Friday, July 29, 2011

Wine of the Week - Olivares Altos de la Hoya 2008 Jumilla


A solid, affordable wine for any occasion.  Blackberries and cayenne on the nose, which blend together surprisingly well (maybe there's a food recipe to be gained from this discovery).  The cayenne scent develops into a black pepper taste on the tongue.  I also tasted something vegetable-y, which I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Steady tannic taste throughout.

14% alcohol

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Dream Job

My friend, Andy Windak, used to work in the visual effects department at an animation studio, creating elaborate backgrounds and removing visible wires.  All the while, he fostered an intense passion for cooking.

first lunch-3

Towards the end of last year, the studio decided to take on a major renovation project, part of which included building an in-house kitchen and dining area; and it was obvious who they should put in charge of this new venture.

first lunch-4

Andy is journaling about the process of building up his studio's kitchen at his website, Check it out!

Chapter 1: Dream Job

Chapter 2: Unexpected Adventures and Fiascos

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

For the love of Strawberries - Milkshake

Sure, it's a sweet dessert, but it's actually pretty good for you!

2 Bananas, large slices
~dozen large strawberries, chopped
~3/4 cup almond milk
~1/2 cup soft tofu
~1/2 cup chocolate syrup

Mix all in a blender. For more chocolatey goodness, line the glass with more syrup.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chickpea-Quinoa Burgers

I based this on Mark Bittman's Simplest Bean Burgers from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but changed it to include quinoa.

  • 2 cups well cooked chickpeas (garbonzo beans) or 1 14 oz. can (drained)
  • 1 medium onion (quartered)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder or spice mix of your choice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (optional - I used a Colby mix)
  • Vegetable broth or water (if needed)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

  • Combine ingredients (except broth and olive oil) in food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed. Add broth if needed to keep from sticking.
  • Let mixture rest a minute, then shape into patties with wet hands.
  • Let patties rest while you heat the oil in a skillet.
  • Cook each patty until nicely brown on each side.
  • Serve with your favorite burger fixins!
These were a bit crumbly but so delicious!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wine of the Week - Sort This Out 2010 "Teaser" Viognier


Please bear with me - this description is going to sound like it's all over the place, but I assure you this is a cohesive and tasty wine.

On the nose, there are obvious hints of white grapes, as well as kiwi and autumn leaves.

On the tongue, flowers and tabasco sauce.

Sound crazy?  Here's the topper: it's a sweet wine that works best as an after-meal dessert.  Don't let the tabasco scare you off.

13.1% alcohol

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"I Don't Feel Like Grocery Shopping" Pasta Primavera

We decided it would be more fun to spend the day playing with our lovely daughter, taking her swimming and meeting a friend's two-week-old son than driving to the grocery store and picking up food. So we had to make do with what was in our (very bare) cupboard. But the result was tasty!

- 1-2 bags of frozen mixed veggies (I used a blend of zucchini, yellow squash,  carrots, green beans, onions, and red pepper, plus the end of a bag of peas, as well as some fresh carrot, because we had a ton in the fridge)
- 1 package of pasta (I used spaghetti)
- Garlic & Oil. I more or less followed this recipe, leaving out the red pepper flakes (because there was already more than enough red pepper in the meal for my taste) and lemon juice (because someone had used all of the lemons to make lemonade)

- Cook pasta according to directions, drain
- Cook garlic & oil according to above recipe or however you feel like it
- Steam/sautee/otherwise heat veggies until heated through and tender.
- Mix it all together, top with Parmesan, if desired.

It was a pretty good choice for the heat, because everything cooked at the same time and it all cooked quickly, so I could make the heat go away fast.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For the love of Strawberries - Salad

My next post in my month-long devotion to this sweet juicy fruit is a combination of a bunch of recipes I've found online. What's great about this strawberry salad is that it can be the main meal, a sidedish, or dessert!

I used whatever quantities seemed appropriate:
Salad mix (arugula, etc)
Sliced strawberries
Pine nuts, toasted
Pecans, chopped
Balsalmic vinegar

Mix altogether. And you're done! The nuts give the salad a nice crunch, while the sweet from the strawberry and the bite from the vinegar really compliment each other.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Watermelon Basil Salad

I got this simple, delicious recipe from my friend Darcy. It's a perfect hot weather snack!

Chop 3-5 cups of watermelon, then cut several fresh basil leaves (to your taste) into the bowl. Mix and serve!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eat Real

Today we had the opportunity to visit EatReal Fest in Culver City, CA - A whole festival dedicated to healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods, beers, and wines. A really enjoyable day out! Within the building of Helm's bakery, the parking lot, and side street, you'll find a vast array of food trucks, tents, and tables, DIY areas, demostrations, and live music. So, if you're in the LA area, be sure to check it out tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wine of the Week - Sevtap 2009 Namasté


Sevtap is a newer winery out of Santa Barbera County.

The 2009 Namasté is 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, giving it a brighter red color than most red wines - cloudy and translucent, slightly darker than a rosé.  It tastes like a tart and sour grape juice with a hot finish, mineral-y throughout.  Might not be to everyone's taste, but I found it unique and enjoyable.

It's also worth noting that this was a little young when I drank it, and it will probably age in interesting ways.  I'm looking forward to more from Sevtap in the future.

13.6% alcohol

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

For the love of Strawberries - Frozen Pie

A few weeks ago, DesignSponge posted this article which included a recipe I just had to try. And I'm so glad I did!

One block of soft tofu
1 small bag of frozen strawberries
2/3 cup strawberry spread/preserves
1 pie crust

Combine the tofu, strawberries, and spread in a blender. (I had to use both a food processor and a blender b/c my blender is horrible.) Pour into the pie crust. Freeze for 4 hours, then place in the fridge for a bit. This goes great with chocolate syrup!

Honestly, you can't tell that tofu is involved. It has the consistency of a regular semi-frozen pie filling. And the strawberries give it a great fruity taste!

Note - once you have your serving, place back into the freezer if there's any left. If you leave it in the fridge the tofu gets soupy - not a pretty sight.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Falafel Enchiladas

Falafel mix (I used one by Al Fex Authentic Middle Eastern Cuisine)
3/4 cup rice (dry, uncooked)
1 1/2 cups water
1 pinch saffron threads
1 pinch powdered ginger
1 pinch garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1 avocado
1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 can garlic & oil petite diced tomatoes
1 can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup grated Colby cheese
6-8 burritos

  1. Use falafel mix as directed.
  2. While the falafel is cooking, put the rice, water, saffron, ginger, garlic and oil/butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and allow rice to steam for about half an hour.
  3. Mash the avocado and mix it with the refried beans.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. When the falafel and rice are done, layer the bean/avocado mix, rice, drained petite tomatoes, and 2-3 pieces of falafel on each burrito.
  6. Wrap the enchiladas and place in 9x13 pan. Pour enchilada sauce over them and cover with shredded cheese.
  7. Cook the enchiladas 20 minutes or until cheese has all melted.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wine of the Week - Bosco 2007 Russian River Syrah


Great wine for a great cause.  Carivintas Winery supports animal rescue charities, and their wines happen to be good too.  It's a win-win.

This syrah is rich and leaves a pleasant coat on your mouth, with a great flowering finish.  Enjoy as a treat, not with a meal.

13.8% alcohol

Thursday, July 7, 2011

(Indoor) Picnic Birthday Party!

My baby is 1! We through her a big birthday party in her grandma & grandpa’s backayard with a picnic style lunch. Simple munchies to start – tortilla chips, salsa, pita chips, veggies and hummus. An assortment of salads: simple green, potato, and pasta. For the main event, we catered wraps, because I am not super mom and had to farm out some of the work. It’s good to admit when we’re not perfect. Dessert: Blondies (because she got her daddy’s hair. If my genes had been stronger we would’ve had brownies), made by my fantastic-best-friend-since-4th-grade, Ariel, fruit salad, and a home-made and –decorated birthday cake. It was the largest party I’ve ever organized and hosted. And it was fantastic!

And now for the recipes:

A mega batch of Picnic Potato Salad (I used 9 lbs of potatoes, so 6 times that recipe!)

Pasta Salad (my mother-in-law’s recipe):
1 package of pasta (we used rotini)
Chopped celery, green onion, red pepper, zucchini and broccoli (wing it, keep chopping until it looks like a good amount!)
For the dressing, we mixed together red wine vinegar and olive oil (I wish I could remember the amounts, but I don't! I'm sure you could wing it and figure it out to taste), plus 1/2 tsp of oregano, basil and garlic powder. Salt & pepper to taste and add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It tastes best after at least a night in the fridge.

Kid’s pasta salad:
Frozen Mediterrenean Veggie blend from Whole Foods (zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, onion, green bean..) steamed, chopped into baby-sized bits, mixed with orzo, topped with a splash of orzo and a sprinkle of dried basil and oregano.

Fruit salad (a bit of everything that looked good at the market - strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, grapes, and peaches)

Blondies (recipe from Smitten Kitten, with chocolate chips added because chocolate chips are delicious)

Birthday Cake (Lemony Vanilla variation of the basic vanilla cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes take over the World, multiplied by 8, with vanilla buttercream from the same book, covered with Wilton fondant) 
Finished product
Being enjoyed by one of our little guests

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

For the love of Strawberries - Cookies

Happy July! My favorite month - Independence Day, ComicCon, and of course, my birthday! To celebrate this special month, I'm dedicating this month's post to the perfect summer fruit - Strawberries!

The first strawberry post is a really yummy and semi-healthy dessert. Once I saw this recipe from I knew I had to try it, and it was a hit!

Of course, I veganized it - using flaxseed instead of eggs - and no one knew the difference. I also only used about a cup of sugar and the strawberries were sweet enough!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wine of the Week - Sort This Out 2009 Grenache


The most cleverly named line of wines from Sort This Out is their Oh My Gosh! Grenache.  The 2009 is an aggressive little number.  Hot.  Very hot.  The high alcohol content is the most present detail you'll taste.  I won't lie: this wine got me drunker than a wine should, and it did it fast.  Basically the exact opposite of last week's wine.

Overall, the 2009 Grenache is plenty drinkable.  If you're having a louder party, this is the way to go.  But if you're focusing on taste or trying to have a mellow evening, be sure to avoid this one.