Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Heart of Thanksgiving 2013

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  It was quiet this year, with just the four of us (Brian, Chick, Uncle Steve and I) but it was warm, full of laughs and naps and great food and lots of relaxation (I take back all those things I said about it being a nursing home holiday)!

On Wednesday, I spent a few hours in the kitchen prepping for the big day.  It was just Uncle Steve and I and he enjoyed my Food Network-Style holiday prep and we both began telling stories as I prepared the pumpkin pie.

He told me a story about his father, Frank who once made an apple pie in the camper at hunting camp.  It surprised the hell out of the group who smelled the aroma of pie and could hardly believe that Frank was baking during hunting season (he also had the French vanilla ice cream to top it all off).  I'd never heard the story before.  Frank's been gone for 18 years, but his spirit was in the kitchen last Wednesday.

That brought to mind a story about my late Grandma Virginia who one year made me a squash pie.  I loved pumpkin pie and couldn't wait for dinner to be over so I could devour a piece of my favorite dessert.  Only one year, Grandma "thought" she had bought pre-spiced pumpkin and poured the batter into the shell without adding one bit of sugar or cinnamon or cloves.  I'll never forget that first bite....Grandma was mortified and I cried.  The next day, a new pie was baked....but we never let her forget the year of the squash pie!

I felt her presence as I poured the batter into the shell and put the pie in the oven.  15 minutes later, I checked the pie and noticed a heart on the top of my pie.

I have no doubt that Frank and Virginia were in the kitchen on Wednesday...laughing with Steve and I as we told our stories.

Our holiday was full of love and memories, hope and joy and one very special pie.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: Lights!

Brian took advantage of the wonderful weather to hang a few Christmas lights on Saturday.

I sorta threw out the suggestion to "think" about putting a few up lights while the weather was never know what might blow in next weekend and hanging lights in the wind and rain is no fun.

By the time I arrived home in Portland on Sunday night, phase two of the Christmas lights project was complete.

I know it's before Thanksgiving and normally I'd be complaining about that....but this year, with less than a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas I've been more than ready to start with the Christmas cheer!

How about you?  Are you lights up?


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Week!

Welcome to Thanksgiving Week!

Are you traveling or are you staying home?  

Thanksgiving at Rebecca Lane is quite a tradition.  Not only do we have a wonderful dinner on Thursday, but a whole day wine tasting on Friday.

Chick and I will host Uncle Steve and Brian this year with a whole week of good food ahead.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

Don't forget to check out Laura's site with recipes and other menu planning ideas!


Sunday: Cabbage Rolls
Monday: "Freezer" meal!  Kale and Sausage Soup with Texas Toast (pick up the turkey)!
Tuesday: BLT and Chips (Uncle arrives from Eugene, I shop for groceries)
Wednesday: Thanksgiving Pre-Game!  Prep for dinner tomorrow!  Three Cheese Lasagna with Salad and Garlic Bread
Thanksgiving: Dinner served at 4:30PM
Friday: Wine Tasting and the Civil War at 4PM.  Dinner is leftover buffet or Turkey Sandwiches
Saturday: Did someone say, Christmas?  Getting out some decorations (mostly outdoor stuff) and making my Uncle Steve's favorite; Appetizers of Steamed Artichokes and Crab Stuffed Ravioli with Cream Sauce for dinner
Sunday: Turkey Enchiladas and Christmas Tree Decorating Party!

Thanksgiving Menu
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Marcona Almonds
Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Crackers
Dip and Vegetables
Champagne Mimosas
Roast Turkey & Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Classic Stuffing
Brussels Sprouts with Marjoram and Pine Nuts
Buttery Peas

Relish Tray with Deviled Eggs and Black Olives
Cranberry Relish
Pumpkin Pie

Friday, November 22, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Aunt Judy!

WHO:  Uncle Roy and Aunt Judy
WHERE: Probably somewhere in Ohio
WHEN: Late 1950's (1958-1960)

Happy Birthday to Aunt Judy who celebrated a birthday yesterday!  I hope you are enjoying your visit with my Pop and Rosemary.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Cranberries

It's hard to believe that there are people out there who hate brussels sprout (and is it brussel sprouts or brussels srpouts or brussels sprout)?  

They have been a side dish at our Thanksgiving table for years and are extremely versatile.  This recipe is an adaptation of a raw salad, almost like a cole slaw and I think it would be a way to introduce brussels sprouts to people who "think" they don't like them.  In fact, I bet that they won't even know they are in this dish.


Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cranberries



1 lb Brussels Sprouts
4 slices of thick-cut pepper bacon, diced
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Salt and Pepper to taste


Shave Brussels sprouts crosswise (use a mandolin if you have one) starting at the top; discard the base of the stem.

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add bacon and saute for a few minutes until it is lightly browned.

Add the shaved sprouts and continue to saute for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Stir in cranberries and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Stir to incorporate flavors and warm though (about 2-3 minutes)

Serves 6-8

Note:  You can omit the cranberries and add pine nuts or pecans.

Recipe Adapted from Fifth Tine
Image found on Google Images

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekend Update: Girl's Weekend with Michael Buble

It was a complete no-brainer that Chick and I would see Michael Buble again if he ever came back to the Pacific Northwest.  He's a constant performer and it was only a matter of time before he returned close to home on his current "To Be Loved" tour.  When tickets went on sale in June, Chick and I snatched up a pair for last Saturday's show at the Moda Center in Portland.

The last show we saw in Seattle was PHENOMENAL!!  And although our seats were not as good as last time, with the big screens, his awesome band and stage was worth the price of admission.

He opened with a blaze of pyrotechnics to the Peggy Lee hit, "Fever" and never stopped.  Backed by an 8 piece brass/horn section, a string section (for the middle part of his show) and backing vocals by opening act (Naturally 7) towards the Grand Finale, the nearly 2 hours he was on stage flew by.

Before the show, we headed into Old Town Portland and had a glass of wine at Remedy Wine Bar.  I pass the place every Friday night on my way to the train station and it always looks inviting.

Look, I hate being a wine snob.....but how can you have a wine bar and NOT have at least one California Chardonnay on your wine list!?  Plus, I know you have a place in the "Pearl" (on the fringe, people) but $15 a glass for a French Chardonnay and I fear you'll go out of business.  Why do wine bars try so hard to alienate patrons?  We opted for an $11 French Champagne which was wonderful and the service (it's was pretty quiet at 4:30) was accommodating.

The place is super comfortable (they got that down) with big soft chairs, couches, leather seats....the place looks like a overly large living room of a New York Park Avenue Penthouse.  We'll probably come back again, but we might need a loan for 2 glasses of wine!

Then it was a short walk around the corner to The Guilt Club (another Groupon) for dinner.

This place is described as quietly glamorous (just the most perfect place for a girl's night)...part lab, part swanky James Bond hideaway.  With both a drinks menu and a dinner menu that is culinary magic.

It was a hard choice but in the end here is some of what we ate....

 Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with Marcona Almonds

Apple braised duck leg with mashed potatoes and sauteed Brussels sprout

Then it was off to see our boyfriend, and dazzle the audience for 2 hours.

It was an evening...that felt like a night in Manhattan....with glamor, adventure, culinary excellence and old school entertainment!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: November 18-21, 2013

Welcome Monday!

It's hard to believe that it's Thanksgiving next week so I am planning on staying as far away from turkey as possible.

How are you preparing for next week?

Here is our menu plan for the week ahead!  Remember to check out Laura's site for more organizing and planning ideas!


Monday:  Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Acorn Squash
Tuesday:  Skirt Steak with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Mash and Roasted Asparagus
Wednesday: Stir-Fried Greek Style Chicken with Salad
Thursday: Hungarian Goulash Soup

Friday, November 15, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Thanksgiving Dinner

WHO: Grandpa Ralph, Grandma Virginia and Jennifer (Mom)
WHAT: Thanksgiving Dinner
WHERE: Does anyone know?  I do not recognize this house. Is it Grandma Bea's.  It looks a cabin?!
WHEN: I think this was Thanksgiving 1967; my Mom was pregnant with the first baby they lost.

In honor of family, gratitude and the holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Williams-Sonoma Cheesy Potato Gratin

Last week I posted a great stuffing recipe and this week, I am focusing on potatoes! 

Williams-Sonoma is one of my favorite stores on the planet and I came across a potato gratin and I thought that it would be great for those people who don't like mashed potatoes (is there anyone alive that doesn't like mashed potatoes)?  Another way of saying this would be.....if you are looking to change up your Thanksgiving menu this year, I think this dish might be for you.  Typically, scalloped potatoes are complicated, but these sound super easy!


Cheesy Potato Gratin


2 cups heavy cream
2 eggs
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/16th-inch thick slices
4 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded
1 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a shallow 2 quart casserole dish.

In a large bowl, combine the cream eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg and whisk until well blended.  Add the potatoes and toss gently until evenly mixed.  Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish.  Spread the potatoes in a even layer, pressing them lightly so they absorb the liquid.  Sprinkle with cheese and then the parsley on top.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and the gratin is bubbling and the potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes longer).  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8-10

Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
Image courtesy of Google Images; seriously, if you don't like mashed potatoes....I'd like to meet you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up: Groupon Date Night

Last Saturday night we checked out a new restaurant (I bought a Groupon over the summer) called Ship Canal Grill.

Located in the Eastlake neighborhood and nestled on the east side of Lake Union, this nautical themed bar/restaurant has a very industrial feel and includes many old photos from the establishment of the neighborhood back in the early 1900's, including the many houseboats that line the lake.

The menu is heavily influenced with flavors from the pacific northwest, including salmon, fish and chips and chowder (think bar food on steroids).  Their menu prices are reasonable, but drop dramatically during two happy hours, daily (3-6:30 and 10-close).

Our Groupon entitled us to two, 3-course meals including a bottle of wine ($36) so it was a real deal and a great way to experience the menu.

Brian had fish and chips and I had a pesto glazed salmon with seasonal vegetables and smashed red potatoes.  For dessert, we split a slice of cheesecake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. 

The restaurant offers music almost nightly and has a great happy hour and bar (the dawg den is upstairs with plenty of TV's for the big game).  

Although it's a little out of the way or our neighborhood, the Groupon was a wonderful way to experience a place that we wouldn't probably have stumbled upon any other way.

If you are in the area, check them out!

3218 Eastlake Ave. E.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: November 11-16, 2013

Welcome Monday!

Brian is in town this week working and Chick gets back from Mexico mid-week, then it's a long girls weekend including seeing Michael Buble at the Moda Center on Saturday night!

What's going on in your world this week?

Remember to check out more menu plans on Laura's site.


Monday:  Spaghetti with Salad (Brian's cooking tonight)
Tuesday: Garden Burgers with Fries
Wednesday: Honey-Mustard "Cheese-it" Chicken Fingers with Broccoli and Red Potatoes
Thursday: Smoked Salmon Chowder with Texas Toast
Friday: Rib Eye Steak, Caesar Salad and Half Baked Potato
Saturday: Cocktails and Dinner at Guilt Club followed by an evening with Michael Buble
Sunday:  Hawaiian Plate Dinner: Kalua Pork, Mac Salad and Rice

Friday, November 8, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Brian at Aunt Faye's

WHO: Brian Keith Lee
WHAT: A weekend at his Aunt's farm
WHERE: Tri-State Area (Maryland, Delaware or Pennsylvania)

When Brian went back to Delaware in October, a bunch of old family photos were passed around.  This one of Brian surfaced and its one of my all time favorites of him.  The joy in his eyes and smile says it all.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Charlie Trotter's Cranberry Sourdough Stuffing

The great Charlie Trotter died this week at the age of 54.  He was not what you would call a classically trained chef, although he did study in San Francisco at the California Culinary Academy and learned most of what he knew, on the in restaurants from his hometown of Chicago all the way to Europe.

Charlie Trotter's restaurant in Chicago opened in 1987.  In December 2011, Trotter announced the restaurant would close citing his desire to travel and pursue a Master's degree.  It was named one of the 30 best restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine, and the 5th best in the United States in 2007.

In his honor and because Thanksgiving is nipping at our heels, here is a stuffing recipe for your holiday table.


Cranberry Sourdough Stuffing


3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup butter
2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 (1 pound) loaf day-old sourdough bread, diced 
3/4 cups fresh cranberries
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375.  Cook the onion, celery and carrot in butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Remove from the head and add the stock, herbs and stir well.

Place the bread in a large bowl, pour the mixture from the saucepan over the bread and toss until all the liquid is absorbed.  Fold in the cranberries and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and take for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTE:  This can be made a day ahead; warmed up a room temperature before placing in the oven

RIP - Charlie!
Image courtesy of Google Images
Recipe Courtesy of Epicurious

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up: Plan B

 The view from the train

Last weekend was a Plan A weekend, all planned and ready to roll...that is, until Plan B showed up with her own agenda.

Plan A was to take my normal Friday night train up to Seattle, but Plan B appeared and allowed me to leave 2 hours earlier on the Coast Starlight.  Not only was I 45 minutes early into Seattle, but I had an amazing dinner in the dinning car, chatted with two lovely ladies from Salinas, California and made it home to West Seattle by 8:30 PM.

Saturday Brian and I made our annual trip over to Woodinville to explore Molbak's.

It's definitely a place to get lost in for an hour or so...get tons of holiday ideas and find a treasure or two.  We typically head over in October when the place is all decked out in their holiday decorations.

We left smack dab in the middle of our first major wind storm of the season and by the time we got to Molbak's, most of the Woodinville area was without power.

 Lake Washington at Kirkland

Thanks to their generator, we still managed to pick up a few spring bulbs and something Christmasy for the house this year!

Last year, while touring Woodinville and Kirkland with Chick, we came across an Italian/Pizzeria and wine bar.  Since we were more into wine tasting and less into pizza tasting, I promised Brian that next year we would have lunch at The Station Pizzeria.

Unfortunately, we had to go with Plan B as the restaurant was without power and closed for the day!

We drove south along Lake Washington to Kirkland and found a really cool place called The Lodge Sports Grille.

It was the perfect place for a glass of red wine, a bleu cheese wedge salad and sausage sliders topped with gooey brie cheese and apricot preserves.  By the time we found a table, the rain was coming down sideways!

So you see.....there is nothing wrong with Plan B.  Sometimes plan B turns out better than Plan A.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: November 4-7, 2013


Welcome to November!

I'll be cooking for one this week when Chick heads to Mexico.  As always, I've got a few of my favorite things on the menu this week.

Check out Laura's site for more organizing tips!



Monday: Garden Burgers with French Fries (Chick is packing and heading out early on Tuesday) 

Tuesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole (just like my pop used to make)

Wednesday: Fried Oysters, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Creamed Spinach

Thursday: Steak and Seared Scallops with Arugula, Beet and Goat Cheese Salad (Oregon Ducks kick off at 6PM)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013!


 Front porch at West Seattle

Halloween, but the numbers:

  • First Trick-or-Treeter at 5:41 (huh?  I thought it was suppose to get dark first)?
  • 76 beggars in total (I bought a 135 piece bag of candy which means we have leftovers for next year)!
  • Chick and I both dressed up again this year!  This confuses some of the kids (and the parents too).
  • One lone pumpkin carved (thanks to Brian)!  The West Seattle porch looked awesome, babe!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Baking Pies

WHO: (Great-Grandma) Helen Cavey with (Mom) Jennifer
WHAT: Baking pies
WHERE: Helen's house; Cottage Grove, OR
WHEN: 1967-69

With the holidays around the corner, I think a lot of baking (a skill that I have yet to fully master) and the amazing recipes and cooking skills of my father's Grandmother, Helen.  

Just take a look at her kitchen.  It reminds me of the home kitchen of the great Julia Childs, whose husband put her essential cooking utensils on a stenciled cork board.  Never far out of Helen's reach were her measuring cups...just what every good baker needs close at hand.