Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Browned Butter Salted Blondies

Ok, lets get a few things straight.

While I must admit that I am normally a dedicated and tireless chocolate-loving gal, there are a few instances in which I must admit that vanilla, often described as yellow or blonde in food terms, is better.

Pour example:

Vanilla bean ice cream. Much better than chocolate.

Yellow cake (with thick chocolate frosting). Tastier than chocolate cake. (I know this is shocking coming from me).

Blonde men > brown haired guys ...huh? What. I can't help it. It's my personal preference.

But always remember that brunette gals are better.

Now that we're on the same page lets talk about these blondies. I made these for a Sunday night dinner I hosted and let me tell you that they were a huge hit! This recipe comes together with just a few ingredients in 10 or 15 minutes. Seriously one of the easiest desserts to make, ever. And the final product tastes so very buttery, rich, and sweet. Kind of how I like my men. Just kidding. That was a really bad joke. Make these blondies and I promise you'll forgive me.

Oh and by the way, I made mine gluten-free, to boot!

They are so delicious, that I barely got to snap a picture. See below for proof. Now, go get your butter on (the stove, duh).

Browned Butter Salted Blondies
Makes about 12 blondie brownies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour of your choice (I used Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup as a gluten-free alternative; just don't use whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt + extra for on top

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8x8-inch baking dish.

2. Over medium heat, melt the butter, stirring constantly. Once the butter melts and bubbles a bit, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. While the butter is cooling, mix together, in a separate dish, the flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. Once the butter has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, quickly whisk in the brown sugar and then the eggs. Combine this mixture with the flour mixture and mix everything together until the batter is smooth. Breathe in the buttery deliciousness.

5. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the top with a pinch or two of sea salt. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife/toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the blondies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On a 27th Birthday, 27 Things I've Learned

A few things I have learned over the past 27 years....

1. Always have a chocolate bar handy; store in the cupboard, in the freezer, and at work.

2. Good manners will get you far. Especially at restaurants and airports. I'm talking dish-not-on-the-menu or emergency-exit-seat-for-free.

3. You probably will never regret a workout. So just do it. The endorphins are really worth it.

4. Go to the Farmers Market. Talk to a farmer. Thank him or her for growing your food.

5. Don't let saving money get in the way of traveling. The travel will make you richer.

6. Always be nice to your Mom and make her homemade cards for Mothers Day.

7. When in doubt, put a fried egg on it.

8. Take care of your best friends. Cook for them (Kacey). Let them borrow your stuff (Julie). Listen. Because they will in turn, take care of you, when you really need it (Lindsey, Jaqui, Kelsey, Julie, Miri, Kacey, Bethany, Tan, all my Katies, Kimbo, and the list goes on, and on...and on).

9. Be a good sister. Big or little. Realize that if you are the little sister, you have it way easier.

10. Don't write the nice guy off.

11. When you are stressed, bake. Bake it off!

12. It's totally okay and acceptable to wear nothing but yoga pants and spandex all weekend long. Drown in the comfort. I'm right there with you.

13. Despite being made fun of by...98% of the people in my life, I have accepted that I am a cat-loving lady. Get over it. Cats are cool.

14. Good Will Hunting never gets old. When you need a good cry, just watch Robin Williams and Matty D in that one scene, where Robin talks about his wife who passed away. Gets me. Every time.

15. Just because you can't drink a pitcher doesn't mean you can't join in on the fun...right? Right. (Guess which drink is mine...?)

16.When your friends force you to wear red lipstick, listen to them. It's fun! And it looks pretty!

17. If you want to listen to Broadway music every day on your way to work, do it. I highly recommend The Phantom of the Opera original cast, with Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford.

18. Try really, really hard to not hold grudges. They are so unhealthy. Mentally and physically.

19. Yoga will change your life.

20. Don't forget to strike a pose.

21. New Years is so overrated. The best way to spend it is with close friends and/or family; those you love.

22. You can never have too many Christmas decorations. I don't care if my apartment looks like Walmart at Christmas. Get in the spirit, yo!

23. It really isn't always your fault. Truly.

24. Sometimes you have to act like the adult. Even when you should be the kid.

25. For all my fellow San Franciscans: order the Black Cod at The House. Go on a date at Hotel Biron. Unami Burger IS worth the wait and order the bacon-wrapped scallop burger. The Thrice Cooked Bacon is worth it at Mission Chinese Food and will burn your mouth off, so make sure to wash it down with a beer.

26. Don't forget to tell someone when you are proud of him or her.

27. Remember to laugh. It's so much more fun that way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How I Ate (and ran) My Way Through Portland

It's official. I love Portland.

I knew this would happen. I just knew it. I've read and heard all about the food scene in Portland for years, but it really did surpass my expectations this past weekend.

Since I had never been to the City of Roses, and always wanted to go, I decided to run the Portland Marathon with a few friends from my local running group.

The run was good.

The food was better. Here's how I ate my way through Portland, just as I intended!

Upon arriving Saturday morning, my friend Zoe and I checked into our downtown hotel (in the Southwest area) and set out on an exploratory walk on a gorgeous Summer weathered-Fall day. We were surrounded by wide, clean streets, large brick buildings, and trees with their leaves turning bright oranges and reds. Heavenly.

We stumbled upon the end of the Saturday Farmers Market. I picked up a gluten-free treat from Lisa, the owner of Petunia's Pies & Pastries. She was the sweetest young gal...and her gluten-free (and vegan) Pumpkin whoopie pie was calling my name. Eaten under a tree, on a park bench, while leaves fell getting caught in my hair, in 75 degree weather. Perfection I think.

Pumpkin whoopie pie with lemon zest frosting

For our pre-race dinner that evening, we ventured nearby to The Picnic House. I wanted plenty of protein. We ordered a few dishes, but the stand out for me was the Farmers Market Salad with a maple duck drumette. I die for duck. Also, in case you were wondering, I don't believe in carbo-loading. Seriously. I believe in protein-loading. With duck. And bacon.

Farmers Market Salad with Summer tomatoes, avocado, sugar snap peas, almonds, and a maple duck drumette

And to prove I ran the marathon...

Well. This was the before picture. I'll spare you the after.

After I iced my legs for 30 minutes and took 4 IB Profens  showered, I went to brunch with some friends at Tasty n' Sons. No words.

Summer cast iron vegetable frittata with caramelized onions

Maple glazed yams (horrible to photograph, but literally maple-covered goodness)

Bacon wrapped dates with almonds and maple syrup (almost as good as when stuffed I make mine with chorizo)

For dinner that evening, I ventured to Andinas, a Peruvian restaurant in the Pearl District, recommended by my Mother. I was dining alone and sat at the bar, which was kind of lovely. Before dinner, my Mom insisted, via phone: "You have to get the drink called the Sexy Lady." I purposely ignored this recommendation and opted for a glass of Willamette Pinot Noir; my first drink in over a week! (I try to eat and drink especially clean the week before a race.) It tasted...mind blowing. Also mind blowing?

Baked Diver Scallop with a tamari-brown sugar butter sauce topped with crispy onions (out of the 4 dishes I ordered and consumed all by myself, this was by far my favorite)

A Hershey bar eaten in bed later that night may or may not have occurred.

My friend and I both took Monday off to recover from the marathon and further explore Portland. We started our morning (after icing our legs, naturally) at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Stumptown rice milk latte with a gluten-free Morning Glory Muffin, courtesy of the lovely Petunia's

We then ventured to a Vinyasa Flow class at Yoga Pearl nearby. Although the class was not nearly as good as my favorite Tom Lee yoga class (obsessed) in San Francisco, it did the stretching trick. And the space was absolutely gorgeous; 2 beautiful, spacious yoga rooms with an organic, gluten-free, vegan-friendly cafe inside. Love it. If you like yoga and are in Portland, stop by.

As you can see, the marathon was my excuse to come to Portland and eat. I think what I appreciated most about this city was that it catered to gluten-free needs everywhere, even at the marathon finish line. I try to eat gluten-free most of the time since I feel better without it. Don't get me wrong, I will indulge though. I am the daughter of the Dessert Queen, after all.

Portland, I'll be seeing you again, real soon, I hope. In the meantime, I absolutely must recreate those maple-glazed yams. I am still dreaming about them.

I may be walking like a peg-legged pirate (seriously) right now, but Portland, you (and your food) were worth it.