Hot weather meals

As the weather warms I loose my desire to use any part of my stove. My air conditioner works over time every time I turn on the oven. Of course most people are headed for the grill and I of course have it on my list, but until I find the right grill for us I am constantly reaching for the crock pot! Remember this comfort food buddy from the winter months? Many years have passed where I store and loose touch with my crock pot for the summer, but as Ive become more involved in the kitchen and especially with a growing family it is now a long lost friend!

One of my favorites from the past few weeks is what I called a chicken Burrito/taco bowl!

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Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Low 8.5 hours

Taco Seasoning:

1 Tbsp Chili Powder

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp Onion Powder

1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flake

1/4 tsp Oregano

1/2 tsp Paprika

1 1/2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Pepper

Ingredients:

3 Chicken Breasts

Taco Seasoning

1, 14.5 oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed

1, 14.5 oz can dice tomatoes

1, 4.5 oz can diced green Chiles

1 Red Onion, diced

1 Cup frozen corn

1 Cup Salsa

2oz Cream Cheese, cubed

Toppings:

Cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and Lime

  • Spray Crock Pot with cooking spray (makes for easy clean up)

  • Place all ingredients in crock pot and give it a stir so everything is combined.

  • Cook on Low for 8 hours

  • Remove Chicken and shred, place Chicken back in Crock Pot and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes

  • Wrap in a Burrito shell, Taco shell or spoon over rice. Freezes great too!

Granola

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Homemade Granola will knock your socks off! It is so easy and you can quickly make it with things in your pantry. This base recipe is from my good friend and former business partner Victoria Martin! A great start for any homemade granola maker.

Granola

3 1/2 Cup Quick Oats

1/3 Cup Flax Meal

1 Cup Chopped Pecans

1 Egg beaten

2/3 Cup Butter, melted

1/2 Cup Honey

1 Tsp Vanilla

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes

1/2 Cup Dried Mango, Chopped

1/2 Raisins, Chopped

1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

  1. Combine Oats, flax meal and nuts on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally.

  2. In Large bowl combine Egg, Butter, Honey and Vanilla. Stir in Sunflower Seeds, Coconut, Dried Fruit, Brown Sugar and Vanilla. Add Oat mixture to bowl.

  3. Press into baking pan. Bake 13 - 18 minutes until set and edges are lightly browned.

  4. Cool pan on a wire cooling rack. Cut into bars or crumble, store in an airtight container.

  5. Share!

Cobbler? Crumble? Buckle? Betty? Let's talk fruit desserts!

    If you read our blog regularly (which we hope you do!),  You are well aware of our love of fresh fruits and veggies. Especially when we have the time to go to our local farms and pick them ourselves! Jocelyn and I recently cooked at an event, and the homeowners have beautiful, sweet green grapes in their backyard. They were gracious enough to let us take some, and I was very excited to take them home and make something. I also was able to get my hands on some fresh pears, and wanted to combine the two!

   I absolutely love apple crumble, and thought that would be a great method for putting these fruits together. I started thinking about the crumble/cobbler conversation, what were the actual definitions of these traditional fruit desserts? I found some great information!

COBBLER

Cobblers usually have a biscuit topping that looks like cobblestones. If it's made in a skillet on the stovetop, it's sometimes called a slump or grunt. 

CRUMBLE

This combo-baked fruit with a streusel topping(my fav!)-is sometimes called a crisp, particularly when the topping contains oats.

BUCKLE

The streusel topping on this cake-like dessert sinks a bit in the oven, creating a buckled look-hence the name.

BETTY

This old fashioned dessert, supposedly named after a home cook, has buttery breadcrumbs on top of and underneath the fruit.

    I hope this has de-mystified the difference between these wonderful treats. Now, go out and pick some fruit and make one! I mixed up a few recipes I looked at, but after a little research, decide which method looks the best for your taste and go for it!

I used: 3 cups of fruit. Tossed it with fresh juice from one lemon, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg ( 1 tsp. each), and a tablespoon of cornstarch.  For the streusel I whisked 1/2 cup each flour and rolled oats, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, a little more cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Then with my hands, mixed in a half stick of softened butter until crumbly. I put the fruit in a 8x8 glass dish, poured the topping over and baked it at 375 for about 30 minutes until brown and bubbly! add some ice cream and enjoy warm.

Victoria-XO

 

Celebrations

      I love celebrations! I found out a couple of years ago that I also love planning them! In August of 2016, Jocelyn and her husband Justin were married in a beautiful, family centered ceremony. It was held at a gorgeous home in Happy Valley, what a fantastic day! I was honored to be part of it as a bridesmaid.

    It was actually my first time being a bridesmaid, and I knew I had some planning to do! I never could have done it without  fellow bridesmaid Jackie, a longtime friend of Jocelyn's (who has given her a shout out on our blog before, she is obviously special to both of us!), and now my lifelong friend too! Jocelyn is from Montana, so we decided a cowgirl theme was in order! We went camping at Willamette Mission Park, after a fabulous lunch at Red Hills Market in Dundee. We even had a wonderful, private wine tasting at Argyle winery!

    The camping trip was super fun (sorry, no details! Wink, wink!), we had kabobs for dinner and the yummiest breakfast burritos I wrapped in foil and we grilled in the morning. They were a simple veggie scramble, but I made them special with fresh tarragon (an herb I encourage you to try!). 

    Needless to say, it got me hooked on planning celebrations! Find an excuse to celebrate something! Then invite some family and friends, and enjoy!

XO- Vicky

P.S. Happy Anniversary Jocelyn and Justin!!

                                    

Fire it up!

Ah summer! The cook outside season. The season that makes you cringe at the thought of turning on your oven. The season that has us reaching for crock-pots, and dare I say the take out menu!

We should all be given a week to spend outside, out in the wilderness. Playing and feeding our souls. We should all be apart of a campsite time share. Ya know, all take turns. Never having to worry about "is the campsite booked" you would just have your week every year, no questions asked!

I may sound like I camp a lot, quite the opposite. Most toddler toting parents understand. I applaud those of you who start them young. Tell us, how many sleepless nights did it take to acclimate them to the camping experience?

We've got our first family camping trip planned for Labor day weekend. 4 Days 3 nights in a cabin! Yes we cheated, but were going!

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I somehow got distracted from my original train of though. Not so much camping but campfire cooking!!! I recently took an overnight "vacation", thanks to Victoria who came and watched Madison so Justin and I could have some long overdue adult time. We booked a room on the coast and headed for cooler weather! I envisioned in my head a fire on the beach and cooking over the open flame, or in our case hot coals. I was fully prepared and determined for this to happen. Before we left I prepped a couple potato foil packs.

Potato Foil Packs: Serves 2

6 russet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Green Beans from the garden, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

Onions from the garden, diced

Garlic, chopped

Fresh Dill

Butter

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Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredient, drizzle with Olive Oil and season salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Divide potatos up between two large pieces of foil. Form packet by folding foil over potatoes and rolling up the edges. Cook directly over hot coals for about 15 minutes.


For those of you who may be oblivious to fire cooking, here is how I did this. We built a fire, eh em, I built the fire! I actually took over the situation and expressed the need to do it myself. I wanted to know I could do it! With the help of a lighter.

I built a relatively big fire, we relaxed and watched it burn for a bit and watched the coals come alive. As the wood burned down and the coals glowed we continued to feed the fire but moved it ever so slightly to one side to expose the coals. Once exposed we laid our foil packets right on top! With in a few minutes we could hear the oil and butter simmering as the potatoes cooked. The smell of garlic got our stomachs talking. As they cooked I prepped our fish! I had a piece of Halibut in the freezer that was perfect for the occasion. I planned to top with butter, diced tomato, lemon and fresh dill. The tomato and lemon however never made it into the cooler, while they spent the night in the fridge back in Portland, I continued on with what we had. I laid the foil out, put a dab of butter, then the fish fillet, more butter, salt and pepper and fresh dill. Closed up the packet and onto the coals it went. The fish took maybe 5 minutes. Those coals are HOT!

 

 

This trip was so fun! Leaving gave me the camping itch. I wanted to stay, I wanted to bring Madison back the next day. I wanted to teach her how to cook on a fire. Yes, she's a little young, but that's how excited this got me. It made me slow down and forget about the long list of to-dos waiting for me at home. It was such a fun and rewarding way to eat! I'm currently planning out big camping trip, thinking of inventive things to cook over the fire. Breakfast burritos are on the list, I cant do without potato packets and the fish! I may be recreating this meal entirely!

Cheers! -Jocelyn

Farm to Table Part 2

   As you know from my last Farm to Table post, I am pretty obsessed with picking my own produce, and utilizing my local farms to fuel my creative cooking! It is the most rewarding feeling, knowing exactly what you are feeding your family, and supporting your community as well.

   When my picking buddy Kat and I went to Sunnyview Vegetable Farm last week, we asked our friend Lucio (who runs the farm), what we should be picking that day. "Tomatillos!" was the answer!  I had always wanted to make a roasted green tomatillo salsa, and this was the perfect chance! I have made many red salsas (my husband John actually makes the best!), but the green was on my bucket list!

  The tomatillos have a papery skin that needs to be peeled off, and they just need to be rinsed. They have a really funky, sticky feel after peeling them, but that goes away during the roasting!  I peeled  the onions I also picked that morning, and threw it all on 2 big roasting pans. I also added a few jalapenos from the store(they were not quite ready at the farm yet), and a few cloves of garlic. I drizzled it all with some refined coconut oil,  salt and pepper, and popped them in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, shaking the pans about halfway through. Oh my! The smell!

   Remove the pans from the oven, and let the mixture cool a bit. Working in batches, puree the veggies (don't forget the yummy juices from the roasting!) in a blender or food processor You can pulse if you like it chunky .Pour it all in a big bowl, add a bunch of chopped cilantro (from the farm!), lime juice, a little cumin and salt and pepper to taste. All you need now is some chips! Or enchiladas, or nachos, or a fresh pasta dish, the options are endless with this fresh, snappy salsa!

Enjoy!

XO-Vicky

 

Season, and season well!

I have never really been a die hard potato salad fan. Mostly cause they just aren't seasoned well, or there is way to much mayo. I of course am not claiming to be an expert since I rarely build this starchy salad.

I ventured into this classic BBQ side salad last week. I spent a good chunk of time looking into recipes, reading a few articles and fearing bland potatoes. I came across Serious Eats. a wonderful site full of knowledge and an awesome blog. check them out at www.seriouseats.com

What blew my mind was this experiment they did with potatoes and green food dye. They used the dye and several methods to see what would penetrate the potato the best. The dye would act as seasoning for the experiment.  I know we all hate bland potatoes, so what is it? At what point is the best to season your potatoes? The three methods experimented with were seasoning the water, seasoning while hot and seasoning once cooled. The winner?.........................

Season the water of course! Just like pasta, but not just with salt. Salt is only a portion of the seasoning. Add vinegar and sugar. about 2 Tbs of each. This was a total game changer, I could eat a whole bowl full of what looked like plain potatoes.

 

Zesty and creamy! Delish!

Zesty and creamy! Delish!

So what is this recipe I ended up with? Classic Potato Salad by Serious eats, With a few tweaks of course!

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 3 ribs celery, finely diced (about 1 cup) leaves included
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup, optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, washed and minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle relish
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • Fresh ground black pepper

 

1. Add 2 quarts water to large saucepan. Add potatoes, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Spread into even layer, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar. Allow to cool to room temperature, about thirty minutes.

2. Combine remaining sugar, remaining vinegar, celery, onion, scallion (if using), parsley (if using), pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise in large bowl. Stir with rubber spatula to combine. Fold in potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and rest in fridge for at least 1 hour and up to three days before serving.

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You can find the potato experiment here along with the original recipe. Enjoy!

https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/07/the-food-lab-how-to-make-the-best-potato-salad-done-right.html

You Can Have your Cake, and Eat it Too!

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       If you follow us on any of our other media platforms, you might know that I am going to be a Grandma this November! (And if you don't follow us, you should! We are on Instagram and Facebook!) I am over the moon, and because I was having so much fun decorating cupcakes for our recent classes (We have one coming up this Monday the 16th in Portland at Beanstalk Montavilla! Buy tickets here, jut click on our "Cook with Us" link in our menu) I decided to make the cake for my daughter's reveal party! 

       Now, I have made many cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes...all of the above. But making a cake from scratch AND decorating it for all to see?? Nope. Of course, I wanted it to look amazing! The reveal was on a Sunday. So in between the Thursday ultrasound (YAY IT'S A GIRL!) ,and  a Northwest Nibbles event that Saturday, I had a cake to make! Um, and decorate it to perfection? I have 2 tips here for anyone that is thinking about doing this.  

    First: Time! Give yourself time, not 3 days like I did! Don't get me wrong, the cake was gorgeous to an untrained eye. That leads me to... Second: Frosting! Make more! No, more! You might have guessed by now, I ran out of frosting. I did some damage control, did you notice the cute flags I made?

    Needless to say, the party went on. Everyone loved the cake, and I was super proud of how it turned out for being my first time. We have encouraged you before to get out and try something new, so go!! Try a new food, craft, or just visit somewhere in your neighborhood you have never been before. Maybe even make a cake for a reveal party...

xoxo-Vicky

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Red, White and Blueberry pie!

I think we could go on and on about farm to table and  picking your own veggies and fruits, so that's exactly what I'm going to do! It is so rewarding to spend a few hours out at the farms. Especially with kids. I love when Madison gets dirty! Dirt and mud on her jeans is a sign of a rich experience. This past week we made our first trip out to Albeke Farm near Oregon City. What a wonderful place. we picked blueberries and raspberries. They have many kinds of berries and peaches getting plumper by the minute. I cant wait to get me some peaches! We will definitely be visiting again!

Another one of my favorite farms is Sauvie Island Farm in West Portland, there are so many on the island, but this particular farm has it all. Fruits, veggies, flowers and herbs. you can go there all summer and find different things. The peaches and pears are to die for, they don't last long as they get picked pretty quick, so make a plan to get there early this season!

We brought home a total of 13 pounds of berries from Albeke Farm! What in the world was I going to do with that many berries? First things first, I froze half of our take home treasure. We'll use these for smoothies and other baked goods, pancakes, you name it throughout the year.

After freezing a portion I was on to baking......

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Breakfast favorite

These were packed with berries, and oh so scrumptious with my morning coffee!

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Fire up the grill!

 Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce, YUM!

Now, Is the 4th of July really complete without a Blueberry Pie?

Ive done my share of baking this past week, and with the temperature rising my focus is not on the oven if I can help it. I'm going to use my raspberry chipotle bbq sauce to make sloppy joes! The kitchen is calling!

follow us on instagram and facebook to see our newest creations and cooking class updates!

Cheers and happy cooking, Jocelyn.