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In our effort to eat cleaner and improve our athletic performance, my husband has become a disciple of Dr. Allen Lim, one of the authors of The Feed Zone Cookbook. Our copy of The Feed Zone Cookbook arrived last week and I was itching to prepare a recipe from it. It just so happened that we had an abundance of fresh picked blueberries from our weekend visit to Oak Hill Farms so I couldn’t resist giving this buttermilk pancake recipe a try.

This recipe is a bit different from my go to pancake recipe mainly due to the addition of 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar. All I had on hand was dark brown sugar which was a bit overpowering (i.e. a gingerbread like flavor). Even so, they were a welcome deviation from our typical morning oatmeal. I look forward to making these again with light brown sugar. While I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand, I did have powdered buttermilk which I combined with water to “make” buttermilk (4 Tbsp buttermilk powder + 1 cup water = 1 cup buttermilk). While the recipe called for 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, I found 1 cup of reconstituted buttermilk to be quite adequate.

If you’re sitting the fence on whether or not to give this cookbook a try, check out this blog which chronicles a family’s endeavor to eat their way through The Feed Zone Cookbook. Even if you do not consider yourself an athlete per se, this is still a healthy way of eating as the cookbook offers scads of gluten-free recipes. Let’s get healthy!

On a side note, does anyone have a masticating juicer they would recommend? We’re looking to purchase one in the near future (primarily to make beet juice) and want to make sure we get a durable one…preferably without breaking the bank.

Wow! It has been a while since I’ve posted. I anticipated my blog come back would be an amazing post with mouth-watering photos and fun details. Sadly, this one will be brief, but this dish was too good not to give a shout out on the ole’ blog. But first, a little backstory…

Last weekend, my husband and I traveled to Dahlonega, Georgia for his first cyclocross race, the Southern Cross hosted at the Montaluce Winery. Three other couples joined us for the fun. This meant two things – 1) the racers would be exhausted at the end of the day and 2) it would be THE WEEKEND OF GLUTTONY.

The weekend consisted of breakfasts at country diners, a batch of NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a post-race “dinner” of pizzas, chips and salsa, cookies & cream ice cream, and let’s not forget the smores around the campfire. It was hands down the best bike race I’ve ever attended. In large part due to the exceptional company, but also the exquisite grounds of the Montaluce Winery. The non-racers and I were only too happy to partake in the wine tastings offered at Montaluce. I enjoyed the red flight with the 2008 Montaluce Merlot emerging as my favorite and just when I thought I was a Cabernet Sauvignon girl.

Oh, and did I mention the trip to Jim ‘N Nicks on the way home? Gluttons, indeed! Needless to say, we felt like a couple of stuffed pigs by Sunday night. In need of some major detox and rehydration, we snacked on fruits and veggies yesterday, but I was at a loss for dinner ideas. Then, I found this recipe for Tofu au Vin for Two.

photo by Ken Burris

This was just what we needed last night – healthy and satisfying. This dish had such a rich flavor, I didn’t feel the least bit deprived as I often do with tofu. I can assure you it will be making regular appearances at our dinner table. Here’s to getting back on track – cheers!

Here’s a flavorful vegetarian-friendly chili by Chef Ian Russo, courtesy of my friends over at Meatless Monday. Click here for the recipe.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 90 minutes Serves: 4*

  • 1 medium Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can navy beans
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans
  • 7 ounces Goya Recaito (a pre-cooked Spanish spice)

Saute onion and peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika and crushed red pepper and cook for another minute.

Add sautèed ingredients to a large stockpot. Add cold water and beans. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2hours, then add the recaito. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning to your personal taste.

Note: for thicker chili, cook an extra 10-20 minutes, or puree 4 ounces of chili in a blender or food processor, and add back to the chili.

Ian’s Quick Tip – To make spicier chili, add Tabasco sauce: Add 1 tsp to make chili spicy Add 2 tsp to make chili extra spicy Add 3 tsp to make chili red hot spicy.

*The Eclectic Connoisseur’s Notes:
1.  I followed the recipe to the letter, and found it to yield significantly more than 4 servings.
2.  At first taste, this chili didn’t have enough heat for my husband and I. However, the next day…YOWZA! So, before you go crazy adding Tabasco, give it a day to let the flavors come alive.

Have a great week!

I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was as delightfully delicious as mine!

Looking for a light dinner? This week’s Meatless Monday is all about flavor with (almost) zero effort thanks to this Spaghetti al Limone. I stumbled across this recipe from O magazine on





  • 1 pound(s) spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 cup(s) fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoon(s) grated lemon zest
  • 2 cup(s) slivered firmly packed basil leaves


  1. In a large pot, cook spaghetti in salted, boiling water until al dente. Place a colander over a large serving bowl, then drain spaghetti into it (hot water will warm bowl). Pour water from bowl, wipe bowl dry, then empty spaghetti into it.
  2. Meanwhile, combine cheese and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl. Gradually beat in olive oil until mixture becomes thick and creamy and cheese “melts” into oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon zest.
  3. Pour sauce over cooked spaghetti in serving bowl; toss thoroughly. Add basil, toss again, and serve.

From The Oprah Magazine Cookbook ©2008 Hearst Communications, Inc.

Easier than pie…and no guilt! You have to love that. Enjoy your Cyber Monday, everyone!

So, what do you do when a friend brings you a couple pounds of fresh Gulf shrimp? Of course frying them was the first thing that came to mind, but then I remembered a recipe from this month’s issue of Cooking Light – Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto.

This is one of those easy-peasy  recipes that is full of flavor. Be sure to visit Cooking Light for the recipe by clicking here. I’ll be back later in the week with more tasty treats to share. Have a great Sunday, everyone!

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

We’re not talking about some namby pampy peanut butter. No, we’re talking gourmet walnut butter here. This was a no fuss, no muss kind of challenge and perfect for summer since it required neither stove nor oven. Plus, it gave me an excuse to indulge in my favorite pita chips.

Walnut White Bean Dip with Rosemary & Sage
Recipe notes: Canned beans tend to be salty, so you may not need additional salt. Taste the dip after blending and add salt as needed.

½ cup (120 ml) walnuts*
1 (15.8 oz/448g) can Great Northern, Cannellini, or other white beans, drained and rinsed 1 garlic clove, chopped 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh sage, chopped
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) lemon zest (optional) ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper salt to taste


  • Make walnut butter by grinding ½ cup (120 ml) walnuts in food processor for about a minute until it forms a nut butter or paste. (*Alternately, start with ¼ cup (60 ml) prepared walnut butter.) Add beans, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, sage, lemon zest (if using), and black pepper to the walnut butter in the food processor. Process the mixture to a smooth consistency. Taste and add salt as desired. Garnish dip with chopped walnuts and/or chopped fresh rosemary or sage, if desired. Serve dip with pita wedges, crostini, or assorted vegetables.

For a downloadable pdf of the recipes, click here and while you’re at it, visit the Daring Cooks’ blogroll for more fun with homemade nut butter.

What makes Meatless Monday seem not so, well, meatless? Pizza, of course!

I used the same pizza dough and sauce recipe I made last time, a generous helping of Henrietta’s goat cheese, and lots of veggies.

I used a combination of yellow squash, zucchini, red and orange bell pepper, garlic, and 1/2 a poblano pepper. A light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and a little sea salt is all these babies needed. Well, that and a little heat. A quick roast in the oven is all they need, just enough to remove some moisture. After all, no one wants a runny pizza.

Once your veggies are roasted, press out your dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Next, spread sauce on the crust, dollop with goat cheese (I do this quite liberally), then top off with the veggies. Place your pie in a preheated 450°oven for about fifteen minutes, until the crust is just starting to brown.

Having not made anything new or exciting for the past few Meatless Mondays, I decided to give this quinoa dish from No Take Out a try.

Not being a fan of couscous (issues with the texture), I wasn’t sure how I’d like quinoa. Then, I had two thoughts that convinced me to give it a go – 1) I’ll eat pretty much anything with black beans, avocado, and cilantro; 2) one of my favorite food bloggers adores quinoa and Mare wouldn’t lead me astray. Best of May – Quinoa & Black Beans

  Printable recipe
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Shopping List

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 lemon
  • 10 oz. mixed salad greens, preferably organic
  • 1 orange, preferably organic
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • One 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup quinoa

Pantry Items

  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried oregano
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Ground cumin
  • Hot paprika
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Prep
    • Core, seed and dice the red bell pepper.
    • Peel and dice the onions.
    • Peel and mince 1 clove garlic.
    • Peel and mince 1 of the shallots.
    • Peel and thinly slice the second shallot.
    • Rinse and spin dry the salad. Tear it into large bite-size pieces.
    • Rinse and pat dry the cilantro. Pluck 1/3 cup leaves.
    • Zest half the orange, and mince the zest.
    • Rinse the quinoa, really well.
  • Start Cooking
    • Put 2 tbsps. oil, the bell pepper, the onions and the garlic in the large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until the onions begin to turn translucent, stirring almost constantly.
    • Add the quinoa, 1 tsp. oregano, scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. chili powder, a generous pinch hot paprika and the orange zest. Stir well.
    • Pour in 2 cups water and add a heaping 1/4 tsp. salt. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook the quinoa for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Don’t even look at the quinoa – it needs to plump in peace, for at least 7 minutes.
    • While the quinoa is cooking, make the vinaigrette. Put 1 tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk in a large pinch of salt, the sliced shallot and 1/4 cup olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
    • You can finish up the avocado condiment now too. Peel, seed and dice the avocados. Put them in a bowl. Squeeze half a lemon through your fingers over the avocado.
    • Peel the orange right down to the fruit (remove all the white pith). Cut the orange in slices, then dice it and add to the avocados, along with the minced shallot. Toss. Season with 1/4 tsp. cumin and a generous sprinkling of salt and toss again.
    • Mince the cilantro.
    • Drain the black beans. Fold them into the quinoa along with the cilantro. Taste for seasoning.
    • Set the table now, letting the quinoa and black bean mixture cool to warm room temperature.
    • Toss the salad, thoroughly. Divide it among four plates. Top with a generous serving of the quinoa and black beans and a generous portion of the avocado condiment. Garnish each plate with a sprig of cilantro and take them to the table. Dinner is served.

This is so satisfying that we didn’t even have room for dessert. That never happens.

Are there any foods out there who’s texture grosses you out? I want to hear about it. Let’s make this Monday a great one!

You may recall a recent post where I raved about a southwestern pasta dish. Well, get ready for another rave! I whipped up a walnut fruit salad earlier in the week with a fruity pasta from Pappardelle’s Pasta. In case you haven’t noticed, they are my current farmers market obsession.

This salad has loads of flavor and texture without being overly fussy or sweet. If you want to dial the sweetness up a notch, a drizzle of honey would be a nice addition. I cut back on the apple, knowing I would have to eat around those delicious, juicy morsels. It worked out well enough since my partner in crime isn’t enthralled with celery or mandarin oranges. We were reminiscent of children trading snacks in the cafeteria. 😉

Click here for the printable recipe from Pappardelle’s Pasta.

Pasta & Walnut Fruit Salad with Fanciful Fruit Blend

½ lb. Pappardelle’s Fanciful Fruit Blend Pasta
8 oz. non-fat plain yogurt
¼ cup thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
1-15 oz. can drained mandarin oranges
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1 apple, cored and chopped (* I used 3/4 of a Fuji apple)
1 stalk celery, sliced
½ cup walnut halves

1. Cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and set aside.

2. In small bowl, blend yogurt and orange juice concentrate.

3. In large bowl, combine pasta and remaining ingredients.

4. Add yogurt mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill thoroughly.

Serves 6-8

Copyright © 2010 by Pappardelle’s Pasta Co.

While I enjoy participating in Meatless Mondays, I find myself in a pickle every week because Monday also happens to be my favorite T.V. night. Between Chuck, 24, and the tough decision between CSI: Miami and Law & Order, I have to get dinner on the table much earlier than normal.

Well, last week threw one more Monday night task at me…our monthly neighborhood meeting. Bom, bom, bom… Never fear, Super Husband to the rescue! Not only did he accompany me to the meeting, he then cooked an amazing meatless dinner while I watched Chuck. Thanks, hon!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a HUGE fan of pasta. Well, actually I love all carbs, but pasta and bread top the list for starch lovin’ gal. Last week we noshed on a Kevin original creation: tri-color rotini, fresh spinach, garlic, grilled artichoke hearts, baby portabella mushrooms, and feta cheese.


  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 7.5-oz. jars grilled artichoke hearts (*do not drain)
  • 8 oz. sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 9 oz. fresh spinach
  • 12 oz. tricolor rotini
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Heat water to boil. In large skillet, combine minced garlic, artichoke hearts with liquid, and mushrooms over medium-high heat. Season with freshly ground black pepper (to taste). Once the mushrooms begin to soften and brown, add salt to taste.

Add salt to boiling water and drop the pasta. Just before pasta is al dente, add spinach to skillet with artichokes and mushrooms; cover and steam for 3-4 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing gently. Remove skillet from heat and crumble in feta. Enjoy!

    "Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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