Tag Archives: food

Easter 2017

For the past couple years, we’ve avoided the ping pong-ing of going from house to house to egg hunt to egg hunt because it’s just too much. Instead, we host Easter brunch at our house after we’ve done our own family thing.

Our own family thing consists of Easter baskets and an inside egg hunt where some eggs are more easily found than others.

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We don’t go crazy on baskets. They’re even more simplified than Christmas stockings. Lots of candy, a couple toys, a book, that kind of thing. Each of the little girls got a doll. I think we nailed it as far as the quality vs. quantity.

After some time with the baskets, they hunt. And then they celebrate. (James chose not to participate this year)

 

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(I wanna know what goes on in that smart little brain of his)

And then, after all that fun just by ourselves, we invite more awesome people to come over to eat like crazy and have even more fun!

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Maria serenaded us with some violin, too.

We had a little quiet time and then decided to go to the skatepark.

Okay, so why is it that parents think it’s okay to just drop their little kids off at the skatepark with their new scooters and rip sticks and leave them there, where they don’t take turns, they cut people off, and make it a mess for scooter-ers and skaters who actually wanna ride and know what they’re doing. It drives me nuts. And when they do get in the way and cause a collision, and the parent is there, the parent does nothing. Like…literally nothing. So we had to deal with it. Which meant doing nothing, because when you try to tell 9-year-olds that they should take turns so they don’t get hurt, they look at you like you’re a complete idiot. So Luke kept getting SUPER frustrated and Jamie kept pretending to throw up (it’s a tactic he’s been using to get us to leave somewhere in a hurry…he wasn’t actually throwing up, more like very dramatically coughing and spitting) and Franci wouldn’t quit screaming (she was coloring in the car, literally feet from the park with all doors open, we could hear her and talk to her, but she wasn’t happy with it) so we bagged it and headed home for some quiet time and a bike ride.

I’m beyond tired and I don’t think I’m ready for the work week. But it’s weird how it comes whether you are ready or not, huh?

Happy Easter!

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Boise Restaurant Week

Having a blog has some perks. For one, it’s an excuse to carry my camera around and take pictures of the most obscure things and when it’s questioned, casually say, “Oh, it’s for my blog.” Also, a common theme here on my blog is adventures I take with my family, usually just a drive away from home. I’ll write about what we did, where we ate, what we saw, and why everyone else should do it too (I’m also very bossy).

If you’ve never been to Boise, you’re missing out.

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Years ago I visited Boise and I was so unimpressed. There were a few stores they had that were kinda cool nothing I couldn’t live without. Over the past 10-15 years, Boise has completely transformed itself. It’s hip and cool and offers all the national stores (West Elm, Anthro, etc) but what makes it stand out is the number of little boutiques, locally owned shops and their incredible food culture.

They’re working hard to keep things on the up-and-up and that’s pretty obvious when you look down the street.

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But here’s the thing: the construction isn’t annoying. It’s exciting. It’s tangible proof that Boise loves its people and is keeping with what they want and need.

The Downtown Boise Association and Idaho Tourism invited me to come to Boise and attend some kickoff events for their annual Restaurant Week. Here’s Restaurant Week in a nutshell: participating restaurants have a special prix-fixe Dine Out Downtown Boise menu for lunch and dinner. A 2-course lunch is $10 and for dinner, there’s an option of a 2-course ($15), 3-course ($30) or fine dining ($50). I wish I was able to spend the entire week down there because what these restaurants are offering is incredible. This year, Restaurant Week is from October 28 – November 6th, so get on it!

First and foremost, the women who helped organize this entire event are lovely. They made sure I had everything I needed, communication was easy and thorough, and they were genuine and enthusiastic. They hooked me up with a hotel room which was worth it on its own. A solid night’s sleep without children kicking my kidneys all night? Done and done.

The Thursday night event was a tasting party, basically, where guests were invited to try food, wine, and beer from Idaho peeps.

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{Kobe beef tartar from Snake River Farms on crostini from Chandler’s Prime Steaks and Seafood and trout from Clear Springs Foods in Buhl from Zee’s Rooftop Cafe}

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{Sturgeon from Fish Breeders of Idaho from Hangerman on a lentil cake with truffle cream corn from Juniper}

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{These were all great, but the blood orange Rustler was my favorite, from Payette Brewing}

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{Alright. This is where things get serious. THIS CHEESE. Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese had a table just full of different cheeses. But the very best was this grilling cheese. It never melts completely, so you grill it or pan fry it and it sears on the outside and is just the most amazing thing ever.}

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{I’m a sucker for hard cider and Longdrop nails it}

—- I suggest you follow these links if you’re at all interested in this amazing food and drink —-

It was so fun to speak to owners and representatives from each company and hear about how and why they started their business, what makes them unique, what they love most about the industry, etc. When you know more about who is making it, it tastes better. Every single one of these companies is passionate about their craft and it shows. And tastes.

After the kickoff party, JD (I conned him into attending all this stuff with me) headed down to Freak Alley.

Downtown Boise respects its people — all of them. Freak Alley is a place where artists are chosen to come and paint a section of wall in their own style. It’s like walking through an art gallery for sure. It’s unique and fun and interesting and I was told that because there is this space for artists to publicly display their passion, it’s helped cut vandalism.

Another cool thing: Downtown Boise has started a program where artists can apply to be a featured artist on traffic boxes (I’m having a hard time thinking of how I can describe what they are…but they’re like metal boxes on the sidewalks, smaller than telephone booths but the same shape…you get me?). Artists are chosen, they create a piece of original art that’s turned into a vinyl wrap, and it’s put around these metal boxes. Rarely are these vandalized which is a change from what happened before.

After a stroll through Freak Alley we ate at Eureka.

They’re brand new and they could use a little direction when it comes to staffing and training the staff, but the food was good. Their outdoor seating is pretty cool and it’s right in the heart of downtown so there’s a lot to see.

The next day we were treated to lunch at Cottonwood Grille, a restaurant participating in Restaurant Week. I had the soup and grilled cheese and I was not disappointed.

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We enjoyed Idaho wine, talked about what’s happening in Downtown Boise (a lot of really, really good things!) and towards the end of the meal, Jesus, the executive chef, paid us a visit. He’s a happy, joyful guy who knows his way around the kitchen.

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But here’s where things got really fun. We loaded into a van and were taken on a private tour of downtown eateries.

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We started with Payette Brewing Co. (they were at the kickoff party, too) where we got a glass of beer and a tour through the whole facility.

 

From there we went to The Chocolat Bar, a small husband-wife owned gourmet chocolate shop. They gave us samples of some of the chocolate and I was sold on the lavender right away.

Right next door to The Chocolat Bar is City Peanut Shop.

If you have anyone in your life who likes nuts but is also a foodie, this is it. I’m ordering lots online for Christmas gifts. In fact, if you own a business, peanuts, chocolate (from The Chocolat Bar), and beer would be an amazing holiday basket to send to clients. Just throwing that out there.

We ended our tour in the Basque block of downtown Boise. Boise has the highest Basque population outside of Basque country. We were told that they came here for sheep herding. That’s not necessarily what they did in their native country, but they came not speaking English but were hard workers. I LOVE when cities have little pockets of culture. I know that we have lots here in our town but that it isn’t appreciated like it should be! In Boise, Basque culture is celebrated like crazy with streets being shut down often for celebrations and festivals, and HUGE events happening every five years or so when thousands and thousands of Basques come and celebrate their culture.

First, we checked out a crazy-old handball court.

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Then we headed across the street to Bardenay. We got a tour of the distillery and then they made us cocktails. Cocktails is my love language.

 

So what do you do now that you know all about these Idaho-local eateries, breweries, wineries and business owners? You book a trip to Boise during Restaurant Week and take advantage of everything they have to offer. In between meals, work it off with a hike, walk around downtown, grab a Boise Green Bike  and spend the day taking a self-guiding tour of everything that downtown Boise has to offer. You’ll need a couple days.

Boise it is, you guys. It’s cool as-is but I can’t wait for it to continue to grow and for people to come discover it on their own.

 

(Thanks to Idaho Tourism, Downtown Boise Association and Gloria with Red Sky for sending me to Boise and showing me the hidden gems. If all my readers want to check out what’s going on this week, search Instagram for #dineoutboise and always check out #visitidaho for amazing pictures that will inspire you to do a little research of your own.)

 

 

Artichoke Frittata

What with Easter coming up and all (not to mention things like First Communion and graduations and probably birthdays and stuff), I wanted to give you a recipe for a dish that never fails. It can be a breakfast or brunch dish, but no one would think twice if it showed up for dinner. It’s perfect for taking to an event that you aren’t hosting because it can be served at room temperature. What is this magical dish, you ask?

 

Artichoke Frittata

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Anyone who has tried this recipe has loved it.

The recipe is from this lady’s family:

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I might not get this right, but I’m pretty sure her brother’s wife made it for her daughter’s bridesmaid’s luncheon. (Oh, and that lady is my grandma)

It made its way into my grandma’s recipe box which found its way to me via my Aunt Tracy. Now, I realize you don’t all care so much about how it got to me, who made it, etc., but that was the price you had to pay before being given this wonderful gift of the recipe:

Artichoke Frittata

1 lg can marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (I use 2 small jars)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use minced garlic from a jar)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup Pepperidge Farm stuffing, finely ground (sometimes I just use seasoned bread crumbs)
4 eggs
2T fresh parsley
3 cups grated Jack cheese
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t salt
dash pepper

grated parmesan cheese

*drain the artichokes into a skillet and saute the onions until translucent (don’t cook the artichokes with it). add garlic and saute for 1-3 minutes–don’t burn the garlic! Drain the onions and garlic
*Beat the remaining ingredients, except for the parmesan. Add the onions and garlic. spread in greased 9 X 9 pan and sprinkle with parmesan
*refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight
*bake 30 minutes @ 350 degrees
*let rest 20 minutes and serve

Now let me tell you all what I did that I find to be an improvement — I split this recipe up into 2 equal portions and baked them in 8″ round bake pans. I think the texture was a lot better and the portions were perfect.

And with that, you’re welcome.

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Pasta.

My friend Liz led a women’s discussion group at church several months ago. We met for eight weeks and watched a video series and then had discussion after.

The only reason I started going is because I like Liz so much, that is a fact. Sitting with a group of women discussing our opinions and beliefs on subjects is not where I’m most comfortable. I have strong opinions on many subjects, lots of them being quite controversial. I also sometimes have a big mouth and get myself into trouble by voicing those opinions rather than just keeping quiet. But, much to my surprise, joining that group and that discussion ended up being a good thing for me. I was forced into a situation where I wasn’t most comfortable, forced to listen more than talk, and that was good for me. The message(s) presented in each video were good, too. I genuinely like each person who participated and I’m glad I expanded my circle.

Fast forward to after those eight weeks — I knew I wanted to continue meeting, whether that was at the church, at a home, with kids, without, etc. I decided to just go ahead and offer up my house as the main meeting place and continue meeting every other Tuesday. I’m really happy that several women decided this sounded great, too, because I’ve had a lot of fun having coffee with my friends and my kids love playing with the kids who come. We talk about whatever comes up and sometimes we have things planned. We’ve discussed the role of Saints in the church and our lives, we’ve talked about Montessori, we’ve talked about many things. We’ve also played at the park and splashed on slip and slides and swam.

Today? We made fresh pasta.

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I happen to really enjoy ravioli so I made some filling:

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(1 lb sausage, 1 C ricotta, 1 C italian blend cheese, 1 egg)

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Lisa brought her pasta roller (is that what it’s called?) and helped us figure out how to use it.

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She also brought veggies and herbs from her garden and whipped up a little pasta dish that the kids ended up devouring.

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And now I have a new skill in my pocket. That doesn’t mean I’m good at it. But it does mean we’re having ravioli tonight.

Garden Pancakes

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I love the summer season for lots of reasons, but one of my most favorite things about it is the fresh produce we get from the farm.

Oh…I’m sorry…did you not know we were farmers? Well, we are. I mean, basically we are farmers by association because my dad is actually the one who plants the seeds, waters, pulls weeds, maintains and funds the farm. But we totally pick the veggies, so that counts for something.

One thing we have TONS of right now are red potatoes. Potatoes might be my favorite thing we grow because out of one potato you plant, you might get 6 at harvest time. That’s what we call, my friends, a big bang for your buck. Since everyone loves potatoes (but seriously…who doesn’t love potatoes), they are what we cook most of at our house. And roasted potatoes with a little rosemary are good and delicious and fine, but in all honesty, I’m getting board with them. Last night I did a little thinking and decided to make garden pancakes.

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(1) farm fresh is the best, right? But obviously, nothing has to be farm fresh. Grab it from the store if you want! shred the (peeled) potatoes – red is my favorite – and zucchini until you have 1.5ish cups of each. Squeeze out the excess water (there will be lots!) by putting it in between paper towels and pushing it. Like so:

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(2) add 1 egg, garlic, cheese, and spices and mix together.

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(3) using your hands, form patties, 1/2 cup each (give or take). As you form them, continue to squeeze so you get even more liquid out. It’s okay if you feel like the egg is being squeezed out. It’ll be fine. You should have about 6 pancakes ready to go.

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(4) heat about a tablespoon of butter or oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they start to brown.

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(5) serve as a side dish with sour cream or, our favorite, homemade greek tzaziki sauce.

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ENJOY!

PNW traditions

It’s easy to feel stuck where I live. It’s a small town with deep roots. I know everyone here (that’s an exaggeration, but it’s true that I can rarely go to the store, to an event, to the movies, you name it and not run into a few people I know or my family knows). Sometimes I wish we lived somewhere with lots of museums and community activities every week. I wish there were more than a handful of good restaurants and lots of different, quirky, unique things to do on the weekends.

But most of the time, I’m really happy living here. When I look at where we live and what we get to do, it makes me happy and makes me feel lucky.

There’s a pretty small window here for morels (morels are the point of this post, i’m getting to it, I promise). They pop up in the Spring, after it has rained, but only if it’s been pretty warm also.

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They’re completely camouflaged and hard to find. But even harder to find if you don’t have a spot. Here’s some advice to you morel-hunting novices: if you see someone post a picture of all their mushrooms, don’t ask where they went to get them. But if you do, expect a very general answer.

Morel spots, like huckleberry spots, are sacred and secret.

We packed up the kids and decided we would go on a shroom hunt. Adventures are always more fun with friends.

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We got a little sidetracked which is easy to do when you’re on such a beautiful adventure.

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We found cool wood pieces, a creek, lots of interesting leaves, animal bones, tiny bugs and we felt like really brave pioneers or something. Pioneers of the forest. Forest pioneers.

But let’s talk about the mushrooms, okay? We scored.

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I know, I know. If you are from this area and are mushroom hunters yourselves, you might be saying, “Ha! I could do that with my eyes closed!” Which, I mean, maybe you could. Newsflash: mushroom hunting while also being forest pioneers with 7 small children in tow is no easy task which is why we couldn’t have been happier with our haul.

 

We celebrated by making gnocchi with mushroom cream sauce and steak (or chicken) with sautéed shrooms.

Let me repeat that: CREAM SAUCE. Oh, it’s a gift from the heavens. And since I like you, here’s the recipe:

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Veggie Hash

The Tale of the Sad Asparagus

Once upon a late summer, a small and spirited child ran out to her Lala and Papa’s garden in the front of the house. Always welcomed (and encouraged) to pick that season’s produce, the young child started picking the strawberries. After that, she moved on to cutting chives. With many greens left, she cut lettuce and rosemary and finally moved on to carrots. Disappointed in the size of the carrots (basically nonexistent), she ran inside to show her Papa and Lala her findings.

“Oh…that? Yeah….that was going to be our asparagus next year….”

So here’s the thing about asparagus: it takes a season before it actually grows. And it never grows if you have small and spirited children picking any green that pops up out of the ground.

So if you have fresh, farm-grown asparagus, use it here. And the moral of the story? Kids ruin evvvvverything.

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Veggie Hash:

2 yukon gold potatoes, shredded

1 medium zucchini, shredded

5 asparagus shoots

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic

pancetta, diced

4 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

1) heat about a tablespoon of EVOO in a nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes as it begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and the asparagus (which you’ve cut into 1-2″ pieces) and cook for a few minutes more. Then add the pancetta.

2) squeeze the potato and zucchini to get as much moisture out as possible (they really hold on to a lot of water). After the pancetta is cooked to your liking, add the shredded veggies. I used a cheese grater to shred it and it took less than 2 minutes. Easy.

3) Cook like you would hash browns. Mix it all together then spread it out and flatten it down into one layer. Let it brown up a bit (cook for a couple minutes) then flip the whole thing. You’ll have to flip it in pieces, and it’s totally okay if some pieces flip and some don’t. Do this a few times until it’s just barely crispy…you don’t want it to be too crispy…just barely browned.

4) divide it into four portions on plates.

5) crack 4 eggs into the skillet (you shouldn’t have to add more oil, but if you do, just a tad will suffice) and fry until the whites are completely cooked, but the yolk is just barely still runny. Really, cook it however you like it.

6) slide the egg on the hash and plate it like a pro. Add salt and pepper. Voila.