Cabernet Balsamic Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Sauteed Mushrooms

 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
4 cups thinly sliced red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup Madonna Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
cooking spray or an olive oil mister
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
6 (1 1/2 ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns
1 1/2 cups baby arugula


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a pan; swirl to coat. Add the onion and thyme; cook 17 minutes or until golden and very tender, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium-high; add wine, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook for 6 minutes or until the liquid almost evaporates, stirring ocassionaly. Remove onion mixture from pan.


Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt; saute for 8 minutes or until mushrooms brown and liquid mostly evaporates. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.


Coarsely chop 1 cup onion mixture, and stir chopped onion mixture into beef. Divide the beef mixture into 6 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1-inch thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of the patty.  Sprinkle the patties with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill for 4 minutes on each side or  until done.


Combine mayonnaise, blue cheese, and garlic in a bowl. Mash well with a fork and spread the top halves of the buns evenly with the mayo mixture. Arrange 1/4 cup of the arugula on the bottom half of each bun; top each bottom half of the bun with 1 patty, about 2 tablespoons remaining of the onion mixture, about 1/4 cup mushrooms and the top half of each bun. Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.


Cabernet Sauvignon Tri-tip Marinade

2-3 lbs Tri-tip Steak
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Teaspoon Salt
5 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
2-1/2 to 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
3 Sprigs Thyme (Dried-Use 1 Tsp)
1 to 1-1/4 Cups Cabernet Sauvignon


Mix ingredients together in medium-large mixing bowl.  In a covered pan or heavy duty resealable bag, combine marinade and steak & place in refrigerator. It should remain in refrigerator from 4-24 hours, with occasional turning. Remove meat and place on grill, reserving the marinate mix. Cook to desired doneness. (Approximately 25-30 minutes depending on grill temperature). Remove meat from grill and allow to rest 15-18 minutes. In a sauce pan, bring remaining marinade to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slice meat and top with the reduced sauce. Enjoy with a glass of our Cabernet Sauvignon.




Dark Chocolate Brownie Bliss

1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (fine quality, no more than 60% cacao)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
23 cup all-purpose flour
13 cup unsweetened dutch cocoa
12 teaspoon salt
34 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in center position. Butter and flour 13″ x 9″ pan. In a 3 qt heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. Whisk in sugar and vanilla into chocolate/butter combination. Whisk in eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In separate bowl combine Dutch process chocolate powder, flour and salt. Combine flour mixture with chocolate/butter and whisk thoroughly. Add chopped walnuts if using. Spread brownie batter in pan and bake for 25-35 minutes.  Cool completely. Pair with a glass of our Cabernet Sauvignon.


Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore with Pinot Noir

3 lb (6-8) chicken thighs
14 oz can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 large onion (sliced)
4 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 cup Pinot Noir
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp celery powder
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
1 lb farafalle (bowtie) pasta


Place all ingredients in slow cooker in no particular order except pasta, cornstarch, water and sugar. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours (chicken will fall apart).  It will not look like much liquid in the pot as much but after cooking for a few hours the juices from the chicken will change that. Do not add more liquid that the recipe calls for or it will be too much. Two hours before serving add sugar and stir. Twenty minutes before serving stir in well blended cornstarch/water mixture. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package. Place a few pieces of chicken on a bed of pasta and spoon desired amount of sauce over chicken and pasta. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and enjoy!