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Sunday, September 28, 2008

What's Cookin?: White Bean and Ham Soup

I've been bad about keeping up but I have cooked this week....really I have! I know it doesn't look like it! I made this soup when the weather started getting chilly. It was a great soup. I'm definitely adding it to my fall and winter dinner menus. I love the color of the soup after you've pureed it.


Wouldn't you know it though...it's supposed to be 90 tomorrow!! WTH???



White Bean and Ham Soup

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow sweet onion, diced
2 medium sliced carrots
2 stalks sliced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 c. cooked diced ham (I improvised and used 1 smoked ham hock and 3-4 pieces of bacon, sliced)
3 (14 oz) cans of white beans (cannellini) or navy beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Heat large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions and bacon. Cook until onions and bacon are cooked. Add carrots and celery and cook until tender. Add garlic (if using the ham, add now) and cook for 30-60 seconds. Add chicken stock, 2 cans of beans, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and ham hock. Cook over medium heat for at least 1 1/2 hours. Turn ham hock halfway through. Remove bay leaf and ham hock. Blend soup in the pot with an immersion blender (or use a regular blender to make a puree or you could just leave the soup chunky). Slice ham hock and place back in pot. Add remaining can of beans and simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Serve with crusty bread and a salad for a great meal!

White Rabbit Candy Recall



EEeekkk!! White Rabbit Candy has been recalled!! The FDA has urged everyone not to consume ANY flavors of White Rabbit Candy. White Rabbit is made in China and has been suspected to contain melamine. Luckily I don't have any....but I do love the lychee and strawberry flavored ones!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Travels: Port Ludlow

After breakfast we were on our way to Port Ludlow. We took the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge across the bay.





It took about 1 1/2 hours to take the ferry and drive to Port Ludlow. We were staying the night at a friend's cabin right on the water. Here's the view from her porch. It was a little overcast and drizzly over the weekend but still beautiful.



Here's the marina in Port Ludlow.



For dinner we drove into Poulsbo. We had dinner at Mor Mor Bistro and Bar. Mor Mor features local farm raised produce, wild seafood, fresh pastas, naturally raised poultry, game and beef. I had the MorMor's Pork Osso Buco $25 (pork shanks slow braised in wine and herbs served on creamy parmesan laced polenta with braising jus). The pork shank was huge and absolutely delicious! For dessert I had the mango sorbet. It totally hit the spot! YUM!





Mor Mor Bistro and Bar
18820 Front Street
Poulsbo WA 98370
www.mormorbistro.com

Travels: Seattle, WA

I'm back......didja miss me? I had a great trip. I stopped in Seattle for the night. I stayed at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. Isn't it a gorgeous hotel? It's right across the street from the bay. We had a great room with an amazing view.



Seattle Marriott Waterfront
2100 Alaskan Way
Seattle, Washington 98121 USA
(206) 443-5000

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After checking into the hotel, we went for a walk along the pier. We stopped at The Fishermans Restaurant and Bar for a drink and a quick appetizer. It's located on Pier 57. We sampled the Crab Dip (Dungeness crab, spinach, Bay shrimp, cream cheese & Parmesan cheese served with tortilla chips). I also had this yummy concoction. It's a pomegranate margarita. YUMMY!!



The Fishermans Restaurant and Bar
1301 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 623.8600

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For dinner we went to a very neat French inspired restaurant, Boat Street Cafe. It's a little hard to find but it's at the foot of Queen Anne hill. We shared a few appetizers before dinner. We tried the Garden Lettuce Salad $9 (with a Dijon vinaigrette and roasted walnuts) and the Fromage $12 (Brillat Savarin, Blue d' Auvergne, Bucherondin de Chevre with plum & onion confiture). The lettuce was very fresh and delicious. The cheese plate was amazing. Yummy!! Oh and by the way, the complementary bread they bring to the table is amazing!! Ask for more and each it with the cheese!



For dinner, I had the British Columbia Scallops $24 (with white corn puree, chanterelle mushrooms & house cured prosciutto). It was amazing. A friend had the Boat Street Crab Cakes and I stole a taste. I highly recommend the crab cakes. AMAZING! Next time I am sooo having the crab cakes!



For dessert we shared the Amaretto Bread Pudding (with a rum butter cream). It has to be one of the best bread puddings I have ever had. It was to die for!



I was told that the Boat Street Cafe also serves a killer brunch! I will be back to Seattle just to eat here again!

Boat Street Cafe
3131 Western Ave #301
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 632-4602
http://www.boatstreetcafe.com/

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The next morning we had breakfast at the Edgewater Hotel's restaurant, Six Seven. It has an absolutely amazing view. The hotel itself is located on Pier 67 on Elliott Bay. I had the Crab Cakes Florentine Benedicts $16. It was so good! The crab cakes were perfect! The view was spectacular.



Six Seven at The Edgewater Hotel
2411 Alaskan Way, Pier 67
Seattle, WA 98121
1 (800) 624-0670

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Here's some famous Seattle landmarks! The Space Needle and Pike's Market.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weekend Getaway: Washington

Sorry to say that I'll be gone this weekend.  I'm headed for Seattle, then up to Port Ludlow.  Both areas are absolutely gorgeous but I think the weather may not cooperate.  Can you believe it went from a high of 90 a few days ago, to 74 today.  Brrr!!  This weekend is supposed to be in the 60's in Seattle.  Wish me luck.  I may not be quite used to the cold just yet.  Have a great weekend!!  I'll be back with lots of pictures!  I believe a French restaurant is in the works for Friday night.  Ooohhh lala!!  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's Cookin?: Kalbi (Korean Short Ribs)


Today marks the end of Korean Foods Week at Uwajimaya. Uwajimaya is a Asian grocery store in Beaverton. Korean Foods Week was September 10-16. In honor of Korean week, I made some kalbi for a cookout this past week.

Kalbi is Korean Short Ribs. Mmmmm! It's usually has a little kick with chili pepper flakes but I left it out as I needed it to be kid friendly. The ribs were a hit. I was surprised at how much people loved it....even those that claimed they didn't eat much meat. Yeah right...you'd never know by the amount that was gobbled up. Here's what was left of the kalbi.



I used the short ribs on sale at Uwajimaya, which were Painted Hills Natural Beef. I think it made it that much more tasty! Painted Hills beef are special cows that are not fed hormones, antibiotics and eat a 100% vegetarian diet. They turned out so good! We grilled up some of my eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers from the Farmer's Market as a side dish. Yummy! I also picked up some mushrooms and cherry tomatoes from New Seasons. The cherry tomatoes were so sweet! I have to remember to go back and buy more. They were delicious for just snacking on!

While at Uwajimaya, I also picked up some Korean glass noodles. If I'm feeling really adventurous, I was planning on making my favorite Korean noodles, Chap Chae or Jap Chae. I've never made them before but I love eating them. What's your favorite Korean foods?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's Cookin?: Peanut Curry


When I first saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it at some point. Afterall, I love curry and I love peanut butter. The original recipe just called for chicken but I love vegetables in my curry. I added some eggplant and bell peppers. Wow!! What a quick and easy dinner. You could also substitute tofu in this dish! It's definitely a keeper!!


Peanut Curry
Adapted from www.recipezaar.com
Makes about 8 servings (4 cups)

2 (15 oz) cans of coconut milk (1 used 1 regular and 1 lite)
2 Tbsp red curry paste (for a more mild curry, use 1 Tbsp and add more to taste)
1 /4 c. creamy peanut butter
4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp fish sauce
3-4 pieces chicken thighs, sliced in bite sized pieces
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 Japanese or Chinese eggplant, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
salt and pepper

1) In a pot, heat coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, sugar and fish sauce. Use a whisk to get out the lumps. Heat until sauce comes to a very small boil. Turn off heat and set aside. If you want curry thicker, you can add some cornstarch to thicken at this point. I left it as is.

2) Heat pan on medium-high heat and stir fry onion and garlic in olive oil. Add chicken. Salt and pepper and continue to stir fry until chicken is cooked through.

3) Turn heat back to medium on sauce and add cooked chicken, onion and garlic to sauce.

4) Add more olive oil to pan and stir fry your choice of vegetables. Be sure to salt and pepper them also. I used eggplant and green bell peppers. When done cooking, add to sauce pot.

5) Heat curry on medium heat and stir often. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Farmer's Market: Artichokes, Corn, Eggplant, Zucchini, Apples, Plums, Nectarines

Today was a good day at the Farmer's Market. Although, it took me a while to find my way there *grumble grumble*, I got there eventually. My usual route was blocked off due to the Beaverton Parade. I tried a short cut which wasn't very short...only to find that the road was closed. I had to back track and go up the back way. *sigh* Once I got there, I forgot all of my frustrations!

There were lots of fruits and vegetables! It just dawned on me that I forgot to take pictures of last weeks finds. I guess I ate them up too quickly. Anyhow, last week I got some corn that was so super sweet I had to buy more this week. It was that good! Even Ehiku had some. She likes corn. I also got more green and yellow zucchini. They make good quickie vegetable side dishes. I love to either stir fry them or steam them or even oven roast them. Yum! I also got some Japanese eggplant. I know they're not as good as grandpa's but they'll have to do. I was thinking of roasting them up in the oven this week. I also got some green bell peppers and tomatoes. Oh and I couldn't resist the Italian artichokes. Mmm!!

It's definitely apple season. There's so many varieties I had such a hard time choosing. Luckily most of the apple stands have some samples cut up for you to sample. I decided on some Gala apples (the smaller ones) and a very very sweet and crisp apple, the Tsugaru. It is very good! The Sungold nectarines were so good last week that I had to get more. They're large and very sweet and juicy! I'm not much of a plum fan. The bitter skin makes me go "blah". But I always buy the Italian prunes/plums each year. They're small oval shaped plums that are very sweet. I can snack on 3 a day. I also got some of the Brook plums which are bigger but just as sweet and delicious!

I couldn't pass up one of Fetzer's German brats! They're always grilled to perfection! I tried the traditional brat with sauerkraut, home-made spicy mustard and ketchup! Yum!!

Game Day: Oregon State vs. University of Hawaii

VS.


Today's the big football game.....OSU vs. UH. Bwahahahaha!! I've been hearing friends from home talking trash all week. The question is...who to cheer for? Being from Hawaii, I grew up cheering for the University of Hawaii. However, I did graduate from Oregon State. Go Beavs!!
In any case, the match-up is at Reeser Stadium in Corvallis today. Kick off is at 1:00pm. I'll be watching!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Thailand


Some of you already know this but I'm going to Thailand!!  I'm so excited!  I've never been and have heard so many good things!  I'll be there for 2 whole weeks and it doesn't seem like nearly enough time.  I'll be spending some time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.  If time allows, I'd also like to venture to Ko Phi Phi, Ko Samui and Sukhothai.  It's going to be an amazing trip!!  If anyone has travel tips or want to share experiences in Thailand, I'm all ears!!  Woo hoo!!  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Travels: Italy

At lot of the online photo services sites allow you to make books of your favorite snapshots.  I just made a 12x12 leather cover photo book at Shutterfly.  It was of the pictures from my trip to Italy last year.  It was delivered the other day and I have to say I'm very impressed with the work they did!!  The larger books can be a little spendy, but heck I'd say they're worth it!  Now I have some of my most memorable pics of Italy in a hardcover book.  It makes the perfect coffee table book.  


After looking through the books, it made me want to go back to Italy again.  BTW, you ain't had real gelatto until you've had it in Italy.  I tried the gelatto in every city we stopped in.  Talk about piggy wiggy!  

Below are some of my favorite things that I ate in Italy.  


The wine in Italy was amazing.  I even had a case shipped back home!

I love the fresh produce stands in the various cities.  This one was in Florence.

Roasted pork in Florence.

I love olives!!

Lunch in Venice.  Lotsa pasta!

Veal and Mussels in Sorrento.  

Lemons in Sorrento.

Desserts!

Pizza and Lasagna in Stresa.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What's Cookin?: Pork Scaloppini with Mushrooms


Mmmm...this recipe reminds me of my mommy's quick fix pork chops in cream of mushroom soup. You know that recipe....brown up some pork chops and dump in cream of mushroom soup and mushrooms. Instant dinner for a hungry family. I still make my mommy's version but wanted to try this recipe out. This one tastes fabulous! Yum yum yum!! I made it with a side of roasted red and Yukon potatoes and roasted zucchini. Try it out when you have the time and see the difference between the quickie and the homemade version.

Pork Scaloppini with Mushrooms
Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Sara Moulton, Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

4 (6 oz) boneless pork loin chops (I used the extra thin slices and didn't pound them out)
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 lb white mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used pre-sliced baby portobello mushrooms)
1/4 c. Marsala cooking wine
1 1/2 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade (seriously? I used an organic canned version)
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives
additional salt and pepper to taste

1) I used thinly sliced pork loin (boneless) chops and bypassed step 1. If you don't, sprinkle a small amount of water on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Place 2 of the pork steaks on top of the plastic and sprinkle again with water. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining 2 steaks.

2) Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow pan or plate. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Working in 2 batches, place half the pork in the flour mixture and turn to coat on all sides. Shake off the excess flour and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and pork.

3) Reduce heat to medium and add the butter to the skillet and heat until melted and foamy. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until almost all the liquid that the mushrooms give off has evaporated (about 5 minutes).

4) Pour in the Marsala wine, increase heat to high and cook, stirring often until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 3 minutes.

5) Return the pork to the skillet and simmer, turning often, until the pork is warmed through and the sauce is thickened (about 2 minutes). Transfer the pork to a warm serving plate. Stir in the sour cream and chives into the sauce and mix well. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce isn't thick enough, increase heat to medium-high and mix some cornstarch with a little bit of water and add to the sauce and stir. Add pork back to sauce and serve, or pour sauce over pork on warming plate.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What's Bakin?: Raspberry Oatmeal Bars



I tried this dessert with some of the raspberry freezer jam I made earlier this summer. Mmmm...they're yummy!

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 c. old fashioned rolled oats, divided
1 c. raspberry jam

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x9 square pan with cooking spray.
2) Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
3) Cream sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and almond extract until smooth. Add flour mix to butter and mix well. Stir in 1 3/4 c. oats. Spread about 2/3 of the batter on the bottom of the pan. Spread jam on top of crust.
4) Add remaining 1/4 c. oats to the remaining batter. Crumble mixture over the top of the jam. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golder. Cool pan then cut up into squares.