Pourable Fruit – put it on everything!

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You guys… I have a confession… I am so awkward in the kitchen.  So completely awkward.

I remember liking to cook and bake when I was living with college friends (oh so long ago), and also when Mr. Won’t Run and I were newly married (although there may have been a lot of canned soup involved), so I’m not quite sure what happened, but I have a feeling it’s related to small apartment kitchens.  When there isn’t enough storage space or counter space or floor space, you start avoiding the kitchen.  It’s the last place on earth you want to be, and forget trying to get two people in there at once, and especially not two people AND a dog!  This was exactly the problem the last two years when we had the tiniest kitchen ever, but we’ve been in our new place since January and the kitchen is pretty decent for an apartment, but it seems I’ve forgotten everything I ever knew.  We’ll have to work on that.

Oregon Fruit Company has thankfully come to my rescue, and to celebrate their 80th year of business, they’ve re-released the coolest product – Pourable Fruit!

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They kindly offered to send me some to try out, and I have to say, it made me feel like a pro in the kitchen.  I love supporting local businesses, and if they can help me in the kitchen it’s a tasty win-win for everyone.  Especially for Mr. Won’t Run.

It worked perfectly when I had a strawberry shortcake craving but didn’t have any strawberries – and even if I did, who wants to slice all those strawberries, right?  They wouldn’t even last long enough around here to get sliced!  And those people who get fancy and cook the strawberries to make a delicious syrup type of topping, yeah, that’s not me.  Reference awkwardness mentioned above.

So, Pourable Fruit to the rescue!  I’d give you this recipe but I don’t think it qualifies as a recipe… pound cake + cool whip + Pourable Fruit.  #tastytrifecta

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For some strange reason I also had a craving for a margarita one night.  It was a Monday, but I’m sure there’s no correlation.  I googled a few margarita recipes and I think this ended up being something more like a colada.  Or a daquiri.  Or a slurpee.  I don’t really know my cocktail rules, I just know I like tequila, and I think tequila is the defining factor for a margarita, so we’re going to go with that.  Had to add coconut too.

Again, I feel weird calling this a recipe… it’s just equal parts tequila, lime juice, coconut milk, cream of coconut, and Pourable Fruit.  I did 1/2 cup of each + 10 ice cubes and that made about 3 cups.  So, 1 serving, yeah?

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So quick and easy, and there are so many things you could use it on or mix it with:

  • on top of ice cream (duh)
  • on top of cheesecake (double duh)
  • on top of pancakes and waffles and french toast (oh my)
  • layered with yogurt and granola (healthy)
  • mix it with cottage cheese and grape nuts (did anyone else eat that in college? so weird)
  • freeze it as ice cubes to dress up champagne (fancy)
  • salad dressings (lettuce eat fruit with our salad)
  • all the lemonades (mmmm, strawberry mint sounds good)
  • endless options with booze (obviously)
  • an italian soda (with a little vodka)
  • a real margarita (not a mutant one like mine)
  • a tequila spritzer (sign me up!)
  • a dipping sauce for some savory sweet summer rolls (yessssss)

Additional info + product highlights:

  • fresh fruit picked at the peak of ripeness from farms around Oregon and the U.S
  • manufactured using a cold process to maintain the vivid flavor and color of the fruit
  • lightly sweetened with cane sugar to enhance the fruits’ natural sugars
  • no high fructose corn syrup (has less sugar per serving than fruit syrup or jam)
  • no artificial ingredients
  • gluten-free
  • non-GMO
  • Kosher
  • 18 oz. bottles in freezer section at 142 Fred Meyer stores across OR, WA, and AK
  • retails for $7.99 MSRP
  • look for it in the freezer section (defrost it in the refrigerator, use it within ten days)
  • it may be under the previous name and packaging (berrst) which you can see pictured here and used in a berry meringue trifle!

Check out www.oregonfruit.com for more info and recipe ideas!

And please tell me there are other awkward kitchen ladies out there.  Let’s start a support group.

(Oregon Fruit Products sent me a free 18oz. bottle to try, all opinions are my own.)

It’s Turkey Week!

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Are you ready to eat all the things?  I am!

Are you cooking this year or do you just get to show up and eat?  I have a feeling I’ll be doing some cooking which is fine with me.  Looks like we’ll be heading up to Seattle, and Mom might not be up to cooking on her own so I’m sure it will be a joint effort.

Thanks to everyone who sent prayers, healing thoughts, and good vibes!  She is doing very well after surgery and was actually released less than 48 hours afterwards which was much sooner than expected.  You can look forward to a post about Diverticulitis soon!  Excited?

If you’re cooking this week and need some inspiration for Thanksgiving recipes, here are some dishes I have been drooling over from some of my favorite  Bloggers:

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Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock

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Mr. Won’t Run has been sick for about three weeks now.  This is unheard of.

He likes to say that his hearty Korean constitution keeps him from getting sick, and if he does get sick it’s obviously because my sickly Caucasian constitution rubbed off on him.  Yeah, that must be it.

He’s had that never-ending head cold that comes on with a sore throat and then a week and a half later when it finally starts getting better, the cough begins.  Another week and a half after that is where we’re at now and the cough is still hanging on.

That means I have been making chicken stock once a week.  Nothing like it when you’re sick!  The painful part is having to wait hours and hours for it to simmer away and that’s where the pressure cooker comes in.  Delicious stock in about an hour.

I usually make stock because I have a rotisserie chicken from Costco, so after taking the meat off I’ll save the bones and skin.  I toss that into my Fagor pressure cooker and add one onion, two carrots, and two or three celery sticks.  No need to chop or dice, or even peel anything, I just cut them all in half.

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I like to throw in some salt, pepper, and usually some sprigs of rosemary and thyme – looks like this batch had oregano too.  Again, no chopping, just toss them in.  Next, cover it all with water, for me that usually a minimum of 8 cups.  I have done 10 and 12 cups of water, but at 8 cups I’ll get a stock that gels which is a good thing.  More water makes for a more liquid stock which still has flavor but isn’t as condensed.  Or something like that.

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I know some of you are scared of pressure cookers but there’s really no reason to be.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of exploding pressure cookers, but today’s models are so much safer, and obviously you should read the manual and always use caution, but really, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

After I have everything in the pot, I put the lid on.  I have a Fagor model and it has a line on the lid (kind of hard to see in the picture, it’s straight up from my thumb) that shows you where to line up on the pot handle, then you rotate the lid clockwise to line up the handle pieces.

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The purple part then gets pushed up to lock the lid in place.

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See that yellow thing?  That will pop up once the pot is under pressure.  I just put the lid on and have not turned on the heat yet so there is no pressure and the button is down.

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After the lid is on and locked I turn the heat on high and the pressure starts to build in the pot.  As soon as that yellow button pops up I turn the heat down between low and medium which keeps that pressure built up in there but not at a crazy high level.  The button should stay up the entire time, if it drops down before you’re done cooking you should bump up the heat until the button pops up again.

See… button up!

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Once I turn the heat down I just let it do it’s thing for about 45 minutes.  Oh yeah, you don’t start your timer until that button has popped up, all the minutes before while it was getting up to pressure don’t count.

When it’s done, you still have to release the pressure before you can unlock and remove the lid.  My preferred (lazy) method is to just take the pot off the heat and as it cools and the pressure dissipates, the yellow button will eventually drop back down.

Depending on what you’re cooking, there are a couple other methods of releasing the steam.  You could run the pot under cold water until the button drops, or turn that dial knob on top of the handle and steam will come shooting out.  That method is loud and steams everything up in the kitchen so it’s my least favorite.  It can also sound scary and should obviously always be pointed away from you.

I take the easy route and let it cool until the button drops on its own and then I slide the purple thing back to unlock it, spin the lid counter clockwise and lift it off to this beautiful sight:

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Seriously, I wish you could smell it!

Once it’s done you just strain it, and guard it from the dog.

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Sometimes I’ll strain it a second time through some paper towels to catch the small herb bits, sometimes I won’t.  Then I just stick it in some containers and freeze it or leave it in the fridge if I know I’ll be making soup with it that week or know that someone is sick and will want a mug of it to drink.

And finally, this last time, I did the ice cube thing!  Froze 2 Tablespoons in each spot so that next time I need to add a little stock to something it’ll be easy!

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And there you have it, pressure cooker chicken stock.

I have a few different pressure cooker cookbooks that I use for reference and the way I do it kind of evolved off of those and just winging it.  Seems like every recipe out there is a little different, and I’m sure people have some set ways on how to do it.  I probably do it “wrong” but it works for us so I’ll stick with it for now.

For more info on pressure cooker cooking, check out:

I know there are a ton more uses for this piece of kitchen equipment, but all I’ve managed to figure out so far is stock.  I’m hoping to branch out and try some new things with it this year, apparenlty you can do risotto in 15-20 minutes!

Have you ever used a pressure cooker?

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Homemade Egg McMuffins

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Oh heyyyyy… You’re still here, that’s great!

So, can it still be called a blog if the Blogger never blogs?  Or if she only blogs on other Blogger’s blogs?

I can’t seem to post here lately (not that I don’t have plenty I want to share and talk about), but I did recently guest-post for Katie from Clark’s Condensed.

I got to know Katie through our Facebook group from Online Blog Con, and then I got to meet her in person at the Build Your Blog Conference.  By the way, registration is now open for OBC ’13 and BYBC ’14 if you’re interested!

Katie has a great blog that she just started in January and is is growing by leaps and bounds!  She has blog topics for everyone – recipes, parenting, pregnancy, and thrifty living just to name a few.  Her husband Forrest even gets involved in the blogging and their son Jack is just adorable!

They had a lot going on in May and Katie didn’t want the blog to suffer, so she asked her internet friends for some help.  That’s one of the things I love about blogging, what would normally be seen as competition in another field of work is just seen as a community in blogging!  We all blog together, not against each other.

I had a post that would be perfect for her Copycat series and it’s something I’ve been meaning to share here anyway so it worked out perfectly.

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Head on over to Clark’s Condensed to see one of my favorite go-to to-go breakfasts – Homemade Egg McMuffins!!

And actually… I may have figured out how to take these to the next level but I still have some experimenting to do.  If it works I will totally share, and it will totally blow your mind!

That’s big talk, I know.

Hopefully I’ll be able to deliver on it!

Pho the Love

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I had a lapse.  A Pho lapse.

It will never happen again.

What is Pho?

I call it magic.

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It’s a Vietnamese soup made with beef or chicken broth, beef or chicken meat, rice noodles, and a blend of spices.  Pho can vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant so if you’ve tried it and didn’t like it, give it a shot somewhere else.

Our favorite place in Beaverton, Pho Van, serves the broth and noodles in a big bowl with white onions, and then a plate on the side with bean sprouts, jalapenos, Thai basil, and lime to mix in as you please.

I give Mr. Won’t Run the onions (I don’t mind them in cooked dishes, just don’t enjoy a mouthful of them), he also gets my bean sprouts but the basil and lime are all mine.  I add the jalapeno for some kick but it gets spicier the longer you leave it in so I take it out when I’m about half way through my soup.

You can also season it with hoisin and sriracha.  I go heavy on the hoisin, he goes heavy on the sriracha.

Why did it take me so long to try it?  Well, Mr. Won’t Run orders his with all sorts of beef parts, including tripe.  I’m not into that tripey barnyard flavor so I never wanted to try it.

Then one day he talked me into just tasting the broth.  Then he told me I could order it without tripe.  I have been hooked every since!

Our guy at the restaurant even knows our order:

Salad Rolls, Large #1, Small #6, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi.

Sometimes we change it up and get chicken wings instead of salad rolls.

How the Pho do you pronounce Pho?

The first thing to know is that there is no P sound at all, the Ph is pronounced as an F.

This might make you think it’s pronounced like foe (enemy) / faux (fake) / fo (shizzle).  If you do pronounce it that way most people will know what you mean but it’s not quite right.

It’s more like “fuh”, and it’s really more like two syllables “fu-uh” but it’s very subtle.

“Fu” as in the first part of the F word.  Fudge.  “Uh” as in uh, that’s not the F word.

There is a great post from Loving Pho with a few different audio clips you can check out.

Why is it so Pho-reaking good?

Ever since Mr. Won’t Run talked me into tasting it about five or six years ago I have been swearing by it.  We were eating it every 2-3 weeks and I realized I had stopped getting head colds, sinus infections, sore throats, etc.  If I felt like some germs were trying to take hold we’d get some Pho and kiss those germs goodbye.

Until last weekend when I had just been thinking “hey, it’s been a while since we had some Pho” and then I woke up Sunday with a sore throat and things went downhill from there.  I’m almost back to normal a week later and am vowing to never fall off the Pho wagon again!!

I wasn’t sure why Pho seemed to be a magic immune booster until I read that traditional Pho broth is made with the beef or chicken bones.  The bones are the key because that’s where the minerals, marrow, and gelatin come from along with so many other great things.  And bone broths can help with more than just the immune system, it’s also said to improve joint health, bone density, digestion, sleep, and so much more.

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So there is some truth to eating chicken soup to feel better when you’re sick, but it’s talking about the chicken soup like grandma used to make with bone broth, not the stuff we typically eat today out of a can or a cube.

I am by no means an expert, but here are some articles I found that I believe to be from reputable sources and from people who do know their stuff!

Broth is Beautiful by Sally Fallon (author of Nourishing Traditions)
The Benefits of Bone Broth by Jenny from Nourished Kitchen
How Bone Broths Support Your Adrenals, Bones, and Teeth by OraWellness on Nourished Kitchen
Seven reasons to add bone broth to your daily diet by Margaret Floyd from Eat Naked
10 Reasons to Drink Bone Broth by Katie at Kitchen Stewardship
America Needs More “Brothals” by Kristen from Food Renegade

A lot of those articles talk about bone broth as part of your daily diet and I am absolutely considering incorporating it.  Instead of a mug of tea at night, maybe a mug of broth instead.  It’s not hard to make at all, a lot of the links above include the how-to.  Apparently it’s all about low and slow cooking, and vinegar is key to getting all the good stuff to come out of the bones.  And who doesn’t love a warm mug of chicken broth??

Well, maybe a Vegetarian.

So tell me, do you like Pho?  Have you ever made a bone broth?

Cheese & Yoga

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G is for Grilled Cheese

Thanks to Food Network, I just found out it’s GRILLED CHEESE MONTH!!

Who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese?

Well, probably the lactose intolerant.

Can I just say that I am so glad I don’t suffer from food allergies and intolerances!  At least none that I know of.  Seems like everyone I know has an issue with something.  Those of us that don’t are like the foodie version of the 1%, ha!

Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky I am and I am very thankful!  Cheese would be one of the hardest things for me to give up.

In honor of Grilled Cheese Month, we may have to finally try The Grilled Cheese Grill in Portland.  There is the Double Decker Bus location, a School Bus location, or a Pod Cart – I think we should hit all three!  Undercover quality control.

So if you’re in the mood to grill up some cheese, you can find some great recipes at Food Network, Cooking Light, and if you want some outside-the-cheese ideas, Jessica over at How Sweet Eats is my go-to girl for drool-worthy sandwiches (drool-worthy everything, actually):

Crockpot Pulled Pork Beer Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese
Caramel Apple Grilled Cheese
Peach Bacon Gouda Grilled Cheese Sliders on Pretzel Bread
Grilled Fontina Blackberry Basil Smash Sandwiches
Roasted Tomato Caprese Grilled Cheese
Roasted Strawberry Brie Chocolate Grilled Cheese

I mean, come on, this is just craziness:

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(photo via How Sweet Eats – Grilled Fontina Blackberry Basil Smash Sandwich)

And speaking of grilled cheese…

G is for the Gym

We joined a new one a few weeks ago.  Haven’t gone yet.

However, after seeing Christina’s (Dessert for Two) “yoga arms” I’m going to Yoga class tonight.  Vanity is a great motivator.

Someone should put THAT on a someecard!

We belonged to this gym a few years ago when we lived in the area but we didn’t go much and then moved farther away so it wasn’t convenient.  But now we’re close again and it’s the only one in the area with an indoor pool that is open year-round for lap swimming which is Mr. Won’t Run’s exercise of choice.

He likes to go in the morning when they open.  That means BE THERE when they open.

At 5-freakin-a.m.

There is a Core class a couple mornings that early but it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever make it.  The only thing that will get me out of bed before 5am is leaving for a fun trip, or a fire.

In that order.

So, evening classes it is.

Part of my problem is that I hate going by myself.  I know that nobody is looking at me and judging my fitness level, or lack of, and I’m not judging anyone else either, but I get totally self-conscious and nervous.  Like right now, total butterflies in my stomach.  Such a dork.

I worry that I’m going to use the machine wrong, fall on my face, and end up breaking my ankle.  Then people will have to come help me, I’ll have to take off my sock, my shoe, and lift my pant leg and then they’ll notice I’m way overdue for a pedicure.  And a leg shave.

Mr. Won’t Run is a lucky man.

So, I came home from work, painted my toes, and off to Yoga I go.

Check back tomorrow to see if I broke anything.

Do you have a favorite grilled cheese combo?  How do you feel about going to the gym on your own?  Please leave a comment and let me know I’m not the only one who suffers from AOGN (acute onset gym nervousness), haha!