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The Old Hen B&B closed May 31, 2014. We recommend The Roaring River B&B 425.888.4834 and The Log Cabin B&B 425.533.8278 for your North Bend get-away. Please stay tuned for Deanna's cookbook plans. Here's to starting from scratch. Talking about The Old Hen online? Our hashtag is #theoldhen .

Homemade Gnocchi Recipe

How does one deal with nervously wondering how one will come across on national television? How does one deal with helping one’s dotter move out on the same weekend? Um. Well. One doesn’t. One organizes closets. One is extra chatty with guests. One makes comfort food.

I feel better about the whole thing since my inner feelings while taping the show didn’t show themselves on air. There was that one exception, however, of my double chins. I can’t decide which one of them I love best.

Dotter? Well, she is doing well too. She loves her new place and is very grown up but misses me already which makes me feel warm and cozy inside. She also only has one chin so I must have done something right.


  • 2.5 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Peel potatoes well. Cut into about 2 inch pieces. Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot of salted water. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about half an hour or until a fork poked into potatoes slides out very easily. Drain potatoes.

Put warm potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill. Add flour, salt & white pepper into potatoes. Work together until becomes a nice dough.

Place a little flour on countertop and, taking small amounts of dough at a time, roll to form a long strip of pasta dough. Continue until finished. Cut rolled dough into 1 inch pieces.

If desired, roll each gnocchi over a cheese grater or fork for added beauty.

Put a fresh pot of salted hot water on to boil. Then add the gnocchi a few at a time so they don’t stick together while cooking. Allow to cook until all raise to the top of the hot water. This doesn’t take long. Drain gnocchi.

Place on a serving platter or bowl. If you like, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. There are many ways to enjoy gnocchi as there are exercises to work it off. You can go simple with fresh sage and butter or red sauce has a delightful freshness that counters the heaviness of the gnocchi well.

Dotter sent a picture of kitty this morning who is not coping with the move nearly as well. Kitty is burrowed under a bed comforter in a little ball. I can relate, kitty. And after some comforting gnocchi, my chins and I will probably do the same.

This recipe makes about six servings.

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Mushroom Risotto Recipe

She is not always familiar, for she is foreign. She is not rice, for she is frumpy. She is not pasta, for she is temperamental.


  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced or diced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons beef Better than Bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for top if desired for garnish)
  • One small handful fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

To prepare for all that is holy and lovely, pull all ingredients together ahead of time. Cut onion and mushroom and heat olive oil on medium-high in a somewhat deep frying pan.

Saute mushrooms until softened and a beautiful brown. Using a straining utensil, remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

While cooking the mushrooms in the frying pan, heat the chicken broth in a separate saucepan until warm in a saucepan. Keep warm (but don’t allow it to reduce).

Place chopped onions into oil. Cook until translucent and caramelized. Add minced garlic. Then add Arborio rice and stir until rice is translucent around the edges yet white in the center.

Finally, the finicky side of risotto… the babysitting.

Pour white wine into risotto. Stir and cook on medium heat until wine is nearly all absorbed by the rice.

Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of broth and stir and cook until broth is nearly all absorbed.

Continue to cook and add broth in this same fashion until broth is gone but, more importantly, until risotto is al dente (not mushy and not crunchy). The dish should be a little creamy. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons beef Better than Bouillon to your liking.

Stir in cooked mushrooms, butter, parmesan cheese and chives. Add salt & pepper last since you can’t be sure how much salt you will need until after the parmesan has been added.  If desired, sprinkled freshly grated parmesan over the top and perhaps some freshly chopped chives.

Serve hot and serve often for she is warm and gorgeous and comforting. For she is risotto.

To make this into a main dish, you can stir in pieces of  cooked chicken. 

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Chicken Marsala Recipe

Perhaps this should be called Indulgent Chicken Marsala Recipe. But I can’t help it. I love a breaded piece of chicken. And I love a gravy sauce. One would probably never guess I was born as far away as one can get from the south while still in America. Well, there was that one thing – the fact that I spelled y’all as ya’ll for forty years might have been a clue.


  • 6-8 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (divided)
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced or sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine (can use sweet Marsala wine if preferred)
  • 3 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
  • Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Leaves from 6 fresh oregano stalks, chopped

First, pound chicken breasts until about even all the way across.

For breaded chicken, just use 1 cup or so to coat each piece in flour. This is entirely optional, you know, for those who do not have a southern girl on the inside.

Heat pan with oil to medium-high heat. When hot, fry chicken until 165 degrees inside the middle.

Set chicken aside.

Fry mushrooms in same pan. Set aside as well on a separate plate after cooked.

Make sure pan has about 4 tablespoons of oil in it. If not, just add some and wait until hot again. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour into pan and whisk immediately. Cook a few minutes or until somewhat brown. Pour in chicken broth and continue to whisk. Sauce will thicken.

Again, thickening the gravy is optional. You can also just let it cook down for a while until it reduces to a lovely sauce.

Pour in Marsala wine.

Continue to whisk.  The whisking exercise makes the breading and the gravy okay.

Gravy will turn a beautiful brown color. Add chicken base, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until chicken base melts into gravy. Stir in lemon juice, butter and then mushrooms.

And fresh oregano.

Pour gravy over chicken and serve.

Though she is stunning served on her own, she also pairs will with pasta or a fresh green salad. She is chicken Marsala. She is indulgent. I’d imagine she originated in the southern part of Italy.


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Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

9553edda49167640d33ffa27976bb2d9There are some recipes that we probably shouldn’t know how to make from scratch, like alfredo sauce. Alas, it is my joy to bring them to you even so.  You know, for special occasions.

I begged a restaurant waitress to ask the chef for this recipe and, somehow, I walked out with a list of ingredients and free access to make this buttery, cheesy calorie-loaded dish at home as soon… as soon as I figured out the chef’s technique and quantities.

Oh dear. Oh me. Oh my. Help me.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)

Melt butter in medium-large sauce pan on low heat. After it is melted, sprinkle in flour & whisk. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat while continuing to whisk.

Measure other ingredients so they are ready to go when the time is right. Blend milk, cream and cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth in blender.

Pour milk, cream & cream cheese mixture into pan while still whisking. Sauce will thicken within a few minutes of cooking.

Stir cheese & seasonings into sauce and allow to melt while whisking. Add white wine (optional).

Following instructions on package, cook fettuccine (or your favorite kind of pasta).

Drain pasta when cooked and toss with some olive oil and perhaps chopped parsley.

Place sauce over pasta and perhaps some grilled chicken breast and top with whatever you like such as sliced green onions, diced tomatoes or parsley  for a little dazzle of color.

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Garlic Bread Recipe


It’s a snow day here in the Seattle area.

I’m thinking about hopping onto a sled later. Or maybe I’ll just blog. Or maybe I’ll open the B&B for snacks & coffee to the people waiting on the side of the freeway for Snoqualmie Pass to open. Or maybe I’ll just blog. Yeah, I’ll blog.

Spaghetti Sauce:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 – 1 lb 12 oz. can Italian recipe crushed tomatoes
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 3-4 stalks fresh basil
  • 3-4 stalks fresh oregano
  • 1 – 187 ml or 6-7 ounces chardonnay or chicken broth (add more if sauce is too thick for your liking)
  • 1 can olives and olive juice, sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: sliced mushrooms

To make the sauce, place Italian pork and ground turkey in pan to cook. Salt & pepper meat.

Chop herbs, mince garlic and dice onions while meat is cooking.

When meat is almost done cooking, add a few tablespoons of olive oil if needed. Then add diced onion. If using ground beef instead of turkey, drain meat.

After onions are golden and almost translucent, add garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, chardonnay, and salt & pepper to taste. Add drained & chopped or sliced olives with juice and, if desired, add mushrooms.

The Noodles:

Follow time instructions on package to cook noodles and remember not to add the pasta until your water is boiling. Keep things interesting by using different kinds of noodles when you make spaghetti. Penne, linguine or Cellentani are all fun options. If you decide to mix them, be sure to pay close attention to the cooking times. Add longest cooking first then add the noodles with the lesser cooking time as you count down. After draining the water off the pasta, stir in a bit of olive oil for added flavor and to prevent your noodles from sticking together.

Garlic Bread:

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for frying onions)
  • 1/4 medium diced yellow onion, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh basil

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a small pan. Add diced onions and fry until golden brown. Remove from heat and cool onions.

Place butter and remaining ingredients in bowl.

Blend ingredients together until well combined.

Cut bread in half lengthwise.

Spread butter liberally onto bread.

Place in oven and keep oven door a wee bit open so you can keep an eye on your bread.

Remove from oven when golden brown and top is slightly crispy. Cut into slices for all to enjoy… except for the poor people sitting on the side of the freeway. In their cars. In the snow. I am a terrible person.

A terrible person who reeks of garlic and is enjoying her fireplace all to herself. Just for now.

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Fresh and Zesty Guacamole Recipe

If eating a rainbow of colors is a healthy way to fill your plate, then homemade pico de gallo salsa and guacamole are two foods we should eat every day. I could do that. If I must. Let’s make some guacamole that will knock your socks off, flop you on the couch and make you endure an episode of Dancing with the Stars. If you must.



  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 3 avocados, smashed as much as you like
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, stem & seeds (optional) removed  & finely chopped (wash hands well after chopping)
  • Juice of one small, fresh lime
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Sea salt & pepper


Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more if needed to bring out the other flavors),  cumin and pepper.

Tip: If you want to make this recipe even easier, just make a double batch of pico de gallo and stir half of it into your avocado. Add salt & pepper & stir.

Please pass the chips. And the remote.

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Pico de Gallo Salsa Recipe


If you love freshly grilled Mexican food, you’ve surely enjoyed pico de gallo on your favorite dish. While many focus on trying to get the grilled chicken or beef recipe down to a science, it is actually the pico de gallo that brings the fresh & sassy flavor to the fiesta. This can be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated so that the flavors have time to fully blend together.

Fresh tomatoes from the garden are the very, very best. There is no comparison.

“Cilantro, my favorite herb of all. I love you.”

English or garden cucumbers… either will work perfectly.

Add a few tears.

Add some garlic, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Soak in the beautiful colors for a moment and then stir.

Pico de gallo

  • 8 Roma tomatoes (other varieties of tomatoes will work just fine)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt & pepper
  • Half (or whole) Jalapeno pepper, seeds removed & finely diced (wash hands well after cutting pepper)

Using a sharp knife, dice tomatoes, onion and cucumber into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. Remove leaves from cilantro stalks and chop until small and add to bowl. Remove garlic cloves from garlic bulb. Peel and then use grater to grate into bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice into bowl. Stir ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Chopped Pizza Salad Recipe

What could be a healthier way to eat a family favorite like pizza than out of a salad bowl? I can’t make any promises that it will become a replacement but I can tell you that we’ve been eating a whole lot more salad at our house since we created this recipe!


You can vary the ingredients a lot to your liking but here are the measurements we use for our pizza salad.

Take 8-10 mini tomatoes and cut each tomato in half… and again… and again until you have 8 pieces. Placed chopped tomatoes in a bowl.

You will need just a little bit of chopped onion (maybe one slice). They can be strong, so it depends on what your family likes or on how much onion breath you want to deal with in your home.

The tinier you chop the onion, the better. Toss the chopped onion into the bowl with the tomatoes.

Oh fresh herbs how I love thee. If I could just remember that I have thee growing in a planter at my house, I would stop paying so much for thee at the grocery store and love thee even more.

We are creating a tomato marinade so we’ll need some fresh basil and oregano to get that pizza sauce flavor into our salad.

Remove the herbs from their stems and chop…

into teeny tiny pieces and add to the bowl with tomatoes and onions.

Add about a tablespoon & 1/2 of olive oil.

Stir ingredients and set aside to marinade while you make the rest of the salad.

Choose a big, beautiful head of romaine lettuce. Slice into strips then cut in the other direction so that you end up with little squares.

Now for our chopped pizza salad “toppings”! Cut a big handful of pepperonis into quarters.

Toss into salad bowl.

Cut 5-6 pieces of Canadian bacon into small squares and add to salad bowl.

Add one (drained) can of sliced olives to salad.

Oh olives, how I love thee. Alas! Why cannot I grow thee in my mushy Washington soil?

Who could forget the cheese? Toss in a large handful of grated mozzarella!

Oh mozzarella, I do love thee… but forget it, I shall never own a cow. Three sheep, four goats, eleven chickens a cat, a hamster and a dog are enough to throw a girl over the edge.

Finally, add about 1 cup of your favorite ranch dressing to your salad.

Lastly, add the marinated tomatoes, a bit of salt and pepper then stir the chopped salad well.

Più delizioso! I hope you and your family enjoy this new twist on an old favorite! I do believe that Jamie Oliver would be proud that I know my veggies!

Health Tip: Try one new fruit or veggie with your family each week. Write the name down, buy it, Google it to educate yourself on how you can best put it into a meal or snack and keep a record of your favorites so you can enjoy them again & again!

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Homemade Baked Chimichangas Recipe

Many years ago I worked for a bank. I did not fit in. Every night when the tellers went to their adding machines, my skin would crawl as they clicked away. I was not a good balancer. I am detailed about artsy farts-y things and relationships but not so much in others. Lord knows I tried but I just had too good of a time with my customers & made mistakes because of it.


Me in my “big bang” theory days. After trying my hand at being a teller, I moved on and up to a corporate branch  where I would send 60 million dollar wires for large companies to the wrong country… but I had fun.

One time I was invited to have lunch with my amazing manager and the company’s vice president. My manager always saw something special in me and favored my personality while I drove our operations manager crazy with my balancing, or I should say, lack of. Anyhow, the lunch our bank’s chef made was delicious and very memorable. I happen to have the recipe & thought I’d share it with you. I did change it up just a little. Good things do come out of those who couldn’t balance a days work if their life depended on it!

Brown a pound of ground beef.

Add a little chopped onion.

After meat is finished cooking, drain a bit & add in 1/2 can of enchilada sauce and one small can of mild green chilis. You can find both in the Mexican food section of your grocery store. You can also add a little bit (tablespoon or so) of taco or salsa seasoning for added flavor.

Mmmm…. saucy!

While meat is swimming in its flavors, butter both sides of 6 large burrito sized flour tortillas.

Place a large spoonful of meat on tortilla.

Top with cheese – but, of course!

Fold right & left sides inward, then fold top downward and then fold bottom upward.

Finish off by flipping chimi over & placing on a baking sheet.

While they bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown & deliciously crispy, you can prepare the trimmings that you enjoy!

Here’s to all of those who have the gift of balancing their checkbook to the penny. We should do dinner. I’ll cook and you can balance my checkbook…

This recipe was ridiculously good and easy. My only regret is waiting 20 years to make chimis!

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Julia Child’s Flaming Crepes Suzette (Crepes with Orange Butter, Flambees)


Although tempting to sell my own copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” along with some of the hair I pulled out while cooking from it, I held onto it because I have learned so much from Julia. One of the recipes that has been calling my name… maybe not my name but rather Suzette’s name is Crepe’s Suzette. Why has it been calling? Well, for the flames, of course. I freak out about heights, closed in spaces, being misunderstood and fire so this was a challenge for me.

First we make Crepes Fines Sucrees

Place ingredients in the blender in the order in which they are listed.

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup water

3 egg yolks

1 Tbs. granulated sugar

3 Tbs. orange liquer, rum or brandy – I used Grand Marnier – Lapostolle triple orange liqeur from the adorable mini bottle but it wasn’t enough so you’ll want to be sure you buy enough for your crepes. Don’t be deceived by the super cuteness of the minis!

1 cup of flour

5 Tbs. melted butter

It will look something like this when you are done placing the ingredients in the blender. How cool looking are those layers?? Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend 3 seconds more.

After blended, your crepe batter should look like this. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Orange Butter

In a food processor, place 1/2 cup sugar in the container along with the orange part of the peel.

I stood there and stared at my orange.What did Julia mean this time? She didn’t mention a zester so I was lost.

Aha! I realized this is why she had the veggie peeler listed as a tool. I was to use it to take the zest off of the orange. Give me a “D”. Give me an “E”. Give me an “A”… Yay, Deanna!

Wondering why one spot is still on the orange? It had a little bad spot so I didn’t want to place it in the recipe. You know what that looks like?

I know, right?! Totally looks like lips! Now my orange was staring back at me. I think I’ll name her Suzette.

Place orange peels into the processor with the sugar and process for a minute or until finely blended.


Add two sticks (1/2 pound) of butter cut into small pieces. Process until smooth and almost fluffy.

Add 1/2 cup of the orange juice…

and 3 Tbs. orange liqeur – Are you kiddin’ me? I paid $4 for this little bottle and I ran out after 4 1/2 tablespoons??  I had to use some leftover triple sec from another Julia recipe.

Okay, here she says to add more orange juice – as much as the butter can take and still remain creamy. I added just a touch more o.j. and it started to look like this… not so creamy now if you ask me. How exactly, Julia, are we supposed to predict when the butter has reached it’s creaminess limit? It’s not like I can draw lips on it & have it tell me when it’s reached it’s limit. Set butter aside or save in refrigerator if you are waiting until later to make the crepes.

It was at this point that I followed the instructions right into something that looked vaguely familiar… ah yes… that’s why it’ s familiar. I JUST made this five minutes ago in a food processor! Thank you, Julia, for the extremely difficult back up instructions in case your readers are using an electric mixer INSTEAD of a processor. I know this blog post is getting wordy but believe me, there are a few choice words that I am not using here so I have saved you some reading… and corruption.

The Big Finish

Remove crepe batter from the fridge.

Cook crepes and set aside. The good news is that by the time I finished the orange butter and the unnecessary orange butter, the crepes had been in the fridge long enough for me to cook them.

Place the orange butter in the chafing dish and heat until it is bubbling.

Dip both sides of crepe in butter.

Fold in half and in half again and place on edge of chafing dish. Rapidly continue with rest of the crepes until all have been dipped, folded and arranged. Sprinkle the crepes with sugar.

Pour over them the orange liqeur and cognac. Avert your face and ignite the liqeur with a lighted match. Shake the chafing dish gently back and forth while spooning the flaming liqeur over the crepes until the fire dies down.

… until the fire dies down.

… until the fire dies down.

… until the fire dies down.

… until the excitement dies down.

…until the depression settles in over the fact that you pretty much have the same crepe that you had pre-fire show and you are left with the second realization that the freakin’ $40 cookbook that you loathe would only sell for 99 cents on ebay with all the butter and orange liqeurs that you’ve spilled on it.

My review of Crepes Suzette? Well, they’re tasty but need some chocolate sauce on them. I suppose that defeats the recipe a bit. I’ve had better luck with Julia’s savory dishes than her desserts. My family has been begging for the Boeuf Bourguignon again so maybe it’s time to take a time-out from French sweets and oranges with lips.

Julie and Julia movie DVD give-away!

Tomorrow, January 2nd, we’ll be celebrating 20,000 hits on our blog! Yay! This calls for a comment contest give-away!

Enter to win a copy of Julie and Julia on DVD.

  • Just leave a comment on this post with your creative alternate use my big hardback copy of my Julia Child’s cookbook!
  • If you win, I will be sending you Julia and Julia on DVD.
  • Leave your comment with a way for me to contact you if you win (either a blog link or email).
  • Deadline to enter is by January 5, 2010 (recorded by the time stamp of your comment).
  • The winner will be announced sometime on January 6th on this post.

* One winner will be chosen using the Random.org integer generator.

Until next time, XOXOXO from Suzette and I !

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