Sunday, February 27, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome March!

Wow! I can't hardly believe that the first two months of the year have passed. I for one, am really looking forward to longer and brighter days. Bulbs are coming up like crazy, the grass needs to be mowed (again) and the air smells sweet. Ahhhhhh....spring is around the corner.

Interesting week this week. I am in Seattle and taking my Series 66 prep class (Monday and Tuesday), taught by my sweetheart. I'll be studying like crazy in the evenings, so I've designed a menu that I can prep ahead and hopefully, Brian will cook a big pot of spaghetti later in the week.


Sunday: Oscar Party! I'll get my studying done in time for the red about a pizza?
Monday: Make ahead meatloaf (I'll prep this Sunday afternoon). Brian can boil red potatoes and make peas while I am studying.
Tuesday: Vegetarian Lasagna with a BIG Garden Salad.
Wednesday: Crock Pot Chili (one of Brian's favorites) with corn bread muffins.
Thursday: I have an all-day ING Seminar at the SEA airport. Hopefully, Brian will make his famous spaghetti sauce with yummy garlic bread.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Old Photo Friday: Meanwhile, back at the ranch

WHO: Diamond Jim (Pop)
WHAT: Hanging at the ranch
WHERE: Cody, Wyoming at Toby and Donna's ranch
WHEN: August 1978

In honor of the Academy Awards this Sunday night, here is an actor if ever there was one. A real "True Grit" or honorable mention for costume design.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Oscar Themed Menu

Once again, it’s time to unveil our Oscars Menu for 2011. The magic of the movies inspires our annual feast based on the nominees up for awards this year.

Contenders encompass action, drama, western, animated, and science fiction films, making for an exciting mix of food and drink.

Our nominee-themed meal is perfect for Oscar night. Unfortunately this year, I have to be out of town on Oscar Night, but I wanted to put together my picks this year in hopes that it will inspire.



Red Carpet Appetizer: Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese along side Rosemary Crackers – Inspired by the mind-blowing scene in Inception, in which Paris is literally folded in half, was the inspiration for a Parisian cafĂ© appetizer

First Course: Rice, Bean and Corn Salad served with Whole Wheat Flatbreads or Tortillas - Inspired by the movie 127 Hours a 2010 biographical adventure film produced, co-written and directed by Danny Boyle, staring Oscar Host, James Franco

Main Course: English Bangers and MashIn honor of The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth as George VI

Dessert: Black and White Shortbread Cookies – honoring Best Actress Nominee Natalie Portman, for her role in the The Black Swan

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Random February Photos


Sorry for the lack of adventures the past couple of weeks. Not much noteworthy to photograph, but we are sure keeping busy.

Here is a rundown of our February and some of the things that have been keeping us on our toes this final month of winter.

Edmonds, WA

A great visit with Brian's brother, Ken over Super Bowl Weekend. Lots of good food, wine, music and laughs.

A finished pink toy box complete with fun animal and nature stickers for an adorable almost 2 1/2 year old. The toy box will stay in W. Seattle where she can keep some toys to play with when she visits.
Lots of studying for me, hence the lack of adventures this month (my last and very last securities exam). Sammy is learning a lot too and insists on helping me tackle the material in his own cute way.

The first mow of the season on a glorious sunny weekend. We now are ready to tackle the moss issues and plant some primroses, although snow is forecast for later in the week. Oh boy!

Heart decorations, paperwhite bulbs and a wonderful Malbec (thanks, Ken) to help celebrate Valentine's Day. Those decorations have been replaced with a wee bit of Irish flare, just in time for March and St. Patty's Day (our forced bulbs are just about ready to bloom too).


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Last Week in February

Welcome to the last week in February! Boy this month sure has flown by. Here are some yummy dishes for the week. What's your menu look like? If you need some help, click on the banner above to be directed to Laura's amazing site.


Monday: Beef Noodle Soup (Pho)
Tuesday: Balsamic Pork Chops with Leeks and Peppers (this recipe is for chicken, but we are substituting pork)
Wednesday: Grilled Salmon with Stir-Fry Vegetables and Brown Rice
Thursday: Chickpea Pasta
Friday: Grilled Ribeye Steaks with 1/2 Baked Potato and a Classic Wedge Salad

Friday, February 18, 2011

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Kenny!

WHO: Kenny
WHAT: Summer outing
WHERE: Smoky Sky Lift - in Gatlinburg, TN
WHEN: Picture says June 22, 1958 which would make Kenny 7 years old (and scared to death).

Happy Birthday to my Step-Dad Kenny, who turned 59 yesterday.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Mushroom Stroganoff

We made this last weekend for friends and we loved the flavor, but the sauce could have been a bit creamier. This is a great, hearty, winter's meal.....and it's vegetarian.


Mushroom Stroganoff
Slightly adapted from Seattle Times Food Day, originally published 2.9.11

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster and cremini, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
1 package wide egg noodles
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, for garnish


In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat; add onions and cook 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, continuously stirring. Add the mushrooms and cook for 7-10 minutes, until they have released liquid and are beginning to brown.

Add flour and cook for another minute before adding the wine and broth. Cook until alcohol is absorbed about another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add sour cream. Season with salt and pepper (depending on thickness of sauce, you may need to add a bit more broth).

Cook noodles according to package directions. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavors. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce; garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Hearst Publishing; I made several changes including adding more shrooms, creating a richer sauce by adding flour and tossing to combine flavors
Image courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Mid February

Welcome to another Monday and a weeks worth of yummy recipe ideas. Monday is Valentine's Day so a little something special on our menu. The rest of the week is light and low fat (believe it or not).

Here is a bit of Valentine's trivia....

Saint Valentine's Day
, is an annual commemoration held on February 14 celebrating love and affection. The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pop Gelasisus I in in 500 AD.

The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer. He wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

["For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."]

This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. (When they were married eight months later, they were each only 15 years old).


Monday: Roasted NY Strip Steak (Christmas gift from my boss) with Grilled Butterflied Shrimp and a Tossed Salad. Happy Valentine's Day!!!
Tuesday: Cheese Manicotti with Leftover Salad
Wednesday: Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Peas/Green Beans
Thursday: Fend for Yourself! I've got 2 hours of Series 66 studying

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Say hello to my little friend!

Look who decided to pop over for cake and coffee the other evening.....why if it isn't Mr. Raccoon.

We've had raccoons in our neighborhood since we moved in back in 1997. It seems that most recently they are becoming less afraid of human contact. Our little friend here was not the least bit spooked by us. Perhaps I need to re-think BBQ-ing after dark.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Old Photo Friday: In Loving Memory of Ann

WHO: Ann P. Lee
WHAT: This might be a High School graduation photo
WHERE: Newark, DE

In memory of Brian's Mom Ann who would have turned 77 on February 6th.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Dijon Chicken Stew

Do you remember that commercial many years ago where the two gentleman in the back seat of Bentley's swap Dijon mustard? Remember the tag line....."do you have any Grey-Poupon?"

Roman's were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. They mixed unfermented grape juice, know as "must" with ground mustard seeds to make "burning must" or mustum ardens — hence "must ard".

The Romans likely exported mustard seed to Gaul in France and by the 10th century, monks in Paris absorbed the mustard-making knowledge of Romans and began their own production. The first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers dates back to 1292. Dijon, France, became a recognized center for mustard making by the 13th century. The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 70 gallons of mustard creme in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336.

In 1777, one of the most famous Dijon mustard makers, Grey-Poupon was established as a partnership between Maurice Grey, a mustard maker with a unique recipe containing white wine, and Auguste Poupon, his financial backer.

This sounds like the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch with a loaf of crust



Dijon Chicken Stew

Courtesy of Hearst Publishing


1/4 Cup Water

2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

2-3 diced shallots (about 1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary

1 Cup White Wine

1 Pound, Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in 1 inch cubes

8 Cups Chopped Escarole

1 Can (14 oz) Chicken Broth

Salt and Pepper to taste


Whisk water, mustard, and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and rosemary; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add chicken, escarole, and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch mixture and add to the pot. Bring the stew to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Courtesy of Hearst Publishing; slightly adapted by Cooking Light and Eating Well

Image Courtesy of Google Images; I tried to find a picture of those two old guys in the backseat of that old Bentley...but I couldn't find one

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Family Visit; Show Off Edmonds!

Brian's brother Ken came up from California last weekend to hang out and watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.We took him to our favorite little get-away, Edmonds...but first, breakfast at the Heartland Cafe. Okay, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt the first go-round, but in my opinion, breakfast should not take 45 minutes to serve. When it finally came, Ken's biscuits and gravy were divine, Brian's four cheese scramble was tasty and my corn beef hash with three eggs sunny-side up was fabulous.

Edmonds was chilly....typical gray and gloomy winter day, but we made the best of it and showed Ken all our favorite places.

We spent a good 30 minutes at the bookstore, walked main street and checked out the garden shop and of course right next door is a scrumptous little chocolatier (and I've got a bag of goodies to prove it).

We walked down to Brackett's Landing....took a few funny photos and had a look around the marina before walking back to Main street for a little wine tasting at Arista Cellars, a look around the Wooden Spoon and a sampling of tea at the tea/beach shop.

Dinner.....Zippy's Burgers (perhaps the last one before they move to White Center). The best run-down-your-arm-yummy-juicy-cheesy-gut bomb on the planet.

A good Saturday!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: February 6-10

A SUPER Menu Plan Monday kicks off with a SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!

What are your Super Bowl tradition? Is your favorite part the halftime show?

It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that on our menu, this week. Click on the banner above to view more great menus.


Sunday: SUPER BOWL Taco Soup
Monday: Grilled Chicken Thighs with a BIG GARDEN SALAD
Tuesday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti Carbonara
Wednesday: Salmon with Jasmine Rice and Roasted Veggies
Thursday: Grilled Sirloin Steaks with Blue Cheese Sauce and Green Beans

Friday, February 4, 2011

Old Photo Friday: Hot Dog Ski Bum

WHO: Diamond Jim "Hot Dog Ski Bum" Brady ( Pop)
WHAT: Showing off; ready for the first run of the day
WHERE: guess is Willamette Pass just east of Springfield, OR
WHEN: Mid to late -70's

My Pop use to downhill quite a bit in the 70's. My dear Aunt Pat's daughter, Candy married a Sweden named Sten and I remember as a kid hearing stories of my Pop skiing with Sten in the Cascades. Perhaps this is one of their skiing trips.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of the best things we eat while we are in Mexico is Tortilla Soup.

I'd give anything to have the recipe from Pueblo Bonito, but after three years I have given up trying.

I've posted Tortilla Soup before, but this time I found a recipe that I can cook in the crockpot.


CrockPot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe Courtesy of

1 pound shredded cooked chicken (buy a rotisserie chicken and call it good)
1 15 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 can (10 oz.) enchilladas sauce
1 medium onion, minced
1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 14.5 oz. broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 10 oz. package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
Optional: shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream

Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low crock pot setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet. Lightly brush strips with oil. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup along with optional ingredients.

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipies; if anyone out there has the Pueblo Bonito Tortilla Soup recipe, send me an e-mail. I'll be forever grateful!
Image courtesy of Google Images