Monday, July 24, 2017

Cold Shrimp and Crap Soup

Growing up in Southern California with 112 degree summers, you'd think 91 would be no big deal...WRONG! There is a reason I moved away and after 8 years up north I've acclimated to cooler PNW seasons. So these last few weeks, with weather bouncing between 85 and 91 means staying indoors and keeping cool.

Which also means thinking of cool dinner ideas for the family (i.e. no oven or standing over the stove top) and let me tell you, you can only tell them dinner is "salad" so many times before they start to rebel.

Thank goodness for Pinterest and magazines in the doctor's office. In the same week my mother and I both found the same recipe for Cold Shrimp and Crab soup (her from a Sunset magazine from the doctor, and I on Pinterest).

As always (because I really think it's a compulsion and I can't help myself) I altered the recipe ever so slightly.

Changes:
  • Substituted 3 cups crushed tomatoes (because I happened to have a giant can on hand)
  • Substituted shallots for green onions
  • Substituted 2 (of the 5 TB) lime juice with lemon
  • Sauteed the bell peppers, a shallot and garlic before adding to the puree
  • Add 3 cups homemade crab stock and 2 cups water to the tomato puree to thin and stretch 
  • Added a TB dried basil before chilling
  • Served with avocado and a choice selection of hot sauces (for individual taste)
With the right hot sauce this definitely hit the spot on a hot summer Monday night and brought me back to vacation in NOLA. *drifts off to dreamland*



Sunday, July 9, 2017

Date Yourself

That may sound odd to some, and for other's there is an echoing "Hallelujah!". I'm in the category of doing things for and by yourself on occasion. Whether it's treating yourself to a movie, getting a reservation at the new hot brunch local or spending a quiet afternoon meditating on life in a garden - date yourself.

Ru Paul says, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?"

It's true. It took me years to find some true-self love. Not that I spent years of my life hating myself. I was lucky enough to be raised by a family full of love, had a good high school experience and made life long friends in college.

But it wasn't until years later that I started on a path of true self-love. Being happy in my skin, happy with my accomplishments, actively trying to balance my care for others with the care for myself.

I do believe that it is through this self-love work that I have everything I do today. I have a BF that I adore and who adores me, a job that I feel is contributing to the greater society, family who enjoys being together (as I type this I'm sitting out on the back porch with my mother - not speaking just "hanging out").

Occasionally I still need to step away from all that I have and allow "me time". So this past Summer Solstice, I got off work and headed to the Chinese gardens in downtown. I spent (easily) three hours walking the paths, sitting and just emptying my mind, treating myself to a cup of Holy Basil iced tea and steamed boa.

And for no other reason that a Me Date. Give it a try. I promise it will change your life.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Overnight to the Oregon Coast

Manzanita, OR
Working as administration at a college means this time of year (only two weeks before graduation) is super busy and a long stretch ahead (as I don't get summer vacations like some colleagues). Every weeks starts with a big sigh in preparation for the unknown that may come through my door any moment. Knowing that chaos could be around the corner at any moment, I thought a quick mini-vacation may be in store. So the BF and I packed out bags for an overnight out at the Oregon Coast.


For those that don't know, the Oregon coast is just over 363 miles and none of it private. The entire Oregon coast is public and accessible to all. It's also spotted full of quaint tiny little ocean side towns. Sure there are the "bigger" (read: tourist hot spots) like Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and Astoria; but my favorite are the smaller less packed spots just on the other side of the city limits.

Camp 18 Restaurant and Museum

But not all the "hot spots" are out at the water, some are along the drive - like Camp 18; a logging museum and restaurant known for GIANT cinnamon rolls. We stopped on our way out for lunch and let me tell you I fell in love with their fish and chips! Better than any I've found in Portland! I'm already plotting my next trip out Hwy-26 so I can order another batch.

After lunch and a quick browse through the gift store, we headed out to the water. For our midweek mini vacation we headed to Manzanita, Oregon - population 600 - just south of Cannon Beach. Mountain hiking, stretch of sandy beach, beautiful look outs and delicious Mexican food!

Wait. What?

McOceans from Bread & Ocean
Yes, you heard me. For dinner Tuesday, after an hour long stroll along the water we headed to El Trio Loco for some delicious Mexican cuisine.

Lucky for us it was right next door to our motel. Which I highly recommend if anyone finds themselves out in Manzanita. Vanessa and the Spindrift Inn was perfect and exactly what we needed. Our room had a queen bed, two chairs and a table, mini-fridge/microwave/coffee pot (all of which came in handy for an early morning cup of joe) and all rooms have a back door that takes you to a private (adorable) patio area.

The next morning we walked through the little town, had giant breakfast sandwiches, did a little souvenir/gift shopping (including yummy Salt Water Taffy from Salt & Paper) before heading out of town.

Since we had gone the "northern" route to get to the coast, I thought why not continue heading south and make a quick detour through Tillamook? Now some of you may be familiar with Tillamook cheese. I know that before I moved to Oregon that was my only frame of reference. But did you know they do MORE than just cheese?! They also do regular and Greek yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream! So if you're ever in the area make sure to stop by the Tillamook Cheese Factory and indulge in one of their many yummy flavors.

With bellies full of Mudslide, Stumptown Cold Brew and Marionberry Cheesecake we headed back to Portland. It was a lovely way to end an absolutely amazing overnight to the Oregon coast.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trip to the Bay: Food, Hikes, Wine

I realized I haven't posted since the end of February but so much has happened since then. In the last four-five months I've started a new relationship, made (easily) 120 delicious dinners, dived into a number of DIY beauty treatments and (oh yea) turned 34!

My thirties have been a pretty amazing decade and turning 34 hasn't been any different. This year I spent my birthday down in the Bay Area (San Francisco and Oakland) celebrating with one of my longest BFFs.

Bottom left is a new movie theatre built in the PDX airport - plays short films by local film makers

We had a whirlwind of adventures...and when you get Luke and I together you know there is going to be copious amounts of good food (he even went of the Whole 30 just for me).

Only the beginning of the delicious food we ate

We also then headed to Muir Woods so I could hug a Redwood (yes that was a goal for my birthday). Somehow, despite living in California for ~28 years I had never hiked Muir. It was stunning! Cold misty morning, cool enough for a jacket but dry enough to hike around for an hour or so.

I'm a tree hugger
After Muir Woods we headed over to Sonoma for an afternoon of wine tasting. Sonoma wine is just as wonderful as Napa but not nearly as "touristy". We had the Bartholomew Park Winery tasting room to ourselves and had a lovely conversation with the vineyards owner before heading to Gundlach Bundschu (the oldest single family owned vineyard in California). I bought a beautiful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Bartholomew and have tucked it away for a special occasion (perhaps my next birthday).

All but the bottom right is Bartholomew Vineyard - Cave is Gundlach
After a number of glasses of wine (thank you to a heavy handed pour) we grabbed ice cream and took a stroll through Old Town Sonoma.


I really couldn't have asked for a better birthday....but it did get better! Later in February my sister K took me to the 20th Anniversary performance of Rent, we had a tea party with family (celebrating all the winter babies) and the weekend after I returned I had my first date with my (now) new sweetheart.

Thirty four is shaping up to be a good year.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Samoa Cookie Bars

You ever have those days when you need to bake!? The other day it didn't matter what I just needed to mix, stir and turn on the oven. So I did some digging in my pantry and baking drawer (yes, I have a "baking drawer") and came across coconut flakes, chocolate chips and caramel candies.

What does that mean? Samoa Cookies!!

Now I made a similar cookie to this during the holidays (minus the chocolate) and during Girl Scout cookie season Samoas are always on the list. So why not make an easy at home version?


The family LOVED them! My older sister K even asked for a few to be set aside for when she came over next (there are three awaiting her in the freezer).

For something I whipped up last minute and out of my head, this may become a family favorite and go-to cookie.