P is for…Powdered Sugar Poundcakes with Peaches

Powdered Sugar Pound Cakes

Move over strawberry shortcake — there’s a new sheriff in town!

I can’t recall how or when I first stumbled upon the blog Ngan Made It. It could have been in March when Ngan traveled to Portland, because I am a sucker for posts about the food scene here. Or is could have been because of the alphabet food challenge (U for Udon, anyone?) that she partakes in with a few other fellow bloggers. While that mystery will have to remain unsolved, the reasons I enjoy her blog are easy to figure out.

Ngan can be counted on for not only having fantastic sounding recipes but also drool-worthy food photos. Her latest post on Jeremies (how have I not known about these?!) will make you seriously consider licking your screen.

But beyond food, she posts about everything from her travels to good books to Moscow mules, which I appreciate because sometimes I really need some variety in my life in my WP reader. I devoured her posts on a recent trip to Tahoe because I got to see the gorgeous mountains, lakes and greenery. (I love a vicarious vacation!)

And, finally, anyone who has a coffee mug emblazoned with “you are not perky. you are obnoxious” is bound to be someone I like!

So when it came time for me to make a recipe from a blog I follow, I knew exactly whose I would turn to. And I knew exactly what recipe to try out: Ngan’s Powdered Sugar Pound Cake.

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Boozy Watermelon Jello Slices – because fruit loves alcohol

Watermelon Vodka Jello Slices

Watermelon Vodka Jello Slices

I have mentioned, oh, once or twice at least, my obsession with boozy Jello. These little summery beauties mixed that obsession with my love for party food and determination to try one of the many things I’ve pinned on Pinterest (I accomplish this about once a blue moon).

Since party food tastes better with company, I invited some girlfriends over for a Bubbles & BBQ party on Saturday. We had a serious spread of goodies — numerous cheeses, pasta salad, homemade pickles, Caprese salad and even a bowl of larb with butter lettuce. There were also some crazy good bacon-wrapped, shrimp-and-cheese stuffed jalapeños. Yeah, my friends can throw down when it comes to eating!

So much good stuff!

So much good stuff!

Stuffed peppers and Shrimp Poppers

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Welcome to my house, please don’t lick the walls…

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

As if it wasn’t obvious enough that my life is immersed in culinary culture, it is particularly apparent when you see all of the jars of paint samples in my house. See, my husband and I have been trying to agree upon a color for our living room (and kitchen and bedroom) so we’ve been buying sample after sample to test out on the walls.

Our living room now boasts some fun (and delicious sounding) modern art:

tasty sounding paint colors

Oh cornbread…you looked so good on paper, wow, were you ugly on the wall.

After a long uninspiring battle with various shades of yellow, we have changed tactics and moved on to blues. Last weekend my husband suggested I paint an even larger section of the living room with sea salt (so far the front-runner) to see if we both still like it.

To get my strength (and sanity) up, I made a smoothie. A fabulous smoothie, in fact. I based it on the banana almond smoothie from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse but added a few extra goodies to coax it into excellence.

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Sometimes cleaning the fridge can lead to delicious things…

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

This fall I went a little overboard with apples. I just kept accumulating them — I bought bags from the farmer’s markets, a box from a co-worker for a school fundraiser and random ones on sale at the grocery store. Around November, I couldn’t even look at apples anymore and just avoided glancing at the full-to-the-brim fruit drawer in my refrigerator.

Finally a few weeks ago I decided to revisit those apples and use them up, one way or another. While they had lost some of their “crisp,” they were still great for other applications. I grated a few into some batches of hot cereal and was surprised at how tasty the outcome was – sweet, slightly tart and perfect with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup.

Thursday night I got the opportunity to use up a few more.

I was totally at a loss at what to make for dinner. I hadn’t had a chance to go to the store but rooting around in my fridge I came up with a pork tenderloin, some brussels sprouts, half a head of cauliflower and (of course) a handful of apples. After adding an onion and some home-dried thyme to the mix, my findings suddenly seemed like a cohesive dish rather than just a hodge-podge of ingredients.

I  actually think it was the thyme that tipped the scales in my favor. Normally I steer away from anything too sweet for dinner since my husband prefers things as savory as possible. I wasn’t sure if he’d liked the roasted apples, but I hoped the thyme and the onion would balance out the sugar. And hey, if he didn’t like it, more for me, right?

I roasted the cauliflower, onions and apples all separately. While they were cooking away, I shaved the brussles sprouts continuing to check the items in the oven. The apples were done first:

Apples, peeled, quartered and toss in some butter. Roasted until soft, deglaze  pan with apple brandy. Yum!

Apples, peeled, quartered and tossed in some butter with a sprinkling of salt. Roast until soft but not mushy, deglaze pan with apple brandy. Yum!

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A tropical breakfast to warm up the chilliest of winter mornings

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

I’m still going strong on the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse and I have to say that the best part has been breaking out of my breakfast rut. For the past year my weekday breakfast has involved the same routine: a whole grain English muffin, toasted, slathered with peanut butter and a bit of honey. And it’s done me well — it’s a nice mix of protein, carbs and sweetness to get my day started.

But over the last 10 days, not being able to indulge in refined flours, I’ve had to mix things up.

My first experience with a breakfast from the cleanse resulted in the awesome discovery of quinoatmeal. After I polished off the last of that, I moved onto a new porridge in the form of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal. This is a blend of everything from millet and barley to brown rice and oat bran. It all cooks happily together in a matter of ten minutes or so.

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Plum Tuckered Out

Plum Upside Down Cake

Plum Upside Down Cake

Anyone who’s been around me for the last few weeks knows I’ve been a bit stressed out. Work has been crazy, the summer has been busy and my husband has been cooking for a lot of special events. The last one was to benefit the Portland Fruit Tree Project and between the three of us (my friend DB helped us out) we put out a damn good meal.

One thing I didn’t mention in the first post was that the theme of the dinner was plums. After all, since the meal is for a fruit-based charity it only makes sense to cook with fruit!

Thankfully plums led us to many good things. We made plum preserves to mix with goat cheese and stuff into cheese puffs. There was a tart and tangy plum mostarda to go with a “foiehogbit” terrine (thanks Sean, I’m totally ripping off that name!) and a rich and beefy plum sauce to accompany our steak dish.

However, the abundance of plums also led to me making a whole lot of plum upside down cake. As in two hotel pans worth, or enough to feed a small army.

The baking process was a bit intense and was probably part of the reason I was so crazed that day. When you’re trying to multiply a recipe by 12 and you haven’t had time to take more than a sip of coffee, you might feel like your brain is about to explode.

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