Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Cakery in Portland, Oregon… Palace Cakes at 14th and Yamhill!

There really isn't much to say here about this cakery… but, I can tell you it's just perfect!  On this corner of SW 14th and Yamhill, we found this place called Palace Cakes.  It was on my list a while ago and for some reason I took it off but recalled it today when we were out running errands. So, short story here… we went in and ate some cake!

Pictures can sell you on this place because it was really sweet and photographed so well.  The cakes were moist, the frosting was rich and perfectly sweetened and not overly done.  Decorated simply too, this cakery is divine.  Not a whole lot of seating but you don't really need much as you can easily take away a box of cake tied with red and white string and then devour it once you get it home.

So, on a rainy in Portland when you find yourself spent on running errands around town, take time for a slice and a coffee.  Upon leaving, I spied a new cake just set out.  It was a carrot cake, several layers tall with toasted coconut slapped on the sides on top of the frosting.  I think I will be back at Palace Cakes soon!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Spicy Corn Chowder… a warm dish on a cool Portland night straight from PDX!

Here's that occasional recipe I put out there on my blog and it's really good!  First let me tell you that I just got home a few days ago from a week long trip where I flew to Arizona to celebrate my moms 70th birthday, rode with my sister to SoCal from there to stay near our daughter for a few nights and then we were off again a few miles away to stay with friends so we could attend a retirement party and evening gathering before flying home last Friday.  A week away, three moves and several days filled with activity, food, drink, family and friends and I'm exhausted!!!

The last thing I want to do when I get home from a trip is go to the market.  So, with a little planning, I can grab some things from my freezer and pantry and make something delicious without leaving the house for a few days.  We did cheat a little and had our son pick up some milk and half & half for us but even so, you could definitely get by without that if necessary.

This recipe comes from my head so bear with me and add or change anything you want to make it yours:


Melt some butter in a soup pot and then add about 1/4 chopped onion, a few chopped garlic bulbs and about 2-3 T pre-chopped and frozen Anaheim chili.  You could chop the onion and garlic and put in freezer before leaving if you want so it's there when you return. I happened to have both on my counter and they are good there for a long time.  Add a bag of frozen sweet corn once the sizzling has begun.  I get most of my groceries from Whole Foods so I used their brand of sweet corn here.

Toss with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat till the onions and other veggies are soft.

Add one cup of vegetable broth, 1/2 t. chili powder, pinch of crushed peppers or more if you want more spice, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. white pepper.  Cook for about 10 min. so the flavors can meld.  

Add one cup of half & half or one can of evaporated milk from your pantry.  The canned milk is easy to keep around but since our son picked up some half & half for us, this is what I used.  

Once the soup is heated through again and after adding the milk, add about 3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese and heat just to melt.  And yes, I keep lots of shredded cheese in my freezer too!  It's nice having it for this purpose and for a quick quesadilla or tacos as well.

Serve in two big bowls!  This recipe makes enough for small seconds or one big leftover bowl for lunch the next day:)!!  

I had some corn muffins I made a while back in the freezer too so I heated those up and melted some butter on them and they were delicious with this chowder.

Let me know if you have ideas for meals made from the things you have in your freezer or pantry when coming home from a trip.  It's about time I head to the market and I really want to make this soup again so I'll be getting more of these ingredients.  This may also make a great gift basket for someone as well using fresh veggies and canned corn and canned milk.

Happy spicy soup making and stay warm!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

HOLIDAYS in Portland, Oregon…a list of my Happy Places you must visit!

View of Pioneer Square from The Nines!
I've been working on my HAPPY PLACES list for you for a while and I've been really paying attention to how I feel when I walk in to a shop, a restaurant, a coffee house or just about anywhere where I can expect certain feelings of joy to overwhelm me.  I am a thinker however, sometimes there are those special places you visit over and over again because they just feel good.  So, these photos and my list here shortly are just some of those "feel good" places I love in and around the Portland area.  Enjoy the read and chime in and leave a comment to tell me about your "feel good" places too!

Also note that you certainly don't have to go to all these places in one day however, it's pretty easy to make a one day or two day itinerary out of this list.  Be sure to find your own "happy places" along the way because that's the most fun you know… not taking the main road but finding the joy and fun in the unplanned.  That's my favorite!

Here goes:

St. Honoré on Division:  I love this place because everything is delicious!  From the pastries to the flambé to the cider to talking with Chef Dominique… it's just all so perfect!  Great place to grab some goodies to take home and did you know they cater?  I just found out and I'm so excited!

Schoolhouse Electric Co.:  This is one place that literally makes me smile when I walk in.  They have everything!!  From coffee equipment to woolen blankets to towels and bags and linens and more!  Of course the lighting is quite nice too but I really love everything here!  Be sure to head over before Christmas because their vignettes are adorable and perfect for a quick family or friend photo!

Ristretto:  Inside Schoolhouse Elec. Co. and around town, this coffee is pretty much the best in Portland!  I'm a coffee snob and believe Ristretto makes a perfect latté in my opinion.  If you're lucky, you may snag a nice Figgy Buckwheat Scone made by Bakeshop.  You must go and enjoy a latté soon!

Pips Original:  Sometimes just because, sometimes because doughnuts sound good for lunch and sometimes I go just for the house made chai.  Whatever reason you go, just do it and then order that chai and some delicious little doughnuts.  Sweet and special, Pips Original is thee best place to take friends and family that are visiting Portland this season!

Zupans:  Always a "feel good" grocery shopping experience, Zupans will make the chore a pleasure!  From the awesome staff to the herbs, the butcher, the coffee and tea selection and then that deli… oh wow… you can literally have a feast right there in the wine section!  And that wine section… to die for.  Find local goods, imported goods and ALL the things you need for this season and throughout the entire year!

Portland Homestead Supply:  A sweet little shop in Sellwood, this place has everything you need to make your own candles, soap, cheese, laundry detergent and more!  They have awesome classes where I have learned to make corn tortillas and other delicious things.  They've got essential oils too!  They quite literally have everything!  We purchased a 5 gallon crock there last spring and love it!  Be sure to check them out on line, you'll love their classes!

Pistils:  What a cute place.  Always love the chickens pecking around and hiding in the bushes and plants for sale.  Last December, we found our little Christmas tree there.  They have a great selection of trees and are on Mississippi…. can't go wrong at all!  Some great little local finds inside along with some indoor plants, etc.

Opa:  Find this delicious place in Sellwood!  Our favorite place for a calazone!! Thee best in town in my opinion.  The owners are very nice and always make us feel at home.

Garden Fever:  Another great nursery on NE24th and Fremont.  This is the place that brings me to my knees when I'm in the mood to bring out my Master Gardner skills and plant stuff!  I've literally landscaped my entire garden, front and back from the things I have purchased at Garden Fever.  Working on filling the house with house plants too, they do have everything you need for your garden inside or out!  Love my garden shoes so much as well and enjoy perusing their shelves of gardening books as well.

Lovely's 50 50:  If you are making an itinerary out of this list, you'll be hungry by now and if you haven't grabbed a calazone yet, be sure to get to Lovely's.  They have great pizza and some of the best house made ice cream in town.  Not a huge selection of ice cream but that's ok, you don't need one if you got the good stuff.  Malted Milk Ball ice cream sound good???  Go get some!  It's on Mississippi Ave. so be sure to peruse that whole street for some great shopping this season!

The Pearl and that's me!
Hollywood Liquor:  I know… it's a liquor store but it's the second largest in Oregon… did you know that??  Anyways, this place is awesome and we are really in to making some aged cocktails right now and they have everything we need!  Go get your Bailey's and other stuff you need to make your holiday season cheer go through the roof!

Pioneer Square:  Tomorrow, Friday, November 28th, the tree at Pioneer Square gets lit!  Be there at 5:30 pm and get yourself in the mood by enjoying all the holiday festivities downtown.  I'll be on a plane headed to Arizona for a few days so snap me a pic please… I can't believe I'm missing this!!!

Boys Fort:  Head downtown early and hit Boys Fort!!  Not to be missed, this is one of my top five HAPPY PLACES in Portland!  The guys are great and it's ok, girls can go in, you don't have to be a boy.  They've got everything that exudes warmth, home and cozy cozy cozy for this season.  I've purchase many things from these guys and love everything I've brought home!  Check out the art… pretty cool and all local if I may add that.  Happy Shopping!!!!!

Woodlawn Coffee and Cafe:  On Dekum, if you need another coffee or lunch or a cookie, head over!  Such a lovely and cute little place, I love the vibe too!  If the weather is nice enough, sit on the patio, it's darling! They serve Stumptown so it's all delicious!  I enjoy the grilled cheese sandwich for lunch!

Salt & Straw:  I live near the Alberta St. Salt & Straw and so I do have some great will power believe it or not.  I'm hearing they are debuting their new seasonal flavors on Friday… Fruit Cake Ice Cream sound good???  I am dying here and hoping to sneak over to see if they'll give me a taste before I fly out tomorrow… keeping my fingers crossed but I have the LA Salt & Straw on my SoCal itinerary for next week. 

St. Honoré!

Salt & Straw on Alberta Street!
Powell's:  Always on my HAPPY PLACES list because… well… it's Powell's!!!  I just ordered several books for someone as a Christmas gift and I spent just over 50 bucks and got my shipping free… so awesome!!!  On line doesn't replace the REAL thing but it's a close second.  

Pistils Nursery!

Pips Original!
Back Yard Bird Shop:  What a cute place and yes, they have everything for birds in your garden and things for all the creatures where you live!!! Bird houses, to feeders to feed and yes, they have it all.  It's behind the Whole Foods on 15th and Fremont so be sure to grocery shop at this market if you need anything while you are in the area.  I love this Whole Foods!!!

McMenamins Kennedy School:  Located in the Concordia District just blocks from where I live, this is our favorite place for a movie!  Sitting in a love seat sipping beer and munching on pizza, popcorn and red vines is quite perfect in this old school auditorium.  A great place for a holiday movie and again, close to home!  

Schoolhouse Electric and Ristretto!

Boys Fort!
Believe me when I say, this is really only a short list of some of my most HAPPY PLACES in Portland.  I wish I could list all of the places that I love but then that would be too much so here's the top few that you will enjoy!  Be sure to check them all out and make a day or weekend out of it.  Also, again, please let me know what you find along the way and leave a comment so I can share that as well.

Have fun and happy holidays from Portland, Oregon!

Union Station!

Always stop for a bite of something really good!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Setting A Simple Holiday Table!

It's kind of cool that I can walk outside my door and find some crinkled Autumn leaves in my garden, some dried up herbs and a few pumpkins still hanging around.  I love using what I have or what I can find to decorate my holiday table.  This week, we will celebrate a simple Thanksgiving with a brunch and some relaxing before heading downtown sometime during the evening for a walk and the hope of happening upon a simple romantic dinner for two!

Since most of our family is spread all over the country, it is sure to be a simple holiday however, that doesn't mean it can't be festive.  I love some of the ideas found in this link to Houzz, "8 Creative Accents to Set Your Holiday Table Apart."  I'll take some of those ideas and throw in a few of my own and there will be chicken apple and spice sausage and onion filled omelets, banana chocolate chip muffins, juice and coffee to fill us up.  I have to admit, I am really okay about not preparing a huge Thanksgiving meal this year.  A simply set table with things I've found in my garden and a simple meal shared with just some of the people I love will make this year simply special.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and whatever you have planned this year, I hope it's special and relaxing for you!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beaujolais Nouveau… Nouveau Division Crawl!

St. Jack and Oysters on Division Street near Cibo!

It was a cool night so we bundled in our heavy coats, donned our scarves and mittens and woolen caps then headed out.  Wine glass in hand, we were in the mood and prepared to taste all the wine and delicious bites on the NOUVEAU DIVISION CRAWL last Thursday evening!

Being a creator of a food and wine event similar to this one, I think I have a pretty good idea of what folks want in a tour.  They not only want that delicious wine and yummy food, they want the whole package.  They want to hear that their wine was literally bottled that day and the labels were slapped on just hours or minutes before the event was set to start.  They want to meet the chefs, the bakers, the pizza makers and the owners of the restaurants that are on this list of stops along the route.  They want the back stories, the history, they want to know what's new and when it's over, and at the end, they want to feel satisfied and leave happily knowing they got it all. That's exactly how my evening went last Thursday!

I learned more than I thought I knew about the seasons "first wine," and I met chefs and ate their food and got to know the places I have frequented a bit more as well as trying a few new places along the way.  I learned that I really liked the "new" wine and also recognized that since moving to Oregon almost seven years ago that my palate has matured when it comes to wine.  It's an amazing thing to grow up in Oregon if only in taste and sense.

I hope you can book this tour for the 2015 season.  Watch for it and put it on your calendar.  Not only do you get all the tastes of Division Street, you also get to help our local public schools since all the proceeds of this tour go to them.

Below you'll find the list of the places I trekked to and enjoyed on Division Street and the Nouveau Division Crawl.  Go in for a bite and if they have it, some wine perhaps.  See you at the next Beaujolais Nouveau season on Division Street.

Literally bottled and labeled the day of!

Chef Dominique at St. Honoré!

List of places you need to go NOW:

Cibo - for the delicious pizza!

Southeast Wine Collective - for all the wine!!!!

Lauretta Jean's - well duh… what do I say???  Go for everything… these brownies, the pie, brunch, etc.

St. Honoré - for the cider, the wine, the pastries, the macarons and to say hello to Chef Dominique!

Salt & Straw - for all the Thanksgiving Ice Cream flavors that you cannot go without this season!

Block + Tackle - for a cocktail, a nice little salmon bite and for a romantic evening for two!

Son of a Biscuit - for all the fried chicken, the sweet potato fries topped with cranberry relish and the scents of home cooking food… lots of it!

New Seasons - for all of your holiday grocery shopping!  They have everything you'll need… everything!

Lauretta Jean's salted caramel brownies and Beaujolais Nouveau!

note:  Thank you Broussard Communications for inviting me and although I did not pay for this event, my thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sunshine Tavern… a divine dinner on Division Street!

The Bobby Boucher!
Working once again off my list of restaurants to check out in Portland, last night, Sunshine Tavern made it to the top of that list!  Driving in the dark down Division Street in the SE area of Portland, one cannot help notice the changes over the past few years and see what "D Street" has become. Home to some of the BEST places to dine in the city, Division Street captures the thirsty, the hungry and those of us food lovers that adore gorgeous food, exceptional service and the ENTIRE experience of dining out.

Camera in hand and in need of a nice cocktail, my Bobby Boucher hit the spot!  Just a quick note on the service at the Sunshine Tavern… I called ahead to see if they take reservations.  They don't but they were quick to say that I could call when I was on my way and put my name on the list.  I did and we got seated right away… no wait at all.

Very casual with delicious scents a simple bar with wait staff that again, blew my mind with their exceptional service!  We each ordered our dinner which included a chicken burger, beef burger, a steak, this chicken and waffle and I got the Delicata Squash pizza… AMAZING… ALL OF IT!

For me, dining is an experience my entire body and soul reacts to.  From the moment I walk in to a restaurant, then being seated, the service and of course the food taste and appearance… it all has to feel right for me to truly enjoy it.  So, Sunshine Tavern hit this in me in every aspect.  I will keep this on my "def go back to" list and tell everyone I know about Sunshine Tavern!

Nice on you Division Street and Sunshine Tavern… congrats for wining my heart and soul;)!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas in the Willamette Valley… Holidays with family and friends in Oregon!

Christmas Parlour Tour, Albany, OR

If you are looking for something to do this holiday season, head south!  You will find many things to see and do in Albany, Oregon!  Just 72 miles from Portland, Albany is one of the sweetest places on earth to enjoy the upcoming holidays.  See the streets of the historic downtown area lit and lined with snowflakes awaiting your arrival!  
My home for several years, Albany still holds my heart because there are historic home tours and horse drawn wagon rides, holiday movies, theater productions and more to draw you in to the season and make you feel at home.  Plan for one of these events and be sure to visit the Albany Carousel Museum as well, it's a "must see" in my opinion. Also, find tasty treats and perhaps lunch or dinner.  Some of my favorite places:  Pizzamoré, Sybaris Bistro, Sweet Red, Frankies, First Burger and Novak's!  You saw my recent blog with info on the shopping so go with the kiddos and hit that TWICE AROUND PARADE or any other holiday event that strikes your fancy.
See you around town and be sure to contact the Albany Visitors Association for more info!

Christmas Storybook Land
Experience Christmas magic when you take your family to one of the mid-valley's beloved holiday traditions: Christmas Storybookland. Walk though 85 hand-created scenes featuring characters from nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and family movies. Kids of all ages will marvel at the detailed model train systems, a Victorian dollhouse village, and Bear Country filled with hundreds of stuffed bears. Kids can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in their North Pole cottage too.
Admission is free, but bring a can of food to donate if you are able.
Learn more about this event
Free Holiday Movie at The PixDecember 6, 2014, 1:30 p.m.
Free Holiday Movie at The Pix
On Saturday, Dec. 6th, the Albany Downtown Association and the Pix Theatre are partnering to bring you the classic Christmas movie "Miracle on 34th Street." It's a delightful movie for the whole family. Doors open at 1:30 pm and the movie starts at 2:00 pm. The cost is free but please bring a can or other non-perishable food item if you can.
Learn more about this event
Downtown Twice Around Christmas Parade and Tree LightingDec. 7, 2014
Downtown Twice Around Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting
Kick off the holiday season with the Downtown Twice Around Holiday Parade and Community Tree Lighting. Anyone can participate in this short holiday parade! Groups are encouraged to register ahead of time. All we ask is that you are "decorated for the holidays" and remember we only have one Santa Claus, who walks at the end of the parade. (It's okay to wear Santa hats.) Gather at Broadalbin and Second Street in downtown Albany.

Parade starts at 5 p.m. Join us after the parade to sing carols and light the Community Christmas Tree.
Learn more about this event
Nutcracker BalletDec. 11-13
Nutcracker Ballet
See the holiday classic "The Nutcracker" ballet in this family-friendly production sponsored by Legacy Ballet and Linn-Benton Community College. For more information or to purchase a ticket go 541-917-4531
Learn more about this event
Breakfast with SantaDecember 13, 2014, 10 a.m.
Breakfast with Santa
Bring your family to enjoy a delicious breakfast at Sybaris Bistro, paired with one-on-one attention from Santa himself! This Albany tradition includes a delicious breakfast prepared by Chef Matt Bennett of Sybaris, while Santa mingles table to table with everyone. After breakfast the children will be called to sit with Santa, receive a gift and tell him what they want for Christmas. Reservations are required; ticket prices to be determined. Sponsored by the Albany Downtown Association.
Learn more about this event
Christmas Parlour TourDecember 14, 2014, 2-7 p.m.
Christmas Parlour Tour
On the second Sunday in December, 2-7 p.m., tour the parlors of beautifully-decorated historic homes, and experience the sights and sounds of a Victorian holiday. Costumed carolers and vendors will delight you on the way. Horse drawn wagon, vintage trolley, refreshments and entertainment included in the ticket price. $15 for adults and $12 for seniors.
Learn more about this event
Holiday Nosh TourDec. 20, 2014, 4-7 p.m.
Holiday Nosh Tour
Join us for a special Holiday Nosh Tour! Via Albany's Historic Trolley, departing from the AVA, you will tour a surprise itinerary featuring Albany's historic homes and fabulous restaurants. Sample holiday food and drink at each of the stops, see historic homes glowing with holiday lights, and visit with the chefs who work their culinary magic. It's an unforgettable culinary adventure.

Learn more about this event
Horse-Drawn Christmas Caroling WagonDecember 19-21, 2014, 5 p.m.
Horse-Drawn Christmas Caroling Wagon
Enjoy a a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Monteith historic district. Enjoy the lighted homes and sing Christmas carols. Photo opportunities with the horses are available before and after the rides. Hot cocoa, cider and cookies are available for the riders. Reservations required: call 541-908-5778.
Learn more about this event
note:  Thank you Albany Visitors Assn. for this info I stole off your website;)!!  Happy Holidays!