Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gingerbread Waffles and "the process"

My favorite breakfasts involve eggs-- scrambles, omelets, a couple lovely over-easy ones atop crispy hashbrowns (if I wasn't already stuffed, I'd be craving eggs again). So it's a puzzle to both N and I why, over the past few years, I've begun to experiment with waffles. Perhaps it began with that bacon waffle N ordered at Andy's Cafe. Now that was a beautiful waffle!

This time the idea was all about gingerbread waffles (though the bacon and blueberry experiment is gaining tradition status). My usual recipe finding process may be similar to yours-- I Google and Google and Google, refining the search until I find 6-8 that sound like what I'm looking for. I leave those tabs open on the browser, until I can whittle the selections down to 2 or 3. Sometimes I'll print all 2/3 before I can decide. I was tempted by the recipe that called for pumpkin, but decided on a recipe from Annie Eats blog. (I worry about wasting the leftover pumpkin). The only change I made was to add brown sugar instead of white.

I served them with applesauce, butter and maple syrup. Neither of us could imagine eating the waffles without applesauce or apple butter. It added a fresh, bright and slightly tart flavor to all the sweetness. They seemed a little dry, but still delicious. I think it'll be worth it to try the other two recipes. Only because it's a fun way to spend a weekend morning.

The recipe we made: Annie Eats

The recipe with pumpkin: Cristine Cooks

The recipe with buttermilk: A Bloggable Life

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh What a day

How did I get so lucky in one day??

Four, yes four! Four of my favorite things in one day! 
Driving in the PDX area. 
Driving in the rain. 
Driving in the dark 
AND (dootdadoot) 
driving during rush hour!!!  

Now I feel an overwhelming urge to do an impression of Sylvester the Cat spitting in disgust.  
After our drive home from her Beaverton appointment, Sara and I were so giddy with relief to be back in Salem, we laughed extra hard over a moment of hilarity in Costco.  
We greeted the membership card checker and there was this suspicious odor of poop and disinfectant hanging in the air.  
Of course I had to say something about it. Wouldn't you??

Fran began to giggle as I pushed her along in her wheelchair.  Soon we were over by the coolers and it became clear to me there was another odor in the mix--yep, it was vomit. I leaned down to share the obvious in her ear.  The giggling increased. 
We made a stop at the pharmacy. Fran was just beginning to recover, when another customer on the other side of the pharmacy counter said, " smells like Christmas".

That was it. The gates opened and she began gasping for air. Didn't help that I leaned down and wondered out loud, "I wonder where SHE spends christmas?" 

I'm sure people were wondering what was wrong with the two of us. 

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

This recipe from Danielle Stephenson, Lakeville, Minnesota, (Cooking Light NOVEMBER 2009) is definitely a keeper--so delicious!
I made 2 changes:  I used chicken thighs instead of breasts and Butternut Squash in place of the sweet potatoes. Be aware, it does take approximately 2 hours of combined prep and cooking time, but oh so worth it!

Sweet Potato Chicken Curry

  • YIELD: 7 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
  • COURSE: Main Dishes


  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1. Combine curry powder, coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and bay leaf in a small bowl.
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high; return chicken to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add curry powder mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in potato and chickpeas. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Add peas; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Discard bay leaf.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chicken and Sweet Potato Casserole

We made this recipe last night. It was delicious and share-worthy :>)

Take it from Australia's members, even the kids will adore this chicken casserole recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1kg chicken thigh fillets, halved crossways
  • 1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs lemon thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Maille wholegrain mustard
  • 400g orange sweet potato, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 1 quantity caramelised onions (see note)


  1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Remove to a plate.
  2. Add fennel, thyme and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add wine and mustard. Cook for 3 minutes. Add sweet potato and stock. Bring to the boil. Return chicken to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Add cream. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes (do not return to the boil as sauce might spit). Stir in caramelised onions. Serve.


  • To freeze: Allow to cool for 1 hour. Spoon into a 4 cup-capacity airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat: Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50%) for 15 to 18 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until heated through. Caramelised onions: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add 2 thinly sliced large red onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until soft. Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash with Chicken Sausage & Orchiette Pasta

Fran did one of her amazing feats of taking from 2-3 different recipes and creating a new delicious dish for N and I. By the way, I think I'm becoming addicted to Butternut Squash.

Butternut Squash with Chicken Sausage & Orchiette Pasta

32 oz cubed butternut squash
3 links of chicken sausage cut into half moon ¼” chunks
½ a large onion, diced
pinch of red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon dried sage
orchiette pasta
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon butter
preheat the oven to 435. toss the butternut squash with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper on a sheet pan. Roast the squash for about 35 mins or until starting to caramelize, taking it out every 10 mins to stir and check on it.
Cook the sausage in a large skillet on medium heat with a little bit of olive oil until starting to brown, stirring frequently. Add the onion and red pepper flakes to the sausage and cook until the onion is starting to brown, about 3-4 mins. Add the garlic, pecans and the sage to the pan, stirring frequently for about a min. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the roasted squash.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
Return the sausage/butternut squash mixture to a medium high heat and add the parmesan, butter and half of the pasta water along with the cooked pasta and stir until combined and the cheese is melted into a smooth uniformish sauce, adding more pasta water if necessary. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And then there were three

I had almost forgotten what it was like to even consider that Fran might be able to join us as we spend a day out running errands. It's wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
We began at Ace Hardware, spent a long time at Costco, went to PetCo and finally made a stop for dinner at Willamette Burger Co. On a good day (over a year ago) that would've wiped her out for more than 24 hours. Tonight she came home, tried on a new shirt, sized Izzy's new harness and now she's sitting (mostly) upright in her chair watching TV.
Life is oh so good :>)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wow! This school is doing it right

Where poor students soar
November 5, 2011
What works at a school dealing with poverty and a lack of English fluency? Tough love, hard work and a laser focus on achievement.

By Sandy Banks

From the outside, Plummer Elementary doesn't look much like a showcase school. The 60-year-old campus has drab green bungalows, a patchy lawn and graffiti scrawled on the "Please, No Honking" sign.

The California Distinguished School logo above the front gate, out of reach of taggers, is about the only indication that something special is happening inside.
The San Fernando Valley campus, in a working-class pocket of North Hills, was singled out by Los Angeles Unified Supt. John Deasy in a conversation we had last month about whether low-income, Latino students in this district are doomed to mediocrity.

Plummer — where 90% of the students are poor and two-thirds begin school not fluent in English — is one of the district's highest-scoring elementary schools. Its Academic Performance Index score has risen by more than 200 points, to 862, in the last four years, outpacing schools around the state with similar demographics.

Whatever is going on there shouldn't be a secret, so I paid a visit to poke around.

What I found was tough love, hard work and a laser focus on student achievement. Not rocket science, but not magic either.
(click the link below to read the entire article),0,4705874,full.column

Going Deep

On the last Monday of October, Fran received some relief from this constant pain in her lower right quadrant. Not all, but a good sized portion. It's a shame she had to go all the way to PDX for this help, but we're more than willing to do that for her.

Something we've learned during the past several years is the majority of the pain doctors (we've come into contact with) are only good for one or two (if you're lucky) tries when it comes to the injections. It's as if they like to relieve people's pain, but not if it's going to take too much time and effort. Why?
And then they make a leap: if your pain isn't relieved by their effort, it must all be in your head.

When this is all over, I hope I still have an urge to shine a light on this deficiency in the pain profession. I know she's not alone in this frustrating experience.