Friday, October 26, 2012

Restful Friday

What a glorious day to stay home and be in my jammies all day. Hubs stayed home too and we are loving every bit of this misty, fall day. Staying home all day for me almost always involves some amount (or a lot!) of baking or cooking. Today is no exception and recipes are included!

Last night (after an encouraging FB post from my cousin Joy), I made a the batter for these Pumpkin Molasses cookies. Mine didn't turn out quite as crackly as the picture leads you to believe, but they are quite moist and very yummy. Peter described them as a little round pumpkin bread. 

I modified the recipe slightly, but otherwise basically the same. I think if I made again, I would try splitting the flour with whole wheat and regular flour. 

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies
YIELD: 24 cookies (mine made closer to 36, although I probably made mine a bit smaller)
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper (I ommitted the pepper, seemed weird)
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg (I added 2 eggs instead of one, just because)
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, ginger and cinnamon.

2. Working with a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, mix the last of the dry ingredients by hand to avoid over beating. You will have a very soft dough.

3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough is sticky, so the longer time it can chill the easier it is to work with. I just left the dough in the fridge overnight, mostly because I was falling asleep. It worked just fine in the morning. 

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Roll the balls in the sugar and use a the bottom of a glass to press down on the cookies until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to cookie sheets. 

6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch. Remove baking sheets from the oven. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack.

7. Repeat with second batch of dough.

Having a excess of yummy apples from my Farmers Box (we use Tonnemaker Farms), I made one of Peter and my's favorite cakes, my Auntie Mel's Apple Cake. 

Auntie Mel's German Apple Cake
Modified with love

3 large eggs
1 c. oil (I use canola)
2 c. sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (my modification)
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
4 c. diced apples (be generous, this cake is fantastic if FILLED with apples)
Optional ½ to 1 c. walnuts (I dont' use any!)

Beat eggs and oil till foamy. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, soda and salt. Mix well with a mixer. Add apples (and nuts). Pour into greased pan (13 x 9) for 60 min. Bake at 350. If you are feeling indulgent (which really, why wouldn't you?), when cool, frost with icing below.

1 3 oz pkg cream cheese
1 ½ T. melted butter
½ t. vanilla
¾ to 1 c. powdered sugar

Combine until creamy. Frost cake when cool.

Perfectly delicious on a cool fall day. 

Vancouver, British Columbia

This is the view out my window today:

A bit less than a week ago, this was the view out my window:

Last weekend (and into early this week), I was in Vancouver, BC attending the Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Congress. I'm a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), so this conference was a opportunity to certified and have a chance to gain new learning in the Project Management field. It was a great conference overall with some really fantastic keynote speakers. We also had the following "entertainment" at the awards banquet Saturday night:

Just wow. All I can say. 

In addition to attending the conference, we of course had to eat! Having been to Vancouver a few times before, I had never really found any places to eat that I really liked. This time around, we did our research and didn't have a bad meal once! 

Saturday night we ate at a great sushi restaurant on West Broadway called Tojo's. Oh.em.gee. I'm not usually a huge sushi fan, but I do like rolls and I could eat edamame all day. I ordered the Northern Light Roll (Wild prawn tempura, avocado and seasonal fruit rolled in a cucumber crepe) and it was amazing! I also tried a bit of the tuna belly sashimi from my friend Katie and it was also SO-GOOD! 

Sunday night, we went to a little wine bar in Gastown called Salt Tasting Room. Tiny and down a slightly dark creepy alley, but once inside it was fantastic. Cheese, meat, condiments and wine. That's about it. But everything is beautifully paired with everything else so you get a fantastic little meal. 

With the wine bar's pairings being rather small, it was really a perfect pre-dinner kind of location. So we went down the street to a sister restaurant to Salt called the Irish Heather. Great little pub with really yummy food. I went with a Guinness and originally ordered a steak and Guinness pie, but their over went on the fritz so I ended up with a cider braised pork chop with Brussels sprouts. YUM!

My other little favorite place was a little bakery, Villaggio Cafe right along my running route (I am proud to say I ran all 4 days I was in Vancouver! Loved being able to run along the waterfront to Stanley Park!). We happened to hit it two mornings in a row right as they brought their muffins and scones out of the over. SO GOOD! 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fried Chickin'

We stayed in last year for our anniversary instead of going out and found it to be supremely enjoyable so this year we decided to have a repeat. Peter requested Fried Chicken for our dinner this year. Our general plan to to recreate some fried chicken sliders we had a Koral in Bellevue. I did a little looking around on my favorite blogs and settled on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Let me just tell you: WOW. All I need to say.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Anniversary Adventure | Tofino, BC, Canada

August 23rd 2012 marked Peter and my third anniversary! We decided to take a little adventure to Tofino, British Columbia. Tofino is on the north west side of Vancouver Island seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It's a solid 30 minutes from the next town, Ucluelet (which is equally small and remote), both of which are a solid hour + away from anything else. BLISS. Tofino is a sleepy little surfer / hippie village with only a handful of restaurants and shops, but plenty of scenery and outdoor activities to keep one busy (or not). We mostly choose the not route and just enjoyed the view from our condo (love VRBO!) and took lots of walks into the village for coffee, pastries at the bakery and beer from the brewery. 

A little double dose of Starbucks waiting for the ferry at Tsawwassen
View from the Ferry heading towards Vancouver Island. 
Love of my life. 

Chesterman Beach

View from our bedroom loft. LOVE
View from our porch. 

View from our porch 2. 

No trip is complete with out food (one of our favorite things). We ate pretty well, although one place we visited was hyped up quite a bit as being the IT place. Needless to say, we were underwhelmed. But other than that, we enjoyed pretty much every other place we tried. 

Dinner the first night was at Spotted Bear Bistro. From the description, it sounded like it would be practically perfect. Small restaurant, local organic food, comfort food, what's not to love, right? Well, apparently everything. Everything we ordered was just OK. Ordered a caraf of wine and it was aweful. And I drink pretty much everything but it was bad. So we asked the server if it was supposed to taste that way (maybe it was corked or something) and she was a little ambivalent and didn't really offer us anything different. So we ended up just requesting a different wine because neither of us could stomach the other one. Anyways... Then food. Everything was significantly under salted, like as if none had been put in at all. Really? Really. Everything looked beautiful but simply just didn't taste that good. We both left not feeling so good and bummed at the experience. 

On the plus side, the baker in town, Common Loaf Bake Shop, was awesome! We ate there pretty much every day. Best.thing.ever. Really the best part, was I would wake up early, walk into town, get my coffee and get some muffins then walk back, wait for Peter to get up and then we'd chill on the porch, listening to the waves and eating breakfast. MMMGOOD!

Also a real winner, was Wildside Grill down the road from the main village. WOW. Best fish tacos and pretty awesome fish and chips. Everything is fresh caught near Tofino and cooked fresh. OH MY GRACIOUS YUM. One of our food highlights from this trip. 

On the highway home, lots of beautiful mountain lakes. 

a little cut off, but still kind of cute. 
Rootbeer Bliss
We got the front of the ferry on the way home!
Overall, fabulous trip and very relaxing. Not sure we would go back anytime, simply due to the distance (it was 10-12 hours each way with traffic, stopping, etc.). Although, it was well worth it for a 4 day weekend. The getting there was half the adventure!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oh restful weekend!

Seems I am long overdue for a blog posting! This weekend Peter and I enjoyed an oh-so-relaxing weekend that pretty much started Friday morning. We both had to work Friday but I was able to work remotely due to an afternoon appointment in Bellevue so I drove into work with Peter (we love carpooling when it works out!). This involved stopping for donuts at Top Pot, really can't go wrong there. Work day over, we finished the day in downtown Kirkland with pizza at Zeeks and a movie (The Bourne Supremacy) at home on the couch. WIN.

Saturday was the epitome of relaxation for us. Me at yoga in the morning. Pete sleeping in. Leisurely breakfast (OK brunch) at noon. Stayed in our jammies and watched another movie (Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Got a few chores done. Pete puttered on his computer and I cooked. Oh and I cooked. I love weekends when I have time to cook. I had a bunch of stone fruit so decided to make a simple tart. Just a little puff pastry and sliced fruit fanned out all pretty.

I had stopped at the farmers market in Woodinville after yoga and picked up some veggies. Those added with some from the garden and I had a beautiful start to a Pasta Primavera. Just roasted them in the over with a little EVOO, salt, pepper, garlic and chili flakes and oh-my-sweet-lord delicious. Because it was Saturday and I had the time, I broke out the pasta maker and made homemade pasta (really much easier when you have something to do the rolling).

Sunday we decided to be a bit more productive and take a hike. I've had this book on my bookshelf for years but really never used it. We decided to pick Big Lake Grieder. It's about an hour or so drive from us to the trail head (or so we thought, but I'll get there). The drive is really pretty out Highway 2 to Sultan and drives out along Lake Spada (the parking lot is right next to Lake Spada). 

Our book indicated the trail head was basically .2 miles from the parking lot. Well, as it turns out the road used to go right up to the trail head but hasn't actually been in service for who knows how long (lesson learned: always look up current trail information). So what was supposed to be a 2.5 mile hike to the lake ended up being a 3 mile hike to the trail head. By the time we got to the real trail head, we didn't really have enough time (mostly due to the time of day) to hike all the way up to the lake, hang out and then hike the 6+ miles back to the car. We'd really only planned on a 5 mile day not a 10+ mile day. Oh well, the hike to the trail head was actually rather pleasant and we got some lovely views of Lake Spada instead. 

And there is just something about a good hike that makes me want nice greasy food. So we finished our day and our weekend at the Blazing Onion in Mill Creek for dinner. YUMMY!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Some of my favorite things! Blog Edition

Like many of you I'm sure, I've got a slew of blogs I follow. Thankfully Google Reader makes my life very simple, especially my handy Google Reader app on my phone! Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

I think I came across Jenna's blog through someone else on one of my Foodie Pen Pal exchanges. Love her style, love her recipes. Oh and she went to Yoga Teacher training, I'm totally inspired.

Really, who doesn't love PW!?! I seriously just love her writing voice. SO. FUNNY. Her recipes are bomb sauce so really you just can't go wrong.

I want to be these two SO BAD! First of all, they are adorable. Second of all, see my first sentence. They spent their 6 months of marriage traveling. Please start from the beginning of their blog and read through their adventures. So. Awesome.

This guy's photos ROCK. Next photo shoot, I seriously want to book him.

Home Improvement made easy, approachable, and oh so darn cute. Makes me feel like I could actually tackle some of the projects I have around the house. No problemo.

If I didn't have Bon Appetit, I would have smitten kitchen. Gorgeous food, easy to follow recipes, huge database of recipes (5+ years of blogging). I love the "surprise me" button on the websites. Always comes up with fun recipes.

Alexandra's Kitchen
This is the kind of food I cook the most. She's Greek or at least cooks Greek food so that's probably why I like her so much. Fresh, local, simple food.