Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pinot Grigio Mushroom Fondue

Cheese, wine, bread, veggies, meat, garlic and mushrooms make a delicious fondue. This post is about how I made mine:

The following recipe is designed for two people:

Pinot Grigio Mushroom Fondue:
1 clove of garlic- minced
1 tsp of olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of finely chopped mushrooms
1 to 1/2 cups of pinot grigio/ pinot gris (any dry white wine will work)
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup Emmenthaler cheese
1/2 cup Italian blend cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
A small crock pot or a fondue pot (for the dinner table!)

In a small to medium sized pot cook the garlic in the olive oil for about two minutes. Next, add the mushrooms and about 1/2 cup of wine. The way I prepared my mushrooms for the fondue was to chop them in my magic bullet so that it was almost a chunky puree. Let the garlic, mushrooms, wine, and olive oil simmer for about 10 minutes. This will allow the mushrooms and garlic to gain flavor from the wine and create a beautiful, flavorful base for the fondue.

Next, take your shredded cheese and add little bits at a time while you keep stirring. Add a little of each, and a dash of wine, then go back through each cheese until you have blended all of your cheeses and used the rest of the wine. Stir like crazy through this step! It's essential! Note: During this process you may need to increase the heat so that the cheeses are able to melt. You may also need to use more wine than what I listed above. It all depends on your batch of fondue. The fondue is complete when the consistency of the cheese in the pot is smooth.

I have found that it is important to keep stirring the fondue so that you don't end up with a crust of cheese that is stuck to the bottom of your pan. Stirring also helps you create a fondue that is smooth in texture. This particular fondue will not be smooth because of the mushrooms, but you want to be sure that the texture from the cheese is smooth. Pour into the fondue pot or small crock pot when its ready to eat!

Now to discuss what to dip! Things that I enjoy are potatoes, broccoli, bread, apples, meats (pork, beef, chicken), zucchini, cauliflower, and the list keeps going. I love to experiment with things, looking for new and exciting flavor combinations. If you have a favorite veggie, please do me a favor and dip it in the fondue!

Sliced potatoes that I drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper then baked.

French bread and steamed broccoli!

The wine that Beau chose to go with this fondue was a 2010 Brancott Estate Marlborough Pinot Grigio from New Zealand. This was a beautiful choice for the fondue because the citrus, apple, and pear flavors of the wine integrated really nicely with the cheeses. For about $10 this wine is a solid deal and widely available. Other pairings I would suggest for this fondue would be a gruner veltliner, pinot noir, or chardonnay.

If you love fondue, please share your recipes with me! I would love to see them =)



Monday, December 26, 2011

Frosty Photos

A few weeks ago thick frost hit my parents house. It made the vineyard the next morning absolutly beautiful, so I did what I always do and went crazy taking some pictures. Here is some of the outcome:

Hope you enjoyed the photos!



Monday, December 19, 2011

Lemon Stuffed Baked Chicken with BACON!

I love baked chicken.... who doesn't love baked chicken? This recipe is so simple that I hope you're all running to your kitchen and throwing one in the oven before you finish reading this!

1 whole chicken
2 lemons
Salt and pepper to season
Thyme, Italian herbs (it can vary!)
Garlic powder
3 strips of bacon
Olive oil for basting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove giblets from the chicken. Cut the ends of the lemons off,  and stab the sides with a knife a few times (I like to think it allows more flavor to escape). Place the lemons in the cavity of the bird. Next, take a teaspoon of thyme, or any other Italian herbs you have selected and mix them together. Add in a tablespoon of garlic powder, some salt and pepper, then give the seasoning one final mix. Rub the seasoning on the skin of the bird, under the skin, pretty much anywhere you can. Cut the strips of bacon in half, and place them under the skin of the bird lengthwise. Finally, place the bird in a baking pan and set it in the oven to roast. My birds usually roast for about an hour and a half to two hours. Be sure that the temperature of the chicken breast reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pop open some pinot noir and ENJOY!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crab Cakes!

Guess what!? Its crab season in Oregon, this means that there will be a supply of scrumptious crabs for sale in local markets. When I heard that it was crab season~ I knew it was time for crab cakes!
Crab cakes are a simple yet DELICIOUS recipe. The most time consuming part is cleaning the crab. Here is how I make crab cakes:

This is Marvin the Crab and all the ingredients

You can buy one whole crab that is either live or previously cooked. I always like to buy mine live whenever possible to ensure that the crab is freshly boiled. If you buy a crab live, bring a pot of water to a boil, add some salt and boil for 15-20 minutes. Once the crab is cooked, its time to clean!

Marvin after the boil
I clean it by removing all of the meat out of the crab legs first. Next I tear the shell off the body of the crab, clean out the lungs and all the yucky yellow junk, rinse the body and lastly clean the meat out of the body. Once you do all the time consuming, tedious work, its time to do the easy part.... throw ingredients in a bowl and make some cakes!

The five basic ingredients I put in my crab cakes are:
1 egg
1/2 cup to 1 cup of bread crumbs - the amount of bread crumbs depends on how much crab you have
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/4 onion pureed (or chopped)
1 crab
Salt, pepper and Old Bays Seasoning to taste

On the side in their own bowls:
1 beaten egg
1 cup bread crumbs

Crab Cake Sauce:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 tblsp of rice vinegar
A few pinches of garlic powder, pepper and salt
1 tsp of tapatio
A squeeze of a lemon slice

In a bowl with your crab meat add the egg, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs (add more if needed to hold the patties together), almost all of the green onion (leave some for garnishing), and the onion. Get your hands dirty and mix it all together. You can season with salt, pepper and Old Bays. Your mixture will be ready to become crab cakes once the consistency is at the point where it does not crumble apart.

Heat a skillet on medium heat with a couple swirls of cooking oil. Make crab patties that are a little smaller than the size of your palm and about 3/4 of an inch thick. Dip the patty in the egg, plop in in the bread crumbs, then drop it in the pan. Cook the patties until they are golden brown on each side.

The crab cake sauce is something that I am always adjusting. If you feel like a little something more needs to be added to it, go for it. The recipe above is a combination of things I throw together as a base, then I add to it to make the flavors where I want them. I on occasion will toss in some sour cream too. Please, be creative =) Add a dollop of the sauce to the top of each crab cake, use the leftover green onions as a garnish and enjoy!

With the crab cakes I had some wonderful Grooner, a playful take on gruner veltliner, which paired together stunningly well. It was a pairing that literally made me stop stuffing my face to savor the flavors of the crab cake with the wine. I highly suggest each and every one of you try the pair so you can also be hypnotized by the two.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Eggnog Crepes!

Autographed Kitchen Breakfast Cookbook
Image source:

The eggnog madness began recently with the Crunchy Eggnog French Toast, and it continued this morning with Eggnog Crepes!  The refrigerator was empty of many breakfast ingredients, so my options were limited. In desperation, I turned to a cookbook that my boss gave me on my birthday called "Stonewall Kitchen- Breakfast". I flipped through the cookbook eyeballing recipes I could create in one variation or another. I got towards the end of the book and came across a crepe recipe. I nearly jumped out of my chair in excitement until I realized I did not have regular milk. My creativity got flowing and I decided to experiment and give Eggnog Crepes a try. This recipe I tweaked based based on what I had available in my kitchen.

Recipe- (makes about 4 crepes)
3/4 cup of eggnog
2 eggs
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, or nutmeg....those would all work)
1 tbsp sugar

Mix the ingredients in a bowl for about five minutes. Heat up a skillet with a small amount of butter. I cooked my crepes on medium heat. Put about two ounces of batter into the pan. Swirl the batter around so that there is a thin layer of batter in your pan. Cook until the edges of the crepes are golden brown, then give that baby a flip! Once both sides are golden brown, its time to have some fun and add the toppings!

In my crepes I had vanilla yogurt, blueberries, banana, raspberry jam, bananas, and a touch of syrup. I love toppings so I tend to use them in copious amounts.

For my first crepe making experience, I am happy to announce that it was both EPIC and a SUCCESS. I will create multiple variations of crepes in the future. This was only the beginning.

Happy crepe making!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Crunchy Egg Nog French Toast

Last Christmas my family and I went up to Bellingham, Washington to visit my grandmother and my aunt Sally. My sister, Kim, had found a recipe for Egg Nog French Toast online. The recipe she found was by a man named Harold Dieterle. This is the recipe that gave us inspiration to make this delightful breakfast for my family. I have been telling gobs of friends about the recipe over the past year, and this morning I finally made it at home for Beau to enjoy.


Rum-Raisin Syrup:
1/2 cups of dark rum (I used Myer's Rum)
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups maple syrup

French Toast:
4 cups of egg nog
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 dark rum
3 cups of cornflakes
1 loaf of challah bread (sliced in 1/4 inch slices)
Butter (for pan frying)

Sweet Butter:
1 cup of butter (room temperature)
4 oz of mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract

Rum-Raisin Syrup
Simmer the rum raisins in 1/2 cup of dark rum, then let steep for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the rum raisins over the maple syrup and set aside.

French Toast
In a bowl, whisk the egg nog, eggs, vanilla extract, and dark rum together until frothy. Set aside.
Pour 3 cups of cornflakes onto a plate and crush the flakes with your hands a few times.

Tip: It is VERY beneficial to set this up as an assembly line. At the start have the egg nog mixture, followed by the cornflakes and ending at the pan.

Next, turn your pan on and melt enough butter so that there is a generous amount for the french toast to cook in. Now, the fun begins.......

Take a piece of the challah bread and dip it in the egg nog mixture, then toss it around in the cornflakes so that there is a nice, even cornflake coating over the bread, then drop it in the pan. Let the french toast cook until each side is golden brown.

Place the crispy pieces of the Egg Nog French Toast onto a plate. Add a dollop of the sweet butter to each piece, top with the syrup and ENJOY!

This Egg Nog French Toast recipe will satisfy the tastebuds of your family. It is also a perfect addition for a special holiday morning, or heck, any morning! I hope that you will enjoy this recipe as much as I have.

Happy cooking!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ode to Hot Toddies!

This is the time of year when everyone is sniffling, coughing and whining about being sick. I fall into that category a time or two, however, as soon as I feel that cold coming on I don't reach for Dayquil, but I tend to reach towards the liquor cabinet for the whiskey to create a Hot Toddy! A Hot Toddy is one of those "old wives tales" drinks that the old timers swear by. I am a huge whiskey girl, and when I was introduced to a hot toddy in my early drinking years, I was in LOVE. At first, I will admit, I thought it was a myth. I thought there was no way a whiskey drink can help a cold, or help relieve the symptoms of a cold. Today I too swear by them! I have tried multiple ways and multiple ingredients in many of my excursions of Hot Toddy creations, but I now have a recipe for my favorite Hot Toddy~ Becky Boo style.

Personally, my favorite everyday whiskey is Pendleton Whiskey. This is a whiskey I can shoot straight or have on the rocks. I prefer this whiskey "straight up with no chaser"; but this is not a whiskey that I prefer in my hot toddy. The whiskey of choice for my Hot Toddy is none other than Maker's Mark. I have found that this whiskey creates a Hot Toddy that has flavors that compliment each other very well, and the whiskey does not stick out like a jagged dagger.

Now for the recipe~ Please note that I don't use exact measurements for this. I adjust to my taste buds. I hope that you do the same. With that said~ here it is!

Hot Toddy~ Becky Boo Style
1 coffee cup. It can be big or small. It all depends on how much hot toddy you want!
3/4 of your coffee cup with hot water
1 packet of green tea or black tea
Add at least 1 shot of whiskey
Lemon juice (varies depending on your taste)
At least 1 tsp of honey

The first thing you need to do is fill your coffee cup with hot water. Next, be sure to steep your tea for a couple of minutes, and for a couple of minutes only!
After the tea is steeped, add the honey, whiskey, and lemon then MIX!
The trick with this hot toddy is to add more of the ingredients until you find what fits your taste buds. If there isn't enough whiskey flavor, add a little more. If its not sweet enough, add more honey. If you don't feel like you have enough lemon tang, add more lemon juice.

In my Hot Toddy's I tend to go with about 1/4 of my cup with whiskey, a tablespoon of honey, and a teaspoon or so of lemon juice.

Remember: these measurements are not precise. Be sure to experiment to find what works best for you!



Friday, November 4, 2011

Shabu Shabu + Gruner Veltliner, What A Pairing!

On November 2nd Beau and I took part in a grüner veltliner tasting with the "#winechat" folks on Twitter. My job was to figure out a suitable food pairing for the grüner veltliners lineup. We had almost settled on doing something with shrimp and rice when a huge light bulb lit up in my head and the words "shabu shabu" flashed into my mind; I knew then what we were going to make.

For those who are unfamiliar with what shabu shabu is, here is a brief description: it is a Japanese style of a hot pot where you have a hot broth that you use to cook meats and veggies.

We took a trip over to a local Asian grocer called Uwajimaya to find our meats and produce. I could literally spend hours in this store, it gives me that "kid in a candy store" feeling. Each of the four locations is stocked full of unique goods, beautiful produce, a fantastic meat counter, and a stunning sea food selection.

During our excursion at Uwajimaya we collected carrots, potato, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, scallions, Carlton Farms bacon, thinly sliced grass fed beef, thinly sliced pork, chicken broth and rice noodles. We also picked up a variety of sauces such as hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sweet chili pepper sauce, and a black bean garlic sauce.

To get started, Beau did the dirty work of de-veining the shrimp. Next, we broiled bacon strips and shrimp to have with the first few grüner veltliners. The bacon was flat like a plank, with a pink shrimp perched on top, and it went with the grüner veltliner perfectly. Gruner is a very food friendly wine, specifically with lighter foods which is why shabu shabu was a great choice for this tasting.

When prepping food for shabu shabu, it is important to slice the produce and meats thin so they are easy to cook in the broth.

The way shabu shabu works is that you have a very hot broth that you essentially cook your meats and vegetables in. This makes a fondue pot or a hot pot VERY handy. I had access to neither so I used a pot that I would bring to a boil then would bring to the table for us to cook our meats and veggies in. Once the broth had cooled a little bit, I would bring it back to a boil on the stove then bring it back to the table. Tedious yes, but it did the task! A small wire basket came in handy for adding and removing cooked pieces from the broth.

This meal was a very fun meal to make and it was fun to enjoy at the dinner table while sipping on a line up of eight grüner veltliners. We found that the grüner veltliner was a great match for this entire dish, specifically when the meat or veggie was dipped in hoisen sauce. Its extremely easy to get creative with this recipe by using a variety of meats and veggies. The key to shabu shabu is to keep the broth hot and the ingredients thinly sliced.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pulla- A Finnish Coffee Bread

If you follow me in the Twittersphere you may have heard me recently tweet about making something called "pulla". Pulla is a traditional Finnish coffee bread that is scrumptious. Growing up, I remember my Finnish grandmother (Grandma Aili) making such rolls....but I had been under the belief my entire life that they were "grandma's cinnamon rolls". This past July I took a trip to Finland to see my best friend Pauliina. She lives in Kemi and while there I had a roll that reminded me of the so called "cinnamon rolls" my grandmother used to make. Then and there, I realized my grandmother hadn't been making cinnamon rolls, but she had been making pulla! I now had a new mission: to bake pulla that tastes like what Grandma Aili use to make!

1/2 cup butter
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 packet of yeast
2 cups of milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
8 cups flour
beaten egg to glaze
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon (just a touch)
Preheat the oven to 350

1- Melt the 1/2 cup of butter, then leave to cool. Add the yeast in a bowl with the lukewarm water and mix until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, eggs and cardamom.

2- Stir in two cups of flour to create a batter, beat until smooth. Add another two cups of flour and the melted butter; mix together well. Mix in the last four cups of flour. Lightly flour a surface to plop the dough onto.

3- Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, then let rest for 15 minutes before kneading the dough again until it's shiny. Set it in a warm area to rise for an hour or till it is at least double in size.

4- Knead the dough a third time, then let rest for another hour or until it has doubled in size.

Side note- This recipe will teach you patience....but its worth EVERY second! Your taste buds WILL thank you!

5- Grease three baking sheets. Roll the dough with a rolling pin until its about 1/4 inch thick, and try to roll it so that it is longer than wider. You will need A LOT of space for this. Note: I did mine at about 1/2 inch which worked fine.

6- Spread the brown sugar over the dough so that there is an even layer. You may go more or less depending on your preference.

7- Sprinkle a VERY small amount of cinnamon over the brown sugar. If you prefer more cinnamon, go for it!!

8- Next, CAREFULLY roll up the dough. This will make one huge pulla log. I cut my dough into three sections so that it was easier to work with. If you want to make a pulla loaf, brush the dough with a beaten  egg and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown. If you prefer to make the pin-wheel shaped breads, cut the logs into slices that are about 3/4 inch thick, brush with beaten egg and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let cool and ENJOY!

Pulla is known to freeze really well. This recipe creates a lot of pulla, so please throw some in a zip lock bag in the freezer to enjoy later. Try toasting it!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oregon Yak Burgers

Last weekend Beau and I went to the Beaverton Farmers Market. With only two weekends left to shop at the farmers market, I made it a priority to go. Armed with $40 dollars and a reusable Trader Joe's bag, we were ready to see what the Beaverton Farmers Market had to offer. As expected, it was stocked with copious amounts of fresh produce, breads, meats, candy, and more. Two words: pretty epic.

All the goodies we got from Beaverton Farmers Market!

One of the exciting things we stumbled across was a farm from Central Oregon that sold exotic meats. I love to explore odd foods, so finding yak meat was EXCITING to me. We decided to get some ground yak to make gourmet/foodie burgers with.

The ingredients used to complete our meal.

Fall time brings squash to the farmers market and I love squash. A side dish to our burgers was a _____ squash that we purchased. I prepared the squash by slicing half of it into thin slices to bake, while the other half was baked with the flesh side down in the pan. I coated each of the slices in a little butter and brown sugar to give it a sweet buttery glaze.

This week New Seasons had some killer deals on mushrooms, so I picked up some shitakes for $7.99/lb. For the burger we had the mushrooms both in the burger meat, and also reduced in pinot noir as a garnish. 

The mushrooms reducing in the pinot noir.
The diced up mushrooms for the yak burger meat.

The ground yak meat was about $10.00 a pound, and for you health buffs; it is very lean. The only ingredients we added to the burger meat was one egg and some sauteed mushrooms.

Beau had the task of making the yak burger patties.

On the burgers we added bacon, cheese, lettuce, onion, ketchup, mayo, and the reduced pinot noir mushrooms. Almost all of our ingredients for this burger were local except for the bacon, cheese and burger bun. It was only later that we realized we could have bought the buns at New Seasons, and sourced the cheese and bacon from other local markets. Next time!

The finished yak burger!

To pair with the yak burger Beau decided on a 2008 Von Holt syrah from the Russian River Valley in California. The pairing was spectacular. Syrah's natural fruit elements pair well with the gamey yak flavor, while it's peppery finish was a great foil to the rich, smokey bacon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hopworks Urban Brewery- Beer and Pretzels

Hopworks Urban Brewery is a Portland brewery that I have always had my eye on but never managed to pay them a visit until last week. They have been an attractive brewery to me because they focus on sustainability, organics, and going green. Anna and I made plans to visit Hopworks with two things in mind: beer and pretzels.

We arrived there during happy hour. Hopworks happy hour menu is very kick-ass, with a great variety of food at great prices.

For drinks we ordered the sampler platter which contains 10 samples of 3 ounces of beer. The presentation of these beers was stunning. I have ordered many sampler platters at multiple breweries, and this is my favorite to date.

For our happy hour food. We ordered a garlic sausage, hot wings, bruschetta, and of course, the pretzels.

The wings were MESSY! I think I wore half of the sauce on my face much like a little kid does with spaghetti. When I was finished, I required a face washing. The wings were amazing, and the sauce had a spicy kick that was not overpowering.

The bruschetta was a dish I kind of cringed before I dove in. I am not a tomato person at all, so most foods that contain tomatoes I will tend to pass on. This bruschetta exceeded my expectations with flying colors. It was heavy on the basil and other flavors that the tomato flavor was mild. I was beyond satisfied, I was inspired after this dish to open my mind to more fresh tomato recipes.

Pretzels, to be honest, are something else that I am secretly not fond of. I have had a few in my life, but never one that was made at a brewery. The Hopworks "Pint'O'Pretzels" had a nice, yeasty, bready, and beer taste to them accompanied with the chunks of sea salt on the outside. The pretzels were in sticks, served in a beer mug which made for another lovely display. There were two dipping sauces with them; one which was beer cheese, and the other was a HUB lager mustard.

Hopworks Urban Brewery is a wonderful stop in Portland if you are into great beer and pub food.
I will be back in the next few months to give their burgers a try. I have heard they are some of the best in Portland. This place rocks!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dinner Party: Main Ingredient- Flowers

Flowers are natures stunning creation of beauty for us to admire in vases, bouquets, pictures, paintings, and yes, even food. I have not experienced flowers in my food until Anna hosted a dinner party and the main ingredient for the event was.......Flowers! She used both roses and nasturtiums creatively in her dishes.

The photo below shows her rose beer bread. This beer bread was a wonderful combination of a light beer bread with a hint of rose flavor. A rose garlic butter with a hint of spicy pepper was prepared to accompany this bread, which made for an irresistible match.

Rose Petal Beer Bread

Nasturtiums are flowers that I have grown for many years around my home in our flower beds. I have heard multiple times of their potential in foods, but I never took the chance to experiment with them. This particular evening Anna baked a nasturtium pie! This was a pie that had an egg base and filo dough for the crust. The nasturtium pie was amazing with a light egg flavor, flaky filo crust, and the hint of nasturtiums garnishing the top.

Nasturtium Pie

The following are a  few other dishes we chowed down on during the dinner. All were amazing, all were delicious. 

A Greek style pie

Padron peppers

A Greek style salad

For dessert Anna made a rose water kadaifi galaktoboureko with blackberries. This dessert was a custard with filo bread on the top layer, then drenched in rose water. The custard and the light flakiness of the filo bread on top accompanied by a hint of rose water made my taste buds smile. We enjoyed this dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you are interested in making this dessert for yourself, please visit Anna's blog for the recipe at