Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I am not gonna lie, but these little crostinis are the best thing ever! They are sweet, they are tangy and what better way to pair them than with a little fromage blanc? Seriously I could eat these things all day, not too mention the fact that I actively stop myself from eating all these up before Will got home!
Kind of funny, but I actually looked up the acronym SOG hoping to find my definition, "sugary, oily goodness" and I was a little surprised not to see it. C'mon I am not the first to coin that phrase, but hey, I'll take it!
I may have over done it on the roasting, but I actually enjoy the burnt tomatoes they kind of taste like tomato candies! Their crunchy, sweet and tangy all in one bite!
Roasted Tomato and Fromage Blanc Crostini serves 8
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack situated on the top thirds of the oven.
Slice tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together olive oil and sugar. Pour mixture over tomatoes and toss together until well combined. empty tomato mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet. Flip over tomatoes until they all are cut side up. Roast until tomatoes shrink up a bit and are caramelized around the edges, about 45 minutes.
Now, if you are not making the crostini right away, allow the tomatoes to cool first and then add them to a glass jar topping with any left over oil from the pan.
Brush slices of baguette with olive oil and broil under broiler until golden and lightly crispy. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. Spread fromage blanc on crostini and top with roasted tomatoes and sprinkle fresh thyme leaves on top. Serve for friends...or enjoy the whole thing by yourself. I won't tell anyone.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A couple weeks ago Patty and I had lunch at Red Hills Market in Dundee in celebration of exceeding our quarter one sales goals. I had not been to Red Hills Market for some time so it was nice to check out what was new with them. The Willamette Valley is home to one of the fasted growing wine regions in the United States, however it still has a down home feel as the area is home to other agriculture as well. Because of this, the businesses and development has been slow. So when something new comes to the valley it's kind of a big deal. Red Hills Market opened about one year ago and it has been great to see their business grow and thrive. They are sort of like a gourmet one-stop shop with, espresso, home goods, specialty foods and cheeses, and a cafe that serves up wood oven pizzas and gourmet sandwiches.
Red Hills Market also has a great selection of cheeses, artisan bread and an olive bar so you can put together a nice little picnic to pack with you while wine tasting. Once a week they host a local farmers market in their parking lot and in the summer you can enjoy a game of bocce ball. It is quite nice to lounge with a glass of rosé and play bocce ball!
If you're in the Willamette Valley and looking to have a casual lunch or dinner or just want to pick up some local specialty foods and goods then you should definitely check out Red Hills Market in Dundee.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Another piece of furniture my mom brought up was my great-grandmother's rocking chair (my father's grandmother). Although I never met her (she passed away in 1976), I grew up hearing stories of her when my dad put me to bed. He had many fond stories of living with her on the reservation. His mother lived in California, but travelled often for work, which meant he was cared for by his grandmother. He split his time on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana (yes, I am American Indian; Blackfeet and Choctaw) as well as in San Jose, California. This was his great-grandmother's chair at his home in San Jose. Knowing how much she meant to my father and how this chair served as a memory of her, it is very dear to me.
Will's sister and brother-in-law gave me the movie poster prints one year from Christmas. They are images from some of my favorite films reinvented. The artist is Claudia Varosio and you can find her work here on Etsy. They are one of the first things that made our house a home and I treasure them.
I am so proud of finding this mid century modern coffee table! I found it on Craigslist. The seller had a stall at a local vintage store and she was moving so everything in her stall was crazy on sale. It is literally the coolest home furnishing I own. I love how it is cutout and has little cubbies, containing all my different coasters. Underneath the glass is my Peter Lindbergh, "Portfolio" photography book. He is my favorite fashion editorial photographer and I highly recommend checking out his work. Unfortunately, when Cassidy was a young pup she chewed off the corner (hence why it is flipped over). It's a real shame because this was a first edition copy, before it was rereleased in paperback form.
The stoneware vase and tray were from one of my favorite shops, Ink & Peat. They have the best collection of housewares, jewelry, and apothecary as well as floral shop! If we get married I would totally register with them, and the best part is they now have an online shop, so if you live elsewhere: check them out! I love silverdollars and seashells. I can't remember when Will found it, but that is his awesome find.
Lastly, but not least is the bar and record cabinet. Please don't mind our router and modem below! At the same vintage shop where I purchased our coffee table I found this cabinet and at $20 bucks it was quite the steal! It doubles as our record cabinet and bar. However, when we move I will convert this either fully to the bar or as a record cabinet. My receiver is quite old and is on the fritz and will need to be replaced soon, but the turntable is brand spanking new! Will replaced my old turntable a few years back for my birthday with this digital ready Numark. I am embarrassed to say that I have yet to digitize my records since I got it. For my sixteenth birthday my brother gave me the Beastie Boys print. It is a screen print signed and numbered by the artist from their Hello Nasty Tour in Australia. My mom had it matted and framed for me that same year. My barware and glasses are a collection of vintage finds and modern pieces. We are pretty limited on space so I haven't expanded on this collection yet, but it would be nice to add some more finds.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
- Introduce my none wine friends to a new wine or region that is tasty, affordable (under $25, usually in the $15 range) and will hopefully spark their interest in wine.
- Not to be selfish, but this feature also helps me to study and stay fresh with wine knowledge. After tasting and taking notes I then go and research the producer and region with interesting facts, notable characteristics of region and wines of said region.
- This one directly relates to my first point, but I really do enjoy sharing my knowledge with others and hope this sparks an interest in wine with you. I'm not saying that you need to go crazy breaking the bank or get into it as I am (it is my career). I just hope that you explore the wines or regions I feature and maybe impress your friends or colleagues at your next dinner or soiree!
This is actually not the first time I have covered the Côtes du Rhône on Wine Wednesday before. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite wine regions of the world, especially the Southern Rhône, which is where this beautiful blend comes from, more specifically, Visan.
|Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
Domaine Guintrandy is situated at the gateway of the "Enclaves des Papes," which means "Enclave of Popes" because of the Catholic's rich history in Avginon. From 1305-1378 it is where the popes lived, while under the influence of French kings. Catholic influence continued in this area until the French Revolution when they were annexed from the area.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
On Valentine's Day I wore this cute little number, showing my love of flower power! The dress, well really it's more of a tunic, was something that I picked up from Modcloth's recent colossal sale. It is a new favorite and pairs perfectly with my coral cardigan.
I am all smiles, maybe because this was the only part of the day that turned sunny...just in time for Patty to grab some shots of me before heading home to celebrate with our loved ones.
Speaking of new favorites, these are my new favorite shoes from ShoeMint. Have you visited them yet? Their shoes are killer! I want one of everything, unfortunately I need to have a little self control. Beige suede may not be the best option for rainy Pacific NW, but I don't care...a girl has to have her shoes!
Monday, February 20, 2012
I just wanted to pop in and give y'all a quick howdy along with my owl friend! My friend at work, Patty, made me this cute little owl inspired by a pin she saw on Pinterest for Valentine's Day. She even designed a card to compliment the owl. He's made a nice habitat for himself on my desk and I think I shall call him Oliver!
Today has been one of those days that is a little slow going. Yesterday I was incredibly productive by cleaning our house, doing laundry and playing with Cassidy at the park. My plan for today was to finish laundry and schedule some serious blogging time. Unfortunately, Will and I couldn't sleep a wink last night and most of our night was spent tossing and turning. After all that I woke up with a horrible kink in my neck. Needless to say I don't have that go get 'em attitude I had yesterday. However, I still have some fun upcoming posts over the coming weeks that I am excited to share including the return of Wine Wednesday, Outfit posts, Recipes, Spirit Saturday, and a feature on an awesome wine country restaurant and market! Stay tuned!
Friday, February 17, 2012
I am a firm believer of enjoying the simple things in life, which I think rings true for almost everything, including culinary explorations. I have consumed many a thing from foie gras to oysters to truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolate) to fiddle head ferns and everything in between. I have dined on plates that were highly complex with many components to simple dishes with only two to three components. I often have found that I truly enjoy and savor more the dishes that are very simple (two to four) components that really do celebrate the flavors and quality of the ingredients. It's weird, but salads are one of my favorite simple pleasures. Even if it is just simple greens tossed with good quality olive oil and sea salt, I just love it, especially when served as one of the last courses as in a traditional French meal (because it aids in digestion). This was a salad I had made recently, and although I wished I could have found mâché, spring greens work just as well. I love the rich, creamy flavor of the avocados contrasted against the tangy oranges...and the fromage blanc is an added bonus.
Citrus and Avocado Salad with Fromage Blanc serves 4
2 navel oranges
2 blood oranges
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
4 cups mâché or spring greens
fromage blanc, for garnish
Grate 1 tablespoon orange zest and add to a food processor. Trim skin from the oranges and remove white pith from core, slice into 1/4 inch rounds.
Squeeze juice from three orange slices into food processor and discard pulp. Add shallots and vinegar. Blend mixture, adding olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a bowl, toss greens with salad dressing and coarse salt and pepper.
Arrange avocado and orange slices amongst four plates. Mound greens on top of each plate. Top with dollups of fromage blanc and serve.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Will and I have been going out on a lot of casual dates recently and it's been really nice. This last Sunday was our second time going to one of my favorite restaurant's, Tasty n' Sons, for their happy hour. We are both pretty busy so it has been nice to have a casual meal talking to each other on an afternoon where we both don't have any other engagements.
We normally are total homebodies so going out recently has been a real treat. On Monday night we went to a jazz show at Will's school, Portland State, and it was awesome. I have a great appreciation of music, especially jazz and soul. When I was in college I was studying editorial journalism with a focus on music. I took a couple of music history classes including Jazz and Rock History and had high hopes of becoming a music journalist. It's funny how your life changes (I am totally happy how it did), in fact I am still actively writing! Anyway, my point of that little bit of history was to fill you in on how much music means to me. I love hearing music and going to that show really ignited my passion for jazz and seeing music live. You really do appreciate each musician's contribution and their talent (of which I have none).
Another thing Will and I have been doing lately, or I guess I should say, not doing, is not watching t.v. We gave up t.v. for a whole month. We don't really watch our t.v., but this experiment includes streaming anything on our computers. It's given me a lot more time to blog and even pick up reading again (at least for pleasure: I am always reading wine books for pleasure, but mostly for learning). However, I do have to admit I MISS my shows. I feel so lame to say that, but how did we ever get along before?! As I am typing this I know that all my friends have seen the new Smash episode and sadly, I am totes jealous. I think it is an interesting experiment, though it will not last forever, has made us reevaluate how much t.v. we watch. That's all for me, what have you been up to lately?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I hope you all are having a super Valentine's Day! I know it's a silly holiday, but I have grown to love it over the last few years...especially now that I don't work in the food service industry! When I was a kid my mom used to make a big deal on Valentine's Day and I loved it! She would send me flowers and at dinner she would make an amazing spread and decorate the table with Valentine's and little treats for our family. After years working Valentine Days in the restaurant industry, I am not a fan of dining out, but I sure do love to make a special night at home with Will! Tonight for dinner I will be serving Oysters and Mignonette with a Vouvray and Sauvignon Blanc from Tourraine, a simple salad of mixed greens, avocado and citrus and Lamb Chops and Fennel Relish with Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. For dessert, I am making Caramelized Banana Splits!
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
I really wanted to make the Ramos Gin Fizz, unfortunately I was confused by thinking I had orange flower water, when I actually had rose water...not the same thing. I will settle for a Silver Fizz. It's pretty similar and far more refreshing than a Ramos Gin Fizz. Fizz's are a variation of a sour (with acid such as lemon, lime or both) and the addition of carbonation. Silver Fizz gets it's name from the addition of egg white (because of it's metallic gleam, I guess?). Some people are squeamish about using egg white in their cocktails, but I love it! Egg white adds a nice thick foam on top, which is odorless, flavorless and texturally awesome! Silver Fizzes will make a nice addition to your next brunch or garden party!
Silver Fizz yields 1
Adapted from The Essential Bartender Guide by Robert Hess
2 ounces gin (I used my favorite, Hendricks)
1 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
5 ounces club soda
Fill a cocktail shaker with first four ingredients. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Add crushed ice and shake until ice chilled and unbearable to touch...and then shake some more (the longer you shake, the better the foam). Strain into a highball glass and top with club soda. Garnish with lemon twist.
Kick back, relax and enjoy that Silver Fizz because you earned it with all that shaking! Cheers!
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I LOVE this dress, but it pains me to say that I rarely ever wear it. I think it's because I rarely find myself wearing a maxi dress. I picked this dress up thrifting at the Goodwill bins about six years ago and have only worn it a handful of times since. It is one of my favorite prints and I love the way it moves, but I think I might get some more wear out of it if I had it brought up a bit...I'm thinking just below the knee.
Oddly enough, I picked up the faux leather jacket at the Bins about a month and half ago and don't mean to toot my own thrifting horn, but think they are mighty fine scores! At the Bins you pay by the pound so in total I probably only spent about $5 for the two.
I recently picked up an über cute yellow spring coat from Jenny at Frecklewonder that I am dying to wear once it warms up. The sleeves are a little shorter, and although it has been a pretty warm winter here, it's not quite warm enough to bare my forearms. Jenny was so cute and included a sweet little notecard and this awesome orange scarf. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, well scoot your little but over there because it is awesome! I have been following Jenny's blog for about eight years now and it is one of my favorite reads! She is a momma, thrifting goddess, crafter and chicken keeper with a delightful voice and point of view.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
A couple weeks ago I picked up Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free a recipe book by baker and proprietor, Karen Morgan. You have heard me say it here before that I am not a baker and to finally start down the baking path, gluten-free I might add, is a little scary. However, I am determined to become a successful gluten-free baker! I am happy to report that these chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes were a great and tasty introduction into the scary world of gluten-free baking (okay, okay so it isn't so scary)!
All baking is about proportions and correct measurements, but gluten-free baking is especially so! Too much of a certain type of flour and it will be dry, too much of another or binding agent and it's like glue. So I was a little concerned when I had to stray from the original recipe because Morgan's called for "glutinous flour," of which I did not have. And why is a gluten-free recipe calling for "glutinous flour" for anyway? Well, come to find out glutinous flour is a sticky rice flour made up of several different rices. It is the same thing used to make mochi and is quite sticky when wet, making for a unique and flavorless binding agent. I do not have such a thing and was not intending to trek to the Asian food market to grab some.
Instead, I decided to use something that works in a very similar way. I do want to preface this by saying that glutinous flour is one of those things that is not something you can easily substitute and this may not work with other recipes. After much research I decided to use Xanthan Gum, which also quite sticky when wet and is a natural thickener and binding agent. It is pretty potent stuff and a little bit goes along way: 1/2 teaspoon for every cup of flour used.
Luckily, my gambling turned out well and these cupcakes were a huge success, so much so that after one cupcake Will insisted that I take them to work for fear that we might eat them all. The chocolate cake was moist with out being gooey and the frosting is what I like to call peanut butter crack. Be warned there is ALOT of sugar in the frosting. I recommend eating these bad boys with a ice cold glass of milk!
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cupcakes yields 12
Adapted from Blackbird Gluten Free Bakery Recipe Book
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cup pan with paper liners.
In a standing mixer, or a bowl with a hand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all dry ingredients and mix on low speed to blend. Add the butter and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on high until smooth. Using an ice-cream scoop, fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until springy to the touch.
Remove from oven and gently un-mold onto a wire cooling rack. Turn right side up and allow to cool completely before frosting.
In a standing mixer, or hand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the light and brown sugars and salt until it forms a ball. Add the peanut butter and mix until smooth, while scraping down the sides of the bowl to get everything. Beat in the confectioner's sugar, cream and vanilla. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Do not overwhip the icing as it will cause the butter to melt. Frost cupcakes with offset spatula and top with whatever you like (I used cocoa nibs).
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I wore my olive Hue tights and olive Kork-Ease wedges, which are incredibly comfortable. It has been so warm here, as is the rest of the country, this winter that I have rarely had to bundle up.
I have an over-abundance of jewelry that I sometimes forget about fun pieces like this necklace. I purchased this a couple years ago to wear to Will's sister's wedding. It is from a local artist and is repurposed from lampshade hardware!