Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome December

I am still stuffed! I hope everyone got enough turkey.

Now our calendars are just one page! Amazing. This year has truly flown by (don't we always say that).

It's never too late to take a look at your eating habits and re-evaluate your goals. Isn't that what the new year is all about. Start today! I think this week's menu will get you on the right track.

As a reminder, there are more menus and planning ideas HERE.


Monday: Grilled Beef Fajitas
Tuesday: Chicken with Black Bean Salsa and a Big Garden Salad
Wednesday: Herb Pork Chops with Grilled Asparagus and Rice Pilaf
Thursday: Nachos! Celebrating the Civil War! Go Ducks!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Just a few photos from Turkey Day at Rebecca Lane.....Chick and I had a quiet Thursday. Lots of great food! Beautiful table. Our long weekend continues.......


Friday, November 27, 2009

Old Photo Friday: Cool Man, Dad

WHO: My Pop - Diamond Jim
WHAT: Drinking an Oly and smoking a cig
WHERE: Florence, OR - inside my Grandma Virginia's trailer at the Coast Village Campground
WHEN: Mid 1970's

I just love the necklace?! Oh the 70's.....what were people thinking!??! I think this is the longest I have ever seen my dad's hair!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to friends and family near and far. I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

I love quizzes (my family calls me the "Queen of Useless Information"). I thought this would be fun. Before you sit down to the dinner table this afternoon, can you answer some basic questions regarding the first feast? No peaking! Answers revealed at the bottom of this post.

Good Luck and Enjoy!


1. What year was the first Thanksgiving celebrated?

A. 1621

B. 1776

C. 1849

D. 1549

2. The first Thanksgiving lasted for three days! What didn't the Pilgrims eat?

A. Lobster

B. Clams

C. Venison

D. Pumpkin

3. Name the Indian Chief invited to the first feast?

A. Massasoit

B. Sitting Bull

C. Geronimo

4. Why didn't the Pilgrims whip up some mashed potatoes for their big dinner?

A. Many Pilgrims were allergic to potatoes

B. Potatoes were thought to be poisonous.

C. Potatoes weren't eaten in the U.S. until the early 1800s.

5. Which U.S. president scoffed at the idea of a national holiday in honor of the first Thanksgiving?

A. Thomas Jefferson

B. George Washington

C. John Adams

D. Abraham Lincoln

1. A, 2. D, 3. A, 4. B, 5. A

How did you do?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our New Fireplace

When we moved to West Seattle we lost our fireplace.

Our wonderful cozy home did not come with a fireplace.
I remember at the time's almost a deal-breaker, but the location, price and layout were just to much to let pass by.

Then....the winter snow storm hit a few days before Christmas and the heat flew out of the house like a gut-shot cat (I owe my Pop $5).This year, Handy Man Brian and I found this (thank you Duck Tape). Every window in the house will soon have a new treatment. Everyone who has used this product states a noticeable reduction in heat bills (yippee).

To top it all off......

Our new fireplace. Okay, it's for looks more than heat, but it does put out a bit of toasty warm-ness. Plus it gives the room the ambiance we've been missing (our living room has no TV and is for conversation and music only).

Perfect! Even Sammy approves!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Happy Thanksgiving!

This is kinda a weird week with all my menu efforts centered around Thursday's big meal. The rest of the week will be light and easy to make (or should I say....pick up).

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Monday: Pick up the Turkey after work (@ New Seasons) and head out for Chinese. We've been craving this place for a few weeks.
Tuesday: Big shop at Albertson's after work. Let's just pick up a Subway!?!?!?
Wednesday: Off work at noon and into the kitchen to bake Pumpkin pie, prepare the turkey and pre-make the gravy. I'm going to throw an Amy's cheesy lasagna in the oven and open the Chardonnay by 6PM
Thursday: Eat, Drink and be really Merry! Dinner is served at 4:00

Thanksgiving Menu 2009


Marcona Almonds

Brie Cheese and Crackers

Veggie with Ranch Dip

Champagne Mimosas


Roast Turkey & Gravy

Mashed Potatoes

Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing

Brussel Sprouts with Marjoram and Pine Nuts

Grandma Virginia’s Bacon Peas

Relish Tray with Deviled Eggs, Aunt Pat's Stuffed Celery and Black Olives

Crescent Rolls

Cranberry Relish


Pumpkin Pie

Friday, November 20, 2009

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Aunt Judy!

WHO: Aunt Judy and her father (my grandfather) Donald Young Brady
WHAT: Father and Daughter....what more is there to say?
WHERE: I'll go out on a limb here and say either Eugene or Oakridge, Oregon
WHEN: Aunt Judy's birthday is November 21st 1940 and she looks to be about 6 months old in this picture so that would make it around May 1941

Happy Birthday to my Aunt Judy! I am so glad that I was able to scan these pictures when she visited this past summer. I'll treasure them forever (oh.....I've mailed them back to you Aunt Judy - be on the lookout for a delivery)!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Thanksgiving Cheese Ball

Our family has hors d'oeuvres every year as a prelude to Thanksgiving dinner, along with a Champagne toast. This recipe can be doubled and put in the freezer for New Year's Eve! Serve with an array of crackers. Make this a day ahead for best results!



Thanksgiving Cheese Ball


8 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese

2 ounces crumbled blue cheese

2 tablespoons grated onion

1 clove garlic, minced

4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 (2.25 ounce) can green olives

1/2 cup chopped pecans


1. In a food processor, mix the cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, blue cheese, onion, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Process until well blended. Add olives, and pulse into small chunks.

2. Shape the mixture into a ball, and roll in the chopped pecans to coat. Wrap in plastic, and chill at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Image courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Queen Anne

We've never explored Queen Anne before. Last Saturday was a simple day.....quite chilly and the day was ours - the perfect opportunity to go exploring.

We found Queen Anne Books and lost ourselves for awhile. We also explored a cute home store with Christmas ornaments generously displayed (Brian couldn't resist a sparkly Santa ornament). We also picked up some fresh pasta and a very tasty French potato salad at Pasta and Company.
It was fun to sip on our first Pumpkin Lattes of the season - a toasty fire blazing.

I knew there was a famous overlook somewhere in Queen Anne with an amazing view of downtown and the space needle. Brian and I got out the map and started driving around Queen Anne, but had a hard time finding it. In the meantime - we saw some gorgeous homes and a few views of the "needle", but this was not the destination I was hoping for. We finally found Kerry Park, a 1.6 acre overlook on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill.According to a plaque on a wall in the park, "Kerry Park [was] given to the City in 1927 by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sperry Kerry, Sr., so that all who stop here may enjoy this view," which encompasses downtown, Elliott Bay, West Seattle, Bainbridge Island and Mount Rainier.
Of course, it was cloudy and gray and the views muted - but we enjoyed them all the same!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Mid November

It's the week before Thanksgiving so I am trying to keep it light, healthy and low fat. It's also the middle of November....2009 is flying by!

This is the start of the holiday season and a time when most of us fall off that food wagon. Remember to exercise this week and keep your in-between snacks to a minimum. I think this week's menu will help! Honestly, all these items sound loaded with calories and's really an illusion.

Check our more recipes HERE!


Monday: Penne with Vodka Sauce and a Big Garden Salad (Yes, there is actual cream and vodka)
Tuesday: Baked Chicken with Lemon and Herbs along side Garlic Sauteed Green Beans (herbs add to flavor)
Wednesday: Beef and Bean Chili (easy to double and freeze)
Thursday: Meatloaf with Chive Mashed Potatoes (healthy mashed potatoes, you betcha)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Old Photo Friday: Graduation Day!

WHO: Ann, Brian and friend, Kathy Dickerson
WHAT: Brian's graduation day from Mesa State College
WHERE: Grand Junction, Colorado
WHEN: May 7, 1983

Brian's tongue is sticking out because he claims to have had the biggest hangover ever on graduation day. Priceless!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Floating Away

What a difference a few weeks makes......

Above is what the inlet behind Mom and Kenny's home in Portsmouth, VA looked like on the 30th of October when we were there for our visit.

Here is what the inlet looks like today!You can see where the water has risen above the trees on the edge.

We are all thinking of you and hoping the storm passes quickly (and that you don't need any sandbags).


Recipe of the Week: Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Get outta here.....mashed potatoes made hours before Thanksgiving dinner is served!?

Remember the time issues we talked about last week!? This year, spend more time watching football and drinking champagne and less time worrying about the dinner!

Red potatoes are boiled with garlic and chicken bouillon, then mashed with sour cream and cream cheese. Then the potatoes are slow cooked for a couple of hours, allowing the flavors to meld. No joke!



8 Servings (trust me.....I can eat 3 by myself)


5 pounds red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cubes chicken bouillon
1 (8oz) container of sour cream
1 (8oz) container cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the potatoes, garlic, and bouillon until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving water.

2. In a bowl, mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.

3. Transfer the potato mixture to a slow cooker, cover, and cook on Low for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rest in Peace Sweet Cleo

A sad goodbye this week to my Mom and Kenny's cat, Cleopatra.

They rescued her from a Seattle shelter back in 1995 and I actually came up with her name, taken from an Australian beauty magazine called Cleo. One of Cleo's eyes was lined dark black as if she were wearing make-up. I was visiting from Australia in the summer of 1995 just after they rescued her and the name stuck.

I am so glad that Brian and I had the chance to see her one last time when we were in Virginia a few weeks ago.

She was such a sweet cat and I will miss her dearly.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: November 9-12

Welcome to another Monday and just 2 weeks away from Thanksgiving. Aside from cooking, I am really looking forward to 4 and 1/2 days at Rebecca Lane.....relaxing.

I am trying to dig up anything and everything NOT associated with traditional Thanksgiving cooking - while still keeping it light, low-fat and easy to make. Let's see how I did for this week.

Also... check out about 300 other menu planning ideas HERE!


Monday: Tex-Mex Casserole with a Big Garden Salad
Tuesday: Nigella Lawson's Chicken Schnitzel with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Spaetzle (Pop's coming to visit)
Wednesday: Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Sauteed Cauliflower
Thursday: Spaghetti with Mini Meatballs

Friday, November 6, 2009

Old Photo Friday: Kingdome Memories

Who: Crowe, Kenny, Stacy, Mom, Rosemary (Pop took the picture)
What: Seattle Mariners Baseball Game (White Hat Give-Away Night)
Where: Kingdome (Seattle, WA)
When: Mid-1980's - I look to be about let's say 1985

The baseball season ended this week. It's always bittersweet to see our "boys of summer" go away. Just exactly how many days are there until Spring Training?

I remember this evening clear as a bell......well, really what I remember is leaving the ballpark after the game. Kenny was driving Rusty's old burgundy taxicab at the time and after the game he drove us all over to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner......weaving in and out of game traffic....flying down the road like Mario Andretti. The song blasting on the radio....Dire Straight's "Money For Nothing".


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Make-Ahead Basic Turkey Gravy

Gobble Gobble Gobble......

Don't look now, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner. What are you most thankful for? How about a little more time.....time for family, friends and yourself. This month in honor of Thanksgiving and all of us who want a little more time - I am creating helpful holiday short-cuts.

What if I told you that you can make your Thanksgiving Day gravy a day or so that you could have more time with family and less time in the kitchen. Honest!

I am throwing tradition out the window this year! I am going to make this a day ahead. Wish me luck!


Turkey Gravy - Make Ahead Recipe

Makes 4 cups


1-2 turkey wings (or neck and giblets {everything in that little bag} from turkey, rinsed and patted dry)

2 tablespoon butter (or more, as needed)

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped

4 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped

6 garlic cloves (leave two whole and coarsely chopped the rest)

1/2 bottle white wine (drink the rest while you are cooking)

3 tablespoons flour

Poultry bouquet; fresh thyme, rosemary, sage

2 bay leaves

1 quart water

salt and pepper, as needed


1. Cut the turkey wing into pieces with a heavy knife. (If using neck and giblets, cut the neck into three or four pieces. Trim the tough membrane from the gizzard. Rinse all neck pieces and giblets, and pat them very dry with paper towels.).

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, and, when its foaming begins to subside, add the turkey pieces. Season with salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat until golden brown - about 15-20 minutes.

3. Add the coarsely chopped vegetables and garlic, season again with salt and pepper, and continue sauteing (add small bits of butter if necessary to prevent scorching) until vegetables begin to color slightly - about 5 minutes.

4. Sprinkle over the flour, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the floured vegetables turn brown - about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine; add the herbs, bay leaves to the vegetables. Slowly add the water, whisking or stirring briskly to incorporate flavors and prevent lumps.

5. When the liquid begins to boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

6. Strain the sauce and discard the solids. Reserve the sauce. You should have about 4 cups of sauce.

*This sauce may be made ahead (up to 3 days before serving). You can also freeze it. It may be served as-is, OR thickened before serving. You can also add pan drippings to the sauce for added flavor

Image courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Virginia/North Carolina: Day Three

Our last day in Virginia took us on a real adventure.

Mom and Kenny have been talking about a trip down into North Carolina and the "outer banks" since they moved to Virginia last April.

Brian and I jumped at the chance to see this beautiful stretch of country and see the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

We drove south over the Virginia/North Carolina border and out to the outer banks - through the communities of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Avon.

Watch video of our drive below

We had an amazing burger with an even more amazing view at Mulligan's in Nags Head.

The Outer Banks is a 200-mile long string of narrow Barrier Islands off the coast of North Carolina, beginning in southeastern corner of Virginia Beach. They cover approximately half the northern North Carolina coastline, separating the Currituck Sound, Ablemarle Sounds and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

The treacherous seas off the Outer Banks and the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred there have given these seas the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Watch video of outer banks towns/homes below

I must say, we are quite spoiled here on the west coast and the beautiful Pacific Ocean road. I was expecting more views of the ocean and we really only saw it when we drove through some of the small towns.

The easternmost point is Cape Point at Cape Hatteras on Hatteras Island, site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

It was a dream trip form Brian and unfortunately, this lighthouse closes for tours on Columbus Day - so we only missed a tour by a few weeks. We were both still in awe!

On July 10, 1797, Congress appropriated $44,000 "for erecting a lighthouse on the head land of Cape Hatteras". The Lighthouse cost $14,302 to build and was completed in 1803.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Keeper, Gerry and Brian (look at that smile on Brian's face)

In 1860 the Lighthouse Board reported that Cape Hatteras Lighthouse required protection, due to the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1862 the Board reported "Cape Hatteras, lens and lantern destroyed, light re-exhibited. A new lighthouse was erected in 1870.

Due to erosion of the shore, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet inland between 1999-2000. The move was controversial at the time with speculation that the structure would not survive the move, resulting in lawsuits that were later dismissed.

After we wandered around the lighthouse - we drove over to where we had beach access and let the dogs (and people too) run in the sand and play in the water.

Mom got absolutely soaked in the Atlantic!This was a "bucket list" trip for Brian and I. I've dreamed about the outer banks for years (thanks to movies like Nights in Rodanthe and Message in a Bottle) and Brian's love of lighthouses made this like a dream come true.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Virginia: Day Two

Our second full day in Virginia so we headed to the beach......

Lunch with Kenny's work colleagues from Liberty Tax at Mahi Mah right on Virginia Beach . I had a wonderful crab bisque.....yummy!

Brian, Kenny, Mike, Hava, Jonetta and Mom

Virginia Beach is located in the South Hampton Roads area of Virginia on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia.

Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront.

A Virginia Beach attraction is King Neptune, a colossal 34-foot-high bronze statue that rises from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean at 31st Street & Atlantic Avenue, overlooking Neptune Park.

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. It is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.

Near the point where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cape Henry was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607.

A real treat was a tour of the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse....all the way to the top!

Kenny and Stacy preparing for the climb up into the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

The lighthouse has long been important for the large amount of ocean-going shipping traffic for the harbors, its rivers, and shipping headed to ports on the Chesapeake Bay. It was the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. government, dating from 1792.

It was also the first federal construction project under the Constitution, for an original contract amount of $15,200 (an additional $2,500 was required to finish the lighthouse).

Brian, Kenny and I climbed to the very top and the views of the "new" Cape Henry Lighthouse were amazing.

In the 1870s, concerns about the condition and safety of the Old Lighthouse at Cape Henry led to the construction of the New Cape Henry Lighthouse in 1881, which stands 350 feet to the southeast of the original. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1983 and remains in use today.

The lighthouses are located to the north of Virginia Beach within the boundaries of Fort Story, an Army base.

Brian with the "new" Cape Henry Lighthouse in the background

Our Friday night wrapped up with a Halloween costume party across the street at one of Mom's new friends.

I dressed up as a classy witch and we put a long blond wig on Brian's head and called him Gregg Allman. Too funny!