Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blueberry Pickin'

One of the highlights of our trips to Oregon is picking blackberries and making cobbler.  We look forward to it every year.  When we were there in June it was too early for the berries.  Not to worry, we knew we were going back in September.  We were certain to get some then.  Well, the plan was great.  The berries just didn't cooperate. So, on to plan B.

The Kitchen Gnome mentioned that he had always wanted to stop at the blueberry farm and if it wasn't too late in the season, we could pick blueberries.  Off we went to the nameless blueberry farm.  The sign out front just said blueberries and the time it was open.  I cannot find the name anywhere.  The packaging didn't help either.  The Blueberry Farm is on Clear Lake Road off of Hwy 101, Florence, Oregon.

Their berries are the most flavorful and plump blueberries that I have ever eaten. 

The bushes were covered with berries.  You were asked to pick your bush clean before moving on to the next bush.

Each bush had tons of berries!  It was a bumper year for blueberries.

I had to make myself stop eating the berries along the way....yummy but too many is not a good thing.

We brought a large container of berries home with us.  I could see Blueberry Cobbler in our future.

The recipe that I use for cobbler when we are at the lake is quick and easy.  The dough is mixed and goes in the bottom of the dish.  The fruit mixture is poured over the top.  The "cake" raises to the top while baking.  It is delicious.  Since I had never made a cobbler with just blueberries before I thought that it would be a good idea to lightly mash one third of the berries then add the sugar and water. I allowed the fruit mixture to sit while preparing the dough.  You will find the recipe here as I made this cobbler last year with a blackberry and blueberry mixture.

I am sending this over to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer

Thank you, Susan, for hosting Outdoor Wednesday each week!  You may wish to hop over to her blog to see the great outdoors being shared!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spicy Chipotle-Turkey Chili

It was a blustery, gray day.

Everybody needs a few quick and easy recipes in their repertoire.  That is why Cooking Light's October special publication, 5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Recipes, appealed to me at the check out counter recently.  I usually shy away from magazines that tout about quick recipes with few ingredients, but this time I was hooked.

On our trip there was one day that I found myself in agreement with Pooh...it was a blustery day!  It was actually a cold and blustery day.  Since I was cooped up inside I decided to find something to cook.  The recipe for Spicy Chipotle-Turkey Chili sounded like a perfect fit for the day.

Spicy Chipotle-Turkey Chili
adapted from Cooking Light 5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Recipes

Yield: 6 servings (serving size 1 1/2 cups)

1-2 Tbsp canola oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 can chile peppers
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
2 (16 oz) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16 oz) jar mild salsa
Shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the turkey and chiles to the pan; cook 5 minutes or until turkey is browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in the stock and next 3 ingredients (through the salsa).  Cover and bring to a boil.  Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans lightly until the chili thickens slightly.  Garnish each serving with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.


I served the chili with cornbread muffins.  It was a great combination.  We thought that the flavors were even better the next day!

I am sending this over to Michael at Designs by Gollum because it is Foodie Friday!  Check out all of the wonderful recipes being shared today.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Make the Stress Go Away

Vashon Island, Washington

As I talk with my friends I see that there is a common theme...stress.  We are very good at bringing on the stress.  We are all over-achievers.  We are working moms...at various stages of rearing children.  Some of us are working at being retired.   It doesn't matter what age we are or at what career stage:  There is Stress!

Since I am working at being retired I was spending the day focused on cleaning up and out the multitude of stuff that I have so carefully collected and stored.  Why?  I think at this stage I can safely admit that I am a pack rat.  I have done an exceptional job as a pack rat.  Not a pleasant thing to admit but, sadly, it is true.  That said, as I cleaned today, I came across a leaflet that I had saved.  It is titled, Leaving Stress Behind and I would like to share it with you.

I know that we all acknowledge that stress is in our lives.  The question that always surfaces is, "What can I do to reduce the stress?"

Below are some tips that can be used both at work and at home.

At Snoqualmie Falls, Washington

Leaving Stress Behind
adapted from ...teacher today

During the Workday

Keep a "good job" file.
Whenever you receive a positive note from a colleague, boss, or friend, put it in a "good job" file.  If you are feeling stressed or unappreciated, pull out the cards and notes to remind yourself of the times you made a difference for someone or when you were recognized for your work and/or achievements.

Plan a day to work at home.
Some jobs are not conducive to this but if yours is, you may want to consider scheduling a day to work at home to complete reports or writing that must be done.  Being able to access computer files and email from home allows you to stay in touch, while you are wearing your pajamas or oldest jeans!

Deal with a problem situation.
When a problem weighs heavily on your mind, confront it directly.  Find a solution.  Talk directly to the person involved.  Determine the steps that you need to take.  Yes, procrastination is easy, but not sleeping at night because of it won't make it better.  Take action!

Keep your sense of humor.
Find time to laugh and share your laughter with others. 

Spend time with your colleagues.
Take your break!!  (The work will always be there.)  Eat lunch with your friends.  Take a few minutes to finish that chapter in the book you are reading.  Enjoy some conversation that is not work related!

County Park above Ada Resort, Oregon

During Your Private Hours

Read for pleasure.
Read the latest best-seller about a subject that is not related to your work.  Choose a book that immerses you in another place in history or on a subject that you have wanted to learn more about.  Spend time each day with your book.

Plan to cook a meal.
Take time to page through some of the cookbooks on your shelf or some of the magazines that have been piling up!  Develop a shopping list.  Spend time in the kitchen preparing a wonderful meal for your family or friends.  Or if you need a break from cooking, review restaurant menus and plan to go out for a nice evening with friends.  Just meeting up on an afternoon after work to share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine is relaxing.

Take a "fun" class.
Whether the subject is photography, gardening, painting, sewing, fixing cars....keep one night a week for your own learning and enjoyment.  Mark you calendar so you do not forget while you develop a routine!

Make an appointment.
Get a massage, a pedicure or manicure.  Better yet, have a "spa" day and pamper yourself all day long!  Join a gym and make a appointment at least three days a week.  Meet with a personal trainer and set up a regular routine.  Be sure to schedule a periodic appointment with the trainer to keep tabs on how you're doing.

Enjoy the outdoors.
Take a day trip.  Enjoy the outdoors....hike, take a picnic, go fishing, skip rocks, photograph the countryside, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the water roll down the stream....enjoy the scenery!

Paulina Peak, Oregon

Susan at A Southern Daydreamer is hosting Outdoor Wednesday.  You may wish to visit her site to see all of the wonderful outdoor posts!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tricolor Vegetable Saute

I am always looking for a different way to prepare vegetables.  There are so many different kinds during the summer that I feel as though I should be able to do something exciting at each meal!  Exciting doesn't always happen but this night, it did!  The contents of the Abundant Harvest veggie box led me to this wonderful, quick, and easy recipe!   Green, purple, red, and yellow...bright and beautiful!

Multi-Color Vegetable Saute

Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut into 2 by 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 small eggplant, cut into julienne or 2 by 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 seeded small red bell pepper, cut into julienne or 2 by 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 seeded small yellow pepper, cut into julienne or 2 by 1/2 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp finely chopped scallions
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parsley for garnish

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the vegetables and saute, turning frequently, until slightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and 1 Tbsp of the scallions, continue sauteing for another minute.

Raise the heat to medium-high, add the stock, continue cooking until the liquid is just about evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining scallions and chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.


Fresh vegetables quickly sauted are a perfect accompaniment to a meal!

I am sending this over to Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Green Beans and Zucchini with Sauce Verte

Continuing with my pledge to cook something from the food magazines that are piled in the office, I found another easy recipe in the June edition of  Bon Appetit.  We had green beans and zucchini in the veggie box and for me it was a winning combination.

Sauce verte is French for green sauce.  The sauce is bursting with flavor and was great on the green beans and zucchini.  The magazine suggests that the extra be used in couscous or rice or served with grilled chicken.  It is so flavorful that it would go great with any of the recommendations.

Green Beans and Zucchini with Sauce Verte
Bon Appetit, 2010
Sauce verte
1/3 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 green onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound green beans, stem end trimmed
12 ounces zucchini, halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves (for garnish)

Sauce verte
Blend first 7 ingredients in processor until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Process until coarse puree forms. Season sauce verte to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables; stir until coated. Sprinkle with salt and 3 tablespoons water. Cover; cook vegetables until almost crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Uncover; cook until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in enough sauce verte to coat vegetables generously. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Garnish with parsley and serve.


This was great with grilled chicken!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grilled Chicken Nicoise

While looking over the bookshelf for something exciting to read, I found a "lost" cookbook.  It was randomly shelved in the wrong place.  So, I decided to read an exciting cookbook.  I read them as one would read a novel, complete with post-its and tabs!  The cookbook is The New California Cook by Diane Rossen Worthington.  I had made numerous notes beside recipes that I had long forgotten.  How fun it will be to revisit them.

I found a recipe called Grilled Chicken Nicoise.  I had most of the ingredients so decided that it was going to be on the menu.  We loved the combination of flavors and the fact that it could mostly be made ahead.  I had purchased a large jar of sun-dried tomatoes while at Costco so I used those as opposed to rehydrating the dry-packed.

Grilled Chicken Nicoise

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
15 Nicoise or black olives, pitted
1 tsp capers, well drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp reserved sun-dried tomato marinade (above)
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Drain tomatoes and pat them dry.  (If using dry-packed, pour boiling water over them to re-hydrate.  Let soften for 20 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

Mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the remainder of the marinade ingredients.  Process until pureed to the consistency of a thick paste.  Reserve 2 Tbsp of the marinade for the sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 pieces of wax paper.  Use a mallet to pound them to 1/2-inch thickness.

Place the chicken breasts in a large shallow glass dish.  Pat/spread the marinade over the chicken.  Turn chicken coat both sides evenly.  Cover and refrigerate the chicken for a minimum of two hours and a maximum of eight.

To make the sauce, combine the reserved marinade, lemon juice, sour cream, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.

Grill the chicken on medium-high heat.  Grill about 3 inches from the heat for about 7 minutes on each side, or until opaque throughout.

To serve, place the sauce in a small saucepan and over low heat gently heat to simmering.   Place the chicken on a serving platter.  Garnish with parsley.  Serve immediately.


The family gave this an unsolicited thumbs up!  How great is that!?

I am sending this to Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday!  She graciously hosts us each week!  Stop by and take a look at the great dishes prepared.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Just one last trip to mark the end of summer.  

A damselfly joined us.

A tree takes root on the dock that got away.

The fog dances on the hill tops in the early morning.

There was warm weather, windy weather, rainy weather...peace, quiet, 
the call of the loon...and yes, a few fish...

It is time for Outdoor Wednesday.  I am sharing our last trip to the lake today.  Join Susan at A Southern Daydreamer as she hosts our outdoor experiences today.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dilled White Bean and Grape Tomato Salad

I have piles of cooking magazines, like many of you.  Where does one find the time to prepare something from each magazine?  Where does one store all of them?  How does one ever remember which of the magazines has the "one" recipe, hiding between its covers, that was supposed to be dinner?  These are the questions that beg for an answer yet the answer is very plain.  One must set a goal of preparing at least one recipe a week from a cooking magazine just as Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet has done.  She has proposed The Great Cooking Magazine Challenge!   I accepted Suzy's challenge.  Don't I have a stack of cooking magazines that resembles the leaning tower of Pisa?  Of course....and, it also has baby towers surrounding it!  There is not a shortage of resources at my house.

Not wanting to go too far back in time, I selected Bon Appetit's June edition.  When I was browsing through I saw a simple white bean salad that sounded light and refreshing.  With the warm days, simple, light and refreshing is always appreciated.

Dilled White Bean and Grape Tomato Salad
Bon Appetit, June 2010

Serves 6-8

2 15oz. cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
2 1/2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let marinate at room temperature one hour.  (Marinating is key to this salads flavor!)

Do Ahead:  This can be made one day ahead.  Cover and chill.  Bring salad to room temperature before serving.


This is a perfect, flavorful salad for lunch or dinner on a warm day or to take on a picnic!  We enjoyed every bite!