Friday, August 30, 2013

Hoisin Grilled Tuna Steaks

Tuna steaks are so meaty, they make you feel like you're eating something much richer than fish.  I got some impeccably fresh tuna steaks from Whole Foods and decided this was the way to go.  The steaks were marinated in an Asian flavored mixture containing sesame oil, coconut aminos (or soy sauce) sherry, hoisin sauce, garlic and ginger.  After an hour, the tuna steaks went on the grill to cook for a couple of minutes on each side until cooked to medium to medium rare.  We like it still red in the middle just as long as it's not cold in the middle.  I served the steaks over a bed of garlic infused sauteed Swiss chard and with a side of sauteed zucchini.  Other than planning for the hour of marinating time, this recipe is quick and easy.

Hoisin Grilled Tuna Steaks
Makes 2 servings

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 6-ounce tuna steaks (sushi grade)

 Combine sesame oil, coconut aminos, sherry, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper to taste in a zip-lock bag.  Add the tuna steaks and make sure to massage and turn bag to evenly coat the tuna steaks with the marinade.  Let sit for 1 hour, flipping bag occasionally.

Remove tuna steaks from marinade and grill over medium-high heat from 2-3 minutes on each side until just done. 

Slightly adapted from

Our rating:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bison Chili

Bison was the meat component of this chili which made it a nice, lean dish.  It also had a sweet potato, green pepper and onions in addition to the strong level of spices and some cocoa powder.  I used the full amounts of spices listed in the recipe below and it turned out quite spicy.  If you are sensitive to heat, I would cut the spices in half.  We happened to love the spice and topped the chili with some Cheddar cheese and sour cream which toned it down a little.  This recipe does require some planning since it uses a slow-cooker and has to cook for 4-6 hours.

Bison Chili
Makes 4-6 servings

3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound bison stew meat
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 onion, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
Sour cream, optional for serving
Cheddar cheese, grated, optional for serving

Pour the canned tomatoes in a medium sized bowl and add the garlic, smoked paprika, chili powder, chipotle powder, cinnamon, cocoa powder, salt and pepper.

Place the bison, sweet potato, onion and bell pepper in a slow-cooker and cover with the seasoned tomatoes.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Recipe from Practical Paleo

Our rating:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Creamy Corn Saute

What a long title for this blog post, but since I am not the most creative person to name a dish, this pretty much explains it all.  I pan seared some bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that were simply seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme and finished them in a hot oven.  I served them over a bed of sauteed corn, carrots and peas which had the same seasonings as the chicken and finished off with a little heavy cream which I allowed to cook down.  Even though there wasn't too much cream, it still felt like a very decadent dish.

Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Creamy Corn Saute
Makes 2-3 servings

4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon thyme, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off (or 2 cups frozen corn kernels)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup organic heavy cream

Cut the kernels off the cobs and set aside (or remove corn from freezer and run under cool water to thaw).  Prepare onion and carrots and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a heavy oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme.  Place chicken skin-side down in hot skillet and allow to cook 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip chicken over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Place skillet in preheated oven and continue to cook for about 20 minutes (or until chicken is done to 160 degrees on a meat thermometer).

While chicken is finishing in oven, saute onion, carrots and corn in a little olive oil over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.  Add peas and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme and saute for another minute.  Add cream and allow to come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cream is thickened and just coating the vegetables.

Serve chicken over sauteed corn mixture.

Our rating:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rockfish Parmesan

While visiting with some new friends at a recent RV Park, they offered to share some of their local fish that they had caught and frozen themselves.  John was going fishing again and wanted to free up some freezer space and we graciously accepted his kind offer.  Rockfish is local to the northwest waters and is a very mild, white fish.  I was intrigued with the idea of coating a mild white fish with a combination of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and it turned out to be very tasty.  I served it over some Quinoa pasta which I tossed in a little garlic flavored olive oil and added peas to the dish.  Quite yummy!

Rockfish Parmesan
Makes 3-4 servings

1 pound rockfish fillets (or other white fish fillets)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges for serving

Cut the fish into serving sized pieces.  In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and sprinkle over both sides of fish.  Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish and set aside.  Dredge the fish in the flour and then dip into the beaten egg and finally coat it generously with the crumb/cheese mixture.

Brush a shallow baking dish with the butter and arrange fish in a single layer.  Drizzle any remaining butter over the fish fillets and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slightly adapted from We Love Fish

Our rating:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Portland and Baker City, OR

Since we were back in the Portland area, I got to explore another area on the Columbia River that I just didn’t get to last time.  I got to visit the Columbia River Gorge Museum, which was very informative on how the gorge came to be through thousands of years and the various stages of settlement in the area.  I then went to Hood River, which is famous for the constant winds providing the perfect conditions for wind surfers and kite surfers.  I had lunch in the city on an outside terrace overlooking the surfers, which was very entertaining.

I took a scenic route from Hood River towards Mt. Hood and stopped at a perfect lookout point for the mountain.  The views were simply spectacular, showcasing the snow-capped mountain in the distance with the rolling farmlands and wild pine trees all around.  

 On the way back down the scenic road, I couldn’t help stopping to snap a few pictures of pear orchards with the Del Monte crates just waiting to be filled.  Now you know where some of the Del Monte pears come from.  I’m sure this is not the only area that they get the pears from, but there were huge orchards running for miles in Oregon, which I found surprising. 

I spent a few hours also exploring the End of the Oregon Trail museum in Oregon City, about 20 minutes away from Portland. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours and reminded me of how this great country was populated. 

At the RV park in Fairview, Newman had a wonderful puppy to play with just two sites over from ours.  Dolly was a one-year old Yorkiepoo who could run circles around Newman with her boundless energy.  Newman and Dolly spent several hours each day playing around.  Dolly left the day before we did and ever since I think Newman finds us quite lame as playmates.  Hopefully, we'll find another puppy in another park soon.

On Friday we started the first leg of our homeward journey, which we will be doing gradually with 3 or 4-day stops along the way.  Our first stop was Baker City, Oregon, a very quaint town with a thriving historic downtown area.  We had dinner in town on Friday evening at Barley Brown’s Brew Pub and sat at an outdoor table on the sidewalk watching the locals come and go. 

We spent Saturday morning playing a round of golf at Quail Ridge surrounded by mountain ranges that looked like the perfect setting for any Western movie.  The course was in great condition and just challenging enough for Gerry to enjoy it.  I’m still learning to play, so I find all courses challenging.
We ended our day in Baker City by visiting the Antique Car Show, which just happened to be in town and was something different for us to do and turned out to be fun.

As I write this, we are in route to Boise, Idaho, which is our next stop on our journey.  Gerry assures me I will like Boise, so I am anxious to see if he is correct.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Tomato Relish

I love all of Bobby Flay's recipes that I have tried and the few meals I had at his Mesa Restaurant in Las Vegas.  I tend to cook his recipes for special occasions since they are usually more complicated than I like to tackle on an everyday basis.  This particular recipe of Bobby's is not too complicated but still packed with flavor.  I'm still undecided as to how I feel with tomatoes paired with salmon.  I kept thinking the pairing was a little strange but it certainly didn't stop me from clearing my plate. 

I served the salmon with a side of pureed cauliflower.

Grilled Salmon with Tomato Relish
Makes 2 servings

For the salmon:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon ancho chile powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 salmon fillets (6-8 ounces each)

For the relish:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon finely diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salmon glaze:  over high heat, in a small saucepan, reduce the vinegar and sherry by half.  Pour the reduced mixture in a bowl and add the mustard, honey, ancho chile powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside while preparing the relish.

For the tomato relish:  combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve at room temperature.

Preheat the grill to medium high.  Brush the salmon with the glaze and grill 3 minutes on each side for medium.  Serve with the tomato relish.

Slightly adapted from Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay

Our rating:


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oregon Coast

We spent a week in Lincoln City which is labeled the heart of the Oregon coast and really enjoyed where we were.  Our daughter, Stephanie decided to fly out and join us for a few days before she goes back to work teaching.  It was a joy to have her with us exploring the coastline.

We picked her up at the Portland airport and decided to have dinner in the Pearl District of the city which has a nice blend of housing, restaurants and boutique shops.  We enjoyed dinner at Metrovino which featured foods and preparations of the northwest.

We spent a day exploring the area to the north of Lincoln City which Gerry and I had briefly toured earlier.  Stephanie and I covered it in much more detail.

We drove on highway 101 and then did a 40 mile drive called the 3 Capes Scenic Drive.  The views were especially spectacular since it was a beautiful, clear, sunny day.  Here are some of the views of Cape Kiwanda.

 We enjoyed the stark beauty of Haystack Rock!

We continued our drive to the town of Tillamook which is home to the Tillamook Cheese Factory where we got to view the facilities where they make the cheese and got to taste several different kinds of cheese.  We left with three different cheeses:  a 100 day aged white Cheddar, a medium Cheddar and a Habanero Jack cheese.  We also bought a nice piece of smoked salmon.

Just up the road was the Blue Heron Cheese Factory, featuring French cheeses.  We got to taste 4 different Brie cheeses: a traditional, a garlic and herb, a black pepper and a mildly smoked.  Since Brie is my favorite, we had to get one of the 8 ounce wheels.  We had picked up some, marinated olives, a half baguette, some pita chips, an heirloom tomato, a red pear and some red grapes and with the cheeses and salmon had the makings for a wonderful picnic lunch.

We stopped and explored the Dunes a little after lunch.  For some reason with all the rocks around, I found it amazing that there are several areas of dunes.

We took a tour of the Cape Meares Lighthouse which was really interesting and finished our tour with a short hike to the Octopus Tree (a Sitka Spruce with a very unusual shape).

We spent the next day, exploring the area south of Lincoln City.  We stopped in the Siletz Bay area simply by chance and happened to be there while a gray whale was exploring and apparently feeding in the area.  We stayed and watched it spouting and following its movement until its tail disappeared in the water for about 15 minutes until the chilly wind got the better of us.  I snapped several shots of it, but it was really hard to capture its movement on film.  However in the picture below we all thought "they're gonna need a bigger boat".

We stopped at Cape Foulweather Scenic Overlook for a faraway glimpse of Devil's Punchbowl.

We then drove closer for a different perspective and truly discovered why it was so named.

Next on the agenda was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  We visited on Wednesday which is the only day they do not give tours of the inside of the lighthouse.  We stilled enjoyed the lovely views of both the lighthouse and the vistas all around it, including the seals just chilling out.

We ended our day of exploring by taking Newman for a walk on the beach which was just across the street from the RV Park we stayed in.  It was fabulous to be within walking distance to the beach and Newman loved it.  He especially loved running ahead to the end of his leash and then laying flat on his belly waiting for us to catch up.  He thought this was a fun game. 

Our week on the Oregon coast ended on Friday when we drove back to the Portland area to be near the airport since Gerry had a business trip.  We are in a very nice RV park in Fairview, Oregon which is right on the Columbia River Valley and the best feature is the 20 minute drive to the airport.  After our travel and RV set up on the new site, we decided to go back to the Pearl District in the city for dinner.  We dined at Jamisons and had a wonderful meal sitting on their outdoor patio overlooking the park with the fountains where families and children enjoyed splashing about.  It was a fabulous dinner and a perfect way to end the week.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps

Since I seem to be on a simplicity streak, these lettuce wraps fall perfectly into that category.  They are really easy to make and have just the right amount of spice and flavor.  The bonus of wrapping this filling in lettuce leaves is a real plus for health and calorie control.

Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps
Makes 3-4 servings

1 pound ground beef, preferably organic, grass-fed
1/2 cup onion diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon hot water
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon Sriracha (or more to taste, I used one heaping tablespoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts or cashews, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 head Boston lettuce

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onions until meat is no longer pink and onions are soft.  Season with salt and pepper and add garlic and ginger.  Cook stirring frequently until the garlic and ginger are fragrant.

In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, coconut aminos, water, honey and Sriracha and pour over the browned ground beef.  Cook, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, half of the green onions, nuts and cilantro.

Wash lettuce and gently separate leaves.  Divide been mixture among 6-8 lettuce leaves and garnish with the remainder of the green onions, nuts and cilantro.

Slightly adapted from Once A Month Mom

Our rating:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thai Pork Burgers

These burgers were both simple and quick to make and had Thai flavors, one of my favorites.  The ground pork was very simply treated with salt and pepper before being grilled, but the topping of marinated carrots, onions and cilantro soaked in a dressing with fish sauce is what made these Thai flavored.  I served these with a green salad with a Thai dressing made with coconut milk and fish sauce which complemented the burgers quite nicely.

Thai Pork Burgers
Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon honey
1 large carrot, shaved or shredded
1/2 small red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha

In a small bowl, combine the fresh lime juice, fish sauce, olive oil, salt, and sugar.  Toss half the dressing with the carrots, onions and cilantro and set aside.  Reserve the remaining sauce.

Season the ground pork with salt and pepper to taste and combine gently.  Form the seasoned pork into 4 burgers about 3/4-inch thick.  Grill over high heat about 4 minutes per side, basting with the remaining sauce.

Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the Sriracha.

Serve the burger topped with some mayo mixture and a generous topping of the marinated carrots.

Slightly adapted from The Food Network

Our rating:


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lamb Meatballs

Gerry and I both love lamb in almost any form and when I read the recipe for these meatballs, I knew they would work for us.  Very few ingredients combined with ground lamb, formed into meatballs, pan browned and finished in the oven.  Classic meatball treatment.  These were quite tasty tidbits which I served over shredded zucchini that was quickly sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. 

Lamb Meatballs
Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 pounds ground lamb
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat shaking pan and stirring often until golden.  Remove from pan and let cool on a plate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine lamb, garlic, oregano, allspice, salt and cooled pine nuts until well combined.  Form into 1-inch meatballs and brown in a skillet over medium-high heat.  As they are browned, remove to a sheet pan and set aside.  Once  all meatballs are browned, place sheet pan in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

Slightly adapted from Paleo Periodical

Our rating:


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Italian Tray Bake

I loved the simplicity of this dish.  Combine all the ingredients on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, rosemary and lemon zest, drizzle with olive oil and bake in a hot oven.  This dish turned out great with a minimal amount of effort.

Italian Tray Bake
Makes 4 servings

2 large Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
4 Italian sausages, cut in half
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the potatoes, chicken and sausage chunks on a large sheet pan, spreading out in an even layer.  Arrange 2 of the sprigs of rosemary on the sheet pan. Chop the final sprig of parsley and sprinkle on the chicken thighs.  Sprinkle the lemon zest over everything on the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with the olive oil and place sheet pan in preheated oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until chicken and potatoes are done.

Slightly adapted from iVillage

Our rating:


Monday, August 12, 2013

Smoked Salmon and Chard Scramble

This is another egg dish that I made for lunch one day since it sounded so good.  I had some Teriyaki Smoked Salmon that I had recently purchased from a market where they smoked it in-house which is probably not strictly Paleo, but that is what I used.  I found the sweetness to overwhelm the dish somewhat, so I would recommend using a plain smoked salmon for this dish.  Don't get me wrong, we still finished every bit of it.  I made the 4 servings and we had the leftovers for lunch the next day as well.  The scramble was served over sweet potato shreds that were baked in the oven which was a wonderful base for this mixture.

Smoked Salmon and Chard Scramble
Makes 4 servings

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
6 large Swiss chard leaves, cores removed and chopped
4 large eggs, whisked
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound smoked salmon, chopped
2 teaspoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

Start with the sweet potato by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and lining two sheet pans with parchment paper.  Cut the sweet potato into long thin strips using a mandoline or shred with a food processor.  Melt the coconut oil.  Place the potato strips in a large bowl and toss with the melted coconut oil and the salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on the baking sheets and bake for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and just starting to brown.

While the potatoes are baking, saute the chard in a large skillet until just wilted and remove from pan.

In the same skillet, melt a little coconut oil and add eggs, salt and pepper and cook, stirring gently until eggs are set but still glossy.  Remove from heat and add the chard, smoked salmon, half of the capers and onions.

Serve the scrambled egg mixture over beds of potatoes and garnish with remaining capers and onions.

Slightly adapted from The Healthy Foodie

Our rating:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Willamette Vineyards and Oregon Coast

During our stay at the Willamette Wine County RV Park, we visited three different vineyards which was a lot of fun.  We had tried a couple of wine flights the week before, so we decided to pick out a bottle at each winery and enjoy sipping our wine overlooking the stunning grounds.  We really enjoyed wrapping up our day at the wineries.

We enjoyed a lovely Chardonnay at Stoller Vineyards overlooking their beautiful grounds.  We could even see Mt. Hood in the distance.

We also visited Lange Vineyards and sipped an elegant Pinot Noir again with wonderful scenery and a glimpse of Mt. Hood in the background.  I also snapped a picture of a vine full of unripened grapes.  I can only imagine how beautiful it will be when they ripen.

We wrapped up wine week at Eyrie Winery which was the first winery to open in the Willamette Valley.  They are still doing tastings in the original tasting room which is where we enjoyed a delightful Pinot Gris which is one of the wines that is a specialty of the area.

On Friday we packed up and drove 1 1/2 hours to get to the Oregon coast line where the weather if considerably cooler.  The highs for the first two days here, hit the high 60's in the late afternoons and the mornings have started cool and foggy covered in ocean mists.  We are enjoying the fact that we don't need the air conditioner.  We explored the area briefly Friday afternoon and took a walk on this beach.

On Saturday, we explored the Oregon Coast Aquarium which was a great way to spend an hour or so.

After the majority of the morning mist burned off, we explored a bit of Route 101 which is the Scenic Byway along the coast line.  The drive was beautiful with lots of photo spots along the way.

We are looking forward to exploring this area more this week and enjoying the cooler temps.  I just wish the days would start a little warmer than 55 degrees or so and the sun would burn through the fog and mist more quickly.