The best won tons are made with canned tuna…fact or fiction?


Ironically, I am likely the only blogger whose mother doesn’t actually read her blog.

This, instead of the blogger whose only reader is their mom, which I guess would be worse!

The irony is this: Today, I am going to talk about my Mom’s first published recipe.  One that I published in my first (and only) cookbook.

Okay, so it was self-published.  And I wasn’t the only cook in the book.

And this was twenty-some years ago?

Well, perhaps thirty.

The cookbook was a project in JA (Junior Achievments).  I wish I still owned a copy.  It is currently out of print.  I guess all of the moms bought them up?

If Mom were reading this, she would probably tell you I have it all wrong.  Which, let’s face it, likely, I might.  This is my story to tell though, so I’ll pretend not to hear her.  She’d probably agree that I’d do that too.

We ate pretty straight-up meals for dinner when I was a kid; roast beef, meat loaf, the occasional salmon cake and the like.  Lots of vegetables, as long as they came from the freezer or out of a can.  Salad.  We did eat salad.  I was usually in charge of that (and still am).

Most nights it was your typical family dinner.  Scott and I took turns setting the table (Mark was too young).  We discussed the news and our school work, while I picked at my plate.

We were expected to finish everything, yes, even our daily glass of milk (which explains why my piano teacher had to keep telling me to cut my fingernails).

I liked eating dinner at my best friend Mary’s house; they drank water over there.  And ate homemade pizza for dinner.  And chicken dumplings.  Ice cream was often for dessert.  No washing dishes for me on those nights; I wasn’t even allowed to clear my plate from the table.  Those were the days.

However, on occasion, Mom would surprise us and make fried won tons.  For dinner!  Those nights were the best.  “Junk food” for dinner, and we were not usually allowed to eat junk.

Unless Grandpa Edwards was around.  Then we drank soda pop, ate potato chips, and only used milk to dip cookies.  But I digress.

Tuna won tons sound unusual, even to me.  But trust me, they’re delish!  Mom would open up the Starkist Tuna (2 cans) and dump them into a mixing bowl.

Then she unwrapped the silver foil from the Philly cream cheese after removing it from its’ box.

Onion was chopped (which always made me shed tears), Worcestershire sauce, mustard and lemon juice; I think that was it.  All mixed up in the bowl, then plopped onto the square dough wrappers and carefully closed up.

I loved watching the oil.  It was bubbly hot as the packages dropped into the pan.  They spurted and spat as they started to crisp.

Mom flipped them over, toasting the other side before removing them to a plate lined in paper towels where she would sprinkle them with salt and playfully slap our hands away as we tried to sneak one before supper.

The best part was the simplicity of their deliciousness.  No salad, no can of peas.  Not even milk.  We ate them happily, pulled from a large bowl placed centrally on the table, one after the next.

My version is a little fussier but not much.  Tom reacts much the same way I used to when told tuna won tons were on the menu for dinner; on his best behavior because he too is a fan.

Come inside Daddy, Mom says we have tuna for dinner!

I use green onions rather than red, add cilantro and wasabi (because we like the kick), and serve a simple sake sauce next to a garnish of fresh greens and slices of grapefruit or pickled ginger.

In other news, we welcome a new member into the extended family this month.  Kiki Edwards, a Havanese, weighing in at 4 pounds at 4 months-old was adopted last Saturday by my brother Mark’s family in Alaska.  Her cousins are already eagerly awaiting a visit!

Us, We couldn’t be more thrilled!  She looks like a feisty one with a bit of Bitsy (Mark’s childhood dog) and our Ginger mixed in.

I came to the right place!


Tuna Won Tons with Sake Sauce

An easy week-night supper or an appetizer that can be fried a few hours ahead and reheated just in time to tantalize your guests.

No skills required to make these., other than opening cans, mixing ingredients and folding things somewhat accurately.

Hot oil required, don’t make without parental supervision for the youngsters (and some adults).

  • Author: Stacey Bender @ 10 Legs in the Kitchen
  • Yield: 16-18 Won Tons yield dinner for 2 or appetizers for 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner or Appetizer
  • Method: frying
  • Cuisine: Asian fusion



For Won Tons

1 5oz can of 100% Albacore Tuna (sustainably caught), preferably packed in spring water)

2 heaping TB soft cream cheese (preferably organic)

1 large or 2 small Green Onions, chopped

1 TB Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp Soy Sauce (low sodium)

1 tsp Wasabi Paste

2 TB chopped, fresh Cilantro (approximately a large handful)

1 TB freshly-squeezed Lemon Juice

1620 fresh Won Ton Wrappers

Peanut Oil for frying

For Sake Sauce

1/4 cup Sake

1/8 cup Soy Sauce (low sodium)

2 TB Rice Wine Vinegar

1 tsp Coconut Sugar (or cane sugar)

1/2 tsp chopped Jalapeño (seeds removed)


For the Won Tons

In a medium-sized bowl, with a rubber spatula, mix the tuna with its’ juices, cream cheese, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, wasabi paste, cilantro and lemon juice together until completely mixed.

Drop 1 tsp full of mixed ingredients onto the middle of each won ton wrapper.

Fold over into a triangle, pressing the mixture toward the center and sealing gently with your fingers.

Single corner pointing up, fold the two parallel corners toward the single corner, pressing gently to tuck the mixture in.  Use a dab of water if needed to seal.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  Meanwhile make the sauce (recipe below).

When ready to cook, pour enough oil into a wok or sauté pan to cover the won tons halfway (approximately 1″).

Heat the oil until hot.  Test by throwing in a small piece of won ton wrapper.  If it begins to bubble quickly but not burn, it is ready.

Add enough won tons to form a single layer; it will be a few batches.

Stand over them (carefully), checking to see when the first side browns and turn to brown the other side.

Remove to paper towels.

Prior to serving, place in a 350-degree F oven for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.  Serve immediately alongside the sake sauce.

Sake Sauce

Combine all ingredients into a small sauce pan (I use a mini stainless steel saucepan) other than the jalapeño.

Simmer over medium heat for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and it just starts to bubble and slightly thicken.  Let cool.


I use less cream cheese than Mom did so feel free to add a bit more if you want.  The texture should be thicker than a dip, but lighter than a brick.

This version ebbs toward the Asian flavor but not overtly so.  They are pretty versatile and forgiving.  Skip the sauce altogether if you don’t want to fuss, but its a nice touch.

Winter Storm Watch 2019: Ribs

Don’t let the 2017 Christmas beer fool you because:

A. It’s not Christmas


B. It’s not 2017

That didn’t stop me, of course, from opening the bottle and taking a swig (which was quite good, BTW) before pouring it into the pressure cooker, over the ribs.

There was a storm coming (supposedly) after all and that meant we needed to make something hearty. It was getting late though so we also needed to make something quick.

Good thing because, in inevitable, pre-Super Bowl style, I had filled my cart at Whole Foods with what could be considered “you’re having a SB party?” kind of food. 

In addition to 3 lbs of beef (just in case), a bucket of fried chicken (just because), 2 oven-fired pepperoni pizzas (just freshly made), I threw in two slabs of Barbacoa-seasoned pork back ribs (just on a whim).

I also bought corn chips (Fresh Summer July), salsa (Salsa de Rosa), avocados, cilantro, onions and Better o Bean ‘Cuban black beans’ (ok, so not from Mexico, but whatever).

Now, full disclosure: I had and still have, no intention of watching the Super Bowl. Not even for the ads. The shopping cart? Well, that’s just how I roll (no pun intended).

I am a marketing genius’s dream; what can I say?

Lucky for me, it turns out we have a cold front blowing in from the North here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s no Polar Vortex, but we get to participate in the after effects I guess.

Snow even, they say. Schools already deciding to close. I bet we get nary an inch.

But I have my excuse now though (for the shopping cart). Stocked up and able to hunker in, even if we could easily drive (or walk) the 1/4 mile down the road to our local grocery.

We’ve been here long enough though, having moved from Alaska, that we can go along with this ridiculous charade. Always best to hunker in and avoid the 60mph Tahoe’s on black ice anyway…

Frankly, we have even been known to tune into the news watching the hours of reporting about school closures (and no, we don’t even have kids), and how cold it is to be standing up North in Everett wearing a down parka while white snowflakes trickle down. Pretty tho (the snow, not Everett as Tom reminded me).

Last night we ate ribs. Seasoned with a hint of Mexico, I decided to serve them over rice and beans, topped with avocado, green onion, cilantro and quesa fresco.

Today is the Super Bowl. I think I’ll make chili. (Possible) Snow Day Chili, that is…

New Flash: It IS starting to snow!

I don’t know about Everett but it sure IS cold here at home (and prettier)!

The snow angels look easier to make on the Hallmark Channel movies, eh Ginger?.

I’m a snow angel too!

If you didn’t see last week’s post, this just in from Pete Woychick

“Dessert Toast, even a recipe I can pull off”.

Check out that post here


Anticipation Ribs

Mexican-seasoned ribs cooked in ale

  • Author: Stacey Bender
  • Prep Time: 10 miniutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minute
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Meat
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican



For Ribs:

2.53 lb *Baby Back Ribs

1 TB Cumin Powder

1 TB Chipotle Chili Powder

1 tsp Kosher Salt

3 Cloves Garlic, smashed or finely chopped (or 2 tsp garlic powder)

2 tsp Ground Pepper

1 TB Ground Corriander

2 tsp Mexican Oregano (or regular)

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Juice of approximately 3 limes

1 bottle Anchor Steam Christmas Ale (or another winter ale), minus a few swigs for the cook

1/2 cup prepared fresh salsa (I used Salsa de Rosa)

1/2 onion, skin removed and sliced thinly

For Serving:

1/2 Big Handful Cilantro (yes, technical term), cleaned and chopped 

4 green onions, cleaned and sliced

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 cup cooked rice

1/2 **package Better o Beans Cuban black beans

1 oz Quesa Fresco (or French Feta Cheese)

*You can save some time by buying the un-cooked Barbacoa seasoned pork back ribs from the meat department at Whole Foods

*This brand (readily available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores is perfectly seasoned and already cooked but doesn’t have that bland or over-salted canned flavor. You could alternatively use canned beans, drained or cook you own. if you do, you will want to add some salt, vinegar or lime juice and perhaps some additional seasonings to make them feel adequately dressed for the rice.


For the Ribs:

  1. If you have seasoned ribs from Whole Foods, simply put them into your electric pressure cooker (or buzz-wordy Insta-pot) and pour the ale/beer over them.  Otherwise, rinse and pat dry. Mix the cumin through the cayenne pepper together in a bowl. Squeeze juice of one lime over the ribs and then rub them with the seasoning.
  2. Turn to high heat and set cooking time for 25 minutes.
  3. Once they are done cooking and the lid unlocks, remove to a baking sheet.
  4. Spoon 1/4 of the remaining liquid over the ribs, top with the sliced onion, juice of 1 lime and 1/4 cup prepared salsa.
  5. Cover with foil and cook for 15 min in a 350 F degree oven.
  6. Remove the foil and let cook a further 10 minutes or so.

To Serve:

  1. Mix the beans with the rice and heat in the microwave.
  2. Cut the ribs between bones. 
  3. Put a scoop of rice + bean mixture on each plate and top with 3 ribs.
  4. Sprinkle with cilantro, green onions, diced avocado and cheese


Clearly, this is not rocket science nor is it to be given too much brain power either. 

The main take-away is this: Season ribs well, put in pressure cooker, pour over beer.  Turn on cooker and cook until done. 

The simpleton would just stop and eat now. 

Or, to layer the flavor and further enhance, add onions plus salsa and cook off more in the oven.

Serve with your favorite things such salad, polenta or as I did, rice and beans.

Keywords: baby back ribs, Super Bowl food, easy week-night meals, Insta-pot cooking

Dessert Toast. Is it a thing?

Cover toast.jpg

If not, it should be.

A thing.

Dessert toast that is.  Don’t you agree?

I mean we have French toast for breakfast (which, by the way is dessert that we happen to eat in the morning).

People like to eat eggs for dinner, which is funny because we often assume anything can be called breakfast, simply by adding an egg.

Add an egg to a dinner plate and it is often still considered to be dinner (think poached egg on a salad, an egg dropped into hot soup or tossed up with pasta for carbonara).

An omelette in the eventing is considered breakfast for dinner, but in my estimation is simply a sandwich using eggs rather than bread, so perhaps it is technically lunch? Or in the very least brunch?

Which brings me to my original question.  Is dessert toast a thing?

I think yes.  IF not, it should be.

You wouldn’t hesitate to eat cake for dessert, which is just bread minus the egg and with less sugar, right?

Only difference is dessert toast waits on the butter until right at the end, melting decadently into each crispy crevice just begging to partner with it’s sweet friend honey or jam.

Well okay, yeast; such details I will skip.

marmalade toast

Orange marmalade by Preserve, discovered at Bay Hay & Feed on Bainbridge Island.

It could be argued that is more like a cookie than cake, step in cinnamon and sugar instead or bring on the peanut butter as well as the jam?

Dessert toast is as versatile as pie, change one fruit for another or slather it in goat cheese and tuck in some figs.

grape jelly toast

Homemade grape jelly by Lois Casto.

Yes, this is considered breakfast to some, but to me it is just as much the perfect ending to a simple dinner as it is the beginning of an ordinary or even extraordinary day.

Zoe did someone say toast

Did someone say toast?

silly ol bear

I’d like honey on mine, please.


Oh Winston, you silly ol’ bear.


Everyone knows it is best with raspberry jelly.

The Ultimate Traveling Appetizer: Crab Salad Cups


, ,

Oops, missing the bacon garnish; just imagine it’s there (but wasn’t needed)!

Okay, maybe not actually the ultimate traveling appetizer, but a very good one at least.

Transportable, as in these puppies can go on the road.  Yes, the other puppies are on the road too (or ferry boat as it may be).

To a holiday party!

A Family dinner.

Or even the notorious office Christmas potluck.

Flexible. Not only can they be made earlier in the day or even the night before, they inherently come with a “choose-your-own-flavor adventure” built-in.

Not a fan of blue cheese and avocado (no judging here)?  Mango and curry can step in.

Prefer cilantro to arugula?  Great!  (Just don’t tell my brother Scott).

Don’t feel like whipping up that corn creme, or can’t since you haven’t yet splurged on a Vitamix (who are you anyway?), no worries, a little creme fraîche or yogurt can be gussied up with lemon juice and pepper instead.

Or, for a little more heat, shake in some chipotle chili powder.

For a different dimension, smoked paprika could attend…

… you get the idea.

Elegant. Forget the little smokies or the tasty, but expected, humus dip and wow your guests or hostess with these little jewels instead.

Easy. Whip up the dressing, pat dry the crab, chop a few things and mix it all up. After a little trip on the assembly line, the little glass cups can be put back in their box and refrigerated until ready to use (or take to the potluck, family dinner or party with friends).

And the best part:

No heating required! (Who has room in the oven when there is a turkey in there?… or a holiday ham, prime rib roast… or perhaps there’s no oven at all)!

Seriously though, to be honest, the best part is the crab.

Just saying! Pull out your wallet, it’s the Holidays!!!!

Over the Sound and through the woods…

Are we there yet?!

This ride sure beats the Mayflower!

Is it too early for sugar plum fairies to be dancing in my head?


The Ultimate Traveling Appetizer: Crab Salad Cups

The quintessential holiday appetizer, 1st course or salad, all piled into a tiny, portable glass.

It’s a traveling appetizer that works as well at home as it does on the road.

Seafood – check

Crab – double check

Greens – check

Red garnish – check

Elegant Holiday Spirit – check (not that kind of spirit, but hopefully you have one in hand)

When the meal is heavy, the first course should be light.

When it’s a party meal, there should be something festive, tasty and fun that is healthy, filling and unforgettable.

Tall order?

Small cup.


  • Author: Stacey Bender
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: Zero
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Approximately (14) fourteen 4 oz cups
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Cuisine: Holiday + Universal



3/4 lb Dungeness crab meat, rinsed, gently squeezed dry and patted with kitchen towel

Lemon Juice, approximately from one full lemon

Fresh ground pepper to taste

1 ear of corn

1/4 cup fresh, full fat, Greek style or local yogurt

12 oz good quality blue cheese (I used Maytag Blue), or more to taste

1 Avocado, peeled, seed removed, diced and doused with lemon juice, sea salt and pepper

23 green onions, chopped

2 TB mixed fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley, savory, basil

1/4 cup very thinly sliced fennel, diced and doused with lemon juice, sea salt and pepper

Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

Zest of 1/2 orange (approximately 1 TB)


  1. Put the fresh, dry crab in a mixing bowl and let chill until you are ready to assemble.

2. Wrap the corn in plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute.  Alternatively, steam or boil in water until just crisp tender.  Cut the corn from the cob.

3. Put the corn in your Vitamix or food processor.  Add some pepper and pinch of sea salt along with the yogurt.  Process until the consistency of cream.

4. Put a few spoonfuls of the corn creme, along with 1/2 of the blue cheese in a medium bowl and blend with the back of a spoon.  Add lemon juice and additional blue cheese to taste.

5. Mix in 1/2 the avocado, green onion/herbs, fennel, 1/2 the pomegranate seeds and orange zest.

6.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed.

7.  Assemble the cups by first filling each with a spoonful of the corn creme, followed by a little chopped arugula, then the crab mixture.

8.  Sprinkle some of the remaining pomgranite seeds on each.

9.  If serving later, cover each glass cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate until use.

10.  To serve: Unwrap the plastic and top each with a few sprigs arugula, squeeze of lemon and dusting of chopped bacon.


I got the glass cups at Crate & Barrel a few years back.  They came six to a box and were inexpensive plus came with unlimited possibilities.  You could easily swap the glass cups for leaves of endives for serving.  Add more avocado if you like.  When I say “douse it in lemon juice”, I mean, squeeze fresh lemon juice over and sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper.


  • Serving Size: 4 oz

Keywords: Holiday Appetizers, Easy Appetizers, Crab Appetizers, Individual Appetizer Cups,

Squash Soup & Other Roots

soup 2

The first time I made squash soup, I acted as if I had already made it so many times before that it was as second nature as walking my dog(s).

Tom and I had arrived back home in Alaska for Thanksgiving that year.  It was the same year my brother, Scott and his wife Christine, announced they were pregnant with our soonish to be niece, Catherine (who, by the way, has recently started a master’s program at Trinity College in Dublin).

None of us knew that at the time then, of course.

We were so young.

Somewhere between childhood scrawniness and adulthood, I had gone from the sugar-loving, vegetable-loathing, picky eater that I was, to the mad about everything, food-loving, “best Italian chef” in Seattle.  Ok, so mom has a way of, er, exaggerating.

So, I feel an explanation might be in order?

I am not the “best Italian chef” in most places I suspect, but I’m pretty good, and I do live in Seattle.

The “Best Italian Chef” part, was the way my Mom introduced me to a crowded room at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, during her 50th birthday party.  Yikes, what the heck?

I have possibly been trying to live up to that tittle ever since.


What does this have to do with squash soup you ask?  I will tell you.

Mom loved/loves squash soup and asked me to make it for the aforementioned Thanksgiving dinner as a starter.

Period (again).

Well, at least she didn’t ask me to participate in the making of the main course, because next up was the Thanksgiving menagerie whose highlighted poultry venture was none other than “Turduken” (the seasonal star of the time period).

The soup, by the way, turned out great.  The Turduken…uh, no comment.

Enough said on that piece (pieces?) of poultry.

Back to the soup.

Tom and I traveled from SEA to ANC that year, in tow with our dog Buffy, three winter coats, one large suitcase containing our shared clothing and one medium sized case that hauled a thick stack of magazines from Bon Appettite and Gourmet.

I had never even made (actual) soup prior to this, so in my inevitable style, I made the task much more complicated than it needed to be.  After pouring over the magazines into the wee hours of the morning, hoping to become enlightened as to the perfect formula for squash soup, I fell asleep.  When I woke up, I decided to just wing it.

I combined everything I had read into three pans, several mixing bowls and one pot.  The one pot of soup probably made more of a mess in the kitchen then the rest of the meal combined.

If only I knew then what I know now, I could have cleaned a lot less dishes.

Naw….I would have still made the same mess.

soup 1


This can be made in under an hour.  Even less if the squash and the beets have already been cooked.  A microwave can be used to speed up the process for the vegetables, a trick that I recently discovered on Chef Steps.  For this recipe, I used some previously roasted squash and beets, but did cook the carrots and leeks using the microwave method.

If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can use another blender or food processor; you will just need to simmer it on the stove after it has been blended.


2 medium delicata squash – cut into 1″ thick rings, with seeds and pulp removed

1 medium to large beet – scrubbed clean

3 medium, full-size carrots – scrubbed clean and cut into 1″ long pieces

1 medium leek – cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ thick slices

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup plain, good-quality yogurt

1/4 cup sherry (brandy will also work just as nicely)

The juice of one small lemon

1 tsp good-quality curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp salt and add more as needed)


  1.  Cook the squash by putting it on a sheet pan with enough water to cover the bottom.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook until tender at 350-degrees F (for approximately 20 minutes).  Alternately, you can microwave them in a bowl covered tightly in plastic wrap for approximately 3 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Cook the beet by roasting it in a 400-degree F oven wrapped in foil until tender (approximately 1 hour if cooking 3-4 at a time; less time if cooked alone).  Alternately, you can boil in salted water until tender (approximately 20-30 minutes).
  3. Cook the carrots and leek by putting in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until tender (approximately 3-4 minutes).  Be careful to remove plastic wrap cautiously so as not to burn yourself with the hot steam that will escape.
  4. Remove the skin from the beet by rubbing it away with a paper towel.  Cut it into 1″ cubed chunks.
  5.  Put all the veg + the chicken stock into a Vitamix, blender or food processor and blend.  If using a Vitamix, set it to the soup setting which will go until it is silky and hot!  I love that feature!
  6. Add the yogurt, sherry, lemon juice, curry powder and season with salt and pepper.  Do another quick blend.
  7. Adjust seasoning to taste and voila!  Done! (FYI, if you don’t have a Vitamix, simply add to a stock pot and simmer to heat and concentrate the flavors.


There are so many options and I am all out of dishes, so go forth and be creative!


Winnie the Poo

Flashback, a year ago.

Winston 2

Hello, hello again!  My one year anniversary!

Summer Tomato (sauce) is my hero.


I rescued a box of tomatoes a few weeks ago, but Saturday, I had to rescue them again.  Sadly, I had been inadvertently holding them captive in our (hot) garage, on top of the recycle bin.

I know!  This is not exactly the best foot to come forward on after my absence from this site for so long, but I had the best intentions.

Really, I did!

There was a pile of them.  The tomatoes that is, not the intentions.  They (the tomatoes) were red, plump and waiting to become sauce.

They were begging to become sauce!

At least I think that’s what they were saying to me, each morning as I passed by them to get into my car, or as I lifted them away to open up the lid of the bin they were blocking.  It was hard to know for sure but, what else would they be asking me to do?

Yes, surely it was sauce they were hoping to become.

Soon, there was a liquid oozing out from within their little nest.  I barely noticed at first, due to the mountain scene that was printed on the side of their otherwise white box.  What looked completely normal on Monday, became more pronounced by Wednesday.  The line weight seemed to be a little thicker, I remember thinking.

It wasn’t until Thursday that I realized the line weight of the mountains were now bleeding into and darkening their sky.  It wasn’t from the original graphic but, in fact, was an add-on from the tomato artists working hard from within their confines.

Friday came and I knew I was neglecting them, but still, I had more important things to do, leaving no more time yet to make sauce.


Like kayaking with us?

I know, you probably don’t understand.  What could possibly be more important than transforming the beautifully aging summer tomatoes into sauce?  Not just any sauce, but the sauce they had waited their whole lives to become, right?

I did though, neglect them, and of that I am not proud.

I am proud today.  Of those fabulous tomatoes, this scrumptious sauce and my decision to finally get my priorities in order!

Sort of like our friends, Piotr and Inna.  They are finally tying the knot this week, today actually!  Yes Piotr, I said knot, not noose).  I mean, they have only been dating now for 8 1/2 short years.

They (Piotr & Inna) prefer vodka to wine so, hey guys, if you make this sauce, by all means, skip the wine and go for the vodka.  Stir in a little cream and a happy marriage that will make!

My sauce started out as quick sauce, like the one that Alex Delany character was chatting about for “Rent Week” recently. I had more than 4 tomatoes though and somehow, roasting them just seemed like the right thing to do. For me. No offense Alex. I know none will be taken.

You can make as much or as little as you have tomatoes.  I hadn’t bought the Farm, as Alex suggested one could, but I did have a very large box which I heaved onto the counter.

First order of business was picking through it, rinsing off each tomato, quickly cutting a small knife around the top to remove their cores and plopping them, one by one, onto a sheet pan.

PS_tomato panIMG_6866.jpg

Oh ya, you can throw on an onion or two if you like.

Occasionally, I would come upon a tomato that had expired but not before adding its’ imprint onto the ever evolving mountain scene of previously mentioned box.  Sadly, I have no photos of their work but luckily, there were more sauce maker’s than artists in the bunch; I was able to salvage many more than I had to throw out.

Once the tomatoes are all hanging out on the pans, take your bottle of olive oil and drizzle it liberally over the whole lot. Do the same with your balsamic vinegar but use a less heavy hand. I like to put my finger partially over the opening to give it better control.

Now grab a healthy scoop of Kosher salt in your fingers and scatter it, fairly evenly, over each pan; you needn’t be too careful, by this time, hopefully you have a little skip in your step and your movements are fluid.

Do the same with your pepper mill and then grab a few heads of garlic. After removing the cloves from their skin, kind of tuck them into the tomatoes randomly. You might have enough for each one but no worries if a few of them miss out on a poke.

Next come the herbs. Whatever you have in the garden will work just fine, especially if it is oregano and basil. A little rosemary is also nice. Thyme, tarragon, summer savory, what have you. Clean them off and just toss them over. Adding a dash of dried oregano adds another layer and you might like to sprinkle on some red chili flakes too. Your choice.

Pop them into a preheated 350-degree oven and let the magic begin. Soon you will be having thoughts of sitting at a table in the dark corner of your favorite bistro in Italy, candle light, chianti and music or overlooking the olive trees in Italy.

The smells will permeate the whole house as if an Italian opera is singing wildly from the oven. No matter your mood, these smells will only help make it better. I can hear my bother’s Mother-In-Law, Doris, singing now….

The beautiful thing here is that you can just let them cook as you go about your business such as planning your next trip to Italy perhaps?

After an hour or so, they will become slightly colored. This is a good thing.

There will be a pool of juices surrounding them and steam might hit your face lovingly as you open the oven door. Yes, they are having a day at the hot springs. They are enjoying their spa. But as with all things good, less is sometimes more. It might be time to turn down the heat or even turn off the oven all together. Your choice.

If you are going to be home and keep checking in on them, perhaps let the flavors grow more aromatic at 200-degrees. If you want to leave, turn the oven off and let them rest there as it cools down. There is no right or wrong here. Just don’t let them burn.

Once they have been removed from the oven and are cool enough to handle, you can do one of two things (well I am sure there are more than one or two things you can do but…).

Either put them in a food processor (in batches), or, as I did, put them in a large pot and puree them with an emulsion blender.

ps_stir 2

Now here is the tricky part, on my end.  It needn’t be tricky for you, I might add.

Either way, you can quit right here, after adjusting of salt, pepper and chili flakes, or, you can continue on the sauce making journey, as I did.  I decided that I wanted them to have a little bit more complexity.

I like to add carrots and red wine to my sauce.  Since I didn’t roast any carrots with the tomatoes, as an after-thought,  I decided to braise some carrots in the oven in the current state of tomato sauce and an addition of red wine (are you listening Piotr and Inna?  Insert “substitute vodka here“).

If you decide to humor me and follow my lead, simply take a small oven-proof vessel, add some peeled carrots (say 8-10 oz worth), top them with a few ladles of tomato sauce and then cover them over with red wine (uh hmm…or vodka).  Pop them in the oven (which has been pre-heated to, oh, say, 350-degrees) and let them braise until tender.  You might need to add a little more liquid….or not.  They don’t even have to be that tender, if we are being honest but just tender enough.  This could take another hour or it could take less.  Again, your choice.  See how flexible I am?

Now, again with the choices, you can either put the carrots and their sauce, into the bit pot of sauce and emulsify more.  Or, add it to a food processor, and puree.  I chose the latter of the two options because, well, I didn’t feel like I had adequately messed up the kitchen yet.


Now, by this time, you could truly call it quits, for real this time.  Or, you can turn on the stove and let your sauce come to a simmer and add a little more wine (or vodka + cream).  You know what I did, I’m sure.  I let it simmer for about an hour, just because.

With my box of tomatoes (there must have been 8-10 lbs), I was able to yield 25 cups of sauce.


Now back to the important stuff.



Where’d everyone go?

Larb Gai – an unusual grind



I had a surprising revelation while I was making my dog’s food the other day.

Previously, I quickly figured out that their food is much healthier and sometimes of better quality than the meals Tom and I eat.  But that wasn’t it; that wasn’t news to me.

It also hadn’t taken me long before realizing that if you have really good-quality meat, cooking it without the fat and seasonings we humans like to use, doesn’t compromise the flavor.  Yes, I snack on their food as I cook it.

What I hadn’t considered though, is grinding cooked meat.  I used to start out with raw ground meat, which I often ground myself (wait, can you still call it ground meat when you put it in a food processor?).  Yes?  I agree.

So, the other day, I had just baked off some large turkey breasts and when they had cooled down, I chunked the meat and put it into my Magimix.  What I ended up with was highly flavorful, nicely minced meat.

Okay, so this was not an earth-shattering revelation, I realize.  However, seeing as I had simultaneously been contemplating what to make for dinner, I realized the answer was, of course, Larb Gai!

Larb basically translates to “minced meat”.  Of course the Gai is for chicken, but I have no idea what turkey is in Thai.  But anyway, since I was staring down at a Magimix full of minced turkey meat… I knew what I needed to do next, regardless of the proper naming.

Yes, you guessed it, I needed to make more of that minced meat.  You knew I wouldn’t steal the meat I had minced for my fur babies, now didn’t you?

So I did.  Minced more meat, that is.

The first time Tom ordered Larb Gai from our old favorite Thai restaurant, Rama’s on Post (sadly no longer around), I was dubious.  Not because Tom’s dad said it was the best Thai food outside of Thailand, but because the sound of a minced chicken salad kind of gave me the willies.  I know, is that actually a thing?

It turned out to be delicious.  For awhile, I couldn’t get enough.

I had to get past the fish sauce first, of course. Which I did and my refrigerator has not been without it for the past twenty years.

So, if you find yourself with a 1/2 lb of chicken breast (or turkey) that you don’t know what to do with and you are craving something light and crisp, salty and sweet with as much spice as your tongue will allow, this is what you should do:



  1. Put that breast (of chicken or turkey meat) on a baking sheet, adding just a wee bit of water (Stacey speak for about a 1/2 cup).
  2. Cover it with foil.  Bake it at, say, 350-degrees F; it’s not all that particular, as long as the meat is cooked through.
  3. As the meat cooks, you can toast some brown (or white) rice.  I like to use about 1/2 cup dried.  When it is toasted, around 10 minutes in, let it cool then puree it in a grinder.
  4. Meanwhile, make a dressing by mixing together 2 TB fish sauce, 1 TB coconut sugar, (or whatever kind you have), 4 TB lime juice, a piece of chopped spicy chile pepper (such as a thai chili, jalepeno or seranno, or again, whatever you might have), and 7 TB of hot water (from the tap is just fine, albeit better if filtered).
    1. Sirracha sauce is also kind of a must-have.  You can mix it into your dressing with sheer abandon or dole it out slowly, using a cautious hand.  I like to build up the heat to just a comfortable burn.  This allows others to add to the fire at their discretion, should they choose (AKA: pass the bottle to serve on the side).
    2. Give it a taste, adjusting as needed.  I sometimes like to add extra lime juice to give it more tang.  The sugar will help offset the heat and the water will balance the salt from the fish sauce.  Information for your own personal use.  Just say’in, have fun!

4.  Dice up a sweet onion and chop a tassel of fresh basil, cilantro and mint.

5.  When the breast of bird is cooked and cooled, mince it quickly in a food processor.

6.  Mix together the minced meat, ground rice, dressing, sirracha sauce (as much as you dare), onions and herbs.

7.  Adjust the flavors.

8.  Serve a mound of the mixture over a leaf of lettuce or cabbage.  If serving on individual plates, put enough leaves to be filled and wrapped in proportion.

9.  Cooked brown or white rice is a nice side.  Cucumber slices tossed in a little white or rice vinegar + sugar + salt are a nice garnish.

Don’t forget, as I mentioned, make sure to have fun (and good to share in a group)!


Chow hounds at the trough…


sun dogs.JPG



lamb chop vs. Lamb Chop


, , ,

cove low res

Sometimes, introducing someone new to the family can make tensions flare. Since introduction, the flames have tapered down, but haven’t fizzled out yet. So rather than worry about the sparks, we decided to light a candle instead. A birthday candle, that is.

Zoe came to visit about a month ago.  Yes, another sweet dog in a sad situation in need of a good home.  “Two is a couple, three is a crowd,” Tom said.  “Don’t bring another dog home.”

I didn’t listen.  A trait that doesn’t always work out well for me.

“She’s not staying,” I assured him.  “We are just watching her for a few days.”

Winston was very jealous.  He pouted.  He hid under the bed.

Ginger was very aloof.

But Zoe wanted to stay forever.  She showered Tom and I with kisses and love. So many kisses.

Winston wanted Zoe to go back to from wherever she came.  Harrumph.

Zoe tried to win him over with her charm.  She rubbed past him and tilted her rump up near his face.  Submissively, she rolled over and kicked up her feet in play.  She thought he was swell.

Nothing but pouts.  His once perky ears, flat as pancakes.

Then one day, Winston decided to play!  Soon they were romping and rolling and running around the couch.  On every completion of the race course, Winston would stop and keep looking to me for permission to continue; a big sloppy smile with tongue hanging out of his mouth.

There is some barking.  We are working on that.  There is tension, sometimes; like when Ginger blindly stumbles into Zoe, she attacks.  Or when it is time to lick the bones from the lamb chops . . .  Everyone is happily licking away; two lamb chops, three dogs, four hands . . . (insert dog fighting noises here) you can imagine those sounds.

What happened?  Who knows but two bones went in the trash immediately, one dog skulked off as one was lifted quickly out of harms way.  The third dog, Ginger, was clueless, where did everyone go?

Zoe has wiggled her way into our hearts though and Winston, albeit still a bit jealous, has found that it is kind of nice to have a spry gal pal that plays and loves.


“Zoe, no bark!!!”

Welcome to your forever home Zoe and Happy 9th Birthday!


“I like salmon cake!” No lamb for them tonight.


lamb chop3

LAMB CHOPS seared with dijon, garlic & herbs

Here’s the deal: I love lamb. Lamb chops, lamb roast, ground lamb . . .  I used to call Buddy “Lamb Chop” sometimes. He was so scrumptious and delectable. We used to kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss!  How we miss that kid.

He was also known as “Peanut”, so now that we have Zoe, I think “Pine Nut” seems to be a more appropriate fit for her, since she is half his size.

To make a tasty lamb chop, it can be as simple as sprinkling them with salt, then smothering the little chops in dijon, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.  A hot grill or skillet sears each side, leaving the middle cooked as rare as you prefer.

I use a scant 1/2 tsp of salt + 1 chopped garlic clove per pound of lamb. Pepper is free-flowing  from the grinder and a dab of Dijon mustard with a small handful of fresh herbs. Mint, thyme, rosemary, tarragon or parsley are all good choices.

Drizzle with olive oil, rub in the seasoning and let sit for an hour, covered at room temp.  On a heated grill or a very hot skillet, cook for a few minutes on each side, making sure they are browned nicely before turning them over.

This is wonderful served with al dente cooked green beans, tossed in cooked lentils, tucked over thick, roasted eggplant and a dollop of creme or a good-quality feta cheese.

Alternatively, you can roast a leg of lamb like I did here and serve it tossed in lentils and arugula, as I did here.  Still, roast the eggplant on the side and make the following sauce to drizzle over:


This is a super-simple sauce.  All it takes is the best yogurt you can get, plus, cumin, coriander, grated parmesan and cucumber.  That said, I used a new yogurt that was AMAZEBALLS!!!  (called White Mountain Organic Bulgarian Yogurt from Austin, TX).

Mix together the ingredients below:

1/2 cup yogurt (see brand above, or use the best available to you)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground corriander
1 TB finely grated parmesan
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB grated cucumber
Fresh ground pepper to taste


So, another way to slice this is by doing a nice salad of arugula and lentils topped with yogurt roasted lamb and roast eggplant.  Not so much a recipe a recipe as a way to serve some great things all together as a meal.  Improvise!




“Nothing to see here.  Party on!”

end photo

Pine Nut vs. Lamb Chop!

Club Paris: Filet Mignon – the best damn steak I’ve ever had


, ,

PS3_steak cooked 2.jpg

As you all must have guessed by now, I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where forty years ago still existed the myth that everyone was an Eskimo, ate whale blubber, owned a team of sled dogs and lived in an igloo.

Seriously, it was the number one question other children asked of me when my family and I vacationed in Hawaii or California.

“Do you live in an igloo?”

I was a little annoyed at their ignorance, but should probably have been more appalled at what they weren’t being taught in school.

There was not much of a downtown, not many noteworthy restaurants and if you wanted the latest in clothing or music you had to get it from the “Lower 48”.

We were always a few months behind the top 40’s on the radio and unless you considered plaid flannel or down parka’s a fashion statement, Alaska was certainly not the instigator of new trends.  Yet amazing how flannel and puffy jackets have made their way into our fashion “sense”?

Even so, there were a few restaurants that I came to love as a child and still cherish in memory as an adult.  The Lucky Wishbone, of course (that goes without say)!  Clinkendaggers, Mauzi’s, Sorrento’s, and the elusive Double Musky Inn (which I never ate at as a kid but imagined it to be the fancy place with a dark, moody interior, soft candle light and super good food; my imagination couldn’t have been more inaccurate, as I learned as an adult when I finally went).

Ahhhh, and then there was Paris!  Club Paris, that is.

Club Paris is a hole in the wall in the best sense, a 1950’s wood-paneled little place that introduced me to my first filet mignon, prime cut.

I remember my first visit; I went with my best friend’s family and was blown away by the flavor and texture of that steak.

That three inch high, perfectly cut, cooked and prepared piece of beef that tenderly slid into my mouth and melted like butter against my tongue.

The outside was brown-crusted but inside was bloody, juicy and rare.

Up until then I don’t think I had ever bitten into anything so incredible.

Although I remember the atmosphere being dark and smokey (and certainly smoke-filled it was at the time), feeling almost foreign to the types of places I frequented with my own family; I really can’t picture anything in my mind other than the actual piece of beef sitting on my plate and the flavor that lingers on my palette, even to this day.

I am not sure why I never went back, over so many visits, over so many years.

I wanted to.  I meant to.  I didn’t…

Until last year.  December 20, 2017 to be exact.

Mom took Tom and I to lunch after she and I received a much appreciated massage from a place located across the street.  It was still dark, but no longer smokey.

It had not ever been remodeled, I suspect.

Our waitress was likely the same one I had the first time I ate there 35 years prior!  She was not one to sugar-coat anything and was impatient with extraneous words.  Needless to say, I went from being called, “Hon” to not, in a hurry.

I got the steak sandwich.

It was basically a filet mignon with a slice of toast cut into a triangle set on the side, per our server’s recommendation, and was she right!

Yum!  This was the steak I remembered.  Three inches high, seared to perfection, dark crust and blood-rare inside.

I have never been to France, but, I will always have Club Paris!

PS2_steak cooked 1.jpg

Pickled onion, courtesy of Irma Cardona-Edwards Enterprises International DBA, Irma Inc


I like a rare steak.  Very rare.  You can cook yours a little longer if you like, but I am going to keep mine rare.

My sister-in-law, Irma, has an impressive cellar closet filled with homemade pickled veg in her Alaskan kitchen.  She is also in the process of making her own wine.  I added her pickled onions to the steaks as an after thought, but one that worked out really well.  It was a nice accompaniment to the lushness of the steak.  Soon you will be able to buy them from Irma Inc (we hope) but until then, she offered to write up the recipe for you to try at home…stay tuned…I will be posting it soon.


(2) 6-8oz center-cut prime filets of beef tenderloin, 2-3″ thick
1/2 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grape seed oil for cooking the steak
2 TB unsalted butter
1 tsp chopped garlic

2 Kurabata tomatoes (or other smallish variety)
2 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole
Olive oil to drizzle on tomatoes, plus salt and pepper to taste

2 medium pickled onions (recipe to follow…soon)


1. Season the steak with salt and pepper at least an hour before cooking or earlier in the day.  They will want to rest outside of the fridge an hour before they are cooked.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F

3. Cut a small circle of the core stem away from the top of each tomato and stuff in a garlic clove.  Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil.

4. Roast the tomatoes for approximately 30 minutes, until tender and wrinkled but still plump with juices.  Set aside in a warming drawer until ready to serve.

5. Melt the butter with the garlic.

6. Heat a cast iron skillet until it is very hot.  Add a little grape seed oil and as soon as it is hot enough to rolling smoothly across the pan, add the filets.  Don’t move them for 2-5 minutes, keeping at a medium-high heat.

7. Once the bottom is nicely browned (which you can see by looking at the side), turn the filets over and let cook until another lovely crust forms.  This might be a total of 7-10 minutes.  Test by inserting a meat thermometer into the side horizontally.  Look for a temperature of 120-130F for rare and 135-140F for medium-rare.  Don’t forget that once you remove it from the heat, it will continue to cook while it rests.

8. Immediately pour over the melted butter and garlic, let it sizzle, then transfer it to a plate, along with the juices, to rest for a few minutes while getting the rest of the dinner plated.


On warm plates, place one roasted tomato and one filet.  Put one pickled onion on top of each filet, holding it in with a decorative pick (if desired).

Pour the steak juices over and if you like, drizzle each plate with some aged balsamic, or just the pan juices work too.

It would also be nice to roast some asparagus alongside during the second half of cooking the steak (after it is turned) and perhaps a few halved, roasted potatoes would serve well alongside too.

If you prefer, just toast some white bread, spread it with garlic butter and reserve your greens for a salad with blue cheese dressing instead.

There are no poor choices here.  As long as you cook a good steak!


Where’s the beef?


And in case you didn’t notice last week….  Hello!!!


Yes, I’m talking to you!


Hello Refreshing Crab + Grapefruit & Avocado Endive Bites




I need a refresh.

I need to be refreshed!

Takin’ a break from the heavy, with a little trip to the lighter side; let me give you the scoop:

I’m done saying goodbye for now. Too many goodbyes lately. It is time to say hello!

Hello grapefruit and avocado. Hello to blue cheese too. I’ll take the crab over being crabby.

But be sure to keep it on the light side though.

Who else loves finger food?


PS_on couch.jpg

Did someone say food?

makes approximately 16-20 pieces

Need an appetizer? Short on time? Look no further.

Fresh crab needs little more than a little citrus to play dress-up, but with a few extra moments, and the right accessories, you can have a platter of appetizers that will wow and impress; ready to go in 15 minutes or less, or your money back. Wait, did you give me any money?

The thing about crab, is that it should be about the crab. Avocado and grapefruit are the accessories. As with any good accessory, it must add color, texture and/or a little pizazz.

The thing about appetizers is that they should be easy to make, easy to eat and leave your palate refreshed, revived and ready for more.

The thing about this appetizer is it is versatile. Don’t feel like grapefruit, trade it in for an orange? Tired of avocado? Lose the grapefruit and try on some beets and apples instead. Feeling herbaceous? Mix in a some chopped herbs such as dill, tarragon, cilantro or thyme. Your’e one of those? Skip the cheese, whisk in a little more oil.


1/2 lb fresh Dungeness crab, picked over for any shells

1 TB freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 TB finely chopped shallot
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 TB good quality olive oil
1/2 oz mild, creamy blue cheese, crumbled (approximately +/-)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 green endive head
1 red endive head

A few grapefruit segments minus the skin, cut into small chunks
1/2 an avocado, skin removed, cut into dice

Micro green pea vines for garnish (if you can’t find, use another green herb or micro green garnish)


Don’t let the long list of steps fool you. Each task is quick and straight forward.

1.  I like to start by making sure the crab is clean and dry. Start by putting it in a bowl. If you shucked it yourself, make sure you pick away any brown stuff left over from cleaning. Using paper towels, squeeze out all the excess moisture.

2.  In a separate bowl, preferably glass or stainless, combine both citrus juices with the shallot. Add the mustard and stir to combine.

3.  Whisk in the oil.

4.  Add about 1/4 of the blue cheese crumbles and whisk to blend the cheese, smashing large pieces so they combine with the liquid. It is fine to have some chunks but they should be small. Taste, then add more of the blue cheese until it is blue enough for you. It should remain citrus-forward in flavor; remember, it is all about the crab. You will be stirring the remainder of the crumbles into the crab.

5.  Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Trim the ends of the endive heads and carefully remove each leaf, setting them out on a plate.

7.  Spoon a small amount of the vinaigrette onto each endive leaf then add the remaining vinaigrette to the crab mixture, tossing to coat well. Stir the rest of the blue cheese crumbles into the crab.

8.  Place a few pieces of avocado over each endive leaf then top with some crab mixture.

9.  Top each leaf with one or two avocado pieces and grapefruit chunks.

10.  Garnish each leaf with a micro green or herb sprig and transfer each one to a platter.


PS_Zoe 3

Why hello lil’ monkey!   Who are you?