The Year In Review

I haven’t been posting much this year. This point was driven home when my Facebook year in review was mostly photos others had tagged me in. My year was a lot more beautiful than anyone would guess, especially considering undiagnosed knee bursitis left me hobbled for the better part of 7 months. A lot of time was spent with family and friend. We also traveled all over western Washington. Be prepared for some sunset photos.

2014 started with our 4th Anniversary trip to Mount St. Helens. We arrived late, woke up early and saw the most beautiful sunrise over the mountain.

This biggest news of my year was becoming an aunt. Emily & Pete had a baby! Being an aunt is so much fun. There were a ton of crafts before she was born, and I’m sure there will be even more as she grows. Em and I even did some long distance design consulting for the nursery. It is turning out super cute.

I was invited to an event at the Chihuly Boathouse. It was great to see someone else’s collection of creepy face objects.

E & I went on a camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula, stopping at the Olympic National Park, Neah Bay to visit a friend, and the Salt Creek Campground, where you sleep overlooking the tide pools.

We made a few trips down to Ocean Shores to spend time with my family. Rain, wind, or sun, these beaches are wonderful.

This fall we celebrated a few of our friends getting married. One of these weddings was just outside of Portland in Troutdale, Oregon. We had a great time driving the historic Columbia River Highway. There are cabbage farms, coating the ground in purple leaves, just a mile away from historic sites along the way to waterfalls.

We’re going back for this year’s anniversary. I cannot wait to start the year off at McMenamins Edgefield, getting to see the falls in daylight, and finally going inside the Vista House!

Pretty Ugly Food

Thanksgiving was full of beautiful food, flowers, and family. Other than my no-knead sweet potato rolls, this year Mom requested a signature cocktail. I think we really delivered using items she already had on hand.

The Thanksgiving Mimosa

The Thanksgiving Mimosa

The Thanksgiving Mimosa is champagne, pomegranate juice, and frozen cranberries. It couldn’t be easier, but feels super festive. You could make it with sparkling cider, or these cute cranberry skewers from Style Me Pretty.

Thanksgiving 2014

Sweet potato rolls. Acorn squash with pinto beans and chorizo.

These sweet potato dinner rolls are probably my family’s favorite thing I make all year. They are snapped up so fast that in almost 5 years of dating, E had never had one until this weekend. (I made him take the first one.) The recipe was first posted on The Kitchn back in 2008. They’re super easy to make, but do require a bit of time to rise.

The other recipe I brought to dinner a little something new. Did you know there’s a brand of chipotle peppers with adobo sauce that comes in a resealable jar now? I’m so happy. Normally I plan out a bunch of recipes before opening a chipotle can and still can’t work through it all before the peppers turn weird.  I first made this combo to celebrate my new jarred chipotle: Williams-Sonoma Roasted Acorn Squash with Chipotle and Food & Wine Spiced Pinto Beans with Chorizo using chipotle in adobo sauce instead of powder and skipping the pork rind garnish. Both recipes are great alone and they’re even better together. I’ve made is as stuffed squash with rice, as a casserole, and as this version that can be easily pulled apart by any picky eaters. We could also have kept squash separate if we have vegetarians present. This is by far the prettiest version.

And now for the ugly:

Pear Dutch Baby

I thought this was supposed to get crispy?

As my sister said, “That is Martha Stewart level“.

After spending a few days at my parents’ house, we returned to some over ripe pears and I thought I’d try my hand at a Dutch Baby. What better way to use up the remaining flour? I mostly followed the Bon Appetit recipe, adding a little bit of ground ginger and waaaay too much brown sugar on the pears. Cooking the pears and brown sugar made a syrup that the batter cooked in and it couldn’t crisp up like it was supposed to. Luckily it was still delicious, especially for breakfast with some maple sausage. That said, don’t fail like me. Go easy on the brown sugar.

Currently Reading: The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunThe Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book and burst in to tears thinking about how much I love the life I have built. That’s weird considering I found Gretchen irritating. She is obviously a great researcher and writer, but her personal accounts are…not good. I can’t tell if she’s bad at reading a situation or if there is something else going on. That said, there is insightful stuff here. Ignore Gretchen’s personal life, read this book for yourself.

View all my reviews

Roasting My First Full Chicken

My brain skipped straight to Thanksgiving between Halloween prep & early Christmas decorations. Granted, this isn’t about turkey, but still. How else does one decide they need to roast a full bird?

As a first timer, roasting a chicken seems daunting. It’s so big! What if it doesn’t stay moist? Will it be edible? Luckily, it turns out to be really easy. My directions came from this simple Ina Garten recipe along with a few tips from coworkers.  Here are the basics:

    • Oven at 425 degrees
    • 1 Roasting Chicken
    • 1 Lemon
    • 1 Head of Garlic
    • 1/2 Onion
    • 1 Fennel bulb
    • Fresh Thyme
    • My Favorite Spice Mix: garlic powder, paprika, salt, & pepper
    • Olive Oil – coworker recommended over butter
First full chicken

Delicious, juicy chicken.

Per Ina’s instructions, the cavity is stuffed with a cross-cut head of garlic, a big handful of fresh thyme & half of a lemon. She really asked for the whole lemon, but I don’t see how that would all fit. I cut the lemon in lengthwise quarters to help the slices fit inside. The skin is coated in my  usual combination of spices & the juice from the other lemon half. All of this is on top of a bed of rough cut onion & fennel bulb. Again, Ina wanted the full onion, but it didn’t all fit in my pan. I topped it off by sprinkling thyme & a large helping of olive oil over everything.

According to my coworker, & probably other credible sources, cooking poultry breast side down for the first half helps keep the white meat moist. I used silicone oven mitts when it came time to turn the chicken over. It was still heavy, slipped a little bit, & my forearm connected with hot pan. Yes, I burned myself flipping the bird.

After running my arm under cold water, I basted the chicken with the juices at the bottom of the pan & put it back in the oven. This roast takes three to four episodes of Cheers or the sitcom of your choice. For you drama watchers, this means 1 hour to 90 minutes, or until the juices run clear. I went for the full 90 because I was concerned about under cooking. Once the chicken was out of the oven we let it rest under tented foil while we whipped up a side dish.

All in all, roasting a chicken was as easy as using a slow cooker, except you want to stay home because the oven is on. The chicken came out delicious with very minimal effort. This should feed dinner to our house of three people for two to three nights, & the bones will help make chicken stock. Definitely worth doing regularly!