Spirit Saturday: Apple Cider and Cranberry Punch

I love Fall and Winter cocktails. Whether hot or not they have this really warming and comforting feeling. While at the grocery store this week I was inspired by the fresh cranberries to make a cocktail for Spirit Saturday this week. And what I found married all of my favorite Fall libations: apple cider, ginger beer and gin. You could easily swap bourbon and would be just as lovely. This is a great cocktail to make as a punch for a crowd and would be a nice start to Thanksgiving dinner.

Apple Cider and Cranberry Punch

serves 8

Adapted from

Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients

2/3 cup fresh cranberries

4 tablespoons sugar

4 cups apple cider

1 1/3 cup ginger beer

1 lemon, juiced

1 cup gin (or bourbon)

Muddle cranberries with sugar in a pitcher or punch bowl until cranberries have just begin to burst. Add apple cider, ginger beer, lemon juice and gin. Chill for an hour and ladle into glasses, using cranberries as garnish.

Cucumber Basil Cooler

Okay, okay so this recipe originally is not supposed to have any booze in it...but what's the fun in that?! Also, I clearly can't write a Spirit Saturday post with out that sinful libation!

Cucumber Basil Cooler

serves 4 (makes a large pitcher)

Adapted from Heidi Swanson's, Super Natural Every Day

Ingredients

2-3 lemon cucumbers, partially peeled, chopped

1/2 cup vodka or gin

3 cups ice cubes (about 1 1/2 trays)

handful basil leaves

1/3 cup honey

juice of 1 lime

1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

In a blender combine cucumber, spirit of choice, ice, honey, basil, lime juice, and salt. Pulse until completely smooth and frosty. Make sure there are no ice chunks. Taste and adjust lime and salt. Pour in a pitcher and garnish glasses with cucumber and basil leaves or flower. (Might even be good with a rock salt rim!)

Cod with Fennel and Potatoes

I am totally a Martha Stewart groupie. Whatever that lady is selling...I'm buying. I have to be Everyday Food's biggest fan because it really is my go to for quick, full proof, easy meals. I think it is a very rare thing that I make something from Everyday Food that isn't a hit. This recipe for cod over fennel and potatoes is no exception. Crazy easy, healthy, fast and delicious.

The recipe serves four, but I ended up getting less Cod for Will and I because, although I love fish, I don't need 3/4 of a pound of it! The recipe that follows serves 4, so adjust accordingly.

Check out this thief caught in the act!

This broth is tasty so make sure to grab some crusty bread for dipping!

Cod with Fennel and Potatoes

serves 4

Adapted from Martha Stewart's

Everyday Food

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flake

1 trimmed fennel bulb, cut into 1/2 in pieces, reserving fronds

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, halved length wise and thinly sliced

1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth (or vegetable)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

orange zest from 1/2 an orange (peeled into 1/2 inch strips)

coarse salt and pepper

4 boneless, skinless cod fillets (1 1/2 lb total)

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chili pepper flake. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and garlic is fragrant, about 7 minutes.

Add chopped fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.

Add potatoes, broth, tomato paste,  and orange zest; season with salt and pepper. Boil for 10 minutes.

Place cod fillets on top and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the fish is opaque throughout, about 10 minutes. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds and serve with some crusty bread.

Wedding Wednesday: Dress Shopping!

Oops! This went a day early. Apparently, I should be wearing my glasses at night! Nevertheless, enjoy Wedding Wednesday one day early!

Don't worry. I have no plans of inundating you with a wedding post every Wednesday, but here and there it's fun to share our planning with you, and what better way than to start things off with wedding dress shopping!

I am a real planner. We've picked out our venue, started looking at vendors, and I have already found and purchased my wedding dress...a year before the wedding. My sister came to visit earlier this summer and we decided that my mom, sister and I would go wedding dress shopping. I have been wanting to visit

Xtabay's Bridal Boutique

since they opened. I love vintage and this bridal boutique is chocked full of beautiful vintage dresses and gowns.

We made an appointment for first thing in the morning and my sweet mama and sister got some goodies  to nibble on while I tried on dresses. Our host, Joanne, made us mimosas too!

Wedding dress shopping can be exhausting so here's my sister breaking it up with silliness, mimicking the mannequin.

Although lovely, none of the dresses I tried on were ones I took home. I am keeping my dress a surprise for Will. This first dress I loved and really fit with my 60s style. Unfortunately, it was entirely too warm for a late summer wedding.

I, initally, thought that I wanted a cute vintage tea length gown (I still do), but after trying this one on I felt more like I was in a prom dress than a wedding dress. It had a fun bit of sparkle to it thought.

This dress was actually a reproduction of a 20s pattern. It was my absolute favorite. When I put it on I definitely felt like a bride. It was simple, but the silhouette was oh so lovely. Sadly, it was just a little too tight on me. I would easily bust a seam if I were to shake my groove thang!

Thanks for reading about our journey and have a great Wednesday!

Grilled Marinated Artichokes

I don't know how I have gone so long without posting my favorite recipe of all time...GRILLED ARTICHOKES!!! If you know me at all than you know I LOVE artichokes. When I was in high school my family and I would go to Claim Jumper's and they had this delicious artichoke recipe. My mom adapted it and I have since made it a regular part of our Spring/Summer dining ritual. Artichokes always require a little more effort, and even more so with this recipe, but I promise you that you will be rewarded with a sweet, smoky and amazing artichoke!

First, gather all your ingredients, and then forget some of them to photograph (don't judge me, I always do this).

Begin by trimming up the artichokes of outer leaves and thorns and immediately using half a lemon rub all over to prevent browning.

I forgot to take a shot of some steaming action, but steam the artichokes till tender. Once cool, you can handle them to cut out the choke, being careful to not cut out the meaty heart.

Prepare a marinade of olive oil, balsamic and chopped herbs and brush all over and in halved artichokes.

Grill artichokes both sides until you get some nice grill marks and artichokes are lightly browned.

Grilled Marinated Artichokes

serves 4

Ingredients

4 large artichokes

1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped herbs (I used basil, thyme, and some chives for garnish)

11/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

-Your favorite dipping sauce-

Start by filling a large pot with a couple inches of water and place a steamer basket in the pot. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, remove tough outer leaves of artichokes and snip off thorns and cut top crown of thorns. Rub artichokes with lemon to keep from browning. Place artichokes in steamer basket and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer until artichokes are tender when pierced with a knife, but not falling apart, about 20-25 minutes. Remove artichokes and allow to cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, in a smal bowl combine balsamic, herbs, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Gently cut artichokes in half and cut out choke, being careful not to remove tender inner leaves or heart. Brush artichokes with marinade. 

Grill artichokes ove a hot grill on one side until you have nice grill marks and golden color, flip and do the same. Remove and serve with your favorite dipping sauce (we enjoy them with garlic mayo).

Pasta with Mizuna and Roasted Garlic

This pasta recipe is a cinch and fun to try with most greens even if you can't find Mizuna in the grocery store. Hint, your best bet is at the farmer's market, but you could easily substitute arugula or radicchio for that nice peppery, spicy taste.

Mizuna greens are a Japanese mustard green. They are peppery and slightly spicy. Which makes them perfect for sautéing, salads or throwing in a soup. Like arugula, they would make a nice finishing addition to pizza. I bought my Mizuna from a local farm at the farmer's market and was given this recipe when I purchased them, however I have included my changes to their original recipe.

The recipe I was given called for for roasting already chopped garlic. I thought this strange, but did it anyway against my better judgement. Do not do this...I repeat DO NOT roast chopped garlic, it will just end up burning. Instead, roast a garlic head and chop two bulbs after and add to the dish.

Pasta with Mizuna and Roasted Garlic

serves 4

Ingredients

2 bunches Mizuna greens, tough stem removed

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienned

1 med onion, chopped

2 roasted garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

1 16 oz package of pasta

1 egg yolk 

salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile,  heat olive oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat and add onions. Cook until fragrant and lightly browned. Turn heat down to medium and add Mizuna greens, sun dried tomatoes and garlic. Sauté until greens are wilted and remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste

Drain pasta and toss with egg yolk in a large bowl. Add Mizuna green mixture and parmesan cheese (reserving some for garnish) and toss well. Spoon pasta into individual bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Roasted Salsa Verde

It always gets me a little sad and nostalgic this time of year when the late Summer/early Fall produce starts coming in. I get bummed knowing that the days will get shorter and that the "uni-cloud," as I like to call it, will descend upon Portland for the next several months. I will keep my fingers crossed that we will have a nice Indian Summer this year. Don't let my Debbie Downer attitude confuse you though...I love late Summer produce! I could eat corn, tomatoes, tomatillos and squash forever and be quite content.

There is a farm stand right next to my work and as I was leaving on Saturday I loaded up on these late season goodies. They had the the tastiest looking tomatillos, peppers, fresh herbs, purple cauliflower and yellow watermelon. I am lucky enough to pass by several farm stands so that all spring and summer long I have fresh produce and sometimes farm eggs.

I love peeling back the husks on tomatillos. They look so pretty and ornamental and would make a great outdoor table arrangement!

We have a small charcoal grill, but if you have a quick ignite grill (gas or charcoal) I would roast the tomatillos whole over one of those to get a nice smoky flavor to them. However, be sure not to roast for too long as the tomatillos could burst. Otherwise, you can just use this method of broiling them halved.

This salsa is great on its own with chips or serve it on grilled veggies, steak, pork or with tacos. I even like it on top scrambled eggs for breakfast!

Roasted Salsa Verde (Tomatillo)

yields 3 cups

Adapted from

Simply Recipes

Ingredients

1 1/2 pound tomatillos

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 cup cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed, deseeded and chopped

pinch of salt

Preheat broiler to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse and drain well. Then, cut the tomatillos in half and put cut side down on the baking sheet. Place 4 inches under broiler and cook until tomatillos have just started to blacken

Place all ingredients, except salt, in a food processor or blender and until all the ingredients are chopped and blended well together. Season to taste. Allow to cool in refrigerator before serving.

Lately...

I am sorry for the silence around here. I feel like I often get stuck in a blogging rut where instead of pushing through I just give up. When it comes to my personal life and hobbies I have a real problem getting motivated enough to get things done. I am also horrible when it comes to prioritizing. Two equally bad traits that makes for a bad blogger. However, I will say that taking this time away from blogging while planning a wedding, trying to sell a house and working harder in my professional life as still allowed me time to enjoy the summer. I have been riding my bike more, maybe not nearly as much as I should, but I have the motivation to at least ride 1-2 times a week.

Will and I have been spending a lot of quality time together. We've been discussing a lot of plans for the wedding honeymoon and what we both want are wedding to be. Having a small, intimate wedding is something we both agree on strongly, but once we started to write out the guest list we realize that it will be more difficult to achieve. I try to keep mum about the planning when talking to most people because we are trying to have a smaller wedding, but it's a little delicate when others ask me how the planning is coming, or outrightly asking if they are invited...awkward! After reading and asking other brides advice I am just going to have to come with terms that there WILL be hurt feelings.

My family and I are selling our investment property in Eugene and Will and I will be buying our first home very soon. It is a very scary and exciting time for us. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly with the sale of our home and that we are able to close soon. I can't wait for us to move into our dream home and for "ever after to begin."

I have been reading a ton this summer and there is a pile of wine books I need to get cracking on. This fall I will be embarking on a new journey with my career by taking the International Sommelier Guild Diploma course. In short a Sommelier is a trained wine professional whose knowledge stretches from wines, regions, storing, pairings (I could go on), but for a more detailed synopsis please visit

Wiki

. I am excited and nervous because it has been a couple years when I first started taking classes. With some industry friends we will start a tasting group, which will be a fun and proactive way to get back into things.

Thank you all for being understanding and supporting me and my endeavors to be a better blogger. Tomorrow I look forward to bringing you super tasty roasted salsa verde recipe...and did I mention it's crazy easy!

Roasted Miso-Curry Delicata Squash

If you haven't visited the lovely blog space of Heidi Swanson,

101 Cookbooks

, than you are surely missing out. 101 Cookbooks is a lovely little blog filled with beautiful and dreamy photographs of Swanson's life in the San Francisco Bay Area intertwined with an eclectic mix of delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes. I was lucky enough to receive one of her cookbooks,

Super Natural Every Day

, from Will last Christmas and it has become my go to cookbook for veggie dishes a couple nights a week. Our favorite recipe I have recreated so far is the Miso Curry Delicata Squash. It has such great flavor with the perfect balance of heat, tanginess and salt, which will definitely fill you up.

So let's get started:

You all know I am a total fan of the

mise en place

method!

The dressing/marinade looks slightly like peanut butter, but tastes far from it.

Use about 1/3 of the marinade to coat the vegetables and tofu and spread evenely on a rimmed baking sheet to roast for about 30 minutes.

Toss Lacinato Kale with remaining marinade and lemon juice.

Roasted Miso-Curry Delicata Squash

serves 4

Recipe courtesy of

Super Natural Every Day

by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients

1 lb delicata squash

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white miso

1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste

8 oz extra-firm tofu cut into cubes

6 small red potatoes cut in half

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 bunch of Lacinato Kale, tough stems removed and roughly chopped

1/3 cup pepitas, toasted

2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven.

Cut the delicata squash lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds. Then cut into 1/2-1inch thick half-moons.

Using a food processor, combine the miso and curry paste and blend, adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Combine the tofu, potatoes and squash in a large bowl with 1/3 cup of the miso-currp paste. Using your hands, toss the mixture well and empty out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer.

Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until everything is tender and golden brown. Toss a few times while roasting. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice with remaining miso-curry paste and toss with kale until coated. Add roasted vegetables and tofu to kale and toss gently with pepitas and cilantro.

Toasted Pepitas

Place pepitas in a single layer on a skillet over medium heat. Toss occasionally and cook until fragrant and lightly toasted.

Astoria Vintage Hardware


While on our costal anniversary trip we stopped in Astoria, Oregon on our way to Long Beach, WA. Astoria is an über cute fishing town located on the northern most point on the Oregon coast. You may remember scenes of Astoria in The Goonies. Over the last fifteen years Astoria has undergone a major facelift and is now a bustling fish town with great restaurants, a brewery and fun shopping. Astoria Vintage Hardware is a unique salvage shop that occupies the lobby of the former John Jacob Astor Hotel. Filling over 4,000 square feet is all sorts of vintage hardware, furniture, fixtures and assorted flea market finds.



The salvage shop is the brainchild of Paul and Becky, a furniture builder and upholster who met at a flea market. We found various treasure,s new and old, from salvaged furniture and apothecary bottles to fair trade quilts and rugs. Even if you're not in the market to buy anything this place is a charmingly awesome shop and architectural landmark to peruse. The couple also hosts various crafting and repurposing workshops.



I easily could have spent hours in Astoria Vintage Hardware and will definitely have to go back! I've even been daydreaming about collecting some finds to decorate our wedding venue with.