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.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Creamy White Lasagna with Roasted Wild Mushrooms & Salsa Verde

Having time off for Winter Break is appreciated by us all. But Sally Porkchop seems to really be digging us being home with her day after day and the endless exhaustion of long walks.

Sally Porkchop after a good long walk in the neighborhood.

Another benefit of time off is time to actually make a recipe or two from a few of our numerous food magazine subscriptions.

Pasta is not something that we make a ton of, especially the labor intensive lasagna. But we both saw this recipe for white lasagna in the December Food & Wine issue and agreed this needed to be made. It was perfect. We were finally over the Christmas hooplah and leftovers and G had just gotten in his first day skiing. So a heavy, good for cold weather meal was a good call.

The recipe is a fair bit tedious but buying fresh pasta as opposed to making it helped shave a bit of time off preparation. 

The bechamel sauce was amazing, really, truly amazing.

And really once it's made it all comes together pretty quick. Just layers of bechamel, pasta, cheese  and repeat 4 times. 

We decided to only make half the recipe and we have more leftover than we'll ever eat still. 

The recipe lists three "great toppings" for the lasagna. We only made two, the salsa verde and the roasted wild mushrooms. Since the lasagna is so incredibly rich the topping really do help. The salsa verde especially brings a fresher green taste to help cut the richness.

It was definitely a recipe we are happy we made but this kind of pasta richness will never be part of our regular recipe rotation. 


Creamy White Lasagna (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 #Fresh Pasta


  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 rosemary sprigs
  4. 2 thyme sprigs
  5. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  8. 2 quarts whole milk


  1. Extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1/2 pound imported Fontina cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups)
  3. 5 ounces Grana Padano cheese, freshly grated (1 1/4 cups)
  1. Make the fresh pasta according to package directions and then MAKE THE BACHAMEL In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, rosemary, thyme, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until no floury taste remains, about 20 minutes. Press the béchamel through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard the solids. Season with salt and let cool.
  2. ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces; work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a towel. Flatten the dough slightly. Run it through a pasta machine a total of 6 times: Start at the widest setting, then run through successively narrower settings. Dust the sheet with flour and lay it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, separating the sheets with parchment.
  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta sheets until just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool under running water, then drain again. Return the pasta to the baking sheet and toss with olive oil to prevent the sheets from sticking together.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish with oil; spread with 1/2 cup of the béchamel. Arrange a layer of pasta over the béchamel, trimming to fit. Spread one-fifth of the remaining béchamel over the pasta; sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the Fontina and 1/4 cup of the Grana Padano. Repeat the layering 4 more times, ending with the cheeses.
  5. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, until bubbling. Remove from the oven and uncover. Preheat the broiler. Broil the lasagna 6 inches from the heat until lightly browned on top, 2 to 4 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve with one of the toppings.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Salmon Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise Sauce

One of our family favorite breakfasts has become the Avocado Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise that I found on the The Foodie Bride's site several years ago. 

July 22, 2012 Photo
I think the first time I posted about it was July 2011. Since then we probably make it 5-6 times a year. 

It's rich. It's decadent. It's special for an occasion or simple enough for any old Sunday. We just love it. I think it's really the chipotle hollandaise that really attracts us to it. It's just almost to die for kinda good. 

Last weekend G had a great day fishing which means we had fresh salmon for dinner and some left over to play with the next day. I decided to give it a try with this eggs Benedict recipe.

When we are trying to stick to Paleo we skip the English muffin. But we go back to Paleo next week so we splurged this last weekend. I started by adding the avocado mashed with some lime, salt & pepper to the English muffins.

Next I added some salmon fillets.

Followed with poached eggs. 

And finally the scrumptious chipotle hollandaise sauce garnished with a little cilantro. 

It was definitely a treat. One that we used to soak in the last few rays of sun eating breakfast on the patio and decadent food. 


Chipotle Hollandaise Sauce ( adapted from the Foodie Bride)

  • 2 egg yolks
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 chipotle & 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 Tblspns chopped cilantro
  1. Place egg yolks, lemon, salt, chipotle and adobo sauce in the blender.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds before streaming in the melted butter
  3. Serve immediately
  4. Sprinkle with cilantro

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer 2014 Recap

Wow, where did the months go! Summer weather is luckily still lingering in the PNW but the it's clearly coming quickly to fall. We are back to school (although truly this summer there really wasn't a break from school for either us.)

But summer was still full of a few great things for us to enjoy.

Like plenty of these:

And lots of time with her: 

Even if we couldn't get her into that crazy pool.

And some great views of this with family.

And so many great meals. 

We regret not having the time to keep up with this blog in the way we like to this past summer. But we do want to keep it going even with our very busy school year in full swing. We love sharing our food adventures, recipes and travels and it allows us to document them and always have a place to come back to reminisce about the experience. 

We hope you all had a great 2014 summer yourselves. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wine Tasting in Southern Oregon

View from Abacela Winery outside of Roseburg, Oregon
So this is a summer unlike any other for us. I've taken on this crazy idea of going to be a middle school principal of a school going through a federal school improvement process and G has started his Masters in Admin as well. That being said spending July gallivanting around, relaxing, exploring, and the such ...yeah, just not time for that this summer. We've only planned for 2 long weekend excursions this summer that we can fit in between everything else. Don't get me wrong we really are okay with this. But it has definitely made the small planned get aways even more needed and appreciated.

Our first summer get away over the 4th of July weekend was to the Southern Oregon Wine Country. We've done Washington state and the Willamette Valley of Oregon wine tasting experiences  extensively over the past 10 years. We've even done the obligatory trip to Napa and Sonoma once. But being Northwest wine lovers at heart we love to stick to and learn more about Northwest wines. That being said having 4 days only to explore after reading an article in Sunset Magazine about the emerging Southern Oregon wine region we thought ; let's give it a try. 

We found an Inn in the quaint town of Jacksonville that was dog friendly and close to the Applegate Wine Trail..once we found that ...booking this trip was pretty much a done deal. 

On our way down to Jacksonville we decided to stop at Abacela Winery in Roseburg. We've tried Abacela wines a time or two but didn't know much about it. We were pleasantly surprised with 1) the beautiful estate and vineyards and 2) the great Tempranillo and Granache wines. It's crazy, unlike the Willamette Valley known for it's pinot noir, Southern Oregon is very rocky and sunny making their wines taste similarly to many Spanish varietals that we love. 

We loved this quick stop on the way down to our destination and so did our bulldog girl. It definitely primed us for the great weekend of wine ahead of us. 

We arrived into the small, very cute town of Jacksonville tired and weary from our almost 5 hour drive and ultimately happy to have arrived to a great weekend away in a spot yet to be explored.

All settled in at the Wine Country Inn

After we settled into the Inn and enjoying sitting in the shade with a glass of crisp white wine we got the bully tucked in for the night and wandered into town for dinner. 

We luckily got in town early enough to hit the Quaty North tasting room while still open. It was fantastic find. So great we ended up walking away being wine club members. 

View from deck at Serra Vineyards

The next day was spent touring the Applegate Wine Trail and finding a few great wine gems along the way. We started at the end of trail and hit Serra  Vineyards with a beautiful tasting room and sweeping views.

Red Lily Vineyards

Next it was a visit to Red Lily Vineyards highly recommended to us by the Quaty North tasting room. Again they had such beautiful grounds situated on the river, a lovely patio and lunch.

Bottle tree at Red Lily ....need one of these in my backyard
We actually got comfortable here and had lunch with a great glass of their tempranillo, this gave us a little time to wander around and find this super cool bottle tree. Something about spirits being inside every bottle and never wanting to lose a spirit or something. But really cool :). 

Longsword Vineyards...look closely

Our next stop was probably most memorable from our Southern Oregon wine experience. We stopped by Longsword Vineyard. We pulled up and thought is this really it? There was a small house type structure surrounded by a few 5th wheel camping trailers and some sheep and chickens blocking the front door.

Sheep & chickens greeting us upon arrival
But yes, this was it. We entered the very full tasting room to an incredibly frazzled tasting room host who greeted us by saying, "you'll have to be outside, I'm really busy." Although it was 90 some degrees outside we were fine with being outside but it was an "odd" kind of welcome. We got used to the hosts' quirky, odd mannerisms and enjoyed our tasting there anyway.

We ended our day at Valley View Winery probably the largest producing winery we visited on the trail and some pretty tasty wines as well. It was a good first day exploring the Southern Oregon wineries.

We got our bully back to the Inn and out of the heat. Of course she made herself right at home. Sure hope they were not just a dog friendly establishment but also tolerant of spoiled rotten dogs. Since it was 4th of July we decided to venture into the next largest town, Central Point, to find the local fireworks show. We ended up camping out in a church parking lot engaging in some pretty interesting people watching and finding a fairly good fireworks show while our bully was safely away from loud booms and zooms back at the Inn. 

The next day we headed out of town and stopped by two wineries on our way back for our final night in Portland. 

We stopped in the town of Gold Hills and hit first Del Rio Vineyards. Another beautiful tasting room on great grounds. Sorry photo didn't do the vineyards or grounds much justice it was actually very pretty. At Del Rio they recommended while in Gold Hills we should really venture up to Folin. We took their advice and drove what felt like a bit of a long trek but it was worth it. 

Folin Cellars

We definitely saved the best for last. We pulled up to Folin Cellars which again had a stunning view and tasting room. But they also had delicious wine. We loved it. We decided to get comfy again on the patio and have a picnic lunch with the bully. It was great end to our inaugural visit to Southern Oregon. 

We loved experience, especially the quaint town of Jacksonville. And even had a great last night staying in Portland. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Basil Parmesan Aioli

Sometimes it's the condiment or the side that makes a dish memorable. Not often but sometimes. And this basil parmesan aioli is definitely one of those "sometimes." 

Now mind you that's saying a lot because this beef tenderloin was about as tender and flavorful as it comes but there was just something about this aioli that made eating the tenderloin with it like eating butter but really good pesto tasting butter. 

It was so scrumptious and it made so much that actually I'm pretty sure I had it on almost every meal I ate that week. Potatoes = fabulous, eggs = fantastic, tomatoes = sublime, fish tacos = a match made it heaven. 

I actually can't wait to make it again and luckily our basil is growing like gangbusters again so it needs a pruning here soon and this aioli is calling my name. 

The aioli emulsion came together just perfectly. I'm not sure sometimes I really struggle getting mayo, aioli and hollandaise to work but for some reason this time it worked perfectly. I highly encourage you make it now and serve it with everything you can think of. 

You won't regret it I'm sure of that.


Beef Tenderloin with Basil Parmesan Aioli: Adapted from Food Network and Ina Garten  
1 whole filet of beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied (4 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
10 to 15 branches fresh tarragon

Basil Parmesan Aioli:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Place the filet on a sheet pan and pat it dry (all over) with paper towels. Brush the filet all over with the oil, reserving about half a tablespoon. Sprinkle it all over with the salt and pepper. Place the tarragon branches around the beef, tying them in 4 or 5 places with kitchen twine to keep them in place, and then brush the tarragon with the reserved oil.

Roast the filet of beef for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until the temperature registers 125 degrees in the center for rare and 135 degrees for medium-rare. Cover the filet with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Slice thickly and serve warm or at room temperature with aioli.

Basil Parmesan Aioli:
Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, Parmesan, mustard, basil, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 20 seconds, until smooth. Combine the vegetable oil and olive oil in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. With the processor running, slowly (like drip by drip) pour the oil mixture through the opening to make a thick emulsion. Taste for seasonings -- the mayonnaise is a sauce so it should be highly seasoned. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use; it will keep for up to a week.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Strawberry Coconut Mojito

One cocktail that just screams,"summer is finally here!" is a mojito. Because we grow mint in our backyard  there is usually not much of an excuse to not make one on a warm sunny day.

Last weekend the sun finally made a showing, we had taken the bully for a stroll up to the Proctor Farmer's Market where local strawberries were in abundance and we got a call from a friend who was looking to hang out on our sunny patio for the afternoon which inspired this cocktail concoction. 

We had some coconut rum ( not sure why or where it came from?) and the local strawberries and when we saw the mint we thought, mmmm....let's give a coconut, strawberry mojito a try.

Needless to say it was fantastic! Refreshingly minty with a hint of fresh strawberry.


Strawberry Coconut Mojito

10 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
4-5 sliced local strawberries
2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Add sliced strawberries.  Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.
1 cup ice cubes
1 1/2 fluid ounces white  coconut rum
1/2 cup club soda (or diet 7up, leave out sugar if you use 7up)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bacon Egg Puff Pastry Tart

We don't really make much ado about breakfast beyond the occasional Sunday. But it does seem like we are always looking for a new Sunday morning dish because we typically stick to the same few favorites.
I came across a recipe for a Puff Pastry Tart on the blog French Press while disappointingly awake at 5:30 a.m. on one of only 2 days I get to sleep in. And typically as I grumpily accept being awake on these mornings I either watch cooking shows or cruise foodgawker to awaken my stomach as well. This recipe found while cruising served as inspiration and made me think, "mmmmm...we have some puff pastry in the freezer pretty sure we could pull this off this morning." This is where the 5:30 a.m. thing actually worked in our favor. I got up and took the puff pastry out of the freezer allowing it to defrost before we decide to really get up on this Sunday. I have a previous somewhat kitchen disaster type story while once trying to defrost frozen puff pastry in the microwave....yeah, don't try that.
With defrosted puff pastry and some leftover cooked bacon in the fridge this tart came together so quickly. And it's really a very versatile recipe as well. We ended up using sliced mozzarella as the base because that's what we had but you could use just about any type of cheese or meat. Canadian bacon or pancetta would both be great.
Our patio basil is going crazy so I added some to top the tart off after coming out of the oven.
I actually can't wait to make this one again and change up a few flavors. It makes for a great base recipe and even better its simple enough for a last minute Sunday breakfast but special enough to make for guests or a special occasion.

Bacon & Egg Puff Pastry Tart
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry {thawed}
  • 5 slices  Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tbsp finely diced chives
  • 6 strips of bacon {cooked & sliced}
  • egg wash {1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp milk}
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 bunch torn fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • pre-heat the oven to 425
  • on a lightly floured surface roll the puff pasty into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick
  • with a sharp knife cut a "border" of about 1/2 inch around the entire rectangle
  • prick only the center of the rectangle with the tines of a fork
  • Layout the slices of cheese across the pastry
  • sprinkle with the chives, and top with bacon
  • brush the edges with the egg wash
  • bake tart for 10 minutes
  • crack the eggs onto the tart, season to taste with salt and pepper
  • return to the oven for another 10 minutes {or until the eggs are done to your liking}
  • sprinkle with fresh basil & additional chives

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Polenta with Mushrooms, Asparagus & Poached Eggs

We had one of our typical late get up kind of Sunday mornings. Once finally ready to take on the world we lounged on the patio enjoying G's favorite morning latte' and a chai latte' for me while flipping through our latest Rachael Ray Everyday magazine. 

This recipe motivated us to make some brunch with mimosas. The creamy polenta with the egg yolk was pretty divine we must admit. A quick brunch recipe with ingredients we had on hand made it fairly perfect. 


Polenta with Mushrooms, Asparagus & Poached Eggs Adapted from Everyday Rachael Ray 
3 tspn Olive Oil
1 Cup sliced mushrooms 
5 asparagus sliced on an angle
1 twig fresh thyme chopped
3 clove garlic, diced
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup marsala
1 1/2 Cup chicken stock
3/4 Cup instant polenta
1/2 Cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 tblspn buttter
2 eggs

1) Saute mushrooms and asparagus in skillet with olive oil until browned about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt & pepper. Add marsala until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes.

2) While veggies cook, bring stock and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and whisk in polenta. Stir until polenta thickens 3-5 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter.

3) Poach eggs.

4) Divide the polenta among bowls. Make a well, then fill with mushroom mixture. Top each with a poached egg. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cucumber Basil Strawberry Smash

Been a bit busy is all we can say for our 4 month hiatus.We had  an absolutely beautiful weekend here in the Pacific Northwest so it was perfect to get our patio space set up for the summer days that we hope to enjoy. 

One of our favorite traditions to officially welcome the upcoming summer.

And along with a welcoming space to enjoy the warmth of summer comes a refreshing cocktail to toast it in with. 

This quick to make Cucumber-Basil-Strawberry Smash was a perfect treat to beat the "almost" heat of the first day of June.


Cucumber-Basil-Strawberry Smash (adapted from June 2014 Rachael Ray Magazine)
3-5 Basil leaves
3 Cucumber slices
2 Strawberries sliced
3 oz. Vodka
Soda water/Lemon-Lime Soda or Limoncello

Use a wooden spoon to muddle/mash cucumber and basil in a tall glass. Add sliced strawberries. Fill glass with ice. Top with vodka and your choice of soda water, soda or limoncello. (Round 1 we used diet 7up, round two we used limoncello. Round 2 was pretty spectacular.)