Apr 082014
 

After a recent burst of summer-y weather, I vowed that the next day it was sunny and warm I’d take a vacation day and enjoy it. With the wedding and stuff I have been saving my vacation days but I had enough to spare one. I ended up taking off Monday to extend my weekend. I had nothing planned other than enjoying 0% chance of rain and the possible temperature of 74 degrees.

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I packed a backpack and water and Bella and I were off to play in the sunshine! I got an iced coffee, we filled up the gas tank and then drove to East Portland for a hike. I decided to do Powell Butte Park. I’d heard of the park before but had never been. I decided Monday was a good day! I didn’t want to drive all the way out to the Gorge for a hike and I’m glad I gave this local hike a try. I’d like to do it again with Michael.

They are doing construction at the park so the visitor parking lot is closed. I parked at the bowling alley across the street from the entrance road and Bella and I hoofed it up the steep road to the park. The hardest part of the hike was the first 1/2 mile trek TO the park!

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The park was pretty empty. We came across a few other people with dogs and Bella did a great job! She didn’t bark at any of the strangers except for one. The park is under massive construction. Not sure what all they are doing but I did see parts of the park were closed for habitat restoration. There were also tons of newly planted trees.

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The park is supposedly popular with cyclists, hikers and horseback riders. I saw evidence of horses on the trail but didn’t see any horses on our hike. The summit of the park was pretty barren; there were some trees but mostly it was just views of the surrounding mountains. It was a gorgeous lookout from the top!

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The sun was out, the skies were perfectly blue and it was warm out there. Bella and I hiked on the Wildhorse Trail and then it hooked up to the Orchard Trail. The path started to lead downhill and wound into some trees. The hike turned into a more typical Oregon hike–through old growth forests.

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The only sound was the breeze through the trees and the birds hiding in the branches. It was very peaceful. I followed the forested trail downhill for awhile and decided to turn around. I’m glad I did. We’d hiked a lot longer than I had expected. The trail was deceptive–it didn’t seem very far.

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It was a pretty warm day and most of the hike was out in the open. The sun felt really nice. We stopped many times for water breaks. We turned around and headed back the same way we came. I loved seeing the mountains! I found a map after the hike that showed all the trails. I’m not sure which ones are under construction but I was impressed with how big the park was!

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I’ve hiked on my own many times before. I’m always aware of what’s going on around me, pay attention to other people on the trail, and just be smart. I liked having Bella with me! We got back to the car and had more water before heading home.  We did about 4.25 miles total. It was such a nice way to spend a day off!

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When I got home Bella fell asleep on the couch (snoring) while I cleaned up and had lunch. Lunch was leftover cashew chicken from the weekend and it really hit the spot. I’d worked up an appetite!

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I ran a few errands–one being a trip through the car wash! My poor car hasn’t been washed in months. And Bella got the exciting experience of going through a carwash. I posted a video of it on my instagram if you’re so inclined to check it out. After a day in the sunshine, Bella and I finally sat down to relax a little. She fell asleep and snored on the couch. ;)

When Michael got home I gave him his birthday present and made dinner. Even though we’d had Italian for his “official” birthday dinner, we ended up having Italian again! I opened a jar of my homemade marinara sauce made entirely from the tomatoes, rosemary, onions and basil from last year’s garden. I cooked some Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini, browned some turkey into the sauce and opened a bottle of red.

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For dessert I tried something I saw on Pinterest. You take the crescent roll dough, roll some Rollos into it, bake it and it’s all melty and gooey on the inside. For about 180 calories, it’s a nice treat! It was a little weird but tasty. Kind of reminded me of the croissants that have chocolate baked on the inside.

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We watched Game of Thrones and ended the day. It was such a nice day off!

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Apr 022014
 

On Sunday night I met up with a friend for dinner because we had a lot of catching up to do! We met at Oaks Bottom Pub in Sellwood because they had a happy hour that ran until 6pm. Michael was out at a concert that night and it was nice to get out of the house and have some girl time. I’d spent most of Sunday cooking for the week and then watching episodes of West Wing on Netflix.

I’d been craving a BLT sandwich for a few weeks and decided to get that instead of something off the happy hour menu. It came out and it was a LOT bigger than I was expecting and it was also fried. But oh well, it was delicious. It had slices of avocado on it and melted cheese and that made it amazing. Glad I got the salad as the side!

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Erika got the sliders from the happy hour menu and an order of tots. Their tots are pretty good (and they also have something called “Totchos”–basically nachos made with tots). I had a few of her tots but the sandwich was so big I didn’t have much.

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Kind of a massive amount for happy hour! We both got a beer but stuck to just one. Partly because I’m trying to limit my liquid calories and also because I’m not a huge fan of their beer. I got the seasonal IPA and it was ok but not great so why waste my calories?

It was such a nice night and our happy hour excursion turned into a 3+ hour gab session. It was good to catch up; we’ve both had a lot of stuff going on lately. I suggested that when the weather is a little nicer she meet me somewhere to walk Bella. I’m always up for a walk! As long as it’s not raining. :)

I’d planned on prepping some dinner to go into the crockpot Monday morning but my dinner date Sunday went late. By the time I got home, I just wanted to cuddle with Bella and Fat Kitty in bed and read a book (Maya was under the bed, as per usual). So Monday night when I got home from work I decided to make a quickie soup for dinner.

I wish I was one of those “throw everything together in a pot and it tastes fantastic” kind of cook. I’m a recipe follower. I need actual measurements and instructions. I guess I’m just a really literal person when it comes to the kitchen. That being said, I did kind of “throw things together” on this one. Originally I wanted to make the Pasta Y Fagioli Soup “recipe” that Michael’s mom gave me a few months ago. We’d gone over there for dinner and she made this fantastic soup! But she’s a “throw everything together” kind of cook and this is what she gave me:

Pasta Y Fagioli Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 lb ground beef, browned
  • Diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic
  • 2 16 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 can each: chicken, beef and vegetable broth
  • Seasoning: garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, pepper, Italian seasoning, Bay leaf
  • 1 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce can white beans
  • Fagioli pasta

Instructions

  1. Add everything into large pot and simmer.
  2. Serve.
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I thought, ok I can give this a try! I can WING IT (yeah right). Except I went to make the dinner and didn’t have any canned beans. I ALWAYS have canned beans. How am I out?!? Nothing but black beans and that kind of changed the whole recipe. So I made something similar to this recipe minus the beans, Also, the only pasta I had besides spaghetti was gluten-free fuselli. I honestly didn’t care that it wasn’t the right pasta. I’m not a stickler. Pasta is pasta to me.

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I browned half a pound of beef (it was left over and needed to be cooked) and halved the rest of the recipe. Minus the beans. I let it simmer for about 45 minutes on the stove. I cooked the pasta separately and then added it to the soup mixture about 10 minutes before it was going to be ready. I also baked some biscuits–you know, the kind that come in a tube? It’s been probably 8 years or so since I had them and was craving it so I got it. They were surprisingly low in calories. A serving was 3 biscuits for 160 calories. Not bad!

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With my throwing things together, I actually got 5 servings out of the dish and that made it 271 calories for 5 servings. If it was half of the original recipe at 4 servings it would be a little higher but still pretty low.

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Michael was a big fan of the soup. I was too. It was delicious and hearty. The kitchen smelled delightful! I would most definitely make this recipe again with one minor tweak — it needed more fluids! Since I was omitting the cans of beans (which the original recipes I consulted said to include the liquid in the beans) there was less fluid. I think I’d add some beef broth or maybe some water.

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Despite not being “soupy” it was still delicious and I loved the flavors. And the biscuit. :)

What’s your favorite soup?

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