My Faves of Portland : {Making the most of a short trip}

IMG_6371_2“Keep Portland Weird” is a phrase that was painted on the wall of a local pizza place by our hotel…and it says so much about Portland!  Portland is weird and quirky and artsy and beautiful and they own it!

Because my mom is a cosmetic laser trainer and travels all the time; training clinics and doctor’s office staff on their newly purchased lasers….she gets to travel and earn lots of travel points and rewards!  So we used some of her rewards points and had a mother/daughter trip to Portland two weeks ago!

It was a short trip (Sunday night-Wednesday evening) so we had to make the most of our time to ensure we saw everything we wanted to.

Despite only being there a few days, I FELL IN LOVE WITH PORTLAND!  It had all the best things of a big city: tons of things to do and see, so many great and unique eateries, amazing parks, quirky neighborhoods, etc……but it was so much better than most of the famous big cities I have visited!  Mainly because it was clean, lush and green, the people were so friendly, and it was oh so quiet!  Of course being the socal girl that I am….it helped that it didn’t rain while we were there :).

Here are just a few highlights and recommendations on where to eat and what to see when there….especially if its only for a short time!  Prior to leaving I scoured blogs, Pinterest and yelp to make sure I hit great spots.  Plan a trip there soon friends!!

EAT:

  • VooDoo Doughnuts – Famous for their crazy donuts
  • Salt & Straw – Amazing & unique ice cream flavors (like Olive Oil)…plus this is in a cute neighborhood that I wish I had time to really explore!
  • Tasty & Alder – Great breakfast biscuits! (although I still need to try Pine St. Biscuits)
  • Veritable Quandary – The Bacon Dates app was on point, and everything was so delish here…but make a reservation!
  • Cheryl’s on 12th – Not only did I chat and talk about babies with the actual Cheryl, but my mother and I shared drinks, chatted, and showed off baby pictures with a lovely couple sitting next to us.  Oh yeah and the food was great…I had a fig & goat cheese sandwich!
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – The best coffee…seriously so smooth and delish!  You will find a number of cafe’s and bakeries around the city that promote that they brew Stumptown.
  • Lovejoy Bakers – Grab a Stumptown coffee and a pastry and you can sit on their adirondack chairs and just relax..taking in the Pearl District!
  • Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – Vegan Bakery…my mom was obsessed with the raspberry bars
  • Ken’s Artisan Bakery – We had an amazing lunch here…the bread is so fresh and I love that goat cheese came on the salad.
  • Andina – Peruvian Food (I recommend the cheese plate & quinoa crusted shrimp)
  • Isabel – Yummy latin breakfast (I had the artichoke scramble)
  • Lonesome’s Pizza – Open late and cheap delicious slices from a tiny speak-easy type window (Cash Only)

SEE:

  • Washington Park – There are endless things to do here.  You can visit the zoo, rose garden, japanese garden, tree arboretum, children’s museum, etc.  And the hiking…oh the amount of trails!
  • Waterfront Park – This runs along the river which divides Portland and it is a great walk where you can take in all the gorgeous bridges!…just watch out for all the bikers!
  • Keller Fountain Park – This is a fountain (although it didn’t have water when we were there) that just looks so cool!

SHOP:

  • Powell’s Bookstore – THE bookstore in Portland
  • The Pearl District – This was my favorite neighborhood to explore.  It has a ton of cute shops, adorable homes and apartments, art installations and sculptures line the streets, and it is just oh so hip feeling haha.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • You can’t catch cabs in the city…just from the airport or if your hotel calls one for you
  • The train/bus system is awesome but you can walk the city fairly easy (when you stick to one side…I.E. the Westside or the Eastside)
  • Best months to travel there are August and September…a friend from there told me Don’t go in the fall!…you can seriously get just drenched by the rain!
  • They offer great tours…like bike tours and brewery tours.
  • If you do rent a car…there are lots of one way streets and you have to pay for parking pretty much wherever you go in the downtown area…but I didn’t find it was too hard to find a spot or too expensive.
  • Traffic going in and out of the city can be rough so plan ahead when trying to catch a flight.

I MUST go back…and maybe I will bring the hubby along next time :).

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My favorite cheat sheet/map that I found! IMG_6379_2We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Downtown…the decor was so 1920’s art deco…and the accommodations were great!
IMG_6510No joke the cheese plate at Andina’s…the corn nuts!…so good 
IMG_6514 IMG_6473Our appetizer at Veritable QuandaryIMG_6469_2These cinnamon/sugar puffs (like a beignet) come free as you wait for your meal at Cheryl’s on 12th!IMG_6458This is at Washington Park and there were just so many trails!….I was almost expecting Edward Cullen to walk out from behind a tree.
IMG_6461Lush lush lushIMG_6446These are the drinking fountains that are spread around the SouthWest side of Portland…they are all around and the water constantly flows!  Plus the water there tastes AMAZING!IMG_6443_2Keller Fountain Park…would have been so cool if it was flowing…but still so beautiful.IMG_6441_2Walking along Waterfront ParkIMG_6426_2VooDoo Doughnuts…the line can get cray so go when its slow!IMG_6419_2This place is so adorable and the vegan treats were delish!
IMG_6409Our lunch at Ken’s Artisan BakeryIMG_6398_2At Lovejoy BakersIMG_6400_2Oh you know…just a baby on a bench :).  IMG_6392_2Such cute homes in The Pearl!IMG_6391_2Oh I love all the greenery!

There were a ton more places to see and eat at but there just wasn’t time (feel free to comment if you want more recommendations).  So….looks like I will just need to go again.  Until next time PDX!

Maple Bacon Cookies : {Oatmeal}

IMG_4289One of my favorite donut combos is maple and bacon, and I love any desserts that are salty and sweet.  A local donut shop called the Donuttery has a maple bacon donut that is out of this world.  I wanted to recreate that same taste but I didn’t want to make a donut…so I started thinking of how I can add it to a cookie.  I decided that an oatmeal cookie would go great with a maple glaze and bacon…it makes sense right?  Maple and oatmeal?  They are all breakfast food items right?  Anywho, my hands down favorite oatmeal cookie recipe is the Pioneer Woman’s Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookie Recipe.  So I made that recipe and made up a maple glaze, cooked some bacon, combined it, ate it, and swooned.  Give them a try if you are a maple/bacon fan!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Salted Butter, Softened
  • 2 cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 3 cups Old Fashioned Oats

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tblsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Cup of milk (You can add more milk or powdered sugar to change the thickness of the glaze)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
IMG_4249Mix dry ingredients.IMG_4238In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one.IMG_4250Add dry mixture to creamed mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mixing it until just combined.IMG_4254Mix in the oats until just combined.  IMG_4260I ran out of parchment paper (which is what I prefer to use), but foil worked fine…just make sure it is lightly greased.  Bake about 15 minutes (take out a little earlier if you like them chewier or leave longer for crispy cookies).IMG_4280 IMG_4271Combine all the ingredient to make the glaze in a bowl, and dip the cookies ONCE THEY ARE COOL. IMG_4266My favorite way to cook bacon is on a wire rack, in the oven, at 350 degress about 8 minutes per side.  It makes them perfect strips.IMG_4283Cook bacon until their desired crispiness and then blot with a paper towel, and cut little bacon squares or crumble.  IMG_4287Dress the cookies and enjoy!

Lemon Cookies : {For my sweet Grandma}

IMG_4302My Grandma had a fall recently so she hasn’t been up for going out and getting her sweet treats from the grocery store….which if you know my Gram, is a tragedy because she loves her sweets.  So my mother-in-law brought me this cute tin with this note from her:IMG_4304Since she loves lemon I found a great lemon cookie recipe here.  The recipe originally has a lemon glaze but since she isn’t into cookies with lemon glaze I added more lemon to the actual batter and left out the glaze and it was just as delish and not messy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

IMG_4249Mix together all dry ingredients.IMG_4236With an electric mixer, whip together butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed, until mixture is fluffy. IMG_4270Then mix in egg, then egg yolk until combined, then mix in lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets and cook for 10 minutes (or until desired crispiness…I love crispy cookies).IMG_4299IMG_4315Once the tin was full, I still had a lot more cookies so I used the extra thank you gift bags left over from Evangeline’s Valentine’s Day Birthday Party.

Afters Ice Cream : {The Milky Bun}

IMG_3191So there is this new type of dessert/dessert place that is all the rage around these parts (Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach).  Its called Afters Ice Cream.  I have a feeling this is the beginning of a new dessert trend.  Every evening this place has a HUGE line (like Diddy Riese in Westwood) …and one week night I decided to brave the long line and give it a try.

What they are known for is the “Milky Bun.”  In a nutshell it is ice cream, and a topping, sealed in a warm donut.  As you eat it the ice cream melts a little and causes the donut (or bun) to get “milky.”  What I love is that the ice cream flavors are very unique!  For example when I was there these were the flavors available:  cookie monster (full of Famous Amos cookies), salted caramel, churro, mint chocolate chip, jasmine milk tea, milk and cereal, almond cookie, and my favorite…Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter flavor.  The toppings are a variety of cereals, cookies, and candies.  The donut is a choice between plain or glazed.

Our Milky Bun Creations:
IMG_3180IMG_3189I opted for a glazed donut, with cookie butter ice cream, and captain crunch. Honestly this was not a winning combo.  It was way to sweet and I couldn’t get through half of it without feeling a little nauseous.  IMG_3190My husband chose a glazed donut, salted caramel ice cream, and cinnamon toast crunch for his topping.IMG_3187My husband loved his Milky Bun creation…..I tasted it and it was far superior to mine.  I think a lot has to do with the combo of ice cream/toppings you get.  But still I think it is something that is shareable since it is so sweet.  Next time I will just get the ice cream (no donut) because the flavors are great and no one else has them!

Buñuelos : {Cinnamon Sugar Chips}



IMG_4219This Mexican dessert was a favorite of mine growing up that my mom would make and buy for us. Traditionally buñuelos are in a more tostada shape….not chip shape, and you can take the time to make them from scratch but this is an easier, quicker and just as delicious way to make them from home. I love making these when we are having guests over because they are always a crowd pleaser, great to eat on their own or added to ice cream like shown above!  These will be great as a Cinco De Mayo dessert!

Directions:


IMG_4177 Combine cinnamon and sugar in a bowl until it’s a dark brown color like shown. (I never measure this out but just mix until it looks like this….feel free to do a taste test of the mixture to make sure it isn’t too cinnamon-y for you. IMG_4180I love these raw tortillas from Costco but you can use any store bought/pre-made FLOUR tortillas.
IMG_4182 IMG_4205Cut the tortillas into triangles (or keep it whole for a tostada shaped dessert). IMG_4185 Fill up a pan with veggie oil…..about 1/2 high and heat on medium/high heat. IMG_4188 Prep is KEY when making Booners (as I like to call them), because once they start cooking the process is fast!  This is my set up: pan, baking sheet with layers of paper towels to absorb the grease, cinnamon/sugar mixture bowl to dip, then serving bowl for finished chips. IMG_4194 Heat the oil. I sprinkle some water into the pan……and if it sizzles it’s ready to go. But the temp for those who love specific directions was at least 180degrees. IMG_4200 Flip booners once they are golden brown. IMG_4201Transfer cooked booners to the paper towels to soak up excess grease.
IMG_4202 Dip still warm booners into cinnamon and sugar mixture and coat both sides. IMG_4203Feel free to tap the booner a little to dust off any excess cinnamon and sugar. 
IMG_4217IMG_4228Now enjoy!

Nékter Cleanse : {A Review}

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I was searching for a cleanse to kick start my eating healthy/weight loss for the new year, and my sister recommended the Classic Nékter Juice Cleanse.  You can do it for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days.  They recommend 3 days to fully rid your body of toxins.  I however, I only did 2…3 sounded so scary!  But the cleanse was SO much easier than I thought!….I could have easily done the 3 days, and probably will next time I cleanse.

The Classic cleanse consists of 6 Juice’s you drink each day, one juice every two hours.  If you get hungry and just have to eat something, you can have raw almonds or some avocado slices wrapped in lettuce.  I only got hungry once because I skipped Juice #4 and ate almonds instead.  Besides that, the juice’s, tea, and drinking lots of water kept me totally full and satisfied!

How did they taste?  I am not one of those girls who enjoys green juices.  I go with my Mom to Mother’s Market sometimes and she loves getting huge juices full of spinach, beets, kale, etc.  And I just gag!  I tried the Master Cleanse once and I only lasted 2 days.  Not because I was hungry, but because I just couldn’t stomach the taste.  Which is why I couldn’t drink Juice #4 from this cleanse…..it has the EXACT same ingredients as the Master Cleanse.  (Can’t handle the Cayenne Pepper!)  But if you are someone who is cool with veggie juices, then this cleanse will be extra easy for you.  As for me, I plugged my nose and chugged most bottles.  Only bottle #6 could I really sip and enjoy….that thing is like eating chocolate cake after you have been eating dirt all day.  (Dramatic much?)

Even though I didn’t love the taste of most of the juices, I loved the cleanse.  It was doable, I rarely was hungry, I lost 5 pounds in water weight, and I felt great after!  It was exactly what I needed to kick start my healthy eating and living!  And you get to keep the cute green cooler bag which I have been using to carry all my healthy lunches to work!  I will definitely do it again!

Here is a description of the different juices:

Drink #1 
Your first drink of the day is a blend of delicious vegetables like kale and spinach with a refreshing kick of cucumber, apple and mint. Day One is packed with antioxidants and vitamins to detox your kidneys, liver, pancreas, and blood. It’s a fresh start for your system and already it’s singing “Thank You for this amazing drink!”

Drink #2 
You’ll continue your day’s cleanse with a light and delicious trio of pineapple, cucumber and coconut water. The pineapple acts as an anti-inflammatory. Electrolytes are bursting out of the bottle to help you stay hydrated. This will leave your insides feeling happy and clean.

Drink #3
Halfway through! This alkalizing green blend features the Mean Greens: spinach, kale, and parsley. We’ve added lemons as a natural antiseptic to help zap the toxins. This blend will help detoxify and stimulate the antibodies. Snack on some almonds if you need to!

Drink #4 
Meet Skinny Lemonade. We’ve blended lemons and cayenne pepper, a little sweet and a little spicy, to give you a refreshing, but very important drink. The cayenne helps bring blood to the surface and allows those toxins to easily leave your body. A NEW you is just around the corner.

Drink #5 
You’re almost there! The very last green drink of the day, we made sure was a tasty one. Apples are added for sweetness and packed with soluble fiber to help clear those nasty toxins from the colon.

Drink #6 
You made it! Your very last drink. We like to refer to it as dessert because it is sweetly flavored with vanilla beans that have anti-nausea and calming properties. Plenty of protein and minerals that aid the lymphatic system in waste elimination make this a perfect, last drink. Congratulations on a successful Cleanse! We hope you feel great!

Marshmallow Chunk Rice Krispie Treats

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When planning desserts for Evangeline’s Valentine’s Day birthday party I wanted to do heart shaped rice krispie treats like this one I saw on Pinterest:

KoreanAmericanMommyRiceKrispyPopsCute right!?  Well one thing it says in the directions is to press down on the rice krispies after cooking…which makes sense…BUT I have had bad luck with pushing rice krispie treats down in the pan after cooking.  Sure it makes them perfectly shaped but when I press treats down they always come out chewy and hard after a while.  And I wanted to make the treats the day before the party so I needed the treats to stay soft.

What ended up happening is I made super soft rice krispie treats but they didn’t make cute, neat hearts so I ended up with just regular rice krispie “squares” (sorta haha).  But I got a lot of compliments on them because people loved the giant chunks of marshmallows in them.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 10oz Bag of Regular sized marshmallows (THIS IS KEY: if you want the chunks don’t use mini marshmallows)
  • 7 Cups of Rice Krsipies
  • 4tbsp Butter

Directions:

IMG_3389In a large pot on low heat begin to melt butter down. 

IMG_3393 Once butter is almost all melted, throw in marshmallows (keep heat low).  Stir marshmallows to coat with butter.  Marshmallows will begin to melt down, stir occasionally (this will show just how melty the marshmallows really are).   You want the marshmallows to be melted down about 85%, leaving smaller marshmallow chunks.  Remove from heat.IMG_3394 As soon as you remove the marshmallows from heat pour the rice krispies into the pot and stir (I used a pyrex rubber spatula).  Its important not to over stir (like biscuits), as soon as the rice krispies are coated with mallow, poor into a greased pan, and DON’T press down.IMG_3395Allow to cool completely prior to cutting.  You can see the large marshmallow chunks in the pan…yummy!  I kept mine in the pan and covered with a towel, then cut them the next day (still soft!)
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Healthy Smash Cake : {Healthy Banana Bread}

IMG_3412When it came time for my daughters 1st birthday party I immediately got nervous about her cake.  I know it’s tradition to give your child their first bit of sweets on their birthday but I desperately didn’t want to.  Now TRUST ME when I say I am not judging other moms that have, this is personal.  I am someone who LOVES sweets and has struggled my whole life to eat them in moderation…and I guess I don’t want my daughter to have that struggle.  Also she has already had sugar haha.  I came home from work one day to find out that my mom had fed my daughter donut holes for breakfast (this was months ago btw)…so she has had enough for the year.  Plus I already struggle with getting her to eat the fruit and veggies on her tray over her toast and meats…so why add another food distraction for her?  (My little sister was like this….I think she would only eat Cheeto Puffs and macaroni and cheese for the first 5 years of her life haha).  Anyway, so in order to give E a smash cake, I decided to make a healthy banana bread cake.

The Bad News:  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a healthy frosting so she got regular whipped vanilla frosting.  AND she didn’t eat any of the cake or frosting at her actual party!  In a nutshell she had a meltdown with frosting all over and wanted out of that chair ASAP.

The Good News:  The day before when I was leveling off the cake to make even layers I gave her the excess and she loved it!  (With no frosting) 

And who cares that the picturesque cake smash didn’t go as planned haha…I have enough “cute” moments with this girl to last a lifetime!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ripe Bananas
  • 2 Individual Unsweetened All-Natural Applesauce Containers
  • 3tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs (Beaten)
  • 1/4 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp Nutmeg
  • (Optional): Nuts & sugar or natural sweetener such as honey, agave, or stevia

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.
IMG_3369 Rachael Ray says instead of peeling bananas and mashing them, squish them inside the peel, then peel and place in the bowl.  Supposedly when using bananas to cook with, it helps make the bread fluffier. 
IMG_3371
My bananas were not fully mashed which left chunks in my bread…this wasn’t a problem for me, but if you don’t want chunks, then take a spoon and mash the bananas down a little more in the bowl.IMG_3383I didn’t measure the applesauce, I just used two of these individual containers.IMG_3374Combine applesauce, bananas, yogurt and vanilla.IMG_3378 Beat the eggs prior to mixing into the applesauce/banana mixture.IMG_3379 In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients, then combine with the wet ingredients.IMG_3382Pour into two 6″ greased cake pans.  (Just divide the batter in half), bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  (Toothpick center of cake to make sure it is done).
IMG_3385You can see the banana chunks in mine.IMG_3398Clearly I didn’t divide my batter in half haha! (Do as I say, not as I do).  Let cool on a wire rack.  It’s a pretty solid cake and won’t break easily, so let them cool flat side down.  IMG_3401 Once cakes are cool, level off the tops using a sharp knife.  (I used a serrated knife)IMG_3404After in was leveled and cooled I placed them on top of each other to ensure they were level and then placed on a cardboard cake base prior to frosting.  This is key because you need to be able to move it from your cake stand to the high chair!DSC_8955

Drooling for Doughnuts : {Redbook Magazine Feature}

A few months back I featured a recipe about my knock-off of the Cronut….the Kronut.  Well this month Redbook Magazine came out with 10 delicious donut recipes and they featured my Kronut as one of them!  Be sure to check it out and all the other great donut recipes featured!  Also be sure to like and share it!

http://www.redbookmag.com/recipes-home/tips-advice/homemade-doughnut-recipes-5#slide-3

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Christmas {The Highlight Reel}

Since I wasn’t blogging during Christmas time I thought I would show a highlight reel!

Graham Cracker Toffee:
IMG_2781 IMG_2804Pecan Pie Bars:

(I used this recipe and it is amazing!  The only thing I did differently is that I used wax paper instead of foil…MUCH easier!)IMG_2761 IMG_2777 IMG_2821DIY Photo Coasters (Gave as Xmas gifts):
IMG_2686 IMG_2817 IMG_2834Cinnamon Rolls:IMG_3118IMG_3124 IMG_3125IMG_2162Butter Cookies:

(I got lazy and just cut them instead of using cute cookie cutters)
IMG_3151IMG_3157 IMG_3158 IMG_3177Molasses Cookies:IMG_3154 IMG_3169A few personal photos:
IMG_2127E’s First snow
IMG_2155 She passed out in Dad’s office following Christmas Eve ServiceIMG_2173Christmas Day E got this little buggy and loved it!IMG_2184 I got the Target Bar Cart from my hubby!  I LOVE IT!

Hope you all had an amazing and blessed Christmas!