Week 9: Potatoes

With a quick trip to Idaho planned for the end of the week — including a really delicious meal at Snyder’s Winery — we knew that this week had to be potato as our theme of the week. Let me tell you… we didn’t slack off with this week’s special ingredient. We enjoyed potatoes at least once every day that week.

First, we started with sweet potatoes. We used our mandolin to cut some salt and pepper crinkle chips, cooking them per my friend Krissie’s recipe. They turned out pretty well. There were some mushy ones but then there were also some delicious crispy ones. And those delicious crispy chips? We paired them with homemade turkey burgers and my favorite kale salad. Man, were they good!

Sweet potato chips

Sweet potato chips

Turkey burgers, sweet potato chips and kale salad. YUM

Turkey burgers, sweet potato chips and kale salad. YUM

Next, we sauteed some red potato slices with rosemary, salt and pepper that we had with grilled salmon and asparagus. We were going to make the Pioneer Woman’s ‘crash hot potatoes,’ but were too hungry to wait that long to make them. We’ll make those some other time.

Salmon, red potatoes and asparagus

Salmon, red potatoes and asparagus

Did you know that gnocchi is often made out of potatoes? We did! And we made our gnocchi, turkey sausage, kale, and butternut squash dish. Delicious.

The best way to enjoy potato gnocchi

The best way to enjoy potato gnocchi

And then? We went to Idaho, land of potatoes…and we went potato crazy! We had hash browns at the hotel, a pizza with shredded potatoes (it was called “Idaho Ranch”) and this monster baked potato at Snyder’s Winery. This was the second time we’ve had this potato and steak feast, so we knew what we were up for. Not pictured: the coconut shrimp appetizer and house salad. Oy. So much food!

Snyder's Winery's baked potato and steak

Snyder’s Winery’s baked potato and steak (And I don’t have small hands)

Next up? Asparagus week. (Yes, I’m as far behind as ever on posting these, but I’ll get there!)

What a weekend!

Did you enjoy this past weekend as much as we did?! Brandon finished finals, which meant the end to a long, long quarter. So what’d we do? Celebrate!

We checked out Crumble & Flake, a new-to-us bakery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.

Crumble and flake

Crumble & Flake has received rave reviews, so we thought we’d check it out.  I got the cheddar cheese and smoked paprika croissant and Brandon got the pistachio twice baked. My croissant was delicious and very interesting. In addition to being spread inside like a filling, the batter/dough was orange, as though the cheese and paprika were infused in it. There isn’t any seating at the bakery so we took our croissants to the University of Washington to eat them among the cherry blossoms.

Crumble and Flake at the UW Quad C#UWCherryBlossoms

Since we were so close, we opted for lunch in the University Village at Din Tai Fung. It’s a favorite of ours and we enjoyed our usuals: pork soup dumplings, garlic green beans and shrimp fried rice, along with something new: pork and vegetable steamed buns. Not unexpectedly, we loved them.

So full and ready for naps, we headed back to Megan’s Island where we powered through the sleepiness and got to work on spring cleaning the yard. We spent several hours pulling ivy, sweeping, leaf blowing, raking and packing many yard waste bags. Let me tell you… it looks good here. We’re absolutely ready for spring and for more sunshine.

I’ve got some great plans for both the yard and parties with the spring and summer. So looking forward to the longer days and warmer weather!

Now… onto this week. It’s going to be a doozy.

Me & B enjoying another year of cherry blossoms at UW

Me & B enjoying another year of cherry blossoms at UW

Spring! Spring! Spring!

It seems as though February showers brought March showers and March showers will likely bring more April showers and then possibly we’ll get some May flowers. In between all of those Seattle showers, spring has sprung on Megan’s Island.

Little buds are here! It's SPRING!

Little buds are here! It’s SPRING!

The plants are still alive! Yay!

The plants are still alive! Yay!

I took advantage of a break in the rain last weekend (seriously, it’s been so rainy here; halfway through the month we had already received more than three times the amount of rain we usually get in the entire month of March!) and planted some bulbs that I found at Costco.

Shade garden bulbs from Costco

Shade garden bulbs from Costco

I like to focus most of my gardening time on the backyard and this project was no exception. Our garden gets very little sun, so I’ve learned to limit myself to shade-specific plants. I finally learned how to ‘plant right for my site‘ and have killed way fewer plants since.

I bought the perennial shade lovers bulb mix and scoped out where I was going to plant my new plants. Thankfully, I was able to navigate the garden very well because of some forward thinking I did last November and my well-placed golf tees.

I planted Ostrich Fern bulbs in our fern garden and “the nothing” / “grotto” (more on that later) and Bressingham Blue Hosta bulbs in the hosta garden (are you sensing a garden grouping theme yet?) and pink Federsee Astilbe bulbs throughout the garden, mainly in the pots.

I guess the rain is a good thing, since its helping the bulbs grow roots and grow into tall, beautiful plants. More on that once I see some actual  growth.

Megan's Island fern garden

Megan’s Island fern and hosta gardens. Can you see the white golf tees?

Happy spring!

{Gone Pinning} Snacks for finals

GonePinning

School is not in my recent past or immediate future, but school is challenging for Brandon this quarter. Thankfully, he’s just finishing up the last week of the quarter and next week is FINALS week.

How can I help? With finals snacks! Where do I go to find some delicious, nutritious snacks for Brandon and his cohort? PINTEREST! In case you’re also supplying study treats over the next week, I’ve scoured the internet for some great ideas. Don’t worry, these are great for non-finals times too.

Snack combos

Snack combos

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

No bake energy bites

No bake energy bites

Chocolate raspberries

Chocolate raspberries

Power snacks

Power snacks

And maybe some not-so-healthy options…(via my “Sweets for my sweets” board)

Funfetti cookies

Funfetti cookies

S'more krispie treats

S’more krispie treats

Happy snacking! And good luck on finals!

{Wine Wednesday} Girl Scout cookie + wine pairings

WineWednesday

Yes, you read that right: Girl Scout cookie and wine pairings! A few of my favorite things coming together. 

I found this gem on Pinterest with a blog post with some great pairings:

Girl Scout Cookie and wine parings

From JDomb’s Travels:

Thin Mints

Ah, Thin Mints. I think those are just about everyone’s favorite. What’s not to love? Dark chocolate enveloping a mint flavored cookie. The great news is that wine and chocolate is a kick-ass pairing! Because of the mocha flavors and complex layers of spice in Syrah, it was made for pairing with dark chocolate.

Try 2009 Fable BOBBEJAAN Syrah $48 per bottle.

Samoas

Sweet and little bit salty, samoas are so addictive with the gooey caramel, toasted coconut, and of course chocolate. The slightly carbonated and lightly sweet Lambrusco compliments the rich Samoa very nicely. With earthy notes and flavors of red and black fruits, the mix of sweet and bubbly brings out the salinity of the Samoas.

Most Lambruscos cost less than $20. The best come from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Trefoils

Not everyone’s favorite, but I love the buttery shortbread Trefoils. And a serving size is five cookies compared to just two Samoas for about the same amount of calories. Just saying… Sparkling wines and champagne cuts through the rich buttery flavor of the cookie. True champagnes can be expensive, but a fizzy Italian Prosecco is a match made in heaven with the Trefoil.

Try Ca’ Salina Rivete Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut $12 per bottle.

Tagalongs

Tagalongs, or Peanut Butter Patties, are the Girl Scouts’ version of the Reese Peanut Butter Cup. Like Samoas, they are a sweet and salty flavor combination. But is there a wine with a taste complexity that can handle peanut butter? A port from Portugal is the perfect pairing with peanut butter. Say that five times fast!

Try a 10-year old Tawny Port from Portugal’s Duoro Valley. You’ll find them for around $20 per bottle.

#WinewednesdayIn case you haven’t bought your cookies yet, you can find them in front of pretty much any grocery store, or you can visit the “find cookies” site or download the app. (My favorites are thin mints and tagalongs.)

You can also cook with Girl Scout cookies. Don’t believe it? Check out these posts from 2012, when “Girl Scout cookies” were an ingredient of the week:

Happy eating… and drinking! And most of all, happy Wine Wednesday!

Week 8: Russian foods

Opening Ceremony Sochi ring fail

In honor of the Olympics, we chose “Russian foods” for the theme of the week in week 8. After finding some great (yet intense) recipes for Russian foods and looking at our calendars, we opted for “vodka”as an ingredient of the week instead.

What’d we have?

We sort of failed this week and while I had two vodka dishes planned, we only followed through on one:

Rotini with a vodka cream sauce with shrimp with a side of steamed broccoli. The pasta recipe is derived from Cooking Light.

Pasta with prawns in a vodka cream sauce

Pasta with prawns in a vodka cream sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound uncooked penne pasta (we used rotini)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Frozen de-veined prawns, tails removed
  • A few pinches of shaved Parmesan cheese

Preparation

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender.
  4. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  5. Add vodka; bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half.
  7. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, broth, tomatoes and prawns; bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes; stir in cream.
  9. Stir in cooked pasta, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and basil. Serve immediately.
  10. Sprinkle with Parmesan and enjoy!

Tomato vodka sauce with prawns

I had planned on having a pork-and-pear sauté with lemon-vodka sauce but like I said, it wasn’t in our cards that week. Somebody out there make it and let me know how it is!

Next up? Potato week in anticipation of our weekend getaway to Idaho! (And with that, we’ll almost be caught up!)

{Gone Pinning} Luck ‘o the Irish

GonePinning

Irish cake toppersI can’t believe that St. Patty’s day is already next week, on Monday, March 17. This year is flying by, which is good because I’m over all of this rain we’ve been having. I’ve scoured the internet for some great ideas to make your St. Patrick’s day a golden success.

We’ll be enjoying corned beef (my favorite!), potatoes, and cabbage, and if you’re not a corned beef-aholic like I am, here are some other fun Irish ideas:

Irish beef stew

Irish beef stew

Shamrock tortilla chips

Shamrock tortilla chips

Maybe we’ll deviate a little bit and combine our two favorite things: corned beef (mine) and pot pie (Brandon’s):

Corned beef pot pie

Corned beef pot pie

Corned beef and cabbage soup

Corned beef and cabbage soup

We’re always looking for desserts…

Sweet And Salty Guinness Chocolate Pie With Beer Marshmallow Meringue

Sweet And Salty Guinness Chocolate Pie With Beer Marshmallow Meringue

St. Patty's day bars

St. Patty’s day bars

Baileys Irish Cream Cookies

Baileys Irish Cream Cookies

Check out all of my ideas on my “Luck ‘o the Irish” Pinterest board. And have a wonderful St. Patty’s day!