Slow cooker diaries: Honey crisp applesauce

Lately we’ve been buying bagged apples instead of picking bulk. Bags of smaller apples work great for the kid’s school lunch or snack, as well as my work lunch or snack. 

The other day the husband bought a bag of bad apples. Like, a few were good and the others, maybe 10 small apples were bruised or worse. So I took them, I peeled them, cored them, quartered them, and slow cooked them. 

Added the juice of half a lemon and one cinnamon stick. SC on high for 3 hours. At that point, all I had to do was take a fork and mash up any big chunks. The apples softened great, the cinnamon stick flavored the sauce to a tee. Quite tasty. 

I saved it in a Tupperware. A 16 oz container. 10+ apples, what would be an apple a day for me and the kiddo for a full week of work/school, made what appeared to be less than 16 oz container, which wouldn’t sat more than a few days in this house. As much as I loved this, you get much more out of eating the actual apple (and don’t forget, the fiber is in the skin, which I peeled and composted!). You know, when they’re not rotten.


just a serving of homemade applesauce

Just a reminder for you applesauce lovers. Applesauce is good! In moderation.

First strawberries

In what’s becoming a sorta tradition, back in June we did some strawberry picking on the first weekend the U-Pick was open to the public. Difference between last year and this year? Last year there were signs everywhere that was like, “Don’t eat the strawberries!” and this year everyone was like “Eat all you want!”

WP_20150606_006 Must have been a bumper crop this year. Is that what you call it? When there’s like an avalanche of strawberries? We didn’t go crazy, bought just enough to pig out on half our loot and freeze the other half.


Hmm. Now that I think about it, a strawberry smoothie sounds like a great idea right about now …

(Thanks, Biringer Farm! Fun was had by all.)

Happy Pi Day

Filed under days we celebrate now that are just awesome. National Doughnut Day, Cupcake Day, Pancake Day, etc etc all days that, I guess were created by savvy marketers intent on getting Americans fatter (I mean, do they celebrate Pancake Day overseas?). But Pi Day, I mean, you can’t get upset with Pi Day, as it’s a math thing. It teaches you math. It forces parents who haven’t thought about the circumference of a circle for ages, to try to explain to a 6-year old pi, and radii, and circumferences and all that stuff (Here, watch me hand off this question to the husband!).

By now you know this particular Pi Day is a little more special than others, because not only was yesterday 3.14, it was 3.14.15. And at around 3.14.15, at approximately 9:26 and 53 seconds (yes, approximately), we were at the store. So I took this pic:

Much better than a previous Pi Day (way back in 2013)…

Empty shelves at Metropolitan Market!

The husband, fortunately prepared for this year’s momentous occasion and we had a slice of apple and a slice of chocolate cream, that we had a little bit of earlier in the day.

So I didn’t feel like doing a dessert pie, but felt like doing something. Quiche? Nah. I know! Chicken Pot Pie! Yes, of course.

It took a while to do, I study up on this stuff. Also, I used ingredients I’m not proud of. Those All-American processed foods that, I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead eating. You know, unless it’s Pi Day …

So here it is. I got tired near the end and, creative juices at its lowest, didn’t manage to make the actual pi sign. I even saved crust dough and everything, just didn’t get it done. Next time.

pie crust and bisquick biscuit topping.

Happy Pi Day!

As the recipe was a combination of a few, I’m jotting them down here so I don’t forget:


  • (1)  9-inch pie crust (I use this crust recipe. Make it easier with a ready-made crust, but I don’t have much success with those)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 can (10z) “Cream of Chicken” condensed soup
  • Approx 2 oz cream cheese (more if you like that kind of stuff)
  • (1) 10z bag of mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
  • Seasoning: Italian seasoning, Salt, Pepper

Biscuit Topping (I guess yo could use another pie crust, but I don’t press my luck. One homemade pie crust is good, for me)

  • 1 1/2 c Bisquick
  • 1/2 c milk


Pre-heat oven, 400 degrees

Pie Crust. Make it, chill it. Roll it, Place it.

Filling: Cut chicken up into bite-sized chunks. Season with S&P. Heat olive oil in a pan, medium heat, add chicken and saute or whatever until fully cooked (Diced onion might be good here, too). Once cooked add Cream of Chicken can and mix well. Season again with your favorite herbs and spices. Add softened cream cheese and frozen vegetables and and continue stirring until the cheese is smooth and well-incorporated. Add all of this into the pie crust.

Topping: Combine the Bisquick and milk and mix until you get a nice sticky dough. Create a ball of dough and on a floured board knead 10 times (this is the biscuit directions on the box). Instead of making biscuits, roll it out into a nice circle to lay over the pie. Create holes/slits for venting. Lightly cover with aluminum foil

In the oven, for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove and let it rest for 5 minutes or so before cutting up.


Discuss mathematical equations.

How do you like them apples?

Actually, I like them a lot.


Hello, Bellevue QFC


I am pretty much a creature of habit and for the last few years, on Tuesday mornings I get off the bus in Bellevue one stop early and walk to the QFC to pick up some snacks for work. The snacks are: 4 apples. 4 – 5 Larabars or Kind Bars. Sometimes a carton or two of yogurt. Sometimes Figs. Sometimes string cheese. The apples are pretty much the staple. I’ve tried other fruits or vegetables but either they don’t fill me up like I want to be filled up, or I forget or have no desire to eat snow peas and they go bad, etc. So, apples it is.


Here’s a tip: Shop at 7:30 on a Tuesday morning and you’ll be one of the only customers in the store.

For months they were always Fuji. Then I started doing Honeycrisp. A couple of weeks ago I tried this one, Junami and was like WOW. But then I went back and they were gone. And then I went back again this past week and they were there, so I picked them up but they weren’t as good as the first time. Don’t you hate that?

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about apples. About how, when I was growing up, it seemed like there were only a few kinds of apples. Red or Golden Delicious (which, let’s be honest, really weren’t all that delicious). Macintosh. Granny Smith (which if you bought by accident was too bad because they were too tart and supposed to only be for baking pies but that’s not necessarily something a Chinese family knows until the oldest daughter takes 7th grade Home Economics). Maybe there were others, but I do not remember what they were.

These days, the kid enjoys Opal. The husband, Honeycrisp (though he branches out and gets a Gala or Pinks Crisp every now and again). I’m partial to Fuji and Honeycrisp, but boy would I like to find another tasty Junami again.

So, tell me. Was it just a childhood memory that we had far fewer types of apples in little ol’ Connecticut? Did my parents not offer me the choice? Was it the same growing up in Washington? Or is something new, and indeed it has been a change over the past few decades that allows the consumer to try a different apple every week?

What’s your favorite?

I hate losing

I’m in a very weird state right now. It’s some sort of grieving stage. It’s like, if I don’t think about the events that happened on February 1, 2015, maybe just maybe they didn’t really happen.

I am, of course, talking about the Super Bowl. Gah. I hate even writing the words. I wish I had written this post during half-time or something. But I’m getting it done now because maybe it will help with this grieving process. Maybe I just need to work through it.

It’s not working.

These are the appetizers I prepared for that day. My theme was based on some of our favorite Seahawks.

For Doug Baldwin (seriously, Baldwin, what was up with your unsportsmanlike conduct!?!) who is part Filipino, I heated up these tasty Lumpia (Filipino version of the Spring Roll). These were bought in the freezer section of the Market. That’s just some leftover sweet and sour sauce from the Chinese restaurant down the street. Not that I’m into that kind of thing or anything. You know, for the kid:


For you, #89

In honor of our Washington State natives (Jermaine Kearse, Bryan Walters, Steve Schilling, Demetrius Bronson and Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable), I’ve got some Smoked Salmon pate spread, plus some carrots and apples, but those are more because you need something kinda healthy to balance out the not healthy.

Thank you, #15, for one the most amazing catch of the game. Let's just pretend that's how it ended, m'kay

Thank you, #15, for one the most amazing catch of the game. Let’s just pretend that’s how it ended, m’kay.

Next up are those ham roll-ups you see. Those are “Ham and Pickle Pinwheels”. Only some of them are made with Canadian Bacon. You see where I’m going? Luke Willson and Jon Ryan hail from across the border, ‘eh. And ham, that’s like Virginia, right? Virginia Ham is a thing. So that’s for my man Russell Wilson and Kam Chancellor.


#3, I just can’t stay mad at you. It’s not your fault. I mean, you can’t throw the ball AND catch the ball. Um. I mean. Just run that sucker in! I mean … GAH!!!

So there you have it. These were our first-half treats. At halftime the husband and kiddo made a great pizza with maybe a little too much blue cheese but that’s what you get with a 3-foot-nothing sous chef, I guess. I didn’t complain.

Last but not least, here is what I brought to our Blue Friday potluck a few days before the event. Good thing, too, because it seemed everyone else brought in sweets. Cupcakes, brownies, cookies, etc. This was a sorta nice balance: a healthy version of Broccoli Waldorf Salad, made with a yogurt/mayo dressing and covered in lots and lots of bacon. But I just ate all of the junk stuff anyway.


Then there was this guy:

Dude. Not. Cool.

Desserts of December 2014

I was surprised to make it out of Thanksgiving without gaining any pounds on the scale. It’s not like I’ve done an overabundant amount of exercise. I’ve just been trying to maintain, more or less. Even my best motivational attempts at getting a group of like-minded friends together to run once a week around the neighborhood didn’t pan out (didn’t help that on the first morning of our alleged start, it was 20 degrees and I found myself texting the group at 7AM that there was no way I was going out. Maybe next time I don’t do that).

Anyway, we’ll see what December brings. I’ve not paid attention to the scale the last few weeks (I know, I know, I shouldn’t pay attention to it anyway, but I can’t help it. It’s who I am). So let’s see if, after a month of drinks and dinners and desserts and, of course, you gotta bake (and eat) those Santa cookies, I’m anywhere close to where I’m supposed to be.

Nutella Latte from Tutta Bella. Salad and pizza preceded this. And maybe some Chianti.


Some 12th Man, Ninja, and Winter-themed cookies. Santa chose one of each, I believe.


Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds. A nice appetizer for Christmas made by yours truly. Husband was hoping the bacon would be wrapped around something else. So, I’ll have to think of something for New Year’s Eve.


Salami, Cream Cheese and Onion. “There’s onion in these,” the kid explained to me. That’s why she didn’t want to try it.


Gingerbread cake with chocolate chips; cream cheese frosting. They call this thing, where you don’t frost the sides, “Naked” (I did a similar one for Thanksgiving). This three-layers was provided by Husband’s aunt.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. Just because. I think maybe Kid and I were bored. I wanted to do muffins that grow out of the cup like that. All you do is fill them to the very top. Neato.


A fancy coconutty tapioca type dessert from Joule (It’s called the Joule box. Order it)


Another Joule dessert: milk chocolate mousse with sesame cake and miso caramel. Brilliant.


Little Cheeseburger from Five Guys, after seeing “Big Hero 6”

Oh December, we had such fun (so much so I’m going to give myself a few more days to enjoy)…

B.L.T.’s and Beef-Mushroom Soup

Often, when it cook dinner on Sundays, I spend Saturday nights in my pajamas hunting for good ideas. Sometimes I run them by the husband, sometimes I wait til morning. Last night I suggested B.L.T.’s to the husband, mainly to warn him to not eat bacon at breakfast. He was on board, cool.

For some strange reason I thought we’d need something else, so this morning I also bought ingredients for a slow cooker beef soup. Except for the beef broth, which the husband had to get during kitchen prep time. Oops.

Anyway,I bought the husband his favorite ciabatta rolls by Macrina. I bought myself a sweet potato so I could try PaleOMG’s sweet potato noodle bun. It gave me an excuse to try my new julienne slicer (thanks for the birthday gift, sue). I wasn’t confident about the sweet potato noodle bun, so much so that I didn’t use it to sandwich my B.L.T. I did a simple lettuce wrap for that. I did spread some guacamole on top, and as it turns out, it was the frikkin best weirdly prepared sweet potato recipe I’ve tried to date. And pretty easy to make, though now I wonder if I should invest in a Spiralizer. Oh, it might have helped that I used some leftover bacon fat to fry those suckers.


Husband had a B.E.L.T. (added a fried egg). I don’t know why we don’t do B.L.T.’s more often. Oh, right. Maybe it’s because the kiddo’s ended up being a “B” … But here is a pic before her deconstruction.


The beef-mushroom soup was based on the beef-barley soup from my NEW slow cooker cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution (thanks, Sue!). It barely fit in my slow cooker, but other than that, all was well. I had a small bowl as a test, but will be eating soup at work for the rest of the week, methinks.


Soup ingredients: onion, tomato paste, thyme, carrots, mushrooms, chicken and beef stock, beef blade, crushed tomatoes.

Paleo food truck!

A few days after I ended my food challenge Matt casually mentioned to me that there was a paleo food truck that stopped near our office. OMG Wha??! I remember clearly. He told me Tuesday afternoon that it came on Tuesdays. The next Tues I would be on vacation, so I would have to wait until the following Tues to check it out. That was this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, my whole 30 partner Smita was out on Tues, so I cajoled my boss to try it out. My decidedly non-paleo boss.


Outside the Box camps out in the Crossfit Amped parking lot, across the street from the Bellevue Hyatt (south side of the Hyatt). Simple offering of entrees: pork belly; pork carnitas; turkey adobo something or other. Boss and and I both got the pork belly, served with cauliflower rice and steamed kale. I also ordered a side of plantains.


The plantains were tasty, with a familiar-to-paleo-eaters coconut aftertaste, I presume from the oil used to roast or bake them, but was a bit of a surprise to the boss. Yummy.

For the entree, Boss’ reaction: “Are you not allowed some salt on paleo?” So, the veggies, not really seasoned. The pork was also a little chewy but, I mean it is a food truck. I liked it. I didn’t notice a lack of seasoning, but then, I have been on a steady diet that includes kale and cauliflower for a while now.

She came by my desk later and asked, “what was that white stuff?”
“Um, cauliflower rice? You, like shred, but don’t pulverize the cauliflower? Then you cook it? And it sorta looks like rice?” Boss just nodded. She’s Korean, and I suspect she was thinking what I’ve said a hundred times. It’s not rice. It’s just cauliflower.

Fun to see it from a non paleo perspective. I will try the pork carnitas next time. And will get those plantains again.

On a side note, speaking of cauliflower … The husband recently bought some frozen cauliflower, and the other night steamed it alongside some butternut squash. A little odd, since the kiddo doesn’t like butternut squash, none of us like frozen cauliflower … so … Thanks? I took the steamed veggies and mashed them together. Only tasted so-so. Seasoned heavily with salt. Mildly better. Added a tbsp of butter. Dramatically better … And all for me since no matter what the kid will not touch butternut squash. I finished the leftovers this morning, alongside my egg/egg-white omelet laced with a cilantro chutney. Tasty.

I’ve been back to Outside The Box a few times. Always get the pork carnitas. And those delicious plantains. Kind of indulgent, but I’m ok with that.

I even have a punch card 😐

Keep Clam and UCONN

The nutrition challenge at my gym is over. And not a moment too soon, because yesterday I accidently stumbled and somehow fell into Molly Moon’s Ice Cream (now at University Village!). Imagine the odds. On top of that it seemed the only thing that softened the fall was a single-scoop of Stumptown Coffee ice cream in a waffle cone. I hate when that happens.That’s a lie. I LOVE when that happens.

Side note. This post is longer than usual. Skip down to the bottom for the one measly recipe I’ve included.

Anyway, this is actually a blog about home. Connecticut, to be exact, my home for the first 18 years of my life. As I’m nearing the end of my 38th year, there is some simple math here. I’ve lived outside of CT for longer than I lived in it. I’ve lived in other cities, mainly Chicago and now Seattle. And, I’ve rooted for other city’s sports teams. I was born a Celtics fan, but you can’t live in Chicago in the mid-90s and NOT be a Bulls fan (Three-Peat!). I’ve gone back to my Celtic-cheering roots, especially that time where they had my man Ray Allen there.  I am somewhat of a Patriots fan. I call them my favorite AFC team. But the honest truth about my fandom there is that I have had a crush on Tommy Brady since the 2000s, and again, that pesky math will show that is a time after moved away from CT. You see, we were a basketball family.

Speaking of basketball, and here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for … I have always, and will always, be a UCONN basketball fan. It’s the only college basketball team I’ve ever cheered for. I remember the first March Madness season I watched. It was the year UCONN made it to the Elite Eight. It was the year of the “The Shot,” a full-court pass from Scottie Burrell to Tate George for the game-winning basket with a second on the clock. It was AMAZING. I’m picturing it in my head right now. I couldn’t even tell you who they were playing because, that’s not the stuff I remember. (I just looked it up. It was Clemson, and the year was 1990). All I know is it that dream season ended with an encounter with Duke and Christian Laettner. But I was hooked, along with the rest of my little state. I’ve never forgotten, and every March Madness I lug out my UCONN sweatshirt (it must be 20 years old now). My UCONN pajama bottoms (random buy from my sis), and the other swag with the hopes of capturing that feeling again. Hometown pride.

When my adopted current hometown city went all gaga for Gonzaga, when, once upon a time, the UW Huskies were actually good for a spell, I quietly nodded and smiled. Because that’s the polite thing to do. And, I’m a polite gal from the East Coast. Also, it’s easy to be polite when you know deep down that your team is way better. Am I Right?

I’m not really a trash-talker, and actually I’m kind of nervous I’ve said too much, so I’ll just go back to my polite ways and chat a little bit about food. About Connecticut food.

I thought it’d be a good idea to create some kind of menu based on Connecticut food for the first Final Four game. Problem is, the memory I have of eating growing up, was mainly Chinese food. White Rice. Ramen. Whole fish. Steamed cauliflower with these little weird dried shrimp mixed in. Fried Rice. Wontons. Etc.

I was trying to go a little more CT and less me. Oh, and add some paleo into the mix, too, since, technically Saturday/game day was still a challenge day… Here’s how I netted out.

  1. Paleo Clam Chowder. Nearly paleo, if you’re okay with a russet potato, which I was. You could easily swap in a sweet potato but I was feeling rebellious.
  2. Roasted sweet potatoes dusted with fresh-ground nutmeg. Why nutmeg? We’ll, we are talking about the Nutmeg State.
  3. Cranberry Juice Spritzer

Items 2 & 3 inspired by my friend KPM/LC friend marfdaze.

The challenge here was the clam chowder. This paleo version uses cauliflower and coconut milk as its base. The coconut flavor is hidden, but the cauliflower flavor is definitely present. I also couldn’t blend it enough to be entirely creamy. I wouldn’t call it ready for prime-time, and probably not something I’ll be adding to the standard repertoire, but fun and sorta reminiscent of a hearty New England clam chowder.

I had told myself that, should UCONN make it into the national title game this year, I could celebrate by making another rendition of the delicious New England Blueberry Coffee Cake (usually reserved for summer, blueberry season) … But instead I’m gonna go for an Italian Pretzel Grinder from PCC (If you call a sub sandwich a grinder, you just might be from Connecticut) and some Cape Cod potato chips (not technically CT, but definitely a favorite of mine growing up).

Getting excited for the game tonight. Woot!

Paleo Clam Chowder

Paleo Clam Chowdah!

Inspired/Cribbed from Paleo Girl’s Kitchen.

  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed into florets
  • 1 large russet potato (or 1 sweet potato, if you want to go full-on paleo), diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2-4 slices of bacon
  • olive oil, ghee
  • thyme, bay leaf
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
  • 1 1/2 chicken broth
  • 2 cans or 1 10 oz can of clams

Preheat the oven to 425. Steam the cauliflower 20 minutes. At the same time as the cauliflower is steaming, place the potatoes on a baking sheet, season with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes for the same 20 minutes, stirring midway through.

In a dutch oven cook 2 slices of bacon thoroughly. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel to remove extra grease, then chop. Using the leftover bacon fat (and some more fat, like ghee, if necessary), add the onions to saute. Add carrots, thyme, bay leaf and finally a little bit of the chicken stock to get the sticky stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down on the burner, then slowly add the rest of the chicken stock, then the coconut milk and mix well.

Add the bacon and cauliflower into the mix. When everything is combined and has simmered for 5 or more minutes, either use an immersion blender or transfer some of the soup into a food processor and pulse/process until smooth. I ended up doing 3 – 4 batch of soup in the food processor at a time.

Once everything is back in the dutch oven, add the potatoes, clams and strained clam juice (try to get any extraneous pieces out of the soup). Combine well, season and simmer for another 10-15.

Cook the last two sliced of bacon and use as garnish on top, along with green onions.