Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's Cookin?: Chicken Enchiladas with Braised Beet Greens

I had some leftover chicken breasts I had baked in the oven. I was tired of eating them just plain. It just so happened I was craving Mexican food. Mmm....chicken enchiladas! I have never attempted to make chicken enchiladas at home but I always order them when I got out. I had a recipe that I was wanting to try out but with the heat, I decided to take the short cut out. I used those packaged Enchilada mixes. It turned out to be quick and easy.

I heated the powdered mix with water and tomato paste on the stove (according to package instructions). I chopped up the chicken and heat it through. I mixed it with corn and black beans to give it more nutritional value. After the sauce was done, I added about 1/2 cup to my chicken, corn and black bean mix. I heated the corn tortillas on the stove in a pan for 10 sec per side. I drizzled some enchilada sauce in the center, added some of the chicken mix and rolled them up. I placed them seam side down in a baking dish. After I rolled them all up, I poured the extra sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkled with cheddar cheese. Bake it for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Yum!

As a side, I made up some instant Spanich Rice and braised my beet tops. Basically I chopped up the beet greens into 1 inch strips and stir fried them with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. They were very tasty. Next time I think the beet greens would taste wonderful with pan fried bacon!!

This was a very quick and easy meal. Next time I'll attempt the from scratch chicken enchiladas. Heat got the better of me this time!

Gardening: Perfect Zucchini, Normal cucumbers, Lemon Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes & more Beans!

We've been having crazy record high's in Portland this week. Monday-Wednesday have been in the 100's. It'll "cool down" to the 90's by Thursday and through the weekend. Yikes! I've been trying to be extra motherly to my garden since it's been unbelievably hot.

Guess what! AHA...gotcha crazy zucchini. I finally was able to pick a perfect zucchini. No more ridiculously ginormous fruit. I also was able to catch a cucumber at a normal size. My previous fruit were monsterous also.

I had 2 lemon cucumbers to harvest today. I love those lemon cukes! I can't wait to eat them. There were also more snap peas and green beans. I'm thinking of attempting pickling of the green beans this weekend. More to come on that.

I also had a handful of cherry tomatoes. Those didn't last very long. I long snacking on them!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gardening: Oops...I did it again

Okay this is getting a little bit ridiculous. I left my zucchini unattended for a few days and look what I got surprised with....2 more gadgooka zucchini. *sigh* How hard is it for me and the zucchini to get our timing right?

Next time....I will get you zucchini!

What's Cookin?: Roasted Beet & Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Mmmm....roasted beets is one of my favorite vegetables! I love the sweet, earthy taste the roasting process brings out. Growing up, canned beets was one of my favorites. I keep canned beets in my pantry as back up these days but nothing beats them fresh! I had planted some red and yellow beets this year. After having the roasted beet salad at Meriweather's the other week, I was inspired to re-create it at home!

I think beets are the prettiest things! The roots are so pretty and the tops are so vibrant and energizing! I used to throw away the tops (or greens) but was told they were mighty tasty. I saved these and made a quick and easy veggie side dish for another dinner.
I harvested a few beets from my garden and roasted them in the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour. While I was waiting for them to roast, I made the pomegranate dressing over the stove top (recipe below). When the beets were done and cooled down, I skinned and diced them.

I soaked the roasted beets overnight in a little of the pomegranate dressing so they would soak up some of the flavor. I put the remaining dressing in a glass jar and stored it in the refrigerator.

The next day I tossed the beets with baby spinach leaves, blue cheese crumbles & roasted pine nuts and more dressing. The salad was delicious! I actually brought it to work to share with some co-workers. It was a hit!
Pomegranate Vinaigrette
taken from Emeril Lagasse's Exotic Edibles episode of Emeril Green

1 c. pomegranate juice
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp Rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a small stainless steel or non-active saucepan over high heat, boil the pomegranate juice until reduced to about 1/3 cup (about 8-10 min). Remove from heat. Stir in honey, salt, rice wine vinegar & olive oil. Set aside to cool. Yields 1 cup of dressing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gardening: Giant harvest

The weather had been really nice here in Oregon. I've been tending to my vegetable garden when I can. I worked a bunch of days in a row but I do remember telling myself that one of my zucchini (first one!) would be ready to harvest soon.

I didn't think much of it and when I finally got a chance, I went to harvest it. HOLY COW! Imagine my surprise when I found this gigantic zucchini!! It was so big, it was stuck between 2 boards of my fence. It's a whooper alright! After wrestling with it for a while, I was finally able to get it free! Along with my zucchini, my cucumbers were ready also!

I was able to harvest 2 zucchini and 3 cucumbers. Cool!
There were also more green beans and snap peas waiting for me! I love this summer garden thing!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wine Tasting: Penner-Ash Wineries

Some friends of mine had a dinner party once. I brought over a nice bottle of Oregon wine and an Italian one. I had bought both at Whole Foods after chatting up their wine buyer. She was very helpful and recommended a great Italian wine. She also recommended an affordable but tasty Oregon wine. I love Oregon reds! I described what I thought the host & hostess would like in a wine and she knew right away what I should get. Her choice was the 2007 Penner-Ash Rubeo. It's a blend of pinot noir and syrah grapes.

Not only did my friend (the husband) like the wine. He loved it. He loved it so much that he continued to buy it months after that dinner party. He was sorely disappointed when he could no longer find it at area grocery stores. His wife even searched on-line and found that it was only available at the winery. Luckily, the winery was right here in Oregon (and very close to us, I may add).

One beautiful summer day we decided to take a trip down to Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. They are out in Newburg, Oregon. The drive out was a nice and scenic one. Driving up the dirt road, you come to a fenced vineyard. You drive up between the acres of grapes to a fairly new tasting room.
We were greeted to 2 different choices for wine flights. The first was their Daily Flight featuring 4 different wines (2 whites, 2 reds) and the cost was $5.

Daily Flight:
2007 Dry Riesling ($18/bottle)
2008 Viognier ($28/bottle)
2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($45/bottle)
2006 Oregon Syrah ($32/bottle)

The second flight was a Exclusively Pinot flight featuring 5 Oregon Pinot Noirs and cost $15.

Exclusively Pinot:
2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($45/bottle)
2007 Palmer Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55/bottle)
2007 Carabella Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55/bottle)
2007 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55/bottle)
2007 Dussin Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir ($60/bottle)

It was a tough choice as pinot noirs are my favorite but I decided that I would love to try some white wines. I chose the $5 Daily Flight.

I normally am not a big fan of Rieslings. I find it too sweet but the dry riesling was such a delight. It was nice and floral with hints of pears & lychee but the tart of a granny apple. The finish was nice and acidic and dry. Fabulous! The Viognier was nice and light. It had a nice citrus taste to it.
Since I love pinot noirs. This one was fabulous! As the wine was swirled and allowed to breathe, it became fruitier and more mellow. I tasted cherries and plum. This one will definitely get better with age! The Syrah with nice and light also.
The fee you pay for your flights gets put towards any purchase of wine. I ended up walking away with 1 bottle of the Dry Riesling, 1 bottle of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (which I may save and let age) and 2 bottles of the Rubeo. For those of you who are wondering, the Rubeo is a great blend of Syrah and Pinot Noir at a great price. It's only $20/bottle.

You may also be asking how many bottles my friend ended up buying since it was his sole purpose to come to the winery. Tee hee hee, I told him he should just buy a case since he loved it so much and it was so affordable. He did...12 bottles of Rubeo later....

I tried to reassure him. It could be worse, he could have fallen in love with a $50 bottle of wine. Luckily it was only a $20 bottle! Don't ever take me wine tasting. I'm just evil!! Bwahahaha!!

After tucking our purchases nicely in the car, we walked around the property a little. It was absolutely beautiful! They had a nicely manicured garden and a great area for bistro picnics.
What a great day!! If you're ever in Oregon's wine country, I highly recommend Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. They also do vineyard tours by appointment. I think it would be fun to take the tour next time!

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars
15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Road
Newburg, OR 97132
ph: (503) 554-5545

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gardening: July is heating up

I've been slacking on the picture posting front. These were taken a few weeks ago. The veggies were coming along so nicely, I decided to have fun with the photography part of it!

Hope you're having a great summer!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Restaurant Rambling: Meriweather's Restaurant

photo from: portland mercury

My belated birthday celebration continued into last week. A bunch of friends and I went to Meriweather's for a belated birthday dinner. I've never been here. It's located near NW Vaughn and 26th. The restaurant is beautiful and cozy. I was intrigued by Meriweather's inventive "farm to table" approach to dining. The menu is a Pacific Northwest selection and most of the produce is raised on a farm on Skyline Road in Portland.

It was the perfect setting for a birthday dinner. We were seated in their outside patio/garden. I was worried because it was 90+ degrees out but it was nice and cool. It's a lovely covered patio with quaint bistro dining and a lovely water fountain & garden for ambiance.

I was disappointed that I forgot my camera (AGAIN!). So you'll have to just take my word for it! I started with their Pomegranate Martini (indio blood orange vodka, pama pomegranate & pomegranate juice). It was strong but so refreshing! I ended up having 2 (hey, it was a celebration!).

A friend and I shared the Roasted Beet Salad (feta cheese, spiced coconut, almonds & pomegranate dressing) as a starter. It was fabulous! For my entree, I selected the Braised Country-style Pork Shoulder (with tomato jam, farm coleslaw & corona beans). The pork was a fatty cut but I thought it had just a little too much fat on my portion. It was cooked perfectly and it literally fell apart, it was that tender. The tomato jam, slaw and beans were the perfect addition to the dish. Yum!

You'd think that after all that I'd be full but of course we all decided to share deserts. A friend and I shared the Lemon Tart (with raspberry coulis & sweetened sour cream). It was so good!

It was a fabulous dinner with good food, good drinks & a fabulous restaurant. I would definitely return again!

2601 NW Vaughn Street
Portland, OR
ph: (503) 228-1250

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Portland Bead Faire

I was looking through the newspaper and saw the advertisement for a Bead Show. It was at the Portland Convention Center. I'm not sure what possessed me to go but I've never been to a bead show before. I was actually going to go just to check it out. It sounded like a great idea....tons of beading companies all under one roof. They also had jewelry making classes. I wasn't adventurous enough to sign up for those but looking, okay I'll look.

There were beads of every kind: precious stones, natural rocks, crystals, name it, they had it. I loved all the pretty colors so I snapped a few shots to share. Pretty huh?

Of course there's always a catch to going to just look. I always end up buying. Grrr!! Here's my stash. We'll see what I come up with!

Travels: Greece

I'm getting really excited! I leave for my Greece trip in a few months! I've been planning this week. Tentative plans include visits to Athens, Delphi, Olympia; then island hopping to Paros, Mykonos/Delos, Santorini and Crete! I'm already dreaming of the sun, views and the food!!

For photos of Greece, go to and click on view gallery next to the photos. I star longingly at these pictures several times a day at work.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gardening: Green Beans and Snap Peas

These were harvested this morning. More green beans and some snap peas!! Yum! I was naughty and ate some of the snap peas right off of the vine. They're so sweet!

Restaurant Rambling: Toro Bravo

As a belated birthday dinner, some friends and I went out after work one day. For one reason or another I was craving Spanish tapas. My favorite place in Portland for Spanish tapas is Toro Bravo. There's just something about their salty and sweet creations that keep me coming back for more. Each time I go, I try to order at least 1 new dish. Of course I always have my favorites! Sorry the pictures are non-flash. I didn't want to blind my neighbors!

Here's a beautiful view from the Fremont bridge! Yeah for summers in Portland!

Toro Bravo is located on NE Russell St, next to the Wonder Ballroom. Notice the bull sign above the entrance?
The restaurant is small with small cozy tables and larger communal tables. We sat in the larger tables and cozied up to our neighbors. It's also a great way to see what others' are eating without being too obvious! =0) The restaurant has a great vibe. Over the right is the open kitchen so you can watch the chef's prepare your meals.

Our waitress did a great job of picking out a fantastic bottle of wine for us. I told her I love pinot noirs and she suggested the Spanish equivalent. It was fabulous!!
Sorry the food pictures are missing a few bites and lacking. I kept forgetting to take pictures when the food came out. It just looked so dang tasty that we kept digging in!!

These are manchego (cheese) and paprika fritters with a salsa. The salsa was like a lomi salmon (for those of you Hawaii people). It was onions, tomatoes and sardines or anchovies. Yum!

The seared scallops were devine! One of my favorites that I didn't get a picture of was the bacon wrapped dates drizzled in honey. OMG...heavenly!

The is hands down the best paella in the city! I love this stuff. It had a mixture of chicken, mussells, clams & shrimp. You're just lucky I got this snapshot while fending off all comers!

We also ordered a smoked steak that was delicious! Although the dessert menu looked tempting, there was no way I was going to fit anything else in my tummy. Another amazing meal at Toro Bravo!

Toro Bravo
120-A N.E. Russell Street
Portland, OR 97212
ph: 503.281.4464