Monthly Archives: June 2012

Oregon Bay Shrimp Cocktail

Oregon Bay Shrimp Cocktail

Late last week, my family and I took a much needed vacation to the Southern Oregon Coast.  Bruce booked us a hotel room that overlooked the Pacific Ocean in nearby Brookings, Oregon.  Our room had a fabulous ocean view and was only about a hundred yards from the beach.  You could hear the waves crashing along the shore at all hours.  It was so relaxing…

On the first morning (obviously, I was still on my work schedule), I woke up a few hours before my family, grabbed my camera, and headed out for a brisk morning walk along the beach.  It was fairly early and only a few people were out and about.

I walked past the harbor full of boats and down towards the south jetty.  I wanted to see the Chetco River and to catch a glimpse of boats leaving the harbor and heading out to sea to catch dungeness crab, ling cod and tuna.

The view east up the Chetco River.  The harbor is on the right and the Chetco Bridge is in the background.  Once I made it to the south jetty, I decided to walk back down the beach towards our hotel.  The weather was cool and calm.  Fortunately for me it was just overcast and not raining.

Nobody on the beach but me… Before heading back to my hotel room I decided to stop by some large rocks hoping to find some tidal pools.  I found a few.  It was near low tide and I was able to see all kinds of aquatic life.  Mussels, starfish, anemones, and lots of birds such as gulls and pelicans.

I slipped my macro lens on my camera to take photos of some of the creatures that I happened to see clinging to the rocks.  These gorgeous mollusks are blue mussels.  You can find them all over the rocks at low tide.

Gooseneck Barnacles waiting for the tide to come back in…

Seaweed growing on rocks at low tide.  Do you see the little snails and barnacles?

Note to self…  When photographing aquatic life be sure to watch waves closely.  Dingy me, I did not pay attention and ended up with soaked sneakers and jeans.  Wet shoes makes for a long miserable walk back to the hotel.  Next time, I will be a bit wiser and wear sandals.

My Oregon Bay Shrimp Cocktail was inspired by a shrimp cocktail appetizer that I ordered at a local seafood restaurant down in the harbor.  It’s made with fresh Oregon bay shrimp nestled in fresh picked lettuce leaves, drizzled with homemade cocktail sauce and garnished with fresh lemon wedges.  It’s an easy and delicious appetizer.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Oregon Bay Shrimp Cocktail

  • 4 cups bay shrimp (cleaned and chilled)
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup Easy Cocktail Sauce (see recipe below)
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 4 parsley sprigs

Arrange leaves on a plate, small bowl or in short stemmed dessert glass.  Add shrimp and top with cocktail sauce.  Garnish with lemon wedge and parsley sprig.  Makes 4 appetizers.

Easy Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 Tbs grated horseradish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • dash hot pepper sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Put in covered container and refrigerate up to 3 days.  Makes a little more than a cup.  Use on shrimp or crab cocktails, fish, fried oysters, shrimp or clams.  It’s delicious!

Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad

Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad

Bruce and I threw a backyard barbecue with family and friends on Saturday afternoon.  While playing ladder golf, darts, laughing, joking and most likely making our neighbors seriously annoyed, I spent a bit of time tending to the barbecue.  I barbecued my apricot pork ribs while others pitched in with sides of fresh picked white corn, baked beans, watermelon, cherries,  green salad, and cornbread.  In addition to the apricot pork ribs, I made a batch of my Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad.  My Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad is a tasty twist on the classic American potato salad.   My Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad has a wonderful smokey bacon flavor and then kicked up in flavor with fiery chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  It’s not your average potato salad.  It’s just simply delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 5 pounds potatoes (boiled, cooled, peeled and coarsely chopped)
  • 8 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup minced sweet onion
  • 6 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs chipotle pepper in adobo (minced)
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • garnish with fresh snipped chives and pinches of paprika

Add potatoes, bacon, celery and onions to an extra large mixing bowl.  Lightly toss.  In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, mayonnaise, chipotle pepper, Dijon mustard, smoked salt, black pepper and smoked paprika.  If you have any bacon grease leftover from the bacon, add about a tablespoon of it to the potatoes.  Trust me…  It adds a ton of flavor!  Add the mayo mixture to potatoes.  Lightly mix.  Garnish with fresh snipped chives and pinches of paprika.  Makes a big bowl or about 12-15 servings.  Enjoy!

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

There’s never a shortage of salmon when you live in Oregon.  Bruce and I eat salmon quite often because it’s delicious, quick to prepare and most importantly, one of our favorite local ingredients.  Salmon is so versatile too.  We barbecue it, make salmon chowder, poach it, bake it, put it in tacos, make sandwiches out of it, and even put it in dips.  The number of ways to prepare fresh caught salmon is virtually endless…

Yesterday I fired up our smoker for the first time this year.  We had guests coming over for dinner later in the evening and I thought that fresh smoked salmon would be a fabulous appetizer with cream cheese and crackers.

If you are going to smoke salmon, you need to prepare the fish the day before and be ready to smoke it the next day.  Smoking salmon is really a simple process but does take a little bit of time once the salmon is in the smoker.  I like to grab a good book and have an ice cold beverage on hand during the smoking process.  Using the smoker forces me to sit down and relax for an hour or so while the fish is being smoked.

For the recipe, I adapted Alton Brown’s smoked salmon recipe.  In my opinion, any recipe by created by Alton Brown is a winner.  I’m a complete fan :).

The salmon is almost done and ready to be pulled off the smoker!  Now, all I have to do is brush it with a bit of Indonesian Soy Sauce, cover it again, and let smoke for about 15 more minutes until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  When it’s done, gently pull it off the smoker, let it cool slightly and it will be ready to serve.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 large Salmon filet (skin on, scaled, rib and pin bones removed)
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbs Indonesian Soy Sauce

Begin the night before by preparing mixing the salt, white sugar, brown sugar and cracked black pepper.  Grab a large pan and line with plastic wrap.  Put 1/3 of salt/sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Place the salmon skin side down in pan.  I cut my filet in half so it could fit in the pan and in my smoker.  Take remaining mixture and cover the top of the salmon.  Place plastic wrap directly on salmon and weigh down the fish with bricks or cast iron bacon presses.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

The next day…  Take the salmon out of the refrigerator and rinse well under cold water.  Pat dry.  It’s important to not skip this step.  Start up your smoker.  The internal temperature must be 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  I used hickory chips for a wonderful smokey flavor.

Place salmon on rack in smoker and smoke covered until the temperature of the fish reaches 130 degrees.  Brush top of salmon with Indonesian Soy Sauce.  Put lid back on and continue to smoke until the fish reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  Gently remove from smoker, let cool slightly and serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers for up to three days.

Strawberry Banana Bread

Strawberry Banana Bread

Years ago when Bruce and I bought our home I noticed that the former owners planted strawberry plants on the side of our house behind the shed and next to the fence.  At the time, there were no berries on the plants and over the years, I completely forgot about them…  Until just the other day.

I was out weeding my little garden and was tossing the weeds in a pile next to the fence. As I looked at my growing pile of weeds I noticed little flecks of red tucked amongst the foliage.  I stopped what I was doing and headed towards the vibrant red colors.  Strawberries!  And bunches of them!  The forgotten strawberry patch grew over the years and produced handfuls of delicious little berries.  I grabbed my garden basket and picked a couple of pints of the succulent little berries.  Some of the berries were feasted upon by snails and slugs but most of the berries were perfectly intact.  What a score!

Little pink Sweet William flowers blooming next to my garden.

Blue iris growing on the edge of our pond.

Fresh fragrant dill ready to be picked.

Every year, I grow herbs in big pots on the patio next to my kitchen.  That way, I can step out the side door and snip what I need while I am cooking.  In the pots I have fresh dill, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, chives, mint, tarragon, sage, and marjoram.  I love using fresh herbs when I cook.  Growing your own herbs is easy and many herbs are even perennial. Herbs that are perennial mean that they grow back every year.  I added a small handful of dill to my basket of strawberries for some grilled salmon later in the evening.

With my basket of fresh picked strawberries, I decided to make Strawberry Banana Bread.  I used my basic banana bread recipe and I am happy to say that it was pretty good!  The only thing that I would change is that the next time I make it is I would use an 8 X 4 inch pan instead of the 9 X5 inch pan.  The Strawberry Banana Bread took a bit longer to bake than I wanted and the exterior was a tad bit darker than I would like.  It was moist and flavorful but as Bruce would say, I have my standards :).  So, here’s the recipe…  Take my advice and use a slightly smaller pan. You might even try baking the batter in muffin tins for wonderful little strawberry banana muffins.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 4 bananas (mashed well)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 X 5 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium sized bowl add mashed bananas, melted butter, sugar, eggs and lemon extract.  Mix well.  In another bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Gently fold in the strawberries.  Add mixture to greased baking pan and bake for about an hour or until done.  Use a toothpick to check.  Let cool on baking rack and slice.  Makes one loaf.

Guamanian Chicken

Guamanian Chicken

My friend Janie first introduced me to Guamanian Chicken several years ago. She was taught how to make it from her sister in law who is from Guam.  Guam is an island territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean.  When Janie first told me what the ingredients were in the chicken, I thought to myself no way, it won’t work, its missing sugar or something sweet in the recipe.  I was seriously wrong…

Guamanian Chicken is probably one of the most flavorful grilled chicken that I have ever tasted.  It’s made with a sauce or a marinade called finadene.  Finadene is pronounced fin-ah-den-ee and not “vinny dinny”  like I originally thought.  Finadene is a simple sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, fresh lemon juice, sliced green onions and hot sauce.  You can adjust the heat by adding red peppers or omitting the hot sauce altogether.

After grilling a big platter of Guamanian Chicken, I like to serve it with fluffy white jasmine rice, and a bowl of finadene on the side for drizzling.  It’s easy to make and so delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Guamanian Chicken Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds chicken hindquarters (cut up)
  • 1 cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbs hot sauce

Grab a large bowl and add chicken.  Whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, chopped green onions and hot sauce.  Add to chicken, toss well to coat, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or overnight.  Turn chicken occasionally.

Meanwhile, make the sauce below by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.  Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Finadene Sauce: (It’s the same as the marinade above, just half the volume)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp hot sauce

Now that the chicken has marinated.  Fire up your barbecue or indoor grill.  Cook chicken on medium to medium high heat until the juices run clear or the chicken has an internal temperature of 180 degrees.  Throw away the marinade…  Don’t even think about reusing it or drizzling it on the rice.  Remove chicken from grill, let rest 5 minutes and serve with rice and finadene sauce.  Makes about 6 servings.

Orzo Asparagus Salad

Orzo Asparagus Salad

It’s not too often that when I walk through the produce section of my favorite food co-op and then all of a sudden stop dead in my tracks…  What caught my eye were these gorgeous stems of locally grown organic purple asparagus.  I’ve never seen or even heard of purple asparagus before.  I’ve prepared green and white asparagus dozens of times but never the purple variety.  What a treat!  I snagged a big huge handful and put them it in my basket.

I gotta tell you that purple asparagus is not completely purple…  When you slice it, it has a light greenish white center and the outside of the stems turn purple to greenish purple as you cook them.  Purple asparagus is as tender and tastes the same as green asparagus.  With my new found prize, I decided to make an Orzo Asparagus Salad as a side dish with our grilled salmon for dinner this evening.  If I happened to have any leftovers, I will pack it in my lunch tomorrow.

After preparing my Orzo Asparagus Salad and as I was waiting for Bruce to come home from work, I thought I’d head outdoors with my camera to capture a few shots of late spring flowers and plants…

A variety of “double” columbine.  Notice the two layers of petals?

A “single” petaled columbine.  It’s just simply beautiful!  It’s one of my favorite perennial flowers.

Now back to what’s going on in my kitchen… My Orzo Asparagus Salad is a brightly colored spring dish that is easy to make and tastes wonderful.  It’s made with orzo pasta, locally grown purple asparagus, chopped red onion, crisp red bell pepper, Roma tomato, hand picked herbs from my garden such as oregano, basil and parsley, kalamata olives, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and then topped with crumbled feta cheese.  Makes about 4 – 6 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 cup orzo pasta (cook to manufacturer’s direction)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped asparagus (I used purple but, you can use what you like)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped and seeded Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped basil
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese

Begin by cooking the orzo pasta according to manufacturer’s direction (or 7 minutes in salted boiling water).  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside.  Meanwhile, bring another salted pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus and cook for about two to three minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In a medium sized mixing bowl add cooked orzo, cooked asparagus, bell pepper, tomato, kalamata olives, onion, basil, parsley and oregano.  Lightly toss.  In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add to salad and toss to coat.  Refrigerate until well chilled. Put in a serving dish and top with feta cheese.

Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies

Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies

Bruce and I spent the last two days up in Eugene at the Prefontaine Classic track meet at the University of Oregon.  The Prefontaine Classic draws the many of the best track and field athletes from all over the world.  What’s even better than attending a world class event is that I had the opportunity to visit my son since he is a student at the university.  Fortunately, in a few short weeks he will be home for part of the summer.  I have one last chance to send him a care package this week before the school years ends.

Eugene, Oregon is also known as “Tracktown, USA”.  Bruce and I attend the Prefontaine Classic nearly every year.

Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa getting ready to run the Men’s 400 meter race.

Women’s Pole Vault

Men’s 100 Meter

Women’s Long Jump

Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States.

Athletes lining up for the final race of the day, the Bowerman Mile.

When Bruce and I got home, I decided to make Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies for the final care package of the term. My Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies are made with an interesting combination of fresh lemon zest, tender chunks of dried Philippine pineapple and creamy white chocolate chips.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.  Oh and by the way, Bruce liked the cookies so much that only half of the cookies will make it up to Eugene :).  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest
  • 1 cup chopped dried Philippine pineapple chunks
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon extract and lemon zest.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.  Fold in the pineapple and white chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.   Makes about 4 dozen cookies.