The Right White Wine Makes the MealWelcome to the second installment of Circle B Ranch’s new wine blog series. In the last article, I discussed basing meal preparation on your chosen wine, defined the term “dry,” and provided a short list of dry red wines to get you started. Today, I would like to examine more basic definitions and discuss dry white wine options. To give you more knowledge about wine selection, I want to begin by going over terminology and definitions. Last time, I introduced the term “dry.” Dry wines are typically acidic and tangy. They tend to make your mouth dry out when you taste them, but one cannot simply define “dry” by taste. A “dry” label technically applies to any wine that contains less than 10 grams of residual sugar. Some dry wines may taste sweet to the palate because they have fruity or sweet floral flavors. Wines containing more than 10 grams of residual sugar, but less than 35 grams are classified as “off-dry.” An off-dry wine is typically sweeter than a dry wine, but it is still a dry wine. Only wines containing 35 grams of residual sugar or more are identified as “sweet.” This knowledge will come in handy as you continue to read the wine series. Now, let’s go over some of your dry white wine options. This is only a short list. The wines I discuss here are a few of the most recognized in the world. Circle B Ranch Pork Chops with Apples & Apple Cider. You may also pair it with our Three-Ingredient Sweet & Sour Meatballs as the wine’s acidity balances well with sweet and sour elements. Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara or Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Cream Sauce to create a perfect meal. Avocado Carbonara or with your favorite Circle B Ranch grilled pork chop recipe. Thai-Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Orange Curry Sauce. You may also pair this refreshing spirit with Chicken Scarpariello as it works perfectly with the sauce (which should also be prepared with the Sauvignon Blanc). Asian Marinated Pork Chops & Oriental Lentil Salad. Look for the next article in the Circle B Ranch wine series. I’ll discuss varieties of sweet red wines and provide you with more delicious recipes for your perfect dinner. References and Wine Resources: www.bbcgoodfood.com Winefolly Winemag.com www.wineaustralia.com [ ... ]
Begin Your Meal With A Fine WineThere will come a time when you may need to prepare a special meal. Should you have appetizers? What should you choose for a main course? Which wine would best accompany the meal? This last thought is especially important as wines are meant to meld with the meal you are consuming. If you choose the wrong wine, you end up with incompatible flavors and a dinner disaster. The best way to avoid this catastrophe is to plan the meal around a preferred wine.
Choosing a WineThere are a variety of wines to choose from—dry wines, sweet wines, dessert wines, red, white, and rose. Selecting a wine can be as daunting as picking a meal. Because I know that wine selection can be tough, I have decided to create a series of articles to assist you with the process. Before you choose a wine, you should be familiar with wine variations and terms. In this first article, I’ll define the meaning of “dry” for those of you who are not wine aficionados. Have you ever taken a swallow of wine that was very tangy, not sweet at all, and made your mouth dry as the desert? If so, you have tasted a dry wine. Usually dry wines are not sweet since they contain little to no sugar—less than 10 grams of residual sugar. They are often tangy because of a high acidity level, but one can’t always rely on taste alone. Some dry wines may seem sweet due to a fruity flavor. These wines are considered more complex and sophisticated in essence and aroma because they encompass a variety of pure flavors that meld together. There are several varieties of dry wines to choose from, but we will start with the dry red wines. Here is a short list of dry red wines and the ideal meals to pair with them: Marina’s Meatball Parmigiana Pizza or One Pan Pasta with Bacon and Peas. sausages . Veggies such as lentils and haricot beans also pair well with this wine. Present Bordeaux with Wild Mushroom Pate and Bacon Maple Baked Brie . Marinated & Grilled Flank Steak. Bolognes Sauce Recipe Made with Berkshire Ground Pork (make sure to use the Chianti in the recipe as well) or Marina’s Pork Lasagna. Here at Circle B Ranch we are all about simplicity. I want to provide you with the knowledge you need to make your food preparation as easy as possible. Don’t forget to look for the next blog in the Circle B Ranch wine series. I will share information about dry white wines, and you can look forward to more delicious recipes to accompany them. References and Other Wine Resources: www.winedryness.com http://winefolly.com www.vinepair.com www.food and wine.com [ ... ]
First, choose the right pork chop.Here at Circle B Ranch we have a delicious full 10 ounce bone-in chop. Since it is thicker it takes a longer to cook. The bone gives the meat a richer flavor. TIP: Pork chops—such as Circle B Ranch Berkshire Pork Chops—that come from pasture-fed heritage-breeds contain a more full-bodied essence.
Brine the pork chops to deliver more flavor.Brining the pork chops improves the taste and texture of the meat. Brining seasons both the exterior and the interior and changes the structure of the meat to result in a juicier chop. It takes as little as 30 minutes, but you can brine the chops for up to 4 hours. TIP: You can also dry brine the chops by rubbing them thoroughly with salt and pepper.
Do not cook pork chops cold.Cooking the chops straight from the refrigerator results in overcooking. If the pork chop is too cold, the outside will cook before the inside of the meat reaches the correct temperature. TIP: Before cooking the chops, set them out for 15-30 minutes, just enough time to let the meat get to room temperature.
Sear pork chops before baking.Searing your chops before baking helps avoid overcooking and develops more flavor by sealing in the meat’s juices. This cooking method causes a chemical reaction, called the “Maillard effect,” which boosts the depth of flavor. Searing also improves the overall presentation of the pork chop, because it caramelizes sugars and creates a golden-brown crust. TIPS: To sear, begin with a hot pan at high heat. The high heat will create caramelization and a quick seal to keep in the juices. If finishing the chop in the skillet, bring the heat down to medium to prevent overcooking of the outside and undercooking of the inside. Start by searing the “presentation” side of the chop—the side your dinner guests will see on their plate—first. Cook from 1 ½ to 3 minutes per side to obtain a perfect golden-brown crust. Don’t trim the fat from the chops before searing; the fat will brown and crisp, giving you pork chop even more flavor.
Grill chops to perfection by varying heat.Grilling a pork chop is comparative to cooking it in a pan on the stove top. Start with a hot grill; properly preheating the grill aids in searing the meat and helps with caramelization. Place the chops over direct heat (directly over the heat source) to give it a quick sear and seal in juices. Then move the chops into indirect heat to cook them properly—the process is slower, allowing the inside of the meat to thoroughly cook without burning the outside. TIPS: If you have marinated or wet brined your meat, pat off excess moisture. The idea is to give the chops flavor yet get them to sear instead of steam. Do not use sharp utensils to turn the chops. Keep moistness and flavor by using a spatula or tongs that will not pierce the meat and release juices. For a juicier chop, rest the meat before indulging. Resting the chops allows the fiber of the meat to relax; this means the juices redistribute through the meat. It only takes a few minutes of rest to obtain a tender juicier chop. TIP: Rest the chop after cooking for 5-10 minutes. You can finish last-minute meal preparations while the meat rests. Follow these cooking tips to get a perfectly cooked pork chop every time. You can say goodbye to raw or tough pork chops, and your family will love indulging in a simple but delightful meal. [ ... ]
John and I have always had a passion for good wholesome food—natural foods that are healthy and good for you. Through Circle B Ranch, John and I have delivered to our customers the best quality, natural pasture-fed pork possible....and we found that there was a huge gap in healthy snacking foods.
After watching the public consume over-processed, chemically saturated, unhealthy snacks for years, we decided to create a snack stick that is healthier than other snack sticks found in today’s market—Big John’s Nitrite-Free Bacon Snack Stick.
Compared to the “other snack sticks,” our Nitrite-Free Bacon Snack Stick has a list of all-natural ingredients:
As you can see, Big John’s NF Bacon Snack Sticks contain NO grain fillers, NO preservatives, and NO artificial flavors. These snack sticks are created from Circle B Ranch’s own NF bacon, ground Berkshire pork, and natural spices. Big John’s NF Bacon Snack Sticks do not contain artificial ingredients:
- NO gluten, hormones or antibiotics
- NO High Fructose Corn Syrup or Red Dye
- NO Sodium Benzoate
When it comes to snack sticks, Big John’s Nitrite-Free Bacon Snack Sticks are a healthy, guilt-free snack option. These delicious, flavor-filled snack sticks are real food—low in calories, low in sodium, and low in sugar. Concerns about diabetes and obesity can be tossed aside.
Circle B Ranch Bacon Snack Sticks Make Snacking Guilt-Free:
- Only 90 calories in each ONE OUNCE stick
- 5 grams of protein
- Low sodium (170 mg sodium)
- NO carbs, NO sugar
Snacking Can Be Healthy
Big John’s Nitrite-Free Bacon Snack Sticks do not contain any artificial additives:
- NO High Fructose Corn Syrup, No Red Dye, No Artificial Flavors
- NO added Nitrates or Nitrites (no nasty cancer-causing carcinogens)
- NO MSG
- NO added hormones or antibiotics
Big John’s Nitrite-Free Bacon Snack Sticks are nutritionally beneficial:
- Full 1-ounce stick curbs hunger better (other snack sticks come in .28 oz sizes, less than 1/3 the size!)
- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free
- Great for any diet: Paleo, Keto, and Whole 30 friendly
- Low in carbs, Low in Calories, High in Protein
- Made from natural ingredients
Four Delicious April Farmer’s Market EntreesIt’s April and the Farmer’s Market is full of produce and people. I love shopping for fresh fruit and veggies at my local farmer’s market. Why? I know that it is 100% farmer and producer based. The produce has not been supplemented or modified and not sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. At my farmer’s market I can select the freshest ingredients and know I am choosing the healthiest options. I usually swing by the farmer’s market at least once a week. As I peruse the selections, I’m often planning dinner for the next day and selecting my entrée based on the produce in season. April is the month for veggies. Asparagus, morels, rhubarb, and cabbage are plentiful, so I will adjust my menu and prepare some of my favorite recipes to include them. When it comes to asparagus, I like to use it in a Bacon Asparagus Strata. I often make this dish for Easter dinner, but it is perfect for any occasion. I especially love this recipe because it is so easy to make. You can prep the dish the night before, put it in the fridge, and slip it into a timed oven when you are ready. And the results are delicious! As for Morels, we are essentially in the middle of the season. I love pairing these tasty mushrooms with pasta whenever I can find them. Pasta with Morels, Asparagus & Goat Cheese combines asparagus, morels, and Terrill Creek Farm Goat Cheese. You can’t beat this combination for flavor! Rhubarb season is just beginning. In season from April until June, the veggie is often included in desserts, but I like to embrace it in entrees as well. It stars in one of my go-to recipes: Berkshire Pork Chops with Rhubarb Compote. This dish is the perfect choice for grilling now that the weather is beginning to warm up. Simply grill the Berkshire porkchops, top it with the rhubarb compote, and serve it alongside farro and your pick of veggies. While cabbage isn’t my favorite, Big John can’t live without it (especially if I cook it with kielbasy). I often make him a Kielbasy & Cabbage Skillet. The dish is no fuss and no muss. It is easily prepared in one skillet. In essence, April provides a complete diversity of veggies for our palates. If you get a chance, swing by your local farmer’s market and see what is available in your area. You can try any of these recipes or create an entrée of your own. [ ... ]
7 Foods & Beverages for a Special DinnerSometimes, you need to celebrate something and plan on impressing a special guest with an awesome-looking and delicious dinner. Other times, you may feel like getting creative and want to turn a regular evening meal into a tasteful delight. Here are 7 meal suggestions, paired with complementing drinks and helpful cooking tips, to inspire you.
1. Pork ChopsPork chops are rich in taste but extremely versatile. There are numerous ways to prepare chops—from baking to grilling, to frying. You are only limited by your imagination. This recipe for Circle B Ranch Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Pan Sauce is quick to prepare, and the dish will impress any special dinner guest with its perfect combination of spice and sweetness. Food Network's Harvest Pork Chops with Cranberry and Kale look striking on the plate, are surprisingly easy to make, and are extremely tasty. This meal contains an enticing blend of flavors: cranberry, rosemary, garlic, and a touch of grainy mustard for balance. TIP: For this recipe, the trick is in the cranberry and Italian sausage stuffing. Make sure to evenly stuff the pork chops, and follow the recipe’s suggestion on closing the chops while cooking to keep the stuffing in.
Blends with Red WineYou can successfully serve your pork dish with a light red wine, such as a Zinfandel or Grenache-based variety. Your chosen wine should have a good acidity to balance the meat’s strong taste.
2. Chicken BreastsChicken breasts are low-fat and are relatively easy to prepare, generally taking around 20 minutes to cook. For your special dinner, try cooking the chicken breasts with tortellini or potatoes, or steaming them to create a juicy effect. When prepared with mascarpone and rosemary, chicken breasts become a treat for the palette. Tip: Don’t buy boneless and skinless half breasts that weigh more than 8 – 9 ounces. These come from stewing hens. Therefore, they are hard to make tender when not cooked in liquid.
Blends with White WineTry a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to go with your chicken breast dinner. These wines enhance their taste when consumed with a meal containing green herbs.
3. Roasted Whole ChickenRoast chicken has pros and cons. While roast chicken may take considerable time to cook—approximately 20 minutes per pound—it has its charm in its sauce, which leaves you plenty of room for creativity. If you prefer a spicy flavor, try a sauce with jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice or prepare a Cajun-style recipe. For a sweeter taste, go with apples and cider or honey and herbs. Tip: The more generous the stuffing, the juicier and tastier the chicken. Moreover, always remember to tie the chicken legs with a cooking string.
Blends with Red WineRed wines have a higher acid content and mix with the little fat from chicken and generous seasonings. If you add extra herbs, you can go for a red burgundy variety.
4. SalmonSalmon is one of the easiest dishes to prepare and one of the quickest to cook. Baked in the oven, salmon is fully cooked at about 15 minutes. Pan frying the fish takes about 10 minutes. You can serve it with kale or other choice greens or veggies. However, salmon enhances its taste and becomes lighter when cooked with olive oil. Tip: Cooking salmon with the skin on helps crisp the salmon while preventing overcooking.
Blends with BeerYou can try a German pilsner, which is fresh and bitter enough to balance the salmon’s fat. Also, white beers—low-alcohol wheat beers traditionally flavored with orange peel and coriander—mix with any kind of sea food, especially salmon.
5. LambLamb is not a dish you cook every day, but it is easy to prepare. For example, it takes about half an hour to cook a well-done leg of lamb meal, and you do not need to marinate the meat beforehand. There are several options for cooking a leg of lamb, but it shines when cooked with green veggies and herbs. TIP: Lamb leg goes well with garlic and rosemary. Moreover, you can serve it with pesto sauce and a touch of mint. If you want to try an even fancier dinner, prepare a rack of lamb. Circle B Ranch’s recipe for Pomegranate-Glazed Rack of Lamb will excite any dinner guest with the combined flavors of Pomegranate, rosemary, honey, and orange.
Blends with CocktailsThat sweet and fresh cocktail completes the subtle spicy taste of roast lamb leg. However, the dish is also wine friendly if you don’t choose a dry variety. Go for sweet, fresh and chilly options. Pair the pomegranate-glazed rack of lamb with a white wine to complement the pomegranate flavor.
6. Risotto with ShrimpParmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp is a light idea that combines flair with the simplicity of a home-cooked dinner. If you add Parmesan to the risotto and roast the shrimp for 5 minutes before adding them to the risotto, you will get a delightful restaurant-style meal in your home. Tip: Use the oven for the shrimp and make sure they are pink before adding them to the risotto. Also, serve immediately to enjoy a warm meal.
Blends with Dry WineA dry white one is the perfect choice for risotto and shrimp. It will add a sharp flavor to the meal, while keeping the sensation of a complex and delightful treat.
7. Chow MeinChow Mein is a Chinese recipe with a touch of Cantonese gourmet. It’s rich in content, and yet light when you consume it. Based on egg noodles, Chow Mein contains bamboo, shrimp, roast pork , chicken, beef and plenty of sauce. It’s also easy to cook and has a little sister – Low Mein. Tip: Follow the recipe every step of the way. Instructions are important, as you cook the recipe from scratch. Also, remember that al dente means cooked so that is seems ready, not soft.
Blends with JuiceA subtle, not so sweet juice goes perfectly with Chow Mein. Extremely sweet juice will enhance the spicy taste. Instead, choose a fresh one: oranges or tangerines. You can also go for a Sauvignon Blanc, as it is preferred for most Chinese dishes.
Bon Appetit!Remember, you don’t always need a special occasion to create a delicious and elaborate meal. These seven dish ideas can help you create a special gourmet dinner in your home in no time. Completing them with the suggested drinks will add an extra sparkle if you want to create a restaurant atmosphere. Don’t forget to include salads or a dessert course to round out the meal, or to choose the healthiest and safest ingredients for the recipes. Choose your meal, purchase its ingredients, prepare your special dinner, and get ready to dine! [ ... ]
Preparing European Stuffed Cabbage Rolls—The Right WayFor some foods, like potatoes, there is no wrong way to make them. For other foods, like the popular European dishes featuring stuffed cabbage, there are a lot of wrong ways to make them. The stuffed cabbage rolls are extremely common, but there are a number of interesting variations across Europe. If you are interested in some of the most interesting and enticing ways stuffed cabbage rolls are made, here are a few variations that are sure to you grab your attention.
Image Source: Wikimedia.orgSome Background Information: Cabbage should almost always be stored in cold water before preparation. Almost all cabbage rolls feature strong similarities: cabbage (obviously!) being stuffed, in some way, baked and then topped with sauce. The variation is in how the leaves are prepared (boiled or peeled off cold) and in what the filling contains. Generally speaking, you need to remove the leaves from the core. You do not want stems in your cabbage roll. The filling (or stuffing) should be a savory mixture of grains, of rice, some meat, and a light sauce to keep the inside moist. In most cases, you will want to place a small amount of stuffing on a prepared cabbage leaf and then fold or shape the leaf according to national custom. Once done, place the cabbage roll, seam side down, and bake. Here are a few interesting variations! Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage: The Bulgarian national dish of stuffed cabbage roll is called "Sarmi." This variation of the stuffed cabbage roll is one of the most popular versions out there, truly a foodie’s delight. The basic ingredients are cabbage, obviously, stuffed with lean pork, veal, rice, and yogurt or sauerkraut. These rolls are usually topped off with a light tomato and paprika sauce. Making these stuffed cabbage rolls is not that difficult. Take the cabbage, cut out its core and then boil it in hot water. When tender enough, pluck the whole leaves off the cabbage. Heat olive oil in a pan, then add the stuffing: Circle B Ranch ground pork, other meat of choice, the rice, and etc. Place a few leaves down as a base and put the cooled stuffing on top, then wrap excess cabbage leaf around it. Wrap until the stuffing cannot escape and then cook, again, in a pot. This recipe should take around one hour to complete. These stuffed cabbage rolls are eaten as a main course in Bulgaria, and for a good reason; the mixture of the rice, pork, and veal make this among the most savory variations of cabbage roll commonly made in Europe. Polish Stuffed Cabbage: The Polish version of stuffed cabbage rolls is called, "Gołąbki," which is pronounced 'Gaw-Wohmp-kee.' Similar to sarmi, these rolls are stuffed with pork, mature beef and rice, though it is common for the rice to be replaced with barley and these rolls are often cooked on a stovetop until tender. Instead of using cool cabbage, bring the cabbage to a boil. Having done so, place a small amount of the meat mixture into the cabbage leaf, place seam side down and bake for 25-30 minutes. Gołąbki should be smaller in size than Sarmi. This Polish dish is considered both a comfort food and national fare. The Polish version is very popular throughout Eastern Europe, though it usually a lot more of a casual meal than its Bulgarian counterpart. Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls: For something a little different, you can attempt the Lahanodolmathes, a Greek stuffed cabbage roll that often uses lamb or goat instead of beef or pork. Similar to the Sarmi, it usually comes with yogurt included in the filler which offers a smooth texture along with the savory meat. The major difference here is that you would substitute the beef filling with lamb. Otherwise, Lahanodolmathes is similar to its Bulgarian and Polish counterparts. For best results with the tomato sauce, let a sauce simmer for thirty minutes to an hour without a lid to thicken, stirring as needed. Season to taste and pour over the finished stuffed cabbage rolls. These traditional cabbage rolls are easier to roll than many of their counterparts, and the rolls are usually covered in a heavy tomato sauce to accent the flavors. Adding a more robust tomato sauce gives this roll a far more robust and Mediterranean flavor. For a fresh tomato flavor, try using Marina's Italian Style Tomato Sauce.
Image Source: Wikimedia.orgKosher Stuffed Cabbage: Though European in origin, the Kosher stuffed cabbage, Holishes, offer an obvious deviation from their counterparts: no pork! Less pork means more room for beef, with eggs, matzoh meal and rice commonly rounding out the stuffing recipe. You can find an interesting recipe here if you would like to try to make these yourself. Holishkes are actually rolled, instead of shaped. Use a similar method to the Gołąbki, but instead of tucking excess leaf, roll the leaf over. Place the rolled cabbage leaf seam side down when baking, of course. Common and popular among the Jewish communities, Holishkes are a staple food that started as a special harvest meal for Sukkot that became a common dish year round. Topped with a sweet and sour sauce based on raisins, this variation of stuffed cabbages really offers something very different than many of its counterparts. Vegetarian Variation: If you are looking for a vegetarian variation on the stuffed cabbage roll, there are a number of interesting directions you can take. While many of the more common recipes are not traditional, they do offer a healthy alternative to those who like stuffed cabbage rolls but do not want the meat. Rice is joined by yellow onion, ripe tomato and seasoned to taste with dill and parsley. This fresh garden variety is a strong choice for those looking for a lighter meal. Final Thoughts: Stuffed cabbage rolls are a surprisingly versatile food that can be used in a number of different ways. These traditional European recipes offer a relatively easy meal choice that you can make with a little bit of practice and the right ingredients. By following these traditional recipes, you should be able to recreate genuine European cuisine without breaking the bank or breaking your back. An interesting, exotic but healthy meal is much easier than you thought it could be! About the Author: This great guest post and delicious recipes were provided to us by Mike Jones from Ice Maker Experts. [ ... ]
First, let’s talk about the health aspects of the method. The longer you cook a food, the more nutrients you destroy. A pressure cooker cooks food quicker (in less water than boiling)—you keep more nutrients, the good stuff, in your food. Some studies also show that pressure cooking reduces the amount of unsaturated fat content and aids with the digestion of legumes and grains.When it comes to efficiency, pressure cooking is a fantastic method. Less cooking time means using less energy (saving money on the electric bill), and you spend less time in the kitchen (giving you more time with family). As well, pressure cooking does not heat up the kitchen because the appliance retains all the heat and steam. No more sweating over the hot stove, and no cleaning the stove either. Simply clean the pressure cooker, and you are done. If you have a pressure cooker, or if you decide you want to give pressure cooking a shot, here is a delicious recipe to try out: Three-Bean Chili I have also included a couple of links here to give you more information about the cooking method. This article gives you a little history on the pressure cooker and explains exactly how the appliance works if you are unfamiliar with the process: http://www.thekitchn.com/a-primer-on-pressure-cooking-193715 For readers who are considering purchasing a pressure cooker, this comprehensive blog reviews many different brands while just giving you the facts. The review covers all aspects of the machine, from the positives to the negatives, without showing favoritism: http://wonderstreet.com/reviews/the-best-pressure-cookers Other Resources: http://learn.eartheasy.com/2012/09/top-6-benefits-of-pressure-cooking/ http://www.eatingwell.com/article/15711/what-is-the-effect-of-pressure-cooking-on-nutrition/ http://www.healwithfood.org/health-effects/pressure-cooking-nutrient-loss.php https://www.jenreviews.com/pressure-cooker-vs-slow-cooker/ [ ... ]