You'll find over 310 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!
By Kath Dedon
I have no recipes for you today. This post is all about a fantastic day trip for those of you living in or visiting the Pacific Northwest.
How many people can say that they can take a day trip to Paradise? Last weekend Bob and I did just that. Paradise is the main, and most popular, visitors area in Mt. Rainier National Park.
Knowing that Mt. Rainier National Park is wildly popular in July and August, we knew we should probably get an early start. We left the house at 8:00am and headed south via highway 161 through Puyallup, South Hill, Graham and Eatonville. We learned that the traffic is pretty horrible through Puyallup and South Hill, not because there is so much traffic, but because the numerous traffic lights are not coordinated to keep the traffic moving. We’d take a different route next time.
We reached our first destination, the Copper Creek Inn and Restaurant, at about 10:00 and stopped for breakfast. The restaurant is just 2 miles from the Nisqually entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park and has been popular since 1946. We felt lucky to get a table right away because it was full of people who were obviously on their way to the Park.
Breakfast was fantastic! The eggs and hash browns were perfect. Bob’s ham was delicious. The toast was made with homemade bread and served with blackberry jam and raspberry butter. As we were getting ready to leave, we got a glimpse of a big tray of homemade dough for hoagie rolls ready to be baked for the lunch menu’s French dip sandwiches. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t miss it if you have the opportunity to eat there.
Copper Creek Inn and Restaurant
After breakfast we continued on to the Park. It costs $15 a day for a car and its occupants to enter the park, but if you are over 62 you can get a lifetime pass for all of the National Parks in the whole country for just $10. Such a bargain! I told Bob that we should perhaps get an RV and travel from park to park. (Just kidding!!)
It took 30 or 40 minutes driving on a winding road to reach Paradise. When we were about halfway there, we began seeing signs that said the parking lots were full. “Be prepared to drive through.” We remained optimistic that we would find some place to park.
As we got closer to the parking lots, we noticed people parking on the shoulder and hiking in the rest of the way. We got to the main parking lot at about 11:40 and, sure enough, it was full with cars circling around. We noticed a family getting ready to leave, and parked behind them waiting to pull in when they left.
The view of “The Mountain” from the parking lot at Paradise (#18 on the map below). See the man heading towards us in the biking outfit? He and his family were about to leave their parking space which they bequeathed to us. He and his son(?) prepared their bikes to ride down the mountain and the rest of the family took the car.
Read more about the map and the other points of interest here.
It was so crowded around the parking lots and visitor center (#18 on the map). There were people from all over the world, as evidenced by all of the different languages we heard. We were amazed, though, that once we got out on the trails, there weren’t that many people.
We hiked around the trails for about an hour and a half and were delighted to see that we were not too late for the wildflowers. They were beautiful!
Love the Indian Paintbrush!
We especially enjoyed the Nisqually Vista Trail (#21) which took us through meadows of wildflowers and then led us to the Trail to the Nisqually Glacier View (#19.) It went along a ridge with a fabulous view of the Nisqually Glacier and a roaring glacial river.
Tadpoles in a little pool!
The Nisqually Glacier
Roaring glacial river – wish my photo could have captured the sound
When we found our way back to the parking lot, we went in to the Paradise Inn, which was built in 1916. It’s a rustic, but beautiful, building. There’s a lovely dining room available. I don’t know how it is, but they say they use organic and local ingredients.
Inside Paradise Inn – bustling with activity….and nappers
After viewing the lodge we went back to our car and continued east to the Grove of the Patriarchs (#8). Once again, the small parking lot was full, but we have a small car and Bob managed to squeeze it into a spot.
At the Grove of the Patriarchs we went on the 1.5 mile loop trail to see an amazing forest of some of the largest and oldest trees in the area. Over the years, many of them have fallen over the trail, so they were cut where they fell to clear the path.
In order to get to the “grove” with the most amazing trees, you have to cross a wobbly bridge over a creek. It’s suggested that you go one person at a time.
A LARGE fallen tree
Leaving the “grove” and getting ready to cross back over the bridge, Bob observed that the creek looked like a very promising fly fishing creek. I know he made a mental note to check it out in the future.
There were picnic tables available, so we pulled out our picnic lunch. Bob was so excited to have fried chicken, even though it was from the deli and not homemade. I was happy with leftover roast chicken.
After lunch we headed north on 410 to take a different route home. We decided to take the 6-mile side trip up to Crystal Mountain just to see what it looks like in the summer. We were amazed at how busy it was! They have really developed a popular summer destination. Once more, there was NO PARKING in the main lot. We parked illegally since we were only going to take a quick look. There were a lot of people like us, just up to visit. There was a also wedding party getting ready to take the gondola up to the restaurant for a wedding.
A slope at Crystal Mountain Ski Area in the summer
We quickly looked around, and then returned to 410 and continued north and west to Enumclaw and then north on 169 through Maple Valley to head home. The drive home was really much prettier than the morning drive and it was nice to see different sights.
We arrived home at about 6:30 and felt like we had had a full day. It turned out to be more of an expedition than I was expecting, but it was so much fun to be out in the mountain air on a beautiful summer day. There’s a reason the visitor center and the Inn were named Paradise. It is really beautiful and I highly recommend it!
By Kath Dedon
I have made Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives twice in the last three days. It is that good, and it is very easy to make.
The recipe is adapted from one in Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which is an inspiring cookbook with a lot of gorgeous photos. I didn’t change much, but I did lower the salt a bit and substituted 1 tablespoon of honey for the 1 tablespoon of sugar that Domenica uses.
We loved this simple preparation as a side dish, but it also makes a great antipasto offering. Domenica suggests using it in a frittata, on a pizza, or tossed with pasta.
Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives is perfect for summer entertaining since it can be made ahead of time. It’s fantastic served hot, warm, or at room temperature. If you make it in advance and refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature before serving.
Sweet-and-Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives
(Adapted from Domenica Marchetti’s recipe in The Glorious Vegetables of Italy)
Serves 4 – 6
I made the recipe to take to a dinner party, so I chose to double it to serve 10 – 12. It was easy to do, but I used 2 large skillets because it would have been difficult to prepare the 8 peppers in one pan.
Ingredients for 4 – 6 servings (for one pan)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large red peppers, cut lengthwise into ¾-inch strips
2 large yellow peppers, cut lengthwise into ¾-inch strips
1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about ½ large)
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup (about 45g) oil-cured olives (about 15 olives)
1. Prepare all of the ingredients so they are ready to go. (This technique is known as “mise en place” and it really does make the cooking process easier.)
2. I like to cut the ribs out of the peppers for a better presentation.
3. Cut the pits from the oil-cured olives, and cut them in half.
4. Measure the white wine vinegar.
5. Add the honey to the vinegar.
Two sets of “mise en place” ingredients for 2 skillets when I doubled the recipe.
Salt, olives, honey and vinegar
6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it is shimmering, add the peppers and the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the peppers are starting to soften.
I used 2 skillets when I doubled the recipe.a
7. Sprinkle the salt over the peppers. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 15 minutes. The peppers and onions should be soft and just starting to brown a bit.
8. Stir the honey and the vinegar together to make sure the honey is well-blended in the vinegar. Pour the mixture over the peppers. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until most of the vinegar has evaporated.
9. Stir in the olives and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
10. Put the peppers in a serving bowl and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
And, yes, I did wear my onion goggles to slice the onion! :)
By Kath Dedon
Mongolian Beef is one of my favorite things to order in Asian restaurants so I was excited to try Cooking Light’s lightened up version. I’ve made it twice now. When I made it a couple of nights ago Bob said, “This is really good!” And it really is! It may be lighter than the restaurant versions, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor.
I adopted the recipe to serve 2, but I increased some of the sauce ingredients and aromatics (garlic and ginger) to make it just a bit saucier and spicier. For example, the original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon each of garlic and ginger to serve 4. I used 1 tablespoon each of garlic and ginger to serve 2 and it was perfect for us.
This Mongolian Beef is a quick and easy dinner for 2 that I know I’ll be making often. Once you have all of the ingredients prepped, it cooks in less than 5 minutes making it a perfect choice for a hot summer night! (It’s going to be at least 90˚ in Seattle today!)
(Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)
Cooking Light suggests using a large nonstick skillet and my new T-Fal skillet is perfect. I think if I were doubling the recipe, though, I’d cook the beef in two batches so the pan isn’t too crowded. Then just add all the beef back in when you add the onions and the sauce.
Serves 2 (double for 4 servings)
1½ tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari)
¾ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon cornstarch
1½ teaspoons dry sherry
1½ teaspoons hoisin sauce (I used gluten-free Wok Mei)
¾ teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (use less if you’re using table salt)
2 teaspoons oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon (about 3 cloves) minced fresh garlic
½ pound sirloin steak, cut across grain into thin slices
8 medium-sized green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths
Some of the ingredients
1. Mix the first 8 ingredients together.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and tilt the skillet to spread it around.
3. Add the beef, ginger, and garlic to the pan. Cook until the beef is done and starting to brown (2 – 3 minutes).
4. Add the green onions and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
5. Add the sauce and cook, stirring, for 30 – 60 seconds, until hot and thickened.
6. Serve over rice noodles or steamed rice.
By Kath Dedon
For more than 30 years I have been hearing from Bob about how outrageous the fried chicken was at Chez Heléne in New Orleans. The chef behind the chicken was Austin Leslie. Austin had lived primarily with his Aunt Helen growing up and had learned a lot about cooking from her before working at a couple of restaurants. When Aunt Helen opened Chez Heléne in 1964, Austin was ready to go to work for her.
I never got to try the food at Chez Heléne; Austin closed it in 1995. He moved on to other ventures and continued to cook his legendary Fried Chicken.
Austin wrote a wonderful cookbook that was published in 2000 called Austin Leslie’s Creole-Soul: New Orleans’ Cooking with a Soulful Twist. It has his chicken recipe along with many other recipes that I’m eager to try. If you like soul food, this is the real deal.
I decided to make Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken using Austin’s recipe. I was curious about how the recipe would compare with my Buttermilk Fried Chicken which we love. They’re very similar, but Austin uses a mixture of half-and-half (or light cream), a beaten egg, and water instead of buttermilk. He doesn’t soak the chicken; in fact, he says not to soak the chicken.
One of his “secret” techniques is to pierce the largest part of each piece with a heavy two-pronged fork after they have cooked for about 8 minutes. It lets some of the oil seep in to speed up cooking without making it extra greasy.
For the flour, I substituted the America’s Test Kitchen’s gluten free flour blend and it worked amazingly well. Bob said he couldn’t tell the difference between it and regular wheat flour.
So what was our verdict? Both recipes produce fabulous fried chicken, but I think I may have liked Austin’s recipe a little bit better. It had been so long since Bob had eaten at Chez Heléne that he couldn’t really compare it to the restaurant’s. He just declared it to be delicious and requested that I make it again next week tomorrow. (I said no.)
I liked the fact that you don’t have to plan ahead to soak the Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken. The actual cooking seemed a little more labor intensive with Austin’s recipe, but part of the reason for that was because the chicken breasts I had were too large. Even after cutting them in half I had to do the chicken in 2 batches. It’s hard to find a small chicken, but it works much better if you can find one. The whole chickens at my store were 4 – 5 pounds, so I opted for 3.16 pounds of cut-up chicken. Even then, the breasts were too large.
If you feel like indulging in some soulful Southern food, I highly recommend this Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken. If you don’t have a problem with wheat (or gluten) just substitute all-purpose flour and you’ll have fabulous Southern Fried Chicken!
Gluten Free Southern Fried Chicken
(Adapted from Austin Leslie’s recipe in his Creole-Soul cookbook using the gluten free flour blend from The How Can This Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen)
The recipe suggests garnishing the finished chicken with chopped dill pickles, chopped garlic, and chopped parsley before serving. Bob doesn’t remember that from Chez Heléne so I didn’t use it. Perhaps Austin used it later in his career.
Ingredients clockwise from lower left: flour, egg, peanut oil, half & half, salt, pepper (in grinder), and chicken
1½ cups peanut oil for frying
1 (2½ – 3) pound fryer, cut up, or pieces
Salt and Pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup half & half (or light cream)
1 cup water
3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (or all-purpose flour, if you don’t need gluten free)
Chopped dill pickles for garnish (optional)
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic (optional)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet to 350˚. (This takes a good 10 – 15 minutes.) Use a thermometer for frying for best results; I find it’s essential.
Oil reflecting the wall behind the stove. The thermometer is extremely helpful.
2. If you have too much chicken for 1 batch, preheat the oven to 170˚ (warm), and put a large baking sheet in it. Put racks in the baking sheet if you have some.
3. Cut the chicken breasts in half so they will cook more quickly and evenly. Rinse them well to remove any little bits of bone there may be from cutting them in half and dry them off with paper towels.
4. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
5. Combine the egg, half & half, water, 1 teaspoon salt, and a bit of pepper in a bowl.
6. Put the flour in another bowl or pie plate.
7. When the oil is 350˚ dip the chicken in the egg batter first and then in the flour. Add them skin-side down to the pan. Do not crowd the pan! (I did the breast pieces first because they were so large and did the rest of the pieces in a second batch.)
8. Cook the pieces for about 5 – 6 minutes; pierce the thickest part of each piece with a large, two-pronged fork and turn them over for an additional 5 – 6 minutes. Monitor the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat as needed. (Large pieces may take a bit longer. My large breast pieces took a total of about 18 – 20 minutes.)
I found it best to cover the pan, especially with the larger pieces. I used another baking sheet for a makeshift lid.
9. As the pieces get done, use tongs to remove them from the pan and put them on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.
10. If it’s necessary to do 2 batches, repeat with the second batch after the first is done.
11. Garnish the finished chicken with the pickles, garlic, and parsley if you’re using them and enjoy!
By Kath Dedon
We had Kielbasa Sausage a la Fenway Park for Bob’s birthday dinner. The sandwiches are practically a whole meal all by themselves so I wanted a light side dish to serve with them. Roasted Bell Peppers were perfect!
I found the recipe for Roasted Red Bell Peppers on epicurious. The original recipe was published in the May 2005 issue of Gourmet magazine. It called for 5 red peppers; I used 2 red , 2 yellow, and 2 orange peppers.
This is a recipe that tastes fantastic at room temperature. I made it in the afternoon and it was all ready for dinner. I love make-ahead dishes for entertaining!
The Roasted Bell Peppers were excellent as a side dish to the kielbasa. Bob actually enjoyed some of them on his kielbasa. They would be a welcome side dish with any grilled meat or fish. You could also use them as an appetizer as part of an antipasti platter. Give them a try. I think you’ll like them!
Roasted Bell Peppers
(Adapted from a Gourmet recipe on epicurious.)
If you don’t have a grill (or don’t want to use it), you can put the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil them until they are charred on all sides.
Serves 6 – 8
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
2 small garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1. Heat your grill on high for 10 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to medium and put the peppers on the grill.
3. Turn the peppers with tongs every few minutes and grill until the skins are blackened on all sides. (With my grill it worked best to close the lid as they cooked. It took about 20 minutes to char them. It may take a shorter time if your grill is really hot.)
Charred peppers in a large stainless steel bowl
4. Remove the charred peppers from the grill and put them in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with foil and let them sit for 10 – 15 minutes.
5. Take the peels off of the peppers. Cut them in half and remove the stems and seeds. Slice the peppers into thin strips. Try to reserve some of the peppers juices as you cut them.
Peeled roasted peppers
6. In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, and any juices that you were able to reserve.
7. Stir the pepper strips into the marinade and marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
By Kath Dedon
This Corn Frittata with Pecorino-Romano Cheese from Cooking Light tasted even better than I was expecting! I loved the crunch of the corn with the eggs.
Cooking Light suggests that dill, basil, cilantro, lovage, or Italian parsley would all be great sprinkled over the finished frittata. They used parsley; I chose cilantro.
If your markets are bursting with great local corn, by all means, use fresh corn. We’re not quite there yet in the Pacific Northwest, so I used frozen corn kernels which worked just fine. Plus, being able to use frozen corn will make this Corn Frittata with Pecorino-Romano Cheese a great taste of summer in the middle of winter.
I used a 10-inch skillet. Next time I will use an 8- or 9-inch skillet so the frittata won’t be quite so flat.
Corn Frittata with Pecorino-Romano Cheese
(Adapted from a recipe in the June 2014 issue of Cooking Light)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1½ cups corn kernels (cut from about 2 ears, or frozen – no need to defrost)
1/3 cup diced shallots
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup milk
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons butter
1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or dill, basil, lovage, or parsley)
1. Heat a medium oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and spread it over the bottom of the pan. Add the corn and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper and the smoked paprika. Stir and then remove the corn to a bowl.
2. Beat the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and the milk into the eggs. Add the corn mixture to the eggs and stir well.
3. Preheat the broiler to high with the oven rack about 6 inches below the heating elements.
4. Turn the heat under the skillet to medium and melt the butter, letting it spread over the bottom of the skillet. Add the eggs and cook without stirring for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low and continue to cook for about 4 more minutes until the eggs are just done.
5. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and broil for about 1 minute.
6. Sprinkle with cilantro and, if desired, sprinkle with a bit more smoked paprika.
Brimming with crunchy, sweet corn
By Kath Dedon
This Roasted Mushrooms recipe is a perfect side dish for steak or burgers. And…it can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature – perfect for entertaining!
I adapted the recipe from one on Deborah Mele’s beautiful blog, Italian Food Forever. Deborah calls it “Roasted Mushroom Medley” since she uses 2 pounds of mixed fresh mushrooms. She suggests trying portobello, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, but adds that using just one type works as well. I used half white and half cremini mushrooms.
The first time I made Roasted Mushrooms I did not use garlic. I served them with grilled flank steak and they were very good, but I couldn’t help but think that I would love them with garlic added.
The second time I made them I followed Deborah’s recipe and used 2 cloves of garlic. The garlic flavor was very subtle. The mushrooms were well-received as a room-temperature side dish at the burger party we attended. Still, Bob and I decided we would prefer more garlic.
A quick search on the Internet revealed a similar recipe by Bobby Flay. His Oven Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme uses 4 cloves of garlic with 1 pound of mushrooms. Bingo! That sounds like it would be just the right amount of garlic for me. I will definitely be using more garlic the next time I make them which, undoubtedly, will be soon.
Do try these Roasted Mushrooms but make them just the way you like them. They were quite good even without the garlic. If you’re a garlic lover, try 6 – 8 cloves. Use less for a more subtle hint of garlic. They would be great served hot right out of the oven, but they make a fabulous room temperature side dish, too.
(Adapted from recipes by Deborah Mele on Italianfoodforever.com and Bobby Flay on The Food Network)
2 pounds sliced mushrooms (I used white and cremini.)
2 – 8 cloves garlic, chopped (Use 6 – 8 for real garlic lovers.)
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
Rosemary, sage, garlic, and parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚.
2. Pour the olive oil into a large baking dish. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, sage, and parsley.
3. Put the mushrooms in the baking dish and stir to coat them with the oil as well as possible.
4. Sprinkle the mushrooms with a bit of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir one more time and put in the oven.
5. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring once after about 25 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and stir the balsamic vinegar into the mushrooms. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt and pepper, if needed.
7. Serve at once, or cool and serve them at room temperature.