Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween-Candy Corn Cookies

Wishing you a Happy Halloween with some candy corn cookies.

I was inspired by this post (with recipe).

Kinda fun but just a bit too tedious for my liking.

Again the whole baking thing just not as enjoyable as savory cooking for me.
But if you like baking you might find these fun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gutsy Cooks Club: Pumpkin Risotto

For our final Gutsy Cooks Club October rice recipe the theme of paella vs. risotto was the challenge of the week.

Paella is big fav in this house. We love paella. We first had Mexican Paella on our honeymoon in Puerta Vallarta poolside. Since then we've made a few versions of paella with both our supper club and our more informal wine group gatherings. Most recently in March with our wine group, see A Paella Fiesta inspired by Rick Bayless.

So tonight this week we went the risotto route. G loves risotto actually. And one of the listed recipes was actually a cauliflower risotto, which sounded phenomenal. But then we had pizza recently with our dear friends
Lynn & Jim who were describing how they make pumpkin risotto. We knew we had to make some pumpkin risotto this season.

The Proctor Farmers market is open year round now.Which is great we took a rainy day walk last weekend to take it the market.

Lots of vendors had all varieties of squash available on this visit.
We happened to have some left over butternut squash from this trip, which is what the recipe actually recommended using when making pumpkin risotto. So there you have it...a cooking mission was almost underway before we knew it.

We went to Food Network and found this recipe by Wolfgang Puck for Pumpkin Risotto, which actually called for butternut squash as opposed to pumpkin as well.

We first baked half of the butternut squash in the oven..

before pureeing it in the food processor.

We diced the other half of the butternut squash

and sauteed it.

The squash was removed and then garlic & onions went into the pan with some olive oil.

Next the rice was added and then some white wine.

Once the wine had absorbed the warm stock was added bit by bit, being absorbed before the next addition. (We used chicken stock as we love that flavor most.)

Once all of the stock was absorbed the squash puree was added. It definitely had that baby food appearance.

We opened a bottle of Walla Walla Merlot made by Charles Smith called the Velvet Devil. You have to admit it went with the whole Halloween, pumpkin kind of theme. Not sure G intended that idea when he bought it. Pretty sure not.

Finally some Parmesan and butter were added to the risotto before plating with a bit of sage for garnish.
The risotto was fantastic. Al dente, creamy and flavorful with just a hint of sweet from the squash. I under seasoned with salt a bit but we were able to fix that by adding a bit more while eating.

But overall we loved this risotto.G mentioned he thinks he would of liked it even better with some wild mushrooms. And there were plenty of recipes for that version as well on the food network site.
 The only down side is we now have enough left to eat for the next week or two and that probably won't happen.

The rice ingredient challenge for Gutsy Cooks Club was great this month. We enjoyed cooking some new and favorite recipes with rice this month.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ham & Cheese for Breakfast

Waking up to a chilled house always makes our weekend tummies a bit more hungry.

Today a simple craving for ham & cheese was what we were hankering for.

We had some left over rustic asiago bread from last night's risotto dinner.

To that we added some apple smoked ham

and some slices of artisan white cheddar.

 I had every intention to smear the bread with a bit of coarse mustard before putting on the ham but I just plain forgot to do it. Next time.

The ham & cheese went into the oven to warm & melt while I started poaching the eggs.

I cracked two eggs and then added them to the simmering water.

I didn't add the vinegar to the water this time and I should have as my poaching job wasn't quite as pretty as it should of been.

Within no time breakfast was served.

Super simple, super yummy and ready in flash. Fueling us for our Saturday morning walk.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A wee bit more healthy Macaroni & Cheese

One of G's most favorite dishes of all time is Macaroni & Cheese. He likes it outta the box, made from scratch, made with lots of Velveeta, pretty much if its mac & cheese he'll eat it. If I'm out of town for any reason you can bet when I call home and ask, "so, what did you eat?" in that wifely way that I do you can guarantee within at least a 48 hour period he's eaten at least 1 box of mac & cheese. (he's the only person I know who thinks a serving of mac & cheese is a whole box.)

Usually at least once a year we attempt to make mac & cheese from scratch. I remember the first time we made homemade mac & cheese with our niece and nephew several years ago and how disappointed they were that it wasn't like the box kind.

So that being said, we have had our fair share of mac & cheese making experiences...some delicious, some not so much.

This recipe was from a recent Cooking Light magazine that looked both delicious and intriguing because it was made with less cheese and butter and with butternut squash in its place. So we figured it could be a doable mid-week meal.

The squash

was first cubed and cooked in the milk mixture.

After it was the pureed in the blender and mixed with the Greek yogurt, pasta and cheese it was baked in the oven with a bit of browned panko crumbs.

The result was good. Great texture, good flavor...but lacking in the cheesy department. Really can you have cheesy and healthy on the same plate? Probably not.

Of course its the less cheesy that  made it "healthy." The color & texture made it good, but more cheese would of made it great!
But if you're looking to cut calories and have a hankering for some creamy mac & cheese this might be worth trying.


  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth $
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  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk $
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  • 2 garlic cloves $
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  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper $
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  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt $
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  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 pound uncooked cavatappi
  • Cooking spray $
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  • 1 teaspoon olive oil $
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  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  • 1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  • 2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • 3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
  • 4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  • 5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
  • 6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All About Wine on Wednesday

Vintage:                 2007

Varietal:                    100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Winery:                  Rulo Vineyards

Wine Region:         Grapes grown in Horse Heaven Hills

Price:                         $40.00

Smell:                        Strongly fruit forward aromas, maybe blackberry

Taste:                         Plush and thick in the mouth. Black Cherry with a bit of smoke

Served with:             Classic Red Mole

Overall Impression: Excellent! Very few wines made from Horse Heaven Hills that we don’t like

Occasion for wine: Sunday night dinner after an all-day cooking mole affair.

When & Where wine was first tasted: At the winery during our August 2010  10th Anniversary trip to Walla Walla.

G’s Final Comments: “Excellent”

T’s Final Comments: “Love this wine.”

Overall Rating: 4

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Salmon wrapped in Phyllo Dough

We love salmon. We eat a lot of salmon. There's nothing better than good salmon simply grilled which is our most usual way to prepare it. But when our good friend Jason gifted us salmon that he had caught that day we were in the mood to try something different the next night.

We had some phyllo in the freezer and some goat cheese in the fridge. We thought why not wrap the salmon in phyllo and see how that goes. So we went with it.

I mixed some chopped garlic and green onions with the goat cheese. Then brushed 5 sheets of phyllo with melted butter.

I seasoned the salmon well and rubbed with a bit of honey mustard, smeared it with the goat cheese and topped it with some arugula to provide a little contrast to the sweet salmon and sour goat cheese with the rich phyllo.

We baked the salmon in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes until the phyllo was golden brown and crisp. We steamed some green beans with a few chopped red peppers for our side vegetable.

Our new salmon creation was a hit. The salmon was perfectly cooked on the inside, almost a poached type texture. The creamy goat cheese along with crispy phyllo wrapped around the salmon was the perfect bite. Yum. A new salmon favorite for us.


Salmon Wrapped in Phyllo
2 salmon fillets, skin & pin bones removes
2 Tblspn. honey mustard
Salt &  Pepper
10 Sheets Phyllo Dough
1/4 C. melted  butter
1/4 C. goat cheese (at room temperature)
3 garlic cloves chopped
3 green onions chopped
1 C. fresh arugula

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove skin and pin bones from salmon fillets. Season with salt & pepper and rub with mustard.

Mix garlic and green onions into goat cheese. Brush 5 sheets phyllo dough with butter. Place 1 prepared salmon  fillet in middle of phyllo dough. Smear goat cheese over salmon top with arugula.  Wrap phyllo around salmon like a burrito tucking in the ends. Prepared second piece of salmon as the first.

Place salmon into a prepared baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in oven for approximately 25-30 minutes until phyllo is golden brown & crisp.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Harvest Supper Club

Fall is in full swing here in the Northwest. We had a week of serious rain, colder temperatures and tons of wind. Ah yes its time for autumn comfort food. And that's where our recent Supper Club gathering hosted by Shannon & Robin dishes were inspired from.

We missed Kris & Jeff who were outta town in addition to my missing camera that I left on the dining room table when we headed out of the house (I did get to see how well the ipad took photos..not so goo, as you'll see.)

G & I were on appetizers. We made Caramelized Onion & Apple Bites from the recent Sunset Magazine edition and Curried Crab Dip from My Recipes.com.

It was time to move to the lovely set table

for dinner to be served after noshing on plenty of apps. Sadly the grainy photo doesn't show Robin's beautifully made napkin rings, she hit all the fall details.

Robin prepared a beautifully Mushroom Stuffed Fillet stuffed with chantrelle, porcini, and oyster mushrooms.

She also made a super delish au gratin potatoes with green chiles.

Jenni & Arnie brought a tasty dish of butter nut squash "crumble." It was supper yummy, could of almost been a dessert.

Next we went onto our dessert. Lisa & Derek made a scrumptious pear, rhubarb and raspberry shortcake, served with vanilla ice cream and a salted caramel shortbread on the side.

It happened to be Jenni's birthday on this evening so we had to take the opportunity to shower her with our lovely singing.

It was a great night with a little celebrating with good people and fantastic food.