Sunday, September 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome October, 2013!

Happy Monday!

Is everyone smelling fall in the air this week?!  Football season is in high gear and we are experiencing our first few days of fall.  October begins on Tuesday!

Our menu is slowly changing.  No longer do I dread having to put something in the oven as our temps have been cooler in the evening, but still pleasant enough to grill.  Of course, we are beginning to crave comfort foods so I'll begin to throw a few in here and there, being mindful of the calories.

How are you welcoming fall?

Remember to check out Laura's site for more menu planning ideas.


Sunday: Crock Pot Chili
Monday: Classic Pasta with Ragu (from Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook)
Tuesday:  BBQ'd Chicken Thighs with a Garden Salad
Wednesday: Dijon-Herb Panko Crusted Fish with Acorn Squash
Thursday: Pedicures followed by Happy Hour HERE
Friday:  Grilled Rib Eye Steaks, Baked Potato and Caesar Salad

Friday, September 27, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Sonja!

WHO: Sonja and Stacy
WHAT: Camping
WHERE: Yosemite National Park
WHEN: Summer 2000

Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Sonja who celebrated a birthday yesterday!  


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Curried Pork Burgers

My Pop and Rosemary came up to Portland in July to celebrate Rosemary's birthday and I came across this alternative to a grilled burger.  Pork makes this "burger" super juicy and the curry mix gives it a bit of a twist.  Serving this gooey concoction on a thick slab of Texas toast sealed the deal.  This burger is awesome!


Curried Pork Burgers



1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
salt and pepper
4 thick slices of red onion
olive oil
4 slices of Texas Toast
red cabbage leaves (I prefer mine chopped)


In a small bowl combine the mayo, and 1/4 tsp curry powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine pork, chopped red onion, garlic, 1 tsp curry powder, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.  Shape into 4 3/4 inch thick patties.

Lightly brush red onion slices with olive oil.

Grill patties over medium heat for 14-18 minutes, turning once (internal temp should be 160 degrees).  Add red onion to grill when you turn the burgers and grill turning once.  Grill Texas Toast for 2-3 minutes per side or until toasted.

To assemble:  Place cabbage on each slice of toast.  Spread mayo mix on top of cabbage and top with pork patties and slice of grill red onion.  

Recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Garden (July issue)
Image courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Vicki

 Vicki with her "party" Solo Cup

Last weekend we gathered down in Eugene for our dear friend, Vicki's 50th birthday party!


Her and her husband, Daniel have a beautiful house up in the hills outside of Coburg, OR, which was the perfect setting for a big celebration.

Our family has known Vicki for over 30 years and she sure knows how to throw a party!

 Potluck dinner included; salmon, BBQ pork loin, Chicken thighs, lasagna, Chile Rellenos Casserole, pasta salads, layered salads, Sweet potato and kale salad, caprese salad, dips, chips and plenty of cheese!

It was a wonderful gathering of friends and family and a wonderful celebration of someone who is truly special to so many!

Happy Birthday, Vicki!


Monday, September 23, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow: End of Summer Update

My garden was incredible this summer and I produced more this year then in the two years combined.

The tomato crop went nuts, right about the time that I headed to Maui and next year I really need to set a goal to learn how to do some basic canning.  A few weeks ago, I decided to pull the plants out so that I could plant my fall garden.

This past week, I added a bit more soil and started planting my fall crop which includes red leaf lettuce, carrots and broccoli.

If our weather holds, I should be able to continue to harvest until the first part of November.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: September 22-26, 2013

Happy Monday and Happy Fall 2013!

Our weather and seasons are changing and so is our menu.  Requests are coming in for roasts and soups so I've added a comfort classic to the menu.

Remember to check out Laura's site for more menu planning ideas.


Sunday:  BBQ Ribs with Creamy Cole Slaw and Corn (one last salute to Summer)
Monday: Garden Burgers with Tater Tots
Tuesday: Chick's Stir-Fry (I am putting my feet up and having a night off)
Wednesday: Spinach and Provolone Stuffed Chicken Cutlets with A Big Garden Salad
Thursday: Crock Pot Chili

Friday, September 20, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Brian's Grandparents

In honor of Grandparent's Day in early September, Brian came across this picture of his maternal grandparents taken in the 1950's at the wedding of his aunt.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Honey Roasted Tomatoes

It's tomato season in the northwest.....the time of year when our tomatoes are finally red and ready for picking.  If your like me, all my tomatoes are ripe at once.

There are only so many good and unique things you can do with ripe tomatoes and I think this idea is pretty good and the possibilities are endless for this condiment.


Honey-Roasted Tomatoes


1 lb tomatoes (the original recipe calls for cherry, but I think you could use any type)
2 garlic gloves
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly oil a roasting pan.  Halve tomatoes (larger tomatoes I might quarter) and place them cut side up in the pan.  They should fit snuggly in the dish with little or no space between them.

Crush garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it with the honey, oil and salt and pepper.  Spoon the honey-garlic mixture over the tomatoes and roast for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Notes - These tomatoes can be a topper for risotto or pasta, serve as a compliment to grilled steak, chicken or fish or make a wonderful bruchetta topping with a soft cheese (goat) and fresh dill or basil.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Allen Kenneth Lee 1955-2013

Do not weep at my grave - I am not there

As you wake in morning's hush,

I am the swift-up flinging rush 

of quiet birds in circling flight

I am the soft stars that shine at night

I am in the sun's reflection in the sea

I am the fields of flowers and the hum of the bee. 

I am in the wind's play high above the fields of grain

I am in the autumn's gentle rain

I am in the milky way's string of stars

And when on an early morning you are awakened by a bird's song,

it is my voice that you are hearing in the early light of dawn

I am a thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glints on snow 

So do not weep for me, for I have not gone

We lost Brian's brother Ken last Saturday morning after a brief illness.  He was an amazing husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin and friend.

In his loving memory,


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Mid-September 2013

Welcome Monday and mid-September!

Don't look now, but Christmas decorations are out!?  Can you believe it?

I am still grilling and enjoying the last week of summer.  The first day of fall is Sunday, September 22nd.

How are you winding up summer?

Remember to check out Laura's site for more menu planning ideas.


Sunday: Beer Butt Chicken with Caesar Salad
Monday: Hamburgers on the Grill with End of Summer Corn and Chips
Tuesday:  Taco Tuesday!  Chicken Taco bar!
Wednesday: Low-Fat Baked Ziti
Thursday:  Salmon with Baby Red Potatoes and a Garden Salad

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Maui 2013: Our Last Day; Finding tees in Wailea and saying goodbye!

 Last call at Lahaina Coolers

We jumped out of bed on Friday morning and sipped coffee and savored every last minute in the condo.  We packed up, gave a half bottle of wine, 3 beers, a tub of butter and a half carton of chocolate ice cream to the neighbors who arrived the day before (good karma) and said our goodbyes to the Valley Isle Resort.  Here is hoping that next year we get the complex back into shape!

Our beginning and our ending was celebrated at Lahaina Coolers (and in between, we hung out like we owned the joint).  We are not sure why this place brings us such joy, but we headed off to the airport with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

I had an incredible preparation of Loco Moco complete with an inch thick Maui Cattle Company hamburger patty smothered in a rich mushroom gravy.  After last night's disaster, I was ready for something really good and this (along with a Champagne mimosa) hit the spot! 

We took one last stroll along Front Avenue and I stuffed items into my bag like a crazed hoarder (just how much Hawaiian Sea Salt, Chocolate Macadamia Nut Coffee, Pikaki bath crystals and Maui Onion flavored Macadamia Nuts will last me 356 days???).  I also picked up trinkets for the office and family.

We drove down to Wailea as a favor to my Pop and picked up 10 bags of sugarcane long golf tees at the Emerald Course.  Gannon's, were we ate an amazing lunch a few years ago, is conveniently located right near the pro shop and a perfect place to have one last Maui goodbye mimosa (Brian had a bloody Mary).

The entire area of Wailea is like some picture postcard and it's nice to get a different perspective across the water and over to west Maui.

Then, before we knew it, we were at the airport and preparing for the flight home.

Our trip this year was incredibly short, but on the's a comfort knowing that we will return for more adventures soon and I know the time will fly by (don't tell Brian but I am already working on our next September itinerary).

As always, a few days at home offer spiritual awakenings and personal reflection (and 5 loads of laundry).  I took time to go through my journal and pictures and as I put the posts together, I got to re-lived each experience again.

Home, sweet home with Sammy

I chose this trip NOT to blog daily and rather found myself following the words of the Hindu guru, Ram Das......"be here here now".  It made the short trip much lighter and my experiences deeper and more meaningful.

A hui hoa (goodbye, until we meet again)!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Maui 2013: Day Five - Paia/Makawao and Dinner at Pacific'O

For our last full day, we headed up to Paia and had breakfast at Charley's.

Paia is a funky little hippy town up on the north shore of Maui.  It's quiet, laid-back and feels very far removed from the touristy areas of Kihei and Kaanapali. 

We love the down home Maui love you find at Charley's and Brian especially loves their macadamia nut pancakes (or should I say pancake....who could eat two)?

After breakfast, we took off for Ho'okipa Beach Park, a place we've never explored before (which is about 2 miles from Charley's)!

Ho'okipa on the north shore of Maui is perhaps the most renowned windsurfing site in the world.  A combination of large, well-shaped waves breaking across a system of reefs that extend across the bay and consistently strong winds make it ideal for the sport.
The name Ho'okipa means "hospitality" in Hawaiian.

 Is there a monk seal lying there?

Unfortunately, the winds were down, but the swells were improving which makes conditions better for surfing then windsurfing.  We walked down the length of the beach and sat in the sand for a while.

All of a sudden, Brian spots a sea lion heading from the beach into the water about 25 yards from us.  Neither one of us recognized the seal and mistook her for one of the large black rocks on the beach.  Come to find out, we witnessed a rare Hawaiian Monk Seal leaving her sun-bathing position to head into the water for lunch.  We saw a couple sitting under the shade of a kukui nut tree and chatted with them about what we just witnessed.  Come to find out, they are seal sitters (also transplants from Seattle) who explained the seals rarity and almost near extinction.

Before leaving the beach, Brian and I vowed to visit next year, pack a lunch and spend the whole day.  It was a delightful place to watch the surfers and enjoy the sun.

After the beach, we took a little drive off the beaten path which eventually lead us back to Baldwin Avenue and the up-country town of Makawao.

Makawao is one of Hawaii's last paniolo towns.  The paniolos were the first cowboys in the United States.  Long before there were cowboys in the old west, the paniolos came to Hawaii in the early 1800's from Mexico to teach Hawaiians how to herd cattle.  There is little that remains of the paniolos other than a wild 4th of July rodeo every year.

I love the shopping...from cheap trinkets to expensive art work. It's a great place to stretch your legs and explore, plus I love the flora, and the smells of up-country.

However, it always rains in Makawao, every time we visit, so it was nice to drive back towards Lahaina and into the sunshine.

Our last happy hour on condo lanai

We had time in the afternoon for a nap, I did some last minute shopping near the condo and started packing up for our journey home.  We gathered on the beach for our last sunset of the vacation, bittersweet.....ah so bittersweet.

Our last sunset in Kahana

Being a foodie, my quest every visit to Maui is to try a new restaurant.

I thought with the O'O Farm tour earlier in the week that it would be a real treat to have dinner at one of their partner restaurants.


Pacific'O located in the 505 Front Street complex has been around for 20 years and serves contemporary pacific cuisine.

In hindsight, I made a couple of tactical errors for dinner.  My first pick was Star Noodle and you should always stick with your first pick.  I didn't and I was wrong and I am so glad that I'll be able to visit next September and have them at the top of my list.

I took the shots of Pacific'O the day we had lunch next door at Betty's

Another error was not going for dinner at sunset.  I made reservations for 7:15 and by the time we arrived, the lanai area of the restaurant (tables almost right on the beach) was plunged in darkness (except for a small amount of light from a couple of tiki torches).

Nothing busts the start of a good meal then sitting in the dark!  Not only can you NOT read your menu (barely) but being a foodie means that I love seeing the presentation of my food and knowing the history and concept of the restaurant, I figured that the presentation would be amazing.

Pork Belly - not as good as I was hoping for

Brian and I decided to have three courses.  If I've learned anything about Maui this trip (eating in restaurants) I learned that portions are small, but good and simple.  Brian had soup du jour (beef barley) and I ordered Pork Belly, braised in ginger, mushroom soy and spices then garnished with wilted greens.  I've never had pork belly before, but it's all the rage these days and I figured that it was a good place to try it.  I was wrong!  Pork Belly is the grossest concoction that I have ever had (and I eat liver and raw oysters).  Two, 1 inch thick cubes were served on a bed of some super sweet/tangy red sauce.  The middle of the cube was raw, chewy pork FAT...plain and simple.  The top and bottom of the cube was fried (I didn't see any braising) and cooked so much that it could not be cut with a knife or chewed with my teeth.  Needless to say, I was disappointed with my pork belly experience.  Brian liked his soup so I figured I just chose wrong.

Course #2, was salad so pretty hard to mess up, right?.  Brian's House Salad was dressed with way too much blue cheese which mixed with the oil and vinegar to form a soggy mess.  Disappointing, because I so fondly remembered picking those same greens out in the field at O'O Farm and that made me happy.  My salad was beautiful (or so I noticed after reviewing my photos) and called Kula Sunset and designed with beets and greens to form the colors of the sunset.  Aside from the beets being a little al dente, the salad was the best part of the meal. 

Too much Mexico and not enough Maui

Our main course was a disaster.  Brian's kalua pork quesadillas missed the "island" mark and seemed to be seasoned with way too many hot peppers and was what I would expect to find in Mexico, NOT Maui.  With the delicate simple sweetness of pork, I thought the quesadillas would be a true representation of Maui flavors, but the spice overwhelmed every thing.  

My scallops, which I dearly love and would call them one of my favorite foods, were strangely served with the same super sweet/tangy red sauce as the pork belly and four lovely spears of asparagus were laying right in the sauce.  The 5 scallops themselves were cooked perfectly, but heavily salted and topped with a cilantro pesto and lined up against at least 2 cups of the most unappetizing poha-berry quinoa I have ever had.  Seriously, it looked and tasted like beach sand.

A sloppy disaster!

Look, I'll give every restaurant the benefit of the doubt.  Some nights the staff and kitchen is off.  The execution on this night was terrible and the menu concepts extremely poor.  With fresh ingredients in abundance at O'O Farm, I expected an unbelievable sophistication of clean, fresh ingredients.  What we got was overcomplicated, poorly prepared, high priced, and overly seasoned and sauced.

As we headed back to the condo, I kicked myself for not sending the food back.  I never like to complain and I hate being one of those diners, but the experience was like a kick in the gut.  At the very least, we should have asked to move to a well lit area.

Once back at the condo, the strawberry ice cream while gazing at the stars made me feel better, but the disappointment of the restaurant and the fact that we went on our last night, will probably linger for awhile.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Maui 2013: Day 4 - Sailing

Well, it's not far down to paradise, at least it's not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me

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

Christopher Cross

Please forgive me for quoting Christopher Cross circa 1980, but the song is perfect and says a lot about what the water, and in particular, what the waters off Maui mean to Brian and I.

No trip to Maui would be complete without a sail aboard the Scotch Mist II at sunset, complete with cheap champagne and chocolate covered macadamia nuts, which to just about perfect!

We headed into Lahaina Town, had a cocktail at Lahaina Coolers (checked in with our local friends) and then lunch at a cute little place located down Front Street at 505 called Betty's Beach Cafe.

Having a beer at Betty's

After lunch we walked back to Banyan Tree Park and took a quick tour of the Old Lahaina Courthouse and jail (the jail now holds art for sale).  

The Banyan Tree

The banyan tree was planted in 1873 and marked the 50th anniversary of Christian missionary work in Maui.  The tree was only 8 feet tall and was imported from India.  It now stands over 60 feet tall, has 12 major trunks, shades 2/3 of an acre and stretches out over a 200 foot area.

The Scotch Mist II sails from slip #2 and we recognized the captain, Turk along with the boat owner Gene who also sailed with the 12 of us, and two more crew members (Amarosa and Beth).  We pulled out of the harbor at 5PM (sunset is around 6:40) and the sail lasts 2 hours. 

It's a wonderful adventure, but it goes by too quickly!  It's one of the highlights of every trip and at $49 per person, a real bargain considering the champagne, chocolates and the views you can find no where but out on the water!

No other place gives you the true feeling of Maui then being out of the water, feeling the trade winds on your face and seeing the green splendor of the West Maui Mountains.

We left the boat at 7PM and it was the flip of a coin for dinner, although I could have walked the streets of Lahaina all night and would still have 25 places on my list.

In the end, our bellies said PASTA, and no one does pasta better in Lahaina then Penne Pasta (which is conveniently located right next door to Lahaina Coolers).

I dreamt that night about sailing away with Brian...the wind at our backs, the sun on our faces and the Lady of Lahaina smiling down on us.