Category Archives: Recipes

What are Your Favorite Campfire Concoctions?

Photo from iStock
Photo from iStock

With the gorgeous weather expected for this three-day weekend, it’s prime time for camping.

While I’m partial to the camping standards like hot dogs and s’mores, I’ve found a lot of fun in trying to get fancy with my fire-cooked meals, the best one being a skillet dinner made with rice cooked risotto-style with lots of bouillon-based broth, onions and chicken. I’ve also tried a campfire Bisquick apple cobbler, which was good, but the fire got too hot and the pot didn’t survive the stick.

For those like me, who like the occasional spruced-up campfire meal, The News Tribune today has a feature on campfire desserts, going beyond the s’mores to things like eclairs and camp brownies cooked over a charcoal chimney.

What camping concoctions have you come up with? The Boy Scouts have a pretty good Dutch Oven Cookbook, know of any other good camping cookbooks?

Quick Fix: Fried Rice with Bacon and Greens

Fried Rice with Greens
Fried Rice with Greens

In last week’s post on greens, I revealed my newfound love of bacon and greens with scrambled eggs.

Recently, I added another bacon/greens combo concoction to my growing list of greens recipes.

One quick note before I get to the recipe, I should put in a quick note about identifying the greens. If you are one of those people who didn’t get the benefit of asking or forgot to ask the farmer what on earth all that green stuff was you had in your bag, a couple websites offers some help identifying greens. has a decent list of greens with pictures and tips for uses. I’m looking for others, but that seems to be the most complete. PCC Natural Markets also has a basic primer on greens.

Also, while I was out in Internet land, I found a few other greens recipes and added them to my Food Stories page.

And now to the recipe, or rather “recipe” because it’s an approximate of proportions I used to make the dish on the fly:

Continue reading

Taming the Greens with a Garlicky Recipe


When I decided to join a CSA, I was prepared for what food bloggers and other folks said would be an onslaught of leafy greens in the spring, (and summer, and fall). I saw it as a challenge, an exercise for my budding creative culinary skills.

This winter, I bought loads of kale and a bunch of chard at the grocery store, looked up recipes on blogs and even came out with my own tomato, kale, garbanzo and sausage soup.

I saw this onslaught as an opportunity to get all the wonderful vitamins and good-for-you things greens provide, and envisaged a sudden turn to a healthy-eating lifestyle.

And then I got my first bunches of beet and mustard greens.

Actually, I didn’t even know what they were, and failed to ask before happily and proudly skipping away with my bagful of fresh goodies.

It seems that while I was contorting to pat myself on the back, I failed to look up what “greens” actually meant and in what variety they come.

But this is not a story of a food failure.

In fact, it’s more of a food rescue.

So with the first batch, I made salad. It was … interesting. Not that bad the first time around, but not regular, tender-lettuce salad. It got better the second and third days after I beefed it up with boiled eggs, bacon and other things that I’m sure negate all the good-for-you qualities fresh greens provide.

I used to laugh at my friends from the South (land o’ collard and many other kinds of greens) who regaled me with stories of things like fried lettuce. I’d just about be on the floor, “You FRY lettuce? You have got to be kidding,” I’d said. Yeah, it was mean.

But all this was in my head as I chopped up a heaping helping from my second batch.  I fried it in bacon grease then scrambled in some eggs and topped it all with crumbled bacon.

I will NEVER laugh at my Southern friends again.

It. Was. Good.

And then, on my third trip to pick up goods, a friendly farmer at Pheasant Fields FarmRed Barn Farm gave me some tips and the weekly newsletter included a great recipe of garlicky greens with Andouille and onions to my weekly newsletter. The recipe came courtesy of Shannon Harkness of , who says she acquired it from a Cook’s Country magazine.

I made the recipe from the newsletter with mustard greens and instead of cider vinegar, I used red wine vinegar (it’s what I had in the house) and keilbasa (because the grocery store was out of Andouille). I overcooked the greens a little bit, so they weren’t quite bright green, and they were a touch bitter, but not overwhelmingly so, just enough to make it interesting.

So, it seems, I’m coming to love the greens in a multitude of varieties. If any of you have additional greens recipes, please, please pass them on.

Garlicky Greens with Andouille and Onions
(From Cook’s Country magazine)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 ounces Andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into half-moon shapes (substitues include kielbasa or chorizo)
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds greens, chopped
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

Brown sausage: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Cook sausage until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add greens and vinegar, cover and cook until greens are wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high to evaporate the liquid, about two more minutes.

Beating The Heat With Frozen Fruity Desserts

All I can think about today is being outside. I’ve been taking a look again at suggestions of best places to head after work on a sunny day.

And I’ve been craving ice cream, gelato, sorbet and the like since I woke up. I’ve been particularly wanting to try out a recipe I ran across yesterday on Foodista, the Seattle-based food encyclopedia. It was a Watermelon Ice recipe that was really basic using only sugar, watermelon, water and some lime leaves. Best part was it didn’t require an ice-cream maker, just some patience and ability to stir up the mix over the course of half a day. Because of that last part, I didn’t quite have time to make it last night, but it will definitely be tried out soon. I’ll leave a comment here letting you know how it went. Or if you try it, let me know how it goes.

I’m going to try a raspberry fruit ice, a strawberry and, taking an idea from a drink I saw at Bremerton’s Hi-Fidelity Lounge and combining strawberry with basil.

But since my interest in fruit ice was piqued, I looked up and found a couple other interesting recipes.

Epicurious has a recipe for Fresh Fruit Ice Trio: Lime, Watermelon & Pineapple and a site called Flora’s Hideout had a recipe for a mixed-fruit ice beverage that included strawberries, bananas and gelatin.

Celebrating Warm Weather with A Simple, Homemade Potato Salad


I made my first potato salad this weekend. You’d think with something so easy, I would have done it before, but those clear little plastic grocery store containers just seem so easy.

Well, with the spectacular sunshine this weekend, I made a go of it as a side dish with some burgers.

I read up a little on the basics and whipped together one of my own. I got a few tips from Barbara Lauternach’s “Potato Salad”, which reminded me that there really are hundreds of variations on a potato salad (her book as 50) that range from ones with vinaigrette-style dressings to things way fancier than I’m likely to put with a burger. I also searched around the Internet for various recipes and settled on making a basic version of my own, noting that most have some sort of vinegar, mayo and of course potatoes. I also made good use of fresh herbs growing in my garden.

Other folks add sugar and more crunchy items like relish, parsley and/or celery. I stuck with some very basic and quick ingredients, but did change it up a day later by adding a boiled egg, mustard and paprika to make it a more filling lunch.

I wrote down the basics of what I used below. What are some of your favorite additions? Or do you have a different basic recipe?

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Quick Fix: Crispy Cheese Wafer Snack with One Ingredient

I made these little cheese snacks this weekend, and the friends I shared them with seemed to enjoy them.

I’m not kidding about the one ingredient, though you can spiff it up with herbs, spices and/or a mix of cheeses.

Done right, they can be an airy, crispy snack that happens to be low-carb (though perhaps high-fat) .

So here’s how you do it. Shred some parmesan cheese, sprinkle it in circles on parchment paper or a lightly oiled baking pan, bake at 350-degrees for about 7 minutes, remove immediately from the pan to cool, and you’re done. If you want, you can shape them immediately out of the oven by draping them over something or forming little cups.

You can play around with it by mixing in pepper, cayenne pepper or other herbs and spices with them. I added finely chopped rosemary to one batch, but the herbs burned before the wafers were done. Tossing in a little oil beforehand may have helped.

There were a few lessons I learned while making them:

Watch them while baking:
The cheese can scorch and taste burnt pretty fast. Pull them out when they start to just become golden.

Grate your own: I tried it at first with some pre-shredded parmesan from the grocery store, but preferred the cheese I shredded myself using the tiny shredding part of the grater. The store-bought had too much powdery grated cheese, which melts together in a clump and ends up being either chewy or thickens into something that’s hard.

Keep it thin: When sprinkling, just put a thin layer for each chip, leave a lot of holes. Most of it will melt a little together. I preferred something a little more delicate, so this colors my judgement. I think it’s something that you just have to play around with.

Not all cheeses mix: Mixing parmesan and swiss seemed to work well and parmesan with Asiago or other similarly hard cheese came out great. Cheddar, however, at least the sharp Tillamook I tried was not a good choice. They don’t melt at the same rate, so the cheddar ends up being just a burned mess. I didn’t try it, but mozerella or other cheese with a higher fat content is probably more likely to melt.

Simple Yet Satisfying Warm Weather Salad: Tabouleh

When I went looking for a side dish for kebabs, I thought of one of my favorite warm-weather salads, Tabouleh.

This Mediterranean salad is pretty satisfying yet fresh-tasting and it just happens to be both healthy (it uses whole grains, vitamins from fresh herbs). I could eat the stuff all day, by the spoonful. Other folks prefer it in a little more moderation as a dip for pita bread.

Recipe variations range from ones that run heavy on the hergs, such as you’ll often find in Middle Eastern restaurants to ones that treat the parsley and mint like coloring for the grain. Though it’s usually made with bulgar, variations on the grain also include barley, couscous, buckwheat (if you’re going for gluten-free), or rice. To give the dish a more exotic flavor, you can add cumin cinnamon and/or a touch of allspice. I’ve also seen variations that include tomatoes, apples cucumbers and other veggies.

I chose a basic recipe from a book through which I’ve recently been browsing, New York Times cooking guru Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, listed below:


(from How to Cook Everything)
1/2 cup fine- to medium-grind bulgur
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust according to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups roughly chopped parsley leaves
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup shopped green onions

Soak bulgur in hot water to cover until tender, 15 to 30 minutse. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible. Toss with oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, add remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.

Peruvian Kebabs and Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

Kebabs have to be one of my all-time favorite barbecue meals. They allow you to dress up an otherwise bland piece of meat and make something spectacular out of it. And it’s on a stick. I mean, who doesn’t like food on a stick?

Shish Kebabs, or marinated meat roasted on a stick, have been around for centuries.  The food is said to come from Turkey, according to research from and reference librarian Lynne Olver. The phrase comes originally from Turkish words meaining “skewer” and “roast meat”.

Three main types dominate: ones with a dry rub, marinated and ground meat pressed on a stick.

I’m a bigger fan of the marinated type, though I’ve had some great dry-rub types. A friend once made this delicious dry rub with cinnamon, cumin and other spices. Kabul’s on 45th Street in Seattle comes to mind when thinking of places to get great kebabs without making them yourself.

But Sunday was a stay-at-home kind of night, so I went hunting online for recipes.

My main criticism of most kebab recipes out there are the calls to alternate meat, onions and peppers or other veggies. While on the face of it, having those flavors mix in the cooking wouldn’t seem like a bad idea, but I’ve never had much success getting them all to cook at the same pace. My onions usually end up fairly raw while the meat blackens. So, I generally cook them separately.

But I came across a meat-only recipe that even tasted good reheated (recipe below).   Continue reading

Experimenting with Stuffed Red Peppers with Italian Sausage

Stuffed Red Peppers
Stuffed Red Peppers

I’m such a sucker when it comes to mentions of food. When I see photos or video shots of good food, I almost inevitablly end up with a craving for it. I am the person for whom the rule “don’t grocery shop while your hungry” applies.

So it was while I was grocery shopping — hungry —  when I saw a magazine photo of a stuffed green pepper.

I’ve never tried to cook a stuff pepper, and with the image in my head, I committed myself —  while still in the grocery store — to making some.

Now here comes another sometimes wasteful mistake I tend to make in the grocery store. I think I can just try to whip something up with an ingredient that catches my eye. In the process of learning to cook better, it’s a fun challenge to pull off something new with existing or new-to-me ingredients. For the most part, it’s a good thing, but I’ve sometimes bought myself into a trap of not really knowing what to do with the thing when I get home and letting it sit until it spoils or not understanding enough about how to cook the ingredient and making something inedible.

I’ll write more at another time on how I’m working to remedy that. For now, back to the peppers.

While at the store, I also tossed some Italian sausage and fresh basil into my cart and dreamed of using up some pearl barley in my pantry. Several days later, I managed to actually follow up on my craving and made stuffed red peppers.

Below are the ingredients and portions I used and some notes on how it turned out. Would love suggestions for improvement.

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Sometimes Quick and Simple Is Just Fine Too: Cornbread Casserole

I always make cornbread into muffins
I always make cornbread into muffins

I think I first had it at a work potluck, a piece of cornbread sweet and moist and full of enough corn to make it an actual side dish and not just something to butter.

I asked my good friend for the recipe, and lo and behold, it ended up being a ridiculously simple corn casserole recipe he got out of a magazine.

I’ve made my own sweet cornbread from scratch, and it’s not that hard. And some day I’ll make an all-local ingredient, fresh-milled corn meal and freshly creamed corn version, I’m sure. But when I need a quick side (or an occasional potluck dish), such as when I made beer batter crab fritters, it’s where I turn. Here’s how I make it, though unlike the original, I bake them into individual muffins.

Simple Cornbread Casserole

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1 can corn kernels, drained
1 can creamed corn

Follow the directions on the box. It’ll take about an extra 5 to 10 minutes to bake.