Summer Eating and Reading

My good friend and wonderful author, Marilee Brothers, has kindly posted some of my summer cooking ideas on her Blog – BookBlatherBlog. If you’ve not seen her blog, you are missing great recommendations for reading plus all of her books!

These pictures will give  you a hint of the dishes I’m sharing with you all and I hope you’ll find a few to try –
Apr Hawaiian Beef Cubes  Hawaiian Beef Cubes
Jun 27 Chicken Sqlad w Honey Lime Dressisng Honey-Lime Salad Dressing
Jul 19 Pasta w P.nut sauce Pasta with Peanut sauce – serve hot or cold.
those are just a few of the dishes Marilee has added to her blog –

Please check them and her books out!!

Between Marilee’s book ideas and mine for summer cooking, I think we have your days covered!! Enjoy!

More Leftovers and Still Searching…

Last blog entry I shared the recipe using our gift of fresh peas – Saffron Couscous with Fresh Peas and Chives, which is an excellent recipe. What I didn’t pay attention to was the amount of couscous called for…..1 1/4 cups. This I know is way too much for just a couple of servings for the two of us.

Too late, so I had the unexpected treat of leftover couscous. My first leftover dish was Couscous patties and what a treat these are and for once a recipe with the correct ratio of dry to wet ingredients so the patties hold together while cooking!! (doesn’t happen too often)
Here’s a reminder of our bounty –
Jun 18 Fresh Peas

Couscous Cakes
Adapted from a recipe from Giada DeLaurentis from Food Network.
Jun 19 Couscous Cakes
2 cups cooked couscous, prepared according to package instructions and cooled
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 lemon, zested
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tsps. minced candied jalapenos (or regular jalapenos)
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup mild mango chutney

In a medium bowl, mix together the couscous, cilantro, egg, egg yolk, coriander, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Mix until combined.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
Form 1/4 cupfuls of the mixture into 8 patties.

Add 4 of the patties to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture.  Serve with chutney or just about any sauce you like.
After 1 dinner and a batch of cakes, I still had 4 cups of couscous leftover. 2 cups are now saved in the freezer. Now comes the dish of the week!

A little background which will bring us up to today’s Seafood Couscous with Coconut Curry ‘gravy’. Yesterday we went to a friend’s house for a paella dinner. My friend, Gary, makes a mean Paella and he has a new paella pan which, of course, he had to show off! I must say I’d almost kill for one of these pans – it is humungous and absolutely beautiful -check the size of the wine glass to the size of the pan to see why I’m so envious….
Jun 19 Seafood Paela
And, because of the size of pan, the amount of paella was humungous, also. LEFTOVERS for the guests!!

Now, for the 2nd backup story (I hope you’re still with me) – a week or so ago we went to our favorite local Asian restaurant, SoHo Asian Bistro and had the best Seafood with Coconut Curry I’ve ever had! Naturally I wanted to recreate the dish if possible and with the leftover bounty of seafood and couscous, everything just fell into place.

Thai Peanut Gravy
This recipe is from Thai Kitchen website and while it is very good, it was not a duplicate of the dish I wanted….so the hunt is still on. But, I will make this one again, it’s delicious so I will share it.
Jun 20 Thai P.Nut Gravy with seafood, couscous
1 can Thai Kitchen® Coconut Milk
2 Thai Kitchen® Red Curry Paste
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 Tbs Fish Sauce
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, crushed
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 kaffir lime leaves (I had to sub Myer Lemon zest plus a little lime juice)
1/4 tsp cornstarch dissolved with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup basil leaves, whole or chopped (optional)
1 fresh red chile, thinly sliced (optional)

MIX coconut milk and red curry paste in small saucepan. Bring to simmer on low heat, stirring constantly.
STIR in chicken stock, fish sauce, peanuts, sugar, salt, kaffir lime leaves and cornstarch mixture. Bring to simmer. Stirring constantly, simmer until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Remove from heat.
STIR in basil and chiles, if desired.

Today is Saturday June 20th and tomorrow is Father’s day – I’m sure we all have the menus worked out for our favorite guys……don’t we?

I’ll keep mine under wraps until tomorrow after we’ve judged them. But, I will say I do have a loaf of 18 hour bread working on the counter….one of Roy’s favorite things in the world!
Jun 20  18 hr bread for Dad's day

More tomorrow and I want to wish all our fathers the happiest of days – to the Dad’s still with us and those who are not that we will never forget!!

Here are two of my favorite Dads – and we lost both of them too darn young….more about them tomorrow.
May 27 Dad In Cuba WWII(  Jimmy and his Daddy







Moving In Update and Fresh Peas!

Moving at our age is certainly not for sissies!! Been a lot of years since we have worked this hard, but along with sore muscles we now have so many projects accomplished to make our little country ‘shambles’ our perfect little farmhouse. Roy has worked everyday building projects which pop  into my head to make the tiny kitchen much more work-friendly. Pictures will follow later….

My small kitchen garden that will see us through this first summer is planted and growing wonderfully well – I’m already able to cut a few leaves of various lettuce  and herbs to add to salads and I can almost see the zucchinis, tomato and pepper plants growing every day! Won’t be too long.

Yesterday was a food-filled day! Finally had all my smoking equipment unpacked and some chicken  thighs dry-rubbed overnight ready for the smoker. Also, adding to the feast,  friends (thank you Gary & Guimi Prater) had given me a bag of fresh peas from their garden which were delicious sweet to munch on as is. But, I did get them hidden from me in the fridge to be used in a dish of some sort.
Jun 18 Fresh Peas
Jun 18 Bowl of Couscous, peas, chives
Couscous with Peas and Chives was the perfect choice to allow the peas to shine. And, a reviewer of the recipe’s method was just the right way to prepare the dish. (Add couscous to a 4-cup measure, top with the shelled peas; after bringing chicken stock, pinch of saffron, and butter to a boil, pouring it over the couscous. Let sit 5 min. covered and the dish is ready. I have to say this turned out to be the best way to cook (using the term loosely J ) peas I’ve ever done – the peas were still their vibrant bright green and texture was a crisp-cooked result tasting like they had just come from the garden.

The smoked chicken thighs were very tasty also, but since I’m not a fan of overly smoked food, next time I will pull them after two hours of smoking and finish off in the oven if necessary. But the flavors of the rub and baste were spot on heat-wise and still very tender and moist.
Jun 18 Couscous with smoked chix thighs
And, to top the day off, our friend the Pie Lady, Kate McDermott, stopped by with a Rhubarb Custard pie to taste test! Loved her version, especially with the addition of sugared pecans scattered over the top – I wanted more of the crunch! So very good. It’s very hard not to eat well with the friends and neighbors we are lucky enough to have here in Port Angeles.

Here’s the recipe for the Couscous dish – adapted from an Epicurious recipe

Saffron Couscous with Fresh Peas and Chives
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 1/4 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas or frozen peas
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs (1/4 stick) butter
pinch of saffron threads
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Pour the couscous into a 4-cup measure and top with the peas.
Bring the brother, butter and saffron threads to a boil and pour over the couscous/pea mixture to cover completely. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove cover, transfer to a serving dish fluffing the couscous and gently adding the chives to the mixture along with salt and pepper.  Taste for seasoning.

This dish is so versatile, I’m anxious to try switching up the herbs and using basil, rosemary, maybe even a few leaves of mint and/or cilantro.

The mama-to-be doe we have been watching evolved into an entire herd this morning – Thank heavens my tender little beginning garden was well protected.
Jun 18 Herd of deer
Happy cooking and enjoying the fruits of your labor everyone! I’d love to hear from you with any additional ideas for this dish – it just calls for playing with.

May 23, 2015 Settling in Time at the ‘Farm’

Settling in time at the ‘farm’ – we certainly have lots of work to do to make our little farm really “ours” but slowly we will make it just as we want. First big project was to create a  parking space for our travel trailer which would have the feel of being part of the family yard for visitors. And, as our new little farmhouse has only one bedroom, we need guest facilities. The new driveway is turning out exactly as we had visualized and we’re almost ready to bring the trailer to its new home.
Apr 26 Monroe Rd 9  May 21 Gravel work 4
Back in the kitchen, it’s been an adventure learning to work in the much smaller kitchen than our old house, but thankfully after spending 10 months on the road in the smallest of small kitchens, this new one is looking kind of large right now!

All the boxes are still not unpacked as yet, so it’s a challenge to work around what I don’t have accessible! For this next treat what I miss the most is my half pie tin which allows us to enjoy pies, but not have a whole one in the house to over-tempt us. If your house has only 2 people, this might be an idea for all of us who love pie!
Apr 29 Apricot  pie 2
But, since it was still packed, sigh…I had over-ripe bananas which needed to be used and HAD to make a large banana pie and boy, did we eat it all with no problem at all, except a  little guilt thrown in. It’s been years since I’ve made this pie and my old recipe stands up well and is delicious.

Banana Cream Pie
May 17 Banana Cream PIe
1 baked pie crust, cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbs butter or margarine
2 tsp vanilla
2 to 3 medium bananas, sliced

In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens; boil and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir about 1/4 cup hot mixture into egg yolks. Gradually stir yolk mixture into hot mixture.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture begins to bubble and is thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool until lukewarm, about 20 minutes.

Arrange banana slices in cooled baked shell. Pour cooled pudding over bananas.
Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Store in refrigerator.
Yield: 8 servings

Here is a recipe for roasted veggies which can take you through a complete day of enjoying healthy meals, well at least 2 of your meals while busy going through boxes. I made just 1/2 the original recipe, but now I wish I had made an entire amount, it’s that good. I found myself picking at the peppers until I just had to hide them in the refrigerator to stay out of them. The original recipe came from o old Weight Watchers magazine.

I started the day roasting the peppers and trying to stay out of them until I could serve them with our grilled chicken wings and Brussels sprouts.

Roasted Pepper Salad
May 21 Roasted REd Bell Salad  May 21 wings, b.sprouts, bell pepper salad
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded & coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed thru a press
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tsp olive oil
4 different-color bell peppers cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs red-wine vinegar (I’ll probably use white balsamic)
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley

Preheat oven 350° F. Spray a large rimmed b. sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix the tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp. oil in a bowl. Spread the bell peppers, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Spoon the tomato mixture over them.

Cover loosely with foil and roast 30 minutes. Uncover and roast until the peppers are tender, about 15 minutes. (NOTE: When I removed from oven to uncover, my peppers were just al dente – to me perfect, so didn’t do the additional 15 min.) Let the pepper mixture cool. Transfer to an airtight container & refrigerate up to 2 days.

To serve:
Transfer the salad to a bowl and let come to room temp., about 1 hour. Whisk the remaining 2 tsp. oil, the vinegar, and salt in a small bow. Drizzle over the salad and sprinkle with the basil.

And for our later snack/supper, I tossed the other half (really a quarter of the original recipe) the roasted peppers with 1/3 cup marinara sauce I had in the freezer and tossed with hot pasta. Delicious. Such an easy day of healthy eating.
May 21 Rstd Pepper Pasta

So, I’ll continue in my small kitchen working with whatever utensils/pans are unpacked while Farmer Roy is out playing with his new toy……
May 16 - ride on mower

P.S. And, look what Farmer Roy just brought home to me… smoker!! What a happy cook I will be now that I can pick up a pork belly and get busy smoking some bacon for the family. Yum!
May 22 Smoker HOme

And, with Memorial Day coming up, I can smoke some ribs!! Have a wonderful holiday, everyone and let’s all remember those who gave so much for us in the Armed Forces – God Bless them all.





































May 2, 2015 – Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and…



This post will be short and sweet, but wanted to get this down on paper before I forgot the particulars – after a long day of Septic inspection, mentally planning where everything will be situated within the confines of our 1 acre, we came back to the RV park to crash and have something simple. And, here it is – if you try this soup combination, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did and will again tonight!

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and…
May 2 Rst Peppr Soup
Simple, Easy, Fast, and Delicious!

Divide between two bowls:
(I use SST bowls so I can heat the soup baine marie style)

1 box Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked rice
Sriracha, a couple squeezes for each bowl

Cover one dish and refrigerate until next day.

Heat other bowl of soup and enjoy!!

Each bowl serves 2 generously
And, Chardonnay is delicious with the soup

a Chef’s Journey recipe – May 2, 2015

Short and Sweet! Now, to finish the Chardonnay and crash!

April 30, 2015 – What to do While Waiting for Purchased Home to Close!!

To back up a little and fill in the blanks – Last July, we put our house on the market with the plan of taking our time over a couple months to plan our strategy in selling what we didn’t want to keep (as we wanted badly to down-size) and what we would put in storage to wherever we finally decided to put roots down.

With St. Joseph buried in the back yard to (hopefully) insure the house sold in a reasonable length of time…. Our house sold in 3 days and the buyers wanted in A.S.A.P. – Panic time. So, after a scramble of a few weeks, we packed up the travel trailer and headed out on Highway 2 with the intention of driving across the northern U.S. and see new sights and old friends. We made it to Minnesota where snow was predicted – in September, for God’s sake!! After visiting with and being fed like royalty by our friends, Laura & Brad Behrendt in Rogers, MN, we hightailed off Highway 2 plans and headed south.

We gave it a bloody try to go south and then east to Florida and be able to head north up the eastern coast. But, after roosting for 3 months in Louisiana waiting for good weather and road conditions, we gave it up as a lost cause.

O.K., that’s the background to where we are today. We left Louisiana traveling west stopping here and there to visit friends and kids and landed back in Washington April 21st. We started our search for a new home Sunday, April 26th AND found the house with the Denham name on it that first day!! If you haven’t noticed Roy and I do not move in slow motion – when we see what we like, we know it and act.

This little farm was calling our name and we knew it the minute we drove in the drive way – this is us!!
Apr 26 the view
and, the bilious blue house, which will morph into a Barn Red farmhouse SOON!
Apr 28 the house
Apr 26 Apple trees  Now is the time of waiting – offer accepted and paperwork crawling along thru all departments it needs to travel. Anyone who has ever bought a house knows how this is just the slowest, agonizing time of waiting……

Hence, the question – What to do While Waiting for Purchased Home to Close!
The answer is – COOK!

I’m filling my days by cooking all kinds of goodies to have pkg’d up and in the freezer so when the house closes, and we are swamped with moving in and beginning remodel, we will have fast food available to us.

Today was a marathon of cooking and remember we’re in a travel trailer. Hope the following pictures don’t bother anyone –

Started yesterday with a Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib dinner from Ruhlman’s new Braising book which is over the top delicious!
Apr 29 Brised Short Ribs  Apr 29 Braised Short Ribs Plated
This morning, I started with a crockpot of Chile Colorado Burrito filling – a recipe which a number of friends (Daphne, Blane and ‘Trixxee’) have made over the last couple of years and we all really enjoy! I plan to use for topping pasta, sandwich and taco filling. Because I lack space in the travel trailer, the crockpot needed to go in the bathroom!
Apr 30 'bathroom' Crockpot

Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Cubes – I’ve used this mixture in sandwiches topped with Fontina cheese, also Garlic jam as a condiment and slices of candied Jalapeno peppers slipped inside. This one braised in the kitchen oven.
Apr Hawaiian Beef Cubes

My sourdough needed feeding, so used the extra for a loaf of Sourdough bread and a focaccia. Stove was too hot with oven on to rise my bread, so found a sunny spot on the bed!
Apr 30 Bedroom Bread
Apr 30 Sourdough Bread loaf
Lastly, with all the nice flavor aromas floating around this trailer, I was in the mood for a simple pasta and tomato dish – and, a new favorite was born! This is such an easy to put together flavorful Mediterranean-style dish and will be called upon in the coming months as we work our aging butts off with no energy to make complicated dinners!!
Apr 30 Pasta w tom, capers, kalamata, wine
Tomorrow will be an easy day of making rice to pkg. up to be added to the different burrito dinners. And, figure out what’s for dinner as everything is in the freezer!!!!   Now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine and beat my loving husband at a few games of Cribbage!

P.S. I need to pass along a tip I was reminded of when reading the Braising book – Michael Ruhlman’s “How To Braise” – when braising, topping the pot with a regular lid allows the  contents to come to a boil, which is counterproductive to a braising  method. The meat and veggies can fragment and loose valuable flavor.
Apr 29 short rib parchment
A parchment paper lid is a perfect solution; one which I learned in culinary school and have completely forgotten over the years!! Cut a circle of parchment paper and cut a little hole in the center of the paper for steam to escape and keeps the meat/veggie from drying out. I hope you all will give this a try and find how well it works.

Here are a couple of the above mentioned recipes –

Chile Colorado Burritos
This recipe is from a blogger – and it is delicious!

2 lb stew meat
1/2 cup of tomato sauce (if you’re out of tomato sauce – mix 1/2 tomato paste & water for a substitute)
1 Tbs Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate (easily found in the Mexican section of grocery stores)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbs chili powder
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
flour tortillas
shredded cheese

Make enchilada sauce. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together tomato sauce, Caldo de Tomate, garlic powder, chili powder, flour and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Place stew meat in 6-quart slow cooker. Cover with enchilada sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred beef. On an oven-proof plate, lay out a tortilla. Top tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the meat and some shredded cheese. Roll up into a burrito. Pour some enchilada sauce from the crock pot over the burrito to cover it. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.
Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Cubes
This recipe is very flexible – can be doubled, tripled; whatever your needs are. I made this with no clear idea of what to do with it after….So, I’m still looking for ideas other than sandwiches and topping pasta or a pizza. I adapted this recipe from one given to me by my cousin, Lynn Shelledy and we bless her every time I make it! Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Beef chuck roast, cut in chunks, 1” to 1 1/2″ size
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha, optional – but so good!!

Spray crockpot with cooking spray for easier clean up later.
Combine all together, cook in Crock-pot 6-8 hours…that’s it! Done!
Pasta with Tomatoes, Capers and Kalamata
Serves 2 generously

It can be a bit tricky cooking angel hair pasta. You have to pay close attention to cooking time. Here’s the trick: Cook this pasta to just below al dente, drain, and toss it with just enough olive oil to avoid stickiness. Then add the pasta back to the pan, and heat it through quickly so the pasta does not overcook. It is worth the attention because when you get it right, this dish is sheer perfection. This tip is from The Fast Diet Cookbook for Weight Loss.

4 oz Angel hair pasta
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (or if you have them, 2 T. roasted garlic cloves)
3 tomatoes, rough chopped
1 Tbs capers, rough chopped plus 1 tsp. of the brine
8 Kalamata olives, rough chopped
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken stock
Chives for garnish
1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions, drain, toss with
1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil until shimmery. Add the garlic and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, and basil, salt, and pepper, and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the vegetables and toss to combine.
Add the chicken stock and reserved brine; stir well to coat the pasta; continue over heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve the pasta sprinkled with chives on warm plates and pass the Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
Enjoy! Come back and visit – I’ll be making some easy summer dinners for a while and I’ll share the best ones with everyone.

April 23, 2015 – Freezer Clean-out Time

Since we’re winding down on this trip, I took everything out of the freezer and I could not believe what all I have in there. I won’t list everything, but suffice to say – we could probably live off this inventory for 2 months!!

I wasn’t going to admit this on any ‘social media’ – but, then I realized some good recipes and ideas are coming out of this cleanup project, so like everything else in my life, I’m hanging these ideas out for everyone.

The bad part is, I will be making dishes I can’t possible duplicate; as in the dish we had today – a dish from Noble Pig’s blog: Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom Pasta.

The following is a statement I make so often upon seeing a recipe which sounds too good not to make, but…….

But, I don’t have Bowtie pasta, bacon, or ham, or sour cream… …

Here’s the recipe and I think the original would be very tasty, but with the revisions I had to make, I think it was wonderful!! I made kind of 1/2 a recipe of the below –

Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom-Leek Pasta – Altered to fit our ingredients Author: Noble Pig, 12/28/12

1/2 lb bowtie pasta, dry (I used 4 oz. Spaghetti Rigati)
6 slices thick cut bacon, diced (I used 1/4 cup prosciutto bits)
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced (no leeks, I used 1/2 on onion)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used dried morels and porcini)
2 cups leftover ham, cubed(no ham, used ~2 cups seasoned alligator bites a cook gave me in Louisiana and I froze)
8 Tbs butter (~ 3 T. clarified butter from freezer)
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (used green)
1/2 head purple cabbage, shredded(no purple- didn’t use)
Garnish with: freshly ground black pepper (added Truffle Salt – great addition of musky flavor.)
dollop of sour cream (had none – not needed)

1. Make pasta according to package directions. Let sit in the water to keep warm. Kind of bastardized the method from here, but pretty much close:

2. Sauté bacon over medium heat until slightly brown. Add leeks and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more. Add mushrooms and ham and cook until done. Remove from pan.

3. Without wiping the pan, melt butter and add cabbage. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add bacon-ham-mushroom mixture to the cabbage as well as bowtie pasta. Toss together and serve immediately. serves 6
Apr 22 Alligator, Mushroom Pasta 1  Onions, reconstituted morels and porcini mushrooms
Apr 22 Alligator, mujshroom pasta 2  Cabbage, pasta and sautéed alligator added to the onion mixture –
Apr 22 Alligator, mushroom pasta plated a great combination of flavors: Morel and Porcini mushrooms, prosciutto bits, sautéed cabbage and onions tossed with pasta and chunks of Louisiana seasoned alligator and seasoned with Truffle salt and lots of freshly ground pepper – what a dish!!

And, because we have so many goodies in the freezer, I don’t think we’re going out for Mexican tonight after all, as we had planned. In fact we may not have dinner at all…also found some Vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I have bourbon, maple syrup and peanut butter….know where I’m going with this?????????????? Probably will be our dinner.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake
Dec 1 P.Butter Honey Bourbon Milkshake
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream (we use frozen yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes (or use however many to make as thick a shake as you prefer)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until fully incorporated and frothy.
More dishes which turned out very tasty from leftover packages:
Apr 21 Hawaiian Pork Tostada Hawaiian Pork and rice from a Medford, OR restaurant – diced the pork, added the rice and a can of refried beans spiced up with taco sauce and packaged up in 1/2 cup baggies. One morning, spread the filling on a crispy corn tortilla topped with tomatoes, green onions and cilantro for a Tostada dinner.

Apr 18 Hawaiian Pork burrito For brunch, used the filling in a burrito and topped again with tomatoes and green onion and served with a grapefruit and banana salad. Four more pkgs. are left to think about.
How easy can a dinner or brunch be for a busy family?

Apr 21 BBQ Rib Pizza A pkg. of BBQ Ribs with sauce morphed into a wonderful pizza! Brush a pizza dough round with BBQ sauce, then layer chopped rib meat (or BBQ Pork roast meat), cheese slices (I had Taleggio cheese), tomato slices, dried basil and red pepper flakes sprinkled over and baked. Sprinkle with green onions as it comes out of the oven.

It was a good feeling to scratch out a few items on my list of freezer goodies, but I have a couple pages to go yet, so I’m anxious to see what dishes  develop out of this little experiment. I’m thinking the real challenge will be to have on hand some of these same packages again so when I have to go freezer diving, I can recreate them.  More to come……

April 18, 2015 – Two Week Food Regime

We have been on a 2 week ‘food regime’ aka  diet – a word I hate to use. We survived and survived very well, too!! The selected foods we were allowed made it easy to be creative and overall got us thru this ordeal! The reason for all this?? The wonderful food we have been eating and cooking on our road odyssey since last July. But, it was so worth it. We are almost ‘home’ where we will be starting the next chapter of our adventure. Looking for a house in Port Angeles to remodel and settle in to a little (please God) cottage. And, because P.A. has come into the real world, go back to raising chickens!!

Here are a few pictures of making our ‘regime’ more palatable and surprisingly the challenge was fun, also.

The ‘diet’ is an extreme one and probably not thought to be healthy by the medical world, but it is the only one I’ve ever been able to continue for the entire 2 weeks.  We are given one week’s list of foods and you repeat the week once. It is never advised to continue it any longer. So, I won’t post the ingredients – I don’t want to suggest anyone else try it, I just know it works for me. It’s called the Air Force diet and I’ve been resorting to it every few years since the 1960s.

Every morning the breakfast was the same for the 2 weeks – eggs, toast, grapefruit  & coffee
An example of one of the lunches – 2 eggs, tomato, lettuce: I hard cooked the eggs, chopped them, combined with the chopped tomato, wrapped in butter lettuce and drizzled with balsamic the first week and the brine from Peppadew peppers the second week. It was fantastic and I’ll be doing this off the regime, too!
One dinner – Catfish, combination salad, dry toast & grapefruit: again with the balsamic drizzle – I swear I may never go back to salad dressings, this is so good! For our fish day we had catfish both times!!
One Lunch: combination salad s/drizzle Balsamic, grapefruit, coffee – decided to just go for a chopped salad and we really enjoyed it!
Another lunch was fruit salad – and this being April we are just beginning to see beautiful fruit in the markets and we really enjoyed this –
???????????????????????????????  Can anything say summer better than this lunch????
The most interesting days were the 7th and 14th  (last day)  – dinner food called for: chicken, tomatoes, cooked cabbage, celery, vegetable soup, grapefruit. I always have the most fun with these ingredients.
.??????????????????????????????? 1st week’s chicken dinner
The 1st week with this dinner, I sautéed the veggies, added chopped chicken breast meat then added the can of undiluted vegetable soup mixed with Sriracha – wonderful stir-fry type dinner.
??????????????????????????????? 2nd week’s chicken dinner
2nd week – got a little more inspired and I was missing doing some real cooking, came up with this dish and I’m so glad I wrote it down, because it will become a staple in our lives, it’s that good!

CABBAGE “GUMBO” OR STIR-FRY:   Sauté 2-3 cups shredded cabbage, 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup chopped onion, and seasoned with S&p, dried basil & oregano. While this cooks mix together 2 T. Mirin with 1/2 tsp (to taste) Sriracha and add to the cabbage mix.
(Note: Instead of adding oil, other than just a tad to begin the veggies cooking, I added 2-4 T. water – they will steam a little while finishing cooking – the water along with the mirin mix will keep all from sticking or browning)
When the veggies are crisp tender, add 2 rough chopped tomatoes and a can of undiluted Campbell’s Vegetable soup and continue cooking until heated thru. I oven-roasted chicken thighs seasoned with ‘Cook’s Seasoning’ (which is a staple: 2 parts Kosher salt/1 part granulated garlic/1 part white pepper) and served on top of the ‘gumbo’ this time instead of adding to the dish.

We finally gave in and weighed ourselves yesterday and low and behold we are at the weight we were when we started on this adventure!! Success!

And, just a closing note: we found (on the days I cheated) –  Chardonnay is very good with grapefruit!! Who knew? J

April 15, 2015 – It’s Almost Basil Time!

Basil Jelly – a Chef’s Journey recipe
It’s almost time to plant our basil and then not much longer before we can start taking advantage of our ‘harvest.’ It’s great to have this jelly in your pantry  during the winter and be reminded of this wonderful summer flavor.
Basil Jelly 2

4 cups water
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves — finely chopped
1 package powdered fruit pectin — (1-3/4 ounces)
3 drops green food coloring — optional
5 cups sugar

In a large saucepan, bring water and basil to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Strain and discard basil. Return 3-2/3 cups liquid to the pan. Stir in pectin and food coloring if desired. Return to a rolling boil over high heat.

Stir in the sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; skim off foam.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids.

Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: 6 half-pints. Allow jelly to set up 5 days before using.
Note: The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. Add 1 minute to the processing time for each 1,000 feet of additional altitude.

Using Basil Jelly:
An old friend, Labs, suggested: Layer slice of mozzarella on a cracker, top with a dab of basil jelly and tomato jam – Caprese Salad takeoff.
Topping a cream cheese cracker.
Melt over low heat combining a few red pepper flakes and use as a sauce or glaze when grilling,
Slather a toasted bagel.

P.S. And, this year, I’m going to add a couple jalapenos to the mix!!


March 22, 2015 – A Few Dishes From the Road To Be Remembered!!

We will pay for it later, but my Goodness, we are having a ball tasting our way around the U.S. and it didn’t end when we arrived back to the West Coast. I defy anyone to find more luscious produce depts. than  we have on the West Coast. I wanted to buy one of everything I saw! Even with all the wonderful new dishes we had been enjoying, I was beginning to feel deprived of the produce/fruit choices I am used to.

Stopped for lunch at a Macaroni Grill where we haven’t been for years and I was pleasantly surprised at the offerings that were not so very unhealthy – items not over-laden with starchy/cheesy pastas. Roy had a Sausage and potato dish that was both spicy and satisfying with grilled potatoes and veggies.
My choice was Pan Seared Branzino with Lemon Chardonnay Sauce – except they did not add the sauce. The kitchen didn’t even know they were to use it! A cook sent a cup out and it made all the difference in the dish. Also, loved the grilled lemon squeezed over the fish.
Guess I’m a little ahead of myself – after we’d decided on lunch choices, I happened to see on the menu, “Mac & Cheese Bites with Truffle Dip” and decided we couldn’t possibly pass that up and good sales person that we had for a server, she mentioned that appetizers were 2 for some good price….so had to add Goat Cheese stuffed Peppadews.
???????????????????????????????  Ran out of ‘Mac & Cheese’ before the Truffle dip, but a spoon took care of that – the dip was just wonderful!
??????????????????????????????? I didn’t even know I like Peppadew peppers – they are great and with the goat cheese and drizzle of Balsamic reduction…WOW!

Both were just wonderful and I’m anxious to duplicate the Truffle dip which is an Alfredo sauce with Asiago cheese and truffle oil. (P.S. Few days later, I found a deli which offered fresh peppadews, so I have everything to play with this appie!!)

Next leg of our trip was to get to Sonoma and Placer counties to visit friends for a couple of days. En route we detoured off the freeway in Davis for a light brunch which turned out to be humungous….a bacon cheeseburger to beat all!
??????????????????????????????? Even I couldn’t get my mouth around this one, but I sure tried!!
Then back on the road.