My Favorite Harvest Baked Beans Recipe

November 12, 2009 by

These are my favorite baked beans… actually, they’re the only baked beans I eat.   I searched and searched for a recipe like this.  You would not believe how many “recipes” said called for “1 can of baked beans.”  How is that a recipe?  Instructions for heating up canned beans?   When I came across this Three-Bean Baked Beans recipe from Simply Recipes, I knew it was the one I was looking for.

The texture of my favorites: kidney, garbanzo and butter beans make it far superior to any white bean recipe and the sauce is a smoky, not-too-sweet base.  It calls for kidney, black and cannellini beans, but sub in your favorites like I do for a perfect harvest side dish.  Finish with a tablespoon of cognac or bourbon to enhance the flavors.


Foodportunity a Delicious Success

November 5, 2009 by

Monday evening my family and I attend Foodportunity in Seattle at the Palace Ballroom.  We had sooo much fun as we sampled, schmoozed and snapped our way around the ballroom!  And now I have sooo much to blog about!  

Of course I started with the spirits.  Here’s Mark Newton of DiStefano:

I tasted Domenica, a Bordeaux style Merlot-Cab blend.  I’m not usually one for strong reds, but this well-balanced red wasn’t overly tannic (as Washington wines usually are) and it’s full-bodied taste was matched by an alcohol content that didn’t pull its punches either.

Next was the highlight of the event, for me, anyway.  Cupcakes from Wink!

This red velvet with cream cheese was the. best. cupcake. i’ve. ever. had.

Did I mention Tom Douglas was there?  It is his palace, after all:

My son and husband’s favorite food of the night was Farro Fries with Duck Egg Aioli at the Bluebird Grain Farms and Emmer and Rye booth.  Farro, also known as emmer, is a type of wheat mainly grown in mountainous areas.  It was prepared polenta style and then toasted on the grill.  I have some emmer to try and some notes on this preparation, so I’ll let you all know how it turns out when I try it myself. 

Beecher’s Cheese also had a really interesting dish they were serving.  It was hominy and poblano smothered in their flagship cheese sauce.  I found the recipe for flagship cheese sauce  and their signature mac ‘n cheese on the Seattle PI website.  The texture of the hominy was very similar to potatoes, so I didn’t believe it at first and had to go back for seconds.  : )

Foodportunity had such a diversity of people from the food industry.  There were food photographers and videographers, restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, makers of food products and accesories and bloggers.  I even got to meet Robin Leventhal from this season of Top Chef!  I have some crackers from Fieri (same makers as Croccantini) I’ll be reviewing soon as well as restaurants and spirits to try out.  If you’re really into food and didn’t make this event, I highly suggest you mark your calendar for the next Foodportunity!

Malissa’s Monday Meal Planning – October 26th

October 25, 2009 by

We had a great time on vacation, but I’m so glad to be home. The happiest place on earth was not the happiest place for my digestive system, so I’m thrilled to be cooking at home.

Monday – Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup and salad (dried cranberries, feta cheese and the mâche lettuce that I love thanks to Kim!)

Tuesday – Chicken Teriyaki and edamame

Wednesday – Breakfast for dinner – I know pancakes aren’t that hard to make from scratch, but Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle mix fell into my cart. So, we’ll have the pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup, fruit, and scrambled eggs.

Thursday – Chicken Curry Salad

Friday – Steak, hot dogs, and corn on the grill

Saturday – Leftovers

Sunday – Butternut Squash Soup – I heard it on good authority that Kim has a great butternut squash soup recipe. Maybe she’ll share it with me – hint, hint!

For more great menu plans, check out

Malissa’s Meal Planning – October 6th

October 6, 2009 by

We’re going out of town later this week, so it’s an abbreviated week of meals and I’m attempting to use up the perishable food in my house.

Tuesday – Broccoli Beef Noodle Stir Fry from Steamy Kitchen (I’m really excited to get her new cookbook!)

Wednesday – I have some bacon and potatoes, so baked potatoes might be on the menu. However, if I get a chance to pick up a few extra ingredients, I’d love to try this Thick and Creamy Potato Bacon Soup.

Thursday – Taco salad and I’ll grill up any veggies I have left.

Baking – Our friend, Louise, made the most wonderful pumpkin bread for Kim and me last night. It was vegan and had some added healthy ingredients (flax seed, maybe). But the most amazing part is that my girls gobbled it up today AND they chose it over cookies for dessert! Kim and I are hoping to score the recipe for ourselves and to post here.

Product Reviews and Amazon Store Policy

October 5, 2009 by

I thought it was about time that I post our Product Reviews and Amazon Store Policy, so here it is:

Building Blocks Show (BBS) is the project of two stay-at-home moms who love food and want to share their passion for food with you.  This is the spirit with which we approach all business decisions.  That being said, we don’t mind making money and getting free stuff and here’s our policy on that:

Book and product reviews:  We will accept books and products directly related to our cooking philosophy for review.  If we choose to review these items, it will be done on the BBS Blog and clearly stated that the product/book was a gift.  We will be honest in our evaluation.   We do not do pay-per-post.

Amazon Store:  BBS receives a portion of all sales from Amazon in our BBS Store.  Because we can choose any of Amazon’s millions of products, we only select items that we personally use and love or are totally lusting after ourselves.  Product links in the blog posts are part of the Amazon store. 

If you are interested in advertising on our website or have a book or cooking related product you would like to send us for review please email kim AT buildingblocksshow DOT com.

Writing Under the Influence: Monsoon East Review (Bellevue, WA)

September 30, 2009 by

Blogging platforms should come with a warning:  Do not write reviews of tasty Vietnamese restaurants while under the influence of hunger!  My belly is telling me to get back in my car and drive to Monsoon East.  No, belly, no. 

Here’s the scene:  It’s lunchtime on one of the last sunny days for Western Washington.  After driving around the block four times looking for any parking spot, I find one right in front of the restaurant.  My baby, Rodger, and I stumble in and take a look around the swanky, contemporary restaurant.  No hostess, but smiling cooks behind the open-view kitchen. 

Finally the hostess appears from the back and seats us promptly with the menus and a high chair.  Ah, the menus.  Everything sounded so enticing, it took me forever to order.  Luckily I had a cheerful waitress who recommended the organic chicken in the vermicelli bowl.  Sounded good to me, but first a salad.   

The salad was Green Papaya with Grilled Prawns and Caramelized Pineapple.  It was tangy and bright with really well-balanced flavors, despite the sad looking pineapple.  Although, it couldn’t be too sad, because afterall, it was caramelized pineapple.  I think the prawns were good.  I’d love to be more descriptive, but Rodger only let me have one bite!

Then the vermicelli bowl came, filled to the brim with lemongrass chicken, crispy imperial roll, cucumber, mint, and a sauce that carried a real kick.  Wow, when the menu said “crispy” roll, I was expecting something along the lines of a deep-fried spring roll, but the Vietnamese apparently don’t use the word “crispy” lightly.  It had a serious crunch factor.  Delicious.  The only thing about the meal that left me wanting was the dry chicken.  Very unfortunate because if it weren’t for a little too long of a kiss on the grill this would be a gripe-less review. 

All of this came at a very reasonable price for such flavorful fare.  The vermicelli bowl was only 9.50 and if you don’t have a monkey stealing all your prawns and chicken, this would probably be more than enough for lunch, but I spent an extra 8.00 to get the salad too.  There were so many cool things on the menu I didn’t order, like Idaho catfish claypot, bo la lot beef and the raw bar.  I’m going to have to go back and try each of them! 

Tilth on Urbanspoon


Malissa’s Meal Plan – September 29th

September 29, 2009 by

It’s Malissa here again with my meal plan for the week. All right, I have to admit I modified my original plan. I had a lot of running around to do tonight due to a vehicle that’s getting fixed, so we ended up with takeout for dinner. I wish I’d had the foresight to put the crock pot meal on for tonight’s meal!

Tuesday – takeout

Wednesday – Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Coconut Brown Rice

Thursday – Spaghetti and Gremolata Mealballs – We often use Costco’s frozen meatballs, which I think are tasty. But, I’m going to try making meatballs from scratch this week.

Friday – Hearty Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage – Ooh, I think I’ll try Farmgirl Fare’s Beer Bread too!

Saturday – CrockPot Chicken Makhani and Rice

Sunday – Continuing with the success of breakfast for dinner and my love of all things pumpkin, Pumpkin Spice Muffins and omelets

Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Coconut Brown Rice

September 28, 2009 by

This is my third successful installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this final meal, I made Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Brown Rice for $6.96.

This meal was really fun to do because we don’t often do curries in our house.  It is a super simple recipe for the new-to-curry crowd that will impress your family.  The sweet coconut milk is perfectly suited to these warm savory spices.  Baking the rice assures a perfect result every time that doesn’t stick to the pan and is done without a rice cooker.  I used leeks, but it would be even easier and just as tasty made with onions and you can throw them in with the rest of the vegetables instead of having to cook separately like I did with the leeks.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just under seven dollars:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tbsp. expeller pressed canola oil: $0.10
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) organic coconut milk: $0.50
  • 4 white mushrooms (0.15 lb.) : $0.47 (10% off)
  • 1/2 of an organic leek (0.275 lb.): $0.44
  • 1/2 of an organic carrot: $0.20 (10% off)
  • handful of organic snow peas: $0.45 (10% off)
  • small organic green bell pepper: $0.67 (10% off)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder: $0.50
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar: $0.01
  • 14.74 oz. organic, sustainably raised chicken: $2.81 (10% off)
  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown basmati:  $0.81
  • 1/2 tsp. salt: negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • The best deal of the day was the organic coconut milk which is normally more than two bucks a can.  Whole Foods was having a sale for $1.50 a can plus I had a dollar off coupon for any Thai Kitchen brand product (you can print this coupon from Yahoo Deals too – expires at the end of the year.)
  • I used my monthly 10% off coupon at PCC for all the groceries marked as “10% off” above.  It really does add up to some savings.  I would have done better on the veggies to go to the farmer’s market though.  Unfortunately there’s not time for that every week.


Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetables

You will need:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat (about 15 ounces before skinning and deboning), cut into large bite-size pieces 
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a leek (lengthwise half), sliced crosswise every 1/2 inch
  • 2 1/2 cups bite-sized pieces of vegetables (ex. mushrooms, carrot, bell pepper, snow peas)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thair basil (optional), rough chopped

Put it together:

  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in wok (or large skillet) on medium heat.  When hot, add leeks and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer leeks to bowl and set aside.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp. oil to wok, still on medium heat.  When hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, stirring occasionally.  Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • Bring coconut milk and water to simmer in wok on medium heat
  • Add brown sugar and curry powder and stir until well blended.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken and all vegetables except for the leeks.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.  Toss in leeks and serve.  Optional:  garnish with Thai basil

Baked Coconut Rice (Serves 4). 

You will need:

  • 2 T oil (e.g. Canola)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (ex. basmati)

Put it together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Wash rice. Lightly brown the rice in oil in a fry pan.  Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart ovenproof dish. 
  • Pour coconut milk mixture over the rice, take caution because this can create a lot of hot steam.
  • Bake covered for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice is tender and fluffy and moisture has been absorbed.

Minty Watermelon Sorbet

September 24, 2009 by

This sorbet is a true treat and my favorite frozen dessert so far. The yin and yang of mint and watermelon are churned and chilled  into a cheery concoction.  You can make it less sugary for a palate cleanser or as written below for a sweet sensation.

Mint Watermelon Sorbet brown backdrop in cup with mint leaves

Minty Watermelon Sorbet

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 oz. mint leaves, rough chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3 cups pureed watermelon (pulse 1/4 to 1/3 of a watermelon, cubed, in food processor 2 to 3 times for 2 to 3 seconds each time, leaving some texture)

Put it together:

  • Put water in a small saucepan
  • Add sugar
  • Turn on heat to medium to med-high and bring just to a boil, stir once, then add rough-chopped mint and turn down and simmer for 4-5 minutes.  You do not need to stir again.  The result is called simple syrup.
  • Cool in an ice water bath
  • Once simple syrup is cool, pour into a mixing bowl and add all other ingredients
  • Chill in freezer 20 minutes
  • Pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions for making
  • Freeze for 2 hours


  • Simple syrup can be kept in the refrigerator a couple of weeks (the higher sugar to water ratio, the longer it keeps).
  • To change the consistency for easier scooping, add 1-2 tablespoons alcohol, such as vodka or rum.  Alcohol raises the freezing temperature.

Malissa’s Meal Plan – September 22nd

September 22, 2009 by

 Guest Post: Here’s another week of my meal planning. Perhaps one of these weeks I’ll get my act together and have this done on Sunday night. Your week starts on Monday…mine starts on Tuesday. Tomato tomahto, right? 🙂

Tuesday – Chili and Cornbread

Wednesday – Sautéed Shrimp with Warm Tropical Fruit Salsa – You’ll probably see this on my menu plan frequently. This is a family favorite as it has lots of our favorite foods: my kids love mango and shrimp, my husband is a big fan of anything with coconut, and my love of mango is only surpassed by Rainier cherries!

Thursday – Herb and Chili Flake Buttered Chicken – Yes, this is on the menu again. It’s always a big hit and I found a good deal on whole chickens while at the grocery store.

Friday – Tacos – We’re having a big playgroup at our house, so I’ll have this on hand for lunch. I’m hoping there will be enough left for dinner.

Saturday – Dairy Free Biscuits and Gravy – It’s the ever popular breakfast for dinner! This recipe is from our latest episode. I seem to be using a lot of Kim’s great recipes this week. Do you think that means she’ll come cook them too?

Sunday – Cheeseburgers, strawberry smoothies, and Sweet Potato Fries