June 10, 2010

Oceanside Bliss

Oh, dear friends, it has been too long since I've shared. A bit of reorganizing, travel, and general running after the Chicklets has kept my fingers from tapping and my thoughts in my head. Most recently, the Chicklets and I joined The Captain on an adventure to Nye Beach (Newport), Oregon.

Is there possibly anything more glorious than the beach? Fresh, salty air. Rolling waves that hum their constant rhythm of perfect time... not too fast, not too slow. If only I could keep my life in time with the waves... I would certainly get more posting done!

The glorious long weekend looked like it would be filled with rainy day activities, and I packed a bag full to keep the Chicklets from climbing the walls. But never fear! The mornings were dry and Saturday was filled with sunshine! Which was a good thing because there are too many fabulous restaurants in Newport, with fish so fresh it melts in your mouth. You absolutely have to walk on the beach to make room before the next feast.

If you venture down the Oregon coast, plan to eat well in Newport. Don't count your calories, or your budget. Just enjoy...

Have lunch down at the harbor. But don't give in to temptation to eat that super fried, standard basket of fish and chips. Walk a little further down the row and fresh off the boat fare at Local Ocean. Trust me, your gut and your taste buds will thank you. You can also find them at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, but down by the bay you'll find all the ambiance of great Northwest seafood by the sea. The Roasted Garlic & Dungeness Crab Soup is a must! And the Thai style Penn Cove Mussels are simply scrumptious. Save room for the panko crusted Grilled Fish & Chips. Really, no matter what you order, you can't go wrong and you will want to come back.

Don't spend all your time at the Harbor. Nye Beach is the most adorable little area with a great beach, shopping, and food.

Plan for a delicious dinner at Panache. It is worth the splurge.  Owners and chef Tom & Linda are such gracious hosts. Located in an historic 1919 home with glowing fire place and ocean view, it is the perfect spot for a romantic evening. (If you are on a family trip and have the kiddos in tow, they are happy to accommodate. Our Chicklets did great.)

The menu at Panache begs for you to try one of everything... it's a great thing that several delectables, like the crab cakes, can be ordered as appetizers (yes, splurge!). And the desserts.... remember the old spelling quiz, "Desserts have 2 "s" because you want more, the sandy desert has 1." Well, you want 2 desserts at Panache. Share. But share two of them and let your taste buds dance!

If you're lucky enough to stay in town over night, try breakfast at Cafe Stephanie and lunch at Savory Cafe. They're both just a hop skip and a jump up from the beach and are perfect resting spots between those beach walks.

And don't miss dinner at Nanna's Irish Pub. Take a break from the seafood, and soak up some fine Irish pot pies. The steak and mushroom is my favorite, with a Black & Tan to wash it down.

No, we didn't just eat the entire weekend away... only most of it. :) We did manage to squeeze in a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The Chicklets loved it, even the chicklet in me! And we did plenty of exploring on the beach. Most of all, we enjoyed time as a family away from the phone, the computer, the To Do list... and that my friends is priceless.

May 1, 2010

Simply Yum!

For all my Gluten Free friends... or anyone who likes to eat good food!... you MUST try these tasty new crackers from Trader Joe's.

Add a nice goat cheese spread and a glass of wine and... well...
just come on over and we'll nibble and chat!

April 13, 2010

When Life Gives You Blue Chickens...

What’s the story with Blue Chickens, you say? I’m glad you asked!  No, it’s not a corny take on an Elvis song. Or an old family recipe. These very real birds taught me a good lesson. One that seems to come back at me again and again.

I was young, adventurous, and had been living in Asia for about a year and a half. The lack of access to Mac N Cheese and RiceARoni® was proving a crash course in “how to really cook without a box.” About Christmas time, I had the lovely idea to host my first real dinner party. Look out Martha, here I come!

A lovely Roast Lemon Herb Chicken recipe had caught my eye.  Now it was down to assembling my ingredients.
Veggies… check.
Lemons… check.
Herbs… check.

The only thing left was the chicken. I hopped on the bus after work for the 40 minute ride to my most trust worth grocery market. It was out of the way. But with a dinner party coming I was sure to find the best chickens here. As I rounded the corner to the small meat section, I was caught… by the sight of this  BLUE skinned
This awful bird looked like something bruised and beaten from a day in the ring with Rocky. The deep blue purple bird should have been headed to the ER, not my dinner table.  

There were no normal birds to be found. So the next day I proceeded to take another bus part-way across town to another grocery market. (I still wasn’t brave enough to purchase meat at the open market where birds would be hanging from the stall or still squawking from their pen… I am the city girl of the family, after all.)

Store number three…  once again, the same funky fowl...
wrapped in plastic, with CLAWS

Tears started to well up in my eyes. The blue skin was one thing…
But the thought of having to CHOP off the CLAWS myself… I just couldn’t do it!!
All I wanted was to make was a nice, NORMAL, roast chicken dinner!! Is this too much to ask?

I left the store in tears.
Picked up a latte at Starbucks … yes, there are Starbucks in Asia… Thank Goodness!!!
And went on with my dinner.

Lemon Herb Chicken Wings may not be Martha’s dish, but they are now mine!
(and they were from normal chickens)

I still haven’t tried a blue chicken myself. You never know when the day may come… but I can say:

When life gives you Blue Chickens…  have a good cry, get a latte, and improvise!

PS - It turns out the offending fowl may have actually been a delicacy known for their healthful properties, particularly for women. Go figure?
NY Times "Now, a Chicken in Black"

April 8, 2010

My Fuzzy Pink Robe

If I could spend all day in my fuzzy pink robe, I think I would.  
It’s soft. It’s cozy. It’s not too pink. 
It feels a lot like the robes at my favorite spa…

But when it’s APRIL and I wake up to SNOW dusting the yard I just want to cozy up in The Robe.
And hibernate.
For the day.
Me. My robe. My coffee.
Maybe a sappy movie… like When Harry Met Sally, or Casablanca. Something classic, lovely, heartwarming.
The only thing better might be spending the day at that spa! 

April 5, 2010

I'm in love...

You know you're getting older when you're in love with a piece of cookware. But OH! I am so in love with my new  dish from Le Creuset. It's a deep dish enameled stoneware pie plate. And it's beautiful perfection.

It was an impulsive purchase. Out on a date with my man, ordering a latte and there it was... bright as spring... deep and smooth... calling me to take it home to my kitchen.

I've always dreamed of having the perfect dish of baking Dutch Babies (also known as German Pancakes). They are a family favorite for breakfast... and unashamedly simple, especially if you have the right dish. It makes Saturday morning breakfast so simple! 

I've never had the right dish... until now. My standby baker broke. And the pottery dish can't really be heated hot enough so the pancake doesn't quite come out right. Really, when they say the right dish makes the meal, they're telling the truth.

But this... my Dutch Baby in my new deep dish... it was a perfect piece of breakfast heaven... puffy, golden crisp on top, soft inside, mouthwatering mmm...

Don't tell anyone how easy it is. Just enjoy!

Dutch Babies
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 stick of butter
fresh lemon, powdered sugar, syrup or jam for topping!

Preheat oven to 400°. Put 1/2 stick of butter in the deep dish pan and put in oven to melt as it heats. Once butter is nearly melted, whir 4 eggs in a blender for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and flour, blending for 30 seconds more. Pour batter into pan with melted butter and bake for 20-30 minutes until puffed up and golden (perfect time for sipping coffee and reading the paper). Slice and top with your favorite pancake toppings... fresh squeezed lemon and powdered sugar are my favorites!

Add fresh squeezed juice and coffee and breakfast is complete! 

See, I told you it was too easy. Shhhhhh!

(My gluten free, lactose and dairy intolerant friends... no worries. I'll post my GF, milk free recipe soon!)