Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tool Time: Tomodachi Knife

I love Target.  I know I shouldn't.  I know they're an evil big box store and I also know that they recently donated tons of money to a political candidate who embodies everything I'm against.  I'm the type of girl who doesn't shop at Wal-Mart for political reasons, so I feel like a dirty hypocrite every time I walk into a Target.  But morals and values be damned!  I have to get my paper towels, TP, and other every day essentials from some place, and that place is Target.

When I was wandering around Target the other day, I noticed all these relatively cheap, very bright knives hanging from the wall.  They're made by a company called Tomodachi, and they have several different options to choose from: a green 7" Santoku, a 4" red tomato knife, an orange 6" all-purpose knife, etc.

They knives so cute and so inexpensive that I picked one up--the green 7" Santoku.  Because really?  Who couldn't use another knife?  And for $7.99?  Yup--I'm sold.

I've used the bright green knife a few times now and it's not half bad.  It's easy to use--the knife is very lightweight and the handle, though nothing to write home about, is comfortable to grip.  The blade does a nice job of cutting through whatever I'm chopping.  And best of all it can be tossed into the dishwasher.  Yay! 

We'll see how this knife does in the long run.  I'm not sure how it will do when I need to sharpen it, but for now, it's pretty darn good!  Plus it's so easy to find in my unorganized tool drawer thanks to it's stand-out color.  Because it comes with a blade guard, I can just toss the little cheap-y into said junk drawer and not worry about it getting damaged.

So far, this is a thumbs up.  Like I said, it will be interesting to see how it stands up to the test of time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Easy Meal: Chicken Curry

Some of my favorite meals are ones that you put in a big pot, place on simmer, walk away and eat a few hours later. Chicken curry is one of those dishes! You can pretty much use what ever you have on hand and end up with a dish that is both delicious and easy and if you manage to have leftovers, heat up well and taste even better the next day.

2 tablespoons curry paste
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced (I use shredded carrot about 1/2 cup)
6-8 mushrooms
1 zucchini, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

  • In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, add the curry paste and stir well. To the chicken, add the onions and carrots and cook until translucent.
  • Turn down the heat to simmer and add the coconut milk and chicken broth; stir well. Cover and allow to simmer at least 1 hour; stir occasionally.
  • One half hour prior to serving, add the mushrooms and zucchini and allow to simmer.
  • When ready to eat, serve over rice and top with some of the chopped cashews.
I cheat and use a curry base from A Taste of Thai - you can find this right in the grocery store and their products are really good! You can multiple meals out of the curry pouch too and the leftover paste can be stored in the refrigerator.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sausage & Hasbrown Breakfast Casserole

So I started a new job about a little over a month ago and one of the things that my coworkers like to do is eat and do themed pot lucks - I love it! Our most recent one was breakfast and I wanted to make something that would be relatively easy and could also reheat well, I came up with the following casserole.

1 pound pork sausage (not in casings)
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup sour cream
10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 pound frozen hash browns
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Over medium-high heat, saute the sausage; remove from heat and place in a bowl. Using the grease from the sausage, cook the onions and mushrooms. Saute until the onions are translucent; add this to the sausage when done.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, soup, milk and seasonings.
  • Prepare a baking dish by lightly greasing it (I use Pam for this). Pour the hash browns in the bottom of the dish. Add the meat mixture over the hash browns and pour the sauce over the meat.
  • Top with cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes.
This is delicious right out of the oven. I let it cool and took it to work and refrigerated it until we were ready to eat. I cut out servings and microwaved them for about a minute and it was still really good. This was very easy to make and it seemed to go over well at work too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tool Time: Cookie Scoop

Around Christmas time, my son and I were at Bed Bath and Beyond doing some shopping (yes that was over 8 months ago). We were looking in the gadget section and he picked up a cookie scoop that had silicon in the scoop part so that you could press out the cookies. He picked up 2 (one for him and one for me) and asked if we could get them so he could help make cookies - I said sure. We brought them home, washed them and then put them in a drawer and forgot about them. Last week on my day off, Aidan asked to make chocolate chip cookies and he remembered about the scoops, so we gave them a try.

What I liked:
So these were not that expensive - I think I got both for about $10. The concept is great, scoop, press and there is a perfect sized cookie. The size of the cookie dough that the bowl of the scoop holds is really good. They are easy to clean and can go in the dishwasher.

What I did not like:
They are not easy to use! The dough does not want to come out of the scoop - no matter how hard you push. My son thought they were great scoops, since the dough wouldn't come out he thought that meant he could he eat all the dough instead of try to place it on the cookie sheet.

I was really disappointed in the silicone cookie scoop. I was hoping that they would work and become a welcomed addition to my cookie making tradition. Alas, they will just be another item that takes up space in my utensil drawer.

Oh well, the cookies still turned out and were delicious!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Do you ever get obsessed with a recipe?  Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about how to throw certain ingredients together to make your ideal meal?

I ask this because I currently find myself fixated on creating the perfect Shrimp and Grits recipe.  Weird, right?  Especially because I'm not a Southern gal and I'm not the world's biggest fan of grits.  So what gives?   I honestly have no idea.

All this started last week.  I was hoping to whip up a quick and tasty shrimp dinner for me and my hubby last Sunday, before catching True Blood.  I found a recipe that called for instant grits...I could only find quick cooking.  The final product turned out OK...the flavors were good, but the shrimp was over-cooked thanks to my molten-lava quick cooked grits.  Oh well.

Now I'm back at the drawing board considering the recipe.  I haven't had a chance to get in the kitchen just yet, but I am fairly certain I know how to correct my mistakes from my past Shrimp and Grits attempt. 

I'll write up my final recipe (and maybe some of my outtakes!) soon enough, but before I do, I'm curious: if you've been obsessed with a recipe, what was it?  Were you able to satisfy your obsession and make the perfect dish?  How many attempts did it take?

It's funny how damn important food is to us, and how fixated you can get on flavor/texture combination!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eat Healthy: Cran-Bran Muffins

If you read my other blog (my makeup blog), you may know that I'm on something of a health kick lately.  Over the past weekend, I wanted to bake something healthy and decided to whip up some Cran-Bran Muffins.

I like bran muffins.  I like the nutty flavor, the dense texture, and all that fiber.  These muffins came out sweet and flavorful.  Sure, they'd be awesome with a slathering of really good butter, but they're not bad as-is, either.  They're especially good warm, so eat them right out of the oven or toast them up a bit.

The only thing I didn't love about these muffins is that they cooked up rather small.  Maybe next time, I'll make fewer muffins and fill the tins a little higher.  I might also work on lightening up the batter (cake flour instead of regular flour?  I don't know!)

This recipe comes from Cooking Light.  The only change I made was to use Craisins instead of raisins.  Use what you want, and add any seasonings you might want.  This would be good with some grated orange (with the craisins) or with some nuts and spices.

Cran-Bran Muffins, Makes 12

1 cup All Bran cereal (the kind that looks like twigs)
3/4 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup craisins
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine cereal and milk in a bowl; let stand 5 minutes.  Add craisins, honey, oil and egg; stir well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. 
  4. Pour the flour into the cereal mixture and mix until just moist--but be sure not to over stir!
  5. Fill muffin tins about 2/3 of the way up.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (or until muffin springs back when touched lightly in the center).  Serve warm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can It!

The world is filled with food oddities: some good, some bad, and some...well...just odd.  Here are a few canned foods that fall into the "odd" category.

When you think of canning, you think of convenience and a long shelf life.  Canned tuna, canned tomatoes, canned beans...these things make life easier.  But you can also think of things like deviled ham (barf) or canned veggies (that usually lack flavor, texture or nutrients).  Well, now you can have the convenience of lunch in a can with this invention: the Candwich.  Coming this fall, you can pop open a can and have either a grape PB&J, a strawberry PB&J, or a BBQ chicken sandwich.  Think I'm kidding?  Click on this site to see for yourself.

Vermont is the home of many awesome things in the culinary world.  Ben & Jerry's, Cabot Creamery, and King Arthur Flour instantly come to mind when thinking of deliciousness of yum in the Green Mountain State.  Vermont is also home to the Vermont Country Store--a place I visit every time I head back east.  If you can't get to the Vermont Country Store any time soon, you're in luck!  You can get their amazing catalog sent to you, so you can shop for everything from Mumus to obscure makeup, maple syrup to vibrators (I'm not kidding).

You can also check out these canned culinary delights from the Vermont Country Store: 

Canned Date Nut Bread: Open the can, slice the round loaf of date bread, and serve!  Yum, yum?  My mom says she remembers canned date nut bread from her childhood.  I'd have to try this before I pass judgement.  Of all the things that can go in a can, a loaf of bread doesn't immediately come to mind.  I wonder if it's metallic tasting... 

Canned, Cooked, Ground Beef: I don't know about you, but I find browning ground beef to be one of the easier kitchen tasks.  The worst part is draining off the fat, but still....cooking ground beef is a snap.  Apparently, though, some people find it a bit too taxing.  Vermont Country Store's canned ground beef is fully cooked, lean, and farm raised here in the good old USA.  But at almost $15 for just shy of 2 pounds, this seems like a pricey convenience product (and I'm not sold on the flavor aspect!). 

Canned, Cooked, Bacon: Yes, you read that right: canned bacon.  On the plus side, using canned bacon means not having to deal with bacon splatter when you fry it up.  On the down side, it's CANNED BACON!  How could this even taste good?  Or have the right texture? Or be shelf-stable for long periods of time?  Bacon's very trendy right now, so good for Vermont Country Store for jumping on the trend.  Me?  I think I'll pass.

These are just a few of the interesting items Vermont Country Store sells in cans.  I will say this: If you're preparing for the zombie apocalypse (or are just anticipating suffering through harsh storms that will leave you without power for days on end), these canned goods could serve a purpose.  For now, though, I think I'll stick with fresher products.

But that's just me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grilled Peaches

Summer fruits are my favorites - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, nectarines, cherries, and peaches. I love them fresh, in pies, cakes, cupcakes, etc., but I have never tried to cook fruit on the grill. I was already going to make chicken on the grill and had an apricot marinade going (see Monday's blog) and I wondered how a grilled peach would do to accompany it? Answer - DELICIOUS!

Here is what I did...

3 large peaches
2 tablespoons olive oil
Chipotle powder, light sprinkle on each
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp brown sugar per peach
1 pat of butter per peach
  • Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits; I looked for firm peaches (I thought that if they were too ripe, they might fall apart). Pour olive oil on a baking sheet or plate and lightly coat the peaches. Sprinkle with Chipotle powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Place butter over seasonings.
  • Place on hot grill over high to medium-high heat, seasoned side up. Grill for 3-5 minutes. The skin should have a slight char and the butter & sugar should be melted.
  • Remove from heat and eat up!
These were really easy to make and everyone loved them. You could make more than 3 - I did one per person. You could also make this a dessert and serve them with ice cream or whipped cream. I thought that they paired well with the grilled chicken though. The peaches were sweet, but also had a little heat from the Chipotle pepper and they were perfectly cooked - not too firm and not mushy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tool Time: Garlic Peeler Tube

When I was staying at the beach, the house we rented had a perfectly adequate kitchen.  I think it's hard to cook in a "foreign" kitchen.  No matter how well stocked and supplied the kitchen may be, there will always be certain tools you want but don't have.  Rummaging though the drawers in search of wooden spoons one day, I found a silicon tube.  At first I wasn't sure what it was, but then it dawned on me: It was a garlic peeler!  And I had to give it a try.

The tube is a very silly, very simple tool.  You put your garlic clove(s) in it, press down and roll the tube, then tip it up.  Immaculate, peeled garlic should come tumbling out.

I threw a single clove in and gave it a whirl.  My first attempt was a failure.  The clove was still hidden inside its peel, though a few layers had fallen off.  I decided to add more pressure.  This time it was a success.  Though my garlic clove was a little based up, it was peeled and ready to be used.

The garlic peeler is easy to clean.  You can wash it off or stick it in the dishwasher.  Some pieces of the garlic peel tend to stick to the tube (thanks to static electricity or something!), but a trip through the dishwasher solves any cleanliness issues.

Overall, I'd say this is a pretty decent little tool.  It sells for $9 at Williams-Sonoma, which means you can probably find it cheaper elsewhere.  If you're looking for a stocking stuffer for a cook/garlic-lover, this is it!  Not bad.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Apricot Grilled Chicken

Time for me to make dinner, time to get out and grill up something yummy! For this meal, I had boned, skinned, chicken breasts and a request for more grilled polenta. Here is what I came up with...


4 chicken breast, halved
1/4 cup Apricot jam
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup Chardonnay
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine jam, garlic, ginger, onion, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and Chardonnay; whisk until well combined. Remove 4 tablespoons of the marinated to a smaller bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  • In a large zip locked bag, add the chicken and the majority of the marinade; close the zip locked bag, coat well and refrigerate the chicken for at least 1 hour.
  • Prepare grill and get the temperature to medium-high. Add the chicken and cook for approximately 10 minutes per side. You don't want to overcook the chicken or it will be really dried out and burned - so check it and adjust your grill as needed. When you have about 2 minutes left to cook, baste the chicken on each side with the marinade that you removed earlier.
I served this with the grilled polenta that I blogged about earlier - the grilled polenta has become a family favorite and grilled peaches (see Wednesday's blog). I think that this would have also made tasty kabobs, you would just need to cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, soak some skewers and cut down on the cooking time. I thought that the marinade lent itself well to the chicken and I enjoyed the balance of savory and sweet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Since Aidan and I went blueberry picking last week, we have lots of fresh, juicy, delicious berries to eat! I was flipping through various recipes and remembered this one from my favorite cookbook, The Southern Living Cookbook.

I have made this recipe before, but I have never used fresh blueberries. It is a really easy recipe and the muffins are really good! They have lots of berries, are soft and tasty, and have a crunchy streusel top. They make a wonderful breakfast or dessert and really compliment coffee!

Muffin Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen can also be used)

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 cup butter, softened

  • Cream butter; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating well.
  • Combine 2 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, stirring well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract and fold in blueberries.
  • Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and cinnamon; cut in 1/4 cup butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles crumbs. Sprinkle on top of muffin batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately. Yield 1 1/2 dozen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Farfalle with Hot Italian Sauge, Mushrooms, & Peas

I threw this dish together one night and it got rave reviews from the family. I was asked to write the recipe down so that I can make it again. I modeled this recipe after one that I saw in Giada De Laurentiis's cookbook, Everday Italian - her recipe is for Orecchiette with Spicy sausage and Broccoli Rabe. I changed it up a bit to make the family happy (Lydia HATES broccoli) and I thought adding peas and mushrooms would be delicious. Plus when I was buying ingredients, I could not find Orecchiette for under $6.50, but the Farfalle was on sale for $1.00 per box (so I went with bow ties).

1 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 box Farfalle (bow tie) pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground

Place the frozen peas in a large strainer. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the frozen peas (in the strainer) to the boiling water for about 30 seconds; remove from the boiling water and set the peas aside. Cook the Farfalle in the same boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite (approximately 12 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until the sausage is brown and the juices form, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are cooked, about 2 minutes. Add the peas and pasta and coat well. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and pepper and transfer to a pasta bowl.

Serves 6.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Caprese Salad - A Delicious Summer Treat

I love summer fruits and veggies and to have fresh tomatoes is a real treat. I love caprese salads and think that they really showcase the ripe tomato in a tasty way.

This recipe is from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis - it is super easy and absolutely delicious!

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese. drained and sliced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Whisk the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil to blend. Set the dressing aside.

Arrange the tomatoes and cheese on a platter. Drizzle the dressing over. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vacation Food, Part 3

Though I made this dish while on vacation, it's more evocative of my childhood.  As a kid, my mom would make this onion-y/salty pull apart bread concoction that my sister and I could not get enough of.  Over the years, my mom stopped making the pull apart onion bread, but it has a place in my happy food memories.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to resurrect this yummy childhood favorite.  I made it for my husband prior to vacation and thought it was a bit too salty.  I adjusted the ingredients a bit and tried it again during vacation.  It was less salty but still yummy.  This is, by no means, a healthy dish.  It's got a ton of butter and way too much sodium, but if you enjoy it once or twice a year, you shouldn't do any long-term damage.

I served this with BBQ chicken and think the flavor combo was pretty darn good.  Give this a try--it's worth the calories.

Pull Apart Onion Rolls

1/2 c. butter (1 whole stick!)
2 tbsp. instant minced onion
1 tbsp. instant beef bouillon (I used 1 large bouillon from Knorr's)
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/2 c. cold water

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix butter, onion, bouillon, parsley and onion powder in saucepan. Heat until butter is melted and bouillon is dissolved; cool slightly. (Or, if you're lazy like me: melt the butter in a microwave-proof container and then add all the other ingredients and stir like crazy!) Pour about half of the butter mixture into round layer pan, 9 x 1 x 1/2 inch. Spread onions evenly in pan. Mix baking mix and water until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 20 strokes. Drop dough by teaspoonsful onto butter mixture in pan, drizzle with remaining butter mixture. Bake until golden brown about 12 minutes. Invert pan on heat proof serving plate. Leave pan over rolls a few minutes. About 2 dozen rolls.

Note: My mom thought she used Lipton's French Onion Soup mix to make this.  I think that would work--I'll have to try it at some point.

Another note: In my memory, I think there was chives in the bread.  Maybe I'm jumbled up, but again, I might have to try that addition to see how it changes things up.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vaction Food, Part 2

In my real life, I don't get to cook much.  I've mentioned it before, but my husband has a crazy/awful work schedule (he gets home at 9:30 pm), so I don't get to cook dinners the way I'd like to.  When you have to reheat dinners, you tend to go with things that won't dry out in the microwave...argh!  The mister's schedule is the bane of my existence.

One awesome part of being on vacation was getting to actually COOK a few meals.  I even grilled a few times (that's a big deal for me since I don't own a grill, thank you very much).  Here's one of the better meals I made:

Argentine Grilled Steaks with Peppers and Onions
I found this yummy sounding steak rub called Argentine Steak Rub while wondering around Cost Plus prior to vacation.  The spice rub contains salt, pepper, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, and fennel.  Unlike Greta, I love fennel (side note: have you ever tried grilled fennel? OMG...so amazing!).  Since the spice rub was already mixed and ready to go, I thought this would be an easy option for vacation cooking.

I bought a packet of sirloin steaks from the grocery, rubbed them down with a generous amount of the Argentine Steak Rub and then grilled them over a hot grill.  I like my steaks bloody (red and dripping!) but the hubs prefers his meat to be more on the "done" side, so I let the steaks go a little longer than I would have if I were just cooking for myself.  I let the meat rest and then sliced it up.  I was happy that there was still some pink, even if the blood wasn't running the way I like it.  I squeezed a lime over the sliced meat and served it with tortillas, peppers, onions, and guacamole.

I love fajitas--the combo of onions, peppers, and meat can't be beat!  So to add to my dinner, I sauteed some red, yellow and orange peppers with a Walla Walla sweet onion in olive oil.  I threw in garlic, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar to the peppers/onions and let them get good and cooked.  Nothing is better than caramelized onions and peppers!  I usually add thyme to my onions and peppers, but I wanted to keep things simple since I knew the meat was going to add all the herbs and spices I needed.

I also smooshed up an avocado together with a few cloves of garlic, a few scoops of already-made (store bought) salsa, and the juice of a lime.  I've been craving guacamole ever since my molcajete experiment, so I did a quick and easy version to satisfy my culinary urges.  Let me say this right now: I am freaking awesome with an avocado!  Though my quick guac paled in comparison to the real deal I made recently, it was fresh and yummy.  I even got my husband to try some and he actually liked it (this is a big damn deal!).

To finish the dinner off, I threw some tortillas in foil and tossed it onto the grill.  The bottom tortilla got slightly burnt by the grill, but this was a happy accident.  We used it to scoop up the guac when we were done with dinner, and I swear--that was better than any dessert I could have whipped up!
Burnt tortillas & guac--a happy accident!
Even though I had to cook and my poor (but well-fed) husband had to clean, this was one of the best meals we had all vacation.  I still have no plans to buy a grill, but I could get similar results on my grill pan, in the dead of winter when I need to conjure up some summertime memories.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vacation Food, Part 1

Sadly, I am back from my week-long vacation on the coast of Washington.  Every year, my husband and I rent a super cute cottage on the Pacific for a week in July.  We like having a place to call home--a place with a kitchen so I can do some cooking if the mood strikes.  I did manage to whip up a few things this time around...and I'll get to that soon enough...but today I'm going to talk about our adventures eating out.

While the town where we rent our cottage is awesome, there's not a whole hell of a lot around.  That's part of the charm, I suppose!  So when it comes to eating out, we have limited options.  Thankfully, we've found a few really good choices.  If you're planning a trip to the Pacific Beach/Ocean Shores/Lake Quinault part of WA state, let me share with you my dining selections.
Crappy iphone camera!  The view from Ocean Crest's dining room ROCKS!
Ocean Crest Resort (Moclips, WA)
Moclips.  Great name for a town, eh?  If you drive fast enough, you just might blink and miss fabulous Moclips.  And you can certainly drive by the Ocean Crest Resort without thinking too much of it.  But what it lacks in curb appeal, Ocean Crest more than makes up for with its insanely beautiful view of the Pacific.

The restaurant is perched high up in the trees and overlooks the beach.  You dine on top of the world, with the ocean and setting sun in full view.  Your entertainment comes from various birds and other wildlife (we saw the resort's unofficial cat--Mr. Kitty--while eating there.  According to a waitress, raccoons sometimes make visits to the resort's bird feeders.)

The food is pretty good.  I wish they had a few more options on the menu, but that's just me.  Highlights of meals I've eaten there include: crab cakes (they come with a yummy red pepper puree!), Asian-style scallops (my mom's favorite thing on the menu), Louisiana-style shrimp (an appetizer, but I would LOVE it as a main dish over pasta), steamed clams with gremolata (a special appetizer that was high on the nom-factor--as in nom, nom, nom...delicious), and a dish of local chanterelle mushrooms (also a special appetizer that my mushroom fiend of a husband went wild for).

If you're a wine lover, this is the place to visit.  For being in a nothing town, Ocean Crest has a crazy wine selection and often hosts winemaker dinners.  Their wine steward is friendly and knowledgeable.  They recently added wine flights to their menu, and I had three wines from Charles Smith that were AMAZING.  

One final note about Ocean Crest: Apparently, this is one of Apolo Ohno's favorite vacation spots.  That's kind of awesome!

Sausage Roll and Mashed Potatoes/Cabbage at Galway Bay
Galway Bay (Ocean Shores, WA)
I'm not the biggest fan of Irish food, but for some reason, my husband loves it.  We always make at least one trip to Galway Bay and my hubby almost always gets either their sausage roll or chicken and mushroom pasty. The last time we went, I tried their fish and chips.  Oh My God!  They were amazing.  I could care less about the chips (I'm not a fan of the potato in general--I guess that's why I'm also not a big fan of Irish food!), but the fish was so damn good.  It was crispy, tender, and not one bit greasy.  I'm hooked.

Galway Bay is kind of a dive--in a good way--but it's a fun place to go grab a bite.  They also have an Irish import store with some cute items and they feature a lot of live music at night. I once convinced my non-alcoholic husband to down a Guinness here, so this place will always be special! In my mind, it's the best place to eat in Ocean Shores, but that's not saying much, I'm afraid!

View from the deck at the Roosevelt Dining Room
 Roosevelt Dining Room, Lake Quinault Lodge (Lake Quinault, WA)
Ok, so the food here isn't the best or the most budget-friendly, but we always seem to stop here.  The views from the Lake Quinault Lodge are incredible.  The lake is gorgeous and sometimes the clouds hang low over the surrounding hills/forest making the view even more magical.

We love hiking in the rainforest that surrounds the lake, and always work up an appetite.  The Roosevelt Dining Room is one of the few dining options in the area (the other option is the general store across the street, but they're slower than molasses and not that great).  At the Lodge, my husband usually gets the Monte Cristo with a side of sweet potato fries (see below). Me?  I usually opt for something boring like a salad or a burger.  As I said, I don't think the food here is great, but the location and views can't be beat!
The mister's Monte Cristo.  Too ham-y for me!
 Next time you hear from me, I'll share a few of the meals I made during vacation!