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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)

Directions:
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 delish.com.

Ingredients

 

 

 

  • 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

Directions:

  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!

I asked my darling husband to select the recipe for Meatless Monday. He made a beeline to one of his favorite cookbooks, Chris Carmichael’s Eat Right to Train Right. After considering a few recipes, he chose the Leafy Spinach Lasagna. And an excellent choice it was!

The recipe calls for fat-free cottage cheese and part-skim mozzarella, but I opted for regular. I mean, shouldn’t we get some reward for going meatless? Next time, I’ll add some mushrooms and perhaps try it with goat cheese. Mmm…

Join me tomorrow as I attempt to catch up on my Tuesdays With Dorie posts. I’ll have something for everyone – chocolate, mint, coconut, walnuts, toffee. Not all together mind you. Until then…

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.

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!

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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!

    As Kevin and I strolled through Cathedral Square last weekend, perusing the goods from the local farmers and artists, we lingered at Pappardelle’s Pasta. The southwestern pasta caught Kevin’s eye and we decided to give it a try. Wow, I’m so glad we did!

    This recipe is a flavor explosion! Now, I’m not a big fan of leftovers, but this pasta is even better the next day. The flavors meld together and become even more intense.

    Saucy, Spicy Southwestern Blend Pasta with Black Beans and Cotija Cheese

    Recipe courtesy of Pappardelle’s Pasta

    1 lb. Pappardelle’s Southwestern Blend Pasta
    1 onion, finely chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
    ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
    1, 10 oz can of enchilada sauce
    8 oz. Cotija cheese, crumbled (or feta)
    1 bunch scallions, chopped
    1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
    ½ cup green olives, cut in half
    1 avocado, cut into cubes

    1. Cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse with cold water.

    2. While pasta is cooking, in a heavy saucepan cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add beans and enchilada sauce, simmer gently, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and salt to taste.

    3. In a large serving bowl add pasta. Pour sauce over the top. Add cheese, scallions, cilantro, green olives and avocado. Mix well.

    Serve at room temperature.

    Serves 4-6

    If there’s one thing that makes me look forward to Mondays (well, almost), it’s Meatless Mondays. Well, that and new episodes of Chuck and 24!  Last Monday night I made this Spinach Red Pepper Frittata for dinner.

    Spinach Red Pepper Frittata

    Recipe courtesy of MeatlessMonday.com

    Onion and red pepper are sautéed until sweet and contrasted with crunchy hash browns. Garlic spiced spinach brings some leafy greens and a healthy dose of Vitamin K to this hearty frittata. This recipe has been adapted from Pat Cooks and Bakes.

    Serves 4

    • 1 teaspoon butter
      1 teaspoon olive oil
      1/4 cup onion, chopped
      1/4 cup red pepper, diced
      1 1/2 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
      1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
      1 clove garlic, minced
      4 eggs
      1/4 cup nonfat milk
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/8 teaspoon pepper
      1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Heat the butter and olive oil in 9 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When butter melts, add the onion and red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.

    Add the potatoes and cook 6-8 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the spinach and garlic and cook 1-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

    In a medium bowl beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until smooth. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, lifting edges and allowing uncooked egg to flow underneath intermittently.

    Sprinkle with cheddar if using (Of course you’re using. Who wouldn’t want cheese in their frittata?) and bake 15-20 minutes, or until set. Cut into 4 wedges to serve.

    Bon appetít!

    It’s time for another Meatless Monday! This week I made Cooking Light’s Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice. Wow, this dish has an abundance of flavor! Between the ginger, soy sauce, and hot chili sauce, my tastebuds were a tingling.

    I only made two changes to the recipe. I couldn’t find a jar of minced ginger, but I found a bottle of ginger paste which served to open up my sinuses as soon as I removed the lid. Whew! I couldn’t find any boil-in-bag long grain rice, so I opted for brown rice instead.

    Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice

    Allison Fishman, Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2004
    Yield: 3 servings (serving size: 3 tofu pieces and 1 1/3 cups rice mixture)
    Note: Cooking the rice and asparagus in the same pot of boiling water saves a little time.

    Ingredients

    • 4  cups water
    • 1  (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice
    • 2 1/4  cups  chopped asparagus (about 1 pound)
    • 1  tablespoon  peanut oil
    • 1  tablespoon  sugar
    • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
    • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1  teaspoon  bottled minced ginger
    • 1  teaspoon  hot chili sauce with garlic (such as KA·ME)
    • 1  pound  extrafirm tofu, drained and cut lengthwise into 9 pieces
    • 1  teaspoon  salt, divided
    • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
    • 3/4  cup  preshredded carrot
    • 1  teaspoon  dark sesame oil

    Preparation

    Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add bag of rice, submerging bag completely in water. Boil 10 minutes. Carefully remove bag from pan, leaving boiling water in pan. Add asparagus to pan; cook 1 minute. Drain.

    While rice cooks, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add soy sauce mixture; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine rice, asparagus, 1/2 teaspoon salt, carrot, and sesame oil. Serve tofu over rice.

    Nutritional Information

    Calories:   296 (26% from fat)
    Fat:   8.4g (sat 1.1g,mono 2.8g,poly 2.3g)
    Protein:   15.7g
    Carbohydrate:   41g
    Fiber:   4.9g
    Cholesterol:   0.0mg
    Iron:   3.7mg
    Sodium:   913mg
    Calcium:   126mg

    Join me tomorrow when I return to the dark side (of nutrition, that is) with a double post of baked treats!

    "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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