Thursday, December 31, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Sparkling Wine Cocktails!

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2016!

If you are hosing a party tonight, I've got two sparkling wine cocktails for your New Year Eve celebrations!


Sparkling Wine and Orange Granita


4 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Elder-flower liqueur such as St Germain
2 bottles of Sparkling wine


Combine the orange juice and sugar, and stir until sugar dissolves.  Transfer to an 8 inch square baking dish.  Freeze, scrapping around sides and breaking up any lumps with a fork every 30 minutes, until evenly frozen, 2 - 3 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Granita can be made 1 day ahead and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

Spoon 1/2 cup granita into each glass, and add 1/2 teaspoon liqueur.  Top off with sparkling wine.

Ginger Sparkler


2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1 bottle sparkling wine


Set a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a small sauce pan, boil ginger, sugar and 1/4 cup water until syrupy, about 2 minutes.  Pour through sieve into bowl, discarding solids.  Syrup can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Pour 1 tablespoon syrup into each glass and top with sparkling wine.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

52/52: 2015 Holiday Wrap-Up!

We had the most amazing Christmas week!  Although the days were short, we packed fun adventures into each one!

One of our favorite days was our day in downtown Seattle.  We did a bit of shopping at Macy's and Old Navy, then Brian surprised me with a trip to Ann Taylor where he picked out a beautiful top for me.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day morning at home, followed by an afternoon of more presents and family time with my Mom and Kenny.

How was your Christmas?  It went by super fast, but the good news is that I will be back in Seattle on Wednesday night for the New Year!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Post Christmas Week

Welcome Monday!

How was your Christmas Holiday!  Leave me a comment below and tell me what Santa brought you!

It's a crazy short week this week, but I am back to work until mid day on Thursday.  We are counting down the days of the year with a super easy meal plan this week.

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


SUNDAY: Fall Apart Beer-Braised Pork Roast with Root Vegetables and Creamy Cole Slaw
MONDAY: Garden Burgers and Fries
TUESDAY: Ground Beef Tacos
WEDNESDAY: Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs with Baked Potato and Brocoli

Friday, December 25, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Steve

WHO: Steven Ray Suter
WHAT: Sleeping
WHERE: Silver Lane in North Eugene, OR
WHEN: 1974-75 (he looks to be about 13/14)

Happy Birthday to my Uncle Steve who celebrates his birthday...TODAY!!!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

51/52: West Seattle Arts West: Wonderful Life

Last Saturday night, Brian and I attended the Arts West Christmas production, Wonderful Life.  It's getting rave reviews!

George Bailey's struggle to grasp why life is worth living finds a fresh voice in this enchanting one-person retelling of Frank Capra's classic film It's a Wonderful Life.


This play, penned by Helen Pafumi and Jason Lott introduces the audience to the residents of Bedford Falls, NY on a fateful Christmas Eve 1945.  Wonderful Life is a heart warming holiday story and this adaptation is a fascinating combination of both creativity and inspiration.

Although we have seen it before, Wonderful Life is the perfect Christmas performance and everything Arts West does is so well done and enjoyable for a community theater.

Just like last year, we decided to head over to the Matador for cocktails and dinner, but this time we had an early pre-theater dinner before the show.

Just another holiday tradition that we really look forward to every year!

Do you have a holiday tradition?  Leave me a comment below and let me know the one thing you look forward to every year.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Pop

WHO: James Young Brady
WHERE: Klamath Falls, OR
WHEN: December 22, 1965 (my Pop's 22nd birthday)

Happy Birthday to my Pop who celebrates his birthday next week.  I love you!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Green Bean Bacon Bundles

Are you a last minute meal planner?  Are you hosting a holiday dinner party?  Are you tired of your Christmas Day side dishes?

I've got a quick and easy recipe this week for YOU!!!


Green Bean Bundles with Bacon and Brown Sugar


8 bacon slices
3/4 stick butter, melted
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and blanched
1/4 cup light brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until the slices are just beginning to brown along the edges but are still underdone and pliable, about 4-6 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and let them cool, then cut each slice in half crosswise.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Divide the green beans into 16 equal portions, about 6 green beans each.  Gather each portion into a neat bunch and wrap a half slice of bacon around the center to hold the beans together.  Place the bundles on the baking sheet. 

Sprinkle each bundle with brown sugar and drizzle or baste on the butter mixture.

Roast until the bacon is cooked through and browned about 23 minutes.  Let stand for 3-5 minutes. Transfer the beans to a warmed platter and immediately serve.

Recipe Courtesy - William-Sonoma Kitchen
Image from Google Images

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

50/52: Christmas Adventure to Edmonds

Brian and I had a full day on Saturday visiting our favorite little city on the Puget Sound, Edmonds.  I missed out on Small Business Saturday a few weeks ago, but we found a few treasures in Edmonds. 

We also toured Wight's Wonderland of Christmas, which is beautiful to visit this time of year with 30 themed trees!

We ended our day at our favorite holiday lunch spot, Scott's (or as I like to call it...Scotty's) for "linner" and an afternoon cocktail!

Unfortunately, it was a very wet I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted too.

How did you spend your weekend?  Is your Christmas shopping done?


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: December 13-17, 2015

Welcome Monday!

The countdown to Christmas is on!  Only 13 more sleeps until SANTA ARRIVES!

Don't be nice and make your grocery list and plan your meals!

Here is our menu for the week ahead and leave me a comment below and tell me your favorite recipe for the week ahead.

Also, head on over to Laura's site for more menu planning ideas!


Monday: Italian Pork Tenderloin With Sweet Potatoes
Tuesday: Chick and Princess Christmas!  Picking up Thai Take-Away for Dinner
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Thursday: Happy Hour and Aaron Meyers Christmas Show

Friday, December 11, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Merry Christmas, Mom

WHO: Jennifer Dare
WHAT: Christmas Eve
WHERE: Grandma and Grandpa Wills home on Hilyard Street; Eugene, OR
WHEN: Christmas Eve 1976

Christmas Eve 1976 on Hilyard Street in Eugene.  Mom in her purple jumpsuit, no doubt made hugely popular by Marie Osmond (Donny and Marie had a successful TV show from 1976-79) topped off with the Dorothy Hamill haircut.

Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Beer Braised Pork Shoulder

It's National Lager Day!  A lager is a type of German beer that is bottom fermented and lightly hopped which means its excellent for cooking.

A slow cooked pork shoulder pairs nicely with a cool lager and has perfect flavors for a fall/winter evening, served simply with potatoes and veggies.  Use the leftovers to make a pork ragu for a Friday night Italian feast or open-faced sandwiches on Saturday for the big football game. 


Braised Pork Shoulder


6 oz pancetta
2 medium onions
1 bone in pork shoulder
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
2 cups Belgian-Style or German ale (Blue Moon Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Session or Shiner Bock)
1 cup vegetable stock


Preheat oven to 300F.

Crisp pancetta in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, until fat is rendered, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon, reserve fat in pan.

Add onions to dutch oven.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occassionally until carmelaized, about 25 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Season pork with salt and pepper and add oil to dutch oven, and sear pork (fat side down) over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Flip to other side and repeat.

Reduce heat and add garlic and spices to pot.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add ale and stock, then add back into the dutch oven the pancetta and onions; bring to a simmer.

Transfer to oven, and braise pork, covered, basting every hour, until meat is falling off the bone, about 4 hours.

Carefully remove the meat from the dutch oven and shred the meat, using two forks.  Drizzle with warm skimmed cooking liquid (jus).

Serving Ideas:  Pile shredded pork on creamy polenta or serve next to roasted potatoes and vegetables.    

Leftovers: Mix pork with BBQ sauce and cooking jus and place on top of toasted sandwich rolls or mix with pasta sauce and serve on top of wide egg noodles or fettucine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

49/52: Decorating for Christmas in West Seattle!

Brian and I unleashed the Christmas closet on Saturday morning.  I hit the ground running before the sun came up!  Aside from getting our "live" tree, getting it in the house, in the tree stand and prepared for decorating...we have several tubs of wreaths, Santas, lights, a Christmas village, linens and two table top trees to put out for display.  It's safe to say that almost every inch of our house is decorated for the next 4 weeks.

We finished decorating in the early evening, just in time for a glass of wine, a hearty bowl of homemade minestrone soup (thank you Brian) and a loaf of homemade bread...with plenty of time to admire our work!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: December 6-10, 2015

Welcome Monday!

This time of year there is always too much going on....good or bad.  Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed this time of year?

I've got a simple solution....plan more of your meals!

Menu planning can give you the time you need to tackle more important things on your agenda and give you your life back in the evening.

If you are not sure how to start, grab a pen and a piece of paper and start writing down things you like to eat or cook for dinner.  What are your family favorites?  

Next, buy a couple of food magazines (Cooking Light, Taste of Home and Eating Well are three of my favorites) and/or browse the Internet for recipes (, and are three of my favorites).

Keep all of your recipe ideas in a large file and every Friday or Saturday take 10 minutes and look at your calendar for the week ahead.  What do you have going on?  Meetings? Kids activities? Guests or travel?  Then plan the days that you need to prepare dinner by finding meals that you love to cook and eat in your recipe file.

Finally, put together your grocery list based on the items you need for your weekly meals. Don't forget to include extra fruit and veggies for breakfast and lunch (I usually make enough leftovers to cover us for lunch).

Head to the grocery store over the weekend and if you plan correctly and cook your planned meals, you shouldn't have to go to the store for anything other than an emergency item or something you forgot!

It's easy!  And if you don't believe me, check out Laura's site for more ideas!

Here is our menu for the week ahead!

Monday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus
Tuesday: Crockpot shredded Chicken Tacos
Wednesday: Grilled Steak with Caesar Salad
Thursday: Weight Watchers Blue Cheese Chicken Burgers

Friday, December 4, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Christmas Eve with the Suter's

WHO: Sandra and Steve (a little sliver of Sandra and Steve's Grandmother, Pearl on the left)
WHAT: Christmas Eve
WHERE: Silver Lane in North Eugene, OR
WHEN: 1967-68

Merry Christmas Eve on Silver Lane.  Tinsel is hanging on the tree and presents have been opened. Sandra's on the phone to someone?  Some absent family member must be calling to wish everyone a Merry Christmas Eve.

Happy Holiday!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Easy Christmas Pecan Pie

Today is National Pie Day!  The American Pie council created this day to simple celebrate pies and it's a special day to bake and cook some of your favorite pies.

This day was created in 1986 to commemorate Crisco's 75th anniversary of "serving food and families everywhere."

I am not much of a baker, but Christmas is just around the corner and this is always a holiday favorite, plus this recipe looks super easy.


Easy Christmas Pecan Pie


3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
2 cups pecan halves
1 9-10 inch pie shell
prepared egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 tablespoon water)
Whip topping, optional


Heat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  Whisk in the corn syrup and sugar, then add melted butter, salt and bourbon.  Stir in the pecan halves.

Fill the pie shell with the filling, so it just comes to the base of the top of the crust, careful not to overfill.

Bake pie in the center of the oven until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack before serving.

The pie will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 6 days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

2015: Music Review

It's that time of year again....end of year lists!

Many of you know that I absolutely love music.  I listen to all kinds of genres, but I would say over the years that my taste centers around Adult Alternative and recently a bit of downtempo/deep house.

This year has been a great year for music and just recently, there are several songs that are getting serious playbacks on my MP3 player.

Here are my top albums/songs of 2015 (keep in mind that one of the albums was released in 2014) and they are in no particular order.


Lord Huron - Fool For Love (Strange Trails)

This Indie Folk band from Los Angeles released their second album Strange Trails on April 6, 2015. The band's name was inspired by Lake Huron, the lake which band founder, Ben Schneider grew up visiting, and would spend evenings playing music round the campfire.

Leon Bridges - Coming Home (Coming Home)

Leon Bridges is a soul/gospel singer from Ft. Worth, TX.  His debut album was released on June 23, 2015.

His style resembles 1960s R and B and the Wall Street Journal described him as a "throwback to Otis Redding and Sam Cooke"

Florence and the Machine - Ship to Wreck (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful)

On June 2, 2015, Florence and the Machine released How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Formed in 2007 in London, this Indie Rock band consists of Florence Welch, Isabella Summers and a collaboration of other artists. Their sound has been described as a combination of rock and soul.

Hozier - Someone New (Hozier)

Hozier is the eponymous debut studio album from Irish recording artist Hozier.  It was released in September of 2014, but this track, Someone New was released as a single on May 11, 2015.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

48/52: Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a quiet Thanksgiving weekend at Rebecca Lane this year...Brian, Chick and I.  This year, Pop, Rosemary and Steve spent Thanksgiving (and Aunt Judy's birthday) in Ohio. Our table may have been small, but we had a wonderful and relaxing day with lots of good food and laughs.  

Our LONG weekend kicked off with our traditional Italian food night on Wednesday, after all the prep cooking was was time for a few glasses of wine and some good food and music. This year, Brian made a lasagna from scratch and it was really good.

Thanksgiving Day was a bit of the Marcy's parade, a 6 pound Black Friday newspaper, good food, football, naps, and Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving Special.  

Friday, Sandra and Brian hung Christmas lights on the house and we all enjoyed a nacho bar and an Oregon Ducks Civil War victory!

Brian left for Seattle early on Saturday morning and Sandra and I began to decorate the house for Christmas. This year, we concentrated on everything but the trees on Saturday. It only took us a few hours, but in the end we were glad that we started early so we could enjoy the rest of the day including binge watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel in our jammies!

Sunday we finished up the decorations on the outside including a laser light with lights shinning on our garage, courtesy of Home Depot ($39.95) and fulling decorating two Christmas trees!

Now our house is completely ready for the holidays and we will be able to enjoy the decorations each night when we get home from work.

Tell me about your Thanksgiving weekend and all the fun adventures you had.  Leave me a comment.