Posts Tagged ‘food + drink recipes’

The sun was out, David was home, friends were available, and I was itching to get outside and out of the kitchen (well, out of the kitchen after preparing our dinner)… this made for a perfect combo for our first Seattle picnic! I shared photos from our picnic adventure a few weeks ago where the duck family visited and Jack played in the freezing Lake Washington water, but I’ve been saving this amazing black bean salad recipe that I made for our picnic dinner for a “new recipe” Thursday. The salad actually has 2 recipes, but both are very easy and trust me…its totally worth the multiple steps, because this is a darn good salad!

You start by roasting a pint of cherry tomatoes. This is one of my “new things” in the kitchen…the sweetness that unveils itself in the roasting process is amazing. It really opens up a whole new level to the tomato that is unseen by eating them raw.


Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and toss in a large bowl with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon natural sugar, and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Place the tomatoes and all the oily juices on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

The tomatoes are ready when they start to brown around the edges. When they are finished, remove from oven and let cool. Keep any unused roasted tomatoes, with the olive oil sludge, in a sealed glass jar for up to one week in the refrigerator.

20110720-124344.jpg They can be used on tons of things…mixed into beans, pasta, rice dishes, eaten alone or on a crusty slice of bread…you will invent ways to eat them because they are so good!

While the tomatoes are roasting, place about 4 cups of black beans in a bowl and mix gently with the zest and juice of 1/2 of a large lemon, a healthy pinch of kosher salt, a small handful of feat cheese crumbles, and about 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds. DO NOT skip the toasting of the sunflower seeds…it may be the secret ingredient in this dish that sends it over the edge. Man, it’s just so yummy! Once the tomatoes have browned and fully caramelized and then cooled off a bit, mix about 3/4 of the amount you roasted (about 3/4 of a pint) into the black beans.

Serve the salad at room temperature so the flavors can be singled out and really shine through. Carry to a picnic or make it part of a picnic dinner at your own dining table. Enjoy!


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The salmon here is amazing! I know I told you in last week’s post that I discovered an unbelievable fish stand at our farmer’s market…well, I’m serious. This salmon is SO good and this is coming from someone who never really cared for this fish in an unsmoked form…I used to make myself eat it because of all of it’s health benefits. Having access to this amazing fresh fish up here makes me actually look forward to salmon nights!

Tonight’s dinner is simple and lovely. A perfect dinner to help you maximize your enjoyment of each other and the outdoors. As the coals get warm on the grill, start preparing the turnips. Slice the white turnips into thin slices (trying to make them no thicker than a few credit cards stacked on top of each other). Next, warm about 1 tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet. When the butter melts, place the turnips in the skillet and cook until browned well on both sides (approximately 10 minutes per side). As the turnips cook, you can make the salad by tossing arugula with quartered strawberries, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and kosher salt. Finally, grill the salmon fillets about 5 minutes on each side and simply season them with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper. A perfect outdoor summer meal. Enjoy!


Today is the last day to enter my blog contest. Winner will be chosen tonight at midnight PST…good luck to those who enter!

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When we were in Bend, Oregon over the 4th of July weekend, we had an amazingly simple, yet fantastic lunch one day from a little restaurant tucked inside a large shopping area. I have been craving the lunch since that time, so I decided to recreate it in my own way for tonight’s dinner…black bean bowls filled with slow cooked black beans, fresh vegetables, and ooey-gooey toppings like sour cream and cheese.

First you want to make a big pot of black beans. As usual, you will have lots of beans left to freeze or to use for other meals throughout the week (yay!).

As dinner time approaches, cook your rice (color is your preference…I always prefer brown for it’s texture and nutty flavor, David always prefers white) according to the package or bin directions. I now keep all of my pantry staples on an open wire shelf displayed in jars so I’ve been shopping exclusively from the bin sections at our markets…my rule of thumb for cooking rice is 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of boiling water. I just keep an eye on the rice during the cooking process, stirring occasionally, and stop the cooking when the water is gone and the rice is ready to fluff with a fork- about 20 minutes for white, 45 minutes for brown.

Add rice and black beans to a nice-sized bowl. Then, go wild with your toppings…we chose black olives, avocado which along with the black beans adds creaminess to the bowl, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, steamed and lightly salted broccoli, and lots of hot salsa.


Eat with a few corn chips and salsa and an icy beer. And, remember to enter my blog contest for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate! Contest ends Wednesday night.

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We hosted our first Seattle dinner party! And, it was wonderfully fabulous. Christa and I found inspiration for our dinner in the June issue of Real Simple in a spread featuring dinner party menus that used grilling as the main cooking technique. This made me super excited because this summer we got a brand new, shiny blue Weber grill from my parents that we are always ready to use (thank you, mom and dad!). We decided to borrow dishes from the veggie and surf menus in Real Simple to create our own tasty and fun summer meal.

To start, we grilled a few pitas and a block of feta cheese seasoned with sundried tomatoes, basil, and garlic. I found the cheese at our farmers market and it’s from Mt Townsend Creamery. We drizzled the feta with olive oil and wrapped it loosely in foil. After about 20 minutes of grilling, the cheese was creamy and delicious served with charred pita pieces.

We wanted the main dish to be inspired by our new northwest home, so we chose to grill wild caught salmon from Loki Fish Company, a company that also sells at our weekly farmers market. The color of the fish was enough to stop you in your tracks, but the taste was perfectly unforgettable. I’ve really never had salmon that tasted quite like it…is was oh SO good.

Grilled salmon with fennel and lemon:

Heat charcoal in the grill. In a medium bowl, toss 1 fennel bulb (very thinly sliced) with 1 lemon (also very thinly sliced) with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the salmon directly on the grill, skin side down, and season with 1½ teaspoons kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and top with the sliced lemon and fennel mixture.
Cover the grill and cook until the fish is cooked through, about 30 minutes.



Jack loved being near the grill and is fixated on pointing at it and saying “hot!”. However, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what this hot concept means since he threatens to go to close every time!

Christa brought a wild rice and pine nut salad and a green salad with radishes and snow peas. Both were delicious and refreshing served next to the warm dishes.


We served the food with a local dry riesling which paired perfectly. It was an amazing dinner shared with wonderful friends. I just love a good dinner party, don’t you? Cheers!


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Do you ever have a craving for comfort food, one that you just can’t shake? I sometimes crave a good ol’ homemade tomato sauce to smother over a bowl of warm of pasta.

Tonight, I sautéed 4 large cloves of minced garlic with a glug of good olive oil. Then, I added a large can of organic diced tomatoes with their juices and about a 1/3 cup of red wine and simmered it all for about 20 minutes to let the flavors develop.
In a separate pan, I sautéed a large bunch of Swiss chard with some garlic and olive oil.
I combined the greens with the tomato sauce, added some kosher salt to taste, and then tore in a handful of fresh basil before tossing it with the freshly cooked pasta.


It completely satisfied my comfort food craving and the leftovers made for scrumptious lunches! Mmmmmm.

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Any regular reader of my blog knows, I love making a big pot of slow cooked beans. Dried beans soaked overnight, seasoned with olive oil, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper, and then cooked over low heat all day are so scrumptious and make a great accompaniment to lots of different meals. I try to always have some tucked away in the freezer, because after you start eating beans this way, canned beans will never be appealing again.

It was beautiful outside…the night called for al fresco dining with a white wine spritzer to pair with some lovely Swiss chard I bought at the farmer’s market, a yummy olive bread we grabbed at our neighborhood bakery, and a big pot of white beans (click to find the recipe in an older post).


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On a rainy day a few weeks ago, Jack and I made play dough for the first time. Jack still likes to put everything in his mouth, so I knew home made was the only way to go (despite the non-toxic label on the hasbro variety). I searched through a lot of recipes and combined a few together to make my “own” using what I had on hand and what sounded like it would hold up but not be too messy. I also wanted something I could make quickly, so I chose a “no-cook” recipe which worked great.

We had fun mixing it up…if you are going to let your little one help, just make sure the water cools enough before they start mixing.

We’ve been playing with the play dough almost every day (it’s a great activity for Jack at his little table in the kitchen while I am cooking) making balls, owls, ice cream cones, pretend dinners, letters, and worm families. And, I’ve gotten out my cookie cutters and biscuit tools for Jack to use with his “dough”. It is still going strong after more than 2 weeks! And, it is not too sticky, in fact, I think it has a perfect consistency. I just store it in the refrigerator in a plastic ziplocs between uses.

1 Minute Playdough recipe:

Put 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup flour (I used oat flour which gave it a sandy texture and cool brown color), and 1 tablespoon cream of tartar in a large bowl. Then, mix in 1 tablespoon of oil and
I cup of boiling water. Knead all ingredients together until the stickiness of the dough vanishes.
You can also add food coloring at this point or a natural food dye to create colored play dough. We haven’t colored ours yet and Jack seems content.

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for whatever reason, caramelized onions have been sounding divine to me lately…perhaps because it is vidalia onion season and i am having a bit of nostalgia for sweet ol’ georgia.  and, i just love the aroma they fill your house with…as jack says, “mmmmm!”

spaghetti with caramelized onions and spinach

adapted from dinner: a love story

pour a few glugs of olive oil into a skillet set over medium-low heat, and cook 3 large onions (sliced) for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes. while the onions cook, prepare 1/2 pound spaghetti according to package directions. during the last minute of pasta cooking, add a handful of frozen spinach to the water.  drain pasta and spinach together.  toss pasta and spinach with olive oil and distribute into bowls.  stir about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar into the onions, then heap the onions on top of the pasta. top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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it’s pretty obvious that i love to eat quesadillas (i have previously posted about them here and here).  tonight i was yearning for a yummy but quickly prepared meal so we opted for super simple broccoli and cheese quesadillas.  they were so good (and david and i were deep into a discussion) that i forgot to take a picture!  but, jack had a side of green beans with his quesadilla and i took these priceless photos of david and jack sharing green beans.  i had to share!

first, cook about 1/2 bag of frozen organic broccoli in a pot of boiling water for about 6 minutes.  while the broccoli is cooking, shred a large chunk of extra sharp cheddar cheese into a bowl.  when the broccoli is finished cooking, drain it and set aside.  when it is cool enough to touch, chop it into small pieces.

heat on large non-stick skillet or a cast iron pan over medium heat.  place 1 large flour tortilla in the skillet and warm for about 45 seconds.  flip it over and top half of the tortilla with a layer of shredded cheese, a scoopful of broccoli, then another layer of cheddar cheese.  fold the tortilla in half over your filling (it will create a large half moon shape) and cook until golden and crisp on both sides.  this will make 4 quesadillas.  cut into wedges and serve with salsa verde.

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pancakes for dinner again…i obviously can’t get enough!  one of the best results from a pancake dinner…??? leftovers to freeze for future weekday breakfasts!

oat pancakes

combine 1 cup whole wheat flour with 1 cup oat flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt in a large bowl.  in a separate bowl, whisk together 2 cups buttermilk and 3 large eggs (lightly beaten), then add 1/3 cup melted butter (cooled slightly) and whisk again.

heat a skillet until medium-hot, brush with a bit of butter.  when you are ready to start cooking your pancakes, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

i like to make these pancakes a bit smaller than other ones i make, so i pour the batter 3 tablespoons at a time into small puddles on the skillet.  leave space, because they spread.  cook until the bottoms turn golden and the tops have set a bit, then using a large spatula, flip the pancakes over until the other side turns golden and the pancakes are cooked through.  they tend to cook quickly.

serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

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