Ale and Cheddar Soup

Earlier this week Steve and I took the dogs hiking up on Larch Mountain, just east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge in the pouring rain just because we were getting antsy sitting around all day. Well it was pouring and it wasn’t particularly cold so we were soaked under our rain gear too. It was a pretty miserable hike and we turned around without completing the loop. On the plus side, we made an amazing Ale and Cheddar Soup from Kevin Lynch over at Closet Cooking, which is one of my new favorite blogs and I have got to share the recipe, so hop on over to his sight and take a look. YUM!!!

Ale and Cheddar Soup

Delicious!!! Bacon, Cheese, and Beer….

Roasted Acorn Squash Rigatoni with Arugula, Italian Sausage and Parmesan

I’m on a squash kick right now, so this recipe was right up my alley. The acorn squash lends the rigatoni a subtle sweetness that is balanced by the savory flavors of the sausage and arugula; the toasted pumpkin seeds give it just enough nuttiness to round it out. I’ve seen recipes similar to this one all over then net, ours is adapted from Lesley Elliott’s recipe at Five O’Clock Food.

roasted acorn squash rigatoni with arugula, italian sausage and parmesan

roasted acorn squash rigatoni with arugula, italian sausage and parmesan


1 acorn squash, quartered and seeded
olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage (spicy or sweet)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced (or roast a whole head of garlic with your squash and throw in the roasted cloves near the end)
1/4 cup dry white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
2 large handfuls of arugula (kale would also be good, but I like the spiciness of arugula)
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups rigatoni pasta
Grated parmesan
Bob’s Red Mill Pumpkin Seeds toasted
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Fresh ground sea salt and black pepper

Makes 4 servings.


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Arrange squash on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Once finished roasting, allow to cool, and cut into cubes.

3. Boil salted water for your rigatoni and cook to al dente.

4. While your water is boiling cook the Italian sausage in a medium sauté pan until browned, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

5. In the same pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onions. Once the onions are softened add the garlic and stir. Add the white wine and reduce until nearly gone. Then add the chicken broth and reduce until about 1/3 is left, this takes a while. While the broth is reducing stir the arugula into the drained pasta to allow it to wilt.

6. After the broth is reduced add the squash, chili pepper flakes, and sausage to the pan, stir, and remove from heat. Combine rigatoni and squash mixture. Serve up and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and grated parmesan. I even stirred in about 1/3 cup of parmesan before serving to make it extra cheesy.

Notes: Next time I will omit the 4 cloves of minced garlic and I will roast an entire head of garlic with the squash and use some of that instead. Love roasted garlic, YUM!

We probably should have had a salad with this one, but we decided on baked baby bellas instead.

First of all, I am a total sucker for cookbooks, but if you’re also on a squash kick…get this book. It has so many amazing fall recipes!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain, Rain, Go Away

What’s a girl to do when she gets called off of work because of rain??? Drink as many pumpkin ales as possible, make some squash soup and carve a couple Jack-o-lanterns, of course! Summer has finally come to an end and I better embrace fall or it’s going to be a really crummy season!!! Now is the time to start checking things off of my “To Do” list and to start planning our six month honeymoon.

Let’s celebrate the first rain of the season!!!

Spicy Kabocha Soup

Pumpkin Ales

Fancy Cheese

Entertain with Style…The Perfect Cheeseboard

Cheese Board

Morbier, Spanish Olives in the ramekin, Truffle Tremor, Peppercorn Pate, Adriatic Fig Spread, Fresh Pear and Fig, Firm Sheeps Milk Cheese and another gooey one in the back and Organic Cracked Pepper Water Crackers

I LOVE cheese!!! And I love paté. Luckily Steve loves these too and we’ve finally figured out how to put together a mean cheese plate.

Tips for your Cheeseboard

1. Select cheeses from different types of milk: Goat, Cow and Sheep.

2. Select different flavor profiles: stinky, nutty, spicy, delicate, bold…you get the picture.

3. Select different textures: firm, crumbly, soft, gooey.

4. Serve your cheese at room temp (take them out of the fridge about an hour before serving)

5. Pimp out your cheeseboard: Adriatic Fig Spread, olives, roasted peppers, nuts, cornichons, fresh fruit like pears, apples, grapes,and/or fresh fig. Turn your cheese plate into a charcuterie plate and add paté, proscuitto, soppressata, jamón serrano, or coppa to name a few.

sliced fig

fresh sliced fig

6. Don’t forget to provide some rustic bread and simple crackers.

7. There are some really impressive cheese boards on the market, so don’t be afraid to invest in one. I use a serving board from crate and barrel, but I’ve seen a couple on amazon that look pretty sweet. I like the look of serving it up on an old, rustic cutting board, but a pretty plate would work well too.

8. It’s nice to use different knives for each cheese, but they usually get mixed up in the end. For softer cheeses a spoon sometimes works better than a knife.

9. I like to pair with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Côtes du Rhône, but sometimes it’s fun to pair with different beers too… a coffee porter, pumpkin ale, or maybe a fresh hopped pale.


Some of My Favorite Cheeses

Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue (Oregon)- Is an organic raw cow’s milk blue cheese aged 6 months. It has a slightly sweet flavor, a rich buttery texture and a hint of bacon. Found at Whole Foods and Amazon.

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor (California)- Is a pasteurized goat cheese that has had black truffle added to the mix and been allowed to ripen. This cheese has a great earthy quality while still being both tangy and buttery. Definitely my favorite right now!!! You can purchase Truffle Tremor from Amazon and have it shipped to your door for a small fortune or at your local Whole Foods.

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor

Quattro Portoni Caseificio (Gritti) Quadrello di Bufala (Italy)- This mild flavored, semi-soft cheese is made from water buffalo milk and is from the Lombardy region of northern Italy. It is a washed rind cheese made in the same fashion as Taleggio, it’s more pungent cow milk counterpart. Quadrello di Bufala has a sweeter milkier flavor than Taleggio with hints of hay and grass. Once again, Whole Foods and Amazon both carry Quadrello di Bufala.

Mitica The Drunken Goat (Spain)- This Spanish goat’s milk cheese is made from the milk of Murciano-Granadina goats. During the cheese-making process the cheese is soaked in red wine for three days, giving the rind a deep purple color. The Drunken Goat has a very slight sweetness countered by a sharp finish and a firm texture. This easy to like cheese is    available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Amazon

Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk (California)- Not for the faint of heart….this triple cream washed rind cheese is STINKY!!!! Like dirty feet stinky!!! And it is delicious with fresh sliced apple and rustic bread. This cheese is made with organic cow milk and has a super creamy mouthfeel. BEWARE: Your whole house will smell like stinky cheese and as the cheese comes to room temperature it will only get stinkier. You can find this one at Foster and Dobbs in NE Portland…maybe at Whole Foods or New Seasons (I know I’ve seen it around, but I can’t remember where).

Morbier (France)- Morbier is a raw cows milk cheese and is not to be confused with American Mobay (a goat and sheep milk cheese that looks similar). The tradition of Morbier began in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Traditionally farmers would press the leftover curds from the evening milking into a mold and sprinkle with vegetable ash to prevent rind and keep bugs away, then in the morning they would add curds from the morning milking, creating two distinct layers. This cheese is fairly mild, a little bit stinky, and has a nutty flavor. This style of cheese is easier to find and can be found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and New Seasons.

Dalmatia Dried Fig Spread- A delicious spread that pairs well with most cheeses.Can be found at Whole Foods and most other high end or artisanal cheese shops.

365 Organic Cracked Pepper Water Crackers- These super simple crackers that won’t overpower your cheeseboard can be found at Whole Foods.

If you’re in the Portland Area Ken’s Artisan Bakery on 21st makes heavenly breads. They’re so delicious that I am inspired to make my own…how hard can it be, right? We’ll see what happens when I finally get around to it; until then I will continue to by Ken’s breads. He also makes amazing macarons!!! YUM!!!

Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Here are a couple of really cool cheeseboards:


Tomato Fennel Tart

Tomato Fennel Tart

Tomato Fennel Tart

Tomatoes are taking over our lives!!! Our garden is spilling over, they’re arriving in our Organics to You shipments, and the farmers are selling the most amazing heirlooms right now. We’re eating tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we’re getting creative with these juicy little suckers. This tomato fennel tart, inspired by a recipe from Sunset Magazine (Nov 2005) put a smallish dent in our ever growing tomato supply and allowed us to put the fennel from Organics to You to use too. As an added benefit this tart is perfect topped with a sunny-side up egg for breakfast.


1 disk Cheese Pastry Dough (or if you’re lazy, one pre-made pie crust sprinkled with ½ cup shredded gruyere cheese)

1 head of fennel rinsed and sliced crosswise in to ¼ inch slices (discard the base and the green stalks)

7 shallots, peeled and sliced in to ¼ inch slices

½ cup chopped Italian parsley (or curly if you prefer the taste), plus one tablespoon for garnish

1 cup shredded parmesan

20 cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved


1. If you made your Cheese Pastry Dough roll it out so it’s atleast 12 inches diameter and transfer to your tart pan. If you’re using a pre-made pie crust simply unroll and transfer to your tart pan. Trim off any overhanging dough, poke holes in bottom of crust, cover with plastic wrap and put crust in the freezer for 30 minutes while you cook the fennel and shallots.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Heat medium sized frying pan on medium-low heat and add olive oil, fennel, and shallots. Stir frequently till fennel and shallots are a caramel colored brown, approximately 30 minutes.

4. Sprinkle veggie mix with 1/2 cup parsley, add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

5. Pull your crust out of the freezer and bake in oven for 20 minutes. If you are using a pre-made crust sprinkle the crust with the gruyere before baking for 20 minutes.

6. Once crust is golden brown remove from the oven, layer the parmesan cheese on the bottom of the crust, then the fennel/shallot mix, and finally add the sliced cherry tomatoes.

7. Bake in the oven till cheese is golden brown, approx. 10 to 15 minutes.

8. Garnish by sprinkling with remaining Italian parsley.

Steve and I had leftovers, so for breakfast we added a sunny-side up egg to the top of the reheated tart and it was delicious!!!

Tomato Fennel Tart with Sunny-Side Up Egg

Breakfast: Tomato Fennel Tart with sunny-side up egg

This tart is excellent served with a simple arugula salad tossed in a homemade lemon vinaigrette.

Lasagna is for Lovers

With fall just around the corner it’s time to cozy up with some comfort food and a glass of big, hearty red wine. Here is my favorite lasagna recipe… and for you health nuts it’s vegetarian and gluten free.This recipe is based on one I found at Gluten-free Goddess. This recipe is incredibly forgiving and can make the most inept cook look like a culinary rockstar.


4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (approx. 1 ½ jars) or make your own

1 box of uncooked lasagna noodles (I prefer the gluten free brown rice noodles for their heartiness)

4 heaping cups of homemade roasted vegetables, cube before roasting (broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onion, garlic, eggplant, and red bell peppers all work well in this recipe. I usually use a blend of all the above or whatever is in the fridge)

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

16 oz. ricotta cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated parmesan

1 8 oz. log of goat cheese, cut into slices

1 or 2 dashes of nutmeg

1 ½ T. fresh basil, minced

1 T. fresh Italian parsley, minced


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2.  In large mixing bowl mix egg, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, nutmeg, garlic, basil, and parsley

3.  Prepare 9 x 13 inch baking dish by covering the bottom with approximately ½- ¾ cup marinara sauce.

4.  Layer 3 lasagna noodles over the marinara.

5. Spread ½ cheese mixture evenly over lasagna noodles

6. Spoon a layer of roasted vegetables over the cheese and spread evenly.

7. Layer 3-4 more lasagna noodles and cover with marinara (approx. 1 cup) and follow with the remaining roasted veg and cheese blend.

8. Layer the remaining lasagna noodles and press down with a large spatula. Cover with remaining marinara sauce. And finally lay the sliced goat cheese on top.

9. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes on the middle rack.

10. Let stand for a couple minutes before serving.

Tip: Make sure your noodles are completely covered in sauce, so you don’t end up with tough edges.

Cozy up and enjoy!!!