Tuesday, July 30, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: Chick Visits West Seattle

Last Friday afternoon, Chick and I hit the road for Seattle, and arrived in West Seattle with enough time to enjoy drinks and dinner with Brian on Alki.

It took us three times and we gave the poor hostess a headache, but we finally managed to snag a table outside!  The restaurant has a very small patio, but lots of open-air seating.

Alki Beach is a great place to people watch.  It offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and downtown Seattle from all points.

Cactus on Alki (with other locations in South Lake Union, Bellevue Square, Kirkland and Madison Park) has been serving up innovative Southwestern, Mexican and Spanish cuisine since 1990.  This is our second dinner at the Alki location in less than a month!

Their menu is seasonal and eclectic with everything to "traditional" tacos, quesadillas and nachos to Navajo Torta, Brisket Burrita and Ceviche Tostadas.

Chick and I had fajitas and Brian ate that whole burrita seen above!

  Saturday we boarded the Fauntleroy Ferry to Vashon Island.  Vashon is a great place to explore.

The island is truly an island and can only be reached by ferry.  Vashon has a relaxed feel and the patchwork of pastoral and natural settings make it seem like a far off location when it is nestled so closely to metropolitan Seattle.

Our first stop was the Farmer's Market, open on Saturdays from 10-3.  More than 80 varieties of flowers, herb and vegetables plus local artisans selling everything from pottery to 15 minute chair massages!  It's a small market, but offers a huge variety of goods and services.

We then stopped in at two of Vashon Island's wineries, Palouse and Vashon Island Winery.

Both wineries have tasting rooms that are both open on the weekends.

Our favorite is Vashon Island Winery.  I ordered a glass and parked myself out on one of their picnic tables!

We drove south the entire length of the island and headed off the island on the Tahlequah Ferry over to Point Defiance.

This area began as a military reservation after the Wilkes Expedition visited Puget Sound in 1840 to map the bays and estuaries.  Wilkes is thought to have noted that with a fort positioned at the point and at Gig Harbor across the narrows, one could "defy" the world.

Our final stop of the day was at one of our favorite restaurants, Katie Downs, an over 21 tavern and eatery.  We got a great table on their deck, enjoyed some Chardonnay and yummy burgers!  It's a great place to hang and people watch.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: End of July 2013!

Welcome Monday!

Do you feel summer slipping away?  I am really noticing days are getting shorter and this week, we say goodbye to July!

Don't spend time at the grocery store or in the kitchen.  Plan your meals, eat from the pantry, clean out your freezer, and cook it once and serve it twice!  Little things go a long way!

Here is our menu for the week and remember to head on over to Laura's Blog to see more organizing and menu ideas!


Sunday:  Beer Can Chicken with Caesar Salad
Monday: Garden Burgers with Tater Tots
Tuesday:  Office Party at Hillsboro Hops!!
Wednesday: Pepper Rubbed Filet Mignon on the Grill with Hobo-Pack Potatoes and a Garden Salad
Thursday: Concert in the Park with Hapa

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Celebrating Rosemary's Birthday

My Pop and Rosemary came up from Eugene to spend a few days with us in Portland earlier in the week.

Monday night, we sat outside on the patio and I cooked Curried Pork Burgers (recipe to follow) which came out amazing.  It was a beautiful summer evening and we all had fun sipping wine and chatting.

Curried Pork Burgers (open faced) on top of Texas Toast with Summer Corn Salad and Rosemary Steak Fries

Tuesday we ate lunch at Thai Noodle and I had an amazing noodle bowl called Chiang Mai (Khao Soi), which is a dish named for the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand.  The traditional Thai name for the dish is Khao Soi which means cut rice.  Traditionally, the dough for the rice noodles is spread out on a cloth and stretched over boiling water.  In Thailand at some markets you can still see the street vendors cutting the noodles by hand.

My dish was closer to the present day Burmese version being soup-like and made with deep fried crispy egg noodles, boiled rice noodles , pickled cabbage, shallots, lime and ground chilies fried in oil.  It was one of the best Thai dishes that I have ever eaten. 

In celebration of Rosemary's birthday, Chick and I took them to dinner at Allium Bistro in West Linn on Tuesday night.

 Seared Scallops over Summer Corn Succotash

A few months ago, Chick bought a Groupon on-line and we had an amazing dinner.  We've been thinking of a way to get back to the restaurant so the timing was perfect.

 Idaho Trout with Fingerling Potatoes and Haricot Verts

Our evening was perfect and the service was extraordinary.  Our meal consisted of shared roasted beet salads, Idaho trout (they even kept the head on...gross), a 6oz rib eye, pan-seared halibut and seared scallops over sweet corn succotash.

It's always nice when family comes to visit (but we are back on the healthy eating).


Friday, July 26, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Summertime Family Fun

WHO: Wharton Clan (Mother's brothers and their families)
WHAT: Summer Family Gathering
WHERE: If I had to guess, it might be someplace in northern Washington State
WHEN: Late 1960's, 1967-68

This is my mother's side of the family, plus some life-long family friends.  Not entirely sure where this was taken and fairly certain that it was taken before I was born.

We hope you are enjoying your summer fun!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Vegan Cheesecake

So a few months ago, Brian was diagnosed with high cholesterol and we immediately began checking labels and planning menus a bit more carefully.

Cholesterol in in EVERYTHING (okay, practically everything) and in quite a bit of Brian's favorite, go-to, everyday recipes.

We've adapted. We are learning to love eggbeaters (okay, Brian more than I) and are leaning heavily on soy-based products to fill in the gaps.

Yes, he is still eating meat and cheese, but in smaller amounts.

So a few months ago, I started going to the Veggie Grill on a regular basis.  They make an awesome Vegan Carrot Cake and I started thinking about other low cholesterol desserts (remember, desserts made with dairy are typically high in cholesterol) because who lives without dessert?

Brian LOVES cheesecake so a few weeks ago I searched the internet for a vegan variety since vegan cream cheese has zero cholesterol.

This recipe is really good and it was hard to tell that it was not made with the real deal cream cheese.






1 Keebler (or other brand) Graham Ready Crust
1 lemon
2 8oz. containers of Tofutti Cream Cheese (at room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Toppings of choice (fresh fruit)


Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare 1 tablespoon fresh juice and 1 tsp of lemon zest from the lemon (I actually added a bit more lemon juice which helped smooth out the cream cheese).

In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon juice and zest.  Blend well (I set my cream cheese out at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften).

Pour into crust, bake for 30 minutes and then chill in the fridge for an hour.

Decorate with fruit or other toppings. 

Recipe Courtesy of Vegangela 
Images from Google Images 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap Up: Potluck/Brunch

Just when you think you can't cram anymore into a summer weekend.......

Friday was an early train adventure, and arrival in Tacoma.  Brian picked me up and we dashed out to Lake Morton for a potluck with friends, Jenny and Brent.

They have a fabulous lake house (also a rental), and recently remodeled the kitchen and living area.  It was great fun and a beautiful summer evening!

Brian and I are both enjoying our lazy summer Saturdays at home with baseball games on the radio, naps, stacks of magazines to read in the shade and a home-cooked meal.

Sunday we met up with Steve and Tania and had breakfast at Hudson's, after Kenny raved about it when he was in Seattle for a visit, I knew we had to check this place out.

This could easily become my new favorite breakfast place in our area.  Fabulous food, service and interesting and eclectic people (both patrons and employees).

How was your weekend?


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Middle of July!

Welcome Monday!

A busy week, ahead of a busy weekend, but why am I not worried?  I've got a game menu plan!

Family visits on Monday and Tuesday and we have a scheduled dinner out in celebration of Rosemary's birthday!  We are cooking from home the rest of the week and I head off to Seattle for a weekend of adventures on Friday.

Remember to check out Laura's site for more menu and organizing ideas!


MONDAY:  Curried Pork Burgers with Summer Corn Salad and Oven Red Potatoes
TUESDAY: Rosemary's Birthday Dinner in West Linn at Allium Bistro
WEDNESDAY: Summer Vegetable Risotto (MEATLESS MONDAY)
THURSDAY: Grilled Chicken with Lemon-Cucumber-Yogurt Relish and a Mini Garden Salad

Friday, July 19, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Ken Lee!

WHO: Allen Kenneth Lee, Jr.
WHAT: Looks like the first day of school photo
WHERE: 109 Tamara, Newark, DE
WHEN: I'll say early 1960's...maybe second or third grade (1962-63)

Happy Birthday to Brian's oldest Brother, Ken!

We love you!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Cheddar and Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

One lazy weeknight when we both loudly protested that there was absolutely "nothing on TV", I flipped around and found a new sorta new cooking show (like I don't watch enough cooking shows already).

Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen premiered on the Food Network last summer and YES, it's that DEEN.....Paula's first born son.

With his younger Brother, Bobby, Jamie runs Paula's restaurant Lady &Sons in Savannah, GA.  The show highlights southern cooking and family, two things that the Deen's do very well.

So on the episode entitled, Backyard BBQ, Jamie invites little bro Bobby and some close friends to join him in a "man's afternoon backyard BBQ" (complete with a friendly game of cornhole).  It's not a backyard party without some interesting sides so Jamie throws together some hearty Twice Baked Potatoes.  Sold and Yum!

I made these (and the ribs he also prepared) for our 4th of July BBQ at Rebecca Lane and we loved them.  I don't think I'll ever cook baby-back pork ribs the same way again....but that's a post for another day!


Cheddar and Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes


Makes 6 servings, but I think a half of potato is PLENTY!  Feel free to half recipe

8 slices of bacon
6 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
olive oil
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3-4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream, plus a scoop or two more
6 tablespoons butter
black pepper 


Preheat oven to 375.  Cook bacon and crumble once cooled.

Place potatoes on a piece of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and salt and wrap up individually.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and back until cooked through, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lower your oven temperature to 325.

Use a pairing knife to cut a canoe shape from the top of each potato (basically, slice in half and scoop out the flesh of the potatoes into a bowl).

Reserve a small amount of cheese and onions for presentation.

Mash the potatoes with the bacon, cheese, onions, sour cream and butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the filing back into each of the potato skins, equally.  Sprinkle each potato with the reserved cheese and onions.  

Place potatoes back on baking sheet and bake until heated through and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Top with additional sour cream, if desired (come on...y'all, you know Paula would).

Recipe courtesy of Food Network and Jamie Deen (he's quite hunky and so is the little bro)
Image courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Do You Hear What I Hear? Part 3

So I've posted about the music on my MP3 player in March and then again in May.  These are my latest downloads that I am loving at the moment.

Don't summer and music just go together?


If I loved You - By Delta Rae

Delta Rae is a folk/rock band out of Durham, NC (not the lead singer as you would think by the name).  The band consists of three siblings, Ian, Eric and Brittany Holljes.  The band name actually hails from a fictional story their mother intended on writing about a Southern girl named Delta Rae who summoned the Greek gods to earth.

Bright Stars Burning - By Hey Marseilles 

This band hails from Seattle, WA and was founded in 2006 when playing together as students at the University of Washington.   With the release of their second full-length album, "Lines We Trace" the group is beginning to get more national attention.

 Royals - By Lorde

Ella Yelich-O'Connor is known by her stage name of Lorde and is a 16 year old from New Zealand.  She released her first EP, The Love Club, online in December 2012, featuring 5 songs including this number one hit.


From a Window Seat - By Dawes

This band from Los Angeles is composed of two brothers, Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith along with Wylie Gelber (bass) and Tay Strathairn (keyboards) and is part of the Laurel Canyon sound which influenced such artists as Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Jim Morrison and Neil Young.  On February 8th, 2013, the band released this song, "From a Window Seat" from their third album (which was released on April 9, 2013).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: West Seattle SummerFest!

 Sunset over Puget Sound - 7/12/13

Last weekend was the West Seattle Summer Festival.  It's West Seattle's summer party with food/craft booths, a beer garden, two stages of music all smack dab in the middle of California Avenue.

Brian and I spent a couple hours walking throughout the festival, stopped to listen to a band or two and quenched our thirst with a cold beer.

Ah.....summer in the city!

Saturday afternoon and evening were spent in at home and in our backyard sanctuary.  There was an afternoon nap, followed by Happy Hour on the patio and grilled chicken, pasta salad (recipe from last week that Brian requested again) and grilled asparagus.

On Sunday, before the long drive back to Portland, we took our bikes out on the Green River/Interurban Trail.

The Interurban Train links the Tukwila, Kent, Auburn areas along a near straight 14 mile-long alignment following the historic interurban rail line.  To the north (where we started) the trails is actually called the Green River Trail and becomes the Interurban Trail at Fort Dent Park.  The trail crosses over the Green River and under Interstate 405 then turns south (we didn't go that far, but it's an option in the future).

We managed a pretty good ride, nearly 10 miles...our longest one this summer.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Middle of July 2013!

Welcome to Monday and the Middle of July!

Brian is in Portland this week for work and the All-Star Game is on Tuesday night, plus we are having a neighborhood gathering on Thursday.  Summer is in full swing!

What are your plans for the middle week in July?  Don't forget to check out Laura's website for more menu planning ideas.


Monday: Grilled Lemon-Garlic Halibut with Asparagus, Yellow Squash (from garden) and Spinach Salad
Tuesday:  All-Star Game BBQ; Brats or Dogs, and Corn on the Cob, Chips
Wednesday: Meatless Monday on Wednesday!  Penne Pasta with Feta Cheese, Roasted Zucchini and Roasted Fennel
Thursday:  Neighborhood Summer Party 5:30-8:30

Friday, July 12, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Best Friends!

WHO: Deby and Tera Case with Stacy
WHAT: A celebration of either Deby or Tera's birthday?  I see what appears to be a German Chocolate Cake, which I think was Tera's favorite
WHERE: Next door to childhood home on E Street (Case's were next door neighbors)
WHEN: 1978-79

Deb and I have been best friends since we started the 3rd grade!  Our lives are busy these days, but hopefully soon we will connect again.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Pasta Alla Carbonara

For our 9th anniversary in early June, Brian and I took a long evening stroll and ended up at one of our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurants, Abbondanza Pizza.

They make some of the cities best pizza's, but I prefer the handmade pasta and one of my favorites is the carbonara.

Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish specific to Rome and is based around eggs, cheese and bacon.  Although it is usually associated with spaghetti, I prefer the heavier fettuccine.

Like most recipes, the origins of this dish are obscure.  The name is derived from carbonaro (the Italian world for charcoal burner), and some believe the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers.  In parts of the U.S., the etymology gave rise to the term "coal miner's spaghetti".

Pasta alla Carbonara was included in Elizabeth David's Italian Food an English language cookbook published in Great Britain in 1954; however, the dish is not present in Ada Boin's 1927 classic La Cucina Romana and is unrecorded before WW II.


Pasta Alla Carbonara 


1/4 pound pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional; purists shudder at the thought, but I like the creaminess)
Olive oil, salt and pepper
1 pound of spaghetti or fettuccine 


Set water to boil with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Meanwhile, dice bacon and saute it in a pan over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil until it's well cooked.  Drain bacon on a paper towel.  As soon as the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water).

Lightly beat egg yolks and the two whites.  As soon as the eggs are combined beat in the cheese and add a pinch of salt and pepper.

When the pasta is done, drain and transfer back into the pot you cooked the pasta in. Add the bacon and pour the egg mixture over the top of the pasta, stirring briskly, then add the cream and some of the pasta water to thin/combine sauce.  The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs and warm the cream.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: A Visit with Kenny

Beautiful weather continues in West Seattle!

I worked a very short Friday, then hopped aboard Amtrak and headed north.  Friday night "date night" included catching up with my step-dad Kenny, who has been visiting from Virgina since the end of June and his good friends, Steve and Tania.  Everyone gathered at Cactus on Alki for a wonderful meal.

Saturday, Brian and I prepared for a little BBQ/Soiree with friends and family.

We all enjoyed playing horseshoes with our new game set.  I forgot how much fun outdoor games are at a BBQ.

I just love celebrations in summer!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: July 8-11, 2013

Welcome Monday!

How was your 4th of July?

I've been working out and walking most weekday mornings for a month now and I am really starting to see some improvements.

I think one of the biggest challenges is eating good and by planning my meals ahead of time, I am sure that I've saved myself 100's of calories a week.  I pack my lunch the night before and plan my weekly menu to include healthy food choices.  Try it out!

Remember to find more great planning ideas on Laura's site.


Monday: Meatless Monday! Spaghetti Squash Marinara and a Garden Salad
Tuesday: Chick Cooks!
Wednesday: Blue Cheese Chicken Burgers
Thursday:  Balsamic Glazed Strip Steaks with Roasted Summer Veggies (fresh from Beaverton Farmer's Market)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow!? Two Month Check-up!

The garden is starting on it's third month!  Despite quite a bit of rain in the later half of June, everything is doing really well, especially this gargantuan "early girl" tomato plant.

This year, I started watering in the morning versus watering in the late afternoon/evening and I've not had to battle many pests.

Chick bought me the Vegetable Gardener's Bible for Christmas last year and I've learned quite a bit about planting and watering this year.

We are days away from harvesting yellow squash and cherry tomatoes.  We've used quite a bit of basil, oregano and rosemary.  My cilantro takes a bit of work.  It flowers and needs to be cut back every few days (it's like a weed).

Not sure what's taking so long with the cauliflower.  I thought that we would have been harvesting some by now.  We finally spotted very small heads this past week.

Finally, I bought these gorgeous garden stones.  Don't you just love them?

Note to self....take pictures before you put on sunscreen, otherwise you get sunscreen all over your phone and your pictures come out blurry!  Sorry!