Archive | July, 2012

Edible Gifts Paella Basket- Manic Monday Giveaway

Spanish Paella is one of my favorite one-dish meals to make during summer.  With some fresh lemon wedges to garnish my simple Seafood Spanish Paella Recipe, it’s the perfect meal to eat on the patio with family and friends.

Spanish Paella from The Organized Cook

Spanish Paella Recipe from The Organized Cook

The only thing I love more than gifts is edible gifts, which is why I love  I’m so excited to have a Paella Gift Set from Edible Gifts Plus as this weeks Manic Monday Giveaway from The Organized Cook.  Everything you need to make Spanish Paella is here including the paella pan!

Mothers Day Gift Edible Giftscom

Paella Gift Set from Edible Gifts Plus

Entering is simple:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What A BlogHer Food Conference Looks Like

If you’re not a blogger, you’ve probably never attended a blogging conference.  Or, perhaps you are a blogger, but still haven’t attended one of these social media jubilees.  This past month I attended BlogHer Food, one of the largest food blogging conferences, if not the largest, for three days of eating, meeting, writing, talking, tweeting, learning and photographing food.

I met fellow recipe creators, a stock image food photographer, a “small-bites” pastry chef, several registered dieticians, a coffee bean roaster and one mom-blogger who writes only about Moroccan food (I’ll be visiting that blog very soon), in addition to many women who descended upon sunny (at least while I was there) beautiful Seattle, all in the name of food.

You may (or may not be) wondering what a food blogging conference looks like.  Just picture hundreds of women in one place who write, tweet, photograph and talk about one thing.  Food.


BlogHer Food 2012

This is what it looks like when hundreds of women share breakfast while listening to people talk about food.

BlogHer Food 2012

Breakfast Keynote at BlogHer Food in Seattle 2012


This is what the beautiful Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Downtown Seattle looks like.

With grand windows and magnificent classic chandeliers, the hotel for BlogHer food this year looked more a backdrop for The Sound of Music than a social media learning experience.  Spiraling intricate staircases led me past evocative sitting areas to meeting rooms where I felt like one wrong turn would find me in some nostalgic entertaining quarters, where Captain VonTrapp would burst in and ask that I kindly remember that there are some rooms which are not to be disturbed.

BlogHer Food

Fairmont Olympic Hotel at BlogHer food 2012


Fairmont Olympic Hotel


Oh, to back up a minute, this is what it looks like to arrive in Seattle thanks to Southwest Airlines.




This is what it looks like to get ready for a day at BlogHer Food.

The essentials for attending any conference, especially a food blogging conference are: iPhone, camera, iPad, laptop, business cards, notepad and pen.  Oh yes, and lip gloss.


My Epiphanie camera bag


This is what a Silkology private party looks like.

The ladies from Silk were kind enough to invite me to attend a private party near the hotel in downtown to eat and sample drinks made Silk products.  Silk has created a menu of innovative and drool-worthy cocktails all made with products like Silk Soy or Almond Milk and Silk Fruit & Protein called #Silkology.  Artful drinks named “Colorado Blossom” and “Lovely Lavender” were created by “Silkologists” and looked much to gorgeous to drink.  But I did drink them, and they are amazing.  In fact, you’ll see some Silkology beverages at my next “Mom’s Night Out” party indeed.


Silkology’s “Lovely Lavender”





This is what a trip to Pike Place Market looks like.

Words cannot express the energy of Pike Place Market.  Just a few blocks from the hotel, an excursion of food bloggers descended upon this bustling market of seafood, vegetables, flowers, jewelry and much more to explore; and what we found more than one blog post could ever cover.  It would take many trips for me to gain my bearing, get over the awe and decide on one thing to write about- I had a hard enough time choosing which restaurant to eat lunch.


BlogHerFood PikesPlace


This is what Leroy looks like.

I don’t know who Leroy is.  But on our way to Pike Place I couldn’t resist the urge to get this shot.

BlogHer Food


This is what a disgusting wall of gum looks like.

Apparently, this wall is legend.  Just outside of the Market Theater in Pike Place Market, it has been tradition to stick chewed gum on this wall before entering the theater.  The question of the day was, “Is it art, or just disgusting?”.  I have to go with the latter because it honestly still makes my queasy just looking at it.


Wall of gum outside Market Theater


Wall of Gum Market Theater

Art or disgusting?

This is what a photo of someone I don’t know looks like.

Don’t you love it when you snap a photo only to find someone got in the way of your shot.  The only problem with discarding this photo is that it’s a great shot of whomever this is.  If this is you in this photo, shoot me an email and I’ll send it over to you.

Is this you?


This is what the first Starbucks looks like.

If you’re a Starbucks fan like me, then you know Seattle is the birth place of our favorite mermaid coffee shop.  And, the reason “Pike Place” may sound familiar is because Starbucks has named a roast after the place of the first Starbucks coffee store in Pike Place Market.  A long line graces the entrance as I wonder what specialty items would make me wait in that line when I could just walk a block in either direction and be at a Starbucks with no wait.  Do they hand out free souvenir glasses?  I guess I’ll never know because my Iced Venti Chai addiction could not wait.

The first Starbucks


This is what a day of learning at BlogHer Food looks like.

Some bloggers write about national food trends and issues pertaining to food supply, while others write about dietary specific topics like gluten-free, vegan or paleo.  No matter who I met at this conference, I already knew that we shared one powerful connection, and that was our love of food.



This is what a trip through Downtown Seattle looks like.

In between sessions or during breaks at BlogHer Food, I never resisted the urge to make a quick trip through Downtown Seattle.


And, this is what the flight home from BlogHer Food in Seattle looks like.

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Grilled London-Montreal Steak, Asparagus On The Grill & Spring Lemon Salad

Grilled London-Montreal Steak, Asparagus On The Grill & Lemon Spring Salad

Grilled London-Montreal Steak, Asparagus On The Grill & Lemon Spring Salad


  • beef top round steak- 2-3 lbs
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning- (McCormick's Grill Mates)
  • asparagus, fresh- 1-2lbs
  • spring & spinach lettuce salad mix- 16 oz.
  • lemon- 1, sliced in half
  • olive oil- ½ cup
  • red wine vinegar- 1/4 cup
  • minced garlic- 1 tbspn
  • Asparagus:
  • butter- 2 tbspns
  • olive oil- a few tablespoons
  • Salad:
  • olive oil- ¼ cup
  • white wine vinegar- 4 tbspns


    For best results, marinate steak ahead of time, 2-3 hours to overnight.
    For Marinade:
  1. Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic and seasoning (reserving a tablespoon of seasoning for salad)
  2. Place steak in shallow dish and pour marinade over the top.
  3. Cover and place in refrigerator to marinate.
  4. Grill steak on outdoor or indoor grill, turning once, until cooked to desired doneness, approximately 5 minute each side.
  5. Remove steak to carving platter or plate and let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing thin to serve.
  6. Asparagus:
  7. Double aluminum foil about a foot and half long.
  8. Place asparagus in the middle of foil; top with butter and drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Fold foil over to meet in the middle and fold in sides pinching together at the top.
  10. Grill next to steak until tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  11. Salad:
  12. Place salad lettuce in large mixing or salad bowl.
  13. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, juice squeezed from lemon and a tablespoon of Montreal seasoning.
  14. Drizzle over lettuce and toss.


Weekly Meal Planning For Busy Families

Weekly Meal Plan


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Goonie For A Day in Astoria at Scenic Cannery Pier Hotel

The “We Love Dreamers” State

Setting off for stop number four in The Organized Cook’s Cookbook Launch Press Tour, we landed in the green, gregarious city of Portland, Oregon. The plane of returning Oregonians gave bewildered expressions (due in part from lingering Las Vegas hangovers no doubt) as we bubbled “We’re in OREGON!!” The response is usually the reverse for passengers arriving to Sin City, not from. Our trip agenda bursting at the seams, an almost uncannily omniscient state slogan welcomed us in- “We Love Dreamers.” I think we could borrow a bit from Utah’s state slogan, the last state we were in, to say this is the right place

Crunch time until air time- 8 bags and a cozy little kitchen later, it was show time in the FOX 12 KPTV Studio on the set of “Good Day Oregon”. Aided by an exceptionally supportive crew, Toni sailed through the cooking segment along side her TV talent Andy Carson, both comprehending and charismatic (not all Weathermen are created equal). Yes, modern-day moms can get dinner on the table every night without spending all their time and money to do it! With a gracious goodbye, GPS navigation was programmed to the site of our remaining adventure, a place to clear our heads of noise from blinding lights and compass us in to collective future direction: Asotria.

Good Day Oregon Morning Show with Andy Carson


The two hour drive decorated with breathtaking scenery of endless walls of tall, emerald hued Pines, led us to one of Oregon’s best kept secrets. The enigmatic and yet unambiguous waterfront locale swallows you in the moment you arrive. Without room reservations, we arrived on a recommendation by Mr. Carson to what I now believe to be the Gem of Astoria- the Cannery Pier Hotel. Typifying the hospitable nature personified by the Oregonians, the hotel staff made adjustments to their near-capacity situation to fit us in, accommodations endlessly offered from the reception desk.


Astoria Vacation Cannery Pier Hotel

The 2-hour drive from Portland to Astoria was majestic with an amazing diner as a stop-off.

cannery pier hotel

The majestic Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria


Our rooms were serene and tranquil, facing out over the Columbia River, backed by the lush landing of Washington state across the majestic mint-green 4-mile stretch of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Seagulls swooped and perched, impressive barges crawled by in the current, and an eternal brackish breeze lent it’s constant cleansing therapy. With all our cares compartmentalized and distant, new chapters where opened of unimaginable potential.

After being treated to wine and hors d’oeuvres in the lobby, a glossy classic car and driver chauffeured us downtown to a bustling eclectic dinner spot off the main street. After a seafood filled supper of European proportion, we made the complimentary return ride in the same 1939 Buick Special, and fell asleep to riverfront views and the lulling sounds of water lapping the pier. 


Canner Pier Hotel, Astoria Oregon



The Cannery Pier Hotel Taxi



View from our two-bedroom suite penthouse at Cannery Pier Hotel



This antique car is available to take guests into town


The Oregon Film Museum

Once the movie set for the opening scene in Goonies, this bank turned jail, is now The Oregon Film Museum.  The movie, Goonies, begins with the Frateli brothers performing their famous jail break before the famous police car chase to a hideout where they eventually have a run-in with the gang of courageous adventurers, the Goonies, who defeat the Frateli crime family after being chased through an underground cave of danger and treasure.  That jail was actually an old abandoned bank.

The history of Astoria is quite interesting, as our “taxi” driver explained that economically the town has been very depressed for decades.  Although the filming of movies like “Free Willy”, “Kindergarten Cop” and- my favorite- “Goonies” helped, the city was unable to sustain any longtime financial momentum.  That was, until the 100th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 2005.  The centennial celebration brought a lot of tourism focus to Astoria, and it soon began to grow and develop its tourism industry.

Trendy sandwich delis and artsy espresso shops began to emerge along with a few fabulous dinner spots.  The signs of Astoria’s economic slump are still everywhere, with newly redeveloped businesses neighboring shops that look like nobody has entered since 1972.  Steep hills brought us to residential areas  where freshly painted Victorian houses sit next to decrepit ones that looked like you could push over with your finger.  But this is what gives Astoria its authentic quaint charm that only a true Goonie like myself could appreciate.


Oregon Film Museum

The Oregon Film Museum, Astoria Oregon


Before the light fog could lift off the early morning hours, bikes were provided us to go exploring along the River Walk. After passing by sleepy sea lions basking and barking lethargic on the dock, we ascended the hills to the famous and must-see cinematic sites. Perhaps it’s greatest Hollywood accolade, the Goonies house hides up the hillside and around a gravel drive, accessible only by foot. After a quick visit appropriately omitting the Truffle Shuffle, our 1950’s replica bikes coasted down the slope to John Jacob Astor Elementary, where an aggravated Arnold rebuked “It’s not a toomah!” in Kindergarden Cop. True to form, a friendly neighbor appeared to show us where key scenes took place around the picture-perfect school.

Sleeping lions waking up gave us an hour of entertainment.


Astoria Vacation

Yes, it’s the Goonie house. And, the view from the Goonie house is the Kindergarten Cop school.


With a surreal scene before us, we pedaled our way back down to the CPH to make haste to catch our flight out of Portland. An hour late for check-out, we drug our bags, dreams in tow, reluctantly away from the coast and back towards the desert plains of Nevada. After being in a time-warp of self-discovery and creative outlet, an oath was sworn to make a timely return, truth resonating from Mikey’s sagacious words that in Astoria “down here it’s our time, it’s our time down here.”


Cannery Pier Hotel Astoria Oregon

Astoria will be seeing me again, and I’ll be staying at The Cannery Pier Hotel!


Traveling Mom

Since this trip was part of our press tour for The Organized Cook, I was without kids for my Astoria getaway.  However, my advice for families looking to travel to Astoria for a family vacation is this- if your children are old enough to watch and appreciate the Goonies movie, this may be a great spot.  There’s not a lot, if anything, that I could see for younger kids to do, as my younger kids would not have appreciated the town.  On the other hand, Rayana, my artistic and authentic fellow Goonie-at-heart daughter will love it, and I plan on bringing her very soon. 

And when we do come to Astoria for our Goonie adventure, I’m sure to be staying at The Cannery Pier Hotel!



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