Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meatball sandwich

Got leftover meatballs from that holiday party? Or just looking for a quick bite for lunch? What's easier than a meatball sandwich?

I lived on these when I was little. But now, as a vegetarian, since there's no more meat for me, and I stay away from the processed stuff, I've grown attached to Beanballs.

So one night for dinner, I whipped up some beanballs, heated them with sauce and cheese, and threw them on some sourdough bread. Voila! A quick and easy meal.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wine of the Week - Sort This Out 2006 Holiday Merlot

Look, folks, I'm a sucker. This is a red wine, and it has a Christmas-themed label. Of course I'm going to buy it. The good news is, I've enjoyed every single wine I've ever tasted from this bottler, so I knew there was a solid chance I'd love this one too.

The taste was a little flat up front, but ultimately flavorful and enjoyable, which is typical of Sort This Out. This wine is recommended with Sort This Out's mulling spices.

13.5% alcohol

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Squashed" - Winter Solstice Pie

I was scavenging the interwebs looking for another recipe that involved squash of some kind, and I found this recipe on Care2.com Turned out to be crazy good.

My rendition:
3 cups of red pepper, green pepper, onion, garlic, winter squash, carrots, sweet potato, russet potato, and broccoli
5 cups of kale
1/2 cup corn
1 cup vegetable broth
2-3 russet potatoes made into mashed potatoes
Parsley, Thyme and Sage

I followed the rest of the instructions which made a very hearty winter meal!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This is a Brussels sprouts dish that won over even the most ardent Brussels sprout haters!


* 2 pints Brussels sprouts, trimmed, about 1 1/2 pounds
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
* 2 cups milk, at room temperature
* Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
* 5 ounces Gruyere, grated (about 1 cup grated)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until bright green and beginning to soften. Remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Make a roux for the sauce: toss the flour in a dry preheated pan. Let it cook for a few moments (no more than thirty seconds), then quickly stir in the butter, and heat until smooth and bubbling, about 1 minute. Very slowly whisk in the milk and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thick and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/4 of the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Season the sauce well with salt and heavily with pepper.

When whisking, no Teflon pans! The whisk scrapes off the non-stick coating into your food.

Halve the Brussels sprouts through the core and put them in an even layer in a 2 quart baking dish. Pour the sauce over the sprouts and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.

Et voila:

Shiny and bubbly, creamy and delicious!

From the book 5 Ingredient Fix, by Claire Robinson, a Food Network chef who has a show of the same name.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wine of the Week - Camus-Bruchon & Fils 2007 Burgundy


My first foray into the world of Burgundy wines. I wasn't blown away, but was interested enough to keep me pursuing the region.

On the nose were hints of tree leaves and cherries.

The taste was a little dull and watery up front, with pleasantly light flavors on the tongue following shortly after. The lingering tart aftertaste was enjoyable for me, but may not be to everyone's taste. This is a subtle wine, a bit of a challenge, but definitely good if you're paying attention.

12.5% alcohol

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Here We Come A-wassailing

Wassail (wos-uhl, -eyl, was-, wo-seyl), n.
1. a salutation wishing health to a person, used in England in early times when presenting a cup of drink or when drinking to the person;
2. a festivity or revel with drinking of healths;
3. liquor for drinking and wishing health to others on festive occasions, esp. spiced ale, as on Christmas Eve and Twelfth-night;
4. Archaic . a song sung in wassailing
On my trip to wine country earlier this year, I sampled a spiced merlot at a place called Sort This Out Cellars, heated and steeped with mulling spices. I knew I'd have to have it again come the holidays.

Some day, I might feel adventurous enough to make my own mulling spices (this looks like a good recipe), but this year I figured I'd just buy a pre-made bag from Sort This Out.


Their bags come ready-to-go, with a recommendation to add water and brown sugar. The cork attached to the bag is for flotation, which is a nice touch.


As per their instructions, I added 12 ounces of water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and heated the mixture in a crock pot for an hour. That mix was a little bitter, so I added another four ounces of water and an inexact amount of brown sugar (I was in "flavor-to-taste mode" at that point).


After a little bit of trial-and-error, it came out great. I'd gone with a cheap wine; next time, I'm not skimping out in that department. It might be a good idea to sample wines beforehand, and go with one that's already a little juicy and sweet to begin with (although a dessert wine like moscato, concord, or riesling would probably be overdoing it).


This is a fantastic holiday treat to keep the adults warm on a winter night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Squashed" - Soup

My next installment for "Squashed" is Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup - a very delicious recipe I found at Care2.com.

A creamy, luxurious soup (yes, I said luxurious) to keep you warm on a crisp winter evening. I actually didn't change much to this recipe, except for removing the celery - not a fan.

Went really well with my Harvest salad - mixed greens, chopped apples, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette.

Stay tuned for more squash!

Monday, December 13, 2010

May's 15 Bean Soup

I deviated from the recipe that came on the package of my 15 bean blend, because it wasn't vegetarian-friendly. Here's what I came up with! (Your version won't be quite so yellow - I accidentally added too much turmeric to mine!)
10 oz. (1/2 bag) Hurst's 15 Bean mix (soaked overnight)
3 cubes vegetable bullion
12 cups water
5 potatoes (chopped)
1 clove garlic
1 onion (chopped)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 cup zucchini (chopped)
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. chili powder

Add all ingredients, except the spices, in large pot and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 2 1/2 hours, then add the spices.
Simmer for another 1/2 hour and serve hot.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wine of the Week - Espiral Vinho Verde


This was my first vinho verde, so I'm not sure what the typical characteristics of the wine are supposed to be. All I can say was I found this wine pleasantly surprising all around.

The taste is very juicy and fruity up front, giving way to a refreshing dry aftertaste. Not technically a sparkling wine, it nonetheless has the slightest hint of bubbles which give it a fantastic texture. Nothing complex, but a very fresh and enjoyable wine from start to finish, and a great value.

9% alcohol

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Chili

Nothing says winter is coming quite like a big bowl of chili. I've blogged before about my search for the perfect vegetarian chili. So when my husband's co-worker passed along this recipe, we were obliged to try it.

We followed this recipe, with a few tweaks. Only one can of black beans (out of necessity... it was all we had), one can of tomatoes was with chipotle peppers to add a smokey kick, and red pepper instead of green.

Unfortunately there's no picture, because sometimes when something's good I just gobble it up. But that's a good sign, I swear.


  • 1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2  cup  chopped green bell pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  (16-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2  (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained


Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add sugar and remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Squashed" - flatbread

I am going to celebrate Tuesdays this December not with cookies, chocolates, and candies, but with squash.

Opened up my recipe binder one day and found a page ripped out of a RealSimple.com magazine (seriously don't remember ever getting that one). Tis the season so I had to try it.
Butternut squash flat bread with cheddar and pine nuts:

The recipe called for store-bought pizza dough, but you know me - I made my own:
~2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp honey
~2 cups water (do a little at a time until you get the right consistency)

Mix all the ingredients together and knead. Roll out into the desired shape on a floured surface.

Once the dough is prepped, sprinkle some cornmeal on a pan (I used my pizza cooker) and lay out the dough. Prep the topping:
~1.5 cups chopped butternut squash (1/4" pieces)
1-2 thin slices of red onion, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
Olive oil, salt, pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix the squash, onion, pine nuts, and 2 tbsp oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out on top of dough. Cover with cheese. In an oven, bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (or with a pizza cooker, cook for about 15 minutes dual, then 10 minutes on upper) until golden brown.

Goes great with a side salad!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vegetable Gratin

Matt recently made this delicious gratin, which he made up after reading other gratin recipes. It's a tasty way to enjoy your vegetables.

  • Roll of paper towels
  • 2-quart oval or round casserole
  • 1 lg squash, sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 lg zucchini, sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 lg tomato, sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 lg red onion, sliced thinly or finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt (times 3)
  • 1 tsp pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread the zucchini and squash out in a collander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let drain for half an hour, until a teaspoon or so of liquid has been pulled out by the salt.
  3. After they're drained, layer the slices out on a couple of paper towels, top with a couple more paper towels, and press gently until the towels are damp.
  4. Spread the tomatoes out on a couple of paper towels, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let sit for 20 minutes. Put a paper towel on top, press very gently.
  5. Put half the oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, then add half the garlic (about a clove and a half). Cook an additional 10 minutes, until the onion is dark and the garlic is browned.
  6. Combine the remaining oil and garlic together and let sit ten minutes or so. Use half the oil to coat the casserole dish. Layer the squash and zucchini along the bottom until you run out, then spread the caramelized onions on top of that.
  7. Top with a layer or two of tomato, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour the remaining oil over the top to coat the tomatoes.
  8. Cover and bake 25-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and turn the heat up to 450.
  10. Blend the Parmesan with the bread crumbs. Uncover the casserole, and top with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture.
  11. Bake uncovered an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is browned and the cheese is slightly melted. Remove, let sit 5-10 minutes, then cut and serve.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wine of the Week - Bellwether Heritage "New"


The most significant difference between Bellwether's Heritage New and their Heritage Old is that the Old is much dryer and leaves a bitter aftertaste. The nose of the New is fruity and floral. A semi-dry wine, it's oddly flavorless at first taste but leaves an aftertaste of ripe apple skins on your tongue.

6.9% alcohol

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful for Martha

Right before Thanksgiving, I had rewatched an old Martha Stewart clip show special of some of her Thanksgiving tidbits. One that made me rush for a pen and paper was her turkey basting. Sure, this is a little late for Thanksgiving, but if you're like my family, this is just in time for your Christmas turkey.

  1. In a small pot, bring 3 sticks of butter and 1 bottle of dry wine to a small boil.
  2. After cleaning, stuffing, and prepping your turkey, cover it with 4 layers of 100% cotton cheesecloth.
  3. With a baster, pour some of the butter/wine mix over the turkey. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  4. Baste again, and change the temperature to 350 degrees. Baste every 30 minutes.
  5. About 1 hour before the turkey reaches 180 degrees, remove the cheesecloth and baste one last time. (This was a bit annoying, but well worth it!)

This made for a very savory and beautifully browned bird.

Besides the turkey, we had a plethora of side dishes:
  • Green beans, covered with the basting mix and slivered almonds
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Butternut squash and sweet potato soup
  • Harvest salad (mixed greens, chopped apples, dried cranberries, pecans, crumbled gorgonzola, and raspberry vinaigrette)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Glazed carrots
  • Harvest stuffing (stuffing mix, chopped apples, walnuts)
  • Fresh bread rolls from the farmer's market
  • And, of course, a tofurkey for me!
  • Friday, November 26, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Milan Vineyards 2009 Soliloquy


    I had a difficult time getting a fix on this wine while I was tasting it, so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. There were notes of strawberry and grapefruit on the nose. Rich and deep citrus flavors on the tongue, with maybe a tiny hint of vinegar. The full, flowering tart aftertaste makes for a great finish. A very tasty wine.

    14.6% alcohol

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Southwestern pumpkin wrap

    Not sure why Eatingwell.com titled this recipe a burger when it calls for stuffing into a tortilla.

    A great autumny-take on a summer favorite of mine.

    But a burger? Nah - for the sake of this post, I'm officially calling this a wrap.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Sterling 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon


    Made with "organic grapes," whatever that means, this is a surprisingly tasty wine and a great value.

    The nose has a silkiness to it, and smells mostly of strawberries. The taste is bright and acidic, with charcoal undertones that give it a feeling of fullness.

    13% alcohol

    NOTE: Wine columnist Mike Steinberger recommends cabernets for Thanksgiving. Click here to read more.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Apple-stuffed tofu

    I based this recipe off an article in an old Woman's Day for apple-stuffed chicken breast.
    If using chicken, there are two very important details:
    1. Slice the chicken in the center but don't cut all the way through or the stuffed innards will fall out.
    2. Cook the chicken thoroughly, which may take a little longer than tofu.

    Ingredients (to serve two):
    1/2 granny smith apple, chopped
    1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
    1-2 tbsp lemon juice
    1 brick firm tofu
    Olive oil

    1. Mix the apple, cheese,and lemon juice together in a bowl and sprinkle with about 1 tbsp pepper.
    2. Cut the tofu brick in half so you have two large chunks. Cut a divot into the tofu without breaking through the sides.
    3. Stuff the divot with the apple mixture, as much as you can fit without breaking the tofu. Secure with toothpicks.
    4. Combine some cornstarch and cornmeal and a bit of pepper on a plate. Dip the tofu into this mixture, covering all sides. (For chicken, use bread crumbs and your favorite seasonings.)
    5. Heat 3-4 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Cook the tofu until brown, about 5-10 minutes on each side.
    6. Enjoy with a healthy side of veggies!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Bellwether Heritage "Old"


    Bellwether produces two wines under the Heritage banner - "new" and "old." Today we're investigating the old.

    On the nose, this is one of the few ciders that actually smells like apples. Most ciders tend toward the characteristics of white wine.

    This is a very dry drink, to the point that the flavor seems to evaporate moments after touching your tongue, leaving behind a bitter taste. Then a hint of apples return for the aftertaste. Overall, the flavor most closely resembles beer; this is reinforced by the rich amber color and the light carbonation.

    This cider would pair well with a turkey-centric Thanksgiving meal. Consider buying a bottle or two for the occasion.

    6.9% alcohol

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Glazed snap peas

    I found think recipe in the recipe binder. It was torn out of a magazine, possibly from a Woman's Day from several years ago. But I've finally come around to making this.

    A few cups of sugar snap peas
    About 1/4 cup nuts (I used chopped walnuts)
    1/4 cup of butter.

    1. Melt the butter in a pan. Add nuts and stir until toasted, about 10 minutes.
    2. Add the unsnapped snap peas and mix well.
    3. Cook until heated through, about 5-10 minutes.

    Couldn't be easier! Unless someone else makes it for you. This was a nice sidedish alternative for a fall meal. I just might add this to my Thanksgiving menu!

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Kono 2010 Sauvignon Blanc


    This wine popped up in my usual grocery store and was so unusual that I had to check it out. Unusual because I've never encountered a New Zealand wine before, and also because of its appearance - it's nearly as colorless as water.

    The nose is very sweet, with the slightest hint of table salt.

    Oddly, the overwhelming sweetness of the nose is not present on the tongue. This wine tastes of citrus fruits, mostly lemon, with an aftertaste of dry grapefruit. Unexpected and enjoyable. A good value. Don't hesitate to pick it up.

    13.5% alcohol

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Breakfast for Dinner

    My husband's favorite dinner is what we like to call omelets. It is, in fact, scrambled eggs with other things mixed in, though. Still, he loves it and now so do I. On this particular night, I went even further by using some of the million potatoes in our fridge to make my very first hash browns (based on this post by Joe).

    For the potatoes:
    Melt some margarine in a hot skillet. Add 2 small sliced or cubed potatoes per person, plus some chopped onion (I used green onion because it's what I had on hand). Sprinkle some rosemary and a lot of paprika and cook until the potatoes are soft. Sprinkle with salt before serving.

    While the potatoes were cooking: Fry up four strips of tempeh bacon until crispy. Set aside. Throw some diced tomato into the pan and let them cook up a bit. Then drop in 4 eggs and scramble. Coarsely chop the bacon and throw it in with the eggs. Keep on heat (and keep scrambling) until eggs are cooked through.

    Looking at the plate, I wish I'd made something green to go with this dinner, but nobody's perfect.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Baked veggies

    A nutritious sidedish to any meal:

    Fresh asparagus
    Carrots, cut into sections
    Small yukon potatoes, cut into quarters
    Olive oil
    Rosemary, basil, pepper

    1. Cover a pan or baking rack with foil. Spread out potatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle rosemary on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
    2. Remove pan from oven. Place carrots next to potatoes. Drizzle with oil and pepper. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes.
    3. Remove pan from oven. Add asparagus, with olive oil and basil and pepper. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes.

    Serve. Be careful-it'll be hot!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Quick & Easy Vinaigrette

    I was trying to figure out how to eat the rest of the spinach in my fridge when Matt volunteered to make me some vinaigrette. He was done in about two seconds so I made him tell me how he did it - because people need to know! He mixed 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and then added a bit of mustard and honey. Whisked together, it was the perfect topper for my hummus, peppers and spinach salad. It was enough for 3 salads.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Halloween Bark

    Similar to the Cranberry almond bark I made last Christmas, I created this Halloween treat:

    Melted white chocolate topped with peanuts, crushed pretzels, M&Ms, and candy corn. Not for the health-conscious but oh so yummy.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

    I like to occasionally make myself some homemade hot chocolate to drink on a chilly evening, but lately drinking milk has made me sneezy. So here's a recipe I made up using coconut milk instead! It was rich and delicious with a pleasant coconut aftertaste. Enjoy!

    • 2 cups coconut milk (one can's worth)
    • 1/2 cup of sugar
    • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
    • dash of salt
    • 1 cup hot water
    • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

    • Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in saucepan; stir in water.
    • Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue boiling and stirring for 2 minutes.
    • Stir in coconut milk and heat.
    • Remove from heat, and add the vanilla.

    If you find it's a bit too thick or rich for you at this point, simply add more hot water until it's to your taste! This was enough for two people.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Royal Oaks Niagara


    I forgot to jot down any notes on this, possibly because I was enjoying it too much to care. Like concord wines, niagara are sweet and juicy. Enjoy as a dessert after dinner, not as a pairing with.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Butternut Squash Home Fries

    This past Saturday, I was in the mood for a home fry breakfast, only to discover that I had no potatoes. But when I found some leftover butternut squash, I figured I could improvise something decent.


    This meal consisted of cubed butternut squash, tomatoes, sliced carrots, and diced onions for that home fry feeling. Olive oil on the frying pan, medium-low heat, cook for about 15 minutes. I added some tofu to fill it out and provide a little protein. I spiced it with a mix of ground cayenne and cinnamon, and was very pleased with how well they went together. I may have added a bit too much cayenne for the first meal of the day, but otherwise this ended up being a tasty breakfast.


    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Harvest lasagna

    I'm a pasta lover. Can't help it. So I've been thinking of a way to make a seasonal pasta dish and it hit me - an autumn-themed lasagna.

    Based on my recipe for lasagna rolls, I chose a more harvesty-type filler:

    Wheat lasagna noodles
    1 cup shredded Red beets
    1 cup shredded Butternut squash
    1 cup shredded Sweet potato
    Ricotta cheese
    Mozzarella cheese
    Spaghetti sauce
    Pumpkin/squash seeds
    Pecans, chopped

    1. Mix together the shredded veggies. Add a bit of olive oil if it's too dry.
    2. Lay out noodles and spread with cheese and the veggie mix.
    3. Roll up and place in a casserole dish, with the bottom covered with spaghetti sauce.
    4. Drop a few spoonfuls of sauce on top of each roll. Top with a bit of mozzarella cheese, and the seeds and pecans.
    5. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees covered with foil, then for another 15 uncovered.

    And enjoy with your favorite sidedish! I prefer a spinach salad with cranberries and walnuts.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Spider Cookies

    So I haven't actually made these, (cause I just saw them on one of the artist blogs I follow) but they look ADORABLE!

    You need to click through to see the full image/instructions

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Wine of the Week - MGM 2009 Pinot Noir


    If a wine was imported from France and it still only costs $5, perhaps you should take that as your first hint. This is a nearly flavorless wine. All acid. Drink with caution.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Iced Pumpkin Cookies

    Here's my second installment of my month-long autumny goodness: A recipe I found on AllRecipes.com...

    Made from pumpkin puree, flour, sugar, and spices. Makes about 18 cookies. A great holiday sweet. And my coworkers ate up the whole batch in less than an hour!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Mushroom Marinade

    For a simple, delicious marinade, mix 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of honey, and a pinch of basil. Soak the chopped or sliced mushrooms 1-2 days while refrigerating. Then you can use them in any recipe or saute them as a side.

    I sauteed most of mine with some fresh baby spinach and enjoyed it with some Alfredo pasta. The rest we used in a frittata the next day!

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Bellwether Black Magic

    Autumn is here, and the harvest is in; at Wine of the Week, that means checking out more apple cider wines. Last year, I sampled some ciders for the first time and found the tastes similar to white wine and champagne. (Click here to read.) This year, I'm going to try three more varieties plus a Halloween bonus, the latter of which is today's selection.


    With its blood red color and festive flavor, Black Magic is Bellwether's offering for the Halloween season. The special ingredient is blackcurrants. Blackcurrant growth was banned in the U.S. in the early 1900s to help curb the spread of cronartium ribicola, which is not, in fact, a spell from the Harry Potter books but actually a fungus that was threatening the lumber industry. The ban was lifted in the 1960s, and blackcurrant is slowly making a comeback in the U.S.

    The blackcurrant effect on Black Magic is immediately apparent. While most of the ciders I've tasted are dry and subtle, Black Magic is tart and tangy with a sour candy aftertaste; the perfect "candy" for the adults at the Halloween party. (And at only 5.2% alcohol, the adults won't have to worry about embarrassing themselves in front of the kids.)

    I can enthusiastically recommend this wine for a fun, informal gathering. Still plenty of time to order some for this Halloween season.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Slow-cooked apples, just in time for Fall!

    Happy October! My favorite time of year - and time for me to start my autumn-themed meals.
    The first is a recipe I altered from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.

    Serves 2.

    2 apples (I used granny smith)
    Yellow raisins
    1/2 cup apple juice
    Nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar

    1. Cut apples in half core out seeds. Place in standing position in a small crock pot.
    2. Sprinkle with seasonings. Add raisins and juice.
    3. Cook for 1-1/2 hours.
    4. Serve in a bowl. Spoon leftover juice from the pot over the apples. Add ice cream and enjoy!

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Overlake 2009 Sauvignon Blanc


    This modestly priced white from Trader Joe's is a great value. Citrus fruits and honey on the nose, and all sorts of citrus flavors on the tongue. Simple, tasty, and enjoyable. Reminds me very much of the equally enjoyable and affordable Green Fin... and makes me suspicious that they're putting the exact same thing in two different bottles.

    13.5% alcohol

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Asian Tempeh

    I wrote once before about our regular stir fry, which we used to make with the marinated Asian tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance. But when I wrote about it, we were trying it with some store-bought marinated tempeh, which was pretty good. Then I decided to make my own marinated tempeh, which is now the go-to stir fry protein in my house. It’s modified from the tofu marinade recipe:

    3 Tbsp soy sauce
    2 Tbsp rice vinegar
    a healthy shake of red chili flakes
    2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
    1” of ginger, grated or minced (or a healthy sprinkle of dried ginger)
    1 package of tempeh

    Mix up all of the marinade ingredients in a casserole dish or shallow bowl. Cut the tempeh into whatever size/shape pieces you’d like (simple cube-ish pieces are my pick) and marinate it for 15-30 minutes, flip and then another 15-30. Add tempeh and any extra marinade to your stir fry veggies when they still have a few minutes left to cook, so that the tempeh has a chance to steam.

    Serve over rice, soba or udon noodles with any sauce you'd like.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Cheesy bread

    Growing up, Texas Toast was all the rage. Everyone I knew had it with almost every meal, never knowing just how bad that stuff is for you. From scratch is usually better, and I was craving it the other night, so I decided to make my own.

    A slice of bread - I used fresh rosemary bread from the farmer's market
    1 tbsp Butter (vegan is better)
    Mixed shredded cheese
    Dried oregano and basil

    1. Spread the butter evenly on the bread. Cover with the cheese then the herbs.
    2. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or put in the broiler.


    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Milan Vineyards 2009 Duet


    Went to a tasting up in the Santa Monica Mountains recently, and came back with four great wines that I'll be talking about here in the coming months. The first is the Milan Vineyards Duet, a 50/50 blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon.

    On the nose, there are high notes of sharp acid and low notes of tobacco and tomato soup.

    The taste is strong and full, with a steady touch of anise throughout. An absolutely delicious wine.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Cold Beans and Collard Greens

    Well… Collard greens, at least. I’ve always known about the existence of collard greens, but it never occurred to me to try them. And then one day my husband said, “We should make collard greens.” So we bought some and I figured I’d just sauté them with some garlic, the way I usually do spinach. And then while looking up another recipe in Veganomicon, I stumbled upon a recipe entitled “Sauteed Collard Greens.” It’s basically what I was planning on making, with the addition of leftover marinade from another recipe in the book. I didn’t make the other recipe in the book, nor did I have the ingredients on hand to make the marinade, but I did have leftover marinade from making some tofu the day before. Here’s more or less the recipe:

    1 bunch of collard greens, leaves ripped into reasonable-sized pieces
    3-5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
    1-2 Tbsp oil of your choice (olive, canola, or anything mild flavored)
     a few splashes each of: balsamic vinegar and soy sauce (or Bragg Liquid Aminos!)
    and, if you have some on hand, a tiny squeeze of lemon juice

    Heat up the oil in a big sauté pan, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Then add the greens and toss and cook until they start to wilt. Then add the other liquids (maybe two or three tablespoons total, or to taste). Let it cook until the greens are absolutely yummy.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    The Great Veggie Cleanout

    Time to clean out the fridge!
    This yummy and filling meal can use up every veggie you have. In the photo below, I used:
    Chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, red pepper, green beans, red onion, snap peas, with pepper, basil, and garlic seasoning.

    This couldn't be easier:

    Whatever veggies and qty you like
    Your fave seasonings
    Olive oil

    Pre-heat oven at 400°
    Layout a piece of foil. Lightly spray with oil.
    Spread out your veggies. Drizzle with oil and seasonings.
    Cover tightly with foil.
    Bake for about 30 minutes and serve!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Samosa casserole

    One of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon, has a recipe for Samosa Baked Potatoes, which is basically twice-baked potatoes with samosa-inspired spices (mustard seeds, coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric) and veggies (onion, carrot and peas). I've made it a bunch of times before and always love it, but always seem to forget about it. I recently remembered it and decided to make it, but with a twist - instead of going through the hassle of scooping out and restuffing the potato skins, I decided to just coarsely chop the potatoes and cook it in a casserole dish.

    And to finish the meal off, I went with the book's suggestion and tried the Spinach and Tomatoes, which is simply diced tomatoes and spinach cooked up in some of the same flavors as the potatoes. Served up side-by-side they made a tasty, light meal.

    The full plate
    Check out my blog, Yummy Mummy Meals, to see what I did with the leftovers!