Sunday, July 21, 2013

Apron Adventures in Portland, OR

I just got back from a 9 day trip to the Pacific Northwest, which is now officially my favorite part of the country. I kicked off the journey with a girls trip to Portland, then rented a car and headed up to Seattle for a little work (don't worry, I made time to visit Pike's Market and a few awesome restaurants!). Below are some delicious highlights in case you're heading to the area soon - or just want to have a little food envy :) Enjoy!

Pok Pok
The first thing that pretty much anyone asked when I mentioned I was heading to Portland was if we were going to Pok Pok. You know it! The legendary chicken wings are as awesome as I thought they would be, and I got a cocktail made from their famous drinking vinegars. This is definitely a place where you want to have the waiter help you make selections and then share with the group - the menu can be a little intimidating and you don't want to miss anything good!

Little Bird Bistro
This is the first place we headed in the city - right in the hip Pearl District. Though the inside was super gentle and lively, we opted to sit at one of the few outdoor tables since it was SO NICE out - which is an anomaly to girls from Texas in July. I got the chicken fried trout - which was the whole fish with a light slaw on top. I'm embarrassed to say I ate 80% of it - so good. And, the delightful little dessert plate with 6 little sweet bites was perfect to share.

Tasty n Alder
Go for brunch any day of the week! Great way to avoid the infamous Portland weekend brunch waits and enjoy some AWESOME food. Get the savory bread pudding toad in a hole - you won't regret it :)

Voodoo Doughnut
This was also high on the "must try" in Portland list, but just as infamous as the doughnuts are, the line to get them is too. Luckily we went here on the day we had rented a car, so we went to a different location and didn't have to wait! The maple doughnut is NOT to be missed (with or without the bacon added :) )
My sassy travel companions - Megan, Kristen, Alison, Kway and Lauren (my sissy!)

This was a super gentle Italian spot that is anything but meatballs and red sauce. We got some seasonal appetizers (see the pictured halibut and peach dish!) and my waiter convinced me to get the chicken - a half that I ate almost all of! And, when I saw affogato on the menu, I knew I needed it. SO good.
Affogato in action!

 Public Domain Coffee
We stayed at The Nines (incidentally a LOVELY hotel, especially if you have a good rate because it can get pricey), and this place was just around the corner. They had amazing pastries sourced from local shops (I had a strawberry barley scone one morning, and a baguette with butter and ham another morning), and the baristas were very thorough and talented. We went here twice!  

Another not-top-be missed spot - the line proved it. But, again killer coffee and pastries, and worth a try.

Domaine Serene

Breathtaking views and amazing wine? Yes please! This place had it both. We were smart to hit the wineries on a Friday and they weren't crowded at all! That meant we got to take our time and relax on the grounds and have the tastings come to us. I brought home a Syrah from here that I can't wait to enjoy.
The bride-to-be!
Domaine Drouhin
Just down the road from Domain Serene, our second spot proved to be just as delicious! I scored a pinot noir form here (what the Dundee region of Oregon wine country is known for!) that should be delicious. On our way out of Portland, we stopped at a sweet local market and grabbed some items for a picnic, which we enjoyed on the large outdoor patio here with gorgeous views - local fruit, cheese, Olympic Provisions salumi, crackers, spreads and more? Heaven!
Two sisters enjoying Oregon wine country!

Archery Summit
Ah, the view. 'nuff said :)

Argyle Winery Tasting Room
A coworker tipped me off that while in Portland, if I had the chance to enjoy some bubbles from ARgle, definitely to do it. We actually spotted it on the menu of the sassy bar we visited on our food tour, so we grabbed a bottle to enjoy before dinner one night in the room. On our way out to the wineries we spotted the tasting room and made sure we got back just in time to try a tasting before they closed at 5 (we just got there in time!!). I'm so glad we did, because their Black Brut (a sparkling pinot noir) was so amazing. They don't sell it in TX (they sell the regular bubbles here though!) so we each got a few bottles and plan to enjoy it on Megan's wedding day :)

Forktown Food Tours - North Mississippi
Sidecar on North Mississippi
Tacos from Koi Fusion
The Meadow - super gentle shop with all the fun things in life - flowers, chocolate, salt, bitters and more :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ricotta Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes

This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It IS for people who love awesome food. I saw a similar recipe from White on Rice Couple for grilling the tomatoes and having a sassier marinade, but for a Monday, this worked just fine for me!

If you think you don't like ricotta cheese, try making your own - it's super easy and will totally change your mind. I didn't make my own this time around, but I did buy some top-shelf, whole milk ricotta - so decadent, so delicious. So, next time you have a bowl full of just-picked cherry tomatoes from your garden (or a tub of some almost-as-yummy ones from the grocery store), give this recipe a whirl. Just eat a salad too :)

Ricotta Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes

1 pound cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices crusty bread (I used French boule)
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk or homemade is preferred!)
1 lemon
Fresh basil leaves, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

In the meantime, preheat a large cast iron or skillet on medium-high heat and warm 1/4 cup olive oil. Add bread slices so they can lay flat and not overlap and turn so they're coated in the oil. Toast 2-3 minutes on each side, until nice and crusty. Add additional oil as needed if pan gets too try.

Spread a thick layer of ricotta on the toasts and squeeze lemon juice over the top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with 5 or 6 roasted tomatoes and serve with a light salad (mine was spinach dressed with balsamic!). 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Couples Shower - His and Hers Menu

Let's travel back in time to the FIRST post ever put up on Apron Adventures (5 years ago this month!!), Say Thank You with Salmon. Remember that dear friend Meg I mentioned? Well, she's getting married! I was tickled pink to be in charge of the menu for the couple's shower the bridesmaids hosted this weekend. Her groom-to-be, Matt, is quite the foodie, while Megan has a bit more conservative taste when it comes to food. So, I thought a His and Hers menu would be more than fitting to showcase their varied (but always delicious) tastes in food. Here's what was on the line up:


  • Sandwich sliders with turkey, Robusto, mustard and raspberry jam
  • Veggies and Green Goddess Dip from Ellie Krieger on the Food Network
  • Bacon wrapped dates (recipe  below)
  • Texas Pure Luck goat cheese (where the bride is from)
  • Mac and Cheese Bites from Annie's Eats
  • Lemon Cupcakes from Real Simple

The nice thing about the menu is that you didn't need a fork for anything! In addition to the cupcakes, the crab cakes and mac and cheese were also both baked in muffin tins so they were easy to crab and eat. The shrimp came on its own serving vessel with the cracker and the bacon wrapped dates had their own toothpicks for easy consumption. No fork = a hand to hold a glass of beer or wine  - everyone wins!

Bacon-wrapped dates

10 slices of bacon
30 dates
Blue cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano or marcona almonds (optional)
30 toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bacon slices into three equal pieces (so you'll now have 30 total). If stuffing the dates, make a vertical slice in each and insert small piece of cheese or almond and close the date around it. Wrap each date with one piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on a broiler pan (so that the bacon grease has somewhere to drip while baking and doesn't prevent the bacon from crisping up) and bake for 30 minutes. Check to make sure bacon is done and cook an additional 5 minutes, if needed. Remove from oven and serve warm!