February Trader Joe’s Wine Picks

Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to shop. Their snacks are cheap, they have great all-natural options, and a lot of their food is gluten-free. Another huge perk is their IMG_4791_Facetune_09-02-2018-15-34-03alcohol selection. From brews to barrels, there are options for every budget and every taste bud. In college, I drank a lot of Two Buck Chucks (aka Charles Shaw) and occasionally would splurge on a $3.99 option. Now that I have a better hold on life, I buy wines ranging anywhere from $3-$12, but I still buy them from Trader Joe’s. Not only do they switch it up monthly, but there are some great options from around the world and it still fits in my budget. I thought I would go ahead and share with you the wines on my wine rack for February and why I recommend any (or all) of the four.**

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First up, Sara Bee Moscato. This sweet white wine is a product of Italy and has been on my top list for a couple of years now. It is a regular at TJ’s, and it is perfect for a sunny day. This golden hewed wine is sweet with notes of pear and lychee, as well as floral with aromas of elderflower. There is a slight honey-citrus zing as an after note. This is a richer Moscato, but does not have a fake, sugary sweetness. Instead the sweetness comes from the fruity flavors embedded in the wine. I personally like Italian wines because the naturally sweet flavors are a constant theme. I like Moscatos, but they are not my favorite because of how overwhelming the flavors can be. However, I find this wine to be refreshing and a nice way to end a warm, sunny day. Costing only $5.99 for one bottle, the price is even sweeter than the wine.

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Next, Kidia Sauvignon Blanc. This wine pours at a nice yellow-green color and smells clean, but intense. With hints of white currant, green apple, fresh herbs, and lime, this wine is fruity, elegant, and bold. It is a stronger wine with an alcohol level of 13.0%, but not overly powering. I will say I am a little bias as Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite type of wine and Chilean wine is my absolute favorite. I find wine from Chile to be refreshing, clean, and a bit on the citrus flavored side (which I am found of in white wine.) Kidia has the flavors I crave constantly, and is strong enough to enjoy a single glass to relax with dinner. I like wines that I can pair with creamy cheeses and a nice salad, and Kidia goes great with an arugula salad topped with goat cheese and dried cranberries (hmm maybe a recipe?) This wine is one of the most I have read that this wine can be sold for up to $15 a bottle, but at TJ’s I found it for just $5.99.

Blue Fin Riesling. Another classic from my college days. Riesling is similar to Moscato inIMG_4796_Facetune_09-02-2018-15-44-46 the sense it is easier for me to drink, but can get to the point where it is way too sweet. Thankfully, this wine is medium in body and acidity, creating a nice balance with flavors of lemons, pears, tropical fruits, citrus, and a hint of mint. Although this wine smells very sweet when the cork comes out, it has a slight tartness that makes this Riesling lighter. It has a crisp aftertaste, and unlike most sweet wines, it didn’t leave my mouth with the taste of alcohol. I once used Blue Fin as a base for Sangria. I made mine peach based with some citrus flavors, and it turned out really nice. I served this with a spicy chicken dish and salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. I highly recommend this combination as it pairs very nicely and enhances the Riesling’s flavors. Although you could pay closer to $10 for better Riesling, Blue Fin is $4.49 at TJ’s and great for a cheap wine!

IMG_4795_Facetune_09-02-2018-15-51-27Finally, Mbali Chenin Blanc Viognier. I have very little experience with Chenin Blanc or Viognier (I’m not even sure I can pronounce those correctly..sorry dad), but what I do have experience with is South African wine. The interesting part about this wine is that South Africa produces Chenin Blanc in a dry style, and Viognier is a very full-bodied wine similar to Chardonnay. Mbali’s blend is 79% Chenin Blanc and 21% Viognier. Surprisingly, Mbali is a bright and light wine that is very easy to drink despite the slight buttery notes. Flavors of melon, peach, pear, apple, and kiwi add enough sweetness and body without too much acidity within the after taste. What I like the most about this wine is how different it is from a basic Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio that I would order when I wanted a fuller wine. I would compare this to Sauvignon Blanc but with notes of honey and possibly vanilla. I like that it has a mix of rich flavors but isn’t too complex or heavy. I would pair Mbali with lighter dishes and fresh herbs. Plus, it was only $4.99, so I think it’s a great way to introduce yourself to new types of wines and blends!

**Disclaimer: I am NOT a wine expert. My father is, but I do not have the extensive knowledge or refined palate like he does. I am a vino, and a college graduate, so I like to find cheap wines that won’t taste like fermented sadness. Feel free to disagree with my tastes, but remember all taste buds are different and deserve to be respected!

Immune Boosting Herbal Broth

Winter; the season for soup…and a ton of germs. I honestly don’t like winter as much as I do other seasons simply because of how sick everyone gets. This year, the flu epidemic IMG_3511has been extreme and I am doing my best to avoid catching the bug. I take my vitamins, eat my nutritious food, wash my hands, get enough sleep, but there is always more that I can do. So, I did research about healing herbs.

Herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme are known for their immune boosting powers. Garlic and onions are also great antibacterial herbs that can be added to any dish. So, after realizing how powerful this combination is, I decided to make my own broth, or stock as some may say.

I spiced mine up with fresh cracked peppercorn, but feel free to add any additional spices or flavors. This broth is light, flavorful, and powerful. It can be used to make a variety of soups with root vegetables, chicken, kale, or even just consumed on its own. Guilt-free, gluten-free, vegan, all natural goodness.

Immune Boosting Herbal Broth

This recipe yields about 14 cups. Use a hearty handful of each herb. For a stronger broth, use less water.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion chopped, I used yellow onion, but the choice is yours
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves finely chopped
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh sage
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorn

Directions

  1. Always, always wash your herbs to ensure all dirt and debris is removed.
  2. In a large stock pot, add herbs, garlic, onion, and pepper. Pour in 14 cups of water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. On a low heat, cook, covered, for about 45 minutes-1 hour.
  4. Using a spoon, remove leftover large solids and discard. Cool the broth and store in containers. I used 2-3 cup containers and portioned some for the refrigerator and some for the freezer. Refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3-4 months.
  5. Enjoy!

Lean Green Machine Salad

I love greens; yes I am serious. I have never had a problem eating my vegetables or finding new ways to consume them. With that being said, I am sure there are many of image1-2you out there who have a hard time with eating vegetables, especially greens. An old coworker of mine hated vegetables so much she only ate them when mixed in smoothies. This only makes me want to create recipes so everyone can try to get their greens in and actually enjoy it! I challenge all of you, lovers or haters, to try this salad out and let me know what you think! I also challenge you to enjoy this salad with an inspiring book, ice water, and if you are lucky like I was, a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Daily vitamins include Vitamin D!

Lean Green Machine Salad Recipe

This recipe yields about 2 servings. I’m a single gal and like to make enough for 2 meals, but feel free to consume it all at once. No judgment here, just greens. 

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite spicy seasonings (I am using RawSpiceBar’s Shichimi Togarashi spice mix. This includes spices such as black peppercorns, red chili flakes, ginger, white poppy seeds, and black sesame seeds.)
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 3 cups romaine or butter lettuce, chopped
  • 3 cups kale leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Always marinade your chicken. That is a rule to live by. To do this with spices, start by putting your chicken breast in a ziplock bag. Then add about a tablespoon of olive oil and rub on the chicken until it is coated. Repeat this with your spices, and really take the time to rub those spices in. Zip up your bag and place it in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. You will not be disappointed with how much more flavor your chicken will have.
  2. Cook your chicken on a non-stick skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, depending on your stove and pans. Let your chicken rest for 2 minutes  before dicing and place in the fridge to cool.
  3. Take your broccoli and snow peas and put them in a microwavable bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water and put in the microwave to steam. I put a small plate on top of my bowl to ensure the steaming process will happen quicker, but this is up to you. Steam your vegetables for about 2 minutes so they still have a crunch. Drain and store in the fridge to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine lettuce and kale. I used butter lettuce because I like how sweet it is compared to the bitterness of the kale. I highly recommend butter lettuce to those who are not huge lettuce fans. It is softer and has less of a “green” flavor while still having plenty of vitamins. For an added crunch and flavor, I also combined green onions to my salad base. The more greens, the better!
  5. To make a simple homemade dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper, and garlic in a jar or container with a lid. With the lid on, shake the dressing vigorously for 15 seconds. Boom, simple, yet delicious, salad dressing. The acid from the lemon will also give a boost of flavor to the bitter kale. Always balance vegetable flavors for a better dining experience.
  6. Pour about half of your dressing over your salad base and mix well. Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator to use in another recipe. Top your salad with your chilled chicken, broccoli, and snow peas. Serve with an extra lemon half if you want  added flavor.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes:

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