Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A quick note about Valentine's Day in the Willamette Valley and a day at Vintage Roost!

It's always a treat for me to go down to Albany in the Willamette Valley this time of year.  Living there for about 7 years and having my BnB in the historic Monteith District near downtown, Albany boasts to be one of the sweetest towns in Oregon.  Filled with shops, restaurants, museums and then there's all the cute stuff just north of town as well.

One of my MOST favorite places on earth is Vintage Roost on NW Scenic in Albany!  As I have said before, I furnished a lot of my BnB with things found there.  Some of you are thinking doilies and tchotchke but seriously, our place was open, historic and decorated with only the things we loved.  We enjoy that simple and comfy environment so that's how we presented our business and home to others.  Most if not all of our guests at some point throughout their stay with us would mention our style and compliment us on keeping the house simple yet everything that was needed was there and attainable.  We enjoyed decorating our 1908 Craftsman, loved most (ahem...) of our guests and are really truly enjoying being done with that part of our lives for now.  However… I still make it out to Vintage Roost to peruse the sweetest little cabin/cottage in the valley because I love the feeling when I enter and in fact, I love everything about being there.  This time of year there's a roaring little fire, something hot to drink as I shop and then a few goodies to sample too.

Take the trip to Albany.  It's a great little day trip from the Portland area or even from the coast or Eugene for that matter.  Find goodies, homemade things, vintage linens, dishes and other very sweet things to take home and use.  There's always little plants and other outdoor things to get you through till Spring in Oregon as well.

For more things to do in the area:

Lunch at Sweet Red, First Burger or Calapooia Brewing all located downtown.

Stay on First Ave. for a bit and enjoy the children's clothing shop there and a few other shops I love… Emma Downtown and new men's clothing shop called the The Natty Dresser!

On Second and Ellsworth, find the Albany Antique Mall where you will find all the other things you'll just have to have.  Lots of furniture and vintage finds here.

Be sure to check out the Albany Carousel project on First and Washington as well.  Such a sweet place and watch the artists paint and the carvers carve the carousel animals and watch them come to life before your eyes.

You aren't far from Corvallis either… so, go check out some of the shops downtown and if you are hungry for a burger and/or beer… Block 15 is one of my favorites.  Also, I love The Inkwell which is filled with kitchen items, dishes and tons more things I couldn't live without when I had my BnB and big kitchen.

You can also take 99W down from Portland or head back up that way when you are finished and heading back.  So many wineries to visit and only so much time.  Some of my favorites for the views and the wine….

Van Duzer… views are amazing!

Left Coast Cellar… the drive from 99W is along a picturesque driveway and there's lunch at the end along with some wine!

Sokol Blosser which is a great stop too!

Adelsheim… a must stop along the way.

For more FOOD… The Grazing Goat for food and dessert in Amity or head to Red Hills Market and if you aren't hungry, it's ok.. they have Stumptown Coffee and macaroons made with lots of coconut and half dipped in chocolate!  Lots of cookbooks, wine to take home and other things you might need!

Ok, that's enough so you must go and make your plans now.  Go with your honey or some girlfriends.  Either way, a road trip that only lasts a day is great way to explore Oregon!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Coffee, Coffee Cake and Just One of Those Sweet Little Spots That Serve Both in Portland!

Oui Presse on Hawthorne!

It's beginning again.  This year since January first, I have had the pleasure of enjoying thirteen stops here in Portland that involved food, beer, coffee, cocktails or cake!  I don't believe I promised to behave and keep it cool in 2015 but I did promise myself to ease up on the sweets. So, as those resolutions go, I've messed up in a really yummy way already but I am truly saving those "sweet" times for the good stuff!

I have returned to several places that wowed me in previous years and hit a few "new to me" places that are on my new 2015 list.  Today I headed over to Hawthorne with my sights on finding Oui Presse.  As you can see, I found this sweet place situated nicely adjacent to the gorgeous Ladd's Addition area of Portland.  One of my most favorite neighborhoods is deserved of a place so European, so French and so very quintessential.

Streets lined up diagonally with rose gardens dotting the landscape, Ladd's Addition is truly one of the old great Portland neighborhoods.  Most of the homes in this area are not pretentious, they are simply the perfect size for an average Portland family.  An average home in an average type of neighborhood surrounded by an exquisite bunch of delicious places to dine, get coffee or tea, etc., this area is truly lucky to have it all!

I walked in to Oui Presse expecting it to be a little like some of the "other" European styled cafes I've been to in Portland, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find it so relaxed and warm and very welcoming.  With racks of magazines for purchase, tables for their patrons and a bit of decor that is reminiscent of vintage luxe, I instantly liked the place.  So, as it goes, I ordered a Café au lait and a slice of Espresso Hazelnut Coffee Cake.  Again, I am working on behaving but this is a new place and that coffee cake was asking for it!  And which by the way, was quite delicious and not as sweet as I expected and that was truly a treat.

I sat and munched on my wee slice of cake and sipped my warm cuppa from a bowl and felt good everywhere!  January, it's 57 degrees outside, I have a t-shirt on with a warm scarf around my neck, I'm sipping this delicious coffee and I just enjoyed some of the best coffee cake I have ever tasted and I'm smiling.  Not at anything in particular, but I'm just smiling.  It's been a good Friday.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

NEW (TO ME) PORTLAND places I visited for food, coffee, tea, cocktails and beer in 2014!

Cheese and Crack!
Here's my somewhat complete list of restaurants etc. that I visited in 2014.  I'm just a little embarrassed to admit that I hit over 150 new places in 2013 so we tried to tame it down a bit over 2014 and the fact that we were literally out of town and traveling for almost half the year really helped.  But then again, it only gave us more time to dine in sweet cafe's like Daisy Green Food in Marlybone London, at a very nice pub in Edinburgh where I dined on a dessert called The Kitchen Sink and swooned over breakfast which included oats with cream and Whisky at The Dulaig, our BnB in Granton on Spey in the Highlands of Scotland!  Anyways, my point here… we dined just about everywhere this past year but there's nothing like enjoying all of the experiences at home in Portland where pretty much everything is delicious and gorgeous in every way.  

Enjoy my list and my little personal notes.  I've taken this straight off so excuse the lack of proper punctuation and the fact that I may have forgotten to list a few.  

Let's go:


Harlow:  pretty good for vegan breakfast
Loretta Jean’s:  great breakfast and pies and recently had their salted caramel brownies.. yum!
Life of Pie:  delicious pizza and I hear they have great salads.
Heart:  good coffee
Clive Coffee:  fun for coffee stuff and next to Water Ave. so that's another plus!
Water Avenue Coffee Roasters:  good coffee stop
Songbird Cafe:  It was ok and close to Mt. Tabor so makes for a great morning incl a hike.
Broder:  a fav for breakfast and love the abelskeivers
Canteen:  hmmm... was that scent cumin?  The bowl I had was really good anyway.
Maurice (by Courier Coffee):  good European style coffee and pastries, not a regular 
The Observatory/Over and Out:  a favorite!  Loved the boards!
Horse Brass Pub:  typical english pub, dark and great beer selection!
P’s & Q’s Market on Dekum:  cute and great for out of visitors looking for a sweet little place in Portland tucked in to a great neighborhood.
Apizza Scholls:  just ok but nice we shared our beer with others!
Free House on Fremont:  a good one when the music isn't too loud!
Cocotte on Killingsworth:  french and sweet and good and I need to go again!
Ken’s Artisan Pizza on 28th SE:  some of the best pizza in town!  
Sterling Coffee on 21st NW:  sweet and cute with great pastries!
Nonna:  good food, not ever crowded and really like this area… NE30th and Killingsworth.
What’s The Scoop for ice cream... liq nit ice cream and good
Expatriate for cocktails and bites only! Not sure what I expected here but it was fine.
Fairley’s Pharmacy and soda shop and someone said it was the best chocolate shake ever!
Eb and Bean:  good frozen yogurt and I think about it a lot!
Tonalis:  good sundaes and want to try the doughnut sundae sometime.
Stella Taco… ok but a great little place for the location and flavors!
Branch Whiskey Bar... pretty good veggie burger and cocktails with a nice patio!
Old Salt Market Place... so freaking good!!!! My pick for 2014 Restaurant of the Year!  Brunch!!!!!
Tidbit Food Cart Pod and Farm.. really nice pod and good food.. I’m trying the pizza soon!
Elephant Deli NW... really fun place to eat and shop up on 22nd.  So glad I found this place!
Twenty Six Cafe:  simple, sweet and perfect little patio in the Fall.  They have soup too!
Lovely’s Fifty Fifty:  One of my favs for the pizza and house made ice-cream!
Taqueria Nueve: ok for me but not the best in Portland for Mexican food.
Laurelhurst Market-took Ray for dinner and he loved the burger and fries... I had macnchz and a salad that was delicious! Bought bacon to take home and now it's the only place I'll buy bacon!
Luce for Olive Oil cake and hot tea! on E burnside… sweet sweet sweet!
Wolf and Bear Food Cart on Alder in downtown Portland… yummie!
Baker and Spice Bakery in Hillsdale on Capitol Hwy... so good! Had the pumpkin muffin and coffee!
Sunshine Tavern... AMAZING! One of thee BEST IN PORTLAND!!!
Pix Patisserie.. for dessert and it was great having all the choices!
Block + Tackle... ok if you like fish etc. Not for me but again, if you love fish, this is a nice place.
Son of a Biscuit... great Sweet Potato fries and Ray loved the fried chicken.
Tea Bar on Killingsworth.. great space and loved the peppermint tea and Black Forest Herbal Latte!
Bellagio’s pizza.. really good delivery pizza but the wait is so long.  I will continue to order if I want home delivered pizza but have to be better about ordering earlier when we are really hungry. 
Fly Awake Tea Garden… what an interesting place.  Have to try it in the summer!  Great garden.
Palace Cakes… sweet place downtown.  European without the attitude like one other place in town… ahem….
LaTaq, thee best Mexican food!  Best margaritas, best puffy taco and best Mexican food we have found so far in Portland!
Rocking Frog Cafe.. house made donuts and hipsters… what more could I want!??
Laurelhurst Cafe on E Burnside.. Ray loved his BLT and wants to go for a breakfast sandwich and they do serve breakfast all day long. 
Fourth Estate for tea, coffee and Bowery Bagels… good for St. John as this place is nice and the coffee is good!  The salads looked amazing but I did't eat there.
All-Way Burgers in Clinton... want to try the Broadway location sometime but our burgers were great!
Bollywood Theater… amazing and delicious.. loved the ambience!
Cheese and Crack.. 28th and E Burnside… WOW…love, love, love!!!!!!!!!! Everyone will be sent here!
Dar Salam.. Iraqi.  Really enjoyed the ambience and the service and the food!  
Bye and Bye… I'm not vegan but I liked it a lot but perhaps the large cocktails are what I really liked. Always so packed though so almost always have to wait for a seat.
Ecliptic… great place for burgers and boards and beer.  I need to go back soon.
Bakeshop… give me all the Figgy Buckwheat Scones please!
Mae Ploy… great for Thai but there's lots of choices on Alberta St.
Nuvrei… nice Macaron Bar and great bagel sandwiches.
Case Study Coffee… really like this place and the one on Alberta now.  It's really cool!
Christopher David… feel just a little out of place here but then again, I get coffee and get to look at really cute stuff!  Love the art and flowers.
Stumptown Roasters… found on a coffee tour and enjoyed the tastings!
Chaba Thai… I really enjoyed the Thai food but their patio needs sprucing up a lot!  Could be a great place on Alberta St. in the spring and summertime.
Fresh Pot Coffee… liked the Miss Ave. location for a nice cup of coffee while shopping.
Border Nord… love the food like Broder in Clinton but weird waiting on everything which normally I don't mind too much but this place was ridiculous.  I'll prob go back by myself and get the pastry dish and coffee some morning.  
Firehouse Restaurant on Dekum… really great pizza and I'd like to go back asap.
St. Honoré on division… been three times in 2014 and loved it!  Need to go back now!  Love their flambé !
Hop Works Bike Bar… always crowded, great calzones and beer!  Love the patio.
Extracto Coffee… nice place for a cup.
Woodlawn Coffee and Pastry… my fav place for a grilled cheese, a cookie and a coffee!  So cute!
Bernies Southern Bistro… great food, great patio and good place for a vegetarian… I know.
Mash Tun… good food and beer!
Swift Lounge… interesting and glad I finally went.  I'd like to freak my mom out here!
Pacific Pie Co… hmmmm……. let's just it leave it at that.
Barista on Alberta… nice people and great coffee choices and love the location near me!
Bipartisan Cafe… may go back for the peanut butter pie but the "real" food doesn't have much taste.  
Koi Fusion Food Cart… great little tacos!
Ex Novo… Love their beer, their business plan… non profit and the potatoes and cheese… wow!
Posies… in Kenton with great lunch and pastries!!!!!
Meat Chz Bread… nice Delicata Squash Salad so I'll go back!
Bad Habit Room… really delicious and loved the house made pop tarts!
JaCivas Baker… perfect for cake or the best cupcake in town!  
Gigi's Cafe… Such good food so I hope this new place makes it.  Needs some decor and warmth and the service needs a lot of improvement and btw… every "food cart to brick and mortar" needs to always realize they will be a huge hit immediately!  Don't assume otherwise and plan for it. Just my thoughts here. 
Little Big Burger… nice for when I want a little veggie burger and some Truffle Oil fries;)
Tilt Burgers in the Pearl… ok burger but disappointed in the house made tots… no flavor.
Ava Gene's… One of my favs for a nice dinner.. been twice.
PokPok… hmmm…… waited too long!  I will try some of the others though because I love this idea, the chef's story and the cookbook!  

Baker and Spice!

The Bad Habit Room!
notes:  again, I am sure I'm missing some new places here but I vow in 2015 to take better notes of the places I go and I'll be sure post more of them through the year.  Another note… if a place gets their very own blog, you'll know it has impressed me, a lot!  Also, please find me on Instagram, Twitter and Yelp or follow me right here with another year of stories, itineraries and lists of my favorite places!  ONE MORE THING… know that I have revisited my 2013 list of places over and over again and if you'd like a more comprehensive list, let me know and I'm happy to email it your way!

Palace Cakes!

Black Forest Herbal Tea Latte!

Twenty Six Cafe in Autumn!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One heck of a year… traveling, eating, drinking and playing hard everywhere in 2014!

On the Aufderheide Scenic Byway with friends!

There are just way too many photos in my album to share with you.  Although, if you have a few hours, I am sure I could bore you to tears with them.  As I have stated several times before, I am not a professional at anything I do however, I love photography and writing so I am hoping you have enjoyed my musings in 2014.

I have thought for many years that we travel a lot.  I was wrong!  This year, 2014 has been the busiest of travel years in our lives.  I will attempt to give you a run down of how our year panned out but all in all, I'm sitting in a cozy chair with a warm blanket my mom made for me.  The fire is roaring and I can smell the scent of bean soup on the stove and I'm sipping my favorite tea in my new home in the sweetest neighborhood right here in Portland, Oregon.  My wish for all of you in 2015… that you may enjoy where you live, that you play hard, eat gorgeous food and drink till you are merry but mostly, that you get the chance to experience Oregon this year.  Come for the food and libations, the hiking, the weather, the coast and the mountains, the valleys and my city… Portland!  You'll love it here!

Steven and Joanna… Halloween!

The St. Johns Bridge!
We began this year with our usual trip to SoCal and Arizona to visit family.  On these trips, we seem to play all the way south so this year wasn't any different.  Staying in Ashland was a treat at one of our favorite places, The Palm Hotel.  Such a sweet place and close to Crater Lake which is always on the list when headed this way.  Not a ton of snow up there early this year but enough to be pretty not that Crater Lake isn't pretty all year long but you know… sometimes a nice snow fall can really make for gorgeous photos!

We spent one month away and anxious to get home, we trekked up quickly and headed back to our little condo in the Pearl.  Deciding it was time to find a "real home," we began our search in our favorite neighborhood in NE Portland, Alberta Arts.  It didn't take long and we got our "new" home in an old neighborhood that is known for its quirkiness, style, art and delicious places to dine!  We settled in for a whole three weeks early this April before heading out again.  This time… a few days in Texas to celebrate Lukas's first birthday and leaving from Dallas, we headed to Edinburgh to begin our almost one month in the UK.

To back up here for a sec, I have to mention Portland's winter!  Just couldn't believe the snow and how the city almost shuts down during all of it.  We did enjoy it immensely however and love any reason to sit and do nothing for a few days but then again, we were in Portland so no excuses… we dressed warm and went out to see what was going on.  I have to say that Portland is gorgeous in the snow.  Well, it's gorgeous no matter what and just different to see it blanketed in white and people getting to work on cross country skis.  That was something you don't see every day.  Now on to our trip…

Crater Lake January 2014!

Chef Dominique at St. Honoré!
Arriving in Edinburgh exhausted and confused from lack of sleep, we drove a little Fiat stick shift on the wrong side of the road!!!  Well, wrong side for us anyways but we soon perked up and headed to the Highlands enjoying every bit of scenery along our route.  

We arrived in Granton on Spey late in the afternoon after we drove winding roads, saw castles, herds of sheep and enjoyed a stroll through an ancient garden.  Our bed and breakfast was gorgeous and our hosts were amazing as we were greeted with scones and tea.  From that moment on, we set out each day to explore the Whisky Trail and enjoyed many distillery tours and tastings along the way.  

Friends from the English countryside just two hours north of London met us in Scotland and we enjoyed scooting around Scotland with them and eventually making our way down the coast.  Places like Holy Island and Whitby were explored and then we spent a few days in South Creake before heading out on our own once again.  

We enjoyed villages such as Smallworth the Chestnuts, small towns like Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford before settling in London for the last five days of our trip. Strolling the gardens, museums, cafe's, SoHo and East London, we really felt integrated into the culture that is London and enjoyed every bit of our time there.  Anxious to get home however, we bid good-bye to England and the whole UK and vowed to return again soon.

San with baby Em!

That's Sher!
Just some of the boys… brothers!  
Just a few days after getting home from our trip to the UK, I left for PA for my nephew's graduation.  Home from that for a bit and it was time to welcome friends and family to our home for a visit and then again, mix all this up with everything that's happened already from the beginning of 2014 and throw in a lot of hiking, a lot of new restaurant tasting, libation making… and tasting, day trips to the Oregon coast, the valley, Mt. Hood and more and I was pretty dang sure we were in the midst of our busiest year ever.

Our Portland winter 2014!

Road Trips!
In July, I was off to Texas to help welcome little Em into the world. Grandchild number five and she's a doll!  Coming home back to Portland after that was bittersweet as I was anxious to get summer started but missing all my kiddos so much.  My birthday happened one day after getting home from Texas and we celebrated it by hiking 7 miles on the trail to Ramona Falls with a short trek over the Sandy River and a wee bit on the Pacific Crest Trail.  I do highly suggest you take this hike however, you cannot cross the Sandy River until the Spring when the bridge is up.  It's a long hike and as always, wear really good shoes and take lots of snacks and water.  Five days after this hike, we took off to check out Punchbowl Falls.  Loved this trek as well however, on the way back to our car, I bit the dust hard and fell hitting my head.  Still recovering from that months later but it didn't slow me down much as we have been on more hikes this year than ever before.  Another goodie about living here, there's no lacking for someplace to hike!

Lots of coffee!

They got their own place in the Alphabet District!
Throw in some street fairs all over Portland, a few trips to Seattle, farmer's markets all over town, more visitors, more family and friends to entertain and more little trips for weddings, retirement celebrations and one big trip to the Grand Canyon with friends and we still weren't finished! By the way… I don't recall ever going to the Grand Canyon before and yes I know, that's weird but I will say… quite an amazing place.  Almost unreal, surreal and completely perfect.  I really enjoyed that trip a lot.  

Fall came in with a flourish as I enjoyed every second of every Autumn day here in Oregon.  It is my most favorite time of year and always comes with good food and drink once again.  My second year as a guest blogger for Feast Portland, I got to enjoy it this year with my youngest daughter and her boyfriend.  There's no better way than to show off where you love to live than to show it off with delicious places to eat and that we did!  Tasting many things at Feast, discovering that Tiki Cocktails are a "thing" now, finding out that a steak that has been aged for months is mighty tasty and that we will only eat the best ice cream made in Portland was the best! And, we loved sharing it all!

My Autumn in Oregon isn't complete though without a trip on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway.  This year I took some ladies with me as we drove the byway and stayed over night along the way.  Stopping at a nice horse campground, rolling out the linens and fine china, we sipped tea, drank wine and lunched on goodies we all brought to share. It was much fun and only a little crazy but hey… it'll be something we'll remember always.

I know I am leaving a lot out because as I have said, this has been the busiest year ever.  I've been on many planes, hiked many trails on these trips and here, tasted many different types of food, been invited to photograph and write stories about my adventures and even had a photo published in an in-flight magazine.  I have met some amazing people from around the world this year.  I was fortunate enough to get to know some acquaintances better, experienced what it's like to be a true foodie, learned how to age cocktails, make a wee garden flourish and become an even better Portland ambassador.  I have watched my neighborhood change, my city grow, I have seen it from the Willamette River and realized then just how beautiful and unique it is from that angle.  I have learned where to find the best food in Portland and that I'm not fancy and I'm OK with that.  I like real and I adore honest and everything that exudes that.  To me, that describes Portland to a "t!" Portland is real and honest without pretense and without prejudice. Everyone can feel at home here.  I love that I have met some of Portland's famous chefs and I love that I have gotten to know some of the more demure chefs who find the beauty of their food in not flaunting it.  I love that I can walk out my door and take a bus anywhere around town or just enjoy my neighborhood and the historic Portland homes that make this place just simply perfect!  I love ALL of the coffee houses, all of the places that serve hot fresh doughnuts and all of the places that make a delicious cup of hot tea and all those places that make me swoon with their cocktails.  I love it all quite frankly and even though I live in NE Portland, the entire city is my home and I am getting pretty good and finding my way. 

Hope you can come for a visit soon and find your way to all that is delicious and beautiful here in Portland.

Happy New Year to all of you and see my next blog coming soon for a list of all the delicious places I visited in 2014.  You'll want to add them all to your list!


Happy First Bday Lukas!


Scotland 2014!

Sher and Aaron!

Welcome baby Em!

That's K!

Three little ones!

Cannon Beach!

Portland restaurant!


Playing on the hiking trails!

Trips to Seattle!

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!