South Carolina Kind of Summer ~ Lowcountry Boil

I got hooked on a mystery that was set in South Carolina, and became fascinated with that part of the country. This summer, I continue to read more stories from that region. It’s an interesting and beautiful place that I have not had the pleasure of visiting in person (yet, it’s on my list now!) Reading feels like a kind of virtual vacation, though. 🙂 I am getting to know the place through the stories. I just started a beach read that is set on Sullivan’s Island in the Lowcountry called The Summer Girls. To celebrate that part of the state, I made a Lowcountry Boil, also known as Frogmore Stew. It is a simple one-pot seafood boil, but it feels festive and summery! It would be perfect for a summer party.

I used Trader Joe’s smoked andouille chicken sausage rather than a full-fledged pork sausage. I also used shelled shrimp for ease, but unshelled shrimp would be more authentic. Your choice. 🙂

Lowcountry Boil AKA Frogmore Stew

Based on a recipe from Southern Living magazine

5 quarts water

1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning

4 pounds small red potatoes

2 pounds chicken kielbasa, chicken andouille, or other hot smoked link chicken sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

6 ears fresh corn, halved

4 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp (or peeled and deveined shrimp for easier eating)

Old Bay seasoning, for serving

Cocktail sauce, for serving

Bring 5 quarts water and 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning to a rolling boil in a large covered stockpot.

Add potatoes; return to a boil, and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with Old Bay seasoning and cocktail sauce.

Happy Fourth of July! ~ Bison Hot Dogs on Homemade Buns; Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad; Blueberry and Raspberry Parfait with Vanilla Yogurt and Whipped Cream

Click photos to expand. 🙂

Bison hot dogs on homemade hot dog buns

Red, white and blue potato salad

Sparkling wine with blueberries and raspberries floating in the bubbles…

A red and blue berry parfait (with an equal combination of non-fat Greek vanilla yogurt and whipped cream for a layer of white)…

Fun patriotic decorations

It’s our Fourth of July celebration!

I hope you all have a fun, safe, and happy Independence Day! I’m off to Seattle’s festival on Lake Union! 🙂

Enjoy it all!


Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

From Cooking Light magazine

2 cups fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 ounces)

2 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 10 ounces)

2 cups small blue potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 ounces)

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

3 hard-cooked large eggs, finely chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

Place fingerling and red potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Place blue potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Drain; cool slightly. Add blue potatoes, onion, parsley, dill, chives, and eggs to bowl; toss gently.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients. Pour over potato mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Note: Blue potatoes are starchier than the others and tend to bleed, so cook them separately. If you need to, prepare this dish a day ahead, but add the blue potatoes just before serving. If your potatoes are larger than the ones we call for, cut them to a uniform size.

First Day of Summer! ~ Banana Coconut Muffins

Happy summer! It is officially here! The weather in Seattle feels a little tropical in the summertime, so I decided to make my tropical banana coconut bread recipe into muffins to celebrate the season. 🙂

Dividing the batter into individual muffin portions allowed me to use whole-wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. (I tried using whole-wheat pastry flour in the original loaf recipe, however it didn’t turn out very well.) I like to use whole grains when I can, so I was happy that these turned out wonderfully moist and delicious. 🙂

Banana Coconut Muffins

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 cup granulated sugar (a little less if the bananas are very very ripe)

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 bananas)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

Cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 350. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and oil until they are well blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add the mashed banana and vanilla, and whisk until they are incorporated. Add the flour mixture, and mix until everything is moist. Stir in 1/2 cup of coconut. Spoon the batter into 14 muffin tin cups, (about 3/4 full), either lined with paper or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I found cute little tropical Hawaiian cupcake flags on a website called Party Planning Center. They are so adorable, and also free! I love to add a little pizzazz to my cupcakes and muffins with printables. Then I don’t need to use frosting or food coloring to make them look festive, and I think they are so pretty!

Lei Day Celebration ~ Island Salsa

It was about 85 degrees in Seattle today, which felt like a Hawaiian breeze to me! It is only supposed to last one day, and then go back to our usual Northwest weather. Today also happens to be Lei Day in Hawaii, so the unseasonably warm weather was perfect for a little Hawaiian inspired celebration at home. 🙂

I put a few tropical touches on our dinner tonight to get us into the spirit. 🙂 We had sautéed halibut with an island salsa, and a little jasmine rice with macadamia nuts on the side. Simple and delicious!

The island salsa was from a classic recipe from Bon Appétit magazine. It is tried and true, so I didn’t fiddle with it much. 😉 I think it would also pair well with chicken, shrimp, or even pork tenderloin.

Island Salsa

From Bon Appétit magazine

1 cup chopped peeled pineapple

1 cup chopped peeled mango

1 cup chopped yellow or red bell pepper

2/3 cup chopped peeled kiwi fruit

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon minced serrano chili, seeds and ribs removed

Ground white pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Season with white pepper and salt. (Can be made 3 hours ahead.)

Happy Lei Day! I hope you enjoy something Hawaiian to celebrate. 🙂

August Anniversary ~ Summery Corn Chowder

I love to celebrate the little anniversaries in our life. They give us an excuse for a special meal, a bottle of wine, and time together. 🙂

Every August, we celebrate the date that we moved into our current house together, and I also celebrate the date I moved to Seattle from the Midwest a few years before. For this little anniversary, we usually have a Dungeness crab dinner, since it is one of our favorite Northwest treats. It always feels like a special occasion when we steam a couple crabs. 🙂 (For two crabs {about 3 lbs each}, steam for about 20 minutes until they are cooked through.)

For the first course, I made summery corn chowder this year. The original recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. They find the most unique and creative ways to improve classic recipes, and I really enjoy their show, their magazines, and their cookbooks. For this recipe, they amped up the corn flavor by using some of the corn juice, which I thought was a clever idea. I changed 3 things to make this a lighter recipe than the original. I omitted the butter altogether, and instead used a very good nonstick pan. I also trimmed most of the fat off of the bacon, and I replaced the half and half with skim milk. The final product turned out to be creamy, sweet, and delicious. It felt like summer in a bowl!

Corn Chowder

Based on a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 6

 ears corn, husks and silk removed

 onion, chopped fine

 slices bacon trimmed of excess fat, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch pieces

 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

cup all-purpose flour

 cups water

pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

 cup skim milk

 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Using chef’s knife or corn stripper, cut kernels from corn; transfer to bowl and set aside (you should have 5 to 6 cups kernels). Holding cobs over second bowl, use vegetable peeler or back of butter knife to firmly scrape any remaining pulp on cobs into bowl (you should have 2 to 2 1/2 cups pulp). Transfer pulp to center of clean kitchen towel set in medium bowl. Wrap towel tightly around pulp and squeeze tightly until dry. Discard pulp in towel and set corn juice aside (you should have about 2/3 cup juice).

2. In Dutch oven over medium heat, add onion, bacon, thyme, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and edges are beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add water and bring to boil. Add corn kernels and potatoes. Return to simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes have softened, 15 to 18 minutes.

3. Process 2 cups chowder in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return puree to chowder; add milk and return to simmer. Remove pot from heat and stir in reserved corn juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkling with basil.

Happy 4th! ~ Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint


Happy Fourth of July everyone!

I made the most summery thing I could think of to celebrate this summer holiday today: A watermelon and cantaloupe salad tossed with mint and lemonade. A recipe inspired me from Giada DeLaurentis, but over the years, I have tweaked it to be the way I like it :). This is the streamlined version that is super easy to make anytime.

Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

1 bunch fresh mint

¼ cup lemonade (you may not need the full ¼ cup)

2 cups watermelon balls, from about half a watermelon

2 cups cantaloupe balls, from about 1 cantaloupe

In a blender, combine the mint and as much lemonade as you need for the mixture to become completely blended. (Up to ¼ cup.)

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon and the cantaloupe balls. Add the mint/lemonade mixture and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl (or half a watermelon rind) and serve.

I also printed some very sweet little Fourth of July decorations from my favorite DIY site at the Elli blog. The patriotic decorations can be found here. So cute!


First Day of Summer ~ Calamari in a Zingy Tomato Sauce

We have a romantic little Italian restaurant in Seattle underneath Pike Place Market called Il Bistro that has one of our favorite calamari dishes in the city. They serve it in a tomato sauce instead of frying it, as most places do. Since we can’t go downtown everyday, I worked on replicating the dish at home to enjoy on our patio on warm summer nights. I finally made a version that is fairly close to the flavors at the restaurant, and I’d like to share it with you! 🙂

We enjoyed it on the first day of summer, outside with a glass of wine.

Calamari in a Zingy Tomato Sauce

1 lb calamari (I buy pre-cleaned, pre-sliced, frozen calamari to make this nice and easy. Just put as many as you would like in a bowl of cold water to thaw quickly.)

1 14.5 oz can tomatoes

2 oz can anchovies in oil, drained

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, minced

¼ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

15 medium sized green olives

1 tablespoon capers (I use the kind packed in brine rather than salt)

Salt and pepper to taste (I recommend you wait until everything is blended to add very much seasoning, since the other ingredients have a lot of salt. It is easier to tell if you need more after everything is blended together.)

Rustic bread slices, for serving

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan, and add the garlic and shallot. Cook until fragrant. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the calamari (or bread.) Heat through, until it just begins to boil. Then place everything into a blender and pulse until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to your liking. Pour everything back into the pan. Bring to a boil again, and add the calamari. Cook until the calamari turn opaque, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve in a big bowl with sliced bread for dipping into the sauce.

Summery Tropical Breakfast ~ Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

Summer is almost here, and that always makes me crave my favorite tropical flavors to match the warm weather. 🙂

I made these tropical whole wheat pancakes one morning, and now they keep showing up on our weekend breakfast menu! They are very easy and tasty, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. The original recipe was from Bon Appétit magazine. I reduced the recipe by half, although they do reheat fairly well the next morning if you’d like to make a full batch. I used all whole wheat pastry flour instead of mixing it with all purpose flour. (If you would like fluffier pancakes, measure 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour and use only ½ cup and 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour. But for the healthier version, which is also quite tasty, all whole wheat works very well.) I used skim milk instead of whole, and I also replaced the butter with coconut oil. (One more tropical ingredient! Plus it is a healthier fat.) I didn’t include pecans, as the original recipe called for, but I did chop up some macadamia nuts and tossed them in the batter for a little texture. That seemed to fit the tropical theme better than pecans. 🙂

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Bananas

Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine

Makes about 9 pancakes

3/4 cups and 3 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup skim milk

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 large banana (about), peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 250°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk milk, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl, then whisk in coconut oil. (It will clump a little when it hits to cool milk, but it will melt again in the pan when cooked.) Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients. Stir in chopped macadamias if using.

Heat large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat. For each pancake, drop 1/4 cup batter onto griddle. Arrange 3 banana rounds on each pancake. Cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat with remaining batter and bananas. Serve with syrup.

I recently discovered all natural syrup that we have been using on our pancakes at my house called Sohgave! vanilla maple flavor agave syrup. I don’t like buying the artificial sugar free syrups, so this is a nice alternative if you’d like something other than maple syrup. Very yummy, and it doesn’t leave you with a sugar high like maple syrup can sometimes do.

Elegant Spring Anniversary Brunch, Part 3 ~ Strawberries Dusted With Cardamom Sugar

We enjoyed a sweet finale to our spring anniversary brunch – Strawberries Dusted With Cardamom Sugar. It was such a refreshing and unique flavor combination. It felt like a special dish, even though it only took a couple of minutes to assemble. This would be a very nice addition to any special brunch. (Easter and Mother’s Day are coming! :)) I used the original recipe as a guide, but I really made everything to taste. I sliced my berries before serving, and I only used a light dusting of sugar. (Now I have some leftover cardamom sugar for another recipe.)

Strawberries Dusted With Cardamom Sugar

Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, or to taste

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur or orange juice

1 16-ounce basket strawberries, hulled, left whole or sliced

Whisk sugar and cardamom in small bowl to blend.

Pour Grand Marnier into large bowl. Add strawberries to bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle to taste with cardamom sugar. Serve.

Happy wedding anniversary ~ Part 1 ~ Dungeness Crab Ravioli

We celebrated our wedding anniversary this year with pasta! Last week Rob and I took a cooking class at Sur La Table about making homemade pasta, and afterwards we bought a pasta machine as a gift to each other. The traditional anniversary gift for 12 years of marriage is silk, so we thought making silky pasta would be fitting! 😉

We both love crab, so we made a Dungeness crab filling to go in our homemade ravioli. I found a good recipe on to base our dish. I used lightened ricotta instead of the whole milk variety, and I used Earth Balance instead of butter for the sauce. We also used a little more crab than the recipe called for, since we love crab :). We replaced the wonton wrappers in her recipe with fresh pasta dough that we rolled and cut out. The recipe for the dough is on a previous entry that I wrote last spring, and it can be found here.

Crab Ravioli with Lemony Sauce

Based on a recipe from

For the filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups lump crabmeat, such as Dungeness

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

For the pasta:

Fresh Pasta Dough

Rice flour preferably, or the type of flour you used to make the dough (either all-purpose or 00)

For the sauce:

1 stick Earth Balance

2 teaspoons lemon peel, very finely chopped, plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Make the filling: Mix together ricotta, crabmeat, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and the red-pepper flakes.

Make the ravioli: Cut your pasta sheets into squares with a pizza cutter, about 2 inches wide. Mound 1 teaspoon crab filling in the center of each hand cut piece of pasta. Brush edges of the pasta square with water, and top each with another square. Press edges to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet covered with rice flour (preferably) or the type of flour used to make the dough, and lightly dust the ravioli with the flour to keep them from sticking.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in 2 batches, cook ravioli until they rise to the top, 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Melt 4 tablespoons Earth Balance in a large skillet over medium heat. Transfer first batch of cooked ravioli to the skillet using a slotted spoon, along with about 2 tablespoons cooking liquid. Add 1 teaspoon chopped lemon peel and 1 teaspoon juice, and swirl to combine. Transfer to plates.

Repeat with second batch of ravioli.

They sound like a lot of work, but when you have two people working together in the kitchen, they go surprisingly quickly. It’s a fun project! I hope you’ll give them a try :).

Poolside Snack ~ Smoked Salmon Dip with Celery

We have been thoroughly enjoying our little pool this summer :). Even when it’s too chilly to put my feet in, I like to sit beside the water with a magazine (or my blog!) since it makes me feel like I am on a little vacation at home. I am soaking up all of the summertime sunshine I can!

I made a little salmon dip to nibble on these warm summer days. The original recipe came from I reduced the mayonnaise a tad, and I replaced the cream cheese with Neufchatel. I also served this creamy rich dip with celery stalks instead of bagel chips, since that is a little more bikini friendly :).

Smoked Salmon Dip

Adapted from

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 ounces Neufchatel cheese

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon red onion, diced small

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish

2 ounces plus 2 more ounces smoked salmon, crumbled

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Celery, for serving

In a food processor, combine mayonnaise, Neufchatel, capers, red onion, lemon juice, horseradish, and 2 ounces smoked salmon. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in remaining 2 ounces smoked salmon. Top with fresh parsley and serve with celery.

I was inspired to pair this recipe with Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon….The perfect poolside wine!

Water Water Everywhere ~ Poolside Sparkling Watermelon Cocktails

Over Seafair weekend, we had a fun idea to get out our little inflatable pool and set it up on our back deck. It was a really hot weekend by Seattle standards, so it was a nice way to cool down in the mid afternoon heat. It kind of made our little corner of the world feel like a vacation spot :).

The pool then inspired me to make a poolside cocktail! I decided to make it a watermelon based drink to match the water and sea theme of the weekend :). We made sparkling watermelon cocktails with a little pink umbrella. I couldn’t decide whether the champagne glass or the martini glass with palm trees etched on the side was more fun, so I made one in each. One for Rob, one for me :).

Poolside Sparkling Watermelon Cocktails

Makes 2 drinks

3 cups fresh watermelon

A few squeezes of lemon juice

2 individual cans or bottles of sparkling wine (I used Sofia Blanc de Blancs minis, so we could make just two drinks without opening a full bottle of bubbly)

Puree the watermelon in a blender and strain.

Fill half of each glass with the strained watermelon juice. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into each. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a little umbrella if you’d like one more fun little touch!


Seafood for Seafair Weekend ~ Halibut with Summer Vegetable Ragout

It’s Seafair weekend in Seattle! Our neighborhood transforms into a big party filled with boats on Lake Washington, the Blue Angels flying overhead, hydroplane races and a wakeboard competition. After taking in some of the festivities during the day, we decided to celebrate Seafair Saturday night in our own back yard, our way :).

I made halibut with a summer vegetable ragout to compliment the sea theme of the weekend. The recipe was based on one I had at a private event at Sur La Table. I replaced the butter with Earth Balance and I added more vegetables to the mix than the original recipe called for. It’s really more of an idea than a recipe, so just add the vegetables and herbs that you like and that are in season.

Halibut with Summer Vegetable Ragout

Serves 2

1 cup leeks, thinly sliced

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 cups summer squash, diced

1/2 cup peas

2 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon each of fresh thyme and oregano, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

2 4-oz halibut filets

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place a large sauté pan on low heat, and add the Earth Balance. Once melted, add the leeks and fennel, and sweat until almost tender. Then add the peas and the summer squash. Cook until the squash is done to your liking. Off the heat, add the lemon zest and fresh herbs. Blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, place the halibut filets on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the halibut flakes with a fork.

We paired our dinner with Wyland Cabernet Sauvignon from Laguna Canyon Winery. It has a beautiful picture of dolphins on the label, which is why I thought it was the perfect choice for this sea inspired meal.


August 1st Celebration ~ Lemony Strawberry Shortcakes

We enjoyed a few delicious Dungeness crabs for dinner, as we do every year to celebrate this little anniversary. It marked 14 years since we moved into our current house together, and 17 years since I have lived in Seattle! After dinner, we needed something sweet to top off the night :).  I decided to make lemony strawberry shortcakes since Washington strawberries are wrapping up for the season. I found a recipe for the biscuits from Bon Appétit magazine, and then tweaked it to make it a bit healthier. I replaced half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour and I also replaced the butter with melted Earth Balance buttery spread. Very summery and fresh with a little twist of lemon.

Lemony Strawberry Shortcakes

Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Earth Balance buttery spread, melted, cooled

2 quarts fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon peel and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl to blend. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moist dough forms. Drop 8 dough mounds (about 1/3 cup each) onto nonstick baking sheet. Using lightly floured hands, gently pat biscuits into neat 2 1/4-inch-diameter round about 1 1/4 inches high. Bake until biscuits are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cut warm biscuits in half horizontally. Place bottom halves of biscuits on 8 plates. Spoon strawberries over. Place top halves of biscuits over everything and serve.

We paired our dinner with 14 Hands Merlot to compliment our 14th anniversary. We first tried the wine around the anniversary of our first date back in April (also 14 years ago), and it has since become our house wine for the year. Local, delicious, and inexpensive :). Perfect combination!

Wedding Anniversary, Part 4 ~ Sparkling Wine Sabayon

The grand finale of our wedding anniversary dinner was a decadent custard dessert called a Sparkling Wine Sabayon served over fresh berries. I followed this recipe closely, however I quartered it to accommodate fewer guests. I used an individual can of Sophia Blanc de Blancs instead of a whole bottle of bubbly since it was just a romantic dinner for two, not 12. We still ended up with quite a bit leftover for the next few days. With the portions I served we ended up with about 7 servings using a lot of fruit and a little custard. That’s the way I lighted this one a bit. 🙂 The ingredients are very rich, but you only need a little bit on top of fresh berries to make a splash. I hope you’ll give this one a try! It’s simple but special.

Sparkling Wine Sabayon


1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

One 750ml bottle of Chandon Brut Classic

1 dozen large egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream


Double boiler or Pyrex® bowl and saucepan

(If you’d like to quarter the recipe like we did, the amounts are as follows:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

One can of Sophia Blanc de Blancs or about 187 milliliters of another inexpensive sparkling wine

3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup heavy cream­)

Preparation time: 50 minutes.

1. In a saucepan, bring the water, sugar and vanilla extract to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and cook, without stirring, to a light golden caramel (about 10 minutes). Add wine and simmer until reduced to 2 cups (about 20 minutes).

2. Beat the egg yolks lightly in the Pyrex bowl or the top of the double boiler. Very slowly, whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot wine and caramel mixture until blended. Slowly whisk in the remaining caramel. Set the mixture over a saucepan, or the bottom of the double boiler, filled with 1 inch of simmering water. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens enough to form a ribbon when it falls from the whisk (about 10 minutes). Transfer the custard to a bowl and let cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

3. Whip the cream just until firm. Fold into the wine custard and transfer to a serving bowl; serve cold.

The mixture obtained in steps 1 and 2 can be refrigerated up to two days.

Serve over fresh berries, peaches or figs.

Makes 12 servings.

A sweet ending to a sweet celebration. Bon appétit!

Simple Summer Celebration ~ Lemonade Sparkling Wine Cocktails

For a festive summer evening, I made a super simple cocktail made of lemonade sorbet and sparkling wine. Just add a little melon ball sized scoop of sorbet into the bottom of a champagne glass and top with the wine. (I used a lemonade flavor, but I’m sure just a simple lemon sorbet would be yummy, too.) It’s a like a root beer float with a kick! 😉

I made this summertime cocktail after we were surprised with an unexpected fireworks show across the lake from our house tonight. The full moon also happened to be out, and it was a gorgeous warm evening. It inspired me to make something summery and festive to match the beautiful night!


Celebrating an August Anniversary ~ Tomato, Basil and Pasta Salad and Peach and Basil Crumbles

Every summer on this day, we have a special Dungeness crab dinner. It’s one of the little anniversaries that we celebrate, and the choice of crab for dinner has turned into a tradition. To us, it’s the perfect Northwest meal on a warm summer evening. (For instructions on how to cook the crab, visit my Fourth of July post.)

To go with our crab, I tried my take on the recipe that graces the cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine this month. I did make a few changes to make it a little healthier and to make it a little more economical. I reduced the amount of olive oil and pasta and I increased the amount of tomatoes and basil. I also used fresh red summer tomatoes instead of the heirloom variety as she did. I couldn’t find the fancy pasta she used at my local Italian market, so I used campanelle. They look like cute little flowers. Any short pasta will work for this dish, however.

Marinated Tomato, Basil and Pasta Salad

(Serves about 4)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 lbs ripe summer tomatoes cut into ½ inch wedges

½ cup torn fresh basil

1 ½ tablespoons rinsed capers

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus more for the top

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

4 oz dried short pasta (I used campanelle. Martha used croxetti.)

Heat the garlic and olive oil in a saucepan over low heat until the garlic is lightly golden brown. (About 10 minutes). Strain the garlic, and reserve both the garlic chips and the oil. Let cool.

Combine the tomatoes, ¼ cup basil, capers, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and salt to taste in a large bowl. Pour the cooled oil and garlic chips over the top and mix. Marinate for about 30 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, and add the warm pasta to the tomato bowl. Toss gently with pepper to taste. Top with the remaining ¼ cup of basil and a sprinkling of lemon zest. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

For dessert, I made one of our summer favorites….Peach and basil crumbles. The original recipe was also from I used frozen peaches for convenience, which also allows this recipe to be enjoyed year round. To make it a wee bit healthier, I used less sugar and substituted the butter for all natural Earth Balance “buttery” sticks. My new favorite culinary discovery. 🙂

Peach and Basil Crumbles

(Makes 2)

Filling ~

Frozen sliced peaches, thawed (The equivalent of 2 whole peaches)

1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, sliced into thin strips

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Pinch of salt

Topping ~

1 oz chopped unsalted almonds

1/8 cup packed light-brown sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons cold Earth Balance, cut into 6 pieces

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. To make the filling, simply mix all of the filling ingredients in a small bowl.

For the topping, combine all of the topping ingredients, rubbing the Earth Balance with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.

Divide the filling between two small baking dishes, and sprinkle the topping evenly over them. Transfer to a baking sheet, and bake until they are bubbling and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

We served this summer meal with a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Midsummer’s White. It was perfect for a midsummer’s celebration! Light and refreshing. It’s a blend of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli and Riesling.

Happy Bastille Day ~ Ratatouille

Happy Bastille Day! La Fête Nationale!

I used this holiday as an opportunity to celebrate the cuisine of France. I tried a classic that I have never tried before…Ratatouille. It’s a perfect summertime dish because it is made up of many vegetables that are in season at the moment. It is simple and healthy and delicious. A perfect combination in my book :).

I was inspired by the website since they laid out several French menus for the holiday. I followed their recipe for ratatouille from Gourmet magazine very closely since, as one reviewer said, it’s “the gold standard of ratatouille.” How can I possibly improve upon that? 😉 I am just passing it along to you if you’d like to have a sunny French meal this summer!


1 onion, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 tablespoons olive oil

A 3/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3/4 pound small ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse (about 1 1/4 cups)

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened. Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the oregano, the thyme, the coriander, the fennel seeds, the salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well. The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme if you have it on hand. Serve as a main course with a baguette or as a side dish.

Bon appétit!


Happy Birthday USA ~ Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell with a Watermelon, Champagne and Cucumber Mignonette


Happy birthday USA!

Today is all about celebrating our country, and this year I decided to do that by celebrating our little corner of the country with some of the best treats that the Northwest has to offer.

We started with a plate of Penn Cove Select oysters on the half shell with a watermelon, champagne and cucumber mignonette. I think of sparkling wine when I think of the Fourth, since the sparkles remind me of fireworks :). The watermelon and cucumber also added a summery sweet freshness to the oysters’ salty brininess. I must admit, oysters are something I am just now beginning to enjoy. I’ve tried them in the past, but they were never my favorite choices. I liked this mignonette so much, that I had three of them! The most important thing is to get live oysters from a fishmonger that you trust. The recipe is based on one from, and I’d like to pass it along to you.

Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell with a Watermelon, Champagne and Cucumber Mignonette

12 shucked fresh oysters

1/4 cup watermelon juice

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/2 cup champagne

1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons minced English cucumber

2 tablespoons minced shallots

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon for garnish

To make the watermelon juice, place 1 inch pieces of melon into a food processor, and process until pureed. Place a coffee filter in a strainer, and place the strainer over a large cup. Pour the melon puree into the strainer, and let it drain into the cup. Discard the pulp.

Combine the watermelon juice, champagne vinegar, champagne, horseradish, cucumber, shallots and black pepper in a bowl. Mix well.

Serve about a teaspoon of the mignonette on top of each oyster. Garnish with the chopped tarragon. Serve immediately.

For the main course, we had a Dungeness crab boil…A classic American summer celebration dish with a Northwest twist. It was super easy and delicious. I always ask my fishmonger to dispatch and clean the crabs when I buy them. They are much sweeter if they are cleaned before they are cooked. For two crabs (about 2 lbs each), steam for about 17 minutes until they are cooked through. At the same time, in a separate pot, boil the potatoes and corn. That’s it! 🙂 It couldn’t be easier.

Dessert was even easier and equally as delicious. We had a big bowl of Rainier cherries. They have a very short season, so they always feel like a special treat. They don’t need any help from a recipe :).

We paired dinner with a Chandon Liberty Sparkle cocktail from The recipe is basically the same as the Pomegranate Fizzes that I wrote about earlier this year, but with an added patriotic name for a red sparkling cocktail! It’s just a splash of pomegranate juice and a splash of Grand Marnier topped with sparkling wine.

I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

It’s the first day of summer! ~ Oven Baked Fish with Chips

It’s the first day of summer! The sun actually cooperated in Seattle today, and it feels like summer is here. No coats necessary :). We celebrated by having fish and chips for dinner alfresco. In the summertime, we occasionally visit a little fish and chip place on Lake Union called Ivar’s. The view on their little deck overlooks the lake and the city skyline, and the food is very tasty, but it isn’t what I would call bikini friendly :). So I decided to try a baked version of this favorite summertime treat. A recipe in The Best Light Recipe cookbook inspired me again. It is basically the same as the “fried”chicken recipe I wrote about earlier this month, but with fish. We tried halibut and salmon, which were both delicious.

Oven Baked Fish Fillets

1 5 oz box of whole grain Melba toast broken into 1-inch pieces.

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large egg whites

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 fish fillets, about 1 inch thick and 6 oz each (A firm fleshed fish will work nicely like cod, halibut, or even salmon)

Salt and pepper

Canola oil cooking spray

Adjust your oven rack to the upper middle position, and preheat to 450. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place a wire rack on top.

Pulse the Melba toast in a food processor until it is coarse crumbs. Place in a shallow bowl and mix in the oil.

In another shallow dish, whisk the egg whites through the cayenne together.

Pat the fish dry with paper towels, and season well with salt and pepper. Dip each fillet into the egg mix and then the Melba mix, pressing to make sure it adheres. Then place each piece of fish on the wire rack and spray the top with cooking spray.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish just flakes apart and the coating is golden brown.

Serve with baked chips and tartar sauce if you’d like.

We also had a summery wine to go with dinner called 2007 Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon. It starts with a berry aroma, but finishes as a full-bodied Cabernet. Yum! It might become our new house wine. I must admit I am inclined to fall for cute wine labels, and this one has a little boy who is poised to splash into a lake. Perfect for the season :).