Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I'm currently freaking out a just a tad. It's already the middle of September and it's 6 months until our wedding. How did this happen?! I feel like we got engaged YESTERDAY! I got so anxious last night thinking about the fact that I haven't booked hardly any vendors, that Thomas and I hunkered down with a bottle of wine and spent our Friday night scrolling through Pinterest, emailing vendors, figuring out seating arrangements, and looking at wedding shoe inspiration. Poor guy. He was a good sport and it's actually fun and so much easier to do together. 

With a little sleep and a good chunk of planning under our belts, I feel a lot better today. Which is why I'm spending my morning relaxing a bit and baking this amazing chocolate chip zucchini bread. One of my co-workers has a garden and I guess the zucchini is growing like crazy, so she gave me a bunch to take home!  Veggies mixed into something sweet...never did I think I would enjoy such a thing. BUT IT'S AMAZING. This bread is so moist, filled with chocolate in every bite, and is surprisingly healthy compared to other dessert breads!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

                                              Adapted from Joyful Healthy Eats
Ingredients: 
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1¼ cup grated zucchini (about 1½ zucchinis)
- ¾ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
 

What to do:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Prepare a 8x4 loaf pan by greasing the bottom and sides (you can grease with coconut oil, butter, or PAM cooking spray) Lightly dust with flour and shake out excess flour.
3) In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Whisk together.
4) In a large bowl, add honey, unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk together until smooth.
5) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until everything is combined.
6) Fold in the zucchini, chocolate chip, and walnuts. Add the batter to prepared loaf pan.
8) Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Honey Bourbon Blackberry Peach Galette

My most vivid blackberry picking memory was when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. We were at my Dad's farm in Georgia, in the dead middle of the summer. Temperatures I'm sure were in the triple digits with a humidity level that borderline reached sauna status. The chiggers are so bad that time of year that you have to wear jeans - but it doesn't really matter since they sneak up your pant leg anyway and make camp right behind your knees. Onward I waded into blackberry briars carrying my huge white bucket with my dad doing the same a few steps ahead of me. We picked and picked until our white buckets were brimming with juicy blackberries and our fingers and teeth were stained from stealing a few here and there. At the cabin that night we made the best blackberry cobbler. We sat and ate in pure blueberry bliss, chigger bites behind our knees and all. It's funny how some memories stay with you like that forever, when maybe at the time you didn't think it was particularly special. 

I haven't picked blackberries in that capacity since that day with my Dad, but I am always so compelled to buy them anytime I see a big carton at the farmer's market. A few weekends ago I bought a big batch along with some of the sweetest, juiciest peaches I have ever had. After snacking on the fruit a couple of days, I thought to myself, how could I make this peachy blackberry combo even better? BOURBON, that's how!

This was my first time making a galette and my crust turned out a little ugly, but you know what "Rustic" is the new term for ugly and I'm digging it. 

In all seriousness, galette's can be as uniformed or as rustic as you would like them to be. What matters is that buttery, flaky crust and the perfectly caramelized magic from oozing fruit juices. This is a perfect dessert to make transitioning from late summer to early Fall. And like I said, it has bourbon...enough said. 


Honey-Bourbon Blackberry Peach Galette 

Ingredients
For the crust: 
I  used Serious Eats flaky pie dough recipe! It's sooo good. However, any pie dough recipe will do. 

For the filling: Recipe adapted from Butterlust
-3 medium peaches, sliced
- 6 oz of blackberries
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
- 1 teaspoon honey mixed with 1 teaspoon bourbon, for brushing after baking

What to do
1) prepare the pie dough at least 2 hours ahead that way it has plenty of time to chill. 

2) In a large bowl, combine the peaches, blackberries, honey, bourbon, cinnamon, and vanilla. Carefully incorporate.

3) While still on the parchment, roll out the flaky pie dough into an approximately 10-inch circle. If the dough has become warm, place back into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to re-chill.

4) Sprinkle the almond meal over the dough, leaving about 2 inches around the border. 

5) Arrange the peaches and blackberries on top of the almond meal, either in a uniform swirl shape or in a more "rustic" fashion. 

6) Fold the edges of the dough in over the fruit, pleating the edges as you work your way around to form a free-form tart that is roughly 9 inches in diameter.

7) While still on the parchment, place the galette onto a baking sheet and place into the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the galette maintain its shape during baking. 

8) Once chilled, preheat the oven to 400F. Remove from the freezer, brush the edges with egg wash. 

9) Bake the galette for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a cooling rack (just lift over the whole sheet of parchment). 

10) Once mostly cool, brush with the honey + bourbon mixture for a little extra spike. Serve warm or at room temperature either as is or with whipped cream or ice cream.

"Clean out your fridge" Frittata

Ever since we got back from Norway we've been go-go-go. At least that's what it feels like. We haven't had a routine the last month of consistently working out and eating healthy. It's the weekends that really get us. A day wine tasting turns into scarfing pizza down when we get home, or a day on the lake with friends turns into ordering pizza afterwards because we all don't want to cook. Somehow pizza is always involved, which isn't a bad thing on occasion but it's time to shape up my friends. We're t-minus 7 months until the wedding day and it's time to get it in gear! 

Lately during the we week we've been eating more vegetarian meals, sorta by accident! During the summer it's so much easier to eat dishes that are packed with veggies and bright seasonal produce. Unlike the winter, when all I want is slow braised meats and rib-sticking goodness. I never thought I would enjoy eating meatless meals as much as I do. 

Fritatta's are something we make often that usually turn out to be vegetarian! 

The reasons I love Frittata's: 
- quick and easy to make
- you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
- they're healthy and don't leave you feeling bloated
- and my favorite of all, YOU CAN PUT ANYTHING IN THEM! 

Whenever we need to use leftover veggies in our fridge a "fridge frittata" is our go-to. One of my favorite combinations is roasted onion, fennel, and sweet potato as the base and then throw in anything else we have in the fridge that would compliment that. In the pictures below we had roasted onion, fennel, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, sliced jalapeño and sautéed garlic kale. And then we topped it with goat cheese AND slices of Manchego. The recipe below is just a combination that I love but honestly, use whatever cheese you have in your fridge and toss any veggies in that need to be used up in your fridge. Just have fun with it!!

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"Clean out your fridge" Frittata


Ingredients
- Roasted Veggies
        - 1 onion, sliced or roughly chopped
        - Thinly sliced fennel
        - cherry tomatoes
        -  1 cubed sweet potato
        - 1-2 cubed zucchini
- Chopped kale (enough for 2 big handfuls) 
-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 eggs
- Goat Cheese (Anything works well, parmesan, manchego, or feta are all great)
- Salt & Pepper to taste

What to do
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2) Toss the sliced onions and fennel with olive oil and salt and pepper and place on a roasting sheet. 
3) on another sheet, toss the sweet potato and zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper
4) roast all of the veggies, tossing occasionally until everything turns golden. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan of sweet potatoes and zucchini about half-way through roasting. 
5) Once the veggies are out of the oven, heat a oven-proof skillet over medium heat on the stove.
6) Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and saute minced garlic and kale until slightly wilted. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and turn off heat. 
7) Whisk all 8 eggs in a large bowl. Pour eggs into skillet and incorporate with the kale mixture. add in your roasted veggies. If it seems like you have too many, just save them for later! 
8) Top the skillet with crumbled goat cheese or any other cheese you have available, 
9) Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted in the middle and come out clean. 

Enjoy!

 

Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce

Do you ever have one of those days? That's rhetorical because I know you all do. The kind of day where nothing particularly bad happens, but somehow everything at work takes just a little bit longer, traffic is just is a little bit slower, and things just generally are slightly more annoying all day long. Then after work you circle your neighborhood for 35 solid minutes looking for a parking spot because of a Timber's game, and by the time you find one you then proceed to scrape a little paint off of your fender because you tried to squeeze into a spot with your SUV that was meant for a smart car....

Well, that was my day. 

We all have those days during the week occasionally, and something that gives me comfort is knowing that I can come home, hang out with Thomas, break open a bottle of wine, relax a little, and make a good meal together.

On hectic days when we don't want to spend much time in the kitchen, salmon is on the menu. It's our favorite - plus so quick and easy to make! Bake it, caramelize it, sear it - whatever your heart beckons. 

This meal is healthy, filling, easy-to-make, and freaking delicious. What more could you want?! I plan on posting a bunch of other salmon recipes that I love one day, but this one is the most basic of the basic and a staple that we cook in our house weekly! AND THE CREAMY LEMON DILL SAUCE??!!! It's lemony dill bliss that I cannot imagine living without.

For sides we always do roasted brussel sprouts, an arugula salad, or any other veggies that we have hanging out in our fridge. For the brussel sprouts in this recipe, trim the ends, slice them in half, toss on a sheet pan with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and roast on 350 degrees, tossing occasionally, until they are slightly tender with crispy edges.

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Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce 

Ingredients
Seared Salmon
- 1 large side of salmon, bones removed
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- salt & pepper to taste

Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce

- 1/2 cup (64g) of sour cream or greek yogurt
- quarter of a lemon, juiced
- 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- salt to taste

What to do: 
1) Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sear your salmon skin-side down until the salmon is 2/3 of the way cooked. Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. In it's last stages of cooking, throw your sliced lemon slices in the pan and let them brown on both sides. The salmon is done when it easily flakes off with a fork. Be careful not to overcook! 
2) While the salmon is searing, mix up your sauce. Combine the sour cream, lemon juice, fresh chopped dill, 1 clove of garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Incorporate together and adjust the seasoning to your liking by either adding another clove of garlic, lemon juice, dill, or salt. 

Enjoy!

Cozy Cooking Engagement Shoot + 2 Easy Pizza Recipes

For our engagement shoot, I knew that I wanted to do what we love most - Cook together! Our own kitchen is way to small to move around and have a proper photoshoot, so we decided to rent an Airbnb. Luckily, I had met another blogger in Portland who owns a beautiful beach cottage on Olivia Beach in Lincoln City. It was the PERFECT setting. The kitchen has wonderful light flooding in, the beachy/rustic decor was exactly what style we wanted, and the cherry on top is the cottage is only a short walk to the beach. I loved that we were able to have a 2-for-1 photo session - First cooking pizza together and then heading out to the beach at sunset. Our photographer Sam from The Wild East, did so great at capturing sweet, natural moments between Thomas and I. 

Pizza is something that we love and is so easy to make! Plus, it looks great in pictures with bright vibrant tomatoes, basil, and all the toppings your little heart desires. To make it even easier for our photoshoot, we used Trader Joe's Pizza Dough. The dough is soft and easy to use, and tastes just as good as if you made the dough from scratch that day! On the first pizza, we smeared a layer of Trader Joe's Fig Butter , and then baked it with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto. Once it was out of the oven we topped it with a little grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, and arugula! The second pizza, we did classic margherita with Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce,  juicy vine tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. 

A cozy getaway on the beach, pizza, lots of wine, and amazing pictures to cherish forever? Definitely one of the most memorable nights in our books :) 

Scroll down for the recipes, and if you want to rent this amazing cottage on the Oregon Coast click here for the link!

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Proscitto & Fig Pizza with Arugula

Ingredients
- 1 package of Trader Joe's Pizza Dough
- 5-6 tablespoons of Trader Joe's Fig Butter (Any fig spread/jam will work)
- 12 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
-  6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
- grated parmesan cheese
- Arugula
- olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste

What to do
1) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
2) Take the pizza dough out of the bag and bring it to room temperature. Once it's at room temperature, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
3) Spread pizza with a layer of fig butter, then top with mozzarella and prosciutto. 
4) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust is crispy and to your liking. 
5) once out of the oven, top the pizza with grated parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and arugula. 
6) Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Enjoy!

Classic Margherita Pizza

Ingredients
- 1 package of Trader Joe's Pizza Dough
- 5-6 tablespoons of Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce 
- 12 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
- Fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1-2 vine tomatoes, sliced
- Olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes to taste

What to do
1) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
2) Take the pizza dough out of the bag and bring it to room temperature. Once it's at room temperature, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
3) Spread pizza with a layer of pizza sauce, then top with mozzarella, basil, and tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust is crispy and to your liking. Enjoy!


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7 Things You Must Do in Bergen, Norway

It was my second time in Bergen and I just can't get enough! With it's quaint colorful houses scattered along the harbor and up the hillside, picturesque views of the fjords in all directions, and it's impeccable seafood, Bergen is a place you don't want to miss. The weather is notoriously fickle and it rains on average at least 230 days out of the year - but no worries there. There's plenty of bars, cafés, and shops to pass the rainy days away.  

1. Take the Bergensbanen from Oslo to Bergen

Known as one of the greatest train journeys in the world, this is a trip you don't want to miss! Thomas' family and mine boarded the train in Oslo for a 6 hour journey over the mountains to Bergen. The views are absolutely incredible! We packed sandwiches for the ride, but they have a cafe onboard where you can get snacks and drinks. If you aren't starting your trip in Oslo, I would still recommend taking the train to Voss or Flam from Bergen. 

2. Take the Fløibanen funicular to see amazing views of the city

The first time Thomas and I went to Bergen we hiked to the top of Mount Fløyen, which takes about an hour up. This time we took the Fløibanen tram up to the top! Tickets are 90 NOK for adults and 40 NOK for children. The views of the city and the surrounding fjords are one-of-a-kind. This is definitely an absolute must-do when you're visiting Bergen!

3. Shop & Eat along Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen

Bryggen is a historic harbor district in Bergen, one of North Europe’s oldest port cities. The characteristic wooden houses are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The alleyways are scattered with amazing restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, boutiques, leather shops - You name it! It's definitely a spot to grab a unique hand-made gift. 

4. Walk along the Harbor

This is a no brainer! It's so nice to stroll along the Harbor and watch the boats coming in and out. 

5. Eat Fresh Seafood from the Fish Market

The fish market is one of Norway's most visited outdoor markets. Walking through the market is seafood lovers dream! Langoustine's, king crab, snow crab and fresh shrimp are all musts. Albeit the prices at the fish market are steep and probably double the price than what you would find in the grocery store - but it's all about the experience! My dad had never had king crab before, so we sat at the fish market looking out at the harbor and ate the most amazing king crabs. 

6. Grab a drink in Torgallmenningen City Square

Find a spot at one of the many places scattered along the square and grab a drink! There's always a lot going on, so it's fun to just sit and people watch. We had a couple strong Irish Coffee's ;)

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7. Find fresh fruits and vegetables at the "Farmer's Market"

During the summer months, they have an outside market with vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade sausage, jam, and cheeses. It's very close to the fish market, so if you're there during the warmer months you can't miss it!

How to spend a 20 hour layover in Reykjavik Iceland

I've been MIA the last week or so because we're on VACAY! Thomas and I are here for 2 1/2 weeks with a jam packed schedule of side trips, visiting with friends and family, and a wedding. Of course we're fitting a few naps and A LOT of good food into that schedule ;) On the 20th, my family landed in Oslo and we spent a week all together with Thomas' family. It was so amazing spending time with everyone - Sharing laughs, good food, and exploring Norway.

On our way to Europe, Thomas and I had a direct flight from Portland to Reykjavik Iceland. It was only a 7 hour flight which seemed so quick! It takes me longer to get to Florida from Portland which is crazy! We knew we wanted to explore Iceland a little bit, so we chose to do a 20 hour layover. To promote their routes from North America to Europe, Icelandair created a "stopover" campaign to tempt people to stay in Iceland for up to seven days and split the journey from North America to Europe (or vice versa) without paying any additional fares. How amazing is that?! Two vacations for the price of one - I'll take it! 

We wanted to get to Norway, so we didn't want to spend more than a day in Iceland, but I would love to go back one day to visit Lake Mývatn, go whale watching, explore Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and do the Golden Circle!

Here's our recommendations for visiting Reykjavik and what we did on our layover!

Arriving at Keflavik Airport // Keflavik airport is the largest airport in Iceland and the main hub for international transportation. When we landed it was gray and cold outside, and it was the middle of July! So you can imagine how cold it is during the winter season. We had a checked bag that stayed at the airport waiting to go to Norway and a carry-on backpack. If you're just doing a layover, I would recommend carrying a light backpack since you're going to be walking around all day. Definitely pack a rain jacket just in case!

Currency // Everywhere in Iceland takes credit cards, but it's fun to take out a little cash as well for small purchases! $1 dollar is roughly 100 Icelandic Króna's. 

Bus transportation // I didn't do my research on this part before the trip, so we ended up probably spending a lot more than necessary. We went to the ticket counter at the airport and bought all of our tickets for the day. Thomas and I paid around $140 dollars all together for bus transportation from Keflavik to Blue Lagoon, Blue Lagoon into the city center in Reykjavik, and Reykjavik back to the airport. Ridiculously expensive. It was still a lot cheaper than taking a taxi, but if I were you I would definitely check out a few websites and find the best prices. 

Blue Lagoon // We arrived in Iceland around 6 AM, and headed straight to the Blue Lagoon - One of the most visited attractions in Iceland. We booked our tickets ahead of time and I'm so thankful that we did because we found out that if you don't book ahead there's a good chance you won't get in at all. It was AMAZING to relax in the warm waters after a long flight. 

What you should know about the lagoon! 
1) It's situated on a lava field, but The lagoon is man-made and fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant - Which I wasn't aware of. I knew it was a man-made spa, but I wasn't expecting to see a factory close-by which ruins the ambiance a little. Don't get me wrong, it's still  a very cool experience! 
2) There's different packages to purchase, but I would recommend bringing your own towel and paying for the basic standard package (4800 ISK). You get your own locker and access to the Lagoon, saunas and showers. 
3) The geothermal water features three active ingredients: Silica, Algae & Minerals. All of which are amazing for your skin! The water has proved to help people with different skin problems such as psoriasis. You'll find as much free silica mud as you want located in convenient swim up buckets around the Lagoon! You'll see everyone swimming around with a mud mask on their face :) 
4) Alcohol is expensive. There's a great swim-up bar, but you're going to pay around 8.50 for a draft beer. I got a small bottle of prosecco and paid around $13.
5) Protect your hair from the silica! Especially if you're a blonde, the silica in the water can make your hair very brittle and cause breakage. To prevent that, wet your hair before you go in and lather on a coat of conditioner. If you don't do that it will be fine - your hair will just be extra crunchy once it dries. 

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Exploring Reykjavik

After swimming and relaxing in the Blue Lagoon for a couple hours, we headed into Reykjavik to do a little exploring!

Where to Eat

Thomas and I only ate at Sægreifinn and Betzu Pylsur, but I had an entire list of places I wanted to try! Here's the must-stop spots!

  • Sægreifinn: We were starving when we left Blue Lagoon, so our first stop was Sægrefinn for lobster soup and fresh fish skewers! I had read reviews that this "no frills" seafood spot had some of the best lobster soup and they were right! It's a small little shack on the water with limited seating. We picked fresh cod right out of the display case and had it grilled right  then and there, and we devoured two bowls of lobster soup. 
  • Bæjarins Betzu Pylsur: Translates as the "best hot dog in town". It's been open since 1937, and a fun fact I learned from Condé Nast is that seventy percent of the country's 300,000 residents have eaten at this hotdog stand! They are topped with raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. There are variations, but you haven’t eaten a hot dog like an Icelander until you’ve had “one with everything.”
  • Kaloportid Flea Market: The best place to buy traditional Icelandic foods as well pastries and other good treats! The food vendors offer a ton of tasters as well!
  • Reykjavik Roasters: Rated the best coffee in Iceland and Its co-owners are internationally award-winning roasters.
  • Coocoo's Nest: Great weekend brunch menu where everything is made from scratch!
  • Gló: The best vegetarian restaurant in town.
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Where to grab a drink on your layover 

  • Kaldi Bar/Café: Cozy beer bar only featuring Icelandic microbrews 
  • Kex Hostel: An abandoned biscuit factory turned into a chic hostel, bar and eatery.
  • Snaps: This spot feels like a cozy greenhouse! Great for a beer break while you're out exploring. 
  • Tíu Dropar: A small basement bar on Reykjavik’s busy main shopping street Laugavegur.

Sites to explore

  • ‘Climb’ the tower of Hallgrimskirkja: One of the most iconic landmarks in Reykjavik. Head to the top of the church to get a picture of the city!
  • Explore the street art: In the past years Reykjavik has become famous for its colourful murals and graffiti
  • Hang out at Harpa: A modern concert hall down by the water
  • Go whale watching: If you have the time, take a whale watching excursion!

Tahini Brownies

WE LEAVE FOR NORWAY A WEEK FROM TODAY AND I'M SO FLIPPIN' EXCITED! My whole fam jam is flying from Orlando to Oslo and Thomas and I will be meeting them there. We have a direct flight from Portland to Iceland with a 20 hour layover in Reykjavík. The Blue Lagoon is only thing on my list so far to-do on our layover. Since we're going to have some time, do you guys have any suggestions on places to eat or drink in Reykjavík? 

I'm going to be good about bringing my camera around and documenting everywhere we go! On our itinerary is Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger - So stay tuned!

On top of getting prepared to leave for Norway, we have our engagement pictures on the Oregon Coast this Thursday. So I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off doing errands, wedding planning, shopping, and BAKING. Not that baking has anything to do with me accomplishing things on my to-do list, but a girl's gotta do whatta girl's gotta do. 

Now, let's talk about these Tahini Brownies, shall we? I never knew this level of fudgy wonderment and admiration could exist...AND they are semi-healthy to boot! Healthy for a brownie at least and you would never know the difference. I have eaten a fair share of brownies in my day, and I would put these up as a contender with the best of em'.

No butter. No oil. No refined sugar. No flour. BAM!

The creamy tahini gives these a little bit of a nutty flavor, and the maple syrup and coconut sugar provides the sweetness. Thank you Ambitious Kitchen for bestowing me the best brownie recipe there ever was and giving me inspiration to make a whole bunch of other amazing treats where healthy ingredients are hiding. Maybe avocado brownies next? 

Also, please don't judge that I used a pie dish to make these brownies. You would think someone who likes to cook would own a 9x9 inch baking pan! 


Tahini Brownies - Recipe by Ambitious Kitchen 


Ingredients
- 1 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips

For the chocolate drizzle
- 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil

What to do
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, combine the tahini, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and eggs until smooth and well combined. Gently fold in cocoa powder, coconut flour, salt and baking soda until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips into the batter. This batter should be rather thick.

3) Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. If it's giving you trouble to spread (because it's on the thicker side), spray a rubber spatula with nonstick cooking spray (trust me, it helps!). Bake for 22-30 minutes or until knife inserted into the middle comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Don't overbake! 

4) After brownies have cooled a few minutes, prepared the chocolate drizzle: Place a small saucepan over low heat, add chocolate chips and coconut oil and stir frequently until melted and smooth. Generously drizzle over the brownies. Makes 16 brownies.

Must-Visit Tapas Spot in Portland // Ataula

Can you imagine a world where it's acceptable to go home every day and take a nap? Or a place where the sangria flows freely and the Jamón ibérico aplenty? Where you can eat patatas bravas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no judgement? That my friends, would be Spain. 

After visiting several spots in Spain, there's still so much of the country that I want to see with Thomas. On our bucket list is to go wine tasting in La Rioja; Eat our way through San Sebastian, which has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world; and throw tomatoes in Buñol at the  famous La Tomatina Festival! But until then, we've found our little slice of Spanish heaven in our neighborhood at Ataula

Tucked away on a side street off of 23rd Ave and Thurman, lies what feels like Northwest Portland's best kept secret. Ataula's whole essence is characterized by how eating and drinking should be celebrated with friends and family - which is exactly the kind of place that I want to be on a date-night, or any other night for that matter. Cristina Baez and chef Jose Chesa bring a 'Portland vibe' by utilizing the Pacific Northwest's seasonal goodies and creating dishes inspired by Catalunya and other regions of Spain.  Sharing multiple 'small plates' so we can try a little of everything is my jam and at Ataula, you can't go wrong. 

On our most recent date night we started off with sangria of course. Then the plethora of jaw-droppingly good tapas started coming to the table. We had cured salmon toasts, the best Jamón ibérico de Bellota, octopus carpaccio, more sangria, bacalao, steak tartare, wine, langoustine, more wine, and THE BEST DESSERT EVER. It's a house made puff pastry, stuffed with house custard and dusted with sugar and spices. Do yourself a favor and order it no matter how full you are.  

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First we started with Sangria because duh, why wouldn't you?! Thomas got the classic red sangria and I got a spicy seasonal sangria which was incredible. 

ATAULA MONTADITO
House cured salmon, mascarpone yogurt, black truffle honey, coca bread

Next we devoured the house special, Jamón ibérico de Bellota. "de Bellota" means acorn fed. 

Also pictured above and below is the pulpo carpaccio, made from thinly sliced octopus.

Above- Bacalao - a dried salted cod which was AMAZING. I've had bacalao in Norway, so it was neat to see the Spanish version. 

TARTARE
Beef tartare, smoked piquillo ketchup, egg yolk puree with chili spiced potato chips

The best langoustine I've ever had. I can't even tell you everything that was on it now, but it was incredible. If you go to Ataula and they have any type of langoustine on the menu I suggest that you get it!

The picture speaks for itself! SO GOOOOOD. 

Lobster Rolls

I am in a blissful buttery lobster coma and I don't ever want to come out. Ever since our friends told Thomas and me about the epic lobster rolls they had while traveling in Maine, we've been dying to get our hands on one. We've drooled over countless articles like 14 Must-Try Lobster Rolls across the U.S., and watched video after video like How-to Make Lobster Rolls with Matty Matheson.  Last weekend we decided enough is enough and spent all of our savings on lobster...just kidding; But those suckers are expensive! Thankfully our local Fred Meyer was having an awesome sale on lobster tails! I was toying with buying a whole live Maine lobster just to taste the difference and to have the frightening experience of cooking it. If you don't know this by now, I have zero willpower when it comes to good food - So a live lobster ended up coming home with me from Newman's Fish Company. I wonder if people thought I was a crazy lady walking down the street holding a brown paper bag far away from by body?!

There's a big debate on what makes a lobster roll "the best". Some say with mayo, some say without; Celery or no celery; butter or no butter; Or the folks that say that the meat should be served unadulterated. 

We went with the light mayo route, with just a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a small dose of green onion tops sprinkled on top. I know this would be blasphemy to many, but we also added a little bit of coleslaw at the bottom of our buns to give it a touch of crunch. Last but not least we drizzled brown butter on top. I mean how could you not add butter people?!  To go alongside I made Bon Appetite's Crispiest Potato Chips and added a sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning. Amazing. 

 Mind-blowingly good, best weekend meal ever, incredibly easy albeit slightly messy. Check check check. With the 4th of July coming up these rolls would be a SHOW-STOPPAAA.

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We don't have a massive pot, so we cooked the lobster in our cast iron dutch oven and it worked just fine. Once I stopped feeling sad for Mr. Lobster, Thomas plopped him down into the boiling water. I know it's ridiculous, but all I think of is when Sebastian is about to be thrown in the hot water by Chef Louis in Little Mermaid

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Lobster Rolls 

Ingredients
Lobster Rolls

- Lobster tails or live lobsters. Depending on how many rolls you are preparing, we bought a 1½ pound live lobster and 4 small lobster tails and that made 2 HUGE lobster rolls. A good rule of thumb, 1 8 oz lobster tail per person. If you're buying live lobsters, it should be at least  1½- 2 pounds per person.
- 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of chopped chives or green onion tops
- Good quality hot dog buns or hoagie rolls, split-top
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Potato Chips
- 1½ pounds russet or purple potatoes
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- Vegetable oil (for frying; about 8 cups)
- Old bay seasoning or just simply sprinkle with salt

Cole Slaw
For this I cheated and used a pre-made mix, like this one from Trader Joe's
- 3 tablespoons of Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
 

What to do

1) I would make the potato chips first! Slice potatoes about ⅛” thick (a mandoline helps). Place in a large bowl, add cold water to cover, and stir to release starch; drain. Repeat until water runs clear. Return potatoes to bowl; cover with ½ cup distilled white vinegar and 6 cups water. Let sit at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Drain; pat dry.
2) Fit a medium heavy pot with thermometer; pour in oil to measure 4”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 300°.
3) Working in 6 batches and returning oil to 300° between batches, fry potatoes, turning occasionally to cook evenly, until golden brown and crisp (oil will have quit bubbling), about 5 minutes per batch. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined wire rack. Season with salt or Old Bay Seasoning!

DO AHEAD: Potatoes can be fried 6 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.

Next: Make the lobster rolls!
1) Pour water into a large pot to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil and salt generously. Add lobsters, cover, and cook until bright red, 7-10 minutes. Transfer lobsters to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool ( we cooked our live lobster first, and then did the tails in a second batch)
2) Crack lobster shells, pick meat from tail and claws, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Mix lobster, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper and add more mayonnaise, if desired.
3) To make the brown butter, simply start melting the butter over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly. As the butter melts, it will begin to foam. The color will progress from a light yellow color to golden-tan to, finally, a toasty-brown. Once you smell that nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and transfer the browned butter into a heat-proof bowl to cool. When you transfer the brown butter to a new container, try to leave as much of this sediment in the pan as possible. You can also strain the butter through a fine meshed strainer or cheese cloth to remove all the particles.
4) We wanted the outside of our buns crispy and the inside soft. Brush the outside of the buns with a little of the brown butter. In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the buns on the outsides. 
5) To assemble the rolls, place a layer of cole slaw and pile the lobster on high! Drizzle with the brown butter and sprinkle with green onions or chives! 

Happy Lobster-Roll-Eating Ya'll!

Breakfast Hash

I love Sundays. During the winter/spring/rainy season in Portland when all we wanted to do was stay inside, I loved waking up to a hot cup of coffee and a cozy breakfast. That is the absolute best. But now that the rain has FINALLY stopped and the temperatures are climbing into the 90's, I'm switching out hot coffee for iced, and super carb-y breakfasts for something a little lighter. And when I say "light" I just mean not biscuits smothered in gravy. Bikini season ya know. 

Weekdays are for fruit and yogurt, but weekends are for HASH. Hash's are great for a quick one-skillet breakfast. You can literally sauté anything you like, crack some eggs in there, top with a little cheese and voila! I had a bunch of leftover asparagus and prosciutto, so I made this hash last weekend. I added onions and fingerling potatoes and it turned out so good!

Since it's 100 degrees this morning in Portland and we don't have AC, the only breakfast I'll be having are the prosecco popsicles sitting in the freezer that I just made. Yesterday when I cooked breakfast I was dripping sweat by the end and I had to stick my head in the freezer, so I will absolutely not be cooking anything today. 

Stay cool friends!


Breakfast Hash with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Potatoes 


Ingredients
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 1/2 ounces chopped prosciutto (4 slices)
- However many eggs you want! We usually crack in 6
- Grated parmesan
- Chopped fresh parsley

What to do
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To get the potatoes extra crispy, Slice the small fingerling potatoes in half, toss with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet until crisp and brown, Turning occasionally. 

While the potatoes are cooking, heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté red onion, until soft about 5 minutes. Add asparagus; season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, until almost tender, 3 minutes. Stir in prosciutto. With a spoon, make nests in the hash and crack 1 egg into each. Cook, covered, until whites are set, 5 minutes. Grate parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle with parsely. 

Barbacoa Taco's with Pineapple Salsa

Sorry it's been a little quieter around these parts lately. I'm in this weird funk where I have SO MUCH to do that I end up not doing anything at all and just binge watching Shameless. Pitiful I know. Between work, wedding planning, and trying to blog, there never seems like there's enough hours in the day. However, this weekend I'm turning over a new leaf and I am not doing ANYTHING besides wedding planning and blogging. Last weekend I went to a friends bachelorette party, and let's just say after one-too-many gin and tonics and a pole-dancing class later, I had a major case of the spins on Saturday... so my production level was nonexistent. 

This weekend I'm excited to hang out at home, knock a few things off of my to-do list, and make some delicious food, like these dreamy barbacoa tacos. Guys, you will want to make these every weekend once you try them. Slow cooking the meat in a dutch oven or slow-cooker makes it melt-in-your-mouth tender with a little crispiness around the edges. Mission Tortillas are the perfect vessel for getting as much of this barbacoa in your mouth as possible. Why do I buy the smallest and thinnest Mission Corn Tortillas you might ask? So I can eat twice as many tacos, duh! Making a sweet/spicy pineapple salsa to go on top gives the tacos a little freshness and balances them wonderfully; And I love adding thinly sliced radishes and cilantro as well. 

Happy Taco Friday Friends!


Barbacoa Tacos with Pineapple Salsa


Ingredients

Barbacoa

- 4 lbs beef brisket (or beef chuck roast will also work)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 chipotle chilis in adobo, chopped ( Plus 3 tablespoons of adobo sauce)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1½ Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt, then more to taste
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice

Pineapple Salsa
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- salt and pepper to taste

Guacamole
- 2-3 ripe avocados
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (Depending on how lime-y you like it) 
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- As much chopped cilantro as you like ( We put a lot!) 
- Salt and pepper to taste. 

For Taco Assembly
- Mission Extra Thin Corn Tortillas
- Thinly sliced radishes
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Any other toppings you like! 
 

What to do 
1) Cut the beef into large cubes. In a large skillet over medium high heat add the vegetable oil and sear the beef on each side. Transfer to your dutch oven or slow-cooker. 
2) In a food processor add adobo chilis, adobo sauce, beef broth, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves, and lime juice. Pulse until blended and pour on top of the meat.
3) Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours. 

Make the salsa towards the end of the beefs cooking time. Combine all the salsa ingredients together in a large bowl and stir. Let sit for 30 minutes or so for the flavors to meld. 

Same with the guac! Mix and mash all the ingredients together and you're good to go!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Bowls

If you're anything like me than you have to really psych yourself up for Mondays. I had a moment this past weekend when my eyes popped open around 6:30 AM thinking it was Monday morning; BEST FEELING EVER realizing that it was only Sunday and I had the whole day ahead of me. I've tried to make my weekends as productive as possible lately since our wedding is only 9 months away now! That sounds like an eternity, but I am the queen of procrastination. I'm trying not to stress at all, but there are SO many little details that I would have never even thought to think about until they pop-up! But for now I am just chipping away at my checklist. One of my biggest goals is to get fitty fit before the wedding (says every bride ever). I just joined Pure Barre and it is kicking my booty! I seriously limped into work all last week, but I think I'm on the uptick now. 

Thomas and I are both trying to eat healthy during the week so we can splurge a little on the weekends. Wedding or not, there's no way we can give up taco or pizza nights. To kick start my Mondays on a healthy foot, I love eating a protein packed bowl for lunch. This Honey Chipotle Chicken Quinoa bowl is layered with lime-y quinoa, guacamole, arugula, and smoky & sweet chicken breast. This meal is so easy to prep over the weekend so you can have lunch for the week!


Honey Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Bowls - Recipe Adapted from Jessica Merchant

Ingredients
honey chipotle chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from a can of chipotles in adobo
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, minced

salad
6 cups spring greens (I use arugula)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup torn fresh cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon honey

lime quinoa
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, or even water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 lime, juiced and zest freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

What to do

1) Add the chicken breasts to a baking dish or ziplock bag and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, adobo, honey, mustard, cilantro and garlic. Pour the marinade over the chicken, covering it evenly. Place it in the fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.
2) When you're ready to make the meal, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tiny bit of olive oil and add the chicken, then cover the skillet and cook until the chicken is deeply browned on both sides and cooked in the center, about 6 minutes per side.
3) To make the quinoa, add the quinoa and stock (or water) to a saucepan over high heat and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the coconut oil (you can swap butter), lime juice, zest, salt and pepper.
3) To make the salads, add the greens in a large bowl and toss them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the chicken on top along with the quinoa, cilantro, green onions and avocado. Drizzle the bowl with the lime juice, olive oil and honey. Serve!

 

Strawberry Panna Cotta Tart // Happy First Birthday Crumb Kisses!

It's been a year friends! A year since I first hit publish on this strawberry tart post that officially made Crumb Kisses a thang. It's been a year of cold meals due to taking photos for too long; A year of cooking up a storm in our little kitchen; A year of fails, triumphs, late nights and early mornings; A year of batter splattered clothes and flour in my hair; And most importantly, a year of doing something that I love and look forward to every day. 

Another thing to celebrate, STRAWBERRY SEASON! Since the first post I published last year with the Crumb Kisses name was a strawberry tart, I wanted to continue the tradition here on out and make a tart every year. Thomas made panna cotta for me for the first time and I was hooked! It's so creamy, sweet, and tangy at the same time, so I thought it would go perfectly in these little mini tarts. This was the first time I ever used a tart pan and the crusts turned out a little deformed! How do you get that perfect wavy edge? Although they weren't the prettiest things in the world, they were super tasty, and the strawberries and pistachios on top definitely helped their appearance. 

Cheers to this blog for giving me a reason to make indulgent desserts and share our obsession with food, and cheers to you guys for sticking around :)


Strawberry Panna Cotta Tart
 

Ingredients
Tart Dough (Dough recipe by Williams Sonoma)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbs. very cold water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄4 cups (160 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1⁄3 cup (67 g) sugar
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes

Panna Cotta
- 1 cup (250 g) Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup (150 ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, cut in half seeds removed
- 3 gelatin sheets, softened in cool water

Strawberry Topping
- 10-12 fresh strawberries
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Chopped pistachios for garnish

What to do 

1) For the dough: In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla; set aside.
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.

2) While the dough chills, make the panna cotta: In a saucepan, heat the cream with the sugar, scraped out vanilla seeds and the vanilla pod until the sugar is completely dissolved. Squeeze all water out of gelatin sheets and add to the mixture, stir until gelatin has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly. Then, remove the vanilla pod shell, transfer to a bowl and stir with yogurt.

3) Grease your tart trays with butter and sprinkle with flour. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface to 1/2 cm thickness. Using a glass or small knife, cut disks from the pastry. Line the trays and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350°F (180°C). Remove from the oven and after 5 minutes gently remove the cookies from the trays, cool on a rack.

4) Once cooled pour the panna cotta filling and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Wash the strawberries, remove stems and chop finely. Stir with honey and lemon juice. Serve the tarts with strawberries and garnish with chopped pistachios!

Strawberry Rosé Sangria

I know some people think it's a  little silly to have all of these "National Food Days", but I am an absolute sucker for them! It's like you get mini holidays all year round! National beer day, donut day, ice-cream day, and pizza day are all winners in my book, but the mack daddy of all the days is NATIONAL ROSÉ DAY!!!!!!!!! It's happening Saturday folks; I'll most definitely be lounging somewhere drinking the pink nectar of the gods and probably over using #roséallday. 

I also just read this news article talking about Aldi's $8 bottle of rosé was named one of the best wines in the world! Would Postmates deliver a case of wine to my apartment door ya think? 

I just happened to have a bottle of Ruffino Sparkling Rosé in the fridge this weekend and decided to make an epic Strawberry Rosé Sangria...with rum...and hood strawberries. Could 3 things be anymore perfect together? I can't imagine a better accompaniment than this sangria to a day basking in the sun. This rosé is perfect on it's own, but sometimes you just want that little extra somethin' somethin', and a generous shot of rum will do just the trick. 

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Strawberry Rosé Sangria 

Ingredients
- 1 bottle (750 ml) dry rose wine
- 1/2 cup of white rum
- 2 tablespoons sugar (more to taste depending on how sweet you like yours
- 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1 sliced lime
- 1 1/2 cups seltzer or soda water (you may not need this depending on how fizzy you like it 

What to do
1) Mix the wine, rum and sugar in a pitcher, stirring to dissolve the sugar. The amount of sugar you want to add will depend on how sweet your rosé is, so add 2 tablespoons first and then go from there. Then add the strawberries and sliced limes.
2) Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
3) If you're lazy like me sometimes, you can just fill your glass with ice and sliced fruit, pour over 2 ounces of rum, an ounce of simple syrup, top with rosé and give it a good stir!
3) Add the seltzer/soda water just before serving if you want it a little fizzier.