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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An IPNC Interlude — please pause for wine

Grand Dames Dinner IPNC 2014

Iberico de Bellota pork cheeks, served with polenta, thyme and blackberries. Chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita. IPNC 2014. Grand Dames Dinner.

If it’s seemed a little quiet over here recently, there’s good reason. I spent Friday night at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Conference. Yes, I stayed on campus — in the dorms even — with three co-workers.

It always seems like one night shouldn’t be so exhausting, but somehow, every year, IPNC knocks me out of commission for a while.

Maybe it’s due to eating super rich food all day (foie gras, Iberico pork, veal sausage and more foie gras) or because we drink wine from 3pm till 3am 8am. (Yes, we partied like true college freshmen this year. I saw the sun rise and everything.)

Here are a few pictures from this year’s Grand Dames Dinner, which is set in the middle of the Linfield College campus. Four chefs (all women this year which I thought was awesome) put out an amazing dinner for around 500 people. There’s a reason this is one of my favorite events to “work.”

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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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Baby hasselback potatoes topped with burrata

baby hasselback potatoes with burrata

Baby hasselback potatoes with burrata, crispy chicken skin and fried garlic

I love cute food. I can’t help it — give me tiny one-bite appetizers or adorable mini anything and I will love it. There’s just something about a petite portion of food that is so pleasing.

And early summer is great time to find produce to aid with this mission. There are tiny spring onions, mini patty pan squashes and the smallest new potatoes that taste like butter. A week or so ago, I was woo-ed into buying some little red potatoes and after having roasted a batch or two, I was looking for something new to try.

I had a ball of burrata cheese in my fridge, crispy chicken skin from a recently roasted bird, and thanks to this recipe, things started to come together.

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When you gotta lotta burrata… make cheesy salads

…and write even cheesier blog post titles!

Burrata Salad with Strawberries, Radicchio and Nasturtium Leaves

Burrata Salad with Strawberries, Radicchio and Nasturtium Leaves

I can only stop thinking about food for so long — so I’m taking a break from posting about Alaska to show you some of the fabulous things I ate before I left Portland.

A week before my flight back home, my husband decided to make me dinner. It was a wonderfully delicious meal, starting with a salad of cherries, radicchio and burrata cheese. The salad was dressed simply in a combination of Agrumato extra virgin lemon olive oil and some aged balsamic vinegar I bought in Modena, Italy years ago. The bottle isn’t looking so pretty but I promise you, the vinegar inside is like candy.

This was the only major purchase I made on this trip -- I was about 23 years old and saved $100 for the bottle.

This was the only major purchase I made on my third trip to Italy — I was about 23 years old, fresh out of culinary school and saved $100 for the bottle. Twelve years later, it’s still delicious!

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If you can’t stand the heat…

Pork Blanquette with Spring Vegetables

Pork Blanquette with Spring Vegetables

If someone had told me two weeks ago that I’d be braising pork on a sunny 75-degree day, I’d tell them they were crazy. I don’t stick to strictly seasonal meals but heating up my kitchen to slow cook something doesn’t make any sense when it’s already hot enough out there.

Nonetheless, I was so captivated by a recent recipe from Gourmandistan that I couldn’t help myself from doing just that. The recipe in question was a blanquette of pork, or braised pork shoulder in a happy broth of stock, cream and lemon. While the pork and the cooking liquid sounded lovely on their own, it was the pretty and colorful spring vegetables that called out to me. Just look at Michelle and Steve’s version of this Pork & Sons recipe and tell me it doesn’t look mouth-wateringly delicious.

And so, eager and excited, I thawed out a little two-pound pork butt that was nestled in my freezer and got to work. While I was clearly easy to convince, here are a few words of encouragement in case you need some enticement  to turn on your stove and make this:

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