beautiful Southwest-inspired tasting room, restaurant, and overnight lodging that is a must visit destination for any oenophile touring the area. Relax by the kiva fireplace or take in the view from the patio, but be sure to enjoy a tasting flight for just $5, refundable with any purchase.

Desert Wind 2011 Ruah with Cherried Brussel Beef Stir Fry from Colleen's Kitchen

The Ruah is Desert Wind’s flagship red Bordeaux-style blend, the spirit, or ruah, of the winery if you will. With a mix of 45% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Cabernet Franc, it’s a big red with flavors of dark cherries, pepper, cedar, and a hint of coffee. And it’s absolutely perfect with my Cherried Brussel Beef Stir Fry.

The dark fruit flavors perfectly complement the cherries and sweet brussel sprouts in the dish, while the bold wine stands up well to the hearty beef and spices. Rarely is a wine so perfect with a meal as the Ruah is with this recipe.

Get the recipe for my Cherried Brussel Beef Stir Fry here.

Buy a bottle of the Desert Wind 2011 Ruah here.

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