April 14, 2011

Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino

This soup has a great flavor, more like it has simmered for a few hours. It is also healthy, easy, and quick (<40 minutes). Enjoy!

Adapted from a Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
 ½ -3/4 lb chorizo, casings removed
2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
½ lb precooked frozen shrimp, thawed
1 1/2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Serving suggestion: European Peasant Bread
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage and break into 1/2-inch pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil, and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are heated through, about 4 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Ladle the cioppino into soup bowls and serve with crusty bread.

March 31, 2011

European Peasant Bread

Excellent bread...I can't believe I made it myself! It tastes like one from an artisan bakery. Great crispy crust and slightly chewy inside and it was super easy to make. I made the full recipe, but only cut it into 2 loaves; if I would have made 4 loaves the bread would have been overcooked in the recommended baking time. Enjoy!

March 30, 2011

Lentil Sausage Soup

I am so sorry to say that I will likely not be trying many of Ina Garten's recipes anymore. I have tried quite a few, yet they are alway disappointing...lacking in flavor. This soup was the same; I even added a lot more cumin and it was still quite boring.

Of all things, my husband added BBQ sauce to the soup in an attempt to kick it up a bit and he said it really helped. I have yet to try it, but will in hopes that it makes it more interesting.


March 29, 2011

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon and Basil Salmon

Good and easy, but nothing special. The next day I added lemon juice and broccoli and it was a lot better. If I make it again I will definitely add more veggies and lemon (zest and juice) to the pasta and season the salmon...maybe breadcrumbs with lemon zest?!

March 28, 2011

Deli-Style Rye Bread

After recently taking a bread baking class I have really been into making my own bread (I even bought a 25 lb bag of bread flour!). Its really inexpensive, you know exactly what is going into it and its soooo easy to make.

This recipe is for a no-knead rye bread. It has a great rye flavor and the heavy texture that is typical of a whole grain bread. I recommend baking the bread for a shorter period of time than recommended or at least checking it before the end of the baking time. Don't skip the steaming step; it give the crust a great texture. Enjoy!

March 27, 2011

Kanpai - Bend, OR

Unique sushi rolls and nice atmosphere. However, the sashimi was quite lacking, especially for the price. Also, we were about the only table in there yet our orders took longer than expected to arrive (thanks goodness for the edamame!).  Many folks have raved about this place, but we will try someplace else in town before going back here.

Kanpai on Urbanspoon

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Delicious!  I have made this a few times on a Sunday and then take it to work during the week. Its super easy, healthy, and tasty. I typically make a half batch, but add extra spices, cilantro, red bell pepper and black beans to taste. Prior to trying this recipe I was not a big fan of quinoa, but now I love it. Enjoy!

March 26, 2011

Barley Brown's Brew Pub - Baker City, OR

Great beer!  Food for the most part is typical "bar" food, but they have some unique and very good items including the Kobe Burger (get the sauce on the side so you can dip your fries in it too!) and Bram's Chicken Pasta. I stay in Baker City frequently and this is my favorite spot to go. Definitely worth the stop if you are in the area, even if its just for a beer. Enjoy!

Barley Brown's Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Made-Over Deep-Dish Brownies

I am not sure if I did something wrong with these, but I have had better tasting brownies out of a box. The chocolate flavor was very mild and they didn't have the slightly fudgy texture that I enjoy. So much for "healthier" brownies...I will take the real thing please ;-)

If anyone else tries them please let me know how you like them or if you made any adjustments to the recipe.

March 19, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe by Anne Burrell has a delicate hazelnut flavor and is a nice change from the standard chocolate frosting, but the cream cheese was a bit overpowering and actually made the frosting a bit bitter. Next time I would add more sugar or less cream cheese to balance the flavors out a bit better. 

·         8 ounces cream cheese, softened
·         1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         3 cups powdered sugar

Add the cream cheese, chocolate hazelnut spread and vanilla extract to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, scraping down sides of the bowl, as needed, until the frosting is smooth.

March 18, 2011

Chicken Tagine with Lemons and Olives

Great flavor!  I wasn't sure that the lemon and green olives would be a flavor combo, but it was very good. I used boneless skinless chicken breast so I cooked it for less time. Enjoy!

March 17, 2011

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

Very good, easy and healthy. Next time I would add ditalini or elbow pasta to make it more like the minestrones I am familiar with, otherwise I wouldn't change a thing. Enjoy!

March 16, 2011

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage

Yummy, easy, and healthy. I used pre-cooked turkey sausage, which I would not recommend in this recipe. It didn't give the soup a nice sausage flavor as a crumbled sausage would have. I also substituted swiss chard for the kale since that's what I had on hand; this didn't seem to made a significant difference in taste. Enjoy!

Kafta Burgers

Very good for something different. I only used beef since that's what I had on hand and we still really enjoyed them. We served them with roasted sweet potatoes and yams; the sweetness complimented the spices in the burgers very nicely. Enjoy!

March 15, 2011

Tomato Soup with Pancetta

My friend has made this recipe multiple times and really likes it. She even preparing it for a church group, but I was not impressed when I made it. I am wondering if I did something wrong in my preparation. I would recommend reading the reviews and following the suggestions of others.

March 14, 2011

Spiced Salmon with Lime Citrus Salsa

Delicious, easy, and quick!  My husband is not a big fan of salmon, but loved this recipe. The spice mix on the salmon is a great compliment to the citrus salsa. Enjoy!

March 13, 2011

Cowboy Cookies

These cookies from Martha Stewart are delicious!  A colleague brought these into the office, luckily he didn't bring too many as I could have eat a dozen. If you like coconut, nuts (walnuts or almonds can work in place of the pecans), and chocolate these are the cookies for you. Enjoy!


March 12, 2011

Grilled Tofu and Chicken Pad Thai

This recipe by Bobby Flay (Food Network) was terrible!  Asian food is definitely not his forte. The massive amount of tamarind that was called for made the dish bitter and overpowered all the other flavors which I enjoy in Pad Thai. It also called for too many noodles, that is unless you are just wanting tamarind flavored rice noodles!

March 11, 2011

Spicy Bean Soup

This recipe by Giada (Food Network) was not what I expected at all. Really spicy, so much so that the chili powder overpowered any other flavors. I would make it again, but try it with a lot less chili powder


February 25, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I really enjoy this recipe for a twist on a traditional turkey meatloaf. Its very moist and the sun-dried tomatoes add a nice punch of flavor. Enjoy!

February 23, 2011

Greek Quinoa Salad

I have tried quinoa a few times before and never really enjoyed it, but this recipe changes my mind. Its sort of like a Greek salad with quinoa mixed in to make it a complete meal. You could also serve it as a side dish along with some grilled flank steak or chicken. I recommending adding diced cucumber and more tomatoes. Enjoy!

February 22, 2011

Blondies (aka Blonde Brownies)

I made these for a party and everyone loved them, though a few commented they could have done without the almonds (inlcuding my husband how not a nut fan). Its a great twist on a traditional Blonde Brownie. Enjoy!

Kebaba - Bend, OR

Great little Middle-Eastern restaurant with food you won't find elsewhere in Bend. It's situated in an old house along Newport Avenue; its has a homey atmosphere, but it can be quite noisy.

We started with the Trio Sampler - traditional hummous (too heavy on the tahini), harissa-flavored hummus (too sweet), and babaganouj (excellent!) served with homemade pita. For my main dish I had the falafel sandwich with a side salad. The falafel was surprisingly spicy which balanced nicely with the slightly sweet salad that was topped with currants and carrots. The sandwich also had a nice tahini sauce on it which helped cool the spice down a bit while adding additional flavor. My husband had the Chicken Schwarma sandwich which was basically the same a my sandwich but with chicken  with a garlic sauce instead.

Overall, they offer good, unique food at reasonable prices. We will definitely go back again.
Kebaba on Urbanspoon

February 21, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes (aka Best Ever Pancakes)

I have tried a bunch of pancake recipes and mixes and this is by far my favorite. My husband who is not a pancake fan even commented about how good they were. Enjoy!

Silver Moon Brewery - Bend, OR

Hop Fury and Hoppopatamas IPAs are excellent, though don't expect them to be around forever as they are seasonal and they do occasionally run out of them (unfortunately I had this experienced this first hand!). If you are looking for a deal go on Monday night for locals night which includes discounted beers.

I have only had two items from their food menu - the BBQ chicken pizza and the Pulled Pork Nachos. Great BBQ sauce, both sweet and tangy. The pizza had way to much cheese on it and the chicken really didn't have any flavor, but overall it was okay (there is definitely better pizza in town).  The nachos are a great snack to share; they subdue my craving for Southern-Style BBQ ;-)

Silver Moon Brewing on Urbanspoon

February 20, 2011


These are beers that are new to us or that we haven't had in a long time:

  • C-Note Imperial IPA by New Old Lompoc (Portland, OR) - solid bitter-style IPA, though I wouldn't call it an Imperial as it wasn't strong or robust enough
  • Stone IPA (Escondido, CA) - good, solid bitter-style IPA
  • Old Growth Imperial Stout by Caldera (Ashland, OR) - wow! an amazing full bodied stout
  • Burton Baton by Dogfish Head (Milton, DE) - bourbon barrel taste overpowers the IPA a bit
  • Hoodoo Voodoo IPA by Three Creeks (Sisters, OR) - good, slightly sweet IPA
  • Centennial IPA by Cascade Lakes (Bend, OR) - nothing special about this one
  • Detour Double IPA by Uinta Brewing (Salt Lake City, UT) - delicious! heavy, sweet IPA that is balanced by a nice kick of bitter hops
  • Flashback India Brown Ale by Boulder Beer (Boulder, CO) - sweet and heavy with a bitter aftertaste; nice marriage of a big IPA and a brown

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Delicious!  Our favorite meatloaf...its not your grandmother's recipe (unless Paula Dean is your grandma). In an attempt to make something that is really bad for me at least a little bit healthier I reduce the cheese and bacon in half and use lean ground beef; the flavors are still there and I don't feel as guilty afterwards ;-)

February 19, 2011

Summit Saloon & Stage - Bend, OR

Very good draft beer selection, though the food is nothing special. I had a Western Burger which was over cooked (it wasn't even juicy) and served with a too sweet, lacking in tangy BBQ sauce. My husband had the half rack of ribs. He appreciated that the ribs were not very fatty, but had the same complaint about the BBQ sauce. We would go back for a beer and maybe a bar-style appetizer, but not for a meal.

The locations is also referred to as The Downtowner which, by the menu, has a great selection of sub sandwiches. I would go back for lunch one day to try one of these.

Summit Saloon & Stage on Urbanspoon

Martolli's Pizza - Sisters, OR

Good pizza, but nothing special. Flavors are mild, topping are slightly scant, and crust is a bit lacking in substance. Not a place I am going to run back to, but would be willing to try it again.
Martolli's Pizza on Urbanspoon

February 13, 2011

Papandrea's Pizza - Sisters, OR

Some of the worst pizza I have had in a long time. You might be able to compare it to a Pizza Hut deep dish though its been so long since I have had one. If you are in Sisters and wanting good pizza try one of the other places in town. I am sorry to say I cannot recommend Papandrea's.

Papandrea's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Carbonara (aka Coal Miner's Pasta)

Recipe by Rachel Ray. I have tried a few other Carbonara recipes and they never live up to this one. Its one of my favorite pasta dishes. Great for a quick weeknight meal with a salad and some crusty bread or for a dinner party when you are looking to wow your guests. Enjoy!


February 4, 2011

White Chicken Chili

The best white chicken chili recipe I have come across. Serve with corn muffins. Recipe courtesy of Julie Balensiefer; my notations in blue.

White Chicken Chili

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into cubes (or use canned chicken chunks)
2 medium onions, chopped
3 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
4 cans (15 ½ oz. each) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) chicken broth (suggest using 3 cups broth for a thicker chili)
4 cans (4 oz. each) chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
 2 cups sour cream (light)
1 cup heavy whipping cream (half & half)

In a large pot, saute chicken (unless it’s canned, & then add the chicken after sautéing) onion and garlic powder in oil until the chicken is no longer pink.  Add the (chicken, if canned), beans, broth, chilies and all seasonings.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, stir in the sour cream and whipping cream.  Can be served immediately, or left on the lowest heat.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, or tortilla chips.

February 3, 2011

Italian Lentil Salad

Nice twist on a traditional lentil salad. The hazelnuts add crunch and the grapes add sweetness. I suggest making a half batch unless you are serving this for a party or plan to eat lentils for lunch for the next week ;-)

February 2, 2011

White Bean and Sausage Ragout with Tomatoes, Kale, and Zucchini

Easy, quick, and healthy weekday dinner. I used a spicy sage sausage instead of the chicken sausage links, swiss chard in place of the kale, and only one can of beans. Serve with some crusty multi-grain rolls and you have a delicious, veggie packed dinner. Enjoy!

February 1, 2011

Espresso Brownies

Super easy. The espresso powder in the batter and in the glaze adds a nice flavor boost to a traditional-style brownie. Enjoy!

January 31, 2011

Doppio Coffee + Lounge - Hood River, OR

Nice selection of sandwiches, including some interesting vegetarian options. I had a turkey sandwich on toasted wheat bread with provolone, sprouts and spinach. It was good, but nothing amazing. I do like that the sandwiches come with your choice of potato chips of apple slices.  I would go back again, but would try something different...maybe one a hot panini.

Doppio Coffee on Urbanspoon

January 30, 2011

Pancetta and Cinnamon Waffles

Delicious combo of salty, sweet, and savory!  I used regular bacon since that's what I had on hand. Great for a different spin on the traditional breakfast waffles. Enjoy!


Pizza Mondo - Bend, OR

Very good pizza! We ordered their new "Hawaiian" called the Big Island. It had an olive oil base with pulled pork, bacon, pineapple, and sweet peppers with BBQ sauce drizzled on top. This is probably the best Hawaiian-style pizzas I have had. Definitely recommend it and look forward to trying some of their other new flavor combos.  

Pizza Mondo on Urbanspoon

Pine Tavern - Bend, OR

Nice place, but their food is nothing special and is overpriced. If you are with a large party (>10) don't expect to sit together.  I recommend trying Pine Tavern for lunch during the summer when you can take advantage of their seating on the Deschutes River and a more reasonably priced menu.
Pine Tavern Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Angeline's Bakery and Cafe - Sisters, OR

Always a nice place to stop in Sisters; super friendly staff. They have a good selection of bagels and other bakery goods, including many gluten-free items. Their sandwiches are very reasonably priced and the food is always delicious. My favorite items are the Hummus and Veggie Wrap, Jicama Salad, Quinoa Salad, and the Molasses-Ginger Cookies (vegan).

Angeline's Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Christo's Pizzeria - Salem, OR

One of the best pizza places in Oregon. Delicious crust that is both chewy and crispy. Just the right amount of toppings...never overwhelming. Great selection of both rosa and bianca style pizzas. When I am visiting Salem I always try to make a trip here. Service can be slow so as long as you are not in a rush it's the place to go for excellent pizza. Great lunch specials, too.

Christo's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

January 17, 2011

Chicken Spezzatino

Easy, healthy, and tasty soup, great for a cold rainy day. I garnished my bowl with Parmesan to add some extra flavor as it was fairly mild. I also used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into bite size pieces before adding them to the pot. This made the recipe even easier and since I had the breasts on hand it saved a trip to the grocery store. Enjoy! 


Chocolate Honey Almond Tart

Super rich and chocolaty, easy and quick to make. The almonds add a really nice texture and taste to the crust. I recommend using toasted almonds for the most flavor.  This dessert didn't set up and hard as I was expecting, but the taste was still amazing. Enjoy!


January 15, 2011

Update - Tony's Deli - Bend, OR

Tony's has closed their doors. Unfortunately another good restaurant that has fallen victim to the current economic times.

Bourbon Street - Bend, OR

Located in downtown Bend, Bourbon Street is a fried food haven, at least for happy hour. We ordered the hush puppies, Crawfish Po'boy and a hamburger. The hush puppies we really good; not super crunchy with a nice cornmeal taste. They were served with a honey butter that added very little (except more fat). The Po'boy was served on a split baguette - the bread was chewy and not fresh, there was a minimal amount of crawfish pieces on the sandwich that were overwhelmed by the breading, the mayonnaise and what was supposed to be a tangy slaw (no way!).

The hamburger, while nothing special, was good and a steal at under $5. The hamburger and Po'boy were both served with sweet potato fries with a "Cajun" seasoning, which I think was just Old Bay. It made the fries too salty and over powered the sweet potato flavor. If you are just going in for a drink and some fried appetizers the place does have a nice atmosphere, though I am definitely disappointed that I can't say many good things about this place, especially being a southern girl myself :-(   

Bourbon Street Bend on Urbanspoon

January 13, 2011

Chile-Ginger Marinated Flank Steak

This marinade can be used on flank steak, skirt steak, or tuna steaks as indicated. For the beef options, I recommend marinating 8 hours or more to really infuse the flavor into the meat.

The sweetness of the brown sugar is nicely balanced by the spiciness of the chile-garlic sauce. Enjoy!


January 11, 2011

Chorizo Hash

My husband created this dish one morning when we were looking for something hearty and trying to use up some potatoes. Enjoy!

3/4 lbs Chorizo
2 small sweet potato and 5 small Yukon golds, diced
Avocado and fresh cilantro to taste, if desired

Remove chorizo from the casing and cook in a large non-stick pan, crumbling it. When cooked through remove it from the pan and drain on a paper towel, then add the potatoes to the pan. Cook until desired texture is reached (10-20 min). Add the chorizo back to the pan to re-heat it. Serve with avocado and fresh cilantro. 

January 9, 2011

Recent Trip to Sarasota, Florida

During a recent trip to my home town of Sarasota, Florida, we only went out a few times, spending most of our time eating at home with my family. Here are my reviews of the few places we did visit while we were there.

Red Elephant Pizza & Grill - Nothing special. We had the Red Elephant Special and BBQ Chicken Pizzas. The crust was lacking in flavor and was not yeasty like traditional pizza crust. The BBQ sauce was more tangy than sweet. The Red Elephant was pretty good, with plenty of toppings and just the right amount of sauce, but the boring crust just made the entire pizza a bit boring.
Red Elephant Pizza & Grill on Urbanspoon

Sweetberries Frozen Custard and Eatery - Excellent custard!  I actually have never eaten their regular food, but always just go for the custard. Flavors change daily so check their online calendar for the flavor of the day. They also make "Concretes" (think DQ Blizzard) with their regular custard (choc or vanilla) which are quite a treat. They offer daily concrete flavor mixes which are alway fun and interesting.
Sweetberries Frozen Custard and Eatery on Urbanspoon

Gianni's Pizza (Venice, FL) - Their Italian Sandwich was quite good with nice variety of meat and served on a toasted hoagie with a light Italian Dressing. My husband and I shared a calzone, which good, but nothing special. The pizza by the slice was sitting under a heat lamp so I passed on that. Just a short jaunt from the Legacy Trail.
Giannis Pizza on Urbanspoon

First Watch (Lakewood Ranch) - Always a good bet for breakfast. Good variety with healthy option and local themed favorites. I recommend the Floridian French Toast, Banana Granola Pancakes, the Key West Crepe, and any of their Skillets.
 First Watch on Urbanspoon

Panera Bread (Tamiami Trail) - Great salads, sandwiches, and soups. They have their standards (Fuji Chicken Apple Salad, Asiago Roast Beef Sandwich, Creamy Tomato Soup) then they have their seasonal offerings (Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad). They also have yummy breakfast sandwiches and, of course, bakery sweets. Their bakery sweets are my least favorite item from Panera - it tends to be hit or miss - but you can't go wrong with anything on their regular menu.
 Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

Carrabbas's Italian Grill (Tamiami Trail) - I have been to Carrabba's many times before and have always had good food. This time was no exception. However, I was a bit disappointed that they changed their bread recipe, which is not as good as it used to be. The food is very heavy (don't go there is you are counting calories) and ladened with butter and oil. For an occasional treat I would go back, but there are so many other good restaurants in Sarasota they would be towards the bottom of the list.
 Carrabba's on Urbanspoon

White Bean and Chicken Chili

Great healthy version of a white chicken chili (no cream). I added extra chili powder and cumin to bump up the flavor a bit, used only 1.5 lbs of ground chicken and 1 extra cup of broth. Recipe works well with ground turkey also. Enjoy!


January 2, 2011

Taylor's Sausage - Bend, OR

Great selection of homemade sausage and meats, including chicken, bison and elk.  I had the Hungarian sausage with sauerkraut; it had a nice mild flavor.  Most of the eats are inexpensive, yet tasty. I am definitely interested in going back and trying some of their breakfast items that are made with their homemade sausages.

Also, try some of their fresh/frozen meats to go (we left with 4 lbs!).
Taylor's Sausage Deli and Pub on Urbanspoon