Friday, April 24, 2009

fat kid treats

Midnight Snacks with Vanessa: Round 4,432,589,932.

Vanessa and I lived together in Rome. We caused a ruckus, regularly. She came to town and her flight got canceled, we did what we do best. Here's just one of the many fat kid treats we could've created.

Supplies: Whole wheat honey flavored English Muffins, chocolate chips, chunky peanut butter. Major bonus points if your chocolate chips are celebrating their 3rd anniversary and you found the English Muffins in the bottom of your refrigerator. Step 1: Use a fork to split open the English muffins. Put them on a sheet pan. Butter them (preferably with butter that comes out of a tub, a huge tub), and bake them for 10 minutes.

Next, peanut butter [jelly!] time! Spread peanut butter on top of toasted buttery English muffin halves. Peanut butter is HILARIOUS.

Oh, and find a banana that has approximately 1 more day in its life before it looks like a fossil. Slice it up. Put it on top of the peanut butter and English muffin.

Sprinkle your finest aged chocolate chunks over the bananas...

Yeah, keep going.

The room should look like this. If it doesn't: midnight snax, ur doing it rong.

Put the English muffins and the banana and the chocolate back in the oven for a few minutes until the chocolate looks shiny. That means it's melty. Mmm...melty. Oooh, and sprinkle some cinnamon over the top of it. Because cinnamon is delicious.

Eat. Share. Watch out for rogue Kardashians, overly friendly squirrels, and lastly, I definitely don't recommend any strenuous activity such as Dance Dance Revolution.

These are seriously delicious. We need your help. What should we call them?
1) Fat Kid Treats
2) Chunky & Mullet's Midnight Moonpie
3) ___________ [write your own]

Leave your suggestions & email address in the comments...winner gets a prize.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

caprese pasta salad

The time has finally come, friends.  The return of the backyard BBQ season is easily one of my favorite times of the year.  Yesterday, with 83 degrees!, was the perfect opportunity to partake.  A long stroll on the National Mall followed by some Eastern Market grocery shopping is just what the doctor ordered.  This easy, wonderful pasta salad will be a welcome addition to any BBQ you may attend:

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves: 6
Prep time: As long as it takes for water to boil.
Cook time: 5-10 minutes.

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed, halved
  • 1 container ciliegine mozzarella, chopped
  • 6 oz. pesto
  • 1 lb. fusili pasta

Because this recipe has only four ingredients, it is important that you buy very good quality of each ingredient (and thanks to JCO for procuring these ingredients!).  Moving on: 

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Halve the tomatoes, and chop the mozzarella.  Season with salt to taste.  Cook your pasta in boiling, salted water, according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cool water until pasta is no longer hot.  Drain again well.  Add to bowl with mozzarella, tomatoes.  Add pesto, and toss to combine.  Check the seasonings, then salt to taste.  Enjoy! 

Eastern Market
306 7th Street, SE (Between Pennsylvania and Independence, on 7th Street, SE) 
Washington, D.C. 20003

Friday, April 17, 2009

friday lunch WIN

La Loma
316 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 548-2550

A longtime hill staffer favorite, there is nothing better than the first noontime recess margarita. Oh, sweet, sweet goodness...Don't miss: Fajitas al carbon, quesadillas, and of course, their margaritas. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

i could cry

Today, I went shopping at Safeway, planning to buy groceries for dinner (herb grilled chicken, Israeli couscous, and zucchini)...I showed up and ... the place was nearly empty. Shelves, vacant. Freezer section, empty. It was as if I had walked into ...Soviet Safeway. But what of my beloved Social Safeway! What of the Georgetown students, the wealthy older women, the erstwhile eye candy?

As I checked out, here's what I learned...
Me: So, what's with the empty shelves?
She: Um, the store is closing.
She: For like a year. They're renovating.
Me: [Speechless, tears coming.]

OK. So, Social Safeway is closing for a year (and despite living a mere two blocks away and shopping there almost every single day, I may be the last person to know this). This is incredibly lame. Where will I buy thin cut chicken breasts? Quaker oatmeal? COFFEE MATE!? I may not survive.

Photo: That sign cracked me up. For days. Not only because of the obvious "Jan. 23th! ONLY!" but also the meatloaf. Also, if you look closely - it was posted above some sort of artificially colored gelatin-esque substances and mayonnaise-based foods. How apros pos...

Anyway. Here's what's happening: Oh, and you best believe I signed up for the mailing list/updates. If you need me, I'll be quietly crying in the corner, near our empty fridge...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

just for the halibut: in which i try new things

L to R: Lemons, Cilantro, Feta, Tomatoes, Olives, Shallot, Quinoa, Halibut, Black Beans.
Oh, and wine.

Salad, halfway there...

Ta-da! The finished product...None too photogenic, but plenty tasty.

For as much as I talk, you'd think I'd be more adventurous in the kitchen. I'm not, and there are a couple reasons for this: 1) I am a creature of habit and comfort, 2) There is an unsaid 1-strike-and-you're-out policy at my house. Meaning, if I make something once and it doesn't turn out well - I can forget about making it again. Le sigh.

Last night, I decided to pull out all the stops and try my hand at cooking fish and quinoa (thanks for the push, JCO!). Knowing I had but one shot at this - I did my best to find recipes that use a ton of fresh flavors we already know and love. I found a couple of good recipes, and of course completely messed with them to make them my own. Original recipes, and my method, below:

Original Recipes via
Black Bean And Tomato Quinoa Salad
Halibut with Chimichurri

OK, now, a couple of points:
  • Quinoa - BUY THIS! It's super healthy, has a mouth feel like couscous but tastes better.
  • Halibut - Buy fresh. Should be firm, and not smelly. Cook skin-on, then peel skin off before serving.
OK, now for the good stuff:

Quinoa Salad with Sauteed Halibut & Chimichurri
Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

For the fish:
  • 2 halibut steaks, 6-8 oz. each
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 C. really good olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 3/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 C. lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 T. cilantro
  • 1/4 C. chopped green olives
  • 1 t. salt
  • Pepper

To make chimichurri, combine olive oil, lemon juice, pepper flakes, chopped cilantro, finely chopped garlic, and finely chopped shallot in a dish. Whisk to combine. Salt to taste. Let sit for 20 minutes. Before pouring over fish - add chopped olives. (Not in original recipe, but I like the bitter saltiness of the olives).

To cook the halibut, put 1 T. olive oil in bottom of nonstick skillet (if using grill, be sure to oil the grill racks AND the fish). Season the non-skin side of the fish with salt and pepper. Place fish in skillet, non-skin-side down first, for 4 minutes. Turn to skin-side-down, sautee for an additional 4 minutes, or until fish is no longer opaque. You may finish this in the oven, by covering your skillet and putting in a 300^ oven for a few minutes.

For the Black Bean, Tomato, & Quinoa Salad
Serves: 2 (main course)

You'll need:
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 C. olive oil
  • 1/4 C. lemon juice
  • 1/4 C. chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 sm. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Feta, if you want
  • salt & pepper to taste
First, put a pot of water on the stove to boil (like rice, quinoa uses a 1:2 quinoa-to-water ratio). Salt the water before you put the quinoa in.

Next, chop tomatoes and cilantro. Drain and rinse black beans, stir to combine. Make the dressing with cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

When quinoa is done cooking, about 15 minutes, (should be soft but not mushy when you bite it), fluff it with a fork, and then stir to combine with beans and tomatoes. Add dressing, stir.

To plate!
Make a bed with quinoa salad. Add feta if you want. Place fish on top of quinoa salad. Spoon chimichurri sauce over top. Garnish with lemon wedges. And then take a deep bow for making such an awesome meal.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

chicken parm

Chicken Parmesan, which is almost neither of those things, is still a comforting way to end a long, cold Monday. So, that's just what we did.

Chicken Parmesan
Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

You'll need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, pounded to 3/4" even thickness
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 2 T. oregano
  • 3 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 6 oz. mozzarella (part skim/low moisture) cheese
  • 4 T. parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 32 oz. tomato spaghetti sauce*(like Prego)
  • 4 T. olive oil to sautee
*This is one of the rare occasions when I will suggest using your favorite pre-made spaghetti sauce instead of making your own with crushed tomatoes. Partly because it's easier, and partly because this dish is all kinds of inauthentic Italian, and it's fun to keep with that theme.

To make:
1) Pound chicken breasts to even, 3/4" thickness. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and put a pot of water on to boil.

2) Lay out 3 dishes for breading: flour (seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano), egg, and panko.

3) Bread the chicken breasts - dip in flour, shake off excess, dip in egg, then in panko breadcrumbs. Important: Let chicken stand for 10 minutes after breading or else your breading will end up in your pan and not on your chicken.

4) Sautee your chicken in olive oil until crust is golden, about 4 minutes per side. Do NOT crowd the pan, cook in batches.

5) On a baking sheet, lay browned chicken out in a single layer. Top each piece with 2 T. spaghetti sauce, plus 1/2 C. mozzarella cheese, then 1 T. parmesan cheese.

6) Bake chicken in 350 oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

7) Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling, salted water, drain, and mix with spaghetti sauce.

8) To plate: Put spaghetti in bottom of dish. Top with baked, cheesy chicken. Top with more parmesan, if you like. Eat. Yum. (We paired this with a nice Chianti, which was definitely pronounced with a hard "a").

Monday, April 13, 2009

good read: my life in france

My Life In France
By: Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
Available on

A love story, Julia Child's My Life In France takes readers on a stroll with her from her humble beginnings as an earnest homemaker through the ardor and impediments of writing her first cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." You'll wonder at her vivid and blissful descriptions of French food (love at first bite!), and laugh with her about her trials as a very tall, indelicate American girl in Paris. If you're looking for a springtime pick-me-up, pick up a copy of this book. Her enthusiasm is absolutely contagious. Bon apetit!

ulah la

Ulah Bistro
1214 U Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

(202) 234-0123

Chic Ulah Bistro sits right across from local favorite Ben's Chili Bowl. The prices are right, and so is the food. I had a chicken and artichoke pizza which was a beautiful thing: big pieces of grilled chicken with tender artichoke hearts and -oh yes- dollops of cream cheese. I am daydreaming about it, still. Don't miss their many brews, their hot, buttery fries, delicious pizzas (big enough to share!) and burgers (turkey, too!), and best of all - the people watching at Ben's across the street.

Thanks, LD and ST for the tip.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

mini mac and cheese bites

I used B's birthday yesterday as an excuse to make these - brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I can't take credit for this idea - found them here, original source (to whom many thanks are owed) here. Anyway - baked mini mac and cheese bites? Does it get any better? No, no it does not.

I made mac and cheese my usual way, but halved the recipe (for 24 bites). You'll definitely need more if you're making these for a party.

You'll need:
8 oz. elbow macaroni
3 oz. cheddar cheese
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
3 oz. fontina cheese
1 C. 2% milk
2 T. butter
1 T. flour
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. black pepper
Sprinkle of cayenne

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until done - 7 or 8 minutes if using Barilla Plus elbows. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degress.

To prepare your mini-muffin pan, melt 1 T. butter in small dish, brush inside cups. Sprinkle bottom of cups with some grated parm (probably 2 T. total).

To make your roux for the mac, melt remaining 1 T. butter over low heat. Add 1 T. flour, whisk. Add dry mustard, 1/2 t. salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whisk until a paste. Slowly add milk, whisking. Bring to a bubble. Gradually add in cheese, stir until combined.

Combine cheese sauce and pasta, stir well. Drop by Tablespoonful into mini-muffin pan. Top with more parm. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

When they are done, let them cool for a few minutes before popping them out (that way the cheese won't melt all over the place, they will hold their shape better, and bonus, won't taste like molten lava in your mouth!)


P.S. What detox diet...?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

spring cleaning

About this time every year, I start to feel all the macaroni and cheese, meat sauce, and other starch-and-fat-laden foods that have kept me warm and fat and happy all winter. I always try to eat in moderation (Eat a twinkie? Eat a carrot too), I like to get a jump start on my health with the beginning of the season. With great pleasure, I present to you my favorite detox diet (with great thanks to my great friend, CC and her mom whose health and vitality I envy!):

Detox Diet
Day 1: Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Vegetable Juice
Day 2: Vegetables, Vegetable Juice
Day 3: Vegetable Juice
Day 4: Vegetables, Vegetable Juice
Day 5: Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Vegetable Juice

It's short, it's straightforward, and it's quite easy to stick by. The goal isn't to be on a restrictive, low-calorie diet - the goal is to eliminate things that are hard for your body to digest (i.e. starch, dairy, meat). Since you'll be eating so much fresh produce, your body will still get plenty of nutrients, so it doesn't leave you particularly tired or low-energy. I will typically have a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at night, because if I didn't, I'd go nuts.

Here's a sample menu:

Day 1: Vegetables, Fruit, Whole Grains
Breakfast: Oatmeal/Cereal, Coffee
Lunch: Salad with whole grain crackers, olive oil
Snacks: Apples
Dinner: Whole wheat pasta arrabiata, & salad

Day 2: Vegetables & Vegetable Juice
Breakfast: Vegetable Juice & Coffee (or, sliced tomato with salt & olive oil)
Lunch: Big salad w/ Vegetable Juice
Dinner: Roasted tuscan cauliflower, sliced tomatoes

Day 3: Vegetable juice

Day 4: Vegetables & Vegetable juice
Breakfast: Tomato, Vegetable Juice, Coffee
Lunch: Big salad w/ vegetable juice
Dinner: Eggplant arrabiata, salad

Day 5: Vegetables, Fruit, Whole Grains
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Coffee
Lunch: Salad with whole grain crackers or veggie sub on whole wheat bread
Snacks: Apples
Dinner: Whole wheat pasta primavera, salad

Remember, don't go on any diets unless you're in good physical shape. Check with your doctor if you have questions. And...good luck!