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