Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Redux of Costa Rican-Style Tilapia

I've never been to Costa Rica. In fact, I've never been south of Key West, but I hope to rectify that in the near future. So the only thing I have to go on that this dish is in the style of Costa Rican food is that the recipe said so. Regardless of its authenticity, it is a dish that I like to regularly make, especially for a crowd. It's relatively economical, and universally liked. The rice/pineapple/black bean combo is the star of this production, though the fish gives it a bit more substance. Here's the link to the original post/recipe.

And can we just say that my hair has grown crazy long (for me) since that time?

Exhibit A: February 2012, shortly after
 I started my little blogging adventure.

Exhibit B: September 2013, with Jon Wright,
one of my favorite taste testers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tabbouleh with Chicken and Red Pepper

In my continuing effort to pack healthier lunches more often, and my propensity when I'm busy to buy pre-cooked rotisserie chickens and find ways to repurpose the meat, I tried this out a few weeks back. Flavor wise, it's pretty tame...probably could use more pepper, or perhaps even some red pepper flakes. But as far as healthy goes, it hits the mark. I've never cooked with bulgur before, but because you can't ever seem to buy a small amount of anything at my grocery store, I have plenty to cook with again at some other point. How do you like to cook with bulgur?

Tabbouleh with Chicken and Red Pepper (makes 3 lunch-sized portions)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups diced plum tomato
  • 3/4 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 3/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine bulgur and 1/2 cup boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 15 minutes or until the bulgur is tender. Drain well; return bulgur to bowl. Cool.

Add tomato and remaining ingredients; toss well.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Food Porn: Abbey Burger Bistro

I could have called this Food Porn: Baltimore. In fact, that was the whole point of the hit up various Baltimore eateries to do a "taste of the town" for a few hours with my friend Mike. But we made one critical error in our planning. We started off too big. Copious amounts of meat on a bun, kind of big. We went on from there to try some macaroons and eat some sushi at Ra Sushi, but those aren't even worth discussing because all I seemed to taste for the rest of the day was sweet meat.

Our first stop where we peaked too early is called Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill. This came at the recommendation of a bunch of friends who have visited Baltimore. Essentially it's a build your own burger kind of bar, with a crazy number of options. Just look at this list!

We started off with fried alligator bites, which looked a bit like hush puppies. I wasn't too keen on them, but what was coming on the burger more than made up for the less than exciting appetizer.

Meat options included the typical angus beef, but also duck, red deer, wild boar, name it, they killed it and made it an option on the menu! I opted for an angus burger with Guinness cheddar, caramelized onions, pickles, and Maker's Mark BBQ sauce, all served on a pretzel bun.

My friend Mike opted for a fried green tomato burger with crab dip, bacon and some other stuff on top. I was too distracted by my meaty creation. As you can see below. So if you make it up to Baltimore, check this place out. I think it was well worth the traffic. Check them out at:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Baby Potatoes with Kale

A few years back, I recall the word "superfood" becoming a regular fixture in healthy eating articles. Some of these superfoods have been a regular fixture in my diet for years...berries, tea, salmon, etc. But the greens was an area that I desperately needed to explore a bit more.

I can thank some of my regular dinner companions in Columbia Heights for introducing me to kale. Sometimes they'd serve it crispy and baked with chili oil and sesame seeds. Other times it would be mixed into a power salad. For something I never really cooked with before, I was developing a taste for it. This is one of the better kale recipes I've tried in recent months, which makes for a great side dish for a group. And it takes a little less than 20 minutes to cook from start to finish.

Baby Potatoes with Kale (serves 4 as a side dish)

  • 1 lb sliced baby potatoes
  • 1 1/2 TB canola oil
  • 2 TB sliced garlic
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • 1 TB water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes; drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil. Add potatoes and garlic; cook 3 minutes.

Add kale and water. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Add sesame oil, salt, and pepper; toss and serve.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

As evidenced by the wide variety of things I make on this blog, I'm not much of a creature of routine when it comes to lunches and dinners throughout the week. I like to mix it up. But when it comes to breakfast, it's rare that I stray too far from the staples, namely Cheerios with the occasional egg-based weekend breakfast.

Last week I made raspberry lemon muffins for a brunch I was hosting with some friends, and took the rest into my always hungry government office. These simple muffins were not only tasty, but also relatively low-fat. They were a hit with everyone and something I plan to add into my somewhat predictable breakfast routine.

Raspberry Lemon  Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.

Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.

Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Best served warm.:)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

An Oldie but a Goodie-Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad

A while back I indicated that I was going to employ some strategies to this blog that we use at work. Such as "Throwback Thursdays", or "F-ing Fantastic Food Friday." But in all reality, I'm too busy to keep up with any sort of set schedule like that, I just really try and post twice a week. And I kind of screwed that up last week. But I have been doing a lot of cooking and eating lately, and am building up a stockpile for September as my work schedule gets even nuttier.

Some of what I've been making lately have been repeats on previously successful dishes. This is one of them.  I made this Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad a few weeks back when I had a ton of peaches and was looking for something light to eat on a Monday after a weekend of excess (which seems to be every weekend as of late!) Here's the recipe in my original post from last year.You won't be disappointed. Trust me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lamb Pita Pizza

I too find it hard to believe I've never cooked with lamb before. My early interactions with the meat had not been good ones. Bless her, but my grandmother didn't really season the meat when we'd have it during the holidays and she would effectively cook it to death. Which is a funny phrase when you think of it, considering when you're cooking meats, they are most often quite dead. But I digress...

So the first time I ever had lamb and enjoyed it was at a Mediterranean tapas place on the Hill that closed many years ago. It was a spiced, lamb kebab. Cooked to perfection. And I thought, "Wow this is what I've been missing!" Since that day, I've occasionally had a lamb chop or a kebab here and there, but had yet to cook with the meat. That all changed last week when I found this great recipe that was perfect for weekday lunches. It's simple and tasty. Try it out for a different kind of lunch!

Lamb Pita Pizza (makes 4 pita "pizzas")

  • 6 oz. ground lamb
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 TB minced fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 (6-inch) pitas
  • 1/2 cup plain hummus
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 TB pine nuts, toasted

Preheat broiler to high.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble lamb. Remove lamb from pan.

Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and cinnamon; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomato; bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften. Stir in cooked lamb.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

Split each pita into 2 rounds. Place pita rounds on a baking sheet. Broil 1 minute on each side or until crisp.

Spread 2 tablespoons hummus on each round. Top each serving with about 1/3 cup lamb mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro and nuts.