mini date: food truck

This past weekend we got a lot done. The living room was patch painted and furniture moved in. The nursery was mopped, we bought shelving for the closets, and furniture moved  in as well. In addition this, we did a tour of the family birth center at the hospital and test drove a car we are looking at buying. More pics and information on all of that to come.

But in the middle of this very busy weekend we were able to have a moment of fun and exploration.

We drive the same route every week to our birth class in Northern Olympia. So I decided  to look on google maps to see what food options were close to where our  class meets. I discovered there are interesting looking restaurants and stores along 4th and State running east of our normal northern route via Plum st.

We were running low on time, but we knew there were food trucks parked on the corner of 4th and Plum.

It was a beautiful sunny spring day with a little wind blowing off the bays. We  walked up to the parking lot where the food trucks are set up in a circle around wood picnic benches and a planter box.  There four food trucks were parked featuring Middle Eastern, Venezuelan, Indian fusion, a traditional taco truck.

Since we were exploring, Luke decided to order a lamb/beef shawarma from Nineveh , the Assyrian food truck, and side order of bourek. I went to the Venezuelan truck, called AREPA: latin street food, and ordered the carne arepa with a side of yuca fries. To drink we went to the California Tacos truck for glass bottled Jarritos and Coke.

The food was very flavorful, and great portions for the cost. Luke really enjoyed his shawarma and after a bite I’m looking forward to trying their falalfel shawarma. The bourek was something new to me, an egg roll on the outside with middle eastern spiced ground beef/lamb and spinach on the inside, very tasty. My arepa was great, another first for me, the bun is made of corn so it’s gluten free! (yay) and the shredded beef was savory. The yuca fries were great too, and even better when dipped in the cilantro/avocado dressing they came with.

In all, although slightly rushed, it was a fun discovery with great food and a wonderful mini date in the midst of a busy weekend.

How is your spring going?


Christmas Cookies 2016

Every Christmas I embark on a epic cookie baking session. This year is no exception. Actually, because I am closer to family the cookie tins have increased this year. In spite of working with a new oven with less counter space nothing seems to keep me from the joy of holiday baking.

So what’s on the list for this year?

White Chocolate Peppermint :

This year I am going to try a new method for making these minty favorites. In the past I have struggled with the cookies flattening. My current theory is that they are weighed down by the andes peppermint chunks in them. To try to prevent this, I am going to melt the peppermint with the white chocolate and only sprinkle a few morsels on top afterward. We will see if that makes a difference.

White chocolate dipped Ginger:



These are my new favorites. I made them for the first time last year and they went over so well I’m making a larger batch this time. They are a bit more time consuming as they require cooling before dipping or decorating but they are so yummy and they catch everyone’s eye. For more see:

Chocolate Bakers:

A basic for chocolate lovers. I have done several variations on this over the years including adding chili to make them more like Mexican Coco and of course also peppermint. But classics are still great. I’ll try to get a recipe out for those to you soon.

Holiday M and M:

Speaking of classics. This is a basic as it gets, well at least for me. The secret I find to these salty and sweet upscale chocolate chips is the use of a little bit of oat flour and vanilla pudding mix to keep them moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Holiday Red Velvet :


In the past I’ve made these with holiday velvet cake mixes, cookies come in both red and green. The green ones don’t seem to go over as well even though they taste the same. So instead of making it extra colorful we are skipping the grinch coloring this year.

For a recipe see:

Organic Gluten Free No White Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

This is my new experiment this year. I took a basic oatmeal cookie recipe and did some work substituting ingredients. I was able to come up with an alternative to meet the needs of a few family members with food allergies, something I completely understand.  (for more on this put the words “tree nuts” and “barley” into my search box on this blog). If this goes well and I get thumbs up from those who will enjoy them then a recipe may be down the road for this as well.

In addition to these wonderful cookies I am making a few candies and snacks including peanut brittle, butterscotch haystacks, and spicy cajun peanuts to name a few.

Are any of these your favorites? If not what is your favorite holiday treat?

Day 4: End of the trip

So finally, the end of our NYC trip.


On our last day we got up early, picked up coffee, and walked to battery park at the end of Manhattan Island. Here instead of taking the many-tourist boats to Ellis Island, we caught the FREE commuter ferry to Staten Island.


This provided us with a up-close view of Lady Liberty without the cost and lines to tour her.


We were able to take the less than 20 minute ferry one way turn around, and get back on the other way.


On the ride back we had not only another close-up of the statue of liberty but also a panorama of the downtown skyline. It was well worth the hour boat ride.



We then hurried back to our hotel and packed up our bags. With suitcases in hand, we checked out of the hotel and hit the subway.


With only an hour or two before our train ride to Poughkeepsie, we were able to visit grand central station, and get street views of Madison Square Garden, the Empire State building, and Chrysler building.




This was our attempt to make up for the shortened bus tour the day before. It was a lot of exercise and a little chaotic, but worth the extra time before heading out of the city.

We got to Penn Station just in time to get some Jamba Juice to cool us off from the uptown run around, then get in line for our train.

The trip back was relaxing and easy.

We thoroughly enjoyed our busy New York City adventure.

Next: to catch you up since then.

Happy Easter 2016!


Happy Easter everyone!

Today Luke and I will be celebrating in an untraditional way. We are traveling to New York City where we will be spending the next few days for Spring Break. This has been a trip on our bucket list for a while living on the East Coast and it’s taken us almost 4 years to get there. Plenty more on this trip’s details to come.


So no Easter dinner of us, but I still made hot crossed buns (Luke would be upset if I didn’t). For more on this see: hot cross buns. Since we are eating these on-the-go for our spring break breakfasts I made the buns smaller and did not ice them. Instead I made cream cheese icing spread in a tupperware container to dip or spread on the buns when we eat them.


Also, this year we did not go to a maple farm for pancake breakfast, but I did make maple cookies from local syrup like last year for our coworkers and my students to enjoy. For more on this see:


This year I decided to not fill the cookies with cinnamon buttercream so I added cinnamon to the cookie dough directly. I also let the dough cool  before baking to help with the sticky texture. It really made it easier.

Hope you all enjoy a beautiful Spring Easter! See you in a week!



Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

A long title for a very delicious cookie.

For Valentine’s this year I decided to put a twist on the traditional Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie.


Instead of buying plain chocolate kisses I bought caramel filled kisses, this time of year they come in a pink bag and are wrapped in pink swirled foil.


I adapted a basic Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie recipe with a few gourmet twists below:

Makes about 32-36 cookies


1/4 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 stick or 4 tsb unsalted butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾-1 C all purpose flour ( I use organic)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

36 Caramel kisses unwrapped

sea-salt and white sugar for topping or sprinkles

1/4 container vanilla pudding mix



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Stick the unwrapped caramel kisses in the freezer
  3. Cream peanut butter and butter until smooth
  4. Add in brown sugar and pudding mix beat until smooth
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again
  6. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt
  7. Add dry ingredients to the wet slowly and beat on low speed

IMG_61568. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or slip pats and grease if needed

9. Let dough sit in the fridge for about an hour to chill meanwhile move the kisses to the fridge

IMG_615810.After an hour roll the dough into small 1-1/2 inch balls

11. Roll the balls in extra sugar/course sea salt combo


IMG_6160 12. Place dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes

13. When cookies come out of the oven give them 2 minutes to rest

14. then place a chilled caramel kiss in the center of each


Note: Be careful when moving these cookies to a cooling rack or trying to stack them for storage, in the first few minutes after kisses are put on the cookies they will get hot and melty. My solution is to clear a place in the freezer to flash freeze the candy before packing the cookies for storage.


These cookies were a perfect hit, both at home our jobs, they went fast. They are rich but the salt cuts the sweet and few people ate only one.

Superbowl Buffalo Chicken Salad

I know it is way past the Super Bowl now and I had plans to write this much sooner if not for the lack of internet this week.


Every January/February it is the same struggle. You try to get back on track for eating healthy and watching calories. Then the events start to hit again. This year it was Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, and Valentines day all wrapped into a short two week period. Not that we celebrate all of these events but it can get difficult to stay on top of healthy eating.

So this year I decided to do something different for the super bowl: a gluten-free salad. Now before you get upset or confused let me tell you what was in it:  chicken breast in buffalo wing sauce, romaine lettuce, pickled red cabbage, blue cheese crumbles, and homemade potato chips for croutons. Does that sound better?


Let’s just say my husband did not complain. So how did I make it?

Step one: Well it does take some planning to make the red cabbage salad. I grew up near Northwoods Inn, a ski themed steakhouse in Southern California. There they have a famous red cabbage salad that my husband learned to enjoy. So I looked online for as close a recipe as possible.

Here is the recipe I used:


Even though this recipe calls for only 4 days of it sitting I found it was better after almost a full week but I am sure that depends on how thinly you slice the cabbage.


Step Two: To make the buffalo chicken I use all white breast meat. My husband is not a fan of working around bones. I cut 2 large chicken breast into cutlets or cubes removing any access fat.


Then I put the meat into a ziplock bag and add the buffalo sauce ingredients:


1/4 C-1/2C red hot pepper sauce

1 tsp pepper and salt

1Tbs garlic and corn starch

and 1/4 C butter (I use low-fat butter spread).

These measurements can change depending on how garlicky or spicy you want your sauce to be. More butter means less heat, more garlic or hot pepper sauce means a spicier sauce.


I let that sit and marinade for at least and hour in the fridge. Then I heat up a pan or skillet with vegetable oil and place the chicken in it. I turn the burner on low, put a lid on it, and let it cook down. If you let it cook on high for too long the sauce will break down and the hot pepper sauce will get very spicy.


This usually takes 10 minute or so but may be longer depending on the size of your cutlets and temperature of your burner.  I double check them to make sure they are done by cutting into one cube. The chicken is better if you let it sit and cool a little before serving this way the corn starch has a chance to help bind the sauce together.



Step Three: I make the croutons as the same time as the chicken cooks. For this I use a handful of fingerling potatoes or you can use baby red potatoes:

1. I preheated the oven at 350 F and cut the potatoes into as thin of slices as possible.

2. Then wrapped a baking sheet in tin foil and drizzled it with olive oil.

3. Laid the potatoes evenly and lightly salted with season salt.

4. They baked for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes.


Some were ready sooner than others- so after 30 minutes I checked every 10 minutes. When they are  crispy and with little to no bend they are done.


To create the salad I cut up romaine lettuce, red onion, and carrot and mixed this together with blue cheese dressing. Then began to layer the goodies: red cabbage, then the Buffalo Chicken, blue cheese crumbles, and potato croutons on top.


What do you think an acceptable alternative?



Winter Walk: Stonybrook Park

I know I have written about Stonybrook before, since it is our closest gorge park. For more see posts: Here Comes the Sun!: Stony Brook Park and Kira’s first outing.

This winter we were able to share this wonderful place with my parents. While my parents were here we had settled in, caught up,  eaten many yummy cookies and great meals, and we were ready to walk some of it off. So we took my parents to Stonybrook.


Because of our mild December, we were able to enjoy a winter walk without any rain or snow and mild weather walking down the gorge trail.


We also had the chance to try out one of Kira’s Christmas presents: a fleece camo vest my mom made her for the winter and hunting months.


Again we did not make it through the whole trail (still a goal of mine) but we made it further down the path then we had before and boy was it worth it!


In spite of the dry day we had enough rain and snow recently to still have beautiful falls to discover.


It was the perfect winter walk and picture spot. Afterwards we came home and enjoyed hot coco by the lit fireplace.

What type of outdoor winter activities do you enjoy?