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Monday, May 30, 2011

Gardein Egg Fontina Burger

"We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons."
- Alfred E. Newman (Mad Magazine)

Hi everyone!  Here's hoping that you have a pleasant and observed Memorial Day.  Remember... we are all here due to the honorable actions and sacrifices of others.  It only takes a second out of this day to use your heart, thoughts, and/or prayers to give thanks.

I decided to share what Tiffany and I had for dinner last night.  We had a most wonderful Sunday in each others company topping it off with a delicious dinner.  We ran errands this morning stopping by Subway for a healthy vegetarian breakfast sandwich (6" whole grain bread, egg white, provolone, jalapeno slices, tomato and spinach).  For lunch?  Firehouse Subs for a Veggie sandwich (whole wheat roll, grilled veggies, cheeses, raw veggies, and hold the mayo). We sat on our back porch in the afternoon sharing a few of nice beers (Sol, Tecante, and Dos Equis) and eating fresh veggies, healthy chips and salsa.  

Gardein Egg Fontina Burger

Needless to add, we weren't too hungry when supper time rolled around.  I had made some delicious Mushroom & Barley Soup overnight in the crock pot (blog post forthcoming) but we were simply too full to have any today.  Instead, we made the following sandwiches on the gas grill.  Grilled the deli-style rolls on the grill, grilled the Gardein patties, and topped each with some Fontina cheese to melt.   As these were cooking, I used the gas grill's side burner to fry up two organic free-range chicken eggs.  Tiffany slapped some Nayonnaise on the buns before piecing it all together.

Oh yeah... If you love Vegenaise, I'll tell you right here and now...  Nayonnaise isn't a great substitute.   Hoover's Essential Health Market was out of Reduced-Fat Vegenaise and I thought I'd try Nayonnaise to see how it works.  Although it's quite yummy and much superior to mayonnaise, it doesn't come close to stacking up to Vegenaise in either taste or nutrition (recall that I use Reduced-Fat version of Vegenaise).  Just sharing this with you to save a little on the learning curve, okay?

The Gardein Egg Fontina Burger?  It was our first try of the Gardein burger although we've tried many of their other products.  It was really delicious and had both the look and texture of a real carnivorous beef-based hamburger.  It actually tastes quite similar too but carries much of a portabello mushroom taste as well.  The burger was tasty, delicious and very filling!  Heavy on the calories but the single burger is what each of us called dinner last night.


Tiffany and I both wish you a wonderful Memorial Day and hope that you are able to enjoy some of the freedoms which others have sacrificed to allow us to have.  Please keep the sacrifices of soldiers past, present and future in mind when you freely walk around this day.  If you run across a man in uniform today, why not offer an extended arm and handshake or sincere smile and "Thanks!"

Hi-dee hi-dee never-forget-your-freedoms-come-at-a-heavy-price-ho my friend.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wine Tasting - Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc The Fumé 2009

"Wine is bottled poetry."
 - Robert Luis Stevenson

Hello everyone!  I hope that you're having a wonderful day.

Not another wine tasting!  Sorry, folks.  But ~ This is more than a wine tasting.  This is actually consumption and review of Rosey Rebecca's future brother-in-law!  Huh???  Well, check out this web link okay?

She had to go brag and boast about the wonderful Sauvignon Blanc that she had found.  Well, I too prefer the red wines and she had Tiffany and I quite curious.  Could this wine be one of this hidden gems hiding out there on the wine merchant's shelf?  Yes, it turned out to be so.

So ~ On a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon in Florida, Tiffany and I opened a chilled bottle and gave it a try.  We enjoyed it with crackers & hummus and fresh veggies (baby carrot, snap pea and sliced cucumber).  A most delicious pairing.  The only problem?  Easy!  When the bottle ran dry.  :(

Chucky's Score:  90
Tiffany's Score:  88

Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc The Fumé 2009

Appellation:  North Coast, Santa Rosa, California
Grape Varietal(s):  Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon
Retail Price:  $8.99
Vintage:  2009
Producer:  Murphy-Goode
Alcohol:  13.5%
Calories:   94 per 4-ounce

Tasting sheets as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

The label reads as follows:

"Like a classic guitar riff, The Fumé may be enjoyed on its own or as the rhythm of a larger ensemble.  The wine displays a bright, intriguing range of tropical flavors that harmonize with orange blossom and tangerine.  Vibrant acidity and a rich mouthfeel allow it to stand up to any kind of seafood, from coconut shrimp to oysters on the half-shell.  It's all Goode.

 We take our wine seriously... ourselves, not so much."

The website reads as follows:

"The 2009 vintage was predominately fermented in stainless steel to retain the citrus and tropical fruit aromatics while the balance was barrel fermented in French and American oak to increase the mouthfeel and develop flavors of white peach and honeydew melon. We also use a clone of Sauvignon Blanc called Sauvignon Musqué to add a hint of orange blossom and tangerine and, for the first time ever, we blended in some estate Sémillon. The Sémillon adds wonderful floral notes and nice texture."

A most pleasant crispy white fruity wine.  Lots of creaminess with an abundance of tropical flavors.  Each sip was more enjoyable than the last.  Both Tiffany and I noted it's change in tastes as we went through each glass.  A most pleasurable complexity to this Sauvignon Blanc.

Hi-dee hi-dee try-Rebecca's-new-found-love-yourself-ho my friends.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wine Tasting - Maipe Reserve Bonarda Old Vine 2009

"This is one of the disadvantages of wine: it makes a man mistake words for thought."
 - Unknown

There are two more white wine reviews from "The Grapes Less Traveled" class that Tiffany and I attended.  However, I thought that I would take a break and jump to one of the red wines tasted.  It's the one wine that we purchased that day.  This selection filled one of those most coveted, but limited, spaces within our wine racks.

Chucky Point Score:  91
Tiffany Point Score:  90
Wine Spectator Score:  88
Wine Advocate (Robert Parker) Score: 88 points

Maipe Reserve Bonarda Old Vine 2009

Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Grape Varietal(s):  Bonarda (same grape as Charbono)
Retail Price:  $14.99
Vintage:  2009
Producer:  Bodega Chakana
Alcohol:  14.0 %
Calories:  98 per 4-ounce
Argentina Labeling Requirements:
    Reserva = 6 months in bottle of oak
    Gran Reserva = 12 months in bottle or oak
    Reserva = 12 months in bottle or oak
    Gran Reserva = 24 months in bottle or oak

Tasting sheets as follows.

Chucky's Review
Tiffany's Review

Mmm... Does this wine smell good or what?  Tiffany and I both experienced cherry notes on the nose.  However, I detected my favorite red wine smell.  Something that I affectionately like to call "stink".  Sometimes described as "dirt", "earth", "musty", or "wet dog".  With the red wines, it has been my personal experience that the stinkier the wine aroma the better the taste!  Can't wait to pour this wine over my palate, indeed!

The label reads as follows:

"Maipe Reserve is crafted from hand selected parcels of the first grapes grown at Chakana Estate.  The grapes are carefully chosen and fermented in small lots to insure vineyard identity.  The resulting wine is barrel aged 12 months to fully reveal the character of the Andean terroir.  A smooth complex wine with intense, savory fruit flavors, great length and elegance.

  Produced and estate bottled by Provia S.A.L."

Their website reads as follows:

"DESCRIPTION:   A true rarity, the Old Vine Bonarda is made from a grape one rarely sees (basically it is planted in Italy and Argentina).  This dense purple-hued, somewhat monolithic offering reveals loads of briery fruit, and reminds me of a hypothetical blend of a Barbera and Zinfandel.  Briery, crisp, and dense, it is not terribly complex, but is very satisfying on a primary level.   Drink it over the next 1-2 years."

A bold chocolate-cherry taste on the palate with hints of currant, cassis, oak and/or earth.  Relative high tannins equates to good shelf life.  The vintner suggests 1 to 2 years but I personally believe that this should safely keep for up to five years.  But, they have the vested interest you drink this bottle today so that you may purchase a replacement bottle tomorrow.  :)

Hi-dee hi-dee are-not-red-wines-simply-delicious-ho my friends.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wine Tasting - Jean Albrecht Pinot Blanc Reserve 2009

"It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one's present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason."
 - Latin Proverb

Hello to one and all!

Yes, another white wine from "The Grapes Less Traveled" class which Tiffany and I attended.  This one made from the Pinot Blanc grape, a descendant of the Pinot Noir grape.  Mmm... buttery and aromatic!  How can one go wrong?

Chucky's Score:  88
Tiffany's Score:  86

Jean Albrecht Pinot Blanc Reserve 2009

Appellation:  Orschwihr, Alsace, France
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Pinot Blanc
Retail Price:  $13.99
Vintage:  2009
Producer:  Jean Albrecht
Alcohol:  13.0%
Calories:  91 per 4-ounce

Tasting sheets as follows.

Chucky's Review
Tiffany's Review

Oh, boy!  When I made a comment in the class that this particular selection was "almost a subtle Riesling" I was booed.  I had not previously been booed for making an observation before.  So ~ maybe I don't know what I am saying, huh?  But... I'm going to share anyway.

Notice the shape of the bottle?  It doesn't look like the traditionally shaped wine bottle.  It looks more like the bottle shape of a German Reisling huh?  And why is this?  The Alsace region is located in the northeast region of France.  Right next to the German border.  Just saying.

Tiffany and my reviews are interesting that we did not rate any scoring category the same.  However, when the numbers are tallied, we are only two points different.  We both noted butter (or creamy) on the nose with notes of butterscotch on the palate.  A nice white wine which is something between the traditional French white and a German Riesling (in this little plastic doll's opinion).

Hi-dee hi-dee don't-let-white-wines-pass-you-by-ho my friends.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Is This?

"When you talk to yourself you are not crazy.  You are simply talking to the most intelligent person you know."
 - Chucky - The Fat Vegetarian

Hi everyone!  I'll tip my wine glass that you have nothing short of simply wonderful experiences this fine day.

Mystery Dish

Okay, okay... Just what is this?  It's a recipe from the cookbook, "Better Homes and Gardens 365 Vegetarian Meals".  Basically it's diced tomatoes, Farro, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash, vegan "chicken" broth, and dried oregano slow cooked in a crock pot.  Frozen green beans are added 10-minutes before serving and then this dish is topped with crumbled feta cheese.  It's identified as "Greek Beans and Barley" in the cookbook.

The affect of slow cooking the Farro leads to a risotto consistency.  It has a subtle pizza flavor but is packed with nutrition.  Absolutely no fats/oils used in the dish.  Pure heavenly healthy straight from the crock pot.

Tiffany & I came home from work and needed only 10-minutes to finalize this dish.  It was delicious and needed no accompanying sides.  We treated this as a one-dish meal.  Left-overs?  Yes, plenty of left-overs.  The recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.  Oh, lucky me!  :)

So, for lunch today Tiffany used some to make a most delicious grilled tortilla wrap.  As strange as it may seem, the combination of diced tomato and Farro appears like refried bean but tastes of Italian.  I savored every single bite knowing it to be a nutrition packed power house meal.  Fresh vegetables and whole grain Farro and nothing more.  Vitamins and fiber in a low-fat low-glycemic food combination.  Tiffany loves me so!  She wraps it into a 80-calorie whole wheat tortilla shell.

I suppose that I could have shared the entire recipe as mine was not an "exact" copy of Better Homes and Garden's.  But ~ They are so similarly close that my conscience prohibits me from doing so.  Sorry.  If it helps, this cookbook is worthy of it's cover price.

Nutrition per serving (6 servings per recipe)

And why do I share it then?  Besides being a little low on blog ideals at the present time, I thought it delicious and healthy enough to warrant its' disclosure to you.  Once again, this dish is another fine example of all of the vegan/vegetarian foods out there to be explored.  I have only but just began my vegetarian culinary quest.

Hi-dee hi-dee lift-a-culinary-rock-and-find-your-vegetarian-gem-today-ho my friend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wine Tasting - Dolia Vermentino de Sardgna 2009

"If you don't like the food, have more wine."
 - Unknown

This month's wine class?  "The Grapes Less Traveled".  A sampling of lesser known grape varietals.  Dolia Vermentino de Sardgna was the first of four white wines served and featured the Vermentino grape. 

Chucky's Score:  88
Tiffany's Score:  89

Appellation:  Dolianova, Sardinia, Italy
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Vermentino
Retail Price:  $12.99
Vintage:  2009
Alcohol:  12.5%
Calories:   88 per 4-ounce
Other:  Their website does not include this particular wine.

Tasting sheets as follows.

Chucky's Review Notes

Tiffany's Review Notes

Tiffany and I were but a single point difference in our scoring.  We both sensed peach on the nose but she added melon whereas I included lemon.  We had similar tastes detected on our palates.  I rated it 1-point higher on nose intensity and Tiffany rated it 1-point higher on both fruit intensity and taste characteristics. 

The label reads as follows:

"Vermentino de Sardegna
 Denominazione di origine controllata
 Dolia 2010 Dry White Wine
 Estate bottle by Cantine di Dolianova"

Interesting that we both paired this wine with cheese and salty foods.  It is a crisp Summer wine and opened up a wee bit after some breathing.  A most interesting and pleasurable grape varietal indeed. 

Hi-dee hi-dee take-the-unknown-grape-varietal-challenge-ho my friends.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Delicious Sundays Can't Prevent Monotonous Mondays

"Definition of a bad week?  By 8:05 AM on Monday you're already looking forward to Happy Hour on Friday."
  - Chucky - The Fat Vegetarian

Greetings everyone!  Sorry that I did not post over the weekend but I truly did not have anything to report worthy of a blog post.  Of course, this may be said of many of my posts huh?

So... rather than another day to slip by without greetings and a quick "Hello!", I thought I'd briefly describe a most wonderful Sunday itinerary that Tiffany & I experienced.  The agenda was as follows:

Stop #1 - Hoover's Essential Health Market
Hoover's Essential Health Market - "The Seed" needed some organic canned dog food and we needed some healthy essentials such as organic kale, organic collard greens, nutritional yeast, and chia seed.  They are out of organic turmeric until Wednesday and neither Penzey's nor The Spice & Tea Exchange provide an organic turmeric version I don't believe.  Guess what?  The Seed's dog food is on sale!  I sense a very lucky day ahead of us.

Stop #2 - Costco Warehouse Club
Costco Warehouse Club - We went to two Sam's Warehouse Clubs on Saturday and neither had a healthy low-calorie flour tortilla that we were seeking.  We hit pay-dirt at Costco!  Not only did they have a healthy 10" whole wheat tortillas but they were only 80-calories each!  Even better than the 100-calorie shells that we had seeked.  Hmm... another sign of a great day ahead.

Stop #3 - Super Oriental Market
Phước Lộc Thọ Super Oriental Market - Phước = happiness, Lộc = good luck, and Thọ - longevity.  Coincidence?  I think not.  We needed firm tofu and they have it cheapest in town.  Only $1.79 per package.  Then I decided to grab one head of Chinese cabbage and a bag of bean sprouts to make an Asian filling for grilled tortillas.  The planned stuffing?  Basically stir-fried cabbage, bean sprout, bamboo shoot, mushrooms in a soy/hoisin sauce.  I'll probably make a blog entry when I do this, okay?  Oh yes, I also need a bottle of Sambal Oelek for the office.  I can't live without the stuff.  Simply love it.

Stop #4 - Pei Wei Asian Diner
Pei Wei Asian Diner - In case you did not know, Pei Wei is a fast food subsidiary of the P.F. Chang's China Bistro chain.  It's right across the street from Total Wine & More where we'll be heading to attend a scheduled wine class.  I had a hankering for Phở soup but this is one dish that Pei Wei does not offer.  Instead, Tiffany & I ordered and shared Tofu Lo Mein and Sweet & Sour Tofu with brown rice.  Both dishes ordered "stock velveted" which equates to vegan at Pei Wei.  Mmm... absolutely delicious (as is always the case).

Stop #5 - Marshall's Department Store
Marshall's - A few minutes to spare before wine class begins.  Lucky for Tiffany, there is a Marshall's department store in the shopping center where Total Wine & More, Orlando sits.  Chucky?  He sits in the parking lot, plays on his cell phone, and listens to some XM radio as Tiffany shops.

Stop #6 - Total Wine & More
Total Wine & More - It's time for this month's class... "The Grapes Less Traveled".  A class focused exclusively on less known grape varietals.  Nine wines to taste; four whites, four reds, and one bonus red of the instructor's choosing.  In the following days you will see our "Wine Tasting" entries relative to the sampled wines.  All were fine wines but we only purchased one bottle.  Our wine cabinet real estate runeth over.

Stop #7 - Loving Hut Vegan Restaurant
Loving Hut - They have their weekly buffet on Sundays from 3:00 PM until 9:00 PM.  All of the delicious and healthy vegan delicacies that you can eat for $9.99 per person.  Soup, salads, lo mein, rice dishes, pita pocket sandwiches, TVP "pork" 'n veggie dish, eggplant 'n tofu dish, and diced flan-like tofu desert.  I've said it before and will undoubtedly say it again ~ i cannot see how they can do it!  Everything is unique and absolutely tasty.  Rarely the same dish ever appears on the buffet.  I was in vegan heaven as I ate my dinner.

Stop #8 - Eat More Produce
Eat More Produce - It's on the way home from a most wonderful day.  They had fresh cantaloupe for $0.99 each, Vidalia onion for $0.69 pound and baby cucumbers for $0.99 pound.  Our "vegetarian chariot" almost came to a screeching halt as we pulled up to Eat More Produce!  Mmm... diced fresh cantaloupe & strawberry for lunch today!

Yes.  It was a most wonderful day.  An almost perfect one, actually.  But... It's Monday and it's back to work.  If someone can figure out a way to spend weekends forever without having to go into the office for Mondays through Fridays, please let me know.  <hehe>

I hope that you have a pleasant and productive workweek so that you may enjoy the fruits of your labor on the weekend.  The world did not come to an end on Saturday so let's make the best of a great situation.  We're on a roll my friend.  Let's surf life's waves to their fullest.

Hi-dee hi-dee stay-well-and-stay-healthy-ho my friend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day #231 of a Lacto-Ovo (Milk-Egg) Vegetarian Life - Random Observations

"I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants."
 - A. Whitney Brown

Warm and sincere wishes that every breathe that you take this day is a worthy one to the planet.

Hmm... To blog today or not to blog today.  That is the not the question.  And, the question is... What to blog about today?  How about a smorgasbord of random observations?  Well, like it or not... After two-hundred thirty-one days (began October 1, 2010) as a lacto-ovo vegetarian here 'tis...

  • Eating Out - Rarely an issue.  About the only places where I can no longer eat are hamburger joints, greasy fried chicken establishments and bar-b-que houses.  A few ideals to share:
    • Burger King offers a veggie burger (Morningstar patty),
    • pasta at an Italian restaurant,
    • tofu at an Asian restaurant,
    • salads just about everywhere,
    • veggie sandwiches at sandwich shops,
    • pizza (cheese & veggie) at your local pizzeria,
    • include the phrases "I'll order the.." & "... but hold the..." to your vocabulary
    • and use Happy Cow to located hidden dining gems and treasures near you.

  • Meat Alternatives - Never an issue.  As numerous are the choices for a carnivore, I have many healthier choices to obtain my protein:
    • egg, 
    • cheese, 
    • yogurt, 
    • tofu, 
    • seitan, 
    • TVP (textured vegetable protein), 
    • tempeh, 
    • Quorn, 
    • beans, 
    • quinoa (seeds), 
    • almonds (nuts), 
    • and farro (whole grains).
  • Recipes - Oh my gosh!  Not a problem whatsoever.  And, the good news?  You don't have to give up most of your past-life favorite carnivorous dishes.  Here a few tips for locating delicious vegan/vegetarian recipes:
    • blog sites - simply Google "vegetarian blogspot" and "vegetarian wordpress" which are two of the most popular blog page types,
    • Google - for your favorite dishes simply search on the recipes by prefacing with the word "vegetarian" and end it with the word "recipe" (for example, "vegetarian taco recipe"),
    • books and magazines - there are too many of both to count with more being added daily,
    • dining out - pay attention to what is in the dish that you've ordered and are enjoying ("Can I replicate this dish at home?"),
    • and revisit Mom's old cookbooks - simply use your vegetarian thinking cap ("Can I convert this wonderful recipe as vegan/vegetarian?").
I am going to stop here as this should be enough information to get you thinking outside that embedded carnivorous box.  Your granddad ate animal flesh, your dad ate animal flesh, and heck... you may have previously consumed animal flesh.  But it no longer has to be so!  What a beautiful healthy world in which we may live, huh?  Have a terrific 'n healthy day and remember to minimize your ecological footprint to our planet!

What about you?  Hey!  Join me here, okay?  Share your thoughts, tricks and ideals to help your fellow vegan/vegetarian enjoy their healthy lifestyle.  You've been challenged so post your thoughts below.  In advance, thank you for sharing your comment(s).

Hi-dee hi-dee a-meatless-lifetime-to-go-ho my friend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"The Return of the Poor Man's Panini Press"

"Ham and Eggs: a days work for a chicken; a life time commitment for a pig."
 - Author unknown

Hello my fine friends!

I hope that you're planning to conquer the world today.  Well... at least you've made it out of bed, right?  Relax my friend.  Heck... allow someone else to do the conquering.  Okay?  You just keep on reading my blog.  Alright?

Veggie 'n quinoa wrap with side salad

Today's blog?  Er... should I say tonight's blog?  Another day of drudgery at the office and about the only exercise my mind received was when it began contemplating dinner tonight.  If truth be told, it was Anne's fault!  I'm referring to Anne over at Finding Your Zen Pulse.  She just had to go and post a most delicious "SuperSHEro Mushroom Stroganoff!" recipe today.

Hmm... let's see.  I have some fresh eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, baby portabello mushrooms, and large portabello caps which Tiffany and I purchased over the weekend.   And I just played with the "poor man's panini press" last night.  Yeah.  You see where I'm going here don't you?  Oh yeah... Remember "The Chucky Portabello Experiment" from the other day?  Well ~ I just happened to save the juices from the portabello caps as they roasted on the grill.  I just knew that I would be able to use the delicious liquid gold somewhere at a recipe near me soon.

Then came along Anne's fabulous recipe and another ideal "pinged" into my buoyant head.  Grill up some of that delicious fresh produce, lay it on a bed of quinoa in a tortilla shell, cover it with some "SuperSHEro Mushroom Stroganoff" gravy, wrap it up, grill it and I've got dinner!  Yeah... that will work. 

Incidentally, I made the batch of Anne's "SuperSHEro Mushroom Stroganoff" sauce to go with some tortellini that I plan to make later this week.  However, I can skim just a little off the top to:  (a) check it out and (b) include it into my grilled wraps as the flavor ingredient.  And contrary to Anne's opinion that it's UGLY, it's most definitely not!  It screams creamy mushroom delight to the eyes and backs it up on the palate. 

And the result?  Absolutely delicious!!!  Anne's recipe rocks as did the entire concept come together without an incident.  No flawed experiments here.  We used 1 yellow squash, 1 zucchini, 1 small eggplant, and four baby portabello mushrooms to stuff four grilled wraps.  Two to share at dinner tonight and two to share for lunch tomorrow.

Oh yeah... the most important part perhaps?  "Thank you Anne!  From the bottom of my delicious veggie 'n quinoa grilled wrap.  You rock my blogosphere world, friend!  I can hardly wait to make my tortellini and allow it to swim in the sauce."

Hi-dee hi-dee winner-winner-veggie-wrap-with-SuperSHEro-Mushroom-Stroganoff-sauce-winner-ho my friend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grilled Sandwich Wrap - Thanks Green Day Cafe!

"Annoying the cook will result in smaller portions."
 - Unknown

May your day be truly wonderful and on the verge of spectacular, if not exceeded!

Grilled Sandwich Wrap

Today's blog?  Well ~ I can't entirely take credit.  The true credit behind today's creation must go to those fine folks at the Green Day Cafe.  I know that I've blogged about Green Day Cafe several times in the past but I may not have explained how they prepare their wraps.  Instead of the usual stuffed soft tortilla wrap, they take the extra time to quickly grill it.  The organic veggies inside are always fresh, crisp and cold.  They apparently use an industrial grade panini press.  When I inquired, they told me they primarily use this technique to help hold the tortilla together as the customer consumes it.


In my experience, it's a most delicious twist to the usual wrap.  In addition, I love the textures as I bite my sandwich along its way!  If you look at their menu and the wrap ingredients, it's apparent that each creation is basically an organic & healthy salad inside a grilled flour tortilla shell.  Most delicious, indeed!

Ready to roll

As I sat in the office drudgery today and contemplated what I shall make for dinner tonight, a brilliant ideal sparked inside that little plastic bubble head of mine!  Why can't I make one at home?  After all, I have all of the ingredients handy.  But... How do I grill it without cooking the organic salad greens?  I own a Cuisinart panini grill but it's too hot (efficient).  I'm afraid that it may cook the fresh lettuce and sprouts inside the wrap.

Poor man's panini press

Shazam!  How about "the poor man's panini press"?  Everybody has one.  In fact, you have many within the confines of your kitchen.  Basically, all you need is a good cast iron skillet and something of weight to press the sandwich as it browns.  In this particular application, you don't want it too heavy.  At first I grabbed an aluminum fry pan but it felt too light.  Another smaller cast iron skillet?  No... Too heavy.  I instead used an empty tea kettle.  It had both the perfect weight feel to it and enough bottom surface to efficiently grill my sandwiches.

Ready to slice and serve

Ingredients (per sandwich):
  • 1 10-inch flour tortilla shell
  • 1 Tbsp hummus
  • 1 handful mixed salad greens
  • 1 handful fresh sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seed
  • 1 small raw portabello mushroom
  • Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  1. Pre-heat cast iron skillet to medium-high.
  2. Lay out 10-inch flour tortilla shell and spread hummus in the center of the wrap.  Sprinkle sunflower seed and cranberries evenly, leaving room for anticipated folds.
  3. Next lay out salad greens and sprouts.
  4. Finally top with blue cheese, sliced mushroom, and optional hot sauce.
  5. Once you have filled the wrap, fold the tortilla in half.
  6. Fold over the ends.
  7. While holding the ends of the tortilla roll the tortilla over. 
  8. Spray non-stick cooking spray on hot skillet, lay tortilla(s) seam side down, and top with medium weighted pan to provide gentle press.  Cook approximately 90-seconds.
  9. Remove from skillet, spray non-grilled side, and return to skillet.
  10. Again top with medium weighted pan and cook an additional 60-seconds.
  11. If too warm when removed from skillet, quickly place in refrigerator or freezer for a couple of minutes to stop warming/cooking.
  12. Slice and serve.  Oh yes... enjoy!
  • The order of Steps 1, 2 and 3 above are very important.  If you slightly overcook the wrap, you're effectively cooking everything except the fragile produce items because Steps 1 and 3 provided an insulation barrier.
  • Heating the flour tortilla shell in the microwave for a few seconds will make it more pliable and easier to roll.

    See Step #5
    See Step #6
    See Step #7

    And the result?  Spectacular!  As good as I may find at Green Day Cafe!  No, don't fret Green Day Cafe. We'll continue to visit and patronize you as what you are doing is a wonderful thing.  Running a dinning establish with a tiny eco- footprint and maintaining fast healthy organic food choices.  I will continue to visit over and over again.  I want nothing but total success on your restaurant concept!!!

    Nutrition - per serving/wrap (210- of 352-calories is the tortilla shell)

    Hi-dee hi-dee study-your-dine-out-meals-and-think-recreate-ho my friend!

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Wine Tasting - Funza Pinot Noir 2009

    "I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food."
     - W.C. Fields

    Greetings everyone!  I am truly happy that you've dropped by my blog.  Thanks!

    Tiffany and I had another leisurely Sunday afternoon in the shade from the hot Florida Summer heat sipping wine and savoring fresh veggies 'n fruit.  When scheduling permits, we try to repeat this act every weekend.  This past weekend was no exception.

    Sunday afternoon healthy snacking

    Chucky's Point Score:  74
    Tiffany's Point Score:  81

    2009 Frunza Pinot Noir

    Appellation:  IG Viile Timisului, Transylvania, Romania
    Grape Varietal(s):  Pinot Noir 
    Retail Price:  $4.91 (Sam's Club Markdown)
    Vintage:  2009
    Producer: Cramele Regas
    Alcohol:  13.0 %
    Calories:  91 per 4-ounce

    Tasting sheets as follows.

    Tiffany's Review
    Chucky's Review
    The verdict?  Tiffany and I both agree that Sam's Club is going to have to bite the bullet on this particular wine.  There's absolutely no way possible they'll be able to sell their inventory, at any price.  Sorry Cameron Hughes... You did yourself injustice by making this one of your selections.  To be totally honest, should I ever "Cameron Hughes Selection" on a label I shall be running.

    Tiffany & I decanted this selection using a Vinturi for the subsequent glasses.  Although it did improve the taste and brought out more fruit flavor, it did not change this particular selection into a "good" wine.  We both felt the Frunza Pinot Noir so lacking in flavor that we agreed not to gamble on any other Frunza varietal selections currently at our local Sam's Warehouse Club.

    The label reads as follows:

    "Vin Cu Indicatie Geografica - Viile Timisului

     A Cameron Hughes Selection

     As an American negociant I travel the world searching for wines that deliver remarkable value.  I am proud to present Frunza - a wine deal too good to pass up!  This Pinot Noir is packed with aromas of raspberries, strawberries and violets delivered in a long, soft, lingering finish.  Enjoy with everyone!"

    Rarely do I stumble upon a wine that I can definitely state, without any doubts whatsoever, that I do not like.  This, my friend, happens to be one of them.  However, my tastes aren't yours.  I would love to know whether anyone out there has tasted this particular wine and liked it.  How about any Frunza wine and liked it?  How about a "Cameron Hughes Selection" and liked it?  If Tiffany and I simply stumbled upon a bad year instead of a bad wine, please let us know.  I don't want to dissuade anyone from a wine selection simply due to unwarranted circumstances.

    Although Sam's Warehouse Club had this wine marked down to $4.91/bottle, Tiffany and I still paid too much.  Be both agreed that even if Sam's Club were to mark it down to as low as $0.50/bottle, we honestly would not buy it.  And because you shouldn't use any wine in cooking that you would not drink, this selection can't be used for cooking either.  We're just lucky and happy that we have only bought but the single bottle. 

    Hi-dee hi-dee sometimes-you-simply-get-what-you-paid-for-ho my friends.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Wagner's "Die Walküre"

    "An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences."
      - Edith Wharton

    Greetings and salutations to one and all!
    'Tis a sad day indeed.  Pardon me while Chucky goes into mourning until October.  Yes... 'Tis true.  The MET - Live in HD concluded their 2010 - 2011 season today with a most extraordinary performance of Wagner's Die Walküre. But my fine friends, what a most spectacular event to close the season!  If you missed it today, you missed a remarkable performance.

    Bryn Terfel as Wotar and Deborah Voight as Brünnhilde

    As Tiffany has "wine class withdrawals", Chucky too has his "opera withdrawals".  My spirits may only be lifted by fond remembrances of the season and anticipation for the next.

    The biggest star of today's performance?  It's my humble opinion that it has to be the set for which credit goes to Robert Lepage.  Where else does a snowfall turn into forest during a production without intermission?  A three dimensional set capable of blending the music, cast and story into a homogeneous event.

    Deborah Voight as Brünnhilde

    Every single performer in today's opera had both acting skill and vocal acuteness to make every single second count.  Wagner's music score?  What can be said?  "Stupendous!", perhaps?



    This was the second opera of four performances making up the Ring.  Dare I attempt a try at my own synopsis?  No.  I don't think I'll try this one. 

    Let's just say that you've got mere mortals, gods, goddesses, and everything between.  You've got love, fighting, betrayal, and every human and god-like emotion between.  Action, suspense and a truly wonderful storyline.  You'll be cheering for one character, against another, and perhaps changing your feelings along the way.  In a simply word, how does "Wow" do for a synopsis? It's more than a single opera, it's many.  It's more than a single star or pair of performers, it's many.  There exists a boatload of talent on the stage from the curtain rise to the curtain fall.

    If this doesn't entice you or simply doesn't make any sense, how about the official MET synopsis sheet below?  Do yourself a favor and give it a try.  When I watched my first opera, I certainly did not expect what I received.  I've been back again and again since!

    Hi-dee hi-dee opera-keeps-getting-better-and-better-ho my friend!