Cupcakes!

A friend recently traveled to San Francisco Miette and brought me back a treat. I thought it was cookies, but when I looked in the bag, I was pleasantly surprised to see a cake pan! Miette cakes are baked in 6″ pans and I haven’t been able to find one in town. So I baked the tomboy cake, which is on the cover of the Miette cookbook.

IMG_3337The recipe makes two cakes and enough raspberry buttercream icing for both. I only had one cake pan, so I made a batch of cupcakes and froze them along with the leftover buttercream.

We’re having our first stormy weather of the season – leftover of a Japanese typhoon! I thought some cupcakes were in order to cozy up by the fire. I thawed them out, whipped up the frosting and piped it on the cupcakes.

IMG_3582The moist chocolate and raspberry pairs so well together.

Portland (kid-free!)

John and I recently celebrated our 1o year anniversary and traveled for the first time by ourselves since having babies. Portland is one of my absolute favorite U.S. cities. If you have not been, hop on a plane right now and go! This is the perfect time to visit.

Food

One of the things John and I were most excited about was eating. Portland has some incredible restaurants and while most of them are kid-friendly, we could be a little more adventurous, wait in longer lines, and order whatever we wanted because we didn’t have to share with little people who can be picky. :)

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Our first stop for dinner was the recently-opened Grassa, because our friend, Ian, is the chef there! And also, because he hand-makes pasta and makes amazing food. Grassa lived up to the hype and was delicious. We loved watching the pasta being made while listening to records.

Broder for breakfast has been on our list of places to go for a long time. We tried once before, but had the girls with us and couldn’t wait in line (there almost always is a long one on the weekend). Yum!

Several friends highly recommended tapa restaurant Toro Bravo (another restaurant with a usually-lengthy wait) where the shrimp was incredible.

Luce was insanely good. This tiny restaurant was absolutely adorable and the food was divine. I felt like I was in Italy again.

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Of course, you must visit Salt and Straw – the famous ice cream shop. It was as delicious as we had heard; so good in fact that we went twice.

Coffee/Drinks

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Albina Press is a friendly grungy coffee shop that we have loved for years.

John recently went to a conference in Portland and visited Secret Society, where he couldn’t wait to take me back to on this trip.

I found a little champagne bar called Ambonnay with a friendly owner and warm space, conveniently located next to Olympic Provisions that I loved.

Fun

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We wandered the Portland Art Museum, leisurely, for hours. We were lucky enough to catch the Cyclepedia exhibit (John was so excited). I was entertained by the preschool class on field trip there (and even more so by the parent chaperones attempting to keep the preschoolers’ hands off the bikes). We also caught the Gaston Lachaise exhibit, (a French sculptor – we had the best timing!)

Of course, we wandered Powell’s for ages and found some adorable drawing books we bought the girls.

We strolled for a bit around Mt. Tabor Park (an ancient volcano right in Portland) until I got blistered too badly and had to go back to the car and change shoes for our antiquing trip through Sellwood.

 

Just a sampling of our favorites from our trip to get you started on yours! Bon Voyage!

Slow January

This month is always such a strange one for me. After all the busyness of the holidays and making, I just want to curl up with some hot tea and knit. I get a little cabin fever with the dark, cold, wet days too.

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But I also feel the pull to organize, resolve, and energize my life. These opposite energies are challenging to balance.

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We have sunshine today and I find myself following it around like a cat. I stand in a sunny window and soak it in. My oldest (well, not her age, just how long we’ve been friends) friend and I were inspired by Sarah and are sharing bits and pieces of our lives together via texts. I am treasuring this connection with my cross-country friend and the reminders to take notice and appreciate more in my own life.

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I love walking through this little path in the woods near our house. It’s in a neighborhood, but it is hilly and full of birds. I can get there quickly and lose myself in the mossiness of it all.

IMG_1794There is the constant lure of these needles and the calming simple stitches on them. About a week ago I started this sleeve for John’s sweater and am now about half-way done. This is good progress for me who only finds little bits of time to sneak in some knitting. There are talks with a friend to knit together and I cannot wait to make some real progress.

So far, I think we’re making January pretty cozy.

Link love: food

I love comforting, soft chocolate chip cookies. I love crispy ripe apples. I love home-grown kale. I love baking for friends and family and I love that this time of year has so many excuses for good food.

I’ve rounded up a handful of my favorite websites; savory and sweet; healthy and indulgent. I’m inspired by these beautiful photos on our gray rainy winter days.

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Honey and Jam‘s photographs are calming and gorgeous. These sweet potato biscuits look like they’ll melt in your mouth.

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Joy the Baker is entertaining as it is delicious. She’s a girl after my own heart, she loves cookies and cake as much as she loves kale.

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Vegetarians unite! 101 Cookbooks is your place for healthy eating. This dish looks just perfect to me (um, with some kale). Her kitchen is so white and clean and calm. I love it.

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I just got a copy of the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook and am excited to cook from it this week. This simple dessert is just what January needs.

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The Kitchn is a catch-all site for people who love to cook and with good design. They have posts about kitchen tools, renovating, and, of course, recipes.

What are your favorite foodie sites?

P.S. What’s up with all my kale references in this post? Guess I’m craving it…I think I’ll go cut some from the garden.

 

Photos all courtesy of the sites they’re linked to.

…and I baked

John’s birthday was last week and he chose an apple tourte for his dessert. He found the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours (a book I highly recommend) and it was crazy good. I like making tarts, but making tarts on a weekday alone in the house with two small children is…um, how shall I put this, a challenge?

The crust is not a typical pie crust, its an almond sugar cookie crust. Mmhmm, you read that right. A pie made with a cookie crust. And the filling was like applesauce. The comforting, warming, homemade, delicious-smelling applesauce. And then, while it was still a touch warm, we piled Julie’s vanilla ice cream on top. (BTW, if you’ve never tried it, Julie’s Strawberry & Cream sorbet is incredible.)

It was really good for breakfast too.

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Today I made Rosemary Flatbread from Whole Grains Baking (another book I love – all the recipes are full of whole grains but still taste wonderful). Seeing the dough crisp up and bubble was so satisfying. This is the best photo I had on our cold, dark day. It doesn’t do it justice.

The girls loved dipping theirs in hummus this afternoon and I think I’m about to go eat some more with a glass of wine. Excuse me, won’t you?

cooking links

It is a cold, gray, rainy day here. It was snowing a bit this morning but that quickly turned into the dreaded slushy rain. I’m trying to warm myself up with some yummy, warming baking ideas. (I get to bake an apple tart for John’s birthday!)

Posie Gets Cozy | Alicia's Oatmeal Bread

Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

101 Cookbooks | Chili Lime Tequila Popcorn

The Kitchn | Shredded Apple Muesli

What are your favorite rainy day recipes?

P.S. I’ve updated my links in the sidebar.

Click on the pictures to view the recipes. All photos taken by the bloggers or contributors.

Valentines Day Crafts

Valentine’s Day has become a bigger deal to me since Ruby has come along. John and I didn’t exchange gifts when we were younger, but Ruby has taught us to celebrate love any chance we get. She was so excited this year. The day before, she was making up songs all day long like, “Happy heart day. Tomorrow is heart day. I love heart day. I love love.” Then she slept in her clothes that she wanted to wear on Valentine’s Day.

She made her valentines for her class. We simply cut out a heart shaped sponge and she stamped with that, cut them out, and wrote her name on them. They were d0-able for her, didn’t become overwhelming, and turned out cute.

We also made some salt-dough hearts that we hung between the columns that separate our living and dining rooms.

And I made a cranberry apple tart from Once Upon a Tart that smelled amazing.

But, by far, the best part of Valentine’s Day were the valentines:

Even Ginger drew hearts all over the paper. I love this!

Did you celebrate? Please share your special traditions!

Book::Food Rules

Food Rules by Michael Pollan is a simple book that didn’t make my reading list until I discovered that he updated it, this time illustrated by one of my all time favorite artists, Maira Kalman.

I love Kalman’s work – her children’s books, her TED talk, and her handwriting all make me happy. I should probably dedicate a post to her. Of course, I love food and have learned much from Pollan’s other books. The simplicity of the writing of Food Rules marries well with Kalman’s paintings. Some of the rules, like #13 “Shop the Peripheries of the Supermarket and Stay Out of the Middle” are not new to me. Some are funny – #39 “Don’t Eat Breakfast Cereals That Change the Color of the Milk” and some make me happy – #52 “Have a Glass of Wine with Dinner” – yes, please.

The book has some rules that have stuck with me and I can see myself returning to the book when I need some healthy inspiration. It would be a great book to start someone off on a healthy eating journey but would be educational at all levels. Go check it out at your library, and be sure to pick up Ooh-La-La (Max in Love) while you’re there.

I’m in love…

I hope you had a lovely holiday season! My parents came to visit and they spent the week spoiling the girls, taking us out to eat, and baby-sitting (spoiling me and John). It was wonderful.

I mentioned the book Miette that I wanted badly. I had avoided this book for so long because I knew I would have to have it. But I finally looked it up online and watched the video trailer (scroll down and you’ll find it here) and I was lost in it.

But then. But then. My friend went to San Francisco, visited Miette, and brought me back some cookies! I’m embarrassed to say how quickly they disappeared and that I only shared one. I just couldn’t help myself. I visited the website and learned that they use local, organic ingredients as often as possible. We share the same favorite brand of butter, Straus. It was really all I could do to wait until Christmas for this book. I was hoping that John had picked up on my obvious hint (from the blog post) and when he got a box of books from Chronicle in the mail, my fingers were crossed that the cookbook would be under the tree. I was right!

I cannot wait to get started baking. The instructions in this book are detailed and thoughtful. I have gained much insight just from reading the methodology. I want to run a bakery! But for now, my happy place is flipping through the scalloped pages (!) and beautiful photos in this book.

It’s baking season!

I love, love, love this time of year and even more so with little kids around! I think I’m just so excited to live somewhere with actual seasons, that I am thrilled from the first chilly evenings in early fall to right around after New Year’s. (Then I start to wish there were more holidays to distract us from all the rain.)

We had a little Halloween party and I made a spice cake with cream cheese icing. But we had leftover cream cheese, so of course I needed to make some more cream cheese icing. I mean, what else was I supposed to do with that? John just gave me this book for my birthday, so I tried out my first recipe from it: Banana Walnut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. They were almost healthy enough with the bananas and walnuts for me to pretend that they weren’t cupcakes. We shared them with the family that handed down Ruby’s Halloween costume and our neighbor that brought over a bag full of play-doh right when the girls and I were going insane with cabin fever/sugar crashing at the perfect moment.

I tried to pipe the icing on the cupcakes but apparently I put the tip on wrong. The pressure from the frosting pushed the top off and icing exploded all over me and the kitchen. Oops.

I’ve been busy creating new products for my shop and selling them at shows. The new Winter Woods soap is a favorite and I’m so happy to have heart pillows in the shop too.

P.S. There’s still time to get in on the $500 Chronicle Books giveaway!