Monday, August 13, 2012

Button Farm in Montgomery County


These past few weeks have been pretty fun for me. I got to go on a booze cruise, eat a fantastic steak dinner with wine pairings, and I got to celebrate Marshall's birthday with great friends. Sometimes I look at my long to-do list and wonder where the time has gone. Oh yeah...I was too busy having fun.

One of the fun adventures I was lucky to have was provided by General Motors. They generously loaned me a red, Chevy Camaro convertible for a week to drive around and to partipate in the annual Montgomery Country Farm Tour. The tour was great with stops at Rockhill Orchards, Button Farm, and Butlers' Orchards. The tour was even more fun because my fellow food-loving friends were also invited: Stacey, Olga, Cecilia, and Ashley.

While picking berries and herbs was great, the highlight of the trip was our visit to Button Farm Living History Center. On this tour, we learned about the history of the land as a plantation.  Anthony Cohen, pictured above, heads a program that recreates what living on a farm as a slave in the 1850s would be like. During the tour of the farm, Anthony told us about researching the Underground Railroad that went through Montgomery County and his own experience of taking the walk himself all the way up to Canada. It was an incredible story and I felt really lucky to hear it from the man himself. The farm will be offering programs for people who want to experience the life of a slave on a farm for a day. Anthony talked about how Oprah trained for her role in Beloved at the farm and how the experience changed how she ran the Oprah show. The experience is suppose to help you let go of everday worries and help you look within.

If you think this is cheesy, I can understand that. But I felt like this was the best part of the tour because I know that I am ready for that sort of experience in my life. I love to be inspired and I know that some good would come out of me taking the time to be quiet and find out what I want and who I am at this moment. For some people, it takes being removed from places with TVs, computers, telephones, and piles of laundry to figure that out. This program would provide that quiet.  Learning about Anthony's life made me realize how important it is for me to live life with purpose.

How was driving the Camaro around, you ask? Pretty good. The car drove well and having a convertible was a lot of fun. A lot of young guys looked at me while I was driving but after blushing from embarrassment, I realized that they were only looking at the car. On the day I got the car, I met up with a few friends for happy hour. We drove around with the top down and music blasting. We drove by men in mini-vans who looked like they were ready for a mid-life crisis and gave them the thumbs-up. I wish I video-taped my guy friends when they saw the car. "Look Sylvie, the doors have lights on them!" "Look at all these gages." "Sylvie, if you don't live this experience to the fullest, I am never going to forgive you." Sorry guys, I only drove it up to 60mph. You are just going to have to hate me forever.

Photo by Cecilia Stoute

***Disclaimer: I received no payment for this post but I did get a free car for a week, grilled peaches with ice cream, a root beer float, a basket of herbs and produce from Rockhill Orchards, and a basket of produce from Butlers Orchards. And I ate berries from their fields without paying for them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour - Taberna Del Alabardero


In spring of 2005, while living in southern California, I was sent to my company's Washington, DC office to work on a project for a week.  The office was located on 18th and I street NW. It was the furthest I had ever travelled for work and the first time I had an expense account.  It made me feel important.

I didn't want to waste an opportunity to try a high-end restaurant but wasn't brave enough to venture far from the office or my hotel.  Luckily for me, Taberna Del Alabardero was located on the first floor of my office building.  I remember loving the charming restaurant.  Dining all by myself, I was entertained by all the details of the elaborate decor.  I had fish and loved every last bite.  It was during this trip that I was offerred a job in DC and made the decision to move here.  Four months later, I moved into an apartment on 16th and T Street NW and started a new life on the east coast.

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, this charming restuarant will be hosting the DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour from 6pm to 8pm.  I will be co-hosting with the wonderful Jessica Milby of One Classic Wino.  Some specials that will be available during the happy hour include $5 glasses of wine, $4.75 for a glass of sangria, and numerous food specials. The restaurant will also be sending some bites from the kitchen: Pan Tumaka a mi Manera, Brocheta de Pollo Moruno y Patatas al Mojo rojo, Rabo de Toro estofado con Queso Manchego, Bocaditos de Salmon con Tartara, and much more.

Please join us. RSVP here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grilled Lamb Vietnamese-Style Sandwich (Not Banh-Mi)

I refuse to call this Banh-Mi. The term has been used by too many restaurants and most of the sandwiches they serve barely resemble the beloved Banh-Mi I grew up with. This sandwich is inspired by Banh-Mi and I will consider it a Vietnamese-Style sandwich.

The lamb is great in this marinade. But everything is great with fish sauce, isn't it?



Ingredients

1 pound of a leg of lamb sliced thin
2 tablespoons of Maggi
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
4 tablespoons of canola oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
French baguette
Mayonnaise
Cilantro
Carrots, shredded
Cucumber, sliced thin



Soak skewers in water for 4 hours so they won't burn on the grill.

Marinate the lamb in a mixture of fish sauce, oil, Maggi, crushed red peppers, brown sugar, and minced garlic for two hours.

Place lamb on skewers, grill in medium heat for 5 minutes in each side, and allow to cool.

Cut baguette in half & fill with mayo, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, grilled lamb or whatever else your heart desires. Eat with pleasure.

Happy Eating.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grilled Lamb Gyros


I feel like I hit this one out of the ballpark.  The lamb I grilled up for dinner last night was probably the best lamb I have ever tasted.  At least on par with some of the dishes I tasted at the Lamb Jam last month.  (This may sound arrogant but I am dead serious.)
  
This recipe is from Epicurious and was perfect for this heatwave we are experiencing in DC.  Even though I have the luxury of sitting in air-conditioning all day, this heat makes me want to do nothing.  I don't want to walk anywhere, I don't want to clean dishes, and I really did not want to fiddle with a labor-intensive recipe.  The American Lamb Board sent me a leg of lamb from Superior Farms and I had all these intentions to make some crazy recipes with it. In the end, I chose a simple recipe and it turned out to be extraordinary.

Here is how I would describe this recipe to my friends. "Throw mint, basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Throw mixture into a gallon-size Ziploc bag with lamb. Marinate for 24-48 hours in fridge. Take out and leave at room temperature for 1 hour. Place lamb on a hot grill and close lid of grill. Allow to cook for 15 minutes. Flip the lamb, brush on some of the marinade, and grill on medium heat for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150F."  (I love my meat thermometer.)
  
Because it was so hot outside, I actually left the grill and stood inside my apartment building while the meat cooked.  I monitored it through the window and could see my apartment neighbors pausing as they walked by the grill.  The lamb smelled that good.  They looked around and saw me standing by the window giving them the stink-eye that said "get away from my lamb." They backed off.

Here is the recipe from Epicurious.com for those who want more thorough directions. Please note that I only used a one-pound slab of meat because I didn't want to waste the lamb in case the recipe wasn't good. That was a mistake. I should have cooked the entire leg.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary leaves. (rub down the length of the stem to remove leaves. Discard stem)
2 Tbs dried oregano (fresh is not better in this case!)
8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
the zest of 1/2 lemon
the juice of 2 lemons, or 1 cup of fresh lemon juice sold in the plastic lemon in supermarkets.
1 Tbs course salt
1 Tbs freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One butterflied leg of lamb (ask your butcher to do this for you and have them remove tough membranes and fat).


Combine first 11 ingredients. Rub well into both sides of lamb. Place lamb in large zip-type storage bag or leave in bowl covered. Place into refrigerator for at least 2 days and up to 3.
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to allow lamb to come to room temperature. Wipe off most herb mixture, reserving marinade for basting.
Roast lamb over coals or low gas grill heat covered for 20 minutes, basting and turning after 10 minutes. Remove cover and baste and grill another 10 minutes (5 minutes each side) or until lamb is cooked medium - medium rare. Remove to platter, tent with foil and let lamb rest for at least 15 minutes.


This lamb recipe is really amazing. The herb mixture leaves this tasty crust and the lamb is juicy and flavorful. I did cook the first side on high heat just to make sure it got a good crust on it. It was so great being able to use the herbs from our balcony garden. We sliced it up and made lamb gyros with pita bread, hummus, lettuce, red peppers, onions, a yogurt sauce and feta cheese. Even Marshall ate it up and he is not the biggest fan of lamb. Look at this picture below. Isn't it gorgeous? The best part was I barely had any clean up other than to scrape down the grill.

Happy Grilling!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ebbitt Express

Did you know that Old Ebbit Grill has an express counter?  And if you did, why didn't you tell me!? 
 
 
Ebbit Express is awesome. It is hidden away in the back of the restaurant and the entrance faces the lobby of an office building.  The space is small but serves its purpose. It even has a window where you can pick up the orders you placed over the phone or online.




The prices here are fantastic for the kind of food and the amount of food you get, especially for a downtown establishment.  The Beef Brisket Platter is $9.95 and it is a hearty portion of brisket, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans.  The brisket had great flavor, was not too fatty and wasn't too dry.  The mashed potatoes and green beans both were great.  The green beans even had a good crunch to them.


The Pulled Pork Sandwich was $7.50 and was plenty for lunch.  A co-worker mentioned that the bottom bun was a bit soggy but look at that all that BBQ pulled pork...

Ebbit Express is open Monday through Friday and has daily specials.  You can place an online order here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sandwich Bread


So, I think I finally got the hang of baking bread. For years, the idea of baking bread has intimidated me but look at this picture above.  Isn't it gorgeous?  I am at that point where I am so excited to see the yeast activate, to smell the dough as it comes together, and then to see that bulge in the kitchen towel that covers the bowl as the dough is rising.  I love it.

I decided to give myself a break from trying to make artisan breads or using whole-wheat flour because the breads that I was trying to bake did not turn out very well.  It was discouraging me from trying to bake again. So I simplified my life and looked up an Amish white bread recipe from All Recipes.com.  It was perfect.  I only used 1 tablespoon of sugar to get the yeast going.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe to a tee.  Yeast can be pretty pricey so I ordered 2lbs from Amazon.com.  I filled a quart mason jar with yeast to use now and froze the rest in the freezer for later use.  This yeast works great and should last in the fridge for at least a month. 

If you read the reviews for this bread, the possibilities are endless (dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, garlic knots, etc.)  I am just so happy to be able to make bread with no preservatives and to be able to share them with my friends.  We had a little picnic at Logan Circle last week and I brought the bread, some turkey, sliced up vegetables like radishes and onions, and we had ourselves a delightful little picnic.  Now if I can only figure out whole-grain baking...

Happy Eating.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not So Simple Southern Things


Less than one mile from my apartment is a Popeye's Chicken establishment.  In order to ensure that we live a somewhat long life, I have been pretty strict about how often we can visit this restaurant.  I am proud to say that since we have discovered this location almost a year ago, we have only visited twice.  And the chicken is good.  Popeyes has discouraged me from attempting to make fried chicken at home.  Why bother with all the grease, the heat, and the messy batter when you can get good fried chicken less than a mile from your home? 

That is until I read a blog post by Momofuku For Two.  The recipe looked relatively simple and her pictures just made me want to bite into that crunchy skin.  A few weeks ago, I made this chicken and it was worth all of the grease, all of the heat, and all of the messy batter.


We put the brine in a gallon-size ziplock bag, placed it in a cooler, and put in ziplock bags full of ice in the cooler (our fridge is packed so there is no way we could fit a bowl of chicken and brine in there.)  It brined for 10 hours and then I removed the chicken, dried each piece, and placed it into a baking sheet and covered it with paper towels.  I let the chicken sit for two hours.  This is such an important step and something I have learned about good frying. My mistake in the past has been frying food that just came out of the fridge.  Naturally, the insides are too cold and therefore you will end up with burnt skin and bloody red, raw flesh.  The meat needs to sit at room tempertature for awhile.

I set up my battering station, heated up 48 oz of canola oil (until you can sprinkle some flour in and see it fizzle), battered the chicken, and dropped the chicken in for about 13 mintues.  Ok, I confess that I didn't technically fry the chicken.  Marshall stepped in because 1) he is from the South and feels that he has the genes to properly fry food 2) he wants to do the fun part.

This fried chicken is worth the trouble. It was moist, the skin was crispy, it was simply delicious.  The funny thing is, Marshall and I could only eat one or two pieces (instead of a lot more.)  Our theory is that when you cook the food, the sensory exposure (sight, smell, feel) has been satisfied and therefore you don't need to eat as much.  We are totally going to write a weight-loss book and make millions of dollars.  I guess we should first prove this theory.

Happy Eating.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Kitchen with Character


Recently, we started a registry for the wedding.  Marshall and I added all of these great items and got really excited over a bunch of kitchen gadgets.  What I started to realize was that the gadgets were fun but I wasn't getting excited over the china or the serving platters.  Most were not attractive and the ones that did appeal to me were over-priced.  I want a kitchen with character but I am not willing to spend $500 for a sugar bowl.

My prayers were answered when we went to the Arlington Civitan Open Air Market.  The "garage sale" is held once a month on the first Saturday of the month during the summer.  It is a large parking garage that is filled to the brim with vendors selling pretty much everything imaginable.  I scored the two bowls for $5 and the embroidered tablecloth for $1.  (I do realize they don't really go together but had to get them in the same picture somehow.)

The bowls are really charming and are perfect for chips and dip.  The tablecloth isn't really my style but for $1, it is perfectly good to cover wood picnic tables that normally give me splinters.

My goal in July is to head to this market and score some good baking tools such as loaf pans and pastry cutters.

Happy Shopping!





Friday, June 22, 2012

In A Hurry Noodles






There are people in our lives who are there to remind us to stop being whiny, self-involved, bratty adults.  For me, they are typically people with kids.  If you ever want to get a cold, hard stare (or even a growl) from someone, go and complain to a parent about how little time you have as a single person.  I was talking to my brother over the phone about how tough it is to make quick and healthy dinners.  I mentioned how it has been really great for Marshall and I to make pizzas at home since I learned how to make and freeze pizza dough.  My brother said he didn't have time to make pizza dough.  I replied "What about Sunday nights?"  He reiterated, "I don't have time to make pizza dough."  It hit me. He is in medical school and they have a 3-year old boy to take care of and entertain.  I backed off.

So the picture above is a dish that I made while thinking of my busy family.  The noodles (spaghetti though I would recommend using Angel Hair pasta) are tossed in a soy and sesame oil sauce (recipe by the Pioneer Woman) with shredded rotisserie chicken, sliced up red peppers, and cilantro thrown in.  It was quick, easy and hopefully something my brother and his family can use in one of their future meals.

Love you guys!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Simple Southern Things

In November, I will be getting hitched to a southern boy. The kind of boy who loves fried chicken, biscuits, and ice tea. The kind of boy who has an accent that suddenly gets thicker when he talks to his mom on the phone. The kind if boy who tried to get me to appreciate the Dukes of Hazard by telling me random facts about the show and how they are so cool for jumping into the car through the windows. Not sure I am sold on this show yet.

In trying to cook more at home, making southern style food has been a challenge for me. But there is one thing that is simple enough for me, iced tea.

Today is suppose be a scorcher for the DC area so I decided to make sun-brewed iced tea. Simply place some Lipton tea bags into a mason jar and fill it with water. Let it sit out in the sun for about an hour. Then sweeten and serve over ice. Simple, refreshing, cheap, and delicious.

Stay cool, folks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Nice Email


My aunties make me laugh.  Especially when they are together.  They are these beautiful, youthful women who scold us to eat better, laugh at us when we make silly mistakes, and who loudly (and yet lovingly) explain to my cousins and I their theories on life.  I get regular emails from them and they are typically "WARNING" emails about how cell phones can pop corn kernels and will do the same to my brain.  Or how I should not get out of my car if I see a note taped to my windshield because it is another way that I can be attacked.  I get these types of emails on the regular and I have to explain to my friends why I get so paranoid and crazy sometimes. 

For once, I got a nice email.  My aunt Emily sent me an email with a simple subject: Pound Cake.  This is what the email contained:

POUND CAKE

1-1/4 cup flour

1-1/2 stick butter
¼ cup of milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 extra large eggs
1 tp baking powder
¼ cup rhum
orange skin
½  to ¾ cup of  raisin

Beat the butter first,  sugar , then add one egg  at a

time for 2 mn each.  Add flour and baking
soda, then milk and rhum and raisin last.

Cook at 350 to 375 degree for 45 mn


Check with a knife, if it comes out net, the cake is ready

to be taken out.


What a lovely email and a delightfully simply written recipe.  I was instantly inspired and baked this within a week of receiving it.  It is light and sweet with a hint of rum. This pound cake is normally found in Vietnamese bakeries and I am so happy to have a recipe for it now.  I hope my Aunt Emily keeps sending me these types of emails.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Puckered Face, Lit Up Eyes


If you follow Mrs. Wheelbarrow and OneVanillaBean on Twitter, you will know one fact; sour cherry season only lasts for a few weeks. I started to have "I am going to miss out on sour cherry season" panic attacks. It is even worse this season because I heard rumors that the weather somehow effected this year's crop so the scared little jewels of red are going to be scarce. I was determined to make one fresh cherry pie.

Lucky for me, By the White House Farmers Market brought these sour cherries to me (the market is a block away from my office.) The market is open once a week on Thursdays from 11 am to 2:30 pm. Bigg Riggs and Toigo Orchards both will have sour cherries this week.

The pie in the picture is my first cherry pie of the season. It is a mix of fresh, pitted sour cherries and canned Dark Morello Cherries from Trader Joes. I used Mrs. Wheelbarrow's sour cherry pie filling recipe, baked it at 350F for 1 hour and let it rest for one hour before cutting into it. Just a be sure to pit the cherries well. Marshall almost broke a tooth biting into this pie. #sorry!!!

I Did A Bad Thing



So...I did a bad thing. Well, kind of bad but not really. I feel badly about it. This past Sunday, Marshall and I were lucky enough to attend the Fancy Food Show which is basically an adult-foodlover's Halloween-ish event (without costumes). There were over 2400 exhibitors and almost all of them had samples of a food or drink. Before I got to the event, I already knew that I was going to love it. My imagination failed me because it was ten times more glorious than I could have ever imagined. Wall-to-wall cheese, smoked meats, crackers, bread, cookies, brownies, tea, liquor, soda, olives, biodegradable cartons of water, sparkling water, sake, Aloe water, fried elbow pasta snacks, rum cakes, dried fruit, mezcal, applesauce in pouches, hot pasta, hot pizza, cheese, cheese cheese, and did I mentioned they had a lot of cheese? Here are a few of the items that I really enjoyed (I wish I could post the hundred that I tried and enjoyed):

-Icebox Water - it is water in a biodegradable carton. I would love for schools to order these to get kids to drink water and for them to get use to using another container other than plastic water bottles.
-Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams - Splendid indeed. This ice cream is a must-not-miss if you are at the show. Their samples blew my socks off.
-Beanitos - Chips made of beans. I think that is pretty cool.

Six hours later, Marshall and I stumbled out into the sunlight loaded down with heavy bags of samples. We crossed the street to the Passenger and relieved our weary legs by sitting on stools and drinking beer. It was an awesome day.

That night, I started getting tweets that asked "Did they search your bag?" and "Did they let you out with stuff?" I was only slightly confused and figured it was only paranoid friends.

Today, my friend Cecilia got out of work early and attended the show and sent me a picture of the sign by the doors that read: ATTENTION EXHIBITORS - The removal of samples from the Exhibit Halls is prohibited. All product sampling must be done on the show floor."

Whoops.

I promise you that I didn't see those signs. I was blinded by the attractive food displays and all the cheese (and my greed)! But seriously, the goods I took off with were not nearly as amazing as the products I tasted inside the exhibit halls. No word yet if the Fancy Food Show will be coming back to DC but if they do, I will gladly pay the registration fee and attend (though I guess I would have to also ask that extended family member who actually owns a business if I can go as their rep since this is an industry only event.)

The last day to attend the Fancy Food Show is tomorrow, Tuesday, June 19th. I also wanted to mention that my new goal in life is to be a food buyer for a major grocery store. :)




Friday, June 8, 2012

Trader Joes Sold Me a Bag of Goods

I dislike hearing a sales pitch. When sales people approach me, I head in the other direction or I smile politely and tell them that I am fine. Either way, I prefer to be left alone to judge the value of a potential purchase on my own.

Today at Trader Joes, the nerdy-looking guy behind the samples counter convinced me to try the featured dish. He told me the queso he was serving was from two Trader Joes' products: a can of Turkey Chili and one container of cream cheese. I tasted it with some tortilla chips and... it was pretty darn good. Begrudgingly, I admit that I was sold.

The canned chili was tasty with beans cooked just right, lots of diced peppers and onions, and a good kick from the spices. Heated up and mixed with the cream cheese with some chopped up green onions and cilantro thrown in (and jalapeños if you have them), it is competitive to some of the best queso dips I have ever eaten and definitely beats the yellow stuff they probably microwave-cook at Tortilla Coast.

The can of chili was $1.99, the cream cheese was $1.79, and the bag of tortilla chips cost $2.49. For an appetizer that costs less than $7, I will be making this my go-to contribution during football season. Just remember to garnish with some cilantro to make it look more expensive.

(the picture doesn't do this queso justice. )

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - Haven Pizza - June 6th


The beautiful Bethesda Foodie and the great Anita from Greg's List will be co-hosting the next DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour which will be at Haven Pizzeria in Bethesda, MD.  Come hang out with a great crowd on Wednesday, June 6th starting at 6pm.  It is always a great time and I hear that Haven has some really delicious pizza.

RSVP Here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Croissants Are for Lovers



Baking bread is f-ing hard.  This weekend, I attempted to make four loaves and only one was a success (though a bit dense.)  There is so much to consider: temperature of the water, timing of the rise, etc.  I found myself looking at my risen dough and scrutinizing the bubbles to see if it was ready for the oven.  This took a lot of energy.  Spent and covered in flour, I vowed to myself that I would try again.

There is one baked item I don't think I will ever be able to conquer, the croissant.  If you read a recipe for croissants, it would make your mind spin. There is just much to it. Luckily for me, there are a few places in DC that make great croissants.  My favorites are Watergate Pastry, Buzz Bakery, and Paul.  

Paul opened their third location in the DC area today on Connecticut and K Street NW and offered a free large macaron or a baguette with any purchase. I happily purchased a delicious croissant and picked up a free baguette.

Happy Eating!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Update on Our Balcony Herb Garden


Look at this beautiful herb garden.  I'm such a proud mama.  The truth is that they haven't even grown to their full potential.  Some of them are just babies right now and I can't pluck their leaves to garnish my dishes just yet.  The mint on the upper left of the picture is a plant that we purchased last year and grew brown over the winter but has bloomed again. "Bourby" is struggling just a bit but produced enough leaves to garnish several Mint Juleps for the Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby party we had.  Some new herbs that have been added to the mix are dill, purple basil and greek oregano.

This is the perfect time to head out to the farmers markets and pick up some herbs.  You can find organic herbs for under $3 and if planted well and cared for, will be great garnishes for summer dishes.  I picked up at few at the Clarendon outdoor market a couple of weeks ago and the cilantro is doing well. I am keeping my fingers crossed because my cilantro plant died in mid June last summer.  You can also find good deals at garden shops.  Home Depot had a crazy sale a few weeks back and I picked up a few plants for $1.77 each.  The true test of my gardening skills is if I can successfully grow cherry tomatoes from the TopsyTurvy contraption my parents gave me.

For a list of local farmers markets in the DC area, check FreshFarm Markets or Markets&More.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chipotle Sponsors FreshFarm Markets


Chipotle restaurants in the DC area will be donating 50% of their sales to FreshFarm Markets tonight from 5pm to 8pm.  This is an amazing sponsorship for FreshFarm Markets who work really hard at making local farm fresh produce available to DC residents throughout the year.  FreshFarm Markets contributes so much to why I love living and working in the DC area.  Being able to walk out of my office door and have the "By the White House Farmers Market" a short walk away every Thursday is a treat.

Please head to Chipotle tonight for dinner and support this great group.




Friday, May 11, 2012

Just A Little Bit of Something Sweet

I consider this a thank you letter to Virtue, Feed, and Grain in Alexandria, VA. "Thank you for being different than most DC restaurants. Thank you for writing a menu that is thoughtful and entertaining to read. And most of all, thank you for providing dessert options that are 1/3 of what most places would charge."

Seeing the dessert menu after a good meal is normally disappointing to me. Most of the time, you can't find anything under $6 and if it is, it is a small scoop of sorbet. I can't stomach the thought of dropping that much money on dessert when I really only want that little bite of something sweet. Just a nibble will do. I have dragged Marshall to the grocery store after a dinner out to pick up a $3.50 pint of Ben and Jerry's so that I could eat one spoonful and put the rest in the freezer. I felt good that the $3.50 quenched my sweets-thirst but also was put away for future use.

We stopped by Virtue, Feed, and Grain yesterday and I am glad we did. The restaurant is fun, comfortable, and unapologetic about just wanting to serve good food with no fluff. It delighted me that a glass of whole milk was an option on the menu. Who does that? Apparently, these folks.

And here is where I want to give them my round of applause. The dessert menu listed Vanilla Ice Cream for $1.50. I was so shocked that I had to check with the waitress. "Can I really order just a scoop of vanilla ice cream and only be charged $1.50?". "Yes you can," was her reply. Respect. I felt like the owners of that restaurant placed that vanilla ice cream on the menu at that price as a symbol of their respect for the customers. I have to tell them, "I respect you for putting that $1.50 scoop of vanilla ice cream on the menu."

It doesn't end there. The "Specials" menu had a Carrot Cake Cupcake for $2. Whoa. This is beginning to be too much for me. $2?!?!? Even the local Safeway gouges at least $3.25 for their mini-bombs of glossy sugar. I ordered the cupcake and was even more pleased when I was presented with a standard-size cupcake and not a bite-size cupcake. Again, I felt it. Respect.

Marshall and I will be back soon to try out the entrees. And I am looking forward to it.




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

DC Food Bloggers Bake Sale - Thursday, April 26th


I love a good bake sale.  I'm sure it is because my parents never let me buy anything when I was a kid and so I spent most of my youth envying the kids who had parents that would treat them to a cupcake or a rice krispy treat.  But I also just love the spirit around bake sales.  It is ususally a group of people who want to raise some money for a good cause.

It looks like a great one has been organized to raise funds for  Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale.  Cathy Barrows, from the blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen, and many other great DC food blogging bakers will be selling their treats at the Washington Post Building on 15th and M Street from 2pm to 6pm (1150 15th Street NW.)  Just enter the main lobby of the building and you will be delighted by the selection of goodies. I am sure of this.  All proceeds will benefit the Share Our Strength charity.

I will show up early to ensure that I get one of One Vanilla Bean's macarons and Bon Appetit Foodie's oatmeal raisin cookie.  Bring cash (small change please) and spread the word.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Whole Foods Foggy Bottom Offers a Butchering Class

Image from Google.


When the Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom opened up months ago, I was invited to tour the market before it opened to the public. On the tour of the market, we got to meet the head of the meat department and I asked him if he would consider offering a butchering class. Someone in the group scoffed at the idea and this confused me. Who wouldn't want to know how to properly butcher?

Fast forward to the January 2012 DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Watershed where I met Kimberly Bryden (some of the most exciting things that have happened to me in the last few years started at a DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. Great ideas come from a bunch of foodies who get together to drink.) She works at Whole Foods and we started a discussion about the new market. I mentioned that I knew a few folks who would be interested in a butchering class. Looks like Kimberly is going to make this happen for us!

The class will be held on March 13th at 6pm. Here is more information:

"Join our expert Butcher Doug as he bones out a whole bone-in pork loin. He will show how to get bone-in/boneless ribs, boneless pork chops, pork tenderloin, tenderloin medallions, baby back ribs, country style ribs, rib and loin end pork roasts, and many more. The class is limited to 15 participants and costs $10. You will get a $10 gift card in return to buy some meat to butcher at home after the class! Sign-up at the customer service booth when you pay for the class."

You can also email Whole Foods to RSVP and then pay the $10 fee on the day of the class. (Subject: Butchering Class on March 13, 2012):

community.foggybottom@wholefoods.com

Please only RSVP if you are sure that you will attend the class. There are only 15 available spots in the class.

So basically this class is free which makes it that much more awesome.









Saturday, February 18, 2012

American Lamb Pro Am - March 4th - Hotel Palomar


I am shocked. I am amazed. I am touched. I still cannot believe that I my Lemongrass Lamb Stew was voted in the top four out of thirteen amazing recipes. Being up against some of the best bloggers in the DC area, I mock-trash talked for fun when we started this lamb competition. I was not serious. But I had no idea the force that was around me that would push me all the way to the top. A big thank you to my family, friends, blog readers, Twitter followers (and their families and friends) who asked people to vote for me on Facebook, on Twitter, via email and via text message. Even my co-workers got in on it, rallying their family and friends up to the very last hour of the race.

It wasn't until the clock hit 4pm that my heart calmed down and I could see on the website that I was in the top four. TOP FOUR!

What does this mean? This means that my Lemongrass Lamb Stew will be cooked by the great Chef Adam Sobel of Bourbon Steak at the DC Pro AM. Here are the details:

DATE: Sunday, March 4th, 2012

LOCATION: Hotel Palomar (2121 P Street Northwest, Washington D.C. 20037)

TIME: 3-5pm

WHAT: 4 DC food bloggers (this includes me!!!) team up with 4 DC top chefs to serve up American Lamb dishes and compete for American Lamb Pro-Am supremacy. Local fans will gather to sample the dishes created by the blogger/chef teams, sip delicious wine/beer and vote on their favorite dish.

1. Sylvie Nguyen of Thrifty DC Cook - Lemongrass Lamb Stew working with Chef Adam Sobel of Bourbon Steak

2. Mary Kong of Girl Meets Food - Chinese Roast Lamb with Rice Noodles working with Chef Anthony Lombardo of 1789 Restaurant

3. Russell Warnick of Endless Simmer - Welsh Rarebit Lamb Nachos working with Chef John Critchley of Urbana

4. Lauren DeSantis of Capital Cooking Show - Roasted Leg of Lamb with Caramelized Onions and Fig Sauce working with Chef Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana.

TICKETS: Can be purchased here.

So the competition continues and I am so grateful to be in the running (what is it that people say to sound gracious at awards shows? It is an honor to be nominated?) But lets face it, with Chef Adam Sobel, we are going to kick some ass on March 4th! Booyah!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lamb Banh Mi


It is voting time! Please cast your vote here for my Lemongrass Lamb Stew in the American Lamb Pro Am DC competition.

If you noticed that I did not use all of the Border Springs Farm lamb in Lemongrass Lamb Stew, then you might have wondered what I did with the rest. I sliced about a pound of the leg of lamb into big, thin pieces (thank you super sharp Shun knife) and marinated them for an hour in a teaspoon of minced garlic, 3 tablespoons of Maggi, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons of canola oil. After searing the lamb in a hot cast iron skillet, I placed them in freshly baked French bread with pickled carrots and onions and fresh cilantro and cucumbers to make a Lamb Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich). The banh mi was very hearty and the seasoned lamb was balanced out by the cold pickled vegetables. I added peppered mayonnaise to the sandwich which added a spicy creaminess. I will try diced up jalapenos in the mayonnaise next time.

The French bread I used was from Trader Joes. It was the kind that is sold partially baked and that needs to be baked for 10 minutes before it is ready to eat. One of my favorite places to get French bread is at Banh Mi So 1 in Falls Church. The bread is baked fresh everyday and a nine inch loaf is only 55 cents. Gotta love delicious, fresh bread that costs less than $1.

And I have to give credit to Olga from MangoTomato for this idea. She suggested I make a lamb banh mi and I am glad she did. Yum!



Friday, February 10, 2012

Lemongrass Lamb Stew


My pantry is really full and I need to do something about this. It has become somewhat ridiculous. I have containers of food products that have been sitting in the kitchen for over a year and I have yet to do anything with them. My problem is...I have a disease. There is no name for it but the closest name would be "Recipe reading-over-excited-food-shopaholic." I get inspired by food TV, food magazines, foodie friends, food blogs, recipes on the back of labels of the food products in my kitchen, and etc. Then I think that I must cook that recipe right away and I go out and buy the ingredients and then something happens and I get distracted. I'm serious. This is how it works in my life.

A dish that I have wanted to make for a long time is a Vietnamese stew called Bo Kho. Bo Kho is normally made with beef and is rich in spices; cinnamon, paprika, anise, cloves, ginger, chili. My favorite thing about this stew (and with many Vietnamese dishes) is that beef tendon is used and it gives the stew a rich, fatty flavor. This stew has been made easier to make because there are packets of spices that you can purchase that will save you money and time. All the necessary spices are mixed and ready for you to use.

When I first agreed to be part of the lamb cooking competition, I knew I wanted to make an Asian style stew. Well, I actually wanted to make fifty different dishes but my life as a full-time, "just-for-fun-cook" has not begun yet. So the fact that I had a packet of Bo Kho spices in the kitchen made this an easy decision.

The four pound, boneless leg of lamb given to us by Border Springs Farms was beautiful. The meat was this deep red color, it smelled fresh, and it was an all-around great piece of meat. I purchased some lamb at a Halal market a few weeks ago and the meat was much drier and much more difficult to work with. It just showed me the difference between getting meat from a market versus getting it directly from a farm.

While I was prepping everything, I could hear the voices of the family members who have taught me to cook Vietnamese food in my head. "Just a little of this, just a little of that." "Heat the soup until you see little bubbles. Then it is ready." "The skin of the ginger should be thin. If it is too thick, it is old ginger and will not be good." My family never cooked with recipes. They cooked by the look, the smell, and the feel of the ingredients. So this recipe might reflect this.

Lemongrass Lamb Stew

3 pounds of lamb, cubed (keep some of the fat on the meat)
one large onion, diced
4 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups of warm beef broth
6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass, outer layers removed, cut into 2 inch pieces
(*note use the tender, bottom part of the stalk)
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
3 tablespoons of ketchup
1 oz of Bo Kho Spices (found at Asian markets)
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
¼ cup of flour
2 tablespoons of fish sauce

Place oven rack at the lowest position in the oven. Pre-heat oven to 300F.

Use a paper towel and dry off the cubed lamb. Lightly dust the lamb with flour. Heat up a lightly oiled cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Place the pieces of lamb on the skillet but do not overcrowd the skillet. Each piece of lamb should have its own space. This will have to be done in batches. It took about two minutes for each piece to get a good sear and produce crusty brown edges (crusty brown edges equals serious flavor.)

Place the cooked pieces of lamb into a 6 quart Dutch oven. Sweat onions, garlic, and slices of ginger in the cast iron skillet (still on medium-high heat). You want to cook them for about 3 minutes. Then sprinkle the Bo Kho spices on top, stir and cook for only 30 seconds. You basically just want to heat up the spices but you don’t want to cook them for too long because they will burn and produce a bitter taste. Toss the mixture into the Dutch oven with the lamb.

Pour the beef broth into the cast iron skillet and turn the stove on medium-low. Add a tablespoon of flour and whisk the mixture until the flour dissolves into the broth. Add the ketchup and fish sauce. Using the whisk, scrap the bottom of the cast iron skillet to get all the flavor that cooked onto the bottom of the skillet into the broth. After a minute, pour the broth into the Dutch oven.

Place the Dutch oven on medium-low heat. Add the bay leaves, star anise, and carrots. Bend the lemongrass to so that the outer stalks are ripped a bit. This will allow the lemongrass flavor to seep into the stew. Drop the stalks into the pot. Add enough water to reach the highest point of the lamb. Mix the liquids up a little bit. Cover and bring to a simmer. Place into oven and cook for three hours.

Once the pot has come out of the oven, take the lid off and allow the stew to cool. Remove the star anise, ginger, lemongrass, and bay leaves. If the stew is not thick enough, you can also remove the pieces of lamb and use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables into the juice and simmer. I’ve done this many times and it gives the stew great body.

This stew is nothing short of wonderful. The ginger gives it this great fresh taste. The spices come through beautifully. The carrots give the stew a natural sweetness. The lamb is tender and has great flavor. This is soulful food.

There are a few ways that this stew can be served. I enjoyed it over Jasmine rice but you can also serve it with a toasted French baguette or over Chinese egg noodles. Top the stew off with sliced shallots and cilantro. If you would like a spicier stew, I would recommend adding some whole dried chilies to the pot before it goes into the oven.

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Avocado with Sweetened Condensed Milk

It is such a simple, delicious pleasure. I grew up eating ripe, creamy avocados with sweetened condensed milk. I have memories of an auntie spoon-feeding a bunch of us kids this treat and wanting to push all my cousins aside so I could get more. Now as an adult, I get a whole avocado to myself. No need to push or elbow anyone.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Winter Herb Garden

BEFORE


AFTER



My dinners have been so sad without fresh herbs to top them off with. As you can see, I didn't "winterize" my garden. Instead, I neglected my garden and let the cold take it away. The strange thing is, there are some plants that have survived. The marjoram is blooming. It is the one in the far right on the ground and up against the wall (sorry for the dark image). I have no idea why it is blooming but I have left it alone and allowed it to blossom. The parsley is also doing quite well. It has not grown at the rate it was during the summer but the leaves are green and fragrant. The thyme, rosemary, and sage are disappointing me because I thought there were the sturdier plants. They are somewhat green (mostly brown) and when you break the leaves, the flavor is no where near as intense as it was during the summer.

I mourn my basil the most. It had grown into a monster of a basil plant during the summer and made many homemade pizzas delicious. I can't wait for summer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

11th Annual Sugar and Champagne Affair - February 1, 2012


The 11th Annual Sugar and Champagne Affair is sold out. You might be wondering why I would be so silly to post about an event in which there is no hope of purchasing tickets to eat delicious food from some of the best chefs in DC. I'm not a cruel person. I promise. Well, I'm not cruel most of the time and this is one of those times.

I'm writing about this event because you can still help the Washington Humane Society even if you can't buy a ticket for the affair. If you are an animal lover and you want to contribute to the non-profit, please consider submitting a donation here. You can also help by volunteering. And if you are interested in attending a Sugar and Champagne Affair, keep an eye out for the 2013 date. I'm sure it will be amazing.

I leave you with Norah Jones' lyrics to "Man of the Hour."

"It's him or me
That's what he said
But I can't choose
Between a vegan and a pot head

So I chose you, because you're sweet
And you give me lots of lovin' and you eat meat
And that's how you became
My only man of the hour

You never lie
And you don't cheat
And you don't have any baggage tied to your forefeet
Do I deserve, to be the one, who will feed you breakfast, lunch,
And dinner and take you to the park at dawn
Will you really be
My only man of the hour

I know you'll never bring me flowers
Flowers they will only die
And though you'll never take a shower together
I know you'll never make me cry
You never argue
You don't even talk
And I like the way you let me lead you
When we go outside and walk
Will you really be
My only man of the hour?
My only man of the hour.
My only man of the hour."


Bartolo Nardini Amaro



Before I met Marshall, I enjoyed appetizers before dinner and desserts after dinner. After a year and some months, I found myself saying things like, "Oh, that dinner was so delicious. Time for a digestif."

Yep, instead of craving a chocolate cake after dinner, I find myself yearning for sips of the amazing liqueur you see pictured above. My first taste of this Bartolo Nardini Amaro was at Fiola. It was introduced to us by the super-friendly and informative Jeff Faile. Most of the time, I don't enjoy drinking liqueurs straight. When I sipped this Amaro, I was surprised by the slightly sweet, carmelized, chocolatey, coffee taste of it. It was light. It was refreshing. It was FABULOUS.

The taste of this Amaro stuck with me. I thought about it for days after trying it. Marshall was so delighted that I actually enjoyed an Amaro that he called up Joe from ACE Beverage and asked him to order a bottle. Now this delightful drink is available to me every night and I love it.

If you are interested in learning more about making cocktails, making punches for parties, building your own cocktail bar, or are interested in learning more about what to order when you go to a craft cocktail bar, check out Scofflaw's Den. The guys behind the blog are now doing personal consulting and are even teaching classes at Last Exit. They can even help you create a signature cocktail for a special event.

***Full Disclosure: I have a personal relationship with one of the men behind Scofflaw's Den. Just wanted to be sure I was honest here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - February 1 - Eatonville


If you are craving some pecan-crusted, deep-fried catfish and some foodie talk, tomorrow's DC Food Blogger Happy Hour might be the happy hour for you. DC Food Bloggers will be meeting at Eatonville at 6pm for delicious bites and foodie gossip. You will no doubt enjoy the warm community of food bloggers that we have in DC.

RSVP Here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Organic Garbanzo Beans at Whole Foods


Dried beans seems to be my thing now and days. I know they have been around for awhile and people have been singing their praises for years but finally, I understand.

I picked up this bag of Garbanzo Beans at Whole Foods over the weekend. This one pound bag of beans sells for $2.39. The coupon booklet that can be found in the front of the store has a $1 off coupon which made this bag only $1.39. This is a great deal for organic beans.

You can also download Whole Foods coupons here. My sister-in-law has been matching coupons found in store with coupons from manufactures and has scored great deals on Clif bars and juices. This is great for people who love to shop at Whole Foods.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Pot of Black Beans for the Ladies at N Street Village


For the past six years, I have been a regular volunteer at N Street Village, a women's center in DC that helps low-income and homeless women. When I first started volunteering, I showed up once a week to help serve food to the women during my lunch hour. Over time, I volunteered to do other things such as build furniture or help recruit volunteers and walkers for the annual walk-a-thon. Then I started to lead groups of new volunteers on the weekends through DC Cares to help prepare salads, heat up casseroles, and serve. It hit me one weekend that I wanted to start cooking my own food for the women. I talked to N Street Village and asked if it was ok for me to start my own group and serve once a month. For the last 3 years, my wonderful friends and family have helped me serve great food to these women and it has been an amazing experience.

There is this great joy when you see people eat and like the food that you make and it is especially special when you know these women really need it. The most elaborate meal we made was when a friend, who is a chef, came and made individual meatloafs served with mashed potatoes and a mushroom gravy. During the summer, we love bringing sliced up cold watermelon because it always produces smiles. It is clearly an appreciated treat. A family friend once brought in 15 rotisserie chickens which she quartered, dredged in BBQ sauce and roasted again until the sauce carmalized on the chicken. We left that day with an applause from the women. I turned to my family friend and said, "Ok, now we have top that."

Each month is a struggle to figure out what would be the most economical, healthy and delicious dish to make. My friend Joy has been a master at finding good recipes that will serve large groups (we aim to make enough to feed 50 people.) We also try to bring in fruit and vegetables when we can because people need nutrious food regardless of their financial status. This past week, we planned to make enchiladas and I decided to make a side of black beans.

I found this "Mexican Black Beans" recipe from Epicurious. It looked simple and had all the flavors I was looking for in a recipe. To feed 50 women and keep the cost low, I picked up the items at Food Rite in Arlington, VA. I mutiplied this recipe by ten in order to have enough.

Mexican Black Beans


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 pound of dried black beans soaked in water overnight
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
Water
Fresh lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Chopped green onions
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Place oil in a 3qt dutch oven and bring to medium heat. Saute garlic, onions, Jalapenos until onions are translucent. Add cumin and mix in. Cook for 30 seconds. Add black beans and chicken broth. Add water until it is right above the top of the beans. Bring to boil. Turn off stove.

Place dutch oven (with the lid on) into the heated oven. Since I used dried beans, the cooking process took longer than the recipe on Epicurious. I kept the beans in the oven for 2 hours. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

They were perfect when they came out of the oven. The beans were soft but not mushy. The cumin and garlic gave it this rich flavor and worked great as a side for the enchiladas. I added a bit of lime juice and we had bowls of chopped cilantro and green onions on the side to put on top of the beans. The entire pot of beans made for 50 women cost around $10. A 5lb bag of beans was $5.50. A container of cumin cost $1.29. Cilantro was $0.89. Onions and jalapenos cost less than $3. I had the rest of the ingredients from previous purchases. These beans would be delicious just served with white rice and maybe some hot sauce. The amazing thing is that we still had half a tray of beans left over after serving all the women and giving out seconds. It felt great to bring something that was delicious and healthy for them to enjoy.

If you would like to join me on Saturday, February 18th (10am to 1pm) to cook and serve a meal at N Street Village, please email me at thriftydccook at gmail dot com.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Union Halal Butcher and Grocery in Arlington Closing


If you have eaten at one of the best pizza places in the DC area, Pupatella, then you probably have seen a little halal shop that is right night door. I've been shopping at this store for the past 1 1/2 years mainly because I can get great large-sized pita bread that I use to make pita pizzas for under $2 (six in a pack). But in addition to that, I've purchased marinated olives, Kefir cheese, feta, and much more. I stopped by this weekend to pick up some lamb to test out recipes for the D.C. American Lamb Pro-Am Competition. As I was walking into the store, I knew something was wrong. The shelves were half empty.

I was greeted by the manager who told me that the store will turn into a restaurant. They were very excited about the Morrocan cuisine and they confirmed that there will be delivery options. (I also confirmed that they won't be competing with Fettosh next door. They have a friendly collaboration.) The restaurant will launch in a month so and for now they must sell their inventory.

The store has several items on sale for buy one get one free but they are also willing to negotiate on prices for items that are not listed on sale. I picked up a container of pinenuts which they sold to me at 25% off the price. They had a lot of specialty items that I am sure I would use if I knew more about middle eastern cuisine. If you have a chance to stop by, here is the address:

5102 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22205

I picked up my boneless leg of lamb (their price is $6.75 per pound) and will be working on recipes for the competition this week. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Potato Chip Egg Casserole

There are many reasons why I love my friends but one of the top reasons is because they are the kind of people who don't judge me when I show up to a get-together with no makeup on, a stained shirt, and jeans. They makes me feel relaxed and comfortable all the time. Another big reason why I love my friends is because when we get together, it is a collaboration of good food and good drinks.

Jenny is our mastermind organizer. She makes sure each element of a good party is intact: drinks, food, eating utensils. Jason is our music expert. He can put together a playlist to ensure that no matter your music taste, you will hear a tune and say "OMG, I love this song." Marshall makes sure that we have some sort of cocktail or punch. Kelley supplies us with smoked meats or bacon deliciousness. Jenny, Joy, and others bring delicious food. Simply put, everyone contributes. We even have people who prefer to clean up because they don't like cooking. It is always awesome.

Last week, we had a pajama party brunch because who doesn't want to be in their 30s, eat bacon, drink booze, and watch cartoons in their pajamas with their friends? We had a bunch of champagne leftover from the New Years Eve party. Fourteen bottles total were brought to this brunch and by the time Marshall and I left, there were only four bottles left. We did good. In addition to that, our hostess Heather made us the delicious Bloody Mary that you can see in the picture above. Her husband Brian fried up 3 pounds of bacon and made sure we were all caffinated with Intelligentsia French Pressed coffee.

My job was to bring an egg casserole. Joy has a great recipe where she puts onion rolls in a pan, add an egg mixture, drops spoonfuls of cream cheese, and then tops it all off with diced up green onions. I love this casserole. It was really after brunch at the Tabard Inn where I had scrambled eggs with cream cheese and chives that I realized how delicious that combo was. While searching through Epicurious for egg casserole/fritatta ideas, I found one that included potato chips. It mentioned how Tortilla d' Espano has fried potoates in it and questioned how far off potato chips be. I agreed. Here is what I made:

Potato Chip Egg Casserole

Ingredients:

8 whole eggs
2 egg whites (I took out two yolks because in my head, it made this healthier. Weak, I know. You can take out more yolks and add more egg whites if you want to lighten up the dish)
1 8oz bag of potato chips (I used Kettle Brand, Reduced Fat, Sea Salt)
2/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup of chopped green onions (green part only)
2/3 8oz container of cream cheese
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Spread half of the bag of chips into a 9x13 baking pan evenly. Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese on top of the chips. Top off with more chips. Whisk eggs, egg whites, dash of salt, dash of pepper, and milk together. Pour over chips. Sprinkle the green onions on top. Bake at 350F for 35 mins. Check if the casserole is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle. It should come out clean. If it does not, put it back in for another 5 mins. Repeat until the toothpick comes out clean.

The egg casserole came out delicious. The entire brunch was a hit. There was french toast casserole, sourdough pancakes with a berry compote, 3lbs of crispy bacon, biscuits, sausage, and gravy, fruit salad, French Press coffee, bloody marys, mimosas, bellinis, and a lot of laughing. (Have you ever seen the ShakeWeight instruction video? We did.)

If I were to change one thing about this recipe, I would add more eggs. The eggs came halfway up the pan and once it all baked, the exposed potato chips came out golden brown which made the casserole look awesome. It tasted great but for me but if this is going to be an egg casserole, it should taste more eggy. I would have liked more eggs. So next time, I would add 15 eggs (13 eggs and 2 egg whites? J/k.)





Monday, January 16, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos Stuffed with Cream Cheese


I've received a few marriage proposals lately (though I only accepted one) and a couple of them came after I served bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese at a party. The recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman and it is awesome (and inexpensive to make.) I used forty jalapenos and spent about $4 for all of them. I purchased them at Food Rite in Arlington, VA. It is a small market off of Glebe Road that is frequented by ethnic folks. Their produce prices are great. The cream cheese was $1.99 (I got two) and the bacon was $4 a pack and I used two.

Other than toothpicks and gloves for handling the jalapenos safely, there is nothing else you need. I differed from the recipe only in the length of time that the jalapenos stayed in the oven. I baked them for about 35-45 minutes or at least until I thought that the bacon looked browned (no one likes uncooked bacon.) We had over 80 pieces for a friend's New Years Eve party and it was a hit.

My friend Jenny has used the same recipe and added ranch dressing powder and cheddar cheese in the cream cheese. I liked them both ways.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

GT Kombucha On Sale At Whole Foods

Image from www.synergydrinks.com.

My friend Anna (and yoga guru) told me about Kombucha a couple of years ago. She started drinking it and felt that it helped her digestive system. She also told me that she dropped five pounds after drinking it for a few days so yeah...my ears perked up while she was talking. I tried it and at first was taken aback by the vinegar-like taste (it is a fermented tea that creates enzymes that assist with digestion.) But after giving it a second shot, I actually started to find the drink refreshing. And lets just say that it is a great way to detox. It really does clean out your system. After drinking it, and letting it do it's work, I felt....cleansed.

You can make kombucha yourself at home but there is something about the process that scares me. I think I would rather leave this to the professionals.

My favorite flavors are the Guava Goddess and the Cosmic Cranberry. These bottles run about $3-$5 a bottle (depending on where you buy them.) I found them at Yes! Organics for $2.99 a bottle. Target started selling them recently (found near the refrigerated orange juice) and they are priced reasonably there.

Whole Foods will have this drink on sale on Friday the 13th - Buy One Get One Free. I will try to stop by and stock up on a few bottles. Its great to have the day after an indulgent meal or if you are just feeling sluggish. Sometimes, you just gotta give your body some attention and help it out a little.

Happy Shopping!

Whole Foods - Online Coupons

Image from WholeFoods.com.


For those who would like to eat healthier in 2012, check out these coupons from Whole Foods. They have some great deals on teas, energy bars, soy milk, beans, and much more. In the past, I have been able to score really great deals by matching up the coupons with sales. They had Arrowhead Mills Organic flour on sale for $2 a bag and with a $1 off coupon , the flour was only $1. Their price on Kashi cereal rivals any other supermarkets'price and they have a coupon for $1 off two boxes. An old personal trainer got me to buy a box of their Original Go Lean cereal and told me to carry around a snack bag of it to munch on when I was hungry. It has a lot of fiber and very little sugar so it was a filling and healthy snack. I dropped so much weight that summer munching on this cereal and running staircases.

Here is the link to their online coupons. You can also find coupons in booklets found in front of the store which is so convenient. The only problem is that Whole Foods shoppers are earth friendly so you often times find booklets with ripped out coupons because the patrons don't want to throw away the entire booklet. It might just be easier to print out the coupons ahead of time so that you don't run into this problem.

Happy Shopping!