Foodie turned blogger. How'd that happen?

SUGAR in Portland: Salt & Straw and Voodoo Doughnut


Yes, Portland has an amazing landscape, beautiful architecture, and a hip, cool vibe about it… but today I’m focusing on the sugar. Why? Um, hello…. SUGAR. Here are a couple of fabulous sugar finds that my new husband Kenny and I found while on our honeymoon in Portland, Oregon last week. PLUS… today marks the second anniversary of!

When in Portland, eat sugar like the locals!

When in Portland, eat sugar like the locals!


Salt & Straw
Portland Salt & Straw 4

This is an outstanding representation of what ice cream really should be. A sign inside reads: Our ice cream is handmade in small batches using only all natural dairy with the best, local, organic and sustainable ingredients Oregon has to offer, as well as imported flavors from small hand-picked farms from around the world!
With a whopping 17% butterfat in it, you’re getting the cream of the crop. ;-) We visited the NW 23rd location twice, and I was pretty sad that we didn’t go more. The line wrapped around the building, so I knew it was going to be good. Once we’d gotten inside, the servers were all walking out from behind the large counter to give samples. Mind you, these are not the tiny plastic “only one per person” spoonfuls that I’m used to. Noooo…. As many as you’d like, each on a large silver spoon. “Just bring the spoons back when you’re done and we’ll wash ‘em” the polite girl said to me. Holy cow. Alrighty then.

Salt & Straw's employees are so incredibly friendly!

Salt & Straw’s employees are so incredibly friendly!

I tried a few, and each were beautifully flavored and wonderfully paired. I loved that there wasn’t a ton of sweetness, and some flavors were very savory. Their classic flavors range from the Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, to the Arbequina Olive Oil, to the Coconut with Petunia’s salted Caramel Bars….. and the Portland Farmer’s Market Series boasted flavors such as Tomato Water Olive Oil, Carrot Watermelon and the daring Bone Marrow & Bourbon Smoked Cherry. The Pear with Blue Cheese, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle were just a few that we tried. The strangest combo was the Bunk Hawaiian which besides pineapple (and I think coconut) had pork jelly belly in it. I let Ken taste that one on his own. ;-)
Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper on the left.... and Green Fennel & Maple on the right. Heaven! Continue reading

Waving From Portland

Hello from Portland, Oregon! Believe it or not, last week was the first week I ever missed a blog…in 2 years… But I have a good reason ;-) I got married two days later :-)

My new husband and I are vacationing in Portland, Oregon and are loving it! I cannot wait to tell all of you about our lovely food experiences we have had here.
From unbelievable ice cream flavors to grass fed beef to amazing locally roasted coffee, it seems that Portland has it all :-)
So please sit tight and wait until next week and I can promise you that the wait will be worth it! Until then, Ta Ta!image

Salad Ideas for Summer! Salad 6

This hot weather is just begging for a chilled salad!

Today was hot! Wait, who am I kidding? It’s been hot for weeks!

I absolutely am missing the Autumn and Winter weather… the cute sweaters …. and the amazing food! But, for now while Southern California is masquerading as Florida (yep, we’ve got the humidity too! ack!), I’ll stick to warm weather meals.

Even though I talk about salads on here quite a bit, I’m doing it again for 3 reasons: Continue reading

Healthy Makeover: Potato Salad

Sockmonkeys Kitchen:

This summer time heat has made me crave my favorite Potato Salad! (PS: it’s healthy!) I’d *really* appreciate it if you’d share this link with your friends, Thanks! =0)

Originally posted on sockmonkeyskitchen:

This potato salad is so creamy and delicious, you won't miss the mayo!

This potato salad is so creamy and delicious, you’ll forget it’s healthy!

Summertime can be sooooo confusing.  Your favorite magazines show photos of all of the warm-weather favorites, like Potato Salad, Fried Chicken, and Root Beer Floats… yet you also want to fit into that swimsuit or those cute new shorts. CATHY Plus, you have been trying to eat much better lately.  It seems to be a dilemma that’s been hitting a lot of people lately.

potato headPotato Salad, it’s time for your makeover.

When Tracieinvited me to her 3rd Annual 4th of July Beach Party, I knew I wanted to bring something tasty to go with the Tri Tips that were going to be grilled. I thought to myself, “what better than Steak and Potatoes”? yum! So I went about changing my favorite Potato Salad recipe into one that would not only taste good, but would fit into the “healthy” category too.

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Making Pickles at Williams-Sonoma

Look what we learned how to make!

Look what we learned how to make!

Every time I walk by a Williams-Sonoma store, I am pulled in by a  force that is stronger than any top-of-the-line vacuum on the market. Ever since I can remember, the store has had such a refined feel to it, and the staff is always so welcoming and willing to help. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked in to browse and been greeted with a snack or beverage. It’s kind of like going to a dear friend’s home. A friend who can cook. Really well. ;-)

Last weekend, Kenny, Cody, and I attended one of their free classes. Yes, folks, they will teach you some pretty amazing techniques and ideas… without charging you a thing. Oh – and you get to taste the creations at the end! Win-win! I’d always wanted to go to one of these, and when I saw this class was called “From the Garden”, and that they’d be some type of canning, I was in. You know I love to pickle beets (here’s my blog about that), but canning/pickling itself is one of those things I just don’t do enough of. So, I figured it I went, I’d get the motivation I needed. It worked. I’m dying to start up again after the wedding.

Meet Chef Gina, the local chef-teacher at Williams-Sonoma in Victoria Gardens (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

Meet Chef Gina, the local chef-teacher at Williams-Sonoma in Victoria Gardens (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

We walked in, and were immediately greeting by Chef Gina, whose caffeinated effervescence was contagious. If you’re ever able to attend one of her classes, I cannot tell you how much you’ll enjoy her super-fun, sweet style. “Welcome in, folks! We’re going to be making pickles today!” After introducing herself and her assistant, she was off and running. She talked about the importance of sterilizing jars when canning, and showed us this new item (or at least new to me!) made by the Ball company that can sterilize your jars in only 12 minutes. What?! I’ve done it either in the dishwasher, which takes a ton of time, as well as water…or by boiling it in big pots for what seems like forever. Great tip! This contraption also will help can your pickles, jams, tomatoes… whatever you’re canning…. without a worry. Now don’t get me wrong… this class wasn’t on the wonders of a product they were selling, it’s just that I am a major gadget girl and this one was extraordinary.  I’ll give you a link at the bottom of the blog so you can take a look at this beauty. Continue reading

Mom’s Rhubarb Custard Pie

Sockmonkeys Kitchen:

Since I’m crazy busy with the wedding plans, I thought I’d bring back a DELICIOUS treat from last summer as my 100th post. My Mom’s Rhubarb Pie is an outstanding dessert that I know you will absolutely love! Take a read, and try it out. Please make sure to say hi to my Mom in the comments, since she reads them too!

Originally posted on sockmonkeyskitchen:

thanks Mom

My mom has many cooking/baking talents, but her Rhubarb Custard Pie is one recipe that really gets a lot of requests. So, of course I was very excited when she asked if I’d like to use it for a blog :) What’s even better…all of the photos of pie that you’ll see are hers too.
I’ve heard that when my nephew would come visit her from college, it was the one thing he’d request. Every time.

Freshly picked rhubarb

Freshly picked rhubarb

When I was at her house for Mothers Day, we were talking about  rhubarb, and she told me that she always gets *interesting* comments from Grocery Clerks when she buys this pretty veggie at the market. Here are a few:

  •   “Sooooo, is this red celery?”
  •  “How do you eat this?”
  •  “What is this, anyway?”
  •  “Do you know…you’re the only one who ever buys this?”

Really?Maybe it’s because I’ve seen my mom make her pie so…

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Shortcuts for Summer: Part 1

summer shortcuts

It’s Summer time!
Now that the heat has overtaken us, my guess is you’re not wanting to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, right? There are pools to swim in, beaches to walk on, boats to sail on, and weddings to plan. Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t apply to you, but it does to me – I’m getting married next month! Because of that, I’ve taken some shortcuts here and there, since I don’t have a lot of free time these days.

So, for those of you who just need more hours in the day, because you don’t have a magical clock that will indeed stop time (where can I buy one of those?!), I give you my Summer Shortcuts. I’m calling it “Part 1″ because I’m pretty sure there will be a part 2. :)

The first shortcut came about when my parents came to stay for a couple of days recently to help around Kenny’s house. It was pretty warm, so I didn’t want to turn the oven on. I grabbed a few ingredients at the store and started throwing them together. It was super quick, super easy, and one you could do in no time. Hooray to that!
So, here’s your first shortcut of the day…. Cucumber Pico. You’ll notice the tomatoes are all halved. Don’t worry… there’s an fast way to do this! Remember the little trick I told you about in last week’s blog for cutting grapes? Well it works equally as well on tomatoes!

Cucumber Pico

Cucumber Pico

Cucumber Pico (paleo)

1 carton organic sugar plum tomatoes, halved Continue reading

Healthy Chicken Salad

healthy chicken saladOne of my biggest and most common cravings is a bowl full of fruit and veggies, all mixed up together. It’s a great start to a lot of meals, and when you throw in a protein or two, you’ve got a great lunch or dinner.  As is often the case, one afternoon I’d just gotten off of work, it was a hot day, and I was hungry. I stopped by the local market, picked up a few things that sounded like they could be friends, and ended up with this concoction. It was really good, I must say!

I love cutting things up – it’s actually quite therapeutic I think… plus it gives me time to think about the next step when I’m making up a recipe. It was on this particular day that I realized that if you let all the grapes roll into the little “moat” that’s around the wooden cutting board… you can slice about 10 of them at the same time. How ingenious is that?! I’m sure some people have done it like that for years… but it was new to me, and it happened quite by accident. Those kinds of kitchen accidents are way better than those requiring stitches or antacids… ;-)

It’s a simple dish, and one that really doesn’t require specific amounts. Just use what you want… and if you like an ingredient, add more!
Note: This is much healthier than most Chicken Salads, since it doesn’t include mayononaise, which is often made with a ton of vegetable oil (an ingredient you will never see in my recipes!). It also is adding the health benefits of plain yogurt :)
Continue reading

Simple Manicotti plus an Amazing Shortcut


Simple Manicotti

I’m going to teach you a shortcut that will *really* make your Manicotti dinner easy! But first, a little about noodles:

I have always loved noodles of any kind. I was the kid who was thrilled with just getting the noodles in the can of Campbell’s soup, and hoping my sister got all of those  icky chewy square chicken pieces. I used to love when Mom would make plain noodles and then put butter on them.  And I  loved cheese-filled noodles, especially the cheese filling that was in raviolis that I’d order when we went out for Italian food at Petrini’s (which has been in Santa Barbara since 1958!)… or Marianne’s Italian Villa. Of course, I had no idea what that cheese was, only that it was “special”.  AND… I knew that this same special cheese was in
manicotti, which Mom didn’t make often enough, in my opinion. Looking back, I remember it only showing up on nights we’d have company… hmmm… maybe it *was* special. Or maybe it’s because it was a pain in the neck to stuff all of those droopy noodles. Yep, that was probably it.
Well, problem solved. This recipe makes it easier to stuff them, and the amazing shortcut will go even further than that. BUT…. you have to wait. The shortcut it at the bottom.

Simple Manicotti  

Meat Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. ground Angus Beef (organic/grass fed)
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 jars of your favorite Marinara Sauce (yes, jars. Get one without soybean oil though)
(we are making it simple, remember?)
Continue reading

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