Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mini Pita Pizzas with Goat Cheese

I've been craving pizza! And for months, I've planned to make pizza using pita bread for the crust. I finally did it!

I love the whole wheat mini pitas from TJs, so that was my base. Of course, I made marinara earlier that day (but you can use the jarred stuff to save time).

Goat cheese has been on my cravings list as well, so the pizzas are dotted with that awesome goodness.


8-10 mini pitas

2 cups marinara

1/2 cup red wine

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup red onions, sliced very thin

8 crimini mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded

1/2 cup spinach, shredded

2-3 oz. goat cheese

2/3 cup soy (or milk) mozzarella

Olive oil, for brushing

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Carefully halve pitas to make two rounds each.
Brush the best-looking pitas with a little olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet (15 fit perfectly). If the pita has a curve, place it on the pan like a cup.

Lightly toast in oven until slightly brown, about 5 minutes.

Sauté garlic, onions and mushrooms in red wine for a few minutes so they are pre-cooked before adding to the pizza.

Remove par-baked pita crusts. Spoon about a tablespoon of marinara onto each crust and add the other toppings except for soy mozzarella. If using milk mozzarella, add it as the final ingredient during this step.

Bake another 5-8 minutes, just to heat vegetables and soften the goat cheese.

Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack. Finish by topping each pizza with soy mozzarella.

Use a pizza cutter to slice into wedges. Nah, eat ‘em with your hands!

Make these cute and tasty itty bitty pizzas tonight!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wine Tasting at Hearthstone

We hopped over to Hearthstone Winery on Sunday. Our friends Kevin and Maryella have been frequenting the joint and now we know why!

Here's a photo of Ron, Kevin and Maryella with tasting room host Bob.

Are you wondering what those bubbly space age glass thingies are on top of the wine bottles in the right side of the picture?

They're bottle-top aerators!

What a clever way to put some extra air on the wine as it flows into your glass.

We met Mike and Tom in the tasting room and had some lively conversation about food, wine and other important topics! Here they are with Bob, who is thieving from little barrels.

The wine is a 2007 Mourvedre and will not be bottled or released.

We also enjoyed the 2006 Pearl, a blend of 53% Viognier and 47% Roussanne.

The first red on the tasting menu was 2006 Slipstone, containing 63.5% Grenache and 36.5% Syrah.

A yummy red blend followed called Lodestone (2006), with 43% Syrah, 30.5% Grenache, and 26.5% Mourvedre. Big star on that one!

Then we got a lesson from Bob about Volume : Surface in regards to the size of barrels and how much oak gets infused in the wine. He used to teach Physics!

The 2006 Zinfandel was lovely also.

But Ron's and my fave was the 2006 Profundo, a big blend of 56% Sangiovese, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Syrah.

Double stars on the Profundo!

I asked Mike and Tom if I could put their photo on this blog and they agreed.

We had a lot of fun with them!

Ron took this photo of me, since I'm usually the one snapping pics for my blog. He made me look pretty good.

Then Mike and Tom said good-bye and we left Hearthstone shortly thereafter, only to end up at Kevin and Maryella's home, sampling wine from their barrels. Stay tuned for that post!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spinach Quiche with Zucchini & Potato Crust

I woke up refreshed with Valentine's Day brunch on my mind!

I've been craving quiche all week, and I set forth to make a new recipe.

Actually, I combined a bunch of different recipes to achieve the yummy pie I made, which I highly encourage you to make, too!

While waiting for the quiche to bake, I whipped up a quick and easy topping for the quiche, and provided a deliciously perfect finish.


2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 large russet potato, shredded
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Freshly ground pepper
Cooking spray or butter for coating pan

1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. frozen chopped spinach (half a bag)
1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Chicken seasoning
1 egg
3 egg whites
3 Tbsp non-fat evaporated milk

1 tomato, sliced very thin
1 Tbsp fine dried bread crumbs

1/2 tomato, chopped coarsely
5 artichoke hearts (not in oil), chopped
2 oz. soy mozzarella, shredded
A few drops of olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

Squeeze shredded zucchini and potato to remove excess liquid. Mix with nutritional yeast and pepper.

Coat a deep dish pie plate with non-fat cooking spray. Spread crust mixture into bottom and sides of pan.

Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown and edges are crispy.

Meanwhile, saute green onions and garlic in white wine until soft, about 7 minutes.

Add spinach and herbs, cook another 10 minutes until hot and excess moisture is almost gone. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, add egg and egg whites. Whisk in non-fat evaporated milk. Add egg mixture to cooled spinach mixture and thoroughly blend.

Remove crust from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Spread filling into crust.

Top with tomato slices. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the surface.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, and filling is firm. Place on a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Make the topping by placing all ingredients in a small bowl. Fold together to combine. Leave at room temperature.

Cut quiche into 4 equal pieces. Add 1/4 of topping to each portion prior to serving.

It was so beautiful, Ron and I ate our brunch on the back patio!

I served a salad of mixed greens (the arugula and red leaf lettuce came from our garden!) with a homemade strawberry dressing, and we each enjoyed a glass of sauvignon blanc.

The quiche was so filling, we could barely eat a few pieces of fresh fruit!

It was a delicious and memorable meal for Valentine's Day brunch, and let's not forget the part about it not costing $30 plus tip per person!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I was craving pesto all week, a rare occurrence. I've never been a "pesto craving" kind of girl, until now!

So I zipped over to the market on my way home from school to pick up the ingredients missing from what was available in my kitchen.

To my dismay, there were only very large bags of pine nuts -- too big to justify leaving in my pantry for a couple of years until my next pesto craving.

I thought about how much I love cashews, and decided that would be a delicious substitute, but only roasted cashews were available. (Talk to me about what slow roasting does to nuts... it's not good).

Leaving the store, I planned to make the recipe with whatever nuts (except walnuts, ick) were in my pantry. And that's what I did!

In place of pine nuts, I incorporated half almonds and half hazelnuts. The pesto came out tasting awesome!



1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted

1 cup basil, packed

4 cloves roasted garlic

1 can water packed artichoke hearts (I use a little less)

1/2 cup vegetable broth


In a food processor, pulse nuts until finely ground but do not puree.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, basil, roasted garlic and artichoke hearts in a food processor, and pulse to coarsely chop.

Add vegetable broth and process until mixture becomes a thick paste.

Serve as an appetizer with crostini and raw vegetables (as in my photo above). For a main dish, toss with pasta and/or steamed vegetables.

Store unused pesto covered in refrigerator.

This pesto would be yummy as a layer in lasagna, or on wraps or pizza. Also, blend a bunch of it with chickpeas, tahini, vegetable broth and lemon juice for a rich, tasty hummus!

Monday, February 8, 2010


As a kid, I hated split pea soup because of the salt, fat and weird flavors from ham. So naturally, as an adult in my own kitchen, I wanted to make a version that worked for me!

I bought green and yellow split peas and searched my Cooking Pleasures magazines. I found a recipe for Split Pea Rosemary Chicken soup. I followed the basic recipe, eliminating the chicken, to prepare this delicious, healthy, chewy soup to cure the winter blues!


1 cup green split peas
1 cup yellow split peas
1/2 cup white wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup water, if necessary
1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary, or see bouquet garnis below
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or see bouquet garnis below
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Optional: processed vegan bacon bits, or homemade tofu faux bacon, chopped

Place green and yellow split peas in a large colander and rinse several times with cold water. Let stand and drain.

In a large stock pot, saute garlic in white wine until soft and fragrant, approximately 2-4 minutes. Add onion,
celery and carrots. Saute until onions are translucent and carrots are soft but not mushy, approximately 20 minutes.
Add additional water if necessary.

Add liquid smoke.

Add rinsed, drained split peas to pot. Cover with vegetable broth. Add rosemary, thyme and ground pepper to taste.

Cover, bring to a boil. Check every 15 minutes to make sure liquid level is sufficient and stir to prevent burning on

Then reduce heat and simmer until peas break down and are thoroughly cooked. If using a bouquet garnis, remove
from stock pot and discard.

Turn off heat, add vegan bacon bits or the homemade stuff, and let soup rest for 5 minutes before serving.


A "bouquet garnis" is a bundle of fresh herbs, which adds immense flavor to any dish! For this soup, use 3 six-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary and 4 five-inch sprigs of thyme. Bind them together tightly with plain untreated
cotton string.

Feel free to add chicken if you love cholesterol. Okay, that was tough talk! Prior to cooking the garlic, etc.,heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in the stock pot. Add 1/2-inch cubes chicken (no bones) and brown, approximately 7

Add the cooked chicken to the soup after bringing ingredients to a full boil, allowing soup to simmer at length.

Check back here for a recipe for Homemade Tofu Bacon!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Wow, I'm clearly in dessert mode lately! And it doesn't get any better than a cake that bakes its own sauce!

I made this dessert for an intimate dinner party at the home of our dear friends, Richard and Myrna. Here they are near one of their home's three fireplaces!

We had a decadent dinner made by Myrna, featuring a delicious baked main dish, fresh salad, rice, broccoli, and homemade crackers.

This recipe came from Cooking Pleasures magazine, and was developed by an Italian priest who tried to create the perfect dessert with coffee and chocolate flavors that was also low fat.

On his tenth attempt, he stopped with this fantastic concoction!



1 cup all-purpose Flour

2/3 cup Sugar

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa, divided

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 cup Water

2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 cup Brown Sugar, packed

1-3/4 cups hot Espresso


Heat oven to 350° F. Spray 8x8-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, 1/3 cup of the cocoa, salt.

Whisk in water and oil until smooth.

Spread into baking pan, and sprinkle with brown sugar and remaining cocoa.

Slowly pour espresso over batter.

Bake 40 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes.

Chef’s Notes: Serve warm, with vanilla bean ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Use organic and high-quality ingredients whenever possible.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pear, Apple & Cranberry Tarte Tatin

This is such a pretty dessert. Great combination in appearance and in flavor, it should be a winter staple for fruit lovers.

But, you say, it's the middle of summer, Sharine! Why would I make this now?

My response: Save the recipe in your file and start dreaming about cold nights. You'll have it memorized in time for winter fruit season.

OUCH! Just make this tarte, otay?! Tips for low sugar/fat/sodium at the end!




1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut up

2 tablespoons shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons ice water


3 Bosc pears, peeled, each cut into 6 wedges
3 Rome apples, peeled, each cut into 6 wedges

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries


In medium bowl, stir together flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of the water; stir until dough begins to form, adding additional water 1 teaspoon at a time if necessary. Shape into flat round; cover. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Place oven rack in bottom rack position. Heat oven to 400°F. In large bowl, combine apples, ginger and cinnamon. In large (10-inch) skillet, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup sugar. Arrange pears and apples over sugar mixture. Add dried cranberries.

Cook over medium heat 20 to 25 minutes or until sugar is deep golden brown, thick and syrupy. (Occasionally press apples into sugar syrup with spatula during cooking). Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, roll dough into 11-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into 10-inch round.

With small knife, make 4 slits in center of pastry for steam to escape. Place pastry over apples; tuck edges inside skillet.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and apples are tender. (Tart can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Reheat in 350°F. oven 10 to 15 minutes or until warm).

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert onto serving platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla bean ice cream or fresh whipped cream, or vanilla yogurt, either regular or soy.


I always use 100% pure Unsalted Butter (no hormones) for my pie crust and it always turns out perfectly.

Also, if you are on a low sugar/low fat/low salt diet, here are some tips:

1. Substitute sugar with all-fruit or organic applesauce.

2. Instead of making a traditional pie crust, sprinkle the finished tarte with 1/2 cup organic graham cracker crumbs.

3. Serve with soy yogurt or non-fat regular yogurt.

Original recipe courtesy of Cooking Pleasures magazine.


I love lemons and adore blueberries! Add cheesecake, and fuhgeddaboudit, I'm making that dessert and eating it, too.



2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/3 cup butter, chilled, cut up


3 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon grated lemon peel

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

4 cups fresh blueberries


Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Pulse flour, oats, brown sugar and almonds in food processor 8 to 10 times or until coarsely chopped. Add butter; process 10 to 15 seconds or until mixture is moist and clumps together when pressed. Press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes.

Process cream cheese and sugar in food processor until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time; pulse until blended. Add sour cream, lemon juice and lemon peel; process until well-blended. Pour over crust. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until just set.

Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Warm raspberry preserves slightly and fold in blueberries. Pour over cheesecake and gently spread with a spatula. Store covered in refrigerator.

CHEF'S NOTES: I've made these bars using light cream cheese, less sugar, and all-fruit instead of preserves. The result: very yummy, and easier on the hips ; )

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Pleasures magazine.

Stay tuned...... and be sure to visit us on YouTube for our cooking show, Gourmet Again!


Back at Kahle's Party....

Friend J.P. showed up with a super-size house plant and blew us all away. Our cat Scootie really liked this plant. See him there under the table?!

Bro Beau and I supplied lots of yummy breads to accompany fine cheeses and my Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Spread:


Re-hydrate a handful of Sun-Dried Tomatoes. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the liquid.

Coarsely chop cooled Tomatoes and place in a medium bowl.

Add one 8-oz. container of Tofutti (vegan cream cheese), 1 teaspoon dried Basil, and 1-2 Tablespoons of the Tomato liquid. Blend until smooth.

Refrigerate overnight for best flavor, and serve with fresh breads or crostini.

We hired a guitarist, Dom, to play live for an hour during the festivities and he was a hit with all the guests. Ron and I sat in on a couple of songs by request.

Also, our friend Dave made us a fantastic, out-of-this-world candle holder! It's a unique design, and as you can see from the photo, it goes perfectly with the decor in our dining room.

We love dragons, and these two fire-breathers will definitely do the job of protecting the flame.

Plus, when not holding candles, this phantasmagorical piece could serve as a dish for mashed potatoes, or a soup terrine, or even a platter for lamb chops!

Cheesy Spinach Mini Phyllo Cups

This is a continuation of my story about Kahle's party!

My first appetizer was Cheesy Spinach Mini Phyllo Cups. I even made a few without spinach for those guests who don't dig it. Here's the recipe:



1 - 10 oz. pkg Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed, excess water removed
1/2 cup Ricotta
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp. Asiago Cheese
2 Tbsp. Fontina
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
45 mini Phyllo Shells


Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients except Phyllo shells. Place mini Phyllo shells on two ungreased baking sheets. Spoon filling into shells. Bake 18-20 minutes. Serve immediately.

The guests ate 'em up!

Meanwhile, Grill Master Ron managed to keep the grilled delicacies coming in platefuls! Teriyaki Chicken and Ahi Tuna, Tangy Beef, BBQ Chicken, and an array of fantastic veggies: Carrots, Broccoli, Onions, and Cauliflower.

Check out the next recipe I made for the party, Tofutti Sun-Dried Tomato Spread!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

La Panzanella Style Croccantini (crackers)

My favorite crackers in the world (La Panzanella Croccantini) cost anywhere from $5.00 to $9.00 per 8 oz. package. That's insane! But they are sooooo good, and I paid the hefty price.

That is, until I found a recipe at The Fresh Loaf! I played with the recipe a few times and made some slight modifications, as you'll read below. Feel free to make them as per Jennie's recommendation.



1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold water
1/8 cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 450°F with a baking stone. Place a pan in bottom of oven for water.

Put flour and salt in food processor fitted with cutting blade. Pulse to blend. Add oil, pulse. Add water in a stream until dough comes together. Process for about 20 seconds.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide into four pieces cover with a towel and let rest 5 minutes.

Roll each section with a rolling pin or in pasta roller. Sheets should be paper-thin.

Place on parchment paper. Spritz with water.

Put parchment directly into oven on baking stone, then add 1/2 cup hot water to pan in the bottom.

Flip crackers front to back after 2 minutes. Remove after about 45 seconds to 1 minute, when crackers display a hint of brown.

Crackers may be slightly limp when taken out at the right time. Additionally, I have experienced the need for longer baking times with certain batches.

Cool sheets on wire racks. Break into pieces and crunch to your heart’s delight!

Store crackers in an airtight container in pantry.