Archive for the ‘summer suppers’ Category

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I first discovered Sleeping Lady Resort when Jack and I joined David for his general surgery retreat during his first year of post-graduate training. It is a blissful place tucked into the Cascade Mountains along the Icicle River, just outside of Leavenworth, just a few hours from Seattle. The serenity is amazing, but the thing that stood out the most during our visit was the amazing food being served at the resort. Many of the room packages include a buffet-style breakfast and dinner at the resort’s Kingfisher Restaurant and, while I am not typically too excited for buffets, I was wowed by the amazing quality and attention placed on the food here.  On the resort property is a two acre organic garden where much of the produce and herbs used in the resort’s restaurants are grown.  The farmers use both natural fertilizers, crop rotation, and environmentally beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs to maintain a healthy and sustainable garden.  And, it is quite clear from observing the daily work in the garden and talking with staff about it, that it is quite the pride of Sleeping Lady.  The culinary team visits the garden daily to harvest fresh ingredients and to plan for the resort’s daily changing menus.IMG_0691IMG_0741IMG_0718

When I was graciously presented with the opportunity to attend the late summer Harvest Dinner in Sleeping Lady’s organic garden, I, understandably, jumped at the chance!  Not only do I respect the work of Sleeping Lady’s culinary team, I’ve always wanted to dine at an outdoor farm dinner like the beautiful ones hosted by Outstanding in the Field. The Harvest Dinner seemed like a perfect way to have the experience of dining in celebration of the chef, the farmer, and the land, yet without the tremendous cost.

This past Saturday, David and I enjoyed a beautiful evening and delicious meal. Rigby tagged along and not only garnered much attention for his cute babyness, but also behaved well, which allowed us to really enjoy our food. Before we even tasted the first bite, our evening started with the introduction to our delightful dining companions, Lori Vandenbrink, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Sleeping Lady, and her husband, Patrick. We instantly connected with Lori and Patrick and their company certainly made our dining experience that much more enjoyable. Lori and Patrick’s sweet son looked after Jack during the meal, making Jack’s night also very enjoyable. The funniest part of the evening was when one of the staff members politely interrupted our conversation to say that the boys were calling requesting the password to David’s iPad so that they could watch their promised movie! This made us feel like Sleeping Lady is truly a special community, one in which we were happily connected to for the night.IMG_0689IMG_0765


Settling into our seats at the end of a long table adorned simply with a white tablecloth, a burlap table runner and dotted with lanterns and colorful flowers from the garden, we enjoyed our beers and savored the perfect temperature as the sun dropped behind the mountains. On cue, the overhead garden bulb lights turned on, casting a beautiful glow as the feast began.

The first course consisted of three salads served family style and was, perhaps, my favorite course of the evening. The flavors were all so fresh and each bite a surprising burst of summer that seemed to explode in your mouth.  I particularly loved the nuttiness of the faro from Bluebird Grain Farms that was combined so perfectly with sweet corn, perfect tomatoes, humble wax beans, and a delicious yet subtle coriander vinaigrette. Each bite was chewy and nutty and tasted like summer food should.  As we were eating the salads, Lori looked at her plate and said, “I wondered how Josh (the executive chef of Sleeping Lady) was going to use the wax beans that I bought for him at the farmers market.” I loved that the dinner was truly a combined effort of the special communities of Sleeping Lady and Leavenworth.  The other thing I have to mention about this course is the cucumber and radish salad. I normally am not a cucumber fan, but I could not stop taking bites of these cucumbers, which were so refreshing and crunchy and when I was lucky enough to get a piece of the garden grown mint on my fork, my taste buds delighted. So, so good.

The entrees were served buffet style which gave me the opportunity, while at the food table, to introduce myself to the executive chef, Joshua Holmes.  He’s a down to earth guy and we connected over our southern pasts, particularly our connection to Atlanta.  It was clear from his menu and from hearing him speak that he is passionate about using the produce and herbs from Sleeping Lady’s garden in his food.  He also mentioned how excited he is for the opportunity to get out of the kitchen occasionally and to do events like this one which are more closely married to the source of the food.

There were two particular highlights of the entree course. The first was the braised and smoked country pork rack.  In the best way, it tasted like a deliciously fatty campfire.  Really, it was so perfectly smoked, so tender, so delicious. And, perhaps the most surprising dish of the night was the grilled eggplant with chimichurri. It was truly outstanding and tasted nothing like the eggplant I’ve attempted to grill at home. IMG_0760 IMG_0723IMG_0817


Dinner closed with a vast spread of mini deserts and coffee from Grounds for Change.  I loved the creamy caramel flavors of the creme brûlée, but what I was most taken with was the dessert I least wanted to taste…the pumpkin pie. I was not feeling ready to embrace the flavors of fall, but after tasting this pumpkin pie, I’m now feeling ready for the foods of this next season, particularly if they can taste even half that good. I cannot stop thinking about it! The crust was perfectly buttery and the pumpkin was rich, yet light, and tasted perfectly of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Sleeping Lady hosts Harvest Dinners a few times annually.  If you get the chance, you should really go.  I’m hoping for an opportunity to return this winter to try a meal at O’Grady’s, their newest full service restaurant where I hear the burgers are a big hit!

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Baked Chicken Tenders
adapted from Chicken Recipe Box

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast tenders
1 cup bread crumbs (I use 3 slices of whole grain bread which I pulse into bread crumbs in the mini food processor.)
3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut chicken thighs into thin strips. The thinner they are, the quicker they will cook in the oven. Make sure to keep cuts about the same size for even cooking. If you use chicken breast tenders, you can use them as they come if all the tenders are approximately the same size (this choice is healthier since it’s white meat and, therefore, leaner and it’s a time saver=double bonus!).
In one small bowl, combine flour, salt and black pepper. In a second small bowl, beat 2 eggs. In a third small bowl, add bread crumbs.


Dredge each strip of chicken in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Repeat for all chicken strips. If you have children, let them help with this step- they love to get their hands messy and participate in meal prep, just make sure you are able to get them to a sink with soap and warm water quickly after finishing.
Lay coated chicken strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for less sticking and easier clean-up).
Bake chicken strips in oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked and crisp. Turn the chicken strips about 1/2 way through cooking.


Serve with ketchup, mustard, or your favorite dip. I prefer a Siracha ketchup or Ranch.

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Happy Spring to everyone! Yesterday, on the official first day of spring, our weather started out with heavy rain and gray skies. Then, the wind kicked up and blew the clouds and rain away to reveal beautiful blue skies and sunshine! The pops of color from the spring flowers, amidst the lush green landscape we are so accustomed to in Seattle, is so much more astounding when the sunlight hits it just right.

Oh, spring! We are ready for you…flowers, longer days, warmer weather cocktails (I’m craving a Dark and Stormy badly these days!), grilling, Easter egg hunts, and basketball!!! Who else is excited for the official start of March Madness today??! My loyalty lies with two teams. First and foremost, my alma mater, the Davidson Wildcats who play Marquette this afternoon (Go Cats!!!) and despite being such a small school nearly always score a spot in the Big Dance! And, the Florida Gators who play their first game on Friday evening…Go Gators!!!

Today is quite the perfect day for the slow cooker to cook your meal and to have it ready to be eaten right when you get home from work, when you’re ready to sit for several hours on the sofa watching all the madness of the games and updating your brackets! This chicken is really good! I prepped it the night before, cutting the onions and peppers and rubbing on the spices, then placed all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and popped it right into the refrigerator until the next morning. I started the slow cooker right before I left for work and when I got home the chicken was fragrant and very tender- I shredded it with a fork. And, it makes enough to have this same meal twice or to use the leftover chicken in a salad or on nachos! If you double the batch,you could even freeze half, which I love to do. A freezer full of stacked ziplocs filled with sauces or shredded meats makes my heart happy!


Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas Tacos
adapted from Eat, Live, Run


1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

for spice rub—

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

for serving—

corn tortillas

avocado slices

shredded sharp cheddar cheese

your favorite salsa



Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over the chicken. Then, place the chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cover the chicken with the chopped onions, pepper, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. If you are prepping ahead, place in the refrigerator until the next morning. When you are ready to start cooking, turn heat on LOW and cook for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, remove meat from crock pot and shred with a fork. It should be incredibly easy to shred.

To serve, heat your corn tortillas in a skillet on the stove or in a toaster oven on 200 degrees. Spoon some carnitas on a tortilla then top with salsa, avocado, cheese, and a squeeze of lime.

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Today’s nap time goal: Shred leftover rotisserie chicken, make salad dressing, slice sweet peppers

Tonight’s menu: Coconut Curry Tomato Soup, Rustic Chicken Salad, Good Bread (recipe to come!), Crisp White Wine

We started a Monday dinner routine this summer of having a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods along with various vegetable sides and usually some roasted sweet potatoes. It makes for an easy Monday night dinner and gives me an excuse to go to Whole Foods weekly to purchase all of the yummy things that we like especially from there.

Typically, I’m the one to gobble up all of the leftovers from the chicken as it sits atop my salad lunches for the week alongside any leftover vegetables. But, sometimes I feel like sharing and being creative with the leftover chicken. Tonight is one of those times. And, this salad is scrumptiously delicious and share-worthy. Pair it with the tomato soup and a slice of good bread and you have yourself a perfect meal to bridge the transition between the seasons.


Rustic Chicken Salad
adapted from a salad seen on Farmhouse Table
leftover rotisserie chicken (save the juices and drippings)
1 large bag of arugula
3 small pears, sliced thin
4 medium sweet peppers, seeds removed, then slivered
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1 shallot, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/3- 1/2 c. olive oil

Gently combine shredded chicken, arugula, pears, peppers, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Place shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, drippings from chicken, and olive oil in a small pitcher and whisk vigorously to combine. Right before eating, add dressing to salad and toss until well coated.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall,” so I’m letting the change of seasons inspire a rebirth here…in this space I hold so dear but so often neglect.

This blog has been shifted to the back burner as of late with my sporadic popping-ins to post about random things in my head or goings on in my life, and while that is all well and good, it makes for an unreliable and disorganized blog. Did you realize that I haven’t posted a proper recipe since the early part of May?! I had no idea it had been that long!

I’m really excited to get back to the real purpose of this blog…to share recipes (mixed in with bits about my life) that will inspire you to cook nutritious foods for your table. To help you juggle cooking tasks between child care duties and work and life so that you feel motivated, empowered, and inspired to fit real food into real life. My hope is to provide ideas and recipes to inspire you to organize your meals and create seasonal, fresh, and delicious dinners that work for your everyone who gathers around your table, so that cooking and eating can be enjoyed…together.

I’m not promising daily posts, but I will say that my intention is to post during the week on the days that I am working as a stay at home mom rather than away from home as a dietitian. I want to provide you with a glimpse at our day, a menu plan, and a recipe…let’s see how I do!


Today’s Pre-Dinner Goals (during nap or rest time): Make marinara sauce to simmer for the afternoon, slice peaches, and prep the sweet Ricotta cheese

Tonight’s Menu: Meaty Marinara Sauce over Grilled Summer Squash, Freshly Sliced Stone Fruit with Sweet Ricotta Cheese, Crisp White Wine

Jack starts the official 2012-2013 preschool year in a few more days. While he officially joined the Montessori preschool back in July for its summer session, the thought of him launching into his first real school year makes my eyes water. Some days it just feels like he is growing up so fast! His vocabulary is growing beyond belief being showcased with his elaborate story telling, he dresses himself now and even wants to pick out his own clothes which makes for some very funny outfits (wool cap in the summer sun with St Patrick’s Day leprechaun headband on top!), and he even looks older as he lengthens and loses his baby pudge.

I wanted to make a dinner that felt perfectly homemade, a dinner that showed love. But, we also wanted to spend our “last day of summer” playing at the playground and lounging on the back deck rather than being stuck in the kitchen. So, I decided on my meaty marinara sauce as it can be started on the stove during naptime and left to simmer for the whole afternoon while we play in the sunshine. In my goal of reducing the amount of pasta and other refined carbohydrates we consume, we’ve been eating homemade marinara sauce over grilled zucchini throughout the summer months. You will have to ask my boys, but I haven’t even missed the pasta…In fact, I’ve realized it’s the sauce that steals the show!


Meaty Marinara Sauce over Grilled Summer Squash

Olive oil
6 minced garlic cloves
1 lb ground beef (I used Kobe beef as a special treat, but any lean ground beef will do)
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 jar basil and roasted garlic marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil

About 2 lbs mixed summer squash
Kosher salt

1. In a large pot, brown the garlic cloves in a splash of olive oil until fragrant. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with Old Bay, and cook until browned through. Once cooked, drain any excess oil from the pot taking care not to lose any of the garlic.

2. Add the jar of marinara sauce, dried oregano, and dash of cayenne pepper and stir well to combine. Simmer over low heat with lid on until you are ready for dinner….the longer the better as the flavors will more fully develop. Stir occasionally.

3. Right before dinner, add the chopped basil to the sauce. Then, slice squash into thin strips. Toss with olive oil and kosher salt and then lay in a single layer in a grill pan to sear. You may have to grill the squash in batches.

4. Once squash is cooked, plate the squash and then top generously with the marinara sauce. A little Parmesan on top is always welcome. Serve.


Sweet Ricotta Cheese

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

Mix together until combined well and creamed.
Spoon on top of sliced stone fruit (peaches, plums, pluots) or berries.

Will keep for several days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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We spent the past week, the week between school changes for Jack and the transition week from surgery intern year to radiology residency for David, hosting David’s brother, our sister-in-law, and our niece and nephew who traveled from the mind-numbing heat of Atlanta to chilly, rainy, and occasionally sunny Seattle! David’s sister and her boyfriend also live in this area, so it was a wonderful reunion time of all 3 siblings. We had so much fun and created a lot of dear and silly memories, especially for the two- and three-year-old boy cousins!

We spent lots of time hanging out in the backyard climbing trees, enjoying drinks, digging in the dirt, playing with balls, and eating meals. And, we had a morning art/craft project making a mess with cloud dough!








The older boys had a challenging, yet fun, golf outing at Chambers Bay, the site of the 2015 US Open. The course is immensely pretty, situated along the Puget Sound with views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.




We visited the top of the Space Needle, locate in Seattle Center adjacent to the new Chihuly Glass Museum (a glass tree can be seen in the background of the first photo below). It was both our visitors’ and Jack’s first time to the Needle and we were lucky to choose a stunningly clear day! We were awarded with unobstructed views of all of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the surrounding islands.






We enjoyed a long morning at Pike Place Market where we indulged in a delicious French pastry breakfast, meandered through the many market vendors where flowers and cherries, in particular, caught my eye, explored the fun underground stores, watched cheese being made at Beecher’s, and then had a picnic lunch in the sun at Victor Steinbureck park.











On their last day here, we went to the Wooden Boat Festival at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. It was such a fun festival with wooden boats to walk on and explore, a craft booth to make your own wooden boat to take home, yummy festival food, and small model sailboat races in the pond. Our dear friends, Amy, Phil, and Hanna joined us for the outing.




We even managed to get a cute group photo of us all at Kerry Park in Queen Anne, one of my most favorite spots in all of Seattle, and a great picture of the three cousins with their Aunt Laura. We were sad to see them go!


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I’ve always loved the idea of gardening, tinkering around in the dirt with a few plants never really understanding the right thing to do, always having a low yield. But, this year, my parents sent us a garden box (a raised bed) and I researched and planned, determined to really test my green thumb.



And, I have to say that if you’ve never tried it you are missing out on an amazing opportunity. There is no gratification greater for me than serving a meal with vegetables that I grew with my own two hands. I love kneeling down with my knees in the cool grass, plucking lettuce leaves, arugula leaves, and kale from the garden box for lunch and dinner…there is something so therapeutic about it, something so naturally fundamental to my being. And, I love how much Jack is interested in the growing, caring for, and harvesting.





This is the time of year when the garden is abundant with its harvest. I love serving fresh, simple salads with every summer dinner, so when we had friend’s over for dinner this past weekend, I knew one of my shared dishes was going to be a mixed greens salad. I chose to keep it simple so as to highlight the freshness of the lettuce and arugula leaves without losing all those delicate flavors. I paired the greens with goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries and then lightly tossed it in olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and kosher salt. It was the perfect taste of homegrown summer time!

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