Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

February has been a pretty important month in the world of food news. I’ve always found the living/health/food section of the news to be the most interesting, which is especially nice when Brian and I are splitting a newspaper and he’s willing to take on the other boring sections (business, finance and sports).

These are the top three foodie articles that caught my attention this month,

The Good: Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke

The findings of the first major clinical trial to measure diet’s effect on heart risks were released. The study formed subjects into three groups, two of the groups ate different varieties of a Mediterranean diet and the other group ended up following the Standard American Diet. The subjects following the Mediterranean diets were found to have reduced incidence of “major cardiovascular events.”

I don’t only classify this study as “the good” because science has clearly identified a way to reduce your risk of heart disease, but also because the diet involves eating four tablespoons of olive oil per day!

According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
  • exercise
  • plant-based foods
  • olive and canola oils (to replace butter)
  • herbs and spices (to replace salt)
  • eating poultry and fish (especially fatty fish like tuna and salmon)
  • limited quantities of red meat
  • moderate consumption of red wine

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Yes, I will have some more of that, thank you.

The Bad: America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2013

The Daily Meal recently released their list for the 50 people who have the most influence over how Americans eat. The only reason I didn’t consider this “the ugly” is because I’m happy about those sitting in the #1 spot. The #1 spot is claimed by teams at Zagat (restaurant reviews) and Google. I love to think that people aren’t mindlessly eating, they're doing some research and making conscious decisions about what they're putting in their bodies. Other highlights include the founder and CEO of Pinterest (fun!), Jose Andres, DC’s most well known restaurateur (the brains behind Jaleo) and Michael Pollan, the author behind the wise phrase, “Eat Food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

Unfortunately, the list gives high-ranking spots to Pepsi, McDonalds, Nestle and other massive food producers. Sadly, the number one influencer behind what I eat is at the very bottom of the list. The Family Farmer. Boo. 

The UGLY: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

This article is insanely long, but in summary it describes a meeting between America’s largest food companies, and the scheming that has gone into the development of the foods they sell. It’s kind of disturbing, but I can’t say I’m surprised. So then, why is it so ugly? Because of the sales! Gazillions of dollars in profits.

I always like to “vote with my dollars.” I'm really uncomfortable with buying foods from companies that practice things that conflict with my values (think: factory farming/ handling of farm animals, advertising food products to children, adding unnecessary mystery ingredients to food). This is why I like to shop at farmer’s markets! Every decision you make about where (or, where not) to spend your money counts. It is a little more expensive, but I hope eventually consumer demand for quality products will drive the market!

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I can't believe March begins TOMORROW. Apparently DC's best shot at snow for the season is coming up next week. Great! Now when I've finally given up on snow and am counting down until Spring, here it comes :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Working Woman.

Most of the time I blog about all of the food I prepare and eat at home, but the truth is I am a working woman and eat 2/3 of my weekday meals at my desk!


For some reason the words ‘working woman’ made me think of Murphy Brown. I’m not sure if I have ever seen that show, or that I could tell you what it’s about, I just remember commercials from my childhood of her in blazers with shoulder pads. Working woman.

Anyway. I pack my meals in my lovely Vera Bradley lunchbox and eat breakfast and lunch at work.


Most days I eat the exact same thing which is super boring and seems pretty un-newsworthy to me, which is why I don’t share it! But, I guess sharing one time might make sense.

Since September 10, I have been eating pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast Monday- Friday. I know the exact date because Google saves all my g-chats and searching the words “pumpkin oatmeal” revealed that I was so excited about it that I shared my breakfast menu with a friend :)

Pumpkin Oatmeal contains: 1/3 cup oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup pumpkin, 2/3 cup milk and 1 thinly sliced banana.


I pack that up and let it ‘soak’ on my walk to work and then heat it up in the microwave at my office.


Doesn’t that look so delicious? Mmm. Very photogenic meal. It tastes good! I use overripe bananas and they melt in allowing the natural sugars in the fruit to sweeten the oats.

Lunch is almost always the same too, although I sometimes mix it up and bring in leftovers. I very rarely buy lunch just because it is so expensive and full of mystery ingredients.

I always start with my favorite, amazing Loudoun Lettuce.

Then, I add TOPPINGS.


This salad is made up of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, frozen corn, cheese and a hardboiled egg. In the fun little container are roasted sweet potatoes and black beans. At the beginning of the week I try to prep either butternut squash or sweet potatoes and some kind of bean (I use dried to save money), then portion them out into these little containers to grab and go on weekdays. I really like to have something that I can heat up and put on top of my salad. It melts the cheese a little- yum!

Of course, if you know me you know that I'm all about the snacks. I don't really go anywhere without snacks! In addition to breakfast and lunch I also have a few afternoon snacks. Typically this will include fruit (right now I'm on an apple-a-day kick) and either a handful of nuts or granola. I try to drink tons of water while I'm at work and always start my day with coffee. Most days I enjoy hot tea in the afternoon too.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Farmers Market: Open Today!

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Every Sunday I follow that arrow and head to the farmer's market to stock up.

There are several reasons for this… the first being that the market is 10x closer to my apartment than any grocery store and so its super convenient. Another is that I can often convince Brian to come with me and carry groceries! He's so strong :)

The quality of the food is also incredible. I like to support local farmers and I like to buy food when I know exactly where it's coming from. 

I always buy some basics, which right now include cider, eggs, apples and assorted veggies. I have a really interesting plan in mind for that cabbage. Those weird white veggies are parsnips- I have a plan for them too!

Eggsvegs

Today we also got some bacon!

Bacon

I love that this bacon doesn't have a ton of disturbing ingredients! Just the basics. 

Greens are so readily available during the winter and I LOVE it!

Lettuce

I went a little crazy, anticipating summer when they switch up the options

On the left there's spinach, a salad blend, rainbow chard and kale (of course!). On the right is the lettuce that I seriously could not live without. I eat it for lunch every day. With tons of toppings, obviously, but the lettuce itself is incredible. Would you believe it is grown without dirt? The blend I like is called Loudoun (as in Loudoun, VA) Lettuce and it's from the Endless Summer Harvest stand at the market. 

We are really lucky that the market nearest to us is open year round. A lot of them are only open for a few months, April/ May- October. There are so many winter veggies- in addition to things like meat, eggs, cheese and prepared foods- that I can't understand why there aren't more markets open in the winter! It does get a little hard to count change when your fingers are frozen in the winter… but it's fairly mild down here in DC. It's February and today was in the 50s! Definitely a good market day.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes

On Saturday I had brunch with some friends at Founding Farmers. Brian and I went there last month to celebrate my birthday, and I was excited to go back and try their brunch because I've heard such great things. Overall I was really happy with it! I was a little surprised by the portion size… definitely smaller than what they serve up at dinner. I wish I took a picture! I had "Red Flannel Hash" which was a hash made with beets, served with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Yum! 

Later that day Brian and I went to Django Unchained. Yikes. It is violent. Be ready to close your eyes and plug your ears! That's all I have to say.

Todayyy, however, was very fun. After a trip to the farmer's market (check back tomorrow for more details on that), we came back and made pancakes!

Pancakes with blueberries!

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So delicious. I put together a stack with a side of bacon for each of us.

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Yes, that was my plate, and YES I ate it all. And, then I helped Brian take care of his. 

I can't help myself around pancakes. At all.

I always follow this recipe, and I just exclude the sugar. I find it really odd that pancake recipes have sugar in the batter… take it out because you won't notice. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract today. Usually I swap the white flour for white whole wheat, but I went with white today which always makes Brian happy :)

Later that day, I put something simple into the crock pot and let it do its thing.

Steak fajitas with buffalo steak. This recipe is one of our favorites, but I think the buffalo was a little too lean. The recipe calls for four hours on high, which is perfect for all of the peppers and onions, but I think the buffalo would have done a little better on low for eight hours.

I still highly recommend the recipe- it's a great way to get in tons of veggies (I used three peppers and one onion) and they really absorb the flavor of the meat and bulk up the volume.

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Now we are watching the Red Carpet… so far I'm liking Amy Adams. Does everyone agree that Jennifer Lawrence's necklace looks like a mistake? According to Kelly Osborne this backward necklace thing was a trend 10 years ago. Think I missed that one. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dinner for One

This has been a crazy week- I feel like I've hardly seen Brian because we've both had so much going on. Last night, he was out with his friends for a guys night so I was on my own for dinner. 

I started out the evening by making myself an appetizer. So fancy. I saw this recipe for Warm Dates with Parmesan on Williams-Sonoma today. I made it without the olive oil (only because I forgot) and it tasted really good. These are super sweet! Definitely a good appetizer. Dates are kind of filling… so maybe two per person is a better appetizer size. 

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When Brian's not around for dinner, I usually take whatever random foods I have on hand and try to make something out of it. Tonight's assortment? Kale, apples and a sweet potato. I love kale chips and that's usually my default recipe, but I really liked the kale salad I had earlier this month and decided to see if I could create something similar. 

I'm not sure how to get the kale shreds as thin as they did at the restaurant, but this was a pretty good attempt! 

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Warm Kale Salad 

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider  vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • dash of salt and pepper

Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound kale, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup diced, roasted sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup diced apple
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan

Directions

  1. Add all dressing ingredients to a small container and shake (I use a 1 cup jar) or add to a bowl and mix well
  2. Put the shredded kale in a bowl and toss with the dress, allow to sit for at least 15 minutes (as long as over night)
  3. Add toppings! If the sweet potatoes aren't freshly roasted, heat them up before adding. Serves 2.

Kale is really hardy, and doesn't get soggy like lettuce if you prepare it ahead of time. It softens the kale a little bit and tastes better after a day sitting around. I ate one serving of this for dinner and am saving the other for the weekend. 

I eat a salad every day for lunch, but I am not at all into boring salads. I always need to have hearty, warm toppings on my salad and sweet potatoes are a favorite of mine. I roasted the sweet potatoes right before adding them to the salad and they made the entire salad warm up and the flavors melded really well. 

And now I am heading out! I am about to meet some of my friends for brunch at a really great restaurant :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cooking in College- Quick Dinners

[If you missed the first Cooking in College post, check it out here]

I've been craving homemade pizza, and I really wanted to get around to trying a new recipe for crust (previous versions have failed horribly), but I have not. As I headed to Whole Foods after work last night, I thought that I'd go simple and pick up some ingredients to make an easy homemade pizza, like what I would have made in college.

I picked up some pizza dough, sauce, cheese and a bag of frozen peppers and onions.

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Basic Homemade Pizza

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Frozen veggies (defrosted, about 1 cup)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 500F
  2. Stretch dough into a rectangle the size of a baking sheet
  3. Place dough on a baking sheet and give the dough a head start in the oven for 4 minutes
  4. Remove dough and top pizza with sauce, veggies and cheese 
  5. Put your pizza back into the oven for 10 minutes
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His and hers pizza.

Here are a few other recipes for quick and easy dinners to get you started. I focused the recipes around a few different types of cuisine, but with basic ingredients that you can stock up on until you’re ready to use them- pasta, rice and frozen veggies are really versatile staples to keep on hand!

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BBQ Baked Chicken

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast
  • Flour (about 1 tablespoon per piece of chicken)
  • BBQ sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with a light dusting of flour
  3. Pour BBQ sauce over chicken to cover the meat completely
  4. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove foil, add a few tablespoons more sauce on top to cover each breast and bake another 15 minutes

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Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat tortilla
  • Cheese
  • Fillings (defrosted frozen vegetables, leftover chicken/steak/fish, black or refried beans)
  • Optional: Toppings (salsa, sour cream, guacamole)

Directions

  1. Assemble your tortillas and fill as desired
  2. Place tortilla in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, when cheese has melted, flip and cook about another 30 seconds- 1 minute
Note: For a crispier tortilla, add cooking spray or oil into the pan before cooking. Also, feel free to make a plain cheese quesadilla (referred to by Brian as a ‘blank’ quesadilla) and make up for it with toppings. Smashed avocado + salsa = guacamole.

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Shrimp Pasta

Ingredients
  • Boxed pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Defrosted frozen shrimp
  • Frozen zucchini slices
  • Tomato, diced
  • Dried basil (optional, about 1 teaspoon)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt/ pepper
Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box, drain
  2. In a sauté pan, add olive oil and heat, then add frozen zucchini and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until they’re defrosted and the edges start to crisp and turn brown
  3. Add shrimp to pan and cook about another 3-4 minutes until the shrimp are no longer translucent (this depends on how shrimp-y your shrimp are!)
  4. Turn off heat, add the diced tomato into the pan and sprinkle with some salt and pepper (and basil, if using).
  5. Toss pasta with additional olive oil (1 tablespoon per serving) and plate- top with shrimp and veggie mixture and enjoy with some parm

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Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • Brown rice (quick cook or regular, about ½ cup - measure before cooking - per serving)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Frozen stir fry veggie mix (you can find this in most stores- use about ½ bag per serving)
  • ¼ cups soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to directions on box (General tip- use a 1:2 ratio of rice:water)
  2. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and add veggie mix- cook about 6 minutes over medium-high heat until veggies are crisp.
  3. Mix together soy sauce and honey and add to the veggie mix
  4. Plate the rice and serve veggies on top
Optional: Add diced chicken, beef, shrimp or pressed tofu. Just dice it and add it to the sauté pan first, cook about 5 minutes before adding the veggies. A scrambled egg works, too. Add it in after the veggies have cooked 2 minutes and mix it all together like fried rice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Margaritaville

I had plans to meet some friends for margaritas last night. As I arrived, I realized that we had never specified exactly where we were going to meet so I was kind of just guessing. Luckily, I guessed correctly!

Alerogirls

The frozen swirl margaritas were especially good last night :)

They felt less good on my run this morning in the freezing cold and wind!

Apparently those margs inspired a college flashback because right now I am prepping a very college-friendly meal!

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Check in tomorrow for a new Cooking in College post!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Day Weekend

Three day weekends are pretty great. I'm not sure how you are supposed to celebrate President's Day, but my version involved a lot of food and some good runs!

The weather was really cold in DC, but we got in a few walks to get some shopping done AND managed to convince myself to run every day. On Sunday, I ran eight miles which was really exciting for me- that's the longest run I've had since November when I injured my achilles on an 8 mile run. That also makes it only the second long run since my marathon in October. Needless to say, it feels pretty good to be able to cover that kind of distance again. 

As far as the food, it was hit or miss this weekend!

We started off with a meal of Sloppy Chicks from Keepin' it Kind. Remembering my experience with buffalo cauliflower wings, I skipped the sriracha sauce this time. Unfortunately, I think that's kind of a necessary ingredient because we thought it was a little lacking in flavor. Other than that, I thought the recipe was super innovative and a great swap for the original ground beef. If you leave out the sriracha like I did, I recommend making it more BBQ style and add some sauce. 

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The next night, we went out to Afghan Kabob House. Amazinggg. I got a plate of rice, chick peas, cauliflower and eggplant. My only complaint is that the eggplant portion was a little skimpy and that's my favorite part. They really max out my spiciness limit, but it's so good that I just drink a ton of water as I eat. 

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There was also a total recipe flop. I wanted to make a healthy, nutty carrot cake bar that I could top with honey-sweetened cream cheese.

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Looks delicious right? Well it tastes gross. The cream cheese topping helps a little, but these are so yuck. And to add insult to injury, they were not particularly easy to make. Blech.

On Monday night, I made a nice 'Sunday night dinner' with a pork rib roast, roasted butternut squash and spinach sautéed with onions, garlic, pine nuts and tossed in olive oil and balsamic. Deeeelicious. Eventually I will figure out how to estimate cooking time for large portions of meat so that Brian and I aren't eating dinner at 9:30 PM. 

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To round out the weekend, I did have a recipe success. I made a new batch of granola this weekend, considering the Sweet Cinnamon Granola is long gone. Brian wasn't too excited to hear I was making a new kind of granola, but I've made several batches of cinnamon in a row and wanted to mix it up.

This new version has nuts, seeds and peanut butter to give it a little more heft. Feel free to swap out any of the mix in's with whatever you have on hand.

Peanut Butter Protein Granola

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (unsweetened)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250F
  2. Mix together dry ingredients
  3. Add coconut oil and peanut butter to a saucepan- heat over low and mix well
  4. When the oil and peanut butter are combined, remove from heat and pour over oats mixture- combine well
  5. Spread oat mixture on a large baking sheet (or two small) and bake at 250F for 70 minutes, stirring once.
  6. Allow the granola to cool completely and then EAT!
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The end verdict? I think Brian was surprised to find that it was better than he anticipated :) We have both been sneaking handfuls already. Always a good thing. This version is actually more sweet tasting than the cinnamon kind, but less buttery. I would say that this is the better bowl of cereal, but I do prefer the cinnamon kind for eating handfuls.

Back to the grind today! Luckily, the added bonus of a 3 day weekend, is a 4 day work week :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cancun Recap III: Xel-Ha

[If you missed previous Cancun recaps, you can check out Cancun Recap #1 here and #2 here]

Brian and I had a plan going into our trip to Cancun last month. That plan was to lay on the beach as much as possible.

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Mission accomplished.

But, we did want to have one day that we got out and did something a little different. We did our research, and eventually decided to go Xel-Ha. Xel-Ha is an "aquatic theme park" about an hour and half south of Cancun. I actually went here on my last trip to Mexico with my family when I was a teenager, and I remember how cool it was. Brian and I really wanted to go snorkeling and liked that Xel-Ha wasn't man-made like some of the other sites.

The morning started off really well and we hopped on a bus that picked us up at our hotel. Unfortunately, somewhere between the bus leaving and our arrival at Xel-Ha, it started to rain. We were kind of disappointed- we had actually chosen to go this particular day because the forecast looked so nice!

We still had a good time :)

We saw dolphins...

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Went for a walk...

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Xelhagreen
Saw lots of animals, including lots of these coati (Mexican raccoons)...
Raccoons
And, these guys...
Bird lizard
Brian jumped off a cliff...
Brianjumpbest But, mostly- we snorkeled!

We brought an underwater camera with us and did our best to capture what we saw.
Xelhafish
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I also saw one special fish that we did not get a picture of. That would be a barracuda.

Barracuda
[Source]

Maybe it didn't quite look like that one. But, it was still really scary! I was probably 15 feet from Brian when I turned around and saw the monster only four feet or so away from me. I immediately tried to get Brian's attention, but when I turned back the fish was just swimming out of sight. We read reviews about other people seeing him (or her?), but no attacks reported, so I would assume it's pretty safe!

We had a really good time. I wish it had been a little warmer (we kept having to get out of the water and get dressed because I was turning blue), but ultimately it was kind of nice not to have to worry about getting sunburned- you can only use special eco-friendly sunscreen there, and I'm not too confident in it's effectiveness. I really liked walking around the site- it was so pretty and there were tons of coati and other animals to keep it interesting! This day trip was Brian's birthday present to me and I loved it :) I was a little worried that Brian might not think it was worth the long drive from Cancun, but in the end we were both definitely happy we did it. Also, it was nice to have something to do on a rainy day- if we were at the hotel we probably just would have sat around the whole time.

Conclusion: If you're planning a vacation to the Riviera Maya, you should definitely consider a day at Xel-Ha!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cupcakes!

I've been on a serious sugar high since Valentine's Day. I think it has something to do with these:

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Cupcakes from Frosting a Cupcakery! It's an amazing cupcake place near Brian's office. I was really hoping that he would bring some home :)

There are two of my favorites, red velvet, and then one carrot cake and one chocolate. 

There were also some of these,

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So pretty!

We went for dinner at Al TIramisu… we go to the same restaurant every year for Valentine's Day, except one year when we couldn't get a reservation. Now I call at the beginning of January to be sure we will get in!

I didn't take really take pictures during this meal, but we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine and split some calamari and tuna tartare to start. Then I had gnocchi and Brian had (heart-shaped) crab ravioli for entrees. Al Tiramisu serves my FAVORITE dessert ever- it's a semifreddo with candied nuts (think candied-nut flavored ice cream). We have never had a bad meal there.

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Earlier in the week I had all of our incredible tapas dishes from Jaleo on my mind.

I went to work recreating that amazing spinach dish that we had. I received a good tip from a friend- to add the apples later in the cooking process to prevent mush- and was really happy with how this turned out. It didn't taste like the Jaleo version, but it was somewhat similar and still delicious. I'm not sure what I could do to recreate Jaleo's version- maybe add a lot of butter???

Tossed Spinach with Apples and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1 pound spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan
  2. Add onions and sauté for about two minutes
  3. Add raisins and garlic, sauté another two minutes
  4. Add pine nuts, sauté one minute
  5. Add apple, spinach and vinegar and sauté until spinach is wilted
  6. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and serve

SpinachCollage

 Can you tell which is my version????

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heart Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Some people are just not into Valentine's Day. I am not one of those people. If you're in a relationship, its an excuse to go out to dinner and eat chocolate. If you're single, its a good excuse to drink and eat chocolate. I like the options!

I actually started celebrating last night...

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Stever's Candies!

Stever's makes amazing chocolate and I'm obsessed. If you're in Rochester, NY you should go immediately. The chocolates in the back are peanut butter filled chocolate hearts. Like a Reese's peanut butter cup, except 1000x better. Up front is a sponge candy heart. If you're not from Rochester, apparently you might not know what this even is. I was in college when I learned that sponge candy was not a part of everyone's life and I nearly had a heart attack. Find a way to make it a part of your life.

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In the center is crispy molasses and it melts as soon as you bite into it- kind of like cotton candy that's more crunch and has a way better flavor.

Thanks mom and dad! My dad makes sure that not a V-day goes by that I don't have some Stever's!
In addition to my mom and dad… I am lucky enough to have another Valentine.

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Awww!

(Brian, don't you like that picture? You look good in pink!)

Also, Washington Post shared some funny DC Valentines. This one goes out to Brian:

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He earned it :) (by running 2/3 of the marathon with me and keeping me from quitting/crying/crawling)

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, on to the chocolate.

I've put together a list of my favorite chocolate recipes. These recipes are all incredible, and have passed the Kim & Brian Taste Test.

Valentine's Day Recipe Roundup


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Creamy Chocolate Frosting

These are hands down THE best chocolate cupcakes I have ever made. I didn’t even realize that they don’t have egg in them until after I was eating them- don’t let that scare you because I promise these will not disappoint! I made these when I didn’t want to run out to the store for anything special. You probably have all of the ingredients already so there’s no excuse not to make them! The chocolate frosting is super easy too- I substitute regular or almond milk instead of evaporated and have no problems.

No Bake Chocolate Crust with Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse

I have made this several times and it’s always amazing. I know it sounds weird to eat avocado for dessert, but you do not taste it at all! I love this because it’s a dairy free recipe with healthy fat and it tastes so indulgent. I just mix up the Angela’s crust recipe and free while I then triple Julie’s mousse. Then pour it in and toss in the fridge for awhile before you serve.

Frosted B-raw-nies

We made these for the Super Bowl this year- I can’t say enough good things about them!

Chocolate Crinkles

For some reason I always think about these as a Christmas cookie… but you can make them year-round (and I do!). Brian LOVES these. Don’t sub in anything for the butter, though. Dairy-free alternatives do not work out so well.

Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

I use this recipe for the brownie layer, but sub in regular all-purpose flour rather than the gluten free varieties. Mix up the peanut butter layer and add on top. I prefer to use peanut butter without sugar- once you add sugar to the already sweetened peanut butter it detracts from the sweet/salty flavor combination that I love. I also just melt chocolate and pour it on top rather than mix in the whipping cream and add peanuts.

Chocolate Fondue

Just add: strawberries, bananas, apple, pineapple, angel food cake, and pretzels.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe. I like to sub in regular butter for the Crisco and these are just amazing.

 Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Greek Night!

Last weekend an awesome weekend for dinners. After eating out two nights in a row, I was ready to stay in and cook. 
 
When we were at the farmer's market Sunday, looking over our meat purchasing options, Brian saw ground lamb meat and said we should try that. He suggested making lamb burgers with tzatziki sauce, and then I got all excited about making more delicious pita.
 
Dinner came together really quickly. I mixed up the pita dough to let it rise and then went out on a run and got back to it after I came home. We put together some kale chips for a side and I mixed up the world's easiest tzatziki sauce while everything cooked. I <3 Greek food!

Lamb Burger Patties

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Mix ground meat together with spices and form into patties
  2. Cook in a frying pan or grill on medium high
(I decided to make six patties and cooked them in a frying pan for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side- they were medium rare, just the way I like it!)
 

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 oz 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded cucumber

Direction

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix
 
Isn't that easy?
 
I piled the burgers on top of homemade pita, lettuce and tomato then topped them with some feta cheese and the tzatziki sauce. I loved the way the flavors of the lamb, feta and tzatziki complimented each other!
 
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This is not a low-fat kind of meat. At all. It was pretty fatty. It was also pretty delicious after a seven mile run! As long as I'm eating food that is real (unprocessed) I'm perfectly fine with eating something like this every so often. And, when I'm eating grass-fed and pasture-raised meat, I feel even better about it because high-quality animal fat is a natural food source and perfectly safe and healthy in moderation. We purchase a lot of our meat from EcoFriendly Foods and I'm very comfortable with the transparency they offer about their practices.
 
Also, I realize this is kind of old news by now… but did you see the Grammys? Did you notice that everyone looked awful? I know there was a 'dress code' and all, but I read it and it said nothing about choosing ugly dresses. Maybe all the celebrities got together in retaliation to the dress code and decided that they were going to look terrible so that style reporters would not cover the event. 
 
Seriously:
Worstdressed
 
Jennifer Lopez wore a one piece bathing suite with a train. A small child played with scissors too close to Kelly Rowland's dress. And, I LOVE Katy Perry, but this dress is so sad. I can't even talk about it.
 
When I tried to put together my best dressed list, I couldn't. There was only ONE dress that I looked at and thought, "Wow, she looks really nice."
 
Unfortunately, while searching for a picture, I learned that this dress is actually see-through and Rihanna exposed a little too much of herself on the red carpet. I take it back.
 
O RIHANNA GRAMMYS DRESS 2013 570
 
 
[All photos: Huffington Post]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Restaurant Week: Part II

Brian and I were a little underwhelmed with our first Restaurant Week choice. Luckily, we had a chance to redeem ourselves with another restaurant.

Jaleo is a DC staple restaurant. Jose Andres is the well-known chef behind the tapas menu. Most everyone has been, but somehow we have not. The menu they had planned for Restaurant Week looked good, so we decided to take advantage of the deal and go. 

We arrived about ten minutes before our reservation and the place was a little chaotic. The restaurant is downtown in the Gallery Place area, right next to The Verizon Center- and a Capitols hockey game was going on. We usually avoid the area because there are a ton of chain restaurants and tourists, but there are definitely times when its worth it to head over.

One of the first thoughts I had when I walked in was that the decor was just weird. 

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Yeah. Not sure about that artwork or how it correlates with a tapas restaurant. Maybe it's a Spanish artist?

We ordered off the Restaurant Week menu, and added a dish that our waiter recommended.

Tapas are small plates, served to share, so although we both made individual choices, we ended up splitting everything except for our largest 'main' dishes. 

Started off with yummy sangria.

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The first dish was my favorite of the whole night.

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Uh. Yeah, that was after we were well on our way through it. It was a beet salad with citrus, lettuce, blue cheese and pistachios. Brian even agreed this was his top dish of the night. This is one of many dishes we had this evening that I want to try and recreate at home!

We had some peppers cooked in ham fat (ah, yum) on bread, more bread topped with fresh tomatoes and Serrano ham, peppers stuffed with mushrooms and goat cheese, deep fried dates wrapped in bacon (amazing) and shrimp sautéed in garlic. 

Jaleocollage

We also had an amazing spinach dish that is also on my recreate list.

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When I sauté spinach at home it's always so boring. I bought some spinach at the market this week and am going to dress it up just like this- with raisins, pine nuts and  apples.

For my main entree, I had the chickpea and spinach stew.

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It was very good and the flavors layered well. I think this is something I would like to try to create, and might not be too hard. We'll see. It probably wouldn't be Brian's first choice.

Obviously, we didn't skip dessert.

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Chocolate hazelnut mousse cake :)

Jaleo was SUCH good choice to finish the week. I had heard mostly positive things, and we weren't disappointed. We ate A LOT this weekend, but considering Valentine's Day is this week, I have a feeling that there's more of that to come!