Apr 192012
Welcome back to Wine Down Wednesday where I review a vegan dish paired with two different wines.
To pair wines with a meatless dish we must look at the spices and main flavors of the recipe.

For an ideal pairing we look for wines that that compliment Sweet Potato and Tahini Burgers Citrus, Mango and Avocado Salsa we look at the tahini, sweet potato, citrus and mango.

The Wines selected to taste are Warwick ‘First Lady’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Barboursville Viognier.

Sweet Potato and Tahini Burgers
with Citrus, Mango and Avocado Salsa

These sweet-spicy burgers are super easy to put together – only six ingredients. They can be baked, grilled or pan seared.  The mango salsa a spur of the moment inspiration that compliments the burgers so well it is a match made in heaven.  Mangos are on sale for a dollar and avocado is super cheap right now, too.  I had a jalapeno on hand to add a kick and some fresh Florida oranges and limes to add a nice tang.  For a side, I a added some nice steamed edamame with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Time Saving Tip: To save time for the salsa, simply buy a quality store bought mango or citrus salsa in the refrigerated produce section of your grocery!

From 1791 through 1902 Warwick Wine Estate in South Africa was originally known as  ‘De Goede Sukses’, the Good Success farm.  It was later renamed Warwick after being purchased by Colonel Alexander Gordon of the Warwickshire regiment.  In the 60’s the winery traded hands again when it was purchased by Norma Ratcliffe and her husband Stan.  After initially selling the grapes wholesale to other wineries, Norma studied the art of winemaking and began producing her own wine in 1984.  She was the first female wine maker in South Africa, thus the ‘First Lady’ Cabernet Sauvignon is named as a tribute to Norma.

The winemaker’s notes, “The wine has a deep and intense ruby red colour. The nose reveals lots of red berries and sweet black cherries, complemented by sweet vanilla and chocolate oak background. The smooth ripe, round tannins make this wine easy to drink while still retaining a full body. The balanced acid creates a firm finish that is complemented by a lingering sweetness.”

Barboursville vineyards reside along side the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, owned by Gianni Zonin of Gamnbellara Italy who is a 7th generation winemaker. This Viognier Reserve is grown by the general manager-winemaker Luca Paschina who has a degree in oenology; the study of all aspects of wine. 

It looks like I have found my calling – I must go back to school for an oenology degree. I wonder if this is an offering at FSU.  If not, I will simply have to attend the the Instituto Umberto in Alba Italy as Luca Paschina did.
Gregg from Broadbent Selections sent me some additional information on the vineyard that I thought was interesting, “this second-generation estate house at Barboursville plantation was designed by Thomas Jefferson, one of only 3 residences he designed for his friends. The Barbour family continued to occupy this residence until it was destroyed by accidental fire at Christmas, 1884, and returned to the elegant Georgian villa next door for several generations, now The 1804 Inn”

The Viognier, pronounced Vee-‘O’-nyaaay, is fermented in steel with tropical and floral tones.  It does well with aging of 4 to 5 years.  The photos of the vineyard are gorgeous-I would love to visit and take some of the cooking classes offered at their restaurant.


Category #1 – How well my dish turned out.
Category #2 – How well I like the wine.
Category #3 – Pairing notes – How well this wine pairs with the dish.

Rating Scale

Bleck -This wine is pretty bad.
Ho Hum- I could drink it if I was at a football game and there was nothing else in the cooler.
Nice -Good table wine. I would keep this in the wine cooler if it was a good value.
Yum – This is good, I would pay a fair bit more and have it for a special occasion.
Damn that’s Good – Self explanatory.
** We will use the same terminology for how the dish turned out and how well it paired.

Category #1 The Dish

Rating of Nice.  I would definitely make these burgers again as long as I could make the salsa with them.  I think that is what really made the dish.  It had all the elements I love – sweet from the mangos and sweet potato, aromatics from the cilantro and a spicy kick from the Cajun seasoning and jalapeno peppers.  The tahini wasn’t a prominent flavor, it just added enough to give it a nutty hint in the background. These were awesome with a bit of Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce on the side. 

Category #2 The Wine

Warwick Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 gets a rating of Damn That’s Good.  I’ve started a little wine journal now so I can sit down and write the first things that come to mind.  I’m still amazed when I go and look at reviews afterwards and the reviews actually coincide with my perception.  For this Cabernet the first thing I wrote down was chocolate/cocoa and no aftertaste. After sitting and swirling a bit I added perfect balance of dry and sweet, not too heavy.  Smoky mesquite.  Great with grilled foods.  My husband happened to be cooking on the grill at the time which may have had some influence there.

Virginia Voignier Reserve, 2010 also gets a rating of DAMN THAT’S GOOD.  I had to write that one in caps for emphasis.  On first taste I wrote honey, mango and tad sweeter than Chardonnays, higher percentage of residual sugar ?  I loved the honey-lemon color.  I also wrote down grass reminiscent of summer fresh cut grass which is interesting because in a review of the wine I read “herbal frame” – I wonder if my interpretation was the grassiness.

Category #3 The Pairing

Both get a rating of Yum.  Each brought the dish up to another level in it’s own way.  If I had rated the dish higher, the wines would have elevated the pairings to a DTG. 
The smoky-cocoa cabernet brings out the spicy elements of the dish and has a light enough body to not overpower the sweet potato burgers. 
The Viognier complimented the sweetness of the mango and sweet potato; the wine acquired an added layer of a lemony-citrus flavor when paired with the dish-refreshing and smooth.

Where to buy

All the wines will be for sale locally at the Grotto in San Marco. Please call first to ensure they are in stock.  You can contact Mitch Woodlief, grottomitch@aol.com with questions and pricing.  Anyone outside the Greater Jacksonville area can contact E-MAIL: info@broadbent.com PHONE: US +1 415-931-1725.

Sweet Potato Tahini Burgers

with Citrus, Mango and Avocado Salsa

Inspired by Lunch Box Bunch
Serves 6
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free


1 can of sweet potato
2 cans cannellini or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/3 cup oats, pulsed in magic bullet, blender or food processor to grind it a bit

1 mango, seeded and chopped
2 oranges, peeled and chopped
1 avocado, seeded and chopped
1/4 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Add all burger ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times, so just mixed.  Form into patties and place on a baking tray rubbed with oil.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  Turn on broiler to high at the end to crisp outside – about 1 to 2 minutes or until browned.

2. Meanwhile mix the salsa ingredients in a small bowl. 

3. Top each burger with a generous heaping of salsa and serve with Barboursville Viognier or Warwick First Lady Cabernet.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 381.5
Total Fat 8.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 113.4 mg
Potassium 1,199.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 67.5 g
Dietary Fiber 14.4 g
Sugars 8.3 g
Protein 15.8 g

Vitamin A 185.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 20.7 %
Vitamin C 65.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 5.8 %
Calcium 18.3 %
Copper 35.7 %
Folate 42.5 %
Iron 36.5 %
Magnesium 31.7 %
Manganese 78.9 %
Niacin 8.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 12.9 %
Phosphorus 27.3 %
Riboflavin 14.1 %
Selenium 5.2 %
Thiamin 25.9 %
Zinc 19.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Please note that as an ammendment to the Black Bean Soup post I would like to change my rating of the Pares Balta to a Damn thats Good. I’ll definitely be ordering more of because of it’s summer drinkability factor as well as the new information provided that this wine is produced with absolutely now animal products so it’s perfect for a plant based diet.

Feb 122012
This is the casserole I was telling you guys about. Now I don’t have a specific recipe for this, and if you go to make all these ingredients at once it’d kind of be a pain in the @ss. What I did was throw a bunch of leftovers together with stellar results.


A few weeks ago I made the beans and froze them in two-cup sizes. To make them, I soaked them overnight and threw them in the pressure cooker with a bay leaf, veggie broth, veggies and Adobo seasoning for about 25 minutes or so. When I was ready to make this casserole, I just pulled a bag out the day before and had them handy in the fridge.

For the rice-earlier in the week I had simmered it with some home made veggie broth, a few veggies-such as carrots, onions and garlic-as well as some Adobo seasoning. I cooked about four servings up to use for the week and had about half left over.

Finally, I sautéed up some greens for a cookout and I used this recipe minus the beans. All the leftovers went right into this dish.
The casserole below is completely estimated so if you throw in more or less of each ingredient it should still come out awesome. And get crazy. Change up the grains or the type of beans…whatever goes.

The onion sauce is the key. You gotta try making the onion sauce.

Saucy Rice, Greens n’ Beans Casserole
with Caramelized Onion-Cabbage Sauce
Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free
2 cups cooked basmati rice, (cooked with veggie broth, adobo seasoning, quartered onion, garlic, carrot)
2 cups sautéed greens, I used this recipe minus the beans 
1 cup white beans, (cooked with veggie broth, adobo seasoning, quartered onion, garlic, carrot)
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Layer rice, greens, beans and onion sauce; bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Estimated Nutrition Facts

4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 221.2
Total Fat 1.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 10.4 mg
Potassium 547.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 43.1 g
Dietary Fiber 7.2 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Protein 10.0 g

Vitamin A 24.0 %
Vitamin B-12 33.3 %
Vitamin B-6 126.3 %
Vitamin C 14.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.3 %
Calcium 8.4 %
Copper 10.6 %
Folate 35.0 %
Iron 13.6 %
Magnesium 11.0 %
Manganese 23.3 %
Niacin 71.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.6 %
Phosphorus 11.7 %
Riboflavin 144.5 %
Selenium 10.2 %
Thiamin 166.0 %
Zinc 10.8 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jan 092012
By Sunday I still couldn’t see into my fridge with all the veggies waiting to be eaten, so something had to be done before my hubby went into a fridge cleaning spree. 

I had a gorgeous bunch of collards, beet greens that had been washed and prepped and a bunch of fresh spinach.  Being short on time as usual, I needed something super quick and easy.  I searched around the web and so many of the green recipes call for ham or turkey that it was tough to find many options.  I finally settled back on my usual sautéed greens but with some inspiration from Epicurious, I added the fire roasted tomatoes as well-I loved the tanginess they added.  The addition of the white beans turned it into a complete meal. 

I actually hadn’t planned on posting this one, but it came out so well that I resorted to a photo of the leftovers on my phone. Delish!

Collard, Beet Green and Fresh Spinach Sauté with White Beans
Inspired by Epicurious
Serves about 4
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free


1 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning (with salt)
1 14 1/2-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes in juice
1 141/2-ounce can vegetable broth
8 cups coarsely chopped assorted greens (I used collard, beet greens and spinach)
1 15-ounce can great northern, drained (or beans of choice)


  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes. Lower heat, add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, Cajun seasoning and paprika, stir to combine and cook 2 minutes.
  2. Add broth and greens; bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until greens are wilted and tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Gently stir in beans and simmer 1 minute to heat through.   
Nutrition Facts
4 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 236.2
Total Fat 4.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 1,354.6 mg
Potassium 668.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 40.0 g
Dietary Fiber 9.4 g
Sugars 6.5 g
Protein 10.9 g

Vitamin A 121.8 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 14.4 %
Vitamin C 83.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 10.4 %
Calcium 21.2 %
Copper 14.9 %
Folate 48.5 %
Iron 25.3 %
Magnesium 16.0 %
Manganese 41.1 %
Niacin 4.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.4 %
Phosphorus 11.8 %
Riboflavin 8.9 %
Selenium 4.5 %
Thiamin 10.7 %
Zinc 9.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Aug 262011
Today is a special Friday as it happens to by my 34th birthday.  The plan is to go shopping, lunch at Mandaloun and then a pedicure before a dinner with the family tonight.  Tomorrow is a date night out with friends; dinner and dancing.

I made my own birthday cake….here is a sneak peek from while I was making it.

I won’t give it away entirely but there is dark chocolate, banana and coconut involved.  I can’t wait to post!

As for the polenta, this is one of those recipes that I’m so excited about for several reasons.

1. The outcome was fabulously delicious.

2. It was so quick and easy.

3. My whole family (including me the plant eater, my hubby the omnivore and our 3-year old daughter who is allergic to everything.)  The verdict is that it was much better than my first whole-family vegetarian attempt at mushy bean burgers.

4. It doesn’t sound like it would be but it was filling and satisfying with over 11 grams fiber and 15 grams protein!

Broiled Polenta Cakes with Sautéed Broccoli and Cannellinis
Inspiration from the lonely bean

Serves 4 (1/4 broccoli bean mixture and 2 slices polenta)
Vegan, Gluten Free
1 tube organic garlic-basil polenta, I used Food Merchants Organic Garlic Basil Polenta
Non-stick cooking spray
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup vegetable broth or water
1 large head broccoli, chopped
¼ cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
Splash (about 2 to 3 Tbsp) of good quality white wine (Meaning you would drink it.)
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Sea salt, fresh ground pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, to taste
1. Preheat broiler.  Slice polenta into 8 slices and place on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Broil until first side is browned, about 10 minutes, flip and broil second side until browned.  Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat, sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes; add garlic, sauté additional 2 minutes; add broccoli, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder, to taste;  cook 1 minute; add broth, wine and sun dried tomatoes, cover and reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes until broccoli is tender-crisp.  Stir in beans and pine nuts.  Serve over crispy polenta.

Estimated Nutrition Facts

4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 236.6
Total Fat 77.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 419.9 mg
Potassium 1,059.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 49.2 g
Dietary Fiber 11.3 g
Sugars 2.2 g
Protein 15.3 g

Vitamin A 54.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 18.6 %
Vitamin C 253.8 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 14.1 %
Calcium 16.2 %
Copper 21.9 %
Folate 44.5 %
Iron 29.4 %
Magnesium 28.1 %
Manganese 84.9 %
Niacin 7.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 10.6 %
Phosphorus 24.9 %
Riboflavin 14.3 %
Selenium 9.5 %
Thiamin 15.7 %
Zinc 15.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Mar 112011
Late at night I was lying in bed when I heard the jingle of my dog’s collar and awoke.  I got up and let her out and then couldn’t fall back asleep.  For some odd reason, soup popped into my head and it brought back a memory.
At one point, when I first moved here, I was a manager at a clothing store called Abercrombie and Fitch.  Nearby was a Panera Bread and I used to LOVE going there on my lunch breaks to get their broccoli cheddar soup.  Now that I’m a bit older and wiser and realize if I want to look good in my skinny jeans I’d better lay off the cream and find another way to make it taste good and still get that texture I love.  Since I had just got two cauliflowers and a whole bunch of broccoli from my CSA I thought this would be a perfect solution; puree the cauliflower, add some white beans for protein and stir in a bit of shredded cheese and steamed broccoli. 
I didn’t add much salt to this recipe but my hubby likes things on the saltier side so he added a dash of Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning and he said that did it for him.**If you are interested in more soup recipes check out 25 Soup Blogs That Will Bowl You Over.


Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup with Cauliflower and Cannellinis
6 (1 1/3 cup) servings
***5 WW Pts Plus


1 Tbsp oil of choice, I used virgin pecan
1 onion, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Two heads of fresh cauliflower (About 500 grams)
1 carton vegetable broth
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Dash of Cajun Seasoning (Optional), such as Tony Chachere’s
3 small heads of broccoli or 1 large (About 350 grams)
1 14.5 oz can of salt free cannellini beans, undrained, I used Eden Organic
3/4 cup shredded white cheese, Daiya

Optional garnish


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. When hot, add onion; sauté until translucent, about three minutes. Add garlic and sauté a few stirs of pan; pour in broth, add seasonings and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 10 minutes.

2. Steam the broccoli as the cauliflower simmers until just beginning to soften but not lose color, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and rinse in cold water, chop into bite size pieces.

3. Add beans to cauliflower mixture. Simmer five minutes. Puree mixture in batches or with an immersion blender.

4. Stir broccoli into soup; remove from heat, stir in cheese.

5. Sprinkle parsley if desired.

Nutrition Facts

6 (1 1/3 cup) Servings
***5 WW Pts Plus
Amount Per Serving

Calories 185.0
Total Fat 7.7 g
Saturated Fat 3.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 15.0 mg
Sodium 506.0 mg (this is a bit off as the recipe builder did not offer the salt free beans)
Potassium 613.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.6 g
Dietary Fiber 7.6 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Protein 10.4 g

Vitamin A 21.9 %
Vitamin B-6 16.3 %
Vitamin C 157.8 %
Vitamin E 6.5 %
Calcium 18.7 %
Copper 3.8 %
Folate 23.1 %
Iron 12.0 %
Magnesium 15.3 %
Manganese 15.5 %
Niacin 4.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 8.8 %
Phosphorus 13.8 %
Riboflavin 11.7 %
Selenium 3.8 %
Thiamin 30.2 %
Zinc 8.8 %

Nutrition Facts
8 Cups
***3 WW Pts Plus Per Cup
Amount Per Cup
Calories 138.7

Total Fat 5.8 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 11.3 mg
Sodium 379.5 mg (this is a bit off as the recipe builder did not offer the salt free beans)

Potassium 459.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 15.5 g
Dietary Fiber 5.7 g
Sugars 1.3 g
Protein 7.8 g