Beet, Avocado, and Pea Salad

I made a whoopsie...

I told you that I'm a sucker for guacamole in an earlier post. What I should have told you is that I'm a sucker for guacamole, nachos, and beer. Anything smothered in oozing cheese, sour cream, and guac on guac on guac, and I'm onboard!

Last week we went to Orlando for my company's annual National Sales Meeting, where thousands of Insight Globalites congregate for a cult-like meeting where we all chant how great IG is, drink more alcoholic beverages than necessary, and eat entirely too much junk food. That last beer, nachos swimming in cheese, and loaded tater tots always sound so good at the time...

So now I'm cleansing my soul and my body with wholesome and healthy meals and lots of H2O. This salad out of Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty More, is fresh and bursting with flavor between the beets, marinated onions, avocado, peas, and tons of fresh herbs. However I'm a complete ditz and got so excited to eat the salad that I forgot to add the peas to it! So after finishing our meal I walked into the kitchen to find a bowl full of fresh peas. Very disappointing, so make sure you add them to yours!

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Beet, Avocado, and Pea Salad

Ingredients

-2 medium beets, peeled and cut into paper thin slices
 -1 small red onion, thinly sliced
 -3 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
 -1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra to finish
 -1 tsp sugar
 -1 - 3 tsp chili sauce or Tabasco
 -2 medium avocados, pitted and thinly sliced
 -micro greens, about a cup
 - mint and cilantro, about 1/4 cup of each roughly chopped
 -1 cup fresh or frozen peas, quickly blanched and refreshed
 -salt and black pepper to season

What to do
 
1) Boil some water in a pot and add the beets. Blanch for 3 - 5 minutes until semi cooked but still retaining a bite
2) Refresh under cold water, pat dry and transfer to a large bowl
3) Add the onion, vinegar, oil, sugar, chili sauce, salt and black pepper
4) Toss gently, taste the dressing for acidity and seasoning. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar or honey, or more vinegar if you want it tangier. This is all you! Set aside for 15 minutes
5) When ready to serve, spread half the beet mixture onto a large plate or shallow bowl
6) Top with micro greens, chopped herbs, avocado, peas, and the more of the beet mixture.
7) Finish with a drizzle of olive oil! 
 
Happy Monday every one!

Blanquette de Porc // Cookbook Love

It's officially 2017. I can't believe it's been 17 years since my 8 year-old-self was ringing in the millennium thinking I was so cool because I would dress in full jean outfits like my idols, Britney & Justin, and listened to Genie in a Bottle on repeat. Ahh those were the days.. you think I could still pull off a full jean dress? I think I could ;)

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, ate great food with even greater company, and had somewhat of manageable hangover after NYE. Never before have I hung black sheets over every window in order to watch movies in our cave-like apartment, but that's what we did to "observe" the New Year and it was much needed.

Now we're back in our daily routine - back to work, attempting to exercise more, and not having a primarily cheese, wine, and cookie diet. I've spent my nights trying to write more and flipping through a number of amazing cookbooks that I got for Christmas. When Thomas and I go to Powell's Bookstore, we immediately head straight to the cookbook section. I can spend hours flipping through and looking at the delicious and decadent pictures and reading cooking wizardry, but I usually always end up walking away and never buying anything. So for Christmas, Thomas bought me three amazing books and I'm obsessed. Plenty More, Bountiful, and A Kitchen in France. And to make it even better, he put little "coupons" throughout the books! So when I go to make a recipe I get an extra surprise as well! Babe, can I get a hint which book and page you put the "back rub" coupon? :)

The first dish I made was out of A Kitchen in France, which was Blanquette de Veau. To cook something en blanquette means that the meat is not browned in the cooking process which I didn't know! The recipe called for a veal (veau) shoulder, so I called every butcher in our area but there wasn't veal anywhere to be found. So I substituted a pork shoulder which was delicious and probably much cheaper.

This calls for A LOT of butter...but it also has a butt load of veggies and I used quinoa instead of rice, so that has to count for something right?! I mean come on, you can't eat salad and celery sticks forever. It's frigid in Portland, like most of the country right now, so this is a perfect meal to warm your belly. Right at the end of the cooking process, you combine crème fraîche, egg yolks, lemon juice, a few ladles of broth and add it back in the stew and holyyyy cow. It's the creamiest dreamiest stew you'll taste all year. If you're feeling crazy, go ahead and dip a big slice of french bread in it. Screw the diet!

 :)

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Blanquette de Porc
 Adapted from Mimi Thorisson- A Kitchen in France
 
 Ingredients
 -2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch cubes
 -2 small shallots
 -4 cloves
 -4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
 -2 leeks, white part only, sliced
 -2 celery stalks, sliced
 -1 small onion, sliced
 -4 garlic cloves, sliced
 -1 bouquet garni (see note) 
 -1/4 cup dry white wine
 -6 tablespoons butter
 -1/3 cup all purpose flower
 -8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
 -Juice of 1 lemon
 -2/3 cup crème fraîche
 -2 large egg yolks
A handful of chopped fresh parsley
 
 (Mimi used veal instead of pork, she used pearl onions which I omitted since I didn't have any on hand, and I added a little more garlic, carrots and celery than the recipe called for. You can find her original recipe here!

 
What to do
1) Bring a large pot of salted water, enough to generously cover the meat, to a boil. Add the pork, return to a boil, and cook for 1 minute. Skim any scum from the surface.
2) Meanwhile, slice 1 1/2 of the shallots. Stick the cloves into the remaining shallot. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic, all the shallots, and the bouquet garni to the pot, then add the wine, bring to a low boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Season with 1 tablespoon of salt, cover, and simmer over low heat until the pork is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
3) Strain the meat and vegetables from the broth and set aside. Discard the bouquet garni. Reserve the broth in the pot. 
4) Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly, and cook, stirring until the roux thickens, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the roux into the pot with the broth, whisking constantly, and simmer over low heat until the broth starts to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. 
5) Return the meat and vegetables to the pot, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. 
6) Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms until golden, about 6 minutes. Drizzle in half of the lemon juice and simmer 30 seconds. Add to the big pot. 
7) In a small bowl, mix together the crème fraîche and the remaining lemon juice, then whisk in the egg yolks. Add a ladle or two of the cooking liquid, whisk well, and pour the mixture into the big pot, (Do not boil, or the egg and cream will curdle). 
7) Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with the parsley. 
 
Note: What is a bouquet garni? 
A bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs! It traditionally comprises parsley, a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. These herbs may be bundled into a strip of leek or a piece of celery stalk, or tied in a muslin bag or with string, to keep them together during cooking and allows easy removal.
I didn't have thyme so I bundled rosemary, sage, and a bay leaf and wrapped it with a strip of leek! 

Cheers to Simple Meals & Resolutions

Happy last day of the year everyone!
 
I cannot believe how fast 2016 flew by! It's honestly scary. Everyone keeps saying how bad 2016 was, but why don't we look at the positive?! Thomas and I got engaged, panda bears were taken off the endagered species list, and dunkaroo's from my childhood are making a comeback!
I'm slightly joking about that last part, but those suckers were so good. I can't believe they were outlawed in the U.S! People are actually smuggling them over from Canada lol
 
With 2016 behind us, in 2017 I resolve to..
1) Not eat a whole bowl of guac and chips in one sitting, exercise self control, and just exercise in general. Someone trying to get a wedding bod cannot devour that many avocado's in one sitting! But gawd it's goooddd. Thomas and I have signed up with this thing called Classpass where you can go to different studios around the city like spinning, kickboxing, HIIT training, or whatever your heart desires. So my resolution is to do that at least three times a week and run at least twice! Shoot high ya know. 
2) Be a tidier person. No longer will there be a pile of clothes mounting on the dresser from the week. Why is it that when I get home from work I think it's absolute torture to hang something up in the closet? It's a mystery to Thomas, but it ends now!
3) Learn Norwegian. Well at least a little more than I currently know. Last time I was in Norway and we were staying at Mormor's (grandma's) house, Thomas left the room and he said Mormor was talking to me about the weather and I was responding by saying how delicious the food was! Hilarious. Not anymore my friends!! Next time I see her I'll practically be Norwegian ;)
4) Be more dedicated to blogging. No more nights and weekends of binge watching Grey's, Friends, or whatever flavor of the week it is. My goal is at least two posts a week, preferably three. Hold me to it folks. 
5) Be a great Fiancée and wedding planner. I vow to be the best Fiancée, not be a procrastinator or a bridezilla. The wedding is not until March 2018, so you would think that would plenty of time to plan. 
6) And last but not least, I resolve to make more great, simple, healthy meals to support resolution numero uno above. This seared steak with these two salads (sun dried tomato and Greek) go so perfect together. Since it's frigid outside, you can sear these on your stove and make a marg and pretend it's summer! I'll begrudgingly forgo the guac since I'm keeping all of my resolutions. 

Happy New Year Friends!

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Seared Steak with sundried tomato and Greek salad
  

Ingredients
 For the steak 
 -whichever cut of steak you prefer (We used filet's) 
 -fresh rosemary sprigs
 -one whole garlic, halved 
-tablespoon of butter (or olive oil since it's the new year and we're dieting and all) 
 -salt & pepper
 Sundried Tomato Salad
 -3 oz sundried tomatoes
 -3 tablespoons of olive oil 
 -1 cup halved sugar plum or cherry tomatoes
 -1/4 cup fresh chopped basil 
 -2 garlic cloves minced 
 -1/3 cup grated Parmesan 
 -1/4 tsp salt, pinch of pepper
 Greek Salad 
 -1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped 
 -1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced 
 -1 cup halved sugar plum or cherry tomatoes 
 -1/4 cup Greek olives, pitted 
 -3 tablespoons olive oil 
 -handleful of chopped parsley 
 -1 block of feta in water, use a little of the water!
 -Salt and pepper to taste
 

What to do
1) In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil over high heat until very hot. Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides before placing in the skillet. Place halved garlic in the skillet along with a couple spring of rosemary. Sear steak on all sides until brown and remove from heat when it reaches and internal temperature of 155 degrees. 
2) for the salads, combine all ingredients! Easy peasy. In the Greek salad, I like to add a little of the feta water to give it some saltiness. 
 
Enjoy!

Oxtail Ragu Pappardelle // Fiancée Life

Hi Friends. Sorry for the lack of posts the last few weeks. I've been so distracted with... BEING ENGAGED!!!!!! My little cutie of a Norwegian popped the question over Thanksgiving while we were surrounded with both of our families and closest friends. It couldn't have been more perfect. I should have suspected something when the day before he proposed, him and his mom bought like 50 bottles of champagne- I just thought to myself "welp, that's a sign we drink too much!"

The night he proposed, we had over 50 people at my childhood home in Florida for a big dinner party. We ate Norwegian snacks like Pølse i lompe, rakfisk, and fenalår (I'll make those in a post one day!) and to finish off we had low country boil! It was so fun for everyone on both sides to eat food from our different cultures.

After dinner, when he got up to make a toast around the fire I had a feeling it was about to happen! I started crying immediately, you know me. After the sweetest toast and his perfect proposal we spent the night laughing and celebrating with the people we love the most. Besides the night that I met him, it was the best night of my life.

We're heading back to Florida for Christmas and I couldn't be more thrilled to get a little vitamin D in my bloodstream. We've had two major snow days in Portland in the month of December. The town turns apocalyptic when it snows - not even kidding. The roads shut down since there's no snow management, and we're forced to stay inside and snuggle all day and eat comfort food. Darn, don't you hate that? :)

This oxtail ragu is so good I can't even begin to tell you. Thomas made this at his cabin in Norway two winters ago and I've been dreaming of it ever since.  To make it even better, we loaded the ragu on top of buttery pappardelle noodles and topped it with wine-y caramelized onions. It's slow braised, it's comfort food, it's good people.

A bottle of red, the twinkling tree, this ragu, and Scrooged (Bill Murray version) are all you need in this last week before Christmas to get you in the spirit.

P.s. Is it a little weird that Bill Murray's Scrooged is the first movie that popped in my head?!

Happy Holidays Everyone!


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Oxtail Ragu Pappardelle 
 (Adapted from Jaime Oliver's Oxtail Stew)
Ingredients
 
For the Ragu
 - 5 pounds oxtail
 -2 medium leeks
 -3 sticks of celery
 -4 carrots
 -a few sprigs of fresh thyme
 -6 garlic cloves, minced
 -2 dried bay leaves
 -3 cloves
 -2 tablespoons of tomato paste
 -2 28 oz cans of plum tomatoes (use whatever you have on hand, crushed tomatoes work too!)
 -2 bottles of Guinness beer
 -2 tablespoons of concentrated beef stock (I use Better Than Bouillon)
 -Pappardelle noodles (homemade is best)
 
 

 For the onions
 -1 large onion, thinly sliced
 -granulated sugar
 -1/2 bottle red wine
 -1 cup of water/spoonful of beef concentrate
  

What to do
 
1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle oxtail with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 or so minutes until golden brown. 
2) meanwhile, trim the leeks and celery and chop into rough pieces. Peel and chop the carrots and place all the vegetables in a large pot and sauté over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Pick and roughly chop the thyme leaves and add that to the mix along with the minced garlic when the veggies are starting to soften. 
3) Stir the tomato paste into the mix and cook it off for 2 minutes.
4) Add in the oxtails, and pour in the tomatoes, 1 Guinness beer, bay leaves, cloves, and 2 tablespoons of beef stock.
 5) Turn the heat down and simmer the mixture for 5-6 hours. The key is to reduce, reduce, reduce. I have to be honest, thomas and I typically taste and adjust as we go but this is as accurate as possible.
6) When you can tell the meat is falling off the bone, remove the oxtail pieces onto a plate and shred the meat and put back into the pot. This is the best part because you can eat the meat off the bone! 
7) prepare the Pappardelle noodles. After ours were boiled, we tossed them in a little hot milk and butter to make it even more delicious and to prevent them from sticking. 
8) While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice one onion. 
9) Heat a skillet over medium heat, pour an even, thin layer of sugar and let it sit until it caramelizes. Do not stir it! Be careful though, because this step happens fast! Then, add the sliced onion, wine, water, and beef stock. Let it simmer until it reduces into a thick sauce. 
 
 Plate: Twirl a mound of pappardelle on a plate, top with ragu, caramelized onions, and drizzle with a little of the reduced sauce. Enjoy!

Note on the ragu: We started with one bottle of beer, but as it reduced over several hours it needed another beer, so just adjust as you go. If it suits you to add more beef stock, do it. If you want to drink a Guinness or two while you're cooking, do it. :)

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Mini Apple Pies

People, 14 more days until it's acceptable to cover every item on your dinner plate in turkey gravy. Don't even act like you don't do it. In all the days of the year, Thanksgiving is the one day that it's appropriate for you to have a mound of potatoes and squash casserole on your plate the size of ant hills, to wear the loosest pants possible, and to nap at least two different times on the same day. At least those are all examples of a Harper Thanksgiving. Words can't express how excited I am to head back to Florida for nine days of sunshine (hopefully), family & friends, and all the turkey my little heart desires. 

To make things even more fun and memorable this year, Thomas's family is coming to Florida from Norway for Thanksgiving! This is their first American holiday experience, so I think it will be really cool for them to see what it's all about. I hope they brace for Chinet plates that are so heavy with turkey they start sagging! It's a hilarious/mildly disgusting competition between the men in my family every year to see who can eat the most. Do you remember that episode of Friend's when Joey eats the entire turkey and gets the meat sweats? Yep...that's my fam. Thomas was a contender last year, but I don't think he had prepared himself for what was in store. 

Tryptophan aside, this year with Thomas's family I foresee an epic corn hole competition, boat rides, good conversation, lots of laughs, and wine. Lots of it. My mom told me today that she bought 24 bottles of wine from her favorite winery just for Thanksgiving...ha. 

We obviously can't talk about giving thanks without pie being in the picture. I give thanks to the human who came up with the idea of mixing butter, sugar and apples into a serendipitous blend of sticky deliciousness. I mean come on. How does it get better than that?!

Thomas and I took a drive to Douglas farms last weekend and got the last of the Golden Delicious apples of the season. It's sad to say, but that was my first time picking apples. It was so fun! It's the perfect day date. I also found the cutest mini pie pans the day before, so of course I wanted to practice making pies for Thanksgiving. The pies turned out so cute! If you want to make this even easier, buy frozen pie crust. I know that´s cheating, but it´s still super tasty I promise. For these, I thawed the pie crust and ended up re-rolling it out so I could make the lattice. Obviously, homemade crust is best but if your short on time I would recommend frozen pie crust that you can roll out yourself.

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Mini Apple Pies

Ingredients
-4 pounds of Golden Delicious apples (honey crisp, gala, or any other variety would do as well)
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-3 tablespoons bourbon
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1/3 cup white granulated sugar
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-2 rolled out pie crusts (I just needed enough for 4 mini pie pans)
-1 egg (for the egg wash)

What to do
1) peel the apples and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Toss with the lemon juice, bourbon, and vanilla extract.
2) melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and sugars. Cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the liquid starts to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the apples soften and the mixture thickens, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.


                                                                                    

 

 

For the Crust:
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
 2) Rub butter on the insides of the pie pans. Roll out the 2 dough pieces on a floured surface until it's about a 12 inch round. Place the mini pan pans face down and cut around the edges, leaving a little room. Flip the pans over and either crimp the sides using your thumb and forefinger or use a fork to press down the sides.
3) Fill with the cooled apple mixture.
4) Follow this article by Saveur on how to make lattice for the tops of the pies
-OR-
Cut out a little top and fit and pinch into the sides. Cut slits to let out the steam.
5) Brush the tops with the whisked egg wash and bake roughly 45 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
HAPPY BAKING!

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Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

Since I was little, Halloween has been such a fun holiday for me. My mom would throw amazing parties and our garage would be turned into a scary haunted house donned with webs, fake spiders and bats, and scary creatures hiding in every corner. In the days aproaching the party, we would carve intricate pumpkins (she would end up doing all of it) and watching scary movies. It's obligatory to watch Hocus Pocus at least 3 times every October.

15 years later not much has changed :)

It's the day before Halloween and I feel like i've milked everything out of the month of October that I can. We've carved pumpkins, went to the corn maze, drank pumpkin beer, ate pumpkin treats, watched a scary movie pretty much every day, and to top it off we went to a halloween party Friday. Halloween isn't a big holiday in Norway, so I've turned Thomas into a little ghoul and he loves it now too! At least he pretends he does and amuses me. 

Normally I do elaborate halloween costumes, but this year I decided to just create a cool look with makeup and wear normal clothes. Let me tell you, last year was quite the sight trying to go to the bathroom in my costume. I was Dexter's victim completely wrapped in plastic wrap so you can only imagine what that looked like. This year we decided to do skeletons and it ended up turning out pretty good! I was a little worried in the beginning when I was doing Thomas's make-up because he started out lookng like a giant panda and for a minute I couldn't stop laughing. After some shadowing and details it came out great. We danced our bones off all night and had such a good time! 

Since Friday we've been so lazy and that's perfectly alright with me. Bundled up watching scary movies, nothing seems more fitting than hot chocolate. Better yet...BOOZY hot chocolate. It's the perfect sweet treat made with white chocolate, milk, pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, bourbon and topped with whipped cream, caramel, and in our case black and orange sprinkles. The bourbon we used is by Bull Run Distillery here in Portland. You can also use Kalua or whatever you fancy instead of bourbon!

I hope all of you ghosts, ghouls, and goblins have a spooktacular Halloween!

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Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate  
Adapted from Minimalist Baker

 Ingredients
 -1/2 cup white chocolate (I prefer to use a higher quality white chocolate like Giradelli's) 
 -2.5 cups milk (I used 2%)
 -1/4 cup pumpkin puree
 -1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
 -1 oz of Bourbon 
-whipped cream and caramel as toppings (orange and black sprinkles are fun as well!) 

What to do
1) In a saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the chocolate chips in the milk, whisking often.
2) Once melted, stir in the pumpkin pie spice and the pumpkin purée and mix vigorously until incorporated. 
3) Pour 1 oz of bourbon into each glass and top with the hot chocolate mixture. Stir and then top with whipped cream and your toppings of choice.  

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Marshmallow Stout Brownies // Feast Portland

It's officially Fall and I couldn't be more excited! If you know me at all you know that I am completely obsessed with Halloween and the entire month of October. The leaves are bright orange and red here in Portland, the air is crisp, and the rainy season is upon us. We experienced the first rainy day when we attended Feast Portland a couple of weekends ago. The weather was cold and wet, but that didn't stop people from enjoying the 40+ events that were happening all around Portland. Presented by Bob Appétit, Feast is more than just a food and drink festival. It was named the "best food festival in the country" by Thrillist and has raised more than $230,000 for charities like Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. 

Obviously I was in heaven. We had wine holsters that hung around our necks so you could be hands free (genius!) We got to try little bites from local vendors and restaurants that are scattered across the PNW. Bakeries, breweries, chocolatiers, cheese makers, wineries, and chefs from all across the country were cranking out their best and we most certainly took advantage. We even got the chance to try Langbaan Chef  Earl Ninsom's creation which was amazing since it takes months to get a reservation at the actual restaurant. We practically had to roll ourselves out of the tent at the end of the day!

At Base Camp's  stand they toasted a mallow on a stick right there in front of you to go with their imperial stout that they had on draft. Roasted ooey-gooey perfection. I wanted to create that same thing in brownie form because... why the heck wouldn't I?! Base Camp S'more stout, brown butter, fudgy brownies, marshmallow fluff - the gangs all here! Make these bad boys on a dreary day when you need a little sweet treat to cheer you up. Cheers to Base Camp for inspiring me and making our tummies happy!

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Marshmallow Stout Brownies

What to do
-Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. 
-In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
-Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water.
-In a small pan over medium heat, melt and brown the butter until it just turns golden, about 5 minutes. Pour the brown butter into the chocolate and stir until combined. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the stout. 
-In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugars until thick. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
-Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan before adding a layer or swirl of marshmallow fluff. Add the rest of the batter on top and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are firm. I like mine fudgier so bake longer if you like them more cakey. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Enjoy! 

-Hill and Thomas

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup stout or any dark beer
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Marshmallow fluff

Brie Stuffed Burgers with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

I don't know how I'm writing about burgers after the amount I ate over 4th of July weekend. It's hilarious after we gorge ourselves over a holiday, the following week we are all of a sudden health nuts. I've been downing lemon water by the gallons, not eating carbs, and warding off alcohol. But who am I kidding.. the 4th was on Monday and I'm going to happy hour today. ha!  I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday by surrounding themselves with family and friends, sparklers, flag shaped foods, and all things red, white, and blue. When I think of  the 4th, I think of Flagler Beach in Florida where I've spent every July for most of my life. The day is always spent lounging on the beach and playing in the waves before heading up as the sun is setting with salty hair and sandy toes to eat bbq. It's honestly the best. To keep with the family traditions, Thomas and I made baby backs one night with all sides you can image related to bbqing and burgers the next. Not just any burgers though. They were gooey oozy brie stuffed burgers with grilled corn and peach salsa made from produce from the farmer's market. It doesn't get much more drool worthy than that. I also got the fluffiest and butteriest of buns from the Pearl Bakery stand at the PSU farmer's market. I originally saw this burger made by Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest and I instantly wanted to give them a try. Happy grilling everyone!

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Brie Stuffed Burgers with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

Recipe from Half Baked Harvest 

Ingredients
Burger
-1½ pounds ground beef
-6-8 ounces Brie, rind removed if desired + cubed
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
-4 slices cooked bacon (optional)
-4 hamburger buns, toasted

Sweet Chili Mayo
-½ cup good quality mayo
-1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
-2 tablespoons Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (I added a little extra)
-2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
-pinch of salt + pepper

Grilled Corn Salsa
-2 ears grilled corn
-1 peach, diced
-4-8 cherries, pitted + diced (optional)
-1 jalapeno, seeded + diced
-juice of half a lemon
-1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
-pinch of salt

What to do
For the burgers, Half Baked Harvest uses a burger press, but since i'm sure a lot of people don't have one of those I'll share the good old fashioned way! I put my beef in a large mixing bowl and seasoned with salt and pepper. I grabbed a pretty big handful, split it in two and flattened them each out. On one half, place the brie cheese right in the middle and then put the other half of the patty on top. Crimp the sides and flatten out to make sure the brie is tucked away in there good :) Drizzle each patty with Worcestershire sauce. Cover and place in the fridge while you prepare the mayo and salsa.
To make the mayo: combine the mayo, lemon juice, sweet Thai chili sauce, basil and a pinch of salt + pepper. Mix to combine. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
To make the salsa: add the corn, peach, cherries (if using), jalapeno, lemon, basil and a pinch of salt to a bowl. Toss well to combine.
When ready to cook the burgers, preheat the grill to medium high heat (Thomas is always the grill master, so I don't partake in this part much). Once hot, grill your        burgers until they reach your desired doneness. To serve, spread a little mayo on the bottom of your toasted buns, top with the patty, and then the salsa! Enjoy :)

Sauvie Island // Strawberry Tart

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On Memorial Day, most people are out on the boat, floating down a river drinking beer, or grilling out poolside. What did we do? We picked strawberries. Not just any strawberries though. The kind of strawberries that taste like they've been coated in sugar and are dripping with juice before you even pull them off of their little green bush. It might sound like something a 60 year-old couple that wears shade hats and fanny packs would do, but I can't think of anything better. When you first get to Sauvie Island, there's a strawberry farm right off of the highway that EVERYONE in their mother goes to. It was way over crowded, so we kept on driving for a few miles and came across Sauvie Island Farms. It was picturesque and there was hardly any people which was amazing. We grabbed our cardboard box and got to picking. It's hard to get the box full because for every strawberry you pick, you also pop one in your mouth. I couldn't believe how many bees there were! It sounded like cars whizzing by since there was so many over our head. 

Once we picked enough to fill our box and our hands were sticky and coated with strawberry juice and dirt we called it quits and headed home to make a strawberry tart. I had in my head something completely different when I wanted to make a tart, but what came out ended up being SO much better. Have you ever watched Chef's Table on Netflix? If you haven't then I highly recommend it. In the first season, Massimo Bottura creates a dessert called "Oops, I dropped the lemon tart". One day he dropped the lemon tart he was making and it ended up looking so cool that he decided to keep it that way. It's kind of how our strawberry tart turned out! It wasn't very pretty but it tasted incredible. We made a crust, baked it and filled it with the fresh strawberries, and then made a strawberry reduction and sabayon sauce to go on top. As I'm writing this I just had the urge to hop in my car to go pick strawberries just so I can justify making that sabayon sauce again and slurping it right out of the bowl. No judgement right? Any who, even though there is several steps to making this dessert, it is super easy and so worth it. We cheated and bought vanilla ice cream from Trader Joe's, but if you made your own that would make it even better. Scroll down for the recipes and enjoy!!!

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Strawberry Tart

For the Crust: Recipe from Food & Wine

Ingredients
6 ounces bleached all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter—5 tablespoons cut into 1/4-inch dice, the rest left whole
1/4 cup cold plain whole yogurt (not Greek-style)
1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do

  1. Measure the flour into a glass or ceramic bowl and freeze for 15 minutes. Freeze the 3-tablespoon-size chunk of butter for 15 minutes. Put the 5 tablespoons of diced butter on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes. In a glass measuring cup, combine the yogurt and salt with 1 tablespoon of cold water and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the diced butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using your hands, rub the mixture between your hands until all of the fat is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles fine oat flakes. Using a sharp knife or a cheese plane, very thinly slice the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and freeze the slices for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter slices to the bowl. Toss gently to separate the slices and cut once or twice to combine them with the flour; the slices should remain cold and intact. Drizzle the cold yogurt into the bowl, using a rubber spatula to stir and toss as you drizzle. Continue tossing the dough, scraping any off the spatula and the side of the bowl, until it is crumbly and evenly moistened. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  4. I believe the term is "blind baking" since we are baking the crust until it's golden brown before filling it with any of the fruit. 
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degree, poke holes with a fork in the dough to prevent air pockets, and then bake in the oven until golden brown, around 10-15 minutes. 

Strawberry Sauce


Ingredients
1 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled & sliced
¼ cup sugar-adjust more or less to your preference
½ lemon, juiced
a little lemon zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

What to do
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot and place over medium heat. 
2. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes and serve hot!

Sabayon

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
2 tbls white wine
1/3 cup sugar, plus more to taste
Drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice 

What to do
1. Whisk to blend the yolks and sugar in the stainless-steel bowl. Rest the bowl in the saucepan over hot water. Whisk constantly for 4 to 5 minutes, until it has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Clear the bottom of the bowl constantly with the whisk so that the eggs do not scramble, and adjust the heat as needed. Taste the sauce — the sabayon should never get so hot that you can't stick your finger in it — and whisk wine and drops of lemon juice or more sugar if you want. When thick, foamy, and tripled in volume, remove from heat. It can be served hot as is, tepid, or cool.

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Sweet Spot // Salt & Straw

When we first moved to NW 23rd Ave and I walked down the street for the first time to go to the cute little boutiques, I stopped right in my tracks when I smelled sweet waffle cones wafting from all directions. It is honestly the most mouth watering smell, which is only ONE of the many things that gets you hooked to Salt & Straw.  

 

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Kim and Tyler Malek, the cousin duo and founders of Salt & Straw, use only local ingredients and create innovative favors based on what's going on seasonally or special events happening that month. Some of the off the wall combinations that are best sellers on their menu include Pear with Blue Cheese, Strawberry Honey Balsalmic with Black pepper, or Arbequina Olive Oil. Although they sound crazy, the flavors are subtle and absolutely delicious. But don't you worry, they also have those classic ice cream concoctions like Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, or my favorite Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. OH. MY. GAWD. 

 On top of having the most amazing, flavor packed, small batch ice cream they also do something special while you wait in line... they give you samples of AS MANY FLAVORS AS YOU WANT. So whether that be only 1 or 10, you can try as many as possible on these cute little spoons until you find the perfect one for you. That's probably why the line is wrapped around the building 9/10 when you go by.

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If Thomas and I are ever too lazy to wait in line, we always skip ahead and grab one of their pints!

Salt & Straw + couch + favorite show = pure bliss

It's only a few of their most popular, but the Sea Salt with Caramel is always there...so I'm set!

Salt & Straw has three shops in Portland – NE Alberta, NW 23rd and SE Division. They are also expanding into Los Angelas. I was actually just in the Arts District this past weekend and heard they are opening up a shop there. I'm a little bummed to be honest because I thought it would just be a "Portland thing", but I guess it's better to share the love. 

Now go grab an ice cream cone and enjoy the sticky, drippy, deliciousness! 

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