Friday, August 31, 2012

Blueberry Perfection

I'm on a quest. A quest for blueberry recipes. In the last week I've made baked oatmeal with blueberries and banana, blueberry crisp cookies, blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup, and blueberry muffins.

The best blueberry recipe so far is Smitten Kitchen's Perfect Blueberry Muffins. They truly are the perfect blueberry muffin. And for a non-baker, they were really easy and fool-proof. These muffins and the blueberry syrup from yesterday are two keepers for next year's blueberry season.

Any great blueberry recipes you love to make?

Pasta with Roasted Sungolds and Romano Cheese

Photo credit: Mixed Greens Blog

I go bananas for tomatoes this time of year so I make a lot of favorite recipes and try a lot of new ones. I made this recipe up the other night and loved it. I've already made it a second time because it was so good.

Tomatoes take about 3 hours to cook so I usually prep them in the morning or the day before. If making a day ahead, sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and store covered in the fridge.

Regarding breadcrumbs:
I make breadcrumbs from fresh loaves or baguettes once they lose their freshness and are going stale. Cut up and throw in a Cuisinart food processor to bread up into crumbs, then stick in the freezer until you need them. Toast in a touch of olive oil on medium-high heat.

Pasta with Roasted Sungolds and Romano Cheese

1lb spaghetti noodles (I used Molino e Pastificio from Delaurenti and loved it)
1 container of sungold tomatoes
1/2 - 1 container of mixed cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
Fresh basil, minced
Flat leaf Italian parsley, minced
1 cup good Pecorino Romano cheese (I bought Fulvi Pecorino Romano from Delaurenti)
Breadcrumbs, toasted
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 225.

Cut tomatoes in half, then toss with olive oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay tomatoes out, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can throw a few unpeeled garlic cloves on the cookie sheet as well but not necessary. Cook for roughly 2.5-3 hours. You want the tomatoes to be mostly dried out. It's okay if a few are still juicy but most should be on the crispy side. Remove and transfer to a plate.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan or braiser on medium heat, stirring regularly. When it starts to sizzle, keep a close eye on it. You want it to sizzle but not brown. Right before it starts to brown, toss roasted tomatoes into the pan and sprinkle with basil and parsley. Reduce heat and stir regularly so garlic never burns.

Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water, then cook the pasta noodles until al dente. Scoop out noodles with a spaghetti ladle and transfer directly to the pan with tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and toss quickly. Sprinkle with pepper and more basil. Check for seasoning. Add more cheese if necessary. Plate pasta and sprinkle each serving with toasted breadcrumbs. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blueberry Robbcakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup

I'm overwhelmed with blueberries lately. I over-bought them at the farmers market for fear of running out mid-week of our favorite fruit to snack on. Then my daughter and I went to a U-pick farm and surprisingly picked 3lbs. So now I'm snacking, freezing and cooking my way through about 4lbs of blueberries.

I decided to whip up some blueberry pancakes this morning. I searched a few of my favorite sites and found this recipe for Whole-Grain Pancake Recipe with Blueberry Maple Syrup. I didn't have buttermilk so I couldn't make her batter so I used my basic recipe for Robbcakes and then her recipe for the Blueberry Maple Syrup. Easy breakfast that turned out great and we all gobbled them up.

Blueberry Robbcakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup

2/3 cup buckwheat pancake mix
1 egg, beaten

2 tsp canola oil
2 tsp honey
3/4 cup milk

Mix above ingredients until smooth, then also add:

1/4-1/3 cup rolled oats
1 t ground flaxseed
several handfuls of blueberries
Cook pancakes in butter, then top with Blueberry Maple Syrup.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vancouver, B.C.

I'm a huge fan of Vancouver, B.C. Every time I go, I like it even more. It's a beautiful city with an international feel, tons of great food and shopping, outdoor activities, and more. If you haven't had a weekend getaway to Vancouver, now is your chance. Perfect time of year to go!

It's roughly 3 hours from Seattle, depending on the border wait. You can apply for a Nexus Pass and then you zip past any long border lines.
Highlights of the trip were...

Dinner at Vij's is always a treat and always memorable. It's always fascinating to see the line that forms before doors open. It's fun to chat with the other die-hards who sit for an hour, rain or shine, to get in. We ordered a ton of food and everything was great.

We hit Vij's sister restaurant the next day for lunch. It's no Vij's, but it did not disappoint either. The food was fantastic. We liked one dish so much that we ordered two to go for dinner that night. I also loaded up on spices for myself and for gifts, and some naan and rice from the refrigerated section. I cooked from Vij's cookbook that week and had my own piece of Vij's with the rice and naan. It made the homemade chicken curry that much better.

We had a lovely brunch at Hawksworth. I felt like I was in Europe because of the international vibe at brunch. The food was fantastic. My husband and I also went to the Hawksworth bar one night for cocktails which we thoroughly enjoyed. Lots of great cocktail creations.

Grouse Mountain
We took the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain. We watched the grizzly bears, the lumberjack show and the zip-liners as they screamed and whizzed by. The kids loved it.

Granville Island
We took a water taxi to Granville Island. The kids loved the water taxi. I loved the view from the water and checking out all the cool architecture and condos. Vancouver is so pretty and I loved that vantage point.

We heard from Seattle's Eltana owners that Siegel's Bagels was worth checking out. I thought they were a great recommendation among all the tourist traps at the Granville Island market. I loved the bagel with black pepper cream cheese that my husband ordered. He always orders better than me. It's so annoying.

Stanley Park
You could spend days enjoying Stanley Park. There is so much to do there. There are play areas, a public pool that looks great for kids, a small water park (no water slides, just sprinklers and games), a rose garden, train ride (kinda lame), horse drawn tour, aquarium, bike path and more. We love spending time at Stanley Park.

Things we wanted to do but ran out of time:

Chinese Garden
We did not make it to the Chinese Garden but I will make sure to visit next trip. I love Seattle's Japanese Garden so I've got to see Vancouver's Chinese Garden.

Food Cart Fest
We didn't make it but I was dying to go. The Food Cart Fest ends September 2nd so hurry and go now!

We hit a few other restaurants that we read about on these lists from Vancouver Magazine and have a few more tagged for our next visit. I definitely want to hit Vij's new Railway Express when we return. Can't wait to go back.

From Vancouver Magazine... (Thanks Ali for the links!)

Best New Restaurant 2012

Vancouver Restaurant Awards 2012

Eat the Rainbow

I always tell my kids that you should eat a rainbow of colors every day. This usually falls on deaf ears. My friend Clare gave me the idea of putting a rainbow up in the kitchen. That's what she did and every night they talk about what colors the kids ate that day. My daughter is a sucker for a chart of any kind so I made a rainbow food chart for her and my son. My daughter is always tracking what's fair in our house so she suggested that mommy and daddy have their own rainbow charts too. Fair is fair.

At the end of a meal or the end of the day they get a star for every color they've eaten. This will be a good exercise for my husband and I too. He got zero stars today and I got one since everything we ate was white or brown. The kids rocked us. Time to practice what I preach.

If the kids do a great job all week, they get to pick a special ice cream shop to go to on the weekend. This is against the rule that food should not be used as a reward but what do ya do? I'm dealing with one issue at a time. This chart also helps train my husband that we can't go out for ice cream several times a week and that it should be a treat, not a regular occurrence. He's a sucker for taking the kids on ice cream adventures.

Purple is the toughest color to eat regularly. Eggplant and plums are great this time of year. We'll classify red grapes and raisins in the purple category. I am also going to count nuts and beans in the purple category because I'd love my kids to eat more of those.

Wish us luck!

Howard Jacks

This is the kind of tribute I would like when I die since I have a love affair with food. Please, my friends and family, name something delicious after me when I'm gone.

"Last Bites"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini "Pasta" Dinner

My friend Ali said she's been making fresh pasta-like dishes using raw zucchini as the "noodle". I tried it last night and thought it tasted great - light, fresh, and flavorful. I served it with a pasta so I just called mine a salad. Worked great as my green salad for the night.

Ali's Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini, peeled and then shaved
Tomatoes, quartered
Basil, torn
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Goat cheese
Salt & pepper

Corn Off the Cob

I only buy corn on the cob this time of year because you can get it fresh, local and organic. I try to only eat organic corn since it's one of the most genetically modified crops so I end up eating a ton of it while I can get it at the farmers market. If you are also overdosing on corn this month, here's a Bittman piece on corn and some great recipes to try.

Mark Bittman article: "Shuck & Awe"

Mark Bittman recipes: "12 Recipes for Corn Off the Cob"

Monday, August 27, 2012

Time to Get Creative!

My friend Michele shared this link on Facebook and I loved looking through all the photos and descriptions. I'm hoping to get out of my habit of rotating through a few sandwiches and sides so this is inspiring and helpful. Thanks Michele!

"School Lunch Roundup"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Look of the Day: Blake Lively

Photo from Just Jared

Simple & Delicious

Last night I made this kale and avocado salad from Dinner, A Love Story for a family dinner party. I thought it sounded good, but was not prepared for how good it was. Everyone gobbled it up and raved about it. Even my 5 year old said it was good after I asked her to try a bite. A 5 year old! I think I have an avocado allergy but I was willing to deal with a stomach ache to eat every last bite of my serving. It was that good. I know, it sounds weird. It's a kale salad. But it really was delicious.

I did a heavy toss so the avocado got creamy and covered the kale instead of leaving it chopped. I used a lot of lemon juice and a great Pecorino Romano from Delaurenti (which by the way you can now order on Amazon Fresh!)

Need another reason to make this salad? Read this list of the Top 10 Health Benefits of Kale 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Portland Induces Extreme Gluttony (and my longest post ever)

“Eventually, mercifully, the waitress pried the spoons out of our hands and took the dessert stuff away, and we were able to stumble zombielike out into the night.”  ― Bill Bryson
If only we were so lucky. We just kept eating.
A few months ago I went to Portland with some friends. We had a five and a half hour dinner at my friends new restaurant (more on that shortly) and went to three restaurants the next night for three rounds of dinner. It was gluttony at it's finest. It was gluttony insanity. But, we had 4 amazing dinners and 2 amazing brunches to show for it, filled with way too much Rosé and lots of laughs. And a few rounds of Journey karaoke thrown in to round out the absurdity of the night. The point is - Portland is fun, and full of great food!
Night of Gluttony #1
My friends Jen and Ken opened a new seafood-sensation restaurant called Riffle NW so that was our first stop in town. That's a lie. First stop was Clyde Common for some delicious drinks. But the most important stop was Riffle NW. I am not a writer or a reviewer so I will keep it simple... I loved it! The restaurant had such great energy, an amazing menu selection that made it impossible to decide what to order, delicious food, an open kitchen which I adore, cool decor with tricks up their sleeves, and the best cocktail of my life - the Riffle Collins with Gin, Lemon, Lime, Celery, Absinthe, Salt. So good that I had a few too many but I pulled it together until we closed down the joint.
The food was amazing. Highlights for me personally were the yellowtail tuna with green goddess dressing, the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, the crab roll on a homemade brioche roll, the late night cheddar and bacon grilled cheese, and the lamb with mint sauce. Oh holy heaven, it was all so good!

Salmon carpaccio = beautiful

Crab roll = amazing!
Morning of Gluttony #1
We woke up the next morning and vowed never to eat again. We were so full. We sat and drank a cup of coffee for nearly two hours hoping to buy time so we'd get hungry again and could go eat. For brunch, my friend Jen recommended Irving Street Kitchen. We ordered the lemon poppy seed cake for a starter which I loooooooved and I had the best brunch dish of my life... the Moroccan poached eggs with grilled garlic rubbed toast. Amazing.
Night of Gluttony #2

First stop: Ox
Great meal, great cocktails, great fun watching the guys at the kick-ass grill.
Highlights were the kale salad with strawberries, fried chickpeas and feta ranch dressing, the veggie empanada and the grilled artichoke.
The cool grill...

Ox martini - hilarious presentation

Second stop: Biwa
Great fun but my least favorite of the weekend. I would order differently next time. The romen noodles with the egg looked amazing but it was recommended that we not order that since we were headed to Portland's most famous restaurant, Le Pigeon, next and needed some space in the old bellies. Highlight there was the fried kimchi and the yellowtail hamachi. My friends all loved this restaurant. Worth a trip back.
Third stop: Le Pigeon
We were so excited to get a seat at the counter because you are looking right into the kitchen. You can see every move the chefs make. That alone was fun. We started with goeduck and rabbit something or other that I didn't eat. We also ordered a hamburger as an appetizer (because that's the crazy shit people do when they eat three dinners in one night). I haven't had a burger in years, and I have been known to proclaim that "I will never eat a burger again" but come on, it's Le Pigeon. So I ate every last nibble of my quarter of a burger and the accompanying blue cheese salad. It was insanely good. I might only eat burgers there from now on. From there, the Rosé was really kicking in so I can't totally remember what entrees anyone else ordered but I got the cavatelli which was absolutely delicious. By the end, I had not even one centimeter of room left in my stomach, large intestine, small intestine, or esophagus. I did not eat the teeniest chocolate that Le Pigeon offered. I did not order a drink at the next bar. There literally... was... no... room....

I walked it off for a few minutes and I was back - vodka in one hand and a mic in the other, ready for some karoke. Man, Portland is fun!

Le Pigeon burger

Morning of Gluttony #2
Once again we woke up full, but not too hungover thanks to the 600lbs of food we consumed. Jen and Ken took us to one of their most favorite restaurants in Portland for brunch called Ned Ludd. I can see why. This place is fantastic. If you want to read a creative description of the restaurant, google for some reviews because I don't have the words or skills to describe it. That said, I fell in love with it. Every inch of it was cluttered with stuff but in such a sweet way. The patio and the bathroom were equally cool and different. The food was fantastic. Highlights for me were the blueberry muffin and the grilled pork and rapini dish.

All said and done that was worth every second, every cent, and every calorie. If you can get your butt to Portland for a food frenzy, I highly recommend it. We didn't even make it to all the restaurants we wanted to try. There are so many more great ones on our list (Pok Pok, Nostrano, Grüner, and more).

And if you are a food lover and are traveling somewhere with too many restaurants to pack in, I highly recommend the multiple dinner idea. It was so fun and delicious, and great to mix up the scenery, seating, crowd, and conversation. 

Accessories for the Day


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grab & Go Emergency Bag

The 6 P's quote is a good segway to the Grab & Go Bag. I like to feel prepared. I have a fire ladder underneath my bed, because we had one growing up. I have a Red Cross emergency backpack, water, and enough food to feed all of Seattle for a few days weeks should there be a major emergency. And I just learned about a Grab & Go bag in case of a fire. It's a great place to store your passports, birth certificates, social security cards and some cash. Throw it in a ziploc and shove it somewhere hidden but easy to access. This also makes it really easy when you need these items for travel, kids sports, etc. If you're anything like me, you forget the "safe place" you filed these important documents away. Problem no more!

Look of the Day

Great way to mix in some camo. Cute look. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Exception to the Rule

Interesting article on how to prevent (or lessen) jet lag...

"A Battle Plan for Jet Lag"

It's a hard one for me to swallow since I have a real fondness for Larry David's quote about people who wear sunglasses indoors...

"There are only two types of people who wear sunglasses indoors... blind people and assholes."

I will make an exception though for travelers hoping to avoid jet lag, just this once.

Look of the Day

I absolutely love this look by Kate Moss at the Fashion for Relief Charity Dinner. The dress is AMAZING....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One by One Changing Lives

This is such a cool example of the incredible work One by One is doing to change the lives of women who are fistula survivors. Eunice suffered from fistula and was shunned by her husband and his other wives. She was forced to live in a terrible shack and barely spoke for years. One by One found her through volunteers who travel to remote villages. They arranged for her to get an operation and counseling. Then they helped her build this home in a day complete with solar panels. Now she is the only person to have electricity within a 10 mile radius and can charge people's cell phones for money. This was a life changing experience for Eunice. She no longer suffers and is not ostracized by her family and community. Now she has confidence and pride, and a chance to have a life and income. An amazing example of the great work done by One by One.

Video: Building Eunice a House

Pop a Pill, Test Well

Last week my friend Clare and I were talking about prescription drug abuse among teenagers and young adults. She told me about this article describing kids who use pharmaceutical drugs to heighten their focus when studying or taking tests (mainly high school!). So disturbing...

Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Look of the Day

Kate Bosworth in H&M

Love the look

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Ails Us

Fascinating topic. Great article. (Thanks Jen for sharing!)

"What Ails Us"

Gabor Maté Challenges The Way We Think About Chronic Illness, Drug Addiction, And Attention-Deficit Disorder

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Story of International Adoption

Such an interesting and heart-breaking story. We all take so much for granted, and this reminded me to be thankful for even the simplest things, like being able to walk down the street holding my daughter's hand.

"Untying a Birth Mother’s Hands"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Slice of Heaven

I'm not a huge cake person so I'm always hoping for something to wow me. I had the Simply Desserts Chocolate White Chocolate Cake this past weekend and it rocked my world. It was heaven on earth. Can't wait to order it for our next family birthday party.

What's your favorite cake in the greater Seattle area? Anything out there I need to know about? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Look of the Day

As always - Jessica Alba fashion perfection

Best Roasted Potatoes

My friend Jen told me about this recipe for Mustard Roasted Potatoes. I was kind of over roasted potatoes until tonight. Loved this dish. Loved the crispy onions with every bite.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Panini Perfection

Last night we had my parents over for dinner so I decided to try the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich. One word - DELICIOUS!

Instead of the green goddess pesto on the recipe though, I used Ina's recipe for Green Goddess Dressing because I can't get enough of it (using half the mayo, sour cream and anchovy). It makes so much that you have enough for salads and sandwiches. I used a loaf of Grand Central Bakery's Piccolo Como which I love for sandwiches, panini and toast. It's crunchy on the outside and perfection on the inside. I skipped the avocado but layered heavy on the sauce, mozzarella, spinach and goat cheese. Instead of cooking them in a grill pan I used a panini press. I brushed it with some olive oil and then warmed these sandwiches to golden perfection, oozing with melted cheese. I cut into triangles and before I had the full dinner served the panini platter was empty.

I served with Operation Pantry Cleanout Minestrone and Grilled Zucchini. A perfect dinner.

Thought for the Day

What’s real love?

Being responsible for how we treat each other.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Celebrate Summer's Bounty

This is the best time of year to shop at the farmers market. There's so much to choose from that it's hard to decide what to cook. Here are some delicious things I'm excited to make in the next few weeks. So much to make, so little time.

Tomato & Corn Pie
Cold Melon Soup with Cucumber Chile Ice
Carrot Ginger Soup
Eggplant Parmesan
Peach & Blueberry Crisp
BBQ Chicken Dinner (Whitney's recipe)
Veggie Sandwich
Haricots Verts with Shallots
Vegetable Tian
Greek Village Salad
Gwyneth's Fried Zucchini Spaghetti
Grilled Zucchini with Balsamic Vinegar
Salmon Nicoise Salad
Spice Rubbed Salmon
Poached Salmon with Dill-Mustard Sauce
Creme Fraiche-Roasted Salmon
Halibut from Il Terrazzo Carmine
Christopher’s Texas Pecan Crusted Halibut in Tomato Orange Sauce
Tomato soup
Fresh Corn Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Mint & Basil
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sweet Onion and Mint
Grilled Corn with Mexican Seasoning, Lime and Queso Fresco

You should be able to find all of these recipes on the blog (except for the last one).

What are your favorite recipes for salads, tomatoes, eggplant or specific summer ingredients. Share them with me!!!!

Thought for the Day

Control is the opposite of love.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Terpening Summer Olympics

My kids are obsessed with the Olympics. They watch for a bit and then they make their own Olympic Games, complete with bathing suits and body dives. This morning I kept my daughter busy for almost an hour making Olympic medals in gold, silver and bronze. I love when some wrapping paper, ribbon and tape can buy me an hour of relative peace.

Great Article!

Take 2 seconds this morning and read this...

What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All'

Thanks Jen for sharing!