Sunday, May 11, 2008

rave: ben's chili bowl

Nationals Stadium opened on the last day in March of this year. We trotted out to some sweet seats last Friday night to watch the Marlins play the Nationals. The highlight of the game wasn't the baseball (read: at least 20 fly balls were hit) was the ball game food. Out at RFK stadium, the best food you could get was at a place called the "District of Chicken" -- so, you could pay $7 for a few chicken strips. Meanwhile, the entire stadium reeked of fried chicken. Hmm...

Though the new Nats stadium hasn't yet developed its own smell, they have added a Washington, D.C. late-night staple: Ben's Chili Bowl. Full disclosure: I didn't visit the real/original BCB until AFTER I had eaten it at the Nats Stadium. Moving on, there are about 4 things on the menu at Ben's:

  • Chili Cheese Half Smoke
  • Chili Cheese Burger
  • Chili Cheese Fries
  • Vegetarian Chili

I've tried three out of four of these (shame, shame...) and my parter in crime, Ben, finally tried the Chili Cheese Burger last Friday at the game. Though he woke up the next day with a burning sensation in his stomach, he seemed to really enjoy it while he was eating it. 

I tried to behave, and ordered a bowl of Veggie Chili at the game, instead of you know, cheese fries and a hot dog. I ate the Veggie Chili in about 1 minute, shrugged, and moved on to eating a half an order of Ben's chili cheese fries. The Veggie Chili wasn't very warm (maybe just my bowl?), so that made it sort of unappetizing...and it was a little too sweet for my palette. Meh. I guess ordering the Veggie Chili at Ben's is like going to a nice steakhouse, and ordering a salad. Not really worth the trip, you know? 

Next time you're in DC, at the baseball game or at the original location - try out Ben's Chili Bowl. To get the full effect, skip the burger -- order some chili cheese fries and a half smoke. And don't forget the Pepto Bismol. 

Friday, May 09, 2008

southern comfort

Do you ever just want to curl up after a long, rainy day, with some meatloaf and your own personal vat of mac & cheese, and watch three hours of network TV? No? ...I am shamleless. Nonetheless - these recipes (adapted from the latest and greatest addition to the Food Network Family - the Neelys!) are sure to satisfy you on a glum day. Sometimes comfort food is the only cure...

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf
Serves: 4, at least
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

You'll need:

  • 1.3 lbs. lean ground turkey

  • 1 C. chopped red onion

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 T. olive oil

  • 3 T. soy sauce
    1 T. worcestershire sauce

  • 1 egg

  • 1 C. bread crumbs

  • 1 1/2 C. BBQ sauce

  • 1 t. paprika

  • 1 t. Old Bay Seasoning
1) Chop the onion and bell pepper. Add to skillet with 1 T. olive oil, and sautee until tender and starting to brown.

2) Combine the turkey with the egg, bread crumbs, 1 C. BBQ sauce, Old Bay, paprika, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce.

3) When the peppers and onions have cooked, combine them with the meat mixture.

4) Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, then top with remaning 1/2 C. BBQ sauce, and return to oven for another 20-30 minutes.

Classic Mac & Cheese

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

You'll need:

  • 2 C. dry elbow pasta

  • 3 T. salt (to cook pasta in)

  • 2 C. whole milk

  • 2 T. butter

  • 1.5 T flour

  • 1 t. dry mustard

  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper

  • 2 C. cheese, shredded (your favorite kind)

  • 1/2 C. breadcrumbs or crushed chips or crushed crackers (topping, the best part)

  • Paprika (for garnish)

  • 4 oven-safe, individual-sized bowls

1) Boil water for pasta. Salt the water with 3 T. salt. When you drop in the pasta, begin to make the roux...

2) Melt butter in small saucepan. Whisk in flour, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper. Gradually add the 2 C. milk, whisking well so there are no lumps. Gradually add the cheese, whisking well, and reserving about 1/4 C. of the cheese to put directly on top of the macaroni.

3) Drain your macaroni when it has cooked, and combine with the cheese sauce. Stir for 1 minute, until completely combined. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary (salt, pepper, etc).

4) Ladle the macaroni and cheese into 4 individual oven-safe bowls. Top with remaining shredded cheese, and crumb topping.

5) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then sprinkle paprika over the top just before serving.

And, finally, something green:

Garlicky Lemony Beans
Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
You'll need:
A bag full of fresh green beans
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1) Trim the ends from the green beans, then blanche them briefly in a pot of boiling water. (2 minutes).
2) Drain the green beans, and add 1 T. olive oil to bottom of pan. Over medium heat, add the garlic, and then add the green beans back in.
3) Add the juice of one lemon, as well as the zest from 1 lemon, to the bean pot. Stir well.
4) Turn off heat, and salt and pepper the beans.
Enjoy with a hearty dose of 30 Rock, Lost, and The Office. :o)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

rave: coffee mate

It started in the summer of 2003. The first summer I lived in my brother and sister-in-law's guest bedroom during my first internship in DC. The summer after my freshman year of college, the year I became a coffee-drinker. I've tried to quit, but can't. Instead, I've brought others down to my level.

This morning, I made coffee as usual. Unfortunately, Ben beat me to the punch and used the last few drops of coffee mate for his own travel mug. This is not the first time I have come face-to-face with my addiction. I angrily poured my coffee, black, into some travel cups, and added a few ice cubes so that when the time came to actually drink my coffee--I didn't have to taste it. I could just swallow it really fast. Normally (i.e. days that we have Coffee Mate), I bring my mug full of sweet, creamy, caffeinated goodness into work and savor it for the first couple hours. So, you will understand when I say that I had a rough morning today.

Are you, too, addicted to this stuff? Lord knows it's made of plastic and sugar and diabetes, and yeah, it's really bad for you, but I really can't quit. Here's the conversation we had, once we both got to work today:

ktringe (10:01:05 AM): how's your coffee, meany?
BenK (10:46:03 AM): its good
BenK (10:46:10 AM): I'm not mean
BenK (10:46:18 AM): I thought you poured yours already
ktringe (10:46:42 AM): no you didn't
ktringe (10:46:50 AM): how many cups were brewed?
ktringe (10:46:52 AM): 12.
ktringe (10:47:00 AM): how full was it when you poured yours?
ktringe (10:47:03 AM): 12 cups full.
ktringe (10:47:19 AM): oh well.
BenK(10:48:20 AM): no it wasnt
BenK (10:48:26 AM): it was less than that
BenK (10:48:33 AM): I get more tonight
BenK(10:48:37 AM): grump

ktringe (10:48:52 AM): you would be too!
BenK(10:48:57 AM): no
BenK (10:49:03 AM): I've dealt with it before
BenK (10:49:12 AM): I just use lots of sugar

ktringe (10:51:01 AM): i admit i have a problem.
BenK (10:51:54 AM): you are addicted
ktringe (10:52:09 AM): i acknowledge that
ktringe (10:52:13 AM): so are you
BenK (10:52:45 AM): no I'm not
BenK (10:52:53 AM): I can quit whenever I want
BenK (10:53:01 AM): and just do it on the weekends

Sigh...resistence is futile.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

grill marks

Lighten up! Summer's here. Here's a great, quick menu for any night of the week - perfect for company, too!

Herbed Lime Chicken
Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
You'll need:
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 C. fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 C. fresh basil leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes
  • 1 T. salt
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. thin sliced chicken breast
1) Juice the limes, and add 1 T. salt. Mix well.
2) Place chicken in lime and salt marinade for ten minutes.
3) Peel the garlic cloves, then combine them in a food processor with the mint, cilantro, basil, and olive oil. Pulse until mixture is paste-like.
4) Drain the lime marinade from the chicken, and slather on both sides with the herb paste.
5) Grill on med-high heat for 4 minutes per side, or until done.
Marinated Zucchini & Summer Squash
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12-15 minutes
You'll need:
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 2 green zucchini
  • 1/4 C. white wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves garlic, well minced
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. shredded parmesan (for garnish)
1) To prepare the squash and the zucchini, first wash well, then slice on a diagonal: "/ /"
2) Whisk together the vinegar, the lemon juice, minced garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, and thyme.
3) Pour the marinade over the cut squash and zucchini, let marinate for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour.
4) Grill the squash and zucchini on a med-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, or until nice dark grill marks appear.
5) To serve: Arrange the zucchini and squash in an alternating pattern (i.e. green, yellow, green, yellow, etc.). Sprinkle parmesan over the top, and enjoy!
These two things were so light, and so tasty. They paired very well with:

Rice Pilaf

Salty Dog Cocktail

Recipe for Salty Dog: 1 part vodka, 2 parts grapefruit juice, ice, and a salted rim. Add twist of lime, and you're set!