Wrangling Recipes: Fish Tacos, Part Two

Here’s the first Fish Tacos blog post. But since it had been awhile, I thought I’d give them a try again, with a twist.

The hubby found this terrific recipe for panfried fish that was light, crispy, and very tasty. I decided to take that recipe and make fish tacos from it.

I used Tilapia (got it at Costco – lots of fish!) and cut it into chunks. The order is this; dry fish; cut fish into chunks; coat in flour; salt and pepper; brush with beaten egg and water wash; dip in panko crumbs; fry in a little bit of peanut oil until done.

Serve the fish sticks (because that’s exactly what they looked like) on a platter, and pass around corn tortillas, fresh-from-the-garden chopped tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and pepper, green salsa, shredded cheese, chopped lettuce and slices of lime if you desire. Supplement with tortilla chips and refried beans topped with a little cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

We actually drank sparkling wine with this – a lovely Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blanc, $11.99 at Vons. While a margarita may have been more fitting, the sparkling wine really did a wonderful job.

If you want this to go vegetarian, take a 16 oz bloc of Very Firm Tofu, slice it in half horizontally, then  again into “sticks”. Put in a glass bowl, cover with your favorite salsa to marinate. Let sit in fridge for 30-60 minutes, turning at least once. Then proceed as above with the frying, only omit the flouring and seasoning – do try the panko, though, as it makes the tofu nicely crispy.

Since tofu has no flavor on its own, you really have to marinate it in order for it to have a flavor. If you like, you can simply marinate in a lemon/lime juice and chopped cilantro mixture. Whatever makes your taste buds happy!

How do you make fish tacos? I’m always looking for new recipes!

Wrangling Effort: Easy but time consuming

Taste: Very Good

Make Again? Absolutely – though maybe as fish sticks, lol!

~ ~ ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Wines for Summertime

Wines for Summertime

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. But when you check out the hundreds of wines available in the grocery store, what do you buy? Relax! I’m here for you, sorting out the memorable from the truly awful. Each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, 2008  Calatayud Product of Spain  Alcohol 14.1% by Volume. $14.99 at BevMo! – bought on a 5 cent sale (1 bottle regular price, 2nd bottle 5 cents).

On The Label: Just the typical government warning.

My Take: I had bought Las Rocas Garnacha on a 5 cent sale earlier in the year, and just recently drank the second bottle. It is very like a big, full-bodied Zinfandel, with lots of lovely pepper and dark fruit to it. When I noticed it won “Best of Class” in it’s section at the L.A. Wine Fest this year, I decided I really needed to pick up another bottle. Or two.

I’m SO glad I did. The wine went very well with the BBQ’d pork ribs I’d made for my family.  I’ve got one more bottle up in my wine bin, and I may just have to bring it down for this July 4th BBQ. It’s great with grilled meats of any kind, and would also be fabulous with just about any Italian dish.

My Rating: ~Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!~ Yes. It’s been awhile, but this wine deserves the rating. Plus, on the 5 cent sale, you can buy two bottles which puts each individual bottle under $10! (I’m sneaky that way…) 2008 seems to have been a VERY good wine year.


Barefoot Pinot Grigio n/v Alcohol 12.5% by Volume $6.99 at Vonsphoto of barefoot pinot grigio

On The Label: “Barefoot’s Pinot Grigio Blends have won BEST BUY from the Wine Enthusiast, March 2011 ‘Consistent Quality, Proven Value’.

“Barefoot Pinot Grigio is a crisp and refreshing wine with bright aromas and flavors of citrus and fresh green apple. Hints of jasmine complement a bright, delicate, flavorful finish.

“Barefoot Pinot Grigio is a perfect match with poultry, seafood, spicy pasta, and pizza. Refreshing!”

My Take: This (along with just about every Pinot Grigio) is the perfect summer wine. Often I don’t remember to chill my white wines in advance; this wine, in a big glass filled with ice, is the perfect party sipper. Plus at this price, it won’t break your wallet. Take two bottles and make your hosts happy! (Note to self; Pick up a couple bottles at the store before heading out to the drum circle today.)

If you notice, I’m not raving about the wine. I have a hard time raving about whites; I don’t know why. But it is a solid player and one I’m not ashamed to serve – or give.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Stock up on it for the summer, so you’ll always have some on hand!

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!


As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, how much writing I’ve managed that day, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Blood Dreams is now available, just 99 cents! Demon Hunt, Book 2 in the Caine Brothers  Series, coming late Summer 2012.



Celebrating Chardonnay

Celebrating Chardonnay

Wow – after cover reveals and guests this week, I’m finally back with some tasty wines. Spring is here, and the weather is warming up where I live. It must be time for some Chardonnay! Today I’ve got three, and they’re all from California…and they were all on sale.

photo of Edna Valley Vineyards 2009 ChardonnayEdna Valley Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay Paragon ~ San Luis Obispo County  Alcohol 13.9% by Volume. Regularly $13.98; on sale at Vons for $9.97

On the Label: “Our vineyards enjoy one of California’s longest and coolest growing seasons, thanks to sea breezes funneled inland through Edna Valley. Our Chardonnay has amazing flavors of lush white peach and sweet spice with a crisp, clean finish. You will love our Chardonnay with fresh seafood, grilled chicken or roasted pork.”

My Take: Edna Valley wines can be in the upper teens, so when I saw this one for under $10 I grabbed it. It was actually a chilly day and I wasn’t in the mood to cook; luckily Ocean Fresh, our local seafood monger, had sent me an ad for freshly made clam chowder and crab cakes ready to pop into a pan or the oven.  (The food was divine!) This Chardonnay stood up well to both the creaminess of the chowder and the spice of the crab cakes. It was not a big, oaky Chardonnay, but it had the clean finish of a Pinot Grigio as well as the lush fruit, and it handled the seafood brilliantly.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~  I shall have to check out more of Edna Valley’s wines.

Simi 2010 Sonoma County Chardonnay Alcohol 13.5% by volume; regularly $17.49, on sale for $12.59 at Vons

On the Label: “Simi Chardonnay reflects the diversity of flavors found throughout Sonoma County. The area to the west gives pear and a luscious mouthfeel. The southern region brings citrus and crisp acidity, and vineyards in the north add tropical notes. These combine into complex fruit aromas, a creamy and toasty round mouthfeel with a brilliant balance that makes this Chardonnay delicious with cream-sauced chicken, salmon and mild cheeses.”

My Take: This was a lovely Chardonnay. It had that creaminess that I like, but it wasn’t over-oaked – in fact, oak was almost impossible to detect. I really enjoyed this wine, which we had with our “I doan wanna cook” meal of a rotisserie chicken from Costco and smashed potatoes.  Add some fresh green beans to that, and you’ve got a delicious meal. Anyway – the wine went beautifully.

My Rating: ~  Very Drinkable  ~ But a bit on the pricey side.

label for Geyser Peak ChardonnayGeyser Peak Winery 2009 Chardonnay Alexander Valley  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume $11.12 regular price (HA!) at Vons, on sale for $7.78

On the Label: “At our winery in the heart of the famed Alexander Valley, our winemakers are impassioned to create wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. To ensure the bottle you open delivers all the delicate aromatics captured here at the winery, we seal our Chardonnay with a screwcap closure.

Taste profile: Ripe pear and tropical fruit flavors with a hint of vanillin oak. Creamy and elegant with a crisp finish.

Enjoy with: Light pastas, roast chicken and light veal dishes.”

My Take: I really enjoyed this wine, but a part of that could be that I am partial to Geyser Peak. We visited the winery back in the late 1980s, on our first-ever wine tour, and had a blast, so the wine is suffused with rosy memories. I will say, though, I’ve never been disappointed in a Geyser Peak wine. This one has that hint of oak that I so adore.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

So there you have it, three Very Drinkable California Chardonnays. Go forth, and stock up for the ever-changeable weather to come!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and whether the cat has tried to kill me that day. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

BLOOD DREAMS, a Caine Brothers Short Story, will be out June 1st.   DEMON SOUL is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet? Catch up, because soon DEMON HUNT will be out (summer 2012)!

Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

Three Winter Whites

Three Winter Whites

Everyone I know has a budget that’s shrinking. Even at Chez Christine’s, our dollar doesn’t stretch as far as I wish it would. I won’t buy wine before I buy food, but I AM being even more careful than I used to be in putting my money down for a bottle of vino.

Today I’ve got three white wines that are really tasty. With the southern California weather warming up, then cooling down, you never know when it’ll be the right time for a white. I’ve had all of these in the past week or so.

Fetzer Valley Oaks Pinot Grigio 2010 Mendocino, California – Alcohol 12.5% by volume – $5.99 at Vons on sale

On the Label: “Pioneers in Sustainability. Established in 1968. 14% less carbon emissions. The Earth Friendly Winery. Crowd pleaser. Whether you say Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, which are synonyms, I try and make this wine in a modern style that will please the gathered crowd.  This wine is lightly floral and an easy drinking wine. The wine shows aromas of fig, melon, and flavors of Honeydew melons and Granny Smith apples and is a good drink with pleasant racy bright acidity. A versatile wine that pairs well with many salads and lighter fare. I love to serve it with appetizers when I have house guests over.”

“Fetzer now uses lighter glass bottles, runs the winery from mostly green energy, recycles, the list goes on…enhancing our heritage of sustainability.”

My Take: From working with hydrogeologists, I’ve learned to be wary of any winery that calls itself “sustainable”.   (Apparently its a huge buzz word in the industry but no one really knows what that means, the above list notwithstanding.) However, this wine is a good wine (chatty label aside). Its bright, crisp, clean and perfect with appetizers, or just to sip after a hard day’s work. Plus – cheap!

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ At this price, if you can, pick up a half-case so you’re ready for the hot weather to come. It’s a 2010, so it’ll last in the bottle for at least a year.

Blackstone Winemaker’s Select Chardonnay 2010  Monterey County, California 2010 –  Alcohol 13.5% by volume. $7.99 at Vons on Sale.

On the Label: Our Blackstone Chardonnay is sourced from California’s finest grape growing regions, with a focus on Monterey County. This wine offers luscious tropical fruit flavors complemented with light spice and toasted vanilla characteristics.

My Take: I like this wine. I fell in love with it when we were in Monterey this past March/April; we drank this wine while eating the best clam chowder in town, while watching the seals on the beach. Probably the best beach-side meal I’ve ever eaten…the wine was clean, crisp, cold, and probably a 2009; but good news. The 2010 is just as good – it’s a solid performer and one of my go-to wineries for Chardonnay. Not overly oaky, but not too steely either – a good balance between the old and the new style Chard. It’s also hard to find anything other than the 2010s out right now. They’re flooding the market as they usually do when the calendar flips to a new year. If you can find the older bottles, buy them first.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And at this price, you can afford a couple bottles – or more! (Do take advantage of the six bottle, 10% on top of the sale price discounts that most grocery stores have!)

Newman’s Own Chardonnay 2008 California Alcohol 13.5% by volume. Vinted and bottled by Rebel Wine, St. Helena, Napa County, California Exclusively for Newman’s Own, Inc. $8.99 on sale at Albertson’s.

On the Label: “The Legend: From the mountains to the bay, we searched for the perfect Chardonnay. We thought we found one at Hollywood and Vine but it turned out to be apple juice – not even wine. We were just about ready to give up the hunt when Wee Willie Wine, a cute winged runt said, ‘Since you’re the guys who give all your profits away, I’ll take you to my secret Chardonnay.’ And so here from the hilltops where Wee Willie trods is a Chardonnay that is truly a gift from the Gods.

” Newman’s Own Foundation continues Paul Newman’s commitment to donate all royalties and after tax profits from this product for educational and charitable purposes. Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $250 Million to thousands of charities since 1982.”

My Take: (Yes, I know, that’s a bottle of cabernet over there. I couldn’t find a picture of the Chardonnay.) I was quite surprised to see a Newman’s Own wine last week as we perused the Albertson’s after a three mile jog-walk (not our usual grocery store).  As the wine was priced under $10, I grabbed it and after a thorough chilling,  we had it with dinner that night. Tasty, easy going, fine for sipping. It handled the roast chicken but would have handled a chowder, a pork dish, anything really. It was an easy-drinking wine – and with the knowledge that the profit goes to charity, it also makes it an easy-to-buy wine. And as a 2008, if you can find it in your local store, grab it. Drink it by July. It may keep longer, but whites generally don’t lay down as well as reds so drink those 2008s up!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Plus you get the high of having donated to charity. It’s a win/win!

Well, there you go, the first wine blog of 2012. Remember this is my opinion based upon my taste buds, the cycle of the moon, and how many hours of writing I’ve gotten in this week. Your tastes will vary!

~If you liked this post, or any of my posts, I’d appreciate it if you’d become a blog subscriber! But hey, no guilt. I’m glad to see you whenever you drop by!~

Have you read DEMON SOUL yet?

Reds to Warm You

Reds to Warm You

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.

In the Northern Hemisphere, December means Winter. This year, even here in sunny So Cal it’s been chilly. We’re used to 70 degree days, not 52 degree days. And  nights below 40 degrees? Get out of town! So here are three red wines to warm you up on those chilly nights.

Found Object Carmenere, 2010 Colchagua Valley, Chile Under $10 at Trader Joe’s. 13.5% alcohol by volume

On the Label: “Context, it can change everything. Consider, for a moment, a wine among the crowd – yet not of the crowd What could be taken for granted (grape juice) becomes special when repurposed into something thought provoking. Consider this Carmenere worthy of your consideration.”

My Take: Okay, the label’s kinda weird. Like maybe the translator missed out on a few words. But at least it doesn’t tell us what to taste in the wine, and I like it for that reason.

If you’re not familiar with the varietal Carmenere, I can tell you that it was originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux in France; but little of it remains there now. The largest producer of Carmenere is Chile, with a few acres planted in other places such as California, Walla Walla, Washington,  and eastern Italy.

The wine – silky. Not as easy a wine as a Pinot Noir, but not as in-your-face as a Zin or a Cabernet can be. It was the right wine, and went well with Turkey Pot Pie. This is my first time with this varietal (okay – that I can remember), and I really enjoyed it. It’s going on my list. The good part? Chilean wines are still low in price, and the quality is usually very high.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ It’s something a little different, and any discerning hostess would be pleased to receive this as a gift when you go to your holiday party this year.

Viriato 2008  Tinta de Toro, product of Spain. Under $8 at Trader Joe’s. Alcohol 14.5% by volume.

On the Label: “A modern well balanced Toro wine, aged for three months in French oak barrels with hints of mature red berries and notes of leather.”

My Take: Viriato is a Tempranillo – and (for my sake) translating again, similar to a Zinfandel. This wine is a lovely wine, great for sipping (would go fabulous with cheese and dips!) or with a juicy steak.  This is not a “thinker’s” wine – not a wine you want to contemplate too much. It’s easy on the palate (but doesn’t “tease” your tastebuds) and has a high alcohol content – what more do you want to stir up your party? (Just sayin’.)

My Rating: ~ Good ~ Again, something a little different for your party-giving friends.

Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Alexander Valley Alcohol 13.5% by volume Regularly $17.00; $11.49 at Vons on Sale.

On the Label: “In the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley we blend our wins from small lots to fully express the essence of the varietal in each particular vineyard block. Winemaker Mich Schroeter and his team are passionate about crafting wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. Taste profile: Black cherry and blackbery flavors and mocha nuances with a long, rich finish.  Enjoy with: Grilled or roasted beef, sauteed mushrooms and mature cheeses.”

My Take: I’m an unabashed fan of Geyser Peak, and have been since my travels to Sonoma County in the late 1980’s. We had this wine with steak, smashed potatoes and tiny asparagus and it was a lovely accompaniment to the meal. If you can get this at under $12 in your neighborhood, do – it’s a great price for a really lovely wine.

My Rating: ~Very Good~ Take this to a party only if you need to make a good impression. Otherwise, keep it at home and enjoy it with those you love. Or, you know – open it at the party and keep the bottle for yourself and one or two select friends!

Thanks so much for dropping in. Remember, these are my experiences based on my taste buds, how many near-misses the Eldest son had while driving that day, and how high the tides were. Your wine-drinking experience will undoubtedly vary. Remember – drink responsibly! Make sure you take along a designated driver to your holiday party.

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The Holidays are here – time to buy your copy of DEMON SOUL! Makes a great gift for that reader in the family, lol!