Sunday, June 28, 2009

Welcome Home Father

My dad came home from a long exhausting trip to Europe. My mother and I figured that a delicious dinner would make him adjust to not only the time zone but the wonderful comforts of home. I made a stuffed chicken breast with goat cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. I had some leftover roasted vegetables from my Greek Feast and made a home made Caesar salad to go with it. My dad LOVES Caesar salad, I know that the dressing I make is tasty but I think my dad may be addicted to it and we might need to have an intervention sometime soon, jk. I was inspired by Giada on the chicken recipe, she uses pork though, and I added a few extras and made it way healthier, it's the summer after all.

4 skin on boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of light sour cream
1/4 cup of both light goat cheese and light feta cheese
1-2 tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves + 2 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
1/2 packed cup frozen spinach, thawed
zest of 1/2 a small lemon, bout a tsp or so
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes, add a full tsp if you want it a little spicier
1/2 tsp. of both salt and pepper
2 tbsp. of chopped Italian parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 toothpicks
3/4 cup of a dry white wine
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil for cooking

Preheat oven to 350 F. Take chicken breast and find the thickest part of it, take a boning knife and slice a pocked in the chicken breast, being careful not to poke through to the end or make a hole in the middle. The pocket should be about 3-4 inches long, and 2 or so inches deep depending on how big the breasts are. Combine the rest of the ingredients minus the toothpicks and white wine in a bowl and combine thoroughly. Then stuff the chicken breasts with the mixture and use 2 toothpicks per breast to seal up as best as possible, there will be stuff the oozes out but it will just make the sauce in the end taste yummy. Season outside of breasts liberally with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken, skin side down in oil in a oven proof pan on medium high heat for 5-7 minutes or so. Then flip and sear on other side for 5 minutes or so. Pour in white wine, and 2 thyme sprigs and stick in oven for 5 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked completely and there is no pink in the middle. Once chicken is cooked, take breasts out of the pan and reduce sauce for 3 minutes on high with the sauce rapidly boiling. Put the breasts back inside and coat with the sauce. Serve, garnish with a little chopped parsley.

3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup of croutons, home made if possible, recipe below
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp of each salt and pepper
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
juice of half a lemon, preferably Meyer lemon
1 squirt of anchovy paste, bout a 1/2 tsp.
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil

In a glass bowl that is big enough to sit on a pot as a double boiler, combine the egg, S + P, and Worcestershire. Bring a small pot with about an inch of water to a simmer and place glass bowl on top. Whisk egg mixture until the yolk has turned a light yellow and is slightly thickened, bout a minute or so. Then add everything but the olive oil and stir to combine. Then drizzle in the olive oil and taste dressing for seasoning. When ready to serve, place the lettuce, croutons, and cheese on top of dressing and toss. Serve immediately.
*if you're worried about raw egg in your dressing just add a little more lemon juice and Dijon mustard and you'll get a similar taste

Homemade Croutons:
1 cup of stale bread, chopped into pieces
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder

Heat olive oil up and then saute bread pieces. Add salt and pepper and flip once in a while making sure not to blacken the bread. Once pieces are a nice golden brown, take out and then season with garlic powder. Let cool before putting in salad.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Big Fat Greek Feast

Last night after my exciting day of having some great time outside tanning in the sun reading with a great book, "Big Boy Rules"...all after listening to a dermatologist on NPR and slathering on SPF 55, I decided that I was craving something yummy and something Greek. So from there I decided that lamb would be a good idea along with roasted vegetables, a Greek salad, and a pita chip dip. To be fair, I was inspired by Bobby Flay on the Food Network website, which I get a lot of my inspiration from along with many cookbooks. I made lamb chops with roasted vegetables, a Greek salad and a feta, roasted bell pepper dip with home made whole wheat pita chips.

3-4 small eggplants, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tbsp. of each salt and pepper
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. garlic powder
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine all in a roasting dish and roast for 30-45 minutes until veggies are soft. Taste and season accordingly.

1 rack of lamb chops (10 chops or so)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh Greek oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. of each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. of each lemon zest and orange zest

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mash up all ingredients in a bowl, minus the lamb, and massage into lamb. Let marinate for a 30 minutes or so. Sear in a pan on both sides, transfer to baking dish and cook for 12-15 minutes or so, until medium-rare.

Tzatziki Sauce:
3/4 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp. of lemon zest + 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. orange zest + 2 tsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. fresh mint, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and serve with lamb.

Whole Wheat Pita Chips
4 whole wheat pitas
4 tbsp, extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minces
2 tbsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. of each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Chop pitas into quarters and separate to make 2 single layer quarters. Combine the last four ingredients and brush over pitas with a brush. Bake for 10-15 minutes, let cool on a wire rack.

*This Pita Chip recipe is courtesy of Hors D'Oeuveres by Eric Treuille and Victoria Blashford

Feta and Roasted Bell Pepper Dip
1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
4 roasted red bell peppers
2 scallions chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 hand bunch of parsley
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar or Splenda
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. of each salt and pepper
2 tbsp. crumbled stale bread
1/2 tsp. lemon zest + 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients but the olive oil in a food processor. Once smooth, stream in olive oil while food process is on. Serve with pita chips.

1 head of romaine lettuce, torn
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup of chopped cucumbers
1/4 - 1/2 cup of feta cheese
1/2 cup of pitted olives

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. of each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 clove of garlic minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all in a old jam jar and shake, pour over salad.

It's a feast, invite over lots of people and dig in.


Last night a few (nine) friends came up to the city to surprise a friend of ours for his 23rd birthday. Since our friend is a little obsessed with brewing his own beer, his girlfriend decided that a pub that makes it's own brews would be a great place to share a birthday dinner with his friends and family. We went to Magnolia Pub and Brewery in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.

While we patiently awaited the arrival of all of our extremely late friends (come on, it's a SURPRISE party!!! What do you not get about being on time?) I sipped on a Prescription Pale, which was nice and medium bodied, but as an inexperienced dark beer drinker I switched to the Spud Boy IPA which I thoroughly enjoyed along with the majority of the table. It was lighter, thus more easily consumed, along with a slightly higher alcohol content (6% rather than the Prescription's 5.5%) that gave the entire table a nice buzz. A few others got the Hefeweizen which was filtered and also quite tasty.

Once the surprise was executed flawlessly we decided to munch on some munchies!!! We ordered their home made beef jerky, pork nuggets, and buttermilk fried spring onions. The home made beef jerky was really good, had a nice flavor and was paper thin and crisp, I almost wanted it on a salad. The pork nuggets were a little intimidating, three golf-ball sized cubes of pork deep fried come out with a spicy honey mustard aioli dipping sauce. We were pleasantly surprised at the juiciness of the pork while the breding on the outside was quite tasty and a nice contrast to the wonderful piggy goodness inside. I mean you really can't go wrong eating any fried pork product. Most people really like this dish. Last and my favorite was the spring onions that came with a really nice bell pepper romesco. That dipping sauce was soo tasty, I wanted to dip the pork nugget in it as well. A few friends got the "Devils on Horseback" which was a date stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon, and fried that came with arugula and a nice sweet sauce which I think had molasses, however my friend thought that it was reduced maple syrup. My only problem with this "munchie" was that there were only 2 to an order, would have liked a few more so I could have tasted them, love the name though.

Next came the entrees. I got the Prather Ranch Hamburger with Swiss cheese. A lot of my friends got the Fish and Chips which had some tasty Cod and a great tartar sauce. Another one got the Carbonara which I enjoyed the most. I had a nice smokey flavor from the bacon and came with a poached egg on top that oozed out when you broke it. A few also got the Sausages and the 2 sides that come with it. Everyone got the Sauerkraut, but I heard that the cheese grits were fantastic.

Overall, it was a fantastic dinner. A many thanks to those who came and were able to surprise our friend. Great meal, great people, great brew.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dinner with Momma

Last night I made dinner for my mother and me. A yummy pork chop with a white wine, shallot, and apricot glaze. We had a side dish of green squash and corn with garlic and onions. After being gone for 2 weeks, it's nice to be able to cook at home while having your mother constantly tell you how "nice it is to have you home baby girl!"

4 pork tenderloin chops, bone out
2-3 shallots, sliced
1/2 cup of a dry white wine + 2 tbsp white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or a pinot grigio
2-3 tbsp apricot jam or preserves, try to get a low sugar variety, or my next door's homemade version (jk)
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 scallions chopped
3 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
3 sprigs of fresh time (roughly 1 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp. bacon fat (or just 2 tbsp of EVOO)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops liberally. Add oil to hot pan and sear on both sides for 4-5 minutes, depending on how think the chops are. Add a few tbsp of white wine and place in oven for roughly 7 minutes, until the chops are about medium - medium well (use a thermometer if necessary). Take chops and juice out of pan and place on a platter. Add a little more oil and saute shallots for a few minutes. Then add white wine, apricot jam, red pepper flakes, thyme, and season to taste. Bring to boil, add chops back in to pan including any juices. Cover and let cook for a few minutes till medium well - well done. Take out chops and put them on a serving platter and pour glaze over chops, sprinkle with parsley and scallions and serve.

*This can all be done using only 1 pan, saves you time when doing dishes afterwards, or less pots and pans to sit in your sink for the next week or so until you get compelled to actually do your dishes.

This is one of my favorite pork dishes and tastes soooo yummy. Not too sweet but floral and light, perfect for a summer dinner outside. Serve it with any side dish and a salad you want to complete the meal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner

Tonight I'm on my own for dinner. My friend that I'm staying with is out of town so it's just the kitties and me for dinner. I got a great NY strip steak from TJ's and figured I'd make a salad with some yummy and juicy red meat on top. As a side dish I did a green bean saute with garlic, slivered almonds and raisins. As my last night here in DC I enjoyed the meal with a nice Cabernet.


1 NY Strip Steak
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
3-4 tbsp. soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1/2 an orange
3 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. peanut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes or 1/2 jalapeno diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup scallions

Place all ingredients in a zip top bag and marinate for 1 - 4 hours.

2 cups spinach
1 orange segmented
1/4 cup candied walnuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 sliced shallot

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Assemble salad, combine all ingredients to make the dressing and set aside (don't dress the salad until the very last minute).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Let steak sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Sear steak on high heat with 1 tbsp canola oil on both sides for 3 minutes each. Then place steak in oven for 5-10 minutes depending on how you like the doneness of your steak. Take out of oven and place on cutting board to rest for at least 8 minutes. Slice at an angle against the grain and place on top of the salad.

1 package of green beans
1/2 cup raisins
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
2 slices of bacon
Salt and Pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add green beans for 1 minute exactly. When beans are in for 30 seconds, add raisins. Drain and place in an ice bath. Slice bacon into thin strips and place in cold pan, turn on heat and cook bacon. When crispy take out bacon with a slotted spoon. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Add green beans and raisins and saute for a few minutes, add the toasted almonds, bacon and salt and pepper to taste, saute for one more minute and serve.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Things My Boys Teach Me

Last night I ventured down to Georgetown to Mr. Smith's on M Street, the fabulous piano bar. The front room is so jammed packed at midnight it took me literally 5 minutes to walk 15 feet to the back of the bar where the piano is. I met two of my close friends that I had met the first day of my freshman year in our dorm where we lived on the same floor.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the same Piano Man that I had seen 2 years ago, behind that magical machine. (PS: Write down a song you want attached to a $1 or $5 bill and that song magically enters your ears).

My friends and I went into the back, AKA "Beer Garden" with an open roof and a more casual environment versus the traffic jam you encounter upon walking to JUST the bathroom. The bartender was very nice and "enjoyed" our LeBron shot along with us. The recipe for LeBron follows:

James Shot:

2 oz Crown Royale
4 oz Red Bull
2 packets of Splenda (or sugar)

Pour shot, pour Red Bull in a cup (one large enough to hold a shot glass - think Car Bombs). Pour Splenda in palm, throw in air (as LeBron does) then drop Crown in Red Bull glass and CHUG!!!! I hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fish Taco Night

Last night I made dinner for a few friends, 5 actually. I got some yummy wild Turbot Fillet, marinated it and baked it in it's marinade. We also had slow cooked black beans. The fish were put on corn tortillas with slices of red bell peppers, cabbage, avocado, chopped white onion, and a lime mayonnaise sauce. We served it with a dry white wine or a cold cerveza, recipe below:

1.5 lb. of a flaky white fish (such as Turbot or Halibut)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine
the zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup of orange juice
1 cup of chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 tbsp salt and pepper
1 tsp - 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want)
1 tsp chili powder (preferably Mexican)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all ingredients in a plastic zip top bag and marinate for 30 minutes but no longer than an hour or the acid will start to cook the fish. Place everything, fish and marinade in a flat baking dish and bake for 10-20 minutes, until the fish is opaque and flaky.

Meanwhile, chop bell peppers into strips, shred cabbage, dice white onion and slice avocados for serving and warm the tortillas.

1/2 cup of mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp skim milk
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

2 small white onions, diced
1 and 1/2 bell peppers, diced
1/2 jalapeno, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt and pepper
1.5 cup low sodium chicken broth
extra virgin olive oil
2 cans of black beans
1 tsp - 1 tbsp chili powder (preferably Mexican)
1-2 bay leaves
Optional: red pepper flakes

Add olive oil to pan, saute onions, both peppers and garlic in oil, add salt, pepper and chili powder to veggies. Saute till soft. Add black beans and bay leaf and saute for a few minutes, add broth and cook low and slow for about 30-45 minutes until beans are soft and the broth as reduced. At the end, adjust seasoning to taste and take out the bay leaf.

Compile tacos with tortilla, fish, veggies, and lime mayonnaise, serve with black beans and enjoy!! Another tip, make guacamole and salsa to go with it, serve with tortilla chips.

Ben's Chili Bowl

Today for lunch my close friend and I went to Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street in the District. Upon entering you are aware that the amount of caloric consumption you are about to encounter is equal to an entire weekends worth of food, including alcoholic beverages. My friend joked that if you're coming here, you're going balls to the wall, ordering hot dogs, fries, shakes, whatever it takes to get the full experience of Ben's. At a place that is frequented by politicians and actors (including President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton), it's almost comical to see the ambiance that includes pushing you down a conveyor belt of ordering, paying, and receiving your meal that also ironically comes with an angioplasty ten years later.

I ordered the Half Smoke with chili, cheese, and onions. A Half Smoke is a slightly larger hot dog with a coarser grind of half beef and half pork, very tasty and usually only found around the DC area. We also got fries topped with cheese. The trick to eating Ben's dogs are you let the chili and other condiments slide down the dog and onto your "plate." You then use the potato chips, that come with every hot dog, to scoop up the chili and cheese, acting as almost a dip for your chips. The famous chili is quite delicious, tastes of real ground beef, with a slight heat as my friend described. I was missing some beans, which I usually put in my chili, but I would never dare to mess with Ben's chili.

Ben's an experience, both with the loud and crazy atmosphere and the yummy, sloppy food. It's a place you must hit up while in the District. Just be prepared to pay with cash and order quickly, they are very proficient about getting your food as fast as possible, so order, pay and enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good Stuff Eatery

So I trekked down to the House side of the Capitol today to go to Good Stuff Eatery, the burger joint Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn opened in Southeast DC to have lunch with a friend. I was pleasantly surprised to see Spike himself bagging and paging customers once their orders were ready to be consumed. Spike in all his glory was still wearing his Fedora hat but looked a little bored or overwhelmed, couldn't tell which but it was a busy lunch rush, so I don't blame him. However, as a big fan of Top Chef, I was almost giddy to actually meet a contestent of the show.

I ordered the Colletti's Smokehouse burger with Applewood smoked bacon, sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, fried Vidalia onion rings, with a Chipotle BBQ sauce. The burger was thankfully not oversized but lacked some vegetables, maybe some spinach or carrots. We also ordred Spike's Village Fries that had thyme, rosemary, and cracked pepper. Both the burger and the fries were equally delicious, but a little heavy, however not many go to a burger joint to eat healthily. The Chipotle BBQ sauce was not to sweet, but lacked a bit of heat which I would have liked and the Vidalia onion rings were oh so deliciously crunchy and sweet which contrasted the nice texture to the soft bun.

I wish I had room for a famous shake, but conserving calories ya know? I reccommend this place if you want a tasty, adventerous hamburger with some fun ambiance. Sitting outside was a great idea also, as long as you can excape the summer rain in DC. Great job Spike, it was a pleasure meeting you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lauriol Plaza

Had lunch at Lauriol Plaza in DC on 18th street with my cousin. Had a special with grilled beef, chicken, and shrimp with a spanish seasoning and lemon that came with roasted veg and Spanish rice. Washed it all down with 2 lime margaritas on the rocks, no salt. I feel that a majority of margaritas are to sweet and lack some serious tequila. Lauriol's margaritas have been pre-made, especially if you're having a blended one. Here's my recipe for lime margaritas:

2-3 oz tequila, preferabily silver Patron
1-1.5 oz tripple sec/some kind of orange liquour
2 limes, juices
1/2 tsp. of Splenda or sugar (optional)

Shake with ice cubes and serve in a fun (salt rimmed) glass, garnish with an ice.

Making a fabulous dinner tonight, post the recipe later thanks to Giada.