Friday, October 30, 2009

My Food Ramblings

Since I get a kick out of planning my meals and always aim to make them efficient, tasteful, healthy and economical, I thought I would share some notes about this week's meals...

My friend Sarah recommended a fresh loaf of rosemary bread to go with the butternut squash soup I was making Tuesday for dinner. She had just eaten that combo and thought it worked well. As long as I was buying a loaf of rosemary bread, I wanted to use it up so I decided to grab a leek and some garbanzo beans and make Ceci Bruschetta to go with my soup. I made the appetizer instead of the arugula salad. It added more bulk to the meal, conveniently creating more leftovers for Wednesday's lunch, and we didn't waste any of the rosemary loaf.

I pushed off the arugula salad until Wednesday knowing it would pair nicely with my roast chicken and veggies. I used recipes from Martha's Cooking School cookbook as inspiration for those. Both were great and easy, other than the fact that I always undercook and then overcook my whole roast chicken. One day I will master that. I am determined.

I used the chicken carcass to make stock for my Avgolemono soup to serve Thursday night. I had leftover chicken for the soup too, and extra carrots from the bunch I bought for dinner Wednesday. I know making stock sounds like a lot of work, but it's as simple as throwing the carcass and some veggies in a pot with water and letting it cook all day. It's inexpensive and tastes much better than store-bought stock.

Today's lunch was leftovers from last night's dinner. Heaven. This might be my most well-planned week yet!

A Good Reminder

My friend Sarah is reading Mitch Albom's new book "Have a Little Faith". We were talking about toddlers and their need for constant attention when she grabbed her book and read me a passage. I loved it. It was such a good reminder to slow down and quit multi-tasking all day long. The food I'm cooking and the laundry I'm doing can wait a few minutes. I need to give my daughter more undivided attention, especially right now while she's feeling a bit of a loss because my time is split between her and the new baby. I always like these little reminders. Maybe it will help you slow down too....

This story came from a Rabbi's sermon in 1958.

A little girl came home from school with a drawing she'd made in class. She danced into the kitchen, where her mother was preparing dinner.

"Mom, guess what?" she squealed, waving the drawing.

Her mother never looked up.

"What?" she said, tending to the pots.

"Guess what?" the child repeated, waving the drawing.

"What?" the mother said, tending to the plates.

"Mom, you're not listening."

"Sweetie, yes I am."

"Mom," the child said, "you're not listening with your eyes."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Staying Well

In addition to washing your hands and all that other jazz, "they say" the Neti Pot is great to help ward off sickness during flu season. Also drinking lots of warm liquids and teas helps keep you healthy. As you know I'm always a fan of my friend Amy's Get Well Tea. Try downing that any time you feel a cold coming on. I swear by it. I like to load up on Vitamin C too. I take a highly concentrated powder form that I buy at Pharmaca in Seattle. Emergen-C is great too. I am also a big advocate for fresh air. In addition to getting out of the house, I try to air out my house by opening the windows and doors for 10-30 minutes once every week or two. Stay well!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Farmers Market Goods & Weekly Meal Plan

I went to the farmers market on Sunday and loaded up. When I got home I compiled my list of goods and came up with a meal plan for the week. Here's what's on the menu....

Halibut with Pesto, Arugula Salad, Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (recipe undecided), Arugula Salad, Bread, Sicilian-Style Sauteed Greens

Roast Chicken with Carrots, Potatoes and Parsnips

Avgolemono Soup (using leftover chicken from Wednesday's dinner), Greek Plate (Hummus from Vios, along with Feta, Greek Olives, Pita)

Lettuce Wraps, Cabbage with Hot Sauce

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Well Isn't This Fun News....

I just read in Cookie Magazine that Stella McCartney is launching a line of children's clothing for GapKids and BabyGap. Stella "jumped at the chance to meld the personal and professional and design high-quality, fashionable kids' clothes that are also accessible and practical..." Items range from $14 to $128. Collection launches November 2nd. Very exciting. I love love love Stella's own collections so I can't wait to see what she has in store for the little ones. I wonder if I can get my hands on some Stella for GapKids sweaters in XL pour moi?!!!

Happy Birthday To Me!


I celebrated my 35th birthday this month. To celebrate, my husband planned a dinner party with my best friends at one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, La Medusa. We rented out the whole restaurant (it's tiny) and got to design the menu of our choice. They did the most amazing job on the party. The food was delicious and everyone commented on how much they loved numerous dishes. The service was fabulous and the party was a blast. If you haven't tried La Medusa, you should book a reservation pronto.

Our contact at the restaurant, Julia, was lovely and so great to work with. She made really cute dinner menus for each guest and made place card name tags that I used in these cork holders I made (copied from something I saw in a magazine years ago - shown below mine).

Julia also helped us design a great dinner menu that offered some of my favorite things (butternut squash ravioli, hazelnut gelato, their cauliflower dish and more)...

passed appetizers...

salt cod fritters

crostini with apple jam and fresh cured pancetta


mixed garden lettuces, lemon vinaigrette, breadcrumbs, parmesan

cauliflower gratin, spicy butter, golden raisins, pine nuts


choice of:

house made butternut squash ravioli, sage, brown butter, walnuts

house made pappardelle, beef ragu, arabiatta, parmesan


choice of

roasted stokesbury chicken breast, baby carrots, parsnip puree

seared sea scallops, black lentils, pancetta ham, apples

braised beef short ribs, creamy polenta, arugula


hazelnut gelato

Friday, October 23, 2009

Healthy Lettuce Wraps

My friend Courtney brought dinner over this week since she knows I need a forced break from cooking. It was such a treat to have a delicious dinner dropped off and ready to throw together. She made Lettuce Wraps for us because it's one of her favorite and regular dinners. I've never made them before but after tasting them I know why she makes them all the time. I will definitely add these to our rotation for an easy and healthy dinner.

I had leftover Somen Noodle Salad and cabbage for Cabbage with Hot Sauce so I served those with the Lettuce Wraps. What a perfect dinner!

Healthy Lettuce Wraps

1 pound of ground chicken breast (if you can’t find it, ground turkey is ok w/ a little chicken seasoning)
1 head of Boston or Bibb Lettuce
5-6 stalks of celery
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
8 ounces sliced water chestnuts

Wash and dry lettuce. Set aside.

Stir together soy sauce, wine, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic. Set aside.

Dice celery stalks and water chestnuts into small pieces. Brown the ground chicken, breaking the chicken into small pieces with spoon. Season with a little salt, pepper and garlic salt. Once the chicken is halfway cooked, add the celery and water chestnuts. After a few minutes, add the sauce. Continue to cook and stir until chicken is cooked through and well mixed with sauce. Put in a bowl and serve along with the lettuce.

Perfect dinner for two. Double the recipe if you want leftovers.

The View From My Window

I love this time of year in Seattle. The gray and rainy days can be depressing at times but for the most part I love the change of seasons, the colors of the leaves (especially the trees lining my street) and the smell in the air. I love staying in and being cozy, cooking comfort food and watching TV with popcorn or tea in hand. It's the little things....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Somen Noodle Salad

My aunt is a great cook and introduces me to a lot of dishes that aren't as mainstream. This noodle salad is light and extremely flavorful. It can be served right when you make it or chilled in the fridge and served cold. I made this salad a few times this week and served it with Orangette's Cabbage with Hot Sauce. A perfect lunch.

Somen Noodle Salad

1 package Somen noodles (approximately 9ozs)
¼ c sugar
½ c seasoned rice vinegar
½ t pepper
¼ c peanut oil
1 cucumber - peeled, cut in half and sliced
toasted sesame seeds, optional

Boil sugar and rice vinegar. Reduce heat and cook on low until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, then add pepper and peanut oil. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes only! Do not overcook. Toss noodles, dressing and cucumber. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot, cold or room temp.

Love Birds

I love this photo.

I took it in Lake Como in 2005, back when I got to travel to Italy with my Love Bird. It's amazing how the thought of traveling overseas comes to a screeching halt when you have a child or two.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

I grabbed some fennel at the farmers market on Sunday and made Giada's Roasted Fennel with Parmesan last night. It's so easy and delicious.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


My husband and I are loving Showtime's Dexter series. My friends kept saying how good it was but I didn't think the premise of the show sounded like anything I would like. Well that's why you have to give things a chance because I was wrong and it is great. Season 1 was so good that we launched right into Season 2 and are watching an episode or two every night. Suspenseful, twisted, hilarious and addictive!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall Sippers

There is something so comforting about a hot cup of tea on a crisp fall night. When the weather gets cold, and during the holidays, there is something extra special about MarketSpice Cinnamon-Orange Tea. The flavor captures the essence of the holidays in my opinion - probably since I've been drinking it throughout the holidays year after year. I've given a box of this as stocking stuffers in the past and I always make sure to have a box on hand for myself.

Another delicious hot beverage I enjoy is Russian Tea. It's sweet and comforting and perfect to sip while watching your favorite fall shows (Mad Men, The Rachel Zoe Project & The Office pour moi). I used to make this blend and package it in cute glass containers to give in holiday baskets. Now I just make chex mix or cookies for holiday treats but I still always make a batch of Russian Tea for my hubby and me.

Russian Tea

2 cups sugar
2 cups Tang
1/2 cup unsweetened Lipton ice tea
1 envelope lemonade mix
1/4 t cloves
1/2 t cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and store in a cute glass jar or container. When ready to enjoy, put a few teaspoons in a mug and top with hot boiling water. Stir and allow to cool. Get cozy and sip.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hand Knit Creatures

I stopped by the new Flora & Henri store in Seattle this weekend and came across this adorable hand made alpaca stuffed animal (shown above and also available in cream base with orange detail). I have a habit now of looking up brands so I can see more products and was excited to see that i golfini della nonna has quite the selection of adorable hand knit pieces from stuffed animals to finger puppets and toys.


"Choreography like molten hot lava; flowing with undeniable power."
The New York Times

My sister and I are obsessed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She just turned me on to Complexions, a modern-ballet company founded by two former Alvin Ailey dancers. Check out the YouTube video for a glimpse of their amazing work. Then you'll want to check out their schedule to see if they're coming to your city. (Complexions will be in Seattle November 12-14 at Meany Hall! Can't wait.)

ABOUT COMPLEXIONS (from the website)

It is artistic directors Demsond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden’s lifelong appreciation for the artistic & aesthetic appeal of the multicultural that forms the cornerstone of Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s singular approach to reinventing dance. Founded by the two former Alvin Ailey members in 1994, Complexions’ groundbreaking mix of methods, styles, cultures has created an entirely new and exciting vision of human movement over the past decade-and-a-half.

The company’s foremost innovation is that dance should be about removing boundaries, not reinforcing them. Whether it be the limiting traditions of a single style, period, venue, or culture, Complexions transcends them all, creating an open, continually evolving form of dance that reflects the movement of our world—and all its constituent cultures—as an interrelated whole.

It is Rhoden and Richardson’s unique career paths that have paved the way for them to re-define dance—as their multifaceted resumes will show, neither has ever been comfortable with his art being placed in a box. Instead, from E! to PBS to VH1, from Cirque de Soleil to the Joffrey Ballet, the two have allowed the transformative power of their art to flow freely throughout the entertainment world—their creative vision restricted by nothing but the limits of the human body itself.

Together, Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson have created in Complexions an institution that embodies its historical moment, a sanctuary where those passionate about dance can celebrate its past while simultaneously building its future. In the 15 years since its inception, the company has born witness to a world that is becoming more fluid, more changeable, and more culturally interconnected than ever before—in other words, a world that is becoming more and more like Complexions itself.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Soup 101

As my friend Whitney says, all you need to start a pot of soup is an onion, garlic and some stock. She is so right. From there, it's just a matter of what produce you have on hand. I always make hearty soups with tons of vegetables that I have in the fridge. Here's my basic veggie soup recipe with some options below.

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion chopped (or 1 cup)
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic)
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 zucchini, chopped
1 or 2 big handfuls of spinach, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 quarts chicken stock
1 pint vegetable stock
1/2 of one 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice (use all the liquid and half of the tomatoes)
2 cups water
kosher salt
1 t Italian seasoning, crushed in your fingers as you sprinkle it in
freshly grated Parmesan

Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add potato, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, tomatoes with their juice, parsley, stocks, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add zucchini and spinach and simmer for one hour. Check seasoning. Sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.

  • For an easy homemade soup you can use chicken stock, veggie stock or both.

  • Choose from potatoes, rice, noodles, tortellini, white beans, quinoa or even corn tortillas for your starch.

  • Use any combination of vegetables. I use whatever I have in the fridge. Anything goes. Just think about the density/toughness of the veggie and how long it will take to cook. That helps determine which ones go in first and which ones you can throw in toward the end. Carrots are a must for me and I always like to add some greens like parsley, spinach, chard, kale, or cabbage.

  • If you have fresh herbs, use them. Oregano, thyme, basil, etc would all taste great. I use dried Italian seasoning and fresh parsley for a basic soup but you can use any mix of flavors that sound good to you. You can use cumin and coriander and throw in some jalapeno for a more Mexican soup flavor or stick with more Italian seasoning.

  • Keep it as a vegetable soup or add shredded chicken for a more filling soup. You can also use ground beef, pork, or turkey or make little meatballs using any of those.

  • Garnish with whatever goes with your soup - Parmesan, pesto, cheddar, sour cream, parsley, saltines.

  • If you have little ones throw some of the soup in a blender, then toss it with a spiral pasta or penne to catch the sauce. Top with parmesan and you have an easy pasta dish full of veggies.

This is a great way to create a healthy dinner or just use up veggies before they go bad. I love making soup for dinner and then having leftovers for the next day or two.

Wooden Pull Toys

I think these pull-along toys are so cute as nursery decor not to mention the obvious - that they're a fun toy for little ones. My daughter loves her Vilac Catepillar pull toy and won't leave it on the bookshelf (where I put it to look cute) for very long. I also love the Plan Toys Zebra and want it for my baby boy's room. You can find these online and at most children's toy stores. (If you live is Seattle, visit Stuhlbergs on Queen Anne as she usually carries an assortment of wooden pull-toys.)

Farmers Market Goods & Meal Plan for the Week

I was able to escape to the farmers market today ... KIDLESS! I grabbed tons of good stuff and just finished planning my meals for the week. Here's what's on the menu...

Halibut with Pesto, Arugula Salad, Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Fettuccine with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil and Feta (couldn't get the River Valley Ranch feta so using goat cheese which it turns out is equally as good), Baguette Crostinis, Sauteed Rainbow Chard, Salad

Chicken with Mustard & Tarragon Cream Sauce (new recipe), White Rice, Roasted Carrots

Eating out

Avgolemono Soup, Greek Plate (Hummus from Vios, Feta, Greek Olives, Pita), Broccoli

Eating out

Lunches, Sides, Extra
Honeycrisp apples (my favorite), pairs, Asian pears, pluots, juice, kombucha, salad, veggie soup, Whidbey Island ice cream bars

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Culinary Celebrations at the Source

My friend Ali told me about Outstanding in the Field dinners where they bring together local farmers, chefs, and winemakers to serve the most incredible meals at the source. The thought of attending one of those dinners made my heart go pitter patter. When I first looked into it there were no plans for a dinner in the state of Washington so I didn't follow it as closely as I should have. My bad because I recently learned that they hosted a few dinners in Washington this summer. I could cry! I cannot even imagine what a fun and unique experience the dinner would be, not to mention the food was probably fantastic. And look at those incredible tables. (Photos not from Washington dinners but show a sample of what they're like.)

The more you start talking to people about these types of events, the more you learn that there are so many wonderful culinary experiences at your back door. My friend Jen told me about "An Incredible Feast" - the farmers market dinner in Seattle where they brought together local farmers and chefs to create amazing local and sustainable food. I could have eaten myself into a coma, it was all so good. At the event I spoke to a lot of the farmers and learned that many of them offer dinners on their farms for large groups. Now that fall is here, I imagine these will happen less often but it's a good thing to have in the back of your mind for next spring and summer. I know I will definitely be tracking some down next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Simply Adorable

My friend Jen just sent me a link to the Whitten Grey website knowing I would love the adorable girl's dresses. An added bonus is that for every dress you buy, they give a dress away to a little girl in Liberia, Guatemala, Malawi or Zimbabwe. You get to choose the country, the color of the dress (pink, yellow, or white) and send a little note with it. If you need a cute party dress for your little girl, it's a splurge but helps another little girl at the same time.
P.S. I wish that little blue frock came in my size. I love the neckline.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just in Time...

I was absolutely heart-broken when I heard that Mrs. John L. Strong was closing it's doors after 80 years of exquisite hand-engraved stationery and paper goods. What on earth I would do without my Mrs. John L. Strong desk calendar?! I was cherishing the last few months with it and then just today I came across a replacement. Gumps is selling this Thornwillow Press Engraved Desk Calendar that is quite similar to the Mrs. John L. Strong version. I know that Thornwillow does beautiful work and blogged about their thank you cards in the past. While I'm not sure their calendar will be AS fabulous, I'm confident it will be a great replacement and a close second best.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Stephanie Smith, 22, was paralyzed after being
stricken by E. coli in 2007. Officials traced the E. coli
to hamburger her family had eaten.

Not sure I will ever eat a hamburger again, or ground beef for that matter, after reading this article, "E. Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection" in The New York Times on Sunday. A tragic story and the scary truth about an American staple.

Curried Popcorn

My friend Jen sent me the Mighty Foods website and it looks like a goldmine of good info and recipes. I quickly looked through it and found this recipe for Curried Popcorn that I must try since we're heading into popcorn season at my house. Give the site a look-see and see what you can find!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Big Sister Presents

We've had so many visitors coming by to meet our newest addition and it's amazing how many people have come bearing gifts, not just for the baby, but for the new big sister. It is so thoughtful of people to give her some extra attention and to think to bring her a wrapped gift. One of her new favorite big sister toys is this little Olivia doll because, as you know, Olivia is also a big sister. My daughter loves it.

Pair this doll with the Olivia book for a perfect gift for a little girl.

Back to the Farmers Market in No Time

I didn't waste any time getting back to the farmers market. My friend Lynne was so kind and came with me to push the stroller full of food while I carried the bambino and shopped for the week's meals. It was fun to show off Baby George to all my friends at the market. I was so excited to be back and load up so I can get back to home-cooked meals. Here's what's on the meal planner for this week:

Halibut with Pesto, Arugula Salad, Corn on the Cob

Fettuccine with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil and Feta, Baguette Crostinis, Green Salad, Broccoli

Chicken Rice, Bok Choy (a must with chicken rice in my opinion), Cabbage with Hot Sauce

Hearty Vegetable Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup, Green Salad

My night off. Go out or get take out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hospital Treats

My mother-in-law showed up at the hospital with a plate of freshly baked cookies. I couldn't have imagined anything better at that moment and inhaled four on the spot. These cookies were so good and according to my mother-in-law, some of the easiest cookies you'll ever bake. They are called Anzac Biscuits, but I am going to rename them "Georgies" since they will forever remind me of that first morning in the hospital with my baby boy.


1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup coconut
2 sticks of butter
6 T golden syrup (she used dark corn syrup because that's what she had on hand)
1 t baking soda, dissolve in 2T boiling water

Preheat oven to 370. Melt butter, then add syrup, then soda mixture, then dry ingredients. Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes.

* Keep a watchful eye since every oven is different. My mother-in law cooks hers at 350 for 7-10 minutes.