Homemade Ravioli Carbonara

When I first started learning my way around the kitchen I thought the best way to see if spaghetti was cooked was to give it a good sling across the room. If it stuck to the wall then you knew it was ready to eat! Mind you I was 10 and I thought using Bertolli's Garlic Alfredo Sauce out of a jar and Olive Garden was fancy. No matter what, when making pasta it was obligatory to stand at least 15 feet from the wall and hurl a noodle as hard as you could. To this day every time I cook boxed spaghetti I do the "wall test" out of tradition. Plus, sometimes it just feels good to throw something at the wall after a long week.

There are those busy days when you need a quick box of pasta and a jar of marinara to get you through dinnertime- I get it. No judgement here. But if you have the time and you want your soul to sing, then homemade pasta is the way to go. I've been hooked ever since I first tried fresh pasta in Italy. It's silky, slightly chewy texture combined with slow-braised meats, or just simple lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and pepper will haunt your dreams. As much as I love it, I had never given much thought to making pasta myself until Thomas had the glorious idea last weekend. I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it was! My favorite part was making a little flour mountain/egg volcano on our countertop and diving in hands first! If you were to make pasta several times a week I can promise you'd be on your way to having arms like Arnold. Kneading the dough for 10-12 minutes may be a workout but it's well worth it. We made a creamy ricotta, spinach and mushroom filling for the ravioli and made it extra fun turning it into a carbonara dish with lots of grilled chicken, peas and crispy bacon. Does it make it spring yet because I used peas?

Who am I kidding?! 

This is as cozy, wintery, and comfort-food-y as you get and I will happily push back spring a few more weeks to have a couple more belly-warming dishes like this guy. 

Homemade Ravioli Carbonara 

Pasta Dough (cut this recipe in half from  All Recipes

-1 cup (128 g) all purpose flour
-1 cup (128 g) semolina flour
-3 large eggs
-1 tablespoon of olive oil

Mushroom Filling
-olive oil
-8 oz of mushrooms (230g) white or crimini mushrooms work fine
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 big handfuls of spinach leaves
-1/2 cup (250 ml) of heavy cream
-salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup (128g) of ricotta

- 2 chicken breasts
-1 cup of blanched peas
-4-6 slices of crispy bacon
-grated parmesan  
-2 egg yolks (at room temperature)
-1 egg (at room temperature)
-1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup (75g) parmesan cheese, finely grated

what to do
1) First make the pasta dough: Thoroughly sift together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and pinch of salt. On a clean surface, make a mountain out of flour mixture then make a deep well in center. Break the eggs into the well and add olive oil. Whisk eggs very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well. When mixture becomes too thick to mix with a fork, begin kneading with your hands.
2) Knead dough for 8 to 12 minutes, until it is smooth and supple. Dust dough and work surface with semolina as needed to keep dough from becoming sticky. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3) While the dough is resting, make the spinach mushroom filling. Place mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a pan over medium-high heat, sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Let the mushrooms bits brown and release as much water as possible, about 5 minutes. Then, add 4 minced cloves of garlic to the mushrooms and stir until fragrant. Then add in 2 big handfuls of spinach and another drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and give a couple of stirs before pouring in heavy cream. Simmer down on medium-low until cream is reduced and the mixture becomes thick. Give a quick taste test to make sure it's seasoned to your liking before transferring to a bowl. Add in as much ricotta cheese as you would like. Just make sure the mixture is thick enough to fill ravioli. 
4) Roll out dough with a pasta machine or a rolling pin. For ravioli, you want the pasta sheet to be thin enough to see the shadow of your hand when you place it behind. For this dish, make sure you roll the dough out thin enough to cut the piece in half. (There's a picture above for a reference). On the bottom half, evenly space one spoonful of filling for each individual ravioli. We used a small metal ramekin to cut each individual ravioli, but if you have a special ravioli cutter even better! 
5) Cook bacon crisp in a pan and let cool on a paper towel lined plate. With a little of the bacon drippings reserved, brown chicken. Once browned and fully cooked, remove chicken to cutting board to cool before slicing in strips.
6) Bring water to a boil in a large pot, then add 4 teaspoons salt. Cook pasta until tender but not mushy, 3-6 minutes depending on thickness. 
7) While the pasta cooks, whisk egg yolks, egg, cream and three-quarters of the parmesan together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add mixture to the pan on low and heat up before adding the cooked ravioli, peas, and chicken. Toss to coat a few times and simmer on low until the mixture thickens a little.
8) To serve, top with chopped bacon bits and the rest of the parmesan cheese. 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

In true Portland Fashion, some of the best pizza in the city is served up on gluten free/healthy-ish crusts. This is a fairly new concept for me and to be honest it took me a little while to be comfortable with the idea. You're talking to a girl who would have a personal pan pizza after school most days of the week, whose favorite lunchable was the mini pizza's, and whose first job was at Luigi's, the local pizza parlor. Point being, I'm obsessed with pizza. However now that I'm older and a little more health conscious I love that you can use alternative ingredients to make some of your favorite junk foods a little more healthy. 

The first time I went to Dove Vivi in NE Portland I was blown away. Not only did they have amazing toppings like house-made fennel sausage and roasted eggplant, but they also use stone ground cornmeal for the crust which leaves you feeling less bloated than normal crust made with bleached flour. It got my wheels turning on how we could make a healthy-ish pizza at home and that's how our cauliflower crust was born! I know there's a ton of different recipes floating around on the internet for cauliflower crust, but we wanted one that would be sturdy enough to be picked up just like a normal slice of pizza. Now we can indulge guilt free on a Friday night and feel a little better about grabbing that last beer out of the fridge. It's all about the balance ;)

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

-1 large head of cauliflower
-1/2 cup almond meal
-1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(it would be great to add in herbs into the crust like fresh rosemary and thyme! we just kept it plain this time) 

-Whatever your little heart desires! We did the first pizza with Ricotta, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, topped with arugula and balsamic glaze. The second pizza had traditional pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil, baked in the oven and then topped with thinly slice prosciutto, arugula, red onion, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

what to do
1) Heat oven to 350°F. Start with cleaning a head of cauliflower. Toss the florets into a blender and pulse to create cauliflower rice. You might have to work in batches for this. 
2) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the cauliflower until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes. Line a strainer with a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel and pour the cauliflower into the strainer. Rinse with cold water, then press out all of the water. Spin the cheesecloth or towel and hold tight just above the cauliflower. Make sure you squeeze all of the water out. This step is super important for a good crust.
3) In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower with the almond meal, flour, olive oil, salt, baking powder, and pepper mixing well with your hands to combine.
4) Spread the dough onto a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form the crust with your fingers, shaping the dough. Then toss it in the oven and let it bake for about 20 minutes. Flip it over at the half-way mark that way you can get it crispy on both sides. 

-Pizza 1: Spread a layer of ricotta cheese on the top of the crust, top with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and ricotta cheese. Pop in the oven to heat through and once it's out of the oven then top with arugula and drizzle with balsamic glaze. 
-Pizza 2: Spread a layer of pizza sauce on top of the crust, top with shredded mozzarella and fresh basil. Bake in the over until cheese is starting to brown and bubble. Top with arugula, thinly sliced prosciutto, red onion and parmesan cheese. 

Guinness & Bailey's Ice-Cream Floats

My fam came into town last weekend and it was perfect. The Floridians braved the gloomy weather for a long weekend filled with exploring the city, eating copious amounts of food, frequenting Trader Joe's at least three times a day, long car rides over the mountain singing songs and quoting movies, taking windy walks on the coast, watching silly seals in Astoria, helicopter rides, and most importantly spending much needed time together. I'll blame it on winter and lack of sunshine, but I've been exceptionally homesick lately so It was so wonderful to spend five days with the fam. To make the weekend even better, I FOUND MY WEDDING DRESS!!!! I wasn't expecting to find it this early since we're still a year out, but when you find "the one" you just have to go for it :) On their last day in Portland, my mom and I had a girls morning (minus my little sister because she wanted to sleep in. I swear she's 12 going on 16!) and went wedding dress shopping, brunchin', and mimosa drinkin' and the day couldn't have been more perfect. 

Now the weekend is back and I'm ready to put my big girl pants for consuming large quantities of corned beef & cabbage, green beer, and these yummy Guinness & Bailey's ice cream floats. Honestly this is the easiest dessert ever to get in the St. Patty's day mood. I just happened to have vanilla ice cream in the freezer, Guinness in the fridge, these cute bottles of Bailey's in the liquor cabinet, and a bottle of Magic Shell that brings back more slumber-ice-cream party memories than I can count. If you're not going to the pub and you're a grandma like me, do yourself a favor and make one of these bad boys and turn on Boondocks Saints. Or, you can just sip on Bailey's and call it good ;)


Guinness & Bailey's Ice Cream Floats

-vanilla or chocolate ice-cream
-bottle or can of Guinness beer
-bailey's Irish cream
-chocolate sauce or syrup (I used Magic Shell)

What to do
1) place a scoop or two of ice-cream in individual serving dishes
2) pour 1 oz of Bailey's over ice-cream
3) top with Guinness beer
4) drizzle with chocolate sauce
5) eat with a spoon, drink with a straw, and go to bed fat & happy and feeling like an Irishman!

Weekend in Carlton // Esther's Granola

Tucked away in the Willamette Valley in Oregon lies the quaint little town of Carlton. Depending on the time of year, in the short one-hour drive for Portland, you'll find yourself passing anything from lavender and tulip farms, fruit orchards, fields of berries, and of course world renowned pinot noir vineyards. The Willamette Valley has a long history of producing some of the best pinots in the world second to Burgundy. Tbh, although I like to think I have a exquisite tastebuds, you can give me a glass of anything that has been fermenting in barrels and I'll be a happy girl. I say that but once I tried a great Oregon Pinot Noir I didn't want to go back to Two Buck Chuck! (living a stones throw from Trader Joe's makes that difficult )

Once you're getting close to Carlton you'll really start getting into vacay mode, and it's just far enough away from the city to feel like the perfect weekend getaway. Thomas planned this trip as a gift last year and it has been one of the most memorable weekends that we've had so far in Oregon. I have been a huge fan of Airbnb since we first tried it in Copenhagen two years ago and then in Seattle. For our Carlton trip, Thomas chose the sweetest little house for us to stay in. If you're not familiar with Airbnb, you can either rent an entire house or apartment to yourself (preferred), or you can just rent out a room within someone's house. Although I was skeptical at first to stay in someone's house with them, it ended up being an incredible experience. Esther had just lost her husband a few months prior and wanted companionship and a little extra money to help out with their farm so she decided to start doing Airbnb. After we were first greeted by Geese and free-range chickens in the yard, we met Esther at the door and she showed us our quaint room overlooking her orchards and garden. 

We then then proceeded to spend the first day wine tasting at Anne Amie Vineyards, which I should mention was a 5 minute walk from Esther's. (double bonus points for Thomas for finding a winery and airbnb in walking distance :) ) Anne Amie was a perfect start to the day with a $15 wine tasting and of course we had to have a charcuterie board for a quick snack before we headed into town.

After we were fuzzy headed and full of brie and salami from Anne Amie, we headed to downtown to wine-bar hop along the strip. The "strip" does have 22 tasting rooms which is impressive but don't be fooled - It's no Las Vegas and that's exactly why I like it. After several hours of hanging with locals at tasting counters we found ourselves in a little gem called The Horse Radish. We boogied down to jazzy country and oldies and were most definitely the youngest two by about 40 years and that's perfectly alright with me. 

We ended with a relaxing dinner at Cuvée which is the cutest little French bistro in town. We got back around 10:30 that night, with purple teeth and wide grins, and found Esther in the kitchen cleaning up from the day's work and preparing snacks for the morning. We stayed up what felt like hours talking about life, reminding me the beauty of traveling to new places and meeting new people- even if it is only an hour from home. 

In the morning we woke up to quiche, fresh eggs, tomatoes from her garden, and the most amazing homemade granola I've ever had. It was the perfect ending to our stay on the farm. With a copy of Esther's granola recipe in tow we said our goodbyes and made our way back to Portland.  Every-time I pull out that honey-stained piece of paper it puts a little smile on my face and makes me think of Esher. Scroll-down for her recipe and a link to her listing on Airbnb!

Trips - Carlton6 (1 of 1).jpg

Here is the listing if you want to stay at Esther's farm and spend a weekend in wine country!

Esther's Granola
(Original recipe uses 20 cups of oats! you can tell Esther feeds a crowd. I cut this down a lot, and I also can never find wheat germ or soy granules, so the recipe below is a little modified) 
-5 cups of oats
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1/2 cup pecans
-1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I used pumpkin seeds)
-1/2 cup coconut flakes
-1/2 cup powdered milk (I use powdered coconut milk) 

Heat following ingredients in pan until incorporated and heated through.
-1/2 cup of honey
-1/2 cup of coconut oil
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon salt

what to do
-Preheat oven to 250-275 degrees (130-140 c)
- In a large bowl mix oats, peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, and powdered milk and stir
-pour in honey mixture and stir until combined
-spread out in an even layer on a cookie sheet (use two sheets if needed) and bake until golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Stir at the halfway mark to prevent burning. 
-Let cool and then top with your favorite fruit, or just eat it as a snack on the go!

Kjøttboller // Norway and Meatballs

Okay, enough is enough, Winter!

I am normally all about cozying up in the dark and stormy weather, but it's carried on far too long this year in the PNW. I'm impatiently waiting for picnics in the park, blooming flowers, bustling streets of people who are ecstatic that the sun is shining, and laying out in my bathing suit (or shorts I should say since my legs are translucent from living in Oregon). Someone who is also more than ready for sunshine is Thomas. Since he can't fly in bad weather, he's had to spend a lot of days at home. Normally I am the one that takes pictures of anything we make, but I told him when he's home on a day that I am working he should make something Norwegian to feature on the blog. 

I thought this post would be fitting since we are starting to plan our big family trip to Norway in July! Which is another big reason why I am aching for it to be summer. My entire family will be heading to Oslo at the end of July and I CANNOT WAIT. Thomas and I will be meeting them there since we're coming from Portland (we have an 18 hour layover beforehand in Reykjavik Iceland and you have no idea how excited I am to float in the blue lagoons!)  

Being on vacation, having long summer days and the midnight sun, spending time on the lake at Thomas's family cabin, all while having my whole family there will be absolutely perfect. As always, I'm most excited for sitting around talking, eating good food and having libations with the people I love the most. I'm sure we'll be BBQing every night, having obligatory ventepølse and lots of akevitt to accompany our meals  :) 

Even though I'm dreaming of all the seafood, grilled meat, and akevitt that we'll be consuming in July, it's only March and we're still stuck in the Arctic in Portland (people who are actually dealing with snow around the world, think I'm the biggest baby for saying that!) 
The cold and rainy weather always makes me crave something hearty that sticks to my ribs!  I came home from work the other day and Thomas had made kjøttboller (meatballs) and had taken pictures for the blog :) so cute. From my understanding, these are a little more Swedish since they're meatballs. In Norway it's typical to make kjøttkaker which is meat cakes, or what my family likes to call shit cakes lol. They're always served with boiled potatoes with melted butter and a little parsley on top! A healthy helping of meatball gravy on top of the potatoes makes you do a little food dance from happiness. Do you ever do that in your kitchen? Do a little dance because you're so excited to eat something? Whether I'm a weirdo or not, go put your dancin' shoes on and make these meatballs because you're in for a treat!


2 lbs (900 g) minced beef 80/20 (80% lean and 20% fat)
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg (Buy whole nutmeg and zest. Much better flavor when you use whole! If not pre-ground nutmeg will do)

Brown Sauce
-1/2 cup (113 g) butter
-1 cup (128 g) flour
-8 cups (2 l) beef stock
-1/2 cup (113 g) sour creme
-Salt and pepper

-1-2 potatoes per person
-2 tablespoons of melted butter
-Chopped parsley

2 carrots per. person
1 tsp honey

How to do it like a Norwegian 

  1. For the meatballs: In a large bowl, whisk in the eggs and spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg). Mix until incorporated. Then add the ground meat and mix all together with your hands.
  2. Form the meat into 2-oz (60 g) balls (about the size of golf balls). Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt half the butter (1-2 tbsp) and lightly brown the meatballs, turning until they are browned on all sides, but not cooked through. You may need to work in two batches. Once all the meatballs have been browned remove them from pan and set aside while you prepare the gravy.
  3. In the same skillet or Dutch oven you cooked the meatballs in, add 1/2 cup (113 g) butter over medium-low heat. When melted but now browned, stir in the flour to make a roux and allow to cook for a minute - the roux will still be blonde in color. Then slowly whisk the broth into the roux. Make sure you whisk out any lumps before continue to adding the broth. Once the roux is incorporated into the broth, turn the heat up to a boil to get out the flavor of the flour. If the gravy is too thick, add a little more broth (or water) to thin it to your desired consistency. If the gravy is too thin you can cook a little longer allowing the sauce to reduce to your desired consistency. Add the meatballs back into the pan and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the meatballs are cooked through. 
  4. When the meatballs are done, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream. if you add the sour creme when the sauce is too hot it will curdle! Taste the sauce and adjust your seasonings to your desired tastes.
  5. While the meatballs are simmering, boil the potatoes and sauté the carrots. When the potatoes are done drizzle 1-2 tbsp of melted butter over them and sprinkle with parsley. When sautéing the carrots you want to keep the crunch in them so be careful. Add the honey and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with Lingonberry jam (found in your local IKEA if not in your local grocery store). You can also use cranberry jam if you are unable to find lingonberry jam.

Written by Thomas :) 

Eggs en Cocotte

I've only just begun practicing my hand at French cooking. I'm no Julia child, but I do know one thing...If I have to spend the rest of my days practicing the craft by eating butter-smeared baguette, dipping the crusty parts in slow-simmered boeuf bourguignon, sipping Côtes du Rhône, and eating éclair's with cream that's been whipped into submission than I will be the happiest little dame there ever was. 

I'll never forget my first meal in Paris. My fellow study abroader's and I thought we were instantly distinguished and sophisticated the second our feet hit French soil, so for our first meal we weren't going to put up with eating cheap "touristy" food. We wandered down a little cobblestone alleyway, just like you would imagine in a movie, and came up to La Butte Aux Piafs. The cutest little restaurant that you ever did see. We ate escargot on top of warm baguette, lamb shanks that practically melted in your mouth, and we polished it off with crème brûlée. After that night we quickly realized that our wallets couldn't handle our stomach's desires. But for those three short blissful hours sitting in that restaurant, you probably never saw a brood quite as fat and happy as us. You can read more about it in this post!

I yearn for the day Thomas and I can travel back to France together. I picture lounging on a airy balcony looking over the French Riviera, eating so much cheese and drinking more wine than our little hearts could ever desire. Or sitting outside at a bistro in Paris sipping on espresso's and swooning over pain au chocolat's. At least that's the way I picture it in my head...but until that day I will happily keep practicing the art of French cooking out of our kitchen in whatever part of the world we are in. 

Eggs en cocotte. Let me tell you about this little dish of heaven. "En cocotte" means to steam in a small dish or ramekin! How cute is that?! Eggs are a huge part of French Cuisine. Chef Jacques Pepin actually judges up-and-comers on how well they can make an omelette! 
Shallots, mushrooms, and spinach sautéed with butter and garlic and then reduced down with cream makes up the base of this dreamy breakfast. If you're like us, you'll want to keep the yolks oh-so-runny and soak up every drop with toasted baguette. Feelin' French yet?

Eggs en Cocotte
serves 2
- 8 oz (227 g) of mushrooms, sliced (whichever variety you prefer)
-1 tablespoon of butter
-1 shallot, finely chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 big handfuls of spinach
-1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
-4 large eggs
-fresh grated parmesan
-salt & pepper to taste
-Toasted sliced baguette

what to do
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 celsius) 
2)Heat up a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Wait until the pan is hot before adding the mushrooms. Let them cook without stirring too often until they are brown and have sweat out a majority of their water. Do not add the butter until after the mushrooms have browned!
3) Turn the heat down to medium and add a tablespoon of butter to the browned mushrooms. Add the shallots and cook down until softened, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook just until fragrant. 
4) Add in your handfuls of spinach and drizzle with a little olive oil and sauté until they wilt down a little. Pour in the cream and reduce the mixture down until most of the liquid has evaporated and the cream has thickened. 
5) In individual ramekins or oven-proof dishes, scoop the mushroom mixture into each. Top each dish with two large eggs and sprinkle with salt and pepper and grated cheese. 
6) Place ramekins in a baking dish and transfer to oven. Carefully pour enough boiling water into baking dish to submerge ramekins 3/4 of the way. Bake eggs en cocotte until whites are just set and yolks are still jiggly, about 12-15 minutes depending on how runny you like your yolks! 
7) Slice baguette and brush slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toast under the broiler until golden brown.  


Linking up this week with Buns in my Oven for What's Cookin' Wednesday!

Our Favorite Old Fashioned

In lieu of Thomas's birthday weekend I thought I would share our favorite cocktail, the Old Fashioned. I'll never forget one of the first long phone conversations that we had when we had just started dating. You know the kind of conversation that you have when hours go by and it feels like minutes and your cheeks hurt afterwards from smiling so much? Yeah, that kind. He was with his friends on a road trip up heading to North Carolina for a weekend of skiing and I'm almost positive we talked his entire drive there. I'm sure all his friends were annoyed as hell from us two gabbing away! Somewhere in the midst of talking about childhoods, our all-time favorite movies, and what our ultimate vacation destinations would be, we discovered that both of our favorite cocktail is a good Old Fashioned. 

It's our go-to drink whether that's any where we go in Portland or hanging out at home on the weekends. My drink usually has to match my surroundings though. Do you know what I mean? If it's the dead of summer in Florida and I'm sitting on the beach I want a cold margarita, or if I'm having a night with the girls it's all about wine, wine, and more wine. But 9 times out of 10, our surroundings consist of being cozy at home or in a quiet bar and an Old Fashioned is just the ticket. 

We're not cocktail craftsman by any means but we do know that a quality OF takes good bitters, a smooth bourbon or rye, and most importantly, a solid ice cube. There's nothing more disappointing when you go somewhere and you order an Old Fashioned and it comes out with crushed ice (albeit I love the crushed ice at a Sonic drive-thru), and your drink is watered down after a minute. Here in Portland PDX ICE company is the absolute best. It's a perfect 2 inch, crystal clear cube that fits perfectly in your glass. At home I just use a sphere ice mold that's made by Tovolo. We love Bull Run, which is a local distillery in our neighborhood in NW Portland that produces the most amazing whiskey's and bitters. I bought Thomas "The Bitter Housewife" bitters for our Anniversary funnily enough and it's some of the best I've ever tried. Is it weird that I put like 5 dashes? It's liquid gold so I don't want to waste it, but it is GOOOD. 

Our Favorite Old Fashioned

-1 teaspoon simple syrup
-2 dashes of bitters (Angostura or whatever other kind you prefer!)
-1 slice of orange peel
-a little squeeze of fresh orange juice (skip this if you don't want it as sweet)
2 ounces (60 ml) good-quality rye or bourbon
1 maraschino cherry (we prefer the Luxardo cocktail cherries)

what to do
-Place simple syrup, bitters, squeeze of orange juice, and whiskey in an Old Fashioned glass, stir well then add your ice cube. Stir 2 to 3 times to chill. Twist the orange peel to release oils and fragrance (is that the fancy way a bartender would say it?) before placing the peel in a glass and adding a fancy cherry. 

Cheers friends! And happy birthday to my hottie of a Fiancé :)

I hope that if you've never tried an Old Fashioned than you'll give it a whirl this weekend! 

    Dungeness Crab Salad // Brunch and Lunch

    Some of my favorite childhood food memories are when we would spread newspaper all over the dining room table and have crab legs by the dozens. There is nothing more satisfying when you crack the leg just right and pull out that huge piece of sweet, meaty flesh in a whole piece. That sounds a little cannibalistic when I say it like that! But hey, who are we kidding? I will eat those meaty legs all day long...

    I was such a brat in restaurants when I was little. I would order crab legs every chance I got, even though I was 5. My poor parents would have to crack and shell all of my crab for me in a little mound before they could even get to their own meals. This is the 101 millionth reason why I love my parents so much. I am so appreciative now that they made me be an adventure eater when I was young and didn't always hold me to the chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese on the menu. But don't get me wrong, I definitely had my fair share of Kraft Mac and Spagetti O's by the bucket full.
    In Florida, we would always have either Blue or Stone crabs which are amazing, but now that I live in Oregon the Dungeness crab is the king around here and the Mack Daddy of the crab kingdom! The peak season here is from December- April and you can bet your little fanny that I am constantly eyeing them in the store. I'd love to go crabbing this year. From what I understand, crabbing is just throwing crab traps into the water while you wait in the boat and consume beverages. Sounds like my kind of day! Until we can do the real thing, for now I'll just have to settle for the seafood counter.
    Last week we finally decided to splurge and have a crab feast! Thomas did all the work and created a glorious mound of crab meat which I mercilessly kept stealing bites from. We made the creamiest dreamiest crab salad that was perfect for brunch. It was the topper to toasty sourdough bread, smoked salmon, and the softest scrambled eggs you've ever put in your mouth. For the life of me I can't understand why I always wanted my scrambled eggs "dry". I would specifically ask for that in restaurants. Grosssss. Thomas showed me a way to cook scrambled eggs on very low heat, constantly mixing until they are pillowy and perfect, and then adding a small slab off butter at the end with a sprinkle of salt & peppa. 

    With that being said, this should definitely be on your lazy Sunday brunch menu this weekend! And if you're lucky enough to have leftovers, you can make a boring salad SO much better like I did with this spinach salad!


     Dungeness Crab Breakfast Toasts

    Crab salad

     -2 pounds of Dungeness crab (meat removed, save the shells and make seafood stock if you want!)
     -2 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
     -3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
     -2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice 
     -a handful of chopped parsley 
     -Salt and pepper to taste
     - scrambled eggs
     - smoked salmon
     - good crusty bread
    What to do
    1) crack all of the crab legs to get the meat out. Thomas just used the back of a knife, but if you have shell crackers even better! Put all the meat in a large bowl. 
    2) gently mix in the mayo, lemon juice, green onion, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. We wanted the crab to really stand out, but if you want yours a little creamier, add more mayo or sour cream to your liking. 
    3) to make the scrambled eggs, whisk 5 or 6 large eggs in a bowl and then pour into a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Continuously stir the eggs with a wooden spoon or spatula and if you see the eggs cooking too quickly remove from heat and continue to stir until the cooking process has slowed. After 5 or so minutes when the eggs have scrambled, remove from heat and add a small slice of butter and incorporate into the eggs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and voila! Perfect scrambled eggs :) 
    4) To assemble, make the toasty slice of bread your base and then add the eggs, slices of smoked salmon, and topped with crab salad. 
    Note on the salad: My favorite quick salad is to use spinach or arugala and then coat the leaves with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper! 

    Participating in https://www.midlifecroissant.com/saucy-saturdays-blog-hop-84/ 

    Chocolate Rose Cake for Two

    I've said it myself in the past so I can't judge too harshly, but I've learned to dispise when people say that Valentine's Day is just another day. I agree that you should treat your partner special every day, but February 14th should not go un-celebrated. I mean come on, who doesn't love heart shaped foods, chocolates with surprises in the middle, and guiltlessly eating box after box of Sweethearts? Oh yeah and the best part, spending quality time with your valentine :)

    Do you remember what a big deal v-day was when you were a kid? I would work tirelessly the night before making a cute card for every person in my class. And when I say "I", I really mean my mom or stepmom. Heart shaped pancakes were always a must in the morning and my uniform would include a giant red bow in my hair. Maybe I should bring that look back for work on the 14th. 

    Whatever your Love Day traditions consist of, our favorite is to make an amazing meal at home, drink entirely too much red wine, ban all technology, and eat chocolate until we burst! Since it's on a Tuesday this year, I wanted to make good meal over the weekend. Thomas worked all day on Saturday, so I cooked up a storm and jammed out to all the best love tunes. I'm talking I Do (Cherish you) by 98 Degrees kind of tunes. I made crab bisque, beef wellington, roasted potatoes, arugula salad, and finished the meal off with this amazing chocolate rose cake for two! The frosting is to dieeee for. I'm not going lie, I still have a bowl of it in the fridge and I keep sneaking spoonfuls. I got this recipe from Adrianna over at A Cozy Kitchen. It's the perfect, full proof chocolate cake recipe and can be made in a snap for a special day!


    Chocolate Rose Cake for Two
     Recipe by Adrianna - A Cozy Kitchen

     -3/4 cups all-purpose flour
     -3/4 cups white granulated sugar
     -1/3 cup Dutch cocoa powder
     -1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
     -3/4 teaspoon baking soda
     -1/2 teaspoon baking powder
     -1/2 teaspoon salt
     -1 large egg 
     -1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, buttermilk 
     -1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, warm water
     -1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil 
     - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
     -3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
     -2 cups powdered sugar, sifted 
     -3 ounces dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled 
     -1 1/2 tablespoons cream or milk 
     -3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
     -Flaked sea salt, for topping
    What to do
    1) To make the cake: preheat over to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 6-inch cake pans. This batter is sticky so I also lined the bottoms with parchment. I highly recommend this. You don't want to bake the whole thing up and have it stick. Set the pans aside. 
    2) In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand-up mixer (with the paddle attachment), add the all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined. Next, crack in the egg, pour in the buttermilk, warm water, olive oil and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth, about 1 minute. The batter will be thinner than cake batter that you’re probably used to—that’s ok!
    3) Divide the cake batter amongst the two cake pans and transfer to the oven to bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If you want it a little fudgier, check it around 25 minutes! Clean out the bowl you used to make the cake and dry it thoroughly. While the cake is cooling, use it to make the frosting,
    4) To make the frosting: add all of the ingredients to the the cleaned large bowl or the bowl of the stand-up mixer (with the paddle attachment), add the butter, powdered sugar, melted chocolate, cream or milk and vanilla extract. Beat until thoroughly combined and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix one last time, just to ensure everything is combined.
    5) Decorating: Add a few tablespoons of frosting to the center of one of the rounds of cake. Smooth it around, until it reaches the edges. Add a pinch of salt all around. Place the second layer on top. Since I was going for a “naked cake” look, I added more frosting to the seam of the two cakes and smoothed it all around. Neat is not the goal! Add the remaining frosting to piping bag with a star tip attached. In the center of the top layer of cake, pipe out a rose by starting in the center and going all the way around twice. Complete the cake by adding smaller roses around the center rose. Don’t be shy to practice on a piece of parchment first and then simply add the frosting back to the piping bag—no waste!
    6) Top the cake with a sprinkling of flaked sea salt!
    Happy v-day lovebirds!!

    Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Avocado Dressing

    Happy Hump Day!  

    Wednesday's are so good because you're SO CLOSE to Friday, yet bad because you're SO FAR from Friday. You've gotten through two days of early alarms, sleepy cups of coffee, wobbling ankles in heels at 6:30am (me every morning), and early work calls that just make you want to crawl back into bed with the covers over your head.

    I make jokes, but there's something so gratifying about having a routine. Once I've gotten out of bed in the morning and I've watched the morning news with a strong cup of joe, I am ready to rock! From Monday-Wednesday Thomas and I are usually pretty good about working out. After that it's on the steady decline and barbells turn to beer bottles. Since we've been trying different classes at studios around Portland with ClassPass, we have definitely had some laughs. I honestly wish someone would secretly film us one day (actually just film Thomas) doing things like "pigeon pose" in yoga, trying to function on a pyrolates machine, and doing push-n-pulls in spin class! I seriously can't look at him sometimes or else I burst out in uncontrollable laughter! Is their any fun workouts you guys like to do?!

    In spirit of Wednesday's and being half way to fri-yay, here is a healthy-ish salad that satisfies all of your "almost weekend" cravings.
    Speaking of healthy-ish, have you read bon appétit's January issue?! Perfection.
    This salad is on our menu at least a few times a month because it's so quick and easy to throw together. I could slurp this avocado dressing with a straw and it's just creamy and decadent enough to feel like a sinful Friday night meal. 


    Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Avocado Dressing  
    serves 4

    -2 cups quinoa
     -big bag of spinach
     -2-4 chicken breasts (depending if you want to do half or a whole breast per person) 
     -2 tsp cumin
     -2 tsp chili powder
     -1/2 tsp salt
     -1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
     -2 avocados, thinly sliced or cubed
     -grape tomatoes, halved
     -1 red onion, thinly sliced
     -Chopped cilantro for serving

     - 1/2 cup sour cream
     - 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
     -1/2 cup olive oil
     -1 ripe avocado
     -1/3 cup lime juice
     -2 cloves of garlic
     -handful of cilantro (we like a lot!) 
     -1/2 cup of milk or water, use more or less depending on how thick you want it  
     -1/2 tsp salt

    What to do
     -Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a pot. Add a spoonful of chicken stock or just salt the water before adding the quinoa. Give a quick stir before turning the water to a low boil and putting the lid on. Let simmer until the quinoa has soaked up all the water and tender. 
     -While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  
     -Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper and rub all of the chicken breasts. On a baking sheet, wrap the chicken breasts in foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until their done. Slice chicken into strips to serve. 
     -To assemble, place large handfuls of spinach in individual serving bowls. Top with quinoa, sliced chicken, grape tomaotoes, red onion, sliced or cubed avocado, drizzle generously with avocado dressing and finish the salad with chopped cilantro. 

    Happy Friday Eve Eve Friends! 

    Super Bowl Sliders: 3 Ways

    Is it sad that I just had to double check with Thomas who is playing in the Super Bowl?! That is actually quite sad being that I won 2nd in my fantasy league this year...lol. It probably eats everyone alive in my league that some how I won the whole thing last year and 2nd this year and I have no clue how. I must just be a drafting wizard ;) Cheers to working smarter not harder!
    In other sporting news, did you know the Handball World Championship was this past weekend?! I always thought handball was just the game we played in elementary school! Who knew it is actually a huge sport, and Norway just won their first medal ever! 

    Anywho, regardless of who's playing, Super Bowl Sunday is always a winner in my books. Who doesn't like a great sporting event with even greater company, gorging on burgers, and other cute hand-held things, and geeking out on all the amazing commercials? I'M IN. 

    I wish I could say I'm a big fan for a team this year who has proudly worn their jersey every Sunday since the season started. But since I'm not, you can find me with my bandwagon jersey on hanging by the bar where all the snackies are. 

    Since there's so many yummy things to munch on at a SB party, you probably don't want to eat a whole burger, That's why little mini burgers are so perfect! 
    The lineup includes:

    -A chipotle guac slider with honey roasted jalapeños
     -A pear & blue cheese slider with arugula 
     -and last but not least, the MVP, throwing the Hail Mary of all Hail Mary's, "THE CLASSIC" with candied bacon.
    Cue the trumpets!!!!


    Chipotle Guac Sliders

     Chipotle Cream:
     -2 large chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 3 tablespoons of adobo sauce
     -1 garlic clove, minced
     -1/2 cup of sour cream
     -1/3 cup of mayo 

      -2 ripe avocados
     -juice of 1/2 a lime 
     -1 garlic clove, minced
     -handful of chopped cilantro 
     -salt & pepper to taste

     -1 pound of ground beef (I bought 83% lean, 17% fat)
     -1 large chipotle pepper, finely chopped, about a tablespoon of reserved adobo sauce
     -1/2 tsp cumin
     -1/2 tsp garlic powder
     -1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
     -Pepper jack cheese
     -Red onion, thinly sliced into rings
     -3 jalapeños, sliced
     -Slider buns

    What to do:  

    -Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the jalapeños and place in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and honey. Stir to coat. Place in the preheated oven and roast until soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally. 
     -While the jalapeños roast, for the chipotle cream, mix the finely chopped chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, minced garlic, sour cream, and mayonnaise all together. Add more peppers if you want it spicier and add salt & pepper to taste.  
     -For the guac, mix the smashed avocado together with juice of 1/2 a lime, handful of chopped cilantro, 1 minced garlic clove, and salt & pepper to taste. 
     -For the burgers, mix the beef with the chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, spices, and salt pepper and form into 2 inch patties of equal size and thickness.
     -If you have a grill, GREAT! But if not, heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat until hot. With a little olive oil in the pan, place the patties down and sear until brown on each side. Place in the oven at 350 degrees to finish cooking through to your liking, about 10 more minutes.
     -When you think the burgers are about done, take them out and place small slices of pepper jack over each patty. Turn the oven to broil and melt the cheese until bubbly. 
     -With the oven still on broil, place buns brushed with olive oil on a baking sheet and broil until buns are toasty and golden.
     -To assemble: Place a layer of guac on the bottom bun. Top with burger, sliced red onion and roasted jalapeños. On the top bun, smear a layer of chipotle cream. Voila! Guac-y slider magic. 


    Pear & Blue Cheese Sliders 
     Lemon garlic aioli
     -1/2 cup of mayo 
     -Juice of 1/2 lemon
     -2 garlic cloves 
     -pinch of salt 
     - 1 pound of ground beef ( I used 83% lean 17% fat)
     -Good blue cheese. The stinkier the better :) 
     -1 pear thinly sliced
     -slider buns
     What to do:
     -Mix all the ingredients for your aioli. Add more salt or lemon juice to your liking. 
     -For the burgers, season meat with salt and pepper and form into 2 inch patties of equal size and thickness.
     -If you have a grill, GREAT! But if not, heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat until hot. With a little olive oil in the pan, place the patties down and sear until brown on each side. Place in the oven at 350 degrees to finish cooking through to your liking, about 10 more minutes.
     -When you think the burgers are about done, take them out and place the crumbled blue cheese over each patty. Turn the oven to broil and melt the cheese until bubbly.
    -With the oven still on broil, place buns brushed with olive oil on a baking sheet and broil until buns are toasty and golden.
    -To assemble: Smear the aioli on the bottom bun. Then place a small bunch of arugula and place the patty on top. Place thin slices of pear over the burger and then the top bun.


    "The Classic" Slider

     Lemon garlic aioli
     -1/2 cup of mayo
     -Juice of 1/2 lemon
     -2 garlic cloves
     -pinch of salt

     - 1 pound of ground beef ( I used 83% lean 17% fat)
     -thick, center cut bacon
     -brown sugar
     -Roma Tomatoes, sliced 
     -Red onion, thinly sliced into rings
     -cheddar cheese
     -Slider buns 
      What to do
     -to candy the bacon, toss bacon with 1/3 cup of brown sugar in the large bowl. On a foil lined baking sheet, place bacon in an even layer and season with pepper. Bake at 350 until crispy, turning halfway though. Total baking time should be around 25 minutes! If it needs longer, just watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. 
     -If you have a grill, GREAT! But if not, heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat until hot. With a little olive oil in the pan, place the patties down and sear until brown on each side. Place in the oven at 350 degrees to finish cooking through to your liking, about 10 more minutes.  
     -When you think the burgers are about done, take them out and place slices of cheddar over each patty. Turn the oven to broil and melt the cheese until bubbly.
    -With the oven still on broil, place buns brushed with olive oil on a baking sheet and broil until buns are toasty and golden.
    -To assemble: Smear the aioli on the bottom bun. Then place the candied bacon and patty on top of the bacon. Top with tomato and onion. 

    Happy Super Bowling folks!!!

    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!


    Beet, Avocado, and Pea Salad


    -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!



    Blanquette de Porc
     Adapted from Mimi Thorisson- A Kitchen in France
     -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!


    Seared Steak with sundried tomato and Greek salad

     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. 

    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!


    Oxtail Ragu Pappardelle 
     (Adapted from Jaime Oliver's Oxtail Stew)
    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. :)


    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.


    Mini Apple Pies

    -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
    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.


    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!


    Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate  
    Adapted from Minimalist Baker

     -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.