Thursday, December 30, 2010

Potato Leek Soup


A good food writer knows how to describe a dish so that you feel like you are eating it right there with them. They clearly describe how it tastes, how it feels, if it burns the tip of your tongue or if the spice hits the back of your throat. I read about food on a daily basis but on occasion, I read something that makes me remember what I imagined eating it was like.

Someone once wrote about Potato Leek Soup that made me have a food memory even though I didn't actually eat it. Julie Powell who wrote "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously" did this for me. In her book, she wrote about having a disheartening day and coming home to make a pot of "Potage Parmentier" and feeling hope again. She doesn't go into much detail about how salty the soup tasted or if you could taste the butter. But I've had those kinds of days. I know that feeling when something so simple can comfort you. It usually is a bowl of Pho but Potato Leek soup is a little simpler to make.


Potato Leek Soup
Adapted from Epicurious

(Ingredients purchased at Harris Teeter and Trader Joes.)

4 tablespoons butter - 1lb for $2.99
1/2 a medium onion, diced - $1.29 per lb
2 cloves of garlic, rough chop - free from previous purchase
1/2 teaspoon of dry thyme - free from previous purchase
1 bay leaf- free from previous purchase
4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 4 1/2 cups) - $2.99 per bunch
2 large white potatoes , peeled, diced - $3.99 per 5lb bag
4 1/2 cups (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt broth - $2.50 per quart
1/4 cup of half and half - $1.59 per pint

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives - $1.69 per package

1. Melt butter in dutch oven over medium. Add leeks, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and onions; stir to coat with butter. Cover saucepan; cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Note: I found that the potatoes started to stick to the bottom of the pot as I was stirring. It formed a caramelized layer at the bottom of the pot. Just add some broth in and scrap it with a wooden spoon. It will burn otherwise.

2. Add stock. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Puree soup in batches in processor until smooth. (I used an immersion blender in the pot.) Return to saucepan. Add the half and half and stir. Thin with additional stock if soup is too thick. Season with pepper.

4. Pour into bowls and garnish with chives.


As you can see, the soup turned out brown but it tasted wonderful. All that caramelized flavor comes through in the soup. The potatoes made the soup thick and it felt hearty. I did not taste the thyme or the bay leaf in the soup but I'm sure they added to it's richness. I didn't add any salt to this soup but I did add on chicken bouillon cube because the stock I used was homemade and somewhat weak in flavor. Even if you are using regular stock, taste it before you salt it. I would bet it won't need any salt.

This was one of those meals where you can come home and throw it together in less than one hour. I had most of the ingredients on hand and really only needed to buy the leeks. Marshall and I ate the soup with some toasted bread and were happy. The soup is so simple and comforting.

One thing I learned from this cooking experience is that you must take the time to read the recipe's comments and reviews when you find it online. From the reviewers, I learned that the soup needed some extra ingredients to give it more flavor. So I added the extra half onion, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. I'm almost certain I would have been disappointed if I didn't add these things. It is so much more enjoyable to learn from others than to eat a bad meal. (Pretty obvious...I know.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - January 5 - Lyon Hall


RSVP Here.

Pork Schnitzel. This dish alone is what makes me want to go back to Lyon Hall. I had a good dinner there last August for Restaurant Week but it was the Pork Schnitzel that has branded Lyon Hall to my brain. Pork Schnitzel is a breaded pork chop that is fried. Light, flavorful, and perfect with the Lingonberry sauce. Nom.

The DC Food Blogger Happy Hour will be held here on Wednesday, January 5th from 6pm on. Happy hour deals include house-made franks & brats for $5, $5 SJF Cocktails, 1/2 price Wine by the Glass, $3 Session beers from Draft Beer Menu. Lyon Hall will be extending their happy hour deals until 7:30pm. Hope you can make it out to Arlington to join the fun.

Thank you to JC from Little Lady Cooks and Jenna from Modern Domestic for organizing and hosting!

Meatloaf and Teeny Tiny Potatoes in Garlic Butter


A few months ago, I attempted to make a healthy meatloaf adapted from several recipes. It was suppose to be a turkey meatloaf that included sauteed zucchini and onions in it. Somehow, with herbs and a good helping of ketchup, I was going to make it delicious. What ended up coming out of the oven after an hour and a half of cooking was basically a meat mush. The color was a horrible sandy tan color. The liquid that rose to the top was murky with turkey impurities. There was no shape. It just lay there; a moist hill of meat. It went from the oven to the trash. I couldn't even look at it.

It was one of those cooking experiences that scars you. The kind where the fail was so harsh that you think about it and think about it until you are sure that you would never be able to make that particular dish successful. This was something I needed to overcome.

One day, Married with Dinner posted a comment on Twitter about meatloaf. I asked her which recipe she used and she forwarded it to me. Nutmeg? Allspice? Breakfast sausage? This was not a typical meatloaf recipe. But she had assured me that it was delicious and has converted meatloaf haters.




Married with Dinner's Meatloaf (click here for recipe)
(not adapted. I made this one exactly as she described it.)

Most items purchased at Trader Joes.

1-1/2 pounds ground chuck ($3.49 per lb)
1/2 pound pork breakfast sausage ($3 per lb)
1 onion, grated (free from previous purchase)
1 egg ($1.69 per dozen)
1 cup uncooked oatmeal (not instant)($2.49 per container)
1/4 cup milk ($1.99 per quart)
1 tsp salt (free from previous purchase)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (free from previous purchase)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (we had this but best place to buy is at Asian markets where you can buy them whole for cheap so you can grate it fresh.)
1/2 tsp allspice (free from previous purchase)


Teeny Tiny Potatoes

Potatoes ($1.99 for 1 lb bag)
3 cloves of garlic (free from previous purchase)
Salt (free from previous purchase)
2 tablespoons of butter ($2.99 for 1 lb)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (free from previous purchase)

Place potatoes in large saucepan and fill until potatoes are covered with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and place potatoes in a separate bowl. Put butter and olive oil in warm saucepan. Slice garlic into slivers and throw into saucepan. Keep on low for 10 minutes (watch carefully so that garlic does not burn. ) Throw potatoes back in pan and stir until potatoes are covered with garlic butter. Salt to taste.



This is a good meatloaf. Grating the onions made a difference because I find (from eating other people's meatloaves) the diced onions tend to break up the loaf and makes it crumbly. This was a solid meatloaf that was tender and moist (we ate it with ketchup on the side.) We cooked it for an extra 15 minutes because the juices did not run clear when we cut into it after 75 minutes. If we were to do this again, I would add a bit of fresh parsley to the mix to give it some green and little fresh kick to the meatloaf. If a mushroom gravy was made on the side, it would have been a good asset to the dish. But otherwise, this was a solid and satisfying meatloaf. We will make this again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Leftover Turkey Cast Iron Skillet Pot Pie


Anyone tired of eating turkey yet? Regardless whether or not Marshall and I are tired of eating it, we are going to have to. His sweet mom packed us two coolers worth of food to take with us when we left Saltville, VA yesterday. Marshall tried to dissuade her from piling it on us but all I had to be polite and accept them, right? We left with at least half of the turkey and all of it will be put to good use.


The first thing I did when I got home was remove the turkey meat from the bones and threw the bones in a Crockpot with onions, carrots, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and salt and filled it up with water. The turkey stock simmered overnight on low and was delicious by morning. The stock was put through a strainer and stored in a pitcher. I have almost a gallon of turkey stock to use for the week.



The next order of business will be to make good use of the left over meat. For most of the week, I will try to keep it lean and make some vegetable and turkey soups with carrots, celery, cauliflower. For the last day of vacation, I decided to make a turkey pot pie. To keep things simple, I knew I wanted to make it in a cast iron skillet (one pot recipe.)

One of my favorite purchases recently was a big box of fresh herbs from B.J. Wholesale Club . The box had thyme, sage, and rosemary and huge bundles of each in it. It only cost $2.99. It must have been $10 worth of herbs in that box. Since I had so many herbs, I altered the recipe I found a bit and added sage and thyme to it.

Leftover Turkey Cast Iron Skillet Pot Pie
Recipe Adapted from Paisley & Thyme

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves
1 teaspoon of sage, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons half and half
2 cups homemade turkey broth (or chicken broth)
4 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 cup frozen peas
1 (9 inch) store bought pie crust, such as Pillsbury (If frozen, thaw)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400° F. Heat butter, sage, & thyme in a 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until carrots begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in flour. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in half and half and broth, using a whisk, until combined. Stir in chicken, peas, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Gently roll out pie crust on top of skillet and brush with the whisked egg; cut vents in pastry. Transfer skillet to oven; bake until crust is browned and flaky, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


The result was good but not the best pot pie I have ever had. The first thing I would change is to add more herbs and a touch more salt. The carrots and peas made the dish sweet and I would have liked the pot pie to be more savory. The sauce was also not as thick as I am used to. I would remove the vegetables from the pan, make a roux, and then added the broth and half and half and then added the vegetables back in. Cooking the flour in the vegetables didn't give the flour a chance to cook in the fat first.

It was still pretty good. Marshall and I sat out on the balcony to enjoy this gorgeous November day we are having. It is barely occurring to me that I have to be back at work tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

DC Food Blogger December Happy Hour - Casa Nonna

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RSVP Here.

Last month, I went to visit Casa Nonna with some friends of mine for Happy Hour and left actually feeling happy. Most bars in Dupont Circle are filled to the brim with people, you have to fight your way to the bar to get one drink, and you always leave exhausted because you are screaming your conversatioin. Not at Casa Nonna. The restaurant took over the old California Pizza Kitchen space on the corner of Conneticut and N Street NW and the restaurant is very spacious. There is plenty of room to move around and relax with a glass (or a carafe) of red wine. For the last DC Food Blogger Happy Hour of 2010, we all will be meeting there to munch on some italian food while talking holiday food.

Please come and join us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DC State Fair Bake Sale at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market


Great news. The DC State Fair Bake Sale will be held at two farmers markets this weekend. We will be at the 14th & U Street Farmers Market on Saturday and the Bloomingdale Farmers Market on Sunday (location is at 1st and R Street NW.)

Please email us at dcstatefair@gmail.com if you would like to donate baked goods, volunteer some time on Saturday or Sunday to help us sell, or if you would like to make a donation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blogging Tips from Dr. Phil

Part of the fun of blogging is meeting other bloggers and sharing our experiences and challenges. I mentioned on Twitter that I read a Dr. Phil article with advice that I thought could be applied to blogging. People responded asking to hear about the advice.

I have never seen an episode of Dr. Phil in my life. I find his voice annoying and he can be a bit extreme for me. I do, however, read his articles in O magazine. The October 2010 magazine is full of articles that would help readers "Own Your Power." As I was reading Dr. Phil's article titled, "Personal Power: 6 Rules for How to Harness Yours," I realized that these tips could be applied to being a good blogger. Here is how I read it:

Tip 1: Know Who You Are: The bloggers who I respect know who they are and what they want to write about. They have a point of view. They have a voice. I think that is an important quality of being a good blogger.

Tip 2: Live Passionately: Blog Passionately. Some of my friends have attended blog conferences and they come back to tell me that the advice is to blog everyday in order to maintain an audience, even if you have to post an old post. I am sure that is important to maintain reader's attention but nothing is more mundane than reading a post that someone wrote and knowing that they wrote it because they felt like they had to not because they wanted to. It is pretty obvious when reading it. I did that when I first starting blogging and reading those posts are painful for me.

Tip 3: Keep to a plan: This for me is similar to Tip #1. Know who you are and what kind of blog you want to write and plan activities that will be great posts for your readers.

Tip 4: Embrace Risk: Great blogs risk the repercussions of being honest. Restaurants might hate you. Readers may leave harsh comments. But there is no point in having a blog if you can't share your honest experience and express your opinion.

Tip 5: Deal in the Truth: Write with integrity. I think that is a very important part of blogging. My friend Amy Jean mentioned recently that readers tend to trust bloggers because readers see them as the average person who would give realistic opinions. In the end, bloggers build a relationship with their readers so treat it as you would treat a friendship. Be honest.

Tip 6: Be Assertive: The best experiences I have had as a blogger came from simply asking if something was possible. Don't be afraid to reach out to readers and bloggers for opportunities that will help your blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bake Sale for the DC State Fair


On August 28th, the first DC State Fair was held. DC residents baked pies, pickled produce, decorated cupcakes, and came out to showcase their talents. The event turned out to be a great success and we are looking to make it an annual event. In order to establish the DC State Fair into an official non-profit, we need to raise some funds. The 14th and U Street Farmers Market has been gracious enough to give us space in the market on November 20th.

There are several ways to help:

1. Donate Baked Goods - email us at dcstatefair@gmail.com to sign up to help. We are looking for items that are "Fall" themed and encourage you to use produce grown locally to make your baked goods. For a list of local farmers markets, please see this list.

2. Volunteer Hours - email us at dcstatefair@gmail.com to sign up to help sell baked goods on Saturday, November 20th. We will have 2 hour shifts.

3. Spread the Word - The electronic flyer above can be posted on websites, blogs, Facebook, etc. Email us and we will have it sent to you. Please encourage family and friends to visit the market and pick up some delicious baked goods.

4. Donate - As always, the Paypal “Donate” button on the right is an option!


The DC State Fair was a success because of the enthusiasm that came from DC residents, visitors, volunteers, and contestants. We couldn't do it without you.

See you on November 20th!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Garden District Sale

Pots of Mums are on sale at Garden District (14th street) for $3.50 each. Aren't they beautiful?

Garden District
1740 14th Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20009

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Super Double Coupon Week at Harris Teeter



Today is the start of another Harris Teeter's Super Double Coupon Week. Harris Teeter will double any manufacturer's coupon that is up to $1.98 face value (20 coupons max.) It will run from November 3-9, 2010.

This means some really great deals and time to stock up on cleaning supplies and such. More details can be found here.

Tuscana West - Fall Wine Dinner


Many restaurants ignore an important element of a good meal; the bread. At Tuscana West, they serve delicious, fresh bread with olive oil that has grated Parmesan in it. Yum. This attention to detail resonates in all of their dishes. I can vouch for the good soups, fresh sauces, and the delicious pastas. On November 5th and 12th, Tuscana West will be offering a special Fall Wine Dinner. It conisists of a six course meal paired with wines from Italy for $55. For Thrifty DC Cook readers, Tuscana West will offer the dinner for $45. (Diners must mention Thrifty DC Cook in order to get the discount.)

Menu can be viewed here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unprocessed October


It was about a month and a half ago that I stumbled upon Eating Rules' blog and his request for people to pledge an entire month of Unprocessed Food. The rule was that if the product contains ingredients that you would not use in your own kitchen, then don't eat it. When I suggested to Marshall that we try this out, a look of pure fear came across his face. His response was, "Lucky Charms is unprocessed, right?"

When I posted it up on Twitter, my friends Shaw_Girl, Mazzie, and Essone10 were very supportive. I thought about what I ate on a regular basis and thought about whether I could commit. My weight has been an issue all of my life and fad diets have come and gone with no good, healthy results. I didn't want this unprocessed month to be something I did for just a month and for it to become something I resented. I actually wanted to learn something from this. Did I think I could do this without slipping up? No, I honestly did not think I could and that is why I didn't sign the petition. But I did participate by changing some things. Here is what I did different in this last month:

1. Read Labels - I started reading labels every time I went to the grocery store. It is amazing how many chemicals there are in food products now and days. For something as simple as bread, there could be up to 20 different ingredients listed that I didn't recognize. The more I read and the more challenging it was for me to find something with ingredients I recognized, it made me want to eat clean that much more. It was pretty much impossible for me to buy any candy that was not sold in a health store because all the ones sold at CVS had loads of preservatives and chemicals in them.

2. Shopped at Trader Joes and Whole Foods more - It was a lot easier for me to find products with no preservatives at these two grocery stores. Especially Trader Joes because their products tend to be a lot cheaper than Whole Foods. Marshall and I like to have turkey taco nights and so we found taco shells, salsa and seasonings at Trader Joes that were preservative free and were delicious. It was much simpler for us to shop at these places because they make an effort to stock good, healthy products.

3. Drank more tea - I probably drank over 100 cups of tea in this last month and I think this is something that I will do more of forever. I love tea now. It all started when I decided that I wanted to drink something with zero calories and had some taste to it. I used to stock my office up with Crystal Light or diet sodas but since I was avoiding chemicals, pretty much all sodas were not acceptable. (Marshall did make me a homemade soda once with some concord grape juice that he made a syrup out of and then added homemade seltzer water that was amazing.) So I turned to tea. Now I love it with a passion. After dinner, I brew a cup of herbal tea and enjoy it while I am winding down. At work, I brew about 3-5 cups a day to drink as I typed away. Tea is just so comforting to me now and makes me feel great. I don't even miss soda.

4. Made breakfast most mornings - I try to make sure I eat breakfast every morning and this month, I made a big effort to have good things available. My first choice was steel-cut oatmeal that I would mix with fresh apples or dried fruit, nuts, and a little half and half. I'm always satisfied when I eat oatmeal in the morning that sometimes, I'm not even hungry for lunch. When I don't have time for oatmeal, I turned to dry cereal. This was tough. Cereals have a lot of sugar and other unnatural ingredients in them. The closest thing I could find that was healthy and delicious was Kashi's Autumn Wheat. My friend Shaw_Girl made her own granola for this unprocessed month. I will have to give that a try next time.

5. Made my first cake (sort of) from scratch - At the beginning of the month, I wanted to make fresh bread from scratch. I never got around to it but I at least attempted at making cupcakes from scratch. For my friend Jason's house warming party, I made red velvet cupcakes. It was the first time ever that I made cake without using a box mix. Well...it was a total fail. There were multiple things that happened that ended up making the cake taste like baking soda. In the end, I used a box mix but my first attempt made me realize it really is not that hard to do. I just need to find a good recipe.

Did I lose any weight? No, but I feel so much better than I did a month ago. I can say for sure that I feel less fatigue and feel more alert. I used to remember walking to the metro in the morning and feeling like I could barely lift my legs. It feels different now. It is not like I used to sit around eating potato chips and drinking soda all day but obviously some of the things I was putting in my body was not good. I am glad I participated in this challenge because I found foods I enjoy eating and feel great about eating. Cheetos will always be a part of my life but from now on, only on rare occasions.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - November 6 - Northside Social

RSVP Here

It was about a year ago that my co-worker Claire told me that she was going to a new wine bar in Arlington. She came in the next day to rave about the atmosphere and delicious sandwiches she ate there. It was only a month ago that I got to check it out for the first time. I met Claire there for a cup of coffee and was impressed right when I walked in. There is a fine line for coffee shops that try to be comfortable and not look corporate. In an attempt to be comfortable, they tend to just come off looking dingy. This is not the case with Northside Social. There is an abundance of seating inside and outside with couches and love seats in the back room. The service is friendly and quick. The coffee is solid and I appreciate that there are free refills when drinking your coffee there. The baked goods are good. I enjoyed a chocolate pumpkin muffin with toasted pumpkin seeds on top. I brought home some baked goods. My boyfriend and I shared a gluten-free peanut butter cookie which was good. Unfortunately, the bf found the apple turnover to have a gummy-like filling which was not appetizing.

The wine bar can be found upstairs and again, I have to compliment the decor. The wood used for the counters is a plain, unstained wood but they are cut and sanded well. A large mirror hangs above the bar which gives the space a much airier feel. The space is so comfortable and the unstained wood lightens the feel of the bar making it feel very clean; clean and comfortable. My two friends and I shared the full crostini platter that was more than filling for all of us. Toasted bread slices are topped with a variety of toppings: smoked trout and wasabi crème fraise, shallots mixed in goat cheese, chicken liver pate, and many more. It came with a small arugula salad with pickled vegetables which is a perfect to eat with the heavy crostinis. We also tasted an autumn salad of frisse, roasted beets, walnuts, and goat cheese. It was scrumptious.

Being a drinking light-weight, I appreciated that the wines could be ordered in 3 oz portions. I was able to order a drink without wasting half of it because I was afraid to walk home more tipsy than I already was.

With people trying to watch budget, Northside Social is a solution for those who still want or need to have a nice night out. The food is good and there is not a fear of over-spending here. The portions are filling and the price is just right.

Brunch at Liberty Tavern


Brunch Review

Here is a link to the Yelp Review.

Liberty Tavern has a buffet brunch that I would consider better than most buffets I have seen in the DC area. The scrambled eggs seemed to be made of fresh eggs and were not left in the chaffing dish long enough to get that yellow-crusted look that eggs get when left in heat for too long. The bacon was applewood bacon and tasted good. You have a choice of ordering from the buffet or ordering items a la carte. The buffet is $18 and all you can eat. Here are some of the highlights:

-Smoked salmon - they had a great platter that included crème fraise, red onions, capers, and crostinis. I could have made a delightful plate full of smoked salmon and would have been happy. It was good quality smoked salmon. This was worth the $18 alone.

-Roasted meats - They had roast lamb, roast pork and roast turkey with accompanying gravies and au jus. The lamb was moist and delicious.

-Potato Cauliflower Gratin - Simply delicious.

-Dessert table - They had a simple but satisfying dessert table with dark chocolate and white chocolate bark, macrons, chocolate chip cookies, and a variety of other candies. The main buffet table also had cranberry scones.

-Good Coffee - My date ordered coffee and got a big French Press full of good coffee that he shared with me. It is my opinion that coffee should always be included in the price of a brunch buffet but this coffee was very good and so I didn't mind it that much.

-Hot Apple Cider - The hot apple cider was sweet and tasted like Fall. A nice touch to this brunch in the month of October.

Disappointments:

-Biscuits and Gravy - The biscuits were described as fluffy on the menu. They were not fluffy. They were dense and not enjoyable to eat. The gravy was the biggest disappointment. It basically tasted like cream and flour mixed together with absolutely no seasoning. It was such a disappointment.

-Caesar Salad - I think the general rule for buffets should be that the salad should never be pre-mixed. No one wants to eat a soggy salad. Simply place the dressing and croutons on the side of the salad and allow the diner to assemble it themselves and we all will be happy.

Please note that the brunch menu on the website is not exactly what you will get at the restaurant. It is only a sample of the menu.

It was an enjoyable brunch over all. The service was attentive and good. The food on the buffet table was regularly replenished. For any buffet, this is probably one of the most important part of the service.

Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Whole Foods Coupons



Whole Foods just posted new coupons on their website. There is a coupon for $1.00 off Bear Naked Products (their banana nut granola is delicious.) There is a Muir Glen coupon in there and they sell great organic tomato sauces, paste, and canned tomatoes. There is a $2 off coupon for Spectrum Olive Oil (though I think the price on Whole Foods 365 Olive Oils is a better deal.)

Please download coupons here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Super Double Coupons at Harris Teeter


Tomorrow, September 21, is the last day of Harris Teeter's Super Double Coupon sale. Harris Teeter will double any manufacturer's coupon that is up to $1.98 face value (20 coupons max.) It works like this:

Bottle of shampoo $4
Coupon -$1.50
Coupon Doubled -$1.50
____________________
total cost: $1

This is a great time to stock up shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries. Those coupons tend to be $1 or more and supermarkets don't usually double coupons unless they are $0.99 or less.

You can get coupons from the Sunday newspaper or you can use the coupon websites that can be found on this post. Harris Teeter has these sales every few months so this opportunity will come about again. My favorite times to shop at Harris Teeter is when they do these Super Double Coupon days and their Triple Coupon days.

Happy savings!

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Carmines - October 6

RSVP Here


Olga from Mango & Tomato and I checked this place out a few weeks ago and it is just like the Carmine's in New York City. It is big, it serves big platters, and its PACKED with people. We got there at 6:30 on a Friday night and was told that it would be a 45 minute wait for a table for two. This is at a restaurant that boasts to be a 700 seat restaurant.

It was just our luck that we ended up at the bar. Customers can order from the main menu or they can order from the bar menu that includes hoagies for $10. The happy hour food special sof the day was an appetizer of fried zucchini or meatball sliders for $4 each. Olga and I ordered both to try. We also ordered an eggplant Parmesan hoagie with a salad to share. The fried zucchini were cut like shoestrings, battered, fried, and topped with a lot of Parmesan cheese. They were salty fried goodness but in the end, packed a lot of oil that you felt later. The meatball sliders were big, fat meatballs (probably the size of a baseball) that was good. If Olga and I just ate the appetizers, we would have left the restaurant full and it would have been an $8 meal but I had to try the eggplant Parmesan. Though the eggplant Parmesan sandwich was dry and disappointing, the salad that accompanied it did not. It was fresh, tasty, filled with a variety of vegetables like green olives, peppercinis, big tomatoes slices, and dressed with a tangy, red wine vinaigrette. It was piled high on the plate and Olga and I devoured it. We were so stuffed from the meal that the bread basket was left behind barely touched.

Would I go back? Yes but I would keep in mind that if I was not sitting at the bar, I would probably leave with a very large doggie bag. Between Olga and I, and our non-alcoholic beverages, we barely spent $15 per person on a very satisfying meal with tax and tip. The service started off rough but was better towards the end. You have to be assertive in a place like this where the noise level is high and there is a lot going on around you. Cute fact about Carmine's is that they employ local policeman and fireman as security for the restaurant. The security guy came to chat with us and he is a local DC policeman who does this when he is off duty. He is from New York City and used to eat at Carmine's so for him, it is nice to work somewhere that reminds him of home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hummus Showdown at Bravo!Bravo!


I love my friends. They come up with the craziest ideas and this one is crazy and sounds like a lot of fun. Here is the email I got from my friend Ragini:

Hi all!

Start the weekend off right with an epic hummus showdown at Bravo Bravo (on Connecticut between K and L) tomorrow at 6:30 pm. Steve recently challenged Bob (the best bartender at Bravo! Bravo!, who also happens to make delicious hummus) to a hummus challenge. Upon hearing of the challenge I had to immediately join. Additional entries are welcome, but beware the stiff competition. Come join us as we decide who's hummus is truly the best! If you're not into the whole hummus showdown thing, come any way for some cheap drinks, fun company, and probably free peanuts.

Ragini

PS: Let us know if you're interested in being an official judge!
PPS: If you need some inspiration for your hummus making or tasting check out this hilarious video:

http://www.youtube.com/user/GoRemy#p/u/13/nIybz6axr1Q


Please note that this is an informal showdown so there isn't going to be someone with a microphone or anything making announcements. But if you are into cooking and you think you make a pretty mean hummus, it might be fun to stop by and see if your hummus stands up to the rest of the contestants. If you plan to participate in the hummus contest, please bring some pita bread with you for the judges (and others who will be doing some taste testing.) No prizes have been announced at this time but wouldn't the real prize be the glory of winning?

Here is the address:

Bravo! Bravo!
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC

Unfortunately, I already have some plans so I won't be able to make it but I can't wait to hear about it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Maple-Mustard Pork Chops from Cooking Light


Last week, I caught the first episode of Masterchef and first challenge included pork chops. Whitney Miller from Mississippi is twenty-two years old and has never made pork chops before. She won the challenge. How can a young woman who has never made pork chops win the challenge? How come I don't make pork chops more? Pork tends to be a relatively cheap meat and if you choose the right cut, it can be really lean. The scary part about cooking pork chops for me is over-cooking it. I fear a dry pork chop.

Well, I fear no more. Marshall and I went to Harris Teeter and picked up two thick-cut pork chops. We went for the thick-cut because we figured there were less chances of drying them out. There are two things that I felt were key about cooking this dish. One, use a regular pan so that some of the juices and meat sticks to the pan a bit. This will give great flavor to the sauce. Two, I seared each side of the pork for 3 minutes each and then let the pan sit in the oven at 350F for 7 minutes. Since I seared each side, it helped keep the moisture in.

The maple-mustard sauce is amazing. This sauce is so simple and it compliments the pork chops very well. Its not too sweet and the mustard doesn't punch. This is definitely a dish I will be making for my friends.


Maple-Mustard Pork Chops
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

2 bone-in center-cut pork chops, thick-cut
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Sprinkle both sides of pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. Heat a oven-safe large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through, but with a slight blush in the center. Place pan in an oven for 7 minutes. Take pan out of oven and take pork chops out of pan. Place aside on a plate and cover with foil.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, swirling pan to coat. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute. Stir in mustard, syrup, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick. Return pork to pan. (Add a bit of water to pan if the sauce is too thick) Cook pork 3 minute on each side or until thoroughly heated (be careful not to overcook pork). Serve pork with sauce. Garnish each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley.



The pork chops were $6.15 for two pieces. We had to pick up Dijon mustard which was $2.99 a jar. The green beans were frozen and $2.50 per bag. The mashed potatoes were made with Yukon Gold which was $3.99 per 5lb bag.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DC State Fair


Corn Dogs, funnel cake, popcorn, fried Oreos...this is what comes to mind when I think about state or county fairs. I used to wander around and people watch. I used to be jealous of the girls who had boyfriends who rode with them on the Ferris Wheel. I used to get sick from going on the spinning rides that my brother would dare me to go on. I used to spend a lot of money trying to win just one prize. It was all fun and the food will always be my best memory of fairs.

A couple of friends of mine have organized the DC State Fair. I understand that the argument is that DC is not a state but I'd agree that "district fair" just doesn't bring on good memories the way "state fair" does. The DC State Fair will be going on this Saturday at the Tubman Elementary Field (11th and Irving Streets NW). For more information on the fair, please visit www.dcstatefair.wordpress.com.

Here is the schedule of events:

11:00 AM Winners of the Photography Contest announced
11:30AM-12PM Jam Contest judging and awards
12PM-12:30PM Pickle Contest judging and awards
12:30PM-1PM Cupcake Contest judging and awards
1PM-2PMPie Contest judging and awards
2PM-2:30PM Funkiest-Looking Vegetable judging and awards
2:30PM-3PM Biggest Vegetable contests weighing and awards
3PM Winners of DC Homebrew Contest announced
3:15PM Raffle winners announced
3:30PM Columbia Heights Day Cupcake Eating Contest (Stage 2)
4PM-4:30PM Tastiest Tomato judging and awards

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - 1 Year Anniversary!!


Its hard to believe that it has been one year since the first DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. My friend Anna came with me to hold my hand through it because frankly, social events were (and still are) intimidating to me. We walked into the Poste courtyard and we were faced with a wall of people. I could not believe that all these people were all food bloggers but they all were. And not only that, they were so friendly! That was the day I met Nick from Macheesmo and Rex from Savory Reviews. While drinking beers and under the September blue sky, they gave me blogging advice and we discussed food. Its great that we are still friends and still discussing food.

September 1st will be the 1 year anniversary of the first DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. I've had a great time meeting bloggers and have really enjoyed being part of the planning committee. This month's hosts are Jenna from Modern Domestic and Amelia from Gradually Greener. Please stop by, say "hello" and try Poste's famous truffle fries. RSVP Here.

Note: If you are interested in joining the planning committee to help arrange and host a DC Food Blogger Happy Hour, please email me at thriftydccook at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caffeinated Pancakes


***Disclaimer*** This recipe is not appropriate for children, pregnant women, or those with a heart condition.

Today is Marshall's birthday and I've known that I needed to do something special for awhile. I wanted him to wake up to bacon frying, pancakes on the griddle, and easy-over eggs. The reality is that he would curse my name if I had fed him that meal because he would end up asleep on his desk at work. So when I eyed a tin of chocolates that our friends Jenny and Josh gave to Marshall, I suddenly had a plan...Caffeinated Pancakes.

These are special chocolates, you see. Not special like "magic brownies" but special in other ways. They are chocolates from Germany and each piece of chocolate contains as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. It hit me that these would be great in pancakes. This way, Marshall can get a cool birthday breakfast and still keep his job by not falling asleep at work.


Ingredients

1 cup of Aunt Jemima's Pancake Mix - $2.49 per box
3/4 cups of milk - $1.99 per quart
1 egg - $3.99 per dozen
1 Tablespoon of oil - free from previous purchase
2 pieces of Scho-Ka-Kola Chocolate (cut up to little pieces) - free from a gift ($5.99 per tin)
2 oz of milk chocolate (chopped into little pieces) - free from a gift


Heat skillet to medium-low. Combine all the ingredients until large clumps disappear (don't over mix though.) Pour 1/4 cup of mix onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top of the pancake and then flip over and cook until other side is a golden brown.

We ate the pancakes with a little butter, a little maple syrup, and sliced bananas. And yes, we drank coffee too. I wondered if I was going to be hyper from the chocolates. I didn't think so until I realized that I was pacing back and forth waiting for an elevator. After that, I stopped wondering if those chocolates were really caffeinated. These chocolates can be purchased online at the GermanDeli.com.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beef Thai Salad at the 14&U Farmers Market


I've worked in two Thai restaurants in my life. The most recent experience was at Thai X-ing on 5th Street and Florida Avenue NW. Taw is the owner and chef of the restaurant. The restaurant had 8 seats total but had a mad, crazy take-out business. I started working there January of 2009. My then-boyfriend had just broken up with me and I was emotionally numb. The day after the break-up, I went to dinner with my roommate at Thai X-ing. We sat in a cluttered yet cozy corner where we had a narrow view of the kitchen. We were surrounded by drawing of tigers and books about art. Taw had opera playing and we could hear the phone ringing and orders being taken. The wait for the dinner was long but it was worth it. We dipped our spoons in the the Panang Chicken, tasted it, paused, and then looked at each other in amazement. It was the best Panang curry I had ever eaten.

After dinner, Taw came out and I casually asked him if he was willing to take on an apprentice. I was willing to cut, chop, clean in order to learn how to make that Panang curry. Turns out that Taw was in need of help and the next Saturday, I was there at 3pm to prep. It was the middle of winter and my hands became chapped from washing and chopping all the vegetables in the cold end of the kitchen. Taw liked the vegetables cut in triangle and he taught me about cutting things into the same size so that everything cooked evenly. Taw taught me to cook the curry for a long time so that the flavor of the spices were enhanced, add the coconut milk and let it stew some more. Taw taught me that the trick to a good curry is to cook the curry and coconut milk for a while and to add the meat and vegetables when needed. He taught me to always garnish. I left that kitchen every Saturday night dead tired, with chapped hands, with an aching back, and a little bit more whole as a person.

I don't think about the ex anymore but I do still think about all those Thai dishes I helped make. This is a very simple salad that packs a lot of flavor. The dressing is lime juice, minced garlic, sugar, and fish sauce. That is it. I decided not to add chili just because there are very few people I know who can take Thai chili heat. It can be added in the dressing if desired. I would serve this as an appetizer because the flavor is so strong, it would be a bit much for a whole entree.



Beef Thai Salad
Adapted from www.templeofthai.com

1-lb London Broil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp fish sauce
5 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 head Bibb or Boston; or 1 heart of Romaine lettuce.
12 sprigs fresh mint (optional), remove the leaves and discard the stems
1 small cucumber (seeds removed), peeled and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, stems removed
Chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Grill or broil the London Broil until medium-rare. Trim off any fat. Cool and slice thin, into pieces approx. 2 inches across and 1/8 inch thick.

Mix garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Add the sliced meat and toss with the cucumbers and shallots. Taste and add more fish sauce if desired.

Make a bed of the lettuce on a serving plate. Place the beef on top. Top with peanuts if desired. Garnish with cilantro.

The recipe actually called for Sirloin Steak but I used London Broil instead because it is a less expensive cut of meat. The intensity of the dressing will overpower the taste of the steak so there is no reason to spend a lot of money on sirloin steak when the London Broil will be just as good (and it was $4 less per lb.) The beef was from Pecan Meadows Farm, a vendor at the 14th and U Farmers Market.


Olga from Mango and Tomato, Alejandra from One Bite at a Time, and Tammy from Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC and I were invited to demo some summer recipes at the 14 and U Farmers Markets. We had an amazing time and were so happy share these recipes. Big thank you to Adventures in Shaw for getting the ball rolling and bringing us bloggers together. Below are the other dishes that were served at the demo.

Goat Cheesecake
Raw Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions
Farmers Market Vegetable Confetti Salad with Champagne-Dijon Vinaigrette
No Bake Lasagna

Friday, August 6, 2010

14&U Farmers Market - Cooking Demo

Do you ever wonder what to do with all that wonderful produce that is available at Farmers Markets? Tomorrow, a few food bloggers and I will be doing cooking demos using produce and items that can be found at the 14th and U Market. Please come by and say "hi" and sample some of the food.

Here is the program:

* 10 AM Olga Berman - mangotomato.blogspot.com will create a Raw Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese.
* 10:45AM Alejandra Owens - alejandraowens.wordpress.com has Goat Cheesecake and No bake Lasagne.
* 11:30 Tammy Gordon - Floridagirlindc.blogspot.com is on with a Farmers Market Summer Confetti
* 12:15 Sylvie Nguyen - Thriftydccook.com is doing a delicious Thai Beef Salad

Hope to see you there! For more information on the 14&U Farmers Market, please click here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whole Foods - Online Coupons


Whole Foods has new coupons that you can download, print, and use to save on great items like Almond Butter and Kashi Cereals. Download them here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brunch at Seasons


Growing up in Southern California, my family and I use to visit Las Vegas pretty often. It was a 4 hour drive away (3 hours if we were brave enough to drive 90 mph the entire way), nice hotels were relatively inexpensive, and there was enough entertainment for everyone. And then there were the buffets. There were two hotels that had my favorite buffets; the Rio and Paris. The Rio had an international theme and so there were stations from various parts of the world; Mexico, Italy, China, etc and the food was ok. The best part about this buffet was the seafood. There was counter of ice full of oysters as far as your eyes could see (I exaggerate but you get the idea.) They had steamed lobster, crab, and shrimp. It was a seafood lovers paradise. Paris on the other hand had good quality food. The stations were french themed and you had a choice of roasted meats, crepes, and the most amazing desserts I had ever seen in Las Vegas. Oh the memories...

There aren't many all-you-eat-buffets in DC (other than some Indian Restaurants.) But it just so happens that there is a wonderful buffet that can be found in Georgetown that gives you variety as well as quality. Seasons Restaurant in the Four Seasons in Georgetown serves a Sunday Brunch that could bring a seafood lover to their knees.


I had the fortune of attending a brunch to celebrate the restaurant's 1 year anniversary on Twitter thanks to my friend ArugulaFiles. It was a great experience to talk to the chefs who come up with and cook the cuisine. This summer, they are concentrating on Kansas BBQ and Italian dishes. The BBQ station is great. There is brisket, ribs, potato salad, and more BBQ sauces than you can find at the Soviet Safeway. The seafood counter is where I did the most damage. There were raw oysters, steamed shrimp, Mini crab & vegetable salad with an avocado puree, Seared scallops with Fava Beans salad and tomatoes, Maine Lobster Rolls, and lots more.


There are several of things that sets this buffet apart from other buffets I have eaten at. First, you can get food from the buffet but you can also order brunch dishes to be made fresh from the kitchen. Eggs Benedict is my regular brunch dish and so it was nice to be able to order it and have it served fresh while I enjoyed items from the buffet. My only criticism was that the egg was overcooked and was not runny enough for me but the hollandaise sauce was delicious.


The second thing was this kitchen happens to have an herb garden and 90 percent of the herbs they use is from their garden. One of the chefs took Arugula Files and I out to the garden. Its a modest garden but it was kind of cute how the chef seem kind of proud of it. The last thing that really makes this place special is the Chocolate Room. The buffet has a room that is entirely devoted to desserts. When you first enter, there is a chocolate fountain to your right with all of the fixings; marshmallows, strawberries, pretzels, brownie bits, etc. Then you are confronted with a table of more desserts than I can ever list. It was an amazing beautiful room.


I'll be honest that this is not a Thrifty DC Cook kind of brunch. The buffet brunch costs $80 per person. This is a place that I would take someone special for a very special meal. I would also only take someone who loves seafood and who can sit for four hours because that is how long I will be sitting there the next time I go to this brunch

DC Food Blogger August Happy Hour - Tenpehn


Its that time again for DC Food Bloggers and Foodies to get together and enjoy some drinks and food talk. We will be at Tenpehn on Pennsylvania Ave on Wednesday, August 4th. Thank you to Johanna Knows Good Food, Biscuits and Such, and Dining in DC for organizing this happy hour.

RSVP here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DC Restaurant Week - Summer Schedule

Looks like DC's Summer Restaurant week is August 16 through August 22nd. Of course I will make some lunch reservations with my co-workers for restaurants in the McPherson Square area. Some places I'd like to enjoy lunch are Bobby Van's Steakhouse and DC Coast. For dinner, Marshall and I are thinking of trying out Lyons Hall in Arlington or one of the steakhouses in DC like Jean Georges or Sam and Harry. Which restaurant will you try out for Restaurant Week?

For more details, click here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

All-You-Can-Eat-Pork at Bourbon Steak


It seems as if roasting a pig has come into fashion. Everywhere I turn, a new restaurant is advertising a pig roast as the special. This one looks like a great deal though. Bourbon Steak is celebrating Executive Chef David Varley's win at Food and Wine's Grand Cochon with a pig roast on their patio. For $25, you get all-you-can-eat pork (and I'm hoping sides.) For $40, you get all you can eat food and beer. Here are the details:

Date: Sunday, August 1, 2010

Time: 3pm to 6pm

Where: Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20007-3717

Price: $25 for all you can eat food
$40 for all you can eat food and beer

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blueberries


Last weekend, Marshall surprised me with a trip to Super H-Mart. For those in DC, any of the H-Marts are probably the best Asian markets to go to in this area. Blueberries were 2 pint containers for $2.99. I was so amazed. $1.50 each is a great price. I was very pleased with this purchase. That is until we stopped by Giant and I found the same exact brand and size for $1.25 each. GAH!

Well, if you are at Whole Foods today, they are selling 18oz containers of blueberries for $4.99 for two, BuyOneGetOneFree. Its their one day sale on blueberries and I would recommend it mainly because Whole Foods tends to carry some tasty produce so this might be the place to buy some for pie making.

Happy Weekend!

The Reserve on L Street

Its disappointing when a restaurant is trying to do too much and can't seem to get it together. Today, my co-workers and I went to lunch at The Reserve near McPherson Square. We chose this place because we wanted a sit down lunch that wasn't going to cost us more than $15 or so. The Reserve had a pretty good lunch menu with sandwiches and salads costing from $8 to $15.

Once we entered the restaurant, I knew this was not going to be a relaxing lunch. The restaurant is dim, there were lounge couches and tables pushed to the side, there were two big screen TVs that had ESPN playing, and the music was techno music that was turned up too loud. This is not the kind of lunch atmosphere I was looking for. My understanding is that the restaurant turns into a club at night. The decor makes sense for a club, not lunch.

Strangely enough, the food was pretty good. This review gets a star for food and a star for a nice waiter (even though he wasn't that great at making sure our drinks were full.) I had the prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and pesto panini. The bread was tasty and not too greasy (as most paninis are), the mozzerella was fresh tasting, the sandwich as a whole was satisfying. The french fries that accompanied the sandwich were also pretty good. All of this for $9. Not bad for a sit down restaurant if only the restaurant created the right lunch mood.

Here are a couple of observations that I would suggest to the restaurant:

1. Only have an open kitchen if the kitchen is clean and organized and your wait staff actually look like real cooks or chefs. Nothing is more unappetizing than seeing plain clothed people cook in an unorganized kitchen.

2. The hostess should not be serving drinks if she doesn't know what she is doing. A pretty girl in a short black dress doesn't do anything for a lunch crowd if she is fumbling around with full glasses of water. Also, anyone who works in a restaurant shouldn't have hair long enough to dip into the food and drinks when they are carrying them to our table.

3. People need to be able to see their food. From my understanding, the Reserve turns into a club at night. Thats fine but if you are serving a lunch menu, some simple steps will make the experience a lot better. Turn up the lights and change your dark red table cloths to white table cloths. This will lighten up the restaurant and make eating there more appealing.

4. The music needs to be turned down and should be relaxing during the day. Again, a lunch crowd is much different then a clubbing night crowd. Plus, the restaurant is surrounded by businesses that are looking for a good lunch place to talk business. They can't talk over thumping techno music.

5. TVs in the dining room make restaurants look tacky.

6. If there is a hostess table outside, someone should be there. If its too hot for someone to be outside, bring the table in.

The consensus of the lunch party was that we liked the food but the atmosphere was so unappealing that we would never go back to eat there again. I think this restaurant has the potential to be a great lunch and dinner spot if they can get their act together.

The Reserve
1426 L Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20005-3503

Friday, June 18, 2010

DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour - The Passenger



RSVP here.

There is no doubt that craft cocktails are becoming more and more prominent in DC. With places like the Gibson, PX in Alexandria, and the Lounge at Bourbon Steak, DC locals are getting a lot of options to try some inventive stuff. The Passenger on 7th street is doing a great job of holding their own. With the opening of the Columbia Room, they are providing a cocktail experience that you might only get in New York; Omakase style.

If you happen to drop by the DC Food Blogger Happy Hour on Wednesday, July 7th, order your drink by telling the bartender what kinds of flavors you like and then tell them what kind of liquor you drink. For instance, I prefer citrus flavors, drink tequila, and tend to like cold refreshing drinks. Just trust the bartender and see what they come up with.

Don't forget to trying something with lavender bitters. *wink*

Friday, May 28, 2010

La Madeleine's Strawberries Romanoff


There is something about eating at La Madeleine that I really enjoy. Their food is not that great. It tends to be rich and over cooked. But there is something that is so charming to me about the cafeteria layout and how you get to pick your food out as you walk towards the cash register. The place also is charming to me because it is exactly the kind of place my mom would take me to as a kid. Going out to eat with my mom was always a treat. It didn't happen often so each time we went felt pretty special. La Madeleine is exactly the kind of place she would choose. The pretty pastries displayed at the end of the lunch line was always a draw for her.

At La Madeleine, they have a dish called Strawberries Romanoff. Its fresh strawberries topped with a cream sauce that has a hint of liquor. Strawberries are so cheap right now. At Harris Teeter, they are on sale for $3 per lb. This is an easy to make dessert that is great for dinner parties or potlucks. Its really pretty and really rich tasting but is inexpensive.


Strawberries with Romanoff Sauce

1 cup strawberries, hulled and rinsed - $3 per lb
1/2 cup sour cream - $1 for one cup
1/4 cup of half and half - $2.69 for 16 oz carton
1 tablespoons brown sugar - $1.49 for 16 oz
2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar or white sugar - Free from previous purchase
2 tablespoon brandy - Free when you date a cocktail blogger (Please note that the bottle used for this recipe is $20 and a great tasting brandy. Its named Chalfonte.)

Rinse berries and trim stems.

Mix sour cream, half&half, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, and brand together and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Dilute sauce with half&half if it feels too thick. Place berries into bowl and pour sauce on top. Serve.