Monday, March 30, 2009

Meatless Mondays – Honeyed Tofu on Udon with Cucumber Ribbons

IMG_2415

Welcome to another edition of Meatless Mondays. 

This week I finally got around to making a recipe that I have been wanting to try for awhile.  I tore it out of Martha Stewart Living, and honestly, don’t remember which month/issue.  The picture of the recipe was appealing, as was the sound of the ingredients. Honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil…all of my favorite flavors, what’s not to like right? 

Wrong.  I hate to say it, but it was a tasteless, watery dish.  Don’t let the nicely browned tofu fool you, it was browned tofu with no flavor.  It would have greatly benefited from marinating in the sauce that you make up to baste it with before baking.  Then you pour the rest of the said sauce, over the noodles and cucumber ribbons.  Well, that yields a watery sauce at the bottom of the bowl, and zero sauce really flavoring the noodles.  Lackluster and bland, is really the only way I can sum it up.

I really don’t know where I went wrong.  I followed the recipe exactly, only substituting regular spaghetti noodles when I realized we had already used up our udon noodles.  I don’t think that would have been enough to ruin the dish?  ??

IMG_2416

All was not lost, we had a delicious Lemon Drop martini with our homemade limoncello.   You see, Meatless Mondays, are occasionally also Martini Mondays!  Weee!!!   To find our recipe for the limoncello, go here.  And how I make it into lemon drop martinis, see here. 

 

Do you ever have high hopes for a recipe and it turns out to be a dud? 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cocktails and Appetizers

Last night one of our friends had a little after work get-together.  Everyone invited brought an appetizer to share and we had a delightful time catching up, noshing on a few yummies, and drinking margaritas + wine.  I absolutely love these kind of gatherings, not just for the great conversation and reuniting with a few people that we haven’t seen since the holidays, but because wine and appetizers might possibly be my favorite meal.

My contribution:   Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce.  I have made variations of these in the past and posted here.

IMG_2421

IMG_2420

My friend Renee brought a great bruschetta recipe that utilized toasted ciabatta, olive oil, apricot preserves, fontina cheese, roasted chicken, and prosciutto.  Sweet, salty, savory…what could be better?

IMG_2419

Now, I didn’t catch a snapshot of everything.  There were to many hungry hands going after all the goodies.  But there was a delicious crab dip, the obligatory cheese and crackers, and light shrimp dip and veggies, and a yummy jalepeno pepper jelly and blue cheese pizza.  Yes, sounds odd, but oh.so. good!  And, isn’t this a cute way to serve caprese salad of fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil?  The center is a huge grapefruit.

IMG_2422

Kim is so creative.  She also made this wonderful tuna tartare, which absolutely melts in your mouth…

She kindly shared the recipe:

IMG_2417

TUNA TARTARE

3/4 pound very fresh ahi tuna steak

4 Tbsp. olive oil

Grated zest of 1 lime

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 tsp. wasabi powde

1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce

6 dashes Tabasco sauce

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts

2 tsp. minced fresh jalapeno pepper

1 ripe avacado

Cut the tuna into 1/4 inch dice and place it in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, Tabasco, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well.  Cut the avocado into 1/4 inch dice.  Carefully, mix the avocado into tuna mixture.

 

Needless to say, a yummy night was had by all.  A special thanks to Dana, and her boyfriend, Dana for hosting the festivities!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Woop Woop!

Shiraz that is! 

IMG_2399

Woop woop is Australian slang meaning “out in the middle of nowhere in the outback.”  South Australia makes great affordable Shiraz, as well as some great Cabernet based red blends, and he 2007 Woop Woop Shiraz is no exception. 

On first sip, it shows to be quite fruit forward.  I love a big juicy red, and this was one of them.  Rich and lush at the same time, but not overly so.  Rounded out with a little pepper at the end, it was a perfect example of a great everyday Shiraz.  Perfect for a night of grilling burgers, and especially nice to linger over after dinner or “woop” it up with friends.  (Sorry, bad pun.) 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Unveiling

I finally decided after almost two years of Paws and Pours blogging to show my face.  In the past, anything I posted that had pictures of us, was always from the back.  I don’t know why really.  Afraid of the big world wide web, and being found?  Probably not.  Fearful that I’d scare my readers away?  Again, probably not.   For awhile, I liked the anonymity, but I’ve noticed I feel a little disconnected, and wanted to feel more a part of the community.  So, here it goes… 

scan0017

Scott and Mo

Now you have a visual of the wine obsessed, Golden Retriever lover, behind Paws and Pours. 

And now, not to forget the inspiration behind the Paws part of the blog,

2006MNandKitchen 044

Mo and Chase

So, now that I have “unveiled” myself to you all, I will no longer feel the need to be shy about posting pictures of the whole Paws and Pours family. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grilled Tilapia with Grilled Mango Relish

IMG_2390

One can easily see from my large number seafood entries, that we eat a lot of fish.  We also frequently top our fish with fruit or salsa, so this may not seem all that different.  Maybe not in looks, but it sure was in flavor!

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Renee, received a grill pan for a wedding shower gift.  She mentioned how  excited she was to use it on a recipe she was waiting to make, Grilled Tilapia with Grilled Pineapple Salsa.  Now, I didn’t even see the recipe, but the thought of that dish has been plaguing me ever since.  I just love the combination of fish and fresh fruit salsas.  The idea of grilling the fruit first really sealed the craving. 

Now, I’ve had a grill pan for some time, and haven’t made much use of it, other than an occasional pannini.  It was high time I put it to use and try out this combination.  So, the other night, I was all set to make this dish.  Tilapia, check.  Cilantro, check.  Onion, check.  Pineapple…whoa, no pineapple!  So, I did what any other creative cook would do, and substituted what I had on hand.  Fresh mango, check!  Now, I really didn’t know what the recipe entailed that Renee had, but thought I could improvise.  I added jicama and avocado to my relish ingredient  list, and was ready to go.  I added fresh mango slices to the greased grill pan.

IMG_2386

Let them “grill” a bit…

IMG_2387

Now we are ready to mix up the relish. 

IMG_2388 

jicama, avocado, onion, mango… (not pictured, cilantro and lime juice)

After putting that together, it only took a few minutes to grill up the tilapia.  Season the tilapia to your taste, I added a bit of jerk seasoning. 

All together, served with a little fried rice pilaf.

IMG_2391

Grilling the mango really gave a nice roasted flavor to the salsa.  It only added a few minutes to the prep time, but was sooo worth it!  Now I can’t wait to try it with pineapple! 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Meatless Mondays – Pizza!

Although I didn’t post last Monday’s meatless meal, I did cook…really, I did!  Unfortunately, I had to leave for a class right after dinner, so here is what we had.

IMG_2360

IMG_2319

We love homemade pizza, and it is such an easy meatless meal.  Look at that balsamic carmelized onion goodness.  Not to mention clumps of creamy soft goat cheese, who needs meat?  We couldn’t decide between a margharita pizza or the fig pizza, so the only logical thing to do was make both. 

The pie in the top photo is a basic marinara type base with mozzarella, goat cheese, fresh basil, tomatoes and capers.  Mmm…salty and gooey.  The second one is our attempt at “gourmet” pizza, comprised of balsamic carmelized onion as the base, dried figs, arugula and goat cheese to top.  I think I spy a few mushroom slices as well.  There is almost nothing better than the sweet/salty/bitter combo that these ingredients bring out. 

I couldn’t think of the perfect wine pairing with our current inventory, so without further ado we opened a bottle of the 14 Hands Merlot

FTH_Merlot_Bottle3

Oh. my. was this good.  Rich with berry and mocha influences,this Washington red  was smooth on the palatte.  I am picky when it comes to merlots, and this one passed the test.  In my opinion this would even be a great red to serve your non-red-wine drinking friends.  As an added bonus, you get the lovely label on this fantastic bottle of merlot. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Seared Scallops with Warm Tuscan Beans

Last weekend while walking through Sam’s Club, there was a fresh seafood display. (I was actually heading over to look at the wine selection, surprise, surprise) and noticed the fish monger had fresh U-10 scallops, ahi and crab legs.  Decisions, decisions.   With a little influence from the hub, we decided to take home a pound of those gorgeous scallops.  He really had to twist my arm.  haha  ;-) 

I remembered this recipe I saw in Cooking Light while sitting in the waiting room at a Dr’s office recently.   I was drawn to it, not only because I was craving seafood at the time, but because I never think to pair seafood and beans.  I don’t know why, I’ve had the combination before while dining out, and enjoyed it –just not my usual MO I guess.  So, I flipped through the March Cooking Light while still at Sam’s and noticed it had the recipe I was looking for.  So, out the door we went, with scallops, some wine, and the magazine. 

I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that the recipe was in the ‘Dinner Tonight’ column, and was listed as taking approximately 20 minutes to prepare.  It was so easy!  Seriously, this would be an simple and quick weeknight dinner, but so elegant that you’ll want to serve it with company.  The only thing I added, was a small pat of butter to make the “sauce” just a little thicker and richer.  I wish we had made the suggested grilled garlic bread, because I would have loved to “sop” up some of the delicious wine sauce. 

We used a California Sauvignon Blanc to make this and drank the rest with dinner.  It was a delicious match, but also a great Pinot Gris would be an amazing pairing. 

IMG_2369

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH WARM TUSCAN BEANS – adapted from Cooking Light

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 lb sea scallops

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped onion

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 garlic clove + 1 shallot, minced

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup fat-free chicken broth

1 (19 oz) can cannellini beans

1 6 oz package fresh baby spinach

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

2 tsp. butter

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt. Add scallops to pan'; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove scallops from pan;  keep warm.

Add remaining oil and onion to pan and saute 2 minutes.  Add pepper, garlic and shallot.  Cook 20 seconds stirring constantly.  Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or utnil most of fluid evaporates.  Stir in broth and beans; cook 2 minutes.  Add spinach;  cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. 

Divide bean and spinach mixture among plates and top with scallops and basil. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Greek Chopped Salad

Last night I made my husband’s favorite salad.  While he was once again proclaiming how much he loved to eat this, he thought to ask, “have you ever blogged this?”  Well, the answer was no.  I guess it is just so simple and something I really didn’t have a “recipe” for, so it never occurred to me.  So, at the last minute, literally, he’d already taken a few bites, I photographed it. 

IMG_2366

GREEK CHOPPED SALAD

3-4 roma tomatoes, diced into 1/4 in. pieces

1/2 white or red onion, diced in similar size to tomato

1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, diced

1/2 cup good feta cheese

juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon

2 tsp. good olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:  Mix everything in large mixing bowl.  :-)

OPTIONAL ADD INS:

capers, chopped kalamata olives, green pepper,  fresh dill or oregano

The beauty of this “recipe” (which is obviously not my photo- LOL) is that you can really throw whatever into it that you want and there is no set amounts. I’ve done it with all of the optional ingredients, and with none.   Since Scott loves tomatoes and cucumber, I’m heavier handed with those.  The key to a “chopped” salad is to cut ingredients into similar sized pieces whenever possible.  This is such a light dish, that it makes a refreshing side to a heavier meal.  It will also be a great way to use up tomatoes this summer, for those of you that grow your own. 

Chase picture of the day:

2006MNandKitchen 032

Enjoying a swim in Bartlett Lake last weekend.