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.

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First Thoughts on CSA Boxes

We’ve been testing out a CSA box this summer to mixed results.

Homemade home fries

Homefries with onion, bell pepper, and carrot

One one hand, it never seems like the correct amount of food. Our boxes are the second smallest size from Full Circle. We inevitably end up with lots of leftovers of some items & not enough of others. (I actually had a  dream where I was elated to find horses because they would eat our carrots.) It has been much better after I arranged it for very other week and learned how to opt-out of lettuce. We’re not big on salads. Extra oranges and broccoli are more our speed.

On the other hand, it’s like playing iron chef every week. It has really made a difference in how I approach our kitchen basics. Every time I go to cook,I try to clear out the fridge of everything fresh. My go-to easy pasta dishes now have a fun mix of veggies instead of lots of meat.

Simple pasta

Simple pasta. Mushrooms, tomato, spinach. Broccoli on the side.

Escape To Portland

You ever realize you’re just coasting through shit & need to do something slightly drastic? Yeah. We ran away to Portland.

We had all these ideas of what we’d see and do for our 24-hour vacation. Carson Hot Springs! Spruce Goose! OSMI! Tax-free shopping! Then we arrived at Hotel Lucia & saw our great location. Most of our notions were scrapped in favor of wandering around downtown.

Saucebox

The  jade scorpion cocktail & crispy Brussels sprouts at Saucebox.

We played Area 51 to the end at Ground Kontrol.

Found street art in the dark. Go to 13fngrs.com for more!

Found street art in the dark. It says 13fngrs on the back.

Clyde Common for brunch. Get the trout cakes!

My favorite part of eating around Portland, other than the low prices, is that no one asks me what kind of toast I want with my meal. I never want toast. I guess it’s a bonus of a gluten-free friendly city!

See the full set (and my obsession with lighting) on Flickr.

A Spicy Wedding Favor

When my sister got married she & Peter decided to give out the guests packets chili powder. It is hands down my favorite wedding favor ever. Both useful & personal, the chili powder is a nod to the Southwestern town of Taos, New Mexico where the wedding was held. The card was designed by our mom with a recipe suggestion from the couple on the inside. I’ve been using the chili powder ever since.

Wedding Favor Chili Powder

Wedding Favor Chili Powder

This weekend marked an auspicious occasion. After a year and four months, I have finally used up one of the pouches! We made Southwestern twice-baked sweet potatoes a la Pennies on a Platter on Saturday & Cooking Light’s smoky slow cooker chili on Sunday. My lunch leftovers are so spicy and delicious.

These two share chilpotle chilis and green onion

Great individually. Better Together. Just like Em & Pete.

I didn’t make too many substitutions or additions to these recipes. I used chipotle chiles in both since the sweet potatoes called for a few of the peppers & the rest of the can usually goes to waste. We also added kidney beans & small white beans to the pinto beans the chili asked for. Simple, pretty healthy, and both reheat perfectly.

Chinese pork tenderloin with noodles

I’ve been sick & asleep for most of this week. When I have been awake it’s been hard to do much of anything. I did make it back to work yesterday! & I made dinner two nights in a row! Granted, I left work early from exhaustion & the meal were low maintenance crock pot meals, but still. Small victories.

One of the dinners was Chinese pork tenderloin with garlic-sauced noodles from the Cooking Light slow cooker magazine. I used sriracha instead of the 1 tbs tomato sauce it asked for & added a few canned favorites, baby corn & water chestnuts. This recipe is so yummy. It is like a healthier version of chow mein.

This is the only picture I took. Feel free to blame the sickness.

This is the only picture I took. Feel free to blame the sickness.

Spicy & soft work so well when you can barely taste anything. The meals I didn’t cook were pho & our favorite Szechuan boiled fish. The Szechuan restaurant is mercifully located between work & home for days when you realize being upright is just not going to happen.

Edit to Add: It reheats perfectly for work lunches.

It reheats perfectly for work lunches.

Yummy.