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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wine Tasting - Root:1 Carménère 2009

"I’m aging like fine wine… I’m getting complex and fruity!"
 - Author Unknown

Greetings everyone!  May this day find you well, happy, and getting better by the day.

Did someone say Carménère?  In the Chucky & Tiffany household, this is a word that you need not say twice.  While enjoying a delicious Chinese plate for dinner (Ma Po Tofu, Vegetable Egg Foo Young, and Tofu Low Mien) we asked ourselves, "Why not a small glass of wine?"

Chucky's Point Score:  90
Tiffany's Point Score:  93

Root:1 Carménère 2009

Appellation:  Colchagua Valley, Chile
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Carmenère
Retail Price:  $12.99
Vintage: 2009
Producer:   Viña Ventisquero, Rancagua, Chile
Alcohol:  14.0%
Calories:   98 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "High in tannins and complex in finish.  Very berry fruit forward.  Loads of cherry.  Elegant classic Carménère taste.  I almost cried when my glass was empty."

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  Love this Carménère!  Extremely smooth from first to last sip!  Very fruit forward on bouquet & palate.  Nice creamy wine.  I hated to see my glass go empty!  :)  I want more!  So glad I walked down the wine aisles at Publix on my lunch hour!  :)"

The front label reads as follows:

"Chile is a true rarity in the wine world.  Unique geographic & climatic forces have allowed it to remain one of the very few grape growing regions in the world where the original European rootstocks survive, unaffected by phylloxera - the disease that forced grape growers worldwide to graft vines onto generic rootstocks.  Chile's isolation, protected by the mighty Andes to the East and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean to the West, ensures that grape vines can remain on the original rootstock, in the purest form.  These same geographic characteristics provide Chile's fertile soil conditions to produce consistent and outstanding grapes each year.  This Root:1 Carménère is carefully crafted exclusively from grapes grown on the original, ungrafted root systems tended by our Master Winemakers.  This gives the wine its pure, rich fruit flavors & aromas."

The back label reads as follows:

"A complex red wine with flavors of ripe plum, blackberries and spice."

Besides an amazingly wonderful wine, we were both totally shocked by the similarities of our tasting notes.  Remember... we don't share or look at each others reviews until we're both completely done.  One thing is quite apparent... Both Tiffany and I are quite fond of this wine.  I can safely state that we'll be purchasing a replacement bottle before too much time expires.

Hi-dee hi-dee wine-is-indeed-one-of-life's-simple-pleasures-ho my friend.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

InfraChef Halogen Oven

"There are days when any electrical appliance in the home, including the vacuum cleaner, seems to offer more entertainment than the TV set."

May the bluebirds of happiness flutter about you the entire day long my friends!

"Huh?  What in the heck is a chicken doing in my oven?"

Uh-oh!  Chucky and Tiffany played with a new kitchen gizmo over the past weekend.  I had purchased an InfraChef halogen oven several months ago from 1SaleADay (for half the price as Walmart) and had not yet taken it out of the original box.  Well... This changed over the weekend.

I got daring enough to make a couple of recipes which I had been eye-balling... Smoky Potato Wedges from the book "The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions" and "Chicken" (tofu) Nuggets from the Compassion Over Killing web site.  Both were absolutely delicious and amazingly easy to make.

I'll share the one (or both) with you in pictures in a future blog post.  This little wonder oven cooks without added oils or fats.  The potato wedges were lightly coated in walnut oil and the "chicken" nuggets used none whatsoever.  Both Tiffany and I were doing cartwheels on our kitchen floor.  Finally... we have a way to bake relatively easy and oil-free snacks.

With the luxury of see-through glass, we simply cranked the temperature as per the recipe and guesstimated the amount of time between flipping.  We really could not over-cook either dish because we are able to see things browning.  It's simply a matter of not leaving this little oven unattended.

Clean-up?  "Wow!"  Absolutely effortless.  The entire oven is composed of high-temperature glass and clean-up is a breeze.  It has a self-clean feature where you simply add some water, a drizzle of dish soap, turn it to 175-degree and run it for 5-minutes!

We've only used this new gizmo twice so far but both results were perfect and clean-up a breeze.  I can safely say that Tiffany and I will be using this little oven over and over again.  I've already got more blocks of tofu in the freezer ready to make more "chicken" nuggets.  Quite delicious when dipped into homemade ketchup, brown mustard, reduced-sodium soy sauce, BBQ sauce or Sriracha sauce.

Hi-dee hi-dee I-just-love-me-some-kitchen-gadgets-n-gizmos-ho my friend.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wrap Planet Asian Salad

NOTE:  It is with much regret (but many happy memories) that I must report that Wrap Planet is now out of business.

"If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say Kool Whip on the side, you might be a redneck."

Hi everyone!  Savor this final day of your weekend because you're going to have to wait six more days before the next one arrives.

Wrap Planet's Asian Salad

Guess where Tiffany and I ate yesterday?  Yepperz, 'twas a most delicious lunch had at Wrap Planet.  We enjoyed a Hawaiian Wrap (tofu, white rice, pineapple, sweet and sour sauce, lettuce in flour wrap) and an Asian Salad (lettuce, snow peas, mandarin oranges, baby corn, red bell peppers, roasted peanuts with sweet Thai dressing and crispy noodles).  I don't really have much to post except this picture that screams, "Delicious!"

Hi-dee hi-dee salads-can-be-quite-delicious-ho my friend.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

White Wine Tasting Sheet (Blank)

"The goal is to transform data into information, and information into insight."
 - Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard executive and president

Greetings to one and all!  Ah... Can you smell that?  It's the beautiful crisp and clean smell of a weekend.  Enjoy and savor my friend.

Remember my friends… Don’t drink too much
wine or you will end up in bed fully clothed!

Yesterday I shared the Red Wine Tasting Sheet.  Today I am posting the White Wine Tasting Sheet.

How do you use this sheet to rate your own wines?  Here are the basic steps:
  1. Swirl - To open up the wine.
  2. Sniff - Stick your nose into the glass taking big multiple whiffs.
  3. Sip - Take a good long taste and swirl the wine completely over the palate.  After the complexities have taken their course, repeat over and over again.
  4. Each section (Nose Intensity, Flavor Intensity, Flavor Characteristics, Balance, and Length) each has a maximum score.  25 points for Flavor Intensity, 10 points for Flavor Characteristics, and 5 points for all other sections.
  5. Total up your scoring for all five (5) sections.
  6. Add 50 points just to make it a 100 point scale and you'll have your rating.
I do have some suggestions:
  • If more than one of you is scoring a wine, don't discuss or share until everyone is done.  It keeps each person honest and you will be shocked at not only the differences but also the common notes.
  • Don't read the wine label until after you've completed the rating process.  Pre-reading the wine bottle's back label can influence what you smell and taste.  Don't cheat!  Keep it honest.  If you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.
  • You scores are neither right nor wrong.  Just because I like a wine doesn't mean that you're going to like it.  Respect each others opinion and openly share your thoughts.
Hi-dee hi-dee remember-to-chill-your-white-wines-ho my friend.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Red Wine Tasting Sheet (Blank)

"I'm not dumb.  I just have a command of thoroughly useless information."
 - Bill Watterson, cartoonist - Calvin and Hobbes

Hello my fine friend.  Happy Friday!  I was beginning to have my doubts whether this day would arrive but it has.  And, I'm happy that it has.

Chucky & Tiffany’s favorite place in the house!
Chucky looks like he’s had too much to drink?

When monitoring visitor searches to our blog site I've noticed a reoccurring search string.  And what is that you ask?  The search string that I have seen over and over and have been meaning to address is, "wine tasting sheet".

Well... here 'tis.  Today I am sharing the Red Wine Tasting Sheet.  I shall post the White Wine Tasting Sheet at a later date.

How do you use this sheet to rate your own wines?  Here are the basic steps:
  1. Swirl - To open up the wine.
  2. Sniff - Stick your nose into the glass taking big multiple whiffs.
  3. Sip - Take a good long taste and swirl the wine completely over the palate.  After the complexities have taken their course, repeat over and over again.
  4. Each section (Nose Intensity, Flavor Intensity, Flavor Characteristics, Balance, and Length) each has a maximum score.  25 points for Flavor Intensity, 10 points for Flavor Characteristics, and 5 points for all other sections.
  5. Total up your scoring for all five (5) sections.
  6. Add 50 points just to make it a 100 point scale and you'll have your rating.
I do have some suggestions:
  • If more than one of you is scoring a wine, don't discuss or share until everyone is done.  It keeps each person honest and you will be shocked at not only the differences but also the common notes.
  • Don't read the wine label until after you've completed the rating process.  Pre-reading the wine bottle's back label can influence what you smell and taste.  Don't cheat!  Keep it honest.  If you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.
  • You scores are neither right nor wrong.  Just because I like a wine doesn't mean that you're going to like it.  Respect each others opinion and openly share your thoughts.
Hi-dee hi-dee drink-more-rate-more-wine-ho my friend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wine Tasting - Vistamar Carmenère 2010

"Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures."
 - Michael Broadbent

Oh happy Thursday to one and all!  May this day find you safe and well. 

Tiffany and I enjoyed some Chinese take-out tonight.  Very small portions of course.  Hmm... might not a glass of wine enhance our meal?  Of course it would!

We enjoyed a bottle of Carmenère that came highly recommended by a wine classmate.  "A real steal for the price." we were told.  Guess what?  He was absolutely correct!  This wine is worth well more than twice its current asking price.

Chucky's Point Score:  91
Tiffany's Point Score:  89

Vistamar Brisa Carmenère 2010

Appellation:  Pelequèn, Chile
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Carmenère
Retail Price:  $6.99
Vintage: 2010
Producer:   Viña Vistamar Ltda
Alcohol:  13.0%
Calories:   91 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Big, brash & bold!  Intense smoky chocolate-cherry notes on the palate.  Very dry, puckering even.  Elegant follow-through notes.  I want to dive nose first into the glass and without a snorkel!"

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Inviting fruity bouquet.  Initial taste on the palate is dry followed by smooth bold dark fruits with a touch of spice!  Would like to score again before having Chinese food for dinner because the taste of our dinner is still lingering in my mouth!  :)"

The label reads as follows:

"BRISA - Feeling the fresh breeze as you ride on horseback, watch a sunset on the beach or enjoy a picnic in the sunshine, makes the simplest moments unique and unforgettable.  Enjoy our varieties and add that special touch to any occasion or company. 

This is a purple-red wine with hints of violet.  It offers red fruit aroma intermingled with spicy, mocha notes.  Outstanding in the mouth are the smoothness and silkiness of its tannins, which together provide a long, pleasant finish with touches of mature fruits."

Tiffany and I met on much common ground with our tasting notes.  We may have described different aromas and tastes but end up describing the same wine.  Delicious!  Vistamar Carmenère is a bold intense red with elegant finish.  If you can find some on a shelf near you, try a bottle.  But, please pay for it first.  There is something about slurping a bottle empty while in the wine store a few grade levels below a class.

Hi-dee hi-dee Carmenère-Carmenère-Carmenère-ho my friend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Maitland Breakfast Club, Altamonte Springs, Florida

"Some people ask the secret of our long marriage.  We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week.  A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing.  She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays."

Greetings my friend!  May your Tuesday be filled with happiness, your lifestyle be filled with health, and your environmental footprint be tiny along the pathway.

Maitland Breakfast Club, 745 Orienta Ave, Ste 1061, Altamonte Springs, Florida

I've mentioned Maitland Breakfast Club in numerous blog postings but have yet to actual devote an entire post to this gem and treasure hidden on Orienta Avenue in Altamonte Springs.  They actually do little advertising but don't really have to do so.  Reputation and word of mouth has made this wonderful diner busy from the moment they open their doors each day until mid-afternoon closing time.

I don't care what time of day or which day of the week you visit them, you shall never be alone!  So many regulars frequent Maitland Breakfast Club.  This gem has it all:  a somewhat secluded yet accessible location, world class friendly service, complete menu including a plethora of choices, comfortable ambiance, cooks who genuinely know what they are doing, and unbelievable prices.  One visit and you will slap yourself that you hadn't visited earlier and you will leave with the knowledge of your soon return.  Yeah, it's that good!

“Personal Favorite”
Egg-white omelet with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and green chilies.
Served with salsa, a dry English muffin, and fresh fruit.

“Maitland Garden Roll”
Egg beater omelet with cheese, onion, broccoli, celery and zucchini.
Served with a dry English muffin, and fresh fruit.

A service staff that are friendly, efficient, and genuinely wish to make your visit an extraordinary one.  Whether your table is attended by Christine, Lisa or Sandy; you simply cannot choose to sit at a bad table or booth.  These ladies truly know what they're doing.  Along with the cooks hidden in the background, these ladies are truly the proprietor's strongest asset! 

Menu, 21AUG2011 - Part 1 of 2

Menu, 21AUG2011 - Part 2 of 2

Unlike the traditional restaurant, the staff works together and cohesively to provide customers the maximum level of service.  When one walks around with the coffee pot, each and every table is their responsibility.  Unlike your normal run-of-the-mill establishment, they work together.  Sure, a single server (I don't like the expression "waiter" or "waitress" for some reason) takes care of a specific set of table(s) but each helps the other out.  You sit and enjoy your delicious meal while viewing service poetry in motion!

I've recently been told that the proprietor has three very successful restaurants in the general area:  Maitland Breakfast Club in Altamonte Springs, Florida; Casselberry Breakfast Club in Casselberry, Florida; and his first restaurant, Country Kitchen in Longwood, Florida.  The Casselberry Breakfast Club is newly opened and Tiffany and I have yet to visit.  And although we've never been to the Country Kitchen, I have had several friends rant and rave about the place.  However, closest to our doll boxes is the Maitland Breakfast Club.  Besides, it's on the way into Hell (er... I mean work) every morning.

If you ever happen to be in the Altamonte Springs, Florida area I highly recommend this quaint but fabulous diner.  You certainly won't find more deliciously simple food for your hard-earned dollars!  Be forewarned, if you arrive during the peak hours you will have to wait as every seat and table is frequently occupied.  Tiffany and I prefer to visit in the early morning hours and always manage to find a seat.  Hey... you can always call ahead for take-out service.

"Oh?"  "Why do they call it Maitland Breakfast Club when it's really located in Altamonte Springs and not actually in Maitland?"  I don't know except that it's located right off of Maitland Avenue in Altamonte Springs.  The technical boundary for Altamonte Springs-Maitland is about 3 or 4 miles south down Maitland Avenue.  Besides, Maitland is in Orange County and Altamonte Springs is in Seminole County.  "Stop asking me such silly questions, okay?"  "Why is it called 'toilet paper' when it really isn't designed to wipe your toilet but, rather, your... <censored>?"

"Hey!  Can a guy have his privacy please?"

Hi-dee hi-dee this-is-that-perfect-diner-that-Tiffany-and-I-had-always-been-searching-for ho!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chucky's Confession Time - 22AUG2011

"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."
 - Mark Twain

Hey my friend!  We made it through another weekend.  Hopefully without damage, scarring, and a smile laid upon our faces?

Let the metrics begin!  As I sit here on Sunday writing these words for Monday, I again don't know what to expect.  I suppose I do not expect a dramatic weight loss but am hoping for something.  I don't see how I could have gained but the body and metabolism plays some pretty funny games sometimes.  

I've made a valiant effort to reduce my calories and give-and-take when I have consumed excess carbohydrates.  Sometimes I've felt guilty after eating a meal but then weigh the true caloric cost of the meal.

For example, let's take last night’s supper that Tiffany and I consumed.  Three QuinoaStuffed Mushrooms are negligible impact.  We also consumed a cup of Cauliflower Mushroom Soup.  Trust me... It tasted as sinful as creamy fettuccine Alf redo sauce but contained only around 100-calories!!!  Basically, it was cooked leeks with cauliflower boiled, then creamed in a blender, with sautéed mushrooms tossed in (recipe blog forthcoming).  It was a dinner around 150- to 200-calories in range as payment towards the Planet Wrap lunch that we enjoyed earlier in the day.  At Planet Wrap we chose a Mr. Gourdini bowl which includes:  mashed potatoes, white rice, pinto beans, Pico de Gallo, Greek dressing, and some of Olga's truly 2-die-4 hot salsa (she needs to sell it to go).

NOTE:  It is with much regret (but many happy memories) that I must report that Wrap Planet is now out of business.

WEIGHT (newest to oldest)
  • 8-22-2011, Dr X office visit - 319 pounds
  • 8-15-2011, Dr X office visit - 322 pounds
  • 8-8-2011, Dr X office visit - 330 pounds
  • 8-2-2011, Dr Y office visit - 330 pounds
  • 8-1-2011, Dr X office visit - 331 pounds
  • 7-25-2011, Dr X office visit - 344 pounds
  • 11-1-2010, home scale - 318.4 pounds
BLOOD PRESSURE (newest to oldest)
  • 8-22-2011, Dr X office visit - 132/70 mm/Hg
  • 8-22-2011, self-test blood pressure - 117/71 mm/Hg
  • 8-15-2011, Dr X office visit - 132/80 mm/Hg
  • 8-15-2011, self-test blood pressure - 121/76 mm/Hg
  • 8-8-2011, Dr X office visit - 136/78 mm/Hg
  • 8-8-2011, self-test blood pressure - 120/70 mm/Hg
  • 8-2-2011, Dr Y office visit - 122/84 mm/Hg
  • 8-1-2011, self-test blood pressure - 125/75 mm/Hg
  • 11-1-2010, self-test blood pressure - 123/79 mm/Hg
PULSE RATE (newest to oldest)
  • 8-22-2011, self-test pulse rate = 69 pulse/minute
  • 8-15-2011, self-test pulse rate = 74 pulse/minute
  • 8-8-2011, self-test pulse rate = 79 pulse/minute
  • 8-1-2011, self-test pulse rate = 76 pulses/minute
  • 11-1-2010, self-test pulse rate = 74 pulses/minute
BLOOD GLUCOSE (newest to oldest)
  • 8-22-2011, self-test Glucose (fasting) - 128 mg/dL
  • 8-15-2011, self-test Glucose (fasting) - 115 mg/dL
  • 8-8-2011, self-test Glucose (fasting) - 117 mg/dL
  • 8-1-2011, self-test Glucose (fasting) - 120 mg/dL
  • 11-1-2010, self-test Glucose (fasting) - 114 mg/dL
LAB RESULTS (newest to oldest)
  • Sugar (< 100 normal)
    • 8-16-2011 --> 113
    • 6-11-2010 --> 106
  • Liver Function
    • 8-16-2011 --> normal
    • 6-11-2010 --> normal
  • Kidney Function
    • 8-16-2011 --> normal
    • 6-11-2010 --> normal
  • Cholesterol (< 200 normal)
    • 8-16-2011 --> 208
    • 6-11-2010 --> 226
  • Triglycerides (< 150 normal)
    • 8-16-2011 --> 193
    • 6-11-2010 --> 120
  • HDL - good (> 40 normal)
    • 8-16-2011 --> 39
    • 6-11-2010 --> 45
  • LDL - bad (< 100 normal)
    • 8-16-2011 --> 130
    • 6-11-2010 --> 157
  • Hemoglobin A1C (< 5.7 normal)
    • 8-16-2011 --> 5.8
    • 6-11-2010 --> 5.9
  • Vitamin D
    • 8-16-2011 --> normal
Okay.  Now that doctor's visit is over what are my thoughts?  Better 3 pounds lost than none at all.  I'm not disappointed because it was truly 3 effortless pounds lost.

What is more concerning are the lab results from this past Tuesday's blood work.  I was hoping there might be a relationship or correlation between the testing and treatments that I have been receiving to the sugar and cholesterol levels.  Unfortunately, according to Dr X, there are not.

He agreed that the plant-based (vegetarian) diet is a good start.  However, existing body weight and hereditary reasons might explain the numbers.  However, I will discuss the lab results with Dr Y in November.

All-in-all, I am still quite pleased that the measures I am taking are the correct ones.  It's simply a matter of allowing time for the weight loss to contribute it's part.  Once the excess weight has disappeared the benefits of the diet will then be pronounced in superior lab results.

Hi-dee hi-dee may-the-work-week-pass-us-by-quickly-ho!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shallot Tomato Flatbread

"The first time I tried organic wheat bread, I thought I was chewing on roofing material."
 - Robin Williams

A sprinkling of well wishes to one and all!  May you have a most outstanding Sunday indeed.

With all due respect Mr. Williams but didn't you require heart surgery back in 2009?  I'm truly happy that you've had surgery and are feeling much better now.  I just hope that you've found time to sneak more "roofing material" into your diet.  Psst Mr. Williams... Find another bakery from which to purchase your organic wheat bread, okay?  That being said, just why am I here today and borrowing a moment or two from your life?

Well my friend, your friend Chucky was thinking outside of that culinary box on Saturday.  After sneaking a quick peek into his refrigerator he went into spastic overdrive.  "O-M-G, Tiffany!"  "We've got an old tomato in the fridge and too many shallots sitting on the counter."  "My, oh my..."  "Just what am I going to do with them?"  After all, you and I both know that Chucky absolutely detests wasting food.  When food spoils I feel like that I am tossing out a little part of myself into the compost bin.  Hmm... What can I do with these while maintaining dietary control?

While shopping at Eat More Produce yesterday, Tiffany and I purchased a 4-pack of the most delicious looking flatbread from a local bakery, Old Hearth Bread Company located in Casselberry, Florida.  It looks absolutely delicious and ingredients show:  flour, water, whole wheat flour, garlic powder, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, olive oil, salt, sugar, and yeast.

Okay... We've got lots of shallots, an aging hydroponic tomato, and some newly purchased flatbread.  Let's make a healthy late afternoon snack. Introducing the Shallot Tomato Flatbread.

Shallot Tomato Flatbread

  • 1 piece flatbread
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe tomato, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 very small pat of margarine
  • Herb(s) of choice, I used Johnny's Garlic Spread & Seasoning
  1. Slice tomatoes onto a plate.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle herb(s) to marinate.  Set aside.
  2. Slice shallots thin.  Heat small sauce pan to medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil and small pat of margarine to flavor.  Add shallots and sauté until caramelized.
  3. Layout tomatoes evenly onto flatbread and top with caramelized shallots.
  4. Bake for approximately 7 to 10-minutes careful not to dry out or burn the flatbread.
  5. Slice and serve immediately.
3 thinly slice shallots sautéing in olive oil & margarine.

One sliced tomato marinating in olive oil & herbs.

One flatbread laying on Pizzazz plate.

Ready to place onto the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven for 7 to 10 minutes.

Delicious, relative low in calories, and a most wonderful way to salvage tomatoes and shallots.  Wouldn't you agree?  The toppings are limitless as are the spices & herbs that you choose.  I was contemplating Bragg Organic Sprinkle Seasoning or The Spice & Tea Exchange's Vic's Garlic Fix blend.

Hi-dee hi-dee what-do-you-have-in-your-refrigerator-that-needs-saving-ho my friend?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chucky's Super Simple Salad

"Friends are the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life."
 - Author Unknown

Greetings everybody!  It's Saturday!  It's Saturday!  It's Saturday!  Need I say more?

Chucky's Super Simple Salad huh?  Okay... you take a bowl of mixed salad greens and pour some salad dressing over it, right?  Can't get much simpler than this!  Well, maybe you can.  Let's use pre-washed salad greens and bottled vegan dressing.  Viola! 

Okay, okay... We're not taking that simple.  Maybe "Chucky's Relatively Simple Salad"?  Do me the favor and look at the pictures and you tell me what I should have named it.  Sound fair?

Basic salad consisting of pre-washed greens, sun dried tomatoes,
kalamata olive, seaweed, and cucumber slices.

Add two tablespoons of hummus on top.

Cover the salad and shake well to mix.

Sprinkle roasted pumpkin seed on top.

The pièce de résistance?
Lots of Frank’s hot sauce of course!

Even if you don't like hot sauce, give this ideal a try.  Even sans hot sauce, it's absolutely delicious and is as simple as the basic salad that you have prepared.  Yepperz... Think outside that culinary box.  Who needs dressing when delicious hummus serves the same purpose?  Umm, I just ate this for my lunch today.  If you're not envious you should be.

Okay... It's killing me!  What do you think that it should be called?  Um... er... keep it clean please.

Hi-dee hi-dee make-yourself-a-Super-Simple-Salad-today ho.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Grilled Tofu

"Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger, but a heart as soft as tofu."
 - Chinese Proverb

Hello my friend!  I was having my doubts but it looks like Friday has finally arrived!

It's another one of those days that I truly don't have much to share.  However, I have some pictures stored away when I last grilled some tofu.  I thought that I would share how simple grilling tofu actually is.  No, no magic involved.  It's... it's... it's as simple as tofu!

It's as simple as 1-2-3.  Slice, marinade and grill.

My picture represents one 19-ounce container of firm tofu.  There are four blocks in each container.  Here are the steps:
  1. Drain and rinse tofu blocks.
  2. Take an old newspaper section (or magazine to be tossed out).  Lay it on the counter.  Cover it with a clean paper towel.   Lay down the four tofu blocks on top.  Cover with another clean paper towel.  Cover this with another old newspaper section (or magazine).  And place cast iron skillet (or heavy pot) on top to press down on tofu.  Allow to rest for approximately 1/2 hour which allows tofu to drain.
  3. When drained, discard wet paper towels, magazines and/or newspaper.
  4. Slice each block to half thickness.
  5. Carefully lay tofu blocks into zip-lock plastic bags.
  6. Spoon over your favorite marinade.  I used BBQ sauce on half of my tofu and a miso-ginger blend on the other half.  Carefully turn over plastic zip-lock bag(s) and repeat marinade on opposite side.
  7. HINT:  I added a tablespoon of olive oil into each marinade and blended.  This helped to prevent the tofu from sticking when later grilled.
  8. Close the zip-lock bag(s) until it is almost sealed and slip in a plastic drinking straw.  Using the straw, suck out excess air from the bag until it appears somewhat vacuum packed.  Remove straw and complete the seal.
  9. Store manually vacuumed zip-lock bag into the refrigerator and allow the marinade to do its thing.
  10. Heat grill on high.  Oil grill surface before placing tofu pieces onto hot surface.  Grill for approximately 6 to 7 minutes per side.
What can I do with this grilled tofu?  I can dice it into cubes to be included into a salad.  I can place it onto a bun or bread slices as meat alternative.  I can freeze it for a later use.

And remember... "Tofu.  It's not just for breakfast anymore!"

Hi-dee hi-dee have-some-delicious-and-nutritious-grilled-tofu-tonight-ho my friend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Umm... New Recipes

"Red lights?  Don't like 'em.  They only impede the flow of traffic."
 - Chucky 16AUG2011

Greetings and a genuine purveyance of will wishes to one and all!

I'm running out of post ideals today but thoughts still run rampant in my hollow plastic head.  I was so excited this past weekend to make some new recipes for the first time.  So far, they've all been genuine winners.  Kudos to the authors and publishers for making them available to me.

Hot and Sour Asian Cabbage Soup

Because I have not requested and obtained permissions, I cannot share the recipes.  However, I am able to cite the author and their cookbook for each delightful culinary concoction.

Vegan Mayonnaise - Made from basically firm tofu, seasonings and canola oil.  Wonderful!  Psst... I shall be replacing my most beloved Reduced Fat Vegenaise.  Besides being rather high in price for what I'm actually buying, it's somewhat hard to come by in the reduced fat form.  Hoover's Essential Market carries it but they don't always have the Chucky-sized jar of my Reduced Fat Vegenaise.  I now have a homemade 2-die-4 alternative!   From Cherise Grifoni's book, "The Part-Time Vegan:  201 Yummy Recipes That Put the Fun in Flexitarian". 

Sun-Dried Tomato Ketchup - I had a really nice tomato sitting in my fridge getting near its retirement age.  If not used soon I would surely have to sent it to the "tomato retirement home" (compost bin).  Hmm... I keep reading blog comments how wonderful homemade ketchup is so why not make some?  Result?  Absolutely delicious with true unadulterated tomato flavor from fresh tomato, sun-dried tomato, and other ingredients.  From Ani Phyo and her book, "Ani's Raw Food Essentials".  Psst... I found a hardbound copy of this $27.95 book for only $6.99 at Book Warehouse in the Seminole Towne Center mall, Sanford, Florida!  I feel guilty because I feel like I practically stole it!

Hot and Sour Asian Cabbage Soup - I have always had a fondness and soft spot in my stomach for hot & sour soup.  Whether Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or any variation thereof, I absolutely love the stuff.  The exotic flavors and complexity of sweet and sour on the palate makes my mind recall some truly wonderful soup experiences.  I recently purchased Eric Tucker and John Westerdahl's book, "The Millennium Cookbook:  Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine".  Sitting there on page 60 was an intriguing variation of hot and sour soup.  So after visiting Phuoc Loc To Super Oriental Market and purchasing kaffir lime leaves, dried tree ear fungus, and tiger lily buds, I found myself ready to cook up a culinary masterpiece.  Luckily I had ginger root in the freezer, white (and red) miso in the refrigerator, a can of oyster mushroom in the cupboard, and a patch of lemon grass outside in the yard.  Trust me... Do you like hot and sour soup?  This one is a "don't miss" version!

I can assure you that I shall be re-making all three of these recipes really soon.  Vegan mayonnaise and bottled ketchup will never taste the same again.  I suppose this is the downsize of finding, making and enjoying your very own homemade recipes.  Not a bad price to pay my friend!

Hi-dee hi-dee I-love-making-new-things-from-scratch-ho my friend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wrap Planet (In a Bowl)

NOTE:  It is with much regret (but many happy memories) that I must report that Wrap Planet is now out of business.

"I was at this restaurant.  The sign said "Breakfast Anytime."  So I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance."
 - Steven Wright

I bestow upon you my sincerest wishes that you have nothing short of an exceptional Tuesday!  Sorry... That's about as good as I can wish.

Since most of you don't know the madman behind the Chucky mask, please allow me to give you a wee bit of inner-working insight.  I've always said that if I could only select but a single person to sit at a bar to share a beer and conversation with, it would be either Gary Larson (retired cartoonist, The Far Side) or Steven Wright (comedian).  For those of you who do know me, this will probably not surprise you whatsoever!

"Huh?"  "What?"  "Oh, why am I presenting this post today?"  "For what matter or purpose has thouest scribbled?"  Well... Tiffany and I visited Wrap Planet twice this past week!  Remember... I still managed to lose 8 pounds.  This after visiting Wrap Planet twice, Green Day Cafe once, Subway five times, and Maitland Breakfast Club twice!  Was I worried about messing up the diet?  No I wasn't.  I shall not attempt a lifestyle change with too much sacrifice.  In the long term, I don't believe that I would be successful.  My "lifestyle change" (-aka- diet) has to accommodate and accept diversity.

Birdie Breakfast Bowl:  scrambled eggs, mashed potato, pinto beans,
salsa and cheese.  I added hot salsa and pesto.

Instead of the previous wrap selections, I now order it naked (sans tortilla) or opt for a salad.  I pass up the side of tortilla chips.  Once I have "earned" the right to do so, I will occasionally opt for a wrap.  I'm simply limiting the number of carbohydrate choices consumed within my meal selections.

So darn delicious that I ordered this on both visits this week!

Truthfully?  Yes I do miss the soft chewy texture of the soft flour tortilla shell.  However, by the same token, a wrap choice in a bowl (without the shell) is quite delicious, filling and satisfying!  Admittedly I surprised myself with the delight in consuming a bowl rather than wrap.

Southern Salad:  black beans, corn salsa, lettuce, chopped onions,
and avocado ranch dressing.  Hold the crunchy corn strips please.
Umm… what’s a salad without the tofu?

Wrap Planet is more than happy to make any wrap selection into a bowl or modify any selection to tailor it's taste to your own preference.  Substitutions are encouraged.  It's obvious that their only wish is to make you a satisfied customer and encourage you to return soon.  Wrap Planet is by no means a gigantic conglomerate corporation ramming their limited choices down your stomach.  

It's the type of dining establishment that makes your selection to order and doesn't own a heat lamp.  Sure... It may take a few minutes for them to prepare your order but this is no price to pay for quality, freshness, taste and value.  Want crappy 'n fast?  Wrap Planet isn't for you.

Oh... It's a happy day indeed when I can continue to visit Wrap Planet and keep my hard earned nickels working in our local economy.  I'm supporting a locally owned establishment and getting tasty, healthy and value in return.  Am I a lucky 4-foot plastic bubble headed man or what?

Hi-dee hi-dee simply-rethink-your-menu-selections-when-dining-out-ho my friend!