Friday, October 28, 2011

Wine of the Week - Dearly Beloved 2009


Dearly Beloved is a fun Halloween-themed bottle (or is it Dia de los Muertos?) from Trader Joe's.  It's good and tasty, and plenty affordable.

The nose is full and round, with a bit of earthiness and some spices I couldn't quite distinguish.

It has a good mouthfeel; mellow, easy to drink.  A savory tart aftertaste blossoms slowly (but strongly) after drinking.

Definitely a good buy.  And who wouldn't want that bottle decorating their table on the nights of the thin veil?

13.8% alcohol

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lentils & Rice

I love to cook up a big batch of lentils. They freeze well, so I always have a quick, easy, nutritious meal on hand for my 1-year-old when dinner's not ready on her schedule. I always just wing it, so the measurements of the spices are approximate. This time I decided to add some brown rice so it would be a more complete meal for her without more thought on my part when I'm rushing.

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups brown lentils
1 cup brown rice
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
sprinkle of black pepper
2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

Add onion & carrots to a pot on high heat and cook for a few minutes while you gather everything else. Add lentils and rice. Both the lentils and rice cook two parts water to each cup, so for this recipe you'd add 6 cups of water. Add seasoning and mix. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes, until most or all of the water is absorbed. Remove bay leaf before serving.

This meal is tasty even if you are grown!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Apple sauce

Last summer I had tried my first apple sauce recipe. As I was going through some of my cookbooks lately, I found another apple sauce recipe, but the lazy version, which is always a plus in my book. Time to break out the slow cooker!

5 apples of choice, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.)

1. Combine apples and water in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Add spices and sugar and cook for 30 more minutes.

And serve!
To give it a little kick, replace water with orange juice. Or add orange zest.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wine of the Week - Bellwether Spyglass


A most enjoyable entry from Bellwether's line of ciders. This one has fresh cut grass on the nose. The taste is surprising all throughout: there's a little bit of a bite up front; mellow drinkability in the middle that is actually refreshing in a thirst-quenching sort of way; and a tart, sour apple finish.

This would pair well with any white meat or fish meal, or any non-red sauce pasta dish.

In case you couldn't tell, this is my favorite of the Bellwether ciders so far. I highly recommend it.

6.9% alcohol

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegetable Barley Soup

I asked my husband if he'd like soup this week. He responded "I like soup." But when I showed him various recipes, the feedback I got ranged from the specific ("I don't like tomatoes in my soup") to the vague ("That's not what I had in mind"). Finally he asked for "something with barely in it." Okay, that I can work with. A quick search on (formerly recipezaar) got me to this recipe. He was worried that it wouldn't have enough flavor, but I held strong. In the end, as usual, I was right. You will have leftovers (hooray!), but as the days go by the chunks will melt and the soup will become even creamier. It freezes very well.

4 carrots (1 grated, 3 chopped)
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 potatoes, chopped (I used 4, because they were small and who doesn't love little potato bits in their soup?)
2 sweet potatoes, choped
2 zucchini, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup split peas (I used yellow)
1/2 cup red lentil
dill, to taste
parsley, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Soak split peas until partially soft, or boil
2. Saute onion, garlic and grated carrot (I added some olive oil for this step even though it was not in the ingredients or directions.)
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover with water.
4. Cook for at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

I think it would work with any number of vegetable combinations would work. Next time I'm going to add some cut green beans.

If you have young children, feel free to serve this soup while singing Raffi's "Oats and Beans and Barely Grow."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Apple Rice Salad

Based on a recipe in my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, a delicious sweet and tart sidedish to any meal! And quick and easy to prepare:

Salad Ingredients
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, shelled

2 tbsp basalmic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 clove garlic, diced

1. Combine all the salad ingredients and set aside.
2. In a jar with a lid, combine the dressing ingredients. Close the jar and shake up. Pour over the salad mix and serve!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wine of the Week - AM/FM 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon


I bought this bottle at the same time as last week's cab.  Between the two, I expected to enjoy the AM/FM more; the producer has made some of the best wines I've ever tasted.  Unfortunately, this one was a letdown.

Spicy black cherries on the nose with some strawberry underneath.

On tasting, the first thing that hit me was the alcohol, which is not a good sign.  Combined with dryness and bitterness, the experience was not going well.  There was a very slight strawberry taste in the mid-palate, but it was overwhelmed by a bitter finish.

Wanting to give it a second chance, I chilled the wine overnight.  Chilling it definitely dampers the alcohol taste, but you're still left with something a little too dry and bitter for my liking.

Look, I've had bad wines, and this one isn't bad.  But I can't recommend it, especially knowing what this producer is capable of.

14.5% alcohol

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

My first attempt with these muffins was less-than-perfect. I'd mixed the batter together when I realized I forgot the salt. So tossed that in and mixed it again. Then I realized I'd only put in 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spices, so I added more and mixed again. Over-mixed batter = tough, chewy muffins. But the flavor is great and I really think the second attempt will be perfect.

Weelicious Pumpkin Apple Muffins

1 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Pumpkin Spice
3 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Agave OR Honey
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Milk [I used almond milk]
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Medium Apple, peeled and grated (Gala, Pink Lady, Fuji or Golden Delicious are good choices)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and mix.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Grease muffin tins or line them with muffin cups and fill each cup 3/4 full with the batter.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. [Cooking time for mini muffins will be slightly less]
7. Serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Apple salsa

Who needs tomatoes when you have apples?!

A different take on your traditional salsa, from Sweeter than regular chunky salsa, obviously. Perfect for your fall party!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wine of the Week - Broadside 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon


From Margarita Vineyards comes this excellent cabernet.  Undertones of strawberry on the nose, and also some green vegetables - I was picking up something like lettuce and celery.

On the tongue, it was tart with mostly cherry tastes.  The fantastic, flowering finish leaves behind mellow fruit flavors.  I highly recommend this wine.

14.1% alcohol

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tempeh Tacos

I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. I wanted something different than our normal bean burritos. Something more... dare I say meaty? Looking through the fridge, I saw a package of tempeh, which I had no specific plans for. Tempeh crumbles up nicely and would make the perfect substitute for traditional taco meat! I found this simple-sounding recipe online and got to it.

Changes made by me: I grated my tempeh in the food processor with the grater blade. I also added a lot more cumin and a sprinkle of chipotle, because I was worried it would be too bland.

Our homemade tacos were topped with a totally improvised pico de gallo - two roughly chopped tomatoes mixed with a little bit of chopped onion and a big handful of fresh cilantro.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bobbing for Apples - Flax and bran muffins

Happy October! To celebrate my favorite autumn month, I'm going to devote my posts to the hearty fall fruit - Apples!

This week, a great breakfast addition (or for breakfast on the go).

A very simple recipe to follow, shared from (But of course I veganized it with more flaxseed instead of eggs.)