Tag Archives: Yum

#31 Weeks and a recipe for Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

There is a lot going on this week! We are looking forward to our co-ed Alice and Wonderland-themed baby shower on Saturday which is being thrown by my wonderful boss, Cindy, and my dear friend, Linda. I can’t wait to see our totally male orthopedic surgeon friends decorating bibs!

Oh, snap!

Oh, snap!

This Sunday, Missy and I are also going to be (for once), standing on opposite sides representing our cities as the Seattle Seahawks face the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship! The Seahawks have been doing phenomenally well this year and the city seems to buzz with excitement whenever they play as we inch closer to the Superbowl. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it’s certainly fun to watch. Seattle has only been in one Superbowl before, but has never won. Wouldn’t it be fun if the city played in their second during our last year here?

#31 Weeks

#31 Weeks

I’m also 31 weeks! We are chugging along. To try and remember this time in our lives, I’ve been trying to keep a weekly pregnancy journal to record the journey. Here is this week’s entry:

31 weeks (wk 1/13)
Baby is the size of a: Coconut!
Total weight gain: 22 lbs
Maternity clothes: Oh yeah, tops and bottoms at this point
Stretch marks: Nothing I can see yet
Sleep: A little more disrupted, some insomnia, she likes to kick in the middle of the night when I start stirring. She is an early morning baby, God help me.
Best moment of this week: My parents coming into town for our baby shower Saturday!
Miss anything: Sleeping on my back, I am surrounded by pillows these days so I can remember to stay on my side!
Movement: She’s starting to roll in there, and I’m beginning to feel what seems like little hands or feet. It’s a crazy feeling.
Food cravings: Oranges and fruit juice
Anything making you queasy or sick: No
Have you started to show yet: The bump seems to grow every day and I think I’m carrying lower now
Gender: Girl
Labor signs: No
Belly button in or out: In
Wedding rings on or off: On
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy
Looking forward to: Our baby shower Saturday!
Thoughts to Baby: Hi Baby Girl, we heard your heartbeat again on Monday which was so comforting to hear because it is still very strong. Your measurements are good and the doctor says we’re progressing nicely. Let’s hope your delivery will be smooth too! We are so looking forward to celebrating you with our friends and family at the shower on Saturday! You’re already so loved!

Lastly, here is a soup recipe that I tried this week which was really yummy, healthy and yet still tasted decadent (thanks to the oxtails). I really love anything Ina Garten makes! She never fails me.

Yummy yum yum

Yummy yum yum

Rich Beef Barley Soup 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?
Prep Time:
15 min
Cook Time:
2 hr 20 min
6 servings


1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 pounds beef oxtails (some reviewers suggested beef short ribs if oxtails were not available)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (4 carrots)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup (1/2-inch) diced celery (2 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
10 cups canned beef broth
1 cup pearled barley


Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the oxtails, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the oxtails with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot along with the bay leaves. Return the oxtails to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the thyme bundle and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain, and set aside.

When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the barley is tender. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, the soup might need another teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Serve hot, with or without the oxtails.

*Cook’s note: I also cubed, browned, and simmered a small beef chuck roast to add in the soup as well because Nick likes his meat and there wasn’t a lot of meat on the oxtails.



Recipe: Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Nick was on an easier rotation a few weeks ago at the VA (meaning he usually was home in time for dinner) so he decided that this was a good time as any to restart his exercise routine and eat better. Thus, the word “paleo” was introduced into our lives.

Now, I don’t believe in diets. If you tell me to not eat something, I’m going to be good for half a day and then find a way to eat it anyway. Everything in moderation and staying active are the basic tenets of living a healthy and fruitful life. However, Nick being interested in the paleo lifestyle meant that I had to be paleo as well since let’s face it, I’m lazy and I was not going to prepare two different dinners.

In a nutshell (and taken straight from the official website), the Paleo Diet “is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu.”

More protein, fruits and vegetables and less processed foods and refined sugars? I can get onboard with that. But don’t take away my cheese or my right to black beans.

So we both agreed- we’re not going to be strict Paleo, but this will at least motivate us to eat more cleanly and make better choices.

We’re both on our own for breakfast and lunch but since we eat most dinners together, I am trying out more Paleo-friendly recipes. I made Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps a few days ago and they were pretty great for a warm summer night!

*Get this, since he’s started this new lifestyle a few weeks ago, he’s already lost FIVE pounds! MEN!!

As you can see, I was a lot more interested in eating this than styling it for a photo! But you get the gist...

As you can see, I was far more interested in eating this than styling it for a photo! But you get the gist…



1 ¼  lb ground turkey
¼ cup chopped green onions (4 medium)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2  teaspoons garlic and red chile paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3  cup chopped salted peanuts
12 medium Bibb lettuce leaves, rinsed, patted dry with paper towel


  1. In a nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain and return to skillet.
  2. Stir in green onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, chile paste, sugar and red pepper flakes. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until hot.
  3.  To serve, spoon 2 heaping tablespoons turkey mixture, 2 tablespoons carrots and 1 teaspoon peanuts onto each lettuce leaf; wrap around filling. Can be served warm, or at room temperature. (Full disclosure: I’ve also had it for the next day’s lunch right outside of the refrigerator and it was still delish.)

Cook’s Note:

  1. I like the tubes of minced lemongrass and ginger you can find in the refrigerated herb section at the grocery store. I added about a teaspoon of the lemongrass and ginger to add a little more flavor to the mixture.
  2. Since I’m so Vietnamese, I also made a little nuoc mam cham (I LOVE THIS STUFF it reminds me of home) on the side to spoon over the lettuce wraps. It’s so divine. I usually eyeball the mix, but found a good basic recipe to follow below.


Basic Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce (Nuoc cham)


1-2 crushed Garlic cloves (or finely minced), but crushed garlic really brings out oils, thus the flavor
1 crushed or minced Thai Chili (customize your spice level)
1/2 squeezed Lime (or about 1 heaping Tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup Fish Sauce
1/2 cup Water


Mix all ingredients together well. Yields 1 cup. A little goes a long way. I can eat this drizzled over rice with some sliced daikon and carrots anytime, anyday.


Meatless Fridays

We’re in the middle of the season of Lent, which means, that as Catholics, Nick and I forgo meat on Fridays until Easter. Ever since I was a kid, I associated fish and chips with Lent, mainly because it’s an easy go-to for Friday night dinners. When we lived in Chicago, good fish and chips (this includes fresh tartar sauce) was hard to find and limited to Irish pubs. Imagine my elation when we returned to the West Coast and discovered Seattle Fish Company, a fish market that offered fresh fish and varied and affordable seafood less than a mile from our home.

Seattle Fish Company

Seattle Fish Company

When I want to try a new seafood recipe, like Thai crab salad, clam linguini, or cioppino, or if it’s summer and we simply want to find a salmon or halibut fillet to grill, I drive the small distance and peruse the counter to see what is in season and what the knowledgeable fish mongers recommend. (We also came here to find out what the fuss was about of the infamous Copper River Salmon, what everyone in the Pacific Northwest goes gaga over each May when they are in season. After tasting the buttery fish, we have to agree, it really is kind of fantastic and worth the hype.)






Assorted condiments

Assorted condiments

And wine!

And wine!

I mentioned fish and chips. Seattle Fish Company, formerly just a fish market, recently opened up a small restaurant grill in their retail space. You order your meal at the counter, just as if you were ordering a fish fillet or a pound of dungeness crab to go, and they bring the food to you. Ever since it opened last year, it has become a favorite local spot in West Seattle. Their menu offers fairly straightforward and simple dishes, such as fish and chips, chowders, grilled fish, and steamers, but everything is delicious. Tonight was a Lent Friday, and therefore a great excuse to go for a casual dinner at Seattle Fish. We ordered their cod fish and chips (they also offer halibut) and fish tacos and ate at the counter, perfect for sidewalk people-watching.








Just another typical Seattle evening!

Recipe: And the Oscar Goes To…

My kind of Oscar set-up

My kind of Oscar set-up

Plenty of bubbly

With plenty of bubbly

I LOVE THE OSCARS. As a kid growing up in Southern California, I remember parking myself in front of our tiny TV every year to watch the red carpet arrivals, commentary, and the Oscars ceremony, the whole shebang. It was like my very own Superbowl. I love movies. They’re adventures, an escape from reality and I always take something away from them, especially if it’s a good story and beautifully filmed.

We finally have a big (enough) place to entertain (a few) and so for the past four years in Seattle, we’ve thrown an Oscar viewing party for our friends and anyone interested in joining. It has become tradition for us to host, and I am so tickled that people are beginning to ask if we’re having a party once the nominations are announced. The nominated-film-watching blitz usually starts right before the holidays. By the time the ceremony comes, everyone is ready to cast their ballots. Since we offer prizes (movie tickets/packages, Best Picture DVDs) to the winners, it can get pretty competitive!

No red carpet roll-out for us, I keep decorations pretty simple- black, silver, and gold stars scattered here and there, gold accents, and lots of votives to add sparkle to the tabletop. A couple weeks before the party, I start planning the menu, each item usually inspired by the Best Picture Nominees. Last year, we had the following offerings: Moneyball- ballpark food (chips, popcorn); Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Manhattan Clam Chowder; the Descendants: Mai Tai cocktails and Hawaiian shrimp; The Artist: black/white cookies; Midnight in Paris: baked brie and champagne; The Help: fried chicken and chocolate-pecan bars, Tree of Life: roast broccoli (that movie was hard!), you get the picture… There is always plenty of champagne, much to everyone’s chagrin the Monday morning after the ceremony.

This year, we hosted my Gatsby/Roaring 20s-themed 30th birthday party the evening before the Oscars and so we were going to keep this year’s viewing party LOW-KEY. Because we’re just not that insane.

Rather than have dinner planned around 10 movies, I wanted to keep things simple and offer dishes inspired by the Middle Eastern cuisine from Zero Dark Thirty and Argo. Every year, epicurious.com does a phenomenal job posting menus inspired by the movies and this year was no exception!

Here is what was on the menu for the 2013 Wegner Oscar Party:

Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Cumin and Cinnamon (recipe below)
Mediterranean Curry Couscous
Assorted Veggie Crudites
Cheese and crackers
Ice Cream Cones (remember that scene in ZD30 when he eats an ice cream cone with the monkey?)


Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Cumin and Cinnamon
Bon Appétit | July 2000


1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3 1/2-pound sirloin half leg of lamb, bone removed, fat trimmed, meat cut into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
6 12-inch metal skewers


Whisk oil, cumin, pepper, salt and cinnamon in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add lamb to dish and toss to coat well with oil mixture. Let marinate at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerate 1 1/2 to 4 hours, tossing occasionally.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat) or preheat broiler. Thread lamb pieces onto skewers, dividing equally (about 5 pieces per skewer). Grill or broil lamb to desired doneness, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes for medium-rare.

yield: Makes 6 servings

*I doubled the recipe since I had no idea how many people were coming (life with doctors on call) and we had plenty for seconds. Everyone raved about the kebabs. I actually followed this recipe to a T and would make no changes- it was simple but still a little fancy AND delicious!! My favorite kind of recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Recipe: Cauliflower, Leek, and Potato Soup

Living in Seattle has inevitably made us more aware about eating organically and locally. (I can’t believe we’ve become one of those people either.) On a friend’s recommendation, Nick signed us up for an organic produce delivery, New Roots Organics, twice a month. I was skeptical because you hear all the time how people enroll in these deliveries, end up throwing old, moldy fruit away 3 weeks later, and cancel their membership after a few months. It’s like that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Raymond’s parents freak out because they are overwhelmed by being in the Fruit of the Month club. (“What???? MORE pears?!!) However, I have to say it’s been a good experience so far. With all of the produce we have coming in, we’re making healthier choices, and I’m challenged to even try new vegetables every now and then. Plus, I love not having to go to the grocery store as often!

Last week, we received a bin which included cauliflower and leeks. Up until that point, leeks and I were strangers. For the life of me, I had no idea what to do with a leek. But a few weeks ago on one winter Seattle Sunday, it was chilly and rainy outside so making soup sounded like a good idea (who am I kidding, I’m my father’s daughter so I just really love any excuse to have soup.)

After perusing the meager contents of my refrigerator (being inherently lazy, I would rather make do with what I have than brave the store on a Sunday), I found this recipe online for cauliflower, potato, leek soup from Kelly Davis of Foodie Fresh.

Photo by Kelly Davis

Photo by Kelly Davis

The original recipe is below, with my own tweaks. I tend to do this with recipes if I don’t have all the ingredients onhand or if I want to modify it to my taste. Sometimes it’s to everyone’s detriment, but this soup ended up being amazing anyway- it tasted like a baked potato soup without the starchy heaviness. I highly recommend it with croutons and a little bacon and parsley for color sprinkled on top. Because I made a ton, we were still eating it three days later, which for Nick is saying a lot! And now I’m a HUGE fan of leeks, love the mild onion flavor!


8 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
1 pound yukon potatoes, chopped (I only had one potato onhand and this was fine b/c I wanted more cauliflower than potatoes anyway. You can even omit the potatoes entirely if you’re going for the low-carb version.)
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried parsley
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste
*1 cup skim milk (I omitted the milk since I wanted it more broth-based than creamy. I didn’t miss the milk at all.)

Bring broth to a simmer in a large pot. Add potatoes and cauliflower. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that stock continues to boil slightly. Cook Potatoes and cauliflower for at least 30 minutes total.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan. Add shallots and saute for one minute. Add leeks and saute, stirring often, until leeks began to brown.

Add the leaks and shallots to the pot. Add thyme, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until potatoes and cauliflower are very tender and will break up easily with a spoon. Puree with a blender or food processor. Add milk and stir.

Serve immediately or allow to cool and store in an air tight container.

* If you like a more decadent soup, substitute the milk for 1/2 to 3/4 cup of heavy cream

Enjoy! I hope you like it. This soup is great for weekday lunches or for a light dinner.