Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

Travel Thursday: Indianapolis and Atlanta

Travel Thursday: Indianapolis and Atlanta

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last two weeks – two trips, essentially back to back to Indianapolis and to Atlanta.  Both were for work and both involved flying in, hopping into a taxi, going to a hotel and staying in the hotel for two full days, heading back to the airport and going home.  So, sadly, this post is primarily about airport food and room service menus, as well as what you can see from various windows.

I’ve been traveling for work for the last thirteen years.  Some years involved one or two flights and some years have involved four or five trips – it’s depended on the job and organization.   The one thing I noticed this last round of trips is that airports seem to have really upped their game when it comes to food.  So in my Travel Thursday round up this go around, I’m starting with the Minneapolis airport, which is where I had a three hour layover on my way to Indianapolis.

negroni lobster-blt

I started off by wandering around the terminal in Minneapolis, scoping out my options.  I was impressed to see a deli that sold fresh fruit – farmer stand style.  I had three hours though, so opted for a sit down option and eventually ended up at Mimosa – a bar and restaurant that let patrons order and pay from a tablet on the table.  I opted to start with a Negroni, which was incredibly heavy on the gin, but really tasty in a bitters and aromatic kind of way.  The sandwich pictured above was a variation of a BLT with lobster – really, really tasty with thick cut bacon and a farm fresh tasting tomato.  This was my first time flying into Minneapolis, and I was really impressed.

My end destination was Indianapolis.  I had a pretty good view from my hotel room.


I also had a chance to actually leave the hotel to get dinner the second night I was here.  (The first night, I had a room service salmon Caesar salad – tasty, but not very photogenic).   A colleague of mine and I went to Nada, a restaurant that bills itself as “Modern Mexican.”  We indulged in really good guacamole to start and I ordered sangria – which I was warned by the waitress was very booze-forward.  It definitely had curacao and brandy in it, but it was no more boozy than most of the sangrias I make at home.  It also very much complimented the trio of tacos I had for dinner.

booze-forward-sangria traco-trio-nada-indianapolis

There’s the boozy sangria.  Next pic are the tacos – from upper left and going clockwise: a fried avocado with pepita pesto taco, a Baja fish taco, and a pork belly taco with a fried egg.  The pork belly taco with the fried egg was my favorite – the egg was just enough runny yolk to mix with the salty pork belly to make it the perfect brunch food (it was great for dinner, too).  If you happen to be in downtown Indianapolis, I highly recommend this restaurant.

Then it was back to the airport and back to Portland.  I spent several hours in the Indianapolis airport so had time to go to Wolfgang Puck’s Express and try out the chicken salad sandwich, which was the perfect autumn combination of chicken, apple, and grapes on wholegrain bread.


My flight was in the evening, so I was able to catch a bit of the sunset on my phone from 20,000 feet or so as we were taking off.


I had a few days at home, just enough time to stretch out the kinks in my back from my flights, and then left for Atlanta.

My room view wasn’t quite as exciting in Atlanta as it was in Indianapolis.


Room service was better than the view.

green-tomato-blt crab-cakes

The first night (the picture on the left) was a BLT with fried green tomatoes, bacon, lettuce and tomato jam.  It wasn’t a very photogenic sandwich, but it was so tasty.  Even better, it came with sweet potato and parsnip fries.  The second night (picture on the right), I had crab cakes served over a poblano aioli, with a jicama and mango coleslaw and potato wedges.  Black sheep definitely approved of that meal.  I’d also bought a small bottle of King Estate Pinot Gris on my way out of the Portland Airport, which was a little bit of home with my dinner each night.


My time in Atlanta was, unfortunately, consumed with work.  I really wish I’d had time to see something of the city and hope to go back someday for fun.

I’ve had connecting flights before in Atlanta, but before this trip, I never realized how big the airport is (5,000 incoming and outgoing flights a day should be a clue).  I had a few hours before my flight home, so walked the distance of all six concourses rather than taking the train that connects to each.  I don’t recommend doing this in heels, but on the other hand, I needed the exercise after those room service meals!  The great thing about doing this walk was I encountered this in between two of the concourses – airport art!


This was sculptural art on the ceiling between the concourses – I assume it represents the rainforest, as there was water projected on the floor in places and the sound of tropical birds and insects throughout.  It was well worth the walk to discover this.

My flight was scheduled out of the international concourse, which has a great selection of restaurants.  I settled on eating at the Pecan Bistro and finally got shrimp and grits – one of my absolute favorite Southern foods.


It was a good two weeks of food and travel, but I was incredibly glad to be back home and be back to cooking and blogging.

Winter Squash Guide

Winter Squash Guide

Once upon a time,  there were only three kinds of winter squash in my life: pumpkin, acorn squash, and butternut squash.  My family grew acorn squash, and I remember eating them roasted with salt, pepper and butter, which is probably the most perfect way to eat an acorn squash.  I also have fond memories of one of our dogs when I was growing up hunting the acorn squash – she was convinced that they were a threat to our safety and would regularly bark at them.  Butternut squash came a little later in my repertoire of winter squash, right around the time I started finding pumpkin pie pumpkins in the grocery store.  I think it’s safe to say that these three squash were my go-to squash for a long time.  I added Kabocha squash when I lived in the Marshall Islands, as these green squash were sold as local pumpkin in the market and made a great addition to curry.

Then I moved to Roseburg, Oregon and joined a CSA.  Suddenly, each week in the early fall brought a new winter squash and brought me scrambling to figure out what to do with them all.  One squash led to another and then I was buying many winter squash from the farmer’s market and the u-pick farm and stashing them in the coldest room in the house so I could eat them all winter long.

Now that we live in the Portland area, we set aside a Sunday morning to make a trip out to Sauvie Island, which is a popular spot in Portland to find farm stands.  Bella Organic Farms on Sauvie sells a multitude of winter squash, and I had to contain myself as there’s just only so much squash I can eat in a season.  So here’s a tour of the squash I bought at Bella Organic Farms and links to recipes for each.  You’ll definitely be seeing some of my own recipe creations for these squash throughout the fall and winter.


Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a great food for a low carb or carb free diet, as its stringy insides make a good substitute for pasta.  You can roast spaghetti squash whole and then cut it open, de-seed and pull out the stringy insides.

Favorite recipes
Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash with Kale and Chickpeas


Kuri Squash

Kuri squash is a lovely orange squash with an intensely orange interior.  It’s great as a pumpkin substitute for pies, as well as blends smoothly as a base for soups.

Favorite Recipes

Roasted Red Kuri Coconut Curry Soup

Roasted Kuri Squash Soup with Smokey Harissa and Chickpeas

Red Kuri Pumpkin Pie with Chocolate


Black Futsu Squash

Black futsu squash is one I haven’t cooked with before.  I saw it at Bella Organic Farm and thought it looked interesting.  So here are two recipes to check out if you find one of these beauties:

Black Futsu Squash in Sweet Coconut Cream

Roasted Black Futsu Squash with Hazelnut Sage Pesto


Galeux d’Eysines Squash

The Galeux d’Eysines squash is another squash that I haven’t cooked before.  I also couldn’t find many recipes that feature this winter squash, so I’m sure I’ll be posting a recipe or two of my own before too long.  In the meantime, here’s a soup recipe that uses this unusual squash.

French Pumpkin Soup


Buttercup Squash

The Buttercup squash is another pretty squash that has a unique appearance. It’s also very versatile for cooking.

Favorite Recipes

Simple Roasted Buttercup Squash

Buttercup Sage Mac and Cheese with Bourbon

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Wraps with Chimichurri Sauce


Honey Nut Squash

These adorable squash are a smaller, sweeter variation on a butternut squash.  I actually found these at Trader Joe’s and thought they were just so cute!  You can use these in any recipe that calls for butternut squash.  Here are a few ideas:

Roast Honey Nut Squash with Rosemary and Gruyere

Twice Baked Honey Nut Squash

Butternut Squash Pancakes


Delicata Squash

I saved the best for last.  Delicata squash have a super nutty flavor and they roast like a dream.  Even better yet, you can eat the entire squash – skin and all.  I love eating thinly sliced and roasted delicata squash rings on a salad, especially with a few toasted hazelnuts and some pomegranate seeds.

Favorite Recipes

Midwinter Delicata Squash and Greens Salad

Smoky Delicata Squash and Black Beans Baked Quesadilla

Delicata Frittata


winter-squash-dog-photobomb trio-of-squash

This first photo is all the squash together…and a dog’s nose.  Daisy is keeping up the fine tradition of dogs in my family who are suspicious of winter squash. The second photo is a trio of squash – possibly my three favorite:(from left top clockwise) kuri, buttercup and galeux d’eysines.

pumpkin-field  pumpkin-in-the-field

These last two are just some pretty pictures of pumpkins in the pumpkin patch at Bella Organic Farms.

I hope you enjoy the bounty of winter squash that are available this time of year.  I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes for winter squash and your experiences cooking with different types of winter squash, so please comment below!

Kale, Walnut, and Prosciutto Flatbread

Kale, Walnut, and Prosciutto Flatbread

I’ve been toying with the idea of making flatbread for lunch for a while now, so when I saw a big bunch of Lacinato Kale at the market this weekend, I decided it pair it with walnuts and prosciutto to make kale walnut, and prosciutto flatbread.  This is a riff on a pasta dish I used to make all the time that included kale, walnuts and feta cheese.  If you wanted to do a vegetarian version of this flatbread, I think feta would make a lovely substitution for the prosciutto.

At the same time that I start to miss tomato season, fall in the PNW responds with an abundant of fall veggies, including kale.  I enjoy the texture of Lacinato Kale (and particularly love the fact that it’s more common name is Dinosaur Kale – I envision large primordial kale plants being munched on by some veggie loving dinosaur).  Walnuts and kale are such natural partners, especially when the walnuts are lightly toasted.

You could use a pre-made flatbread for this, or use my quick no-rise focaccia recipe.  The top of the focaccia was very uneven, so I flipped it over and used the bottom for the top of the flatbread.  I’ve been eating this for lunch this week, along with the last of the figs of the season with some Greek yogurt.  It’s been a good lunch for cooler days, particularly after I’ve taken a little break to walk around the neighborhood where I work and watch the leaves fall.


Kale, Walnut and Prosciutto Flatbread
Serves 4

No Rise Focaccia
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast (or one package)
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Prepare two cake pans by either cutting out parchment paper to fit the bottom and up a bit on the sides or thoroughly oiling them.  Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix.  Flour your hands (the dough is very sticky) and split the dough into two pieces.  Pat each piece into a cake plan until the dough covers the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the bread sounds hollow when gently tapped.  Set aside on a cooling rack to cool.

Kale, Walnut and Prosciutto Flatbread
2 no-rise focaccias or 2 store-bought flatbreads
1 bunch Lacinato kale, de stemmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts
8 pieces of prosciutto
½ cup parmesan cheese

Set your oven to broil.  Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the kale and salt.  Sauté until the kale is wilted.  Divide the kale between the two flatbreads, spreading it evenly over the surface of each.  Layer the prosciutto on top and sprinkle with the walnuts.  Top with parmesan cheese.  Broil for five minutes or until the cheese is gently browned and melted.  Enjoy!

Fall Root Vegetable Salad

Fall Root Vegetable Salad

I’d be the first to admit that I’ve become a little obsessed with fall root vegetables this season.  Easy access to various types of late summer radishes has been so much fun.  This week felt like a soup and salad kind of week, so I decided to do a fall root vegetable salad to enjoy radishes and beets.  I threw in some lettuce as the base.  If I ever get an avocado to ripen up, I might also toss one into this salad later this week.

Root vegetables can be very tasty raw, especially when sliced paper-thin.  I don’t have a mandolin, so just slice very, very carefully. Radishes lend themselves to a dressing with rice-wine vinegar, so I combined this with sesame oil and soy sauce.  I found myself checking the time every hour on Monday to see if we were any where close to lunch time.

This roasted root vegetable salad complements the roasted cauliflower soup from Monday.  This would also pair well with a simple vegetarian sandwich or wrap.


Fall Root Vegetable Salad
Serves 4

Sesame Oil Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar and cover securely.  Shake to combine

Fall Root Vegetable Salad
1 watermelon radish
2 black radishes
3 small beets
1 head lettuce
Sesame Oil Dressing
Fresh black pepper to taste

Slice each of the root vegetables into paper-thin slices.  Tear the lettuce into bite size pieces.  Toss root vegetables slices and lettuce to combine.  Dress with Sesame Oil Dressing and grind a little fresh pepper over the top.  Enjoy!


Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich

This week, I aimed for simple for lunch and came up with this recipe for a vegetarian muffuletta sandwich.  You might ask, why the search for simplicity this week?  My answer – I worked for over twelve hours over two days trying to tame blackberry bushes, passion flower vines, trumpet vines, and bamboo, all of which were happily taking over our house in Southern Oregon that we are trying to sell.  I’m rapidly learning, however, that no one wants to buy a house that looks like Sleeping Beauty might be in residence underneath all the thorny bushes.

I actually started out the weekend with a full six days of vacation time (including the weekend and Labor Day).  I had lovely plans – outings in Portland most of which would have revolved around food: a full day hanging out at Fubon (one of the many Asian markets in Southeast Portland), eating my way through the Pearl District, food cart pods…  And then adulthood set in and we realized that this was a great weekend to spend chopping down bushes and pulling weeds.

After three days of fast food and restaurant food, I was ready to get home, make a salad for dinner, and create something relatively healthy to enjoy for lunch.  The vegetarian muffuletta sandwich was perfect for this, especially accompanied by a quick spinach salad with a few radishes sliced on top.  I was also even finally at a place today where I could lift my arms to eat my sandwich without everything hurting.  (Have I mentioned that blackberry bushes fight back?).

Meaty eggplant is the star in this sandwich and takes the place of the meats that would usually be in this sandwich.  A traditional muffuletta is served on a specific kind of bread, which I didn’t have access to, so ciabatta bread had to do.  I made my own olive salad and used capers to bring out some of the pickled tanginess.  I also made use of some canned red peppers from last year’s canning season to add a little more vinegar and some texture.  The ciabatta held its shape, even after the sandwich sat all night in the fridge, making this a great make-ahead lunch.

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich2

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich
Serves 4

Olive Salad
1 can pitted black olives
1 can pitted green olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil

1 eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 roasted red peppers
4 slices provolone cheese
1 loaf ciabatta bread or similar

Preparing the Olive Salad
Chop the olives into a fine dice.  Put them in a bowl and mix in the capers, parsley and olive oil.  Set aside.

Preparing the Eggplant
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle each with about ½ teaspoon olive oil.  Sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt (1/4 teaspoon at the most per slice).  Roast for 10 minutes and then flip the eggplant.  Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is very wrinkled and slightly brown.

Assemble the Sandwiches
Slice the ciabatta into four sections.  Slice each section in half.  Divide the olive salad over each slice of bread.  Layer the eggplant, provolone cheese, and roasted red pepper.  Enjoy

Blood Orange Soda Mimosas

Blood Orange Soda Mimosas

Labor Day is, literally, just around the corner, making it the perfect time to enjoy these blood orange soda mimosas.  September is the transition month here in the PNW between what’s left of the fleeting summer and the rainy season.  It’s the time when I scramble to get in just a few more activities outside and try to spend as many weekend afternoons as possible outside, stretched out on the grass with a good book and a cocktail in hand. 

The mimosa with blood orange soda recipe came about because of a brunch fail several weekends ago.  As I may have mentioned before, brunching in the Vancouver/Portland area sometimes feels like more effort that it’s worth.  Every place that’s fairly well rated has a line out the door.  Sometimes, I look at a menu and think – do I really want to wait for an hour or more to eat that?  And then when you do find a place that doesn’t have much of a line, there’s always the danger that it will take longer to get a cup of coffee than it would have been to wait in the line at the other place.  All of this to say that Clay and I went to two possible breakfast spots on a Sunday morning several weeks ago, only to finally give up and go to a gourmet hot dog place instead for an early lunch.  Through such serendipity, we stumbled on a best kept secret for brunch: a place that serves chicken apple sausage with a fried egg and tater tots smothered in bacon and gorgonzola sauce.  It was here that the waitress tempted me into also getting a mimosa with a raspberry soda pop Popsicle.  I have to make this at home, I thought to myself. 

Here’s my version.  It’s a simple mimosa with a frozen blood orange soda cube, as I wasn’t able to find popsicle sticks this late in the season (ok, I confess, I didn’t try that hard to find them).  It’s a perfect laze-around-on-a-warm-fall-afternoon drink.  It’s super easy.  If you can’t find blood orange soda, try a different soda or try juice.  I would imagine this would work equally well to do a more traditional orange juice mimosa, with the frozen cube being made of orange juice. 

mimosa with blood orange soda

Mimosas with Blood Orange Soda
Serves 4

Blood Orange Italian Soda or similar
1 bottle of champagne, prosecco, or other sparkling wine

Freeze the soda in a Popsicle mold or large ice cube tray

Once the soda is frozen, place one cube in a wide mouth wine glass.  Pour the champagne or sparkling wine over the cube.  Enjoy!

Peach Sangria

Peach Sangria

I found some of the largest peaches I’ve encountered in quite some time at Whole Foods this past week, so of course, had to immediately chop up one of them to make peach sangria.  This is the sangria I’ve been waiting for all summer long – simple, quick and easy to make, and very, very easy to drink, especially after work on a Friday.

I made this with peach brandy, largely because I couldn’t find peach schnapps.  Unlike many peach flavored things, the brandy had a nice, authentic peach taste which complimented the white wine.  I can imagine that this would also be great served with tapas.  It’s equally good for a lazy late summer weekend spent lounging around reading a book.

Peach Sangria with Carafe

Peach Sangria
Serves 4

¼ cup peach brandy or peach schnapps
1 large peach (or 2 small ones)
1 lemon
1 bottle fruity white wine (Pinot Grigio or Gewurztraminer or Riesling)

Slice the peach into wedges.  Slice the lemon into thin rounds.  Add all ingredients to a pitcher or carafe and stir.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to let all the flavors meld.


Beet Ravioli in Wonton Wrappers

Beet Ravioli in Wonton Wrappers

This beet ravioli in wonton wrappers demonstrates my truce with beets.  I know I’m not the only one who was forced to eat beets as a kid and found the absolutely revolting.  It wasn’t until Clay and I joined a CSA when we lived in Southern Oregon that I even realized that beets come in more varieties than the boiled-to-death red kind.  I also discovered through that experience that beets can be very versatile – they can be used in chocolate dishes (which masks the intense mineral flavor pretty well); they can be sliced thinly and eaten raw; and then can be baked into beet chips.  They can also be part of many pasta dishes – from gnocchi to orecchiette to ravioli.

I used salt roasted beets with rosemary from Alexandra Cooks as the base for this recipe.  The rosemary gives this a heavy hit of flavor.  The recipe itself is fairly quick to put together, not counting the time it takes to roast the beets.  I strongly advise cooking just a few of the ravioli at a time, as they can be a bit fragile and you don’t want to lose all of the beet filling.  While the beet ravioli in wonton wrappers can be sauced with pesto or another pasta sauce, I’m fond of serving them with a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of walnuts, and some freshly grated parmesan.

just beets

beets in salt prebake

beet ravioli filling

beet ravioli with one filled

beet ravioli with wonton wrappers up close

Beet Ravioli in Wonton Wrappers
Serves 4

2 large beets, roasted or boiled (link to how to salt roast beets here)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
18 wonton wrappers

With a potato masher or fork, mash the beets until they become a smooth mix.  Add the grated parmesan cheese and mix well.

Place 9 wonton wrappers on a flat surface.  Place 1 tablespoon of the beet filling in the center of a wonton.  Repeat with the remaining beet filling and wontons.

Place a small bowl of water next to your work area.  Have 9 more wonton wrappers nearby. Using your finger, moisten a ¼ inch around the edge of a wonton.  Take a second wonton wrapper and place it over the wonton/beet filling.  Press around the edges to ensure a good seal.  Continue with the remaining wontons/beet filling.

When you are done, you can either freeze the ravioli or cook immediately.  Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.  Drop each ravioli into the water gently – cook no more than four at a time to avoid them sticking together or leaking.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the boiling water.

These can be served with pesto or with other pasta sauces.  I’m a fan of drizzling with a little olive oil, tossing on a few walnuts and grating a little bit of parmesan over the top.

Cucumber Sandwich

Cucumber Sandwich

Sometimes, simple is better, especially as the lazy days of summer continue.  In this case, a simple open-faced cucumber sandwich can make the most glorious afternoon snack.  The reason reason, however, that I decided to do something with cucumbers today is this:

cucumber destruction

This is what’s left of my cucumber plant.  The culprit who pulled it out of the ground and dragged it around (as well as ate a cucumber) is there on the left looking innocent with her ball.  I can only think that the cucumber, which was in a pot at the corner of the house, really impeded her ability to go tearing around the corner at high speed to bark at other dogs.  Whatever her motivation was, I’ve got about a dozen small cucumbers in the fridge and no more cucumber plant in the pot, as well as a note to myself in my gardening journal that the dog now has a taste for cucumbers, so it might be wisest to plant the cucumber in the front yard next year.

Some of the cucumbers are going into spring rolls later this week, so be on the lookout for the recipe.  Some are going into these easy cucumber sandwiches to snack on this weekend.  This is one of those not really a recipe recipes and here’s the how-to:  take some good crusty French bread and slice it in half.  Spread a generous amount of salted butter on the bread.  Place several basil leaves on top of the butter (I used some of my dark purple basil).  Slice one small cucumber and then places the slices on top of the basil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Eat outside, preferably with a drink over ice and a good book.

summertimecucumber sandwich and spanish g and t

The lovely drink accompanying this is a Spanish Gin Tonic from one of my favorite bloggers, Fox and Briar.  You can find the recipe here.