Summer Palace Town of Sintra

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Quinta da Regaleira

This is the first of my international travel series and guides on the blog and I’m pretty excited about it. My goal has always been to be a food and travel blog, but I had a little trouble focusing my travel energy to something useful besides just a lot of babbling and excitement. So hopefully you will be able to enjoy this series in my blog as much as I have putting it all together.

Sintra is a beautiful day trip away from Lisbon and it is fairly easy to get to. From Rossio Station in Lisbon, you can take a train and get directly to the town. From the train station you can take a bus to what you need to see. We bought our train ticket and an unlimited CP bus ticket from the Rossio Station in Lisbon (~15 Euros). I would highly recommend buying the bus ticket here because it will save you some money and you won’t have to wait in lines to purchase a bus ticket to get up to Pena Palace.

If you purchase your tickets in advance and group a few attractions together, it will save you some time and money. You can purchase tickets here https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en/commercial-area/ticket-office-2/ or in Sintra.

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Pena Palace

Pena Palace– The palace had amazing views, tiles and architecture, and was repainted to look like it did when the palace was in the height of use.  But the best part was the national park surrounding the castle. There were trails that led up to the highest point of the hills with beautiful views and gardens throughout. The grounds were a very nice way to relax since the palace can get pretty hectic. A must-see attraction when visiting Sintra.

From the train station take Bus 434 to Pena Palace.  Also, it can get pretty crowded at Pena Palace, so get there early.

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Door at Pena Palace
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Moorish Castle

Moorish Castle-Stop on Bus 434 route, but you can also walk here from Pena Palace. Most day trips to Sintra will tell you to go to Pena Palace and then Moorish Castle. There were both Islamic and Christian inhabitants in the castle over the years. The remains are mainly a castle wall which you can walk along and overgrown foliage which give the whole place a magical feeling of ancient beauty.

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Chapel and Main House at Quinta Da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira– My favorite part of Sintra. You will need to take a different bus to come out here, but worth it. It was a mix of everything cool all in one entrance fee (cash only ~6 Euro). The Initiation Well was the main reason I wanted to visit and it reminded me a lot of Bane and the Dark Knight Rises. It led to underground passageways that was kinda creepy, but also very cool.  Then it was also a fairy tale castle with romantic towers, beautiful flowers and grottos.  It was the dreamiest part of Sintra.

We took Bus 435 from the train station. It’s also only about 2 km from the train station so you could walk there pretty easily.

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Initiation Well at Quinta Da Regaleira

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I would love to come back and see more of the town and restaurants that are there. The whole place was so incredibly dreamy and a highlight of our trip

Have you every been to Sintra? What are your favorite places to see there?

Summer Palace Town of Sintra

Kimchi Soft Tofu Soup

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One of my New Years goals  of 2017 is to make 52 new dishes I’ve never tried before. I want experiment on new techniques, flavors and dishes this year and to really expand my culinary knowledge. That averages to about one new dish every week. I felt that was a good number to push myself, but also taking into consideration that I am completely exhausted after working a full day of work and I just want something quick an easy. On the menu this week was kimchi jigae!

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This was my first time making Kimchi jigae. It’s a classic Korean staple which I am a sucker for even though I’m not Korean, despite popular opinions of strangers. I feel it’s the under-rated older brother of Korean barbecue. Everyone is all in a tizzy about all the meat; the bulgogi, the kalbi, the… wait, is there other meat besides those two? Anyway, while everyone else is scarfing down the meat, I go straight toward the soft tofu soup. 1. I love soup. 2. I love kimchi 3. enough said. But in all honesty, it’s the tangy-ness and spiciness of the fermented kimchi combined with the flavors of a pork based broth that gives some good layers of flavor.

I bought a stone bowl to try to see if it make any difference, cooking with it was a whole different beast in of itself. I have an electric stovetop and it took FOREVER to heat up the bowl and then another FOREVER to heat the soup in the bowl. I don’t know if it makes the soup taste any better, but it did look a lot cooler and more authentic in the special Korean restaurant stone bowl.

Pretty much making kimchi jigae at home is a total game changer. Now, I can have my soft tofu soup at home on the regular.

What about you, what new dishes have you tried making this year?

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Kimchi Soft Tofu Soup

Palm Springs Travel Guide

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It has been an incredibly cold and stormy winter here in Portland with record snowfalls and I’m just about done with winter! But with this cold rainy weather I’m dreaming of our trip back in November when we went to Palm Springs and I wish I could be there RIGHT NOW! If you’re lucky enough to head out there anytime soon, here are a few fun things to visit and see while you’re there.

Joshua Tree National Park

One of the cooler national parks I’ve been to. Definitely worth the 45 minute drive out. It truly encapsulates the desert beauty. You can easily spend all day there, if not more, depending on the experience you want. There are hikes and viewpoints all over. Just a fair warning, bring enough water, food and gas before you go into the park because there isn’t any inside the park.

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Moortens Botanical Garden

So stinkin’ cool. Originally opened in 1960s and had just a few cacti, and in the off season Mr and Mrs Moorten would travel the world collecting cacti to eventually what it is today. Their son and daughter-in-law own it today and live on the property. You’ll find a prick load of cacti and inside their cactacarium you’ll find a lot of rare super cool looking cacti you’ve never seen before. Including one that grows horizontal.

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Renting bikes and biking around town

Super super super fun! We rented bikes and biked around town to look at all the cool architecture and buildings. You can rent them all day long and just bike around to everything you want to see. The town is small and flat, so biking is super easy, and environmentally friendly too!

palmsprings-8Uptown design district

Design and art stores which transport you back to the fifties. Unique mid-century modern designs to inspire you and because they’re so personalized to Palm Springs. There, you’ll find various design and antique shops while being able to dine in some hip restaurants.

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Palm Springs Travel Guide

Sage Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan Toast

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I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately while I walk my dog and I’m learning a ton about people and myself listening to these TEDx talks, but I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the hours of radio I’ve been listening to is that fear is the biggest hindrance in anything you do. But, I think more specifically, I think fear of what others might think or react stops me the most from doing things that are out of my comfort zone. Now, imagine how liberating it can and will feel when we let go of fear and start working on things that we always have wanted to do, but were too afraid to start.  I know Autumn isn’t traditionally known for new beginnings, but this time it is. and…

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Autumn is in full swing and the cooler weather brings warm soup and squash. LOTS and LOTS of squash. So here’s to new beginnings and new soup recipe. I roasted the squash and carrots so the soup is a lot sweeter. Not to mention turning on the oven has a dual purpose of making my dinner and also heating my apartment at the same time. I like to accompany the soup with toast to bring a crunchy texture to the soup.  The easiness of this soup will make it a classic fall recipe.

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Sage Butternut Squash Soup
serves 4 as side

1.5 lb butternut squash,chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb carrots (3 skinny carrots)
1/2 large onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp chopped sage
2 C chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Place squash in single layer on baking sheet and toss with salt and olive oil.Bake for 20 min,turning once. Meanwhile, heat burner to medium heat and sauté onions and garlic for 5-6 minutes,or until soft and fragrant. Add sage and cook for another minute. Add chicken broth and roasted squash tot meld flavors for 4 minutes. Blend in blender until soup is smooth.Salt and pepper to taste.

Parmesan Toast

1/2 C grated parmesan
1 mini baguette

Slice baguette into 1/4in slices, diagonally. Top with grated parmesan. Arrange toast in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes at 425 degrees

Sage Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan Toast

Autumn Campfire

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Don’t put away those campfires just yet! It may be too cold to be camping in a tent outside, but it is more than better for cabin camping with a little outdoor fired. In our case this past weekend, the lake house was FREEZING when we got there, but within minutes my husband was able to whip up a fire in no time (he’s an Eagle Scout ya know?) !

It really is an experience you can’t get any other time of year, with the leaves turning and the cool air that is crisp, yet I am enveloped with warm hues all around, which invite me to stay.

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Nothing like whipping up some warm smokey burgers. We actually had portobello mushrooms on top as well, so it was quite the meaty burger.

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The trick to campfire cooking is to not cook your burgers like the pic above (things got a little outtahand!) but over some hot coals to keep the heat consistent and even.

 

Autumn Campfire

Apple Season

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This weekend marks the first “winter storm” of the year in Portland, which means it will start raining today and won’t stop until April… but also, it makes me go into emergency preparedness mode, which is 25% being prepared and about 75% being paranoid. I have about 48 Larabars and 10 bags of chips that will hopefully keep me, Bryce and the dog alive for 3 days until someone will come to our help.

But, since the storm is supposed to be here are there is no wind and no rain currently, we can just continue to enjoy how beautiful it has been the last weekend and how apples are just taking over the farmers market with their sweet goodness.

 

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My favorite way to enjoy an apple is probably just sliced apple and peanut butter, Justin’s honey peanut butter to be exact. If you haven’t tried it, it is a must! it will change your life. Interestingly enough, when I was in 5th grade, this was one of our home ec lessons in cooking.

 

food-4But when I crave something a little more because I went a little crazy at the farmers market and bought way too many apples, apple hand pies is the way to go. I dunno, there’s something about a handpie that makes everything a little bit cooler, because it’s a pie… that can fit in your hand. (or maybe I’m just craving the $1 for 2 apple pies from McDonalds)

Apple Hand Pie

3 C apple (firm tart variety)

1/4 C brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp lemon juice

pinch of salt

pie crust

melted butter

sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven 425 degrees. Cut apples into 1/2 inch squares and mix together all ingredients. place a little less than 1/4 C into each pile on half the pie crust and then fold over crust to cover all the apples. Press firmly around each pile of apple filling to seal pouch. Separate each sealed pouch with a knife. Brush the top of each pie with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before eating.

 

 

 

 

Apple Season

Simple Orange Salad

  
Olympic Provisions is the old name of this beloved Portland cured meat shop and restaurant. But apparently, the International Olympic Committee had a thing to say about it and so now it’s Olympia Provisions… Because the first thing I think of when I purchase a smoked kielbasa is of figure skating and track and field events… Anyway! I recently ate here for brunch and had an amazing eggs Benny!! I think ham is a difficult… It’s either too salty or too sweet, I usually go for other options, but being as Olympia Provisions is known for their pork products, I thought I would give it a try, and MAN was it worth it! Just the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Charcuterie board is delish, as always. My favorite is always the rillette. But with all that meat, the orange salad was a perfectly paired touch of freshness. 

I don’t think I ever appreciated how good oranges are until I bought a bunch of in season organic varieties, and my life was changed forever! There is nothing better than a juicy sweet orange, and there’s nothing more disappointing that a dry non-flavorful one…

Inspired by this seasonal goodness, I put together this instant classic. The main trick is to make this salad when oranges are at their best! This does nothing  more than pay tribute to how great citrus is in the wintertime, turning our Pacific NW seasonal depression right out of snap! 

  

  
I used cara cara and naval oranges, but feel free to use any great citrus you can find.

1. Peel oranges and slice into 1/4″ slices and top with roasted pistachios, chopped mint, and chèvre. 

2. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and salt

And that’s it! A simple but elegant salad that has a lot more than meets the eye!

Simple Orange Salad