Recipe: Fall’n for Spaghetti Squash

CRAP! You mean summer is over? Already?? I didn’t get into my bikini one time all summer and now it’s time to start layering on those socks/turtlenecks/sweaters/raincoats?!

F.M.L.

Well, I guess fall isn’t all fail. There is college football [Ed. note: Go Ducks!] and…um…ummm…. OK, maybe just college football.

Seriously, dear readers, I was not made to live in a cold, dark, rainy climate, but somehow I’ve lived in Portland many years of my life.

Anyhoozles, I guess if you need to adjust to chilly temps and never-ending overcast skies, there’s no better way than making something warm, tasty and in season. Hot apple cider with brandy? Nope…I’m talkin’ SPAGHETTI SQAUSH! (But now I really want that spiked hot apple cider, too.)

I’ve only recently re-introduced myself to spaghetti squash. I had it as a kid, but completely overlooked it as an adult. And, honestly, I regret I’ve waited this long. The flavor is mildly sweet and can be mixed with a variety of ingredients—from simple to really complex flavors. It’s also very filling, but low in carbs and calories.

And, no, it doesn’t really taste like pasta spaghetti.

When looking to purchase your very own spaghetti squash, look for ones that are the most yellow in color, still very firm and about 3-4 pounds. Spaghetti squash is considered a “winter” squash and they keep well in dark, cool pantries/cabinets. So stock up!

BTW, click on the pics for a bigger, better view.

How to make the perfect spaghetti squash:
– Buy one medium-size spaghetti squash
– Heat your oven to 400 degrees
– Make lots of puncture wounds in the squash with a paring knife so it doesn’t explode in the oven! (This may or may not be a myth, but Stumptown Lunch plays it safe.)
– Line a baking dish/pan with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour (just until the outside is soft to the touch—with an oven mitt on, duh!)
– Remove from oven; let cool

– Slice lengthwise

– Scoop out the seeds with a spoon; discard those gnarly parts in your compost/trash
– With a fork, carefully scrape out the spaghetti-like “innards” of the squash—place them in a bowl and set aside

Now…
– Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a skillet on medium heat

Add:
– Two cloves of minced garlic (or more if you like garlic)
– One finely diced shallot
– One teaspoon of red chile pepper flakes
– Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste

– Once the shallots are soft and the garlic starts to brown, remove from heat and carefully mix in the spaghetti squash

Toppings:
– 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
– Two tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (dried basil will work, just use less)
– Fresh ground pepper

There are tons of variations for this simple recipe, and I’m looking forward to trying out all sorts of different ingredients this fall! Next time I’m trying it with Feta, black olives and diced tomatoes.

ENJOY!

[Recipe inspired by Food with Dottie]

Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Wong Kee Dim Sum Restaurant
28 NW 4th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-229-1888
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Rating: ★★★★☆

Believe it or not, until a few weeks ago I’d never had dim sum. How could that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I frequently eat at the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and many of them offer dim sum. Maybe it was an unexplainable fear of all those tin containers. How would I know I was picking the “right” thing to eat?

Then my friend Matt mentioned how amazing the dim sum is at Wong Kee—in fact, his entire family would occasionally drive all the way from Corvallis just to eat there when he was a kid. So I had to take him up on his offer to try it out.

I’ve had the regular menu at Wong Kee before, so I knew the food would be great, but I was very excited and delighted to try so many delicious dim sum treats all in one sitting. Continue reading Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Review: Thai Food Café

Thai Food Café
833 N. Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217
503-285-8745
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Rating: ★★★★½

Oh how I miss living in my old neighborhood. Not only did I live in the cutest of cute lil’ bungalow, but I was just a short walk or even shorter drive from all the hotspots of North and inner Northeast Portland. So when I got a tip that the relatively new Thai Food Café on North Killingsworth was ab fab, I knew it must be investigated.

Unfortunately, I somehow woke up to discover my left mandibular second molar (that’s one of those back teeth used for chewing) had slightly cracked in my sleep (how does that happen?). Regardless, I wanted some Thai food, cracked-tooth pain or not. (OK, OK, the tooth really isn’t that bad!)

I met up with my awesome friend Steph for a late lunch in the super-sunny dining room and we were immediately welcomed with cups of warm tea—perfect just coming in on a cold winter day. The hosts were incredibly nice and very attentive to our needs.

We were pleasantly surprised by the lunch specials. There are 15 lunch options, ranging from Pad Thai to curry dishes to stir fries that you can order with a meat, veggie or seafood selection. If you choose to add vegetables, tofu, chicken, pork or beef it’s just $6.50, if you want shrimp, squid or scallops it’s $8.00. They also offer soy meat and seafood options for veggie and vegan patrons at similar prices.

I went with Pra Ram with chicken and Steph tried the Pad Thai with chicken. Just after we ordered our entrees we were served a complimentary cup of delicious coconut soup. What a treat! It was creamy and full of flavor. Continue reading Review: Thai Food Café

Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Fire on the Mountain
1708 East Burnside
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-230-9464
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Rating: ★★★★½

Wings, oh, lovely wings! Who doesn’t love a great wings place, right? Sure, you could trek out to the lone Hooters left in Oregon at Jantzen Beach, but for a great local wings place, you really should visit Fire on the Mountain—which now has two locations. Not only are the wings great, but the selection of sauces is outstanding.

Portland was a little behind the wings trend for years and years, and Fire on the Mountain’s initial location on North Interstate was really the first GOOD wing-specializing place in town (seriously, you can’t count Hooters, puh-lease) when they opened up in 2005. The original location is teeny-tiny, so if you go be prepared to wait for a table or just order take-out. The new East Burnside location is larger and very airy, but it’s also known to fill up fast during lunchtime.

When you approach the counter to give your order, you can actually taste-test the sauces on small pieces of celery. This is a great way to try out any sauces you might usually be afraid to try on an entire order of wings, so go ahead, dip that celery stick in “El-Jefe” and let the burning sensation begin. Continue reading Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Review: Pastini Pastaria

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Pastini Pastaria
(Six locations in the Portland area)
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Rating: ★★★½☆

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Pastini Pastaria is pretty much my go-to spot for any sort of family or friend function that entails a large group going out to a restaurant. Sure, some people might consider it Portland’s local version of Olive Garden, but the food is consistently good (even if it is a little on the bland side) and there is something on the menu for everyone-even those picky eaters and vegetarians.

What I love about Pastini is that they offer an excellent variety of pasta, from capellini to ziti and everything in between! They even offer whole wheat pasta, which is typically what I order. They have just about every combination of delectable pasta dishes, from the simple spaghetti agli e olio (the classic with sautéed garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan) to the more decedent baked manicotti (filled with beef, pork, ricotta and spinach, then baked with alfredo sauce and marinara). All pasta dishes are served with the equally delicious ciabatta bread from Pearl Bakery. Continue reading Review: Pastini Pastaria

Review: Bellagio’s Pizza


Bellagio’s Pizza (Goose Hollow location)
1742 SW Jefferson Street
Portland, OR
503-221-0110
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Rating: ★★★★½

Most of us have been there, that day when you really just struggle to get out of bed because maybe you stayed out a little too late the night before and, just maybe, had a few more cocktails than you had originally planned to imbibe.

Well, Bellagio’s is one of my favorite hangover-curing lunch spots. Not only is the pizza completely flavorful and stomach-filling, but they offer a unique variety of combination pizzas or you can create your own pie. So, even if you don’t have a hangover to cure, Bellagio’s is a great place for Portland-style pizza.  Continue reading Review: Bellagio’s Pizza

Review: E-San Thai Cuisine

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E-San Thai Cuisine
133 SW Second Avenue
Portland, OR
503-223-4090
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Rating: ★★★★½

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As Rachael Ray would say, Yum-o! When I stopped by E-San Thai Cuisine I was starving, so I probably would have devoured anything they put in front of me. However, the food was outstanding–so I pretty much ate until my stomach could not hold another bean sprout!

First of all, I was pretty overwhelmed by the menu. They offer more than 70 dishes! Wow! But don’t be scared off by all the options, each dish is carefully detailed for those who aren’t completely familiar with all the Thai delicacies they offer.

My lunch companion and I started with the appetizer combination plate, which for $8 is a pretty good deal if you are sharing a meal. It includes three dipping sauces (peanut sauce, cucumber sauce and sweet and sour sauce) for the deep-fried egg rolls, the fried tofu, satay (choice of chicken, beef or pork) and the fried wontons. Continue reading Review: E-San Thai Cuisine

Review: Cafe Le Delice

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Café Le Delice
3970 Mercantile Drive
Lake Oswego, OR
503-635-6866
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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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I wanted to love this place. I really, really did! But, when I know that the Mediterranean fare at Nicholas Restaurant (review coming soon) is just a short trip up I-5 and the Mezze Platter at Sapphire Hotel is available at happy hour prices, I just can’t say this is going to be a Stumptown Lunch favorite.

I’ll be honest; I am a gyro fanatic!! There is nothing better at lunch than a great gyro! So the first time I stopped by Café Le Delice, I ordered one. It came with a choice of salad or soup; I picked the Greek salad. I also had the choice of white or wheat pita; I chose white. My order came out super fast, but that didn’t change my opinion of my gyro. It wasn’t bad, it was actually good, but I was a little annoyed with the lettuce they used. It’s not shredded lettuce, but large chopped pieces, which was a strange balance with the very slender pieces of tender meat. Continue reading Review: Cafe Le Delice

Review: Bandito Taco


Bandito Taco
13565 NW Cornell Road
Portland, OR
503-643-2304
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Rating: ★★★½☆

Today I was craving a little Mexican (no, not like comedienne Chelsea Handler), so I ended up at Bandito Taco in Cedar Mill. This little strip mall-type shop has been around since 1990, serving up quality Mexican grub at very reasonable prices.

The restaurant is very, very clean and the menu is plentiful. They offer a wide variety of Mexican options, but I advise you to pick up one of their paper menus and review it first. I made the mistake of ordering off the menu above the cash register, and I was a little disappointed. Had I read through the descriptions of the offerings, I would have probably ordered something else. Continue reading Review: Bandito Taco

Review: Whole Foods

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Whole Foods (The Pearl location)
1210 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR
503-525-4343
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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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OK, I’m all for healthy eating and stuff, but I do have some standards: I won’t eat it if it doesn’t taste good. I think I know what tastes good, healthy and not-so-healthy.

Yes, Whole Foods is a supermarket chain, but I just had to write this review. In the Pearl, the Whole Foods supermarket seems to be a popular lunch place-the tables and lunch bar always seem to be full, but, after several tries, I have no idea why.

Sure, they have an extensive array of ready-to-eat options, including pizza, a salad bar and sandwiches, etc. But, here’s my short review: unless you are in a huge hurry, skip it! Continue reading Review: Whole Foods

HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

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Sapphire Hotel
5008 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR
503-232-6333
**Opens at 4 p.m.
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Rating: ★★★★★

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Dark, candlelit and romantic, Sapphire Hotel is both a terrific place for a date or gathering with friends for happy hour. It’s an especially nice place to duck into on one of those long, rainy Stumptown winter afternoons, when you have some free time and you’re looking for a hearty snack and a good drink.

Tucked away on the east end of SE Hawthorne, Sapphire isn’t open for lunch (they SO should be!), but the happy hour is worth taking a late lunch and calling it an early workday. Happy hour runs everyday of the week from 4 to 6 p.m., and then picks up again from 10 p.m. to midnight (Sunday thru Thursday). Continue reading HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel