Wine Wednesday – 2011 Napa Cellars Merlot

Hello, hello!

It’s time for another edition of Wine Wednesday!


I’ve really been wanting some Merlots lately. I can’t explain it.

Normally, I’m all about the big grape (Zinfandel or Syrah) or a blend but lately…….

So, when I saw this one – I was TOTALLY drawn in by the label, the fact that it was on sale happened to be a bonus! – I decided it was time to give it a taste. 🙂


I know nothing about Napa Cellars. In fact, I’d never heard of it before.

But, there are quite a few wineries in Napa that I don’t know of, so that shouldn’t come as a shock.

But, I’ve never even seen that label before. EVER. And, I’ve been in a lot of wine shops and looked at a lot of different wine labels.



 Some of my favorite things about a Merlot are the fruit flavors and the soft tannins.

There’s something to be said about enjoying a glass of wine that almost seems to WANT to be savored. 🙂


On the nose, I got warm spice, vanilla, and fruit. Not too much berry – more of a deeper, denser fruit.

The tasting notes indicate that it was plum but I didn’t pick that up specifically. I’ll tell you what though, if it had been raspberry, I coulda told you in a heartbeat.  I am not friends with the raspberry.


When I tasted it, I knew I had selected well.

Luscious berry fruit, a hint of mocha, soft and silky, lightly spicy undertones.

You can pair this Merlot with many things (fish and spicy foods, not so much) or just enjoy it on its own.

Seriously, this wine wants to be savored. And shared.

We paired it with grilled chicken, veggies, corn, bread, and brie.


Would have shared it with you had you been our guest. 🙂

Talk to me: Have you ever been sucked in by a wine label and been pleasantly surprised? Disappointed? If you could, would you grill all the dinner all the time? (Um, my answer to that is YES!!!)

– jennifer

Sunday Food Prep – what went down in my kitchen (4)


Happy Labor Day!

Hope you’re enjoying your day off, if you got one today. 🙂

Pssst….it’s my birthday! It’s been a pretty good day so far. I’ve enjoyed some calico snuggles on the couch, had some waffles and bacon, got some beautiful roses, and we’re heading out to look for some olympic weights for my soon-to-be garage gym. Whoop!

Anyway, a little bit of food prep went down in my kitchen yesterday. Not too much because it’s a short week (thank goodness!) but I definitely wanted to get some stuff done.

So, one of the first things I made was a quinoa tabbouleh! Stay tuned for the recipe tomorrow!

Oh my goodness, I cannot wait for my lunches this week!!!

I absolutely love tabbouleh – the fresh flavors of tomato, lemon, onion are so delicious. YUM!


You know I had to throw some chicken in my crockpot.

And, you know I forgot to take a picture of the chicken while it was actually IN the crockpot. #fail

So, here’s a picture of the chicken in the container.

It’s definitely not as fancy or amazing looking but I promise you that it’s amazing tasting.


Did a new recipe this time – Lemon Garlic Crockpot Chicken from the Civilized Caveman.

I had to modify the recipe because Harris Teether only had organic whole cut-up chickens instead of a whole chicken.

The only thing I did differently was not put the lemon halves in the chicken cavity because, well, there wasn’t one. 🙂

Oh, wait, I also didn’t shred it because it’s often easier to just grab a piece and take it for lunch or just shred what we need. I did save some of the “gravy” for moistening if we shred up the chicken for sammies, etc.

And then, last night, we cooked ALL the dinner on the grill.


Made extra veggies and corn to round out lunches this week.

And yes, that IS brie on the grill. 🙂

It’s just like cooking it in the oven except it’s on the grill and your house isn’t all heated up. I soaked my cedar plank in cold water for about 30 minutes and the brie was on the grill for about 10 minutes. Eat it as is or top it with whatever strikes your fancy.

Talk to me: What did you prep this weekend? Have you ever cooked brie on the grill? Are you going to any barbecues today?

– jennifer

Tasty Tuesday – Pork Skewers with Pineapple-Scallion Rice

Hello, hello!

Welcome to the jungle Tasty Tuesday!


For more food awesomeness, make sure you head over to Lean Lena for her Curried Chicken with Vegetables recipe (OM NOM NOM!!) and see what other goodies bloggers are linking up! 🙂

Today, I’m bringing you a blast from the past. My blogging past that is. Not some retro Betty Crocker recipe. 🙂

Before I was A Hungry Runner, I blogged at The Connoisseur Chronicles (holy cow, what was I thinking with THAT name?!) and briefly at Cooking with JenS.

This one is from my brief stint at Cooking with JenS. Enjoy!


So, I get the Rachael Ray magazine and, mostly, I just page through it but sometimes I come across a recipe that strikes my interest.  She isn’t really the most health conscious of the celebrity chefs (but, of course, she’s no Paula Deen!) and I have to look pretty hard to find a recipe that both strikes my interest and I can manipulate, if necessary.  Sometimes though, I find good ones that serve another purpose besides feeding the family – keeping money in my wallet! (always an excellent thing in my book!)

Rachael (like we’re on a first name basis or something) has this section in her mag where the recipe cost comes in under $10 and would feed a family of four.  That’s pretty nice in today’s tight economy but, hello, groceries are expensive, right?  Well, this one pretty much keeps its promise and delivers a tasty meal to your table.  Pork skewers with pineapple-scallion rice.  How does that sound?  Well, the first thing I think is that it sounds kinda time consuming and maybe a little difficult.  But, don’t fret!  It’s actually pretty easy and the hardest part is finding something to do while the pork and scallions are marinating!  Okay, maybe that’s not the hardest part but, it made sense when I typed it.

Alright, anyway, super easy and her grocery receipt (just for these ingredients) totaled $9.96.  Mine was pretty close – depends on where you shop and if you buy store or name brand items.  Of course, this recipe calls for soy sauce and if you don’t have any in your fridge, well, your grocery total will likely go over $10.  Her total was based on the amount of soy sauce used and, as far as I know, most people have soy sauce already or, if you don’t, you should really get some anyway.  There were only 2 things I had to buy to make this dinner and that was the pork loin and some fresh ginger.  Um, no, do not use powdered ginger.  Not the same result.

So, basically, you marinate the pork and the scallions, thread the skewers, and then grill.  Make the rice on the stove, throw out some extra veggies (salad, steamed broccoli, steamed green beans, whatever floats your vegetable-loving boat), and dinner’s on the table in less than an hour.  No, sorry, this isn’t a 30-minute meal but it’s still super doable on a busy work night.  Put the kids and/or hubby to work!  Someone can chop the pork and scallions while you make the marinade.  Family dinners are WAY more fun when everyone is involved anyway.  Of course, if you can’t get them involved, have a nice glass of wine and some music playing and pretend.  It’s almost the same.  Just don’t talk out loud to yourself.  Bad idea. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the recipe and it’s a keeper.  Happy cooking, eating, and drinking!


Pork Skewers with Pineapple-Scallion Rice
recipe adapted from the Rachael Ray mag

One 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks in their juice, drained and juice reserved
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I subbed olive without any taste discrepancy. I’m sure you could use coconut oil if that’s what you want.)
Salt and pepper
1 1/4 pounds pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice

1. In a resealable plastic ziptop bag, combine the pineapple juice, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Add the pork and scallions and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cup salted water to a boil. Add the rice, cover and cook over low heat for 18 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, thread the marinated pork and two-thirds of the pineapple chunks onto four 10-inch skewers and the marinated scallions onto one 10-inch skewer.

ready to go

Grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

grilled skewers

4. Coarsely chop the remaining pineapple chunks and stir into the cooked rice. Remove the grilled scallions from the skewer and stir into the rice. Serve the pork kebabs with the pineapple-scallion rice.

pork rice

Serves 4 (well, maybe the pork and pineapple could serve 4 (I had 5 skewers full) but we have leftover rice and Thing 2 REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LOVES rice.)

No calorie/fat information. That’s the downside of a Rachael Ray recipe – you have to guess. But, this is really light on fat and high on protein. I recommend low-sodium soy sauce just to keep those numbers down. The rice? Well, yep, that does add carbs. Sorry. You know, carbs are not the enemy. Just don’t eat the whole bowl of rice. 🙂

Talk to me: Do you love skewer recipes? Do you call them shish-kebabs or kebabs instead of skewers? Am I the only one that thinks ‘skewer’ is a funny word?