Friday, March 30, 2012

An adventure in Portland...Voodoo Doughnuts

We fell in love with Portland Oregon when we visited our daughter Dani there!  And I want you to know that we're doing the best we can to help Keep Portland Weird...we sent her to live there permanently!

We had lots of good food while visiting, but far and away our favorite stop was to Voodoo Doughnut to sample what Dani assured us was the best maple and bacon raised bar doughnut on the face of the earth.  I think she's right!

We also had a fabulous meal at Dick's Kitchen, home of the Dork Burger (duck and pork).  Just enough duck to make it moist, not enough to make it greasy greasy greasy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beef barley soup

I love all the versions of Beef and Barley Soup that I've had, but with  few minor changes, Martha Stewart's recipe is probably my favorite.  I used homemade beef stock instead of chicken stock, portobello mushrooms instead of cremini, and I added bay leaf to the mix.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spicy sweet potato and parsnip mash

The usual flavor add-ins for sweet potatoes are sweet: brown sugar, maple syrup, maybe even marshmallows...shudder!  So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I heard someone suggest adding chipotle powder and a minced jalapeño pepper to a mashed sweet potato and parsnip mixture.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Parsnip Mash

2 sweet potatoes
2 parsnips

Olive oil
1/2 to 1 t chipotle powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Use pre-cooked sweet potatoes, or else peel and chop them for boiling.  Peel and chop the parsnips.  Boil for about 20 minutes until very tender.  Drain saucepan and set vegetables aside.  Heat about 1/2 c milk in pan until warm.  Return vegetables to pan, adding oil, powder, pepper, and salt.  Mash, adding more milk if needed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pasta with lentils and walnuts

It's hard to imagine anyone ever getting tired of spaghetti with a good homemade red sauce, but if you ever do, you might want to try this unexpected combination.  You will have to pre-cook the lentils, so it might be a good idea to make this sometime when you've cooked up a big batch of lentils for some other purpose.  You can use whatever color you want...I think next time I'll make it with red lentils to get a bit more color in the dish!

Since Mikey doesn't care too much for walnuts, I subbed in pecans and it tasted just fine.

Pasta with Lentils and Walnuts

1/2 c dried lentils
1 c chopped walnuts (or pecans)
A dash of garlic powder
1/2 c olive oil
1/3 c toasted sesame seeds
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c wheat germ
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb spaghetti or other pasta

Cook the lentils until tender.  Drain and mix with the walnuts through the parsley.  Keep warm but do not cook further.  Boil  the pasta until al dente.  Drain.  Mix with the sauce and add in the wheat germ and cheese.  Garnish with more parsley and serve. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pizza with fresh tomato, basil, and olives

Here's a really terrific pizza that we stumbled on by playing "let's clean out the fridge"!  I had several previously made pizza shells in the freezer, each of which had already been baked for about 6 minutes.  I stuck them in at 450 just long enough to thaw and heat them to make spreading the cheese easy.

Pizza with Fresh Tomato

Tomato, sliced very thinly
Fresh basil, chopped
Olive oil
Kalamata olives, chopped
Pizza shells
Soft goat cheese

Scallions, sliced very thinly
Bit of shredded mozzarella cheese
Black pepper

Lay the sliced tomatoes out of a plate and sprinkle with salt and basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and top with chopped olives.  Let it sit for a few minutes.

Heat oven to 450 with rack on bottom.  Heat the pizza shells slightly and spread with softened goat cheese.  Return shells to oven for 3 minutes.

Spread tomato slices and other ingredients onto shells.  Top with scallions and a little bit of mozzarella cheese.  Return to the oven for 4 to 5 minutes.  Add black pepper to serve.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

 Well, tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day: Broccoli quiche

Here's a really simple, basic, but delicious recipe for broccoli quiche.  Yeah, I know...Martha Stewart and Paula Dean make it better, and with way more calories.  But sometimes you just want a nice simple, basic meal.  Sometimes.

No Extra Fuss Broccoli Quiche

Dough for a single pie crust (leave out the sugar)

1-1/2 to 2 c chopped fresh broccoli
1/2 onion, chopped
Olive oil
4 eggs
2 c milk
Salt and pepper
1 t dried mustard
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c grated Swiss cheese

Make the pie crust and roll it out to fit a deep pie pan.

Microwave or steam the broccoli until just tender.  In a skillet, saute the onion and broccoli.  In a large glass measuring cup, mix the eggs, milk, and spices.  Arrange the vegetable mix and the cheese in the pie pan and pour in the egg mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes at 450.  Lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes more, until a knife comes out clean. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thai Thai Restaurant

Oh, so worth the trip!  After we spent all day hiking in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, we were beyond famished.  But we were also grubby, smelly, and in my case, sunburned.  Oh, and not very well dressed either.

We were immediately ushered in and made to feel very welcome at the Thai Thai Restaurant in spite of all of that!  We had no idea what a treat we had in store...

Let me start by saying that Hawaii has the world's best produce, and one of the world's most uninteresting cuisines that I've ever experienced.  It's strange: here you have all these amazing fresh fruits and vegetables that grow year round, and for the most part they are simply whacked open and served as is.  Don't get me wrong...this is how I eat during the day anyway, everyday.  But for dinner I want something that takes some care and includes some seasoning.  The Thai Thai has it down pat!  The freshest organic ingredients you'd ever want to see, beautifully prepared and just plain delicious.

You can choose your level of hotness: mild, medium, hot, and Thai hot.  I wanted hot, but kept vacillating between hot and medium.  Well, no problem, I was told.  We'll make it medium-hot for you!  How was it?  Perfect.

We shared summer rolls (shown above) which were out of this world, and I ordered the seasonal mixed vegetable stir fry with tofu.  Perfect.  Just perfect. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

White chocolate ginger biscotti

I love biscotti, all types of biscotti!  Here's an unexpected flavor combo that goes fabulously with tea or coffee.

White Chocolate Ginger Biscotti

2 c flour
2/3 c sugar
3 T minced crystallized ginger
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
4 oz white chocolate (3/4 c)
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through the chocolate.  In a glass measuring cup, stir the vanilla together with the eggs.  Add to the flour mixture and knead on a floured surface.  Shape into a roll, about 14 inches long, and place on baking sheet.  Spray roll with cooking spray and flatten top so roll is about 1" high.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove roll from sheet and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325.  Cut the roll slightly on the diagonal at about 1/2" intervals.  Cut the slices in half if desired.  Place them flat on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the sheet and let them cool completely before storing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Coq au vin

Coq au Vin started out as a fabulous rustic dish, became a snooty favorite at fancy French restaurants, and has fortunately made its way back into something that we home cooks can make.  And make well.  This version is easy, but time-consuming.  Of course, a lot of the time is just simmering, so you really won't be chained to the stove.  The little touches at the end, like adding the pat of butter and splash of fresh wine, I learned from Cook's Illustrated a few years ago.  Don't skip them...they make the sauce just lovely!

Coq au Vin

1 bottle of Pinot Noir
2 c chicken broth
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 bay leaves
6 oz thick-cut bacon, chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
3 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
12 oz cremini or portabella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
2-3 T flour

Save 2 T of the wine and set it aside.  Pour the rest plus the broth, 12 sprigs of parsley, thyme, and bay leaves to a simmer in a large saucepan.  Cook for about 25 minutes and discard the herbs. 

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a Dutch oven until brown, about 8 minutes.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel-covered plate and set aside.  Pour off most of the bacon grease, leaving a few T behind.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Brown the chicken on all sides in the bacon grease.  Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add a couple T of butter to the Dutch oven and brown the onions and mushrooms for about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook to slightly softened.  Add the tomato paste and flour; cook and stir to combine.

Add wine mixture to deglaze the pot.  Bring to a boil with the chicken and bacon; reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.

Remove chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Increase heat under sauce and thicken at a low boil for about 5 minutes.  Add the reserved wine and 2 to 3 T butter to the sauce.  Return the chicken and top with minced parsley.  Serve in a shallow bowl or with mashed potatoes. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pork chops and rice

If you're one of those people who always has to have mashed or whipped potatoes with your pork, well I'm sorry!  You might be willing to mix it up a bit to try Soy-Ginger Marinated Pork Chops with Herb & Scallion Rice, both from Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Most excellent.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding)

This pudding dish is a staple at Hawaiian luaus, and yes, of course we had to go to one when we were in Hawaii!  It was a great time, but honestly, the only dish I ended up interested in learning to make was the coconut pudding.  Everything was delicious, but I think it might be awhile before I build a rock pit in my side yard and roast a whole pig.  It could happen though...

 The pudding, known as haupia, is the white square on my plate (yup, I ate a LOT that night...don't judge me!).  When I started looking at recipes back home, it seemed to me that most were going to turn out a lot softer.  I think that maybe they added gelatin for ease in serving, but I like my pudding softer.  I finally settled on a very simple recipe that you can find on the Hawaii Travel site at  The taste seems identical to me, but the texture is more to my liking.

This should be the result of any good luau!