Category Archives: Recipes

At-home dinner date caps a hectic week

While I generally avoid the kitchen as the week wanes, it was not so long ago that Friday nights were set aside as regular at-home dinner dates. When the boys were young, my husband and I would retreat to the kitchen after their bedtime. At-home dinner dates were a way for us to catch up, without interruption, and to enjoy meals designed for adult palates at the end of a busy work week.

Last Friday was a good time to revive the habit.  The boys were away and I was yearning for a decent meal vs. the quickies thrown together all week. Long hours at work meant my husband and I had shared maybe one meal in the past week. It was a good time to catch up over an at-home dinner date.

We kept it simple: Sockeye salmon fillets with a Tom Douglas Rub With Love spice rub. Israeli couscous made with a recipe on the Trader Joe’s box.  A green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette offered by a friend and reader of this blog (see her version below). Simple. Tasty. Plenty of time to reconnect with the Main Man.

YouAteThat photo

Sockeye Salmon "rubbed with love" thanks to Tom Douglas

Friday Night Date Dinner:

Grilled Sockeye Salmon “rubbed with love”

Israeli Couscous with pine nuts & parsley

Green salad with Lisa’s Vinaigrette

Lisa’s Vinaigrette. “We use it on cold raw or cooked vegetables of every sort, as well as salad.”

1/2 cup olive oil (best you can find)
1/3 cup Elsa (brand) balsamic vinegar  (this is the “secret” ingredient.  Seattle Olive Oil “18 yr. traditional balsamic” also works, but cut the added sugar)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, crushed
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (+/- according to taste)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard
2 to 3 cloves garlic, smashed
salt
fresh ground pepper

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What’s with the Coke-in-a-crockpot search?

It’s amazing how many people want to pour Coca-cola into their slow cookers. At least that’s my takeaway from the statistics on You Ate That???

Keyword searches for “cola,” “slow cooker” and “corned beef” — or any combination thereof — appear to be one of the most common paths for random visitors to find this blog. Pulled pork is another commonly searched term. My last endeavor with a pork shoulder in the slow cooker wasn’t so successful. I figure I did something wrong along the way so I’m still seeking salvation on the web.

Good Stuff NW, a food blogger in Oregon, discovered a series of tweets from The Little Red Bike, a cafe in Portland, for an amazing pulled pork. Here is the tweeted recipe:

  • Secrets to our pulled pork revealed! Start with nice, healthy pork butt. Make rub w/ pepper, paprika, mustard, coffee, ginger, sugar, salt.
  • Rub, cover, let sit in fridge overnight. Remove next day, allow to rest @ room temp. 2 hours, place in crockpot. http://twitpic.com/1f7cca
  • Top roast w/ garlic and sliced onions. http://twitpic.com/1f7ctu
  • Here’s the secret! Pour in one bottle of ginger beer. Cover, set crockpot on low 12 hours and cook. http://twitpic.com/1f7d9h
  • After 12 hours, remove remaining fat, shred, return to pot along w/bottle of BBQ sauce and cook 4 more hours. Place on buns w/slaw & enjoy

My taste buds occasionally dictate our travel plans so I keep a mental list of food destinations. The Little Red Bike is now officially on the list. The blog could be satisfying substitution until we make the trip to Portland; it’s on our “one day we will go to xxx for the weekend” list.

If anyone tries this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

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Filed under Foodie, Recipes, Restaurants to try, Slow cooker

Organic switcheroo pays off

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Chives sprout early in the herb garden

One must be fickle when it comes to quality. Meal prep started this morning when I pulled chicken thighs from the freezer. But they ended up back in the freezer after a quick stop by PCC Natural Market on the way home from meetings.  Rosie’s organic chicken thighs looked too good to pass up. Sure, they were pricier than the “bargain” thighs thawing in the fridge, but the recipe was simple; a better quality chicken would make a big difference.

A peek at the sink was big clue of the health factor in tonight’s meal. Mounds of broccoli, carrots, radishes, bok choy, chives, garlic littered the sink. It all ended up in the compost bucket, but not before the best bits landed on our plates.

YouAteThat photo

Braised chicken with carrots, radishes and chives

Braised chicken with spring vegetables. Lovely with chopped chives, an early harvest from our herb garden, and served with long-grain rice plus …

… Bok choy and broccoli stir fry – a recipe clipped ages ago from the newsletter of a fantastic home delivery service, Pioneer Organics. The service is long gone, sadly, and so are the recipes.  No where to be found online and my clippings fail to include attributions.  Here’s a similar recipe at RecipeZaar. To make the Pioneer version, just steam the chopped broccoli stems florets and bok choy stems in advance. Saute the bok choy leaves in oil with garlic, then add the remaining steamed veggies. Toss with 1/2 tsp red chili flakes and 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce.

Yum.  I expended all my cooking energy tonight. Tomorrow night I’ll be dining at the yacht club for my monthly business dinner  – la de da – and the guys … well, we’ll see what happens. :-/

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Filed under Health, Recipes

Friday night fish – 396 options and more

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m pondering dinner plans.  Fresh fish feels right. Just discovered our local fishmonger has 396 recipes listed on his website. And then I have a few new apps on the iPhone that are begging for attention: Whole Foods recipes; Big Oven; Epicurious.

Decisions, decisions. Stay tuned for results!

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Filed under Recipes, Seafood

Corned beef in Coke – Lucky or not?

Over the years I’ve gotten some great recipe ideas from the folks working in grocery stores. These souls have a special radar that detects the slightest hint of “I’m not sure how I’m going to cook this” crossing my mind. So, as they hand over the goods, they’ll  volunteer their favorite fixings.

I once got an terrific tip from a Whole Foods fishmonger for curried skate wing sauteed in butter with scallions and almonds. On the rare occasion I can find filleted skate, it’s the only way I make it.  And then there was the friendly cashier at my local PCC market who offered a simple way with fresh sole fillets — seared in a cast iron skillet, topped with crushed potato chips and some other ingredient I can’t recall off-hand and then zapped under the broiler for only seconds til brown and crispy.

Today’s tip at Trader Joe’s takes the cake. Gearing up for St. Patrick’s day, TJ’s has a case full of raw uncured corned beef roasts – no nitrates. “Oh, that looks soooo good,” commented the “bag lady” as she lifted a huge corned beef roast.  “I know, it’s huge. I get grief every year for lack of leftovers so I decided to supersize it this year.” I must have looked slightly uncertain at some level, because, sure enough, here it comes:

“I have THE BEST recipe for corned beef.  Cook it in the slow cooker with a can of Coke – real Coke, not Pepsi, not diet, real Coke. It’s so tender that way, unbelievable.”

I didn’t see her wink. No leprechauns hiding in the aisle. Hmmm, should I try my luck?

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Peppers Nicoise – old recipe, young fan

“Mom, I need this recipe!” Son #1 was snacking on the remains of a topping for Friday night’s dinner. Earlier he turned up his nose at the Swordfish Nicoise but admitted the fragrant topping of red peppers, onions, olives and citrus zest was tasty. Now he couldn’t get enough of the peppers, separated from the fish.

He agreed Peppers Nicoise should go on his Ten Recipes to Know list.”I’ll eat that on anything.” I agreed to put the recipe on the blog* because I couldn’t find it on the web — it appeared in Parade magazine in 1991. “Wow, you’re going to put something on your blog that isn’t on the internet?” my son asked.  Well, it is sometimes hard to imagine how we thrived before the Internet. And it’s hard to believe I forgot about Swordfish Nicoise, stuck in the pages of a grilling cookbook rarely used.

Finding this delicious and hard-to-find recipe from nearly 20 years ago was a nice surprise at the end of a tough week of work. Friday night’s dinner earns its place among my favorites:

Swordfish Nicoise*

Polenta with Parmesan cheese (the easy way in the microwave, thanks to a recipe from my friend Judi)

Spinach salad with mustard vinaigrette

*See Recipes page

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Filed under Favorites, Recipes

Inspirations from Real Simple’s month of easy dinners

Weekday dinners are always a challenge.  Recently I started a binder of clippings for quick weeknight menus. A few pages from my main binder (a 2-inch binder of faves over the years) kicked off the collection. Any recipe must pass the time test: make a complete meal start to finish in 30 minutes or less (including sides – veggies, salad, grains).

This isn’t anything new. Fast healthy menus always have been an attraction for working moms. Real Simple is a good resource for this approach but I haven’t cooked enough of its recipes to know if I trust it.  I’m picky about recipes. I want to know something about the chef, see reviews, trust the publication.  Hate to waste my time in the kitchen with a bad recipe.  But I have a pretty good eye for anticipating the outcome by a scan of the ingredients. Fresh, simple, interesting spices.  Real Simple seems to be a fair bet. So far, so good.  Here’s the article that inspired this week’s menus:

Your Guide to a Month of Easy Dinners

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