Thursday, December 20, 2012


When you're going to a dinner party, and your instructions were to bring your favorite dessert and bring a drawing of a dinosaur, it's only natural to bring your favorite dessert shaped like a dinosaur, right?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

purple potato knish

Things are just so much more fun in color, aren't they?

You know what else is so much more fun? NATURAL LIGHT! See all that beautiful, non-artificial lighting? It makes my heart happy.

I found this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't been there, seriously. Go. Like, now. I pretty much want to make all the things (and made maybe four recipes of hers this week already? I've lost count). I started following Deb when a good friend of mine alerted me to the fact that she would be in town for a book signing for her first cookbook (Deb, not my friend. My friend doesn't write books). We braved the crowds (seriously, the place was packed) and left with signed copies of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook! I'm so special.

These knish were the first recipe of Deb's I made, and they turned out really well! The butter-sauteed onions lend a nice flavor to the potato filling (I mean, what doesn't taste better with butter?), and the crust holds everything together really well, without being too heavy. The best part? This recipe was easy

Ok, the best part may be that the main ingredient is potato. Because we all know how I feel about potatoes...

(Purple) Potato Knish (makes 10 medium or 6 large) slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 egg yolk plus 1 teaspoon water for finishing

1 1/2 pounds potatoes (russet is classic, I used baby purple), peeled and quartered
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the dough: Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, and then pour over the dry ingredients. Mix everything (I used my hands) until the dough just comes together. Knead the dough until it's a smooth ball, and set aside for at least an hour (up to 3 days in the refrigerator). 

While the dough is resting: Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook potatoes until they are fork-tender, 15-20 minutes. You can cook the potatoes into the water whole, but they'll take longer to cook. While the potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a pan with the oil, and saute onions until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Once the potatoes and onions are cooked, mash them together in a bowl. 

Preheat your oven to 375*. Once the dough is ready, cut it into two pieces. Roll each half into squares about 1 foot. Arrange potato filling in a log about 2" round towards the end of the square, lining the potato up with the end of the dough. Roll the dough/potato twice, and trim off any extra dough leftover. Make indentations in the log depending on how large you want your knish - I made 5 knish per log, so indentations were about 1.5" to 2" apart. Twist the log apart at each indentation, and pinch one side of each piece shut once broken off. Flatten each piece a little so it's round but flat on the bottom, and the top is slightly open (see the finished product above). Arrange your knish on a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper), and brush with the egg yolk/water mix to help them brown while baking. Bake 35-45 minutes, until the knish are nice and golden. 

If you want to enjoy that wonderful sense that is taste, let those knish sit for a bit before digging in! They will hold a super ton of heat from the oven, and I guarantee you will burn your mouth if you try to eat one immediately. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

tuesday reviewsday: trader joe's french onion soup

Tuesday Reviewsday is a review series, if you can call it that, that I like to write well, whenever I feel I have something worth sharing. As long as it's Tuesday. As far as I know, no one is paying me or persuading me to write these reviews. If you're trying to pay me, please let me know. I accept payment in free food and cookbooks. 


When we first moved to our new apartment, I was in need of food that would be quick and easy to prepare until we had a) time to do a proper grocery trip, b) space to store all the spoils from said trip, and 3) everything unpacked so we could actually cook.

Since we now live around the corner (!!!) from our local Trader Joe's, and I know they have a fantastic reputation for their prepared/frozen items, I figured I'd pick up a few odds and ends to stock the freezer. One of the first things that caught my eye was their frozen French onion soup, which sounded like a fabulous dinner for that night.

Of course, that was before I opened the box and realized that this soup was literally a frozen block of soup wrapped in plastic. Even if I had a dish to cook the soup in, I had no idea where to even begin looking. Box number 3? Box number 15392310? Sadly, the soup had to wait.

Finally, we found the perfect dishes (Le Creuset mini cocottes FTW!) and tried the soup. It was actually pretty good! Obviously it's no authentic French restaurant schmancy onion soup, but for a freezer dinner, and clocking in at just 210 calories for a serving, I was pretty happy. The only downside is that it took about an hour to prepare, between preheating the oven and baking (40 minute bake time!), but in TJ's defense it is microwaveable and we just don't have a microwave.

I would definitely recommend this soup! And maybe serve it with some roasted potatoes. Because everything is better with potatoes!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

blt pizza


cooked, crispy bacon

lettuce (a little mayo or ranch, if you please)

chopped tomatoes (under the cheese)

Bake 10-12 minutes at 400F.

Do this, like now.

Friday, September 28, 2012

here's the scoop.

No, it's not about ice cream. Sorry!

As we progress further into Fall (!!!), it's been increasingly tough for me to snap decent photos with daylight that seems to be participating in some sort of cruel vanishing act.

Also, I started a new job a few weeks ago and have been busy. Super busy. This busy has leaked into weekend plans, too. Apologies for loving sleep more than writing blog entries (except not really, because I do love my sleep).

Also also, I'm MOVING! In about three weeks, I'll be living in an apartment with MORE LIGHT. Specifically, NATURAL LIGHT IN THE KITCHEN OMG. This means I won't have to trek food out to the living room in various stages of cooked, to take pictures on a white poster board in front of the balcony door, risking my safety and usefulness of appendages as I carry plates and pans straight from the oven. I can actually *gasp* take pictures in the kitchen. What a concept!

So basically, hang in there! My mood to bake increases exponentially in the Fall and Winter months, so I'm pretty sure your heads will explode (not literally though, I hope) with the rapid fire awesomeness coming from this site that will hopefully cause you to have permanent amnesia regarding my lack of postage for the last few months.

(Insert obligatory picture of ridiculously cute puppy here. Hi baby Chester!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

roasted poblano mashed potatoes

Ever since seeing this:


on Bebe's blog a week or two ago, I have a) had several uncontrollable giggle fits and b) not stopped thinking about mashed potatoes. Luckily, we've been graced with a sneak peak of Fall here in DC the last few days, so I had the perfect excuse to make this cold weather comfort food. On this past weekend's trip to the farm, I picked up a few fresh poblano peppers and some fresh cayennes, as well. I'd never seen fresh cayenne peppers so I was intrigued!

As the day wore on, I could just not get the idea of mashed taters with a kick out of my head, so clearly the only solution was mashed potatoes for dinner. Sounds sensible, right?

Now you know, hopefully as well as I do, that mashed potatoes may not be the most photogenic food. Also, we totally devoured these in about ten seconds flat, and it was really cloudy outside, so ya know, everything was working against me for getting a picture. Not that I like making excuses or anything.

Just imagine the above taters with little specs of green in them.

The roasted poblanos added a nice mild smokey flavor, and the cayenne added just enough of a kick to keep things interesting. Basically, adding other flavors allowed me to (slightly) reduce the cream and butter in the "recipe" (I use the term "recipe" lightly, as you should know by now). And everyone loves a little roasted garlic, right? You know you do!

Roasted Poblano Mashed Potatoes (serves 6-8)

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-1.5" pieces
1 cup light cream (or heavy, I just had light)
4 tablespoons butter
2 fresh poblano peppers
1 fresh cayenne pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, skins on
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425*. On a large sheet of foil, place peppers and garlic, and drizzle olive oil over top. Fold the foil up to form a pouch and pinch it shut around the veggies. Bake for 45 minutes, and carefully open up the foil to let everything air out. In a large pot, bring potatoes to a boil in enough water to fully cover them. Boil for about 10 minutes, until you can pierce with easily with a fork. Drain water out, leaving (or returning) potatoes in the pot. Add cream and butter, and mash everything together. I used a regular ol' masher for most of the work, before switching to an immersion blender. De-stem the peppers, and if you want less heat take out the seeds, as well. Break the peppers up into a few pieces each to make the blending easier, and run the immersion blender through until the whole mix is smooth to your liking. Add salt and pepper as you see fit, and enjoy!

Friday, July 27, 2012

pasta with basil cream poached tilapia

I really wanted corn salad for dinner. Freshly shaved off the cob, sauteed in butter, mixed with some red onion and cherry tomatoes, corn salad.

I didn't have tomatoes. Strike 1

The corn had recently expired. Strike 2

The onions were already in the pan. Well damnit.

Chopped up some zucchini (still playing catch up with CSA zucchini, and probably will be until the end of time. Good thing I love zucchini), tossed it in the pan, had an epiphany. Basil! That heavy cream I didn't use in the ice cream! White wine! At this point, I was totally ok with the fact that I didn't have corn or tomatoes.

The great thing about this dish, is that you can impress people by making them think it's super complicated, when it's really a one-pan meal (ok two, if you count the pasta pot. But I never count the pasta pot), that comes together in about 20 minutes!

Pasta with Basil Cream Poached Tilapia (serves 2)

8 ounces tilapia fillets
1 small zuchini, diced
a few slices of red onion, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces (dry) spaghetti
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic
1 cup (loose) basil

Cook pasta according to box directions. While it's cooking, heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and zucchini for a few minutes. Meanwhile, blend basil, garlic, and the remaining olive oil in a food processor. Once the veggies have softened, add cream, wine and pesto to the pan and stir in. Place tilapia in the pan, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes (for thin fillets). Remove the fish from the pan and stir in cooked pasta to give the sauce a chance to stick to the noodles. Plate the pasta, top with a fillet, and dust with parmesan if desired.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

roasted tomato sauce

CSA deliveries don't stop for nuthin'.

When I was sick for a week, eating pretty much only crackers and pasta, we still picked up our CSA share.

When that massive storm hit the DC area, having the audacity to knock out our power AND not bring enough rain to cool down the area, making me want to lay in a bath of ice all day and go nowhere near the stove or oven, we still picked up our CSA share.

When I finally decided I couldn't keep throwing out expired produce felt like cooking, I took stock of what vegetables I had leftover before doing anything else. A million scallions, a couple zucchini, and a few plum tomatoes, and a couple eggplants I picked up from the Farm a few days ago were staring at me from the kitchen counter. Since flipping through the Williams-Sonoma catalog at my parents' house and seeing jars for canning filled with homemade tomato sauce, I've been thinking about making a batch almost non-stop. It only seemed appropriate!

Bonus points for having a basil plant (that I've been growing from a seed! I'm so proud of myself) that has lots of leaves ready for picking!


Since I'm lazy I had raw tomatoes that needed to be cooked anyway, and wanted more flavor in my sauce, I decided that roasting all the components of the sauce would be a good, simple way to go.

You certainly don't have to use the same ingredients I did, these just happened to be the vegetables I had in the fridge. All vegetables are good vegetables, dudes!


Roasted Tomato Sauce (makes about 5-6 cups)

6-8 roma tomatoes
1 head garlic, top chopped off
6-8 large scallion bulbs, or one medium onion
1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 larger zucchini or two regular zucchinis, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil
up to 1/4 cup fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425*. Arrange veggies on a baking sheet large enough to fit them all in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Most of the olive oil should be concentrated over the garlic, to help it roast properly (and yes, you're supposed to leave the papery skin on it!). Don't be too shy with the garlic! Roasting it will make it a much sweeter component to the sauce. Roast the veggies for 45min-1hr, until they're all very tender and mashable. Transfer veggies to a blender and blend until smooth. In the very last seconds of blending, add basil. If this is too thick for you when finished, You could always transfer it to a pot, add a little water, and cook it in. I love my sauces on the thicker side so you can scoop up every last bit with a fork they really stick to the pasta. Enjoy over your favorite pasta!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

happy peach season!

After a hell of a storm hit the DC area, knocking out power for about 1.5 million people, all I could think about was whether the Farm would be open for peach picking. This past weekend was the first weekend for picking, and I had been looking forward to it for roughly a year, so when we lost power Friday night I about cried.

When we tried to drive out on Sunday, through neighborhoods with no traffic lights and trees everywhere, and our efforts were thwarted by a tree and power lines across the road leading to the farm, I about cried again. I may have used a few choice words, as well. I just wanted my peaches!

After finding another route to the farm today, I am happy to report a successful trip. I mean, 20lbs of peaches can be considered successful, right?

Stay tuned for delicious peach recipes! And be super jealous of all my farm fresh peaches!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

blueberry oat "cuppins"

Is anyone sick of hearing me talk about my obsession with fresh fruit? I'd like to say I'm sorry and I promise I'll stop soon, but that probably won't happen until roughly....September. At least in terms of stopping the talk. If you're looking for an apology, you'll be waiting a very, very long time. Probably forever. For-e-ver (a la James Earl Jones).

Strawberry season is over (sad face), but blueberry season is in full swing. When we picked blueberries the first weekend they were available, we ended up with about seven pounds of berries. And that was after we had given some to my parents, some to the Boyfriend's family, and some to Katherine, who couldn't join us for the fun. After a full week, I'm proud to report that we ate every.single.last.berry. Not a one went bad. If I turn blue in the next week or so, you'll know why. Is it possible to overdose on blueberries?

In addition to the blueberries, we also managed to find a home for about six pounds of blackberries. More on that later.

Now, see what I did there in the title? Definitely made up a word there. Not quite cupcakes but also not quite muffins, I find these treats to be a nice mix of both - all the light fluffy goodness of a cupcake, but not so sweet that you can't eat one for breakfast or snack (although who are we kidding, I'd totally eat a cupcake for breakfast. Or lunch. get the point).

Blueberry oat "cuppins" (Makes 12 regular size or about 48 mini)

1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1 small ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup dry old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda, and set aside. In a larger mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), whisk up your egg until it's light and fluffy. Mix in brown sugar until fully incorporated, and then add vanilla, sour cream, and finally the butter. The batter will be really runny at this point. Slowly add in the dry ingredients (I did about 1/2 cup at a time), and mix until just incorporated. Add in the banana. You don't want to mix the flour too much or your batter won't rise well when it bakes. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the oats and blueberries. Dole out batter evenly into a lined cupcake tin. Bake 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

happy weekend!

Why go to the store, when you can pick your own fruit?

I swear, blueberries (and strawberries, and everything else really) are about a million times better straight off the plant. Take my word for it and go find the nearest farm. Seriously.

My favorite local (well if you consider a 45 minute drive local) farm is Homestead Farm, which has a great variety of fruits for picking throughout the season. This morning marked the opening of blueberry season, and we also picked up some strawberries (my absolute favorite fruit - possibly favorite food - ever, in the whole wide world). In a few weeks we'll be getting peaches and blackberries, which I'm pretty excited for! The fruit has so much more flavor than the stuff you get at the grocery store (hello, genetically modified fruit that looks perfect but tastes like flavored water), and if you pick it yourself, it's cheaper, too! Both berries ran us $2.49/lb which is a steal, if you think about the pints they're selling (about 8oz) for like $4.50 at the store. Totally winning.

Anyway. Look up your local farm and get thee to the nearest patch!

No, Homestead Farm did not pay me to write this, nor do they know about my blog. I just love them that much.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


When you spend a week doing this:

And this:

Celebrating the marriage of two fabulous people:

And you barely checked your phone other than to just text someone your location at the beach:

It's a safe bet you didn't have time to blog.

Even though you had time to bake these:

(Anything for people you love, right?)

Cupcakes made with this recipe

Frosting for 36 cupcakes (plus extra since I went light):

1 32oz bag confectioner's sugar
2 sticks butter, cold but softened, sliced
4oz cream cheese
~1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Whip together butter, cream cheese and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Carefully add milk and vanilla, watching the consistency as you go. If it thins before you've added all the milk, stop! If it's too thick still, add a little more (1 tablespoon at a time). I refrigerated the frosting (after coloring it) for a little before frosting the cupcakes (which must be cooled completely before icing) to help the frosting stay put a bit better. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

cast iron fried chicken breast

My mind is on vacation.

My physical self was on vacation, along with my mind, for the last four days. In less than 48 hours, me myself and I will be on vacation again for another five days. Do you know how hard it is to concentrate for two whole days?

Blah blah blah, some really clever segue (see? Vacation mode)

I love fried chicken (and love to eat it when I'm on vacation from my diet healthy lifestyle? Bam! Segue), but sometimes the joy of eating super fried goodness doesn't last much after finishing the meal. This chicken is dusted in a light coating of seasoned flour, and shallow-fried in a cast iron for maximum crispy awesomeness. Serve with some muy cruijente oven fries and you can almost pretend you're at Popeye's. Almost.

Cast Iron Fried Chicken Breast

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
oil for frying

Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise, or lightly pound each so they're of equal thickness all the way across. This will be important for cook time. Mix together dry ingredients in a shallow bowl and dredge chicken so it's fully coated. Heat oil (I used canola) until it bubbles when you throw a pinch of flour in (if you have a thermometer it should be around 375*). Carefully place chicken in the pan and fry until fully cooked, 5-10 minutes on each side (depending on thickness).

Friday, May 18, 2012

will bake for love! ro's bridal shower: may 12, 2012

My friend Rochelle is pretty much one of the happiest, bubbliest people you'll ever meet. She loves everyone within about .3 seconds of meeting them, never has a bad word to say about anyone, and wears pink with every.single.outfit. Just think Elle Woods - she's even got the chihuahuas she brings everywhere! So when she got engaged last December, it was only fitting that she decided her theme colors would be the hottest of pink and the neonest of orange.

When my baking obsession hadn't quite subsided (as it generally does) by the end of Winter, I talked to her matron of honor Monica (also a good friend of mine) about making the cake for the bridal shower, whenever that would be. Well, I'm happy to report that despite all of us being very easily-amused-and-oh-look-something-shiny! types of people, I actually followed through with the cake! I mean seriously, what better way to spend your Friday night than baking and icing a pink and orange cake?

Monica and I got together for a test cake run on Monday, back when I was planning on doing a cake with alternating layers of orange and pink dyed vanilla cake, back before I actually asked the bride whether she preferred chocolate or vanilla. Before Monica came over Monday night, I found out Rochelle preferred chocolate, which meant no coloring the cake. It also meant there was no need for a test cake, since I knew how the chocolate cake would turn out (I have a go-to recipe). Basically, we baked for the hell of it and ate entirely too much batter, ending the night on a super sugar high. It just wouldn't be a fun night without some sort of adventure (see: the dried glue hands colored and stuck to a piece of construction paper up on our fridge that I have from one of our fun nights um, five years ago. When I was in my 20's. You should see the looks I get when I tell people that no, these were not made by my five year old cousin).

The test cake looked absolutely nothing like what I had planned for the actual cake, but it was a great excuse to have a friend over and eat cake at 11pm on a weeknight way to test out my icing making and coloring skills, and figure out which piping tools I wanted to use for the final product.

As much as my back hurt from obsessively icing and re-icing the cake for roughly three hours the night before the party, I really enjoyed the whole process! Not to toot my own horn or anything (but who are we kidding, I'm not all that modest, at least in type), but I couldn't tell you how many people at the party asked where we bought the cake. The chocolate cake recipe I used is a standby from the book I showed above, and if you're nice to me I might just share it (and the tweaks I made for the final product) with you. But that cake (and the book) comes with a whole other host of stories totally unrelated to this party, so we'll save it for a different day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

tuesday reviewsday: cashion's eat place

Happy belated Mothers' Day! My family's not into big flashy celebrations, and while we do love brunch the other three members of my nuclear unit would rather play golf when the weather allows, so we opted for dinner to celebrate the wonderfullness that is my mother. 

After debating on where to eat, my parents picked Cashion's Eat Place, in Adams Morgan. My brother and I had never been, but I checked out the site beforehand and it looked right up my alley. Nicer-than-casual-but-not-quite-schmancy American food with a Mediterranean twist. Give me tzatziki any day and I'm a happy girl!

Our server (I believe her name was Katherine) was new but fabulous - very sweet, bubbly and attentive. Our table was near the window, which as you can see from the above picture, was fully open so we could enjoy the outdoors (without risking getting wet if it happened to rain). We started with a trio of olive oils and classic Mediterranean dips, served with their fresh rustic rolls. 

I apparently ordered really well, considering I snagged the last order of my appetizer and dessert. I was totally ok with making everyone around me jealous as I enjoyed my first course of lightly fried ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms (not pictured, because they were so good I forgot). They were somehow decadent but light at the same time, so I could still fully enjoy the rest of my meal. 

For my main course I was between the roasted goat with beans, tzatziki and fresh flatbread, or the halibut cooked in a caper lemon butter sauce served over potato puree with sauteed turnip greens on the side. I went with the halibut to stay on the lighter side, my brother got the goat, we tried each others' dishes, and called it even (although I think I won, as good as the goat was). The halibut was flaky and tender, and the lemony sauce provided just a bit of tang in each bite. The turnip greens were soft and garlicky, the perfect accompaniment to the fish. My mom had the soft shell crabs and my dad had the roast chicken, which, in addition to the two dishes my brother and I ordered, made up the four our waitress listed as the chef's specialties. We couldn't have been happier!

For dessert I ordered an apple-cherry tart with homemade ice cream on top, which was to die for. Since I ordered the last one available, I thought I owed it to all the jealous patrons to finish the dish even though I was starting to burst at the seams (remember the bread? I always forget about the bread). It was the perfect end to the evening. 

As fantastic as fresh regional ingredients are, it was a little odd to me that they were already out of a dish or two by the time we ordered just past 6:30 on an expectantly busy day. We got lucky by ordering right when we did, and could have been disappointed had we waited a few more minutes! I'd call that a minor detail though in the grand scheme of things, considering the rest of the meal was fantastic. If you're looking for somewhere to go for a nice dinner date and/or celebration, I'd highly recommend Cashion's!

Friday, May 11, 2012

homemade sriracha pickles

Pickles are something I've always thought about making, but then I always forget about making. And then I buy a jar, and remember that I was going to try making them. It's all so circular.

I'm not even sure I would qualify this as a recipe, but it's so simple it's not even funny (sidenote: who came up with that phrase? In what situation would it be funny?). 

Sriracha Pickles

1 cucumber, sliced into 1/4-1/2" rounds
1-2 cups white vinegar
1-2 tablespoons sriracha
3 tablespoons mustard seeds
3-4 tablespoons sugar

Throw everything into a jar that fits all the cucumber, and allows the vinegar to cover every slice (hence the range of vinegar - you may need more or less). Let sit in your fridge for a few days. The longer you let them sit, the more pickly they'll taste.

Monday, May 7, 2012

a break from food: survey fun time!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this post...

Since I'm super nosy, it's always fun to read random surveys filled out by other people. I guess it's my turn! I've been tagged by the fabulous Meagan, and after I finish answering the questions I get to ask some of my own to a lucky few.

1.  When you were five years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Hmmm that's a really good question. I probably wanted to be a vet, until I realized that part of the job was sad. I probably never had a solid idea of what I wanted to do, but apparently I was quite introspective...

2.  If you ever had to go to the ER or stay overnight at the hospital, what was it for?
I've never gone to the ER/hospital for myself, if you can believe it! The closest I came was a trip to Urgent Care last year when I had a pretty serious allergic reaction to some antibiotics I had been prescribed, but I was in and out in like 20 minutes. I've stayed overnight in the hospital with other people, though. Six years ago, two people very close to me had major surgeries the same week, at the same hospital (talk about convenient). I spent one or two nights there, instead of traveling back and forth.

3.  What was the best thing that happened to you this week?
Some friends of the Boyfriend and mine came over earlier in the week and we were planning out all the fun things we're going to do over our mini vacation to Florida (for a friend's wedding). I am so super excited for this trip!! It's going to be an absolute blast, and I really adore the people we're going with. It was a ton of fun just chatting about all of it.

A close second would probably be the puppy hugs and kisses I look forward to every Monday when I go to my parents' house from this goober:

4.  What were your best/worst subjects in school and what subjects would you want to learn now?

My best subject was definitely band. That counts, right? It was my absolute favorite class (well, band and orchestra were two classes, so I guess they were my favorite classes), and I was really good. That might be why it was my favorite.

Academically, I was better at math/science. Especially science that involved math, like Chemistry. We had some really awesome times in Chemistry class...Yeah, I'm a nerd.

5.  What do you consider to the most valuable thing you own?  What would you have said 10 years ago?
10 years ago I definitely would have said my musical instruments. Now? I have two pieces of framed art in my apartment created by family members. I have a painting in my bedroom that my grandmother painted, and an architectural drawing in the hallway that my dad drew during an internship after college. I just think it's so awesome having art from family members in my possession! Maybe someday I'll commandeer a ceramic vase from my brother...

6.  What is your favorite room in your house, and why?
Does the balcony count? My favorite thing to do on a nice day is sit outside on the balcony with a good book and an iced cold drink (usually water), relaxing and soaking up the sun.

7.  You were just given a yacht, a Derby horse, and a countryside estate. What would you name each of them?
Yacht - Silver Linings
Horse - Rhapsody in Blue
Estate - this one was the hardest! I've been staring at the question for hours, so I may have to get back to you...

8.  When was the last time you did something for the first time?  What was it?
I've been thinking about this for too long, I think that means I need to try more new things! Ummmm last Friday I ordered a beer with dinner and actually finished it, does that count? Also last week I put mint in pasta, which was definitely a first!

9.  What did you like best about your hometown?
There are so many things I love about my hometown! It's got this city-meets-small-town feel to it - not quite a town, but definitely not a city. I love that you can walk from one end to the other, window shopping at all the little boutiques, and that you can get pretty much any type of food you can think of. There's so much variety, and we don't have to go downtown to get it!

10.  What is the first thing you always put in your grocery cart?
Whatever seasonal fruit happens to be at the front of the produce section! Right now it's strawberries and blueberries. I'm a happy camper!

Now that I've answered, I get to be nosy!

Diana's Daily Dish
Running with Needles
The Bumblings of KT Bee
Braise the Roof

1. What made you want to start blogging, and how long have you been at it?
2.  If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?
3. Money aside, what would be your dream job?
4. What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
5. What's your favorite season?
6. Pants or skirts/dresses?
7. Vanilla or Chocolate?
8. You're having people over for a dinner party. For your bedroom, do you:
a) shut the door - it's your private space and no one needs to see it!
b) shove everything under the bed/in the closet
c) spend the afternoon cleaning it properly
d) are you kidding? It's perfectly clean all the time!
9. What are staples in your pantry/fridge?
10. Who's your favorite band/group of all time?

Friday, May 4, 2012

slow baked mustard pork chops with sauteed leek and mint pasta

It all started here.

I, like I can imagine you to be right now, was initially wary.

Mint? In pasta? With onion? Weird.

I have this ramp mustard in the fridge that I bought on a whim from the local farmers market, and we were already thinking pork chops for dinner (I like cooking pork chops with mustard on top). I figured now was as good a time as any to experiment with the interesting mint pasta, since the ramp in the mustard and in the pasta would tie nicely together.

Until I got to the store and realized they didn't have ramps. Drat.

From what I had read in the above post, it sounded like leeks would make a fair substitution. Mildly oniony, kind of like a massive spring onion, I went with it. I reconsidered the mint a few times as I prepared the leek, but in the end I trusted TheKitchn blogger's instincts (as I usually do), threw caution to the wind and mint in the pan.

This was a really good idea on my part.

The mint added a subtle fresh (and minty, duh) flavor, which brightened up the dish. It wasn't overpowering in the slightest, which I was concerned about, and actually paired nicely with the sautéed leek. The cooking method for the pork chop was another Kitchn (can you tell what's in my Reader?) experiment we've been loving, where you sear the frozen chops to get a good crust, and then bake at a super low temperature for a longer time. This has been such a godsend for those of us who frequently forget to take food out of the freezer and subsequently end up with few dinner options involving protein. Seriously, a godsend.

Also, if you're wondering, this pasta is pretty tasty cold for lunch the next day. I know because I'm too lazy to walk to the microwave awesome like that.

Slow Baked Mustard Pork Chops w/ Sautéed Leek and Mint Pasta (serves 2 with leftovers, or up to 4)

For the Pork Chops, from frozen

2 bone-in pork chops
3-4 tablespoons mustard of your choice - I like dijon and spicy grainy varieties

Preheat oven to 200*, and heat a cast iron for 5-10 minutes to get it searing hot. Place pork chops in the pan and leave alone for about five minutes, or at least until you can pick them up without them sticking to the pan. Flip them over when they have a nice sear, and spread mustard on top of each. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the porkchop. Ours were a little under an inch thick (quick-fry), and they cooked for 25 minutes.

For the Pasta

1/2 box spaghetti
3-4 tablespoons fresh mint, sliced
1 leek, cleaned (they can catch a lot of dirt!) and sliced into rounds (whites and greens)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

After playing pick-up sticks trying to get spaghetti into the pot (because some of us are talented) cook pasta to barely al dente, about 6 minutes for regular spaghetti or a few more for whole wheat. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and sautée leeks until they cook down. I had them on medium for about five minutes, then lowered the heat to about medium-low. When the pasta is done, strain and pour into the pan with the leeks. Add most of the cheese (reserving some for serving) and most of the mint (reserving a bit for garnish), toss everything around a bit, and let the flavors come together for another five minutes or so (this is why you don't fully cook the pasta). Try not to eat the pasta out of the pan with the tongs. You may or may not burn your tongue (and I may or may not know from experience).

Serve alongside pork chops.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

tuesday reviewsday: bandolero

Due to uploading difficulties, this tuesday reviewsday is brought to you on Wednesday. I warned you I like being fashionably late, didn't I?

My awesome brother, who I've probably (hopefully) mentioned before, has been working here for the last year or so under Chef Mike Isabella, and totally loving it. You know who else has been totally loving it? Me. The food is always fantastic, so I'm always happy to oblige friends who need a buddy to try the restaurant with. I'm such a good friend.

So when my family heard that Isabella was opening a new restaurant, and running a pop-up just before the official opening, we decided we had to go. My brother is helping with the opening and moving to the new joint full time, so he was already working when we went in. The pop-up offered a five course tasting menu, where you can pick any five dishes from the menu. We ordered margaritas ("our way", to be exact - just one of the 10 they have, and this one will apparently be on tap once they open! Blood orange citrusy goodness) to start, and enjoyed some fresh chips and chicharrones with a trio of homemade dips (salsa roja, guacamole, and sikil pak) while we selected our food. Actually, that's a lie. We did almost no selecting, and left our menu up to the brohim. We trust him. The sikil pak was something I had never had before - a paste made from pumpkin seeds, with some sesame seeds and orange rind mixed in. The more I ate it, the more I wanted more! Kind of like those hint of lime Tostitos chips. 

The trick at places like Isabella's, where all of the dishes are small, is to go with a larger group of people. That way when you do the tasting menu, you can try more things! The whole menu for the pop-up had maybe 25-28 items on it, and they were out of a few, so between four of us we were able to try almost the entire menu. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with the short rib molé. Had there been a bone, the meat would have been fall-off-the-bone tender. Seriously guys, it cut like butter. The molé, something I'm not always a fan of, was light enough to not be overpowering, but you definitely got that little hint of chocolate and cinnamon that made the rib taste more like chocolate butter.

Note to self: try making chocolate butter

If I described in detail every dish for you, we'd be here for about a month. Instead, enjoy some pictures! And when Bandolero opens, go. For all our sakes. 

chicken molé enchiladas rojas

seared steak w/ chile sauce

pulled pork tacos


mushroom enchiladas verdes

steak tacos

The short rib molé - doesn't look like much, but trust me on this one.

coconut flan