Thursday, August 30, 2012

Caprese Salad

Right now is a great time to get heirloom tomatoes at my farmer's market. These tomatoes (while a bit pricey) come in an array of shapes and colors, some orange, some yellow, and all a little lopsided. :) This post is not so much a recipe, but just basic instructions on how to make a simple caprese salad. You can adjust the servings sizes accordingly, but this is what I did for one lunch sized caprese salad. And look how pretty it is!

Caprese Salad


  • Heirloom tomatoes (for one serving, I used 2)
  • Mozzarella (3 oz for two tomatoes was my best estimate)
  • Fresh basil (one solid basil leaf per tomato slice)
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper


Thickly slice the tomatoes and mozzarella, stacking as shown with a basil leaf. Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top (I did about half a teaspoon of each). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve.

I'm making this again this weekend. Makes a truly delightful weekend lunch.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Three-Bean Salad

Yesterday marked the season finale of yet another campy, vampy season of True Blood on HBO. This show is best watched with a crowd and with wine, which is just what I did. A neighbor of mine hosted a few people over for a potluck. We had barbecued chicken, ribs, pasta salad, corn on the cob and alcohol. I took this as an opportunity to make a side dish that I've been wanting to make for awhile, but it would definitely be too much for my dinner parties of 1 most nights. So here is an awesome southwestern side dish that is not only pretty easy to make, but extremely healthy. I actually didn't even use the oil called for in the recipe, but that's your call. I did just fine with a grill pan and non-stick spray.

Three-Bean Salad (serves 10-12 as a side dish)


  • 1 cup halved heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 3 ears shucked corn
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 diced peeled avocados

  • Directions:

    Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

    Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes.

    Brush corn, onion, and jalapeño evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeño 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes.

    Cut kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well.

    Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Cilantro Chicken

    As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I am working my way through a lot of frozen chicken, so the same night I cooked the chicken curry, I made this dish with what I didn't use for the curry. I found this recipe as a link on my friend Nick's food blog so I followed suit and am just providing the direct link to the Recipe Girl site here:

    Cilantro Chicken (serves 4)

    My modifications included using chicken breast tenders as opposed to thighs, because that is what I had available. My picture turned out a bit differently than the ones on the Recipe Girl site but that might be because I improvised a bit on the amounts of the ingredients listed. This turned out ok, but I think since I was using a grill pan and the breasts were not even thicknesses, that might be why some of it got a little dry. But you be the judge.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Simple Chicken Curry

    As I mentioned last week, I decided to get back in the kitchen this week after a bit of a hiatus brought on my work projects, and other distractions (such as a mediterranean fast food place that opened up in the neighborhood). With a large pack of chicken to go through, I opted to make two different chicken dishes this week. The first is a simple chicken curry. I received this recipe from a coworker who is on the paleo diet. In keeping with that theme, I went carb free and served it over sugar snap peas.

    This is appropriate for my next bit of news...I'm officially going to Thailand in October!  I am beyond excited for the food and have plans to take a cooking class while I'm there. I will no doubt chronicle all these food tidbits in this blog.

    Simple Chicken Curry (serves 4)


    • 1 lb chicken, cubed
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 large red onion, chopped
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
    • 1 cup coconut milk, I opted for light
    • 3 TB fresh basil leaves, torn


    Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside.

    Saute chicken until it’s nicely browned and cooked through. I used a non-stick spray on the pan, but no oil.

    Take the meat out of the pan, and throw in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir fry until tender and onions are translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

    Add the chicken back into the pan and add the spices. Stir fry until fragrant; about a minute.

    Add the coconut milk and basil leaves. Simmer until the meat is cooked through and the sauce thickens a bit. Serve over vegetables and/or rice.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Five-Spice Chicken with Green Beans

    I'm baaaaccckkkk!!! After a bit of a break from cooking with reckless abandon while I dealt with crazy work deadlines, I am back to cooking more and eating out less. My latest endeavor was a simple Asian recipe that only required items I already had in my pantry. Imagine that. It's been a while since I'd broken out the 5-spice powder. This chicken worked equally well served cold and thrown on a spinach salad. Which is what I've been doing with it all week. Enjoy! (and yes, I realize this photo is quite ominous...didn't realize my shadow was such a fixture.

    Five-Spice Chicken with Green Beans (serves 4)



    • 1 lb chicken breast, I used chicken tenders so they would cook faster
    • 4 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 TB kosher salt
    • 2 TB sesame oil
    • 1 tsp five-spice powder
    • 1 TB rice wine vinegar
    • green beans
    • soy sauce
    • panko breadcrumbs


    Combine garlic, salt, oil, five-spice powder and vinegar in a ball and whisk together. Place marinade in plastic bag with chicken. Marinate at least an hour.

    Once you are ready to cook the chicken, heat up a grill pan and coat with non-stick spray. Grill until cooked all the way through. This took me about 4-5 minutes on each side.

    In the meantime, clean your green beans and place them in a skillet. Cover them slightly with water. Cook 5 minutes or so in covered skillet. Depending on how much water is still in the skillet, you might to drain some of it out. Add soy sauce (I probably added about 1 TB) and mix. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs on top and cook an additional minute or two, until the green beans are a little soft.  The crumbs probably could have crisped up more if I had less water, but this result was fine.

    Serve with chicken. I also threw in a corn on the cob because they are still in season and just really damn good.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Food Porn: New York City Restaurant Week

    As I mentioned last week, I took a few days off work to travel up to New York and Connecticut to visit friends and family. My trip happened to coincide with NYC's Restaurant Week, which is so popular that it actually lasts 2 1/2 weeks. Nevertheless, being the foodie that I am, I was pretty pumped I would be there for it. I received a recommendation from a coworker who knew of a recent James Beard award winning pastry chef (she's classy like that) and that his restaurant may be a good place to go. I was lucky to score a reservation for said restaurant: Bar Boulud.

    But before that meal, I went a bit carb crazy. I hit up a great pizza place (though to clarify, NOT NYC-style) in my friend's Gramercy Park neighborhood and will admit, some bagels were consumed. Can I just say that NYC truly has the best Everything Bagels I've ever eaten. They put the good stuff...the salt, garlic, onion, you name it, ALL OVER the bagel. So it's like having a top of a bagel on the bottom as well. I don't have any evidence of those because seriously, I ate them pretty quickly.

    So here are play-by-play photos of my meal at Bar Boulud.

    First course was Braised Pork Rillette, Tomato Confit, Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Crostini. The pork was pretty tasty and my best guess was that the zucchini was hiding out in the pork patty. This wasn't exactly what I was expecting when I read the description, but I cleaned by plate.

    Second course was Cavatelli Pasta, Hudson Valley Duck Confit, Roasted Tomato, Fennel and Breadcrumbs. This was my least favorite dish of the three. While the housemade pasta was the perfect amount of al dente, the duck was a bit tough. In the restaurant's defense, I'm hit or miss when it comes to enjoying duck so perhaps I should have gone with the fish.

    The third course was to die for. This was the James Beard award-winning dish I had heard about from my coworker and it failed to disappoint. This was a chocolate mousse, with hazenut cream and coffee ice cream. Yep, those our crushed oreos under the ice cream. Yes that is a caramel or butterscotch swirl around the plate. And my best guess was the little nuggets on top were candied hazelnuts. This. Was. Awesome. And I'm not a dessert person, so you know I'm not exaggerating. 

    And my most delectable morsel during my trip is one that is so sweet I could eat him with a spoon, my nephew Brayden.

    While he's still trying to learn to appreciate the whole "solid foods" thing, I think we have a foodie in training. Here, he is dining on a fine soda bread at Apricots restaurant near Farmington, Connecticut. He preferred this to the crunchier french loaf, which he admittedly dropped on the floor in disgust. Repeatedly. But this Irish soad bread? Nom Nom Nom. (and some other indecipherable grunts of appreciation)

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    New York City Bound

    I'm taking several much needed few days off to take a mini vacation up to NYC and CT to visit friends and family. While no doubt some of the highlights of my trip will be visiting my super awesome little nephew Brayden (who is still figuring out solid foods, but I'll make a foodie out of him yet!) and seeing Evita on broadway, I will also partake in some awesome food. I recently discovered that I will be up there for the NYC Restaurant Week, which is more like 3 weeks, but in any case, it will be awesome. I'll be sure to document the meal I've reserved at a James Beard award winning restaurant (hint: its the pastry chef!) and report back when I'm back in town.

    I'll also get back in the kitchen on a more regular basis as I've been slacking a bit with all the craziness at work. It will be good to prepare my own, healthier meals again and to save a bit of dough for my fall vacation...details coming soon.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Easy Stuffed Jalapenos

    A few weeks ago, I cooked dinner for my regular True Blood Family Dinner crowd. Usually, we are treated to the fine cooking of my friend from Louisiana who whips up gumbos, po boys, and other Southern specialities better than anyone I've ever met. But for this particular Sunday, I made fish tacos and stuffed jalapenos. The fish tacos I've made several times already and they are always a hit. These jalapenos were a new, quick dish. The hardest part was cutting a dozen jalapenos. These must have been the most potent peppers I've ever worked with as I could not stop the burning sensation in my eyes for a solid 30 minutes while I cut and gutted these. Once you get past that part, these are a piece of cake.

    Stuffed Jalapenos (makes 24 poppers)


    • 12 jalapeno peppers
    • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 1 1/2 cup of finely shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2-3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • hot sauce (optional)


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and membranes. Combine cheeses and bacon, spoon into the pepper halves and sprinkle with a couple drops of hot sauce, if you want a little extra heat. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    The Groupon/Living Social Conundrum

    I may have written this post as an excuse to use the word conundrum, because let's admit, it's a pretty awesome word. And one that I should use more often. Anyhow, this blog post is going to address a common issue that I have found, and have had friends experience, with using Groupons/Living Social deals. I get the e-mail each morning. Everything sounds awesome...such a good deal. My mind starts envisioning cheap massages in Dupont Circle, fancy meals at a fraction of the price, and so many possibilities for weekend excursions. So I buy. And then it sits. And sits. And then I get the reminder e-mail that I need to use them soon, lest they expire. Fortunately, these companies have addressed a legal issue which used to occur and now the amount you paid for the groupon doesn't expire, but you did miss out on the savings if you don't use by the expiration date.

    So the conundrum is this. Usually the amount of money you get to spend is more than just one person can eat. Or at least I can eat. So you end up trying to track down a dining companion the last week of the deal. So that's what I did last weekend.  Here is what resulted.

    This is what $40 buys you for lunch at Tsunami Sushi Lounge in Logan Circle. The green guy on the right is appropriately named the "Godzilla Roll."  I believe that was green-colored puff rice on the outside. All in all the meal was great, and while I probably could have done this on my own, I'm glad my friend Katie could join me. Because two Katies are always better than one.