About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Oh Yeah I Forgot Easter

I didn't really forgot Easter it is just that I am running on little sleep and about a week behind in my blogging. Super sorry bout that, but raising a puppy takes a lot out of me but I have decided it is still infinitely easier than raising children.
For Easter dinner I made a delicious boneless leg of lamb that I had butterflied open and spread onto the inside a paste of the zest of two lemons, 5 cloves of minced garlic, 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley (fresh), 2 Tlb olive oil (plus more for coating the meat), kosher salt and pepper.
Spread the paste onto the butterflied leg of lamb.
Roll the leg of lamb back together the way you butterflied it then tie it off with butchers twine. Good thing I don't have audio for this because there was swearing.
Until I sprout an arm from the center of my stomach to help in these trickier kitchen jobs there will not be photos...so sorry.
The next thing I put together was a Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Carrot Puree. It was super simple and went together in a flash. First you roast a red bell pepper.
Then you peel, cut up and steam 1 1/2 lbs of carrots.
Then peel and seed the roasted pepper put it into your food processor along with the steamed carrots, 2 Tlb. olive oil, 2 Tlb fresh lemon juice, 1 pinch of cayenne (I used bout a pinch and a half), salt and pepper. Then just hit the switch and puree it until you have pureed carrots and red bell pepper.
Then for added color and flavor I roasted about 1 lb. of Brussels sprouts. Super simple just cut the little bottom off of them and drizzle with a fair amount of olive oil and sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven ( I slid mine in alongside the leg of lamb) and roast until tender. stir them around on the pan to get good color on all sides.
Dinner was super easy and delicious, and I wanted to make a holiday meal that was over the top without having so much food before, during and after that you were sick of looking at it. I think I nailed it.
Now moving on to my favorite part of the dinner...dessert. I can not take credit for this recipe, but what I can attest to is that yes this cake is "The Best Chocolate Cake". I know it is the best I have ever had in all my years. So I am just going to tell you is buy the black cocoa powder, make the cake and have friends over if for no other reason than just to eat this cake.
This cake is so good that if your are single you could get yourself a husband or wife with this cake...I am not joking. FYI I followed the recipe to the letter and make the buttercream frosting that is linked from the cake page.
Well that's all folks. I am off to get ready for my day job. Hope your week is a good one.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Dog's Tale

I guess I want to let people know that we did not set out adopt a rare and exotic canine. What we wanted and tried to do was adopt a dog from a shelter or adopt from one of the many agencies in my area, but things seldom work out like one wants.
First, I want to give you a little back history. When the bf and I had to put our beloved Koda to sleep a year ago Mar. 20th it about killed us. He was only six and we were expecting at least another ten good years. Things had finally sort of settled. We had one dog and one cat and they adored each other. Life was good. Koda got sick and then sicker and it seemed like the,vet who wasn't worth the paper her diploma was printed on, kept prescribing medications and blood tests and had not a clue as to what was going on. We finally got a vet who cared. Sadly, it was too late. We took Koda into a specialist for an ultra sound we found out that same day his liver and kidneys were shutting down and the heart murmur we were initially told was minor was not. The next day we said our good byes with our hearts completely broken and way too many unanswered questions. We still to this day do not know what happened and why he got sick.
We listened to many people that told us we should adopt again and get another dog the sooner the better...We tried two months later. I spied a female rat terrier that needed to be re-homed due to her owner not being able to keep or take care of her. I got in touch with this woman and agreed to all her silly terms, home visits, and a veiled threat that if she in 90 days time did not like how we were taking care of her dog she would take her back. Now anyone who knows me that in the back of my mind I was thinking of filing a restraining order and making a call to the police if the woman so much as showed up on my property after I had the dog. I spoke more to the woman's sister than to the dog owner herself, and found out that not only was the woman mentally unhinged, but a hoarder with issues and way too many dogs. I was stupid for getting my hopes set so high and was not surprised but still deeply hurt when literally 2 hours before she was supposed to deliver the dog to my house she called left a message a bailed. When she called to string me a long, a little more I told her if she ever called my house, again I would turn her ass in the humane society for animal neglect. She did not call again.
Next time we tried to adopt was last summer. I went through an organization that I thought would work. She brought over an adorable little Chihuahua (stop laughing) mix named Luigi super sweet little escape artist wouldn't stop harassing our cat Pixel who weighs in somewhere between a normal house cat and a snow leopard and has zero tolerance for little dogs that don't know there place on the food chain. Pixel showed his dislike of this particular dog by pooping on the dogs bed...Luigi went back to his foster moms...he is still there. Next, the adoption place tried to steer us to a Rat Terrier that came from a bad puppy mill...sad, sick and unfortunately way too neurotic for me.
We tried to adopt a dog from the local humane society only to run across another neurotic dog that would not have made a good fit for our home at all. We tried other place combing the listings, looking. The one deal breaker was that the dog MUST LOVE CATS. We never found a match. We got a crazy half tortie half Tasmanian devil kitten named Willow and things fell into place and fit. We sort of stopped looking for dogs. I was still mourning Koda and could not walk through the park without bursting into tears. I dog sit Koda's bff Rottie named Lucy...she was/is a super sweetheart. I watch her every chance I get. She is my guardian angel with fur and fangs. I figured I was content…but then…
Last January early a.m. I spied an ad on craigslist from a woman who was looking for her lost dog. I looked at the ad. Saw the photo of a very unique looking dog that was definitely Asian, but did not put too much thought into it other than to look up the breed. A truly fascinating breed. A couple more days went by and I saw another ad same woman saying she had found her dog. I looked again and this time the photo showed the dog with another half dozen of the same breed....so I emailed her and asked if she bred them? Did not really expect to hear back, figuring I had just earned the title of crazy craigs list stalker, but then about a week later I had an email telling me that no actually she didn't breed anymore, but...(always a but) her husband on New Years made a mistake and put a receptive female in with their intact male. Did not realize his mistake until it was too late. She also would be willing to let us adopt one of her young adults but they were not good with cats. I declined the offer of a adult dog because of the kitties, but told her I would be interested in a puppy if there was going to be a litter. Did the math figured the first week of March. We kept in contact and I got photos when the beautiful Akari gave birth to 9 awesome little black tigers (8 boys 1 girl) on March 4th. Kim has kept in touch with me and sent me photos weekly or more. Last night she brought over my favorite 4 and let me choose one for my very own. Kim said it was destined to be this little Kai was to be mine. The bf and I are exhausted but happy. Katsu is a handsome little boy and very smart.
Today we start a new adventure with a puppy. The bf has never raised a puppy and it has been a very long time since I have. We kick off the weekend with the first trip to the vet for his first round of shots. I predict a long night ahead of us. Please do not misunderstand me shelters and adoption agencies work great for a lot of people and I support them 100%, but sometimes it just doesn't work out and that is o.k. Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Clams with New Potatoes and Spring Onions.

We had another spectacular weather day here in my hometown so I decided to keep it simple once again with some steamed clams in a rich white wine broth perfect for dipping some of my homemade bread in to.
I wanted to try this delicious recipe from Epicurious so I went out to our less than local seafood market (where the prices are great and the people are lively) and purchased 3 lbs. of Manila clams. I followed the recipe to the letter and while the bf and I sat around shelling clams like sea otters we had discussion about what I would do differently next time around.
The ingredients. Potatoes, green onions, garlic and smoked chorizo (tough to find).
3 lbs. of Manila clams.
You render the chorizo in 4 Tlb. of olive oil until it starts to get crispy. This is something I would change the chorizo to possibly a nice smoked pancetta, or even a nice smoked bacon. The recipe calls for you leaving the chorizo in the pan while you cook the potatoes I think I would remove it and set it to the side and add back in later in the cooking.
Addition of the potatoes, white part of the green onions and garlic. I would watch your cooking time and adjust accordingly. You don't want mushy potatoes in the pot. Here is where I would add some seasoning if you want it spicy or smokey (cayenne and or some smoked paprika would be nice). The suggested cooking time was 10-12 minutes I reduced that to 8-10 minutes. Stir often so your potatoes don't stick. Add some salt and pepper.
Deglaze with white wine. Cook the wine til reduced by half then add water and cook until the potatoes are a little cooked but not done by any means. Remember they still have to cook another 8-10 min when you add the clams and lid it to steam. This is where I would add the chorizo back into the pot along with the rest of the green onions.
The finished product.
It was really good, but I did think the chorizo was overcooked and if I hadn't reduced cooking time the potatoes would have been mush in the bottom of the pot.
In the end there were no leftovers. All in all another great dinner. I did include the link to the full Epicurious recipe.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings

We spent, and when I say we I mean the bf, an entire Saturday working on the front yard. It looks amazing, thank you sweetie. I however spent most of the day working inside cleaning, doing laundry, and watching my son's Chihuahua mix puppy run roughshod over my black tortie kitten Willow. But at some point yesterday I knew the bf and I both had to come up for air and have dinner. Lunch consisted of a half bag of potato chips and a cold one.
This recipe was super simple and went together in minutes.
In a bowl you blend together 1 clove garlic mashed with 3/4 tsp. of salt, 2 Tlb honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp. sesame oil, pinch or two of cayene ( I suggest 2 pinches ). Next time I think I would bump up the honey to 3 Tlb. and I think the addition of some red pepper flakes would go a long way to give a little more heat.
Trim up 3 lbs. of chicken wings (remove the tips and separate the little drum from the little arm ).
Put them into the sauce and coat them real well. ( I let the chicken sit in the sauce for a about 20 min. ) Then place the chicken onto a foil lined, sprayed with cooking spray, heavy duty cookie sheet. Place into an oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees and bake for about 35 min. ( giver or take depending on your oven ). Turn the chicken over half way through the cooking time.
When done pull them from the oven and place in a bowl. Sprinkle chicken with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seed.
For a side I washed and cut the ends off about a pound of green beans and tossed them into a hot skillet with a 50/50 blend of olive oil and butter. I sauteed the green beans until about halfway done ( when I say halfway done I mean still pretty crunchy ) I tossed in 3 cloves of minced garlic some salt and fresh cracked black pepper and let the garlic get a little color ( don't let that garlic burn ).
Then I add just a couple of Tlb. of water, lid the beans and let them steam just a minute or two....Delicious!.
Perfect dinner to end a perfectly busy Saturday.
Thanks K.B. for sharing the 1980's, perfect condition, pint canning jars. What a find! I can see lots of good things ahead.
Happy Sunday to one and all. I have a bike ride penciled in for my morning. I hope everyone does something good today!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Warmer Weather

It is official spring is finally here and hopefully the nice weather will stay around for the remainder of the week. I have got gardening to do (what little of it you can force me into) bicycling that needs doing if I am going to continue to shed weight at a snails pace (lol...I can live with that), and lighter recipes to try and tell you about.
A couple weeks back I was desperately looking for some sort of side that was easy, spicy and good for you. I had spied this easy recipe from Eating Well and I decided to give it a try. Chipotle Cheddar Broiled Avocado Halves INGREDIENTS 2 ripe but firm avocados, halved and pitted, skin left on 1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 1 small chipotle chile in adobo (see Tip), minced (about 1 teaspoon), or to taste 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus 4 wedges for serving Pinch of salt. DIRECTIONS Preheat broiler to High. Place avocado halves on a baking sheet. Thoroughly combine cheese, chipotle, lime juice and salt in a small bowl. Evenly divide the cheese mixture among the avocado halves. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat source until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve warm with lime wedges.
Cheese and Chipotle mixture in bowl.
Honestly I could eat them just like this with a little salt.
Simply broil in the oven until lightly browned and bubbly. Super good, seriously easy and simply tasty.
So with Spring means lovely outdoor evenings, entertaining and delicious food. One of my go to pick up nibbles that you litteraly can put together with just a little time is fresh strawberries with goat cheese filling. Take some very soft goat cheese and sweeten it slightly with a little honey or sugar ( I prefer honey ) by mixing it with a mixer. Core a bunch of strawberries and pipe into each one some of the goat cheese filling. Put on a pretty tray and refrigerate until needed. Wonderfully refreshing, tasty treat.
Real crowd pleaser.
With Easter around the corner I have a menu to plan. I don't think we will have any guests for Easter dinner but you never know. The only thing I know for sure is the main course this year will be leg of lamb.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Crostata & Coffee

Sometime last winter I spied this lonely only slightly dented can of Apricot pastry and pie filling in the dent bin at my local grocery store. I bought it not knowing what I would use it for, but I cannot pass up a good deal or the opportunity to try something new. Therefore, that lonely can of pastry filling went from the dent bin to a distant corner on my pantry shelf that is until last Saturday.
The bf and I had plans to go over to a friend’s house for coffee late Saturday morning and I thought it would be great if I took something that would go great with coffee. Of course, I could have stopped off and bought something from my local patisserie shop, but you know me ever the baking fool I thought it would be best if I baked something.
I had decided that making something using that lonely can of Apricot pastry filling would be the best, so I decided on a crostata. I had made one a few years ago for Christmas Day dessert and for whatever reason my children were less than thrilled. I honestly do not think their taste buds have completely matured yet. Anyway, the crostata turned out to be just the thing our Saturday morning coffee needed.
In the bowl of your food processor with the dough blade already in, pulse together 1 ½ cups flour, 2 Tlb. sugar, grated zest from one lemon, ¼ tsp salt, 10 Tlb. butter chilled ( half salted, half unsalted) until small crumbs form. Then pulse in 3 Tlb. ice water ( I think I used 1 additional Tlb. of ice water). Pulse until you get the dough to come together in moist clumps.
Shape dough into a flat round disk and wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 1 hour.
Place dough onto a large piece of parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. Roll out dough to a 11 or 12 in circle.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Spread the entire can of Apricot Pastry filling over the surface of the dough coming within 2 in. of the edge.
Next you fold over the edges of the crust forming an eight in. round pleating and pinching and getting rid of any cracks in the crust.
Bake in a preheated oven (400 degrees) for 40 min. Give or take a few min.
When it comes out of the oven dust it with some powdered sugar and sprinkle on some toasted almond slivers. Let it cool on a wire rack until it is just warmish.
This was the perfect treat to go with coffee. The crust was buttery and crisp and it had just the right amount of sweet and tart from the Apricot preserve. The best part is I had one slice and left the rest behind when I went home.