Sunday, November 30, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome December!

Welcome Monday!

How was your Thanksgiving!?  Are you done with turkey!?

Here is our turkey-free menu for the week ahead!  Don't forget to get more menu ideas from Laura and all her friends!


Monday:  Juicy Hamburgers with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese and Fries
Tuesday:  Taco Tuesday!  Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream on Corn Tortillas
Wednesday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans
Thursday: Chick to the dentist!  A soft dinner?  Baked potatoes, soup??

Friday, November 28, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Christmas Memories, Part I

WHO: (Sitting down) Grandma Virginia and my Pop, Jim (I believe the person standing is my Great-Grandma Bea's husband, Tex.  The dog is the mean and nasty Simon!
WHAT: Christmas Eve
WHERE: I think this is Hilyard Street in Eugene, but it might be Bea and Tex's home.  Not sure where?
WHEN: December 1965-66

This is a typical Christmas Eve with my family.  I see my Gram is drinking a screwdriver and she's in her PJ's for Christmas Eve.  It appears that all the gifts have been just opened (I doubt it's later than 6:30PM).  

One can only assume that my mother is taking the picture and perhaps Ralph is working as an Engineer for the railroad?  Christmas 1965 would have been the first Christmas my parents were married.  


Thursday, November 27, 2014


Thanksgiving is the appointed time
for focusing on the good in our lives.
In each of our days,
we can find small blessings,
but too often we overlook them,
choosing instead to spend our time
paying attention to problems.
We give energy
to those who cause us trouble
instead of those who give us peace.
Starting now,
Let's be on the lookout
for the bits of pleasure in each hour,
and appreciate the people who
bring love and light to everyone.
You are one of those people.
On Thanksgiving,
I'm thankful for you.
Happy Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

48/52: West Seattle Weekend in Pictures

It was the calm before the storm this past weekend.  I spent Saturday in my jammies, hung Christmas lights in our kitchen window and watched BPL football, Oregon Ducks football and weeks old episodes of Coronation Street on Hulu.

This week is full on family (in Portland), cooking, eating, wine tasting and fun!  I am ready to roll!

How are you spending this holiday week?


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Week 2014

Welcome Thanksgiving!

Heck, any meal this great oughta just have a whole week devoted to it!

Do you have your lists prepared!?  A grocery list is a no-brainer, but I also have a prep list.  I do a lot of my prep-cooking on Wednesday, do most of my chopping and veggie prep so that on Thursday morning I can spent the least amount of time in the kitchen as possible.  It's all about organization and remember, Laura has got you covered.

Here is our menu for the week.  Other than the BIG DAY, Thursday....I am not cooking much the rest of the week.




Monday:  Pick up turkey at New Seasons!  Toasted Cheese and Amy's Tomato Soup for dinner
Tuesday:  Grocery Shop at Safeway!  Pick up some tacos for dinner!?  NO COOKING ZONE!
Wednesday:  Off work at 12:30!  Family arrives at 1PM.  Begin prep cooking and finish in time to serve a prepared lasagna, Garlic Bread and Salad at 6:30!

Thanksgiving Menu
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Marcona Almonds
Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Crackers
Dip and Vegetables
Champagne Mimosas
Roast Turkey with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Classic Stuffing
Brussels Sprouts with Marjoram and Pine Nuts
Buttery Peas
Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions
Relish Tray with Deviled Eggs and Black Olives
Cranberry Relish
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie

Friday: Wine tasting tour of Carlton, OR - Dinner will be leftover buffet or sandwiches
Saturday: CIVIL WAR!  Ducks vs. Beavers!  Nacho Bar for dinner
Sunday:  Say goodbye to Thanksgiving and hello to Christmas.  Decorating party and Turkey enchilladas

47/52: Our Week in Portland Pictures

Our sweet boy, Sammy.  It's hard when Mommy and Daddy both have business in Portland, but our house sitter, Karen takes such good care of him.  Missed him bunches this week!

My first egg nog latte of the season while finishing up my 13th book of the year, "The Kite Runner"

Portland's Christmas Tree being set up for the lighting on Friday, November 28th.

 Dinner out with friends at Via Tribunali.

Followed by my first visit ever to Voodoo Donuts.  Crazy good donuts!

How was your week?


Friday, November 21, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Thanksgiving Part III

WHO: Grandma Virginia and my Mom, Jennifer
WHAT: Thanksgiving or Christmas morning
WHERE: Hilyard Street, Eugene, OR
WHEN: November/December 1968-69

Always in the back of my mind are the sights, sounds and smells of Hilyard Street in Eugene and the many many holiday celebrations held there in my youth.  This is most likely Christmas morning, but a holiday non-the-less.  Gram and Mom, up early (it's barely light outside), getting ready for the day ahead.  The kitchen was super tiny, but Gram always cooked a 25lb bird in the oven with all the trimmings.  

I just love the pink PJ's too!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Thanksgiving Countdown! Rutabega Hash with Onions and Crisp Bacon

I love rutabagas!  In fact, I love all root vegetables.  What I can't figure out is why people don't cook them for Thanksgiving.  Well...have I got a special treat for you!

Most people think of a hash as a breakfast dish and most certainly I can see this topped with a runny gooey egg, but served on the side as a veggie alternative for Thanksgiving will certainly impress your guests.


Rutabaga Hash with Onions and Crisp Bacon


6 slices of bacon, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 lbs rutabagas, ends trimmed and peeled then cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise then diced
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 Anaheim chili, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish



In a 12 inch frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Pour all by 1/4 cup of grease from the pan.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the rutabagas and onions.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring once, for 7 minutes to steam the rutabagas.  Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the vegetables begin to brown, about 1 minute longer.

Add the celery and chills, stirring briefly, and then cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Uncover the pan and add the salt and pepper.  Cook stirring frequently until the rutabagas are fork tender and the celery is crisp but not raw tasting.  Fold in the cilantro and cooked bacon.  Serve immediately, garnish with additional cilantro.

Yields 4-6 servings

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: The week BEFORE Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Monday!

Stay calm....and whatever you do, don't serve poultry or too many starches this week!

Here is our non-Thanksgiving menu for the week ahead.  Remember to check out Laura's site for more planning ideas.


Sunday:  Pot Roast with Root Vegetables and Cole Slaw
Monday: Pizza and Movie Night (sharing with Sandra and Brian the classic, E.T.)
Tuesday: Left Over Roast Meat Pie and Salad
Wednesday:  We might be out?  Fend For Yourself!
Thursday: Coconut Curry Shrimp over Jasmine Rice

Friday, November 14, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Thanksgiving Part II

WHO: Mom (Jennifer Dare)
WHAT: Thanksgiving Dinner
WHERE: Aunt Pat and Uncle Bud's in Eugene, OR (check out Aunt Pat's macrame plant hanger or her old fridge)
WHEN: Thanksgiving 1979

I must say that this picture makes me a bit sad.  It was taken Thanksgiving 1979, and was the first Thanksgiving after my parents divorce.  I remember it quite well and the feeling that everything had changed in my life.  I believe my Dad dropped me off at Aunt Pat and Uncle Bud's, perhaps stayed for a drink or maybe he had to head off to work at Weyerhauser.  At any rate, my holidays changed forever this fall.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recipe of the Week - Thanksgiving Countdown! Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

One year for Thanksgiving dinner, I would love to have a super formal, sit-down know with courses and not the grab and go buffet.  If I were planning a fancy-schmacy dinner, this would be one thing I would serve.


Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
6 gloves garlic, shopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
creme fraiche


Heat oil in a 4-5 qt pot over high heat.  Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently until fragrant, but not yet browned, about 1-2 minutes.  Add cayenne and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add squash, broth, brown sugar and 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and summer until squash in tender (about 20 minutes).

In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth, then pour back into the pot.  Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning.  

Serve hot, with a swirl of  creme fraiche if you like.

Recipe found on Sunset Magazine website
Image located on Google

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

46/52: Molbaks

Around this time every year, Brian and I head over to Woodinville, WA to visit Molbak's.

Last year, there was a big rain and windstorm, which knocked out power to the entire Woodinville area, so we ended up cutting our visit short and didn't get the chance to have lunch in Woodinville.  

This past Saturday, our weather was perfect.

Molbak's started back in 1956 by Egon and Laina Molbak who arrived in the U.S. from Denmark.  They brought over with them a passion for gardening, and a dream to create their own business that would take root and grow in the small suburb of Seattle.

 Gingerbread House Competition

For over 5 decades, Molbak's has grown into one of the Northwest's premier garden and home stores.There is everything from gardening gear and plants to one-of-a-kind gifts and furnishings.

But this time of year, the entire place is magical! Their Christmas treasures are truly spectacular!

After we shopped (and bought a few treasures of our own), we had lunch at The Station Pizzeria and a wine tasting at Patterson Cellars.

A rare treat in November, Brian and I actually sat outside for lunch!  It was the calm before the next storm and probably our last opportunity before the rains arrive for good. 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: November 10-13, 2014

Welcome Monday!

We are heading into the middle of November....hard to believe, right?!

Here is our menu for the week and remember to check out Laura's site for more planning ideas.


Monday: Salmon, Brown Rice and Asian Stir-Fry Vegetables
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday!
Wednesday: BBQ Flank Steak with Baked Sweet Potatoes
Thursday: Healthy Living Fettuccine Alfredo

Saturday, November 8, 2014

45/52: Halloween Wrap-Up!

We just barely got home from our Chicago trip, then the first major end of the year holiday was upon us.


This year I was a "little" devil..........

Chick dressed up as a kitty cat.....

We've had the house decorated for a few weeks with all kinds of lights, pumpkins and decorations.

 I just love these skull goblets I got at the Halloween store for $6!

We had 47 trick-or-treaters this year, not quite as many as I anticipated given that the rains stopped and it was Friday night.  Our first little beggar was at 5:50 and the last one was at 8:15 (we pretty much turned out the lights at 9:00).

How did you spend Halloween?


Friday, November 7, 2014

Old Photo Friday: Thanksgiving Part I

WHO: Uncle Mickey, his Daughter (my cousin) Monica and his first wife, Judy (to his left is Candy Dahl), to Judy's right (in the dark rimmed glasses) is my Great Grandma, Bea

WHAT: Thanksgiving Dinner

WHERE: This is the dining room at Gram and Ralph's place on Hilyard Street in Eugene, OR

WHEN: Thanksgiving 1967

I am not sure why my Grandma Virginia and Ralph hosted Thanksgiving in 1967.  Every year since before my birth until the mid 1990's, Thanksgiving dinner was held at my Aunt Pat and Uncle Bud's home (Candy's parents).  At any rate, I found this photo in an album with the heading, "Thanksgiving 1967" (plus the napkins have turkeys on them) I can only assume that this year we had dinner on Hilyard Street.  My Uncle (mom's brother) has always been a clown, the life of the party and one of the funniest guys I know.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recipe of the Week - Thanksgiving Countdown! Herb Smoke-Roasted Turkey Breast

One of the first things I thought about after Chick bought the Traeger smoker this summer was the opportunity to smoke a turkey breast for Thanksgiving.

Now, in just four short weeks, I will get my chance.


Herb Smoke-Roasted Turkey Breast



6-7 lb bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
4 quarts cold water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

Herb Butter

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, a mix of parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, marjoram
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Remove any excess fat from turkey breast.  In a large stock pot, combine the water, salt and brown sugar and stir until the salt and sugar crystals have dissolved

Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.  If necessary, weight the bag in ice to keep the turkey submerged.

Drain and pat dry the turkey breast with paper towels and discard the brine.  Put the turkey breast on a roasting rack in a shallow pan.  Add one cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

Make the butter.  In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, herbs, garlic, lemon juice, zest and pepper.

When you are ready to cook, start the smoker with the lid open until the fires is established (4-5 minutes).  Set the temperature to 325 and preheat, lid closed for 10-15 minutes.

Gently work your fingers or the handle of a spoon under the skin of the turkey and insert 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture on each side of the breastbone, massaging it with your fingers to distribute it evenly and push out any pockets of air.  Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Brush the outside of the turkey breast with some of the butter (baste with the remaining butter after 1-1 1/2 hours).

Roast the turkey for 2-2 1/2 hours, or until the turkey is golden brown and the internal temperature is 165F.

Let the turkey breast rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Recipe off the Traeger Web Site
Image found of Google

Monday, November 3, 2014

44.5/52: Girl's Trip to Chicago, Part II

 Over looking Chicago River

After two days of meetings in Chicago, Chick and I walked from our hotel to Chicago's Union Station for our 2:15 departure aboard the Amtrak Empire Builder last Monday.

We found the most perfect place for lunch, Townhouse Wine Bar before the train departed.  

It was so nice to relax, enjoy a Chardonnay and some shrimp tacos and say a proper goodbye to Chicago!

Chicago Union Station is absolutely gorgeous!  I am glad that Chick had time to see the architecture and hang out in the Metropolitan Lounge before boarding.

The Empire Builder is an interesting train and I've taken it from Portland to Chicago, but not even though the route was not new to me, I knew that it would still be enjoyable.

Along the way, we pass through rural America.....Milwaukee, WI....Winona, MI....Fargo, ND....Minot, ND.....Wolf Point, MT....Glacier National Park, MT........Spokane, WA.....White-Salmon, WA and on into Portland, OR.

The funnest thing was Chick's experience on board.  Everything from the introduction to our roomette to our first dinner was good for a laugh!!  We both had a wonderful trip!

We enjoyed a bottle of wine in our room before dinner, and opted for a dinner reservation after sunset.  We passed the suburbs of Chicago and finally over into Wisconsin.  

There isn't much to "do" on the train, but there is a lot to see (and eat).  

Despite not sleeping much that first night, neither one of us wanted to miss the sights of America from the train.  We played cards, drank Bloody Mary's and ate three meals a day!

Before we knew it, we were in Washington and soon to cross the Columbia River into Oregon.

Columbia River Gorge

It took us 50 hours and 23 minutes to go from Chicago to Portland (and we ended up being 4 hours and 4 minutes late).

We were EXHAUSTED, but what a fun adventure!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome November!

Welcome Monday!  

Seriously...November!?  Wasn't it just 4th of July like yesterday!?

This is the week that I typically start adding some Thanksgiving staples to my weekly grocery list.  This way, when you shop for Thanksgiving Day, your grocery bill doesn't increase by like $$$$$$$$$$$$$.  Think about adding a few pantry items to you list this week.

Here is our menu for the week ahead.

Head on over to Laura's site for more menu and organizing ideas.


Monday:  Grilled Pork Chops with Acorn Squash
Tuesday:  WW Crockpot Beef Stew
Wednesday: Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Red Potatoes and Broccoli
Thursday:  California Chicken Burgers with Tater Tots