The best lunch with my best!

2 May

Our city of Portland!So its not often that I don’t blog about food and dogs, but if includes my pups, my BFF and food, I make an exception.  It was just one of those days perfect weather, happy days in Portland.  Everyone around you is out and about, happily catching winter sun.

So my girlfriend Kate and I have been friends since the fifth grade.  We both went to school in Portland and met as pen pals.  While we were in fifth grade we wrote about hamsters, guinea pigs and school.  After a year of writing we finally met towards the end of the year when our class went to our pen pal’s school Laurelhurst Elementary to meet.  Kate has always been into sports and really good at them.  So now that I know he,r Im surprised that I kept my head after playing tether and kickball on the first day we met:)  Unlike some of my other classmates and their pals, we got along great.

After we had graduated from the fifth grade Kate and I never expected to really stay in contact.  So it was a great suprise to see her on my first day of 6th grade!  It was really awsome because the middle school that we had applied to had under 150 kids and it was it first year in action.  Our school called the “Environmental Middle School” was the first of its kind in the nation, since the days of living off the land and community schools are now almost extint.  At this school our friendship blossomed as we pulled ivy from native plants, hiked weekly and made community meals.  We loved calling our hippy teachers by their first names and taking the bus downtown to feed the homeless at The Blanchet House.

Over the years we have had so much fun together and unlike most friends, we have never had a huge blowout fight.  Our friendship is way to laid back for that.  Besides our common intrestes in art, nature and food, the one thing that keeps ourfriendship strong, is that we dont judge each other and dont set high expectations that might be broken.  It’s as simple as that.

So here we both are at 26 years old wondering what our next adventure will be…

In the meantime, we enjoyed our fish tacos and margaritas at “Por Que No” on Mississippi in Portland.  Yum:)

Fresh coconut mango margarita

Peanut Curried Sweet Potato Soup

29 Mar

I am and have always been a super huge fan of sweet potatoes, thanks to my mothers well-known sweet potato pie recipe:)  Pie is always good, but a change in flavor with my favorite vegetable is welcome too:)  Often I bake-off a couple of sweet potatoes and top them with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  This time I had two HUGE potatoes and since I could only eat one, I decided to make a soup out of the other.  This soup recipe has wonderful flavors and a subtle sweet taste from the baked sweet potato’s natural sugars.  Serve this with some yummy rustic bread and enjoy:)

Ingredients:
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter or margarine, divided
1 large finely chopped yellow onion
2 cups fat-free (skim) milk, divided
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper *optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground red pepper (optional)
Directions:
Wrap your sweet potato in foil and bake in oven for about 40 minutes on 400 degrees.  You can boil the potatoes as too, but the soup wont taste as sweet or earthy as baking them.
Meanwhile, heat medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Coat with nonstick cooking spray; add 1 teaspoon butter and tilt skillet to coat bottom. Add onions; cook 8 minutes or until tender and golden.
Chop up potatoes(Tip: you can save some chopped up potatoes to add texture at the end) ; place in blender with onions, 1 cup milk, curry powder, peanut butter salt and  peppers. Blend until completely smooth. Return potato mixture to saucepan and stir in remaining 1 cup milk. Cook 5 minutes over medium-high heat or until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter(and remaining potatoes if this option was chosen).  Garnish with Peanuts.
Add ins:
The next day after making this soup I decided to add in a protein to make to make the soup heartier.  I pulled a handful of frozen shrimp out of my freezer and sautéd them with some butter and lots o’ pepper.  This made the meal so wonderful and tasty:)  You could also add in chicken to get the same effect.

Mac n Cheese Stuffed Jalepenos

22 Mar

Ingredients

  • 16 jalapeno peppers
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pounds ditalini pasta or other small pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers
  • 1 package cream cheese
Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.

Working lengthwise, slice off the top quarter of each jalapeño. Using a small spoon, scrape the seeds and ribs out of each jalapeño. Finely chop the tops.

Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil. When the water reaches a bubble, salt it well and drop in the pasta. Cook to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, place a medium pot over medium heat with the butter. Add the chopped pepper tops to the butter and soften, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the peppers and cook for 1 minute more. Whisk the chicken stock and milk into the mixture and bring up to a bubble. Stir in the mustard, season the sauce with salt and pepper and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in 1 cup of the cheese until melted. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.

On a baking sheet, put 1tsp cream cheese in peppers, and next mound up spoonfuls of the mac ‘n cheese in the peppers. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs on top and bake until the tops are golden brown and peppers are tender, about 15 minutes.

Spicy Pickled Veggies

3 Mar

So I was at my my boyfriend’s family house for a sports get together.  While we were over there his 13 year old nephew kept getting yelled at for eating all of the yummy cauliflower out of the pickle dish.  So what did I do?  I went home and made a ton of cauliflower only jars for him:)  Problem solved!

Ingredients

2 tight, unblemished cauliflower heads

carrots

cucumbers

Coarse sea salt

1 litre white wine vinegar

5 pieces mace blades

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon mustard seeds6 black peppercorn

4 small sun-dried red chillies or chili flakes

3 bay leaves

canning salt (for brine)

*dill (optional, I like a tiny pinch in each jar)

*Sugar (optional, but sweet and spicy is good too. 1 tablespoon in each)

Method

  1. Cut away the green leaves from the cauliflowers. Divide each head into small florets by breaking rather than cutting them apart. Weigh them.  Cut the rest of your veggies to your preference. For every 450g, you will need to dissolve 55g canning salt in 600ml water. Wash the florets, shake dry and soak overnight in the brine.
  2. The next day, Slowly bring the vinegar to boil, then cover. Drain the florets and rinse very thoroughly in plenty of cold water. Leave to drip dry in a colander, then tightly pack in 3 sterilized 500g canning jars. Leave 2.5cm free at the top as it is vital that the florets are completely covered by the vinegar. Divide the spices and bay leaves equally between the jars.  Add your hot vinegar to jars. Make sure that the vinegar covers the vegetables by at least 1cm, as it will evaporate gradually. Do not let it come into contact with the lid. If you are using screw-top jars, only use those with plastic coated lids, metal tops can corrode.
  3. These need to be put in a cool dark place for a minimum of 1 month for the yummy flavors to come.  I like to store mine in the back of my fridge, and have been known to enjoy these after 2 weeks though:)

Apple Skillet Cake

3 Mar

Yummy apple goodness

This is one of my favorite recipes ever!  Why?  Well…I kind of have a confession to make.  I am in love with German Pancakes and Apple Crisp!  I have so much love for these two recipes that I make each of them a minimum of twice per week!  A lot of times when I come home I just want something that I know will hold me off until dinner.  We eat late.   Thank goodness I have a high metabolism and stay active:)

When I discovered this recipe in my Sunset Magazine, I immediately went to my kitchen and made the damn thing.  It was like heaven.  A giant German pancake with apples and brown sugar:)   Are you serious?  It’s so simple and yummy that I am glad I didn’t discover it before I found out about Microwave Apple Crisp (coming soon).

Ingredients

  • 3tbsp butter
  • ¼ cp packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sweet apple
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cp flour and milk each
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice and powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat Oven 425

Melt butter in cast iron fry pan or oven proof dish or skillet,

add cinnamon and sugar and swirl,

add apple and cook until just starting to soften about 3 minutes

Whisk together eggs, salt, flour and milk for 2 minutes.

Pour egg mixture into pan and bake until puffed and brown- about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Makes 6 delicious servings for breakfast, brunch or dessert!

Garlicky Baked Parmesan Fries

28 Feb

The best fries ever!

The best fries ever!!! And how did I come upon this great potato recipe?  I saw a version of these fries on a few different blogs, spun a few different ways.  One lazy and hungry night I wanted corn dogs with fries.  I  had the dogs but not my favorite bag o’ freezer fries.  On this night, I decide that I was no longer going to let the lack of a freezer food to prevent me from catering to my craving.  So what did I do?

I made the damn fries!!

And I have never bought another bag of frozen fries since:)

The recipe for Garlicky Baked Parmesan Fries

Ingredients

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (The drier the better crunch)

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Cut your potatoes into wedges and put them in a microwave safe dish with cover and vent or steam bag for about 4 minutes.  Next I mix my garlic and oil together and microwave for about 1 minute to infuse the garlic a bit.  Take 3 tablespoons of your garlic oil(no garlic bits, they burn) and spread it on the bottom of your baking sheet.  Next toss your garlic oil with your potatoes.  Now toss the rest of your dry ingredients with your wedges and lay out on baking sheet. Pop these bad boys in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping the wedges over at 10 minutes. Take them out and let the cool for about 5 minutes if can, before devouring the best fries you have ever had:)

*If your sheet does not have sides reduce the amount of oil by 2 1/2 tablespoons or else the oil will drip onto the burners and smoke your place up!

Bread machine Challah

25 Feb

Sweet Challah

Mmmm…Carbs:)  There is nothing in this world that could take carbs away from me.  Especially with the help of bread machines.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful teacher that picked me and a few other students to carpool.  The best thing about our rides is that they consisted of day old and sometimes fresh goodies from her husbands bakery called Gabriel’s Bakery. This is a very popular Portland bakery that can be found at our famous farmers market downtown.  Their scones and breads have wonderful earthy flavors that scream Portland.  My favorite bread of theirs is the light and sweet tasting challah:)

One night while I was drooling over the thought of french toast and challah, I came up with a solution to the puddle on my shirt.  I was going to make a challah loaf in my bread machine that night and make some french toast for breakfeast.

But there was one problem…

The bread was so yummy when I sliced a thick piece off and slabbed it with butter, that my boyfriend and I ate 75% of the loaf that night!!  So no french toast for us:)

Bread Machine Challah

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Directions

  1. Add ingredients to the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
  2. Select Basic Bread and Light Crust settings. Start.