Heritage and History, Concannon Conservancy Wines.

Concannon has been in the Livermore Valley of California for over 125 years and is a pioneer in the US wine market. The family introduced the first Petite Sirah to the United States and is now celebrating 50 years of Petite Sirah! Other 'firsts' include hiring the first female winemaker in the 1950's. Additionaly, they established a number of Cabernet Sauvignon clones which are being used throughout the Napa region today. Concannon is environmentally conscious and has been working to reuse materials, use green design, and employ renewable energy.

Concannon has four 'conservancy' wines, which are grown in Livermore Valley on protected land. Recently I was able to try two of Concannon's Conservancy wines, Merlot and their acclaimed Petite Sirah.

Concannon Conservancy 2008 Merlot

The Concannon Conservancy 2008 Merlot has hues of deep purple and red and has a pepper and leather aroma. I have tried it both immediately after pouring and waiting 15 minutes for the wine to aerate. The initial sip tastes of berry with a crisp finish. After waiting for the wine to aerate, it tasted of berry and cloves and had a smoother finish. I think this wine is a great buy and would love to taste it again after another two to three years of aging. I enjoyed this wine with hamburgers and hearty pasta dishes.

2008 Concannon Conservancy Petite Sirah

This Petite Sirah is a very ink-like, deep purple shade. The wine smells of smoke and cherry. It almost reminds me of the scent of a dark, historic study. It tastes crisp with notes of oak and cherry. I preferred this wine after ten minutes of being poured. I enjoyed this Petite Sirah with pork tenderloin and lighter pasta dishes. Again, I think this wine tastes great now and would also be a fantastic wine to buy and keep to age another two to four years.

Concannon wines are available nationwide for under $20. The bottles also give you some quick tasting notes and pairing suggestions. Their labels are great for those that are new to wine tasting. Of course, you can always stop in and do a tasting if you are in Livermore Valley, California. You can see you the vineyard, experience the history, and taste their wines all at once!

For more information about the Concannon's award winning wines, http://www.concannonvineyard.com/.


The Wine Mom has pledged to Blog with Integrity. What this means is that although we occasionally receive free products from PR and marketing reps, the recommendations we make are based on our own experience in the real world. We promise to only provide reviews on the products and services we absolutely love, and we define this as something we would purchase for ourselves or as a gift for others.

Restock with Octavin

The New Year in my household always brings the need to restock after the holiday festivities. For those of us on a budget, I have a great way for you to restock on both your red and white wines. Replenish your wine inventory with Octavin.

Octavin wines hold three liters of Artisan Wine for approximately $20. There is an Octavin wine for every pallet: R.Müller Riesling, A•Mano Pinot Grigio, Monthaven Chardonnay, Pinot Evil Pinot Noir, Pinot Evil Pinot Grigio, Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc, Seven Red Wine of Spain.

I have sampled both the Seven Red Wine of Spain and Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc. As there are three liters to each Octavin, I was able to pair both extensively with meals as well as enjoy a glass alone.

Seven Red Wine of Spain

This wine is extremely versatile. It is comprised of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, my two favorite reds. The remaining grapes are Syrah, Petit Verdot, Temranillo, Grenache, and Graciano. The wine is full but finishes softer then a Cabernet and Merlot, making it great for those that don’t prefer strong tannic wines. When drinking this wine, I found I enjoyed it best ten minutes after pouring. Seven has a pepper and berry aroma which I paired with some hearty meals including roast beef and spaghetti Bolognese. I thought the wine tasted excellent with both meals. I also paired Seven with some ‘lighter’ meals such as pork tenderloin and found that the smooth finish allowed for a complementary pairing for the pork as well. I definitely plan to purchase more Seven to have on hand as a great dinner wine.

Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc

This wine hails from Marlborough, New Zealand. I especially enjoyed this wine with white pasta dishes (Alfredo and cream sauces), chicken, and mild fish such as tilapia. This wine is very crisp with a full fruity aroma and flavor. A chilled glass of Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc would be a great wine for a warm evening outside.

Octavin wines offer tremendous benefits for the ‘one glass a day’ wine enthusiast. The packaging protects the wine from the outside air for up to six weeks. You don’t have to worry about rushing to finish the bottle to prevent spoilage. There are three liters per Octavin at approximately $20. That is three bottles of wine for the price of one! The packaging has contributed to the reduced cost of the wine, but also reduced waste and carbon emissions.

If you are having a Super Bowl gathering, Octavin wines are an excellent choice for your guests that prefer wine to beer. Cheers!

Octavin wines are available nationwide. For more information visit:



The Wine Mom has pledged to Blog with Integrity. What this means is that although we occasionally receive free products from PR and marketing reps, the recommendations we make are based on our own experience in the real world. We promise to only provide reviews on the products and services we absolutely love, and we define this as something we would purchase for ourselves or as a gift for others.

Fundido, Fondue, Melted Cheese

I didn't know if I would have time to make a Rick Bayless recipe during the Thanksgiving holiday. I was away four out of seven days this week. I didn't want to go grocery shopping, knowing that we were not going to be around. I had some sweet potatoes that I haven't used, so I looked up some recipes in Rick Bayless' cookbooks. I found ONE recipe that called for sweet potatoes. While they tasted great, they didn't really look appetizing. I made the Chile-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Orange. The marinade for this recipe includes dried ancho chiles, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, broth, orange juice, garlic, and honey. This sauce is so dark and the potatoes looked burned after baking in the marinade. They tasted great, but didn't make for great photographs.

Later this week, I asked my husband if he wanted some queso fundido (melted cheese literally). We both love it and hadn't had any for a while. I checked for a recipe and found one in the Authentic Mexican cookbook. I have made queso fundido before, but not the way it was detailed in this recipe. The ingredients include sauteed onions and chorizo, and baked cheese (mozzarella or Colby Jack are recommended). After the cheese is melted, add the sauteed onions and chorizo to the top and bake for a few more minutes.

The recipe also called for fresh poblano chiles. I didn't have any fresh chiles and we don't usually add them to our chorizo fondue, so I made the recipe without them. You can eat this appetizer / snack as a meal with tortilla chips, and corn or flour tortillas. Add some lettuce and tomato for some additional flavor. If you like fondue, this is a great recipe and is very easy to make.

Sauteed Onions
Cheese in a Gratin Dish for baking
Cooking the chorizo
Finished Melted Cheese with Chorizo (Queso Fundido y Chorizo)

Mole Mole Mole

Mole is my all time favorite Mexican dish. Every time I visit a new Mexican restaurant, I look to see if they have Mole and sample it to see how it compares to others that I have tried. The most complicated part of mole, is that everyone has their own recipe, preferred ingredients, and styles. The most common types of mole consists of any combination of these ingredients: chocolate, chili peppers, onions, garlic, nuts (including peanuts, sesame seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds), raisins, cinnamon, and cilantro. Some of the most complex moles are said to have over 50 ingredients!

I don't have 50 ingredients for mole but I have many of the spices, vegetables, peppers, and chocolate for the sauce. The only downside is that I am the only person in my house that likes mole. So I will be making traditional Enchiladas for my family and the Mole Enchiladas for myself. I roasted two chickens a night ago so that I would have plenty of meat for this dish.

After looking through two of Mr. Bayless' cookbooks, I realized that I didn't have every single ingredient for any of his mole recipes. I did however, have a combination of ingredients across two of his recipes, so I improvised. My mole was based upon Oaxacan Black Mole and Mole Poblano de Guajolote (Dark and Spicy Mole with Turkey).

Here are the ingredients that I used:

1 dried ancho chile

1 canned chipotle chile

1 arbol chile

1 guajillo chile

almonds with skin on (I found out the hard way that blanched, sliced almonds burn)


olive oil


masa harina (as a thickener)

14.5 ounce can of tomatoes

semi sweet chocolate (Bitter sweet would have been better, but I didn't have any. I didn't add sugar though.)

ground pepper

ground cumin

ground cloves

ground allspice

cinnamon stick

chicken broth

sauteed onion

sauteed garlic

dried oregano

1/2 ripe banana

I recommend using a blender or food processor to make this a nice sauce! I poured the mole over chicken enchiladas and cooked it at 350 for about a half hour. I then topped it with queso cojito and some queso fresco. I enjoyed this mole by myself! As you can tell from the mixed recipe above, I still have a ways to go in getting my pantry set up with Mexican spices and ingredients. Adios until next time!


Finished Mole Dinner

Prep: Avocado for the side, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick and dried peppers.

Leftovers for Breakfast

I am not a huge fan of breakfast. Eggs taste good on occasion, but I don't really eat traditional breakfast foods such as cereal, toast, sausage etc. Really, I could eat lunch or dinner for every meal. I was trying to keep within the boundaries of breakfast and still satisfy my craving for dinner. Huevos Rancheros seemed like a great option and I had lots of leftovers to make them, although not necessarily traditional.

I also figured (or was told by my loving hubby) that I should work more on my presentation since I can make a decent meal. I decided to start with learning how to start piping and creating some designs. For my first attempt, I used a little baggy full of sour cream. I definitely cut too much off the baggy because the 'drops' of sour cream came out much larger then I wanted. For a first try though, I suppose it was OK.

I started cooking by boiling some water and a splash of vinegar. (Vinegar helps keep the yoke intact and you can't taste it). You have to watch the yoke so that you don't overcook the egg and keep the water to a slow boil. I heated some enchilada sauce and dipped a corn tortilla in the sauce. I then put the tortilla in the center of the plate. and topped it with some leftover fried beans. I put some of the reheated taco meat and chicken over the beans. The next layers were some pickled onions, the egg, and then topped it off with some more enchilada sauce and cojita cheese. I have to say, it tasted great. Of course, I made sure to go to the gym after that breakfast!!!

This is just one way you can use leftovers the next day, and personally I would eat this breakfast for dinner too!

Stocking Up

I went to a general grocery store today. I left feeling pretty pumped because I scored some corn and flour tortillas, two varieties of dried peppers, pinto beans, queso fresco and queso cojita, and my favorite - Mexican style chorizo. I came home and started looking through our two Rick Bayless cookbooks. I realized that I still have a way to go in building up my Mexican staples. I wanted to use the ingredients that I have at home so it forced me to change recipes, or really just get some ideas to make my own. I also have to consider that whatever I make largely has to feed five and hopefully have something my three year old will eat.

I wanted taco's for dinner, so I mixed a pound of ground turkey and some of the chorizo together. I added taco seasoning to the mix and a dried guajillo chile pepper at the end to simmer with the mix. I still had some leftover pickled onions from Monday's dinner, so my husband and I used them to top our meal.

I did attempt to make Sonoran Fried Beans with Chorizo and Cheese. The recipe called for pure dried ground guajillo chile powder. I only had the dried pepper itself. I sauteed the dried pepper in the oil prior to cooking the beans in the mixture. The beans got very dry so I added some of the leftover chicken broth from Monday and some of the dripping from the cooked meat to the mix. They tasted great but the Fried Black Beans from Monday were actually more popular with the kids. I thought the added chorizo and turkey meat would be the tastier meal. I was wrong!

The kids love to help in the kitchen. The eight year old grated the cojita cheese by hand. It is great for her to be a part of the meal and she is always very excited to let the rest of the family know what she 'made' for dinner.

Overall, tonight's dinner was much more low key. Wednesdays are busy for us so we needed to have a quick meal. I am glad that some of Mondays meal was able to help out as well. Next week I plan to go to a specialty supermarket to get some more ingredients to try my hand at cooking additional recipes. I can't wait to see what new ingredients are available to buy!


Iguana, Chakaanab Park, Cozumel. Courtesy devinwesthause.com.


I Couldn’t Wait to Start

I couldn't wait to start my latest project. I have been scouring two of Rick Bayless' cookbooks and pretty much drooling over the recipes. My husband is out of town and I didn't have every single ingredient, but I just couldn't wait. I was so excited, I started with four recipes right away. That may seem like I was overdoing it (like most things that I do) but they all went together so well. I decided on Shredded Poached Chicken, Roasted Peppers with Onions and Herbs, Classic Mexican Fried Beans with Onions and Garlic, and Pickled Red Onions.

The Poached Chicken was supposed to be cut in quarters and you could reserve the bones for the broth. I wanted to reserve the cooking liquid as broth, so I left the chicken intact. That did increase the cooking time by about twenty minutes, but the chicken tasted great and the broth was amazing. I saved the broth in batches for future recipes!

The recipe for the Roasted Peppers with Onions and Herbs called for chiles poblanos. I only had green peppers on hand. I wanted to see how the kids responded to the green peppers before switching to other types. I also added two spoon fulls of broth to this recipe along with the cream because the recipe called for either broth or cream. The older two kids liked this dish as well, but this was the least favorite of the four recipes.

The bean recipe by far was the best that I have ever made. My 14 and 12 year old raved about them. The 8 year old was not as excited, but she got them down. The recipe called for either lard, bacon or chorizo drippings, or vegetable oil. I only had vegetable oil, which obviously has the least flavor. I fried the beans on a cast iron pan and needed more liquid. I added a few spoon fulls of the chicken broth - which definitely gave the beans a rich flavor!

I have had pickled red onions at restaurants but I have never attempted to make them on my own. I was skeptical that they would taste anything like the pickled onions that I have had at restaurants. I should have known better then to smell anything that is sitting in vinegar. The onions smells nothing like they taste. I have to say, they tasted exactly like they do in restaurants (I guess that is why it is in a Rick Bayless cookbook!!!) I ended up getting more onions to put on the rest of my food throughout the dinner.

You can see the finished product below. This was one of my better Mexican style meals. The foods went well together, even on the same tortilla. I was most impressed by the onions and how well they complemented the food. I paired the meal with a Vidal Blanc from Alto Vineyards. It is labeled as Semi-Dry, but I felt that it was on the sweeter side and went nicely with the meal.
Overall, this was a great first meal to start my new assignment. I am so excited to try more recipes. I can't wait to share them with you too! Salud, dinero, y amor!

Pictures in Order as They Appear:

Shredded Poached Chicken Authentic Mexican, Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

Roasted Peppers with Onions and Herbs Authentic Mexican, Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

Classic Mexican Fried Beans with Onions and Garlic Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

Pickled Red Onions Authentic Mexican, Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico
Finished plate includes cheese, corn tortillas and avocado. Wine: Alto Vineyards Reserve, Vidal Blanc