Tuesday, May 31, 2011

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: Memorial Day


  • 4 nights in Seattle with my two favorite boys
  • 1 night with house guest, sister-in-law Amy from Alameda, CA
  • Talking, laughing, sightseeing and enjoying her company...wish she and Ken lived closer
  • Memorial Day decorations for the house
  • Saturday dinner with a huge beautifully roasted lemon and herb chicken, warm flaky biscuits, Yukon gold potatoes and a garden salad
  • Planted backyard with all sorts of lovely flowers
  • A quiet holiday Monday, no schedule, timetable, chores or responsibilities
  • Spent time reading magazines I've had piled up for over a month
  • Our first neighborhood walk of the season
Summer has officially started in our neck of the woods! How about you?


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Memorial Day and Welcome June

Happy Memorial Day weekend! The official kick-off of the summer season. Come on Pacific Northwest....can we at least get to 70 this weekend....one day....PLEASE!

Plenty of grilling on the menu this week. Part of the week spent in Seattle and part in Portland.


Sunday: West Seattle Farmer's Market Dinner - check out what is fresh and local and design meal around it.
Monday: Brian's Special BBQ; Aunt Kay's Beans, Grilled Burgers and Corn on the Cob
Tuesday: Grilled Beer Brats (back in Portland)
Wednesday: Taco Salad
Thursday: Pizza Night! Who wants to cook? Nobody!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Girls Night Out @ Jimmy Mak's

Last Thursday night, Chick and I had a little girls night out in Portland.

First stop was the Teardrop Cocktail Lounge

They have a super extensive cocktail menu and good looking nibbles. Each cocktail is mixed by hand using fresh local ingredients, spirits of all kinds and an array of bitters and tinctures (I had to look this up). We'll be back when the sun is out and tables are set up outside on the sidewalk.

We then walked around the block to Vino Paradiso and were pleasantly surprised by the relaxed groovy atmosphere. This is not just a wine bar! They have a wonderful happy hour and dinner menu with this super tiny kitchen located behind the bar. We will definitely come back for dinner....the food smelled divine.

Chick and I and the Hammond B3

Finally, we had dinner and listened to some remarkable Jazz at Jimmy Mak's, one of the top 100 places to hear jazz in the country!

Thursday night is a tradition for the Mel Brown B3 Organ Group. Our dinner reservations were for 7:15 and the restaurant is set up much like an old supper club with booths and tables that face the stage.

Here is a clip of the band (2.14)

Mel Brown is an Oregon icon in jazz. A drummer, Mel Brown has been labeled the "Gentleman of Jazz," with a career spanning over 40 years. In recognition of his contributions to the cultural life of Oregon, Mel received the Governor’s Arts Award in 2002.

Mel set out on a quest to become a great drummer in the seventh grade, practicing 19 hours a day, 6 days a week. His professional career began with a stint with Earl Grant. He went on to be a staff drummer for the Motown Music Corporation, recording and touring with groups including the Temptations, the Supremes, and Smokey Robinson. He subsequently spent ten years working with Diana Ross, Suzanne Somers, Connie Francis, Pat Boone, and others.

The jazz artists Mel has played with reads like a "Who’s Who" of jazz, including Gene Harris, George Benson, Teddy Edwards, Joey DeFrancesco, Bill Watrous, Leroy Vinnegar, and many more. For the past six years, Mel has led bands three nights a week--including the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Quartet on Thursdays.

Our dinner was wonderful and then menu, although centered around Greek cusine, offers a bit of everything.

For dinner I had...

Mussels and Chorizo - $22 one pound of Prince Edwards Island mussels, steamed in white wine, and combined with oven-roasted fennel, tomatoes, and Chorizo sausage, served over linguine, with warm bread

Chick had....

Classic Grilled Burger- $12half-pound lean beef burger, seasoned with herbs and spices, topped with honey-cured bacon and your choice of provolone, feta, cheddar, or bleu cheese. Served with your choice of house-cut fries or garden salad

The music was the star of the show and the sax player, Renato Caranto blew some serious saxophone!

Since it was a work night, we only stayed through the first set, but we will be back to hear more music soon.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Meatless Mushroom Lasagna

On and off over the last year we have been participating in the Meatless Monday campaign at Rebecca Lane.

I am by no means a vegan or vegetarian, but I do truly believe that one person's eating habits can effect change not only in your life but also in your community and to a greater extent the entire planet.

Meatless Monday was founded in 2003 and it encourages people to make healthier decisions at the start of every week. Unhealthy habits that prevailed over the weekend can be forgotten and replaced by positive choices.

On June 15, 2009, Paul McCartney and his daughters Stella and Mary launched a Meat-free Monday campaign. In December 2009 Meatless Mondays launched in Australia. Since then, publications such as Women's Day, The Washington Post and AARP have devoted sections to meatless recipe and healthy eating options.

I had some extra mushrooms, gimme lean and lasagna noodle in the pantry a few weeks ago and came up with this recipe. Check back on Menu Plan Monday to see other meatless ideas.

Meatless Mushroom Lasagna


2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 cups chopped mushrooms (feel free to use any kind you'd like...the more the merrier)
1 package meat substitute (Gimme Lean is my choice, but there are others)

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (3 oz) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper
1 package no boil lasagna noodles
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese

  • Heat medium sauce pan over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add mushrooms and brown for 7-12 minutes until they begin to color and the water is evaporated. Once mushrooms have browned, add gimme lean and mix together. Cook for 3-5 minutes until gimme lean browns. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a large shallow saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive over medium heat. Cook onion for 3-5 minutes until translucent; then green pepper and cook for another 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add crushed tomatoes and paste and season with Italian seasoning. Reduce sauce to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • In a non-reactive bowl (glass or plastic); mix together ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, egg and Parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper.
  • To assemble, ladle about 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large, rectangular and deep oven proof baking dish. Place one layer of no boil noodles on top followed by about 1 cup of the mushroom mixture. Place large dollops of ricotta cheese mixture on top of the mushroom mixture and top with a handful of mozzarella cheese. Ladle about 1 cup of sauce and repeat layers (until you run our of noodles). Top with remaining sauce and about 1-2 cups of mozzarella.
  • Bake in 375F oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and brown.

Recipe courtesy of moi: Yes, folks I made it up and if you make this and serve it to someone and after they take a bite you tell them they are eating soy meat...they will fall off your dining room chair and onto your floor....they won't believe you! Money back, guarantee!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up in Beaverton

  • Girl's Weekend in Beaverton
  • Three fabulous home cooked meals; grilled rib eyes on Friday, roasted beet salad and grilled chicken thighs on Saturday and "Rapture" baby back ribs on Sunday (thankful the world didn't end)
  • Checked out a new breakfast place, Biscuits Cafe for Saturday breakfast. Yum!
  • $200 of beautiful summer flowers, including three unique hanging baskets
  • Hung a brand new American Flag, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend
  • Bought a brand new cedar barrel for the front porch (the other one had rotted out after 13 years); planted it with red, white and blue flowers
  • Began sanding down Adirondack chair which sat out in the winter weather and took a beating last year. Put first coat of sealant on foot stool....long project
  • Sorted 8 boxes of family photos my mom sent me from Virginia with plans to re-organize and scan onto a disk
  • Watched old home movies from 1997-2004 and laughed and cried
I don't think we could have squeezed another thing in.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Last Week In May 2011

With daylight hours increasing everyday and temps warming up...it's time to start summer grilling. First on the menu is a big rack of ribs...yum! Wednesday I am trying out a grilled corn salad and perhaps some grilled pineapple with some coconut ice cream. Good eats this week!

Check out other great menu plans using the link above.


Sunday: BBQ Ribs, Summer Slaw and Baked Beans with Grilled Pineapple and Coconut Ice Cream for dessert!
Monday: Penne with Vodka Sauce and Salad (Meatless Monday)
Tuesday: Steak with Parsnip-Potato Mash and Brocoli
Wednesday: BBQ Salmon with Grilled Corn Salad
Thursday: Can we go out!? Perhaps see Mel Brown and his Hammond B3

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Well Does Your Garden Grow: 2011

Despite very little success last year, I decided to plant another garden this spring.

Once again, it's been a very wet and cool spring and most garden experts are begging gardeners to NOT plant tomatoes and other summer crops until June!

On May 5th, I decided to try my hand at spinach, beets and oregano. This past Wednesday, I planted cherry tomatoes and a straight neck yellow squash (the star of last year's garden).

Wish me luck!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Old Photo Friday: I've Been Working On The Railroad

WHO: Ralph Emerson Wills, otherwise known as Sonny (or rotten Ralphie); my grandma Virginia's husband
WHAT: Coming off his last run
WHERE: Eugene, OR
WHEN: 1976 or 1977 (perhaps very early 1978)

This was my grandpa Ralph's last run as a railroad engineer. He finished his career carrying passengers for Amtrak, but worked most of his life for Southern Pacific. Not a trip aboard Amtrak goes by when I don't think of all my family members who worked proudly for the railroad.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Discovering Barley

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe for barley, which I had never cooked before. I must admit, I don't care too much for barley in soups, so I was extremely apprehensive about serving this as a side dish. Well....it's now turned out to be a household favorite!

A little background about barley. It is a cereal grain derived from the annual grass Hordeum Vulgare and has many uses. It serves as a major animal food and as a base malt for beer. It is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures. Wild barley ranges from North Africa and Crete in the east to Tibet in the east. The earliest evidence of wild barley in an archaeological context dated back to about 8500 BC.


Barley with Mushrooms, Spinach and Parmesan Cheese


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic glove, minced
2-3 cups finely chopped mushrooms (any variety is fine...just dice them fine)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups stock (I use beef, but you could use vegetable broth)
1 cup pearl barley (I found mine in a bag in the store like rice)
pepper to taste
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese


In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 3-5 minutes until they start to brown; then add rosemary.

Add beef stock and barley then season with pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 50 minutes (consistency will be like risotto).

Stir in the spinach until wilted then add cheese and serve.

This is great with steaks, chicken and fish!

Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachel Ray
Image Courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up

  • Friday night train was hours late on account of a "big hole" in the suspension system meaning we could only go 25 MPH from Olympia to Seattle (luckily Brian was sweet enough to pick me up in Tacoma)
  • Blue skies...white puffy clouds on Saturday
  • An impromptu community garage sale and we (much to our surprise) made $26
  • An afternoon walk to our local pub; a homemade pizza for dinner
  • $28 in new little flowers planted in our brick flower box
  • Brian hung his garden flag and it totally makes the front yard shine
  • Another day of record rainfall on Sunday and a very soggy commute back to PDX, luckily with my sweetheart in tow

  • Enjoy!

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday: Mid May 2011

    Welcome to another Monday! Please click the link above for more great menu planning ideas! Here is our plan for the week! Brian is in Portland so a few of his favorites on the menu.


    Sunday: Taco Bar!!
    Monday: Stuffed Pasta Shells with Caesar Salad (Meatless Monday)
    Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken Bites with Sweet Potato Fries
    Wednesday: Meatloaf with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus
    Thursday: Lemon Tilapia with Herb Barley and a Salad


    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Old Photo Friday: Brian's Graduation

    WHO: Cousin Lynne, Al Lee, Ann Lee, Brian and Aunt Faye
    WHAT: Brian's graduation from Mesa State College
    WHERE: Grand Junction, CO
    WHEN: May 7, 1983

    Last Saturday, Brian reminded me that his graduation from College was 28 years ago. My how time flies.


    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Recipe of the Week: Salmon Tacos with Fresh Pineapple Salsa

    I love fish tacos! When Brian and I were in Maui in April we tried some Maui Tacos and loved them. The concept of taking flavors from Mexico and combining them with the flavors of the islands was unbelievable.

    In honor of Cinco De Mayo last week, I came up with a wonderful salmon taco with a Hawaiian salsa on top.


    Salmon Tacos with Pineapple Salsa



    1 large mango, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup pineapple, finely chopped (use fresh if you can; if not buy crushed in a can)
    1/2 finely diced jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed if you don't want the heat)
    1/2 finely diced shallot (or red onion)
    I bunch (handful) cilantro, (remove stems and chop very finely)
    2 Tbs white vinegar
    Juice from one lime
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 Tbs olive oil


    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1 Tablespoon blackening season
    1 1/2 lbs salmon fillet (alternatively you could use any firm fish)
    8 10 inch tortillas (I prefer flour for fish tacos, but you could always use corn)
    5-6 green leaf lettuce leaves, roughly chopped


    1. Mix all ingredients for the salsa and refrigerate for 30 minutes
    2. In a frying pan (cast iron is best for blackening), add oil and heat to medium-high. Sprinkle seasoning on fish.
    3. Cook salmon skin side down for 4-5 minutes.
    4. Distribute the salmon in chunks into eight 10″ tortillas (I like to heat my tortillas a bit). Top each with salsa and leaf lettuce.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    West Seattle Weekend Wrap-up

    Thing are getting back to normal after our Maui vacation.

    Brian's been working on the yard and despite the cool wet conditions, things look green and beautiful. The secret garden is an open canvas.....hopefully next weekend we can start planting some flowers.

    Saturday night, I made a healthy vegetarian lasagna in my new Target spring green casserole dish! Fantastic!

    Sunday, Sammy got lots of love and attention (doesn't he always).

    See....things are back to normal.


    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday: May 9-12

    Still trying to get over vacation, prepare for spring and find time to get back into the gym routine.

    One of the things that is most helpful is being prepared with my menu and grocery list. I typically keep 10-15 recipes "aside" and plan my menu according to what's fresh and in-season and also what we are hungry for. That's why Laura's site above is so amazing. Please click on her link above for more menu planning ideas.


    Monday: Spring Shells with Cheese and a Salad (Hooray for Meatless Monday)
    Tuesday:Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken with Asparagus (thanks Apron Adventures)
    Wednesday: Chinese Spiced Pork Stir-Fry with Jasmine Rice
    Thursday: Lemon Tilapia with Garlic and Parsley Barley

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Old Photo Friday: Run Brian Run

    WHO: Brian (#433)
    WHAT: Bank to Bay 10K Run
    WHERE: Tacoma, WA
    WHEN: September 2nd 2000

    In honor of Brian's 40th birthday (back in 2000) he ran a 10K in Tacoma. I love this picture of will and determination. Trying to get back into the work out thing myself.


    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Recipe of the Week: Macadamia Nut Crusted Fish

    The mahi-mahi is a fish found in Hawaii. They are surface-dwelling ray-finned fish found off-shore in tropical climates in waters not just in Hawaii but worldwide.

    Mahi-mahi means very strong in Hawaiian.

    We ate mahi-mahi several times on our vacation in Maui...I hope that I can find some here in Portland or perhaps Seattle.




    1 10-ounce mahimahi fillet (1 inch thick), skinned, halved crosswise (you could also use any other firm white fish)
    1/2 cup fresh lime juice

    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (Japanese-Style breadcrumbs found in the oriental section of most supermarket)
    1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
    1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


    Place fish in shallow dish. Pour in lime juice and minced galic. Marinate 1 hour, turning fish over occasionally.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine panko and next 3 ingredients in small bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons butter. Season generously with pepper. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons butter into shallow baking dish. Remove mahimahi from marinade and place in baking dish, turning to coat with butter. Spoon panko mixture atop fish, dividing evenly. Press topping gently to adhere. Bake until fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.

    Recipe courtesy of Epicurious

    Image courtesy of Google Images

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Maui 2011: The Wrap-Up


    Make every day count. Appreciate every moment, and take from it everything you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. Then, give back fully with a grateful heart.

    Sailing...takes me away to where I've always heard it could be. Just a dream and the wind to carry me and soon I will be free.

    Best Excursion....Scotch Mist II @ Sunset

    Happy 138th Birthday to the Banyan Tree! We are twins! We share the same special day!

    On the Marina! Fresh fish (the guy did a primo job of fileting)

    Ohno and Mahimahi fresh from the boats; I wished I had picked some up for dinner.

    One of my favorite flowers....Birds of Paradise

    BBQ Man! Brand new Weber Stainless Steel BBQ's at Valley Isle (Pop...these are really nice)!

    Sunset at Valley Isle; thanks to the conk shell posie, the turtles that bobbed their heads up to say goodnight and the glorious sun

    The view from our living room; our gorgeous view for 8 days. At first I didn't care for it, but we grew to love our room; our routine.

    Living room at Valley Isle; Babe....how many naps did you take on that couch....remember that cool island breeze?

    Môhala ka pua, ua wehe kaiao.
    The blossoms are opening, for dawn is breaking.
    Look forward with joy to a new day.


    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Menu Plan Monday: Welcome May

    We will be getting back from paradise later this evening and slowing trying to get back into the groove.

    Believe it or not, one of the things that helps me to get centered after vacation is getting back into the kitchen to cook.

    Here is our menu for the first week in May.


    Monday: Garden Burgers with French Fries (Meatless Monday & back to the gym)
    Tuesday: Lemon Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Green Beans
    Wednesday: Steak with Red Wine Sauce and a Big Garden Salad
    Thursday: Curried Salmon Cakes with leftover salad

    Maui 2011: Day Seven; Our Last Goodbyes and Dinner at the Seahouse

    We filled our last day quite full.

    First stop....Kahana airport. A tough, tough climb (calves will be barking tomorrow) but well worth it for the views.

    Brian cooking our last breakfast

    Stop #2 (this is all before 11:00 am) took us north of where we are staying in Kahana, to the quiet bays of Napili so that Brian could get in some more time with the fishy.

    That's Brian snorkeling off Napili

    I really enjoyed the beach (a great spot to people watch), and took in some reading (when I wasn't checking on Brian's adventure).

    Stop #3 into downtown Lahaina. We took some used books back to the Old Lahaina Book Emporium. A must stop for any book enthusiast or for anyone with a heart for independent bookstores and their proprietors.

    A bit of shopping at Hilo Hattie, best place to pick up last minute gifts, load your carry-on bags with chocolate covered macadamia nuts and coconut candies.

    While in Lahaina, we had one last stop at Lahaina Coolers. This is our favorite local stop in all of Maui (second only to Dollie's) and one of the place we love to say "aloha" to.

    My birthday dinner choice (second of the trip), Sea House Restaurant at Napili Bay. The restaurant sits right on the beach and we had a perfect view of the sunset.

    A fabulous dinner....

    Brian had a wonderful mushroom ravioli in a baby spinach, tomato and yellow pepper ragu.

    I ate the above, a trio of house specials...Hawaiian filet, sesame shrimp and a beautifully prepared macadamia nut crusted ohno.