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Suja cleanse is delish and here’s the dish…Day #1

Suja Delivery Box 1 10 8 13Last week I received a HUGE box from Suja Juice filled with 18 bottles for a 3-Day cleanse.   Beautifully packed, each 16 ounce bottle was a different shade of healthy:  intense orange, various shades of green, bright red and mocha.  With a weekend ahead of entertaining and football watching parties, it seemed like a sane idea to wait until the Monday after to detoxify, as I was sure to eat and drink with abandon.  We do try to eat healthy in our house, so the fact that the juice is 100% organic and non-GMO verified, made it especially appealing.  Well, the start of the week is here and so instead of a Grande Soy Latte, my morning began with a “Glow”, quite literally.

Suja Juice Glow 2 10 13I must have been a bunny in a past life as vegetables and fruits call to me.  “Glow” is an avocado green made from apples, celery, cucumber, spinach, collard, kale and a sprig of mint.  It sounded like a salad I would order off a lunch menu, so there was some doubt harbored as to how that would translate to a breakfast drink.  Actually, it was delicious and refreshing.  While it may not have delivered that jolt of java (probably a good thing), it did get me up and moving.  I felt like I had consumed a garden.  “Glow” was quite filling, so I didn’t miss anything about my usual breakfast of grapefruit and toast or oatmeal.

Time ticks by, especially when you’re working and a couple of hours later, it was mid-morning – when I often grab a handful of almonds if I am slowing down.


Suja Juice Fuel 10 13However, it was time for “Fuel” according to my clock.  Bright orange, it looked like it could power a rocket.  It was quite apparent that carrots dominated this drink.  In addition it had orange, apple, pineapple, lemon and turmeric in it.  It was light, as promised, and had a crisp, clean taste.  Each of Suja’s juices are cold pressed to prevent oxidation and keep the nutrients intact.  I think it really does yield a fresher taste.

Tomorrow, I’ll cover my lunch and mid-afternoon break drinks.  So far I am feeling quite full, peppy and not at all deprived.  Am also making frequent trips to the – how should I put it delicately – powder room.  I gave my hubby a taste of each bottle and he was quite impressed.  As I have 6 bottles to go through a day, I’ll let you know how it is going!

(Suja Juice provided this cleanse for me to try.  I did not pay for it nor am I receiving any remuneration for what I write).


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“Chef in the Vineyard”: fresh and simple recipes from great wine estates

Chef in the Vineyard by John SarichAt yesterday’s IFBC kick-off event at Ste. Michelle, we were each given a copy of John Sarich’s fifth book “Chef in the Vineyard”.  Beautifully photographed, the book is a visual tour through Sarich’s ten favorite wineries.  With over 140 recipes, each is complemented with the author’s wine recommendations.  The recipes are easy and make great use of Pacific Northwest ingredients.  On first go through, I loved the history and information that John shared about each winery.  This is a man who clearly loves what he does and his passion is evident through his writing.  I can’t wait to immerse myself in his recipes and pairings.  From experience (I have John’s other four books), his recipes are easy to make, use readily available ingredients, are extremely flavorful and great to share with family and friends.  His pairings are usually spot on for my palate.  With more cookbooks on my shelves than I like to admit to, this is a welcome addition and I suspect will become a cooking staple.

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When Culinary Insanity Meets the Menu at John Howie Steak



Menu tasting is part of the job description when you work in the hospitality world.  Today I joined two other food bloggers at client John Howie Steak during lunch to try Executive Chef Mark Hipkiss’ outrageous duo of new additions to the menu.  How do you top sandwiches which already live up to their names such as “The Ultimate BLT” or “Peppercorn Crusted Wagyu Beef Burger” with a ½ pound of ground American Wagyu red meat, tons of Roquefort cheese and all the fixings in a house baked bun?  Well – you ain’t seen anything yet – let me introduce you to the “Three Little Pigs” and the gi-normous “Triple Bypass”.

When Chef Hipkiss brought his creations to our table in the bar, every head in the place swiveled.  There was a collective intake of breath and dead silence, followed by a babble of voices asking “WHAT ARE THOSE????!!”  You could hardly miss these two towering dishes as the shear size of them was both awe-inspiring and yet, absolutely seductive.


The “Three Little Pigs” consists of three pork cuts:  a tempura Kurobuta pork loin, Black Forest ham and Kurobuta bacon.  This mountain of oink is topped with two eggs over easy, a Chipotle Ranch dressing, and enclosed in a bun.  Oh yes – and it is also accompanied by a generous portion of crispy French fries.  Once I got my lips around it, the burger was astonishing!  Spicy sweet dressing was a perfect playmate for the salty ham and bacon.  The texture of the crunchy tempura fried Kurobuta danced around the smoothness of the eggs.

Now let’s talk about the “Triple Bypass”.  Close to five inches tall, you really do have to stand back a foot or two just to take it all in.  Hipkiss, in perhaps a supreme moment of culinary insanity, has sandwiched a 12-ounce prime chuck burger, tempura fried Kurobuta bacon and – get this – ONION RINGS between two grilled cheese sandwiches oozing with swiss and Tillamook cheddar cheese.  This also comes with fries.

His inspiration?  “I was just trying to make burgers that were a little different.  You can always get the basics.  In the past I’ve played with deep fried mozzarella and even a chili relleno burger, but I thought this would bring some real energy into the room”.

Of course, no meal – even lunch – is complete without dessert.  I could only pray that my HDL good cholesterol would some how come through and save the day for me as we decided to split the Tempura Fried Limoncello Scented Pound Cake with sides of warm chocolate ganache, Mt. Rainier huckleberry topping and lemon mascarpone.  The Puyallup Fair, where you can purchase just about everything and anything fried, has never even conceived of anything this yummy.  We were served golden slices of pound cake the size of butter cubes, surprisingly light and encased in a thin layer of crispness.  I sliced off tablespoon sized portions and tried each sauce.  The chocolate was thick, dark, and after dipping reminded me of a churro.  Lemon mascarpone was rich and tart and the huckleberries were bursting with flavor.  My favorite?  Try double-dipping in the nicest sense and coat a piece of cake with both the lemon and berry sauces.

The “Three Little Pigs” is priced at $14 and will easily satisfy a linebacker.  For $16 you can get a “Triple Bypass” (no pun intended).  Right now both are available at lunch and are not nearly as dangerous when shared.  Limoncello Scented Poundcake is a good value at $8. Worth trying – absolutely – followed by a vigorous week of workouts at the gym and dining on air. ~ Norma

John Howie Steak, 11111 N.E. 8th St., Suite 125, The Shops at The Bravern, Bellevue, Washington  98004

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Dinner Without Apron Strings – Summer Recipes

With summer technically not ending until September 23rd,  I tend to cling to recipes that paint a picture using summer’s vivid reds, greens, and yellows.  With close friends coming over for dinner and one traveling all the way from France, I pictured a menu with simple prep done ahead, so we could spend maximum time catching up over a glass of wine.  Here’s my apron-less adventure:

Isa Dinner Heirloom Tomato, Mozzerella, Peach Raspberry Salad 9 10Fresh heirloom tomatoes are still available at one of my favorite hang-outs, the Issaquah Saturday Farmer’s Market, so I picked up some meaty, sweet red and yellow Brandywines; the almost nutty Green Zebras; and my true summer love – a Cherokee Purple which is sugary and rich with a hint of smokiness to it.  While I knew the colors would play beautifully together on the plate,  what was most tempting was the idea of intermingling the distinctive flavors that only come from vine-ripened tomatoes.  They were quickly sliced and layered on top of a bed of shredded Asian cabbage, alternating with slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella.   A couple of ripe peaches on the counter-top caught my eye and became a part of the salad, as did some raspberries leftover in the fridge, along with some quickly shredded basil.  Ten minutes max and a salad was ready to go, on the counter-top (room temp brings out the flavors beautifully) and just waiting to be dressed in some peppery Spanish olive oil and a bit of balsamic.

Isa Dinner Roasted Asparagus & Patty Pan 9 1 10Browsing the stalls, I found some gorgeous, hearty green and white asparagus, as well as vibrant scallopped mini patty-pan squash.  Couldn’t decide – so typical girl-style, grabbed all.  Back in the kitchen, they were quickly rinsed, trimmed, tossed in some olive oil with salt and pepper, and pan roasted in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Again, great at room temp, they were plated and set out to rest.  A loaf of crunchy artisan bread was ready to be popped into the oven to warm, leaving only the entree and dessert to deal with.  Again, sticking with a plan of no apronstrings when the company arrived, I decided that enlisting my hubby to light up the barbecue, was the way to go.

Isa Dinner Blackberry Salmon 9 10What could be more evocative of summer in the Northwest, than salmon?  We serve only wild fish at our house – no farm raised, but also no-problem.  A quick stop at any local grocery or in this case, the local seafood vendor, produced a gorgeous center cut piece – perfect for even cooking over the coals.  All I needed to make was a sauce.  Braiden Rex Johnson has one of my all-time favorite recipes in her Pike Place Market Cookbook :  Alaskan Salmon with warm Blackberry and Shallot Compote.  The fruit was literally in my backyard – wild blackberry bushes galore.  If you aren’t that lucky, this is the perfect time of year to find them in your farmer’s market or grocery.  For the 2 1/4 pounds of fish, purchased to serve 5, I used 5 medium shallots – peeled and thickly sliced; a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil; a 1/4 cup sugar; 2 1/2 cups of blackberries; and a 1/4 cup of raspberry vinegar. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the shallots, olive oil and sugar together in a bowl and then spread them on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Let them cook for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven, and scrape the shallots and syrup into a glass mixing bowl.  Then add the blackberries and raspberry vinegar, mixing them gently.  Make it ahead of time and cover.  Once the salmon comes off the barbecue – top with the sauce and voila!

Dessert?  I made tiny ice cream tarts that afternoon using 2 1/2″ ring molds.  This recipe makes enough for 6.  Purchase a half gallon of your favorite ice cream and a box of plain chocolate wafer cookies.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, while you crunch up 1 ½ cups of the chocolate wafers in your cuisinart – adding 1/4 cup sugar and a ½ stick of melted butter.  Place the ring molds on a cookie sheet or flat baking pan and press the cookie mixture onto the bottom and half way up the sides of each mold.  Bake them for 8 minutes.   Let the cookie crust filled ring molds cool completely, leaving the molds on the pan,  and place the carton of ice cream on the counter to soften for 15 minutes.  Fill the rest of each mold with ice cream and level off the top with a knife.  Pop them in the freezer for a minimum of two hours, still on the pan.  When ready to serve, warm the ring with your hands and slide out each tart onto an individual plate, pushing from the bottom of the ring mold.  Try topping them with grated chocolate, fresh berries or even chocolate sauce – whatever you have around.  Happy eating! ~Norma

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Foraging in the Kitchen

It’s a fall night and as always, around 5 pm, the talk is dinner.  As my husband is from Southern California, he loves to barbecue and is totally undaunted by the weather (neighbors once rushed over during a snow fall to tell us our house was on fire, only to end up staying for paella right off the grill).  However, we’ve done steaks, ribs, chicken and fish all summer and are restless, looking for something different and are way too tired from a long work week to venture out.  Pizza, he is murmuring.  Oh yah, I’m right on top of it.  From my foggy memory banks I remember that there is some extra dough I froze when recipe testing for Tamara Murphy’s new book – Tender: Farmer’s, Cooks, Eaters, so I pull it out of the icy depths and start scouring the fridge and pantry for ingredients.  Mister Skeptic worries that the dough will either ooze between the grating or bake itself onto it, becoming a ruinous cement mess.  I point out that the recipe says it will be easy to flip, and slide right off.  He does have a healthy respect for the written word (even if he does raise one brow and get me to swear I’ll help scrub if disaster befalls), so we get to work.  With Tamara’s recipe as a base, instead of foraged mushrooms, we have foraged kitchen pizza.  An hour later (the dough defrosted fairly quickly in the warm kitchen), we are sitting down to something hot, crusty and while far from symmetrical, definitely one darn good pizza.  Already under discussion as we eat away are less coals in the Weber as it was a tad too hot, the taste possibilities of adding wood chips like mesquite, seasonal toppings, and how to adapt this into a flat bread to accompany a grilled meat and veggie future dinner.  There is also the dawning realization that a stash of frozen dough should become a kitchen staple, ready to take out at a moment’s notice, should last-minute company appear.  Who would of “thunk”?

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The Proper Way to Consume a Cupcake

“Jen”, who works at the salon I go to, always has the greatest culinary tidbits.  A foodie like me, albeit a much younger one, she lives in the heart of a gastronomic mecca on Capitol Hill.  We both love sweets and – lucky Jen – a Cupcake Royale opened right beneath her apartment.   Besides filling me in on “Cupcake Happy Hour” (do you love it!) when the day’s unsold gems go for 50% off, she also instructed me on the best way to eat a cupcake, as related to her by a manager of the store.  Now this is a fine and very personal science.  Everyone has their own technique, just like when eating Oreos.  However, I think you’ll agree that this method via Cupcake Royale has it nailed.  They suggest removing the top half or “crown” of the cupcake, flipping it over, and replacing it on top of the bottom; in essence making a “cupcake sandwich”.  That way, you get frosting with every bite AND remove the possibility of ending up with telltale “cupcake nose” (frosting on the tip of the proboscis), a sure sign that you have downed the evidence and not shared with others.  Your preferred approach?

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Growing Up with Gourmet

Gourmet has been a part of my life for so long…and a part that I have always taken very much for granted, that the magazine’s demise seems almost surreal.  When I was in my 20’s and learning to cook, I would spend hours trying to replicate the mouthwatering cover image by slavishly following each detail of the recipe.  As time went on and I became more experienced in the kitchen (and had less time as the mother of two young, very active daughters), my secret pleasure was to curl up after everyone was in bed and comb every issue for ideas.  From the confidence and cooking savvy gained, I had graduated into the experimental stage.  As years went by, I adapted recipes that became family staples.

Gourmet also fed the passion for travel that my parents had instilled in me.  It transported me to faraway places when my husband and I were unable to get away due to work.  And when we could take a trip, hoarded back “Collector’s” issues became an insider’s guide to Paris, Italy and such.

And then there was (it seems so sad to use the past tense!) the Thanksgiving issue.  When we moved back to Seattle a year ago, I had to sort through years of past Gourmets as my husband pointed out that the moving van was charging us by the pound.  However, I refused to give up my stash of turkey-centric issues and schlepped them back across the country with us.  Always anticipated, always the inspiration for the ever rotating “new dish” that we tried each year to add a little punch to our feast, it will leave a little hollow in our holiday tradition.

Like everyone else, I now often try to save time by surfing for recipes on the web when I’m in a hurry.  But I’m also old-fashioned enough (or just plain old enough) to still get that thrill of anticipation when a new issue of a coveted magazine arrives in the mail.  There’s nothing like curling up with beautiful photos, thoughtful writing and new twists on classic ingredients with journal in hand as well as visuals and commentaries to stimulate creativity and dreams.   Life goes on, but I have to weigh in and say, Gourmet, you will be missed.

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Welcome to Funtastic Foodie.  I hope you’ll find everything you need to delight your culinary interests.

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