Monthly Archives: October 2013

Scott Paul 2010 La Paulée Pinot Noir

Scott Paul 2010 La Paulée Pinot Noir

I will tell you up front that Pinot Noirs are a bit hit and miss with me. I realize that I live in an area that produces a number of renowned wines of this variety, but it’s not often that I find one that I like. But a few weeks ago I bumped into Martha Wright, co-proprietor of Scott Paul Wines, at my local New Seasons and my world changed.

Martha was tasting a white Burgundy (Chardonnay) and a red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) that she and her husband import, as well as their own 2010 La Paulée Pinot Noir. The Burgundys were just okay for me, but their Pinot Noir was a true revelation.

The 2010 La Paulée is robustly structured with rich notes of bright cherries and earthy spices, and a very subtle undertone of dark berries and florals. It has a lingering, silky finish as well that left me craving more. I immediately knew that it would pair perfectly with the herb-infused recipe for Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup that I was working on.

Scott Paul 2010 La Paulée Pinot Noir

I snapped up a bottle right away. I must admit that at a retail price of $32 it was a bit above my range for an everyday drinking wine, but that’s how good this wine is. I knew I had to have a bottle. In fact, I’ve since picked up another bottle to cellar for a special occasion or perhaps the upcoming holidays. I’m already dreaming up a rich holiday dinner to pair the La Paulée with.

Get the recipe for my Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup here.

Find Scott Paul wines here.

As with any part of a healthy lifestyle, always enjoy alcohol in moderation.

Budget Roasted Root Vegetables with Rotisserie Chicken

Roasted Root Vegetables

I had a big event happen in my life this summer: my children moved out. That’s right, I am officially an empty nester.

As a result, many things around the house have changed. For one thing, I am amazed at how much my utility bills have decreased. But needless to say, my biggest adjustment has been in my grocery shopping and cooking. I’m no longer cooking for a family of three and trying to please all palates. Instead, I find myself cooking for one most of the time now.

On top of this, my children are in the process of learning to prepare their own meals and have found themselves struggling with how to eat healthy on a budget. So, I thought that I would introduce a new topic on my blog for Tightwad Tuesday that will give some ideas for simple, healthy and budget friendly recipes for 1.

For my first series of posts, I’m going to show you how I turned a store-bought rotisserie chicken into a work-week’s worth of meals for one person. As a bonus, two of the meals will make leftovers for the weekend and/or lunches. Here’s the meal plan:

For my groceries, I went to my local store and purchased organic produce where I could. I also purchased a natural, free-range rotisserie chicken from the deli. While going natural can be slightly more expensive, I find the food more flavorful and it’s just better for your body in the long term. So I consider the extra expense an investment in me — the best kind of investment!

I spent a total of $35.75 on the following ingredients:

  • 1 natural rotisserie chicken – $7.99
  • 1 bunch of organic celery – $2.70
  • 1 lb. bag of organic whole carrots – $0.79
  • 3 lb. bag of organic sweet potatoes – $3.99
  • 1 red onion – $0.69
  • 16 oz. nonfat, plain Greek yogurt – $2.79
  • blue cheese – $3.29
  • Frank’s red hot sauce – $3.79
  • 1 head butter lettuce – $1.29
  • 1 1/2 lbs. bulk dried black beans – $1.49
  • 1 lb. bulk dried red kidney beans – $1.19
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added – $0.79
  • corn tortillas – $1.29
  • 1 sweet onion – $0.69
  • 1 bunch organic Italian parsley – $1.49
  • 1 avocado – $1.49

I should note that I will also be using some fresh herbs and spices throughout my recipes. Growing your own herbs is an excellent way to save money and add lots of flavor to dishes. Many herbs can be grown in containers, which are perfect for apartment living. If you aren’t growing your own herbs, look for them in bulk bins in the produce section of your natural foods grocery store. These are typically organically grown and significantly less expensive than buying the packaged variety at the big box grocery stores. Just as an example, when my thyme was flowering and I couldn’t pick any from the garden, I bought a good handful at my local natural foods store for just $0.19.

The same can be said for spices. I buy all of my spices in bulk rather than in containers because the price difference is huge, sometimes as much as 3000% higher for those little bottles vs. buying spices in bulk. For example, I recently purchased 8 dried, organic bay leaves for just $0.22 in bulk, while the bottle on the shelf (with about the same amount of leaves in it) was $4.99. Additionally, the bonus of buying spices in bulk is that you can purchase smaller amounts for what you need at that moment in time, so your unused amounts won’t go stale in the jar. Just be sure to label everything when you buy it so that you know what it is later!

Rotisserie Chicken

For my first meal, I simply sliced off a 4 oz. section of the rotisserie chicken and at it with a quick side of roasted root vegetables. I peeled and sliced 1 sweet potato and 1/2 of the red onion, tossed it with a bit of olive oil, salt and dried thyme, then roasted everything up. It’s an easy side for a quick weeknight meal.

Tune in next week when I will show you how to make Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

Budget Roasted Root Vegetables with Rotisserie Chicken
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 1
  • Calories: 281.3
  • Fat: 14.6
  • Saturated fat: 2.1
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.7
  • Carbohydrates: 37.2
  • Sugar: 1.0
  • Sodium: 239.3
  • Fiber: 5.4
  • Protein: 2.9
  • Cholesterol: 0.0
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
In my first Tightwad Tuesday post, I will turn a store-bought rotisserie chicken into a week's worth of meals, starting with these easy Roasted Root Vegetables.
  • 1 sweet potato, about 5" long, peeled and sliced in ⅛" rounds
  • ½ red onion, peeled and sliced into ¼" wide half-circles
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the potato and onion slices with the oil, salt and thyme.
  3. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and browned. Serve immediately.


Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

I have to admit my mind is wandering a bit this morning. As I sit here writing this out, I really want to tell you about my recipe for Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup. I want to tell you the story of how, on a crisp autumn night, I was inspired to take my Chicken Pot Pie recipe from last year and turn it into an easy and hearty soup.  Which I did, and it was delicious. I’m still enjoying leftovers from my freezer.

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

This soup starts with Mirepoix, the French term for a soup or stew base of onion, celery and carrot.

But my mind is wandering and I’m feeling a need to talk about me. Because this really is about me, right?

After my weight loss, I went on a voyage of self-discovery where I tried lots of different activities to figure out what I like and who I am. Because somewhere in between my bad marriage, raising my kids, and devoting myself to my job, I lost myself. With my new body, it felt like all things were possible and I began to explore.

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Adding mushrooms and red potatoes to the soup helps thicken the dish.

Over two years later, I have a fairly solid sense of self, but along the way I discovered certain parts of me – mental and emotional – that I don’t like. Specifically, the low self-confidence and fat girl dialogue that still runs through my head. I know that sounds silly, but when you spend years with a “you’re not good enough” mantra running through your head, it’s difficult to get rid of.

One of the tools to building my self-confidence has been to try and overcome my introverted tendencies. You see, when I get into a group of people I tend to step back and be a complete wallflower. When I go out, I prefer to be with a friend and I typically rely on that person to take the lead. And when it comes to meeting men, I’m totally hopeless.

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Combining tarragon vinegar with skim milk not only injects flavor, but it thickens the milk to a buttermilk like consistency without the additional fat and calories of buttermilk. No tarragon vinegar? Use white wine vinegar and a tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon.

I tend to wait for the man to make the first move, my fear of rejection can be a bit paralyzing. I’m clueless when it comes to flirting, I don’t often recognize when a guy is flirting with me.  When I do realize that a guy is flirting with me, I get so nervous that all reason and logic completely escapes me and I do something really stupid, simply see my post from last summer as a classic example. So I’ve been working on being more extroverted.

I began with the IFBC. I was attending the event by myself which was a real test for me. I made a goal for myself to meet as many people and exchange as many business cards as I could. So there I was, by my introverted self. Yet, I walked up to complete strangers, introduced myself, and struck up conversations. I was really nervous at first, but my therapist was right: most people will meet you half way.

I met so many friendly, interesting fellow bloggers, many of whom I still keep in contact with. It was, in a sense, freeing. So I decided to try my luck in my own world.

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Just about finished!

I belong to a fantastic wine club through a local bottleshop and bistro, Wine Up, of which one of the perks of membership is a free wine tasting every Friday night. Can you guess how many I’ve missed because I didn’t have someone to go with and didn’t want to go by myself?

A couple of weeks ago, fresh off my solo adventure at IFBC, and with much self-encouragement, I decided to go to a Friday night wine tasting by myself. I arrived, collected my glass, and initially stood timidly sipping my wine in the corner. Then I took a deep breath, stepped forward and inserted myself into a conversation between a nearby group of fellow tasters. And what do you know, they met me half way.

I not only had a great time, but I ended up meeting two really interesting guys, one of whom asked for my number and we ended up going on a date the following night. That’s not going to go anywhere, he was just looking for sex. Don’t get me wrong, sex is great, but I’m looking for something that will develop into a relationship, not a one night stand. I didn’t feel bad about telling this guy to scoot, though, instead I felt really confident in knowing what I was looking for and not settling for less, and proud of myself for stepping outside my comfort zone.

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup

I love to top this soup with a few homemade croutons. I simply brush a couple of slices of whole wheat artisan bread with olive oil, cube them up and toast them in the oven until crunchy.

So I went back last weekend. And I met more people, including another guy who gave me his number. Then I went back last night, and guess what? That’s right, I met even more people. And I had a very promising flirtation with the cute bartender culminating in the following:

Me: “I think I want something sweet to take home. What do you have?”

Cute bartender: “How about my number?”

Squee! (That was my internal teenage girl squealing.)

The bottom line is, I’m liking my extroverted self and that self-loathing dialogue in my head is beginning to be muffled by more positive feelings of confidence. This is so much better than internet dating. I wish I had done this ages ago!



Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: 1½ cups
  • Calories: 204.4
  • Fat: 3.4
  • Saturated fat: 0.6
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3
  • Carbohydrates: 17.6
  • Sugar: 5.7
  • Sodium: 217.6
  • Fiber: 3.3
  • Protein: 22.8
  • Cholesterol: 43.5
Recipe type: Soup or Stew
Cuisine: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Chicken pot pie gets leaned down and souped up while still retaining its thick, hearty, and satisfying status as a comfort food staple.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 1½ cups sliced crimini (brown) mushrooms
  • ½ lb. red potatoes, chopped
  • 2½ - 3 cups cooked, shredded, boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • ¼ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups homemade, salt free chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen, petite peas
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • 1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
  • 1 cup nonfat (skim) milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, tarragon, thyme and salt. Stir to coat with the oil and cook until the onions are transparent, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and potatoes and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and have released their water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and flour, combining well to coat everything with the flour.
  5. Slowly stir in the broth, using the back of your spoon to loosen up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add in the peas and parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Pour the vinegar into a measuring cup and add the milk to make 1 cup of liquid total. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  8. Stir the vinegar-milk mixture and pour into the soup, combining well. Let cook for 10 more minutes.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
To make your own shredded chicken breast, simply put 1 lb. of raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 20 minutes until completely tender. Remove the chicken from the water and let cool for 5-10 minutes then shred it with 2 forks. 1 lb. of raw chicken breast yields 2½ - 3 cups of shredded chicken breast.


Château Sénilhac Dilhac 2009 Bordeaux Haut Médoc

Chateau Senilhac Dilhac 2009 Haut Medoc Bordeaux

Bordeaux wines are well-renowned in the world of wine, some of the most expensive wines in the world come from this largest wine-growing region of France. For many Americans, though, Bordeaux wines can be intimidating. It’s not always easy to tell the varietal (hint: most Bordeaux wines are blends) and the appellation system is incredibly complex. But let me see if I can make it a little easier for you.

The Bordeaux region is divided by the Gironde estuary into south and north growing areas, commonly referred to as the Left Bank and the Right Bank in the wine world. The Left Bank includes such renowned growing regions as Graves and Médoc and produces primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller productions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. The Right Bank includes regions such as St. Emilion and Pomerol and produces primarily Merlot with smaller productions of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. So next time you’re browsing the bottles of Bordeaux on the store shelf, look for the name of the region and punch it into your map app on your smartphone — if it’s south of the Gironde then you know it will likely be a Cabernet Sauvignon blend and if it’s north it will likely be a Merlot blend.

My next tip on picking out a Bordeaux, or any French wine for that matter, is to look for exactly where it came from in the region. Look for not only the name of the winery, in this case Château Sénilhac, but also the name of the village in which the winery is located, in this case Saint Seurin de Cadourne.  If you see only the name of the importer then be wary. Also, be cautious when purchasing a French wine with the label “Vin de Pays.” This literally means “wine of the country” which, in French wine speak, means that the grapes likely came from different regions and so could not meet the strict French appellation standards to be labeled as from a specific appellation.

But I am dying to tell you about this Bordeaux wine in particular!

Château Sénilhac was purchased in 1938 by the Grassin family and today is run by brothers Loïc and Jean-Luc Grassin. The winery is located near the town of Saint Seurin de Cadourne, which is in the Haut Médoc (translation: High Médoc) region of Bordeaux on the Left Bank. The soil is made up of clay and limestone and sits over a large underground water reservoir, so even in dry years the grapes retain their richness. The Château’s best wines are produced under the Château Sénilhac label with other offerings under the Château Sénilhac Dilhac and Château Sénilhac La Prade labels.

Chateau Senilhac Dilhac 2009 Haut Medoc Bordeaux

Don’t let that dissuade you from giving this wine a try, though! The Château Sénilhac Dilhac 2009 is an excellent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and at about $10/bottle at Trader Joe’s it’s a great find. The bouquet offers aromas of spices, chocolate, and vanilla, while in the mouth you get flavors of cherry, earthy minerals, soft wood tones, and cocoa.

This wine is a perfect partner for things like root vegetables, mushrooms, and mold ripened cheeses — which are all featured in my Butternut Squash Lasagna with Four Cheeses. I love the earthy flavors that the squash, mushrooms, sage and gorgonzola cheese bring out in this wine. Why not give it a try tonight?

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Four Cheeses

Butternut Squash Lasagna

As much as I love my fresh tomatoes in the summer, I also love butternut squash in the fall. What’s not to love about this squash? It has little pulp and lots of meat, unlike other varietals. The slightly sweet, nutty flavor is delicious. And, it’s extremely versatile — you can bake it, roast it, saute it, puree it — the possibilities seem endless.


Butternut Squash Lasagna


I’ve been seeing lots of recipes for butternut squash lasagna popping up on the web, but all of them utilize pureed squash in the filling between layers of pasta. So I thought, why couldn’t you use strips of the squash instead of the noodles? And that’s exactly what I set out to do.


Butternut Squash Lasagna


I created a filling with traditional lasagna flavors of ground meat, mushrooms, spinach and creamy cheeses. Of course, I had to change it up a bit, first to lean it down and secondly to better marry the flavors with the butternut squash. To lean the filling down, I used an extra lean ground turkey breast and a skim ricotta. To shake the flavor up a bit, I added gorgonzola cheese, whose sharp, semi-sweet flavor pairs perfectly with this squash. I also used sage instead of the traditional Italian herbs because sage complements the gorgonzola and squash so well.


Butternut Squash Lasagna


For a finishing touch, I topped the squash first with what I call my secret ingredient in this dish: nutmeg. That’s right, it’s not just for pumpkin pie. A bit of ground nutmeg enhances the nutty flavor of the squash and, in my opinion, is absolutely essential to this dish.


Butternut Squash Lasagna


I then add salty, nutty parmesan cheese, a bit more of that earthy sage, and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts across the top. The result is a unique take on lasagna that is both lean and delicious.


Butternut Squash Lasagna


Do you like butternut squash? What is your favorite fall vegetable?



Butternut Squash Lasagna with Four Cheeses
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: 1 wedge
  • Calories: 365.8
  • Fat: 14.0
  • Saturated fat: 6.0
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7
  • Carbohydrates: 29.1
  • Sugar: 4.0
  • Sodium: 367.8
  • Fiber: 7.5
  • Protein: 32.5
  • Cholesterol: 106.3
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Poultry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Lasagna gets lean and gluten free by substituting strips of sweet, succulent Butternut Squash for pasta, yet retains its cheesy lusciousness with a smart mix of 4 cheeses.
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast (white ground turkey)
  • 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 3 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1¾ cup light ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 oz. shredded, part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 lb whole Butternut Squash
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
  1. Heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey breast and cook until lightly browned and crumbly.
  3. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the mushrooms are tender and have released their water.
  4. Gently stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach has just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375. Brush the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil over the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.
  6. Mix together the ricotta, gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses in a medium mixing bowl. Add the egg, 1 tbsp of the sage, and a pinch of salt and continue mixing. Combine in the cooled turkey-mushroom-spinach mixture and set aside.
  7. Peel the butternut squash by trimming the top and bottom off of the squash then running your knife down the side of the squash to cut off the peel. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp. Use either a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer to cut the squash into strips lengthwise about ⅛-1/4" thick.
  8. Lay strips of the butternut squash in a single layer across the bottom of the oiled baking dish. Use smaller pieces of the squash to fill in any holes created from the shape of the squash.
  9. Spread half of the meat-cheese mixture across the squash. Lay another layer of squash slices over the top of the meat-cheese mixture, again in a single layer and using smaller pieces of the squash to fill in any holes. Spread the remaining meat-cheese mixture over the squash then arrange another layer of the butternut squash slices on top of the meat-cheese mixture, again in a single layer and using any smaller pieces to fill in the holes.
  10. Sprinkle the nutmeg acoss the top layer of the squash. Then top with the shredded parmesan cheese, remaining 1 tbsp of sage, and hazelnuts over the top of the lasagna.
  11. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more or until the cheese is lightly browned on top. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing into 6 equal wedges and serving.



Mazzei 2010 Badiola Toscana

Mazzei 2010 Badiola Toscana

This week I’m excited to introduce you to the Mazzei 2010 Badiola from the Toscana (aka Tuscany) area of Italy. Marchesi Mazzei has been around since 1435 – well before Columbus sailed to America – and is still owned by the Mazzei family, run by Lapo Mazzei and his sons, Francesco and Filippo, today.

Badiola is the name of the vineyard from which these grapes hail, in the town of Radda in the Chianti region. The vineyard is of medium limestone texture with a rich backbone, imparting a slight mineral undertone to the wine.


Mazzei 2010 Badiola Toscana


A blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Merlot, the Mazzei 2010 Badiola Toscana is a richly structured wine with a deep, inky purple coloring. On the nose, the wine hits you with aromas of berries and cocoa, the latter no doubt influenced by the Merlot blending. On the palate, soft flavors of spice, berries, and a very subtle hint of lavender make for a smooth, supple drinking wine. The long finish leaves no doubt as to why Wine Spectator awarded 92 points to this wine. And at a price point of less than $15/bottle, it’s a real bargain.

I love to pair this wine with Italian food. After all, when you make an Italian inspired dish you have to pair it with an Italian wine. I especially love the play of spices and berries in the wine with the sweet, roasted tomatoes and nutty farro in my Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes recipe. Click here for the recipe and give it a try tonight!


Mazzei 2010 Badiola Toscana


Of course, as with any alcohol, enjoy this wine in moderation. After all, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and moderation.

Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I am in love with farro. I realize this grain has been around for centuries, but it seems to just be gaining popularity in the US in the past few months. Farro actually hails from the Mediterranean and is commonly found in Italian food. That’s right, Italians eat more than just pasta.


Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


I was so excited to run into reps from Bob’s Red Mill at the International Food Blogger’s Conference. I love this business, first because it’s local to me but secondly because they have fantastic, quality products at great prices. I am especially a fan of their unsweetened shredded coconut, the only unsweetened coconut I’ve been able to find. But on this occasion they were giving out samples of their farro and sorghum, which I greedily grabbed up and added to my already overflowing swag bag. The rep invited me out to explore their factory store, which I fully intend to do within the next few weeks.

Farro is a wheat grain that looks very similar to barley when it’s uncooked, but, unlike barley, it retains a crunchy outer texture when cooked. Farro is a whole grain which means that your body has to work harder to digest it, and that benefits your metabolism. It’s very filling so a little farro goes a long way, and the taste is similar to brown rice in that it’s very nutty in flavor. I love to use farro in salads, mixed with vegetables like I have here, or in a stuffing such as my Grilled Caprese Farro Zucchini Boats that I made over the summer.


Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


One of the many things I love about this dish is that it’s so incredibly simple and I can vary it up easily too. It is one of my favorite Meatless Monday meals because it’s not only delicious, but it is also quick to make after a busy day at the office. I simply roast sweet cherry tomatoes in a bit of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt then toss the roasted tomatoes with cooked farro, fresh oregano, light feta cheese, salt, pepper, and an additional splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar for extra flavor.

I highly recommend using light feta cheese instead of the fat free crumbled feta cheese you will find in the grocery store. First, the calorie difference is negligible – the fat free feta is only a measly 10 calories less than the light version. But more importantly, the fat free version is filled with chemicals to replace the fat and flavor it’s lacking, leaving  it with a rubbery texture and unpleasant taste. Light feta, on the other hand, is made from skim milk so it’s naturally lower in fat and calories than its whole milk sibling but still has that great brined, feta taste and texture.


Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


Sometimes I vary this recipe up depending on what’s producing in the garden or what I have in the fridge. For example, I recently roasted some baby eggplant with the tomatoes, subbed basil for the oregano, and traded in the feta for some shredded parmesan cheese. My tastebuds and my waistline thank me for this dish!



Farro with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Calories: 150.9
  • Fat: 10.7
  • Saturated fat: 1.9
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.1
  • Carbohydrates: 13.1
  • Sugar: 1.2
  • Sodium: 411.8
  • Fiber: 2.3
  • Protein: 4.5
  • Cholesterol: 2.5
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Perfect for #MeatlessMonday, I'm combining nutty farro with sweet, roasted cherry tomatoes for a dish that is filling and delicious.
  • ⅓ cup dry farro, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chopped, fresh oregano
  • 1 oz. light feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. Whisk together 1 tbsp of the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the vinegar.
  3. Add the garlic, a pinch of salt and dash of pepper and whisk again until well combined.
  4. On a baking sheet, toss together the cherry tomatoes and oil-vinegar mixture. Spread the tomatoes in a single layer and bake for 15-20 minutes until roasted.
  5. Combine the roasted tomatoes, farro, oregano, feta, 1 tsp olive oil, and 1 tsp red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


Sobon Estate 2011 Old Vines Zinfandel

Sobon Estate 2011 Old Vines Zinfandel

You might recall that one of my goals for my blog is to increase my posting frequency from once a week. One of the regular features you can expect going forward is a wine pick of the week, my Winesday post, if you will. My intent is to introduce you to a wine to pair with my recipe of the week. For my first Winesday post, I am really excited to present Sobon Estate 2011 Old Vines Zinfandel.

Sobon Estate is in Amador County, California, which is in the historic gold country of the foothills of the Sierras. The soil in this region is made up of either decomposed granite from the erosion of the Sierra Nevada range or of finely crushed volcanic rock from the Lake Tahoe area, depending on the altitude of the vineyard. Either way, the good drainage and lack of nutrients cause the vines to work hard and send their roots deep into the soil in search of food and water, which stresses the vines and makes for a richer, more deeply flavored Zinfandel.

I discovered this wine at my favorite wine bar, Vie de Boheme and was immediately struck by the fruity, slightly sweet bouquet, reminding me of warm summer days spent picking juicy berries. On the palate, I was impressed with the rich, fruit forward notes of the wine. It bursts with jammy blackberries at first and lingers with a light cocoa finish, likely from the oak barrels it’s aged in.

This Zinfandel pairs perfectly with my Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese, and at under $15 a bottle at retail it’s a real winner. The interplay of berries between the wine and the steak marinade makes for a rich, unforgettable meal. As with anything, enjoy both in moderation to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Get the recipe here and give it a try tonight!

Sobon Estate 2011 Old Vines Zinfandel

Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese

Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese

I am not ready for summer to be over. Yes, I realize that the rains Portland is so famous for have arrived in gale force, and the nights are so cool that my scrumptious urban garden is as browned and withered as last week’s leftovers. Of course, the ultimate sign of the end of my favorite season is that last week the morning chill forced me to to turn the heater on. But I am still not ready for summer to be over, and I had to get one last juicy steak recipe in before this summer is truly a thing of the past.

It didn’t help that the day I chose to make this dish for you all there was a serious storm rolling through Portland. The winds were whipping up to 45 mph and the rain was coming down in sheets. Still, being as I work full time during the week I don’t have a  lot of flexibility in the timing of recipe prep for my blog, so I decided to carry on. Keep calm and carry on. Right?

I turned the camera on and pulled the steak out of the fridge where it had been marinating overnight. I use 2 filets of top sirloin for this recipe because they come in smaller, portion appropriate cuts and they are very lean, you’ll find very little fat marbling these cuts. The lack of fat, however, means that the meat can dry out easily when it’s cooked. So for these cuts I like to use a rich marinade that will both flavor and protect the tender meat.

I have to tell you, I am absolutely in love with this marinade. It’s a simple mixture of sweet balsamic vinegar and tart fresh raspberries. For maximum flavor, I let the top sirloin soak in this marinade overnight. The flesh of the steak turns a pretty dark red color and, when grilled, it’s absolutely perfect.

On this particular night, though, the wind and rain were both coming through my yard so hard that I decided to forego the propane grill outside and use my indoor grill pan. I bought my indoor grill pan a couple of years ago for just such an occasion. The deep ridges allow me to get a nice sear on the meat while allowing the air to circulate around to get a true grilled flavor. (P.S., it also makes a great pannini!)

I prefer my steak medium, which is about 3 minutes on each side. I’ve become so good at grilling that I can typically tell how well done the meat is by pressing the center with my cooking tongs. The more firm the center is, the more cooked through the meat is. If you like to grill, I encourage you to experiment with testing the meat with your tongs and cutting just a wee bit into the meat to see how done it actually is. After a few attempts, you’ll get the hang of it as well.

Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese

The perfecting ingredient, the cherry on top, if you will, is the goat cheese. I use a creamy, mild goat cheese that I crumble over the top. I then pop the grill pan into the oven and broil it for 1-2 minutes. The cheese melts up, browns very lightly, and absolutely perfects the dish. It’s a deliciously indulgent add to a healthy lifestyle.

Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese

On this particular night, though, I pulled the pan from under the broiler and arranged the steak in my little makeshift photo studio that I have set up in the small dining area adjoining my kitchen. I always snap my final photos of the dish before I close out my video. So there I was, shutter snapping away, contorting my camera into all different angles, and suddenly the power went out. It’s not exactly easy to take photos with no lighting.

Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese

There was still enough light left coming from outside that I was able to find my way to the cupboard and I grabbed a flashlight and some candles. As I returned to my “studio”, the lights flashed back on. Saved! I grabbed my camera and hadn’t taken more than a couple of shots when the power went off again. Curses!

I stalled for a few minutes and when it became apparent that the lights weren’t coming back on, I resolved to accept the photos I had already shot, for better or for worse, and I finished my video with the help of a my little flashlight. Really. Watch the video below all the way through. Life is nothing if not unpredictable!



Balsamic Raspberry Steak with Goat Cheese
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2
  • Serving size: 1 steak filet
  • Calories: 292.0
  • Fat: 11.7
  • Saturated fat: 5.3
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.4
  • Carbohydrates: 5.8
  • Sugar: 0.0
  • Sodium: 352.3
  • Fiber: 2.1
  • Protein: 36.2
  • Cholesterol: 105.9
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Beef
Flavors of sweet balsamic vinegar and tart raspberries bring lean top sirloin filet to life. Topped with creamy goat cheese, it's a must make dish. And did I mention it's so easy that even the novice cook can whip this up?
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 top sirloin steak filets, about 4.5 oz. each raw
  • 1 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  1. Add the balsamic vinegar and the raspberries in a shallow dish. Crush the raspberries with the back of a fork and mix well with the vinegar to combine.
  2. Season each side of the filets with salt and pepper and submerge the steak in the marinade, turning to coat all sides.
  3. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Heat an indoor grill pan on medium high. Sear the steak for about 1 minute on each side to get grill marks.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the steak for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium done-ness.
  6. Remove the pan from heat, top each steak filet with ½ oz. of the goat cheese and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Let the steak sit for 5 minutes before serving.