Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not Ketchup Recipes for #FreshTastyValentines

photos courtesy of participating bloggers

Last week I hosted a multi-day, multi-blogger event - #FreshTastyValentines - to bring you some
healthier options to feed your sweethearts. Along with 21 other bloggers, we shared nearly 130 recipes.

Here is an easy way to view the recipes that used product from our sponsor Not Ketchup. Thanks again, Not Ketchup, for sending your brand new No Sugar Added Tangerine Hatch Chile Fruit Ketchup to the bloggers and for providing a wonderful prize package for our readers as well!

Check out everything from dips to cakes. Enjoy!

Find Not Ketchup
on the web: here
on Twitter: here
on Facebook: here
on Pinterest: here
on Instagram: here
on Google+: here

photos courtesy of participating bloggers
*Disclosure: bloggers received complimentary product from Not Ketchup for the creation of these posts. 
However, all opinions are our own.*

All of the #FreshTastyValentines Not Ketchup Recipes...

Dining at the Ravens: Ravens Seaweed Strudel Plus a Giveaway #ravensblogtour #sponsor

When Heather at BenBella Vegan asked if I'd like to kick off the book tour for their new title Dining at the Ravens, I agreed immediately. I already had an advance copy of the book and was more than a little bit enamored with the recipes.

Full disclosure: I am not a vegan. But I am in my 40s and - if you're not there yet, lucky you! - I'm finding that I have to be much more aware of what I'm eating in this decade. So, my husband and I are consciously eating more plants, fewer sweets, more lean proteins, and fewer grains. But no food is completely off limits. I don't do well with moratoria, so we're judicious with our portions and purposeful in our menu choices. And our two sons are hearing - probably more than they would like to hear - about why we're choosing the foods that we're choosing.

"I'm not forty," the 12-year-old whines. "Why do I have to eat more plants?"

Because, you live with us and you don't buy your own groceries. 

"That makes perfect sense," assents the 13-year-old.

Dining at the Ravens is a cookbook, written by Jeff and Joan Stanford, that shares over 150 vegan recipes from The Ravens Restaurant at the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, California. Packed with colorful photographs, Dining at The Ravens includes not just recipes, but the history of the establishment as well as cooking tips for perfect recipe execution. There's even inspiration for creating your own garden. If only my thumb weren't pitch black! Thankfully my husband and our youngest son can nurture plants and trees. I'll pass the book on to them soon.

I already mentioned that I am not a vegan, but these recipes are delicious for anyone who loves food, herbivore or omnivore. It's been a wonderful addition to my cookbook collection and we are happily adding these recipes to our kitchen repertoire. Thanks, Stanfords!

Every summer my family and I do a 1000+ mile loop, camping all over Northern California; Mendocino County is always one of our stops. From sea caves to redwoods and wildflowers to sea glass, Mendocino is a constant source of photographic inspiration.

For years, I have looked at the sign for the Stanford Inn by the Sea and not known what was down that road. Just this past summer, we had a great adventure at Van Damme State Park -  a little way down the coast from The Ravens - but I'll have to check out the inn as a possible splurge night during our 2016 camping trip next July!

Q & A with the Authors
I was excited to have the chance to do an online interview with Jeff and Joan and was tickled to discover that they got their West Coast start in my backyard. Before they headed up to Mendocino, they called Carmel home and managed the Carmel Garden Court Inn, which had previously been called Rosita Lodge. At the intersection of 4th and Torres, it was built primarily to house couples during WWII by a naval architect and his wife. The name was a combination of their first names—Roscoe and Anita (Johnson). The Stanford family changed the name to Carmel Garden Court Inn.

Jeff and Joan Stanford, photo courtesy BenBella Vegan

I asked them just a couple of questions...

Q: I am not a vegan, but my husband and I are consciously moving towards a more plant-based, whole food way of eating. When I talk to friends about veganism, the biggest objection I get, or most common excuse for why someone doesn't want to try it: "I would miss the meat." Clearly, your restaurant's success shows that if you're eating good vegan dishes, you won't miss the meat. What would be your best advice to someone about not missing the meat? How do you balance dishes so that they feel like they have a variety of tastes and textures and they're not eating 'rabbit food'?

A: We create some dishes folks can identify with, e.g., ravioli, or ethnic dishes, and just make them as tasty as possible with fresh ingredients. If folks like what they taste they won’t "miss the meat.” Vegan food being rabbit food is an outdated stereotype of sprouts, chopped veggies, and brown rice. Most vegan restaurants have creative, colorful, and flavorful dishes that dispel that image. Our favorite ethnic inspirations are Mexican, Thai, East Indian, Mediterranean, and East African. The flavors from these cuisines are complex and the variety of ingredients provides complexity and satiation. For those looking for a meaty taste, we use mushrooms and seaweed in dishes like our Portobello Sliders, or the strudel we make with sea palm, carrots, and onions. We make a New England oyster mushroom chowder that has won clam chowder contests. Our barbequed portobello is awesome and is a whole food alternative to brisket and other barbequed meats.

Q: I'm always curious to know what cooks and chefs eat when they are away from their work. And I'm usually surprised by the answer. What's your favorite at-home dinner?

A: At home we eat salads, braised or roasted vegetables, chili, and quite often, russet potatoes cooked in a T-Fal ActiFry (a low-fat multi-cooker). When cooked with white vinegar, the potatoes remind us of Winnipeg’s “chips and vinegar.” We don't cook at home often because we live on the Inn property and are continually tasting and tweaking dishes for the restaurant. We try parts of different dishes to assure consistency. A vegan restaurant has a high bar to meet and we have to stay on top of the kitchen. When we go to Lake Winnipeg for our annual family reunion, we experiment, creating dishes we bring back to the Inn and hand over to our fantastic cooking staff to test.

Raven Seaweed Strudel
reproduced with permission from the publisher, slightly adapted

A good friend of mine became a vegan around Fathers' Day last year. His son explained it this way: "My dad is a vegan. My mom and my sister are vegetarian. And I am tortured!" I might have to have him over for a few of these recipes. I am pretty sure he'd happily devour these dishes. Just looking at these titles makes my mouth water - Grilled Barbecue Portabella, Grilled Cauliflower Napoleon, Mushroom Pesto Burger, Spicy Peanut Curry Sea Palm, and Eggplant Cannelloni.

When I was perusing the cookbook, I decided to share a more challenging recipe. I did have some trouble sourcing sea palm. I ended up finding mixed sea veggies, so I changed the title to "seaweed strudel." Also, I added in some collard greens because I had them in my CSA box and I thought they would be a great addition.

As the Stanfords commented about their next-gen vegan fare, this was an incredibly creative, colorful, and flavorful dish. Incredible. They serve the strudel with two unique sauces and a fresh stir-fry. Did I already say 'incredible'?

For the Seaweed Strudel
  • 4 ounces seaweed, soaked for 5 minutes in enough warm water to cover
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C brown rice syrup
  • 6 T gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 2 C collard greens, destemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T organic vegetable broth
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 (16-ounce) package whole wheat fillo dough (I used Fillo Factory Organic Whole Wheat Fillo Dough, as they do)
  • Spray oil
  • 2 T black sesame seeds

For the Umeboshi Plum Sauce
  • 1/2 (10-ounce) bag frozen raspberries
  • 3 1/2 T umeboshi plum paste
  • juice of 1 organic lime
  • 1 C apple juice
  • 2 T arrowroot powder

For the Asian Stir-Fry
  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 C chopped cauliflower
  • 1/2 C chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C sliced green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2  organic vegetable broth
  • 1/4 C raw cashews

For the Wasabi Sauce
  • 2 1/4 T wasabi powder
  • 2 1/4 T water
  • 2 1/4 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 t brown rice syrup


For the Wasabi Sauce
In a small bowl, make a paste of the wasabi and water. Place paste, oil, and brown rice syrup into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary.

For the Seaweed Strudel
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large saucepan, combine drained sea palm, water, brown rice syrup, and tamari. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a slow boil. Lower heat and simmer until the liquid turns to syrup, about 15 minutes.

Add ginger, remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan, braise onion, carrots, and collard greens in the stock and sesame oil. Lower heat to low and allow the vegetables to soften, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To assemble, lay down 1 sheet of fillo dough and brush or spray lightly with olive oil. Place a second sheet on top of the first and brush with oil again. Repeat with a third layer.

Sprinkle black sesame seeds over the whole third sheet. Layer 2 more sheets of fillo, brushing each with oil (for total of 5 layers). Sprinkle black sesame seeds on the top layer.

Spread a 3-inch wide strip of the cooled sea palm mixture evenly across the fillo sheets, 2 inches from the bottom. Lift the bottom edge up and over the sea palm mixture, rolling and securing the mixture. Then place a 3-inch-wide strip of the cooled carrot-onion-collard green mixture evenly across the top of the secured sea palm mixture. Roll the sea palm up and over the carrot mixture, securing the mixture. Continue to gently roll up.

Place, seam-side down, onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through. Allow to rest for 5–10 minutes.

For the Umeboshi Plum Sauce
In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, plum paste, and lime juice. Add apple juice, using only enough to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot with a 1/2 teaspoon water to make a milky paste. Add additional water if necessary.
Carefully add the arrowroot mixture to the boiling raspberry mixture. Mix well and remove from heat. Strain the seeds out, if you wish; I did. Set sauce aside until ready for assembly or store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Asian Stir-Fry
In a large sauté pan, heat sunflower oil and add onion. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat, then add remaining vegetables and red pepper flakes, tossing occasionally. Pour in the vegetable stock, toss vegetables to coat, reduce heat to low, and cover pan to steam the vegetables. Toss vegetables again after 5 minutes, and replenish vegetable stock if needed to coat vegetables. Continue to cook until just tender, another 5 minutes. Just before serving, toss cashews into the vegetables.

For Serving
Smear a ribbon of wasabi sauce on your serving plate. Using a serrated knife, slice the strudel into 2-inch pieces and place on top of the wasabi sauce. Place about 1/2 cup of stir-fry in front of strudel pieces. Drizzle the umeboshi sauce over the strudel and serve immediately.

The Giveaway
One of my lucky readers - US only! - can enter to win a copy of  Dining at the Ravens by Jeff and Joan Stanford, courtesy of BenBella VeganGiveaway runs from February 9th till March 3rd at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to BenBella Vegan. You may find them: on the web, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Dining at the Ravens by Jeff & Joan Stanford to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my posts.

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cherry-Glazed Chicken with Hahn's 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir #WinePW #sponsor

I have six different dishes and wine pairings for the upcoming holiday ready to share with you. And irony is not lost on me. While I am not a fan of Valentines' Day per se, I am a huge fan of romantic dinners.

So, in this week leading up to #WinePW - which happens the 2nd Saturday of every month - I will post recipes that you and your valentine can enjoy on February 14th and really any time you want a dinner that's a little bit more than your usual. I have everything from shrimp to wild boar and venison to salmon. So, stay tuned! Click to read Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva's invitation to our Saturday #WinePW event.

I wanted to start off with a local-to-me vintner, Hahn Family Wines.* A few years ago, Jake and I had a chance to tour the Hahn vineyards by ATV. Click to read about the ATV tour and about the wine tasting after. What fun!

In the Glass...
Hahn's 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir is a vintage I haven't tried before. But, being the Pinot Noir gal that I am, I knew instantly that I would enjoy it. And I really love that it's completely made with grapes from our local Santa Lucia Highlands. It's 100% Pinot Noir and it's aged in French oak for almost a year.

This wine is both subtle and silky. It's the perfect, sexy pour for a romantic dinner at home. The nose holds distinct notes of cherry, berries, and currant with softer tones of spices such as cardamom. On the palate, it's a velvety soft sip with a smooth finish.

You can purchase it from their website: here.

On the Plate...
I wanted to mirror those alluring flavors of cherry and cardamom, so I decided to create a cherry-cardamom glaze and slather it on a roasted chicken. What a pairing!


  • One 4 to 5 pound chicken (I like Mary's Organic, Air-Chilled Chickens)
  • 4 to 5 lemons
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 C cherry jam
  • 1/4 C red wine
  • 2 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T ground cardamom
  • Also needed: 100% cotton kitchen twine

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice lemons in half and stuff them into the cavity of the chicken. With the kitchen twine, tie the drumsticks of the chicken together and place in a rimmed baking dish.

Sprinkle the chicken with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover the chicken with foil...or I used a stoneware roasting pan with a stoneware bowl over the top.

Roast at 375 degrees for 75 minutes. While the chicken roasts, make the glaze. Place the cherry jam, red wine, sugar, vinegar, and ground cardamom in a skillet. Bring to a boil and stir till the sugar dissolves completely. Boil until the glaze thickens and reduces by half, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

When time is up on the chicken, remove the chicken from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Baste the chicken with the juices at the bottom of the pan. Brush the chicken with the glaze and return to the oven.

Return chicken to the oven for 10 minutes. Baste one more time. Spoon the rest of the glaze over the top of the chicken and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

The chicken skin will be nicely burnished and the drumsticks will pull away from the chicken easily. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving into pieces.

I served the cherry-glazed chicken with coleslaw and steamed purple cauliflower. Delish.

Find Hahn Family Wines
on the web

*Disclosure: I did receive sample wines from Benson Marketing Group - public relations for Hahn Family Wines - for the purpose of creating pairings and developing recipes. But no additional compensation was received and opinions are completely my own.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Envy-able Sangria #FreshTastyValentines #sponsor #giveaway

Who doesn't love a good sangria? Typically it's a summer libation...well, at least for me. I don't think I've ever made sangria after Labor Day. But I was inspired to create a wintery version when I received some crisp apples from one of the sponsors for my multi-day, multi-blogger event - Fresh Tasty Valentines.

So, with apples from Envy Apples and wine from another event sponsor - Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi - I bring you my Envy-able Sangria. I even headed out, during a break in the rain, with new clippers from Casabella to get some rosemary from the garden.

And, on this final day of our event, I figured a nice libation to pour into glass and retreat to the couch was a must. Salud!

  • 1 apple (I used Envy Apples)
  • 1/2 C fresh organic cranberries, sliced in half or pierced with a skewer
  • 1 sprig fresh organic rosemary
  • 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc (I used Woodbridge)
  • 4 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C sparkling water
  • fresh organic rosemary sprigs, for garnish
  • organic granulated sugar, for garnish
  • Also need: 1 L jar with a lid

Core and dice the apples. Place them at the bottom of the jar. Put the cranberries and rosemary into the jar and sprinkle with sugar. Pour in the wine and the sparkling water. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

To make your garnish, lay rosemary sprigs on a plate and spray with water. Dip the rosemary into granulated sugar. Let dry. To serve, pour into glasses and garnish with sugared rosemary.

Don't forget to check out the prizes and enter our #FreshTastyValentines Giveaway
HERE. You can win prize packages from Envy Apples, Casabella, and Woodbridge!

*Disclosure: I received complimentary product from Envy Apples, Casabella, and Woodbridge for the creation of this post. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.*

Find Envy Apples
on the web: here
on Twitter: here
on Facebook: here
on Pinterest: here
on Instagram: here

Find Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi on Facebook: here

Find Casabella
on the web: here
on Twitter: here
on Facebook: here
on Pinterest: here

Today's #FreshTastyValentines Recipes

SRC Reveal: Rustic Steak au Poivre

It's time for Group B's first reveal of 2016 for the Secret Recipe Club. Happy New Year! This month I was assigned to Amy's Cooking Adventures which is written by - yes, you guessed it! - Amy. Amy and I travel in similar cooking circles, so I'm surprised that I've never made anything from her blog. Till now.

So, a little bit about the lady behind the food. She loves to cook and bake. In fact, she runs a second blog dedicated to her sweets. Check out Amy's Confectionery Adventures! If you are a Star Wars fan, you must check out her Chewbacca Cupcakes and her R2-D2 Cake. We share a love of that little astromech droid! Here's my purse. I definitely need that cake in my life.

Amy has a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and Reading, but gave it all up to stay home with her children. She has three children - two sons on Earth (AKA Dude and Spud) and one angel baby in Heaven. She writes that in her spare time she loves to read, scrapbook, and sew. And, maybe, my favorite tidbit about Amy: "I despise housecleaning. I like to call my look 'organized chaos'." Me, too!! Well, my chaos might just be chaos. There's not much organization to it.

There is so much to love on Amy's blog. Check out her Dried Pineapple Flowers. I was so intrigued by her Roaring 20s Party, I will have to find an occasion to throw one. She's even hosted a Bacon Birthday Party! And, no surprise here, she's thrown a Star Wars Party. The gal definitely knows how to have fun. She has a recipe for an Irish Breakfast Shot and Champagne Truffles that I cannot wait to make. Thanks for all the inspiration, Amy.

 slightly adapted from Amy's Steak au Poivre

Ingredients serves 2

  • 2 filet mignon steaks
  • freshly ground salt
  • 4 T compound butter (I made a juniper butter)
  • 3 T black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 C onion, diced (okay, mine were slightly bigger than diced - whoops!)
  • ¼ C whiskey (I used an Irish whiskey)
  • 1 C beef broth
  • ¼ C half and half
  • ¼ C fresh parsley, freshly chopped

Let the filet mignon come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Generously season the steaks with salt.

Heat the butter in a large, flat-bottom pan over medium-high heat.  Add 2 T butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted and bubbly, place the steaks in the pan and sear for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the steaks to desired doneness.

Move the filet mignon to a plate. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the cracked peppercorns. Place 1 T butter on each steak and tent loosely with foil.

Place the onions into the same pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the whiskey and cook until mostly evaporated, scraping any browned bits. Pour in the stock and raise the temperature. Let the sauce reduce until a spoon leaves a trail.

Stir in the cream and cook until thickened.  Remove from heat. Stir in the parsley and the last 1 tablespoon of peppercorns. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve. I served the filet mignon with smashed potatoes topped with more juniper compound butter.

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