Jan 09

Creamy Mushroom Soup with Truffles

Fresh Black Truffle


1/2 ounce (14 g) package dried Shitake, Morel or other mushrooms
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
2 oz. fresh Shiitake wild mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 cup onion, sliced thinly
1-3/4 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons cream
1/4 teaspoon Madeira wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

Truffle Oil

Black Truffle shavings


Reconstitute the dried mushrooms by bringing chicken broth to a boil, pour over mushrooms and let stand 20 minutes. Strain (be sure to remove and grit), reserving the mushrooms and liquid, then chop mushrooms.

In a saucepan with butter over medium high heat sauté shallots, garlic, chopped Morel mushrooms and sliced Shiitake mushrooms until shallots are transparent. Add onions and flour stirring well; cook 2 minutes. Add reserved mushroom broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, whisk until thickened slightly and smooth; simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Puree in a blender; strain. Return to saucepan; add cream, Madeira wine, salt and pepper, stir until of a creamy consistency.

Spoon the creamy wild mushroom mixture into heated serving bowls, drizzle with truffle oil, black truffle shavings, and serve.

Jan 05

National Soup Month

January is perfectly suited to be National Soup Month. The skies can be clear with frigid cold air or stormy, and dark delivering a fresh blanket of snow on the landscape. The stock pot is coming out!

It’s not surprising that a Frenchman is credited with the first shop specializing in soup. After all the word is French in its roots. Soupe means soup or broth. The cooking method of boiling in a container is an ancient technique. The passion for soup was revisited in a classic Seinfeld episode in the 1990’s. Only proper ordering of his creation was allowed by “The Soup Nazi”.

Making your own soup assures you’ll get your order correct. It’s an added benefit that the house smells great and exudes the warmth needed to get us through those chilly January days. Some soups are deliciously simple; other more complicated. Try a few of our favorites today and don’t forget a toasty sandwich with it!


Creamy Mushroom Soup with Truffles    

Chicken Noodle

Tomato Soup & Grown up Grilled Cheese for 2

Nov 25

Pumpkin, Pasta & Pinot

I like traditional food and the leftovers at Thanksgiving; but it’s important to me to mix it up a bit. There’s room in my kitchen to incorporate seasonal flavors, like a new pumpkin recipe, into something exciting.  There is usually not, however, room in my refrigerator for leftovers beyond the time I still find them exciting. I wanted to find something traditional blended with something new.

Pasta is my go-to meal. It just always works for me. It’s high on most people’s “comfort food” list. Whether using the most basic sauce treatment or unusual, surprising sauces, it’s going to appeal to me. So when I discovered the seasonal flavor of pumpkin sauced and poured onto one hot pumpkin pasta recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it. I felt pre-programmed to love the color, aroma and taste.

I collected the ingredients together for Pumpkin Pasta with Bacon. The bacon’s aroma started to fill the kitchen. The rest of the savory ingredients went into the pan. The pasta finished just as the final touches of the sauce came together. The creamy, golden-orange sauce was dripped over the hot pasta and stirred until the fresh herbs released their perfume. We opted for large shavings of parmesan for big parmesan taste. One note, we added toasted pine nuts for crunch.

This pumpkin recipe is a winner in its flavors and color. It’s also quick, beautiful, elegant yet rustic and so delicious.


RiverBench Vineyard & Winery

RiverBench Vineyard & Winery

Best of all, the recipe came with the wine recommendation already in place. Pinot Noir – exactly what I was already thinking. Medium bodied and fruity with a hint of the grassy, farmyard aroma.

Pumpkin, Pasta & Pinot – perfectly paired for a great meal.

For a copy of this recipe, and a great Pinot Noir, visit the website of my friends at RiverBench. https://riverbench.com/pumpkin-pasta/

Nov 22

Willamette Valley, Oregon Wins!

One visit to the Willamette Valley, Oregon for their wines will convenience you that this award is well deserved.



Willamette Valley, OR Win!





The Willamette Valley has great town such as Carlton, Wine Capital of Oregon.

http://www.visitcarlton.com/                                                             North Willamette Map


Photos with piles of bright juicy perfectly ripe raspberries are awesome. Sometimes one perfect raspberry is all that is needed. But when there are hundreds on the bushes, try making Chocolate-Raspberry Macarons.


One Perfect Raspberry

One Perfect Raspberry

Jun 26

Chocolate-Raspberry Macarons

Chocolate-Raspberry Macarons



Use precise weight measurements for best results

·       4.5 ounces (1 3/4 cups) almond flour or meal

·       7.5 ounce (2 cups minus 3 tablespoons) powdered sugar

·       Dash salt

·       4 ounces (1/2 cup) egg whites (no yolks)

·       1 ounce (2 tablespoons) extra-fine granulated sugar

·       4 drops red food color

Raspberry Ganache

·       12 ounces frozen raspberries, defrosted

·       2 tablespoons extra-fine granulated sugar

·       12 ounces quality chocolate chips





Preheat oven to 325°F.

Set aside 2 – 3 cookie sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  

Set aside a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain round pastry tip.



1.     Combine almond flour/meal, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and mix until almond flour feels very fine. Set aside.

2.     In a mixing bowl, whip egg whites and granulated sugar to very stiff peaks.

3.     Stop whipping and immediately add food color and almond meal mixture. Using a rubber spatula mix until batter is smooth but do not overmix to avoid making batter too runny. Batter should appear like thick pancake batter.

4.     Fill pastry bag with filling and pipe quarter size and dome shaped mounds onto prepared sheets about 1 inch apart. Macarons will spread a little just after piping.

5.     Allow macarons to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before placing in oven. (If macarons are still spreading and not holding their shape place immediately in oven.) 

6.     Bake for about 17 minutes or until golden, light brown color on the surface. (If you can lift one up from baking sheet without tearing it apart, they are completely done.)

7.     Allow to cool on baking sheets on.

8.     To make ganache: Puree raspberries until very smooth. Run through a sieve reserving exactly 1 cup. Pour in a saucepan and add sugar. Bring to a full boil.

9.     Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips. Place in a bowl of ice for quick setting.

10.  Flip half of macarons upside down and fill with raspberry ganache using same size pastry tip. Sandwich macaron and place in a refrigerator.


Makes about 40 filled macarons.

Dec 12

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Au Gratin Potatoes

Imagine – two of the most popular potato recipes blended together. Make Roasted Garlic Rosemary Au Gratin Potatoes this week!


  • 5 cups red potatoes that have been diced to 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary lightly chopped
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • freshly ground black pepper (a chef in texas)
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular salt, to taste , PLUS 1/2  teaspoon a Chef in Texas Roasted Garlic Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) sharp, white Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup soft bread crumbs, about 1 slice of bread
  • Olive oil for drizzle


Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 29

Leftovers ON Thanksgiving

We decided to switch it up a bit this year for Thanksgiving. For several years, we have debated cooking the full blown meal for just the two of us. After all, how long can one really eat leftovers?

The problem is that we really like the Thanksgiving meal and all the fixings. We like the leftovers, too.  Post turkey day goodies like turkey sandwiches, bourbon sweet potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy and the stuffing of the year. (We reconfigure stuffing each year because there are soooo many kinds we like.) Then there are the pies.  We don’t eat a lot of pie at other times of the year. I don’t really know why; but I guess that’s what makes them extra special at Thanksgiving.

Maybe we are just getting lazy. We start worrying about the shopping, planning, scheduling, pre-cooking, and baking; we get tired, really tired.  Then there is the cleaning and packing up food! Everyone knows what I am talking about. 

Yet, the smell of roasting turkey enticed us. How could we celebrate and still have a restful holiday? At the last minute we decided to do the cooking but this year we would eat on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. We cheated a bit by purchasing pies at our local pie houses. That’s right, two different places to get our favorites from each. The mini pies were just perfect for our plans. After arriving home from the grocery store and work on Wednesday, we cooked it all! It tasted amazing and the new puppy got to taste his first turkey. Exhausted, and delishishly full, we had another late night bite of pie because we could.

Thanksgiving morning we had nothing to do except wish friends and family a great holiday. With a whole free day ahead of us, we decided to drive to Mt. Hood. The Cascade Mountains had just a hint of holiday snow. Happy families with kids and dogs made snowmen, threw snowballs, sledded down the hills, and hiked under brilliant blue skies.  I watched and wondered what I could write about this day. Then we got hungry. You can imagine what was in our ice chest.

If you have never had a cold turkey sandwich with cranberry mustard mayonnaise in the snow, you are missing a great food experience. Cold vegetables became our side “salad” and sweet potatoes are pretty great cold, too.  Well chilled white wine at the snowy picnic – absolutely!  The meal was made complete by a repeat performance of those pies.  Pumpkin, coconut cream, chocolate pecan and apple-berry each tasted better than the day before.

Mt. Hood Oregon

Mt. Hood Oregon

Then I noticed something. The happy families were eating, too. We may not have been so unusual after all. Even the kid eating the peanut butter sandwich was probably happier than he would have been at home waiting for a huge meal. As we started our return home, the spectacular mountain was behind us. The snow had begun to reflect the coral colored late afternoon sunlight. I realized then what I wanted to write. Thanksgiving wasn’t about all the stress and work. It didn’t matter if it was on Wednesday or Thursday. It was about creating a family memory.  I have no idea what Thanksgiving 2, 3 or 10 years ago was like.  I will, however, keep fond memories of turkey day 2015.

Mar 09

Guinness Chocolate Cake

That’s right, there is real Guinness® in the batter of the Guinness Chocolate Cake! Deep color and flavor from a super moist cake without being too sweet. It is finished with a “head” of icing on top. People you share it with will be amazed how delicious it is.

Guinness® Chocolate Cake   Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 05

Arizona Wine Country

The vines of Alcantara with the cliff dwellings across the river

The vines of Alcantara with the cliff dwellings across the river

Wine Country. The terms inspire all the senses. You expect to stand at vast rows of grapes and see them make their way over green, or maybe golden, hills. In the most distance horizon, you may see a mountain top barely discernible under a misty cloud. There can be a chill in the air or warm sun rays on your back. You can practically taste the lush fruit ready for harvest. Sometimes you hear live music or remember a great meal; it can be a party or an introspective time. You visualize charming structures in the landscape. You may even recall passionate business owners anxious to colorfully describe the tastes resulting from, literally, the fruits of their labor. You likely did not think of the desert state of Arizona.

It’s ok if you didn’t, I didn’t either. This is a lesson about taking the time to dig a little deeper when you travel. Read the rest of this entry »

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