Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gluten Free in Portland, Oregon

Well, I'm back from my trip to Portland, Oregon where I attended my first International Food Blogger Conference hosted by Foodista!  I have to give them a warm and heartfelt Thank You for putting on a fantastic weekend filled with helpful blogging tips, yummy food (Gluten Free/Vegan accommodations), endless networking and lots of laughs that I will take away with me to further the progress of my growing blog.  It was a close call, but I was able to get my personally designed business cards printed and shipped just in time for the conference welcoming.  I love how they turned out and can't wait to update the look of the blog soon with the reflection of this new design. 

After the conference closed, I stayed an extra two days to explore the city of Portland.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how Gluten Free friendly and accommodating they are compared to other cities.  And I have to say that the food highlight of this trip was a visit to the modern and chic Tula Gluten Free Bakery Cafe.  Not only do they offer deliciously moist and flaky baked goods such as breads, pastries and cakes but they also serve pizza, panini, soup, salad and drinks!  Lately, the GF pizzas I've tried here at home are cracker thin and I'm starving in an hour.  But Tula's pizza crust was pillow soft and filled with fresh toppings that kept me fueled for the rest of my long sightseeing day.

Because of Madalene is now on FB!  Follow here.

Tula's chic sitting area
Tula's Baked Goods
Tula Gluten Free Pizza: Fresh Mushrooms, Garlic and Basil

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Frozen Cherry Soda Bites

One of my favorite summer pastimes was freezing apple juice in ice trays for a sweet little snack to cool me down in the scorching afternoon.  Would you do this as a kid, too?  Since then I've branched out and experimented with other flavors.  This week I tried Cherry Soda with a splash of half and half to cut the sweetness and add a bit of creaminess and for some added texture, chunks of cherry.  Instead of popsicles (which you can easily do with this recipe - fill mold 3/4 with soda and 1/4 half and half), I used a heart shaped ice tray mold that turned these frozen bites into a fun little presentation (that I'll have to keep in mind for Valentine's Day next year).  Sweet, creamy and will satisfy your soda craving without having to drink an entire can!

What you'll need:  makes 8 per ice tray

1 can cherry soda (I used Cherry Pepsi)
1/4 cup half and half (use more or less depending on the size of the mold)
6 fresh cherries (chopped into 1/4 in. pieces)

Open the can of soda and leave on the counter for a few hours so the bubbles fizzle out.  Soda expands in the freezer, unless flattened.  Fill each mold with the cherry soda about 3/4 the way up.  Toss in a few chunks of cherries per mold.  Put in the freezer for about an hour.  Take out and fill the rest of the molds to the top with half and half (for a more desired layer effect).  Put back in the freezer for about 2 - 3 hours, or until completely frozen.  Twist the mold and they should pop right out.  If having trouble, dip the bottom of the mold into a baking dish of warm water for a couple of seconds and try to pop them out again.  Serve on a chilled plate, get a fork and eat immediately!

Because of Madalene is now on Facebook!

Monday, August 20, 2012

BeBetsy Feature

I'd like to give a big thank you to BeBetsy for sharing my Watermelon Jicama Salad!  They were kind enough to find my site, reach out to me and display the recipe on their homepage.  I've since joined their wonderful network, where they encourage readers to share food and drinks with one another.  They also have helpful tips on family life, home decor and more.  Go check them out!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amaretto Berries

The Olympics are long over but I'm still recovering from the lack of sleep that continuously accumulated over the two week long event.  So, to celebrate the closing ceremonies last weekend (and the joy of finally being able to go back to my regular sleeping schedule), I put together a festive American light and summery dessert with an Italian twist, of course!  Absolutely, I was rooting for the home team, but I still had some cheer leftover for my ancestors' hometown, Italy.  So, to jazz up this bowl of fresh berries, I added a small handful of mint and a splash of Amaretto liquor to not only the fruit but also the cool whip topping.  The mint and Amaretto add a refreshing and nutty surprise to each sweet bite.  And if you want to get wild and crazy, add a few slivers of toasted almonds and a light sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

What you'll need:  serves 4

1 small pkg fresh raspberries (rinsed)
1 small pkg fresh blueberries (rinsed)
2 sprigs mint (roughly chopped) + extra for garnish
2 cups lite cool whip
3 tbsp Amaretto liquor

In a small bowl, lightly toss the berries and chopped mint with 1 tbsp of Amaretto.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, fold in the remaining 2 tbsp of Amaretto into the cool whip.  Divide the berry mixture into 4 small bowls and top with a dollop of cool whip.  Garnish with whole mint leaves.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Parmesan Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

Congrats to Meg for winning the West Elm Owl Measuring Cups!

Remember those Parmesan Mashed Potatoes that I made along side the Fish in Parchment last week?  Well, here they are!  Whenever I make a main dish with a lot of juice, I love serving mashed potatoes as the side dish, because instead of having to make traditional gravy (that takes time), these juices already act as a tasty sauce for the taters.  This time, I added an Italian twist to these red skin mashed potatoes by incorporating grated parmesan cheese and rosemary.  You'll be surprised what bold flavors these two simple ingredients will add to your everyday, run of the mill mashed tots - salty, creamy and herby goodness!

What you'll need: serves 4 - 6

10 red skin potatoes (rinse and cut into 4, with skin on)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup low fat milk (warmed)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 sprigs rosemary + extra for garnish (remove from stem and roughly chop)
To taste black ground pepper

Boil the potatoes in a medium pot filled with about 6 - 8 cups of water (or until the potatoes are completely submerged).  Once they are soft (use a toothpick to test), drain in a colander and put the potatoes back into the pot.  Slightly mash the potatoes and add the butter and milk.  Mash the butter and milk into the potatoes.  Then add the parmesan cheese, chopped rosemary and pepper.  Mash until evenly incorporated.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday Giveaway

 Well, it's official!  After 6 months of searching for the home of my (27 year old) dreams, I'm finally in Escrow.  With such a competitive buyers' market, there were times I had a hard time believing I would find a home that truly fitted most of my needs (location, price, move in ready, etc).  But in the end, I finally got to see what "if it's meant to be" really feels like, and it feels gooood.  I'm not out of the woods just yet, but I feel extremely hopeful that I will be a homeowner by Sept. 1st.  

So what better way to celebrate than by making my first home accessory purchase!  You would think that a bed, dining room table or couch would be priority, but nope, I've been eying (no pun intended) these West Elm Owl Measuring Cups for months and thought they would add some vintage charm to the counter of my very own first kitchen.  But I'm too excited about these to just get one for myself.  I thought I'd share the sentimental wealth and give one white set away to one lucky follower!  Good luck!

What you have to do:

1. Follow this blog.
2. Share with me what your first home purchase would be or was.
3. Provide your email.

Entry will end Sunday night and I will announce the winner on Monday!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fish en Papillote

 My folks celebrated their 44th Wedding Anniversary last weekend, so my sister and I treated them to a $29.99 home cooked meal.  Well, that's how much I'd charge in my pretend restaurant, anyway.  I couldn't be more proud to celebrate along side them and toast to the true meaning of marriage... love, hard work and growing together as one.  So I thought I'd bring some French elegance to the table with Lemon Fish in Parchment with a side of Parmesan Mashed Potatoes.  It's very easy to overcook fish when preparing it on the stove, but baking it in the oven in a steamed pouch keeps the fish (in this case, Halibut) moist, tender and packed with endless flavor, depending on what you decide to throw in the pouch with it.  This time, I loaded the fish with orange zucchini, carrots, cherry tomatoes and green onions with a butter lemon wine sauce, topped with fresh lemon and lemon thyme.  And in just 15 mins in the oven, you've got a One Pouch Wonder that's fun to cut open right at the dinner table. 

What you'll need: serves 4

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (cut in four fillets) I used Halibut
1 orange zucchini (julienned)
2 carrots (julienned)
1 small package cherry tomatoes (halfed)
2 green onions (thinly sliced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
To taste salt and pepper
1/2 tsp lemon pepper with salt (1/8 per fillet)
1 lemon (seeds removed, thinly sliced)
4 pats butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 lemon juiced
8 sprigs fresh lemon thyme

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, toss together the zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Put each fish fillet in a large rectangle of parchment paper, sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Place the veggie mixture on top, dividing evenly.  Top the veggies with 2 lemon slices, 2 sprigs of lemon thyme, a pat of butter, 1 tbsp white wine, and splash of fresh lemon juice.  Fold over the parchment paper around the edges tightly in 1/4 inch folds (start from one corner to the other) to create a taco shape.  Make sure it's sealed well to prevent the steam from escaping.  Arrange the pouches on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 mins (15 mins per 1 in thickness of fish).  If it's less than an inch thick, bake for about 12 mins.  Take out of the oven and let sit for about 5 - 10 mins.  The fish will continue to cook.  Place each pouch on individual plates and allow each person to cut open their own.  They can either leave the paper or remove from the plate, but leaving the yummy juices.

Recipe adapted from here.