Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fennel Fronds Feel Fancy

I've been on a quest to eat more vegetables. The crazy cool thing is that this quest has inspired me to get back into the kitchen and cook. It's been a weird summer for me and I haven't really felt like cooking much. I joke that I am on the Trader Joe's diet but it's not really a joke. Thank goodness my pal TJ bails me out weekly with my fav Indian entrees, bagged veggies and pre-cooked lentils. Yes, it's come to that. I don't even want to cook lentils.

Some friends (hi Paul, hi Pam!) were telling me about this delicious fennel salad recipe they have been enjoying this summer. And since I've been struggling with inspiration, I found the recipe and made a batch tonight.

Totally worth it.

Can I just say that fennel fronds feel fancy? And obviously I like to use alliteration.

This recipe was easy, although slicing snap peas into matchsticks is NOT for the faint of heart. Be careful, comrades, and keep those fingers safe.

The words that come to mind on this salad are "fresh" and "fragrant."  I'm not a HUGE licorice fan but the sweetness of the sugar snap peas really dials down the fennel. I added red pepper flakes and less oil than the recipe calls for. The recipe calls for salmon to sit on top of the delightful slaw but alas, I forgot to thaw salmon today. Keeping it real, folks, keeping it real. I have been trying to eat lighter suppers so just a bowl full of this salad is pretty much perfect.

Fennel & Sugar Snap Slaw
Adapted from Eating Well
*Serves 2 (unless you are dainty and eat like a bird)
*Prep time: 10 minutes
*Kitchen Gear Required: Cutting board, knife (and knife skills)

1 fennel bulb, sliced into matchsticks (reserve some fronds for garnish)
2 cups sugar-snap peas, sliced into matchsticks
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp diced sweet onion
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of red pepper flakes

Ready, Set, Go!
1.  Combine olive oil, lemon juice, onion, salt & pepper in a medium bowl
2.  Slice fennel and sugar snap peas into matchsticks
3.  Toss fennel and peas in dressing
4.  Garnish with fennel fronds (please feel fancy as you do so) and red pepper flakes
5.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June Favorites...

I guess I'd better get my June favs out there before it's July. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze time (in popsicle form - it's going to be hotter than blazes this weekend. I am looking for every opportunity for something icy).  Here are some of my favs from June!

New Tunes
This is beyond fabulous.  Like cry-your-eyes-out beautiful.  I'm trying to listen to more classical music.  This fits the bill rather well.

Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone
Photo Cred: Amazon

Comfy Shirt
I love that this goes with everything. And the ironing stars must have aligned because I can take it straight out of the washer and wear it without resorting to my least favorite chore (ironing, in case you couldn't guess). Actually ironing and unloading the dishwasher are tied for Amy's Least Favorite Chore category.  They'll have to duke it out while I'm out and about avoiding both chores.

Factory classic chambray shirt
Photo Cred: JCrew Factory

Summer Fruit!
I picked up some peaches from Trader Joe's and they are so yummy. I'm having major withdrawals from my amazing CSA I was a part of last year that is no more. What? No more basket of produce waiting for me every Monday? Lame. Seriously, though. These peaches are stealing the show with a dollop of Greek yogurt and granola.
Fresh Peaches or Nectarines
Photo Cred: Trader Joe's

Wild Sweet Orange Iced Tea
I've sort of been failing in the cooking/menu planning department. This could be related to me gallivanting down to California for 48 hour stints mere weeks apart. Totally worth it. However, I am winning at my Wild Sweet Orange iced tea concoction.  I just brew a cup of this goodness, then add a few drops of liquid stevia and pour over ice (we have a pebble ice machine at work and I am hooked). So refreshing and it's helping me break my coffee habit.

Tazo® Wild Sweet Orange Filterbag Tea
Photo Cred; Starbucks

If you are on the West Coast - stay cool my friends.  I'm still debating ice blocks or wet towels over my window fan.  


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Aaaand we're back...

As I sat down to log into this dear old blog tonight, I had two rather startling realizations:

1) It is June of 2015.  We are SIX MONTHS into 2015.  Let's just pause a second and let that sink in (palm to forehead behavior totally allowed, no judgement from me).

2) This blog has had 20,000 views since I began this delightful (albeit sporadic) foray into the world of blogging.  Wowzas.  I guess I should give the people what they want? Oh, you want actual blog posts?  Duly noted.

The above realizations motivated me to turn off Netflix (I kid, sort of), get some of my photographs uploaded and dive back in.  Better late than never, yes? 

Sidebar: To be perfectly honest, part of my radio silence this year has been due to a significant tragedy in my life. While this blog does contain, I guess, a lot of subject matter about me (gosh, I hate how narcissistic that sounds - gag) and my life and my love affair with cooking and food, I haven't wanted it to be a place where I share all the nitty gritty details about my personal life. That being said, it is hard for me to come back to this little piece of the vast information superhighway and not feel like I was somehow moving on too quickly from grief nor giving this period of my life the proper treatment it deserves. But you know, I believe that such a huge part of my healing journey IS about doing the things that I love and I do truly love blogging. So, I'm just going to charge full steam ahead. I'm choosing to deal with processing my grief via other avenues. Whew. Ok. I just needed to get that off my chest. Thanks for bearing with me through that if you are still reading.

One of the things I've enjoyed over the past few months is exploring some local eateries here in Portland (which, let's be totally real, is a foodie paradise). You'd better believe that when family and friends come a-visiting the first thought on my mind is "what magical culinary and Northwesterly adventures adventures await?" Actually, if I am totally honest, my first thought is whether or not I've cleared off the bedroom in my guest room (it tends to be the place where all my mail/crafts/paperwork/receipts reside until I get my act together and put stuff away) and if the sheets are clean.

When my darling sister and nephew came to visit me in April, one of the places we visited was the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Spectacular. I know I've swooned a-plenty about Spring in the Pacific Northwest in previous posts but I just can't help it. It is just so gorgeous and spring is a great time of year to visit this garden. Quiet, peaceful, serene and lovely.

Two of my favoritest people on the planet.
I can't even.  He is so squishy and wonderful.
We also journeyed over to Meat Cheese Bread for some sammies.  I'd heard some rumblings about this place (both in real life and on Yelp) and wanted to give it a try.  To be fair it was actually our 2nd choice.  We really, really, really wanted Pine State Biscuits but alas the location we were near closed early afternoon. The outrage. Meat Cheese Bread, however, was delectable and they produce some really killer sandwiches.  The menu is divided up into hot and cold sandwiches (and salads and sides of course) so we decided to try one of each.  

Here's what went down:
Sandwich #1: Asparagus: Grilled asparagus, bacon relish, a soft-boiled egg, Parmesan cheese and aioli. We definitely liked this one. The soft-boiled egg added a richness to the asparagus (which was cooked to perfection). Their bread is made in-house with a good chewiness that can hold up to the weight of all the sammie ingredients.

Sandwich #2: Park Kitchen: Flank steak, pickled onions, blue cheese mayo, lettuce and vinaigrette. This was basically a really great steak salad stuffed between two slices of bread.  It was pretty darn good. The steak was cooked to perfection - medium and the blue cheese mayo had big creamy chunks of blue cheese. Drool-worthy.  

You'd better believe we demolished those sandwiches like nobody's business. Their coleslaw side was a special side (I was two months ago so I can't remember) and had a decent kick to it with fresh jalapenos and a great dressing.

Off to edit more photos that will hopefully one day soon find their way onto this space. I had a 2 hour nap and woke up at 5:30 p.m. so all bets are off that I can actually fall asleep tonight. #weekendproblems.

Has anyone else tried Meat Cheese Bread? What are your favorite sandwich shops (in Portland and beyond!)?