Sunday, December 29, 2013

Make This!!

I found this recipe for shredded pork in the new Costco Connection magazine. It sounded too easy, but I had to try it for myself. Omid usually smokes a pork butt on his Traeger and it takes about 5 hours. I was curious to see if I could get the same result in my crock pot.
I didn't purchase a pork butt, but used a pork sirloin tip roast that came in a four pack from Costco. It was about 3 pounds.
I lined my crock pot with three strips of bacon, added salt to the pork roast, set it to low and forgot about it. When I woke up this morning, the kitchen smelled really good. After 16 hours, I tried to take the roast out of the crock pot with a BBQ fork and it totally fell apart. I had to take it out with tongs, in sections, it was so tender.
The roast shredded up so nicely, too. The result: not bad! I do prefer the smoked pork butt done in the Traeger, but this worked really well in a pinch and is perfect for BBQ sandwiches.  Make it!
Slow Cooker Kalua Pork via Costco Connection Magazine
3 bacon slices
5 lb Boston butt pork roast (I used a 3 lb sirloin pork roast)
1 1/2 Tbs red Hawaiian sea salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)*use less salt for a smaller roast!!

Line the bottom of a slow cooker with the strips of bacon. Evenly salt the pork with the salt. Put the roast in the slow cooker on low for 16 hours. Remove the meat & shred. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Make This!!!

Egg & Bacon Casserole!

I work in the Special Services department of my school district. The ELL instructors and Special Services staff don't get to see each other very often, so when we do...we always make sure we meet over a delicious themed potluck.
My friend Janet brought this egg & bacon casserole (breakfast theme) to our potluck right before Thanksgiving. I have been begging her for the recipe and she finally emailed it to our group this week. I decided to make a half recipe for breakfast this morning.
 I was very surprised to read this recipe had croutons in it. Once it's baked & ready, you can't tell at all! Janet's recipe called for unseasoned croutons, but use what you have on hand. This is what I used.
You can measure out the croutons with a measuring cup (messy business) or just estimate that the amount of croutons needed will actually cover the bottom of your baking dish. *I lined my baking pan with foil for easy clean up.
I didn't have a block of cheese on hand, but what I do have is sliced Tillamook cheddar cheese. I grabbed a stack of six, sliced them into strips, then diced the strips into smaller squares.

While I was prepping my dish, I cooked the bacon in the oven. This way, I didn't have to babysit the bacon on the stove top. The bacon came out great and I think I will cook it this way from now on.
I placed ten strips of bacon on a foil covered cookie sheet, then put the tray in a cold oven. I turned the oven on to 375* and after twenty minutes, flipped the bacon over and set the timer for another 15 minutes.
By this time, I had my casserole all ready to go except for the bacon. I removed the bacon from the oven, turned it down to 325* and cut the bacon with kitchen shears, sprinkling it over the casserole.  

Ready for the oven!

After 45 minutes, it was done.

Make this breakfast casserole! It's yummy, easy & would be perfect for Christmas morning.

Egg & Bacon Casserole
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups unseasoned croutons (I used seasoned Focaccia croutons)
2 cups cheese, grated (any kind, I used cheddar)
2 cups milk
8 beaten eggs
1 T mustard (I used Beaver brand Hot Dijon mustard)
8-10 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
Place croutons in a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle butter and then cheese over croutons. Combine eggs, milk & mustard. Pour egg mixture over cheese and sprinkle with bacon. Bake at 325* for 40-50 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
*I added 1/4 cup of chopped green onions to mine to give it some color. Plus, I really like green onions.☺

Friday, December 20, 2013

Make This!!!

Raspberry Shortbread Bars!

These bar cookies are the perfect treat to take to a holiday potluck or add to your Christmas cookie tray.

I have made three batches in the last 24 hours. One as a tester, to make sure they were tasty (they were!!!) and two batches for work/school potlucks today.

Make these cookies!

Raspberry Shortbread Bars via The Baking Bargainista

2 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
pinch salt
1/2 cup + 2 ounces raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350*. Line a 9x9 pan with foil, and grease it lightly. Mix all ingredients except for the jam until well combined. Put 4/5 of the shortbread dough into the foil. Pat it down until you have an even crust. Spread  6 oz. of raspberry jam over the dough. Use more than you think you need! If you skimp on the jam, it will thin out too much and look watered down. Trust me on this! Take the remaining dough, tear off little chunks and sprinkle it evenly over the jam. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is slightly golden. Let cool & cut into squares. Enjoy!
**I used a 9x13 pan instead of a 9x9 pan. I also over baked my first batch, as I didn't think they were done. They were! Make sure you take the shortbread out after 40 minutes!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Make This!!!

Dream Bars!

This recipe is an oldy, but a goody. I switched out the Crisco for coconut oil to make it a 'tad' bit healthier. I'm so glad I did! The shortbread crust tastes so buttery/coconutty.  Make these today! They bake up in no time at all.
Dream Bars
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350*.  Mix coconut oil, butter & sugar together. Add flour.  Flatten into bottom of ungreased 13x9 pan. Bake 10 minutes. Spread with almond coconut topping.
 2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Mix eggs, sugar & vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in coconut & almonds.
Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cool and cut into bars.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Run Matty, Run!

Matty finished his final season of XC with a team banquet this past Thursday. Matty actually had his best year & earned a varsity letter for his effort! YAY!!! This comeback was especially sweet since he had to sit out his junior year to recover from micro-fracture surgery.
Proud athlete!
Senior boys receiving their awards.
The banquet ended with a senior tradition. The seniors say something about the other members of the team with the teammate's name, followed by 'most likely to.' I have to say, as a parent I have always dreaded this tradition as there have been many horribly cruel comments in the past. This year I was pleasantly surprised! There were no mean spirited or rude comments. This says so much about this group of seniors!
Reading 'most likely to...'

This wonderful lady is Karen Goritski. She is the assistant coach for the team. She is an amazing woman & the biggest cheerleader for the kids! We will miss her lots!

Great job, Matty! We are so proud of you!!!
Final season highlights
Click on the photo to enlarge.

One Potato, Two Potato?

We've had a beautiful week of sunshine around here!  Windy, but dry enough that I was able to clean out all my planter boxes that were full of dead summer annuals.
While cleaning out the container above, I found this rather large sweet potato! I've always planted sweet potato vines, but this is the first time one has produced a root vegetable for me.☺ My other container that had an even bigger sweet potato vine, only had a tangle of red roots.

I guess I really DO have a green thumb!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Make This!!!

I found this recipe in the current issue of Kraft’s Food & Family Magazine. It is a winner! These bar cookies are perfect for a party or potluck and keep well for several days, if they last that long!

Gingerbread Caramel Bars
Serves: 36 bars
1pkg.  (2-layer size) spice cake mix
2tsp.  ground ginger
1/2cup  butter, melted
1 egg
35 KRAFT Caramels
1 can  (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 pkg.  (4 oz.) BAKER’S White Chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line a 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; spray with cooking spray.  Beat cake mix, ginger, butter and egg with mixer until blended.  (Dough will be stiff.)  Press 2/3 of the dough onto bottom of prepared pan.

Bake for 10 to 12 min. or until lightly browned.  Meanwhile, microwave caramels and milk in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 3 to 3-1/2 min. or until caramels are completely melted and sauce is well blended, stirring after each minute.

Drizzle caramel sauce over baked layer in pan. Reserve 2 Tbsp. chopped chocolate; sprinkle remaining over caramel sauce. Crumble remaining gingerbread dough over dessert. Bake 25 to 30 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely.

Microwave reserved chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 30 sec. to 1 min. or until completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.; drizzle over dessert.  Let stand until chocolate is firm.  Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting into bars.

Note: I will leave the white chocolate out next time and just keep it as a drizzle. I felt the taste of the chocolate competed with the caramel.
Update! I made these again last night and substituted pumpkin pie spice for the ginger. Wow! It made the cake so much spicier.☺

Monday, November 11, 2013

Make This!!!

Chili with Smoked Brisket

Omid smoked another brisket for our family this past week. When it was cool enough to slice, I made sure he saved me enough meat so I could make my tasty chili. 

The secret to this delicious recipe is of course, the brisket; but also the spice mix from a box of Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit.  This is a tip I gleaned from my friend Kris C. It has the perfect amount of cumin & chili powder. I don't use the salt, cayenne or masa mix - just the large bag of spices.
Here's my yummy recipe in case you want to try it out yourself.
Best Ever Brisket Chili
4+ cups of smoked brisket, cubed
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can kidney or black beans, rinsed & drained
1 onion, diced & sautéed
1 4 oz. can roasted & diced green chiles
1 package Carroll Shelby's chili spice mix
8 oz water (more if you like your chili soupy - we like it thick)
Saute onion in butter or olive oil until translucent. Place all ingredients in a crock pot and simmer on high for 5 hours, reduce to low for one hour.  Serve with sour cream, green onions & corn bread. Enjoy!
**For a heartier, more rib sticking chili: serve over cooked macaroni noodles.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Make This!!

Easy Chicken, Turkey or Tuna Turnovers

Basically, whatever leftover meat you need to use up, stick it in these easy and yummy turnovers. I used one cup of cubed turkey, as that is what I had on hand after making an early Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday evening.

Easy Turnovers
1 cup cooked tuna, chicken or turkey
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
mayonnaise to moisten (about 1/4 cup)
salt & pepper
1 recipe biscuit dough

Preheat oven to 400*. Roll out prepared biscuit dough 1/4" thick and cut into 4 inch rounds or squares. Place about 2 1/2 T of filling on each. Fold over and seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
*I sprinked the tops of my turnovers with shredded parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dinner with Friends at Le Pigeon!

This past Saturday, our good friend Katie visited from Spokane. Lin, Tammie & I decided a few weeks ago that Katie's visit called for a trip to a 'fawncy' restaurant. Lin suggested Le Pigeon, we made the reservation and started our "countdown to Katie!"
Le Pigeon has been ranked the #1 restaurant in Portland for the past few years. The executive chef, Gabriel Rucker is a two time James Beard award winner. When I called to make the reservations six weeks ago, there were only two slots left for November 2nd. A 5:15 p.m. slot or a 10:00 p.m. slot. If you want to go, make your reservations early!!
Fun fact: Katie and I have been friends for 17 years!

I love these ladies!!♥
Once we arrived at Le Pigeon, I was surprised at how tiny it is. The restaurant fits about 45-50 diners, maybe. Tables are 'family style,' so you will sit with strangers. It's also a bit noisy inside. This is not the place if you want a quiet, romantic dinner for two. It is, however, out of this world delicious!!!

We all agreed to order the five course tasting menu. It was the best way to taste many things on the menu. One note: in order to try the tasting menu, everyone in your party must order it.

Our first course was deep fried rock shrimp with pickled mango, green onion and a tarragon greed goddess dressing. The dressing was the star of this course. So tangy.
First course
The second course was a pan fried sea bass, served with turnips and mushrooms.
Second course
The third course was Wagyu beef, pan fried foie gras and deep fried shallots. This was the first time I had ever tried foie gras. It was out of this world delicious!  The foie gras was the best part of this course.
Third course
The fourth course was venison with a bone marrow pumpkin pie and brussel sprout cole slaw. The bone marrow pumpkin pie was my favorite part of the fourth course. Sweet & savory.
Fourth course
At this point, we were so incredibly full, but there was one course left: dessert! Dessert was a cream puff filled with foie gras ice cream and served with salted caramel sauce. We also had a pumpkin pots du crème. It was 3/4 filled with the pumpkin mousse, 1/4 filled with whipping cream and topped with a crumbled gingersnap cookie. I wish I had one right now in front of me. It was just delectable.
Fifth course

After we thought we couldn't stuff another bite into our mouths, the waitress brought us camembert cheese filled chocolates. They were surprisingly good.

Our dinner took three hours from start to finish. Katie and I got the wine pairings with our dinner. I am so glad we did. I didn't recognize any of the wines on the menu at Le Pigeon (many being French). All of the wines were delicious.
Stuffed, happy mamas!
If you get a chance to dine at Le Pigeon, DO! It was a lot of fun and the food was amazing!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Netflix This!!

The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Such a darling movie! The boy who plays Timothy is adorable and the storyline is so sweet. It is family friendly too! Trust me: you WILL need tissues at the end of this movie.

Monday, October 28, 2013


By 'swoosh', I mean NIKE!
We were lucky enough to be one of the 2000 WSU Cougar alumni to get a shopping pass to the Nike Employee Store yesterday. Once a year, Nike, invites WSU alumni to it's store. You have to respond within minutes via email. Yes, the passes go that fast! Last year, I was too slow and didn't get a pass. This year, I saw the email and responded within 60 seconds. We got the much coveted pass! That was on October 2nd. We had to wait until the 27th at 5:30 p.m. for our slot. Why are people so crazy to get a pass to the NES? Most of the shoes/merchandise is so new, they are only available at the NES!
After reading reviews on Yelp, Matty & I convinced Omid we needed to get to the store at 4:00 p.m. to stand in line. We got there at 4:00 p.m., but there was no line. It was such a beautiful day, we decided to walk around for a bit.
Killing time!

We were gone for 45 minutes and what do you know? A line had formed!! Instead of being first in line, we were now 90, 91 & 92 (Matty counted!).  It's a good thing we were only gone for 45 minutes! There are no photos allowed in the store, but Matty did capture this cute photo at the entrance for me.
We had a definite plan going in to the store. Another helpful tip I picked up via Yelp. That was great advice!  Matty & Omid ran back to men's shoes, I ran to WSU athletic gear. I got in, grabbed what I needed, and met the boys over in shoes. By the time I caught up with them, Matty's shopping cart was full of shoes and so was Omid's. We then went through the carts, decided which items to keep and headed to the checkout.  We spent exactly 45 minutes in the store and came out with 20 items, several of them gifts.

After dinner, we stopped at Benihana Japanese Steakhouse. This was our first time there. Here's a tip: you need a reservation! We didn't have one. As luck would have it, a party of three was a no show, so we got their seats; and only had to wait five minutes!☺ I didn't take any photos of the chef, but he was very entertaining and we had a great time. The food is delicious too!
Waiting for our food!
All in all, a great Sunday!☺

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Make This!!!

It’s pumpkin season! Yay! My friend and fellow baker, Laurel, passed this recipe on to me via the Pinch of Yum blog. I believe this recipe is the best I have ever tasted for pumpkin muffins! The secret? The glaze! Just the right amount of maple & butter. Bake these muffins! They are over-the-top delicious!

Healthy Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins
Recipe Yield: about 18 medium sized muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon each cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup real maple syrup
3 tablespoons milk
3 eggs

2 tablespoons butter
1¼ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tbs. maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and sugar). In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (pumpkin, oil, maple syrup, milk, and eggs).

Combine the dry and wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring until just combined. Fill each muffin tin almost to the top with a scoop of batter.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are puffy and spring back when you press them. Remove from the muffin pan and let cool before glazing.

For the glaze, melt butter in saucepan. Add powdered sugar and vanilla – it will be thick and sticky. Stir in maple syrup. Add water until desired consistency is reached. Dip the crowns of the muffins in the glaze and let dry on a wire cooling tray.

 **NOTE: I substituted coconut oil for the olive oil. If you do this, make sure to have your eggs at room temperature so the coconut oil doesn’t solidify in your batter. I also used Mrs. Butterworth’s brand of maple syrup as that is what I had on hand at home. It worked great and the glaze was still full of maple flavor.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Beautiful Brisket!

Mmmmmm, brisket.
I love the photo on the right! The bark is my favorite part.☺
There is never any shortage of meat at our house. We love it roasted, grilled and smoked! On Sunday, Omid was craving a brisket. He picked up a 17 pound Angus brisket at Cash & Carry. Why not Costco? Because Costco only sells center cut brisket & trims off all the fat. Not so good when the meat has to smoke for 16-18 hours!

Omid smoked this particular brisket for 18 hours. It was finished at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. I sliced off a few sample pieces to share with a work buddy. She pronounced it delicious!☺

The best part of Omid smoking a brisket this size? Dinner is set for the week! On Monday we had brisket wrap sandwiches (tortilla with Boursin cheese, brisket & avocadoes), last night we had brisket with these yummy potatoes, and tonight we are having brisket chili. I can't wait to taste it! Tomorrow, we will probably have pulled brisket sandwiches (smothered in bbq sauce). The possibilities are endless when brisket is on the menu.

If you haven't purchased a Traeger smoker yet, DO! Costco is now carrying them and they are really the best way to smoke meat (poultry, pork, etc).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fun with Friends!

Isn't nice when colleagues are also friends? Omid's colleague, Daniel, visited from Germany last week. He was kind enough to spend his entire weekend with us. What a time we had too!☺
Look at this photo of Remy & Daniel. Daniel brought gifts for all of us (too kind!), even Remy!
 Remy was so appreciative, he snuggled with Daniel for hours. This is true!!
Daniel has made it known to Omid that he doesn't care for fish & won't eat it.  Omid wanted Daniel to at least try a 'bite' of the salmon that he caught & smoked - just to see if it would change Daniel's mind. We had to get a photo to prove that Daniel actually ate the fish!
Daniel tries smoked salmon!
These two both have single malt collections.
Here they are doing a tasting. I'll stick to wine tasting, thank you very much!

 Omid's other friend & coworker, Cheryl was visiting all week from Singapore as well. Cheryl extended her stay in town, just so she could have dinner with us & spend the night at our home.

Fun fact: When we visited Cheryl in Singapore, she took us out for the best black pepper crab!

These two are such good sports!
Why? Well, we may have made them watch college football all day long.
Cheryl left early Sunday morning, but Daniel came back for dinner on Sunday night too. Omid took him to Costco (our favorite store!). They found this wine. It's a Costco best buy, people! Look for it. Not only is it affordably priced, it's also delicious!
Our week with Daniel concluded on Tuesday night. The HP team (& significant others!)  took him out for a farewell dinner at the new Harvest restaurant in Camas. Our group stayed way past closing time and the restaurant staff was very kind about it.  
Such a fun night!
Daniel: don't wait too long until your next visit!
We hope you had a great time visiting us in Washington.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Make This!!

Gingerbread Muffins!

Fall has officially arrived here in SW Washington. It hit us with a bang: wind, rain, and just plain cold.  It seemed more like early November weather than the beginning of fall. I already miss the gorgeous summer weather we had. Today's weather definitely called for something sweet & comforting like gingerbread.☺

The recipe I used was found on the Foodie Bride blog. Everything I have ever made from her blog is excellent! These muffins were more cake like than heavy & bready. They were simply divine. I am already planning to bake another batch on Wednesday. Instead of boring cupcake liners, I tried making liners out of parchment paper and I think they upped the cuteness factor by a lot.☺

Gingerbread Muffins by Confessions of a Foodie Bride

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup molasses (I used Mother's brand)
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (I used full fat!)
  • Coarse sugar for garnish

    Preheat oven to 375.
    Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with non-stick spray.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
    Cream the butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time until mixed well.  Add the molasses and mix until well blended. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing on low until just incorporated and add the yogurt. Mix until the yogurt is well distributed and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix on low only until the flour just disappears. Scoop into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle coarse sugar over the tops of the muffin batter. Bake 5 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake another ~15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days. This batter makes about 15 muffins. Do not overfill the muffin liners, or the gingerbread will come out flat & sloppy looking.

    Sunday, September 8, 2013

    Make This!!


    aka: Belgian Waffle Cookies!

     I found this recipe on the blog, Jillian in Italy (via Pinterest). These cookies looked so delicious, I had to make them. Will I make them again? Probably not. They were extremely time consuming, since the batter made a lot and I didn't have the foresight to only make half a recipe. I ended up giving half the cookies away and we still had tons leftover. These cookies also have 3+ cubes of butter in them (yes, THREE!) and six eggs. Not the healthiest. :/

     Whip up half the recipe (trust me on this: only make half a recipe, unless you are feeding a crowd), heat up your waffle iron, cook, then eat!

    Since this recipe is in grams, I used my handy kitchen scale & weighed the ingredients in grams. If you don't have a kitchen scale, you can type the grams into this website and it will convert the recipe into cups for you.

    Wafeltjes by Jillian in Italy
    500g pastry flour ( I used a 50/50 mix of cake flour & all purpose flour)
    400g butter
    300g sugar
    6 eggs
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
    pinch of salt
    1. Gently melt the butter (make sure it doesn’t color).
    2. In the bowl of your mixer put in the flour and sugar.  Add the baking powder, salt  and the scraped out seeds of the vanilla bean (or the tsp of vanilla extract).
    3. Mix on medium low speed and slowly add the eggs one at a time.  Let mix for one minute then slowly pour in melted butter.
    4. Cover bowl and put in fridge for at least one hour.
    5. After letting the dough sit in fridge heat up waffle iron.  Make small balls of dough and drop onto waffle iron. My batter was still slightly fluid like regular waffle batter & I was not able to make balls of dough.
    6.Let bake until golden brown and remove from iron with wooden skewer onto a cooling rack.  Store in covered container.  Makes: a lot!