Pumpkin Bread

Fall is in the air, and that means time for pumpkin bread.  The aroma that fills your house when this bread is in the oven is enough reason to bake it.  It tastes pretty good too.

  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1 C. brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C. canola oil
  • 4 medium eggs (or 3 large)
  • 2 C. solid pack canned pumpkin
  • 3 C. flour
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 C. golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 9 x 5 loaf pans.  In a large bowl combine the sugars and oil with a wooden spoon.  Add the eggs and pumpkin.  Stir just to incorporate.  Add half of the flour, the spices, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the rest of the flour and the raisins.  Do not over mix.  Stir with the spoon just to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the loaves cool for about 10 minutes before turning the loaves out onto a wire rack.  Let the loaves cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing – if you can stand it that long.

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Swordfish with Bacon and Cherry Tomatoes

There is something about the combination of swordfish and bacon that just works!  Throw in some white wine and cherry tomatoes and you’ve got a restaurant quality dish in about 15 minutes.  This dish would also work really well with halibut or sturgeon.  Serves 4

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. dry white wine or champagne
  • 1 C. cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 t. saffron threads
  • salt and pepper
  • four swordfish steaks or filets, about 1 inch thick

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet.  Fry the bacon, scallions, and garlic until the bacon begins to crisp.  Add the wine, tomatoes and saffron.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.  Move the tomatoes aside and place the fish in the pan.  Cook about one minute, the bottom will begin to brown.

Put the whole pan in the oven with a lid or cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 9-10 minutes.  Serve the fish with a spoonful of the tomato-wine sauce over the top.




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Fresh Tomato Pesto

When the tomatoes are ripe and get that intense flavor of summer I love to come up with different uses for them.  This is an uncooked sauce that can be tossed with any type of pasta.  We used it for spaghetti.  It has a brightness from the fresh tomatoes and basil and a rich nuttiness from the walnuts.  Great for all ages!

  • 3/4 C. basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 C. olive oil
  • 2 T. parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. walnuts
  • 4-5 small, ripe tomatoes, I used plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 t. salt

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Cook 1 lb. of pasta according to the package directions.  Toss the pesto with the hot pasta and serve with more cheese and chopped basil.

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Easy Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce


August in Portland usually means everyone with a garden is trying to do two things: give away tomatoes and zucchini, and think of other things to make than Caprese salad and zucchini bread. My wonderful neighbor Jenny had an abundance of cherry tomatoes and I was happy to take them off her hands. This is a super-duper easy to make sauce since there is no peeling or seeding required.  It would also be great with some fresh herbs added in to the blender.  I opted for no herbs since my 5-year-old would say,”There’s green stuff in here, I don’t like the green stuff.” Makes one generous cup of sauce (about the size of an 8 oz. can) but this could very easily be doubled and then blended in batches.

  • 3-4 C. cherry tomatoes, or any type of tomato (cut larger ones into chunks)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, no need to peel
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Scatter the tomatoes, onions, and garlic onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and then season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 375 degrees for another 20 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and beginning to caramelize.  Pop the garlic out of their skins and discard the skins. Scrape the whole pan, juices and all, into the blender. Blend for about one minute or until the sauce is as smooth as you can get it. If it seems too thick, add warm water a teaspoon or two at a time. Toss with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

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*Note: I have not created this recipe as a canning safe recipe, it is intended to use or freeze in a day or two.


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Salmon with Crab Basil Hollandaise


I’m so tired of eating fresh crab, said no one ever. My Uncle Mark, who I’ve written about before and described as the Paul Hogan of the Oregon Coast and am now going to start calling The Crab Whisperer, gave me two fresh crabs to bring home from the beach this weekend (phew, long sentence).  I knew I wanted to make something special with them since I am known to just eat them plain out of the shell. Delicious? Yes! Bloggable? No. Salmon and crab go very well together, and since I had some beautiful wild salmon from Portland Fish Market, I was inspired. An average crab will give you about 1 1/2 -2 C. of crabmeat. This recipe calls for just 1 C. of crabmeat, but reserve a few nice chunks to sprinkle on top. Serves 4-6

  • 4-6 pieces of salmon fillet, about 6 oz. each.
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 t. dried dill or 1 T. fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 stick of salted butter, melted and hot
  • 3-4 large, fresh basil leaves, 3 for the sauce, and one chopped for garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the salmon fillets on a parchment lined baking sheet so that they aren’t touching. Drizzle them with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and the dill. Bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  If they are an inch thick, then ten minutes should be perfect. Thinner than an inch, bake them for less than ten. Meanwhile make the Hollandaise.

In a blender or smoothie maker (a smoothie sized cup is perfect for this if you have one, I use a Ninja) add the egg yolks, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and two or three basil leaves. Beat for about 5 seconds. Make sure your melted butter is hot out of the pan or microwave. Very quickly dump in the hot butter and immediately turn on the blender. Beat until the mixture thickens, about 30-40 seconds. This method worked well for me. If you are using a regular blender, drizzle the butter in through the feeder tube while the blender is running. Again, continue to blend until the mixture thickens. If you blend too long it will become a thick mayonnaise.  Since this recipe uses raw egg yolks, use your judgement about food safety. You can use pasturized eggs if you wish.

Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and stir in the crab, reserving a few pieces for garnish. Heat over very low, gentle heat, just to warm the crab through. The sauce will curdle if it gets too hot. If this happens, don’t panic. You can fix it with a few drops of water and a whisk.

To plate the dish, place a piece of cooked salmon on a plate. Top with a spoonful of the sauce. Place a few pieces of crab on and sprinkle a little chopped, fresh basil on top. Serve right away.

Tip: If you would like to make the sauce ahead, you can keep it warm in a Thermos for up to two hours!

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Flaky Huckleberry Scones

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Fresh huckleberries are amazing! They are something like a deeply ripened blueberry that took a bath in blackberry juice. They can be tough to find since they have a very short season here in Oregon. Huckleberries are also fragile and difficult to transport which is why you rarely see them in the supermarket.  I found some at a farm stand and snatched them up.  If you can’t find huckleberries, you can make these scones with any fresh berry you like, or substitute dried berries or raisins.  This recipe freezes very well, and they actually bake better from frozen.  When frozen, or very cold butter, in pastry dough goes into a hot oven, it creates pockets of air, rendering your scones extremely flaky and mouth wateringly delicious.

  • 4 C. flour
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 3 sticks of cold, salted butter
  • 4 eggs beaten, plus 1 for egg wash
  • 1 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 C. fresh huckleberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries

In your food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Quickly cut the cold butter into chunks and add all of it to the food processor. Pulse it until the butter is in pea sized pieces. In a small bowl, beat 4 of the eggs and the cream together.  With the machine running, add the egg and cream mixture and mix until it is just combined.  Don’t overmix! You need chunks of butter in this dough to achieve a flaky texture. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it just two or three times. Divide the dough in half and gently roll out one half into a rough circle, about 1 inch thick. Scatter the berries all over the circle.  Roll out the other half of the dough into a circle the same size and place it over the berries.  Gently pat the edges of the circles together to encase the berries. Cut the circle into 12 wedges. Place the wedges onto a parchment covered baking sheet and place them in the freezer.  At this point, you can bake them after about 1/2 hour in the freezer. Alternatively, you can make these up to one month ahead: freeze them for 30 minutes, then wrap them in parchment and again, tightly in plastic wrap. You can freeze them for up to a month, and just bake them from frozen when you are ready. Bake these on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Serve warm with butter and jam.

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Easy S’Mores Cookie Bars


In many areas in the Pacific Northwest this Fourth of July, campfires are prohibited due to high risk of wildfires. If you’re like me, then making S’mores is a pretty important part of camping, and summer in general. What’s a mom to do? Make S’mores cookie bars at home and pack them along on picnics, camping trips, and barbecues. These are super easy and quick to make.

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 C. dark brown sugar
  • 1 t. Kosher salt
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 9 graham crackers, crumbled (smash ’em up in the package before you open it, no mess)
  • 12 oz. milk chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 C. mini-marshmallows, divided

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil, so that the foil overhangs both sides. Spray with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the butter, eggs, sugars, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour and graham crackers. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, and two cups of the marshmallows. Press the mixture into the pan evenly – wet fingers help with this. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 C. of marshmallows over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and just set in the center.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes. While still warm, lift the bars out of the pan using the overhanging foil. Cut into squares.  When completely cooled, store these in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you are transporting these in very warm weather, or if they may be sitting in a hot car, I would recommend wrapping them individually in parchment or wax paper.

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