Sunday, December 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome 2014!

Greetings!

Welcome to another Monday and another year and also welcome to the world of menu planning.  If you don't know about Menu Plan Monday, since we are starting fresh this week with another month and a whole new year, here is the run down.

Several years ago, I stumbled upon a food/craft/lifestyle blogger who was a part of Menu Plan Monday.  I loved the idea of posting menus and recipes since I've been planning menus for a long time.  I visited Laura's Menu Plan Monday site and I was hooked.

Every Sunday afternoon (about 3PM), I post my menu for the week and link it up to her site on Monday morning and she rounds up all the blog posts together.  It's a great way to share recipes, planning ideas, nutrition and penny saving tips.  Trust me....planning your meals saves you time and big time money at the grocery store.

This week is a bit weird on account of the holiday, but here is our plan for the week!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Sunday: Dinner with friends!
Monday: Ducks play in Alamo Bowl; sounds like a crock pot day!
New Years Eve: An afternoon of Champagne and Sushi at Snoqualmie Casino (but I'll make a big dish of baked macaroni and cheese in case we get hungry before midnight) 
New Years Day: An early morning drive back to Portland followed by appetizers and a nacho bar for all the big games!
Thursday: Bridgette Jones' Turkey Curry Buffet (might this be the last of the turkey)
Friday: Chick's choice - Birthday Weekend Starts!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A West Seattle Christmas, 2013!

Merry Christmas 2013!  Here are a few pictures from our holiday in Seattle.

Christmas Eve Brunch with Santa at Salty's is one of our wonderful traditions.  This year, Mom was able to join us and we made it a girl's day!


My dessert plate (this is after 3 plates of seafood including 12 crab legs, 18 oysters on the half shell and 30 peel and eat shrimp)



Our tree on Christmas Day....never more beautiful!


Time for presents!  New "wellies" for the gardener!


Hosting family!  More fun at holiday time.


Cheers!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Friday, December 27, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Steve!

WHO: Steven Ray Suter
WHAT: Riding his trike
WHERE: Beaverton
WHEN: October 1964 (just short of his 3th birthday)

Happy Birthday to my Uncle Steve who celebrated a birthday on Christmas Day!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Downtown Seattle in December


Last Monday, Brian, Chick and I headed into downtown Seattle to shop, see the lights, enjoy a cocktail and a late lunch.

Gone are some of our favorite old haunts like City Kitchens and Barnes and Noble, but we enjoyed buying Brian a new outfit at Macy's and who doesn't love a cocktail at Oliver's at the Mayflower Hotel?


On our way home, Brian took us home via Beach Drive for a look at the Christmas lights.


Enjoy!
Stacy

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



The Christmas Tree

By Robert William Service


In the dark and damp of the alley cold,
Lay the Christmas tree that hadn't been sold;
By a shop man dourly thrown outside;
with the ruck and rubble of Christmas-tide;
Trodden deep in the muck and mire,
unworthy even to feed a fire...
So I stopped and salvaged that tarnished tree,
And thus is the story it told to me:

"My Mother was Queen of the forest glade,
And proudly I prospered in her shade;
For she said to me: 'When I am dead,
You will be monarch in my stead,
And reign, as I, for a hundred years,
A tower of triumph amid your peers,
When I crash in a storm I will yield you space;
Son, you will worthily take my place.'

"So I grew in grace like a happy child,
In the heart of the forest free and wild;
And the moss and the ferns were all about,
And the craintive mice crept in and out;
And a wood-dove swung on my highest twig,
And a chipmunk chattered: 'So big" So big!'
And a shy fawn nibbled a tender shoot,
And a rabbit nibbled under my root...
Oh, I was happy in rain and shine
As I thought of the destiny that was all mine!
Then a man with an ax came cruising by
And I knew my fate was to fall and die.

"With a hundred others he packed me tight,
And we drove to a magic city of light,
To an avenue lined with Christmas trees
And I thought: may be I'll be one of these,
Tinselled with silver and tricked with gold,
A lovely sight for a child to behold;
A glitter with lights of every hue,
Ruby and emerald, orange and blue,
And kiddies dancing, with shrieks of glee, 
One might fare worse than a Christmas tree.

"So they stood me up with a hundred more
in the blaze of a big department store;
But I thought of the forest dark and still,
And the dew and the snow and the heat and the chill,
And the soft Chinook and the summer breeze,
And the dappled deer and the birds and the bees.
I was homesick and I wanted to cry,
But patient I waited for someone to buy.
And some said 'Too big,' and some 'Too small,'
And some passed on saying nothing at all.
So the evening came, when they closed the store,
And I was left on the littered floor,
A tree unwanted, despised, unsold,
Thrown out at last in the alley cold."

"Then I said: "Don't sorrow; at least you'll be
A bight a beautiful New Year's tree,
All shimmer and glimmer and glow and gleam,
A radiant sight like a fairy dream.
For these is a little child I know,
Who lives in poverty, want and woe;
Who lies abed from morn to night,
And never has known an hour's delight..."

So I stood the tree at the foot of her bed:
Santa's a little late," I said.
"Poor old chap! Snowbound on the way,
But he's here at last, so let's be gay."
Then she woke from sleep and saw you there,
And her eyes were love and her lips were prayer.
And her think little arms were stretched to you,
With a yearning joy that they never knew.
She woke from the darkest dark to see
Like a heavily vision, that Christmas Tree.

Her mother despaired and feared the end,
But from that day she began to mend,
To play, to sing, to laugh with glee...
Bless you, O little Christmas Tree!
You died, but your life was not in vain;
You helped a child forget her pain,
And let hope live in our hearts again.




MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

70 Years of Memories for Diamond Jim Brady!

My Pop turned 70 on Sunday and we headed to Eugene for a family celebration.

It's hard to know what to get someone who is 70.  My Dad's made it clear that he has all the riches that any man could ever want (aside from winning the lottery) so I searched my soul to try and find some sort of fitting gift (oh let's face it....I stared with Pinterest)!


I came across a wonderful birthday idea called 60 years of Memories.  I immediately thought that it was a beautiful idea and I decided to borrow (steal) it for my own, but since my Dad would be 70, I'd have 10 more years of memories!

Everyone I mentioned the project to thought that it was a wonderful birthday treat, especially for someone as special as my Pop.

The hardest part was putting the list together and finding the e-mail and mailing addresses of friends and family (without being too suspicious).  A big thank you to Chick and Rosemary for helping me.

About 6 weeks ago, I began sending out the e-mails and letters and slowly the responses started coming in. I took the advice of others who have also put the project together and sent a reminder e-mail about three weeks from his birthday.


It was fun to see all the memories come pouring in from friends, ex-co workers, cousins and old neighbors.

We gathered all the memories together and I stuffed them into 70 vintage envelopes (Etsy), wrapped them in colored ribbon (Michaels) and added a cute label (Martha Stewart...eat your heart out).

Then, last Sunday morning, we shared a wonderful brunch, served up some mimosas and presented the 70 year-old birthday boy with his memories.

It took hours to get through all the letters!  Some of the stories made us belly laugh and some made us cry, but we all really enjoyed the outpouring of love and emotions.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Christmas Week!

Merry Christmas and Happy Monday!

Welcome to the best week of the whole year!

We are super busy this week, hosting Chick in Seattle for Christmas.  Good thing our menu is all planned out with not too much cooking.

What are your plans for the holiday?

Remember to get some great menu planning ideas from Laura's site.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Monday: Annual Downtown Seattle Adventure followed by drinks and appetizers at PF Chang's (plus donuts for tomorrow morning)
Christmas Eve:  Girl's Brunch with Mom, Chick and friends Jenny and Carter at 10:45 at Salty's on Alki (we are usually so full that we don't need dinner, but if we do a Vegetarian Lasagna will make Brian happy).
Christmas Day: Quiche Lorraine and Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with Fruit salad, plus mimosas!!
Christmas Night: Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Buttery Peas
Thursday: Chick heads back to Portland and Brian and I head to an afternoon movie followed by Happy Hour at the Daily Grill.
Friday: We've been invited to my cousin's Holiday Open House!
Saturday: "If" and that is always a big if...French Dip Sandwiches with left over beef tenderloin
Sunday: Turkey Breast, Stuffing and roasted vegetables

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Portland at Christmastime!


Last week, Chick and I went to El Guacho at the Benson Hotel for drinks and appetizers, including a table side Caesar salad to die for!


Next door to El Guacho at the Benson Hotel, every year they unveil an elaborate gingerbread house and this year's collection included Portland 100 years ago.  It was quite spectacular.


We also walked down Broadway to Pioneer Courthouse Square to see Portland's Christmas Tree!



Portland is so beautiful at Christmas.


Enjoy!
Stacy

Friday, December 20, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Pop!

WHO: Diamond Jim Brady
WHAT: Sporting his new headphones (writing on the back of picture indicated they were a Christmas gift)
WHEN: December 1979-1980

Happy Birthday to my Pop, who turns 70 on Sunday!

He's one of the coolest people I know!

I love you!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Peppermint Ice Cream


I can't tell you how many gallons of peppermint ice cream we go through between the beginning of November through January (or until it's no longer on sale), but it's a lot.  I have an ice cream maker (Santa gave it to me a few years ago), yet I've never thought about making it.  I found this recipe on-line and I think over Christmas break I am going to give it a try.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Peppermint Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
r1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Directions:

1.  Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan.  Make sure the sugar and salt completely dissolve.

2.  Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium mesh sieve on top.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm milk into the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4.  Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scrapping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coast and spoon, about 5-7 minutes.

5.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.  Then stir until cooled over the ice bath.  Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

6.  Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add the peppermint extract, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting until you reach the desired level of flavor.

7.  Once chilled, freeze your ice cream maker according to the directions.  Once the ice cream has formed, it will be fairly soft, so fold the peppermint candy in, then place in an airtight plastic container and freeze for at least 1 hour (preferably 1-2 days).


Recipe Courtesy of Simple Recipe
Image Courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap Up: Holiday Cheer!


This past weekend was my last weekend in West Seattle until the evening of the 22nd (and then it's 9 glorious days).  It seems that every year I make a long list of Christmas related activities and then hope that we can fit them all in before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve.  This past weekend, we crossed a few fun items off our lists.


Saturday was non-stop and consisted of a pedicure, a haircut, shopping, wine tasting, lunch at one of our favorite north end bars, wrapping presents, watching White Christmas and trying to keep Sammy off of the Christmas village.

Looks like everything was successful, but one!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Middle of December 2013

Welcome Monday!

We are eating all Weight Watchers this week!  Why, you ask?  Because the holidays are just around the corner and food madness is everywhere!  Weight watchers recipes are easy to follow, healthy and light with just the right portions to fill you up, guilt free (but not too much).

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

Enjoy!
Stacy

Monday: Weight Watchers Cheeseburger Casserole
Tuesday: Happy Hour at El Gaucho and a viewing of the Gingerbread House at the Benson Hotel and Portland's Christmas Tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square
Wednesday: Weight Watchers Szechuan Orange-Ginger Beef over Brown Rice
Thursday: Garden Burgers

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas....at Rebecca Lane


Our house has been quiet after the Thanksgiving holiday, but the sounds of Christmas can be heard!

On Thanksgiving Day, with a break in the weather, Sandra and Brian hung the lights on the outside of the house.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we started decorating the house, including setting up Chick's new Dickens Christmas village and our collection of snowmen and santa's.

On Sunday, we started decorating the trees and by the time the turkey enchilladas came out of the oven....Christmas was alive in our hearts and home.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Yes, Stacy (Virginia)....there is no Santa Claus


WHO: Stacy
WHAT: Christmas Day
WHERE: Hilyard Street (Eugene, OR)
WHEN:1978-79 (I think I was 9 or 10)


This was the year that Grandma Virginia told me...point blank...to my face...that Santa Claus was not real (he was actually railroad co-workers of Grandpa Ralph, but that's a different story).  

This photo was snapped just prior to her telling me.  I am showing off my present from Santa, then I got blindsided.  Thanks a lot, Gram!  

For some reason, this photo takes me back to that moment in time when you reach the end of your childhood and jump right into adolescence.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagna


Thanksgiving weekend I made Dungeness Crab Ravioli in a white wine cream sauce for my Uncle Steve, but I was left with extra filling that I didn't want to see go to waste.

I found this interesting lasagna dish on Google and come to find out, it's a recipe from the heart of Oregon wine country and a place called Nick's Italian Cafe in McMinnville.  I'll probably take my filling and add the bechamel and pine nuts to make a variation of this lasagna.

Enjoy!
Stacy



Dungeness Crab and Pine Nut Lasagna

Ingredients:

8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
10 tbs unsalted butter; plus one additional tsp
1/2 pound white mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups hot milk
3/4 pound fresh lasagna noodles
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
9-12 ounces of Dungeness crabmeat
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Percorino-Romano cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup pine nuts


Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place garlic cloves in the center of a medium piece of tin foil, drizzle with oil, fold into a packet and roast for 45 minutes until the garlic is soft.  Once cooled, mash the garlic into a paste and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates (10-12 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt 8 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk and stir often, reducing the heat if necessary until the sauce is as thick as cream, 30-35 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the sauce is done, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the fresh lasagna noodles and cook until barely tender (about 3 minutes). Drain and set noodles aside.

To finish the sauce, stir in the mashed garlic, lemon zest and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper.  Remove the pan from the heat.

To assemble the lasagna, grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and lay 1/3 of the noodles in the bottom.  Top the noodles with 1/3 of the crab and then spread 1/3 of sauce on top.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of each of the cheeses.  Next add 1/3 of the mushrooms and top with small dollops of ricotta cheese.  Repeat process until all ingredients are used (you should have three layers).  Top with pine nuts.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes so lasagna can set, the slice and serve.



Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

West Seattle Weekend Wrap-Up: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas



Our record breaking, bone-chillling, deep freeze continues.....

So we spent the weekend inside decorating and un-leashing the Christmas closet.




It took all day on Saturday to decorate the entire house, but it was worth it.  

We finally poured ourselves a glass (or two) of wine and spent the evening listening to Christmas music and gazing at our tree.  Pure holiday joy!






Enjoy!
Stacy

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: December 9-12, 2013

Welcome Monday!

I've got a bit of cooking burn-out so I am relying on a possible night out to see Portland's Christmas Tree (grab a cocktail and some appetizers), plus cleaning out the freezer and a Thursday night pizza party to get me through the week.  This is the perfect time of year to clean out your freezer and your pantry...saving you both time and money this holiday season!

Remember to check out Laura's site for more menu and planning tips!

Enjoy!
Stacy

MONDAY: Kale Soup with Turkey Sausage (freezer meal) with Texas Toast and a Big Garden Salad
TUESDAY: Garden Burgers and Fries (we always have a package of garden burgers in the freezer)
WEDNESDAY: Cabbage Rolls over Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes (I made these a few weeks ago and froze half)
THURSDAY: Pizza Night!  Brian is in town for one night of teaching and the kitchen in closed!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Kerry!


WHO: Kerry and Ann
WHERE: 109 Tamara Circle; Newark, DE
WHEN: 1970-72

Happy Birthday to Brian's brother, Kerry who celebrated a birthday yesterday!

Enjoy!
Stacy

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Hungarian Goulash Soup

Goulash, in my house growing up, was quite common although it took on many different characteristics.  Sometimes served over rice or egg noodles, it was casually called hamburger stroganoff and at times the word Hungarian was used (perhaps for company).  

A few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for Hungarian Goulash Soup (minus any rice or pasta) in my Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook and a flood of memories filled my mind.

Goulash is a soup or stew of meat, noodles and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices.  Originating within the historical Hungarian ethnic area, goulash is a popular meal in central Europe, Scandinavia and Southern Europe.  The name originates from the Hungarian word "gulya" or herd of cattle.  In Hungarian, gulyas are herdsman.  Over time, the dish became gulyashus or goulash meat - that is to say, that the meat dish was prepared by herdsman.

American goulash, mentioned in cookbooks since at least 1914, exists in a numbers of variations.  Originally a dish of seasoned beef, the core ingredients of American goulash include elbow macaroni, cubed steak, ground beef and tomatoes in some form, either paste or diced.

Here is a slightly revised version of what I cooked a few weeks ago.

Enjoy!
Stacy


Hungarian Goulash Soup

 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds beef chuck (I used tenderized stew meat) cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 small baby red potatoes, quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
4 cups beef stock (1 large boxed container)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup light sour cream

Directions:

Heat oil in large soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring often until lightly browned (about 8 minutes); add garlic and cook another minute.  Add beef and cook, stirring until browned (about 5 minutes)

Add bell pepper, paprika, oregano, caraway seeds and salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring until fragrant (about 1 minute), then add flour and cook into mixture for about 1 minute.  Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, covered and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Uncover pot and simmer for an additional 30 minutes; then remove from heat and add sour cream.



Image Courtesy of Google Images
Recipe Courtesy of Weight Watchers

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Day-After-Thanksgiving Wine Tour


Every year, the day after Thanksgiving we enjoy exploring Washington and sometimes, Yamhill county wineries.

This year, as in years past, I try and find a couple of new wineries as well as a few of our old favorites.  Last year, we had to rent a bigger car to get the 6 of us around, but this year it was a smaller group of wine enthusiasts.

Once again this year, Brian was our designated driver and we headed out with a bold list of 5 wineries (all to be squeeze in by 4PM so we could be home in time for the Civil War).


Our first winery was Blakeslee Vineyards.  Check out their beautiful infinity pool!

Formerly know as Quail Hill Vineyards, this highly regarded estate was purchased by Bill and Sheila Blakeslee in 2005.


The estate has been producing top quality Pinot Noir grapes for over 13 years.  Historically, the estate produced filberts and Christmas tress through the 1970's and 80's.  During the late 1990's the property was converted to grapes and in 1998, winemaker Patricia Green of Torii Mor Winery was recognized by Wine Spectator for producing Oregon's first bottle of $100 Pinot Noir.

The Blakeslee's acquired the 20 acre estate in 2005 and didn't start producing their own sines until 2010.  The Estate Tasting Room opened Memorial Day Weekend 2013 and it is outstanding.


Next, we headed towards Dundee, OR to Erath Winery.

It's been many years since we've been to Erath and I respect and love their wines.


This winery, set in the slopes of the Dundee Hills has been making wines for more then 40 years.  As one of Oregon's wine pioneers, Dick Erath, an engineer-turned-viticulturist was first inspired to pursue wine making in 1968.  He relocated his family from California to Dundee (lived in an unheated logger's cabin on 49 acres) and began planting wine grapes. The rest they say, is history!
 

Stop #3, was Lange Estates which is also located in Dundee.  Named as 2013 Wine and Spirits Winery of the year, this tasting room did not disappoint, plus they had the best appetizers of the day and a fireplace in the tasting room!

It was a great place to experience Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines with surrounding views of the Dundee Hills.


Our next to the last stop was Torri Mor, a vineyard that Chick and I discovered with my friend, Pat many years ago (we still remember the friendly cat who greeted guests at the front door).

The setting is quiet, spiritual, natural and elegant.  They specialize in Pinot Noir, but also branch out into Pinot Gris and Viognier.  Friday's tasting included port and chocolate.




Our last stop was Argyle Vineyards right in the heart of Dundee, our day was drawing to a close and we knew that Argyle would have some sparkling wine and bold and buttery Chardonnay.


The evening ended with a knuckle biting Civil War game, a sampling of some of our favorite wines of the day and plenty of Christmas music.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome December!

How was Thanksgiving?

Is your tree up?

We had a marvelous weekend including culinary magic, family adventure and pre-Christmas celebration!

Here is our full menu for the first week of December!  Check out Laura's website for more menu and organizing ideas.

Enjoy!
Stacy

Sunday: Turkey Enchiladas and Christmas Tree decorating party!
Monday: Grilled burgers and fries (Monday Night Football in Seattle)
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Thighs with a BIG garden salad

Wednesday:  Crock Pot Mustard Short Ribs 
Thursday: Chicken Taco Bar