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DIY Spice Rack January 3, 2014

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My cupboards are not set up to accommodate the amount of spices I own so what ends up happening is a bunch get thrown into baggies and I feel so disorganized trying to sift through all the numerous bags trying to find what I’m looking for (see below).  

Spice chaos

Spice chaos

I finally got fed up and started looking for a solution online and I couldn’t believe how much places were charging for spice racks that I could mount on the wall so I decided to make my own with some help from the bf.  He had some leftover magnetic sheet metal (below) but you can buy them at a hardware store for under $20 depending on the size.  

Old scraps of magnetic sheet metal

Old scraps of magnetic sheet metal

We decided to paint it but the bf wanted things precise so he drew a grid on where he wanted the spice tins positioned. I was going to just glue the magnets on the tins themselves but he wanted them on the sheet metal in case I wanted to use the tins for something else in the future.  Smart man. We glued the magnets and then spray painted the sheet metal (pics below).  Fyi, the tins were purchased online at http://www.specialtybottle.com/metalcontainers.aspx.  Note the clear tops, although pretty, will not be good for the spices especially if it is exposed to light.  I also purchased the screw top lids in case a tin happened to fall from the board.  You need powerful rare earth magnets which can be purchased cheap online (Amazon) or Harbor Freight stores but they were sold out of them when we went there.  

Grid for the magnets

Grid for the magnets

 

Spray paint complete

Spray paint complete

The last step was mounting them to the wall (simple heavy-duty velcro) and then labeling them and cutting them to size to fit each container.  Super easy and now I feel organized and cooking just seems so much easier to do now.  Yay! 

Test mount before adding labels and spices

Test mount before adding labels and spices

 

Final product

Final product

 

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Food Pic Friday ~ Carbonara December 13, 2013

Food pic Friday: Random photos of food or drinks I make or put together at home because for some reason I can’t eat out all the time

Carbonara

Carbonara

My boyfriend absolutely loves this dish (the cream version of course) but the authentic version does not contain cream (so I’ve read) so I decided to try out Tyler Florence’s recipe below. I did use pork jowl (guanciale) as well as pancetta just to be extra authentic and it was delicious!  I found guanciale at Tails and Trotters located at 525 NE 24th ave Portland Oregon.  This dish is rich and decadent yet simple if you have all your ingredients ready to go. I don’t think parsley is necessary but it does make it look pretty.

1 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Directions
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

 

Pip’s Original ~ Mini Doughnuts And Chai Lattes December 5, 2013

Mmmmm doughnuts!

Mmmmm doughnuts!

Thank you to my coworker Nick for introducing me to Pip’s Original!  Fresh warm doughnuts smothered in raw honey and sea salt definitely hit the spot during an unwelcome cold and rainy summer day.  Our original plan was to take the doughnuts to a nearby park and work on our itinerary to Banff and Jasper National Park while sipping mimosas (yeah that’s right!) but we ended up sitting at Pip’s with a couple cups of delicious Chai lattes (we ordered the Ginger Rogers which has Thai chili but it’s very mild so don’t be afraid to try it). It wasn’t super busy the day we went due to the rain so we took up  the biggest table by the window and stayed there for well over an hour. The doughnuts were so good warm which is such a nice and rare treat without needing to go to a county fair to get them that fresh.  They are also dirt cheap and I love that you can buy them in incremental amounts or buy them by the dozen for $5.

They also have cinnamon and sugar ones and another drizzled in nutella (yum!) but so far the raw honey and sea salt is tops for me.   If you “like” their page on Facebook, you can find out about their ridiculous deals such as buy a chai latte and get a dozen free doughnut days (usually on a Friday).

Address:  4759 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213

Price: We paid under $5 for the doughnuts and each of the lattes.
Pip's Original on Urbanspoon

 

Say Cheese!! Herb’s Mac and Cheese Food Cart November 20, 2013

Portland is a food cart mecca of sorts and I know I won’t be able to eat at each and every one but I can’t believe I haven’t been to Herb’s Mac and Cheese until now.   I normally don’t drive through this area so I only noticed it by taking a different route home trying to avoid traffic unsuccessfully.  This is when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a sandwich board on the street that mentioned mac and cheese over here.   I quickly glanced over and saw a small collection of carts nestled in an empty space off SE Division St and 32nd Ave (Aka D-Street Noshery).  I’m a mac and cheese fiend if I allow myself to be and  I don’t mean the bright orange stuff that comes out of a box or the ones that are microwaved to disgusting perfection.  It is the homemade variety that I can eat uncontrollable amounts of if left alone with a fork and no witnesses.   I wasn’t able to try it right at that moment but I made a mental note to go there one day soon and I had a good feeling that I wasn’t going to regret it. 

Well that day finally came and it seemed odd that I was craving it on a 90 degree day but there I was standing in front of the shiny stainless steel cart  all sweaty trying to figure out what to order.  I was already starving at this point and the simple rules they posted on how to place an order failed to register with me.  I could only decide an whether or not I wanted a regular or double container (the first step).  The following add ons were too many for my brain to figure out on an empty grumbling stomach so I just asked for a plain jane one.   If your brain is in working order, the next step is the addition of meats (bacon, chicken or pepperoni)  followed by the third step of adding veggies  (garlic, spinach, jalapenos,broccoli and diced or sundried tomatoes).  Finally, the fourth step is any addition of other cheeses  (crumbled blue, crumbled feta, pepper jack, parmasean, cheddar and asiago) which will complete the ordering process.  I personally like it plain or with breadcrumbs on top but the other stuff isn’t appealing to me unless it’s cheese.  Call me old school when it comes to my mac and cheese because I don’t think I need all the frills.  To me it just isn’t the same. 

Herb’s version uses penne pasta (perhaps a touch overcooked the day I went) but the cheese is the ultimate test of goodness and it’s there that they don’t dissappoint.  It is creamy and cheesy done right. Their secret sauce recipe is a bechamel based one that coats the pasta like a glove.  I’m not sure if the hunger caused me to lick the lid clean of all the cheese or if the cheese made me lick the lid clean.  Either way, I displayed no table manners and since I was in the confines of my office I didn’t really care.  My stomach was full and the only thing I regret is not ordering the double so I could eat more later.  Perhaps that was a good thing.  By the way, the double is literally double in size so a really great deal for a couple dollars more. 

Location: 3221 SE Division St.  Closed Mondays.  Open Tues, Wed, Thurs and Sun 12pm-9pm.  Fri and Sat 12pm-10pm.

Contact: www.herbsmacandcheese.com  503-928-7559

Cost: $5 (small) $7 (large) add ons start at .50 cents and go up to $2 for meats for a large size order.

 

Lobster and Crawfish Benedict ~ EastBurn

photo (8)

Maine Lobster and Crawfish Benedict

Portland sure loves to eat out for brunch during the weekends and the hour long waits are considered normal at some locations.  I personally don’t like waiting that long so I try and find spots that serve great food without the long lines.  I’m not talking about the basic eggs/bacon/hash browns either which I can get for $2.95 at the dive bar down the street.  I want something a bit different that can’t be replicated at home while I’m half asleep in my pajamas.

Enter EastBurn which serves brunch from 10 am-3 pm on the weekends and the wait was non-existent when I went there. We left after 11 am and there were still so many tables open which is totally unheard of at some other brunch spots.  I will be sitting on one of the hanging basket chairs the next time I go there.  How fun is that?!

My order is always a savory item and if there is eggs benedict on the menu I will order it 95% of the time.  I love trying new versions of it and EastBurn did not disappoint.  I was very satisfied with my order of Maine lobster and crawfish benedict which was served on potato pancakes instead of an English muffin and let me tell you, it was fried to a crispy perfection.  It is served with spinach and a fontina cheese sauce ($12).  I certainly could have loved more lobster but I know I wasn’t going to get a whole lobster tail so I can’t complain too much.  It is a very rich and decadent dish that I would eat again in a heart beat.  I don’t think the toast was necessary and seems out of place with this dish.  The bf ordered the brisket hash ($10) with house-smoked beef brisket, veggies, potatoes and toast.  He managed to eat half of it so the portions are not skimpy at all. He also enjoyed the “build your own bloody mary but if that isn’t your thing,  mimosas are $2 with any breakfast purchase. They also start you off with complimentary mini scones (we got cranberry) which were delicious!

You can also accumulate points with your purchases at EastBurn to use towards rewards so sign up on their website.  I have no idea what the rewards are though because I don’t think I’ve reached the needed points yet but I signed up anyways and received 100 free points.

Website: http://www.theeastburn.com/

 

Food Pic Friday ~ Winner Winner Chicken Dinner November 8, 2013

Food pic Friday: Random photos of food or drinks I make or put together at home because for some reason I can’t eat out all the time

photo (7)

 

I love crispy chicken skin and I’ve been known to make my own sauces, dry rubs and breadcrumb mixtures for it but I took the easy way out and used Progresso Italian breadcrumbs for this dinner.  No egg mixture needed, just moistened with water and coated skin side down for 20 min at 375 degrees then I flipped it over for another 20-25 minutes.

Potatoes were pan fried with onions, diced sweet peppers and seasoned with salt and pepper,  then tossed with fresh rosemary, spicy oregano and fresh garlic for the last few minutes.  Zucchini was tossed in olive oil and fresh basil then salted with Murray river finishing salt at the end.

 

The Scotch Egg ~ Happy Hour At The Thirty Lion October 26, 2013

Who thinks these crazy things up?

Who thinks these crazy things up?

Oh the Scotch egg.  It’s a hard-boiled egg that’s been wrapped in pork sausage, then breaded and deep-fried.  No one should really eat it right?  It’s curiously delicious.  I wasn’t sure after my first bite but I kept going in for more and within a few minutes, I ended up eating my portion of it.  For $3.95 how could you not try it out?

Pros:

  • Happy hour is 3 pm-7 pm (M-F).  I love happy hours that go past 6 pm!
  • Happy hour food is $3.95 to $5.95
  • Pints/well drinks $3.50-4.00
  • I don’t know if I ever needed to eat the Scotch egg (pictured above) but I’m glad I tried something new in food adventure land.

Cons:

  • It’s located downtown and I hate paying for and looking for parking.  They also have a location in Tigard which is completely out of my way but I’m sure parking is better there.
  • Food is meh but it does the job.  We tried the beer fondue and pretzel, caesar salad and calamari.
  • Plenty of seating!

Website: http://www.thirstylionpub.com/

Location: 71 SW 2nd Avenue Portland, OR 97204