Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Ultimate 7-Layer Mexican Dip

It's hard to believe that Cinco De Mayo is next week! It's smack dab in the middle of the week this year, so if the weather is nice I think I'll mix up a pitcher of margaritas and throw this dip down on the patio table....soak up a bit of sunshine!


Ultimate 7-Layer Mexican Dip


1 16oz can refried beans
1 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 bag tortilla chips


Mix beans and taco seasoning; spread over the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.

Layer all the remaining ingredients, except chips over the bean mixture. Cover and refrigerate several hours before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Kraft and my memory cause I've eaten a lot of this dip in my lifetime
Image courtesy of Google Images - who knew Mexican food looked so good

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birthday/Las Vegas Day two and three

Monday was sunny and hot so a perfect day to lay by the pool.

I had the entire place to myself until about noon when it started to fill up. It's really a beautiful place being so close to the mountains that surround Las Vegas.

In the evening, Brian and I checked out the Red Rocks Casino (where the locals hang out). It's a really stylish place and we played a bit of video blackjack and managed to come home with a few bucks left in our pockets.

Tuesday I took the hotel shuttle down to the strip and family friend, Annie Marie picked me up in front of the Tropicana and we had the best adventure.

We checked out the new Las Vegas City Center - a collection of spectacular hotels, residences and stunning shopping.

We had lunch at the Aria Resort and Casino at an Asian placed called Lemongrass and it was fabulous. Tom Ka Coconut soup....Pad Thai Noodles and Black Pepper Prawns.

Exploring the shops was fun....picking up little Fendi wallets that cost more than my monthly grocery bill was a hoot!

We took the elevator to the 23 floor lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and took in the amazing view. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy on Tuesday, but that made being outside a bit more pleasant. On our way out of the lobby, we ran into actor, Dennis Haysbert (but I was too shy to get an autograph), but still star-struck!
Annie Marie drove us downtown to the Fremont Street Experience and we gambled a bit in the Golden Nugget - which has been around since 1947 - which makes it one of the oldest hotel/casino's in Las Vegas.
It was a great day....a fun adventure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Birthday/Las Vegas Day One

Brian and I flew into Las Vegas about noon on Sunday. The weather....AWESOME! It feels so good to be in the sun and warm up the bones.
We had a couple of Bloody Mary's at Monte Carlo and walked south on the strip to the Luxor/Mandalay Bay tram.

A stroll past New York, New York Hotel and Casino, before getting on the tram. We found a great place to have lunch and relax before walking back to the Monte Carlo (boy, my feet are sure sore today).

We are staying in NW Las Vegas, close to where Brian is teaching at a place called the Sun Coast. It's an all inclusive complex....gambling, restaurants, hotel, pool and spa. I am off to the pool today.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birthday Dinner @ DeCarli

Pop and Rosemary treated me to birthday dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, DeCarli last Wednesday night. Unfortunately, Rosemary couldn't get away mid-week, but my Pop came up from Eugene. We had a little pre-birthday dinner celebration at Rebecca Lane first.

Tops and sparkly shoes from Chick for my Las Vegas trip

Cute cards and thoughtful gifts including a box that arrived by surprise all the way from Virginia. Thanks, Mom!Soon it was off to dinner in downtown Beaverton. Decarli has been open for a few years now (we first checked it out in March 2008) and serves an Italian inspired menu that changes weekly featuring local seasonal ingredients.

I really love the "homey" and comfortable decor of this renovated 1924 building. The vibe is relaxed and family-friendly though the setting is rather elegant - even for downtown Beaverton.

Menu for April 21, 2010

A highlight of the restaurant is the large chandelier salvaged from downtown Portland’s historic Benson Hotel. The open kitchen overlooks the bar and dining area, giving diners an intimate feel.

I guess my only complaint would be that the noise level was HIGH! But the restaurant was completely packed (with several large tables) so it's expected.

The menu is well thought out and still reasonably priced - considering the buzz and recent economy. Pastas are around $15 and, aside from a few entrees above $26, most are under $20.

Pop and I each had a beet salad with this wonderful horseradish vinaigrette dressing. Fabulous! Sandra had the "little gems" salad with blue cheese and hazelnuts and the entire table shared the polenta fries in gorgonzola butter (to die for).

Stacy and Sandra sipping on a wonderful 2007 Clos du Val Chardonnay

Our entrees were all wonderful....

Pop had 1/2 dozen oysters on the half shell.

Brian had a huge mound of Tagliatelle with milk-braised beef and pork bolognase and Sandra had the New York Steak which was cooked to perfection.

I think the highlight of the table was my Beef Short Ribs braised in espresso and served on top fresh spaetzle.

A very thoughtful ending to a truly superb meal......a candle on my salted caramel cheesecake.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bon Voyage - Off to Lost Wages (Las Vegas)

For my 41st birthday, I am tagging along on one of Brian's teaching trips. Just my luck it happens to be in Las Vegas - the perfect spot to celebrate one's birthday!

Lunch and shopping with old friend, Annie Marie, off to the strip for dinner and gambling on Tuesday and hopefully lots of time in the sunshine!

I hope to post a bit in my free time!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday to Me!

WHO: Mom and Stacy
WHAT: Family visit
WHERE: At Aunt Pat and Uncle Bud's in Eugene
WHEN: May 1969

I took this photo out of my baby book to scan. The caption says that it was taken about 2 weeks after I was born. Mom and Dad were probably showing me off to family and friends. I look like a little eskimo baby with all that black hair!

Gosh, it's so hard to believe that I will be 41 tomorrow.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Country Vegetable and Bacon Soup

I am still making soup.

I kinda thought by now that our weather would "spring" up and I'd focus more attention towards salads and grilling, but perhaps it's still a bit too early.

We absolutely LOVED this soup and found it quite filling despite the fact that it's almost all veggies. Yes, you could easily make this vegetarian and omit the bacon or add vegetarian bacon (yes, they do make vegetarian bacon....quit laughing). A great soup to freeze too!


Country Vegetable and Bacon Soup
Adapted from Weight Watchers (UK)
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
8 slices turkey bacon, vegetarian bacon or old-fashioned regular bacon (knock yourself out)**
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can pinto beans, kidney beans, northern white beans (or any other bean you choose)
1 14 oz can vegetable broth (you could also use chicken or's a free country)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper
1 small head cabbage, shredded (or about 3-4 cups)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped


Heat oil in large saucepan (big enough to make this soup) and add onions and bacon; cook over medium heat 6-8 minutes until onion is soft. Add garlic, carrots and celery and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beans, stock and spices; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Add cabbage and simmer for another 15 minutes; check seasoning and add additional spices if necessary. Add parsley and stir through. Laddle into bowls and chow down!

** If you want to use old fashioned regular bacon - cook it up first and add it to the soup at the end

Recipe slightly adapted from Weight Watchers (their stuff is never seasoned properly, give me a break)

Photo courtesy of someone crazy enough to take a pictures of a bowl of soup and post it on google images, thanks dude!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blondie Update

Little Blondie isn't so little anymore!

She's starting to move from the cute little kitten stage into the awkward kitten/cat stage (but she's still so cute).

Chick and I have been noticing that she is getting longer and starting to fill in a bit (she was painfully skinny when we brought her home). With the size of her tail and feet, we anticipate a large cat.

Blondie and Brian playing with the feather duster

She's quite the talker and her little meow isn't so little anymore. She loves playing from the moment she wakes up to the moment she falls asleep and always at full speed.

It's been just over two months now since we brought her home and she's totally become a member of the family.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Landscaping the Backyard Corner

Brian's West Seattle yard project his year is the SW corner.

To say it's an eye sore is actually a compliment. The entire yard is quite odd given the slope, but we made some wonderful improvements last summer and we wanted to continue that theme this year.In addition, Brian added another row to our little patio so that four people will be able to fit more comfortably along with a table for eating al fresco.

Come on warm weather, although things are really "greening" up. We are both dying to start planting colorful summer blooming flowers.

Tulips in front yard

Despite a rainy Saturday, more progress was made to our ultimate goal.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Pre-Birthday Week

This is a challenging week, not only is Brian in Portland teaching this week (and eating a few nights at Rebecca Lane), but it's also my pre-birthday week which means I "should" get to eat everything I want and not gain an ounce (in my dreams).

Here are some of my low-fat, low calorie favorites for this week's menu.


Sunday: Old Fashioned Cook-out! Hamburgers on the grill! Please let there be sun!
Monday: Easy Chipotle Bean Burritos with a side salad (MEATLESS MONDAY)
Tuesday: Baked Salmon with Tomatoes, Spinach and Mushrooms and Oven Roasted Garlic Asparagus
Wednesday: Dinner Out with Pop, Sandra and Brian! Birthday Girl's Choice!
Thursday: Grilled Steaks with Caesar Salad and 1/2 baked potato

Friday, April 16, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Tinker and Stacy

WHO: Tinkerbell and Stacy
WHAT: Bath time
WHERE: E Street
WHEN: 1975-76 - I look to be about 6 or 7

Tinker and I were like peanut butter and jelly. She was my best friend and we were inseparable when I was growing up. To this day, I still miss her.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Cabbage with Balsamic Vinegar

Chick and I were recently talking about corned beef and cabbage and how much she really loves cabbage, and just recently the corned beef part too.

Why does everyone want to steam or boil cabbage? I did a quick search and found some yummy ways to cook cabbage. This sounds like a wonderful side dish next to a grilled chicken breast or a roasted pork loin.


Roasted Cabbage with Balsamic Vinegar

1 head red or green cabbage
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Cut cabbage into 6-8 wedges; remove thick core and discard. Toss wedges on a baking sheet with oil, salt and pepper.
2. Cover with foil and bake 15-20 minutes until cabbage is crisp-tender.
3. Remove foil and continue cooking; tossing occasionally - about 20 minutes.
4. Toss with vinegar and serve

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wine Review Wednesday: Red Diamond Merlot

A beautiful weekend in West Seattle......set the table in bright yellow accents and the tulips I bought on Easter Sunday finally peaked.

We picked up several and old from Cost Plus, including a 2007 Red Diamond Merlot from Washington State.

Wonderful aromas of juicy berries and sweet cherries with a soft silky finish of mocha and toffee. This merlot is actually 80% merlot, 15% Syrah and 5% cab franc.

We paired it nicely with a baked ziti casserole. Excellent choice!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pictures from Valley Forge, PA

Here are some photos that Brian took last week of Valley Forge Park in Valley Forge, PA.

Washington's Quarters

It looks like a beautiful place to visit. I know Brian wishes he'd had more time to take a historical tour. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Mid-April

Welcome to another Menu Plan Monday. Click on the banner above to a direct link to Laura's fabulous sight and 300+ other well-organized and tasty menus. Three new recipes this week for Rebecca Lane, including another yummy soup (our weather still has not turned warm). Time to focus our attention on spring dishes and hopefully more grilling (if weather ever cooperates).


Mon: Laughing Cow Cheese Risotto with A Big Garden Salad
Tue: Turkey Scaloppine Parmesan with Green Beans
Wed: Country Vegetable and Bacon Soup with Texas Toast
Thur: Grilled Flank Steak with Brown Rice and Sugar Snap Peas

Friday, April 9, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Groomsman Brian

WHO: Brian (Sister-in-Law, Amy to the left)
WHAT: The wedding of a cousin
WHERE: Delaware
WHEN: Mid- to late 1980's

I love this picture of Brian all dressed up for a family wedding (not a big fan of the hair and stash). Babe, you sure have improved with age!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Asparagus Soup

With Spring in the air, asparagus is in abundance. I just love the ease of cooking soups and this pairing is absolutely wonderful and perfect for the spring season.


Asparagus Soup with Basil Cream


For Soup:

3 pounds asparagus, ends and tips cut off and reserved separately and stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

2 1/2 cups water

2 medium onions, chopped fine

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups chicken broth

For Basil Cream:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt


1. In a small saucepan simmer reserved asparagus ends in water, covered, 15 minutes.

2. Remove and discard asparagus ends with slotted spoon and keep water boiling. Add reserved asparagus tips and cook, uncovered, over high heat until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

3. Transfer asparagus tips with slotted spoon to a colander, reserving cooking liquid, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain tips well.

4. In a 4-quart heavy saucepan cook onions in butter with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring until pale golden. Add asparagus stalk pieces, broth, and reserved cooking liquid and simmer, covered, 15 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are tender.

5. Basil cream - In a small saucepan bring cream to a boil and stir in basil and salt.

6. Cook mixture over high heat, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 5 to 10 seconds, and in a blender purée mixture. Return basil cream to small saucepan and keep warm.

7. Purée soup in cleaned blender in small batches and return to 4-quart saucepan, thinning with water if desired.

8. Season soup with salt and pepper and heat over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Divide soup among 6 bowls and add asparagus tips, arranging them decoratively. Drizzle basil cream over each serving.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Michael Buble/Final 4/Easter Weekend in Seattle


I bought Chick tickets in January to see Michael Buble and we've been counting the days to the show.

I thought it would be fun to catch the show in Seattle at Key Arena and spend some time with Brian and Sammy in West Seattle.
I forgot it was Easter Weekend as well as the Final 4.

We were very busy!!

We drove up to Seattle on Friday and in the evening hit The Bohemian for drinks and dinner. Great small plates and tasty cocktails!

Pomegranate meatballs and yam fries with three dipping sauces

Saturday was full of activities.....breakfast at home and a lazy start to the day followed by window shopping along California and dodging raindrops (not the nicest of days to go exploring).

3PM was tip-off of the Final Four....searched high and low to find the best spot to watch the games and be close to Key Arena for the concert at 8PM. We had a bite to eat downtown at the Fox Grill and watched Duke and Butler head to the National Championship Game.

At 8PM Chick and I arrived at Key Arena for the Michael Buble Show. Opening act was Naturally 7 and if you get a chance to check them out I would highly recommend them. Very unique accapella singing.

Micheal Buble hit the stage at 9PM and he was AWESOME!

Opened the show with the first cut from his new CD "Crazy Love" entitled "Cry Me a River" and basically blew the show open from there.

We were a bit apprehensive that a large arena might not be the best place for a guy singing standards, but his 13 piece band really kicked it and he put on a great show. We loved his interaction with the crowd along with a solid set list.

Well done, Michael. Come back soon! A great weekend!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Valley Forge or Bust

Brian is in Valley Forge, PA teaching a class for the next few days.

When I heard he was going to Valley Forge, I searched the caverns or my brain to come up with the historical significance. Does anyone remember middle school history? Here goes.....

Valley Forge in Pennsylvania was the site of the camp of George Washington's American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 in the Revolutionary War. The township is 18 miles NW of Philadelphia.

With winter almost completely setting in, and the prospects for campaigning greatly diminishing, General George Washington sought quarters for his men. Though several locations were proposed, he selected Valley Forge and it proved to be an excellent choice.

Named for an iron forge on Valley Creek, the area was close enough to the British to keep their raiding and foraging parties out of the interior of Pennsylvania, yet far enough away to halt the threat of British surprise attacks.

On December 19, 1777, when Washington's poorly fed, ill-equipped army, weary from long marches, struggled into Valley Forge, winds blew as the 12,000 Continentals prepared for winter's fury.
The men were under cover within six weeks. The first properly constructed hut appeared in three days. One other hut, which required 80 logs, and whose timber had to be collected from miles away, went up in one week with the use of only one axe. These huts provided sufficient protection from the moderately cold, but mainly wet and damp conditions of the mild, but typical Pennsylvania winter of 1777-78.

A group of people called Regimental Camp Followers also helped increase the morale of the soldiers and provided necessary support to the men. Camp Followers at Valley Forge consisted of the families, wives, children, mothers, and sisters of the soldiers. These camp followers often served as laundresses, cleaning and mending the uniforms of the soldiers.

Soon word of the British departure from Philadelphia brought a frenzied activity to the ranks of the Continental Army. On June 19, 1778, six months after its arrival, the army marched away from Valley Forge in pursuit of the British, who were moving toward New York. The ordeal had ended. The war would last for another five years, but for Washington, his men, and the nation to which they sought to give birth, a decisive victory had been won — a victory not of weapons but of will as no war took place there.