Beringer Wines Grill-Off Competition

A big thank you to the fabulous folks over at Beringer Wines for hosting me in Washington D.C. for their Grill-Off.

Here I am with Paula Deen’s sons: The Deen Brothers!

Grillin’ in action…with the Food Network camera rolling…

Me n’ my Grill Master…these grills were amazing!

I had such an amazing time and truly enjoyed meeting all of the other regional grillers.


And now, for my Regional Finalist Winning Recipe:

Balsamic Encrusted Fillet Mignon with Goat Cheese

Wine Pairing: Beringer’s Pinot Noir

Ingredients

  • 2 (12 oz.) Fillet Mignon’s
  • 2 Tbsp. Organic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Bran Crumbs
  • 1/2 ripe Avocado, mashed
  • Dash of Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Dash of chili powder
  • Handful of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Handful of Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Goat Cheese
  • Lemon wedges, juice for topping
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat grill to high.
  2. Combine bran, pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro, avocado, tomato sauce, red onion, fresh basil, chili powder, Sea-Salt and pepper in a food processor; blend until mixture is the consistency of paste.
  3. Spoon a thick layer of the pumpkin seed mixture on top of each fillet.
  4. Lay each fillet on the hot grill; cook till desired doneness.
  5. Serve each fillet with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a dollop of Goat Cheese.
  6. Enjoy!


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Fabulous Falafel Balls

Last night I decided to create a tasty, unique dinner…something I’ve never made before…falafel balls, and boy o’ boy did they turn out delicious!  With the big snow storm coming our way, I snuggled into my apartment and created a warm falafel pita overflowing with extra veggies, of course.  The combination of seeds, nuts n’ chickpeas makes this dish incredibly palate pleasing.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups canned chick peas, drained, rinsed and mashed
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups bran crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup cashews, finely ground
  • 2 Tbsp. butter substitute
  • Egg substitute for 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Dash of coriander
  • Dash of sea salt and pepper
  • Whole grain or gluten-free pita bread
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cup dark leafy greens
  • Fresh lemon wedges

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except butter and egg substitute; mix well.
  • Slowly add eggs and melted butter substitute.
  • Shape with hands into ball forms approximately 1/2 inch in diameter.
  • Roll balls in bran crumb mixture.
  • Place balls on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked.
  • Let falafel balls cool and stuff into pita bread with cucumbers, onion, greens and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Drizzle with juice from lemon wedges.
  • Enjoy!

Cherry-Almond Bran Jingle Balls

It’s time to Deck the Halls with these cute little bite-sized jingle balls.  These are incredibly easy to make and are sure to please your guests this holiday season.  Whether it’s at your Hanukkah table, your Christmas feast or your New Year’s Eve bash…be sure to whip up these adorable cherry almond balls, which are packed with fiber and naturally sweetened with dried cherries, unsweetened coconut and almonds.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bran flake cereal
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup almonds, toasted
  • 3 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp. silken Nasoya Tofu
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. wheat germ

Directions

  • Place bran cereal, cherries and almonds in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add honey, tofu and orange juice; pulse until a stiff dough forms.
  • Scoop tablespoon-size portions and shape with greased hands into balls. Roll each ball in coconut and wheat germ.
  • Place on wax paper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving or storing.

Pumpkin Bran Cookies

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Earlier this week I was in the mood for some serious pumpkin…it must be the fall foliage and autumn breeze that spark my yearning for harvest foods.  These are the days when Central Park is remarkably beautiful; the leaves turning beautiful shades of auburn and rust…reminds me of pumpkins and produce-packed cornucopias.  It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is next month, although we still have time to enjoy these October days I’m eager to whip up new tasty seasonal recipes.  And what better ingredient to use than good ‘ol pumpkin?

For this particular recipe I used canned pumpkin, which can easily be found in your food store.  Be sure not to purchase ‘Pumpkin Pie Mix’ because the can looks quite similar to regular ‘Pumpkin’.  I always reach for Libby’s canned pumpkin as it has a delectable taste and is incredibly delicious eaten directly out of the can (Yes, you caught me…I have been known to scoop a few spoonfuls of Libby’s right into my mouth).  In this case, try not to eat all of the pumpkin as you’ll need 1/3 cup for the recipe.  I do recommend, however, purchasing another can of Libby’s pumpkin as it is incredibly inexpensive and is wonderful when mixed with a dollop of Greek yogurt and cinnamon for a tasty treat.

I have yet to test this recipe with fresh pumpkin, however, I will be experimenting soon and I’ll be sure to fill you in on the recipe.  For this particular case, canned pumpkin is a perfect option for a quick and easy way to create these healthy treats.  When I’m short on time, but desire flavor I reach for canned pumpkin and it always does the trick.

As for the bran crumbs, they can also be found in your food store…just take a peak down the baking aisle and you’ll be amazed to see numerous boxes, all of which are perfect suited for this delectable recipe. Bran crumbs are a fantastic way to enrich your recipes with a hearty crunch and a dose of heart-healthy fiber.

Not only are these cookies incredibly tasty, but they’re chock full of fiber and pack scores of beta carotene, as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup butter (or butter substitute), melted
  • 2 cups bran crumbs or (stale bread mashed into crumbs)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine wet ingredients, then add to dry mixture.
  • Slowly add melted butter and bran crumbs; mix well until it forms a cookie dough consistency.
  • Drop teaspoon sized spoonfuls of cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.

There are ways to enjoy these fiber-ific pumpkin cookies.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Pumpkin Cookies crumbled and sprinkled atop morning oatmeal, Greek yogurt and fruit parfait, applesauce or whipped banana pudding.
  • Frozen Greek yogurt sandwiched between 2 Pumpkin Cookies, then rolled in chopped nuts to make ‘Flying Saucers’.
  • Add soft baked Pumpkin Cookies (cut into quarters) to your trail mix or popcorn for a harvest taste.

What is your favorite way to enjoy fiber-rich cookies?

Lox n’ Tofutti Cream Cheese

This has recently become one of my favorite go-to snacks. I purchased lox last week at a gourmet market here in Manhattan and decided to give ’em a whirl…turns out they’re delicious and pack a healthy dose of heart-friendly Omega 3’s!

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I enjoy this snack with my Tofutti Dairy-Free Cream Cheese, lemon flavored hummus or a dollop of Greek yogurt.  However, if you are not lactose intolerant (as I am)…opt for a low fat ricotta cheese or cottage cheese instead.  Each of these options pack a nice dose of protein and a serving of dairy!  Furthermore, the addition of the dried cherries add a nice sweet punch to each bite, again feel free to experiment and try dried cranberries, dried pears or golden raisins.  It’s amazing how switching one simple ingredient can alter the taste of this healthy and easy to prepare go-to snack.

Ingredients

  • Lox
  • Tofutti (Dairy Free) Cream Cheese, Hummus or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Your Choice: Bran Crackers, Whole Grain Toast, Gluten-Free Pita Wedges
  • Dried Cherries
  • Fresh Dill

Directions

  • Top each cracker/toast/pita with a dollop of Greek yogurt or cream cheese, followed by a slice of lox.
  • Sprinkle with dried cherries and fresh dill.
  • Enjoy!

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tilapia

Last night, I made this quick and simple dinner of baked tilapia with pumpkin seed crust.  It takes just minutes to prepare and is quite delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 2 Fresh Talapia filets
  • 2 Tbsp. Organic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Bran Crumbs
  • 1/2 ripe Avocado, mashed
  • Dash of NuSalt and Pepper, to taste
  • Dash of chili powder
  • Handful of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Handful of Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Quinoa, cooked
  • Lemon wedges, juice for topping
  • Parchment Paper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine bran, pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro, avocado, tomato sauce, red onion, fresh basil, chili powder, Nu-Salt and pepper in a food processor; blend until mixture is the consistency of paste.
  • Spoon a thick layer of the pumpkin seed mixture on top of each tilapia fillet.
  • Lay a large piece of parchment paper atop a baking sheet.  Place each tilapia fillet atop the parchment paper.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Remove tilapia fillets from the oven and unwrap parchment paper.
  • Serve each fillet over a bed of cooked quinoa with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • Enjoy!

Chipotle Bean Burgers n’ Carrot Slaw

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These are not your everyday burgers…my unique combination of crunchy slaw atop avocado and bean patties (with a touch of sweetness and a kick of spice) will have your taste buds dancing!

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
  • 1/2 can kidney beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
  • 1 avocado, peeled, cored and mashed
  • 1/2 cup bran crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Cooking Spray
  • 4 Gluten Free or Whole Wheat Rolls
  • Nu-Salt and pepper, to taste

Carrot Slaw

  • 1 1/2 cups cabbage slaw
  • 1/2 cup carrots, slivered
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. Greek plain yogurt

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine beans, avocado, bran crumbs, chili powder, garlic, balsamic vinegar, egg, honey, Nu-Salt and pepper. Use hands to ensure the ingredients are mixed well. Divide into 1/2 inch thick patties.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Coat with cooking spray; add patties and cook for 5 minutes on each side.
  • In a separate bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, almonds and Greek yogurt.  Mix well.
  • Place 1 bean burger on the bottom half of each roll; top with coleslaw and top with the other half of the roll.
  • Enjoy!