Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perfect Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

I cannot describe what split pea soup does for my soul. Everyone has "that soup" that brings them back, in such a good way- like Christmas morning for your tongue. So festive, so warm, so anticipated. Why had I never made it from scratch?

Probably fear. Fear that mine would not live up to the expectation placed on it. It's just one of those things I always ordered out, requested when home visiting- that kind of a thing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Apple Almond Cake

One might think there is no need for "reason" to bake a good cake.  I tend to agree.  But I usually come up with something to celebrate.  After all, if there's going to be cake, there might as well be something to honor, toast or remember.

I had just been to the apple festival in Portland and came home with these lovely Mutsu apples.  They are a cross between Golden Delicious and Japanese Indo.  They have almost a spicy sweetness to them.  Kind of like a good chai tea- sweet, but with spice.  Perfect for baking.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage and Fennel Slaw

"Just think 'fish tacos.' "  The man pouring at Cor Winery had me had hello.  The estate was unassuming, but I had a feeling we had stumbled upon a gem when we walked in the door.  ALL of their wine was fabulous, but their white blend began our afternoon love affair with their complex and sophisticated wine.

So we came home with the Pinot Gris/Gewurztraminer (there's a good word for "words with friends"- scrabble anyone?) blend with 'fish tacos' on the brain. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bogle's Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger and Curry

You know those emails you get from your relative that say "thought you'd enjoy, love so-and-so?"  Well I'm not usually one to read those unless they are wine or food related.  I know you are all shocked.

A few years ago we discovered our favorite "cheap chardonnay."  The Bogle 2008 Chardonnay.  Read more about it here, where I high lighted it along with Potato Cheese Soup from my childhood.  When my mother sent me Bogle's monthly email new letter I scanned through it only to find a delightful recipe at the bottom that tickled my taste buds.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, Leeks and Thyme

Every now and then I have a "new kitchen experience."  I could just keep them to myself, but as you all know, I'm not really a private person.  I live life out loud and if you ask me how I'm doing "fine" is never the answer.  So in my successes and my failures, in triumph and tragedy, I write and share.

We had friends coming over just for the day.  I decided to get up early before church and whip up some home-made comfy-cozy mac and cheese.  But maybe a little dressed up?  Found this great site for mac and cheese.  Some great ideas.

Speaking of dressed... I was in my robe, with my life line coffee mug in hand, hair pulled back into a "get to work" up-do.  It was time to cook.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

BEST chocolate cake + BEST butter cream frosting (only the BEST for Aunt Robin)

I'll try keep this short and SWEET.  A dear baking friend in California never ceases to amaze me with her cakes and baking goodies.  This chocolate cake recipe is without fail a show stopper.  It's perfect in richness, chocolatiness (Webster's should add that one), moistness and air.  When Elisabeth finally gave me the recipe she shrugged and handed me this box:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Troon Vineyard, Carton OR

Excuse the lip marks all over my glass.  This wine was the kiss of Carlton.
Troon was the last stop on our Carton Sunday afternoon wine adventure.  Gold mine.  We could have gone there and just there.  OK, twist my arm... The Horse Radish was pretty spectacular.

There was a smooth vibe the moment you walked through the door.  Like a perfect Pandora station- mixing sophistication with cool and classic.  You were greeted but not bombarded.  It was the intrigue that drew us in, not obligation.  Then we saw him... Nigel.  King of Troon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dining Out: The Horse Radish, Carton, OR

While we were a bit anti-Pinot upon first moving to Oregon, we are still discovering little wine towns that exceed our expectations.  We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in Carlton, OR in early September.  Great Pinot Noirs as well as varietals from Southern Oregon that were the topic of conversation all day.  The heat was still present, but the first apples were starting to fall from the trees.

After a few wine tastings we wondered into The Horse Radish (mostly because of it's great name).  A cute little wine and cheese bar turned restaurant.  Most of their offerings came locally from Northwest growers and dairy farms.  What a perfect little hide-away of a deli.  The out-door seating sealed the deal.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quinoa Bean and Veg Salad

Since when does healthy taste so good?!  ALL THE TIME!  You just don't know it till you try it.

This salad looked SO GOOD on The Church Cook that I new I would just have to try it.  The colors looked beautiful.  Kay used red quinoa, and i was in a pinch to cook and run so I used the original white kind.

I don't talk about nutrition a ton on here, but every now that then there's a horn to toot.  Quinoa has been known as a superfood (meaning huge bang for your buck: lots of pros, no cons) for centuries.  Originally and still mainly cultivated in the Andes, the Incans depended on quinoa daily calling it "the mother of all grains."  Technically it's not a grain, it's a seed.  It carries great vitamin power too: magnesium, folate, iron, copper, and phosphorus.  It's gluten free, it has a low glycemic index, it's packed with protein and fiber.  People!  Must I go on?  This stuff is a gift from God!  And so versatile too.  So here's my take on The Church Cook's Quinoa and Black Bean Salad.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Marchesi Vineyards and Winery, Hood River, OR

We stumbled on this little gem about a year ago.  Franco, Italian wine maker with an authentic accent, greeted us with a sampling of salami and bread and poured us our first wine.  We were about to enter little Italy at Marchesi Vineyard and Winery.

When asking of his story of wine making, he encouraged us to take a seat as he poured more wine and began to tell of his childhood in Piedmont and his wine-making grandfather Achille.  Hood River was an easy choice for Franco because of the similarities in soil and climate compared to Northern Italy; it's even a similar latitude actually.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Potato Basil Puree

One small problem.  They were too good.  No one warned me "not to cut the recipe in half."  And there I went trying to whip up a lighter dinner, and Chris looked up from licking his plate with the "what? no left overs?" look on his face.

Insert lesson here: there's never any need to cut Ina Garten's recipes in half... it will be eaten, or you will be glad to have lunch for tomorrow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dining Out: Double Mountain Brewery, Hood River, OR

Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom on Urbanspoon

Sausage Onion and Mushroom Pizza
Restaurants and movies hold similar policies for me.  I rarely watch the same movie twice... unless 1)  friends really want to watch again, or 2) it was just so great, I end up watching it again and again, quoting its lines each time.

There are so many restaurants out there, and I rarely commit to one.  There's always somewhere new to try!  But every now and again, you find one that beckons you back and there's only one reasonable thing to do.  OBEY.

Double Mountain Brewery was one the first recommendations we got when we moved to Portland.  Then we learned it was an hour away.  Why not make a day out of it?  We didn't know any different.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grandma's Rhubarb Pie with Grand-daughter's Strawberry Addition

Two words: Mysteriously Mouthwatering.

Chris' dad Larry came to visit in Aug.  I wanted to make something home made and comforting for dessert.

I had starred Mom's email that came through months ago with the subject line: Grandma's Rhubarb Pie.  The time had come.

Chris said he had never had Rhubarb.  He probably did at some point at his own Grandma's, but doesn't remember it, probably passing it up for Oreos or some other kid preferred dessert.  But it was time for his adult palate to explore this tart mystery stalk.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fruit Slaw with Jicama, Apple and Carrot

Never really been one for "slaw on the side."  But Fruit Slaw is something I can work with... and have seconds.

It's a little tedious with the chopping and julienning of the ingredients, but it's a real cloud pleaser for adults and kids.  Healthy too!

I was inspired by Bon Appetit's "Stone Fruit Slaw" but seeing it was late summer, I found the stone fruit to be a little more ripe.  I wanted that crisp bite to accompany my dinner.  If you decide to experiment with stone fruit (i.e. nectarine, plum, peach) make sure they are a little under ripe and firm.  This makes for better slaw.  No body likes mushy slaw.  Might as well do a smoothie.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chimichurri Steak (from Bon Appetit)

I love Bon Appetit Magazine.  Inspiring and approachable recipes.  GREAT food photos.  Clever writing.

The Grilling Issue from July 2011 is all "fooded up" because of how many times I've referenced it in the last few months in the kitchen while cooking.  One of which was the Chimichurri marinade and sauce.  The truth is, I made it three times before I got all the photos.  I kept making it and forgetting to snap the finishing shots.  I would look the other way and poof- GONE?!  It was that fabulous.

The story goes that a meat loving English man came up with this traditional sauce while attempting to bring wonderful Argentinian meats to the UK.  His spice and sauce combinations became famous while in Argentina, and while his name was Jimmy Curry, his landlady couldn't remember his name after his return home.  The Argentinians continued to remember the great sauce man as "Chimichurri".  Oops, oh well.  I guess it's all about the food anyway, right?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pasta with Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

Bell Peppers.  They are just so beautiful.  Peppers are my "go to veggie" (OK, they're technically a fruit) when I need to dress up a salad or throw some color in a dish.  And so many colors to choose from!  I eat them whole, chopped, sears, grilled, you name it.

I came across this recipes online by accident.  I was getting a little bored of tomato sauce (did I just say that out loud?) a few months back and was trying to brainstorm some ideas for my vegetarian friends.  I feel like I'm always making them lasagna and salad.  Veggies can be exciting too you know!  Thanks

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dining Out: Nana's Irish Pub, Newport, OR

Some of you may be planning a day on the coast soon- if you happen to be on the Oregon coast and you happen to be in Newport, you may want to skip (or do a jig) on over to Nana’s Irish Pub.

Entering with great friends is always the way to any great dining experience
We were a “bunch of messers” as they say in Ireland (a.k.a. a rowdy group interfering in the name of good fun) as we all paraded down to Nana’s after watching our East coaster friend Bobby Krier cross the finish line of the Newport Marathon.  It was the most beautiful day of 2011 that Oregon had seen yet.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good Potato Salad (it's all about the salsa!)

My dad would always request mom's "Taaate-a" salad.  He's not from the south or anything, but his father grew up in North "Caroliiiiine-a" so I guess that's where we got it from.  While the recipe is nothing southern, it is the best, HANDS DOWN, potato salad I've ever had to this day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pork Sandwich with Homemade BBQ Sauce

In the mood for a killer sandwich?  Tired of chicken?  PORK... so good.

And who knew BBQ sauce could be so easy?  I literally just pulled these items out of my pantry.

But first, the meat.  I had a 2-3 pound piece of pork shoulder, bone out and bound up.

Thanks to a little help from Tyler Florence's Pulled Pork Recipe (same ingredients, but to my liking), I was off like a chef on espresso, and so excited!  That is...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back In Action: Alaskan Cruise Eating Highlights and Inspiration


Hello out there.  I have been VERY busy with work and summer activities.  To cap it all off Chris and I just returned from a fabulous Alaskan Cruise with our friends and family.  I know, it's our first summer in Portland and where do we choose to go?  But it was a week to remember.  Such beauty, nature and of course good food and drink!

Here's a little taste of our week, and I promise that

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dining Out: Pine State Biscuits, Portland OR

As I'm typing this, a young black lab is staring me down with a soggy tennis ball.  We've been pet-sitting all week off of Belmont for some friends.  Needless to say, food writing and photography has not been the priority.  Dog walks, treats, and puppy kisses have taken precedent.  More tasty recipes coming soon (lots of summer picnic dishes).  Until then, a little dining out in this South East neighborhood.

We first heard about Pine State back in Sacramento while watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pork Gyros with Tangy Greek Yogurt Sauce

This was a delicious hit.  Easy.  Tangy.  Healthy.  Meaty.  Full of veggies.  Thank you Bobby Flay.

I tweaked Flay's recipe a bit: using parsley instead of dill, adding the zest of the cucumber to the sauce and cupped the goodness with whole wheat pita bread.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dining Out: Screen Door, Portland OR

Don't write me off just because I've never lived in the South.  I still know good food.  And Portland's version of Southern flair wowed our socks off.

Can you say Chicken and Waffles?
Screen Door on Urbanspoon

Screen Door always had a line.  We kind of avoided it for a while.  Until we realized every place that serves good breakfast in Portland has a line.

Our fabulous food critics flew in from Cali (Whit and Jeff)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Strawberries-n-Cream Dressed with Citrus

Sometimes a simple dessert is the way to go.  But simple doesn't need to be a bore.  I love when a meal looks simple, but the flavor profile surprises you.

Using citrus not only provides a pop to a dish, but it also helps preserve color and freshness.  Strawberry and orange, albeit both tart and tangy, are great roommates.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Sage

Turkey soup has been up for experiment since last November.  I found my favorite combination.  I knew I wanted to incorporate sage and lemon into the soup to add depth and brightness.  And now here we are in June.  Why in the world post a soup recipe?  La Nina... that's why.

With the weather being an oddity this year, I know Portland is not the only city to be experiencing June gloom, extra rain/snow, and storms.  Even the native Portlanders are losing it.  I have been proudly wearing my Rainbow sandals, grilling fruit and pretending that it's summer.  But let's be honest folks, we've had a few soup days lately.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Roasted Duck with Orange Balsamic Glaze

"Noelle, I've got a proposal.  I'll hunt the bird, you cook it in our kitchen?!" -Keith, best bud from Sacramento and hunter-gatherer.  How can you say no to that?  You don't.

Duck is one of those things I'll order in a restaurant but find intimidating to try on my own.  It's all what you grew up with.  Our Montanan relatives would send us coolers of venison, elk and jerky for Christmas when I was a kid.  I was always a fan of wild game.  But things with feathers carry a different aura about them.  It was time to face it! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lemon Chicken Breasts

Chicken... if it's over done- you get chalk and are looking to the sides to fill your need, if it's under done you're either in the hospital or back to the pan with disappointed eaters waiting patiently.  GET IT RIGHT, no excuses.  Don't put your loved ones through that!

I'm not kidding: Chris seriously grills the BEST chicken ever.  I could possibly live off chicken if it was just Chris, a grill and me on a dessert desert island.  But we're not... and we're all so glad there's more than just chicken out there.  Anyway, Chris had the night off and it's oven time.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dining Out: Food Cart- Lucy's Original, Portland OR


Lucy's Original

There are SO many places to choose from when it comes to dining in Portland.  I've decided that repeated recommendation is the way to go.  The Portland food bloggers LOVE this place.  We're talking multiple times in a weekend- like they couldn't get enough of the best street-food burger they had ever had!  We simply had to check it out for ourselves.

Making a second appearance in Portland Palates as renowned food critics, Whitney (snacker extraordinaire) and Jeffrey (always fueling) joined us on our adventure to Lucy's.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Thyme for Lemon... Bars (and other food concepts)

I've decided that each time I use fresh thyme in a dish, I'm going to thank God for His perfect timing in our lives.  Food really can get me thinking outside my own head.  In other words- not thinking about what I'm paid to think about all day... but other things, maybe even more important things.  It's important to have those outlets I suppose.  Cooking is that for me.

It's like the line in Julie and Julia when Julie comes home after a stressful day at work and finds comfort in mixing eggs, sugar and chocolate- always producing that predictable and delectable chocolate cream pie.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Flank Steak Tacos- Inspired by Claudia

Cinco de Mayo came and went.  But not without good food.

My sister Whitney (banana lover) and Jeff (Mexican food obsessed) came for a long weekend in early May.

Truth be told this was originally one of my earlier meals to post last year when I started this blog adventure.  But... it was one of those meals that was SO good that we completely forgot to take final product pictures. Not once, but TWICE.  I was determined not to miss the boat this time.  I just had to share.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dining Out: Huber's, Portland OR


Huber's: Portland's oldest restaurant.  We're slowly exploring every plate in Portland.  This was Chris' choice for his birthday dinner out with my folks in town.  This is the difference between us- I probably would have chosen something more modern, but it was HIS birthday, and in the end I'm so glad it was.

At the corner of 1st and Alder resides an unassuming "cafe" that's not much of a cafe except for their famous flaming Spanish coffee made table-side creatively different between each waiter.  After venturing down a hall way lined with black and white photos of the early Portland street scenes and year markers such as the Flood of 1948 you'll find a door that transports you back in time.  Huber's is still thriving.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vanilla Yogurt Parfait with Candied Nuts

Yogurt dressed up with vanilla bean and honey.  Homemade candied nuts (finally a success).  Favorite fruit combos.  All in an elegant wine glass.  Does it get any better?

First the nuts.  I have intended to blog about candied nuts sooner, but I sadly had two attempts that were disappointing.  But THIS time, they were perfect.  Thank you Laurie from Simply Scratch.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spinach Party Balls

I'm calling these spinach PARTY balls for a few reasons.   

#1: I got the recipe from a lady who is a party unto herself:  Suzzanne Bonn- a lively wife and mother who loves to cook and will do so for just about anybody.  I'd tell you how many kids she has, but the truth is anyone walking through her door is treated, welcomed and fed like family.  (She's also responsible for the my ATOMIC  salad dressing inspiration).

#2: They are great for hosting a party.  Hot, easy, toothpick using, veggie lover friendly and incredibly addicting.  My "after" photos are lacking a bit of presentation because we were indeed "hosting" about 30 people in our home.  Needless to say I was a little distracted before I realized I never took plating photos!  They were half gone, but at least you get a taste (well, sort of).

#3: They are a PARTY IN YOUR MOUTH.  Lots of favors going on.  And they are packed with spinach!  OK, and some other items, but let's focus on the positive!  

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Savory Beer Stew

Being in Portland, anything with beer goes.  I've been told that Portland began the second revolutionary era for the brew, but I suppose Portland takes credit for a LOT of things.  But beer is one thing they treat with respect around here.  Micro-brews around every corner.  It's right up there with coffee and wine.  It's not just for the college frat parties and Monday night football- it's a respected, complex beverage with character.

I've wanted to try cooking with beer.  Beer bread, fondue, marinades...etc.  But Beer Stew?  Now that's intriguing.  When you cook with beer you really get the hop or malt flavors.  So if you want to barely taste it, cook with something lighter, but if you want them to say "hey- what IS THAT in there?!" go with something a little more robust.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Simple Spring Roasted Veggies

I know I've been a little M.I.A. lately.  I've been crazy busy at work and play.  Many recipes back logging (i.e. more to come soon!), but I wanted to share a simple side dish I made last weekend for friends.  I was sick and had to cancel on a much anticipated potluck dinner, but decided to cook and send my food along anyway.  It was the least I could do.

Spring is here.  Or it keeps trying to make appearances.  When it's not Spring outside, it's Spring in the produce section.  And such lovely veggies there are to choose from!

Ina always says roasting brings out the BEST flavor in vegetables (and fruit) and I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The (Garlic) Lovers Test

Roasted garlic.  It's the ultimate appetizer.

Lucky for me, Chris loves garlic too.  To me, garlic breath just means the end of a fabulous meal.  Anyone who loves garlic needs to try roasting it.  And anyone who loves someone who loves garlic should kiss them after eating it!

Roasting garlic is SO SIMPLE.  I'm going to introduce you to something I discovered on the whim.  A PERFECT COMBO.  Enter hummus stage left.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chewy Low Fat Banana Nut Oatmeal Cookies

Hello muffin.  Meet cookie.  And this is banana.  Instant friendship.  And they're healthy friends too!

I got this recipe from Gina's skinny recipes.  She has a lot of great ideas on how to make some of the classics (and the not so classics) better for you.  And for you Weight-Watcher fans out there, she gives you the specs on the points, calories etc.  See here for those.

But when we're eating cookies, that's not really the point.  No one is going to eat a bad cookie.  But a good cookie, or a great cookie: yes please.  And a great cookie that is good for you?  DOUBLE YES.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Easy Veggie Cheesy Marinara-eee

This is a great go-to sauce.  If you like artichokes (and you know I do) you'll be tempted to forget the noodles, it's so tasty.

Easy Veggie Cheesy Marinara-eee

1 onion chopped
2 tbs olive oil
2 cans tomato paste
5 cans water (from tomato paste can)
1 can of dry red wine
1 ½ cans artichoke hearts, strained (about 2 cups), then chopped (I used food processor)
½ c. grated carrot (a fun addition)
1 tsp basil
Secret weapon: a left over rind of real Parmesan (fetch out before serving)
Salt and pepper to taste