Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

What do cooking and the road have in common?  I miss them both.  Yesterday, I had a meeting about an hour away from home and though the drive there was busy with phone calls, the drive back was rather quiet.  That’s when I realized how much I miss the road.  And I don’t mean traveling which I have done plenty of, but driving on the road.  I really enjoy driving, because I find it peaceful and it’s a great time to do lots of thinking.  I feel the same way about cooking – it’s very relaxing for me.  Unfortunately of late, I have not had much chance to do either very much.  My new job allows me to work from home (I am not complaining about the convenience & flexibility of this) and life in general leaves little time for any serious cooking any more. 

While driving yesterday, I suddenly had the notion to go home and make cookies for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Not just cookies from a recipe, but I wanted to experiment and change a few old tried and true recipes to make them more festive for the occasion.  And so I used my time to listen to the radio and devise a plan.  I stopped at the store on the way and picked up a few things.  After finishing up my meetings around 7pm, taking care of dinner & helping my son with his homework, I started baking. 

First I made some Madeleines.  I love these French cakelike cookies and make them every year for the Christmas holidays.  But to keep in the spirit of the season at hand, I made Pumpkin Madeleines laced with bourbon.  I took the basic recipe that I’ve had for over 20 years (not even sure where I got it anymore), and added some Woodford’s Reserve instead of vanilla and folded in 2/3 Cup pumpkin puree in at the end.  I also added ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg into the dry ingredients.  Crossing my fingers as I removed them from the oven onto the cooling rack, I tasted one.  It was a success.  So much so, that my son wanted to eat the entire tray.

After finishing up dinner and cleaning the kitchen, I set off making some oatmeal cookies, once again with a pumpkin twist to them.  What I ended up with is spicy pumpkin oatmeal cookies with a maple glaze.  Again I used my usual oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, eliminated the raisins and added in some pumpkin and spices.  The glaze recipe I found online.

The funniest part of my need to make cookies around the holidays is that my son and I don’t really eat cookies.  He’ll eat a few when they are fresh and warm but then they are forgotten.  So why do I bake?  To deliver to my friends and neighbors of course!!

My Thankful list for 2013

  • I am thankful for being healthy and pain free!
  • I am thankful for a wonderful life!
  • I am thankful for my awesome son who makes each day worth living!
  • I am thankful for my mother who is always there for us no matter what!
  • I am thankful I had a wonderful father who I miss daily but especially during the holidays!
  • I am thankful for my family everywhere in the world!
  • I am thankful for my friends near & far who are there for me when I need them!

And last but not least……

  • I am thankful for the opportunity to eat great food, drink wonderful wines and the ability to travel!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Oodles of Noodles & a Donut Burger too!!!

It seems that lately every other post I write involves Portland OR.  I suppose with the amount of time I have spent in the city this year, it’s only logical.  I was recently back there for two long, grueling weeks for work which barely allowed time to see daylight, but my son joined me for the second week and on the flight out we decided it would be fun to theme our meals.  The theme we chose was noodles.  It only made sense because there are so many options in Portland.  We made some delicious discoveries and some were just mediocre considering the hype around them.  It was a rainy week so we opted to stay within walking distance of the hotel except the one night a friend with a car joined us.

Jade Noodles
Our first noodle adventure took us to Luc Luc on 2ndStreet.  Luc Luc is a Vietnamese restaurant and I had eaten there the previous week when I ate a Bahn Mi which I loved.  We walked in intending to order a bowl of Pho but instead ordered their special Jade noodles.  The noodles are made with soba and spinach and then sautéed with chicken, scallions, peppers and bean sprouts.  We ordered them medium spicy which was perfect for our combined taste though I would probably order them hotter next time.  They were delicious despite the fact that we ate them in our hotel room (little man was suffering from jet lag which made for a not so great mood).  They were tangy, spicy and full of flavor.  My only negative comment would be that the chicken was a bit dry but hey, we were looking for noodles.

Ramen with Shoyu & Chia Siu Pork
The next day I walked back to the hotel for lunch and we decided that we would try the House of Ramen just up the block on Columbia Street.  It’s a tiny hole in the wall that I have passed many times on my trips here but never actually ventured in.  Turns out this was our favorite noodle joint of all the ones we tried.  My son had the make your own bowl which he ordered with the Shoyu soup base, normal size noodles, and the Cha Siu Pork.  Also added to each bowl are bok choy, bean sprouts, scallions, corn & ginger.  I ordered the Kyoto bowl which also has the Shoyu soup base, scallions, mushrooms, jalapenos, kikurage and ginger. Once you place your order and find a seat, the Ramen is brought to you in about 5 minutes.  We chose counter seats along the window so we could watch the passersby and examined a variety of hot sauces on a tray while we waited for our food.  Both our bowls of ramen were delicious.  We added sriracha sauce to kick it up a bit and just ate in silence till the bowls were empty.  One thing I was thankful for as I enjoyed my ramen was my local Chinese friends who have over the past few years gotten me fairly comfortable eating with chopsticks.  Even my little guy did pretty well with them.

Pappardelle with Bolognese
Having tried two Asian style noodles thus far, for my business dinner that evening I offered to make reservations so that I could keep with the theme and decided Italian noodles were likely the safest option.  The restaurant I chose is Pazzo on Washington Street.  I have eaten at Pazzo before and also been there for cocktails, but had never eaten the pasta.  It’s an Italian restaurant and they make some of their own pastas.  We ordered the Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce to share since our bowls of Ramen earlier in the day had not yet completely digested.  The pasta was very good and perfectly cooked.  The Bolognese also was rich and flavorful.  We ate it all despite our already full stomachs.

Roti Mataba
Our next noodle adventure took us back East to Thailand and to a restaurant in the Southeast called Chiang Mai.  Online reviews claimed it is as good as, if not better than, Pok Pok so we figured we’d check it out.  This one was a semi-disappointment.  I say that because my son’s soup and sticky rice were very good and had a nice spice level.  My friend D, who joined us for this one, ordered the Pad Thai and was very happy with it.  I tried some and it was very good with the hot, sour and slightly fishy flavor a good Pad Thai should have.  Their spicy Roti Mataba appetizer was delicious.  But the noodles I ordered (I wanted to be adventurous and try something besides the Pad Thai) were mediocre at best.  It was called Kuay Tiew Nua Sap Kai Dao and was described as wide rice noodles stir fried with ground beef, tomato, onion, lettuce and sweet & sour sauce topped with a crispy fried egg.  Sounded great to me and I asked them to turn up the heat on it to make it hot.  Unfortunately what arrived was a plate full of unseasoned noodles with dry ground beef lying on top of whole lettuce leaves, and a way too fried egg sitting on top of it.  No tomato, no onion, no sauce were to be found.  Oh and there was absolutely no heat.  My son’s soup, ordered medium, was spicier than my noodles.  Thoroughly disappointed, I asked for some hot sauce, added it to the plate and ate as much as I could handle.  Note to self – next time stick to the Pad Thai.
My Noodles

Pad Thai

On our last day, my son was tired of noodles.  I suggested going back to Luc Luc for the Pho but he wouldn’t have it.  So we decided to walk toward Pioneer Square to a restaurant I had read about to check out their happy hour.  What interested me most about this place were the donut burger sliders on their menu.   The name of the restaurant is The Original on 6th Street.  It is an interesting place with a diner style décor located on the street level of an office building.  It is bright and friendly and when you walk in, you get a sort of nostalgic feeling.  We were seated in a booth and ordered the Donut Burger sliders, Chicken & Waffle sliders and some Black Bean Nachos.  To put it in text language…..OMG!!!  Both the sliders were absolutely delicious.  Generally I find that burger sliders tend to be overcooked meatballs, but these were cooked a perfect medium and full of flavor.  The bun is made from buttermilk donuts, the burger is topped with some Tillamook cheddar and then it’s all coated in a sticky, sweet glaze that has a hint of spice to it.  They were so good, my son wanted to place a second order.  The chicken & waffle sliders were equally good.  The chicken was moist and tender and the waffles nice and fluffy.  There was a honey-dijon drizzle on top which was flavorful though my son & I added some hot sauce to it for an added kick.  Black bean nachos were also quite good.  Having broken our noodle theme, we walked back in the rain by way of the Microsoft store where my son enjoyed playing some video games for a while before heading back to the hotel.

This noodle fest was delicious but came with a price in the form of six pounds of gained weight.  I don’t normally eat so many simple carbs but what a fun and delicious way to gain weight.  I’ll just have to be sure to lose it before the holiday eating begins.  As one of my friends put it yesterday, the diet always starts tomorrow.

If you know of any interesting noodle places, please post them for us.  Or if you’ve had any interesting burgers for that matter….

Happy Eating!!

Recipe : Chicken & Hot Italian Sausage Meatloaf

Several years ago I decided to try and make a healthy meatloaf.  I tried using ground turkey but I don’t like the taste and smell of turkey in general.  Then I tried it with ground chicken which was ok but lacked flavor no matter how many other things I added.  The best attempt of this one was very similar to the one below minus the sausage & soup mix.  Instead I added some sauteed onion, red bell peppers, button mushrooms, chipotle peppers, corn and spinach all chopped finely.  If I have the time to do it (not a weeknight), I use fresh veggies instead of the soup mix but I do add dehydrated onion flakes in addition to fresh onion.  They just taste good after cooking.  So here goes the recipe I made last night.  Not quite as healthy as my mission started out but a delicious end result just the same.


1 lb ground chicken (not the chicken breast)
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage (approx. 2 links) – I buy at the local meat market & they make it fresh
1 packet Knorr Spring Vegetable soup mix
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp BBQ sauce (I used Stubbs)
1 egg
2 slices of bread (I used the Arnold’s 9 grain) cut into cubes
1/2 cup milk
1 – 3 Tbsp ketchup

30 minutes before starting, place bread cubes into a flat bowl and add milk to cover and coat all.  Stir occasionally so the bread absorbs most or all of the milk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a large bowl combine the ground chicken and the Italian sausage (casing removed) and mix until uniform. Add the soup mix, garlic and black pepper and mix until just combined.  Add the BBQ sauce and egg and combine together.  Then add the bread with any leftover milk and mix until you no longer see any whole chucks of bread.  It should break apart easily.  Grease a loaf pan with spray cooking oil or canola oil.  I line mine with foil and grease the foil for easier clean up.  Place the meat mixture into the pan and form a loaf. Squeeze the ketchup over the loaf and gently spread it all over the top.  It will form a skin as the meatloaf bakes.  Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let stand for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing. 

We enjoyed ours with a bowl of Cream of Asparagus Soup and some warm French Bread.

Note: If you use fresh vegetables, you may want to add a bit of salt. If you eliminate the sausage and use fresh vegetables, then you may want to add more.  I eliminate it entirely in this recipe since these two ingredients are already quite salty.

Feel free to add any suggestions or variations you might try in comments below.

Bon Appetit!

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