Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscar Party Wrap-Up

Glam at Rebecca Lane - Animal print for our Red Carpet

The 2012 awards season wrapped up Sunday night with the Red Carpet/Academy Awards "Oscar" presentation at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.

Chick and I hosted our annual Red Carpet/Oscar viewing party with a wonderful assortment of food and drink.
Here is a recap of my Oscar Highlights:

1. Welcome back, Billy Crystal. The show didn't seem to drag (too bad) and your schtick is still funny. Come back again next year!

2. Best dressed: Penelope Cruz in Armani Privé. She had the style and beauty of old Hollywood's Grace Kelly in a beautiful shade of smokey lavender. Second best dressed goes to Tina Fey in Carolina Herrera with Platinum Bulgari earrings to completed the look. Third best dressed goes to Gwyneth Paltrow's stark white form fitting Tom Ford gown and cape (totally cutting edge); she wore a wide diamond cuff on her wrist and a huge diamond ring, but no earrings. Truly a breathtaking look (would expect nothing more from Ford).

3. A special round of applause to Portland, Oregon's own Esperanza Spaulding's “In Memoriam” tribute to stars who passed in 2011/12. Her beautiful rendition of the classic Louis Armstrong song “What a Wonderful World” was my favorite moment of the night.

4. Congratulations to Meryl Strep who in my opinion came out of no where to take home the best actress Oscar. I thought that Michelle Williams (Golden Globe) or Viola Davis (SAG) would snag this year's award...apparently, Academy voters had the final say.

5. Kudos to Moi for planning (yet again) an Oscar menu that was out of this world (Wolfgang Puck...eat your heart out). Our Red Carpet appetizers were wonderfully light followed by the star of the night (Sweet and Sour Meatballs) and a tender and juicy (baked chicken).


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome March!

March is one of my favorite months because it means Spring arrives and brings us longer days (Daylight Savings begins on the 11th), beautiful flowers, and LOTS AND LOTS OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL!

What is your favorite thing about March?


Monday: Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage with a Big Garden Salad
Tuesday: Greek Island Salad with Lemon-Herb Grilled Pork Chops
Wednesday: Sesame Beef with Asparagus
Thursday: Crock Pot Chicken Stroganoff with No Yolk Noodles (I so love my Crock Pot)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Dinner Party

WHO: Don and Marie; and a group of friends
WHAT: Dinner Party (I believe this might have been a holiday gathering)
WHERE: Eugene?
WHEN: Early 1940's

I've been thinking a lot about dinner parties, cocktail parties, celebrations and gatherings and I came across this homemade Christmas card featuring my grandparents (father's side) taken in the early 1940's.

These pictures have been glued to a homemade card for almost 70 years so I was unable to remove them. To enlarge picture, click on them


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Washington's Cherry Pie

In honor of George Washington's 280th birthday, I am posting a delicious cherry pie recipe. Not just any cherry pie recipe.....this one is low fat and low calorie (230 calorie for 1/8th slice) and just like Washington, I would NEVER tell you a lie.


Washington's Cherry Pie

Serves (8)


Basic Pie Crust
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shorting
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3-3 1/2 tablespoons ice water


2 (15oz) cans sour cherries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or a large fork cut butter and shorting into the flour until mixtures resembles course crumbs.

Stir in the vinegar and then the water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms. Press dough together and shape it in a round ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

On a floured surface, roll dough to a 12-13 inch circle; which fits a 9 inch pie dish. Press dough into dish, crimping edges (use leftover dough to make a few lattice-type layers over the top). Prick the bottom of the dish with a fork and freeze dough for 20 minutes before adding filling.

Preheat oven to 400F. Cover baking sheet with tin foil (this prevents pie was bubbling over onto oven floor).

In a strainer set over a bowl, drain cherries. Reserve 1/2 cup of liquid and discard the rest.

In a medium bowl, combine the cherries, reserved liquid, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and extract. Pour into the pie shell and top with a few extra pieces of lattice (there isn't enough dough to cover the whole pie...this is why it is low fat, people).

Place dish on covered baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325F and continue to bake another 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Keep an eye on the crust so that it doesn't burn (you might need to place a piece of tin foil on top half way through the baking process is crust gets too brown).

Pie is best served at room temperature. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, then take out of refrigerator about an hour prior to serving.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Oscar Night Menu

We have an Oscar tradition on our blog to create a menu inspired by the Oscar nominees, share that menu with the world and host one fun evening of eating and drinking Hollywood style.

This award season brings a particularly rich mix of themes, including a 3-D and a silent movie nominee. As always, this makes for some very compelling eating and drinking options.

This year’s twist…..I am using Weight Watchers to help me with my menu. It's challenging, but inspirational at the same time (just like movies inspire our lives).

It’s Hollywood’s night to shine! Once again, it’s time to unveil our Oscars Menu for 2012.

Red Carpet Appetizer: French Artichoke Tarts along side a Blue Cheese Spread with CruditĂ©s – In honor of Best Picture Nominee Midnight In Paris, in which an American writer travels through time to meet Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. We look to Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, with fancy appetizers and a Champagne toast.

Entree: Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Mini Meatballs - In honor of Best Picture Nominee The Descendants (filmed in Hawaii), starring George Clooney (nominated for Best Actor). This movie takes place in Hawaii, so traditional Hawaiian foods are the perfect fit.

Main Course: Southern Style Fried Chicken with Coleslaw - In honor of Best Picture Nominee The Help, starring Viola Davis (nominated for Best Actress), Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain (both nominated for Best Supporting Actress). The Help is about the African-American domestic workers in Jackson, Mississippi, and food plays a significant role in the plot, so our menu shines the spotlight on classic Southern cooking, including one of Minny's specialties, fried chicken.

Dessert: Blondies – In Honor of Best Actress Nominee Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn (the ultimate blonde)

And the Oscar goes to..............



Official Oscar Site

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

West Seattle Weekend Wrap Up: Just Hanging...

A cool dreary weekend!

We are so spring hungry here - all I can say is that I am ready to plant, decorate, clean, grow and feel everything spring and summer (although I'll try not to get ahead of myself on the idea of summer just yet).

We finally found a frame for our Christmas present from Brian's brother and it hangs nicely above the fireplace, don't ya think?

We hung out at home with the world's best little boy, Sammy. Is there anything better than waking up from an afternoon nap and being served a chilled Chardonnay and a plate of yummy cheese and crackers?

To top off the weekend, my baby made me his deliciously rich spaghetti sauce which I devoured.
I so love Saturday night dinners at home.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: February 20-26

Welcome to Monday!

It's Oscar week so plenty of glamor and international delights on our menu this week leading up to Sunday's big show.

How much International cooking do you do?


Monday: Meatless Monday! Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew
Tuesday: Beef Satay over Rice Pilaf with a Side Salad
Wednesday: Chicken Breasts with Caper Sauce and Grilled Asparagus
Thursday: Grilled Salmon with Tapenade, Sauteed Cauliflower
Friday: BBQ Chicken and Black Bean Pizza with a Garden Salad
Saturday: Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf with 1/2 baked potato and leftover salad

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner

This year, with Brian in Portland for Valentine's Day we decided to treat ourselves to dinner downtown with pre-dinner drinks at Rock Bottom Brewpub.

We haven't been to Mama Mia's Trattoria in ages (even though it is one of our favorite Italian places) so last week's dinner was a special treat.

They had a special Valentine's Dinner for two ($49.95 or $59.95) with wine pairings for an additional $20.00. The wines were paired perfectly with each course.

We munched out on the following:

Minestrone Soup; wonderfully light tomato base full of fresh veggies with just a hint of pasta

Capresse Salad (above); house-made mozzerella! Need I say more?

NY Sirloin Bistecca - cooked to perfection with a sweet reduction sauce (I took half of it home)

Chicken Parmigiana - Brian ate the entire thing!

Italian Ice Cream (Cinnamon and Marion Berry) - YUM! Never had cinnamon ice cream before.

To top it off.....red roses from my sweets!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Mama Mia Trattoria

439 SW 2nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 295-6464

Great authentic Italian food with wonderful service. Cute little bar. Biggest complaint....they squeeze tables pretty close together so you are actually having dinner with the couple next to you (this lessens the romantic feel a bit). Huge menu (all house-made), great downtown location close to parking garages and the MAX.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Kenny!

Kenneth Richard Hanselman
WHERE: Eugene, OR (Fenster Street Townhouse)
WHEN: 1980-81

Happy 60th Birthday to second Dad, Kenny...who celebrates a birthday today! You still have that sweet smile! We love you.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Fat Tuesday Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Citrus Sauce

The day before Ash Wednesday is known by many names: Mardi Gras, Carnival, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Paczki Day, and Pancake Day.

As many turn to the penitential season of Lent, they enjoy one last day of feasting. On this day, medieval Christians used up their eggs, butter, and milk--all of which were forbidden during their Lenten abstinence by making pancakes and pastries. Yum!

I made these yummy pancakes a few weeks ago and we loved them (I've since made them again). The blueberry sauce is very good....so good you won't need pancake syrup...promise!



Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Citrus Sauce


Serves 2


3/4 cup(s) fresh blueberries, fresh or thawed frozen

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 Tbsp water

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice


1 cup(s) uncooked rolled oats, old-fashioned

1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste

1/2 cup(s) low-fat plain yogurt, Greek or regular style

1/3 cup(s) apple or orange juice

1 large egg(s), lightly beaten

1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  • To make the blueberry sauce, combine blueberries, confectioners’ sugar, water, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Keep warm.

  • Place the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor; pulse until the oats are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the yogurt, juice, egg, and vanilla; stir until just blended. Let the batter stand 5 minutes.

  • Spray a nonstick griddle or large skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat. Pour the batter by four 1⁄4 cupfuls onto the griddle, and cook until the bubbles that form on the top have burst and the undersides are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, 3–4 minutes longer. Repeat with the remaining batter making a total of 8 pancakes, using more nonstick spray if necessary. Serve the pancakes with the blueberry sauce.
Yields 4 pancakes and 1⁄4 cup blueberry sauce per serving.

Note: Normally I cook pancakes on fairly high heat, but these cook extremely fast so keep your eye on them....the can burn easily!

Recipe courtesy of Weight Watchers
Photo courtesy of Moi; wonderful pancakes that I will totally make again and again and again!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Walking around Greenlake

Last Saturday, Brian and I took a stroll around Greenlake (2.8 miles). We've not been in ages and despite the gray and overcast day (sorry the pictures came out so dark) we made it around the entire lake in about an hour.

Green Lake is a freshwater lake in north central Seattle. It is a glacial lake, its basin having been dug 50,000 years ago by the Vashon glacier, which also created Lake Washington and Lake Union.

Green Lake was named by David Phillips, who surveyed the area in September 1855 for the United States Surveyor General. His first notes referred to it as "Lake Green" because even in its natural state the lake is prone to algae blooms.

The area was originally homesteaded by various pioneers, the first being Erhart Sarfried, "Green Lake John." Sarfried subdivided his homestead in 1888 and sold the land to various entrepreneurs. W.D. Wood built an "amusement park" on the west side of the lake (which never amounted to more than a glorified lawn for picnics).

Red Carnations hanging from fishing line

Green Lake is surrounded entirely by a very popular paved path. The 2.8 mile path is divided into two lanes — one for walkers and one for wheels!

We came upon this interesting artistic display hanging from a tree on the path...perhaps a Valentine's Day arrangement for lovers?



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Valentine's Week

Happy Valentine's Week!

Since there are so many hearts in the air this week, it's a good week to remember to be heart healthy. Here are some key tips:
  • If you smoke, stop....please! About 30% of all heart disease deaths are directly related to cigarette smoking.
  • Load up on heart friendly foods. Eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grains & legumes (beans)
  • Eat smaller but more meals throughout the day (5 - 6 mini-meals).
  • Drink 32 to 64 oz. of water daily (unless fluid restricted).
  • Move your body! 30 - 60 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise at least 3-4 times a week. Check with your doctor before starting a new workout program.

Here is this week's heart healthy menu!



Monday: Meatless Monday! Garden Burgers perhaps even a few tater tots!

Tuesday: Happy Valentine's Day! Taking my sweetheart out for dinner to Mama Mia

Wednesday: Greek Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Salad

Thursday: Best Ever BLT

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Along the Puget Sound

Last Friday, I took the early Amtrak train from Portland to Seattle. Luckily, we arrived along the Puget Sound just south of Tacoma as the sun was setting.

I managed to capture a few photos with my cell phone (which takes amazing pictures especially on a moving train). Brian told me they reminded him of Ansel Adams so I decided to post a few.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Thinking of Ann Lee

Who: Allen K. Lee and Vivian "Ann" Peterson Lee
What: Wedding Day
Where: Delaware
When: 1953

In honor of Brian's Mom who would have celebrated a birthday last Monday.

She's is good company....my boss (who passed away in 2007), Ronald Regan and Bob Marley all shared February 6th birthdays.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Chipped Beef on Toast

Over the weekend, Brian's brother and I had a conversation about our love for Chipped Beef on Toast. Growing up...in my home, the alternative S.O.S. was made with a white creamy hamburger based gravy and also served over toast or biscuits. This classic is made with thinly sliced "deli" beef.

Ken, this recipe is for you!


Classic Chipped Beef on Toast

Serves (2)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 ounces Carl Buddig brand sliced “Beef”
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons white wine (optional)
  • 2 slices of buttered toast
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Slowly add flour, whisking. Cook one minute, or until flour starts to brown.
  • Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire, and white wine.
  • Cut beef into one inch squares, and stir into the sauce. Spoon mixture over a slice of buttered toast, and top with freshly ground pepper.

Ken and Stacy - Pike Place Market Stair Climb

Image courtesy of Google Images and Moi

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Weekend Shots!

Thanks to Brian's Brother, Ken for these shots. His point and shoot camera takes wonderful pictures. I think I'll be treating myself to a new camera for my birthday which is right before we head to Maui!

Doesn't this look like an add for REI or LL Bean? Who is this guy?


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: Family Time

Brian and Ken at Elliott Bay Brewpub

It was a beautiful weekend in Seattle with rare early February temps near 60.

Brian's brother, Ken requested a trip down to the Pike Place Market so after a wonderful breakfast at Circa last Saturday morning, we explored one of Seattle's best known landmarks.

Breakfast at Circa

One of the places that we explored at the market is the famous Market Theater Gum Wall, located in post alley.

Similar to Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California, the Market Theater Gum Wall is a brick alleyway wall now covered in used chewing gum. Parts of the wall are covered several inches thick, 15 feet high for 50 feet.

The tradition began around 1993 when patrons of a Seattle Theater Group stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs. Theater workers scraped the gum away twice, but eventually gave up after market officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction in around 1999. It was named one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009, second to the Blarney Stone.

We tried to catch some flying fish, but instead settled for people watching, trinket shopping, walking along the waterfront and taking home a fresh bunch of red tulips just perfect for the Valentine's Day season.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: February 6-9, 2012

One of the hardest things to do when you are watching what you eat is to find "snacks". Typically, I try to eat 5 times a day...breakfast, lunch and dinner with two "snacks" in-between.

These snacks are essential as they bridge your hunger gap and can hold you over until your next meal, which in turn reduces the amount of food you consume at meal time. Make sense?

The following 15 snacks have 100 calories each or less. They are not necessarily weight watchers points plus, but I still think better than stuffing a candy bar or a bag of chips down your gullet!



• Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter

• 5 cups light microwave popcorn

• 1 sliced medium kiwi and a half cup diced cantaloupe with 1 tablespoon granola

• 2 ounces lean roast beef wrapped in lettuce leaves with a bit of spicy mustard

• 20 frozen grapes

• Hard-boiled egg with 3 saltine crackers

• 2 graham-cracker squares with 1 teaspoon peanut butter

• ¼ cup tuna mixed with lemon juice and 1 teaspoon olive oil over a green salad with sliced cucumbers and green peppers

• ½ cup fat-free green goddess or ranch dressing with carrot and celery sticks

• 2 thick tomato slices with 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese and 1 teaspoon olive oil

15 small baked tortilla chips with salsa

4 large pretzel twists with two tablespoons fat-free cream cheese mixed with some dried Italian herbs

Half a mango with a schmear of goat cheese

1 cup strawberries topped with 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream

½ red bell pepper dipped in 3 tablespoons hummus

Here is our menu for the week:

Sunday: Super Bowl Sunday! Taco Soup

Monday: Meatless Monday! Herb Stuffed Shells

Tuesday: Baja Fish Tacos

Wednesday: Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Spinach

Thursday: Salmon Persillade with Zesty Mashed Potatoes

Friday, February 3, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Big Brother

Who: Alex, Ken and Amy Lee
Alameda, CA
Alex looks to be about 2, so I'll say 1993-94

Brian's big brother, Ken is visiting from Alameda, CA this weekend. It's our annual Super Bowl in Seattle weekend and we love showing Ken around Seattle (West Seattle).

I just couldn't resist digging up an old picture of Ken! Love ya, man!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Recipe of The Week: Cuban Pork Stew

This is an adaptation of a Weight Watchers Slow Cooker stew that we made last week. It was the perfect spicy bowl of yum that you love to eat on a cold winter's night.


Cuban Pork Stew
Adapted from Weight Watchers


1-1/2 pounds pork loin, cut into cubes
juice from 1 1/2 limes, divided (see below)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable broth (or water)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 sweet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime


Put all ingredients into slow cooker (crock pot) and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5. Check after a few hours and add extra water, if desired.

With 30 minutes left of cooking, stir in chopped cilantro and the juice from 1/2 lime.
Serve plain as a hearty stew or over 1/2 cup white rice.

Image courtesy of Google Images