Tag Archives: favorites

The best kale salad! Really.

the best kale salad

Kale has become one of our staple kitchen ingredients; like milk or eggs. Or wine. I’m pretty sure that counts as a staple, anyway. This salad is a mixture of all my favorite ingredients on a bed of raw kale: roasted butternut squash, pecans, goat cheese and dried cranberries. And, the post title is no lie. This is the best kale salad. Ever.

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My most-loved kitchen tools

Kitchen gadgets are slowly taking over our 580 square foot condo. Which I guess doesn’t say much, considering our space (or, lack thereof).

Once all of the kitchen drawers filled up, I took over the living room storage shelves. I even bought a brand new piece of furniture to store everything in. But that’s full now, too. 

Despite having a great collection of kitchen gear, we tend to use the same few products over, and over again. Do you find yourself doing the same thing? There are products that we pull out once a year – and others that practically get run through the dishwasher every day.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the items I simply can’t live without these days. I’d love to hear what some of yours are!

Best Kitchen Items

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Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl

Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl

There are about 500 food carts in Portland. No exaggeration. But it’s easy to spot the really good ones by watching the lines at lunch. One of my favorite carts makes killer rice bowls – but needless to say, there is always a line. And who has time to wait around?

Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl
Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl

A few years back when Sam was in grad school and we were on budget mode, we got in the habit of attempting to duplicate our favorite recipes. This southwestern brown rice bowl was an evolution of this that we honestly make about once a week. It just doesn’t get old.

Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl

Let’s review the talking points: 

No wait. 

Quick to make. 



And so tasty! 

Bookmark it already.

Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl
Southwestern Brown Rice Bowl
Serves 1

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3/4 cup cooked brown rice rice
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1 T shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 T salsa
1 T roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 avocado, sliced
1 T sour cream
1 tsp pine nuts

Once ingredients are prepped, fill bowl in order of ingredients outlined above. Feel free to adjust proportions and/or ingredients according to your likings. Serve with hot sauce, limes and tortilla chips.

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/



Light Frozen Lime Yogurt Pie

Light Frozen Lime Yogurt Pie

Is anyone else stuffed?

I really overdid it this season. I started at Thanksgiving and didn’t look back. From cocktails to cakes, I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays. But, it’s time to start the New Year smarter.  So – let’s lighten things up, shall we?

Light Frozen Lime Yogurt Pie

I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with having a sweet tooth. These light and healthy lime pies satisfy even the meanest dessert craving. They’re sorta like ice cream cake – but made with yogurt. And pie crust. And… well, maybe that was a bad comparison.

Let’s just say, it’s the perfect post-holiday dessert.

As a side note, I typically prefer to make graham cracker crust from scratch ­– but couldn’t resist the ease of these pre-maid mini crusts I found at the supermarket. If you can’t find them in your local grocery store, simply buy a box of graham cracker crumbs and follow the instructions on the back of a box.

Happy Holidays!

Light Frozen Lime Yogurt Pie
Light Frozen Lime Yogurt Pie
Serves 4

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2 cups of lime yogurt (2 6 oz cups)
8 oz carton, heavy whipping cream
2 limes
4 mini graham cracker pie crusts

Fill mini graham cracker crusts with ½ cup yogurt each. Wrap pies in plastic wrap and freeze at least 3 hours, until semi-frozen. If frozen too long, leave on the counter to defrost for several minutes so yogurt is not rock hard when you’re ready to serve. In the meantime, whip the cream in large bowl with a until it peaks. Add 1 T sugar if desired – I opted to leave out in the interest of having a lighter dessert. Pipe onto pies. Zest lime onto whipped cream. Enjoy while semi-frozen.

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/



Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today you’re in for a treat.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

A pumpkin treat, to be exact.

In college, I worked part-time at my school’s admissions office. You know those college tour guides who give group tours while walking backwards? Yea. That was me. Anyway, at one of our work parties, a staff member brought these treats to share with our team. I begged her for months for the recipe, and finally, she caved.

I’ve been making this recipe every Fall, ever since.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m always asked to bring this dish to our friends’ annual pumpkin carving party and other miscellaneous Fall get-togethers. Although it’s actually more cake-like, these Pumpkin Bars are aways – ALWAYS – a crowd pleaser. 

There’s something about pumpkin that gets people giddy. I think it has something to do with sweater weather and the looming excitement of the holidays ahead. 

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

In truth, I didn’t love pumpkin-anything (NOT even Pumpkin Spice Lattes) while I lived in Hawaii. But after moving to the mainland and experiencing Summer turn to Fall, I’ve grown to appreciate and really love pumpkin-everything. There’s just something festive about it as the temperature drops, the days shorten and the leaves begin to fall. 

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve traditionally held this recipe top secret, but I figured there would be no use in not passing along such a great Fall treat. Like the blueberry coffee cake recipe that I recently posted, I promise this will become a well-used recipe in your collection.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting


Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups pumpkin
3/4 cup butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 oz softened cream cheese
6 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
3 cups powdered sugar

Cake: Mix all ingredients together, pour into 11×15 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 325.
Frosting: Beat together in chilled bowl. Frost when cool.

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/



Olympic Provisions

When one of our foodie friends and her chef fiancé recommended Olympic Provisions, we quickly bumped it up to the top spot on our “go to” list. We’d obviously read about the restaurant in Food and Wine magazine and more recently in Oprah’s O Magazine, but had yet to try it ourselves.

Olympic Provisions has two locations – SE and NE Portland – that operate as “European-style” restaurants, neighborhood delis, and onsite meat-curing facilities. Although neither Sam nor I consider ourselves lovers of charcuterie, we ventured out to the NW location for brunch a few Saturdays ago. And I think it’s safe to say that we fell in love within 3 minutes. 

Without further ado, here’s our list of the 10 reasons to love Olympic Provisions:

1. The branding. Sam and I each have backgrounds in marketing, and we just couldn’t get enough of the restaurant’s logo, packaging and signage. It was part hipster, part sophisticate.  It was everywhere, and it was super cute.

2. The ambiance. You’ll want to sit in this sweet little cafe all day. All the little details feel intentional and thoughtful. And it works.

3. The crowd (or, lack thereof). I can’t remember the last time we didn’t have to wait in line for brunch on a Saturday morning. We were thankful to be seated immediately. [Note: from what I’ve heard, the SE location is typically more bustling for brunch.]

4. The service. Our server was really helpful and obviously knowledgeable about the menu and charcuterie. Sam and I both ordered vegetarian breakfast dishes, but after inquiring, she suggested side dishes that complimented our meal.

5. The meat! Olympic Provisions is known for its extensive charcuterie counter, and it didn’t disappoint. From chorizo to bacon to Italian salami, the selection is enough to tempt even the most hardcore vegetarian.

6. The bar. Although Sam and I stuck to coffee (our general rule before 10am), the restaurant had a interesting selection of cocktails. We’re looking forward to going back for happy hour soon.

7. The wall ‘o wine. No explanation needed.

8. The gift baskets. Between our families and friends, it feels like we are always shopping for birthday/Christmas/shower gifts, and I was really excited to learn that Olympic Provision sells gift baskets. Given what we know, I’m sure they are tasty and beautiful. So, family – if you’re reading this, I apologize in advance for the spoiler alert.

9. The open kitchen. I simply love restaurants with open kitchens. I like being able to see that the kitchen is clean. I like the intimacy of watching the chefs. And I like feeling a part of the hustle and bustle.

10. Last but not least, I can’t forget about the whole reason we went: brunch. Sam ordered the egg frittata with leeks, potatoes and chevre. I ordered the brioche french toast (which is soaked in orange blossom water for a very unusual and delightful taste).  Both dishes were delicious, hearty, flavorful, and unique.