Carrot Bloody Mary's

I’ve never been much of a Bloody Mary fan in the past and I don’t know why! I love all of the ingredients separately - tomatoes, vodka, tobasco, bacon - what’s not to love?! But together I always felt like I was drinking my meal at breakfast when I would rather be sipping on a mimosa!

However my mind is officially changed since I’ve discovered carrot mary’s!! The carrot juice adds a touch of sweetness and isn’t as heavy as tomato juice in my opinion. What better time to be sipping on one of these than Easter brunch tomorrow! A DIY Bloody Mary bar maybe? How fun would that be!

My recipe below is fairly basic since that’s how I prefer it, but these are so customizable and you can add whatever you like in your typical bloody Mary’s - you can add horseradish, make it spicier, add more pickle or caper juice, Worcestershire, the options are endless!. I discovered Trader Joe’s Tumeric Carrot Juice which already has spices and lemon juice added to it, but you can always use plain carrot juice and add as much flare as you would like.

Cheers you little bunnies.

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Carrot Bloody Mary’s

Recipe for two cocktails - double/triple as you would like!

Ingredients
- 2 cups of carrot juice (I use trader joe’s, but you can use plain carrot juice and just add a little lemon juice and spices to it)
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1/4 cup of pickle juice
- a couple grinds of black pepper
- 4 oz vodka

Spice rim - blend seasoning salt, paprika, and a little cayenne pepper if you want a kick.

Garnishes - baby carrots, celery stalk, olives, lime wedge. (you can also add bacon or whatever your heart fancies!)

What to do

  1. Stir carrot juice, hot sauce, pickle juice, black pepper, and vodka in a pitcher.

  2. Rub rim of mason jar or glass with lime juice and dip into spice mixture.

  3. Fill glass with ice and top with carrot mary mix and add garnishes.

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Strawberries & Cream Layer Cake

The first summer I went to Norway, we walked around the property near Thomas’ family cabin and picked the cutest wild strawberries. These little strawberries are the sweetest ones i’ve ever tasted! Better than anything i’ve ever had store-bought that’s for sure. Back at the cabin we sprinkled them with sugar and then poured heavy cream on top - so simple, but the best combination ever! I will always associate strawberries and cream with my first summer in Norway.

Just like Christina Tosi’s genius cereal milk idea, I thought why not infuse a layer cake with that amazing cream that that the strawberries had been soaking in?! This layer cake is my kind-of spring or summer dessert - Perfectly light but still decadent with the rich layers being coated in strawberry cream.

With Easter and other spring festivities coming up, I always want a simple dessert up my sleeve!

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Strawberries & Cream Layer Cake

Ingredients:
- 3 cups cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries (1 cup of strawberries reserved for infusing the cream)
- 3 cups of heavy cream, well chilled
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for the whipped cream

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment on the bottom and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

  3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on medium for about a minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

  4. Keep the mixer running on medium speed and add about a third of the flour mixture, beating until incorporated. Do the same with half of the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and repeat, ending with with the flour mixture.

  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  6. Cool in the pans on racks for about 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans to cool completely on the racks.

  7. Combine the strawberries, sugar and a 1 cup of heavy cream in a small bowl, and set aside to allow the strawberries and cream to infuse.

  8. For the whipped cream, place the bowl and whisk attachment for your stand mixer or a metal or glass bowl and beaters for your hand mixer in the fridge or freezer until they are cold. Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl, and beat on medium-high to high speed until soft peaks form.

  9. Place 1 layer of the cake on a plate, and drizzle layer with the strawberry milk. Then spread with about a half cup of the whipped cream. Layer on the sliced strawberries (about half, if you are doing a 3 layer cake, all if you are doing 2 layers.

  10. Top with the second cake layer, and, if you are doing 3 layers, repeat with drizzling the strawberry milk into the layers and adding whipped cream and strawberries.

  11. Top with the final cake layer, and spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and leave the sides naked or you can spread the cream along the sides.

  12. Garnish with the whole and/or sliced strawberries!

Enjoy!

Easy Salmon Poke Bowls

Poke bowl shops are popping up all over the country, but how nice would it be if you could make them even better at home?! These easy salmon poke bowls are packed with flavor and tons of fun toppings! This is a meal I crave so much whenever the temps start rising and i’m wanting something fun and fresh!

Easy Salmon Poke Bowls

We got back from our anniversary trip from Palm Springs on Monday after spending four days in beautiful sunny California weather! Our days were filled with lounging by the pool, lathering a lot of sunscreen on this Oregon skin, and exploring and eating our way through the city together. Since it was our first wedding anniversary, we exchanged “paper” gifts on the last night - I made a scrapbook for him of all of our wedding and honeymoon photos, our vows, love notes, and little tidbits over the last year together, and he gave me a framed picture of our first dance song printed on a canvas. Sweetest gift ever. I of course boo-hooed like a baby, especially reading our vows back to each other. I’ll try and not get any more mushy gushy with you - but I highly recommend doing something in whatever way that fits your style to celebrate milestones! It creates such a great tradition and I’m looking so forward to all the anniversaries to come!

I absolutely loved Palm Springs. The people, the food, the weather, everything! I am making a full guide on how to spend a couples weekend in Palm Springs to share with you guys.

Easy Salmon Poke Bowls

So now lets get down to business! These salmon poke bowls are somethin’ else and I can’t gettem off ma mind! Sorry, I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing in Palm Springs and I can’t stop talkin’ like a backwoods marsh gal! Ok i’ll stop.

But really, these are SO GOOD and super easy to make. Buying good fish can be expensive, however I have found that I can make a much bigger bowl and the exact way that I want it (topping overload) compared to the fancy poke places down the street. You can Google your local Japanese market or New Seasons/Whole Foods has great options as well!

These bowls are so customizable - if you prefer tuna over salmon, sushi rice vs. brown rice, ponzu or spicy mayo - the options are endless!

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Easy Salmon Poke Bowls

Ingredients

Rice (brown rice or sushi rice)

Salmon
- 1 pound of sushi-grade salmon (cubed or thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sriracha

Cucumbers
I typically make a jar of picked cucumbers, so this recipe will give you extra after the recipe.
- 1 large English or hothouse cucumber thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar,
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

Spicy Mayo
- equal parts sriracha and mayo/greek yogurt. You can make this as spicy as you want. I usually just do a big spoonful of both mayo and greek yogurt and then just stir in sriracha until it reaches the spiciness level I’m looking for!

Toppings
These are some of the toppings I love!
- Edamame, sliced radishes, avocado, fried garlic or shallots, everything bagel seasoning, sliced jalapeño, scallions, seaweed salad and pickled ginger. Use a combo of any of these!

What to do

  1. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha. Add in thinly sliced or cubed salmon, toss to coat, cover and place in the fridge until ready to use! I use the leftover marinade from the fish and drizzle a little over the rice in my bowl for extra flavor!

  2. Get your rice boiling and start on the cucumbers. Combine vinegar, water, honey, salt and chili flakes in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling turn off heat, add cucumber slices and stir. Let them rest for 10 minutes, then transfer cucumber to a container.

  3. Make spicy mayo and prep other toppings.

  4. To build your bowl, use rice as your base and then add in the salmon and any toppings your heart desires!

Enjoy!

what to eat when you visit norway

After getting back from my fourth trip to Norway, I wanted to create a guide of where to go, things to do, and what neighborhoods have the best shopping, but I came to the realization that the only guide that I am fit to write at this point in time about Norway is what to eat…Because let me tell ya, I am well equipped when it comes to that subject! I feel like from the moment our plane lands at Gardermoen, we grab a pølse i lompe in the airport and have a kvikk lunsj in the car all before sitting down to frokost when we arrive at Thomas’ house in Rælingen.

So here you have it! My guide for everything you must try when you visit Norway! At the bottom, I wrote the list of food/dishes that I like but didn’t make the list as well as things I haven’t tried but would like to!

Vær så god 🍴

1.pølse i lompe

aka the Norwegian hotdog. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my good ol’ fat American brat with a fluffy bun, relish, and as many condiments as possible, but I think the Norwegian way takes the cake now! Some people in Norway even put shrimp salad on this… not me. My favorite way is with potato salad, raw onion, sweet mustard, and crispy fried onions. Lompe is a thin potato bread, similar to lefse just not as sweet.

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2. kjøttkaker

This is one of my favorite meals when we come to Norway. It’s basically meatballs with a good brown gravy - and the meal isn’t complete unless you have cabbage with béchamel, boiled potatoes, and tyttebær (like a cranberry sauce but made with lingonberries).

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3. Reinsdyr

Reindeer, but not like Rudolph I promise..well kind of. It’s delicious though! I’ve had reindeer meat several ways - as a cured dried meat, as a delicious reindeer tenderloin for a fancy dinner, on crostini with horseradish for a NYE party, and this last time our friend made a yummy stew with ground reindeer and served it over mashed potatoes!

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4. Elg

Moose! I always get confused when they say ‘elg’ because I think they are saying ‘elk’. Same same.I hope you’re a carnivore reading this, if not i’m sorry! Norway is big on wild game meat - but if you’re vegetarian you can just eat lingonberry jam, totally fine 😅 I have had moose stew, but I prefer it like it is below - medium rare and a knife cuts through like butter! My mother-in-law soaks it in buttermilk for a few days which makes it so tender!

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5. Julemat

Christmas food! Typically whatever part of Norway you’re from dictates what you eat for Christmas dinner. I like that Thomas’ family has both of the most common Christmas dishes, pinnekjøtt and ribbe. Pinnekjott is cured lamb that you then steam. It’s definitely a unique taste but I love it, especially with mashed rutabagas! And then you have ribbe, which is the whole side of the pork so you get the tender meat, pork belly, and the crispy cracklings on top! Sauerkraut is always served with this to cut the richness. The dinner is rounded out of course with boiled potatoes and gravy and a shot of akevitt to wash it down!

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6. Sjømat

Seafood - The gangs all here! We always have an epic seafood night when we first arrive. Whole sweet shrimp, mussels, langoustines and stone crab are all musts. The best way to eat the shrimp is to tear the heads off, suck out the juices (please don’t leave the page lol), peel the shrimp and pile them up on top of a piece of white bread with a squeeze of lemon and mayo. They have the best squeezable mayo in Norway and I feel like it tastes so much better than brands in the U.S.!

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7. Crabbe

This goes along with #6 above, but I feel like crab deserved it’s own spot on the list! King crabs as well as stone crabs are very common in Norwegian waters. King crab is going to be really pricey, but if you happen to be visiting Bergen and want a great experience definitely go to the seafood market and eat king crab while looking out at the boats coming in the harbor! Or just pick up stone crab claws and have a feast at home!

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8. Cured and Dried Everything

Back in the day everything was salted and dried because you had to do that to get through the winter in Norway. Cured meats and fish is still such a big part of their daily diets to this day! I really like smoked mackerel like in the picture below or Bacalao which is a salted cod dish. The below photo is when we first visited Thomas’s mormor (grandma) whom speaks zero English - Thomas walked off to the bathroom before we starting eating and me and mormor just chatted away, me in English and her in Norwegian, before we ate lunch together. I will forever remember meeting mormor for the first time when I eat mackerel or bacalao!

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9. Frokost

Breakfast! In the U.S. it’s typical to have eggs and bacon, a big stack of pancakes, and an overindulgent hot breakfast - not in Norway! I had to get used to the Norwegian breakfast concept at first, but now I love it! On their typical breakfast table in the morning you’ll always find bread, cured meats, multiple kinds of cheeses, maybe lox or picked herring, a few sliced veggies like cucumbers and peppers, and a bountiful amount of tubes of mayo, tubes of caviar, and tubs of butters/spreads. This changes i’m sure from week to week, family to family, but overall this easy-going custom is country wide.

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10. Vaffel

Any time is waffle time in Norway! Thinner and softer than it’s American or Belgium friends, they are best topped with either brunost (sweet brown cheese) or strawberry jam and sour cream!

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11. Kvikk Lunsj

Better than a Kit Kat, there I said it! This is my favorite chocolate bar ever! Tastes just like a Kit Kat but better! The blurry photo below with my french tip nails circa senior year of college was when I first tasted the glory of kvikk lunsj and had to snap a pic.

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12. Akevitt

a spirit produced primarily in Scandinavia which is the liquid devil 👹 but a must to drink when you’re in Norway nevertheless. So bad/good that we even served it at our wedding! I had a fun relationship with akevitt before I had a little too much last Christmas! This is typically served alongside Christmas dinner to digest all of the heavy food. It’s meant to digest not eject, Hillary 🙄

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13. Jagermeister in the snow before after ski

My first winter in Norway we went northwest of Oslo to go skiing for the weekend. I experienced some of the best slopes, drank Jagermeister chilled in the snow (sans red bull since they’re “vikings”), and then danced on tables at 4pm for “After Ski”. If you’re in Norway over wintertime then do yourself a favor and get to the slopes, or just skip that and go straight for the after ski. No judgement here!

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Other good things that aren’t pictured

- Rakfisk - okay some might not say this is “good” but I actually like it! It’s a salted fermented trout that packs a pungent punch - served with potato bread, sour cream, and onions. Try this if you’re feeling adventurous!
- The yellow package of melkesjokolade - yummy milk chocolate. Pick up a bunch on your way home in duty free at Gardermoen to bring home as gifts!
- Smash - it’s like Bugles but covered in milk chocolate! So good and can be used for witches fingers just as easily 😆
- Krumkake - a cone shaped Norwegian waffle cookie
- svele - hot sweet pancake. I remember thinking it was like a chocolate chip cookie in pancake form!
- Gløgg - a mulled wine typically drank around Christmas

What I haven’t tried yet but is on my list!

- Lutefisk - okay I don’t really want to eat this, but I feel like I have to try it once! It’s a gelatinous mix of dried fish and lye if you’re wondering…yum.
- Rømmegrøt - a Norwegian porridge made with lots of rich cream. We’re making this the next time we’re home for Christmas!
- fiskeboller - literally “fish balls”. I know it doesn’t sound appealing but Thomas said he ate them growing up with a curry béchamel sauce - sounds pretty good to me!
- Smalahove - literally sheeps head. Please still be my friend.

Enjoy your Nordic adventure and please comment below if you try any of this on your trip to Norway!

Raspberry Cocoa Energy Bites

When 2 or 3pm strikes everyday I always get the midday munchies. Since I wake up around 6 everyday and then eat lunch usually around 11:30, I am ravenous in the afternoon! In my office, the only thing that is lying around most of the time is peanut butter pretzels and Jolly Ranchers, so my lack of will power is nonexistent when hunger strikes. I generally have a fairly healthy diet through out the week, besides the occasional work happy hour where that plate of chili cheese nachos calls my name? Typically my weekday meal plan consists of toast with almond butter and banana for breakfast, our leftovers from the night before for lunch, and usually a healthy veggie filled dinner. But it’s always that pesky afternoon craving that has me wanting to reach for something sweet and snacky.

Enter Raspberry Cocoa Energy Bites!! These little bites satisfy all my cravings and are the perfect bite-size amount. Ever since reading a Cozy Kitchen’s recipe for Berry Crinkle Cookies, i’ve been dying to make a recipe with freeze dried raspberries! They have the coolest texture ever and since chocolate and raspberries go so well together I figured these bites would make the perfect vehicle! These guys are packed with energy boosting ingredients like cocoa powder, chia seeds, nut butter, and raw almonds - Plus they get all of their sweetness from dates which are packed with antioxidants and fiber. I love unsweetened coconut flakes to add a little texture on the outside as well!

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Not only am I reaching for these energy bites as an afternoon snack, but also before our morning workouts! We’ve started going to a 9:30am Orange Theory class on Saturdays and Sundays, and that time is just late enough that I’m starving before we leave. I love eating one or two of these now before working out and gives me enough energy until we get home! After which I will happily devour that stack of pancakes and bacon! Isn’t that the whole reason to workout after all? 😉

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Raspberry Cocoa Energy Bites

Ingredients

- 2 cups pitted medjool dates (16-17dates)
-1/2 cup raw almonds
- ½ cup freeze dried raspberries
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
-3 tablespoons unsalted nut butter (I used the mixed nut butter from TJ’s, but plain almond butter works well too)
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for rolling
- 2-3 tablespoons of warm water, if mixture is too dry.

What to do

  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until mixture is thick and incorporated.

  2. Take a small amount of mixture and pinch it between your fingers. If it sticks together easily and can roll into a ball, it's ready. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time, pulsing in between, until mixture is sticky enough to hold its shape.

  3. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll in shredded coconut if you’d like or you can leave them as is.  

  4. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. I prefer to keep them in the fridge so they are colder and more firm, but they can sit on your counter in an airtight container as well if you like them room temperature!

Happy snacking!

Sparkling Strawberry Sangria

Alright alright, I have to admit…I made this recipe for Valentine’s Day and then never got around to posting it 🤷🏼‍♀️ Someone help me! I wonder if one day i’ll wake up and all of a sudden I will be an organized time management Queen. A girl can dream! But really, I have got to have a better approach to juggling work, blogging, and our personal life. Do you other fellow bloggers have any editorial calendar tactics you use or organization tips to share? My problem is that I get so excited planning content that I will write down 20 recipes I want to shoot, completely oblivious that not even half of those will be accomplished, and pencil them all into my calendar only to be disappointed when I can’t get to them all!

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BUT WHEN IT’S FRIDAY AND THE HAPPIEST OF HOURS, WHO CARES ABOUT ORGANIZATION!! 😉 Just kidding - but after a long (perhaps disorganized week in some of our cases), I am here to make your boozy dreams come true my friend. And let’s be honest here - this is about as boozy as they come. Brandy, Rosé, prosecco or any bubbles makes for a deliciously potent concoction!

This is the perfect drink to make if you’re having a girls day or a big cookout with friends. With traditional sangrias there’s usually a little wait time, but I love that you can make this on the fly to get the night started!

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Strawberry Champagne Sangria

Ingredients

- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 oranges - 1 squeezed and the other sliced into thin rounds
- 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 bottle of rosé wine
- 3 tablespoons of simple syrup (more if you like it sweeter)
- 1/2 cup of brandy
- 1 bottle of prosecco or other bubbles

what to do

  1. In a large pitcher, combine the strawberries, orange, and lemon slices. Use the end of a wooden spoon to muddle the fruit a little.

  2. Pour in the bottle of rosé, simple syrup, and brandy over the fruit and give it a little stir. If you have the time, chill the pitcher for an hour or so, but if not you can serve it as is! Just before serving, stir in the prosecco!

  3. Spoon some of the fruit into glasses, pour in the sangria, garnish with strawberry slices, and serve.

Note: to make simple syrup: Pour equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. I usually do 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Boil until sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool a bit and then pour into a jar for storage - You can keep this in the fridge for 3-4 weeks!

Enjoy!

Mango Cilantro Margarita

Happy National Margarita Day my Friends! Every Friday I want to sharing a fun cocktail, so what better way to start than the day dedicated to the marg!! Normally I am a classic margarita gal, but sometimes you just need something a little extra fun and fruity on a day like today!

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I associate margaritas so much with sun and summertime, so I wish I wasn't bundled up as i’m typing this, but no matter how chilly it is outside a marg is delicious nonetheless! The food I crave most is Mexican food - spicy, saucy, tons of flavor, and loaded with CILANTRO! It’s obscene how much cilantro we use in a week in our kitchen. Does it grow well in a garden? I sure hope so seeing how much we buy it every week!

I love the combination of a fruity/herby cocktail so combining mango one of my favorite fruits with cilantro was a no brainer!

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Mango Cilantro Margarita

Ingredients

- 2 ounces tequila
- 2 ounces lime juice
- 2 ounces mango juice, nectar, or puree
- 1 ounce orange liqueur (Cointreau, Gran Marnier, Triple Sec)
- 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro leaves
- mango slices and cilantro sprigs for garnish
- Simple syrup (optional depending on how sweet your mango juice is)

what to do

  1. Add the tequila, lime juice, mango juice, chopped cilantro and orange liqueur to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. if you feel like it’s not sweet enough for you liking, add in 1 ounce of simple syrup.

  2. Shake for about 10 seconds until mixture is chilled.

  3. Fill you margarita glass with ice then pour the margarita mixture carefully over ice.

Our New Favorite Way to Make Dungeness Crab

Before I could even read a menu I would choose crab legs over chicken tenders on the kids menu. My poor parents would shell crab legs for me before they even ate themselves lol. I think they were happy that I was an adventurous eater but i’m sure a little annoyed as well.

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I grew up eating Florida Blue Crabs which have the sweetest most delicate meat. Even though they take up residence from Novia Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, I always think of blue crabs as such a Floridian way of life! I have such fond memories of spreading newspaper all of the kitchen table and going to town- dunking the claw meat in melted butter was always my favorite! In Norway, Thomas’s family eats crab completely different which I love! They eat the whole body of the crab, spread the meat on a piece of white bread and squeeze a little mayo and lemon juice on top.

Now that we live in Oregon, Dungeness crab is king! While blue crabs are better in warmer months, Dungeness crab are best in the winter so we have really been enjoying them this season. I have fallen in love with a new way to eat crab with this recipe! A sweet asian peppercorn sauce blended with a ton of fresh coriander. We crack the shells just enough to easily take out the meat, and then toss them harmoniously with the peppercorn sauce. And there she is. The most glorious crab recipe I've tried to date. Pour yourself a hefty glass of white wine, spread out the newspaper, and get your hands messy ya’ll!

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Asian Peppercorn Dungeness crab

Ingredients

- 3 pounds of crab (do 1 1/2 pounds per person)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tablespoon of toasted black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 lemon
- sliced scallions and additional coriander for garnishing

What to do

  1. Boil sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño until it comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

  2. In your blender, mix the vinegar mixture, hoisin, and cilantro until it’s completely blended.

  3. Remove the claws from the body of the crab and crack them either using crab crackers or with the back edge of a knife, removing some of the shell so the sauce can absorb into the crab claw meat. Remember, this is meant to be messy, so you’ll remove the rest of the shells and pick the meat out when you’re eating!

  4. You can pick the meat out of the body of the crab as well and keep that in a separate bowl.

  5. Once you have all of the crab claws cracked, heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Toss the crab in and heat them up for 2 minutes or so tossing occasionally. Add in the sauce, tossing the crab, and reducing the sauce down - about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Valentine's Day Cheeseboard

I’m sure most of you are guilty of having a little love affair with cheese. I mean how could you not?! Thomas always laughs because sometimes I can’t help myself and I will nibble the corner end off of a block of parmesan like a mouse because I’m too lazy to cut it! He’ll open up the fridge and there will be two teeth marks in the cheese haha. What am I five years old?! 

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One of my favorite date nights is to lay out a charcuterie cheese board and snack throughout the night, with a glass of red of course. I would perfectly content if that was my dinner most nights of the week! The essentials for me is always a soft mild cheese like brie, blue cheese because it’s my fave, and something sharper like an aged cheddar or gouda. 

For Valentine’s Day I created a festive cheese board with fun v-day themed tags. Grow Mold with Me, BRIE Mine, I’d Be So BLUE Without You, and You’re a GOUDA one! I love a good pun, especially a “cheesy” pun… 😆

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These cheese tags were so simple to make - Just cut out hearts of white card stock, use a red colored pencil or sharpie for the lettering, and tape on the back of toothpicks or any cheese tag you have! Easy peesy and adds a cute touch for a galentines party or date night! 

FOR THE BOARD: 

I bought everything from Trader Joe’s but you can get everything from your favorite grocery store! Have fun with this and add any other nibbles that you think would be festive! 

- Blue Cheese
- Brie
- Aged Gouda
- pistachios and walnuts
- Prosciutto and salami
- Rasberries and strawberries
- Fig Jam
- Dark Chocolate
- fig and olive crackers and rosemary crisp crackers

We paired the cheeseboard with a Strawberry Champagne Sangria that I’ll be sharing tomorrow lovie dovies 🥰

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What we Read, Watched, and Ate this Weekend

For the Portlandians reading this, are you sad the snow didn’t come?! I mean the BIG SNOW - the “snowpocalypse”. The city was in a frenzy Friday when the forecast said we were getting 15+ inches, myself included! I was so excited to get out in the closed down streets and finally play in the snow come Saturday. We hopped across the street to Trader Joes Friday night to get everything to make lasagna and it was literally like the scene from Jumanji. You know the scene where the monkeys are throwing paint cans and the canoe goes shooting through the store? People were in a panic and had SWIPED the shelves clean, I couldn’t believe it! There wasn’t a can of beans or mere onion left in the joint. Come Saturday we woke up expecting our apartment to be enveloped in a winter wonderland - yet the branches were barely dusted with snow 🙄 The sun was shining and it was a beautiful weekend nonetheless! At least the folks who stocked up for the 'lypse won’t have to buy groceries for the next 6 months 😆

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Read

  1. I just started Girl, Wash Your Face! I’m only two chapters in and I already love it. Rachel Hollis is absolutely hilarious and inspiring. Every page I read it makes me more and more motivated to make changes to reach my goals!

  2. Reading this article on Savannah, GA makes me want to visit there even more! I still can’t believe I haven’t been there yet!

Watched

  1. Nothing like a good rom com :) In our impending snowstorm on Friday we watched As good as it gets! I love a good jack nicholson flick.

  2. For the last few days we have been watching One Strange Rock on Netflix with Will Smith as the narrator. It is so freaking amazing! It’s incredible how our planet works and how magnificent it truly is. This is definitely not a boring science show ya’ll - it’s worth a watch!

  3. Thomas finally got me to watch a James Bond movie! It’s not that I was ever opposed to them, but I feel like it’s kind of like Star Wars, if you start one than you have to watch them all and that just seems like too large of a feat at this point in time lol. We watched From Russia with Love with a young Sean Connery (cue the Sean Connery Jeopardy skit from SNL 😂)

Ate

Friday
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We made cast iron lasagna in our dutch oven! The best rich meat sauce, béchamel, and lots of layers! The cast iron sides makes it almost caramelized and crispy in some spots - SO GOOD! Putting the recipe on the blog next week.
Saturday
- for breakfast we made Turkish eggs! I’m going to also post this to the blog as well soon since It’s becoming one of our faves. Pita bread topped with a lemony yogurt, poached eggs, a spiced chickpea and walnut mixture in a buttery sauce, and then topped with fresh dill.
- leftover lasag for lunch because duhhh
- smoothie bowls for dinner because we were so full from lasagna lol - Here’s our go-to favorite açaí smoothie bowl!
Sunday
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breakfast was leftover risotto from last week with a fried egg on top! Because Sundays mean fridge cleaning day.
- I did a Valentine’s Day cheese board shoot for the blog, so I ate my weight in cheese and fig jam for lunch.
- For din I made a variation of HBH’s sheet pan chicken shawarma bowls. SO good! I love the combo of hummus, spicy chicken and cucumbers!

Have a great week friends!
xo

Our Favorite Romantic Dinners to Make Together

When I see the giant heart boxes of cheesy chocolates in the grocery store during this time of year, I roll my eyes just a little. But at the same time i’m bursting inside because I am your typical girl and go nutso over mushy gushy stuff and love any excuse to celebrate anything and everything! So while I do love this day dedicated to love, I feel like every day should be like valentines day. It doesn’t have to be this grand gesture of buying flowers, chocolate, expensive dinner and gifts ALL on one day. But we do expect this throughout the year, right ladies? 😂 Just kidding - but in all honesty doing special things together should be EVERY WEEK, not just on February 14th and your Anniversary every year.

Making a romantic dinner at home is something we do as often as possible.. There’s nothing better than breaking open a bottle of wine, turning on some good tunes, and making a great meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to a fancy dinner occasionally, but for us this is our definition of a perfect date night 💕🍴 Here’s a list of our favorite recipes to make together!

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1. Seared Scallops

Whenever i’m thinking of a romantic dinner at home, scallops are the #1 thing that pops into my mind! These little vessels of sea goodness are super easy to prepare if you’re careful, they look pretty, and you won’t feel super bloated after dinner - you know, so you can save room for dessert… 😉

My recipe for seared scallops with butternut squash purée is so good with sautéed mushrooms and an arugula salad on the side. Keep the salad simple with just lemon juice, good extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan, and salt and pepper.

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2. Pasta

Nothing says ‘date night’ more than a good pasta dish and a bottle of red wine. It’s our go-to for Friday night or anytime really! I love those nights after we’ve finished our pasta and we’re sitting by the candle light finishing off the bottle and instead of turning on the tv to watch a movie or show, we just keep talking into the night. Sometimes life gets so hectic and you forget to just slowww down and enjoy each other. So my friends, break out your best bottle of cab or bubbly, make this sweet potato gnocchi with balsamic sage brown butter or oxtail ragu pappardelle and have yourself an old fashioned date night at home! 💋

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3. Lamb Shanks

The first time Thomas made me a lamb shank I seriously thought to myself “hot damn I better marry that man” ;)

I don’t know how, but for some people lamb isn’t there thing, and I just don’t get it. Lamb shanks especially, is melt-in-you-mouth-fall-off-the-bone perfection. For date night, I love our slow braised lamb shanks with basil mint pesto, with small roasted potatoes, and roasted mini carrots.

Or if you are wanting more of a stew, this lamb and butternut squash curry made with lamb shanks is one of my all time favorite cozy dinners.

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4. steaks

It’s hard to go wrong with a good steak for date night. We don’t have a grill since we have downtown apartment living, but I have found that a pan seared steak can be pretty darn good. I love searing a filet in a really hot pan with little butter and olive oil and then adding a spring of rosemary and smashed garlic cloves to the hot butter, spooning it over the steak as it finishes cooking. GAHH that’s good. All you need is silky mashed potatoes and broccolini on the side and you’ve got yourself a snazzy date night meal.

Or for a really show-stopping date-night meal, beef wellington is always so fun! I love this deconstructed beef wellington I crafted up this past holiday season. A lot easier and pretty to look at :)

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5. Chocolate Cake

okay, i’m sorry - I know this isn’t a dinner, but who needs dinner when you’ve got dessert?! If you feel like forgoing the dinner and going straight to dessert, than there’s nothing better than chocolate cake! We have made two chocolate cakes together and both are equally delicious. Chocolate rose cake for two is a fun treat for Valentine’s Day, but the double chocolate cake is extra rich and decadent.

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I know i’m being extra lovely on the blog for Valentine’s Day, but I hope you treat most days like V-Day with your other half and make date nights a weekly routine ❤️

Tell me in the comments what your favorite date night meal is or favorite thing to do together?!

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What we read, watched, and ate this weekend

Hey hey! How was your weekend? We had the best cozy cabin weekend with friends in Black Butte, a quaint ranch vacation community in Central Oregon near Bend. My friend Danni’s parents own a cabin there and it’s always the perfect relaxing weekend getaway! We headed up early Friday afternoon and spent the next couple of days with our four friends, eating good food, drinking too much wine and playing in the snow with their dogs Cooper the golden and Kodo the Aussie.

We didn’t do as much “watching/reading” as a usually weekend, but we sure did a lot of eating! 🍴

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Read

  1. I just finished reading Sarah’s Key, If you haven’t read it then you should definitely put it on your list. I just ordered Where the Crawdads Sing and Girl Wash Your Face on Amazon today.

  2. On our 3 hour ride to Black Butte, I read through a new cookbook, Six Seasons. It’s by chef Joshua McFadden who owns Ava Gene’s and Tusk in Portland. His way of cooking and using seasonal produce is incredible. Simple recipes at home centered around the seasons best vegetables. I already made a comforting cabbage farro soup from the book and I can’t wait to make more!

Watched

  1. We watched the Fyre Festival documentary for a 2nd time at the cabin since a couple people hadn’t seen it and were curious. It’s honestly so mind boggling to me that really happened and what a loser he is. It’s definitely entertaining if you haven’t watching it yet!

  2. Other than the doc, the TV stayed off which was a nice change! We played a lot of King’s Corner and One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which is such a fun game! Especially if you’ve had a few cocktails!

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Ate

Friday
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our friends Danni and Nick were in charge of dinner Friday night! They made spaghetti with bolognese with salad, crusty bread, and lots of red wine of course.
- for our night cap we made our favorite Old Fashioned’s using bitter housewife aged bitters!

Saturday
- for breakfast Thomas and I made our favorite shakshuka with couscous recipe that I adapted from Molly Yeh. This is honestly the breakfast recipe we make the most in our house, and occasionally for dinner for that matter!
- for lunch we headed into Bend and had lunch at Deschutes Brewery. We had beer flights (I loved the grapefruit sour), and I had French onion soup and the Nashville spicy chicken sandwich for lunch. I have to say, our spicy fried chicken sandwiches blow the socks off of that one.
- for dinner, our other friends Gabe and Linzy were in charge and they made our french onion pot roast with creamy polenta from the blog! The most cozy of all cozy comfort meals.

Sunday
- we woke up leisurely, had our coffee, and then Thomas and I made Huevos Rancheros for the group! We made a pot of black beans seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin and cooked them down with a little beef stock and made them really creamy. We put the beans on top of a tortilla topped with a fried egg, homemade pico de gallo, avocado, sliced radishes, jalapeños, scallions, cilantro, and crumbly queso fresco cheese.
- after breakfast we took a long bike ride and before we knew it we had to rush back to the cabin and get packed up since there was other renters coming in. So once we were packed up we headed back to Portland and made asian-y pork burritos for dinner and the Super Bowl! If you want to follow-up along on Instagram stories, I am challenging to post on there everything we eat for dinner the rest of the year and saving it in my highlight reel! 😄 I thought it would be neat for us to look back and see everything we eat, plus I can re-make some of the stuff that we make on the fly that ends up turning out good! You can screenshot the recipe in my stories if you want to make it as well!

Have a great week!

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New Year, Big Goals!

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Almost every NYE that we’ve been together, we have gotten dressed up, made a great dinner with friends, and sipped champs until the early morning hours. Is it ironic that the first year that we’re married we stayed in, wore our comfiest attire, and didn’t even open the bottle of Prosecco in the fridge? lol I have to say though, I would not have had it any other way this year. We had a rough couple of days traveling back from a friends wedding in Ohio (we got stuck and had to stay the night in Dallas) plus I have a pretty nasty cold, so by the time we made it back to Portland in the afternoon of NYE I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more than to stay in and have a relaxing night at home. We did muster up the strength to make a pretty epic oxtail ragu with pappardelle, and then we watched one of my favorite movies of all time, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood We fell asleep on the couch and woke up 5 minutes before the clock struck midnight and kept our eyes open just long enough for a kiss - then slumbered away for a much needed 9 hours.

New Years Eve is always bittersweet. In one way i’m sad the the holidays and celebrations have come to an end, but i’m also excited to reset, reflect on the year prior, and create goals for the new year. 2018 was an amazing year; We got married, we attended 5 other weddings, went to the Bahamas for my bachelorette party, visited Austin, TX for the first time for another Bach party, traveled to Bali for our honeymoon, and to the Dominican Republic for my work contest trip. On the career front, Thomas switched from helicopters to airplanes with the path to become a commercial airline pilot, I continued to grow in my role as a recruiter at my day job, I did my first two restaurant photography shoots, and I continued to grow this little blog of mine. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together so far, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!

2019 goals!

personal:

Buy a home - I am constantly drooling over Pinterest and dreaming of a house. Our big goal for 2019 is buy a home where we are going to be for the next 5-10 years.

Saving - Saving money is a big part of buying a home, so I guess these two kind of go together. However, I overall want to be more conscience of what i’m spending my money on, like coffee for example. I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home and at my office, so there’s no reason to buy Starbucks! If I added up all the money i’ve spent on coffee out the last few years, would have a good chunk of money to put down on our house…no joke!

Spend less time watching TV - I’m a multi-tasker when watching a show, but i’m sure I would get a lot more done if I turned it off completely and had my full-focus on whatever i’m working on. I love a good show or movie on Netflix, but during the week my goal is to keep the TV off and focus on things for the blog, reading, or practicing Norwegian on Duolingo.

Play:

Kicking off our inaugural anniversary trip! - This is one that i’m really excited about. At my brother’s wedding we met a couple who for the last 5 or 6 years since they’ve been married have alternated planning a surprise anniversary trip! How fun is that?! It’s something to look forward to all year and will be amazing as well once we have kids and need a little vacay lol. I am kicking it off planning it for our 1st anniversary March 31st and Thomas will have no idea where we are going until we go to the airport (eh, or get in the car?) - stay tuned on where we go :)

Sticking to a weekly date night - I think connecting and being away from all social media/tv/the outside world is so important, whether it’s a cozy night at home playing board games or going our to a restaurant we’ve been dying to go to! I feel like we’re good about date night already, but I need to be better about ditching my phone!

Blogging/Business:

Read one blogging/business article a day - Constantly learning and staying up on new trends is so important and I definitely want to make this more of a focus.

Post consistently - I go through spells where I do 3-4 blog posts a week, then I’ll lose focus and only do a handful in a month’s time. I’ve already ordered my 2019 planner, so I am going to be proactive with planning content in advance and using my weekends and time off as efficiently as possible.

When it’s all said and done, the most important thing I want for this year and every year in the future is health and happiness for the people I love the most. Anything else is just a bonus :)

I hope you all have an amazing start to 2019!

Smoked Salmon Bagels

Can you believe Christmas is in 8 days?! The last couple of weeks have flown by, and now we are packing up and getting ready to head to Florida in a couple days to be with my family for Christmas. We just have today and tomorrow of work before our holiday break officially kicks off - plus tomorrow is my birthday! To celebrate and kick off our two week much needed vacay, Thomas and I have a room booked at McMenamin’s Edgefield tomorrow night. It’s like it’s own little town! Cozy quaint rooms at the hotel, a spa with outdoor soaking pools, a wine room and brewery on-site, and a delicious restaurant! I’m beyond excited for a little r&r and a night away before we fly home!

I’m sure most of you will be having guests in your home and hosting family and friends in the coming weeks. It’s the best time of year getting to spend time with everyone you love the most, but sometimes entertaining can be tiring! Instead of stressing over an elaborate breakfast in the mornings, something that is so easy (and fun to eat) is smoked salmon bagels! So simple and who doesn’t love a good toasty bagel?! Make it a DIY situation but laying out the salmon, bagels, cream cheese, and all the toppings out on a serving tray so everyone can build their own the way they like! I love the Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon from Trader Joe’s, but any lox or smoked salmon will do.

This is a breakfast everyone loves, looks pretty, and is easy on you for hosting. Win win for everyone! A strong latte, an epic salmon bagel, and good company sounds like a perfect holiday morning to me :)

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Smoked Salmon Bagels

Ingredients

- Everything bagels, or whatever your bagel preference is
- cream cheese
- smoked salmon
- All the toppings: capers, thinly sliced red onion, capers, micro greens, cucumbers, and sliced tomatoes.

what to do

toast the bagels right before serving - place cream cheese in a dish with a spreader, place toppings around the tray and let everyone build their own bagel. Easy peasy!