Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chicken wrap

When I first got back from Texas, it took me a few days until I managed to get to the grocery store and to cook again (but I made up for it this past weekend while I was home sick with a cold!)

Whenever I don't pack my lunch for work, I tend to get a wrap from the cafeteria at work. Don't get me wrong, the wrap is ok in a pinch, but a bit pricey for what you're getting. So I thought it would be a good idea to make some of my own wraps. For the record, it's hard to photograph a wrap to see its contents, so I shot it open-faced. It may not look like much, but I'm making these again this week.

Chicken Wrap (makes two wraps)

  • 6-8 oz chicken breast tenderloins
  • olive oil
  • lime juice
  • cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • bibb lettuce
  • small avocado
  • 2 wheat tortillas
  • light ranch dressing

You'll notice that I didn't give precise measurements for many of these ingredients. I kind of just winged it, but I think 1/2 tsp each of the dry ingredients would work. Combine the dry ingredients with the olive oil and lime juice. Marinate the chicken in this mixture for 30 minutes.

Cook the chicken on a grill pan until cooked through, 5-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Slice into 1-inch pieces. Let cool slightly.

Place a small amount of light ranch dressing on the wrap. Lay bibb lettuce on top. slice avocado and put 1/2 of it on one wrap. Add chicken. Wrap up and serve. It can be tricky to keep an avocado in good condition after a few hours, so I wrapped the half with the seed in it tightly with plastic wrap and used the second half for another wrap the next day.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Food Porn: Texas Edition

Last weekend, I traveled to Texas with a few friends to visit two Southern sisters. Our friend had recently moved to Dallas and so we thought a long holiday weekend, filled with tourists for the inauguration, would be a good time to take a visit. I knew I would eat well and often on this trip. First off, we'd be in Texas where BBQ and big portions reigned. Secondly, we'd be visiting Drina...the consummate host and fabulous cook.

After receiving a tip from my friend Brianne, our first food stop was to her uncle's place--Louie's. She indicated that this place had been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (marking my second trip to one of these featured locations in two months!) and was known for their martini. A bit weary from travel, we didn't opt for the martini, but we did order a few of their pizzas. The crust was thin and crispy, just like I like it, and they didn't skimp on the toppings. We were all so hungry, we spent the time just eating away and noted that what little was left from our feast would taste awesome after a late night of country dancing. And it did.

It woudln't be a trip to Texas without some BBQ. While attending a rodeo, we did grab some BBQ at one of the local chains. The food was good, but not the best BBQ I've ever had. And I didn't get a great photo of it, so this is simply a mention that I had some brisket. Because a trip to Texas wouldn't be complete without it.

We also toured a new brewery while in Dallas and there were a few food trucks parked outside of the event to appease the cravings after all those beers. I can't recall the name of the food truck, but they had a variety of specialty hot dogs. I had a thai chicken sausage with a cabbage and jicama slaw, with peanuts and hot sauce. This flavor combo was phenomenal and I think I'll need to search out some Thai chicken sausage in the near future.

Carb and meat central over the weekend. Awesome trip, awesome friends, and awesome food!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

When I went to make this last week, I double-checked to be sure I hadn't posted it on here before. I was very surprised that I hadn't because this is something I used to make all the time, especially when having someone over for dinner. It never disappoints and dinner guests always think it is a much more complex dish to make than it really is. Probably because it tastes so damn good. I don't really think you can screw up pork tenderloin, but if you're looking for a simple recipe that you'll likely have all the ingredients for in your pantry, this is it.  I served it with scalloped potatoes with spinach.

Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin (serves 4-6)

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 TB dried basil
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Moisten tenderloins with water. Combine all ingredients and mix to blend. Press bread crumb/herb mixture over tenderloin and place on rack.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees for 30 or more minutes. Thicker ones may take 35-40 minutes. Don't overcook. I checked mine with a meat thermometer. 170 degrees for medium well done is what I cooked mine to.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Food Porn: Haydees with the Ladies

Earlier this week, I met up with some friends in our Columbia Heights neighborhood for a mid-week pick me up...a night I called "Haydees with the Ladies."  For those of you who live in Columbia Heights/Mt.Pleasant, you've no doubt walked past Haydees. Maybe you've even gone there a few times. The place is always decked out with Christmas lights, year-round, and has great decor, including paintings of the singer Selena, the Taj Mahal, and the Pyramids, because nothing screams Salvdorean food quite like that artwork!

Unfortunately I didn't take the time to take photos of the decor, but here is their website. I think you can get the general gist of the place there. Or you can look at this steaming pile of fajitas. They were awesome. As was the cover band that sang Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Gotye.

And word to the wise, the fiesta margarita contains 50 percent more tequila. Just sayin.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fiery Beef and Rice Noodle Salad

Every so often I try something that is similar to something I've made before, but perhaps a bit simpler. And sometimes it works out, but more often than not, I find that the more complex recipes end up more flavorful. This was the case for this recipe. It's similar to one of my favorite recipes from last year, the Vietnamese Pork Noodle Salad, which I recently made for my family over the holiday. So if I'm going to recommend making one of these recipes, make that one. But hey, maybe you can improve upon this one?

Fiery Beef and Rice Noodle Salad (serves 4)


  • soy sauce
  • 2 oz uncooked rice stick noodles
  • 12 oz flank steak, trimmed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 habanero pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1 TB fish sauce
  • 12 basil leaves, torn

  • Instructions:

    Cut steak into 1/8-inch-thick slices.Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then place in a ziploc bag. Coat with soy sauce. Marinate for an hour or more.

    Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Coarsely chop noodles.

    Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add beef; sauté 4 minutes.

    Combine steak, noodles, lettuce, onion, cucumber, and habanero. Combine juice, sugar, and fish sauce; pour over noodle mixture, tossing gently. Sprinkle with basil.

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Tortellini Tomato Spinach Soup

    As part of the post-holiday detox, I wanted to make a simple soup that I could easily whip up in an hour or less and that wouldn't require too much prep work. You can't get much easier than this recipe, which calls for pre-made tortellini and a few simple ingredients.

    Tortellini Tomato Spinach Soup (serves 4)

    • 1 TB olive oil
    • 1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 small onion)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 4 to 6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
    • 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed through your fingers or coarsely chopped
    • 1 (9-ounce) package fresh tortellini
    • Coarse grained salt and cracked black pepper
    • 10 oz fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted and chopped
    • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, very loosely packed
    In a 3-quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes, turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
    When tortellini is almost done, add spinach and taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    Beef Bourguignon

    Quick disclaimer before I go on. I can be complete nitpicky when it comes to spelling, but no matter how many times I write "beef bourguignon" it always ends up differently. Because I don't know French. Hell, I don't even know if this is French, but I'm guessing since it's the infamous Julia Child dish, it probably is. Disclaimer over.

    Over the holidays, I wanted to cook something nice and warm for a large number of people. I typically cook for just myself, which means a lot of leftovers. Which is fine, except for when you try something completely out of your comfort zone...and what if it turns out poorly? Then you're stuck with a bunch of leftovers that you don't want to throw away out of principle, but don't exactly want to give it away. So I took the opportunity of a captive family audience, who will not judge me too harshly, to try and make beef bourguignon. In the interest of time, I opted not to do the original Julia child version, which I believe requires a few more hours and steps. I instead did the Anne Burrell version, which was pretty simple. And it turned out really well. So if you have a few hours on your hands, and want to serve a warm meal for a crowd, this is your recipe!

    Beef Bourguignon (serves 8-10)

    • 4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 1 large onion, quartered
    • 2 carrots, peeled and halved
    • 2 ribs celery, halved
    • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
    • 1 bottle red wine
    • 3 fresh bay leaves
    • Olive oil, enough to coat pan
    • Kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup flour 
    • 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons (small pieces)
    • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste 
    • 2 cups red wine (reserved marinade)
    • 3 to 4 cups beef stock, plus more as needed
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 bundle fresh thyme
    • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
    • 1 pound red bliss potatoes, quartered
    • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish
    For the marinade, combine the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and wine in a large bowl or container. Add the beef, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

    The next day, remove the beef from the marinade. Strain the veggies and bay leaves from the wine and discard, but reserving the wine.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Coat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Season the beef generously with salt and toss with flour. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan, but be sure not to crowd the pan, so you will need to work in batches.  Do not flour the beef until you're ready to brown it.

    Brown the meat well on all sides and remove from the pan to a sheet tray.

    Add the bacon and cook until it gets brown and crispy. Toss in the onions, carrots, celery, and season with salt. Cook the mixture for 8 to10 minutes or until the mixture starts to soften and become very aromatic. Add in the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

    Add 2 cups reserved wine and the beef. Stir to combine and cook until the wine has reduced by 1/2. Add the beef stock to just cover the surface of the beef. Toss in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Season with salt, if needed. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot and put in the preheated oven.

    Cook the beef 2 hours, checking occasionally to add more stock, if needed. During the last 40 minutes of cooking time, add the mushrooms, potatoes, and more stock, if needed.

    Remove the pan from the oven, and skim off any excess grease from the surface of the stew. Serve with crusty bread to sop up all the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh chives.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Food Porn: The Dor-stop

    This edition of Food Porn is brought to you by Pittsburgh diner food. While I was home for the holidays, I met up with my friend and her little girl for breakfast at a place in Dormont. This diner, called the "Dor-Stop," had been featured in the Food Network Show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," which highlights places popular with the locals featuring regional specialties. The host, Guy Fieri, is kind of annoying, but I do like checking out the places he visits, when I get the chance.

    One could say that the regional specialty highlighted at the Dor-Stop is the carbohydrate. It is a staple for Pennsylvania winters. While the hotcakes were deemed the thing to order, I opted to try out the raspberry stuffed french toast. With a side of bacon. Obviously.

    This place will stuff just about anything in a carbohydrate. Because that makes everything better. And for all of you New Year's Resolutions folks...I ate this in 2012. So there.