2009 Chickie Award – And the Winner is….

January 11, 2010

The 2009 Chickie Award contest featuring top recipes for 2009 has selected its winner:

Manicotti with Red Sauce submitted by Annelle Williams of Annelle’s Table from Martinsville, VA.  Annelle wins a $100 Visa Gift Card.

The following recipes made the final list for consideration:

Thanks to everyone who participated and start thinking about your entry for 2010!

Happy New Year!



The Ugly, the Okay and the Good

January 10, 2010

Hosted a dinner party last night where red was de rigueur.   The three bottles I selected varied from good to ugly.

The Ugly

2006 Rock River Cabernet Sauvignon

Used this as a cooking wine but had to sneak a sip also.  Dark ruby in color without the expected accompanying fruit flavor.  Somewhat flat, but acceptable to simmer beef in.

Around $7.99

The Okay

2007 Dingac Winery Plavac Peljesac Peninsula

Bought this somewhat obscure wine at the recommendation of an acquaintance and was a little disappointed.  A cousin grape of Zinfandel, Plavac Mali is light in alcohol at 12%.  This wine is light-bodied, soft on the nose and reminded me of a Beaujolais.  I tasted a tiny bit of pepper and some light cherry.  Can’t tag this wine as ‘the bad’, but wasn’t up to ‘the good’ either.

Around $14

The Good

2006 Ramey Claret Napa Valley

This is a well-balanced wine with herby, fruity aromas.  It’s dark purple in color, full-bodied and very food-friendly.  Good wine for the price.

Wine Spectator: 91 points.

Around $30

Dolce de Leche Cheesecake

January 10, 2010


Caramel and pecan cheesecake – how can you go wrong!?  This cheesecake is light and creamy, features a wonderful texture due to the addition of pecans and is perfectly caramel-topped.

Crust Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 cup Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp light brown sugar

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish Ingredient:

Crust Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir in Graham cracker crumbs, chopped pecans and tbsp brown sugar. Press the cracker mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 9 inch springform pan.

Filling Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar and the cream cheese together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one, until blended (do not overmix).
  2. Hand stir in almond extract, vanilla, sour cream, and chopped pecans until well combined.  Pour filling into pan over crust.
  3. Bake for 55 minutes, until set.  Remove pan from the oven while the topping is being prepared.

Topping Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract.  Cover the cheesecake with topping mixture.  Return the cheesecake to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a small knife along the pan to ensure the cheesecake isn’t attached to the pan wall.  Unlatch the pan wall.  Cool until room temperature, then remove the pan wall and refrigerate.

Garnish Directions

  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat the Dulce de Leche for 30 seconds, until it’s in a liquid state.
  2. Using a small fork, drizzle Dulce de Leche on the surface of the cheesecake.
Cheesecake Slice

Cheesecake Slice

Serves 10.

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal

January 8, 2010
Oatmeal Serving

Oatmeal Serving

Oatmeal on a cold morning is a personal favorite.  I’ve seen a ton of recipes for Crockpot oatmeal and finally decided to try it.  I’ve tried my own version and it’s worked well on the first try!  The steel-cut oats give the oatmeal fabulous texture and the old-fashioned oats provide the creaminess that’s perfectly soothing on a cold morning.  Make in the evening and wake up to a perfect breakfast.



  1. Oatmeal Cooking

    Oatmeal Cooking

    Find a ovenproof bowl that will fit inside your Crockpot with some space around it.  Fill the Crockpot with water to half full.  Place the empty bowl in the Crockpot.

  2. Blend the water, oats and salt in the bowl.
  3. Turn the Crockpot on low and cook for 8 hours.
  4. Serve with maple syrup, raisins and cream if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Notes: Yes, the oatmeal can be made by incorporating dried fruit like dates, apricot and cranberries in the cooking process, but the above is the purist’s version.

Good Wine Day at the Office

January 5, 2010

I was sitting at my office in Manhattan working on year-end numbers going more and more blind by the minute when the friendly Fedex guy arrived bringing me the bottle of 2007 Dingac Winery Plavac Peljesac Peninsula I’d ordered and sort of forgotten about.  How sweet is that?  I can’t wait to try this red from Croatia.

I went back to work when the UPS guy showed up with a @wine_com holiday gift from my boss, a 2004 Château Pavie Decesse Saint-Emilion Grand Cru!  What special occasion will I save this little 91 Points WS gem for?  I’ll think of something.

2007 Pasqua Sagramoso Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore

January 4, 2010


Peppery, dark and a nice wine to pair with Italian foods, especially ones with red sauces.  Young with medium tannin and should be decanted before tasting.

Well-priced at around $20.

Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

January 3, 2010


Uncorked this full-bodied Israeli wine with a filet mignon fondue recently and was pleased with my selection.  This wine is dark ruby in color, rich with ripe cassis, offer a medium finish and shows great legs.

About $15 per bottle.