Portland, OR

I visited Portland for the second time this past September. The first time was a little over a year ago. Although the city itself has changed slightly in regards to its infrastructure, my experience was far better than the first. The reason? There are several. 

No. 1 – I met my beautiful niece for the first time 😍 She made me an aunt!! #WednesdayFiona Isn’t she cute?!?!

No. 2 – The Pearl. I fell in love. The district is full of life with shopping, food, breweries, coffee, parks and more right out your front door. 

Check out that delicious, fall off the bone lamb shank from Deschutes!! Wow was it amazing! This was their special that day. My husband got the Elk Burger, which was excellent as well. 

And the parks!

No. 3 – The lifestyle. The housing and apartment we stayed in was beautiful. We rented a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment on Hoyt Street in the district. It’s owned by a company called Stay Alfred. They own several properties across the US and I will vouch for this one. Also, everything in Portland is family friendly.  A lot is pet friendly too. 

We like our craft beer!! Although Deschutes was my favorite all around when considering both food and brew, Rogue is a must try as well as 10 Barrel and Fat Heads close behind when in the immediate area. 

One final thing I’ll say about the lifestyle is the city’s and it’s residents commitment to the environment. Great job Portland!!

No. 4 – Culture. There’s a little bit of everything and a true melting pot. My favorite melting pot is, no surprise, the shear number of food trucks you will find that literally took over a whole city block. If the group can’t decide what type of food they all want…Portland’s food truck alley has the solution…Thai, Chinese, Iraqi, Mediterranean, African, Israeli, Mexican, Vietnamese to name a few. There’s a host of vegan, vegetarian, organic, gluten free, paleo and other options available as well. 

I could not write this post without talking about Pok Pok. I’m salivating at the very thought of their chicken wings. OMG. 5 stars. This is a must when visiting and I will go here each time I’m in the city. 

Back to culture…this Chinese garden we found…

We ended our trip by relaxing on our roof top terrace the last night…of course with an adult beverage in hand…grilled some chicken to put on top our organic salad and called it a week. And what a week it was.

My husband and brother in law put the cherry on top by buying a gigantic box of Voodoo Doughnuts (balancing out the organic salad). This is one more thing you have to do/eat/visit while you’re here. Holy crap! I’ll miss you Portland and hope I’ll be back soon!

Tomatillo Verde Sauce

Talk about a versatility…this sauce is the epitome of it. You can put this on top of tacos, eggs, salads as your dressing, dip, you name it. 

What you see above is the Verde Sauce on top of a salad I threw together with the various things I had in my refrigerator. I also had left over shredded pork from pork tacos the night before (which also had verde on it 😉) that you see on top. 

The pork tacos were quasi tacos because I’m really trying to cut carbs and sugar from my diet. I used Boston Bib lettuce for the wrap but a mini romaine lettuce would also be perfect. The recipe for the pork is here. I topped everything with tomatoes, avocado, red onion, fresh cilantro, carrots, and a little extra salt and pepper to the pork. 

As for the Verde Sauce itself…

What you’ll need (and remember I make in bulk to freeze some for future so feel free to cut it in half):

  • 18 Tomatillos 
  • 2 jalapeños 
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of one lime
  • fresh cilantro to taste
  • S & P

What to do:

  1. Boil a pot of water that will hold tomatillos and jalapeños. 
  2. Remove the husks off the tomatillos and run them under water until clean.  Also, clean the jalapeños.
  3. Boil the tomatillos and jalapeños for 10 minutes and strain. 
  4. Place them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. 
  5. Pulse until smooth. 

Use it for whatever you want and enjoy!

    Crockpot Beef Tacos for Toddlers (or Adults)

    I really think older babies (when ready for solid food) and toddlers should eat just like adults. My husband and I LOVED our beef tacos so why not share with Grady?!?!

    What you need to put in the crockpot:

    • 1 lb flank steak
    • 1 small jar salsa
    • 1/2 cup beef broth
    • 4 cloves garlic

    Toppings and shell:

    • Avocado
    • Greek Yogurt
    • Sharp Cheddar Cheese
    • Deathwish hot sauce (for the adults)
    • Whole wheat soft taco shells 

    What to do:

    1. Add the ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. 
    2. Shread the beef and cook another 1/2 hour – 1 hour. 
    3. Put it all on a shell with as much or as little of the toppings. I recommend that you drain some of the juice from the crockpot beforehand. 

    At the very end I wanted to make sure Grady had enough vegetables so I added some raw carrots. He loved it all!


        Vegan Wrap w/ Quinoa Bean Avocado & MORE!

        You want a vegan friendly, vegetarian and/or a plain healthy meal? Here it is! Recently, I’ve been making a lot of vegan food; I love it!!  This is so simple and with just 7 ingredients. 

        Here’s what you’ll need:

        • Whole wheat fajita size wraps
        • 1/2 cup Quinoa 
        • Avocado
        • Black Beans
        • Feta “cheese”
        • Swiss chard leaves (or your choice of greenery)
        • 1 cup Vegetable broth 

        What to do:

        1. Heat  small sauce pan on high adding the broth and bring to a boil. 
        2. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve, add to the boiling broth and reduce to medium low heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. 
        3. Remove the pan from heat and put the lid on until the rings appear. 
        4. Rinse the beans in a strainer. 
        5. Lay out the wrap, add all ingredients and wrap it up.      


          Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Sriracha Honey Garlic Sauce

          Warning: These are not healthy by any means, however, they are SOOOOOOO delicious. I made them for a food day and brought them into the office for my team. They were a big hit! They would also be good as an app for any kind of party or get together. Eh hem….Super Bowl party 🙂

          What you’ll need:


          • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
          • 2 eggs (I forgot to add them in the pic)
          • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
          • 3 carrots
          • 3 stalks of celery
          • 1/2 medium onion
          • Handful of parsley
          • Fresh cracked pepper
          • All season salt
          • Blue Cheese dressing, I like Kens


          • 1 cup Franks hot sauce
          • 1/2 cup Sriracha
          • 1 cup honey
          • 4 cloves garlic, minced
          • 2 sticks butter
          • 1 Tbls whole grain Mustard
          • Fresh cracked pepper
          • All season salt

          Back to the meatballs…

          1. You’ll need a meat grinder. I used my Kitchen Aid attachment. If you don’t have one, just buy ground chicken.
          2. Preheat the over to 375.
          3. Trim some of the fat from the thighs. Put all the chicken through the meat grinder. Also, put the carrots, celery, onion and parsley through the grinder. If you’re not using a grinder, mince it in a food processor.
          4. Add the Panko, eggs, salt, and pepper to the mixture.
          5. Mix everything together and use a teaspoon to make mini meatballs.
          6. Bake for 15 minutes

          And now back to the sauce…

          1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan on medium low heat.
          2. Add the garlic and simmer for 2 minutes continuously stirring to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn
          3. Add the remaining ingredients
          4. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste to make sure it’s not too spicy for you. If it is, add more butter. Just remember that it will always taste spicier on its own.
          5. Poor the sauce over the meatballs in a crock pot and place on warm.
          6. Serve with the blue cheese dressing and some fresh celery and/or carrots


          Inspired by Turkish Kofta

          I was recently introduced to Turkish Kofta and found it is really what I knew to be meatballs, just with a Turkish cuisine spin. Traditionally, they are made with ground lamb or beef and, the recipe I saw, served with a spicy tomato sauce. I opted to go healthier and chose a combination of turkey and pork. I was also pressed for time and used organic ketchup with a splash of hot sauce. 

          Honestly, I didn’t know how these were going to turn out because I literally used what I had in the fridge to make them. I don’t have any picture other than one I took when I was packing the leftovers. I never anticipated they would be so delicious.   

          These are so easy to make. My prep time was about 15 minutes. 

          What you need:

          • 1lb Ground Turkey
          • 1lb Ground Pork
          • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese 
          • 3 Splashes of Milk
          • 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
          • 1 Cup Cubed White Bread, Crust Removed (not prepackaged, fresh bakery bread that is a couple days old)
          • 1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
          • 2 Handfuls Toasted Pine Nuts
          • 1/2 Medium Onion, chopped small
          • 1/4 Cup Parsley, chopped
          • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
          • Olive oil spray 

          Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together except the olive oil. Make small patties or balls out of the mixture (I made patties). Spray a sheet pan with olive oil spray lightly and place the patties on it. Bake for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through and slightly browned. It really depends on how big you make them. Serve with ketchup, spicy ketchup, or eat plain. 

          If you’d like to see what inspired me, click here.


          Healthy, Simple Grilling

          Ah, the simple things in life. Summer is the best time to cook on the grill for so many reasons. The weather is perfect (usually), cooking becomes easier and it’s a great way to hang outside with friends and family! Let’s not forget it’s one of my favorite times to enjoy a beer or two while sitting in my lawn chair on the patio. 

          This was my latest dinner on the grill: 


          I have to give some credit to my husband because he did help out with this one. You’re looking at Spiced Grilled Chicken, Corn The Cob, Potatoes with Onions and Sweet Bell Peppers, Broccoli, and Asparagus. Keep in mind that you can use any veggies you like and prepare and cook them the same way as the broccoli and asparagus. 

          I like to use chicken thighs instead of breasts simply because they don’t dry out. However, breasts do have better nutritional stats and can be substituted if you really want an even healthier meal. When comparing equal portions, some that are noteworthy…

          1. Protein – 21g in thighs and 25g in breasts*
          2. Fat – 13g in thighs and 7g in breasts *
          3. Calories – 210 in thighs and 170 in breasts*
          4. Cholesterol – 80mg in thighs and 70mg in breasts*


        • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
        • Paprika
        • Crushed red pepper, a few pinches or more if you want heat
        • Garlic powder
        • Cinnamon
        • Sea salt
        • Black pepper 
        • Mix all spices together (equal parts except the crushed red pepper), coat the chicken, and put it in a covered pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the sides. 

        • Corn on the Cob
        • Water 
        • Don’t clean the corn, just keep it as is and soak it in water for at least 10 minutes​

        • Russet potatoes
        • Olive oil spray
        • 1/2 Red bell pepper, slices
        • 1/2 Sweet onion, slices
        • Paprika
        • Garlic powder
        • Sea Salt
        • Black pepper 
        • Lay out a long piece of tin foil and then double it with the second piece perpendicular to the first. Spray lightly with oil. Place all ingredients on top of the foil, wrap it sealing all sides. Put these on the grill first since they usually take the longest to cook. 

        • Broccoli
        • Olive oil spray
        • Sea salt
        • Black pepper 
        • Same as the potatoes, lay out a long piece of tin foil and then double it with the second piece perpendicular to the first. Spray lightly with oil. Place all ingredients on top of the foil, wrap it sealing all sides.


        • Asparagus
        • Olive oil spray
        • Sea Salt
        • Black pepper 
        • And…repeat preparation a third time.
          Cook everything on the grill over medium heat together until steamy and the chicken is cooked through. Don’t worry if one thing is done before the other, just keep it in its foil or cover it until you’re ready. Cooking is suppose to be stress free!