BIRTHDAY

weekend at the Oregon coast

by Kristina Sloggett

in BIRTHDAY

Bad news out first – I didn’t get to audition. Random lottery picks are probably the easiest for the process, but the chances you actually get onstage are incredibly low. Well. As a wise friend said, it’s likely not my last time trying.

It was great fun to watch others audition again, so much energy in that room! To make up for the bummer of not being chosen, this weekend was also a short birthday trip – with an ocean front condo steps to the sand, and a spectacularly (and unseasonably?) warm Oregon coast weekend. The top photo is the view from our room, on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

Patriotic kites were flying,

as well as two massive flags!

God Bless America

and beautiful sunsets.

I found a place with fresh juice, a restaurant to get a fresh salad, a coffee window serving Stumptown, and several things to bring home from the Under Armor and Loft outlets. Happy Birthday to me.

I love the light house on our patio.

Each morning, our normal alarm clock was replaced by squawking seagulls.

I brought crackers just for the occasion.

Birds wondered what a spabettie is.

One bird took a particular liking to me.

um, can you guess which one?

how about now?

Cutie came right up to me.

Happy Birthday to me.

 

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R S T L N E

Do those letters mean anything to you?

My favorite game show is Wheel of Fortune (those are the free letters filled in for the final puzzle). Sitting at home, I’m pretty good at it too. When I was younger, my Hawaii Grandpa insist I’d “seen this episode on the mainland already” when I was visiting Hawaii and would solve the puzzles before him.

Two years ago, the Wheel Mobile was here in Oregon, and I went to audition. On my birthday. Now there may be some skill involved, but the majority of what gets you on the show is personality. I kept this in mind as I filled out my information card at the audition, and under “interests” I wrote “going to bullfights on acid“. I thought this was clever, and was even more excited when I realized the Wheel Mobile version of “Pat” is a movie quote machine!

So, aside from personality, luck is the other main component of the audition process. You show up, stand in a line that snakes around and around rows and rows, for an hour or more. When it is time for your group to enter the auditorium, you are seated in the audience looking at a stage with a wheel, a letter board, a Pat and a Vanna! Luck is what gets you onstage, because every person in your group is added to a big spinning drum to be picked. Total random lottery. Six people get onstage at one time, and they play a mini game of Wheel. So fun to watch!

Unfortunately I wasn’t even picked to get onstage to play.

Some of you know it’s my birthday later this month. Once again, the Wheel Mobile will be here in Oregon! I am going to audition again, hoping to get picked to be onstage!

Our birthday traditions include a small cake at midnight, small gifts throughout the month, going to dinner at the family’s favorite Mexican restaurant and now – Wheel of Fortune auditions! Hopefully this year the luck will be with me.

Since I’ve already enjoyed plenty of cupcakes, the birthday dessert I’m making this year? My raw apple cobbler – this works at midnight or any time of day. I usually use dates in the filling – I used figs this time and the flavors are great! The buttery cashews with the sweet figs are a perfect pairing with the tart apple and caramel flavors.

raw apple cobbler

serves two

2 apples, sliced horizontally and cored
1/2 cup raw cashews
4-5 dried figs, pitted
4-5 dried dates, pitted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
caramel sauce

Pulse cashews, figs, dates and maple syrup in food processor until a sticky crumble mixture forms. Stack apple with figgy cashew mixture between each slice, drizzle with caramel sauce.

caramel sauce

2 tablespoons lucuma powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon organic apple sauce 

Stir until lucuma dissolves. Drizzle over apple cobbler.

What is your favorite game show? Would you ever want to be a contestant?

 

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September

by Kristina Sloggett

in BIRTHDAY,Dessert

The evenings are getting darker, the temperatures crisp and cool. Students are back to school; sweaters, scarves and boots are coming out of closets. The crisp air smells of fall, and the cooler temperatures have me gravitating towards comfort foods with an autumn theme.

I love this time of year!

September also means my birthday is coming, and around here we like to celebrate birthdays all month.

Jason started a tradition years ago, surprising me with a birthday cake of some sort, always at midnight when the calendar changes from August to September.

This year he sought out treats of the vegan and gluten free variety – and we shared a few last night. I’m sharing with you, in case you have not seen enough vegan cupcakes around here lately

Red Velvet, Lemon, Bittersweet Chocolate, Carrot and Vanilla…

What is your favorite cupcake flavor?

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Last week was Jason’s birthday. I wanted to make cupcakes so they could easily be shared, and who doesn’t love the classic pairing of chocolate and peanut butter? I adapted my brownie recipe into one that is more cake like, but with the chewy dense brownie characteristic. I like that in a cupcake.

You know what else I like in a cupcake? A surprise middle.

peanut butter chocolate cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup agave
1 can pumpkin (15oz)
2 eggs (Ener-G egg replacer)
3 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup ap flour (gluten free)
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
peanut butter for cupcake filling

Combine agave and pumpkin – add egg and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, and baking powder, add to sugar mixture. Fill muffin cups half way, place 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter in center, fill muffins with remaining batter.

Bake @ 350 for 30-35 minutes* or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

*These cooked in 30 minutes in my oven; a reader made them and while they turned out well, it took 50 minutes in his oven.

Cool completely before frosting.

peanut butter frosting

peanut butter
powdered sugar
water

I started out with 1 cup peanut butter and 2 cups powdered sugar. Added water to thin slightly, whip by hand until completely smooth. Add powdered sugar to desired consistency – I wanted the frosting to hold a swirl.

While these cupcakes were for Jason’s birthday, something exciting is happening today that just may need it’s own dessert.

I am honored and excited to be a contributor with gojee – a new recipe site launching today! Gojee, named for the Himalayan berry, is a cooking site showcasing recipes from home cooks. Gojee can recommend recipes based on food you already have, and you can link to a grocery market loyalty card.

I am thrilled to be among amazing company – gojee has hand picked many great recipes from exceptionally talented people! I already have many saved as favorites, and have met some new friends as well. I hope you will visit – we are all very excited today!


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Happy Birthday, K. I Love You!



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Thomas Keller once said he opened Bouchon so he would have
“a place to eat after cooking at French Laundry all day”.

Our last night in Vegas, we had reservations at Bouchon.

We arrived early and had a cocktail in the beautiful bar.

Seated at our table, we began with a glass of wine while reading the menu.

Wine and pistachios.

and warm fresh bread.

We both chose specials that were not on the menu. I asked if Joseph, our fabulous server, if he would write them down for me. He took my menu. Brought it back with the specials written in, and signed. :D

My choice was Maine Scallops, Abalone Mushrooms, Salsify with Lobster Royale and Black Pepper Gastrique.

This was perfect. Amazing. A bite of the scallop with the Lobster Royale… oh my.

Jason chose the Pan Seared Top Sirloin with Glazed Broccolini, Yukon Gold Rosti, Crispy Onion Rings and Sauce Béarnaise.

This was delicious – and I love that Jason loved the broccolini! :D

We must have chosen a good wine, as well. The sommelier came to our table to talk about our Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cote du Rhone 2007. It was fabulous, and paired well with our choices, Jason’s especially.

We saved room for this:

Can you see the way I took the photo… guess what we ordered…

An espresso for each. Sorry, Billy, no pre-dessert cocktail this time! ;)

Dessert was Mousse au Chocolat Noir.

Words cannot describe. It was rich. It was chocolatey. It was fabulously delicious. Perfect.

Our entire experience was. Thank You, Joseph, for being so helpful and accommodating.
You helped to make our experience a perfect one.

I cannot wait to return!

Bouchon (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

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B & B Ristorante =

the incomparable Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.

The first thing I did after our hotel dates and airline as booked? Made reservations at B & B Ristorante… and one other place you’ll hear about soon. ;)

I have been wanting to eat here for some time – and it was all I expected and more – exquisitely masterful Italian from two celebrated Italians.

We arrived early and had a cocktail in the bar.

My classic Goose and Soda, Lime.

Amuse Bouche.

Marinara Chickpea Bruschetta.

Delicious.

Fresh warm bread with olive oil and balsamic.

Antipasti.

Prosciutto di Parma “Galloni 30 Mesi” with Black Pepper “Fett’unta”.

This was fabulous. Amazing flavors – sweet and salty and perfect.

Grilled Figs with Little Gems, Spicy Almonds and Fiore Sardo.

More inventive salty sweetness.

Primi.

Beef Cheek Ravioli with Black Truffles and Crushed Duck Liver.

I am still thinking about this dish (Jason was nice enough to share).

Delicious Black Truffle Close Up:

Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Dried Orange and Wild Fennel Pollen.

You know goat cheese is my favorite – are you surprised I chose this? I want to recreate these exact flavors.

Secondi.

“Brasato al Barolo” with Horseradish “Gremolata”.

Mouthwatering and fork-tender. Amazing flavor. Made with my favorite wine.

Columbia River Salmon with Grilled Leeks and Black Olive Oil.

I loved this. It was from home.

Dolci.

Dark Chocolate Torta.

Sublime. Seriously decadent.

Jason also had a 15 year Laphroaig.

Our entire experience was perfect – the food incredibly beautiful – the atmosphere perfect, I was transported from Vegas for a while.

Joseph was our extremely friendly, supremely knowledgeable server who really helped in making our night fantastic.

Of course, this man helped, too:

B & B Ristorante (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

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We ate many of our vacation breakfasts at Canyon Ranch Grill, part of the spa at the Venetian. Jason began each day with a double espresso. Then another. ;)

I started my days with fresh juice – apple, carrot, beet and ginger – just like at home

Fresh juice is one of the Most Beautiful Things. To me.

Started breakfast with fresh fruit.

Jason had the Frittata del Giorno – baked Italian omelet with cheese and asparagus, potatoes.

and hot sauce.

I chose the most amazing thing… the Breakfast Relleno -
poblano chile, organic eggs, served over polenta.

This was so flavorful – I love rellenos – and the polenta was perfect and went well with the chile.

__________________________________

One day on vacation, I spent a luxurious few hours at Canyon Ranch Spa.

The spa is amazing.

As a spa director, I have been lucky enough to manage the opening of a major resort spa. As a client, I very much appreciate the attention to detail and the variety of amenities of a large – scale spa.

The Canyon Ranch Spa at The Venetian is truly world class. They assign you your locker, you change into your robe, and you enter another level of relaxation:

I got into my fluffy robe, and found my way to the Crystal Steam Room, then dipped into the HydroSpa. Warmed and happy, I wandered down the hall to a lounge. I selected an apple and ice water, and sank into a chair to relax.

Within a few minutes, I was guided down another hallway to the Conservatory – a larger co-ed are of chairs, lounges, music, more fruit and beverages.

I spent a few minutes at a skin care station, sampling lovely product, then made my way to the Salt Grotto, one of my favorite areas. You relax into heated benches in a room with walls of salt. I relaxed into this warm bench and breathed in the salty air. I left a few minutes before my appointment, so I could check out the Wave Room – a relaxing area with wave sounds and scents.

As soon as I walked out my therapist was calling my name. I was assigned to the wonderful Janene. I booked a facial, energizing body scrub and massage. The scrub I chose was stimulating coffee, rosemary, mint and citrus. It was amazing.

Having many years of working in the spa industry, I have received a lot of massage and body work. Janene is a highly skilled massage therapist who truly knows the body.

I told her I wanted a full body massage, with focus mainly on neck and shoulders – which she expertly worked on with heat paks (LOVE heat!). She noticed I needed hip work, and we talked about my running. In a destination spa, I expect more of a relaxation experience, rather than the expert body work I received.

Janene exceeded all expectations.

Canyon Ranch Spa was truly a wonderful experience all around.

________________________________________________________________________

I was starving when I met Jason for lunch at, where else? The Canyon Ranch Grill.

He ordered the Breakfast Relleno.

I had the Portobello Sandwich with grilled onions, peppers and herbed mayo on foccacia.

oh, my… this was fabulous.

I also wolfed about seven huge glasses of water, then had a vodka lemonade:

Every day, every visit, was not complete without my apple – carrot – ginger – beet:

Some days, I would have two.

Canyon Ranch was all around a perfect experience.

Do you visit spas? What is your favorite treatment?

Canyon Ranch Cafe (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

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