I believe the issue here happened because you have a check next to "Facing Pages."
Facing Pages places two pages of identical size right next to each other, think of your average text book.
With "Facing Pages," your working on 17 x 11 spread.
By unchecking "Facing Pages," you should return your spread back to the desired 8.5 x 11.
Here is a video that might help:
InDesign CS6 102: Starting A New Document - 5. Facing and Non-Facing pages - YouTube
Hope this helps!
Other things that might be tripping you up are that if you create an 8.5x11-portrait-facing-page document in InDesign, when you export as PDF, it will export as 8.5x11 portrait pages, but Acrobat or which ever PDF viewer you are using may be set to show you two-page spreads. You can test this by creating a generic document. Here's an 8-pager for example:
When viewed in Acrobat, it looks like this:
…but only if View>Page Display is set to Single Page Continuous. If it's set to Two-Up Continuous, you get this:
…which I think you may be seeing. If you want to see it the same way in Acrobat as you do in InDesign, choose Two-Up Continuous, but also check the Show Cover Page During Two-Up, and you will see this:
There is also a way to export two-page spreads from InDesign as a single PDF page, but if you are just learning, you won't need to get into that for a little while, just don't check the Spreads checkbox in the Export window:
You SHOULD be set up and designing as facing pages. That's how your readers will see the book. Your printer will want you to export the PDF with the spreads box unchecked.
That said, for proofing you might actually want to export spreads for your own viewing, or set the view in Acrobat to Two-Up cover page as Michale suggested. Your sample was definitely exported with spreads checked, but since you haven't shown us the export dialog we can't tell what other settings might have been used. There are two "flavors" of PDF that you can export, Interactive or Print, and spreads is the default in interactive. Interactive PDF is waht you want for screen destinations, but it is not suitable for real printing.
Well all three of you gave really helpful advice, so thank you all.
I did have facing pages turned on and the spreads box was checked.
Acrobat was set up to show just a one page spread but it's valuable to know about this.
I originally wanted to go with an 8.5 x 8.5 layout but didn't think I could get all my text in.
But I just checked an 8.5 x 8.5 cookbook that I like and it's interesting how she managed to do it.
And a point that's perhaps of interest is that she had it printed in China and it's very good quality.
BTW - What do you think about the pricing of her books. She uses a professional photographer. [link removed by moderator]