Meatless Monday! Whole Wheat Linguini with Peas, Scallions and a Spicy Peanut Basil Sauce!

020Meatless Monday whole wheat pasta with basil peanut sauce

It was just me for Meatless Monday! today.

I was hungry for pasta, which I rarely eat, and I wanted to keep it simple and fast.

I also didn’t want to shop for any ingredients. So, Meatless Monday! was a really low carbon footprint meal.

Let me also add that the peanut butter which I use is a no sugar added, natural brand made from roasted Valencia peanuts; that’s it!

I scavanged the pantry and the freezer for what was available.

I just happen to have a basil plant on my patio.

005Meatless Monday Veggies Peanut basil pasta

I am sure that there is a better peanut sauce recipe but I improvised with what I had.

009Meatless Monday Peanut sauce

Ingredients:

Whole wheat pasta

1 cup frozen peas

5 scallions

1/2 cup broccoli florets

Sauce:

1 Tbspn peanut butter

1 Tbsp Bragg’s Aminos

1/2 lime, juiced

1 Tbspn crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup fresh basil chopped

011Meatless Monday peanut basil pasta

Method:

Boil the pasta.

Chop the veggies.

Mix together the peanut butter, Bragg’s Aminos, lime juice and crushed red pepper.

Place veggies in the colander and pour linguini and water over veggies and allow to drain.

Mix the sauce and chopped basil into the pasta, mix and enjoy!

014Meatless Monday whole wheat pasta with peanut basil sauce

I like the idea of gently “scalding” veggies with the pasta water. It brings out the flavors of the veggies and warms everything nicely.

Meatless Monay Pasta

Just me, dining al fresco!

023Meatless Monday whole wheat pasta with basil, peanut sauce

A cool cucumber salad with red onion complimented this meal and tamed the heat a bit.
016meatless Monday cucumber salad

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon, Thyme and Goat Cheese Gnocchi at Pier W!

006happy hour pier w

Pier W never lets me down.

From the fantastic Happy Hour to the incredible views this place is a winner every time.

004calamari pier w

Not only is the happy hour a great value; 1/2 price bar food and select drinks, but the quality is first class.

002calamari pier w

These calamari must be some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Light and crispy calamari are fried to perfection with delicate fragrant dipping sauces; a spicy mayonnaise and a tamarind sauce.

005 calamari pier w

This is a far cry from the usual bar food you’d find elsewhere and you get the incredible atmosphere as a bonus!

009dinner pier w

The view!

012dinner pier w

The wine!

014scallops pier w

The scallops!

015scallops pier w

Pan seared scallops with goat cheese, thyme and lemon gnocchi with an asparagus coulis was amazing!

019scallops pier w

Sous Chef Jack Ahern was on board this night and his precision in the execution of this dish was out of this world.

020tempura fish pier w

The tempura fish and green beans looked yummy…

024scallops pier w

…but I couldn’t get over the flavor pairings of my scallops.

I usually feel that mushrooms with any seafood is a risk; the earthiness of the mushrooms can overpower and compete with delicate sea flavors but it was not the case tonight.

Lemon and thyme kept the gnocchi light and the mushrooms and asparagus lent smoky and bitter notes, respectively that were enhanced by the subtle creaminess of the goat cheese.

Asparagus coulis was a light sauce of everything beautiful about asparagus!

027goat cheese gnocci

Fruity Cocktails, Amazing Pizza, 200 Fabulous Gay Men and Me!

040G2H2 Luxe

A dream come true!

Me in a sea of men surrounded by the most glorious pizzas, ever and tropical fruity cocktails served up by a cute bartender with attitude!

Luxe was host to the G2H2 Happy Hour event in Cleveland , Oh.

The food was amazing! I know it’s a social thing but given the “circumstances” I had plenty of time to focus on the food and drinks!

034mushroom spinach goat cheese balsamic  pizza

This portobello mushroom, spinach, goat cheese and balsamic reduction pizza was my favorite.

Chef Marlin Kaplan knows that a light touch of fresh potent ingredients is the way to go!

032mushroom spinach goat cheese balsamic pizza

I couldn’t get enough of this pizza and made myself a fixture at the buffet!

011spinach mushroom balsamic goat cheese pizza

This is definitley something that I want to try at home.

013chris at Luxe

Chris was adorable and he knows the food.

019tomato basil pizza at Luxe

This tomato basil was fantastic; fresh and delish!

018pizza at Luxe

The setting was elegant but casual.

017pizza at Luxe

Sweetheart! Jen kept the fresh hot pies coming my way

021tomato and herb pizza at Luxe

Tomato and herb.

030Goat cheese chicken rosemary pizza at Luxe

Chicken, rosemary and goat cheese was a big hit.

044bartender Luxe

What would the evening be without a spunky bartender serving up the one-liners with the best mojitos in town?!

Lee was a delight!

Tuna Tartare, Passion Fruit Martinis and a Magical Night at Le Colonial, Chicago!

033chicago

Le Colonial, Chicago is a treat for the senses.

The exotically luxurious atmosphere is the first hint that you are in for something special.

041drinks at Le Colonial

These Passion Fruit Martinis were incredibly fresh and delicious! Floral and fruity yet light and refreshing on a warm summer night.

049tuna tartare at Le Colonial

Tuna Tartare with wonton crisps was light and satisfying and tasted fantastic with our cocktails….round 2!

044Le Colonial

Romance was in the air so sharing an entree of vermicelli and seafood in coconut curry seemed like the right thing to do!

038drinks at Le Colonial

What put this dish over the top for me were the copious amounts of fresh basil and cilantro; a garnish, I know, but for me a side dish or side salad!

The aroma of fresh herbs and the delicacy of the spicy coconut broth made my tastebuds tingle!

053vermicelli with fresh cilantro and basil

The music, the martinis, the warm summer breeze…

069vermicelli with coconut seafood

Taco Roll-Ups! Summertime Snack for Kids to Make and Enjoy!

078taco rollups sliced

This is an “easy-peasy” recipe which kids can easily make.

Not only will you be able to ply them with vegetables but you will also be able to keep them busy for a while!

006taco rollups

All you will need is:

8-10 flour Tortillas

2 8 oz. pkgs of cream cheese, softened

2 pkgs of taco seasoning mix or make your own as we did with chili powder, garlic salt, cummin, and a little cayenne and paprika

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 8 0z. can black olives chopped

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

031taco rollups

You may have to chop for the younger kids but mixing can be done by even the youngest of children.

035taco rollups

Spread evenly; roll and slice.

042taco rollups

These can even be done “cigar style”; roll and slice just 2-3 times for easy holding for little hands.

044taco rollups

081taco rollups

Roasted Eggplant and Lentil Spread with Roasted Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper!

091eggplant lentil spread

The secret to the delightful flavor of this dish is the roasting!

Roasted garlic, eggplant, rep pepper and sauteed leeks create a richness that makes this similar to a pate in texture and flavor.

002eggplant lentil spread

This recipe is also full of nutrition. Lentils are hardy and full of protein and fiber.

This is also light and when spread on whole wheat or flax crackers leaves you satisfied yet not full.

003eggplant lentil spread

It is also easy to make and can be whippped up on short notice.

Ingredients

1 medium eggplant
1 cup lentils
1 glove garlic
1 medium leek
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime
1 roasted red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a 350 degree oven wrap in aluminum foil the eggplant cut in half with a drizzle of olive oil on the flesh.

In a clay roaster or aluminum foil wrap the garlic and place in oven to roast.

Both should take no more than 30-45 minutes.

In a pan add a drizzle of olive oil to sliced leeks and sautee until translucent.

Cook 1 cup of lentils in 2 cups of water until tender.

When everything is done and cooled for handling, place in the food processor.

Add the cilantro and puree.

Add enough olive oil to create the texture you desire.

For a creamier dip; just add more oil.

010eggplant lentil spread roasted red peppers

I then chopped the roasted red pepper, very fine, and folded it into the finished mixture.

I wanted little “pops” of sweet juicy flavor and the texture contrast.

I, also squeezed some lime into the finished dish and then gave it a good mixing.

Serve with your favorite crackers or breads or even crudites.

014eggplant lentil roasted red pepper

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomatoes, Scallions, Cilantro and Lime!

030quinoa salad bowl

We love quinoa!

It is a great alternative to pasta in that it delivers the same creamy, chewy, texture but is high in protien. A complete protien, as a matter of fact.

Aside from it’s nutrtious profile it is delicious and versatile.

We love this salad!

It is a power packed meal that delivers flavor and energy for very little expense.

Get creative and use your favorite fresh ingredients to create your own quinoa delights!

022lime

I used lots of lime in this dish. It compliments the cilantro and brightens the tomatoes.

014Quinoa salad

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water
5 scallions
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 roasted red pepper
1 cup black beans ( canned are fine )
1 cup corn
1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro
2 Tbspn olive oil
1-2 limes

Method

Boil the quinoa. 10-15 minutes

Set aside and chop all the veggies

combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sqeeze lots of lime on the salad!

019quinoa salad

I mix the fresh veggies in when the quinoa is still a bit warm; it seems to bring all the flavors to their peak yet not cook them at all.

021quinoa salad lime

There is always room for more lime!

025quinoa salad

Garnish with avocado for an even richer flavor!

Pink Girlie Cocktails and Hot Smoked Salmon Spread!

097salmon spread

Hot smoked salmon is the key ingredient to this light, savory dish that is tasty and sooo girlie!

We topped whole wheat crackers with the delicate creamy and sublte flavors of the salmon spread.

096salmon spread

My dear, BFF shared her favorite recipe with me and I will share it with you.

Ingredients
6-8oz hot smoked salmon finely chopped
1 Tbspn fresh dill finely chopped
1 Tbspn fresh parsley finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
1/4- 1/2 cup of Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise
1 large garlic clove crushed
A sqeeze of fresh lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

The real secret to the success of this recipe is to mix the mayo, garlic and lemon together very well before adding to the salmon.

Mix well and serve chilled!

063girls getting ready to party

Pink and girlie all around when friends just want to have fun!

090girlie cocktails are delish

This delicious pink cocktail was inspired by a magical elixir we had at Le Colonial.

We tried to approximate the light tropical flavors of the passion fruit martinis we ordered and serve them “family style”!

We mixed a high quality, low sugar coconut pineapple juice with a light berry juice mix, and added vodka and fresh lime.

The result was sublime!

093salmon spread

Meatless Monday! Picnic Style! Potato Salad, Eggplant Burgers and Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter

057potato salad

This amazing potato salad recipe has endured a handful of incarnations.

Originally, it included bacon so I, a vegetarian, have been on a quest to replace that bacon flavor with a handful of substitutions.

I have tried avocado in the dressing, toasted pine nuts, immitation bacon; spices. You name it.

Nothing really captured not only the flavor of the bacon but the crispy texture or greasy mouthfeel, either.

Fried leeks were my next attempt to capture all of these elements that have always seemed to be missing from the veggie version of this very popular dish.

009potato salad

Recipe:

Chop and boil 4 lbs. of red skin potatoes

Chop 1 red bell pepper, 1 orange bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper

Chop 7-8 green onions

Chop 1 red onion

Fry 2 leeks until crispy

Add ingredients together when cooled

Mix togehter about 2 cups of Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise with about 2 Tbsn of yellow mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

015potato salad leeks

Learning about leeks was the next step.

My very knowledgable girlfriend gave me some useful tips when dealing with leeks:

Clean them very well as they have dirt in between the leaves and use only the white to bright green portion when frying or using for salads.

The dark green leaves can be used for soups and stews.

017potato salad leeks

027leeks potato salad

047potato salad leeks added

045potato salad

049potato salad cooked leeks and chopped veggies added

051potato salad dressing

050corn on the grill with garlic butter

This corn on the cob cooks on the grill. What could be easier!?

Open the husks and remove the silk

Mix together butter and crushed garlic and rub all over the corn

Close the husk and place on the grill. Delicious! and Easy!

060eggplant burgers

I used 1 medium eggplant and sliced into thick planks.

Then dredged them in flour, egg wash and Italian style bread crumbs and fried until golden.

Then I place them on a baking sheet and kept them at about 325 degrees until we were ready to make our burgers.

I toasted the buns with a bit of olive oil and made a mayo/spicy barbeque sauce to serve on the side.

102eggplant burger

054potato salad dressing added and mixed

My very handsome date, Wolf!

022wolf and shelly cookout

Crab Ceviche with Lotus Chips, Mango and Roasted Red Pepper Puree!

001crab ceviche

Tartine Bistro never fails to impress. And the wine list has a life of it’s own; getting better all the time!

Crab ceviche with avocado, roasted pepper puree, mango, lotus chips.

This was amazing and the best part were the lotus chips! So easy and light and crispy.

These are a new favorite.

This fresh and light appetizer was fantastic with a Monterey red by Muirwood.

Avocado adds a creamy, rich texture and buttery flavor. Absolutely delicious.

009ceviche with chips

Grilled pita with chipotle hummus, cucumber yogurt, tomato-olive tapenade.

005hummus tapenade tzaziki

Ingredients

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup drained capers
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

008tapenade with sun dried tomato

Ingredients

1 pound lotus roots, peeled
Peanut or vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Directions

Using a mandoline or other mechanical slicer, slice the lotus into very thin rounds. Soak in a large bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration and to remove excess starch.

In a large heavy pot, heat enough vegetable oil to come halfway up the sides of the pan to 350 degrees F.

Drain the lotus completely and pat dry with paper towels. Add in batches to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels. The chips will crisp as they cool; serve at room temperature.

010chips on ceviche

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