Secret Aardvark Drunken Jerk Sauce

August 6, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Secret Aardvark Drunken Jerk Sauce | Filed in Local Goodness, Products I Love

Aardvark Jerk Sauce2332

I like trying new sauces and condiments, and I have a fridge full of them to prove it. I especially like supporting local Oregon businesses, such as Secret Aardvark Trading Company. I love Secret Aardvark’s Habenero Hot Sauce so I thought I’d give their Drunken Jerk Sauce a try: tropical Jamaican flavors made in not-so-tropical Portland, Oregon. Are you intrigued?

Drunken Jerk Sauce is made with habanero peppers, warm spices, a splash of dark rum, and a short list of other ingredients. Yes, it’s spicy but it adds delicious Caribbean flavor to grilled chicken and pork. And it’s really good drizzled over Coconut Rice.

Secret Aardvark Trading Company sauces can be found all over Portland at various retail locations, or you can buy it online on the Secret Aardvark Trading Company website or at

P.S. I’m not getting paid anything for this post. I just like their products and love supporting local Oregon businesses.

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Cedar-Planked Salmon with Honey-Lime Dressing

March 21, 2015 by andrea | 2 Comments | Filed in Grilling/BBQ, Life in Oregon, Main Dish, Recipes, Seafood


I recently bought a beautiful fillet of sockeye salmon at the grocery store. Not knowing exactly what other ingredients I’d use with it, I knew that I’d at least be grilling it that evening. As soon as I got home I did a quick search through my grilling cookbooks and landed on this recipe for Cedar-Planked Salmon with Honey-Lime Dressing. I keep my pantry stocked with cedar planks  — it’s my favorite way of cooking salmon — so I was in luck! The sweet, tangy lime dressing was perfect with the slightly smoky salmon. DELICIOUS!

This recipe is super easy but does take a bit of planning since the cedar plank needs an hour or so to soak in water so that it doesn’t catch fire while on the grill. The plank will blacken and burn slightly on the bottom and edges even after being soaked but that’s what creates the amazing smokey flavor in the fish. Believe me, your neighbors will be jealous when they smell this cooking on the grill!!

I had everything on hand for the honey-lime dressing except the chives so I substituted a few green onion tops (the green part only). Don’t be afraid of the cayenne pepper because it adds just a slight bit of warmth to the dressing. My kids ate the salmon and loved it!

Cedar planks can be found in the meat or outdoor departments of your grocery/home improvement store, or various kitchen stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma. Also, Costco usually carries them as a seasonal item.

Serve the salmon with Basmati Rice with Sweet Onions and Summer Herbs and a big green salad tossed with Southwestern Vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Honey-Lime Dressing
-recipe from Weber’s Real Grilling™ by Jamie Purviance

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large salmon fillet, with skin, 2 ½ to 3 pounds, about 16″ long and 3/4″ thick
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 untreated cedar plank, about 16 inches by 8 inches, submerged in water for at least 1 hour


In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients except the oil. Mix until well blended. With the blender still running, slowly pour in the oil to make a smooth dressing.

Place the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet. Using needle nose pliers remove and discard any pin bones from the salmon. Season the flesh side of the salmon with the salt and pepper. Pour about half of the dressing over the flesh and use a brush to distribute it evenly.

Place the soaked plank over Direct High heat until the edges start to smoke and char, 5 to 10 minutes. Move the plank over Indirect High heat and place the salmon, skin side down, on the plank. Grill until the salmon is just opaque in the thickest part and brown on the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the plank and salmon to a heatproof surface. Serve warm with the remaining dressing.

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It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie

February 28, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie | Filed in Beverages, Breakfast, Recipes, Snack


Smoothies are a great way to increase your daily fruit and vegetable intake. This recipe is loaded with vitamins and is naturally sweet from the fruit…no juice needed. Any blender will make a smoothie but not every blender will give you an ultra-smooth smoothie (like the ones at Jamba Juice or other fancy smoothie stores). I absolutely love my Vitamix 5200 and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a top-quality blender. Yes, it’s spendy but I use it almost as much as my stove/oven so it’s gotten a ton of use in my kitchen.

As far as smoothies go, sometimes I skip the ice and use about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water (enough to get a drinkable consistency). I also use a combo of spinach and kale when I have both on hand. Enjoy!

It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie
-recipe from Vitamix

Yield: 2 3/4 cups (660 ml)

1/2 cup green grapes
1 medium orange, peeled, halved
1/2 medium banana, peeled
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 1/2 cups ice cubes

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.

Select Variable 1.

Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High. If necessary, use the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.

Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Serve.

Note: This recipe has been written for the Vitamix 5200 with Standard 64-ounce container. If you are using a different Vitamix machine or container size, you may need to make adjustments to the Variable Speed, processing time, and/or ingredient quantities.

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Cat Head Biscuits

February 26, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Cat Head Biscuits | Filed in Baking, Bread, Comfort Food, Quick Cooking, Recipes


I was instantly intrigued by this recipe because of it’s name and because my family loves biscuits. This Cat Head version is super easy to make (no rolling pin required), and they bake up tender, fluffy and delicious! They don’t have the flaky texture that a rolled out biscuit has but they are tasty all the same…and perfect when slathered with butter and your favorite jam.

You should be able to get 6-8 biscuits depending on the size of muffin scoop you use (I got 8). Enjoy!

Cat Head Biscuits
-recipe from The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook

As big as a cat’s head, golden brown on the outside, but soft and fluffy as a dinner roll on the inside, these regional biscuits deserve national recognition. Serves 6.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, make clabbered milk by whisking 1 tablespoon lemon juice into 1 1/4 cups milk and letting it stand until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. The recipe will also work with 3 cups White Lily flour in place of both the all-purpose and cake flours.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

MIX DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9-inch cake pan. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Rub butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk until combined.

PORTION BISCUITS: Following the instructions at left, use greased 1/2-cup measure or large spring-loaded ice cream scoop to transfer 6 heaping portions of dough into prepared pan, placing 5 around pan’s perimeter and 1 in center.

BAKE BISCUITS: Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve. (Biscuits can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)

NOTES ON FORMING CAT HEAD BISCUITS: Many biscuits are kneaded, rolled, stamped out, and then baked on sheet pans. For Cat Head Biscuits, we instead scoop the sticky, shaggy dough and nestle the biscuits in a cake pan. (A spring-loaded ice cream scoop does the job neatly and quickly.) All snuggled together, they’re forced to grow up, rather than out, and the sides stay soft and white.

FLOUR MIXOLOGY: Southern bakers swear by White Lily all-purpose flour. They say it makes biscuits soft and downy, exactly the texture we sought for our Cat Head Biscuits. But what if you don’t live in the South and can’t easily get your hands on a bag? We found we could replicate it by combining equal amounts of ordinary all-purpose flour (made from a mix of high- and low-gluten wheats) and cake flour (a soft-fine-textured flour).

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Turkey Poblano Chili

February 2, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Turkey Poblano Chili | Filed in Chili, Main Dish, Quick Cooking, Recipes, Soup/Stew, Southwestern, Turkey

Chili is one of those perfect dishes for casual entertaining because it can be made a day ahead of time and you can easily double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd. This recipe features ground turkey and poblano  peppers, a type of chili pepper used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Poblanos range in heat from mild to medium-hot (they are the peppers used to make those delicious, cheese-filled chili rellenos).

In addition to the chili powder called for in the recipe, I also added a teaspoon or two of cumin, and used 1 can of pinto and 1 can of kidney beans. Towards the end of cooking, I added chopped zucchini and some corn. Enjoy!

Turkey Poblano Chili
-recipe from

Some specialty stores sell chili powders made from specific chili varieties such as ancho or chipotle. Experiment with different powders to find one that you prefer. When seasoning with the more common chili powder, a rich blend of dried red chilies and spices, use sparingly as the heat level may vary. Serves 4 to 6.

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 poblano chilies, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 lb. ground turkey
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbs. chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes
2 cans (each 15 oz.) kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream

Brown the vegetables and turkey
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chilies and onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat begins to brown, 7 to 8 minutes.

Finish the chili
Add the garlic and chili powder, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chili into bowls, garnish with the sour cream and serve immediately.

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Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

January 2, 2015 by andrea | Comments Off on Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad | Filed in Recipes, Salad, Vegetable, Vegetarian


This hearty salad is packed with good-for-you greens, lightly toasted nuts, and a lemony vinaigrette…delicious! Don’t be frightened off by the brussels sprouts here — they’re raw so you don’t get the stinky, cabbage smell. In fact, just pretend the brussels are little cabbages (which they are) and that you’re making a slaw. Although Tuscan kale (also known as Dinosaur kale, Lacinto kale or Italian kale) is considered a sweeter variety, it still has a slightly bitter flavor than curly kale.

I used the food processor to shred the trimmed brussels sprouts which made that portion of prep super quick; I sliced the kale by hand (remember to cut out the tough center stems). Once the kale & sprouts are shredded, you will have an enormous amount of greens in the bowl. After tossing with the dressing, the greens will wilt a bit and reduce a bit in volume.

If the dressing is a little too tangy for your tastes then add a pinch of sugar. Enjoy!

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
-recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine

A bright alternative to heavy sides, this salad features Tuscan kale. Makes 8 to 10 servings

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD:Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

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Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce

November 26, 2014 by andrea | Comments Off on Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce | Filed in Autumn, Christmas, Condiment, Holidays, Life in Oregon, Local Goodness, Quick Cooking, Recipes, Side Dish, Winter


I love trying new ways to make cranberry sauce. You can easily have several different types of cranberry sauces, relishes or chutneys at a holiday feast because they’re so easy to make. This recipe for Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce is flavored with a hint of cinnamon, cloves and a double hit of orange (Grand Marnier and freshly-grated orange zest), and can be made several days ahead. Serve with roast turkey, chicken or pork, and use leftovers to make a vinaigrette or coffee cake.

Since cranberries are an Oregon crop — grown in Bandon — I always try to buy them from a local company. Enjoy your feast!

Spiced Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
-recipe from

12-oz. bag of cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Grated zest of 1 orange
pinch of salt

Combine the cranberries, sugar, Grand Marnier, water, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until most of the berries pop, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the orange zest. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Can be made several days ahead.

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Aloha From Oregon Cranberry Pepper Jelly

November 24, 2014 by andrea | Comments Off on Aloha From Oregon Cranberry Pepper Jelly | Filed in Appetizer, Life in Oregon, Local Goodness, Products I Love, Recipes


I’ve been buying locally-made Aloha From Oregon pepper jellies for years. They have a potpourri of flavors so you can switch it up depending on the season (Cranberry Pepper Jelly for Thanksgiving, Mango Pepper Jelly in the summer, etc). This last weekend I took a jar of their pepper jelly to a barn party and served it with cream cheese and crackers. pepper-jelly-on-crackerIt’s one of the easiest appetizers on earth and it’s always a hit.

For a perfect holiday hostess gift, buy a few bottles of Christmas Pepper Jelly (half of the jar is red Cranberry Pepper Jelly and half of the jar is green Jalapeno Pepper Jelly)…so festive!

Aloha From Oregon products are sold all over the United States. Check out their website for retail locations, online orders (sold in 3-packs) and recipes using their delicious pepper jellies, preserves, fruit butters, and chutneys.

P.S. I’m not getting paid anything for this post. I just like their products and love supporting local Oregon businesses.

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Sicilian Meatballs with Fresh Basil Marinara

October 25, 2013 by andrea | Comments Off on Sicilian Meatballs with Fresh Basil Marinara | Filed in Comfort Food, Italian, Kid-friendly, Main Dish, Recipes


If you’ve never made homemade meatballs, it’s time to step up to the plate and give it a swing. Sure, you can buy a bag of them at the grocery store but there’s really no comparison between a good, homemade meatball and the spongey, frozen store-bought variety! These Sicilian Meatballs are flavored with fresh herbs, good parmesan cheese (worth the splurge here!), and some chopped onions and garlic…simple ingredients that create delicious results. The little bit of effort is sooooo worth it!

While this recipe makes a great marinara sauce for the meatballs, it’s not enough to sauce pasta. I serve the meatballs with good crusty bread (to soak up the sauce) and a mixed green salad tossed with an Italian-inspired vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Sicilian Meatballs with Fresh Basil Marinara
-recipe from Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food

These baseball-sized meatballs are a mainstay of the Bi-Rite market’s deli case. One is enough for most appetites, but have two if you’re ravenous. Variations: Add some capers, anchovies, and olive oil to the marinara for a puttanesca sauce or a pinch of chile flakes for arrabiata sauce.

Makes 6 large meatballs.

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, more for sprinkling
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Sugar, as needed
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment or a nonstick liner and set aside.

Put the breadcrumbs and milk in a large mixing bowl, stir to blend, and set aside for 5 minutes. With your hands, squeeze and mash the breadcrumbs so that they make a smooth paste. Add the egg and whisk, then add the Parmigiano, ketchup, parsley, oregano, thyme, half the onion, half the garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to blend.

With your hands, break the beef into small chunks and add to the bowl. Mix gently but thoroughly; overmixing will make the meatballs tough and dry. When all the ingredients are evenly combined, shape the mixture into 6 balls and arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F at the center of a meatball, 40 to 45 minutes.

While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining half onion and 1 teaspoon salt and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining half garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick sauce,
10 to 15 minutes. Taste the sauce and add a pinch or two of sugar if it seems too tangy, and season with more salt if necessary. Stir in the basil and keep warm until the meatballs come out of the oven.

Spoon the sauce generously over the meatballs and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Garnish with a sprinkling of Parmigiano.

Leftovers: Slice up any leftover meatballs, reheat in the sauce. and put them in the middle of a good crusty roll. Then top with mozzarella or provolone.


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The “Seattle” Sandwich with Cured Wild Salmon

August 2, 2013 by andrea | 1 Comment | Filed in Breakfast, Fish, Recipes, Sandwich


I love egg sandwiches and am always looking for new ways to make them. Here’s a creative version from superstar Seattle chef Tom Douglas. The recipe features lox (thinly sliced cured salmon), cardamom-spiked pickled onions and dilled cream cheese. All I can say is, “WOW!” If you like bagles with lox and cream cheese then you’ll love this recipe!

The best way to tackle the recipe is to make the pickled onions and dilled cream cheese ahead of time (or the day before) which will greatly speed up the sandwich-making process.

The recipe calls for gravlax (Swedish cured salmon) or lox (brined and cold-smoked). Both types of salmon have a delicate texture because they are uncooked, and both come thinly sliced in the package. Do not buy traditional hot-smoked salmon which is dense, flaky and fully cooked in a smoker…this is a totally different type of salmon product and would not work in this recipe.


The “Seattle” Sandwich with Cured Wild Salmon
-recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas


Here’s an English muffin sandwich with moist, salty lox, mellow herbed cream cheese, and the sweet- spicy kick of pickled onions. You won’t need all the pickled onions, but the leftover onions can be covered and refrigerated for several days. Drain and add them to salads or sandwiches. Try them on a tuna fish salad sandwich. You can make your own cured wild salmon or just buy lox or lox-style smoked salmon. – The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook



Pickled Onions
1 small to medium red onion (about 7 ounces), thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup red wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (see Note above)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Dilled Cream Cheese
4 ounces (1⁄2 cup) cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 English muffins, split, toasted, and buttered on top halves only
6 to 8 ounces thinly sliced Gravlax or Lox-style salmon (about 12 slices)
Unsalted butter as needed for cooking the eggs
4 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black Pepper

1. To make the pickled onions, put the onion in a heatproof bowl and place a fine strainer over the bowl. Put the vinegar, water, sugar, spices, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Pour the pickling liquid through the strainer and over the onions, discarding the spices in the strainer. Allow the onions to sit at room temperature until cool. When the onions are cool, use a slotted spoon to remove as many as you like for your sandwiches and drain them on paper towels. Cover the remaining onions with plastic wrap and reserve them, refrigerated, for another use. They will last for about a week.

2. To make the dilled cream cheese, put the cream cheese and cream in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and beat until the cream cheese is softened. (Or you can use a food processor.) Add the dill and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, but use a light hand with the salt because the lox is salty.

3. Put the muffins on 4 plates, cut sides up. Spread a fourth of the dill cream cheese on the bottom (unbuttered) half of each muffin on each plate and top the cream cheese with 3 slices of lox.

4. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, using butter as needed, cook the eggs over easy or over medium to your liking. Season the eggs with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Top the lox on each sandwich with a cooked egg and top the egg with some of the drained pickled onions. Put the other muffin half on top, buttered side down, to make a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining muffins to make 4 sandwiches and serve immediately.


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