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.

Please excuse the tardiness of this post…

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Never having had the pleasure of a pavlova before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Enter my new favorite dessert! Start with a chocolate meringue “cookie” of sorts, top with chocolate mousse, and then drizzle it with creme anglaise. What these pavlovas lack in beauty, they more than make up for in decadence.

There was more than enough mousse and creme anglaise to go around. So, what’s a girl to do with the leftovers? How about eating creme anglaise dipped chocolate mousse by the spoonful straight from the bowl? While it’s certainly not a creative approach, it is perhaps the most efficient method for transferring said deliciousness to your tastebuds. 😉

Enjoy and be sure to visit Dawn for the recipe. While you’re at it, check out our blogroll to see the rest of the Daring Bakers’ fabulous creations.


Just in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I adore ganache!! Thanks, Dharmagirl, for choosing this simple, decadent chocolate tart for this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe.

This tart took so little time, I couldn’t believe I was actually making a recipe for the blog. The crust is Dorie‘s recipe for sweet tart dough sans nuts. The filling is an easy-peasy ganache made of bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream, and of course, butter. Dorie says this tart is best served the day it’s made, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. I made this tart last night and had another piece today. It was just as too-die-for as it was last night!

I enjoyed mine with a cup of black coffee (and my mister), but it would be equally good with a tall glass of milk. I encourage you to make this rich, creamy tart, but do so at your own risk. 😉

The recipe is available here courtesy of Dharmagirl. Be sure to peruse the rest of the TWD bakers’ concoctions here. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. Rumor has it one TWD’er added caramel and another baker added a layer of raspberry preserves. Love, love, love chocolate & raspberry!

I know, I know…this was last week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe. I made this week’s recipe too and will post about it shortly, but first things first.

Wendy of Pink Stripes chose Dorie‘s Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes. Actually, I didn’t make “rum-drenched” vanilla cakes. I made plain ol’ vanilla cakes and jazzed them up with a little blueberry syrup. Hey, I had to do something with the 2 gallons of fresh blueberries I picked last weekend. The amount of berries I used for the syrup barely put a dent in my blueberry surplus so you can anticipate finding many blueberry treats here.

Since we’ve had numerous cakes and pavlovas in the house, I decided to give away these sweet little pound cakes. I did trim a little piece off one…for quality control purposes only. The verdict? Lightly sweet, buttery, and full of vanilla flavor! The blueberry syrup was a really nice touch.

Visit Wendy for the recipe and check out the rest of the TWD bakers to see what they baked up last week.

My lovely sister-in-law is in town for the summer which means we were able to celebrate her birthday with her. Yay! Two of her favorite cakes are hummingbird and red velvet. While I would have gladly made both, it is summer and we do have waistlines to consider. So, we went with red velvet for her birthday cake.

After a little research, I decided to stick with my first choice, the red velvet cake recipe from The Joy of Baking. While I considered a few other recipes, I ultimately went with this one because it seemed like a classic. For one thing, it calls for cake flour while many of the other recipes I reviewed used all-purpose. Although this recipe by Bobby Flay was a close second, the use of red wine vinegar made me question it.

The cake received rave reviews, but the frosting left a little to be desired (at least in my opinion). It just wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from a cream cheese icing. For one thing, the texture was off. I’m not sure if that was due to the mascarpone cheese or the amount of whipped cream in the icing or maybe a combination of the two. Secondly, it wasn’t as sweet as other cream cheese icings I’ve had and when I have cake, I want it to be sweet! Not hurt your teeth sweet, but just a step or two below that. This cream cheese icing recipe sounds more like it, well, minus the fruit and nuts. Lastly, the tanginess from the cream cheese was way too mild for my taste. I realize I’m sounding overly critical, but it’s all in the name of finding the perfect red velvet cake/cream cheese icing combo.

My niece and nephew sure seemed to think it was yummy. Smiles and red cake covered their faces and that makes me happy. 😀 So glad we were able to share such a special day with Kelly and the kids!

Not only did I bake this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe in advance, but I’m also posting on time. It’s a miracle! Surely it’s mere coincidence that this week’s recipe happens to be a chocolate cake. 😉

The lovely and talented Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes selected Dorie‘s Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake for our baking pleasure. And what a pleasure it was! This is a no fuss, no muss kind of cake. The kind of cake made for a busy weekend.

Dorie describes this loaf cake as having a tight crumb and a sour cream tang. Seeing as this was the first cake as well as first icing I’ve made with sour cream, I was fearful of having an overly tangy dessert. I must learn to trust Dorie! I shared this cake with several people and no one knew it had sour cream in it until I told them.

The recommended jam options were red raspberry or cherry. Raspberry, please! There was no raspberry jam to be had at the nearest grocery store so I opted for Bonne Maman‘s red raspberry preserves. I simply strained the warm preserves to remove the seeds.

Visit Amy for the recipe and stop by the Leave Your Link section of TWD to see the other bakers’ fabulous cakes.

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.

NoTakeOut.com 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!

Our first meal in Greenville was breakfast at Coffee Underground on Main Street. I couldn’t resist their Mediterranean omelette (spinach artichoke dip, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, & portabellas), home fries, and a Chai tea latte. Trust me, the iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice. This charmingly funky café has it’s fair share of character. Personally, I love the Red Room with it’s dim lighting and exotic Middle Eastern flair.

After stuffing our bellies full, we wandered around the farmers’ market. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is a city to be envied for it’s market if nothing else. With a diverse array of vendors, one can find virtually anything from farm fresh eggs and pickled green beans to lotions and candles to pitcher plants and fresh herbs.

That night we went to Jill’s favorite sushi restaurant, Tsunami. We started with the Asparagus Yakihitashi before feasting upon numerous varieties of sushi. Afterwards, we sauntered over to Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria to shoot some pool (man, I’m rusty!) and have a few drinks. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to go to a bar and not come out reeking of smoke. Don’t worry, I’ll refrain from jumping on my soap box.

The next day, I set out for a little shopping. I tried my first bubble tea at O-CHA Tea Bar. While the barista was kind enough to guide me through the seemingly endless bubble tea options, her questions started sounding a little weird. Do you want it creamy? Do you like pearls? How about some jellies? All I wanted some tea! Somehow, I convinced myself she wasn’t a pusher using street lingo for drugs and instead of fleeing, I ordered a blueberry tea with both pearls and jellies. Give me a merit badge for bravery. 😉 After all that anxiety, I really didn’t care for the drink, but now I can say I’ve tried it.

Perhaps the best meal we had on our trip was lunch at Poppies Gourmet Farmers Market. After a fun morning of waterfall hunting, we’d worked up quite an appetite. With more adventure on the horizon that day, this was the perfect place to grab a quick (and delicious!) lunch while enjoying their lush garden. I was torn between the fish tacos and  the black and bleu burger so Kevin graciously agreed to order the burger while I ordered the tacos. It worked out perfectly since we switched plates halfway through our meal.

Our last taste of South Carolina was breakfast at Spill the Beans. This shop has quite possibly the best location in Greenville, right next to the breathtaking Falls Park. The atmosphere made up for the staff’s lack of enthusiasm. This is certainly not the place to go if you’re in a hurry. Luckily, we weren’t. A funny miscommunication between our friend and the barista led to an order of oatmeal generously topped with whipped cream. There’s no better way to start your day than with a good belly laugh and an attempt at healthful eating gone awry.

Countless laughs, oodles of food, and a whole slew of treasured memories! I’m ready to go back…like right now.

Wishing you all a gorgeous, fun-filled weekend and a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, most especially mine.

While it may have been silent on the ol’ blog front the past few weeks, it’s been anything but quiet for The Eclectic Connoisseur. I had been lamenting to my husband that I needed a change of scenery. Well, I got exactly what I wanted. Our destination of choice? Greenville, South Carolina, baby!

The fun began with an scenic bike ride through town. It was also a challenging ride, at least for this flatlander. We took in the beauty of Falls Park on the Reedy River which is nestled at the west end of the downtown district. After breakfast and a stroll through the farmers market, we set our sights on our next stop.

We ventured into Transylvania County, North Carolina (not nearly as spooky as its name suggests) for some waterfall hunting in DuPont State Forest and Pisgah National Forest. While DuPont boasted gorgeous views of High Falls, I’ve never seen anything like the powerful rapids of the Green River in Pisgah. It was a long and arduous hike (watch out for copperheads!), but so very rewarding. Enjoying the mist from the falls while cooling off from our efforts, I was horrified amazed that someone would actually kayak down the Green River. There are some intense pictures on my friend B’s blog of the international kayak competition held there this past November for your viewing pleasure.

But best of all, our adventures included two of our dearest friends. Is there anything better? Well, I haven’t mentioned the food yet so come back tomorrow. Have a fabulous day!

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.

"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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