Quick and Easy Bay Shrimp Ceviche in Lettuce Cups


Here’s a light and flavorful dish that you can make pretty much year round.  I found some Oregon bay Shrimp at our wonderful neighborhood fish market, Portland Fish Market. They are individually frozen so you can just scoop out as much as you want to thaw and then put the rest back in the freezer.  Although, they’re frozen, the quality is very high, and best of all, not only are they are inexpensive, but they are wild and sustainably harvested! True ceviche calls for raw shrimp or fish that is “cooked” by the acid in the lime juice. This is a little easier, and you don’t have to worry about food poisoning. So all you need are a few other grocery story ingredients and you have a flavorful and healthy appetizer or lunch.

  • 2 C. cooked bay shrimp, thawed if frozen
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 1/2-2 ripe-but-not- too-soft, avocados, diced
  • 1 minced red jalapeño, seeded if you want to control the heat
  • 1/2 C. diced cucumber, peeled
  • 1 t. minced shallot
  • 1 T. minced green onion
  • salt to taste
  • butter lettuce leaves for serving

Gently combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Let marinate covered, in the fridge, for about an hour before serving. Scoop into little lettuce cups and eat with your hands.

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Chocolate Sables


For me this is the perfect cookie.  It’s crisp but not crunchy.  Deep chocolate in flavor, but not bitter.  Freezes well, and can be made and stored for at least a week.  Another name for these could be Grown-Up Valentine’s Day cookies.  Grown-up because they are just barely sweet with an intense cocoa flavor.  Sorry kids, these are too good for you.  Since my husband doesn’t care for chocolate, I’m not sure who I made these for….ahem.   Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/3 C. Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 C. salted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 C. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.  Cream the butter, sugar, and salt until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.  Add the chocolate and mix just a bit.  The dough will be very crumbly. Test it with a little pinch.  If it holds together when you pinch it, you’re done.  If it’s too powdery add a teaspoon of water.  Try not to over mix.  Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for about 30 minutes.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll half of the dough out on a floured board until quite thin – about 1/8 inch.   This is not the easiest dough in the world to roll, it’s crumbly and will fall apart, so just roll enough to cut two or three cookies at a time.  Use a flexible spatula to transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a bit of the Turbinado sugar.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let them cool for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.  Once cool these can be frozen in plastic bags.  Makes about 40 cookies.



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Steamed Asian Red Snapper

Steaming fish with aromatics is a great way to maximize flavor without drying it out.  We love Asian flavors in our house, so this one was a big winner.  Use any herbs or greens that you have available.  Be sure to line the steamer with the greens so that the fish doesn’t stick.  Don’t be temped to skip the sauce- it’s easy to make and it really makes the dish!

  • 1/2 C. soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 C. rice wine, divided
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 lbs. red snapper fillets, substitute rockfish or tilapia
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 scallions, sliced vertically
  • 1 bunch of bok choy or other tender green like Napa cabbage
  • 1 handful of cilantro or parsley
  • 3 T. peanut oil

Heat 1/4 C. of the soy sauce, 1/4 C. of the rice wine, a scallion, and a few slices of ginger in a small saucepan.  Boil and reduce by half, about 10 minutes.  Strain into a serving bowl.  Meanwhile cut the fish into 6 – 8 pieces.  Season each piece with salt and pepper.  On half of the fish pieces, layer a few scallions, ginger slices, and herbs.  Sandwich the herbs with the other half of the fish.

Place the fish stacks into a steamer basket lined with greens or cabbage leaves.  Don’t forget to put water in the bottom of the pot!  To the water add the rest of the soy sauce, rice wine, and ginger.  Steam for about ten minutes.  Heat the oil until very hot and flash fry the remaining 2 or 3 scallions.  To serve, place the fillets on a serving platter.  Drizzle with the soy reduction (a little goes a long way) and top with sizzling hot oil and fried scallions.  Serve immediately.

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Ancho Chili Braised Pork


This is one of those dishes that elevates what we think of Mexican food to another level. My kids idea of Mexican food is usually a plain cheese quesadilla. I can sometimes get them to eat black beans, and one of them loves to make his own guacamole. Overall it’s a pretty Americanized version of Mexican food around here. That being said, we love the snacky street tacos we can get almost anywhere in Portland served out of little food trucks. I wanted to try to recreate that succulent, spiced, and addictive pork they serve. I started searching online and found a recipe from Bon Appetit.  I altered it quite a bit to suit our taste, and the results were fabulous.  Sweet, spicy, tender, and perfect for topping with whatever you like.

  • 6 large dried ancho or pasilla peppers (they are very similar, but anchos are a little sweeter, both are mild)
  • 2 1/2 T. sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 4-5 lb. pork shoulder, butterflied to lay flat
  • 2 t. coarse salt
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic. minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 bottle Negro Modelo or other dark beer

Heat a few cups of water to boiling. Use scissors to cut out the ribs and seeds inside the chilies. Put the chilies in a bowl and cover them with the boiling water. Soak for thirty minutes, or until tender. Reserve the liquid. Place the chilies in a blender with the sugar, lime juice and zest.  Add enough soaking liquid to make a smooth paste.  Start with about 3/4 C. Add more liquid to thin if you need to.  It should be the consistency of pesto.  Meanwhile, butterfly the pork shoulder so that it lays flat and has a relatively consistent thickness.  Sprinkle it all over with the salt. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the canola oil.  Brown the pork on all sides, about four minutes per side for a nice brown crust. Remove the pork to a plate. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the onion, garlic, and herbs and spices to the pork drippings in the Dutch oven. Brown for one minute. Add the beer and scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Put the pork back into the Dutch oven and pour the chili mixture over it.  Spread the chili mixture all over the pork.  Place the lid on the pot and put the while thing in the oven. Braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, basting with the juices every 30 or 40 minutes. You can serve the pork as-is with some pan juices poured over it, or you can shred it for tacos and top it with crunchy radishes and cool, shredded cabbage.




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Cocktail Party!

This is the perfect week for a cocktail party.  There are just a few days left before you make your clean-living New Year’s resolution, so now is your chance to live it up! I like to have one or two signature drinks as opposed to a full bar.  I also like to have a drinks area that is clearly self-serve, so that I don’t have to do any mixing during the party. Here are some of my favorite recipes for a cocktail party.


Cava and Rose Cocktail


Tamarind Whiskey Sour


Two Lemony Cocktails


Don Draper’s Canadian Club Manhattan



Original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai



Company Cashews


Fig and Ricotta Canapes



Crab Bread Puddings


Roasted Shrimp Cocktail



Smoky Links Forever


Chicken Liver Mousse



Fromage Fort



White Bean Crostini



Tiramisu Cupcakes


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Prime Rib


Every year I like to try a new special recipe that I’ve never done before.  Last year it was a crown roast of pork.  This year it was a spectacular prime rib.  Prime rib is also called a standing rib roast.  The “prime” refers to the quality of the meat- as in USDA Prime.  If you were to slice an uncooked prime rib and remove the bones, you would have ribeye steaks.  This recipe is extremely easy to do – you literally throw it in the oven and ignore it for about two hours.  As with any meat, allow it to rest before carving.  Plan on ordering your rib roast in advance, it’s not something every butcher keeps on hand.  You should order about 1 lb. per person.  Most of the time, you will pay between 10 and 14 dollars per pound, so it might be best to save it for a smaller group.

  • 1 5-6 lb. standing rib roast, bone-in
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 C. prepared cream horseradish (hot if you like)
  • 1/3 C. Kosher salt
  • 3 T. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/3 C. olive oil

Bring the roast to room temperature – take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before roasting and place it in a roasting pan with the bones on the bottom.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all the remaining ingredients into a thick paste and spread it all over the top of the roast.  Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Take the roast out of the oven when a thermometer reads 125-130 degrees for medium rare.  Let it rest for at least 25 minutes before carving.  Serve with more horseradish on the side.


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Almond Apricot Amaretti


Hands down, my family’s favorite holiday cookie! Amaretti are traditional Italian cookies made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites.  If you buy amaretti they are usually quite crispy and crunchy.  These amaretti are soft and chewy on the inside and a bit crisp around the edges.  In Sicily these would have a candied cherry in the middle.  The dried apricots give them a really nice fruity flavor and chewy texture.  Adapted from Eat The Love.   They are also naturally gluten free!

  • 2 1/2 C. almond meal or almond flour (the ingredients should list only almonds)
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 chopped dried apricots (mine were soft and chewy, not too dry)
  • More sugar and powdered sugar for rolling

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  In the food processor, pulse the almond meal and sugars until combined.  Add the extracts and egg whites and pulse until a dough forms.  Pulse in the apricots until combined.  The dough will be sticky- that’s ok.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  It will stick to your hands, just go with it.  Roll the balls first in white sugar, then in powdered sugar.  Place the dough balls about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 24 minutes.  Let them rest for a minute before removing them to a wire rack to cool.  Keep these wrapped at room temperature, but they also freeze very well.  You will want to make a second batch of these, they are sooo good.

Posted in Dessert, Gluten Free, Holidays and Special Occasions, Italian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments