Thursday, December 29, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Year End Wrap Up!

Amazing! 2011 almost in the books. How many new recipes did you try this year? What culinary adventures did you enjoy this year?

Here are some of my favorite and most popular recipe posts from 2011. May you have an enjoyable and safe New Year's celebration and may 2012 bring to your heart and home much love, comfort and blessings.


Best Meal 2011: Christmas Eve Brunch at Salty's on Alki (I ate my weight in fresh seafood)
Best Geographic Culinary Experience 2011: Giordano's in Chicago (my first authentic deep dish pizza)
Best Dining Experience 2011: Steak and Shrimp on the patio in West Seattle (can't beat home cooking)
Best "Foodie" Event: 2011 Mobile Chowdown in West Seattle. Food Carts are ruling the Pacific NW

Now.....onto some recipes:

Pumpkin Bread: I actually baked something successful! This was wonderful and we ate the whole loaf.

Beer Braised Cabbage
: This one I made up using some leftover dark beer and a half head of cabbage. I made it at least three or four times this fall.

Salmon Puttenesca: This was the house favorite recipe find for 2011. The sauce is killer and great leftover on chicken and steak.

Roasted Corn Salad: This was our summer hit! A wonderful way to serve fresh corn.

Meatless Mushroom Lasagna: Again, another one of my made up creations. Brian said it was the best lasagna that I've ever made.

Herb Salmon Salad: Another 2011 hit recipe find (thank you Pampered Chef).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Seattle Christmas Adventure: Christmas Day 2011

The magic of Christmas was felt in West Seattle last Sunday morning.

We had a very traditional morning....stockings and cards before we devoured the tree!

Everyone had a wonderful morning.....and we tried to drag out each gift as long as possible before the magic disappeared until next year.

Gifts from far away were opened first....homemade jam from Brian's niece and a beautiful picture (lighthouse) all the way from Brian's brother in Hawaii.

Champagne and quiet naps in the afternoon before the kitchen came alive with Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Shallot, Bacon and Port Gravy, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Italian Green Beans.

Blessings and gratitude overflowed.

Merry Christmas 2011!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seattle Christmas Adventure: Christmas Eve Brunch at Salty's

It truly is one of the most incredible brunches on the planet and a very special treat on Christmas Eve.Chick and I had a "girl's brunch" at Salty's on Alki.

I can't even begin to elaborate on the quality and quantity of food...only to say that we had a really wonderful Christmas Eve.

Our first plate....crab legs, peel and eat shrimp, smoked salmon, oysters on the half shell along with steamer clams and mussels!

Our second plate included 6-cheese macaroni and cheese, sliced ham and roast beef, Cajun salmon, Caesar salad, eggs benedict, Captain's platter, smoked sausage, bacon and hash browns.

The dessert area was phenominal and included a towering chocolate fountain with everything to dip into the fountain from twinkies and rice krispy treats to bananas and strawberries!

The dessert table included cute reindeer cupcakes, pumpkin pie tarts, passion fruit cups, carrot cupcakes, chocolate moose, apple pie and peach cobbler.

We didn't need to eat for the rest of the day so the $44.95 per person (plus tax) charge was well worth it (especially for a special occasion). Salty's serves this amazing feast EVERY weekend. Check it out if you get the don't be disappointed!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Seattle Christmas Adventure: Downtown Seattle

The Three Holiday Musketeers at the Mayflower

It was a special treat this year to have Sandra in Seattle for Christmas!

We always have so much planned around the holidays.
Thursday was clear and cold, just perfect for exploring downtown on foot (or horse).

Lots of window shopping, holiday lights and displays...and of course, cocktails at some of our favorite places.

Menu Plan Monday: End of Year Menu

Boo! Christmas is over and it's back to work tomorrow. On the up-side, it's a short week with another long weekend ahead. On the down side....who needs a down side!

We've still got some celebrating to do.....New Years and Chick's birthday before we get back to light and healthy eating. I've created a good....stick to your ribs menu as we ease our way into 2012.


Monday: Chick and I arrive home around 6PM; perhaps a pre-cooked chicken and a bag salad
Tuesday: Pork Chops and Acorn Squash
Wednesday: Creamy Curry Shrimp Pasta with a Big Garden Salad
Thursday: Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf with Red Potatoes and Broccoli
On Amtrak back to Seattle; dinner on-board
New Year's Eve; perhaps Snoqualmie Casino in the afternoon
New Year's Day 2012! Baked Ham, Baked Beans and Scalloped Potatoes (Brian's request)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, 2011!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

A few years ago, I found the holiday recording of "The Train" by Celestial Navigations. It's a beautiful spoken word holiday classic. I've listed the words at the end of the video clip.


“The Train"
Geoffrey Lewis

There was hardly anyone on the train, as it moved through the countryside. The snow covered land slipped smoothly by. Way out there I could see a lonely house now and again just turning on their lights against the cold on coming night. Two thick coated horses in the almost dark, steam coming out of their nostrils, eating hay, then they were gone. The sky was quickly dark, the stars were crisp through the chill air.

Wasn't very warm on the train. A man was asleep at the other end of the car, his coat rolled up for a pillow and a Christmas present had fallen on the floor. A few seats away a young woman sat with her baby. She was staring out the window. She saw me looking at her, reflected in the window, and she half smiled at my reflection and she stared beyond that out into the cold dark landscape that was slipping away. I turned and gazed back out my window and then I heard a very soft ohhhhh. I turned and looked at the woman and I saw her hug her baby to her very closely and very intently.

Suddenly, I felt very close, very close and warm and a door appeared in the back of my mind. I opened it and light flooded in and I heard my father say, "Burrrr, burrrr, it's cold outside. You can put those logs right on the fire," and as I stepped in he shut the door behind me. I was standing in my living room, the Christmas tree was all lit up over by the front windows.

I heard laughter upstairs, my mother came through the swinging kitchen door carrying a plate of red and green frosted cookies and behind her came the smell of roasting turkey like a gauze that draped around my head, like the smell of earth that hangs out in the ocean and let's you know home is just over the horizon. Someone was stamping snow off their boots on the back porch and my little sister and two of her cousins were lying on their stomachs in front of the tree, starring at the presents like sharks at a man's legs under water, hoping to see beyond the tinsel and pretty paper.

I put the logs down and took off my gloves to warm my frozen fingers. In the dining room my grandma was scolding my grandpa about the best way for him to crack the walnuts that he was already cracking. He looked at me through the doorway and shrugged his shoulders and continued shelling the walnuts. I took off my thick coat and threw it on the floor by the door and went to stand by my aunt who had just called me to come sing the tenor part at the piano. There was talk and loud laughter coming out of the kitchen where the windows were steamed. We were singing, sometimes forgetting the second verses, but sounding pretty good. But suddenly, somewhere in all the warm and

But suddenly, somewhere in all the warm and familiar sounds, I heard someone very quietly crying. I looked around trying to locate the person and then my eyes landed on the young woman in the train a few seats away holding her baby. Her eyes with tears, hardly seeing the back of the seat in front of her. I got up and walked awkwardly up the aisle of the swaying car. I put my thick coat around her shoulders, then I sat down beside her. I held her hand in both of mine and we rode like that not looking at each other...looking straight ahead and I head her whisper under her breathe, "Merry Christmas." The train slipped away across the sleeping land into the dark winter night.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Pop!

WHO: James Young Brady (AKA Pop)
WHAT: Stationed in Germany (Army)
WHERE: Kitzingen, Germany
WHEN: January 1962 (age 19)

Happy Birthday to my Pop who turned 68 yesterday!

I love you!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Poppie!

Happy Birthday to my Pop, Diamond Jim who turns 68 today!

I thought it would be interesting to see some events that took place in 1943, the year of my Pop's birthday.

  • The world's largest office building, The Pentagon is dedicated in Arlington, VA.

  • In February, General Eisenhower is selected to command the Allied armies in Europe

  • The 15th Academy Awards is held in Los Angeles. Best Picture honors went to the film Mrs. Miniver. The ceremony is most famous for the speech by the film’s Oscar-winning actress, Greer Garson which ran nearly 6 minutes and is generally considered to be the longest acceptance speech at an Academy Awards ceremony.

  • Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! opens on Broadway, heralds a new era in "integrated" stage musicals, becomes an instantaneous stage classic, and goes on to be Broadway's longest-running musical up to that time (1948).

  • The Great Depression officially ends in the U.S.; with unemployment figures falling fast due to WWII-related employment

  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau co-invents the first commercially successful open circuit type of scuba diving equipment, the Aqua-lung

Other Notable 1943 Births:

January 4: Doris Kearns Goodwin, American Writer
January 10: Jim Croce, American Singer/Songwriter
January 19: Janis Joplin, Singer
February 9: Joe Pesci, Actor
March 9: Charles Gibson, Television Journalist
May 31: Joe Namath, Football Player
June 17: Barry Manilow, Singer/songwriter
July 4: Geraldo Rivera, America Journalist
July 26: Mick Jagger, Singer/songwriter
August 17: Robert DeNiro, Actor
August 28: Lou Pinella, Baseball player/Manager
October 8: Chevy Chase, Actor
November 22: Billie Jean King, Tennis player
December 22: James Young Brady, #1 Pop in the world
December 31: John Denver, Singer/songwriter

HAPPY 68th Birthday, Poppie!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ArtsWest Christmas 2011: Every Christmas Story Ever Told

Front row seats again this year for our little West Seattle communities rendition of "Every Christmas Story Ever Told".

Three actors launched themselves (and audience members too) into a full on re-examination of all the holiday shows, songs, and holiday traditions you can think of.

The result is a whirlwind of word play and sight gags, infused with a few solemn moments. From Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to "It's a Wonderful Life" and every carol ever sung...this holiday show was entertaining and delightful.

After the show, we walked down California Avenue to Bang Bar Restaurant and Lounge a Thai place that opened last summer that we have not tried before. They have Happy Hour EVERYDAY from 4PM-6PM with specials on food and drink. A cute bar and a wonderfully warm dining room. A very modern twist on Thai food with a "think out of the box" menu.

We ordered appetizers of money bags (wonderful chicken and veggie parcels) and some tender marinated short ribs.

Entrees included a wonderful seafood sizzle and vegetarian noodles with Thai broccoli.

Bring your wallet, dinner for two (not including cocktails) will run you close to $60.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Peacock Lane

Last week, Chick, Brian and I went to Peacock Lane in SW Portland. This year, the first two nights were on foot only (they close the street to all automobiles).

This neighborhood, full of old Tudor houses (between SE Stark Street and SE Belmont Street) has been decorating for Christmas since the 1920's. That's when the residents of this 4-block neighborhood started their practice of decorating for Christmas in a big way.

Almost all the 22 houses on Peacock Lane are Tudor-style, which lends them the charm of an old-fashioned English village.

Over the years the displays have become more elaborate as neighbors go all out for the season.

The homes are adorned and outlined not only with hundreds of colorful, sparkling lights, but with nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees, life-like replicas of Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, forests of candy canes, and more.

Most of the houses on Peacock Lane were built in 1925 and sold for prices ranging from $6500 to $8750. Although they have tall, peaked gables and quaint leaded glass windows, no two houses are exactly alike.

They have stucco or shingle exteriors, some have little gate entrance alleyways, and every garage is different from the rest.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Christmas Week in Seattle

It's my favorite week of the entire year (and I am not just saying that because I am on vacation).

This week, I am in West Seattle doing all things Christmas and most importantly, cooking for my #1 guy who has to work Monday and Tuesday. We are also hosting Chick this year who is heading up to Seattle on Amtrak on Wednesday night. We are going to have an awesome week!

Here is our menu plan including Christmas!


Sunday: ArtsWest Play: Every Christmas Story Ever Told; then early dinner at Bang Bar
Monday: Annual PJ and Christmas Movie Marathon: Classic Meatloaf with Red Potatoes and Buttery Peas
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan with Pasta and Steamed Broccoli; last minute Christmas shopping!
Wednesday: Annual Christmas Cookie Bake Day! Brian's making Vegetarian Sheppard's Pie
Thursday: Chick is in town! Heading into downtown Seattle to see the lights, watch all the crazy shoppers and have lunch and a Chardonnay at PF Chang's
Friday: Lazy day! I think I'll try a Mexican Lasagna with a Big Green Salad; pick up groceries for Christmas dinner
Christmas Eve: I am dragging Chick and Brian to the World's Best Brunch @ Salty's on Alki;traditional evening stroll to the Beveridge Place, Christmas Movies and bailey's on ice
Christmas Day Morning:
Brian's famous Christmas quiches with fresh fruit. PRESENTS!
Christmas Day Evening: Roasted Filet Mignon, with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Italian Green Beans

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Season's Eatings 2011

Each year our blogging friend over the pond, Katie sets up this wonderful little secret Santa gift exchange.

It's a great way for us foodies to share something unique about the region that we live in and in exchange get a cool gift and recipe from anywhere in the country (or the world for that matter)

Here are the details:

Season's Eating's is a spicy/herby/foodie gift exchange to celebrate the Holiday Season.

Like Secret Santa....Katie puts all the names of participants into a virtual hat, and distribute them.

The rules are simple:
Each person sends a small gift of a local herb, spice, or other food that is unique to or characteristic of where they live, along with a recipe using it, to a fellow foodie.

When you receive your parcel, you can either use your 'gift' in the recipe included, another of your choosing or just snap a photo of your pressie. Then you post about it and share it with the world.

Early in December a package from Kerry in Sonoma, California arrived. I received some lovely spices and olive oil from BR Cohn (Sonoma) Winery and Olive Oil Company. YUMMY!

Her recipe suggestion is to pour myself a nice glass of wine (does she know me or what) and dip a crusty loaf of bread into the olive oil and herb mixture....all while basking in the sunshine (ha ha.....sun in Oregon this time of year)!

What a wonderful and unique gift. Thanks, Kerry!

I, in return received an address for Judith in Crimora, Virginia and I mailed to her a wonderful box of goodies from the Made in Oregon Store. The recipe I sent her is for the Heathman Hotel's famous smoked salmon hash, but the salmon would also make a lovely appetizer during the holiday season. I hope Judith received my package and has a wonderful holiday season.

Again, thanks to Katie for organizing this wonderful blogging event!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Old Photo Friday: 1990's Christmas

WHO: Chick and Princess (AKA Sandra and Stacy)
WHAT: E Street Christmas
WHERE: Springfield, OR
WHEN: Early 1990's...probably 1992/1993

We were probably getting ready to hit the town after another annual Christmas Tree decorating party at E street!

I am really excited that Chick is spending Christmas in Seattle this year!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Giada's Italian Green Beans

This year I asked Brian to make the green beans. Turns out, he doesn't care for them...but he found this recipe many years ago (in fact he made them for our first Christmas together in 2004) and they are really good.

I think they will go great with our Beef Tenderloin Roast and Garlic Mashed Potatoes on Christmas Day.



Italian Green Beans
Slightly Adapted from Giada/Food Network


1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper


Throw green beans in a large pot of salted water and cook until slightly crisp; about 3-4 minutes. Immediately immerse them in cold ice water to stop cooking. Drain well and set aside.

Melt butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cook until heated through. Add the beans and cook until juice evaporates and the beans are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and the basil and stir together and cook for about 2 minutes until alcohol evaporates; season with salt and pepper then serve.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up: Finding Quiet in December

This past weekend, the only Christmas that I wanted to experience was the one in my West Seattle home. Saturday greeted us with gray skies and a light drizzle. My bones were cold and the only warmth I felt was with my sweets, Sammy and our amazing Christmas tree and Dickens Village. Finding quiet this time of year can be a challenge.

Sammy sitting on the gift box from Uncle Ken and Aunt Amy

I cooked a scrumptious Mushroom, Sausage and Fontina Pasta Bake and spent the afternoon all cozy in front of the TV with the Lifetime channel full of Christmas movies.

Sunday, I finished my wrapping back in Portland and belly laughed watching Blondie get all cozy underneath my Christmas tree (it's her new favorite hiding place).

Rebecca Lane is all decked out this year too and it's so nice to spend the evening listening to Christmas carols in front of our trees. Lucky to have two wonderful places to spend the holidays.