Recipe: Koobideh – Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

Recipe: Koobideh – Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

While my husband was in grad school studying Persian literature, I started exploring Persian culinary traditions as a fun way to embrace and support his studies. One of our favorite meals is the very simple dish of koobideh, ground lamb kebabs, served with roasted tomatoes and basmati rice.

Koobideh Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

The trick to a successful koobideh is to drain out the onion juice. This will help the meat to hold it’s shape better without being to soggy. The ground onion creates a much different experience in the flavor and texture of the dish than simply chopping the onion and adding it to the meat.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Ginger adds a warm, earthy, autumn kick to this classic dessert.

blueberry crisp with peaches and ginger

Years ago, my mother taught me how to make a skillet pie. This is much like a regular pie, but quicker, and quite a bit more rustic. Simply start with a cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet. Melt butter, add a touch of flour and sugar and fruit, and heat in the skillet till the fruit starts releasing it’s juices and forming a syrup. Then top it with a pie crust and pop it in the oven. So simple and easy.

I started combining ginger with blueberries in dishes recently, and I just love the flavor combination: down home with a kick.  A few weeks ago, my friend Diane baked me a blueberry and nectarine pie, and that inspired the addition of the peaches.

I wanted a simple dessert like that, but I did not want to bother with pie crust, so I substituted with a standard crisp topping – with a touch of ginger for a little more kick. Toasted nuts would be delightful in this topping as well.

We are fruit smoothie people, so our freezer is always stocked with frozen fruit; this recipe was easy to whip up with ingredients we keep on hand all the time.

As always, delightful kitchen helpers make the food taste more delicious.

gem is a wonderful cook



A visit with

A visit with

When I stepped off the elevator into the Allrecipes offices, it opened up into a stunning kitchen and dining area. Food is the focal point of everything they do, and the kitchen is where that magic happens. kitchen

The stunning view from the kitchen looked out over Westlake Park, and across to the Macy’s building.


I had no idea that Allrecipes was in Seattle, a start-up born 17 years ago from a few University of Washington students bouncing around ideas for using this new internet thingy in conjunction with database technologies. I think they hit on a winner.


17 years is ancient in terms of social media, and they brought out their experts to give us some pointers

Social Media

  • Don’t simultaneously post the same update on all the social media outlets.
  • Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are used differently by media consumers, take that into consideration when posting.
  • Schedule posts in advance so they go out throughout the day, rather than bombarding readers with multiple posts hitting their feeds all at the same time
  • Kale and quinoa, and other healthy foods are hot right, but if you want a boost, cheesy casseroles are always good for a bump in shares.

Everyone loves grandma’s cheesy casseroles. People love grandmas. Grandmas are hot right now.

Food Photography

  • spritz food with water or olive oil to freshen it up during the photo shoot.
  • a sprinkle of salt or large grain sugar adds sparkle
  • if you are working with whipped cream, adding a little cornstarch during whipping will help it hold up better during the photography session

Of course, they fed us at the Allrecipes event: salad on a stick. That turned out to be quite the cute entertaining idea – the buffet line include kebab sticks with easily pierce-able foods such as ravioli, mozzarella pearls and cherry tomatoes. My favorite combo was watermelon, feta, and mint.


True to form, combining a bunch of bloggers with a food oriented event meant getting through the line took a minute as we all snapped away as we loaded our plates. Luckily I snapped a couple shots before loading my plate because I quickly realized that I am not graceful enough to juggle photography with a plate full of food.


Dessert was on a stick as well: strawberry shortcake on a stick. This was doughnut holes and strawberries. Chocolate sauce and whipped cream were provided for embellishing the treat.

a visit with

This was such a great event, and I want to thank Allrecipes and Seattle Bloggers Unite for putting this event together. I look forward to delving into all that Allrecipes has to offer, and you can expect more recipes to be highlighted on this blog in the future.

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

My husband turned 39 yesterday, so we made him a pie. My daughter had some thoughts about what kind of pie we should make. The conversation went like this:

Gem: I want to make Daddy a cherry pie for his birthday
Me: I just bought ingredients for coconut cream pie, because it’s his favorite
Gem: I think Daddy wants cherry
Me: Did you ask him?
Gem: Daddy, do you want a surprise?

Such is my life. For the record, we ended up making the pie I planned on, and she got away with being cute. It’s a kind of win-win. And, she was a great help in the kitchen.

The Dahlia Lounge has the best coconut cream pie in Seattle. Maybe anywhere. Aaron and I are big fans.

triple coconut cream pie

I was so thrilled to find that Tom Douglas and his team published the recipe for their Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie in the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle.  This cookbook is a great teaching cookbook. It’s more than just recipes, and it covers the how and why of techniques, so you really learn how to cook rather than just how to follow directions.

That was the pie I made for Aaron’s birthday. And it was amazing.


Happy birthday, my love. You are a wonderful husband and father, and we love you. I hope 39 is an awesome year for you.

birthday pie

FTC Disclosure: of course, I use affiliate links wherever possible, including this post.

Worth the Effort: Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

Worth the Effort: Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

Tom Douglas, the guy who arguably put Seattle’s culinary scene on the map, took his place behind the stove of the demonstration kitchen at Macy’s, and started off by saying: “Today I want to talk to you about effort. If there is one thing I want you to take away today, it’s that it’s worth the effort.”

pears on kitchen counter

He was talking about cooking at home for your friends and family. He was talking about sharing not just the family recipes, but the stories that went along with them, such as the way the house smelled when his Grandma came to visit and made her famous schnecken, and the benefits of being the biggest kid in a very large family, when they all reached in to grab their favorite bits of the gooey treat.

“Create memories with your family around food, memories that involve all the senses. Those are what you will remember years from now.”

Tom Douglas

Take 3 recipes, he said, say for instance one pie, one cake, and one cookie recipe, even if you’re afraid of baking – especially if you’re afraid of baking. Make each one three times, following the directions exactly.  The trick to baking well is following the directions. By the third try, you will OWN that recipe.

Pick recipes you want to be known for, and be the person who’s known for bringing it. You don’t have to be a great cook, just well practiced at a few recipes. You can grow your repertoire later, just start with three.


Tom prepared three recipes for us: Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Broccoli Rabe and Fontina, Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy, and Pear Tarts with Dreamy Caramel Sauce.  

Now, I don’t have room enough to share all three recipes in one post, so I’ve picked one to share today, perhaps more on another day. You’ll just have to come back and visit my blog again some day. Two of the recipes are from Tom’s new cookbook that he is promoting, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. Of course, the recipe I chose to share has something to do with coffee, Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy. This recipe is from the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook.

“Seattle is famous for its coffee. And that inspired me to stuff the turkey cavity with whole roasted coffee beans. Turns out they add a nice toasty-smoky aroma that seasons the bird from within. I leave them in even after the turkey’s done. If a few slip out at the table while I’m carving, it’s a good conversation starter.”

Tom Douglas

Get this one ready for Thanksgiving:


tom douglas and judy schwartz haley
Tom Douglas and Judy Schwartz Haley

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was paid to attend this event, but as always, my opinions remain my own.

when the search for dinner turns into a road trip

We are in the midst of a road trip from Seattle to Alaska: my mother, my 2-year-old daughter, and I.


Naturally, the first move in a trip to the westernmost state, would be to go east for three days. Right?  We’re taking the scenic route: the first night in Leavenworth, and then Coeur d’Alene, before heading northeast to Banff.

Think traveling with a senior citizen and a toddler sounds stressful?  Let me tell you how we feed our little party:

After we crossed the border into Idaho, Mom started talking about getting steaks tonight for dinner. Sounded good to me. Moments later a billboard advertising a prime rib dinner on a floating restaurant appeared on the side of the road. I could go for some prime rib. After that, Mom had a one track mind.

But first we had to find the hotel. We turned off the highway when we saw the sign for our hotel. While we were waiting for a light to change, Baby Girl saw a Super 8 hotel sign, and started yelling “8!” because she knows that number.  We were at the intersection with Apple Way, and it turned out that our hotel was right across the street from that Super 8. We checked in, and asked the guy at the front desk for directions to the restaurant.

“It’s real easy,” he said.  He then directed us to turn left out of the parking lot, take a left at the light, follow that road and that we would see the big brown building floating on the water.

Sounded easy enough.

So we did just that. And sure enough, there was a big brown building floating on the lake. A very large, uninviting building with the name Hagadorn Corporation on the sign. Nothing even remotely suggesting a restaurant. I left Mom and the baby in the car to go investigate. I went up the ramp to an imposing,  dark, locked door, that glared at me like I was trespassing, even if it didn’t say as much.



Back in the car to drive around a bit more, maybe we didn’t go far enough.

We stopped and asked directions from a gentleman who admitted he had just moved to town, so he wasn’t sure if the name of the road was 90 or 95, but we should take it south and then we would see the sign on the left. Of course, we knew the name of the road was 90, because that was the road we rode in on.

Unfortunately, mom got in the turn lane a block before we got to 90, so we ended up turning down a frontage road along the interstate.  We drove for quite a while, miles actually, and started wondering if maybe we’d gone to far.

But wait. We saw that sign right after we crossed the border into Idaho. Surely then, the restaurant would be in the vicinity of the sign. Wouldn’t it? Just then, the frontage road crossed over the highway.  Oops. Now we’ve got an interstate highway between us and the river – not a great place to look for a floating restaurant.

We traveled along for a few blocks, and then decided to take a left and just get as close to the river as possible. If we travel alongside the river, at some point we will come across a restaurant floating on that river – right?

The first opportunity to turn came after we crossed the river, the we took a left on Riverview Drive.  Of course, eventually, this road will have some view of the river. We drove, and drove, and drove along Riverview Drive. We drove 7.5 miles along Riverview Drive. We saw wild turkeys. We did not see the river.

As we traveled this misnamed road, mom admitted that she had looked for this exact same restaurant the last time she was in Coeur d’Alene with her sister.  They couldn’t find it that time either, and ended up eating at A&W.

Eventually we stopped to ask directions again.  “It’s real easy,” the young woman said.  Just follow this road to the T, and take a left, and then when you get to 95, it will be on your right.

You caught that 95, didn’t you?

We continued on Riverview Drive, without seeing the river, until it came to a T, and we turned left on Upriver Drive, also lacking any kind of river view. When we got to 95 we took a right and drove a bit, but when the sign said Moscow, we started to question ourselves again.  Maybe we were actually supposed to turn left on 95?

Yup, right after the intersection, there was the restaurant across the river on the right. This place better be pretty damn good.

We drove a bit further so we could turn on to the drive.  Several blocks worth of RV park lined the left side of the road leading up to another sign for the restaurant. This one proclaiming that they start serving dinner at 4.  A picture of the typical customer is starting to form in my head, and that picture included more polyester waistbands pulled up to the armpits than pretty damn good food. But we’d been on the road looking for this place for an hour and a half. It was time to eat.

We proceeded to bump our way down the very poorly maintained road, our overloaded truck bottoming out with each bump. We park, unload the baby and start our way across the awninged bridge, which was a little scary with the angry, swollen river up so close.



And the restaurant? It was closed for a private party.

Baby crying, mom and grandma both stressed out – all three starving. Now what?

We turned back on to 95 looking for another place to eat, and then took a turn on Government thinking we might have better odds there. We stopped at an intersection and then noticed we were on Apple Way, and there to the left was the Super 8 my daughter noticed when we came in earlier.

Yes, that’s right. We drove 30 miles, an hour and a half, to find a restaurant that was just a few blocks away. It was real easy.

We ate dinner at a little Mexican place down the street, and it was awesome. Most satisfying meal on this trip so far.


Finding our way through Canada to Alaska should be a piece of cake.  Everyone says it’s real easy.

Note: I had to wait a few days before putting up this post, partially because access to the internet is really limited while traveling up here (may take a while to return comments on posts, too, but it will happen). Also because I didn’t want to scare my husband too much the first few days out. We’re doing fine Babe, and having a great time.