Friday, September 28, 2012

Wine of the Week - Buttonwood 2007 Sangiovese

Found this great little winery on my most recent trip to Solvang.  Buttonwood is another one of those wonderful wineries that you can really rely on; even their worst wines are better than average, and you can expect to enjoy any of the wines you select from them.
This dark red wine is surprisingly floral on the nose, smelling mostly like rose petals.  Underneath that is a little bit of dirt and some rich earthiness, the kind of darkness I love in my bold reds.
On tasting, you get hit with lively brightness, acidity.  Very delicious.  Then that earthiness comes through.  A great tasting experience, and a delicious wine.
14% alcohol

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quinoa with Italian Veggies

Need a big dose of veggies? This meal is it! Packed with protein from the quinoa and vitamins from the veggies, it's a healthy bowl of goodness.

Quinoa with veggies

2 Green zucchini
2 Summer squash
2 Carrots
1 cup quinoa, dry
Olive oil
Italian dressing
Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, etc)

1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. 2. Chop the veggies into large chunks. Cook in a few tbsp of olive oil on a stovetop about 20 minutes, or until softened. 3. Top veggies with seasoning. Mix in quinoa, add dressing and serve.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wine of the Week - Mazza 2010 Bare Bones Rosé


It may be a little on-the-nose to say a rosé smells like roses, but this one does.  Also green apples, and I'd say a little bit of dandelion.

I detected a bit of honey right up front.  The apple scent gave way to a crisp, fresh apple skin taste (with some of the delectable bitterness that implies).  Also a little bit of grass.

This wine has a short finish, but dissolves clean and leaves your palate feeling refreshed.

11% alcohol

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fiery Potato Wedges

I had some potatoes on hand that I planned to make fries out of, but I was in the mood for something spicy. So I thought I'd throw some stuff together and see what happened. Turned out perfectly!

2-3 russet potatoes
Seasonings to taste
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Lemon pepper
Black pepper
Hot sauce

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. 2. Cut potatoes in half length, halve each half, then halve again (so each potato makes 8 wedges). 3. Mix potatoes with seasonings in a large bowl. Spread on an oiled cookie sheet. 4. Bake for 35 minutes and serve. Be careful - it'll plump your lips for sure!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wine of the Week - Heredad Ugarte 2008 Rioja Cincuenta


Here's an easygoing wine that's a pleasure to drink.  A little watery up front, but fills out in the mid-palate.  There are some subtle spices to detect, but mostly it just tastes like good old red wine.  So easy to drink that I found myself compulsively sipping without even thinking about it.  That might sound bad, but no - this is just nice to drink.

13.5% alcohol

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My new favorite pancakes

Puffy Pillow Pancakes. The name truly says it all. My old favorite pancakes were puffy, but I always had a hard time getting them cooked through without overcooking them on the outside. I figured the same problem would crop up here, but oh boy was I wrong. I adjusted the recipe ever-so-slightly (whole wheat flour instead of white, and I added blueberries, because I love them).

Note: If you want leftovers and/or feed more than 3 people at breakfast, do yourself a favor and double the recipe.


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk (or soy milk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 cups of fruit, cut into small pieces, if necessary (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.
Measure the milk into a measuring cup. Add vinegar and ground flax seeds, and use a fork to vigorously mix the ingredients until foamy. This will take a minute or so.
Pour the milk mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the water, canola oil, vanilla and fruit (if using) and use a fork to mix until a thick, lumpy batter forms. That should take about a minute. It doesn’t need to be smooth, just make sure you get all the ingredients incorporated.
Preheat the pan over medium-low heat and let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly coat the pan in oil (I used a non-stick skillet, which doesn't need oil). Add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake, and cook for about 4 minutes, until puffy. Flip the pancakes, adding a new coat of oil to the pan, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Pancake should be about an inch thick, and golden brown.
Rest pancakes on a cooling rack covered with tin foil until ready to serve. To reheat, place pancakes in on a baking sheet covered with tin foil in a  300 F degree oven for 5 minutes or so.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zucchini brownies has yet to let me down. This recipe from Sparkpeople is a great vegan alternative to the classic brownie, and you wouldn't even know it's vegan!
Main ingredients - apple sauce, bananas, and zucchini. That means it's healthy, right?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wine of the Week - Presque Isle Wine Cellar 2010 Dornfelder


This is my favorite pick from my recent excursion to northwest Pennsylvania's wine region.  This is very good stuff; sort of a Burgundy-style wine that I'd put up against the stuff I typically drink out here in California.

Blackberry and cinnamon scents on the nose, but much deeper flavors on the tongue: burnt leather and licorice.  Nutmeg.  Slightly on the watery side - the mouthfeel, that is; definitely not a "watered down" taste.  Highly recommended.

And a modest 11% alcohol.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Baked Polenta with (vegan) sausage and artichoke hearts

A very friendly cashier at Trader Joe's suggested this recipe to me. I made a few adjustments, to suit my taste, and it was great!


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 vegan sausages (I like Tofurkey's Italian flavor), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tube (18 ounces) prepared polenta, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (optional), coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook, until heated through. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat and stir in artichokes; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In an 8x8 baking dish, layer polenta rounds and spoonfuls of sausage mixture. Pour stock over top and bake until bubbling and polenta is pale golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bean enchiladas

Wanted something spicy and Mexican one night, but I make tacos/burritos/fajitas pretty often. Time for something different.
Flour tortillas
Black beans
Yukon gold potatoes, mashed
Kale Pepitas
Shredded cheese
Medium salsa

1. Spoon some salsa on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat tortilla in a pan on the stove top for a few minutes until soft and flimsy.
3. Line tortilla with the beans, potatoes, kale and cheese. Throw on a dash of spices. Roll up and place in dish.
4. Spill some salsa on top of tortillas. Cook covered for about 30 minutes and serve.