Saturday, October 3, 2015

Red Wine Potatoes

These potatoes are delicious, filled with savory flavor and the undercurrent of wine essence, here is how I make these very popular and often requested side dish in our household.
Melt butter or coconut oil in a heavy bottom pan. Place peeled, rinsed and cut into large chunks russet potatoes in the pan. Set burner to medium. You can also use Yukon Gold or Red Bliss. Young potatoes don't even need to be peeled but can just be scrubbed clean and quarter the smaller ones. Make sure to use a heavy bottom pan with high sides with enough surface area for all the potatoes is ideal. This recipe is for 1 lb but as you can see I used a little more in this version with a minor adjustment of liquid. 

  • 1 lb of potatoes (Russet, Yukon Gold or Red Bliss)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 a large onion sliced
  • 10 oz mushrooms, fresh or in can (drained)
  • 5-8 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 tablespoons butter, can be substituted with coconut oil
  • salt & black pepper to taste

 This is about 4 minutes in on medium heat, Keep moving the potatoes around to get even browning.
Six minutes in and they are starting to look closer to the desired 'complexion' before adding the liquids. At this point add salt & black pepper to taste.
Eight minutes and mushrooms added. I didn't have fresh mushrooms on hand so I gave the canned/jarred version a good draining and an opportunity to sweat off some of the moisture for a few minutes before adding the stock and wine. If using fresh mushrooms, cut them in large chunks or slices to give them a nice surface area for browning. 
Add the liquids - wine, stock and any water (as needed) along with parsley, whole garlic cloves 
and thickly cut onion slices, stir to combine 
Simmer on medium/low till potatoes are fork tender but not falling apart. This is what mine look like after 10 minutes 
Fifteen minutes in, still lots of liquid 
Finished - 35 minutes simmering till the liquid was nearly gone, creating a lovely sauce. The potatoes have absorbed the flavors of the wine, stock and seasonings. Great side dish to a seated steak, roast or as a vegetarian option if you use veggie stock instead of chicken of beef.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What We Ate 9/16-9/26

Toasted sesame bagel with a shmear of whipped cream cheese, lox, red onion slices and caviar 
Weekday afternoon treat of decaf coffee with a scoop of coffee ice cream and honey sesame snacks 
Pulled Pork, Acorn Squash, Israeli couscous and kimchi 
Roasted acorn squash with agave, pepper and butter 
Israeli couscous cooked in chicken broth then topped with micro veggies 
Pulled pork in tasty BBQ sause 
Kimchi that helps to cut through all the rich elements of the dish 
Portabella mushroom ravioli with ricotta, parsley and garlic 
Toasted sesame bagel, cream cheese and strawberry jam 
Last Sunday of Summer pasta salad with kalamata olives, roasted and marinated red bell peppers, vidalia onions, tuna and micro veggies in a greek vinaigrette dressing (amended with 2 tablespoons of mayo) 
Deconstructed stuffed peppers - Royal Rice Mix smothered by 5 pepper saute with sliced and seared ring bologna and chorizo crumbles 
Key Lime Cheesecake scoops with vanilla wafer and lime zest 
Meatless Monday meal of Sweet Potato soft tacos loaded with roasted peppers, mushrooms, garlic, fresh salsa, cheddar cheese, sour cream, dill and lime 
Country ribs slow cooked and glazed with BBQ sauce, cold sauerkraut, roasted red bliss potatoes and blistered cherry tomatoes 
Weekday lunch of leftovers in form of a tostada napoleon with peppers & mushrooms from earlier in the week 
Blade steak with au poivre sauce 
Red Wine potatoes with mushrooms and young garlic cloves
Naked Pasta with toasted panko bread crumbs, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What We Ate 9/2-9/15

Steak and Eggs brunch with heirloom black cherry tomotoes 
Oven baked Red Snapper over Royal Rice mix with blistered tomatoes and micro veggie salad of assorted cress 
Heirloom tomatoes - black and plum along with cucamelon (little green things cut in half) with micro veggies in a simple vinaigrette  (Paulie's plate)
Tomato salad with Queso Fresco, Cucamelons and micro veggies (my plate) 
Paulie's Birthday Dinner by request - Buttermilk Fried chicken, Ricotta Garlic Mashed potatoes and Cucumber salad 
Leftover fried chicken Tacos with Bib lettuce, tomatoes, pickled jalapenos and micro veggies on corn tortillas 
Birthday Brownie for Paulie with Butterscotch chips
Steak, tomato salad and red wine potatoes with onion and young garlic 
Cherry tomato salad with micro veggies, queso fresco and pesto made from assorted micro cress 
Cheese quesadillas with pickled jalapenos, homemade salsa and sour cream 
Veggie stuffed baked potato - peppers and onions, topped with sour cream and scallions 
Honey Cake for Rosh Hashanah 
Grass fed beef burger cooked in coconut oil, maple baked beans, pickled jalapenos and spaghetti squash with ricotta, basil and garlic

Sunday, September 13, 2015

UPS Frustration

Oh, UPS, how I love/hate you! I love that you have employed my husband for the last 25 years. That being said, the experience we had with your service this week leaves a lot to be desired. Here is our story, you be the judge:

September 8th, 2015
Purchased and sent an overnight Next Day Air Letter from CT to Brooklyn NY (time sensitive stock transfer Notarized document that can't be emailed or faxed). Dropped off at a letterbox in Vernon CT at 4:30 pm with the last pickup time of 5:30 pm with plenty of time to spare. Next Day Air Overnight deliver is supposed to be completed by 10:30 am the following morning.

September 9th, 2015
Checked tracking online to see the following:
Even with 'inside' information I had no clear idea what the message meant - The receiver has requested that we hold this package for a future delivery date / Delivery will be rescheduled. My husband immediately got irritated because the message is completely misleading. I even contacted the receiver on the off chance they requested a 'future delivery', which they did not. So what does it mean? I could be one of a couple of situations - the driver was late delivering and 'dinged' the package to keep up the numbers/productivity, the package was not on the delivery truck to make it to the destination or the package was 'misplaced'. 
I placed a call to UPS customer service shortly after 1 pm on 9/9/15, spoke with someone who checked the tracking number and confirmed that they will attempt to re-deliver the same day and promised a call back 'within the hour' to verify that it's being re-delivered.
By 6:10 pm I was getting irate that there were no calls, email or updates on the tracking information and called again. This time I was told that a re-delivery will be attempted but I pointed out that the destination is an office building that would now be closed. I asked why it was not re-delivered 5 hours earlier after I called the first time as promised and why there was not call back. No helpful answer was provided but another promise made to re-deliver. I pointed out that the business is now closed so it would be attempted in the morning.
Frustration had built up at that point to such a level that I posted a message on UPS Facebook page and received a reply within 6 minutes with an email address where to direct the details for further assistance. Email sent to the provided address outlining the timeline and the repeated fails at delivering my Next Day Overnight Letter.
At 7:20 pm a reply was received from customer service that they have escalated this issue to the local facility's Management team.
At 7:24 pm we receive a call from a member of the Brooklyn NY hub management team, sadly I can't recall the woman's name, she initially spoke with my husband and when he said he had an idea what happened to the package she proceeded to insult him by saying 'you don't know what you are talking about' even after he told her that he's been a UPS driver for 25 years. I took over the call at that point because I saw the steam gizers exiting his ears. I explained the situation but she was not only short with me, when I asked the question 'do you know where the physical package is right now' she yelled at me that I cut her off and repeated to me the same thing we heard earlier in the day. That the package was attempted to be delivered, I was suspicious that it was a fact and called her on it. If the package was in the truck and was delivered, even after the 10:30 am deadline, then there would be tracking update and it would be in the mailroom of the recipient but none of that was true. So that leaves the fact that it was never on the truck, I said that exactly at which point she reluctantly conceded. I pointed out that it would be best to provide that in the tracking information rather than some bogus message making is sound like the delivery was declined. It was an unpleasant interaction during which I had to bite my tongue not to swear up a storm. 

September 10, 2015
At 10:49 am I checked the tracking information to see the following:
So the package has at least has been physically located and scanned at 2:56 am, great, one step closer to being delivered.
Around 1 pm I see this:

DELIVERED! Albeit late at 11:11 am instead of by 10:30 am, 24 hours + late. Now I have to wait for the call from Customer service after 3 pm to discuss a refund since we paid $28 for the overnight delivery which was not done. The manager I spoke with the night before said that they would have to research the situation to see if there is any potential refund coming to us. Way to stand behind your own deadlines and service.

 No call back on 9/10/15 so I called Customer Service to start the refund process, got a bit of a run around that the refund would not be full amount paid and could take 1-2 credit cycles. Not sure why payments can be made practically instantaneously but credits could be up to 2 months. Now I'll be checking my account to see just how long it takes to have the refund hit my PayPal.

Overall this was a disappointing experience that I don't wish to relive anytime soon. Ironically we could have driven the package to Brooklyn in 2 hours instead of 25 hours it took via UPS.

We never expected or wanted any preferential treatment being a UPS employed family but I was genuinely surprised that progressed the way it did. I felt insulted and dismissed by customer service when placated by promises of call backs and timeframes that were not met. Business needs to learn that if you have any doubt about being able to keep a promise, don't keep repeating it. If you find that a human error was made, admit it instead of covering up with none sense messages and certainly don't tell a customer that they don't know what they are talking about.

Now I have a daily task of keeping track of when the refund will hit my PayPal and will update it in this post.

Have you ever had a poor customer service experience where you felt ignored or overlooked? How did you address it? I'd love to hear your stories.

On September 19th, UPS credited my PayPal account $27.40 (original cost was $28.43) without an email or promised follow up. Pretty sure they just wanted to get me off their back and done with. So 10 days for the refund is definitely better than the potential 2 billing cycles I was notified of before.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Chester's Favorite Things

In honor of Chester's Clean Bill of Health from the vet today after a scary mass we discovered on his belly a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would post some of his favorite things (tested and adored) in case you want to spoil/treat your favorite doggie.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What We Ate

Crab & Beef Salad 
Inside Out Grilled Cheese 
Juicy Meatloaf over garlic mashed potatoes with fresh spinach 
Pork loin, roasted cauliflower and sultry corn 
Mint usted watermelon 
Corn Chowder with Spinach and Bacon 
Cavatappi with Shrimp and Summer Veggies 
Garden Lunch - Italian Bread, Fresh Mozzarella & Heirloom Tomato open sandwish 
Quarto Formaggi Pizza with Garlic and Broccoli
Coffee Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate sauce and dried goji berries 
Popeye Bread Panzanella Salad

Grass Fed Beef Burger with Sunny Side Up Egg 
Brats, Sour Purple Braised Cabbage and Fingerling Potatoes 
Fried Cheese! 

Heirloom Tomato Salad including Green Zebra and Black Cherry with Queso Fresco, oil & vinegar 
Steak & Potato & Corn 
Peaches & Cream Oatmeal with fresh ripe peach slices and Chia Seeds 
Challah Back French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Jam