Friday, June 29, 2012

Wine of the Week - Cougar Vineyards 2010 Vermentino


Vermentino is an Italian grape that I don't have any previous experience with, but this is a great first impression.  The running theme with everything I wrote down about this wine is sourness.  And I'm a fan of sour.

Lime.  Lime and general citrus is what comes through on the taste.  It's also dry and tannic, and very mineral-y.  These things are all nicely balanced for a complex and interesting tasting experience.  Goes down easy and leaves a nice sour finish on your tongue and palate.

And as a bonus, the label glows in the dark!  (Sorry about the picture quality, but I don't really have a good setup for low light situations.  You get the idea though.)  Cougar is a winery I only recently discovered, and they're doing some interesting things.  I'll be looking at more of their stuff in the future.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cheezy Roasted Chickpeas

I found this recipe in the Vegan Lunchbox cookbook years ago. I made it once, but wasn't too impressed. A few weeks ago I found myself craving it, so I whipped up a batch and have been making it nearly daily ever since. I've tweaked the recipe just a bit to my liking. The chickpeas turn into chewy, yummy little treats.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, rinsed)

a splash of vegetable oil (up to 1 Tablespoon, but I use less. just eyeball it)

2+ teaspoons of nutritional yeast

a healthy shake of garlic powder

a less-healthy shake of salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Toss all ingredients together in a glass baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet, spreading them out into one layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes if you remember.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Taste of Summer - Syrupy Watermelon

Saw this recipe in the July issue of Good Housekeeping and had to try it.
Insanely easy to make. And the Lime-honey syrup gives the melon a tart kick. Happy summer everyone!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wine of the Week - Big Basin 2009 Homestead


I liked this wine when I initially tasted it, somewhere in the fourth quarter of last year.  But when I opened my own bottle of it recently, it didn't hold up to my first impression.

This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I'm used to Grenaches having high alcohol content, but the flavor of the wine usually balances that out.  With the Homestead, the most overwhelming aspect of it to me was the alcohol.  I was feeling the heat in my mouth over any flavor.

When the flavors started asserting themselves in the finish, I mostly tasted black cherry.  But the black cherry mixed with the alcohol, along with the somewhat thick mouthfeel, ended up giving me the impression of cough syrup.

I'm sad to report all of this, by the way; because, as I said, my original tasting of this wine went much better.  Maybe something was wrong with my particular bottle, or with the way I stored it.  If the opportunity arises, I'd like to give this wine another try.  In the meantime, I can't recommend it.

14.8% alcohol

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Taste of Summer - Strawberry Pie

Who'd a thunk that I'd find a really good recipe on

A really delicious no-bake pie. I served with vanilla ice cream, but you could use whipped cream, yogurt, whatever you'd like. One change I would make is to make my own crust. I've had very bad luck with store-bought pie crusts lately - crumbled way too easily.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wine of the Week - STO 2009 Chardonnay


Another winner from Sort This Out Cellars.  And this coming from someone who isn't much of a fan of white wines.

A little bit of fresh cut grass on the nose, and predominantly sour apple on the tongue.  There are also pleasant tastes of cantaloup and honeydew, and a little bit of a honey finish.  This is a good white to have on standby for any occasion, and is particularly perfect for summer.

10.5% alcohol

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quinoa Salad... with Avocado?

The day before I came across this recipe, my husband and I were talking about how we needed a new quinoa salad recipe for the summer. And then this one fell into my lap. My intention was to use one or two avocados chopped up and mixed into the salad instead of served up in the cute, but very avocado-heavy way suggested in the recipe. Then I forgot. And it was still delicious. It also makes a crazy amount of food, so unless you're having company or bringing it to a potluck, I suggest halving the recipe. I used regular uni-colored quinoa with delicious results. Great as a side-dish or light meal.

Quinoa Stuffed Avocado

2 cups tri-color quinoa, cooked
1/4 cup red onion, small dice
1/2 cup cucumber, small dice
1/2 cup tomatoes, small dice
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 avocados, halved and pitted (less if you're chopping and adding to the salad)

Prepare quinoa according to package directions.  Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.  Mix in the red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar and salt.  Cut each avocado in half and gently scoop out of the shell, keeping it intact.  Scoop the quinoa salad into the center of each avocado or chop the avocado and add to the salad.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Taste of Summer - Lavender lemonade

I was so happy with the way last week's lemonade came out, I decided to take another stab. I found this recipe from for lavender lemonade.
A really nice refreshing treat. And who knew purple and yellow make pink?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wine of the Week - Carivintas NV "Barney"


These Carivintas wines have been a great discovery for people who like big, bold, tasty wines.  "Barney" is probably my favorite yet from this label.

A non-vintage blend of Barbera, Tempranillo and Malbec, this wine smells of roses, strawberry and maple syrup.

The syrup carries through to the taste, lending a rich and deep flavor profile throughout.  I could also taste a little bit of strawberry.  It was also a little leathery, with some black pepper underneath.

"Barney" has a very unimpressive color to it, but don't let that fool you.  This is a great wine that I can't recommend highly enough.

13.9% alcohol

Thursday, June 7, 2012

BBQ Tofu Sandwiches

Because everything tastes good when slathered in BBQ sauce.

1 block Extra Firm tofu
2 Tbsp peanut oil (canola would be fine, too)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
BBQ sauce (I like Trader Joe's Kansas City Style, but whatever tickles your fancy)
Ciabatta rolls, sliced
Cole slaw
Pickles, sliced


Press tofu for at least 1 hour (flip after 30 minutes, if you can), then slice thinly. Mix peanut oil and soy sauce together and dredge each slice of tofu through it. Bake tofu at 350 for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Then pour on the BBQ sauce, making sure to coat both sides. Bake for another 15 minutes and then turn the broiler on for another 5, for good measure. Once the tofu is ready, slather the top bun with mayo, put a few tofu slices on each roll, top with pickles and cole slaw. Devour.

I served it with a quinoa salad (recipe to come) and sauteed kale.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Taste of Summer - Poor Girl's Lemonade

We're past Memorial Day so now it's officially summer! Woo! To celebrate, I'm going to share with you some fun summer food and drinks to share with your friends and family.

First off - I've been itching to try making my own lemonade but just haven't for unknown reasons. Oh wait, didn't feel like buying lemons.
Well, wouldn't you know it, I walked into work the other day and someone left a huge bag of lemons up for grabs on the 'Free' community table. Yoink!

So I came right home and starting makin'. I don't have a juicer or anything (and I'm too lazy and impatient to wait until I go buy one), so I had to do it all manually.

  • 1. I sliced 7 lemons in half. Picked out all the seeds I could find (though some escaped me) and squeezed each half with all my might into a pitcher.
  • 2. Once I got all the juice I could, probably about 2 cups, I strained the lemon juice to get rid of those pesky seeds.
  • 3. Add about 1 cup of sugar and 5-6 cups water to taste.
A whole pitcher of lemonade for the price of a cup of sugar!