Author Archive: Flavor

Veggie “Patty” Melts

I don’t eat red meat, but I love the idea of patty melts. Okay, I don’t dig rye bread or pickles, either. So, what do I love about patty melts? It must be the name. That, and the melted, gooey cheese. Mmmm. Anyway, while watching someone on the telly make patty melts one night, I thought to myself: I’m going to make veggie “patty” melts next week. In lieu of beef patties, I used hearty eggplant and mushrooms to give the sandwich a “meaty” feel. Red peppers, plenty of caramelized onions, and a nice sharp, white cheddar cheese rounded out the veggie melt. If you prefer the more traditional Swiss cheese, you’re welcome to use that, however. And since I’m not a rye fan, I opted for sourdough, but you can use any bread you like. My husband, a big meat eater, loved this sandwich, so hopefully it will please your picky eater, too.

Veggie Patty Melts


2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 med. eggplant, sliced medium thick (more…)

Sesame Pasta Salad

I’ve been fooling around with this recipe for a while now, trying different vinegars, oils, sweeteners, vegetables, and processes. At one point, I even made a version with roasted tomatoes and asparagus, with prosciutto. But nah. The cold, crisp, raw veggies are what I prefer. And now I finally have a version I’m happy with! This is a great salad for picnics, potlucks, light meals, lunches, and snacks. One pound of pasta makes a big batch, and if you’re only feeding two people like I am, it goes a long way. Thankfully, this makes great leftovers! If you’re feeding a large crowd, you may want to double the recipe. Feel free to substitute your own favorite vegetables. So far, the grape tomato, snap pea, and yellow pepper combo is my favorite. I’ve tried cherry tomatoes, green beans, red pepper, orange pepper, carrots, the roasted veggies and prosciutto I mentioned above, and probably a few more. None of them worked for me. But this version has great flavor, color, and texture. The recipe is extremely flexible, however, so mix and match and adjust as you see fit.

Sesame Pasta Salad



Ravioli Caprese

The traditional Insalata Caprese is a simple salad which originated from the Italian island of Capri. It’s comprised of vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Yep, that’s it! You slice the tomatoes and mozzarella, sliver the basil, and dress with olive oil and salt and pepper. In this recipe, I’ve added pan-toasted raviolis. I find it best to use meatless ravioli, such as cheese or spinach, or both. Meaty flavors such as sausage tend to drown out the subtle freshness of the other ingredients. I also use a homemade balsamic dressing instead of the traditional extra-virgin olive oil, simply because I’m admittedly obsessed with balsamic vinegar. If you prefer plain extra-virgin olive oil, with the salt and pepper of course, that would be tasty, too. If using the balsamic dressing, use sparingly. A lot goes a long way!

Ravioli Caprese


1 package fresh cheese based ravioli
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes
1 ball fresh mozzarella
fresh basil
salt and pepper (more…)

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

If you’re thinking I have too many recipes for Panzanella on this site, you may be right. But seriously, Panzanella is one of the best things on the planet. It’s right up there with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, eggplant, and chiles. You can see I get obsessions…

I’m not a traditional Panzanella maker, either. For one thing, I always toast and salt my bread. I love the crunchy texture of toasted bread in contrast to soft vegetables. It’s very satisfying! And, well, I kind of have this other obsession with Sel Gris and Pink Himalayan sea salts, so I tend to use one of the other (probably) more often than I should. Luckily, I have very good blood pressure.  Most Panzanella recipes also call for vinegar, but I opt out of this ingredient, and stick with olive oil, salt (see above), pepper, and plenty of fresh garlic. In my Artichoke Panzanella, however, I did use lemon zest.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

The best part of Panzanella is, as long as you’re not a traditionalist, its versatility. Mix and match vegetables with different styles of bread, and you have an entire new dish! For this version, I roasted zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper, and onion, then tossed in fresh grape tomatoes and basil. If you prefer your tomatoes roasted, too, however, toss them into to oven, as well. I highly suggest experimenting to find new Panzanella recipes that make you swoon! (more…)

Strawberry Mango Salad with Pomegranate Shallot Vinaigrette

In the heat of summer, it’s often hard to think about food, much less eat a full meal. There are days when only water and ice cold popsicles sound appetizing. Especially Otter Pops—those non-frozen popsicles you buy in a box and stick in your freezer, and once they are frozen you push the sugar water out of the slinky plastic wrap. Ah! Nothing quite says summer like Otter Pops. When I was growing up, Otter Pops didn’t have characters, and I only remember four flavors. Now Otter Pops are all kinds of cute.  Anyway, on those kinds of energy-sucking-sticky-with-heat days, I find light lunches and dinners of fresh fruit and veggies are just the ticket. I love salads any time of year, of course, but summer particularly requires refreshing meals, just as winter is rich, warming comfort food time.

Summer is also a great time to find fresh fruit, and if you haven’t yet ventured into combining greens with fruits, nuts, and cheese, you should give it a try! Veggie salads are tasty, but fruit and veggie salads are juicy, delectable, crave-worthy treats. For this salad, I use strawberries, mango, toasted pecans, and chévre, with a pomegranate shallot vinaigrette. The result is a sweet, creamy, crunchy salad with accents of bitter greens and a delicate onion flavor from the shallots. (more…)

Food Alert: Silk Soy Milk

If, like me, you use soy milk in lieu of cow’s milk, you probably purchase, or have purchased, the brand Silk. Silk is the most commonly available soy milk in major supermarkets, especially if you live in a small town. But if you have the option to buy a different brand, now is the time to switch, if you’re still buying Silk. Why? There are several reasons. Take your pick.

1. Silk is owned by the mega corporation Dean Foods. (They also own the organic label Horizon, by the way.) Other commonly known Dean Foods brands include Meadow Gold, Land O Lakes, Mountain High, PET and Mayfield’s in the south, and Garelick Farms in the northeast.

2. If you don’t find mega corporations inherently evil in and of themselves, please know that Silk dropped their organic status on most of their products. I used to buy the original Silk, in the red box, and I don’t know how long I’d been buying it before I noticed the Organic label was switched to Natural. I think I cussed right there in the grocery store. What’s the problem with their Natural soy milk? Products labeled “Natural,” and even products labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients,” do not adhere to the strict standards that organic food is required to. They can still contain pesticides, herbicides, and other nasty things. In the case of Silk, their “natural” soy beans are often processed with hexane, a neurotoxin. Yum, right? (more…)

Margherita French Bread Pizza with Garlic Oil

Do you remember Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas? I LOVED them as a kid, and even as an adult, if I’m “forced” to buy frozen pizza, I’ll run straight for these little guys. They’re like little bread boats of pizza goodness. And for me, they are the perfect size, especially for an easy lunch, or dinner when the hubby’s away.

I’ve made my own French bread pizzas plenty of times, but always with marinara sauce. While watching The Food Network channel a few weeks ago, however, I tuned into an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, and watched her make this super simple recipe for Garlic Oil. As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it—Margherita pizza, which traditionally uses olive oil in lieu of marinara sauce. Garlic infused olive oil would add another dimension to the pizza, I thought. Plus, I absolutely love garlic on pizza. Especially pepperoni and fresh garlic, but that’s another story…

To make things easy on myself, and add a bit of fun, I picked up French bread to use instead of pizza dough. The day was hot, hot, and I didn’t want to spend time in the kitchen kneading and rising dough. To accompany the French bread, I bought Purple Cherokee (I believe) heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. That’s it. That’s all you need for these pizzas. Oh, and pinch of sea salt, and some fresh ground pepper. Okay, I also snuck in some fresh spinach leaves, but that’s optional. Pretty simple, huh? (more…)

Food Alert: Synthetic Food Coloring

Synthetic coloring isn’t something most of us consider when making food purchases. We may look for sugar, sodium, fat and other nutritional content, but how many of us actually read through the list of ingredients? And if we do, do we even know what we’re reading? So much of what goes into processed foods isn’t even pronounceable. Also, food coloring is often used in meats (farm raised salmon) and fresh fruits (oranges, to correct brown spots), which don’t contain ingredient labels. Synthetic coloring is something we should all be aware of, however, as research has shown it to be harmful to humans in many ways. The concern is great enough that several colorings have already been pulled off the market, and there is pressure to pull more.

What are the dangers of synthetic food coloring?

• Cancer
• Tumors
• Sterility
• Hormone Disruption
• Chromosomal Damage
• Allergic Reactions
• Asthma
• Headaches
• Immune System Suppression (more…)

Grilled Chipotle Turkey Philly

A classic Philly Cheesesteak is made with thinly sliced steak, onions, and cheese (often American). Well, the only part of that sandwich that’s edible to me is the onions, and while today’s Philly often includes ingredients such as peppers and mushrooms, they’re still not my kind of sandwiches. I don’t eat beef, and American cheese, not to mention Cheese Whiz, which is a popular Philly spread, bothers me. I’ll refrain from say disgusts, but really… In my sandwich, I substitute turkey breasts for the steak, and a good stinky provolone for the American cheese. I also use onions and red and green peppers, as well as a spicy chipotle sauce. And I grill all of it. It’s really not a Philly since I’ve taken the Philly out of it, but it’s inspired by, so I’ll use the name to describe it.

Grilled Chipotle Turkey Philly


2 large turkey breasts (find these next to the chicken breasts)
1 large red onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
6-8 large deli-style slices of Provolone cheese
6-8 hoagie style sandwich rolls

2-3 chipotle chilies
2-3 tsp. adobo sauce (the chipotles come packed in this sauce)
2-3 tbsp. honey (depending on taste)
2-3 tbsp. olive oil (depending on desired consistency)
1 tbsp. white wine or apple cider vinegar


Butterfly the turkey breasts so they are of even thickness. Coat them in a high flashpoint oil, such as canola, and salt and pepper.

Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and cut them in half. Coat them in a high flashpoint oil, such as canola.

Halve the onion and peel apart the layers. Coat the slices in oil.

Combine the chipotle sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix as well as possible. It should be slightly chunky, as the chipotles like to hold their structure. I use a spoon to chop them apart.

Place the turkey breasts on the grill over moderate heat. When they are ¾ of the way done (they take up to half an hour), place the vegetables on the grill. At this point, take about half of the chipotle sauce and transfer it to another bowl (or paper plate, etc.) for brushing over the turkey breasts. (You don’t want to contaminate all of the sauce with any uncooked turkey, as you will be using the remainder to drizzle over the sandwiches.)

Once everything is cooked, let cool, then thinly slice everything.

Place one slice of cheese on the hoagie sandwich roll and toast in a toaster or regular oven until hot and bubbly.

Heap the onions, peppers, and sliced turkey into the roll, and drizzle chipotle sauce over the filling.

Drink This! Mourvèdre from Kestrel Vintners

Over Labor Day weekend, hubby and I met my dad and his long time lady friend in Eastern Washington for a wine tasting tour. The “tour” only ended up consisting of 2 wineries—Blackwood Canyon (in Benton City) and Kestrel (in Prosser)–but we spent 3-4 hours at each place. A very interesting 3-4 hours, I might add, where we tasted more wine than we knew we could handle. The Eastern Washington experience is far different from what I’ve found in Sonoma, the Willamette Valley, and, um Santa Fe. (As for the latter, well, there are better wine growing regions. Much better. Sorry Santa Fe.) I’m sure other wineries in the country (and abroad) are as lively, personal, and eccentric as those we visited, but I must say, it would be hard to top our experience at either place! Talk about a trip!! (I’m hoping the resident Wine Guru, aka Dad, aka Dan) will talk about Blackwood Canyon in a later post, as it was his mighty fine selection. In case you must know more right now, however, just Google Blackwood Canyon, and you’ll get an “earful.”) (more…)