Feb 182015
 

Michael’s dad came to visit for a long weekend. He’s been in the beer business for decades so of course we wanted to show off some of the Oregon beers! I turned him on to my favorite beer–Boneyard IPA–a few years ago and he agrees it’s one of the best tasting beers he’s had. :D One of the local Fred Meyer grocery stores has a growler filling station and they have Boneyard on tap! Of course I had to go and fill our growler for Michael’s dad to enjoy at home during his visit (and for me too LOL).

The first night he was in town we went to Gino’s in Sellwood. It’s a really good Italian restaurant without the hassle of going downtown. It’s an old Portland institution that is always packed, no matter what time of the week you go. Thankfully we got a table pretty quickly. We shared a Caesar salad to start and I got a glass of the Pinot Grigio wine. I got the ravioli special. It was ravioli with goat cheese in it and a butternut squash sauce on the outside of the pasta. It was a really interesting take on butternut squash ravioli! It was topped with some red pepper flakes and toasted hazelnuts. It was very rich but so delicious! Considering we eat pasta like 2x a year it was a real treat.

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Monday was a holiday. I slept in a little bit and then went to the gym while Michael and his dad hung out at home and had breakfast. I did my weight routine–lots of kettle bell exercises and some ab work–and then did 2.25 miles on the elliptical. It was a good, sweaty session, that came no where close to burning off the pasta from the night before!!

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It was such a nice day out in Portland! 60’s and sunny! The perfect spring/summer tease that comes every mid-February right before the rains starts. The three of us went out to lunch at Hopworks in SE Portland. It’s a cool restaurant/pub with a bike and beer theme. How can you go wrong with that?? I ended up getting the Thai Peanut Wrap with chicken (instead of tempeh) and it was really tasty. It came with red cabbage, quinoa, broccoli and peanut sauce. It didn’t sit too heavy, either, which was good. Michael got a chopped salad and his dad got the chicken tenders. Everything tasted really great! (Sometimes the food can be hit or miss.)

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We also shared a tasting tray of 15 beers! I think the favorite for Michael and I was the Abominable Winter Ale, which was rich and smooth and hoppy like an IPA, which was odd for a winter ale. Those are usually darker beers. But it was really good! Of course I also liked the IPA’s and the double IPA’s, those tend to be my favorites. The hoppier the better. There were a lot of beers that I skipped (I’m not a fan of dark beers).

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Surprisingly, I also LOVED the Radler–which was a lager (40%) and lemonade (60%)! It was SO good. I could see myself drinking WAY too many of those lovely ladies on a hot summer day. Michael’s dad told the story of how the Radler got started. Apparently in the 1920’s some German town was full of thousands of cyclists one summer day and Radler was running out of beer in his pub so he started mixing the beer with a lemon lime soda that didn’t sell very well on it’s own and everyone loved it! Hence, the beer/lemonade combo was born. I googled it when we got home and found this ad:

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Too funny! After lunch and beer tasting we hit one more local brewery, Burnside Brewing. It’s one of my cousin’s favorites and I’m a fan of their Sweet Heat, but haven’t tried any of their other beers. It was a really nice day and they had a covered patio that was partially in the sun so we got to sit outside while we did a sampler tray.

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I LOVE their logo. It’s a little artistic devil and it’s so cute. Anyways, we sat in the sun and enjoyed our sampler tray of mostly IPA’s, a lager, a stout and of course the Sweet Heat (which is made with Louisiana Scotch Peppers). The boys weren’t a fan of that one but I like it. :)

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That yellow one on the forefront is the Sweet Heat. Normally I’d take one look at that beer and be like, “I won’t like it” but I really do…it’s unique! So we enjoyed the sun and beer and wished it were summer then called the beer tour over for the day. I haven’t been drinking alcohol except for my birthday weekend and then the holiday weekend because Michael’s dad was visiting. Just having some samples was a doozy for me!

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After that the boys dropped me off at home to hang out with Bella and do some stuff while they went computer shopping and then hit another brewery (Breakside Brewing). I’d had my fill of beer for the day (or weekend, really) and ended up watching some Gilmore Girls, cuddled with Bella and did some yard work in the sunshine.

When Michael’s dad comes to visit from Texas he usually wants seafood so we take him to his favorite spots (Jake’s or Ringside). Monday night we went to Jake’s Grill downtown. It’s a classy, gorgeous restaurant with impeccable service and it’s always a good experience. I always forget just how great dining out at Jake’s is.

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We got all gussied up and headed downtown for an early dinner.

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I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and dry just like how I like my wine! They brought out the famous sourdough rolls which are just too tasty not to eat…

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Michael ordered the calamari appetizer. He thinks it’s the best calamari in town and I tend to agree. It’s never overly chewy or greasy. I only had a few bites though, as I was saving room for my dinner!

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For dinner I ordered the cedar plank salmon that came with basmati rice and crispy leeks. At first I was going to get a salad and soup but the salmon sounded so amazing (and I wasn’t wrong) and when you go to Jake’s you really should order the fish.

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The salmon was perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I LOVED the leeks on top. They were kind of like fried onions. The portions were good too–not grotesquely huge, just right. Michael got the salmon with potatoes and kale topped with a lobster sauce. Michael’s dad got the rockfish with green beans, tomatoes and artichokes.

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Everything was magnificent. I love that place! We were all stuffed but not uncomfortably so. There was definitely no room for dessert and we called it an early night.

I love it when family comes to visit and we can show off our lovely city. You can throw a rock and hit a dozen breweries and great restaurants. The weather was perfect for Michael’s dad’s visit, too, which was nice. I will say I will be happy to get back to my normal eating routine and give the alcohol a break again. Back on track!

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Dec 222014
 

xmas

My office had a holiday potluck recently and I made some cranberry bread to take with me. I’d discovered a recipe on pinterest for an amazing looking cranberry pistachio bread and wanted to make it but it was really involved. More than I wanted to do on a Thursday night at 8pm. So I found a similar recipe that was a little more simple. Here it is:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

Calories per serving: Around 180

From: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-cranberry-pistachio-bread/5a7637ac-2edc-4d58-8bf4-8ac68367d2bd

Ingredients

  • Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded peeled apple (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom only of 8x4-inch loaf pan. In large bowl with wooden spoon, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Beat in oil, 1/3 cup cider and eggs until smooth. Stir in apple, cranberries and 1/3 cup pistachios. Spoon and spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough of the 2 to 3 teaspoons cider for desired glaze consistency. Spread over top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pistachios.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45071

I mixed everything in the Kitchenaid mixer (I love this thing) and then poured it into the mini loaf pan that I have. Using that instead of a regular sized pan I got 3 loaves of the bread out of it. The only change I made to the recipe was using the Splenda Blend instead of regular sugar.

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Using the Splenda blend I got calories down to around 135 each slice. I baked the bread for less time than the recipe called because the loaves were smaller. The recipe called for a glaze, as well. I skipped that for a few reasons. It was late in the evening and I didn’t want to do it and I honestly don’t think glazes or frosting add a lot to a recipe except for calories!

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How was the bread? It was really good! It was dense, not dry but dense. I think next time I make this I’d use plain Greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil, and maybe a little applesauce. I liked the mild flavor. There was a touch of sweetness from the cranberries and apple chunks but it was mild. It would be a great recipe for someone trying to watch their sugar intake.

Since I made the mini loaves, I had an extra one that I ended up taking to a friend’s house for her holiday party.

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Every few years she throws a house warming/holiday party and then we all go and walk along Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane is a short residential street in SE Portland that gets all decked out for Christmas. It’s actually a requirement for the homeowners to decorate!

Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area.

It’s a fun thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s not really necessary to do it every single year, we generally go every other year or so. So I took a loaf of cranberry bread and a bottle of wine to Sam’s house and we all hung out, eating (she made these turkey meatballs with a BBQ sriracha sauce that was amazing) and drinking before walking down to Peacock Lane.

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We had a great time at the party and then a bunch of us walked down to Peacock Lane. With Bella! It was raining pretty hard but we still had a good time (and got totally soaked).

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Bella did a great job! There were so many people that I think she was overwhelmed and so she didn’t bark at anyone. It was great!

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My cousin Anna and her friend came to the party and they walked Peacock Lane with us. It was fun! We chatted, they snuck a little adult beverage in non-see through cups and shared with us as we tromped around in the pouring rain looking at Christmas lights. :)

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I’m so proud of Bella! She’s really growing up. She’s not freaked out by strangers as much anymore and I’m excited to be able to take her more places and not worry about her being scared of everything that moves. Anyways, we went back to Sam’s house after walking Peacock Lane, soaked through and through, said our goodbyes and called it a night. All of us were very very soaked. My jacket is still drying out.

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