Oyako Donburi


Oyako Donburi from www.apassionateplate.comGosh, it feels like forever since I’ve shared a recipe on A Passionate Plate. I won’t go into the details, but I’ve been working way too much lately and the last several months have been more than a little crazy. Fortunately things have started to settle down enough now for me to take a vacation to visit my sister and her wonderful family in Japan. YAY!

My nieces Emily and Elena are 15 and 13 now – so grown up! Today the three of us got to hang out together and I got to experience the life of a Japanese teenager. We hopped on the train and headed to the local mall where we scoured the 300 Yen store for cool hair accessories,  snacked on Japanese crepes, and took lots of pictures in one of those crazy photo booths that make your eyes look huge and your skin look amazing. Okay, the photo booth was REALLY fun.
photo booth
After a few fun hours at the mall, we headed home for some cooking. All of that shopping made us very hungry.

We decided to try Beth’s recipe for Oyako Donburi.

The word Oyako literally means “parent and child” in Japanese and Donburi means “bowl”. Oyako Donburi is a delicious one-dish meal made with chicken and egg served over a big bowl of steamed rice._DSC3579
Since we are all big fans of cooking shows, we decided to make our own cooking video. The girls were pros in the kitchen and I am so proud of them. The Donburi was delicious, too.

Here’s our video!

This was absolutely one of the best days I’ve had in a LONG time. Thank you, girls!

Oyako Donburi is a great recipe to make with kids – easy prep., limited chopping, and not too many dishes to clean up afterward. Enjoy!
– Mary

Oyako Donburi
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: One Dish Meal
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. sake
  • 1½ Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2½ Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • ½ cup sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 2 eggs, gently beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. mitsuba leaves (optional)
  • 2 cups steamed rice
  1. Place the first five ingredients in a large sauté pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the chicken and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes until the onion is soft.
  4. Pour the egg over the mixture. Do not stir. Cover with a lid and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Serve over bowls of hot rice.
  6. Top with mitsuba leaves.


Delancey’s Clam Pizza


Delancy's Clam PizzaDelancey is a pizza restaurant in Seattle owned by Brandon Petit and his wife, food blogger and book writer, Molly Wizenberg.

Back in 2010, before I had even contemplated starting a food blog, my book group read Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. I was so captivated by Molly’s writing that I began following her blog, Orangette, which continues to be an inspiration.

Molly’s latest book, Delancey, A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage will be released in a few weeks, so it’s perfect timing for me to share this recipe with you.

Clam pizza? Unless you’ve ordered pizza in Japan, clams might seem like a very unlikely pizza topping. I’ll admit, my family was skeptical – until they took their first bites.

clamsDelancey’s clam pizza is made with fresh steamed Manila clams (canned is NOT an option) and it’s a weekend special that always sells out. At Delancey, the clam pizza gets a special twist from the addition of preserved Meyer lemons. I couldn’t find them at Trader Joe’s or at our very well-stocked Thriftway, so I decided to substitute a small amount of fresh lemon zest, which seemed to add just the right amount of lemon flavor. I also added chopped fresh basil to the parsley because I just love basil with clams.

And, to make things VERY easy, I bought a ball of Trader Joe’s pizza dough instead of making my own.

Clam Pizza

The fresh clams are definitely delicious on this pie, but it’s the sauce that really stands out. Made from a reduction of white wine, shallots, butter and clam juice blended with crème fraîche, this is not your ordinary pizza sauce.

This recipe comes from the cookbook, Signature Tastes of Seattle by Steven W. Siler. It’s the last recipe I am sharing this month and I’ll be giving away a copy of the book later this week, so stay tuned.

If you live in the Seattle area, you can hear Molly Wizenberg read from her new book on Tuesday, May 6th at 7 pm at University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Delancey's Clam Pizza
Serves: 4
  • 40 small Manila clams
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • ¼ cup crème fraiche
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, broken into small chunks.
  • Fresh chopped parsley & basil
  • 1 ball pizza dough
  1. Set a pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat to 500 degrees for 1 hour.
  2. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the clams and steam, covered, until the shells open, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Remove the the cooked clams from the liquid and set aside to cool.
  7. Once cool, remove the meat and discard the shells and any clams that did not open up.
  8. Continue cooking the wine and shallot liquid over high heat until it reduces down to about 2 Tablespoons, then strain over a bowl and discard the shallots. Whisk in the crème fraiche and lemon zest (optional) until incorporated.
  9. Remove the pizza stone from the oven.
  10. Stretch the pizza dough into a 12 inch circle and place on the hot stone.
  11. Top pizza with the shredded mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, and the clams, then drizzle the crème fraiche over the top.
  12. Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown and puffed - about 12 to 15 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven and drizzle some hot chile oil over the pizza and then garnish with a generous portion of chopped parsley and basil.


Kingfish Coconut Cake


Kingfish Coconut Cake APPCoconut is a happy ingredient… it makes me think about summer and piña coladas, spicy Thai food and travel to far-away tropical islands, homemade macaroon cookies and Almond Joys, and that delicious smelling Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil we used to slather on back in the 1980’s.

When I saw this Coconut Cake recipe in the Signature Tastes of Seattle cookbook, I immediately wanted to give it a try. It comes from Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, a restaurant owned and operated by sisters Laurel & Leslie Coaston. At Kingfish Cafe, you will find southern food influenced by years of home cooking. The restaurant’s website says it best:

” Soulfully cooked food is richly flavored, passed down from generation to generation, and filled with tradition and history. We are firm believers in simple pleasures, and we are delighted to share our version of Southern hospitality with you.”

There is just something about this cake… it tastes like something my grandma would have made. I’m guessing it is one of the recipes the Coaston sisters grew up eating at family birthday parties.

Okay, what you should know… this coconut cake is moist, tender, and sweet – but not too sweet. It’s straightforward to make, but like all good cakes made from scratch, you’ll need a bit of prep time (plan on 1/2 hour) to make the batter. Be sure to buy sweetened canned coconut. It’s stocked with drink mixers at the store, not in the Asian section.

SIDE NOTE: Instead of following the recipe and baking the cake in two 9-inch cake pans like any sensible person, I tried using three 6-inch cake pans. The result was a cake about as high as it was wide – my own Coconut Leaning Tower of Pisa. Fortunately, a generous recipe of cream cheese frosting held everything together and the cake cut beautifully.

This cake holds up well for a few days and it’s a recipe I would recommend for a special occasion like Easter dinner, a birthday, or even a wedding.


Love coconut, too? Check out these other recipes from A Passionate Plate:

“Hawaiian Vacation” Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars
Cod in Coconut Tomato Curry Sauce
Piña Coladas


I haven’t posted anything new for two weeks because I can’t stop making this cake! I took one to a dinner party and the entire cake was completely devoured. I’ve found that a layer of lemon curd in the center makes it even better so I will be adding that to the recipe from now on. Here is my Easter version – two 10″ layers with lemon curd, coconut and cream cheese frosting in the center. I highly recommend this cake.

– Mary

Coconut Cake

Kingfish Coconut Cake
Be sure to buy sweetened canned coconut for this recipe. Look for the Coco Lopez brand, which is stocked with the drink mixers at the grocery store.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern American Cooking
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup canned sweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch sides (or spray with non-stick baking spray).
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and ½ tsp. salt.
  4. Using a stand mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, sweetened cream of coconut and orange juice until fluffy.
  5. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
  6. On low speed, add the dry ingredients, and mix just until blended.
  7. Add the butter milk and mix just until blended.
  8. Remove the batter to another bowl and set aside.
  9. Wash and dry the bowl and beater thoroughly.
  10. Add the eggs whites to clean, dry mixing bowl and beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry.
  11. Fp;d the beaten egg whites into the cake batter until combined. Do not over mix.
  12. Divide the batter into two prepared pans.
  13. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  14. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the pans, turn the cakes out onto a rack, and let them cool completely.
  15. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
  16. Combine the cream cheese and butter together and mix until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and stir in the confectioners sugar until smooth.
  17. When cakes are completely cool, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Spread 1 cup of cream cheese frosting over the first layer and sprinkle 1 cup shredded coconut over the top.
  18. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with remaining coconut, gently pressing into the sides to adhere.
  19. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.




Szmania’s Potato Crusted Salmon


Potato Crusted Salmon A Passionate PlateThis recipe from Szmania’s Restaurant is featured in the cookbook Signature Tastes of Seattle by Steven W. Siler.  I’m cooking from this book in March, and was so happy to see a recipe from Szmania’s included.

Szmania’s is located in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood and chef/owner Ludgar Szmania has been dishing up his take on Pacific Northwest cuisine with a uniquely German twist for nearly 25 years. The restaurant holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I got my first job cooking in a restaurant kitchen.

It was a crazy time for me with culinary school during the day followed by a dinner shift at Szmania’s. I showed up to work every afternoon totally exhausted from a long day at school, but the hours in the kitchen just flew by and it was one of the best culinary experiences of my life. I’m not sure I could pull off those 17 hour days in the kitchen anymore! My feet hurt just thinking about it.

I learned so much from Ludgar Szmania, including how to make this dish, which has definitely survived the test of time. Try serving potato crusted salmon with a warm dill-Dijon cream sauce and a side of asparagus.

If you live in Seattle, I’d definitely recommend a dinner at Szmanias, and if you love German food, the Octoberfest menu should not be missed!  :-)

Looking for more ways to prepare salmon? You might also enjoy these recipes:

Salmon Sashimi with Ginger & Hot Sesame Oil
Walnut Crusted Salmon Filets
Chilled Somen Noodles with Grilled Salmon

Szmania's Potato Crusted Salmon
Recipe type: Seafood, Entree
Serves: 4
  • 4 - 6 oz. salmon filets, skinned & deboned
  • 2 cups potatoes, finely shredded, rinsed and kept in water
  • 1 cup finely diced white onion
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season salmon filets generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain the potatoes and squeeze away all excess moisture.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded potatoes, onions, flour, and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat an oven-safe, large, non-stick pan over medium hight heat.
  6. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering.
  7. Divide the potato mixture into four portions.
  8. Place the four potato cakes into the pan, shaping them into the form of the salmon filets.
  9. Place a filet on top of each potato cake and let the potatoes fry to a light golden crisp.
  10. Flip the cakes over carefully with a spatula so the crisp side of the potato faces up.
  11. Finish in the oven until the salmon is cooked through - about 3 minutes.
  12. (if you do not have an oven safe non-stick pan, gently place the filets on a preheated baking sheet to finish in the oven.)
  13. Serve immediately.


Cafe Ladro’s Espresso Chip Pound Cake


Cafe Ladro Espresso Chip Pound Cake

This month I’m diving into this really fun book, Signature Tastes of Seattle by Steven W. Siler. It’s a cookbook of restaurant recipes from our area and the first one I’m sharing is from the renowned Seattle coffeehouse, Cafe Ladro.

Really, besides salmon (recipe coming up this weekend!) what tastes more like Seattle than coffee? Not much!

The original Cafe Ladro opened on upper Queen Anne back in 1994. Now there are 14 area locations and, lucky for us, there is a Cafe Ladro just a couple of miles from my house in West Seattle, (7011 California Ave SW, Seattle).

Usually I’d order a vanilla latte at Cafe Ladro, but this week I stopped in for six shots of expresso in a cup to go, because I wanted to make one of their signature items – Espresso Chip Pound Cake.

This recipe is big, bold, dense and, yes… loaded with caffeine.


I talked to the barista at Cafe Ladro in West Seattle and found out that the Espresso Chip Pound Cake is one of the most popular items in the pastry case and it sells out daily.

I had hoped to run a little taste test today when Joy and I met for coffee, but sure enough, the Espresso Chip Pound Cake was all sold out, so we just enjoyed a piece of my homemade. It was amazingly good!

cafe Ladro coffee

Here is the recipe. It makes more than enough batter for a bundt pan. You’ll have leftovers to make a few muffins or a small loaf, too.


Cafe Ladro's Espresso Chip Pound Cake
This recipe comes from Seattle's Cafe Ladro. It's rich, dense and full of coffee flavor. Unless you have a very large bundt pan, you'll probably have extra batter to bake a few muffins or a small pound cake loaf, too.
Serves: 12+
  • 1 lb. butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup espresso shots, cooled to room temperature
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • confectioners sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a large bundt pan (or spray with baker's spray)
  3. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a stand mixer, starting on low speed and then on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until the eggs are just incorporated. Do not over mix.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture on low speed until just combined.
  7. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix until just combined.
  8. Add the espresso and mix until just combined.
  9. Add the chocolate chips until just combined.
  10. Scoop the cake mixture into a large, prepared bunt pan. Fill the pan ¾ full. If your bundt pan is not big enough, scoop the remaining batter into prepared muffin tins or a small loaf pan.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  12. Let the cake cool, then remove from the pan and garnish with confectioners sugar before serving.


What’s cooking in March? Local recipes!


Signature Tastes of SeattleHappy March! This month I’ll be sharing recipes with you from some of Seattle’s best restaurants. I’ll be cooking from Signature Tastes of Seattle, Favorite Recipes from Our Local Kitchens, by Steven W. Siler. This book showcases nearly 100 amazing recipes from local restaurant menus, so I am going to have a very difficult time deciding which ones to share!

I think I’ll start with The No-Name Cocktail from Peso’s Kitchen & Lounge (605 Queen Anne Avenue North). We’re having a few friends over tonight to watch the Academy Awards, and this cocktail sounds perfect…

1 1/2 oz. cucumber vodka
1/2 oz. triple sec
1 oz. water
1 oz. Sprite
splash of Pimm’s

Combine all ingredients over ice in a glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.


Zucchini Patties


Zucchini Patties A Passionate Plate

I just can’t believe today is February 28th!  I didn’t have time to  make enough of the recipes from Balaboosta and now the month is over. This will definitely be a cookbook I come back to again and again.

Yesterday I managed to squeeze in one more from Balaboosta. It looked so simple I just couldn’t resist. Crispy, salty, zucchini patties seasoned with onion, leeks and dill.

Simple, yes. Boring, NO!

The secret to making these patties crispy and not soggy is to squeeze out all of the extra moisture from the zucchini and onion in a dish towel. Once the zucchini and onions are nice and dry, they can be mixed with the remaining ingredients.

_DSC3236Einat recommends using bread crumbs from the Challah recipe in Balaboosta. I substituted plain bread crumbs and they worked great.

I ate these with a little tzatziki sauce for lunch – so yummy!

I’ve got two other ideas I want to try using this recipe…

– Zucchini patties topped with grilled tomatoes, poached eggs and basil cream sauce.

– Zucchini patties with cinnamon, walnuts & maple syrup (omit the dill).

I’m giving away the Balaboosta cookbook at today!
Visit our Facebook page for details.

Zucchini Patties
So simple, yet so delicious!
Recipe type: Starter
Serves: 12 patties
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 leek, white and light green only, finely chopped
  • 2½ Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Canola oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Grate the zucchini and onion.
  2. Wrap the grated vegetables in a clean dish cloth and twist over the kitchen sink to remove all of the excess moisture.
  3. Place the zucchini and onion in a large bowl.
  4. Add the leek, dill, ½ tsp salt, bread crumbs and egg.
  5. Use your hands or a spoon to combine the ingredients.
  6. Heat ½" oil in a large, non0stick skillet over medium heat.
  7. Form the zucchini mixture into 2" patties.
  8. Fry in the hot oil until both sides are dark golden brown.
  9. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle generously with kosher salt, and serve.


Turkish Coffee Brownies


Turkish BrowniesWhen I saw the recipe for Turkish Coffee Brownies in Balaboosta, Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love, by Einat Admony, I immediately thought of Marvin. Not because he loves chocolate, but because of a story I’d heard about a past girlfriend, her Serbian mother, and an infamous Turkish coffee “reading” that correctly predicted the demise of the relationship. Wow – those coffee grounds don’t lie!

All I can say is… if you know someone who loves chocolate and coffee – and you aren’t trying to end a relationship – skip the Turkish coffee reading and make these brownies instead. They are wonderful! The magic ingredient in this very simple recipe is actually cardamom, which imbibes an exotic flavor without overwhelming the irresistible combination of coffee and chocolate.

The recipe calls for espresso powder, but I substituted a packet of Starbucks VIA Italian Roast. I STRONGLY recommend this recipe and hope you will give it a try.

Want to learn more about the ancient art of Turkish coffee reading? Check out this short video documentary by Veronica Moscoso Cordero from YouTube.


Turkish Coffee Brownies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • ⅔ cup all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 3 oz. 70% cacao chocolate (bittersweet)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 packet Starbucks VIA Italian Roast instant coffee
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of an 8" square pan with butter and dust lightly with flour.
  2. Melt the chocolate and 8 oz. of butter together in a double boiler or a small bowl over a pot of simmering water.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture is light, fluffy, and pale yellow.
  4. Whisk in the VIA packet, cardamom, vanilla, and salt until well combined.
  5. Remove the melted chocolate mixture from the heat and gently stir with a rubber spatula.
  6. Very slowly add the chocolate to the egg mixture and mix thoroughly until well combined.
  7. Sift the ⅔ cup flour into the batter and mix well.
  8. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Check the doneness by sticking a toothpick in the middle - if it comes out clean, the brownies are done.
  10. Cool before cutting.
  11. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.


Ground Meat Kebabs with Fresh Herbs


Ground Beef Kabobs

In February 2010, Marvin and I took a Valentine’s trip to Southern Spain and Morocco. Our main objective was the Festival de Jarez – a month-long celebration of all things flamenco in the Andalusian town,  Jarez de la Frontera.  We spent five days in Jarez watching and listening to incredible flamenco performances. In between shows we wandered the rainy streets, enjoyed the delicious food  (huge plates of fried fish, sliced  jamón, olives, cheese, crusty bread, Spanish beer, amazing steaks, delicate pastries) and we drank sherry. Jarez de la Frontera, we discovered, is the sherry capital of the World. One night we even watched a flamenco performance by candlelight inside a Sherry Bodega. It was magical!!

Tio Pepe Bodega

We watched a midnight flamenco performance here, surrounded by barrels of sherry.

What does this story have to do with a meat kabob recipe from the cookbook Balaboosta? Well, after our 5 days in Jarez, we took a ferry ride across the Straight of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco, where we ate lunch at a tiny hole in the wall place with three tables and a couple of grills out front. Our waiter served us meat kabobs which tasted almost exactly like the recipe from Balaboosta I am sharing with you today.

Tangier Morocco – Feb. 2010

So there you have it!

I’ve adapted this slightly from the original, with the addition of lamb and a little garlic. Marvin LOVED these kabobs and eating them brought back great memories of our Valentine’s trip a few years ago.

The flavor is definitely Middle Eastern with hints of cumin and cinnamon, but bright with the flavor of fresh herbs, too. You could also form this mixture into patties for a Mediterranean twist on a burger or make meatballs and serve them in pita.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

– Mary

Ground Meat Kebabs with Fresh Herbs
Recipe type: Entree or Starter, Grilled Meat
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 4
  • Bamboo skewers (soaked in water) or metal skewers
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro & mint)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse 5 to 10 times to combine well.
  2. Shape the meat mixture into cylinders, about 3 inches long and ½ inch in diameter.
  3. Thread onto the skewers and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Heat a gas grill on medium high or light a charcoal grill.
  5. When the grill is ready, place the kabobs over the fire and good until they are cooked through and charred on each side, about 6 minutes.
  6. Serve hot off the grill with tzatziki, salsa, hummus or your favorite dipping sauce.


Tangy Tabbouleh


TabboulehThis month I am sharing recipes from a beautiful cookbook called Balaboosta by Einat Admony. First up, tabbouleh!

I love tabbouleh and have been making it for years. My old friend, Rick Schwartz, once told me, “Tabbouleh is a parsley salad not a bulgar wheat salad.” I think the reason most people (especially grocery store deli employees) make tabbouleh with more wheat than parsley is because chopping is time consuming and labor intensive whereas pouring boiling water over a bowl of bulgar wheat and letting it “cook” is incredibly easy.

But, there is no getting around the fact that a really great tabbouleh salad requires lots of chopping and lots of parsley.

The Balaboosta recipe for tabbouleh is similar to mine, but with one major difference… equal parts parsley and cilantro. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about this, but I decided to give Einat’s recipe a try and I loved it – bright, tangy, and fresh!

Three things really make this tabbouleh salad a stand-out: the cilantro, fresh lemon zest, and plenty of salt.

Tabbouleh makes a great side for barbecued meats, and holds well in the refrigerator so it’s a great weekday work lunch, too.

Not eating gluten? Try Substituting quinoa or brown rice in place of the bulgar wheat for an equally delicious gluten-gree version.


Tangy Tabbouleh
A classic Middle Eastern salad made more unique with the addition of chopped cilantro.
Serves: 6 - 8
  • 1 cup medium bulgar wheat
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • ⅓ cup chopped mint
  • 4 scallions, thinly chopped
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • zest from two lemons
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  1. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the bulgar in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside until the water is absorbed.
  2. Stir together all remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add the bulgar and mix thoroughly.
  4. Let the flavors mingle for about 30 minutes before serving.


Feed the People You Love.

12th man

Celebrating on Sunday when the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl.

February is here and Seattle is feeling the love. The Seahawks are Super Bowl champions! They’re predicting 500,000 fans will line the streets for the big victory parade. Unbelievable. You’ve gotta love the 12th man!

My February cookbook pick is also all about the love – the feeding your friends and family kind – and I am looking forward to sharing it with you.

Here it is…

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 8.33.17 PM Balaboosta
Bold Mediterranean Recipes
to Feed the People You Love.
– By Einat Admony

Einat Admony is originally from Israel, but now lives in New York, raising her family and running three restaurants. She is also a winner on Chopped. I discovered Einat Admony at Barnes & Noble on one of my all too often strolls through the cookbook section.  The title of the book caught my eye – a word I didn’t recognize.

Balaboosta. It’s Yiddish for perfect housewife. And it’s the name of one of Einat’s restaurants. I love how Einat explains it:

“Balaboosta is a term of respect and endearment, reserved for the most energetic of women who tirelessly cooked and cleaned while taking charge of the spiritual and emotional well-being of their husbands and kids.

I come from a long line of balaboostas. There’s my mom, Ziona, of course. There’s her sister, Chana – a divorced mother of five who still spends eighteen hours a day making meatballs, rice, couscous, lamb stew, and chicken schnitzel for her kids, grandkids, neighbors, mailman, the old woman in the wheelchair across the hall, and whoever else might drop by for a bite.

 Like my mom, my aunt Chana, and the generations of balaboostas before them, I cook from the gut.”

I bought this cookbook because it’s full of incredible Mediterranean recipes and it just oozes with love. The writing is so entertaining, I read it like a novel, pausing to drool over the recipes along the way.

Recipes for kids, for friends, for busy weeknights, family gatherings, special occasions, and romantic dinners for two… there’s even a recipe for a Morning Orgasm (pomegranate juice, rose water, champagne) Valentine’s Day breakfast, anyone?

So it was really hard to decide which recipes to cook and post this month, but here is what I am planning (subject to change) –

  • Crispy Calamari with Saffron Aioli
  • Turkish Coffee Brownies
  • Falafel
  • Herbed Meat Kabobs
  • Tangy Tabbouleh
  • Zucchini Patties

Sound good to you? It was hard to choose just a few recipes from this book! I’ll give away a copy at the end of the month, too, so stick around.

You can learn more about Einant Admony in this video produced by The New York Times.

January Cookbook Giveaway! One Day to Enter!




Watch for the next giveaway, coming soon!

Happy end of January!

Today is your chance to win a copy of Hollyhock Garden to Table – the wonderful book I have been cooking from all month! This cookbook is full of inspired, simple to prepare, good for you recipes. Many are vegetarian or gluten free.

Enter our giveaway by telling us one thing you are trying to eat more (or less) of this year.

Just respond to this post to enter. We’ll announce the winner on Friday!

Good luck!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Polenta Pancakes


Gluten-Free Polenta Pancakes A Passionate PlateHappy Sunday morning to you! We’re enjoying a lazy start to the day and happy tummies, thanks to these scrumptious Gluten-Free Blueberry Polenta Pancakes. I haven’t been making a big deal about it here, but Marvin and I have both cut way back on gluten and carbs recently, so pancakes have been pretty much off the menu. Obviously these pancakes are not carb-free, but they are light, fluffy, tasty,  gluten-free, and a nice reward for being “good” all week.

I adapted this recipe slightly from the Hollyhock Garden to Table Cookbook (we’re giving away a copy next week!). The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or 1/2 cup of the Hollyhock homemade gluten-free flour mix. I just used the versatile Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Mix which worked perfectly.


Gluten-Free Blueberry Polenta Pancakes
Recipe type: Breakfast, Gluten-Free
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk or dairy alternative
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Mix
  • (or homemade gluten-free flour mix, or whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup blueberries or other fresh berries
  1. Combine the cornmeal, salt and honey in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk in the boiling water, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and butter (or coconut oil).
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture until it is well combined.
  5. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then gently stir into the wet batter.
  6. Ladle batter onto a hot, oiled griddle and sprinkle a few berries on each pancake.
  7. Cook on medium heat until the pancakes are speckled with bubbles.
  8. Flip and continue cooking until the underside is golden brown.
  9. Top with maple syrup, apple butter, fruit or yogurt and serve immediately.


Simple Roasted Cauliflower


SimpleRoastedCauliflower A Passionate PlateSometimes the simplest foods taste the best. Take roasted cauliflower for example. Olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice are all that is needed to turn a humble head of cauliflower into something extraordinary.

Normally I wouldn’t post a recipe that is this simple, but since it’s also in the Hollyhock Garden to Table cookbook, I figured, why not? (We’re giving away a copy of the cookbook next week, so stay tuned!).


5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Roasted Cauliflower
So simple. So delicious. This is a wonderful way to serve cauliflower that even non-veggie lovers will enjoy.
Recipe type: Vegetable
Serves: 2-4
  • 1 head organic cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Generous amount of fresh ground pepper and sea salt
  • juice from ½ small lemon
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the olive oil, lemon juice and cauliflower until the florets are well coated.
  3. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread cauliflower in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast, stirring a few times, until the cauliflower is roasted and slightly charred on the edges, about 20 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately.


Palak Paneer


Palak Paneer A Passionate Plate

Palak Paneer is an Indian spinach curry made with soft, unripened farmer’s cheese. I ordered palak paneer at Indian restaurants for many years thinking I was eating tofu. (If you are avoiding dairy, tofu can easily be substituted in this recipe). I love palak paneer, but had never tried making it at home – until yesterday. This is the third recipe I am sharing from the Hollyhock Garden to Table cookbook this month. I adapted it slightly and am happy to report it was a total success.

Making farmer’s cheese (paneer) sounds daunting, but it is actually quite simple. Bring whole milk to a boil, stir in lemon juice until the milk curdles, strain in cheesecloth for 1 hour and voila – fresh farmer’s cheese!

Pakak PaneerThe flavors in this recipe are bright and intense. If you love the strong flavors in homemade curry, this recipe is for you. The paneer is crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. And, there is plenty of extra sauce – enough to use in a second meal as a simmer sauce for chicken or fish.

I used a food processor, but a blender will give a smoother, more uniform consistency.

Happy cooking!

Love curry? You might like these recipes, too!

Cod in Coconut Curry Sauce
Thai Chicken Curry
Butternut Squash Thai Curry

Palak Paneer
Recipe type: Vegetarian Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
  • ½ lb. paneer
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, most of the juice drained off
  • 2 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. chili flakes
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  2. Line a strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.
  3. In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, bring the milk to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching.
  4. Once the milk boils, remove from heat and stir in the 2 Tbsp. lemon juice.
  5. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes until the milk curdles.
  6. Pour into the lined strainer and let drain for 1 hour. Discard the whey (liquid drained into the bowl) and press the curds in the cheesecloth into a flat circle.
  7. Cut into 1" cubes. (The cheese may be slightly crumbly. Don't worry).
  8. You should have approximately 8 oz. of paneer.
  10. Heat 1 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the paneer and cook until golden on all sides.
  11. Remove to a paper towel and set aside.
  12. In a food processor or blender, combine the ginger, tomatoes and garlic. Blend into a smooth paste. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
  13. Add the spinach and coconut milk to the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  14. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. coconut oil in a medium, heavy bottomed pot.
  15. Add the onions and sauté until very soft, about 10 minutes.
  16. Add the tomato puree, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili flakes.
  17. Simmer on low for 5 minutes to combine the flavors.
  18. Add the spinach mixture and the paneer and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  19. Season with the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.


Mushroom Soup with Cashews & Wild Rice


A Passionate Plate Vegan Mushroom SoupHere is a luscious and rich mushroom soup perfect for a Meatless Monday in January. Mushroom stock blended with roasted cashews makes a creamy base for earthy wild rice, shiitake mushrooms and fresh thyme.

We lucked out this weekend at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market when we found these beautiful shiitake mushrooms from Duvall’s Sno-Valley MushroomsWhat a score!

Mushrooms West Seattle Farmers Market

This recipe is from the Hollyhock Garden to Table cookbook. I’ve adapted it slightly. Omit the cream (my addition) if you prefer a dairy-free, vegan version. Enjoy!

Looking for other vegetarian soup recipes? Try these:

Quick White Bean Soup with Rosemary
Thai Curry Butternut Squash Bisque

Mushroom Soup with Cashews & Wild Rice
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegetarian Soup
Serves: 4
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 4 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cups mushroom stock
  • ½ cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ heavy cream
  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot.
  2. Add onion and salt. Turn heat to low and cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the fresh thyme and garlic. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  4. Turn heat up and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their juices and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Add wine and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  6. While the wine is reducing, combine 1 cup of mushroom stock with the cashews in a food processor or blender and process until well combined.
  7. Add cashew-stock mixture and remaining stock to the pot and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
  8. Use a blender or a stick blender to process the soup until smooth. (You can also process in batches in a food processor).
  9. Stir in the cooked wild rice and cream (optional) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve topped with additional chopped cashews.


Roasted Beets with Pomegranate Molasses


Roasted Beets Pomegranate MolassesBeautiful beets.

Full of good-for-you vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals  – beets are a superfood that may even improve heart health and lower your risk of diabetes.

I love the sweet, earthy taste and silky texture of roasted beets, and I’m happy to share another yummy beet recipe with you.

This salad recipe comes from the Hollyhock Garden to Table cookbook, my inspiration for recipes this month.

Extra pomegranate molasses can be stored in the refrigerator for a few months.

Extra pomegranate molasses can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

If you are one of those misguided people who think beets taste more like dirt than a vegetable, this lovely salad might change your mind. The sweet flavor of roasted beets mingles nicely with a dressing made from tart, homemade pomegranate molasses and tangy balsamic dressing. Chili flakes and cilantro give the salad a little extra kick.  For a little added protein, try adding some feta or cotija cheese.

Toss the ingredients together about 15 minutes before serving to let the flavors mingle. I like this salad served at room temperature, but the refrigerated leftovers are just as tasty.


Do you love beets, too? Here are some other recipes to try –

Swedish Pickled Beets
Beet and Goat Cheese Layered Salad
Kale Pesto Pizza with Roasted Beets & Hazelnuts

Roasted Beets with Pomegranate Molasses
Recipe type: Salad, Vegetarian
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. red beets
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • FOR THE MOLASSES (makes extra!)
  • (ingredients will make extra. Keep refrigerated for up to 6 months)
  • 2 cups 100% pomegranate juice, no sugar added
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. homemade pomegranate molasses
  • 2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange the beets (skin on) in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the beets for 1 hour or until tender.
  4. While the beets are cooking, prepare the pomegranate molasses.
  5. In a medium, heavy bottom sauce pan, combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 to 50 minutes until the juice has reduced by ⅔ and turned syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
  7. Remove the beets from the oven and set aside to cool.
  8. Peel the beets, cut into small dice and place in a medium sized bowl.
  9. Whisk together 3 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, chili flakes and olive oil.
  10. Toss the beets gently with the pomegranate molasses dressing, fresh cilantro and pomegranate seeds.
  11. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15 minutes so the flavors can mingle and then serve.


Happy New Year!


HappyNewYearGood morning!

I hope your first day of 2014 is starting off right. I’m a big fan of new beginnings, so January 1st is one of my favorite days. Out with the old, in with the new; a clean slate; a fresh start; an opportunity to re-group, make new goals, and buy a new calendar!

I’ve been thinking a lot about A Passionate Plate for the last few weeks. Writing this blog has been one of my most gratifying experiences over the past few years, but in 2013 I just didn’t give myself enough time to cook, photograph and share my recipes.

Well, that’s going to change, starting now.

I will find time for the things I love this year, including cooking and photographing good, healthy food.  And, I’ve decided to take a new approach with A Passionate Plate in 2014. Each month I’m going to choose a cookbook from my own collection and share some of the recipes with you. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll give away a copy of the cookbook!

I can’t promise that I’ll be posting more than an couple of days each week or that my pictures will be perfectly lit, but I am making a commitment to get back to what I enjoy and to share it with you.

January’s cookbook pick: Hollyhock Garden to Table, by Moreka Jolar, Heidi Scheifley and the Hollyhock Cooks.

I love this cookbook because it is filled with creative, healthy and inspired recipes that are very simple and easy to execute. Most of the recipes are vegetarian, with options for making them vegan or gluten free.

Here’s what I’ll be making and sharing with you in January:

  • Roasted Beets with Pomegranate Molasses
  • Mushroom Soup with Roasted Cashews and Wild Rice
  • Palak Paneer 
  • Simple Roasted Cauliflower 
  • No-Knead Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  • Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies & Thyme
  • Cortes Clam Chowder 
  • Blueberry Polenta Pancakes 

I’m looking forward to a renewed commitment to more cooking and better eating, and I look forward to sharing these recipes with you this month.

Happy New Year!

– Mary

Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Mix


This gluten-free flour mix was developed by the team at Hollyhock Retreat Center and is featured in their beautiful cookbook, Hollyhock Garden to Table. Note that buckwheat will spoil, so this mix should always be kept in the refrigerator.

Substitute this gluten-free baking mix for wheat flour for cakes, muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods.

Homemade Gluten-Free Baking Mix
A 1 to 1 substitute for wheat flour, this homemade gluten-free flour mix is perfect for cakes, muffins, scones, pancakes and other quick breads.
Serves: 5 cups
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1½ cups white rice flour
  • ¾ cup buckwheat flour
  • ⅔ cup tapioca starch
  • ⅓ cup arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.


Eggnog Muffins


Eggnog MuffinsTis’ the season to be jolly… and drink eggnog!

Eggnog is a favorite holiday indulgence for me, especially when served with a little Captain Morgan Private Stock rum.

Eggnog and rum are the key ingredients in this very easy muffin recipe, along with golden raisins and freshly grated nutmeg. Top them with a little eggnog glaze and serve them Christmas morning or leave a few on a plate for Santa.


– Mary

Eggnog Muffins
Serves: 12 muffins
  • 2 cups flour
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup light eggnog
  • ½ cup rum (we recommend Captain Morgan Private Stock)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg (or ½ tsp. ground nutmeg)
  • GLAZE:
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. (approximately) light eggnog
  • ⅛ tsp. grated nutmeg (or ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Stir in the beaten egg, eggnog, rum, raisins, melted butter and nutmeg.
  5. Scoop batter into 12 paper lined muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes until muffins are light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. While the muffins are cooling, stir together the powdered sugar and just enough eggnog to make a thick glaze. Stir in ⅛ tsp. nutmeg.
  8. Spread the glaze over each muffin and serve.

Merry Christmas!

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls


Sweet Potato Cinnamon RollsHappy Thanksgiving week! Have you planned your menu? Started your shopping? Are you trying anything new this year?

We’re sticking to a traditional menu – turkey, cornbread & sausage dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn soufflé, pumpkin pie, and yes – green bean casserole. Mmmmm. I can’t wait.

Since we have family spending the night with us on Thanksgiving Eve, I’ve been thinking about breakfast, which got me thinking about cinnamon rolls, which got me searching online for a new recipe, which is how I discovered these amazingly delicious Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls.

This rich, sweet dough gets extra flavor from cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and nutmeg, and is especially tender from the addition of one of our favorite Thanksgiving ingredients – sweet potato. I tend to steer clear of yeast dough recipes, but this one is easy and virtually fool-proof. There is no kneading by hand (your mixer and bread hook do all of the work) and the dough is very easy to roll out and slice.

Dough rolled out
Marvin is a cinnamon roll connoisseur, so I was curious to see how he liked these. I served him one warm from the oven and he gobbled it right up. His review… “these are deadly,” which translates into a 5-star rating.

This recipe comes from the beautiful blog, EatRunLive, and the only thing I changed was to double the icing and add maple flavoring. Next time I’ll make one more change and add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to the filling, too.

Cinnamon rolls slicedIf you are looking for a special breakfast treat this holiday season, I’d definitely recommend Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls.

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Mary

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
A delicious twist on a breakfast favorite!
Recipe type: Breakfast, Baked-Goods, Dessert
Serves: 12-14 rolls
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ cup mashed sweet potato
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 4¼ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, very soft
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. maple flavoring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Heat the milk and the 4 tbsp butter together in a small pan on the stove over low/medium heat until the butter melts and the milk is warm to the touch. Remove from heat, let cool about 10 minutes until the temperature cools to 105 degrees. (Warm but not hot) Sprinkle in the yeast and stir so yeast will dissolve. Let yeast mixture sit for five minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the mashed sweet potato and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
  4. Add flour mixture to the sweet potato mixture. With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the yeast and milk.
  5. Knead for about six minutes on medium speed with either a paddle attachment or dough hook. The dough should be smooth and elastic when you’re done.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a dishcloth and set in a warm area to rise for 1 hour 15 minutes. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon (pecans optional) in a small bowl.
  7. Remove dough and punch dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a large rectangle and spread soft butter on top. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture on top keeping an inch bare around the sides.
  8. Gently roll up dough so it resembles a log. Slice dough into ½ inch slices and place in a greased 9 x 13″ dish. Cover with a dishcloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 25 minutes. Let cool while you make the glaze.
  10. For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk and maple extract. Frost the cinnamon rolls with the glaze and serve.


Chicken in a Basket


Chicken in a biscuitToday I want to share a special comfort food recipe with you. Chicken in a Basket.

Chicken in a Basket was served at Kappa Alpha Theta on the final day of sorority rush  at WSU back in the 1980’s. Very retro – even back then  – Chicken in a Basket is two Pillsbury crescent rolls wrapped around a creamy chicken filling, topped with butter and crushed croutons and baked to a golden brown.

Assembling Chicken in a Basket

Assembling Chicken in a Bakset

I remember sitting at a formal table in the Theta’s dining room on the last day of rush – talking nervously and trying to eat this surprisingly yummy lunch slowly. I ended up pledging Theta, which is how I met several of my closest life-long friends, including Joy, and how I got my first experience cooking in a commercial kitchen as the weekend cook at the sorority.

Our house just celebrated 100 years on the WSU campus with a centennial celebration last weekend and Joy and I both had so much fun seeing old friends and re-living old memories.


Over 400 alumnae returned for the Alpha Sigma chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta Centennial Reunion! Photo by WSU photographer, Bob Hubner

Going back to the house made me think of how much we all looked forward to nights when Chicken in a Basket showed up on the menu. So, when we got home from the reunion I decided to make this long-lost recipe and share it with you and  all of our friends who lived at the WSU Theta house in the 1980’s.  Mmmmm….
Theta Chicken in a biscuit

I’ve made a few adaptions to Mrs. Smith’s original recipe, but it tastes very much the same. Here is a copy of the original from a house cookbook published in the 1980’s…

Mrs. Smith's recipe for Chicken in a Basket

Mrs. Smith’s recipe for Chicken in a Basket

You can make the chicken filling up to two days in advance. This is a very easy recipe that everyone seems to love.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken in a Basket
Chicken in a biscuit is comfort food. Joy and I both were introduced to this recipe at WSU. Back in the 1980's, the Kappa Alpha Theta house at WSU served this on the final day of rush. For those of us who lived in the Theta house during that time, this recipe holds very special memories.
Recipe type: Entree, Comfort Food, Chicken
Serves: 8
  • 1 and ½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • ¼ cup butter (half a stick), plus extra for brushing on tops
  • ¼ tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 packages Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • ½ cup crushed seasoned croutons
  1. Place the chicken in a deep pot and cover completely with water.
  2. Bring the pot to a simmer and gently poach the chicken until it is cooked through (20 to 30 minutes depending on thickness).
  3. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into small dice.
  6. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a medium sauce pan.
  7. Add the onion and cook until limp, about three minutes.
  8. Add the remaining butter, cream cheese and garlic salt.
  9. Cook over medium heat until the cream cheese is melted.
  10. Whisk together until smooth.
  11. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the chicken and stir to combine.
  12. Lay out the crescent roll dough, leaving two triangles attached (each package will make four biscuits - recipe makes 8 total).
  13. Place a scoop of chicken mixture in the middle of each piece of dough.
  14. Bring the corners up to the center and pinch gently together, forming each into a square.
  15. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle with croutons.
  16. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
  17. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Six Seven at The Edgewater Fall Menu 2013


Joy at the Edgewater

Last week, Mary and I were invited to attend the beautiful Fall Menu Tasting Dinner at Six Seven at The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, WA. Chef John Roberts prepared and presented an amazing dinner in their gorgeous dining room (the stunning sunset that evening was an added bonus!).

Beautiful Setting

We all agreed that the setting at this lovely hotel is one of the VERY best in Seattle. The waterfront location and valet parking make it the perfect spot for out-of-towners AND locals. Six Seven is not your typical hotel restaurant – it is a destination restaurant.



The craft cocktail list offers a very special selection of fun, innovative cocktails that made for a lively start to the evening. I chose the Cherry Blossom Fizz (effen black cherry vodka and lauren perrier champagne) – Y.U.M! Chef prepared a silky-smooth Sweet Potato and Leek soup topped with chanterelles and a Golden Beet salad with all kinds of fall-ish goodies (candied pecans, craisins, oranges, blue cheese, fuji apples) which started our meal off on the right foot.

Salmon Crudo

The Salmon Crudo appetizer was luscious and light and left me wanting MORE – until I peeked at the menu and noticed that there were LOTS of delicious dishes still to come…

Pan Roasted Halibut

Namely, Chef Roberts’ Pan Roasted Halibut! You may remember that I’ve raved about his halibut in the past and he succeeded once again in making me VERY happy! Honestly, if you have guests from out-of-town, or if you are craving halibut, Six Seven at The Edgewater is where you need to go. It was perfectly cooked, and this fall preparation over a saffron risotto and accompanied by mussels (bonus!) was comforting and delicious.

Roasted Rack of Lamb

The deliciousness continued with Roasted Rack of Lamb and rosemary roasted vegetables. This dish was paired with a beautiful Woodward Canyon Cabernet which complimented the warm spices on the lamb perfectly! (Note to self: take the time to find the right wine to pair with a dish and elevate the entire meal experience!).

Pear and Frangipane Tart

The beautiful conclusion to our meal was the Pear and Frangipane Tart – the bounties of fall in the northwest wrapped in a pastry. Perfection!

We both want to thank Chef Roberts and the Edgewater team for a lovely evening and we HIGHLY recommend you visit Six Seven at The Edgewater for beautiful scenery, tasty craft cocktails and an amazing dinner sometime soon. Here’s the link to their their newly completed Craft Cocktail Menu and Fall 2013 Dinner Menu. EnJOY!

Emily’s Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Chocolate Chip Banana MuffinsMy niece, Emily, posted these Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins on Facebook last week. The caption under the photo read, “Since I was not busy this afternoon, I made some chocolate chip banana muffins!! I tried one and they are super delicious!!”

I thought it was so awesome that my 13 year old niece decided to bake when she had a little free time instead of watching TV or YouTube.  I asked if I could share her recipe with you on A Passionate Plate. She agreed and wrote the following about her recipe.

Chocolate and Bananas are two of my favorite foods, so I just love this recipe. Even though there are chocolate chips in it, you can still taste the banana and the muffins are so moist that I keep day dreaming about them during school. Also, you can use apple sauce instead of butter to make them a little more healthy which is good for people who are trying to eat right!

Emily Baking

Emily baking her Banana Chocolate Chip muffins!

My niece dreams about banana chocolate chip muffins during school… she must get that from me. :-)
Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Emily's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Recipe type: Muffins, Dessert
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup melted butter or unsweetened applesauce
  • i cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
  3. Add sugar and egg and mix well to combine.
  4. Stir in the melted butter (or applesauce).
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into the banana mixture, just until combined.
  7. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop into muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.


Spicy Pork & Sweet Potato Stew


spicy pork and sweet potato stewHappy Sunday evening to you! What’s for dinner at your house tonight? We’ll be eating this… an easy-to-make, Spicy Pork & Sweet Potato Stew. Savory, tender pork, chunks of sweet potato and flavorful hominy in a spicy, smokey broth.

Give this one a try. I think it’s a keeper. :-)


5.0 from 1 reviews
Spicy Pork & Sweet Potato Stew
Savory, tender pork, chunks of sweet potato, and hominy corn cooked in a broth flavored with spicy chipotle chiles and adobo sauce.
Recipe type: Soup/Stew
Serves: 8
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 3 Chipotle Chiles canned in Adobo, plus 2 tsp. sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 and ½ lbs. sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1" dice
  • 1 large (29 oz. can) Mexican hominy, drained
  • cilantro and sour cream for garnish
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium high heat until it shimmers.
  2. Cook the pork in batches until it is brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and slightly brown.
  4. Add the chipotle chile and 2 tsp. adobo sauce to the onions. Cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Pour the beer into the pot and deglaze the pan.
  6. Stir in the pork, chicken stock, cumin, coriander, oregano and salt and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 and ½ hours until the pork is tender.
  8. Add the sweet potatoes and hominy.
  9. Continue cooking for 30 minutes more until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  10. Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro and sour cream to garnish.


Around the World Lentil Soup


Around the World Lentil SoupLentils… Are you a fan? I love them. Nutty, earthy, and full of protein.When I got back from India this spring, I couldn’t stop eating Lentil Dahl for breakfast and now that the weather is getting colder, I’m on a lentil kick again.

Did you know Washington State is the #1 producer of lentils in the U.S.? According to Wikipedia, “the Palouse region of eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle, with its commercial center at Pullman WA, constitutes the most important lentil-producing region in the United States.”

In fact, the Palouse is the self-proclaimed Lentil Capital of The World.

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse  –  land of beautiful, golden rolling hills, wheat farms, lentil fields, and, of course, Pullman and Washington State University.

So, yeah, of course I’m a fan of lentils!
Go Cougs!

This lentil soup is based on a recipe in  Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table cookbook. She calls her version Palouse Lentil & Sausage Soup. I felt the name wasn’t quite right. This soup is more Italian, more Moroccan, more Indian… just all around more international.

I’ve modified the ingredients and am calling my version Around the World Lentil Soup, which seems fitting, not only for the taste, but also because the majority of Palouse lentils are exported overseas. Americans just don’t seem to have the same appreciation for lentils as the rest of the world, but we should!

Of course, Marvin is not a big fan of lentils or legumes of any kind. But last night I served him a big bowl of this soup and watched, amazed, as he finish the entire thing. We did have leftover soup (this recipe makes 8 to 10 servings) but Marvin actually suggested we freeze it so we could share the soup with some friends next weekend. Okay, that is nothing short of a lentil ENDORSEMENT from my husband! Sometimes it just takes the right recipe, I guess.

So, if you feel like giving lentils a try, Marvin and I both recommend this delicious soup made with spicy Italian sausage, smokey Spanish paprika, fennel, cinnamon, cumin and hearty, brown lentils.

And, if you’re already a lentil fan, be sure to check out the National Lentil Festival in Pullman – it’s held annually every August.

Around the World Lentil Soup
This hearty soup gets it's unique flavor from the seasonings - cinnamon, cumin and smokey paprika.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 8-10
  • 10 oz. spicy Italian sausage, bulk or removed from casings
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 cup fennel, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • ¾ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 - 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes and their juice
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
  • 1 cup potato, peeled and diced
  • sour cream for garnishing
  1. In a large soup pot, sauté the sausage over medium high heat, breaking it up and cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, fennel, and carrots. Continue cooking for a few minutes more until the sausage is fully cooked and the vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, thyme, bay leaves, minced garlic and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and lentils.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes more, until the potatoes are tender.
  7. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  8. Remove the bay leaves and ladle soup into bowls. Serve sour cream on the side for garnishing.


Gluten Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake


Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate CakeMy friend, Debbie, recently discovered that eating a gluten-free diet makes her feel so much better in so many ways. Debbie also loves chocolate, so when I saw this Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake recipe in my Hollyhock: Garden to Table cookbook, I just knew I needed to try it out… for Debbie, of course.

I figured if it passed muster with a gluten-glutton like myself, then it would be worth sharing with my gluten-free friend.

The verdict: it was so good I decided to share it with everyone. :-)

There are lots of flourless cake recipes out there. The secret to this one is the quinoa. Two full cups of cooked quinoa get blended into this cake, giving it a very moist consistency. And a cup of cocoa powder ensures a satisfyingly rich chocolate taste for serious chocolate lovers. Overall, I was very impressed with this recipe. It tastes like a rich devil’s food cake with the consistency of a moist, cakey brownie.

I simply dusted the cake with powdered sugar and served it with a bit of sweetened whipped cream, but it would also be wonderful frosted with butter cream or chocolate ganache.

Here is the nutritional breakdown based on 12 servings: 253 calories, 24 grams carb., 15 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 13 grams sugar. Gluten-free.

Get tips on how to cook quinoa here.


– Mary

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake
This moist chocolate cake tastes like an indulgently rich devil's food cake. Quinoa is a surprise ingredient - making this dessert both gluten-free and higher in protein.
Recipe type: Gluten Free Dessert
Serves: 10-12
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted before measuring
  • 1 and ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup 2% milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper.*
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, baking powder baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. Combine sugar, melted butter, milk, oil and eggs in a blender and process for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the cooked quinoa and continue to blend on high for another minute.
  6. (You can also blend in a food processor, but the texture of the cake will not be quite as smooth. Increase the quinoa blend time to 2 minutes).
  7. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  8. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the quinoa batter with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps.
  9. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the cake springs back slightly and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. * For a thinner cake, use a 10" springform pan and bake approximately 30 minutes. For a thicker cake, use an 8" springform pan and bake approximately 40 minutes.
  11. Allow cake to cool completely before serving.It tastes even better if wrapped and refrigerated overnight.
  12. Serve slices with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.


Cougar Gold Ale Soup – GO COUGS!


Cougar Gold Ale SoupIt’s football season. GO COUGS!
RUN, RUN, Ruuuuuun!
OMG What the #@*@*#!
What was he thinking??
Throw the ball!!
Hang on to the ball!
Get RID of the ball!
Get out of bounds!
I just can’t watch this anymore.

For the last decade or so it’s been a real love-hate relationship for me and my team. I have yelled and screamed my way through more games than I can count. I don’t think of myself as a poor looser or a fair-weather fan, I’m just a very dedicated, verbal fan.  After more than 25 years, I feel like I’ve earned the right to yell, scream, cheer, cry… whatever it takes. And, let’s face it, the last 10 years have given Cougar fans a lot to yell about and it hasn’t always been good. But last night…

Whooo Hoooo!

Last night we pulled off a victory over USC in the 4th quarter. 10-7 COUGS! We’re 1-0 in conference play. I  have high hopes for a great season.

Cougar Gold Cheese

Cougar Gold is made at WSU and aged in a 30 oz. can.

Whether we win or loose, one thing a Cougar fan can always count on is the great taste of Cougar Gold Cheese. It’s the food of choice at any WSU football tailgate and I was so happy to see it back in our local grocery stores this weekend.

Cougar Gold Makes Everything BetterProduced at the WSU creamery since the 1940’s, Cougar Gold is a sharp cheddar cheese that ages in a 30 oz. can. Unlike other aged sharp cheddars, canned Cougar Gold is moist and crumbly. It melts beautifully which makes it perfect for fondue or cheddar soup.

And my Cougar Gold Ale Soup makes me happy no matter what the scoreboard says!

This really is the perfect game night soup.

You can order Cougar Gold directly from the Washington State University creamery. Or, substitute your favorite sharp cheddar cheese.


Cougar Gold Ale Soup - GO COUGS!
Cougar Gold cheese is produced at Washington State University and sold in 30 oz. cans. If you can't find it, substitute your favorite sharp cheddar in this recipe.
Recipe type: Soup
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 - 16 oz. bottle of your favorite ale (we recommend Fat Tire)
  • 1 and ½ lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 14 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded Cougar Gold cheese
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  1. Cook the bacon in a soup pot until it is crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, and continue cooking until the onions are soft and limp, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the beer and bring it to a boil. Let it reduce for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the potatoes, chicken stock, water and black pepper.
  5. Simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Use a potato masher to blend the soup to your desired consistency.
  7. Place the flour in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk to remove any lumps.
  8. Stir the milk and flour mixture into the soup and cook for 5 more minutes.
  9. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and serve immediately garnished with chopped chives.


Five Things I Learned This Summer.


I am so glad September is here! My summer was just flat-out crazy. I’m starting a new business and it’s been a bit overwhelming. I just didn’t have time to do the baking, cooking and canning I had hoped for, and I didn’t always eat well either. But, I learned a few things this summer and I thought I should share them with you before I forget. So here goes…

LESSON #1. Bacon wrapped hot dogs rock. They’re just so bad they’re good.
Enough said.


Bacon wrapped hot dogs are AMAZING!

LESSON #2 – I can be a vegan. For just about 5 days.
When my garden really got going this summer and my friends started dropping off their extra produce on our doorstep, I decided to try eating vegan. Really it was more zucchinean. I basically ate zucchini for breakfast, lunch and dinner – five days in a row. Along with my dad’s homegrown potatoes, a few beans, strawberries, blackberries, cucumbers, and carrots from my garden. Marvin thought I was nuts. I felt amazing. And it was so easy!

But then I really started to miss cheese. Bye-bye, vegan.


Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai. Delicious and vegan. http://apassionateplate.com/raw-zucchini-noodle-pad-thai/

LESSON#3 I don’t balance. I teeter-totter.
And finally I’m okay with it.

I know, everything in moderation, right? I’ve tried for years to embrace that philosophy, but it’s just not my style. Take exercise for example. Sometimes I’m really motivated. Here is my workout schedule from the second week in July (yes, it was written down on my calendar):

teeter totter

My life is a teeter totter.

Monday: swim 6:00 am
Tuesday: run with Jeanne 5:30 pm
Wednesday: spin class 12:00 pm
Thursday: weights 9:30 am
Friday: bike ride 7:00 am

Apparently, I was feeling like quite the athlete, because I actually did all of these things in one week.

But the next week I forgot all about exercising, drank several G & Ts, and spent most of my time in front of the computer.

Okay, wait… no judging! That week in front of the computer was actually fun and productive – just in a totally different way.

A few days later the teeter-totter bounced up again and I found myself in a Pilates class. I like Pilates every now and then. It makes me feel good after several days of “desk time.” It’s the same with food. Bacon wrapped hot dogs and a week five days of eating vegan are good for me. It’s not exactly moderation, but it all does seem to even out and, best of all, I don’t get bored.

For me, living on a teeter-totter is actually how I stay balanced.

LESSON #4. How I like it is the right way to eat it.

On several occasions this summer I ordered salmon and was told that it would be prepared medium rare. I’m a foodie from Seattle so I get that salmon should be a little translucent in the center, but, honestly, I just don’t like it that way. In fact, I like salmon slightly over-cooked. So this summer I decided to just ask for my salmon well done and it didn’t bother me one bit, even when the server shook her head and asked where I was visiting from.

Asking for what I want greatly improves the odds that I will get what I want.
Pretty simple.

grilled salmon fish steak

Yes, I like salmon well done.

LESSON #5. It pays to be original.

One of the first recipes I posted on A Passionate Plate was Zucchini Praline Cake. I made it one afternoon because I had an abundance of zucchini in the fridge and Marvin had been mentioning maple donuts… it was a totally original idea and it tasted amazingly good. Well, a few weeks ago I was contacted by the food editor at The Guardian, asking if my recipe could be included in their Top 10 Courgette recipes. There are thousands of zucchini recipes online, but she picked mine. :-) Well, I didn’t actually get paid to be original, but let’s just say it paid off.

A nice reminder that an original idea is definitely worth sharing and I hope to have more original recipes for you very soon.

– Mary

Zucchini Praline Cake

Zucchini Praline Cake from A Passionate Plate, featured on http://www.theguardian.com

Kale Pesto Pizza with Roasted Beets & Hazelnuts


kale pesto pizza with beets and blue cheese I just really love the combination of these flavors. Every bite of this savory pizza bursts with complexity. At first it’s all whole-wheat and pesto, but pretty soon the sweetness of the roasted beets kicks in, and those crunchy, toasty hazelnuts are so, well… so nutty.  And just when you think it’s over – a surprise ending – just a touch of tangy, pungent, goes-perfect-with-beets, blue cheese.

If you’d like to make your own kale pesto, find the recipe here.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Roasted Beets & Hazelnuts
The combination of flavors in this pizza is complex and delicious! Pair it with a cold bottle of Riesling or an American Red Ale.
Recipe type: Pizza
Serves: 6 individual pizzas
  • 1 whole wheat pizza ball (Trader Joe's is a great source for pre-made)
  • ⅔ cup pesto (we recommend our homemade kale pesto recipe)
  • 2 cups pizza cheese (your choice)
  • 2 large or 3 medium roasted beets, peeled and cut into large dice
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. good quality blue cheese
  1. Divide the pizza dough into six balls.
  2. Press the dough out into free-form shapes.
  3. Divide the pesto, pizza cheese and roasted beets between the six individiual pizzas.
  4. Bake in a very hot (400 to 450) oven on a pizza stone or baking sheets until the crust is brown and the cheese is golden and bubbly.
  5. Remove the pizza from the oven and scatter a little blue cheese over each.
  6. Return to the oven for 1 minute more.
  7. Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts over each pizza and serve.
  8. (This pizza also tastes delicious served at room temperature).


Kale Pesto


Kale PestoKale. We just can’t seem to get enough of it. Over the past two years we’ve shared all kinds of kale recipes including an Apple & Kale smoothie, Farro Salad with Kale,  Kale Caesar with Bacon and Egg,  a Kale and Artichoke Strudel and more.

Now here is another awesome and versatile way to enjoy one of nature’s greatest power foods –
Kale Pesto.

There are many recipes floating around the internet for kale pesto. Mine is a take on one my cousin makes regularly, and it’s kid endorsed, too. My 7 year-old niece and 3 year-old nephew love to eat this kale pesto tossed in their favorite pasta.

This recipe contains nuts, but they can easily be omitted. You could also substitute basil or parsley for a bit of the kale. And, if you’d like to try a vegan version of kale pesto (nutritional yeast replaces the cheese) check out this one.

My favorite way to use kale pesto is on pizza. I’m pretty much in love with the Kale Pesto Pizza with Roasted Beets I made last night.

How about you? Have you tried it? What do you make with kale pesto?

– Mary

Kale Pesto
Kale pesto is nutritious and delicious! Choose Lacinato, Tuscan, or Dinosaur kale if available.
Serves: 2½ cups pesto
  • 1 large bunch kale or 1-10 oz. package chopped baby kale
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Drop in the garlic cloves and blanch for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove garlic from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Wash the kale and remove any tough stems or ribs.
  5. Add the kale to the pot of boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds.
  6. Drain the kale and rinse with cold water.
  7. Place the kale and garlic in a food processor. With the motor running, add the olive oil, cheese, lemon juice and nuts.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Raw Zucchini Noodle “Pad Thai”


Raw Zucchini Pad ThaiHappy zucchini season! My friend, Dave, is harvesting a bumper crop this year and if I didn’t know any better I’d swear he’s been feeding his plants steroids or growing some kind of crazy GMO zucchini. Take a look for yourself…

David Norling Zucchini

Dave’s bumper crop of zucchini!

Not that I’m complaining. I’m on a major vegetable kick right now and I’ve been eating a lot of zucchini. Usually I just stir-fry it and top it with salsa and fresh herbs, but last night I tried something different – Raw Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai.  I discovered this idea in a cookbook from the Hollyhock Canadian Learning Centre – Hollyhock: Garden to Table. You get all of the flavors of Pad Thai and an extra generous helping of vegetables in this clever dish (omit the fish sauce to make it 100% vegan).


I used the julienne blade on my mandolin to create these zucchini “noodles”

The Pad Thai “noodles” are actually long strands of thinly sliced zucchini, but the taste and texture are surprisingly very similar to real Pad Thai noodles.

A spicy, homemade peanut sauce transforms the “noodles” into an incredibly satisfying one-dish meal. Wow. I love this! What a great way to use up some of that bumper crop. Enjoy!

– Mary

Raw Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai
In this clever dish, zucchini replaces the rice noodles used in Pad Thai. Omit the fish sauce from the ingredients for a 100% vegan, gluten-free meal.
Recipe type: Vegetarian (or vegan) Entree
Cuisine: Thai inspired
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 extra large or 12 small zucchini (enough to make 10 cups of noodles)
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • ½ cup chopped mint
  • ½ cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ⅔ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. lime zest
  • 1 - 2" piece lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp. agave
  • 3 Tbsp. tamari
  2. Use a spiralizer to cut the zucchini into angel hair threads, OR use the smallest setting on a mandolin, OR use a vegetable peeler to cut long strips of zucchini, then slice into thin noodles. You'll need a total of 10 cups of noodles.
  3. Place the noodles in a large bowl.
  4. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat just until it liquifies. Remove from heat and stir in the red curry paste, lime juice and tamarind concentrate.
  5. Sprinkle salt over zucchini, then toss in the coconut oil mixture.
  6. Set aside, covered, for 30 minutes.
  8. Place the peanut butter, water, lime zest, lemon grass, ginger, sriracha sauce, garlic, lime juice, agave and tamari in a blender and process until smooth. The sauce will be quite thick.
  10. Drain most of the marinade off the zucchini noodles. Reserve the extra marinade and set it aside.
  11. Pour half of the peanut sauce over the zucchini and toss to coat. Toss in some of the reserved marinade to thin the peanut sauce if it is too thick.
  12. Toss in the cilantro, peanuts, mint, onion and bell pepper and serve immediately (at room temperature) with the extra peanut sauce on the side.


NW Summer Cocktail Party featuring simple & crisp


simple & crisp

Look at those beauties! We received these gorgeous Simple & Crisp dried fruit slices in the mail last week with this lovely note:

Please enjoy pairing our delectable fruit crisps with some of your favorite culinary cravings!
Simple & Crisp’s gluten-free dried fruit slices are the perfect healthy cracker alternative and the perfect pairing – from savory to sweet to cheese, chocolate, canapes, champagne, wine and anything else in between – these fruit crisps are a gourmet gluten-free entertaining staple.

Orange Pear and Apple Crisps

What a wonderful excuse to get creative and plan a Northwest Summer Cocktail Party featuring Simple & Crisp orange, pear and apple crisps!

I’m a huge fan of cheese and crackers, but I love the idea of serving these Oregonzola Truffles with Pear Crisps and local honey in place of the less-healthy wheat crackers I’d usually indulge in. If you’re like me, eating something that is delicious AND healthy just makes me happy. And that’s how you want to feel at a cocktail party, right?

Oregonzola Truffles on Pear Crisps

On my birthday this year, Cathy and I were looking to have a lil fun and order “shots”. (Ha! I think our waiter was a bit shocked by our giddy request and probably thought to himself, “Oh, boy! Here we go…”). Since we had requested something “fun, but not too sweet” he recommended a Washington Apple shot and it was perfect! This combination of equal parts whiskey, cranberry juice and Sour-Apple Pucker tastes remarkably like a fresh, crisp apple. Our server definitely looked disappointed, though, when we didn’t order seconds. I decided on the Washington Apple with a Simple & Crisp Apple garnish for my Northwest Summer Cocktail Party.

Washington Apple Cocktail

And, what’s a party without a little dessert? The Simple & Crisp Oranges are just the right amount of tart and they scream to be paired with dark chocolate. This platter of Orange Crisps topped with whipped cream and a chunk of dark chocolate is the perfect finish to a lovely cocktail party. EnJOY!

Orange Crisps with Cream and Dark Chocolate

For more information and pairing ideas, check out simpleandcrisp.com.

Oh, and check out the Mornin’, Sunshine Smoothie garnished with an Orange Crisp.

Oregonzola Truffles
Prep time
Total time
These cheese-y bites are especially yummy when served on simple & crisp Pear Crisps and drizzled with raw honey.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 6
  • 4 oz. Lite Cream Cheese
  • 4 oz. Oregonzola crumbles (or Gorgonzola)
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Walla Walla sweet onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted and finely chopped
  1. Combine the first five ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Stir well.
  2. Using a scoop or teaspoon, roll the cheese mixture into ½-inch balls.
  3. Roll each ball in almonds and chill for at least an hour, or up to three days.
  4. Serve with honey for drizzling.


Mornin’, Sunshine Smoothie


Mornin', Sunshine Smoothie

Here is a delicious way to start your day! You can use fresh or frozen fruit, but if it’s all fresh, you’ll want to add a few ice cubes to make it nice and slushy.

If you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, try adding a handful of spinach. (I learned a long time ago that green food in the morning is just NOT tolerable!).

Green Smoothie


Mornin', Sunshine Smoothie
Make this smoothie extra-special with a simple & crisp Orange Crisp for a garnish. If you want to add some iron, throw in a handful of spinach and watch it turn a lovely, bright green.
Recipe type: Breakfast, Beverage
Serves: 1
  • 1 orange
  • 1 peach
  • ½ mango
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 1 handful spinach leaves, optional
  1. Peel the fruit and cut into large chunks.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a VitaMix or blender until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. EnJOY!


Lyn’s Pork Adobo



Pork Adobo with Noodles

Lyn made a bunch of yummy Filipino dishes for us last week and the first one I want to share with you is Pork Adobo. Like curry in India, there are countless recipes for adobo in the Philippines and families have been cooking variations of this dish for over 500 years.

Adobo has three key ingredients – garlic, soy sauce and vinegar. In Lyn’s version, there is a generous amount of brown sugar, which is probably why this has been such a hit with Mark and Macy… the Miller family loves sugar!

It’s not complicated to make, but the meat needs to cook for about 2 hours to get really tender, so you’ll need to plan ahead. It’s so worth it.

_DSC1630What does it taste like? Well, the flavor is complex. It’s salty, tart and a little bit sweet. The meat is succulent and tender on the inside, but crispy on the outside. Now that I’ve eaten it, I understand why Lyn makes Pork Adobo so often at home. It’s the ultimate Filipino comfort food made with simple ingredients.

Lyns Pork AdoboI will definitely be making this again and am already imagining a pulled adobo pork sandwich made from the leftovers with a spicy cabbage slaw.

Thanks for sharing this recipe, Lyn!

Pork Adobo
Recipe type: Main Dish, Pork
Cuisine: Filippino
  • 2 pound Boston Pork Butt Roast, cut into 1.5" cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce (plus additional for braising)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup white vinegar (plus additional for braising)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (plus additional for braising)
  • ¼ cup water
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for two minutes until it begins to soften.
  3. Add the pork, in a single layer, then add the soy sauce and garlic.
  4. Brown the meat on all sides and let the soy sauce get absorbed into the meat.
  5. When the meat is brown, add the bay leaves, black pepper, white vinegar, brown sugar and water.
  6. Cover and cook the meat, turning every 10 minutes or so, until it is very tender - about 2 hours.
  7. Keep the meat partially covered with liquid throughout the cooking process. Continue adding a little water, along with more soy sauce, vinegar and sugar to taste.
  8. When the meat is "fall-apart" tender it is ready. Serve with rice or noodles and some of the cooking sauce, if desired.


Cooking with Lyn

Lyn at Pike Place

Lyn shopping at Pike Place Market.

Last week Marvin’s nephew, Mark, and his family came up from San Antonio for a visit. We had great time touring them around the area and an unexpected treat for me was getting to cook with Lyn.

I felt an instant bond with this wonderful woman who just walked in the front door, both arms loaded with groceries, and then went to work in my kitchen – digging through my cupboards, heating pans on the stove, chopping, stirring, tasting, seasoning and making our kitchen smell wonderful!

Lyn told me that she learned how to cook from her dad and her sister, but she didn’t really hone her culinary skills until she moved to the U.S. Now she loves cooking Filippino food, but it can be tough to find the right ingredients in San Antonio.


Snapper Escabeche, Jasmine Fried Rice, Clams in Chorizo, Pork Adobo.

Well, that is definitely not a problem in our neighborhood! We have five Asian grocery stores within just a few miles of our house and our local mall, Southcenter, even has a Seafood City just a short walk away from Nordstrom and Macy’s. (I think it’s fair to say that Southcenter Mall was a little slice of heaven for Lyn).

With all of the fresh seafood and Filipino ingredients available, Lyn wanted to cook for us, so we decided to stay home for dinner every night instead of going out. The weather totally cooperated, so we were able to eat outside on the patio, enjoying the clear view of Mt. Rainier and a delicious combination of Filipino and American food…


A beautiful summer view from our backyard.

Lyn cooked, I cooked, Marvin grilled, and the whole family enjoyed three incredible dinners. Pork adobo, bbq steaks, corn-the-cob, clams with chorizo, jasmine rice, chicken in coconut broth, snapper escabeche, flan, mangos, s’mores,  jack fruit, vegetables from my garden, and the best fried bananas ever.

Cooking with Lyn and MacyLyn is an intuitive cook and and an adventurous eater – two traits I admire so much! I loved learning some new recipes from Lyn and I am looking forward to sharing one of  them with you this week.

And a I want to give a big thanks to Mark’s daughter, Macy. Macy was our sous chef and she did a fantastic job. And, she loved everything – even the snapper and clams. Way to go, Macy. You can come visit us any time!


Sous Chef Extraordinaire, Macy!

I hope you’ve been enjoying some memorable meals this summer, too.

– Mary

Chicken and Rice Salad with Nam Jim Dressing


Chicken and Rice Salad with Nam Jim DressingHello, friends! It’s been too long since my last recipe post and I apologize. I’ve been cooking like crazy this summer, but for some reason I just keep running out of time and/or energy when it comes to snapping a picture and writing everything down.

Summer in Seattle means it’s light out until 9:30, so we’ve been eating a lot later. That’s definitely one of the problems. And I’ve also been trying to watch the calories. Yeah, right… that’s why I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake last week – but no, seriously, I have been trying – so lot’s of salads with whatever is hanging around in the fridge or whatever is ripe in the garden. In other words, SNAP PEAS. I finally just had to yank the plants out because I honestly had maxed out on allowable snap pea consumption for a single month. We’re moving on to zucchini, green beans and tomatoes. YAY!

So yesterday I finally carved out enough time in the day to make dinner, take a picture, and enjoy the meal. I made a really lovely, Thai inspired poached chicken salad with a spicy nam jim dressing…

Baby arugula tossed with cold poached chicken, basmati rice, green beans, yellow pepper, cilantro, mint, and nam jim – a spicy Thai dressing made with lime juice, chilies, sugar and fish sauce. So refreshing, low-calorie, and beautiful!

Ingredients for poaching liquidIt was also a chance to use some of the star anise we bought on our trip to India earlier this spring, which made me very happy.

This is a good salad recipe to prep ahead of time. You can poach the chicken, cook the rice, blanch the green beans and make the dressing up to two days ahead.

Toss the salad and serve it with a very cold glass of Savignon Blanc. It’s a perfect patio dinner.


Like Thai Food? You might also enjoy these recipes:

Thai Steak Salad
Thai Grilled Chicken
Thai Curry Chicken
Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

Chicken and Rice Salad with Nam Jim Dressing
Recipe type: Salad, Chicken, One-Dish Meal
Cuisine: Thai Inspired
Serves: 4
  • 2 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
  • 6-inch piece lemon grass, cut into chunks
  • 3 pieces whole star anise
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 cup basmati rice (I used a combination of brown, red & white)
  • 20 green beans, sliced diagonally into three pieces each
  • 1 medium bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups baby arugula, stems removed
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped mint
  • 4-inch piece lemon grass, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large serrano pepper, coarsely chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  2. In a medium sauce pan with a lid, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add lemon grass, star anise, ginger and chicken.
  4. Place the lid on the pot and poach the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes until it is cooked through.
  5. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid to cool, but save the liquid.
  6. Refrigerate the chicken until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  8. Strain the poaching liquid to remove the pieces of lemon grass, anise and ginger.
  9. Wash the pot, then return it to the stove with the poaching liquid.
  10. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the rice and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
  11. NOTE - all of the water will not be absorbed. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside to cool.
  12. Refrigerate the rice until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  14. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
  15. Add the beans and cook until they are crisp tender.
  16. Drain and refresh in an ice bath or under cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve their bright green color.
  17. Refrigerate the beans until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  19. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Place dressing in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  21. Slice the poached chicken into thin slices.
  22. Combine the chicken, rice, arugula, green beans, yellow pepper, cilantro, mint in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake


Martha Stewart Cookie Icebox CakeWhat in the world possessed me to make this completely over-the-top, so rich and sweet you can’t even finish your piece dessert? It’s Martha’s fault, that’s for sure. A simple online search for chocolate chip cakes led me to a Martha Stewart recipe called Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake.

Who wouldn’t be tempted to try this recipe?

I had offered to bring dessert to a family dinner last night and I wanted to make something easy that would please all of the chocolate lovers in the family. Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake looked easy enough and sounded delicious – cookies layered with whipped cream and mascarpone cheese… hello! So I decided to go for it.

All I can say is that this recipe makes a great presentation, but it is definitely over-the-top. Way, way over.  “Hmmm… this does seem a little crazy,” I thought, as I layered five dozen cookies with 4 cups of whipped cream and 8 ounces of mascarpone.

Yes, that’s right. Five dozen cookies. Don’t even try to count the calories. And don’t even try to cut this cake.

Trying to cut the cakeOkay, well, we did try to cut it. With the biggest carving knife in the drawer. And it almost worked, but in the end we just used a spatula and served it layer by layer.

And because this “cake” wasn’t quite rich enough, I decided to serve it with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Yes, this was a serious dessert for serious dessert eaters. Like my cousin, Kjell, who was completely up for the task at hand.

_DSC1554In the end, all 14 of us only managed to eat about half the cake. Fortunately my cousin, Shaun, happily agreed to take the leftovers home, because I was NOT bringing those whipped cream laden cookies back to my house. No way. No how.

I am not sure that I will never make this cake again, but I must say it was a fun novelty dessert to try once and everyone really enjoyed eating it.

Empty plateIn case you want to try it out for yourself, here is a link to Martha Stewart’s recipe:

Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Box Cake.


Chilled Somen Noodles with Grilled Salmon


SomenIce-cold somen noodles are a traditional hot-weather Japanese dish. Usually they are served with a dipping sauce on the side. Grab some noodles with your chopsticks, dip, and eat. Delicious, but messy. I love eating cold somen noodles, but I usually end up with little drops of sauce splattered all over my shirt!

So here is nice alternative. Cold somen noodles get topped with a generous ladle of chilled sauce, fresh vegetables, picked ginger, and a piece of marinated, grilled salmon.

What a perfect dinner for a hot summer night.

You’ll need a few specialty ingredients to make this recipe. Mirin, low-sodium soy sauce, pickled ginger and somen noodles should all be available in the Asian section of most grocery stores. I also use dashi powder. It’s the cheaters way to make dashi, which is a mild Japanese fish broth. Dashi powder can be found at Japanese grocery stores but may be hard to find elsewhere. The packets seem to last forever, so if you run across dashi powder, buy buy a box. It will come in handy every once in a while.


You’ll need these ingredients…

If you can’t find dashi powder, you can always make it from scratch or use half beef broth & half water with a teaspoon of sugar thrown in (a tasty substitute, even though it’s not quite authentic).


Green onions & pea pods from my garden, picked ginger, salmon marinating, and cold somen noodles.

To make this one-dish meal, you’ll need to make the sauce and marinate the salmon about two hours before you plan to eat. The rest of the meal comes together pretty quickly. Prep the vegetables while the grill is heating up and cook the noodles while the fish is on the grill. Assemble everything just before serving and enjoy a beautiful Japanese-inspired summer dinner.

Chilled Somen Noodles with Grilled Salmon
This is a simple, refreshing one-dish meal to serve on a hot summer evening. For best results, plan ahead and make the sauce and marinate the salmon two hours before you plan to eat. Note: If you can't find dashi powder, you can make dashi from scratch or substitute ¾ cup beef stock, ¾ cup water & 1 tsp. sugar for the water and dashi powder in this recipe.
Recipe type: One Dish Meal, Hot Weather Food, Seafood
Cuisine: Japanese Inspired
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. wild Alaskan salmon fillet, skin-on
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 and ½ cups water
  • 1 to 2 tsp. dashi powder
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 12 oz. somen noodles
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
  • ½ cucumber, peeled, halved, sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 small green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup pickled ginger, chopped
  2. In a medium sauce pan, combine ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup mirin, 2 Tbsp. ginger and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Bring to a boil then immediately remove from heat. Cool marinade to room temperature.
  3. Remove the pin bones from the salmon if desired.
  4. Cut the fillet into four individual pieces, leaving the skin on.
  5. Place the salmon in a shallow pan and cover with the cooled marinade. Refrigerate for two hours.
  7. In a medium sauce pan, combine 1 and ½ cups water, 1 to 2 tsp. dashi powder (depending on your taste), ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce. ¼ cup mirin, and 1 tsp. sugar. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to chill.
  9. Heat coals or a gas grill to medium high. Cook the salmon, skin side down, until it is done to your likeness. (To get grill marks, you'll need to flip the salmon skin side up).
  11. While the grill is heating, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the salmon is on the grill, add the somen noodles to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes until they are tender. Rinse very well in cold water. Drain, but leave the noodles a little wet so they don't dry out and stick together.
  13. Toss the vegetables and pickled ginger together in a small bowl with a splash of sauce.
  14. Divide the noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Ladle sauce over each. Top with vegetables and a piece of grilled salmon, skin removed.


Wine Tasting Picnic – Pizza Rustica


Pizza Rustica

One of our favorite things to do in the summer/fall is to go wine tasting. We are really lucky to have so many wonderful tasting rooms right here in town, but sometimes it’s fun to pack up a picnic and go on a road trip. That’s exactly what we did last month.

Ridge Lytton Springs Winery, Healdsburg, CA

Toby and I took our dog, Charley, on a road trip to Northern California to tour the Sonoma Valley wine country. That picture, above, was taken at our favorite stop, Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs. And that is where we enjoyed our Pizza Rustica.

My inspiration for this treat was a picnic I took with a wonderful group of friends to the Black Forest wine region of Germany. We were on a weekend field trip from Cesar Ritz College in Le Bouveret, Switzerland, and we brought with us a leftover pizza from our cooking lab earlier that week. After a long drive on the autobahn, and several wine cave tours, we set up our picnic in the middle of a vineyard surrounded with grape vines and huge oak trees. Pizza NEVER tasted better!

So, prior to our recent Sonoma Valley trip, I prepared what I like to call Pizza Rustica. It’s a savory and filling combination of cheese, tomatoes, cured meats and peppers.

Making a Pizza Rustica

Since it’s best served at room temperature (and in a vineyard), Pizza Rustica is the PERFECT treat for a wine tasting picnic. EnJOY!


Wine Tasting Picnic - Pizza Rustica
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
  • 1 pizza dough ball, divided
  • 3 - 15oz cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes
  • Italian seasoning blend
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. assorted, sliced Italian deli meat (pepperoni, salami, sopressata,etc.)
  • 1 jar roasted bell peppers, drained
  • 1 jar marinated and pickled spicy peppers in oil, drained
  • Fresh basil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with pan coating.
  3. Press half of the pizza dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until it starts to brown.
  4. Sprinkle the crust with about 2 cups of cheese and the tomatoes. Season with Italian seasoning blend and salt.
  5. Layer on the meats and peppers.
  6. Top with the remaining cheese, basil leaves and the top crust.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top crust is golden brown and the inside is heated through.
  8. Serve hot, or at room temperature.


No Bake Cheesecake Tart with Fresh Berries


No Bake Cheesecake Tart with BerriesIf your kitchen feels too hot for baking today, but you want to make something yummy and beautiful to serve tomorrow for the 4th, here is a recipe to try.

No bake cheesecakes have been around forever. I remember a lot of recipes made with Cool Whip or sweetened condensed milk, served in a pre-made crumb shell and topped with those sticky-sweet canned cherries. Pretty predictable and not that impressive.

Well, here is my updated version of the no-bake cheesecake, adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe in Everyday Food. This tart contains “real” ingredients – Greek yogurt, lemon zest, heavy cream, and fresh berries. It’s rich and creamy with flavors reminiscent of a New York style cheesecake, but so much nicer to make on a hot day. It’s super easy and it’s pretty amazingly delicious, too.

Keep refrigerated until serving, then enjoy!

Happy 4th of July!
– Mary

No Bake Cheesecake Tart with Fresh Berries
A delicious no-bake tart reminiscent of a New York style cheesecake. For best results, use full-fat cream cheese and yogurt.
Recipe type: Dessert, No-Bake, Tart
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10
  • 8 oz. graham cracker crumbs (15 graham crackers finely crushed)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 16 oz. cream cheese (2 bars), softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 1 cup honey flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups assorted fresh berries
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar and the melted butter. Mix to combine.
  2. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Set aside.
  3. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and blend on medium high for 2 minutes.
  4. Add ½ cup granulated sugar and continue blending on medium high until the cream cheese is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more.
  5. Add the lemon zest and Greek yogurt and mix until smooth. Remove the mixture to another bowl in order to whip the cream.
  6. Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
  7. Place the heavy cream in the the bowl of the electric mixer and whip until the cream forms stiff peaks.
  8. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and then pour it into the tart shell, mounding it slightly toward the middle.
  9. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or over night.
  10. Remove the tart from the refrigerator.
  11. Use a paring knife to gently loosen the crust from the rim of the pan, then gently lift out of the tart rim.
  12. Scatter or arrange fresh berries on top, slice and serve.


Paletas & Popsicles – July Giveaway!


July GiveawayThis giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to our winner, JAMIE KNUPP! Stay tuned for our next contest!

Happy July, everyone… and what happened to June?! I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by. And it may just go down in history as one of the hottest summers on record. How are you keeping cool?

If only there was a Paleta cart in front of the house…

Paletas are the Mexican version of popsicles – made with a variety of fruits, spices, nuts and even flowers. They are so refreshing, easy to make, and they are a healthy alternative to many other frozen treats.

A Paleta sounds pretty good right about now, doesn’t it?

So enter our July contest for a chance to win this wonderful cookbook – Paletas, Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice  & Agua Frescas, by renowned pastry chef Fany Gerson. We’ll also throw in a set of six Tovolo (PBA free) popsicle molds!

Here is how you enter:

Respond to this post and tell us about something you like to eat (or drink) on a hot summer day when it is too hot to cook. 

Will choose a winner randomly from all the answers on July 15th!

Good luck and stay cool! (contest ends 7/14/13).

Chinese Orange Chicken


Orange ChickenI’ve been wanting to share this recipe with you for months, and now I am finally getting around to it. Sorry it took so long! My niece, Emily, who is 12 and loves to cook, got a wonderful cookbook, Easy Chinese Recipes: Family Favorites From Dim Sum to Kung Pao by author and food blogger, Bee Yin Low last year for Christmas.

Emily with her new cookbook copyThis is a beautifully written cookbook, with easy to follow directions and lovely photos. Bee walks you through the basics of Chinese cooking, explaining ingredients, methods, tools and utensils, and how to cook authentic Chinese recipes at home.

The first recipe we decided to try together was Orange Chicken and it was a big hit with our whole family. The chicken is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, thanks to a coating of cornstarch, and the sauce is sweet, flavorful and full of orange flavor. I have made it several times since Christmas. I hope you will give it a try, too. If you’ve got a young cook at home or you would just like to improve your Chinese cooking skills, I’d definitely recommend checking out Easy Chinese Recipes. It’s definitely worth adding to your cookbook collection.

Chinese Orange Chicken
Recipe type: Entree, Chicken
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" chunks
  • 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 6 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. Chinese rice wine or cooking sherry
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Toss the chicken with 4 Tbsp. cornstarch.
  5. Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a wok or a stockpot to 350 degrees for deep frying. Gently drop the chicken into the oil and use a spatula or spoon to gently seperate the pieces so they don't stick together.
  6. Cook the chicken until it is a light golden brown.
  7. Dish out with a strainer or a slotted spoon, and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  8. Discard the oil.
  10. In a large skillet or a wok, heat 2 Tbsp. oil over high heat. Add the garlic, dried chiles, and bell pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes until the bell pepper is crisp tender.
  11. Add the chicken and sauce. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in the green onions, and serve immediately with rice.


June Giveaway Winner! And Happy Father’s Day!


Hamburgers on the grill


Happy Father’s Day, everyone! Will you be grilling something yummy today? We had nearly 100 entries for our Get Ready to Grill Giveaway this month. And, as promised, we’re ready to announce the winner. Drum roll please…

June Giveaway on A Passionate PlateThe winner of the awesome 14 piece Cuisinart Grill Set is – Steffi S! 

Congratulations to Steffi and thanks to all of you who participated. We hope you will all enter our next contest which we will announce on July 1st.

Have a wonderful Dad’s day!

Darn Good Chocolate Cake


chocolate cakeOkay chocolate cake lovers (yes, DAD, I’m talking to you!) here it is. The cake you’ve been waiting for… a rich, moist, chocolate chip filled cake frosted with smooth, silky chocolate ganache. Ooh la la! This is one Darn Good Chocolate Cake.

This recipe comes straight out of The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook and it’s been one of my favorites for a long time. Since you start with a chocolate cake mix as the base, it’s very simple, virtually fool-proof and nice to bake with kids.

If your dad is a chocoholic (like mine), this might just be perfect gift!

To see what I gave my dad last year, check this out: Homemade Hostess Cupcakes.

Darn Good Chocolate Cake APP

Darn Good Chocolate Cake
Your kitchen will smell like chocolate heaven while this cake bakes. Eat it warm from the oven or cool and frost with ganache (recipe included).
Recipe type: Dessert, Cake, Chocolate
  • Vegetable spray & flour OR bakers spray for misting the pan
  • 1 package (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
  • 1 package (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly mist a Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray and dust with flour (or spray with baking spray). Set pan aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, add the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, warm water, and oil in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. Increase the speed to medium and beat 2 to 3 minutes more. The batter will be thick and well combined.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and stir them in gently.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with a rubber spatula.
  8. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and starts to pull away from the side of the pan, 40 to 50 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes.
  10. Run a long, sharp bladed knife around the edge of the cake.
  11. Invert it onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  12. While the cake is cooling, make the ganache.
  13. Place the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl.
  14. Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil.
  15. Immediately remove the boiling cream from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
  16. Let stand 1 minute, then stir to combine.
  17. Let stand at room temperature until it is thick enough to work with.
  18. Frost the cake, using the entire batch of ganache.
  19. Store frosted cake in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature to serve.


Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo


Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

One of my favorite summer-time treats is homemade ice cream. I remember watching my mom standing over a simmering pot of custard, surrounded by a pile of just peeled Michigan peaches. Meanwhile, my dad was getting the ice cream maker set-up out on the porch. That ice cream maker was quite an impressive machine: a wooden bucket containing a stainless steel bowl with motorized paddle. He filled the wooden bucket with ice and topped it with salt over and over, again to eventually freeze the custard mixture. The sound of that motor running to turn that paddle for what seemed like hours is still a really happy sound to my ears.

However, that whole process was really messy (think melting, salty ice everywhere), and thus we only made one batch of ice cream each year. So sad!

There are several newer, simpler ice cream makers on the market, but how many gadgets can one household store?! Luckily, I’ve discovered semifreddo and it does NOT require an ice cream maker.

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo2

Semifreddo is like a frozen mousse because it is a blend of both custard and whipped cream. And it is terrific! I’m sure I’ll try many variations of this recipe this summer (peach, almond, coconut, mango, chocolate, hazelnut, cherry, etc.), but for now I’d like to share with you this combination of strawberry and pistachio.

The pistachio is in honor of my dad. Some of my earliest memories of him include those crazy, red-colored pistachio shells. He had those things everywhere! They were stuck in the side of his recliner (and underneath it in the little collection bin built into the recliner for just such an occasion?). They were scattered on the floor of his car. At his office. I always think of pistachios as a Man Snack, and particularly my dad’s snack. Luckily, the shells are no longer dyed red, and even better, you can get them already shelled.

The strawberry is because they are fresh and local and delicious right now. And, because that is what Martha Stewart calls for in this recipe from Living magazine. So, without further ado…here’s the step-by-step process in pictures. EnJOY!

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup unsalted roasted shelled pistachios
  • 8 oz strawberries, hulled (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups cold heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  1. Line a standard 5x9" loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
  2. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until coarsely chopped (some will break down to a coarse grind). Transfer to a small bowl; do not wipe processor bowl clean.
  3. Place strawberries and 3 Tbsp. sugar in the bowl of the food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl. Stir puree, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
  4. Combine egg yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir vigorously by hand until pale yellow and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes.
  5. Beat together cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
  6. Whisk ½ of whipped cream into egg mixture, whisking until smooth, then fold into remaining cream with a rubber spatula just until thoroughly incorporated.
  7. Pour ½ of cream mixture into strawberry puree. Gently fold together until thoroughly incorporated, then pour into loaf pan and smooth top.
  8. Fold pistachios into remaining cream mixture and pour evenly over strawberry cream; smooth top.
  9. Fold plastic over surface and freeze at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.
  10. To serve: peel plastic from surface. Invert pan onto a cutting board. Unmold semifreddo, remove plastic, and cut crosswise into ¾-inch thick slices.


A Great Steak & Grilling Tips for Success.


Haggen Double R Ranch Beef

Last weekend, Joy, Toby, Marvin & I sat down to a fantastic Steakhouse Dinner at Home. We feasted on all of our steakhouse favorites like creamed spinach, crab cakes, and steakhouse corn – but the real star of the the evening was the steak: New York Steaks from Double R Ranch in the Okanogan Valley.

Haggen Stores sell beef from Double R Ranch.

A friend recently gave me a Haggen Grocery gift card for $100 and suggested I try some of the meat from Double R Ranch. So we headed over to Bellevue to shop at Haggen and picked up four big, well-marbled, bone-in New York steaks, along with most of the other groceries we needed for our Steakhouse Dinner at home.


SteakEven though I love beef, I don’t eat it very often – a couple of times a month at most. A meat-cutting unit in culinary school scared me away entirely for a while and now I am really careful about what I buy. So I was excited to learn about Double R Ranch, a Washington producer that honestly seems committed to sustainability, animal well-being, and quality.

I also like the fact the Haggen buys all of their beef from Double R, so I don’t have to wonder where their meat is coming from. And, Double R Ranch produces some beautiful meat! If there is a Haggen or Top Foods store in your area, I’d encourage you to give it a try.

Okay… now that you are ready to go out and buy some Double R Ranch Beef, here are some grilling tips!

Six tips to help you grill your best steak ever:

1. Cut and quality matter.
If you want a quality steak, start with quality beef. Here is a great guide from yummly.com on how to pick the perfect steak, along with everything you need to know – from marbling to grades. Not sure which cut to grill?  Check out this Yummly guide explaining the different cuts of steak so you can choose the right steak for you. And, nobody loves to talk about steak more than the butcher, so ask for advice while you shop.

2. Clean your grill first.
Start with a clean, lightly oiled grill. You’ll have an easier time cooking and your steak won’t taste like that piece of salmon you grilled last month.

3. Make sure the grill is hot.
Steaks cook best at a high temperature. Get the grill temperature up to 450 degrees first. This will ensure that the steaks sear on the outside and stay moist and tender on the inside. If you are using a charcoal grill, keep one side a little cooler, so you can move thicker steaks off the high heat while they finish cooking.

4. Leave ’em alone!
Try not to harass your beautiful steaks once they are on the grill. Turn them once, and then try to leave ’em alone! Resist the urge to poke, prod, or peak at the bottom of the meat.

5. Use a meat thermometer.
My restaurant experience taught me how to gauge the doneness of a steak by pushing on the center of it with my finger. Most of the time I get it right, but it’s not a fool-proof method. For better results, use a good meat thermometer. When is it done? Use this guide:

Rare: 125°F to 130°F
Medium-Rare: 130°F to 135°F
Medium: 140°F to 145°F
Well-Done: 160°+

Take the steak off the grill when it is a few degrees below your desired temperature. Set it aside to rest and it will continue cooking off the grill – bringing the temperature up about 5 more degrees.

6. Let the steak rest before you serve or slice.
It is important to let the steaks rest for a few minutes before you cut into them. This allows the juices to be re-absorbed into the meat, and the steak will be more tender and juicy when you take your first bite. Resting is especially important for cuts like flank steak that you plan to cut before serving. Try letting the steak rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Blue Cheese Steak Butter



These steaks are a taste sensation without needing a lot of seasoning, but if you want to make them just a little bit special…add Blue Cheese Butter. C’mon, right?! Butter makes everything better. And with the addition of blue cheese and chives…Mmmmmmm.

Blue Cheese Steak Butter

And don’t stop at steaks. This butter would be divine on a burger, or a grilled breast of chicken. What about a sandwich – steak or chicken – with blue cheese butter. OMG! I could go on and on…enJOY!

Blue Cheese Steak Butter
Prep time
Total time
This tasty butter is great on burgers or steaks!
Recipe type: Condiment
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 oz. blue cheese (I prefer Maytag), softened
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 Tbsp. chives, minced
  1. Stir all ingredients together. Bring to room temperature to serve.


Parker House Rolls


Parker House Rolls

What happened to the art of baking bread at home?! I think it may be that it is assumed that it is an “art”. One that requires time, and patience, and complicated procedures, and a special touch…

Also, there are so many options for buying bread at the store or local bakery. And, yes, those are “artisan” breads that require a little more skill. But, I promise you, try this simple recipe for Parker House Rolls and you WILL make them, again. Not only is this recipe simple, but the yeast-y, butter-y flavor of these rolls can’t be purchased at the store.

Check this out: simply combine the flour, potato flakes and salt in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Warm some milk in the microwave, then stir in sugar, butter and yeast. After that sits for 5 minutes, whisk in an egg and pour the mixture into the flour mixture. Let the stand mixer do its job for about 5 minutes while you sprinkle a little flour on the counter top. Dump the dough onto the flour and knead it for a minute. Set the dough into a greased bowl and cover to rest for about an hour. Punch it down, pinch off pieces and roll into small balls. Put them into a muffin pan, or small cast iron skillet and bake. Easy-peasy, right?!

I spread a lil butter and Maldon salt flakes on them and serve right out of the oven. I promise, you WILL make these, again 😉

Parker House Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is the same recipe I use to top pot pies, but instead of rolling it out and cutting it, I form little balls (NOT too big!) and bake them into little rolls.
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 6
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup instant potato flakes
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2½ Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 envelopes rapid rise yeast
  • 1 large egg
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, blend the flour, potato flakes and salt.
  2. Pour the milk into a microwave-safe bowl and warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds to about 105°F. Add the butter and sugar to the warm milk and stir to combine. Stir in the yeast, cover tightly and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Gently whisk the egg into the milk-yeast mixture then add it to the bowl of the standing mixer.
  3. Blend at medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until silky, about 3 minutes.
  5. Spray a bowl with non-stick spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place (i.e.. the oven, as long as it's not on) and let the dough double in size, about an hour.
  6. Spray a twelve-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  7. Punch the dough down and begin forming the rolls.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  9. Pinch off enough dough to form a ½-inch ball. Place three formed balls into each muffin cup.
  10. Bake for 17-20 minutes until the rolls are golden brown and pulling away from the edges of the pan.
  11. Top with a little butter and Maldon salt flakes and enJOY!


Steakhouse Corn


Steakhouse Corn2

For me, the best part of a steakhouse dinner is the side dishes. You know how they list them on the menu and say that you can choose two? Well, I’m always SO challenged to pick just two. They all sound delicious, and I always find myself filling up on bread, salad and sides leaving room for only two bites of steak.

My name is Joy and I’m a carb-oholic. 😉

One of my all-time favs is corn. And, if it’s off the cob – even better! Seriously, I could eat the entire recipe of this delicious Steakhouse Corn in one sitting. It’s just the right amount of crunchy and spicy and creamy…mmmmmmm…

Steakhouse Corn3

If you don’t eat it all in one sitting, it’s SO ah-mazing left-over, too. EnJOY!

Steakhouse Corn
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side Dish
Serves: 6
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. shallots, minced
  • 1 red jalapeno pepper, chopped, seeds and membrane removed
  • 3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 3 tsp. bacon fat
  • 3 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. chives, minced, for garnish
  1. In a medium saute pan, melt the butter and bacon fat.
  2. Add the shallots, jalapeno and corn to the pan and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the sugar and wine and scrape all of the browned bits from the pan for flavor. Cook down until almost dry.
  4. Add the cream and stir until thick and creamy.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Garnish with minced chives and enJOY!


Emeril’s Creamed Spinach


Creamed Spinach

Creamed spinach is a special treat for me. While I try to eat spinach regularly, cooking it with cream is something I mostly save for holidays or special occasions like a Steakhouse Dinner at Home. Creamed spinach takes just a few minutes to make. If you are grilling, start cooking the spinach when you put the steaks on the grill and you’ll time it just right.

This recipe is from Emeril Lagasse and it is wonderful! :-)

Emeril's Creamed Spinach
Recipe type: Classic American Steakhouse side dish
Cuisine: American
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and tough stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a large spoon to release as much water as possible. Finely chop and set aside.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until the liquid is released. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until the cream is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
  3. If the spinach seems a little dry, add a bit more cream.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.


Hearts of Romaine with Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette


Hearts of Romaine with Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette

I grew up eating spinach salads with warm bacon dressing and I always loved them. But it wasn’t until I started working at Szmania’s restaurant that I discovered just how great a warm dressing tasted on romaine. Wow… it’s been 20 years since I worked at Szmania’s, but I still love this salad. On a recent trip back to the restaurant, I was so happy to see that Chef Ludgar has kept this wonderful salad on his menu.

It’s really pretty simple. A warm dressing made with balsamic vinegar and crispy fried pancetta tops a wedge of romaine. Finish with diced tomatoes, croutons, a little cheese if you like, and some freshly ground black pepper.

I must admit, I can’t remember exactly how I used to make the dressing 20 years ago, but this is my current version and it’s very, very tasty.

We chose this recipe for the salad course in our Steakhouse Dinner at Home. Read the entire menu here.

Hearts of Romaine with Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette
Recipe type: Salad, Starter
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 -6 as a starter course.
  • 1 head romaine, outer leaves removed
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
  • homemade or store bought croutons
  • 3 oz. pancetta, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
  • ¼ cup high quality balsamic dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut the romaine in half lengthwise, then cut each half into two or three wedges (depending on the size of the lettuce and the number of servings you need). Cut the core part of the lettuce off each wedge and place on individual plates.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, cook the pancetta until it is crispy. Remove from the pan. Add the olive oil to the pan.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and sauté until they are soft.
  4. Pour in the vinegar and sugar.
  5. Bring to a boil and cook until the vinegar reduces by ¼ and starts to thicken.
  6. Whisk in the pancetta and olive oil and cook for 30 seconds more.
  7. Pour the warm dressing over the lettuce, spooning an equal amount of pancetta onto each serving.
  8. Garnish with diced tomatoes and croutons and serve immediately.



Dungeness Crab Cakes


Dungeness Crab Cakes

I Love Crab Cakes! That’s the name of the Tom Douglas cookbook Joy and Toby gave me for Christmas back in 2006. It’s a great little book filled with 50 unique crab recipes from around the world. While I love reading all of the recipes and looking at the pictures, there is one recipe that I turn to the most – Etta’s Classic Dungeness Crab Cakes.

Crab cakes are a popular appetizer at steakhouse restaurants, so we’ve included them in our Steakhouse Dinner at Home menu. Check out the entire menu here.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Fresh Dungeness Crab Meat!

Dungeness crab, a Northwest favorite, is really a must for this recipe, but if you can’t find it and need to make a substitution, lump crab meat will do.

Mixing the Crab for Dungeness Crab Cakes

Mixed with homemade mayonnaise, fresh herbs, onion, peppers and homemade bread crumbs.

This is my version of Etta’s Classic Dungeness Crab Cakes. Of course, I’ve changed things up a bit to suit my taste – fewer bread crumbs and more fresh herbs.

Crab Cake Balls

Crab mixture formed into balls.

Serve them with a dollop of Spicy Remoulade for the perfect start to your meal.

Crab Cakes cookingA note about the cost… you can expect to pay $30 per pound or more for fresh Dungeness crab. It’s a bit of a splurge, but the flavor is totally worth it.

Dungeness Crab Cakes
These classic Dungeness crab cakes are bursting with flavor and light on the breading - so the taste of the crab comes shining through! What a perfect start to a steakhouse dinner at home or any special meal.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Classic American
Serves: 8 - 2 oz. crab cakes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 and ½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups homemade toasted bread crumbs*
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup chopped white onion
  • ¼ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 pound Dungeness crabmeat, drained, leg meat broken up
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • To make bread crumbs, place slices of white bread in the oven. Toast until dry. Place in a food processor and process to small crumbs.
  1. Combine the egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabsco, mustard and black pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture forms a loose mayonnaise. Set aside.
  2. Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl and toss with ½ cup of chopped parsley.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the onion, bell pepper, and remaining ¼ cup parsley, basil and rosemary.
  4. Add the homemade mayonnaise and crab meat and mix lightly to combine.
  5. Gently fold 1 cup of the bread crumbs into the crab. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.
  6. Gently form 8 patties and dredge them lightly in the remaining bread crumb mixture to coat. Set aside the leftover bread crumbs.
  7. Cover the crab cakes with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least ½ hour.
  8. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, add the crab cakes.
  9. Cook, turning once, until both sides are golden brown and the crab cakes are heated through.
  10. Serve with the sauce of your choice and a wedge of lemon.
  11. (If you do not have a very large non-stick pan, cook in two batches, using 2 and ½ Tbsp. of butter and 1 Tbsp. butter for each batch.)


Steakhouse Dinner at Home for Dad



Hey there, Foodie Friends! We’ve got some fun in store for you this week as we prepare for Father’s Day. We’re going to recreate a steakhouse dinner that you can make at home.

As you know, a restaurant steakhouse dinner can be very expensive. On a recent trip to Las Vegas we were shocked to see a baked potato on a menu for $14! I don’t even want to talk about how much the steak cost. Seriously, the prices were ridiculous.

So why not make this classic American meal at home? Dad (and everyone else) will love it, the food will be delicious and you won’t break the bank.

Here’s a sneaky peek at our steakhouse dinner menu and recipes we’ll share this week:

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Hearts of Romaine with Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette

Side Dishes
Baked Potato, Steakhouse Corn, Creamed Spinach, Parker House Rolls

The Headliner
Steak with Blue Cheese Butter

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo
Darn Good Chocolate Cake

June Giveaway – Get Ready to Grill!


This contest is now closed! Congratulations to our winner, Steffi S!
Our next giveaway starts on July 1st, 2013.

7 day seattle forcastHappy June, everyone! Guess what?
It’s grilling season again in Seattle.
Yes, really. How do I know? Just take a look at the forecast – no rain in sight for the next 7 days and temperatures above 70 degrees. Whooo Hoooo!

If you live any place else, I’m sure this is hard to understand, but this kind of weather is really as good as it gets here in early summer.

Time to celebrate and fire up the grill!


Steaks on the grill in our backyard.

And time to kick off our June Giveaway! In honor of BBQ season, we’re giving away this awesome 14 Piece Grill Set from Cuisinart. Share it as a Father’s Day gift or win it for yourself!

June Giveaway on A Passionate Plate

 This beautiful set is made from durable stainless-steel and includes a chef’s spatula, grill tongs, silicone basting brush, 4 pairs of corn holders, cleaning brush, and extra brush head. The kit comes with a handy aluminum storage case – in case you are an on-the-go griller. :-)

How You Enter:

Just respond to this post and tell us about something you love to grill in the summer. We’ll pick randomly from all entries and announce the winner on Father’s Day!

Good luck, everybody!



ScotcheroosMay is Guest Chef month at A Passionate Plate!

Today’s post comes from our great friend and baker extraordinaire, Mary Jordan. On her days off from work at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Mary can often be found in her kitchen baking up wonderful treats for family and friends. Mary always brings a pan of Scotcharoos to our Girls’ Ski Weekends and the pan is usually empty within a few short hours. Thanks, Mary, for sharing this classic recipe with us!

Post and recipe by Mary Jordan.

Growing up in Minnesota, everyone in our house knew how to make Scotcheroos. I have made these so often, I could make them in my sleep.  It was our “go to” dessert for every church potluck and event which required an offering.  My mother, now in her 70’s, still makes them once a month for various occasions.  She started making them in the 1960’s when the recipe appeared on the Rice Krispies box.  The combination of the crispy cereal with the peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch is irresistible.  It is really hard to stop at one.

This recipe is easy and can be made in 10 minutes. As I looked on the internet, I found a little variation from recipe to recipe. Some people use 1 and 1/2 cups of peanut butter instead of just one to make the bar even softer and enhance the peanut flavor. Some double the amount of chocolate chip and butterscotch chips to make the topping thicker and more decadent. Of course, we never did this in our family as money was tight and one of the great things about this recipe was that when we bought the cereal, corn syrup and packages of chips… it was sufficient to make not just one recipe, but two! And with five kids who loved sweets… we often needed two.

My only variation from the original recipe is that I add a little butter to make the bar just a bit softer and smoother, and I add a bit more cereal.


5.0 from 2 reviews
Recipe type: Dessert, Bar Cookie
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 and ½ cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  1. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan and set aside.
  2. Place sugar and corn syrup and butter in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and mixture just starts to get bubbly.
  3. Pull off the heat and add one cup peanut butter. Stir till smooth.
  4. Quickly add your cereal and stir until well coated. Press mixture into prepared pan (I butter my fingertips and press, or waxed paper will work also).
  5. Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together either over a double boiler or in the microwave at 50% power in 30 second increments, being careful to stir well in between.
  6. Spread evenly over cereal mixture.
  7. Let sit until firm.You can refrigerate for a faster sitting time, however, you may wish is cut the bars before they get too firm.


Japanese Fried Chicken (kara-age)


Japanese Fried Chicken 1May is Guest Chef month at A Passionate Plate!

Today’s recipe comes from my sister, Beth! For the last 20 years or so, Beth has lived in Japan. First in Tokyo, and now in her husband’s home town, Susono. Over the years, my sister has become completely fluent in Japanese and has managed to master the art of Japanese home cooking, including the special art of packing a Japanese bento school lunch!

Post and recipe by Beth Oswald-Uematsu

Japanese fried chicken, or kara-age, is such a staple meal in Japan that I am always amazed that it is so unknown outside of Japan. Kara-age lacks the delicate beauty of its highbrow cousin tempura, but unlike tempura, it doesn’t get greasy and soggy when it’s cold, which makes it perfect for obento box lunches, potluck parties and family gatherings.

Obento school lunch featuring kara-age.

Obento school lunch featuring kara-age.

I rarely make fried food at home, but this is always at the top of my kids’ request list for dinner. The meat can be marinated up to 12 hours in advance, but if you are going to marinade the meat for more than 3 hours, reduce the soy sauce in the recipe to keep the meat from getting tough and salty.

While I often make kara-age with boneless-skinless chicken breast, the best flavor comes from thigh meat with the skin on. My kids just love it. Give this family favorite a try!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Japanese Fried Chicken (kara-age)
  • 1½ to 2 lb. boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into large, bite-size pieces. (The best flavor comes from thigh meat with skin on, but I usually use boneless, skinless breast meat).
  • 1 and ½ Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking sake or dry sherry
  • ½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 Tbsp. Flour
  • 5 Tbsp. Corn starch (in Japan we use kata-kuriko which is actually potato starch. If you can't find it, corn starch will work.)
  • Cooking oil
  1. Cut the chicken into large bite-size pieces (skin optional). Season heavily with salt, pepper and seasoning salt.
  2. Place the chicken, soy sauce, cooking sake, ginger and garlic into a bowl or plastic bag, mix well and let marinade for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  3. Place 4 to 5 Tbsp. each of flour and cornstarch into a plastic bag, add the chicken mixture and mix well so the flour coating is moist, not powdery.
  4. Fry in cooking oil at 300 degrees for 4 to 5 minutes per batch. The chicken will rise to the top of the oil when it's about ready.

Rob’s Famous Pancakes


Rob's Pancakes1

May is Guest Chef Month at A Passionate Plate!

Today’s post and recipe are from my friend, Rob. He rides a motorcycle, changes the oil and washes my MINI Cooper, advises me on the hoppy-ist IPAs and makes a MEAN batch of pancakes! Rob is also a frequent Recipe Tester here in my kitchen.

Post and recipe by Rob Thompson

Who doesn’t love pancakes? Well, if you don’t…maybe you will after trying this recipe. This is one that I got partially from someone else and I’ve adjusted it to my taste. Fortunately, it seems to be most other people’s taste, as well.

I like to start with Bisquick or Jiffy general purpose baking mix. In a mixing bowl combine the baking mix and three quarters of the milk. The remaining milk will be added at the end to “thin” the batter to your liking. Add the yogurt and cottage cheese and mix. Now add the fresh lemon juice. Plain yogurt gives the cakes a nice tang, flavored yogurt could be substituted. Cook and enJOY!

Rob's Famous Pancakes
Cook time
Total time
The yogurt and cottage cheese add some protein to these cakes, so they stick with you much longer than ordinary pancakes.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups of baking mix
  • 1¾ cups milk
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  1. Blend all ingredients until well-combined. Do not over mix.
  2. On a lightly oiled hot griddle or large skillet, pour the batter into equally sized pancakes.
  3. Once the bubbles pop, it's time to flip them.
  4. Cook until lightly browned.
  5. Serve with butter and maple syrup. Yum!



Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter


Saffron Tagliatelle

May is Guest Chef Month at A Passionate Plate!

Today’s post and recipe are from our friend and frequent book group host, Lisa. She is a busy mom, but she always seems to WOW! us with her simple and tasty “sit and watch me finish dinner” snacks and terrific book group dinners. An all-time favorite was her made-to-order BLTs, potato chips and Molly Moon’s ice cream. Now that Book Group has become Happy Hour Club, we’re going to miss Lisa’s meals. Luckily, she’s sharing her latest favorite with us here.

Post and recipe by Lisa Vila

This is my new favorite, make in 30 minutes or less, recipe.  When Joy asked me to be one of A Passionate Plate’s Guest Chefs, I knew just the recipe to share.

I found this recipe in the cookbook, Plenty, two months ago and can’t stop talking about it.  This dish is so easy to make and is absolutely fabulous.  The spices make for a Moroccan-style pasta  that tastes so unusual it is perfect for serving to dinner party guests.

Give it a try!  I’ll bet you’ll find yourself talking about it too!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Saffron Tagliatelle w/Spiced Butter
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish, Pasta, Vegetarian
Cuisine: Moroccan
Serves: 4
  • Good variety of tagliatelle or wide noodle pasta
  • Saffron threads
  • Spiced butter:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp chile flakes
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • ⅔ cup pine nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped mint
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta as directed, adding a decent pinch of saffron threads to the boiling water.
  2. Make the spiced butter: Place the butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots gently for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter turns slightly brown. Now add all the spices, the salt and some pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  3. Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan. Pour the spiced butter over the pasta and stir well, then divide among four plates. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and chopped herbs and serve.


Red Lentil Dal + Video


Red Lentil DahlA couple of months ago Marvin and I took an incredible trip to South India. I’ve been lucky to travel to some very interesting places in the last few years, but South India was, for me, just simply over the top. The cacophony of sites, sounds, smells, and tastes; the vivid color saturating everything; the way religion – Hindu, Christian, Muslim – is so tangible in everyday life; the humidity; the insane driving; the beautiful people; the food. Ah, yes. The warm, fragrant, spicy, complex flavors of the food. Amazing.

Marvin and me enjoying lunch on a houseboat, Kerala backwaters.

Marvin and me enjoying lunch on a houseboat, Kerala backwaters.

We actually planned this trip with a culinary angle, visiting spice plantations, an organic farm, and two hotels that offered cooking classes. Our schedule was packed with travel and activity from morning to night. Most days we were on our way by 8:00 am. Even though we were in tea country, I started off every day with a cup of strong Indian coffee… and a serving of lentil Dal. I got addicted!

Dal is essentially the Indian version of lentil stew or soup. Usually a fragrant mixture of spices cooked in ghee or oil gets stirred in toward the end of the preparation, infusing the the lentils with complex flavor and heat. Dal is a wonderful vegetarian dish that can be served alone, with vegetables, or over rice.

Dal is an everyday dish in India, and lately it has been an everyday dish for me, too. Since we got home from our trip, I’ve gotten in the habit of making a pot of Dal and heating it up for breakfast several days a week. Sometimes I’ve been eating it for breakfast and lunch.

Every family in India has their own unique reciep for Dal. The recipe I’ve been making is a variation of Aarti Sequeira’s Mum’s Everyday Red Lentils. One change I’ve made is to use split red lentils (available at Trader Joe’s). Red lentils cook more quickly than other varieties, and the split lentils are even faster. I can make this Dal in just about 20 minutes. This recipe is incredibly good for you! Check out the nutrition info:

Per serving: 203 calories, 31 grams carbs, 5 grams fat, 12 grams protein, 7 grams fiber and  3 grams sugar.

I’m totally hooked on Dal right now, and I can’t say enough good things about our trip through Southern India. If you’d like to see what some of our food experiences looked like, check out this little video I made…

Red Lentil Dal
Note: I use split red lentils, which cook faster. If using whole red lentils, wash them first to remove any stones and increase the cooking time to approximately 35 minutes.
Recipe type: Vegetarian Main Dish or Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 2 and ¼ cups water
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. minced ginger root
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1 to 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  1. Place the lentils in a medium sauce pan with the water, onion, cloves, ginger, tomato, and serrano chiles.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, combine the cumin seed and mustard seed in a small bowl. Combine the turmeric and paprika in another bowl.
  4. Whisk the lentils with a balloon whisk to release some of their natural starch. The mixture will thicken. (Do not mix so much that all of the texture goes away - some split lentils should maintain their shape.)
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. In a small pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat.
  7. When the oil is shimmering, add the cumin and mustard seeds. (Watch out, they may pop out of the pan).
  8. Add the turmeric and paprika. Stir the spices - they will sizzle and bubble, but should not burn. After 30 seconds, remove from heat and pour into the lentil mixture.
  9. Add the cilantro and stir to combine.
  10. Serve plain or over rice.


Mexican Chicken Chop Salad


Mexican Chop SaladInspiration can come from anywhere. On a recent trip to our West Seattle Trader Joe’s, I discovered an incredibly delicious reduced-fat Cilantro Dressing in the refrigerator section. Just one taste of this creamy, garlicky, cilantro-filled sauce had me thinking about a Mexican Chop Salad.

So here it is. My version of a Mexican Chop Salad. Nutritious, delicious, and easy to make. Try this out for a busy weeknight dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, use your favorite homemade or bottled ranch dressing. Just stir a generous handful of chopped cilantro and a little fresh garlic into the dressing before tossing the salad.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Mexican Chicken Chop Salad
This recipe makes enough for 4 entree salads. If you are not serving 4, just combine and dress what you need. Save the undressed leftovers for another meal!
Recipe type: Salad, Entree
Cuisine: Mexican Inspired
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts, ½" dice
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped - ½" dice
  • ¾ cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup fresh corn cut from a cob OR frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 small orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into ½" dice
  • 1 ripe avacado, cut into ½" dice
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • ¼ cup diced red onion, ½" dice
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz. Cajeta cheese OR Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Cilantro Dressing OR any bottled ranch dressing
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • Toasted Pepita seeds for garnishing
  1. Combine chicken, lettuce, beans, corn, bell pepper, tomato, red onion, avocado, cheese, radishes and chopped cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Toss with dressing to lightly coat.
  3. Portion salad on individual plates and garnish with pepitas if desired.


All You Can Eat Broccoli Salad (a.k.a. Silo Salad)


Broccoli Salad

May is Guest Chef Month on A Passionate Plate!

Today’s recipe comes from my friend, Jeannie Bastasch – an amazing woman who spends her days inspiring kids to exercise and make heathy food choices at Greenwood Elementary in Seattle. Not only is Jeannie an educator and an athlete, she is also an amazing dancer! Last year she taught her entire school Beyonce’s “Move Your Body” routine. And, Jeannie is a great cook, too. Recently Jeannie told me that cooking recipes from A Passionate Plate has made her feel like a more confident cook. (Big smile). Thanks, Jeannie!

Recipe and Post from Jeannie Bastasch.

I am one of those people everyone hates. Well, at least I used to be. No, I don’t drive slowly in the PASSING lane (passing only people!) or talk during movies. I used to be able to eat anything in any amount and never gain weight. I once ate an entire box of 8 hostess cupcakes on the way home from the grocery store. In college my teammates nicknamed me “the silo” for my impressive performance at all-you-can-eat restaurants.  Not the most intimidating sports nickname I can think of. Don’t hate me; those days are over.

As an elementary physical education teacher I do burn a lot of calories at work, but a knee injury and aging metabolism have caught up with me. When my friend, Ruthanne, introduced me to this recipe I knew it would become a staple in my diet. I’m just not at the point where I’m willing to sacrifice taste, and this nutritious salad is so delicious I really can’t ever make enough of it. It’s perfect for those times when you’re really hungry and you need something quick and satisfying and you really can’t take the time to wash, chop and make something nutritious. Those are the times we reach for chips, crackers, and treats. Yes, this delicious broccoli salad takes a little prep time up front, but once it is made it will keep in the fridge all week, providing you with a healthy, satisfying alternative to junk food. Yes, I said BROCCOLI SALAD!  I know, yuck. Give it a chance and you won’t be disappointed.

ingredients for broccoli saladIn addition to being delicious and nutritious, this recipe is also VERY forgiving. There is a general formula, but many things can be left out or can replace what’s called for depending on what you have on hand. The formula: sweet, crunchy, hearty, red oniony (uhh…. red onion is pretty much just a necessity).  My sweet is craisins and apples, but you could try raisins and pears or dried cherries and grapes. For crunchy I go with sunflower seeds, but sliced almonds would work too. Hearty vegetables help this salad last longer and pack the veggie servings most of us are lacking and red onion is probably the most important part of the puzzle. I just can’t think of a replacement and it’s the one ingredient I notice when it’s missing.

All You Can Eat Broccoli Salad (a.k.a. Silo Salad)
Recipe type: Salad, Vegetarian, Vegan
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • One head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 chopped cup each:
  • apple
  • celery
  • red onion
  • cucumber
  • cherry tomatoes
  • yellow pepper
  • shredded carrots
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup craisins
  1. Place the broccoli in a bowl that has a tight fitting lid.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil over the broccoli and sprinkle on salt to taste.
  3. With the lid tightly secure, shake the living daylight out of that broccoli!
  4. This will spread the olive oil and soften the raw broccoli in order to take the edge of it’s “rawness”.
  5. (I usually let the broccoli sit and rest with the olive oil while I chop the rest of the ingredients.)
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining ingredients.
  7. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  8. This salad will last, refrigerated, for up to a week!

Pasta with Anchovies, Capers & Black Olives


Pasta with Anchovies, Olives and CapersMay is Guest Chef Month on A Passionate Plate!

UntitledToday’s Guest Chef is my friend, Milton Pierce. Milton and I met about 10 years ago at a trade show. Since Milton lives in Virginia and I live in Seattle, we rarely see each other, but we’ve stayed in touch over the years because we both share a passion for travel, Words With Friends, and cooking! I have never been lucky enough to taste one of Milton’s home cooked meals, but I have tried this recipe and can confirm it is absolutely delicious. It reminds me of the kind of food Marvin and I ate on our trip to Southern Spain.  ~Mary

 Post and Recipe by Milton Pierce.

I started cooking in Junior High School. I was the demented child watching cooking shows on PBS while everyone else was playing ball or watching Dark Shadows. In 9th grade I fired my mother from the kitchen and took over cooking family meals. My wife and I eat in most every night and save our restaurant visits for vacations, and local fare such as sushi , Thai, and Korean which are not my strong points. Good food can be done quickly, inexpensively, and with such fun.

I have learned that most of my favorite Italian foods have NO TOMATOES, and are the simple fare that highlights the ingredients. I have seen this dish served with spaghetti, but I like using tubular pasta so the oil, capers, and anchovies get tucked inside.

NOTE:  I only use whole, salted anchovies.  If you can’t find them, you can order them by the pound from Teitel Brothers in New York. They last about a year in the fridge in a large sealed container. They are about 5 inches long, need to be filleted, and watch for scales, fins etc. They are much superior to canned Moroccan anchovies. If you use canned anchovies, use the whole tin and add the oil from the tin for more flavor. If you are using the salted anchovies, fillet and chop first before you rinse the salt. Much easier to clean.

NOTE:  Olives. Kalamata olives work best, my second choice is oil cured Italian. I have tried the “pitted” ones, but for some reason they don’t’ seem to have the flavor. To pit, simply press the side of a large cooking knife and “flatten” the olives. The pit comes right out, almost like flattening your garlic before peeling.

I first had this dish at the Lighthouse Cafe (now closed) on Duval Street in Key West.  You have to love anchovies and have to love olives. This dish is a staple in our house. Only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Bon appetite!

Note from Mary: I made Milton’s recipe with organic whole wheat pasta, a 2 oz. tin of Italian anchovies (including oil), and a handful of Italian parsley leaves. A wonderful meal… simple, authentic and delicious.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pasta with Anchovies, Capers & Black Olives
Recipe type: Entree or First Course
Cuisine: Italian
  • 1 lb. tubular pasta
  • 4 Salted Anchovies - filleted, chopped, and rinsed
  • 1 small garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 30 olives (Kalamata or Italian cured) pitted and coarsely chopped
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat.
  4. When oil is hot, add the anchovies and stir until mostly dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and immediately stir in garlic, capers and olives.
  6. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and stir in the anchovie mixture.
  7. Serve immediately.


Yogurt Chicken Skewers


Yogurt Chicken Skewers

May is Guest Chef Month at A Passionate Plate!

Today’s post and recipe are from our good, foodie friend, Margretta. She is a lovely hostess, great writer and fantastic cook. Margretta makes everyone who enters her home feel comfortable and the food is always divine! For more from Margretta check out her blog: miseenplace.us.

Post and recipe by Margretta Murnane

Prep for Yogurt Chicken Skewers

Ahhh…spring has sprung in all its glory. There’s a song I remember from a TV show when I was young that had the line: “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.” It’s oh so true, if only because we Seattleites are so accustomed to grey skies that we’re stunned by the glory of blue when it does appear.

For people who like food, it can also mean the return of the grilling season. I know some folks grill through the rain, but I pack it up until it clears up. So, the sun’s return means I dust off the grill, put back the grates and get busy with some of that succulent asparagus that is the vegetable world’s version of the first robin of springtime. I like it with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper, then put it on the grill until it’s tender. No matter how much I make, we end up eating it all. And it goes well with the recipe I wanted to share today.

It’s one of my favorites because it has a lot of flavor for a little effort and you can make it ahead and let it marinate or throw it together on a Friday night after work, which is exactly what I did.

Yogurt Chicken Skewers2

Yogurt Chicken Skewers
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main Dish
Serves: 4
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 ½ cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh mint leaves
  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling, so get those soaking first.
  2. Combine ¾ cup yogurt, garlic, cumin, turmeric and salt in a bowl large enough for adding the chicken. (I sometimes add the olive oil here as well to help prevent sticking when grilling.)
  3. Cut chicken thighs into bite size pieces, about 1”x1” and add to marinade. Stir well to coat all of chicken. At this point, you can carry on or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  4. Put chicken pieces on the skewers. Heat grill on high for 5-10 minutes (if using gas) or get your coals ready. Put skewers on grill, close cover and turn down to low. Let grill for 5 minutes or so, then check skewers. When browned on one side, turn over and grill another 5 minutes or so until nicely browned on the second side.
  5. While skewers are grilling, put the other ¾ cup yogurt in a blender or small food processor. Add mint leaves, ½ tsp salt and process until the mint is finely pureed into the yogurt.
  6. When skewers are done, serve with yogurt sauce and enjoy!


Banana Chiffon Cake & Mom’s 70th Birthday


Mom's Banana Chiffon Cake

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Mom, happy birthday to you!

We’re visiting my parents this weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day AND my mom’s 70th birthday. Her only request for the weekend… a Chiffon cake layered with bananas and sweetened whipped cream.

…And, we needed to use the recipe from her 1965 Betty Crocker Cookbook.

The recipeThis caught me a little off guard. No chocolate? Really? I was definitely surprised. It would not have been my first choice, that’s for sure.

But, as it turns out, this is the birthday cake my Great Grandma Moore made for my mom every year. Grandma Moore ran a cake baking business out of her home in the 1950’s when Chiffon cakes were all the rage. My mother, who lived next door, would spend evenings with Grandma, watching her bake 4 or 5 Chiffon cakes every night… all kinds of flavors, shapes and sizes.

For her oldest granddaughter’s birthday, Grandma always made the same thing… a basic Betty Crocker Chiffon layered with sweetened whipped cream and bananas.  And that’s exactly what we made last night.

Banana Chiffon CakeMy mom knows this recipe by heart. She could probably make it with her eyes closed. I, on the other hand, had never made a Chiffon cake.

It was a little intimidating, since I really wanted to replicate the cake from birthdays past. At first, Mom tried to stay out of the way and let me make the cake myself. But then she couldn’t help herself… she kept coming into the kitchen to see how things were going, and finally I just gave in and asked for her help.

I guess you could say we made it together. With a little help from Great Grandma Moore.

Making Chiffon CakeAfter we feasted on filet mignon, shrimp scampi and twice-baked potatoes, out came this simple, old-fashioned cake. It was a perfect end to our retro birthday celebration. Not too sweet, not too heavy, but filled with deliciousness and fond memories.

Banana Chiffon CakeHappy Birthday, Mom! And Happy Mother’s Day to all!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Betty Crocker's Basic Chiffon Cake
Chiffon cakes were hugely popular in the 1950's & 1960's. Similar to an Angel Food cake, Chiffon cakes are both light and airy and rich and buttery. You will need a 10" tube pan for this recipe.
Recipe type: Cake, Dessert
  • 2¼ cups SOFTASILK flour
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 5 egg yolks, unbeaten
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 2 tsp.. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup egg whites (7 or 8)
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Sliced fruit of your choice.
  • (Bananas are my mom's favorite)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Measure the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add, in the following order, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon rind.
  4. Beat with a spoon, incorporating the egg mixture, until a smooth batter is formed.
  5. Measure egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with a ballon whisk.
  6. Beat the whites until they form very stiff peaks.
  7. Pour egg yolk mixture over the beaten egg whites and gently fold to combine with a rubber spatula, just until blended.
  8. Pour mixture into an UNGREASED 10" tube pan.
  9. Bake for 55 minutes at 325 degrees.
  10. Turn oven up to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.
  11. Remove pan from the oven and invert onto a thin necked bottle to cool.
  12. Let pan hang until cold.
  13. Use a long bladed knife to loosen the cake around the inside and outside of the pan. Shake the cake gently to make sure it is loose, then turn out onto a cake plate.
  14. Cut the cake into three layers.
  15. Whip the heavy whipping cream in an electric mixer with the sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff.
  16. Frost the cake generously with whipped cream and the fruit of your choice.


MaryLou’s Spinach Salad


MaryLou's Spinach Salad

May is Guest Chef Month on A Passionate Plate!

Today’s Guest Chef contributor is Caroline Ellison.

Post and Recipe by Caroline Ellison

One of the fond memories of my younger years is a salad recipe my stepmother used to make.  Mary — or MaryLou as she was known by her family to distinguish her from cousin MaryAlice — had a wealth of hand-me-down recipes, most of which had little to do with healthy eating, but were absolutely delicious.

This spinach salad is one of my favorites.  The tang of the ketchup and wine vinegar mixed with the sweetness of sugar makes for just the right combination of pungency, and the green onions seem to moderate any tendency toward sharpness.  This salad is easy to make and always a hit.

Yes, it’s a little high in sugar, but I guess that just helps remind me what a dear, sweet friend Mary was.

MaryLou's Spinach Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 8
  • 1-1/2 bags (1-1/2 lbs.) baby spinach
  • 8 oz. bean sprouts
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts (8 oz.), drained
  • 5 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced, for garnish
  • Dressing:
  • ⅔ cup salad oil
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped green onion
  1. Place the spinach, then the bean sprouts, water chestnuts and bacon in a large salad bowl.
  2. In a shaker jar, mix all of the dressing ingredients except the green onion. Shake well.
  3. Just before serving, add the green onion to the dressing and shake again.
  4. Toss the salad with the dressing and garnish with sliced, hard-cooked egg.


Penne Pasta alla Vodka


Penne Pasta alla Vodka

May is Guest Chef Month on A Passionate Plate.

Today’s Guest Chef is Michelle (Barberio) Hyde: proud Italian-American girl/past neighbor and close friend of Joy’s. Together we have enJOYed many great meals, including one special girls’ night when the two of us finished off our dinner and bottle (or two) of wine and an entire box of Fran’s chocolates.

Post and Recipe by Michelle (Barberio) Hyde

Simply stated, pasta warms the heart.

This recipe is extra warming to my heart since it was prepared for me by a new acquaintance and colleague of my husbands’ at the time who had come over for a glass of wine after work, and before a late flight out of Seattle. I had known him for just over an hour when he asked, “Let’s just have dinner here, I’ll cook”. With one bottle of wine down, and a second opened, we enthusiastically obliged.

Ingredients for Penne Pasta alla Vodka
Our surprise guest chef (an Italian, originally from Philly) had whipped up this dish in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Not only was it just an impressively showy dish, but a very tasty one that is sure to please all parties. I am wishing you all a memorable and lovely experience at least once, to have a chef in your kitchen and to be a guest at your own table!

This recipe is one that I have prepared many times since, and always with great reception. I often accompany this meal with sliced Tuscan bread and a Caesar salad on whole romaine leaves and fresh parmesan, and a light and fluffy ricotta tart for dessert.

Buon Appetito! And thank you for the opportunity to be your guest “chef” this month.

Michelle (Barberio) Hyde

5.0 from 2 reviews
Penne Pasta alla Vodka
Recipe type: Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
  • 2 Tbsp. of corn oil (for pan)
  • 1 large shallot, about 2 ½ Tbsp, finely chopped
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. of crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 c. prepared pasta sauce
  • ⅔ c. vodka (dispensed from bottle, into open measuring cup)
  • 4 oz. imported prosciutto at room temp, sliced very thin and torn into lengthwise ribbons
  • ⅔ c. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. of Italian parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. of fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 8 oz. rigatoni
  1. Bring salted water to boil for pasta, once to rolling boil, add pasta and cook for 9 mins or until al dente. Since this dish should be able to be made in the duration of the pasta cooking time, assure to have sauce pan heated at the same time as pasta is added to boiling water.
  2. Heat large sauté pan over medium-low heat, once heated, add oil, chopped shallots, and crushed red pepper sauté until shallots are translucent and just barely starting to brown. If shallots are browning rapidly, pan is too hot, reduce heat!! Once shallots are translucent, deglaze pan with vodka**.
  3. {** Please note that the vodka will flame and if pan is too hot, the flames will be very high and splatter oil out of pan; if heat is too low, vodka will not flame so have long-arm lighter handy to ignite. Flame at arm length and be very attentive. Use extreme caution to assure that you are pouring vodka rapidly into pan from a premeasured and open cup. Never pour from the bottle as flambé could trail into neck of bottle and explode.}
  4. Once flambé has subsided, add whipping cream to pan, bring to simmer (slow boil) until slight thickening occurs. Add prepared sauce and return to simmer.
  5. Check pasta for readiness, it should be close to done.
  6. Reduce heat of sauce pan to low and add parmesan and parsley to pan, stir until well mixed (should not clump) and should be the thickness of a now heavy whipping cream. Check for salt and pepper. Next add prosciutto ribbons laced and layered in pan in separated pieces, stir gently not to clump. Remove pasta from boiling pot with slotted spoon, mostly drained but still wet with pasta water, and add into sauté pan, fold in pasta slowly to coat thoroughly, add basil ribbons, and fold in slightly. Place into warmed serving bowl.




May is Guest Chef Month at A Passionate Plate!

We’re giving friends, family, and our readers a chance to share their favorite recipes with us. I’m happy to kick things off with a recipe from my earliest mentor in the kitchen… my mom!

Post and recipe by Helen Oswald:

Put away the chips and salsa and try this new (but old) easy appetizer for your Cinco de Mayo celebration! Your guests will gobble them up!

I’ve been making these tasty, little bites for over 45 years and haven’t changed a single thing in the recipe. There are other versions out there, but I can guarantee this is a California original given to me by an East Bay friend in the late 1960’s.

The ingredients are very reminiscent of my early California eating experiences. Things like sourdough bread, Monterey Jack cheese, and green chiles. Back then I’d never even heard of canned green chiles and now they are a staple in my pantry.

These are so good and easy to make that you’ll want to double the recipe. They may not even make it to the platter but get eaten right off the baking sheet.


A creamy, zesty melted cheese and green chile mixture on lightly toasted sourdough bread. Serve them hot from the oven - they will get gobbled right up.
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 1 large sourdough baguette or a package of 6 - 6" sourdough French Rolls
  • 4 oz. grated medium cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small can chopped mild green chiles
  • 1 to 2 dashes hot sauce
  • Dash of garlic salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Slice the sourdough baguette or rolls into ¼ inch slices and set aside.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and hand stir to mix.
  4. Spread the mixture on the sourdough slices and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees until the cheese starts to bubble.
  6. Watch closely! You don't want the cheese to burn.
  7. Cool slightly before serving.
  8. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.


Mother’s Day Giveaway 2013


Lauren practicing her decorating skills with Grandma.

This contest is closed.  Congratulations to our winner, Donna Donahue! 

Whether your mom was good at it or bad at it, chances are she taught you something about cooking. In my case, it was a lot of things – well actually, probably nearly everything. What a gift. Thank you, Mom!

You can check out my Mom’s Never Fail Pie Crust and see her making the recipe here.

How about you? What did your mom pass along? A family recipe? A tip or trick? The number for the pizza place that delivers? Whatever it is, we really do want to hear about it.  And we want you to enter our Mother’s Day Giveaway!

ENTER by responding to this post and telling us about something your mom taught you in the kitchen.

We’ll pick a winner randomly from all entries and announce it on Mother’s Day.

Bobby Dean

A copy of From Mama’s Table to Mine: Everybody’s Favorite Comfort Foods at 350 Calories or Less, by Bobby Dean.

Bobby has transformed some of his mom’s favorite recipes –  like crab cakes, buffalo chicken salad, queso fundido, hush puppies, and corn chowder -into healthier versions of  themselves, all under 350 calories per serving.

Tune in on Mother’s Day to see who wins!

Choco-Banana Almond Milk Smoothie


Choco-Banana Almond Milk Smoothie

How cool is it that dark chocolate is good for you?! It’s full of anti-oxidants, hardens your tooth enamel, helps keep your blood sugar levels under control, it’s good for your heart AND your brain…need I go on?

My favorite frozen treat has always been a chocolate-covered banana. Sooooo… add dark chocolate to bananas (potassium that helps prevent muscle cramps) and almond milk (no lactose, yet contains minerals that play an important role in energy production)…yummy and even BETTER for you.

My new “go-to” smoothie before my workouts is this creamy and nutritious Choco-Banana Almond Milk Smoothie. It’s basically breakfast in a milkshake, but it’s good for you! Try it – you’ll like it!

Almond Milk recipe

Choco-Banana Almond Milk Smoothie
Prep time
Total time
You can use store-bought almond milk, but making it fresh is SO much better.
Recipe type: Beverage, Breakfast
Serves: 1
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 4 oz dark chocolate
  • 3 cups frozen banana
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Place eveything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. EnJOY!


Chile Lime Pork with Carrot-Lime Escabeche


Chile Lime Pork

Have you ever participated in a recipe exchange? They are a lot like the chain letters we used to try to avoid in the 80’s (and probably long before that!). With the advent of e-mail came the “send this to 10 friends and wait to see what you’ll receive in a week” e-mails. As much as I’d like to say I always played along, I didn’t. Honestly, I don’t think many of you did, either. Anyway, I did have a REALLY good experience with a recipe exchange and that’s where this recipe came from.

These deliciously moist, tender and juicy pork tacos are called, “Chile Lime Pork with Carrot-Lime Escabeche” and they came to me in the form of an e-mail recipe from my friend, Colleen. Sadly, just like just about every other recipe I “save” in my e-mail, this one got lost in the shuffle until last night. Both the guys I served this to were VERY happy with me, so I’d highly recommend dusting off your slow-cooker and giving this a try. Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and these should definitely be on your menu for next weekend.

Here are a few other ideas for Cinco de Mayo:

Perfect Margaritas
Breakfast Tacos
Shrimp Ceviche

Carrot-Lime Escabeche

Carrot-Lime Escabeche


4.0 from 1 reviews
Chile Lime Pork
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Rub the pork with the seasonings, and prep the tomato-garlic-lime juice mixture the night beforehand so that all you have to do in the morning is to dump it all into the slow-cooker.
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 10
  • ¼ cup medium heat chili powder
  • 1 T. ground coriander
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 lb. boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized pieces
  • ½ small red onion, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. Mix the chili powder, coriander and salt together on a large plate. Roll pork in mixture, taking up all of the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Chop and store the tomatoes, garlic and lime juice in a container overnight.
  3. Place the pork and tomato mixture in a slow-cooker and cook on high for 8-10 hours.
  4. At least an hour before serving, mix the carrots, onion, ½ cup lime juice, oil, cilantro and salt together and allow to marinate to blend flavors.
  5. Serve the pork with the Carrot-Lime Escabeche, sour cream, Cotija cheese, salsa and corn tortillas.


Wilted Kale Caesar with Bacon & Egg


Wilted Kale Caesar with Bacon & Egg

Thank goodness the gloppy, sloppy, over-dressed Caesar salads everyone served in the 1990’s have all but disappeared. I love the new Caesars showing up with lighter dressings and different types of greens. Yes, the Caesar is back – and so much better.

Since we received another big, beautiful bag of fresh picked kale from our neighbors this week I decided to give a kale Caesar a try. And… wow! I love, love, LOVE this salad!

It was so simple to make. I whipped up a batch of Rachael Ray’s No-Egg Caesar Salad Dressing, and tossed it with lightly-wilted baby kale and then topped off the salad with crumbled bacon, an egg, freshly grated Parmesan and lots of black pepper.

Sitting down to this beautiful salad for lunch yesterday and enjoying the amazing sunshine… it was a just a perfect. This might just be my new favorite salad.

I hope you will give it a try!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Wilted Kale Caesar with Bacon & Egg
Use baby kale if you can find it. Otherwise, be sure to remove all of the tough stems and ribs from more mature leaves. Lightly blanching the kale takes away any bitterness.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
  • Homemade or bottled Caesar Dressing
  • 1 bag pre-cut baby kale leaves OR 1 large bunch kale, stems and ribs removed and cut into salad sized pieces
  • 4 eggs, hard or soft boiled
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil.
  2. While the water is heating, prepare an ice bath for the kale. Fill a large bowl half way with ice water.
  3. Add the kale to the boiling water and cook for just 30 seconds. Remove immediately to the ice water bath to refresh.
  4. Drain the kale and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Place the wilted kale in a large bowl and toss lightly with Caesar dressing.
  6. Distribute evenly between four plates and top with crumbled bacon, egg, and parmesan.
  7. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and generously with freshly ground pepper.



Grilled Halibut Tacos


Delicious Grilled Halibut Fish TacoWe’re getting a few days of sunshine this week with temperatures above 50 degrees! Time to get outdoors, soak in some much needed vitamin D and fire up the grill.

My friend, Lori, invited me over yesterday to help cook for our book group dinner. Lori’s husband, Jay, is an avid fisherman, so their freezer seems to be continuously stocked with wild salmon, steelhead, and Alaskan halibut filets. Halibut – yum! It’s definitely one of my favorite kinds of fish and is just perfect for grilled fish tacos.

First, we started by making a rub for the fish. Nothing too crazy, just a few spices mixed with olive oil and lime juice.

Rub for Fish TacosOften fish is fried for tacos, but grilling is much healthier, and this simple marinade gives the fish a nice, smokey flavor without much added fat.

Marinating Halibut for Fish TacosWhile the fish marinated for about 30 minutes, we made a creamy coleslaw with plenty of cliantro and lime to compliment the fish.

Coleslaw for Halibut Fish TacosI  prefer to grill halibut with the skin on. It holds the fish together and allows you to cook at a slightly higher temperature. We cranked Lori’s gas grill up to medium high and when it was nice and hot we brushed it lightly with oil, then laid the fish on, shut the lid and let the halibut cook for about 20 minutes.

Mmmm… perfect.

Grilling HalibutUsing a sturdy spatula, we slipped the fish away from the skin and onto a serving dish. Time to make tacos!

Grilled Halibut Fish Tacos

The halibut was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Served in warm corn tortillas  with our creamy cilantro slaw, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and homemade mango-pineapple salsa, these grilled halibut tacos were both healthy and delicious!

Dishing up Halibut Tacos Looking for more fish recipes? You might enjoy these!

Oven Roasted Halibut with Caper Basil Sauce
Grilled Black Cod with Cherry Tomato Salsa
Wild Alaskan King Salmon Burgers

Need a great pineapple mango salsa recipe to serve with your fish?
Try this one from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Grilled Halibut Tacos
Recipe type: Entree, Seafood, Mexican, Gluten Free
Serves: 6
  • 2 lb. halibut, cut into four pieces, skin on if possible
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • ¼ cup low fat sour cream
  • ¼ cup low fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • tomato, diced
  • avacado, sliced
  • shredded cheese or crumbled Mexican cheese
  • sour cream
  • mango salsa
  • lime wedges
  1. Combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  2. Place the halibut fillets in a shallow pan, pat dry with a paper towel, then spread rub mixture on top of each piece. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the creamy coleslaw.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, chopped cilantro lime zest, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the shredded cabbage and sliced red onion. Taste. Adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside.
  6. Heat a gas grill on medium high heat.
  7. Brush the grill lightly with oil and place the fish, skin side down, on the grill. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily.
  8. While the fish is cooking, assemble the taco toppings - tomato, avocado, salsa, warm tortillas, sour cream, cheese, etc.
  9. When the fish is cooked, use a sturdy spatula slip the fillets away from their skin to a serving platter and serve with creamy coleslaw and taco toppings of your choice.

Earth Day Quiz and Contest Winner!


Earth Day WinnerHappy 43rd Earth Day to all of you! And, congratulations to our Earth Day Contest Giveaway winner! We asked you to tell us about a way you try to reduce, reuse or recycle. We received 32 very thoughtful answers. Check out the Contest Post to see all of the responses.

Knowledge is power, right? Take our Earth Day Quiz to see how much you already know!

Earth Day Quiz (adapted from CNN)

1. How many pounds of trash did the United States create, per person, every day in 2010?

A. 1.23 lbs.
B. 3.46 lbs.
C. 4.43 lbs.

Answer: C — Multiply that by 365 days, that’s 1,617 pounds of garbage per person in a year.

2. About 70% of the Earth is covered with water. Only a relatively small amount of it is potentially potable fresh water. How much?

A. 1%
B. 2.5%
C. 7.3%

Answer: B — Only 2.5% of water on Earth is fresh water. And 70% of that is locked up in polar ice.

3. Americans use a lot of water! What is the average daily water use of each household?

A. 25 gallons
B. 50 gallons
C. 300 gallons

Answer: C — According to the E.P.A. . Meanwhile, more than 750 million people (more than 10% of the world’s population)  don’t have adequate access to drinking water, according to the UN.

4. In the U.S., what percentage of water is used for outdoor purposes (such as watering lawns).

A. About 10%
B. About 30%
C. About 60%

Answer: B — About 30% of U.S. water, both residential and commercial, goes for outdoor use. And up to 50% of that evaporates if you water in the heat of the day, the EPA estimates.

5. Which of the following takes the longest time to break down?

A. Plastic six-pack holder
B. Hard plastic container
C. Disposable diaper

Answer: A — A plastic six-pack holder takes 450 years to disintegrate. Consider the impact of plastic water bottles, which take as long to biodegrade. The International Bottled Water Association says that in the top 10 global markets alone, people consumed more than 61 billion gallons of bottled water in 2011.

6. Which of the following accounts for the greatest percentage of total waste in the United States?

A. Paper
C. Plastic
D. Glass

Answer: A — Paper is by far the No. 1 item  Americans dispose of. But it is also the most recycled material.

7. How much solid waste does the United States produce in one year?

A. 50 million ton
B. 150 million tons
C. 250 million tons

Answer: C — 250 million tons, says the EPA. That’s more than 1,000 times greater than one of the largest cruise ships in the world.

How did you do on the quiz? Each time I read these statistics I  feel encouraged to buy, use, and waste less, especially plastic.

And now back to the Giveaway…
We chose a winner randomly from all of the entries and the WINNER IS: Danielle!

Congratulations, Danielle. We’ll be sending you four beautiful Amici Cresta Quadra glass storage jars with ceramic lids!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Keep up the good work.

Berries with Limoncello


Berries with Limoncello

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – “the cycles of life”.

As a kid, we grew up going to birthday parties for our friends, and to the weddings of our parents’ friends and family members. I still have a vivid picture in my mind of being about six years old, perched upon my cousin’s boyfriend’s shoulders, anxiously awaiting the tossing of the GORGEOUS wedding bouquet. I caught it! and kept my treasure for years after that.

Then, as we grew older, we have our own weddings and attend those of our friends. Somehow, the bouquet toss had less appeal at this point in life and almost became somewhat of an embarrassment. At my wedding, my poor little niece (not lucky enough to be above the crowd on someone’s shoulders) was knocked to the ground by an overly anxious hopeful bride-to-be. As my closet filled up with worn-one-time-only bridesmaid dresses and I became an expert at navigating bridal registries, I dreaded having to attend yet another wedding.

Soon enough, wedding announcements are replaced by baby shower invitations. Again, I have a vivid memory of standing in front of a 15-foot wall of baby bottles wondering how in the world there could be so many choices?! The word-finds, diaper pin games, and guess-the-melted-candy-in-baby-diaper game became monotonous (and gross!).  Until…

…we started having to visit sick friends in the hospital and attend funerals. And now, I’m so grateful that I’ve recently received THREE wedding announcements! In fact, I helped throw an engagement party last month, joined my niece at her wedding dress fitting and engagement party last week, and yesterday, I helped throw a bridal shower. YAY! I promise to never take this part of the “cycle of life” for granted, again. 😉

I’m thrilled to share this fun little recipe with you in hopes that you’ll have a bridal or baby shower to take this to in the near future. If not, make it for your family and enJOY!

Berries with Limoncello2

Berries with Limoncello
Prep time
Total time
The beauty of this simple recipe is that you can get away with less-than-perfect berries since you'll be tossing them with sugar and limencello which makes them deliciously juicy and sweet/tart.
Recipe type: Salad, Dessert
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup lemon curd
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. agave syrup or honey
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp. Limoncello
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • Fresh mint, for garnish
  1. Clean the berries and mix in a large mixing bowl. If the strawberries are large, cut them into 4 or 8 pieces so that they are similar in size to the other berries.
  2. Stir together the yogurt, lemon curd, vanilla, sweetener and zest. Set aside.
  3. Just prior to serving, cut up the banana and toss it and the berries with the Limoncello and sugar. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  4. To serve, place a portion of the berries in individual serving bowls and top with a dollop of lemon-yogurt mixture and garnish with a mint leaf.


Kale & Artichoke Strudel


Kale and Artichoke StrudelWhile my vegetable garden is just barely getting started (peas, radishes and carrots up, but not much else) my neighbors, Snowe and Nancy, are already harvesting a bounty of greens. A few days ago we were the lucky recipients of a huge bag of colorful kale.

Isn’t it beautiful? Thank you, neighbors!

kaleWhat to do with all of this gorgeous kale? Yesterday I woke up inspired… I thought why not make a vegetable strudel with a spanikopita type filling, using kale instead of spinach. With plenty of cheese, of course. And artichokes. And LOTS of fresh dill.

combining Kale and artichokes for the strudelWhen I was working as a banquet cook and caterer, I folded (no joke) tens of thousands of spanikopita triangles for various events. If you enjoy making phyllo triangles, by all means use this filling – you’ll get a beautiful bite-sized appetizer. Or, you can simply spread the filling out over eight layers of phyllo brushed with olive oil and roll everything up strudel-style like I did here. This is a much faster and easier way to work with phyllo and I like how beautiful the strudel looks when it is sliced.

strudelThis recipe will make two rolls. Cut each on the diagonal into 4 entree-sized pieces or about 12 appetizers and serve hot or at room temperature. My personal recommendation: serve Kale & Artichoke Strudel with a glass of crisp white wine. :-) Enjoy!

strudelLove kale? Check out these recipes:

Bacon, Tomato & Kale Pizza
Farro Salad with Kale
Kale, Banana & Apple Smoothie
Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage & Kale

Kale and Artichoke Strudel
Recipe type: Appetizer or Main Dish, Vegetarian (eggs, dairy)
Serves: 8 entree sized pieces
  • 16 pieces phyllo dough, thawed
  • 8 cups kale, stems and ribs removed, chopped
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 4 green onions, green part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 can artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta with herbs
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh dill (or more, to taste)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • olive oil for brushing the phyllo
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized sauté pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add the chopped white onion and cook until onions begin to turn translucent, about two minutes.
  4. Add the kale and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and the kale is wilted and tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the kale/onion mixture and set aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together the chopped artichokes, green onion, feta, Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper.
  7. Add the kale and stir to combine.
  8. Pour about ⅔ cup olive oil into a small bowl.
  9. Lay one sheet of phyllo on a clean work surface and brush lightly with olive oil.
  10. Lay another phyllo down on top of the first sheet and brush with olive oil.
  11. Continue until you have stacked 8 sheets of phyllo.
  12. Spoon ½ of the kale mixture down along the front edge of the phyllo, leaving about 2 inches of room at the edge.
  13. Use both hands to carefully roll up the strudel.
  14. Place it, seam side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush the top with a little more oil.
  15. Repeat the process to create a second roll.
  16. Bake at 375 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until the phyllo is nicely browned and the filling is bubbly at the ends.
  17. Cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing. For best results, use a sharp, serrated knife.


Grilled Salmon and Quinoa Salad


Grilled Salmon and Quinoa Salad

One of our favorite things to do on winter weekends is to get together with our friends, Rob and Cathy, and drive up to the Cascade Mountains to let our doggies, Charley and Sadie, run and play in the snow.

Fun in the snow!

Fun in the snow!

Of course, these trips also include a stop at our favorite tavern, North Bend Bar and Grill. In addition to the required IPA, I’ve always ordered the same thing: Salmon Quinoa Salad. Sadly, it would be Cathy’s favorite, too, but she is allergic to the walnuts they put in the quinoa salad. No worries! I’m on it! I’ll re-create it for Amazing Race Sunday Dinner.

Grilled Salmon

Toby grilled the salmon to perfection! He swears by portioning the salmon BEFORE grilling it so that he could perfectly cook the thick pieces, as well as the thicker pieces. We used previously frozen sockeye salmon since it was half the price of the king salmon. We all agreed that was a good decision. It was moist and flavorful and delicious!

Quinoa Salad

The quinoa salad was full of yummy add-ins: bell pepper, craisins, almonds, carrots, green onions, and shallots. A lemon-thyme vinaigrette finished it all off perfectly. Now we can have this new favorite meal at home. EnJOY!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grilled Salmon and Quinoa Salad
Prep time
Total time
Be sure to dress the quinoa salad while it is still warm, and then let it chill and marinate for at least an hour before serving for the best flavor.
Recipe type: Seafood
Serves: 4
  • 2 lb. salmon filet
  • olive oil mist
  • salt-free seasoning
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • ½ cup craisins
  • ½ cup carrots, diced
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. shallot, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • mixed greens
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer with lots of fresh, running water.
  2. Combine the quinoa and broth in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the bell pepper, toasted almonds, craisins, carrots, green onion, shallot and mint in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, zest, thyme and olive oil to make the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Pour about 2 Tbsp of dressing over the vegetable mixture in the large mixing bowl and toss to coat.
  6. Remove the cooked quinoa from heat and fluff with a fork to cool slightly.
  7. Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture in the mixing bowl and toss with the remaining dressing. Season to taste and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  8. Portion, rinse and pat dry the salmon.
  9. Mist the salmon pieces with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt-free seasoning.
  10. Over low-medium heat, grill the salmon portions, meat-side down for 3-4 minutes. Flip to skin-side down and finish cooking until medium-rare, about 5 more minutes.
  11. Arrange mixed greens and quinoa on the serving plate and top with grilled salmon. Serve immediately.



Wild Ginger Restaurant


Wild Ginger

Wow, Wild Ginger has been around for almost 25 years! Rick & Anne Yoder, inspired by their travels to China and Southeast Asia, opened their original location on Western Avenue in 1989 – the same year I moved to Seattle.  Since the beginning, Wild Ginger has been committed to serving the most authentic tasting Asian street food in an upscale setting. Offerings include specialties from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and beyond.

Now, of course, it’s very common to find this type of food at dozens of great Seattle eateries – but Wild Ginger did it first – and in my opinion, they are still doing it right.

Joy, Marvin and I headed down to Wild Ginger on Saturday night to enjoy a few of our favorite dishes.

Of course, we started off in the bar…

Wild Ginger has an amazing wine list, but since Marvin offered to buy the first round of drinks, Joy and I splurged and ordered a cocktail called The Butorac ($14, yikes). Bombay Sapphire East, St. Germaine, muddled lime & Thai basil. Yes, they were fabulous. We sipped them as it rained hailed like crazy outside! How nice to be at the bar, warm & dry, with a tropical cocktail in hand.

_DSC0666We moved into the dining room and Marvin immediately placed an order for Siam Lettuce Cups. These might just be one of Marvin’s favorite foods of all time. Simple, clean flavors of lightly grilled fish, roasted peanuts, lime juice and tamarind – wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf and folded up with Thai basil and fresh dill.

Siam Lettuce Cups Wild Ginger

Marvin could not get enough of his favorite item on the menu. We ended up ordering two!

wrapping a Siam Lettuce CupJoy was craving one of her favorites, Black Pepper Scallops. Who can resist perfectly cooked scallops tossed in a flavorful, peppery sauce? Not me. They were lovely.

Black Pepper Scallops at Wild Ginger

Next came a tried-and-true favorite, Sichuan Green Beans, which used to include pork, but now are 100% vegetarian and they still taste fantastic. And finally, we decided to try something different – a curry called Rama Setu – inspired by the cuisine of South India and Sri Lanka.

Marvin and I spent 3 weeks in South India and Sri Lanka last month, so I wanted to see if this unusual dish would really taste like the food we ate on our trip.

BINGO. The flavors in Rama Setu tasted spot on. I guess when you grind your own spices and make your own curry, it is possible to capture the exact flavors of a certain place. Well done, Wild Ginger!

South India Style Curry Wild Ginger

Back when Wild Ginger was still located below Pike Place market, I used to take kids there as part of cooking class. We’d tour the kitchen and watch the chefs working away at lightning speed. Then Rick Yoder would join us at the satay bar and help the kids grill Thai chicken skewers before we all sat down to an amazing lunch.

I asked Rick about his team in the kitchen… “Where is everybody from?”

Rick told me, only half joking, that he liked to hire cooks right off the boat. “If a guy has worked in too many western kitchens he can lose some of the skills and cooking techniques from home.”

The restaurant appears to have kept this philosophy. You can read more about the chefs at Wild Ginger here.

Yes, there is cheaper Asian food in our town. And, there are plenty of upscale Asian fusion restaurants around, too. But, after 25 years, Wild Ginger is still one of the best.

If a pricey Asian food dinner is not in your budget, we recommend a visit to the bar for a cold Singha and an order of Siam Lettuce Cups.

Wild Ginger Restaurant & Satay Bar
1401 3rd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Wild Ginger on Urbanspoon

Earth Day Giveaway 2013!


A Passionate Plate Earth Month Giveaway 2013

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. Congratulations to our WINNER – Danielle!

Welcome to A Passionate Plate’s Earth Day Giveaway 2013!

2013 marks the 43rd Earth Day celebration. Back in 1970, Gaylord Nelson, a US Senator from Wisconsin launched Earth Day to raise public consciousness about air and water pollution, environmental protection and sustainability.  Earth Day went global in 1990, and it is now celebrated by more than a billion people around the world!

Living in Seattle, it’s easy to forget there is such a huge problem with garbage on planet Earth. Our curbside recycling and composting programs set the standard for the nation and a citywide ban on plastic bags at checkout stands has made a huge impact on our city’s plastic waste. But, on a recent trip to India, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of trash we saw along the roadsides, between houses, and in the water. There was so much plastic in all of that trash, it just broke my heart. It was a big reminder that we still have a LONG way to go, and I came home with a renewed commitment to cut down on my own use of plastic, especially plastic storage bags and beverages in plastic bottles.

How about you? What do you do to reduce, reuse and recycle? Have you found a way to cut down on the amount of plastic you bring in (and throw out) of your home?

Enter our contest and let us know!

How to Enter:

Inspire us! Please respond to this post and tell us something you do to reduce, reuse or recycle!

The Giveaway:

Four beautiful Amici Cresta Quadra glass storage jars with ceramic lids!

We’ll announce the winner  on Earth Day, April 22nd.

We can’t wait to read your replies!

Nescafe Frappe


Nescafe Frapepe2

The sun came out in Seattle yesterday. Yep. That’s right. Sun.in.Seattle – IN APRIL! And when we see that rare yellow ball in the sky I just can’t help myself, I get a lil’ giddy. I took my puppy to the park and wore sunglasses 😉 I realize that summer won’t be here until at least July 5, but yesterday, I enJOYed the sunshine. That’s how we do in Seattle.

Nescafe Frappe

Another thing we do in Seattle is coffee. In fact, it’s gotten so bad for me that if I don’t get my coffee Venti Americano with room in the am…watch out! From late October through at least March, it’s a hot coffee. Yesterday, since it was April AND it was sunny, I made the decision that it’ll be Iced Venti Americano with room for me until at least October. I’m happy summer is on it’s way. It’s the little things…

But, here’s a BIG thing – now I don’t have to out for an afternoon coffee treat, because I’ve discovered the Nescafe Frappe. That’s it in the picture above. Isn’t it lovely? Doesn’t it look refreshing? and frothy? and creamy? Yep – it’s all of those things plus it’s super simple and you can make it at home.

Nescafe Frappe
Nescafe Classico works well for a frappe because it gets REALLY frothy when shaken with the water.
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 1
  • 3 tsp. Nescafe Classico
  • 2-3 tsp. sugar (or caramel syrup)
  • ½ cup of water
  • milk or cream
  1. Put the Nescafe crystals into a cocktail shaker, or bottle with a lid. If you're using sugar, or even better - caramel syrup - put that in, too.
  2. Add the water and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour the frothy coffee into a glass and top with milk or cream.
  4. Add ice.
  5. EnJOY!


Mushroom Pot Pies with Parker House Crust

The BEST pot pies you will ever taste!

The BEST pot pies you will ever taste!

This post has been in-the-works for several weeks now. I was immediately inspired when I first read Chef Michael White’s recipe for these vegetarian pot pies in Food and Wine magazine.

You see, I usually cook dinner for our friends, Rob and Cathy, on Sunday nights and then we watch Amazing Race together. Cathy is a vegetarian so I’m always on the look-out for new recipes to make for her. Meanwhile, Toby is a meat LOVER, so it’s a challenge to keep everyone happy on Sunday night. Well, friends, I’ve found the secret to keeping everyone happy! After his first bite of these rich, creamy, meatless pies, Toby declared, “This is the BEST thing you’ve ever created!” and then he raised his glass to toast to me. WOW!

Here are the reasons this post has taken so long, and the revised recipe that earned me that toast.

Issue #1: I tend to forget to read all the way through a recipe to gauge how much time I need to set aside to prepare said meal. Once I do, I typically try to prep as much as possible ahead of time. This is one of those recipes. I had all of the groceries on-hand, but when I started reading the recipe that Sunday morning before running out for a day of activities, I realized I was going to need more time. (We ordered pizza that night). The key to this recipe is to prep the stock and dough for crust the day before you want to make the pot pies.

Issue #2: The way the recipes were written in the magazine, the cooking times were off and I used way too many pots and pans. Don’t you just HATE that? For example: the recipe called for a “large, deep skillet” when making the pot pie filling. I should’ve known better because not only was I going to fill the skillet with 8 cups of mushrooms and all the other veggies, I would then need room for 6 cups of stock. So, I had to dump everything into a Dutch oven and wash a large skillet before I could proceed. I’ve written the recipe below to correct for all of these issues.

Issue #3: As far as I’m concerned, most recipes are too conservative when it comes to seasoning. Being the Top Chef fan that I am, I know that a poorly seasoned dish is the quickest way to hearing those deadly words from Padma: “Please pack you knives and go”. So, I’ve adjusted the seasonings to my taste (lots more herbs and some cream to smooth it all out).

Creamy, Herb-y deliciousness.

Creamy, Herb-y deliciousness.

I would highly recommend making the stock a day or two in advance of making the pot pies. If you really want to prep ahead, you could also cut up all the veggies for the pot pie filling and make the dough a day in advance (see the recipe for make ahead instructions).

Mushroom Stock
Parker House Roll/Crust

This is the meal that earned me a toast from my hubby.

This is the meal that earned me a toast from my hubby.

Mushroom Pot Pies with Parker House Crust
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
It's a good idea to make the stock a day or two in advance of prepping this recipe.
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Main dish
Serves: 4-8
  • 1 large baking potato
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped sage
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1½ lbs. fresh mushrooms (cremini, shitake, portobello) stemmed and chopped
  • ¾ cup Marsala
  • ½ cup flour
  • 6 cups Mushroom Stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Parker House Roll Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and cover a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss the potatoes, pearl onions and carrots with 3 Tbsp. melted butter on the foil covered pan. Spread them out and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, stirring once, about 30 minutes.
  3. Turn the oven down to 350°F.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp. of the butter. Add the diced onion, sage, thyme and rosemary and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the Marsala and cook until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the entire mixture. Stir well while cooking to brown the flour, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the Mushroom Stock and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the roasted vegetables and the cream. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Spoon the filling into 8, one cup ramekins or 4, two cup soup bowls.
  11. Divide the roll dough into either 8 or 4 equal pieces. Working with one ball at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to a circle 2 inches larger than the diameter of your bowls. Drape the dough over the rim of the ramekin, or bowl, so there's a 1-inch overhang all around. Trim any excess dough. Brush the dough rounds with the remaining 2 Tbsp. of melted butter and arrange the pot pies on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  12. Bake the pot pies for about 30 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden and risen, turning the pan halfway through baking.


A Dinner Disaster – Baked Sole


_DSC0604Joy and I make it a rule NOT to post recipes on A Passionate Plate unless we feel they are truly worthy. We want our recipes to be the ones you trust! Well, as you know – not every recipe lives up to it’s promise. Sometimes results are less than stellar and the blog post, along with the leftovers, ends up in the trash. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting about a dinner disaster, but last night was so 100% horrible, I just have to tell you about it.

Consider this a public service announcement. A warning for the uninitiated. A lesson you will not have to learn the hard way.

Here goes… baked sole sucks. Yes, I said it. Even when you follow a kitchen tested recipe from Cooks Illustrated called Better Baked Sole. The question is, better than what? Cat food? Because, come on, I already knew that.

I had such high hopes for this dish. It sounded very healthy and full of flavor. The fillets were seasoned with a little dijon, fresh herbs from my garden, and a little garlic butter, then rolled, baked and finally topped with herbs and a panko crumb topping. The picture in the magazine looked beautiful.

SoleMy friend, Jackie, was joining us for dinner, and I felt confident she would appreciate this healthy entree that was almost (except for the panko) gluten-free.

Because this was a Cooks Illustrated recipe, I followed their instructions exactly, measuring everything and setting aside my own intuition. I pulled the fish from the oven, snapped a few photos and sat down at the table expectantly. Hmmm… undercooked fish that needed to go back in the oven. Not a good sign.

When we finally started eating, Marvin began to subtly push the fish around on his plate, breaking it into smaller pieces, spreading it out across as much surface area as possible.

Jackie said, “Uh oh, Marv is pushing the fish around on his plate.”

Marv said, “I think the mustard might have overpowered the fish.”

I said, “Come on, it’s not really that bad, is it?”

Jackie said, “It kind of reminds me of my Grammy’s cooking. Soft. You wouldn’t really need teeth to eat this.”

Marv said, “Nope, you definitely wouldn’t need teeth. Jackie, how about passing me the bread, please?”

I kept eating, hoping that half way through my piece something would change. That this recipe would turn from bland and mushy into something amazing. Something BLOG WORTHY! But, no, that didn’t happen.

All I can say is… thank goodness we cooked two pounds of asparagus to go with the fish. A plate full of asparagus makes a lovely dinner, especially when followed by Denali Moose Tracks chocolate ice cream – which, Jackie happily pointed out,  happens to be gluten-free.

Perhaps, living in Seattle where flavorful, meaty fish like salmon, cod, steelhead and halibut are so plentiful, a fish like sole just doesn’t have enough soul (I know, I know… sorry, but I couldn’t resist).

Bottom line is, I will not be making baked sole again.

If you are hungry for fish tonight, why not try one of these very blog-worthy recipes?

 Salmon Sashimi with Ginger and Hot Sesame Oil
Cod in Coconut Tomato Curry Sauce
Walnut Crusted Salmon Fillets
Oven Roasted Halibut with Caper Basil Sauce

Quick and Easy Korean Beef


Korean Beef

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you that I was born in Korea – right? And, I can make Bulgogi to prove it 😉 So, you can imagine that as I scroll through my favorite foodie blogs from day-to-day, I’m very attracted to recipes from the Pacific Rim. It’s also helpful that here in the Pacific Northwest, we have an amazing array of restaurants and groceries from that region, as well. Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Pacific Rim Fusion… we’ve got it all here in Seattle.

For those of you in other parts of the country, I’m about to let you in on a little secret I’ve kept for the past few months. You can make Korean-inspired food at home! I decided to try this recipe after reading about it here at Juanita’s Cocina. It’s a dish I now crave about once per week (which is about the number of times I need a simple, one dish dinner that I can get on the table in less than 30 minutes – perfect!). This Quick and Easy Korean Beef is salty, sweet, savory, filling and just plain delicious! Best of all, it uses ingredients that you most likely have in your kitchen already.

Try it over rice, or wrapped in butter lettuce leaves. It would be great over rice noodles, too. Make it with chicken or turkey or tofu…I guess what I’m trying to say is, just try it!

Korean Beef3

Quick and Easy Korean Beef
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Hot Chili Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Korean hot chili paste or Sriracha sauce
  • 1 cube beef bouillion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  1. Heat a large skillet with the sesame and chili oil over medium heat. Once the skillet is heated, brown the hamburger and minced garlic until meat is cooked through. Drain all fat from the meat.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes, chili paste and bouillion cube. Pour mixture into the skillet over the meat and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer the meat in the sauce for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and reduces.
  4. Serve the Korean beef over rice and top with a small handful of green onions, some cilantro and hard boiled egg.


Easy Chicken Posole Rojo


PosoleIf you’ve been reading A Passionate Plate for a while, you already know how much I love to make soup. I think my dream job would be cooking at an all soup restaurant, where I’d get to develop the recipes and make soup every day. I’d be like The Soup Nazi, only way, way nicer.

A long time ago I had a version of that dream job. I was the day chef and baker for a small restaurant in West Seattle. It was a tiny little spot right across from the beach, just a short bike ride away from my apartment. I’d start every day by making scones, baking croissants, and deciding what soup to make. The owner of the restaurant was originally from Mexico, and sometimes he’d request posole.

Ah, posole! I loved making posole rojo. That beautiful combination of slow cooked pork, dried chiles and hominy in a rich and spicy broth. What a beautiful soup full of savory meat, warm heat from the chiles and the rich flavor of corn. It’s a soup that really needs to simmer on the stove for several hours and is well worth the effort – if you have the time.

But if your time in the kitchen is limited, like mine is lately, this Easy Chicken Posole recipe will substitute very nicely. You’ll get all (well, almost all) of the goodness of slow cooked pork posole, but your soup will be ready to enjoy in just about an hour.

Easy Chicken Posole RojoBoneless, skinless chicken thighs make a great substitute for the pork. (For the best flavor, buy pieces with some fat still attached to the meat.)  And, pureeing some of the sautéd onions and hominy helps to intensify the soup’s flavor quickly.

If you decide to give this easy recipe a try, don’t forget to top the piping hot soup with traditional condiments – sliced radish, cabbage, fresh cilantro, onion, ripe avocado and lime. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

See all of our soup recipes here.

And, check out this video – best of The Soup Nazi!

Easy Chicken Pozole Rojo
This recipe takes just 60 minutes, but tastes like it simmered on the stove for hours!
Recipe type: Soup, Mexican Food, Chicken
Serves: 6-8
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (with some fat remaining) cut into ½" pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 chipotle chile canned in adobo sauce (not the whole can, just one chile)
  • 1 large white onion, cut into ½" dice
  • 1 - 29 oz. can Mexican style hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. Hot Mexican chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1 - 15 .5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • Optional garnishes: sliced radish, shredded cabbage, sliced red onion, avacado, and sour cream for garnish
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a wide bottomed soup pot over medium high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add ½ of the diced onion, the chipotle chile and 1 cup of the hominy. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and slightly brown.
  3. Place the sautéed onions, chipotle chile, hominy, and 1 cup chicken stock in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Over high heat, add the remaining oil to the pot.
  5. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently until the chicken is cooked through and slightly brown.
  6. Stir in the garlic, salt, Mexican chili powder, cumin, oregano, diced tomatoes, remaining hominy, 4 cups of chicken stock, and pureed onion and hominy mixture.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
  8. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
  9. Serve with a garnish of sliced radish, shredded cabbage, sliced red onion, chopped cilantro, ripe avocado and lime.


Mediterranean Grilled Artichokes


Mediterranean Grilled Artichokes

I really enjoy a challenge – especially when it involves food! My good friend, Colleen, recently hosted our girls’ group, The 9 Chicks, at her lovely home on the beautiful island of Hawaii. On the first night on the island, we enjoyed the most delicious grilled artichoke appetizer at Tommy Bahama. She challenged me to re-create the dish and post it here, soooooo…without further ado….and many thanks to Colleen for a FABULOUS vacation…I give you my Mediterranean Grilled Artichokes.

Start with the heaviest, roundest artichoke you can find.

Start with the heaviest, roundest artichoke you can find.


After braising them, grill them briefly to impart a smokey flavor.

After braising them, grill them briefly to impart a smokey flavor.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Mediterranean Grilled Artichokes
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4
  • 2 artichokes
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 2 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Zest the lemons and then juice them.
  3. Fill a medium bowl with water and lemon juice.
  4. Prepare the artichokes by peeling off the tough outer leaves, cutting about 1-inch off the top, cutting them in half and scraping out the fuzzy stuff in the middle. Peel the tough, outer peel from the stem. Place in lemon water for about 10 minutes.
  5. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon zest, Herbes de Provence, salt, garlic, wine, olive oil and water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  6. Drain the artichokes and place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Pour the marinade over the artichokes and cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake for at least 1 hour, or until very tender, basting once or twice.
  7. Make the dipping sauce by whisking the garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper into the mayonnaise.
  8. Heat the grill to 400°. Grill the artichokes, cut side down, for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
  10. Serve with the dipping sauce. EnJOY!


Our March Giveaway Winner Is…


APP March GiveawayGood morning, everyone! Happy Monday. Happy April 1st. And, congratulations to our latest contest winner!

Last month we asked you to tell us about a vegetable you used to hate but have now learned to enjoy. We loved hearing from you – thanks so much for sharing!

According to your responses, the veggies that we have “grown to love” the most include brussel sprouts, beets, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. Our contest winner (selected randomly from all entries) was no exception… Congratulations to PRIS!

Her response to our question:

Like most veggies as a kid EXCEPT for Brussel sprouts. My mom would boil them and make us eat them…oh terrible. Then years later my grown kids told me to buy them fresh and grill them in the oven with bacon. Ok, the love story began. Now I raise them and can’t get enough of them.

We’ll be sending Pris the beautiful, practical and inspiring Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard – A Beginners Guide to Growing Crops at Home by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm, founders of Seattle Urban Farm Company, and a set of handy garden tools from Fiskars!

Congratulations, Pris! Stay tuned for our April contest coming soon!


Carrot Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting


Carrot Cookies

The Easter Bunny is going to LOVE these! One of my favorite dessert bloggers, Bridget Edwards at Bake at 350, posted her recipe for these cookies earlier this week. I couldn’t resist giving them a try and putting my own twist on the recipe.

If you love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, I am sure you will love these cookies. They are filled with yummy ingredients and flavors – shredded carrot, chopped pecans, orange and ginger – then finished off with a generous portion of cream cheese frosting.

The recipe makes 24 big cookies, a perfect finger-food alternative to carrot cake.

Happy Easter!

Carrot Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
The finger-food version of carrot cake. Moist carrot filled cookies flavored with ginger and orange and topped with a sweet cream cheese frosting.
Recipe type: Cookies, Dessert
Serves: 24
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. orange extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1½ cups finely grated carrot (use the small holes on a grater)
  • ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • orange and green food coloring optional for decorating
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, shortening and sugars. Beat well to combine, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until light and fluffy about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and orange extracts.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.
  5. On low spead, gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  6. Stir in the carrots and pecans.
  7. Scoop the cookies out onto parchment lined baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes or until the cookies are set and slightly browned.
  9. Cool completely before frosting.
  10. While the cookies are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting.
  11. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat well.
  12. Add the vanilla extract.
  13. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until fully combined.
  14. Increase the spead of the mixer to medium and beat for a few more minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  15. Frost the cooled cookies with the icing. If desired, color some of the frosting green and orange and pipe carrot decorations on top. Or, garnish with a toasted pecan half.


Asparagus Gratin


Asparagus GratinEaster Sunday is this weekend. How will you be celebrating? If your Easter plans include fresh asparagus, here is a beautiful recipe that will have even the kids coming back for more… Asparagus Gratin.

I’ve adapted this gratin from a 2011 Cook’s Country recipe which has been hugely popular on the blogosphere. My version has a touch of nutmeg and the addition of Panko bread crumbs on top. This is one of my favorite ways to serve asparagus – especially for a special occasion. It works beautifully with both a brunch menu or a traditional Easter ham dinner.


Asparagus Gratin
Crisp asparagus is topped with a creamy cheese sauce and seasoned with a touch of nutmeg, then broiled to perfection.
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side Dish
Serves: 8
  • 2 lb. asparagus spears, woody ends removed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs (optional)
  1. In a wide sauce pan, bring 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt to a roiling boil. Add the asparagus and cook until it is crisp tender, approximately 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to form a roux. Turn heat down to low.
  3. Drain the asparagus, reserving 1 cup of the asparagus water.
  4. Rinse the asparagus under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Whisk the reserved asparagus water into the roux and bring to a bowl over medium heat. Simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  6. Off heat, stir in the nutmeg, white pepper, ¾ cup Parmesan cheese and the Jack cheese.
  7. Place the asparagus in a shallow baking dish.
  8. Pour cheese sauce over the asparagus and top with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and the Panko bread crumbs.
  9. Broil until the cheese is golden and the asparagus is heated through and tender, about 5 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately.



5 Cookies You Shouldn’t Live Without



Posted by our Guest Contributor, Christina ConradYou can read more from Christina on her blog: www. foodiewithalife.com.

1) Salted Peanut Butter Cookies, Hot Cakes Confections

If you’re wandering around Ballard Avenue in Seattle, chances are you’ll stumble into a tiny storefront that smells of melted chocolate.  You’ve found Hot Cakes, Ballard’s hottest dessert destination.  Here, the molten chocolate cakes arrive by the jar, piping hot from the oven and on chic wooden trays.  They are divine and I recommend you find a friend to split one of the decadent pots.  But the salted peanut butter cookies?  Oh, you’ll want that for yourself.  Nibble on crispy edges and a soft interior, then at last, a finish of salt.  These are sensory overload in the most enjoyable way.

5427 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107


2) Biscoff

These are the crunchy cinnamon cookies you may have pocketed on a Delta Airlines flight.  I take them to the next level with a hearty smear of Nutella.  This combination WILL blow your mind. You can buy Biscoff Cookies  at amazon.com to be delivered to. your. door. YUM!

duplex-cremes_ua3) Duplex Cremes

Duplex Cremes are the convenience store cookies, half chocolate, half vanilla.   They are my guilty pleasure and available in every vending machine; two addictive cookies sandwiched into one, sharing a center of vanilla creme.  What’s not to love?


4) Chocolate Biscotti, Le Reve

When you open the door to Queen Anne bakery Le Reve, in Seattle, the smell of warm butter, freshly baked croissants and creamed sugar will hit you like a wave.  Those classically French, (dare I say flakey?!) vapors will  envelop your senses and glide your body to the bakery case.  Find the chocolate biscotti.  They are just this side of sweet, yet rich and consuming with deep chocolate notes.  You’ll want to bring home a couple to “share”.

1805 Queen Anne Ave. N. Suite 100

Seattle, WA 98109

5) Back to Nature Peanut Butter Crème Cookies

What if Nutter Butters were made with real ingredients?  That’s just what Back to Nature has done in these sandwiched peanut butter cookies.  Smash them up and mix into vanilla gelato for a DIY treat. Buy Back To Nature Peanut Butter Creme Cookies at amazon.com.

Creamy Baked Orzo


Creamy Baked Orzo1

Are you fan of breakfast casseroles? Well then, I’ve got a treat for you today. Bonus: it would also be lovely served with a salad for brunch, lunch OR dinner. Basically, it’s delicious any time of day.

Typical breakfast casseroles, or strata, utilize bread to bulk-up the dish. By using orzo (rice-shaped pasta) there is no need to prepare this dish the night before (but you can, if you’d like). Since orzo is typically used in Mediterranean dishes, I’ve used those flavors in this creamy and savory casserole. Bacon gives it a smoky and salty taste, while the cheese, yogurt and eggs create a creamy, custardy texture. EnJOY!

If you’re looking for one-dish meals, you might also like:

Italian Breakfast Strata
Asparagus Pancetta Tart
Spinach Egg Casserole
Spinach Breakfast Strata
Zucchini, Potato, Tomato & Blue Cheese Frittata

Creamy Baked Orzo2


Creamy Baked Orzo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
To make ahead the night before, complete through Step 7 and refrigerate. Let the mixture come to room temperature in the morning while you make the egg mixture.
Recipe type: Breakfast, Main Dish
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 10 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 6 oz feta cheese, crumbled (I prefer the one with oregano and sun-dried tomato)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (I use non-fat)
  • ½ cup milk (I use non-fat)
  1. In a large saucepan, cook the orzo according to package directions.
  2. In a large, non-stick skillet, cook the bacon until browned.
  3. Add the leeks to the pan with the bacon and cook until tender.
  4. Drain the orzo and put it into a medium bowl.
  5. Add the bacon mixture to the orzo, leaving about 1 Tbsp. bacon fat in the skillet.
  6. Cook the mushrooms in the skillet for about 4 minutes, then add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  7. Add the mushroom mixture to the orzo and fold in the feta. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the yogurt and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Blend the orzo and egg mixtures and pour into a 12x8-inch casserole dish coated with pan coating.
  10. Bake at 375°F for 35-45 minutes until the eggs are set and the top is lightly browned.
  11. Let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving to let it set-up.

Strawberry Sour Cream Bread



This strawberry sour cream bread is so simple to make and it tastes delicious. The texture is very similar to banana bread, but you get a little strawberry flavor in every bite – perfect to serve for breakfast or with a cup of afternoon tea. It freezes well, too!

Whenever I make this recipe, I am always tempted to slice a piece before the bread cools completely. But I have learned to wait… the texture improves drastically after the bread cools – and tastes even better the day after you bake it.

Are local strawberries showing up in your market yet? It’s a little too early for local berries here in Seattle, but the California berries are looking, and tasting pretty darn good!

If you LOVE strawberries,  you might also enjoy:

Simple Strawberry Cake
Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
Strawberry Limeade
Grandma Dorothy’s Icebox Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Sour Cream Bread
Recipe type: Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Serves: 1 9"x5" loaf
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, halved, and sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add ½ of the dry ingredients.
  7. Add ½ of the sour cream, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, and then the remaining sour cream.
  8. Turn off the mixer and stir in the sliced strawberries by hand.
  9. Pour the batter into a greased or sprayed 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean - approximately 60 minutes.


Product Review: West Bend Egg Cooker



Eggs the way you like them: Hard-boiled, Soft-boiled, or Poached

Eggs the way you like them: Hard-boiled, Soft-boiled, or Poached

I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to kitchen gadgets. The only one visible in my kitchen is my beloved VitaMix. I’ve got a microwave, toaster, food processor and stand mixer tucked away in cabinets where I have easy access to them. Other than that, I try to keep things simple. So, when my dad recently pulled his new favorite “toy” – a West Bend Egg Cooker – out of his kitchen cabinet to make me breakfast, I was VERY skeptical.

“Seriously, Dad. Can’t you just poach eggs in a pan on the stove?!”

“Just watch,” he said.

Serve poached eggs in a ramekin to avoid chasing them all over the plate.

Serve poached eggs in a ramekin to avoid chasing them all over the plate.

He measured the water and poured it into the base. After spraying the poaching cups with pan coating, he cracked the eggs into the cups and put the lid on the little ufo-looking machine. He pressed “On” and within ten minutes, we were sitting down to a lovely breakfast of Bay’s English Muffins (the best!) and perfectly poached eggs.

Perfectly poached eggs (and a little spillage in the other cups - oops!)

Perfectly poached eggs (and a little spillage in the other cups – oops!)

Not only did the West Bend Egg Cooker (and Dad) perfectly poach the eggs, but the clean-up of the cute little machine was so easy. Simply dry the steam from the base and the top, and hand-wash the base and poaching trays. And, it’s so compact that it’s easy to find a place in the kitchen to store it.

Although the machine is also meant to hard-boil eggs, I find it MUCH quicker and reliable to use Mary’s method.



Obviously, I was sold. So, you can imagine how happy I was to find an amazon.com package containing my very own Egg Cooker on my doorstep earlier this week! I’ve now had poached eggs three times in two days. It’s so easy. Thanks, Dad!

If you’d like to buy a West Bend Egg Cooker for yourself, or your dad, amazon.com offers the best price AND free shipping for orders over $25. EnJOY!

Poached Egg Breakfast


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (and a little story)


Beautiful IrelandMarvin and I took a trip to Ireland five years ago. We had just started dating and our plan was to listen to as much music as possible including the Kilkenny Roots Festival, drink plenty of beer, learn a little Irish history, watch the Rally of the Lakes near Killarney, and find out if we were compatible travel mates.

√.√.√.√.√. Mission accomplished. :-)

It was an amazing and magical trip that I will never forget, thanks in large part to our wonderful driver and guide, Frank.

I won’t bore you with all of our trip details, but I would like to tell you one story.

We planned on watching the road rally in Killarney (this was Marvin’s idea… I am not sure I even knew what a road rally was at that point). Frank was not excited about staying in Killarney – he said it was going to be a zoo with all of the fans in town for the race. Sure enough, we pull into town to what appeared to be “Spring Break” Irish style – block parties, drunken dancing, and lots of music. PERFECT! Frank went to his hotel room and we struck out to find the best bar.

We ended up in a little hole in the wall place decorated with checkered race flags and packed with locals and young, single guys who looked like they had been drinking all day. We asked them where the best place on the road was to see the race and they all laughed. “We’ve been coming to the rally for five years and we’ve never even seen the race!”

Apparently the main purpose of the rally is to drink beer. Okay, I can do that.

Anyway, this bar was tiny and the musicians were three older guys – just accordion, banjo and fiddle, playing traditional Irish music, and patrons young and old were enjoying a good time. . It seemed like a great place to hang out, so we sat down and ordered some beer.

After a few songs, this cute young couple sitting next to us got up, pushed their table out of the way, and started dancing. Irish step dancing with kicks clear up to the ceiling. They were AMAZING! The crowd cheered and we couldn’t believe our good luck. Where did they learn to dance like that? We definitely picked the right bar.

Pretty soon the couple sat back down and another cute young kid got up and started talking to the accordion player. The accordion changed hands and the this kid starting playing that accordion like he had been playing it for 40 years. UNBELIEVABLE! We were just blown away.

We started talking to the dancers, who were visiting from Dublin, and they asked us where we were from.


“Oh, we’ve been to Seattle. What a beautiful city!”

“Wow, why did you visit Seattle?”

“Oh, we were touring with Michael Flatley. You know, for Riverdance.”

Well, that explained the dancing. The accordion playing we still can’t quite figure out, but it was something we won’t ever forget.

Happy Saint Patricks Day!

Road Rally

Vanilla Bean Almond Milk and Va-nana-rama Smoothie


Va-nana-ramam Smoothie

My friend, Cathy, recently attended a two-day Raw Foods cooking class. I was a bit very skeptical. Why in the world would you spend two days learning to not cook?! Well, let me tell you, she did come home with some delicious treats that made me feel good about enJOYing them. My favorite recipe was a smoothie made with fresh almond milk (oh, what a difference!), vanilla bean and frozen banana.

Please consider taking the time to make your almond milk from scratch. I have tried this recipe using store-bought vanilla-flavored almond milk and while it was good, it wasn’t as good as the homemade stuff. It’s really quite easy: blend soaked almonds, water, agave syrup, vanilla extract, salt and soy lecithin (optional for thickening) for about two minutes. Pour the mixture into a nut milk bag, or cheese cloth, and squeeze the yummy milk into a container.  See?

Squeeze the milk from the pureed almond mixture.

Squeeze the milk from the pureed almond mixture.

Easy, right? Almond milk is lactose- and dairy-free (vegan), has less calories than cow’s milk and provides healthy fats that reduce the risk of heart disease. Mix it with frozen banana and vanilla bean for a Va-nana-rama Smoothie – a creamy and icy treat that is even better than ice cream. Try it and I promise you’ll want to make it again, and again.

Creamy and Delicious Va-nana-rama Smoothie.

Creamy and Delicious Va-nana-rama Smoothie.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fresh Vanilla Bean Almond Milk and Va-nana-rama Smoothie
Soak the almonds over-night and you'll be all set to make fresh almond milk in the morning.
Recipe type: Beverage, Breakfast
Serves: 2
  • For the almond milk:
  • 1 cup of almonds, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 4 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • 1 tsp. soy lecithin, optional
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, optional
  • For the smoothie:
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 4 cups frozen bananas
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  1. To make almond milk:
  2. Drain the soaking-water from the almonds.
  3. Put the almonds, fresh water, salt , vanilla extract into a blender and process for about 2 minutes until milky white and well-combined.
  4. Strain the blended almond mixture through a nut milk bag, or cheesecloth, into a resealable container. Squeeze until no more liquid comes out.
  5. Milk can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
  6. To make Va-nana-rama Smoothie:
  7. Blend all ingredients until smooth. EnJOY!


Lamb Shepard’s Pie


GardenShepardsPieSt. Patrick’s Day is just a few days away. Usually I make corned beef and cabbage to celebrate – it’s kind of a family tradition and I’d always assumed we ate corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day because that is what they do in Ireland. Wrong! Turns out this tradition has spread all over the world… except in Ireland.

On March 17th, most Irish are celebrating with a tasty roast leg of lamb. I love leg of lamb, especially with lots of garlic and plenty of rosemary. I also love Lamb Shepard’s Pie. It’s probably a much too humble dish for a real Irish celebration, but it tastes SO good.

There are hundreds of variations for Shepard’s Pie, but a nice fluffy crust made from mashed potatoes is the key. I add milk, butter, sour cream, chives and a little cheddar cheese to make them extra yummy. Underneath, a savory mixture of ground lamb and veggies awaits…

I like to include brussel sprouts and turnips – I think their “bite” works really well with the sweetness of ground lamb, but if you don’t like these stronger flavors, substitute another vegetable, like corn or green beans. You can also substitute ground beef for the ground lamb.

Start your own tradition this year and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some real Irish comfort food. :-)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Shepard's Pie
If you don't like brussel sprouts or turnips, substitute another vegetable of your choice, like frozen corn. You can also substitute beef for the ground lamb.
Recipe type: Entree, Dinner, Meat
Cuisine: Traditional English and Irish Meal
Serves: 6 +
  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small leek, white & green parts, thinly sliced and washed well
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (1 cup)
  • 10 brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 1 medium turnip, diced (1½ cups)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ⅓ cup low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the lamb in a large sauté pan, drain off excess fat, remove the lamb and set aside.
  3. In the same sauté pan, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes.
  4. Add the carrot, brussel sprouts, turnip and garlic.
  5. Continue to sauté for two more minutes, then stir in thebeef broth, worcestershire sauce, and fresh thyme. Cover with foil or a lid and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the butter, milk, sour cream cheddar cheese. Mash well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. When the vegetables are tender, stir in the lamb.
  8. Pour the lamb mixture into a medium sized casserole dish and spread the potatoes on top.
  9. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes unil the filling is bubbling hot and the potatoes have topping begins to brown.
  10. Remove from the oven, let rest for 10 minutes then serve in bowls.


3.14 Day (It’s Pie Day tomorrow!)


Chocolate Cream Pie

I’m such a N-E-R-D when it comes to numbers. If I look at the clock and it happens to be 11:11, I exclaim, “It’s 11:11 – make a wish!”. When it’s 12:34, I have to point it out. I silently count each stair in the morning as I ascend them to get to the espresso machine. I count the pumps of shampoo, conditioner and body wash – every time! Yikes! I hope I’m not scaring you off, but I just wanted to make the point that when I realized tomorrow is 3.14, and that’s Pi, or p-i-e… I thought you might to want to CeLebRaTe and make pie tomorrow. And have we got some GREAT ones for you. EnJOY!

What kind of pie will you be baking?

Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s Apple Pie
Mini Apple Pies with Crumb Topping
Grandma Dorothy’s Icebox Strawberry Pie
Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
Chocolate Cream Pie

Cream of Parsnip Soup


Cream of Parsnip Soup

I’m often asked, “Why do you write a food blog?”. The following story is just one of the very many that exemplifies the most important reason: I love connecting with people who are passionate about food and cooking.

A year ago last Christmas, our friends’ parents were in town visiting, so we invited them to our house for a chili dinner. We talked about A Passionate Plate and as soon as they returned home, Bruce signed up to receive our e-mail updates. Every now and then, he lets me know he’s still reading and trying our recipes. His kind words of encouragement keep me going.

Well, last year, I received a very special message from him:

“Shirley asked me to send you the attached recipe. It was printed in the Grand Rapids, MI Press about 15 years ago. As you read it, some explanations may help. The restaurant Pont de la Tour in London is (or was at the time) owned by Sir Terrance Conran, the British designer who started the chain of Conran stores around the world offering high-design furniture for budget-conscious households. He is an acquaintance, and his high-end restaurant PdlT is kitty-corner across the Tower Bridge from the Tower of London. He also has (or had) several restaurants in London including Bibendum, a re-purposing of the old Michelin Tire factory, complete with a roof-top lighted sign of Bibendum, the Michelin Tire Man.

This soup recipe is not for the spring-time …. In my opinion, it would be better appreciated in the late fall. I did not get the recipe from PdlT, but reverse-engineered it while at the table. Oh, and we do live in Alaska, a bedroom suburb of Grand Rapids.”

Parsnip Soup Recipe

Turns out Bruce was a first-generation food “blogger” himself. Well, since he suggested it was not a spring-time recipe, I filed it away to try in the fall. Somehow, time got away from me and it wasn’t until I received this e-mail from him last week that I knew I must try this soup no matter what the season:

“Boy, did we have a good night last night! The University Club had a fund-raising soup cook-off for their scholarship fund. Seven chefs competed. My curried parsnip soup took home most of the categories! “Best overall” as rated by the judges and the crowd, “best presentation” by the judges. AND… the club is adding the soup to their menu! Shirley and I had a lot of fun arranging the serving table.”

Chef Bruce - Isn't he handsome?!

Prize-winning Chef Bruce – Isn’t he handsome?!

Cream of Parsnip soup is simple, yet so elegant! The velvety smooth texture and warm spices are so comforting I’d serve it ANY time of year. It was a delicious starter for our steak dinner last night. Everyone raved about it as they scraped their bowls clean.

Cream of Parsnip Soup

Don’t forget to enter our March Giveaway. Respond to the post (here) and name a fruit or vegetable you used to hate, but now enjoy. And, we’d love it if you would tell us what changed your mind about it!

For the record, I never enJOYed parsnips (too bitter) until I tried Bruce’s wonderful soup. Thanks, and congratulations, Bruce!

Cream of Parsnip Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I needed to use a total of 4 cups of broth to get the right consistency. Also, I added 1 Tbsp. fresh, grated ginger for a little brightness. These changes are noted in the recipe, below.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large boiling potato or 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • ¼ tsp. curry powder
  • 1 cup cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • White Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • Sour cream and chives, garnish
  1. In a large pan, combine parsnips, potatoes, 2 cups chicken stock, garlic, onion, and curry powder. Boil gently over medium heat, adding more stock, as needed, until parsnips and potato are cooked through and tender.
  2. Pour mixture into a blender or use hand-held electric mixer and puree until smooth, adding more stock, if necessary.
  3. Return to low heat, folding in cream. Heat through, but do not let soup come to a boil.
  4. Add salt, pepper and ginger, to taste. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives.



Spicy Remoulade


This spicy remoulade is perfect for topping crab cakes or dipping prawns.

Spicy Remoulade
Recipe type: condiment
Serves: about 1 and ½ cups
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  1. Put the mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Julia’s Hash Browns


Julia's Hash Browns

I love Sunday breakfast! It’s fun to make a big breakfast on Sunday since there is no rush to get out of the house. I even have a Sunday Morning playlist on my iPod for just such an occasion. I shuffle into the kitchen in my PJs, make a shot of espresso and start the music. Usually, it’s just bacon and eggs, but I recently came across a recipe for Julia Child’s Hash Browns in Food and Wine magazine that had me looking forward to Sunday morning a little more than usual.

You see, I’m a bit of a hash brown snob. I like ’em crispy, but I still want to taste the potato. I don’t like ’em greasy, but browned butter makes everything taste better. I’ve tried at least a dozen recipes to get just the right balance of potato, crispy crust and butter, but have always been disappointed – until now!

Sunday Breakfast

I had just put the potatoes on to boil last Sunday when the phone rang. It was our friends, Skip and Bernice, wanting us to join them at a nearby restaurant for breakfast. “I have a better idea,” I said, “come on over to our place for a home-cooked breakfast. And keep it comfy and casual. Just bring yourselves and a Venti Americano.” We enJOYed mimosas, bacon, english muffins, poached eggs, and my new favorite potatoes. My Sunday was shaping up perfectly!

What’s on your favorite Sunday breakfast menu?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Julia's Hash Browns
Cook time
Total time
Julia served these as a side dish with roast chicken, but we loved them with our eggs and bacon on Sunday morning.
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (I prefer the small, fingerling potatoes)
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh chives for garnish
  1. If the potatoes are large, cut them into ½-inch pieces.
  2. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until almost tender. Drain and pat dry.
  3. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add the vegetable oil and butter. When the foam subsides, add the potatoes and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until lightly golden. Season with salt and pepper and roughly mash the potatoes with a spatula.
  4. Dot the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter over the potatoes, cover and cook until crusty on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
  5. Slide the potatoes onto a plate and invert them back into the pan. Cook until the underside is nice and crusty. Slide the potatoes onto a platter, garnish with chives and enJOY!


Easy-Peasy Weeknight Baked Ziti


Baked Ziti

Yesterday, the weather here in Seattle looked like anything but Spring. It was a brisk 43°F and the rain was blowing sideways for most of the day. It’s days like yesterday that make me grateful that I’m not a mailman, or in outside sales, or construction… but I am grateful that I have a yummy recipe for cheese-y, creamy pasta that will warm me from the inside-out. Easy-Peasy Weeknight Baked Ziti is the perfect dish to warm you up and lift your spirits.

Make two quick sauces: tomato and béchamel while cooking the pasta. Top with cheese and bake. Easy Peasy!

Make two quick sauces, tomato and béchamel, while cooking the pasta. Top with cheese and bake. Easy Peasy!

It’s as simple as making a quick tomato sauce, then cooking the pasta while you whip up a creamy béchamel. Stir it all together and top it with cheese. Wouldn’t it be great if everything was this delicious AND this easy?

This is a terrific recipe for potlucks and big family dinners, too. Kids L-O-V-E it and it feeds a crowd if you just add a salad and some crusty bread. I’m SO looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

If you are looking for easy weeknight meals, you might also like:

Slow-cooker Weeknight Chili
Easy Beef Bourguignon
Mini Lasagna Cups

Easy weeknight dinner!

Easy-Peasy weeknight dinner!

Easy-Peasy Weeknight Baked Ziti
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Follow the instructions as written to have dinner on the table in just 45 minutes. I use Barilla Plus Penne pasta which provides almost twice the fiber of traditional pasta and it's a good source of protein and ALA omega-3. Buy pre-shredded cheese to save time.
Recipe type: Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 lb. pasta (see summary)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup each asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  1. Put the pasta water on to boil.
  2. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, quickly saute the garlic in the olive oil (do NOT let it brown). Dump both cans of tomato into the pan. Season with sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the basil and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add salt to the boiling pasta water and let it come back to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes (it should still be a bit chewy).
  5. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and simmer until thickened, whisking constantly.
  6. Coat a 9x13 casserole with pan coating.
  7. Drain the pasta then toss it with the tomato sauce in the 9x13 pan.
  8. Pour the béchamel sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
  9. Top the dish with cheese and bake until heated through. Use the broiler for about 3 minutes to brown the cheese.