February 11, 2011

Just in Time for Valentines Day...Wine and Chocolate Pairing

Have you have ever had wine and chocolate together? OMGosh if you are a chocolate lover like I am all I can say is that it is like heaven on your tongue!
Here's how to go about getting the most out of both your chocolate and your wine.

In pairing wine and chocolate there are three rules to follow in order to set you on the right track!

1. The wine you select must be inherently sweeter than the chocolate you are pairing it with.

2.  The wine must be big enough to cut through the chocolate's richness

3.  Both wine and Chocolate must have similar flavors.

Now that you have the three basic rules, let me give you a few ideas of what pairings work best.

White Chocolate
Pairs well with a sec or demi-sec (sweet and moderately sweet)champagnes and with Rieslings

Milk Chocolate
Pairs well with a sweet Tawny Port or the right Pinot Noir

Semi-sweet Chocolate (50%-70% cocoa)
Pairs with a Cabernet, Bordeaux or a Ruby Port

Dark Chocolate (71%-100% cocoa)
Pairs with Zinfandels, Shiraz or a Grenache

The way you want to enjoy your chocolate and wine combination is to first take a sip of your wine and coat your mouth. Then a bite of the chocolate followed by another sip of wine! But doing it slowly so you get the full enjoyment from the flavors melting together.

This commercial was made before Graham did the Galloping Gourmet.

February 10, 2011

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup...Yum

Talk about a comfort food!! There is nothing like chicken noodle soup on a cold winter's day. I actually started out making this for one of my neighbors who has been down with the flu this week, but I made a large enough pot that my family and I were able to chow down on soup for dinner tonight. The secret ingredients in my soup are the tarragon and the sazon I add to it. Just enough to give it a little je ne sai quoi!


One large chicken breast with or without bone and skinned
3 carrots diced
4 stalks of celery diced
1 medium onion chopped
8 cup of chicken broth
3 packages of Goya's Sazon without annatto
1/2 fresh parsley chopped
1 large tablespoon of dried Tarragon
1/2 to 3/4 wide egg noodles(depending on how much noodles you like
pepper to taste


Spray bottom of large pot with cooking spray. Saute the vegetables until they start to become soft. Add the remaining ingredients except the noddles and let simmer until chicken becomes opaque. Remove the chicken and let cool. Once cooled enough, cut meat into small cubs and return to the pot. Let simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Add the noodles and let simmer another 7-8 minutes until the noodles are cooked.

Serve with a crust bread for a hearty and heart warming meal!

Chris's Rating....10 Excellent!

Restaraunt Review

Villaggio Italian Restaurant
5861 Old York Road, PA
(215) 794-2777

I had lunch today with one of my oldest and dearest friends at a favorite BYOB spot in beautiful Bucks County Pennsylvania.

This restaurant possesses a warm earth spun Tuscan decor with an open style kitchen. The Mat're D and wait staff were par excellance!

Today I went off of my normal course and tried one of the day's specials, a cheese stuffed ravioli in a lovely pink sauce. (photo) I wanted to compare Villaggio's rendition to that of The Junction's I had last Friday evening. And Villaggio's was wonderful, extremely flavorful, and at a nice $3 less for the plate. There wasn't as much food on my plate as I had at The Junction, but it was so good, and to be honest I am more a fan of quality than quantity!

My lunch companion, Christina, enjoyed a baby arugula salad with tomato brushetta, shaved parmigiano cheese with vinaigrette follow by one of her favorites gnocchi in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. I did have a taste of her salad and it was simply delicious. Portions are very fair at Villaggio and the prices reflect the quality of the food.

It was certainly worth the 40 minute ride from my home in central New Jersey, both to see Christina and to dine at Villaggio Italian Restaurant!

Rating **** out of 5

February 9, 2011

Sausage and Pasta Toss

This pasta recipe is so incredibly easy to make and very flavorful to boot. I created this toss because I wanted to get more vegetables into my kiddies...can you believe there is a full 11 ounces of spinach in the recipe? The first time I made this my 6 year old son who is the "King Of Macaroni and Cheese", was ready to give up his throne for this dish. The ingredients are both simple and inexpensive...one of my favorite combinations!


1 lb. of sweet Italian sausage
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 medium onion chopped
14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c fresh basil chopped or 2 T dried basil
11 oz pkg. of fresh spinach
2/3 box of penne or rotini
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Remove sausage from their casings (optional) and saute in 2 T of olive oil (I always use extra virgin) breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the onion and the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice along with the broth and basil.

In the meantime bring salted water to boil and add pasta cooking it until it's al dente.
Add the spinach to the sausage mixture and let wilt. Add cooked pasta and toss with the grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Linking up to link parties at these blogs...

February 7, 2011

Mustard and Potato Chip Crusted Pork Roast

This recipe is a combination of a recipe I found on the internet but didn't have all the ingredients so I had to improvise! I substituted potato chips for fresh bread crumbs and parmesan cheese instead of Romano. But the overall result was a very moist and juicy roast with a flavorful crust!


3 lb pork loin
3 tablespoonsof Dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 1/2 cups of potato chip crushed
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


Season pork with salt and pepper. Blend  the garlic with the mustard and spread onto the pork. Mix chips, cheese, parsley and thyme together on plate and then roll the roast in the chips. Place meat on a jeely roll pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place in oven at 450 degrees and raost for 45 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 dgrees and place meathermometer in the thickes prt of the roast. Cook until thermometer reads and internal temp of 170 degrees about 45 more minutes. Remove pork roast from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes then slice.

Chris gave this a 9 on his rating scale. (But he does love pork)

Restaurant Review

The Fine Diner
Town of Clinton, New Jersey
1 Old Highway 22
Clinton, NJ 08809-1292
(908) 238-1637

This is one of my favorite spots to grab lunch! The Fine Diner in downtown Clinton New Jersey serves breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday and a Sunday brunch. Closed Mondays.

The food is always fresh, salads are delicious and quite a variety too. No iceberg lettuce is served in this restaurant! You get a beautiful spring mix or fresh spinach with homemade dressings to boot. Sandwiches and wraps are also made with the freshest of ingredients. My personal favorite is the Friday special of a lump crab cake , about the size of my fist, served on a bed of muslin greens with a scrumptious vinaigrette dressing. (I always ask for crumbled blue cheese on the salad and the crumbles are very generous)

Service is also as wonderful as the food. A real family feel along with loads of enthusiasm which just exudes from the wait staff and they are obviously extremely proud of the food they bring to their customers. The Fine Diner is very kid friendly too.

Prices for this fresh fare are very resonable with nothing priced over $12.00.

My only complaint is that I wish it had a larger dining area, because on any given day the diner is packed during the lunch hour, but to be honest the food is well worth the 15 minute wait!

Rating  **** out of 5

Restaurant Review

UpDate on The Junction 
157 Main St
Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889
(908) 534-6900

Closed in Spring of 2011
 Last evening my family dined at a restaurant in Whitehouse Station NJ calld The Junction. We arrived at about 7:40 in the evening for dinner. We were promptly met by the hostess and taken to our table. The interior of the restaurant is very nice with a rustic feel. We were seated by the window so the kids could watch the trains go by. The Junction was formally known as Flamango's until 2008 when television's Gordon Ramsay took his crew to the restaurant to film an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, a show in which Gordon himself goes to failing restaurants and helps the owners revamp their eatery to improve their business.

I can't help but to believe that The Junction must have abandoned Ramsay's menu suggestions and reverted back to their old ways. Although the food choices appeared moderately appealing, the meat filled ravioli dish I chose was anything but flavorful. And from our time of our arrival until our dinners hit the table, one hour had ticked off of the clock and it was already 8:35. Prices of the entrees simply do not reflect the quality of the food at The Junction. The wait staff was pleasant enough but they had to have recognized that myself, husband along with our two small children were sitting there for an inordinately long time, and no apology was extended to us for the delay. Also, when we were asked if everything was fine with regards to our dinners, most of mine still sitting on the plate, I responded that my dinner was bland and refused the good old doggie bag, absolutely nothing was said to me in response. We were just given our bill of $80 and were bid a "Have a nice night".

I give The Junction two thumbs down and I truly do not plan to visit the establishment again. It's a shame because the location and the appeal of the building is perfect to attract new customers, but after eating there last night, I find it hard that they are able to stay afloat!    

Rating   ** out of 5

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