Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome November!

I am spending a rare Sunday evening in Seattle and it happens to be Halloween! Be careful of all the little gouls and goblins tonight.

Here is our menu for the week. We are taking a big deep breath after a very hectic week in which not much cooking was done. I'll be back in Portland on Monday and ready to kick off November and get back in the kitchen.


Sunday: Happy Halloween! Homemade pizza in West Seattle
Monday: Pork Chops with Acorn Squash
Tuesday: Tilapia with Green Beans and Jasmine Rice
Wednesday: Cheesy Chicken Enchilladas (from last week's menu) with Salad
Thursday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara with Salad

Halloween History

Happy Halloween, or as my good friend Tera always said, "Happy Trick-or Treat".

How much do you know about Halloween and all it's customs? Here are some interesting tidbits that I found out about the history of Halloween.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, notes that while "some folklorist have detected Halloweens origins in the Roman feast of Pomona (goddess of fruits and seeds) it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which means "summer's end".

The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".

The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the "otherworld" became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through.

It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks, hence the history of dressing up for Halloween.

The practice of commemorating the souls in purgatory with candle lanterns carved from turnips, became adapted into the making of jack-o'-lanterns.

In traditional Celtic Halloween festivals, large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces, and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits.

The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween or trick or treating in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Ontario reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street "guising" on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs.

Another isolated reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, in 1915, in Chicago.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Hugs and Prayers

WHO: Steve and Sandra
WHAT: Celebrating the Ducks
WHERE: E Street in Springfield
WHEN: Could this be New Years Day 1996? Ducks in the Rose Bowl?

Whatever prayer means to you personally, it is my prayer to the universe that everyone finds a way to give thanks, seek comfort in times of need and most of all find hope within their hearts.

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with Steve. I'd ask everyone to cherish today, close your eyes and open your hearts and find gratitude, love and hope. Please pray for our family and for us to find strength.

Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You.

Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom.

Grant that this trial may bring me closer to peace, to
comfort and hope. I trust in Your love and compassion now and forever.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Crockpot Boneless Short Ribs

Isn't she a beauty?
Brian picked her up at Target and brought her home a month ago and ever since then we have become Crock Pot Crazy (slow cookers for those of you in the south)!

Our first meal was a wonderful autumn chili, followed by a hearty spaghetti. I think it's time to branch out a bit - so here goes. I found this while thumping through the latest Costco magazine.


Crock Pot Hearty Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Costco Connection October 2010

2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck short ribs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay leaves
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Season ribs with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook ribs until just browned, about 2 minutes a side. Transfer to the crock pot. Add carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves.

Combine wine, tomatoes, paste and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Pour mixture into slow cooker. Cover; cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours, turning once or twice, until the meat is tender.

Remove the ribs from the slow cooker. Pour sauce into a blender (or you could use a hand held immersion blender) and blend to desired consistency (be careful if putting hot liquid in a in small batches).

To serve, pour sauce over ribs on top of egg noodles or white rice (makes 6-8 servings).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Brian and I visited the Pumpkin Patch with the Seymour's last Saturday. Stocker Farms has one of the best pumpkin patches in Snohomish.

Luckily, we were able to grab a pumpkin and snap a few photos before the first fall storm of the season took hold.
Sorry little pumpkin to have carved you up (but you look pretty scary on our front porch).


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Last week of October!

I'll be home through Friday this week so a menu full of favorites. The World Series kicks off on Wednesday so a bit of ballpark fare is in order. Who are you rooting for?


Monday: Spiced Pork Loin Chops with Acorn Squash
Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken Enchilladas
Wednesday: World Series Kick-Off Party! Game One Grilled Beer Brats
Thursday: Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Jasmine Rice and Green Beans
Friday: Grilled Rib Eye with Baked Potatoes and a Classic Wedge Salad

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quiz answers!

How did you do on Thursday's quiz?

Here are the answers.....

ANSWERS: 1: b; 2: a; 3: d; 4: a; 5: c; 6: b

Please check out Fruits and Veggies More Matters. They have a great website full of recipes and healthy eating tips.

Daily recommendations for a healthy and balanced diet:
  • Protein: 10-35%
  • Carbohydrates: 45-60%
  • Fats:20-35%
  • Saturated fat: <10%>
  • Total fat: <35%>
  • Salt: 2,400 mg
  • Fiber: 28g/2,000 calories
  • Water: 64 oz/day
I think the last three is the first place to start. Monitor your salt intake, get plenty of fiber and drink lots of water every day.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Carving Pumpkins

WHO: Sandra, Steve and Frank Suter
WHAT: Carving pumpkins
WHERE: Kitchen table, perhaps at the Castlewood Arms Apartments in Beaverton
WHEN: I'll say, mid 60's. Steve looks to be about 2 or 1963-64

Fall is in the air and so too are the memories of Halloween.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recipe of the Week: No recipe, but a cool quiz!

Do you eat enough fruits and veggies? Put down that Twinkie and take this quiz based on the "Fruits & Veggies Matter" program.

1. The amount of fruits and vegetables people need is determined by age, gender and physical activity. How many cups of fruits and vegetables are needed by a 75-year-old woman who exercises fewer than 30 minutes a day?

a) 3 cups of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables

b) 1.5 cups of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables

c) 2.5 cups of fruit, 3 cups of vegetables

2. How many cups would a 19-year-old male who exercises more than 60 minutes a day need?

a) 2.5 cups of fruit, 4 cups of vegetables

b) 1 cup of fruit, 1.5 cups of vegetables

c) 3 cups of fruit, 5 cups of vegetables

3. What, according to program guidelines, constitutes a "cup"?

a) 16 grapes

b) 1 small banana

c) 12 baby carrots

d) All of the above

4. In an effort to get people to eat more spinach, the program promotes its high vitamin A content and says the vitamin ...

a) Keeps eyes and skin healthy, and helps protect against infections

b) Prevents joint swelling and painful conditions such as gout

c) Gives you bulging muscles (e.g., Popeye)

5. Another benefit of spinach is its high level of folate, which can cut a woman's risk of having a child with a brain or spinal-cord defect. According to the Institute of Medicine, how many micrograms of synthetic folic acid per day should women of childbearing age consume to supplement the folate they receive from a varied diet?

a) 200

b) 300

c) 400

6. Which of these is among the program's recommendations for using fruits and vegetables to help maintain your weight?

a) Eating a banana 20 minutes before a meal blunts an appetite.

b) Add in a cup of chopped vegetables while removing a cup of the rice or pasta in your favorite dish.

c) Try to consume broccoli at every meal of the day: in a breakfast omelet, a lunch salad and at dinner as a side dish.

I'll post answers and some yummy tips on SATURDAY!!!



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Weekend Activities

Brian and I hosted Chick last weekend for a much needed Seattle adventure. We took the train up on Friday afternoon, played some cards and relaxed. It was a beautiful ride.

Friday night we hit the local pub, the Elliott Bay Brewery and Pub for some terrific food.

Our weather has turned quite a bit cooler in the last few weeks, but near perfect for a Saturday ferry crossing to Bainbridge Island.

First stop, Poulsbo, Settled in 1882 by Norwegians, the city has a long history as a destination for immigrants from all of Scandinavia. Cute shops....lots of bakeries and chocolate (oh, yeah).

Downtown Poulsbo maintains a Scandinavian theme in its shops and restaurants (not quite sure how this British telephone booth fits in, though).

We then shopped and strolled through downtown Winslow and had lunch and wine at one of the most beautiful little decks on the planet...the view always amazes me. I just love the Harbour Public House. We had an incredible lunch, Cuban Pork Sammy, Classic Fish and Chips and a BLT with like 8 pieces of bacon. YUM!

The View from the Harbour Public House deck

Voted the best place on Bainbridge Island for Fish and Chips, a Hamburger or to have a drink on the deck. Cool! And was a bit nippy on the deck, but we loved it. How many chances do you get in October to eat outside in the Pacific NW?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: October 17-21

Welcome to another Monday! Hopefully I won't spend too much time in the kitchen this week. Brian is in town and both the ALCS and NLCS are in full swing. Quick easy and well balanced meals on this week's menu. Please click on Laura's link above for more menu ideas.


Sunday: Homemade Chicken Tacos (NLCS Game 2)
Monday: Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches (Phillies going for NLCS Crown)
Tuesday: Baked Turkey Ziti
Wednesday: Happy Hour at Serratto
Thursday: Caesar Orange Roughy with Rice and Salad

Friday, October 15, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Prom Memories!

WHO: Stacy and Jef Robertson
WHAT: Prom Night
WHERE: Living Room on E Street
WHEN: April 1987
WHY: I am still asking myself this question some 25+ years later!!!

I begged Jef for days to not spike his hair up for Prom, but that was just Jef's style (and it was the 80's). He was a good friend (not a boyfriend) and I asked him to my senior prom (not the other way around).

Sandra and I drove all over Portland trying to find a dress that was cool (since Eugene/Springfield offered so little). How we managed to buy that pink, lacey creation (to this day we still laugh about it) I'll never know. I guess I thought I was Molly Ringwald?!

Enjoy (the laugh)!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Tom Kha Gai/Coconut Soup

A few weeks ago, I had some major dental issues. For the better part of 10 days, I was in some sort of chronic pain and found eating difficult at times, yet I still had a raging appetite.

Chick and I went and picked up some Thai take-away and we both went ga-ga for the Thai coconut soup. Sure, I've had it many times before and each time - a new twist, but for me it was just what my mouth needed. Can this be made at home....easily? Check this recipe out.


Tom Kha Gai
Slightly adapted from Tyler Florence

1 Q Chicken Stock (make your own or just buy it)
1 stalk of lemon grass (white part only), sliced in half then diced
3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried and hand torn
1 piece of fresh ginger, grated (about 1 heaping tablespoons)
1 small Thai red chili pepper, sliced lengthwise and diced
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
3 limes, juiced
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced (just buy a rotisserie chicken and save yourself some work)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro
4-5 fresh basil leaves, hand torn


Bring stock to a boil over medium heat. Add the lemongrass, kaffir leaves, ginger, chili pepper and garlic. Lower the heat and cover - let simmer for 10 minutes to infuse spices.
Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, mushrooms and lime juice. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Ladle soup into large bowl and top with garnish with cilantro and basil (be careful to avoid eating the lemongrass or kaffir leaves)
Yields about 4 servings

Note: Don't be scared away about buying things like kaffir leaves, lemongrass and fish sauce. Lemongrass and fish sauce can be bought at most grocery stores and kaffir leaves can be found at any Asian grocery store. Branch out, peeps!

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence/Food Network; it's not like I got it from him personally!
Image courtesy of google

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sammy's Evil Twin

A sure sign of Halloween in our neighborhood.

This scary black cat reminds me of our little Sammy.

Miss you, buddy! See you soon!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: October 11-14

Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while. Sometimes I think a bit too "outside the box" and try too many "new" recipes which makes the menu (while sounding wonderful) turn out so-so.

This week I am making some tried and true favorites...things that I know won't get me into too much trouble.


Sunday: Charlie's Famous Cabbage Rolls
Monday: Chicken with Tomatoes and Chickpeas and a BIG GARDEN SALAD
Tuesday: Mustard-Molasses Flank Steak with Baked Sweet potato and leftover salad
Wednesday: Tilapia with Red Potatoes and Broccoli
Thursday: Monterrey Jack Turkey Burgers

Friday, October 8, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Camp Cook

WHO: Pop (AKA the camp cook)
WHAT: Family camping trip
WHERE: Near Oakridge, OR
WHEN: Picture says August 1987

I think this was the last time that we camped as a family. I remember lots of laughs, warm weather and the full moon providing plenty of light for fishing. What is Pop cooking with that long pitchfork thingy?


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Creamy Sweet Potato, Pear and Ginger Bisque

First Lady Michelle Obama and other spouses of international heads of state recently toured the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a nonprofit farm and education center in Pocantico Hills, New York. Following the tour, a farm-to-table lunch at its restaurant, Blue Hill was held.

Here is a recipe that I recently came across that is inspired by the new farm-to-table movement. Farm fresh produce like sweet potatoes, squash, apples and pears are abundant as the Harvest Season continues.

Creamy Sweet Potato, Pear and Ginger Bisque

Adapted by IFood


4 T. canola oil (it's okay to use olive oil)

4 cups chopped onions (about 3 large onions)

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tablespoons fresh, grated ginger

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 medium pears, peeled and cut into pieces

8-10 cups vegetable broth

2 cups heavy cream


In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion and cook a bout 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the spices and ginger and stir for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, carrots, pears, and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, purée the mixture. Add cream and slowly re-heat. Serve hot.

Yield: Serves 10-12. This soup freezes well. Reheat slowly to avoid scorching.

Recipe Courtesy of IFood and inspired by Michelle Obama who in my opinion continues to out-shine her hubby with her style, elegance and grace

Image courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Welcome October!

We welcomed October very quietly over the weekend (aside from all that screaming at the TV when the ducks were on).

We managed to get in a 4 mile walk through Lincoln Park and along the water mid-day on Saturday.
Home time Saturday evening.....a very happy cat.....a crockpot full of my sweets spaghetti sauce and a come from behind, dominating win.

How did you welcome October?


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome October!

Welcome October! One of my favorite months! I just love that crisp fall air, the abundance of pumpkins and squash and the brilliant red, orange, yellow and gold of the autumn leaves (our Indian summer is making our leaves pop).

Please click on the link above to check out Laura's amazing site and many more menu planning ideas.


BBQ'd Chicken with Acorn Squash
Tuesday: Leftover Spaghetti (in freezer) with Texas Toast and Salad
Wednesday: Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Rice and Roasted Veggies
Thursday: Greek Shrimp with Orzo

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Restaurant Review: Blue Olive

Brian and I joined friends for Happy Hour last week at the Blue Olive. I enjoyed the food so much that I decided to go back with Chick this past Thursday night for another Happy Hour.

Located on NW 21st, Blue Olive Restaurant — Taste of the Mediterranean is mostly Greek, with several dishes from other Mediterranean countries (the owners are Persian-American). You get all the usual suspects, dolmathes, spanakopita, calamari, saganaki, Greek salad, lamb souvlaki and moussaka but also Middle Eastern favorites like baba ghanouj and falafel.

Stuffed Grape Leaves (dolmathes)

The restaurant/bar are split. The main dining room looked rather stark, but the bar is ambient, with pulsating music and a few tables on the sidewalk that I image are well sought after on a warm summer's evening.

Greek Salad

Happy Hour runs from 3-6, Tuesday thru Sunday and includes succulent garlic prawns ($5), tender chicken kabobs ($5), Sikotakia (chicken livers in tomato sauce, $5) and vegetarian dolmathes (stuffed grapes leaves to die for, $8).

A very reasonably priced happy hour, fair sized portions (excellent for 2 to share). A nice wine, beer and specialty cocktail menu. What a treat to be located in such a great area to explore, then catch happy hour. A definite return, probably to check out the dining room.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Old Photo Friday: Gone Fishing!

WHO: Brian (age 15)
WHAT: Fishing
WHERE: Tuttle Creek Lake, Kansas (near Fort Riley)
WHEN: 1976

Family trip out from Delaware to see middle brother Kerry in Kansas. Brian remembers the long drive and sitting "shotgun" as co-pilot to Father, Al... helping navigate (he was not yet 16 and couldn't drive).