Hometown Cookin’

July 31, 2010 at 7:44 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

If there’s one ingredient that needs to be in every recipe, in every dish, in every meal, it’s love.  You can ALWAYS tell, in anything, if love was not put into the effort.  This is absolutely, 100% true when it comes to cooking food.  I firmly believe that one of the reasons my dad’s food is so damn good is because he loves it.  That’s why some of the best cooking doesn’t have recipes.

While I was cooking my Albanian dish today and watching Top Chef and Food Network marathons, I had a couple other things going on just… well… because.  One thing my father did almost every Sunday was make tomato sauce.  Being my father’s daughter, I’ve always wanted to know how to make it.  The trick is…there is no right or wrong way to make it.  There’s no recipe for my dad’s tomato sauce, he just puts a ton of stuff in it until it tastes good!  Honestly!  So today, I made a meatless tomato sauce.  Because I’m trying to learn and hope you are too, I am willing to share what I put in the pot to make my delicious tomato sauce.  Don’t expect measurements though…making tomato sauce is all about taste.

In order to get there, here is what I did to make my own Fritalian Gravy.


one onion

– mushrooms

– 2 cans tomato sauce

– 3/4 can tomato paste

– 3/4 can diced tomatoes

– red wine

– garlic

– garlic salt

– olive oil

– water

– LOTS of Italian spices

– love


1. dice onions and mushrooms

2. Put about three counts of olive oil in the bottom of the pot and sweat the diced onions and mushrooms

3.  add the cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and about half a can of water

4. spice with italian seasoning, basil, oregano, garlic, etc to taste

5. bring to a boil then turn heat down and let simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occassionally

Letting the sauce stew for a couple hours really allows the spices to meld with the rest of the ingredients.

That’s really the  closest thing I can give you to a recipe for tomato sauce.  This is one of those things you really just have to feel and taste.  It sounds crazy, but I suggest you give it a try… there’s a little Italian in everybody 😉

**Tidbit for storage!!!  Freezing tomato sauce always works, but again, since I cook for one, one EXTREMELY helpful hint I learned was this:

Freezing sauce or pesto in ice cube trays is so helpful for single servings since you won’t have to thaw an entire jar or bag of tomato sauce just to refreeze it.

Now onto the other homemade dish I made today… homemade chicken salad.

This sounds a lot easier than it actually is to make.  When it comes to chicken salad, I prefer a pulled chicken rather than a diced.  So that’s exactly what I did!  Here’s a nice twist on a typical chicken salad recipe:


one chicken breast

– mayo

– lemon juice

– Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

– celery

– celery seed

– red onion

– almonds


1. salt and pepper each side of the chicken, cook thoroughly, then let sit to cool

2.  while chicken is cooking, dice celery and red onion

3. pull the chicken (use a fork to hold the chicken, then use the back side of a spoon or a knife to pull along the grain of chicken to make it look shredded)

4. combine diced celery, red onion, shredded chicken, dash of celery seed

5. add a splash of lemon juice, this will enhance the colors and taste of everything in this chicken salad

6. add a dollop of sweet baby ray’s BBQ sauce

7. add mayo to taste and to bind everything together

8. fold a couple pinches of almonds into the chicken salad mix

9. store and let set and cool in fridge until ready to eat or the next day

This is another dish I understand there aren’t a lot of measurements, but it’s a dish made with love and one you have to make how you like it, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Tomorrow I plan to roast some gutted red peppers and using that as the serving utensil for the chicken salad.  Sounds amazing right?!  I can’t wait to try it.  I’ll be sure to add a picture when it’s all complete.

Thanks for reading and as usual, until next time, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

**Peas, Love and Ole Fashion Homecookin’**


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Fail to the Chef

July 26, 2010 at 7:46 PM (Uncategorized) (, , )

Wednesday marked the 6th episode of Top Chef DC, a season of Top Chef I was anticipating the start of more so than any other season.  There are the obvious reasons like the fact that I used to call DC home, but I also though that, perhaps, Bravo and the Top Chef crew could try to top last season’s Vegas contestants.  We’re 6 episodes in, and they’re giving us nothing.  The Challenges are lame, the contestants suck– well I’ll give them one thing, they are the most competitive, manipulative group this show’s ever had.

Now that I’ve bitched about the season once again, I have to say this week’s was probably one of the better and more fitting venues and challenges yet.  The contestants had to made only cold dishes on the USS Sequoia, the President’s boat version of Marine One.  The USS Sequoia takes off right next to one of my favorite watering holes in DC, Cantina Marina and is right in the Potomac.  But!!! (and you knew that nice talk wouldn’t last long) I was so turned off when they flew in a guest judge from MIAMI!!!  I mean come ON!  Jose Andres owns 5 restaurants in DC, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, The Source, is in the Newseum where the first epsiode too place, ART SMITH HIMSELF, who has also been on TOP CHEF MASTERS, has a restaurant there and you couldn’t find a DC area guest judge?!  Be serious for a second. Thanks. Phew, glad I could get that off my chest.  End of the day, my iron horse was asked to “pack her knives and go.”  Dagger.  I’m still pulling for Kenny or Angelo.

Now that I’ve got all that out in the open onto a little dish I put together tonight that completely hit the spot.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if there are two types of food a LOT of people like, it’s Mexican and BBQ.  Tonight, I couldn’t decide between the two, so I decided, why not just combine them?

There you see a BBQ ground turkey taco.  Here are the ingredients:

– ground turkey

– BBQ sauce

– Monterrey jack cheese

– shredded lettuce

– sour cream

– salsa

– jalapenos

– soft tortilla

After cooking through the turkey with some salt and pepper, saute it in BBQ sauce, this will heat up the sauce to keep your dish hot.  Then just dress the taco the way you want!  I like mine with shredded monterrey jack, lettuce, sour cream, salsa and topped with some jalapenos.  Since I had some turkey left over, I made a side taco salad with everything but the tortilla!

Wine of the night: Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc.  Runs about $9.99

Tacos are a great thing to make if you just have a bunch of stuff to throw together.  I highly suggest trying this one night if especially for something with a new twist.

This weekend will be the first time I have a moment in my apartment to cook so I will move onto Albania as the second Around the World dish!  Until next time sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

**Peas, Love and BBQ Pavo**

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Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

May 24, 2010 at 8:41 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m now living in Manchester, NH where, let’s face it, there’s not a restaurant with a notable chefs name to it in a 50 mile radius, yeap, Boston is the closest place you’ll find that.  While that makes Manch-Vegas sound totally glib, I really think its a good thing because it keeps me from eating out as often as I did… my bank account thanks me!  It also forces me to cook at home more which is actually really nice, I do enjoy it!  My problem is planning out what to make for dinner each night, so I always find myself mid-afternoon trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to make so I’m not stuck eating cereal for dinner… not that there’s anything wrong with that…

In order to sort of prevent a total loss for dinner, there’s a few things I ALWAYS keep in the freezer.  One of which is something everyone should always have in their freezer…chicken.  It’s too easy just to get some cutlets and put each into separate freezer bags.  Single serving chicken…done!  What’s also nice is when I come home for lunch, I can take one out of the freezer and have it thaw by the time I get home from work.

So last week, I ran into that problem… no ideas until I was about an hour from dinner time.  This was one of those just take what you have in the fridge and doo eeettt, and a pretty successful one if I may say so myself.   All you need is a bit of butter, basil, Parmesan, and garlic powder.  The best way to prepare this would be on a grill, but a frying pan also worked perfectly.

In a bowl, melt the butter and add freshly chopped basil, Parmesan and a pinch of garlic powder.  Mix it all together then brush the chicken on both sides with the mixture and place it on either the grill or in your pan.  Continue brushing the butter and basil on the chicken as it cooks and that’s it!  It’s really quite delicious.

With this dish, I made broccoli by sauteing it in some oil with red pepper flakes.  This added a nice kick to the dish and I love preparing broccoli in a pan to get some of the florets with a nice crunch on top.  For the starch I roasted some potatoes in olive oil and salt and pepper.  Quick and easy and most of the elements you have in your pantry/fridge already!  The white wine I had was very complimentary to the dish.  It was a 2006 Viognier which tends to be a little sweeter than my taste of white wine but still tasty.  As long as the white isn’t Riesling, I’m willing to try it with a nice meal.

So coming into this week, I really had a case of the Mondays and was all but depressed that Lost was done.  Luckily for me, this was the only season I watched live and I plan on watching every season from the beginning again…and again….and probably again.  Don’t get me started I could write an ENTIRE blog (not just a post, a full on BLOG) about that damn show.  So good… anyways.  Today, Monday in the afternoon, I had my usual epiphany…what…the hell… do I make…for dinner?!  Again, I ran for the freezer right before I finished my lunch and pulled out some chicken to thaw.  Now that I had my protein picked out, it was time to decide what to make.

Another thing I usually now keep in my fridge is pizza dough since we all know I’m trying to perfect the pizza.  Well tonight, well I think I’m getting the hang of it.  I have finally figured out my retro-oven…I have beaten it!!!  When it comes to pizza crust anyways…

**Important Tangent!!!: Here I am typing up this blog post after enjoying some delicious pizza I just made and the preview for The Karate Kid is on.  Now when I hear Karate Kid, I think Ralph Macchio, wax-on, wax-off, STRIKE FIRST, STRIKE HARD, NO MERCY SIR, bonnzzaaaiii! You get the picture… I don’t think of this:

Have any of you seen this preview yet?!?!?! Are they KIDDING?!  There’s remaking a movie, and there’s totally disrespecting and mucking up my childhood memories.  Thanks a lot Columbia Pictures. Tangent: fin.

So anyways, back to this thawed chicken and pizza dough now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.  Now there’s only one kind of pizza that chicken should show up on…okay only one outside of Matchbox’s chicken pesto AMAZINGNESS.  That one’s in a category all it’s own.  The other is a more common and loved pizza, the BBQ chicken pizza.  I had everything I needed to make this: chicken, pizza dough, BBQ sauce, red onion and cilantro.

I don’t need to spell out how to roll out the pizza dough, (though it has taken me a couple tries to finally figure out the quickest way to do that haha) so here’s a picture of the final product:

All it took was some BBQ sauce (and I like mine with a little kick to it), a nice mix of freshly shredded mozzarella and jalapeno pepper jack cheese, red onions and chicken.  The chicken I pan cooked in oil with just a seasoning of salt and pepper then shredded since I really don’t like cubed cut chicken (its a texture, consistency thing).  I added a drizzle of BBQ sauce on top of the pizza once everything was on right before putting it in the oven.

Now the one thing I would have changed is when I put the cilantro on the pizza.  Not thinking, I threw it on top before putting it in the oven, which cooked off some of the pungency and wilted it a bit, so if you don’t like a strong taste of cilantro this would work for you, but if you like a lot of cilantro, wait until after the pizza is done cooking and sprinkle it on right before you serve.

Well there’s 2 chicken dinners that are easy, cheap and quick…that’s what she said… yeahhh I went there.  Try them out, let me know what you think, what you’d change, add, make for a side dish.  I hope you enjoy them!  Until next time, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

**Peas, Love, and Mr. Miyagi**

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Easy like Sunday Morning…

May 17, 2010 at 2:47 PM (Uncategorized) (, )

Growing up there was nothing I loved more than waking up on Sunday mornings…why?!  Because it meant PANCAKES!  Yes, warm, buttery, syrupy pancakes my dad would make before he left for the golf course.  Every year for my birthday he’d spell out Happy Birthday Stephanie in little tiny pancakes that’s how much I love them.  Naturally, when I was old enough (aka tall enough to see over the stove) I learned how to make them.  Now, I’m not saying my dad made the batter himself, we used the recipe right off the Bisquik box, however, he always added his own touch which made them the best.

Always wanting to try new things, I decided to add my own touch on these Sunday morning delights.  Now, banana pancakes are hands down my favorite pancakes in the whole world.  And when I make banana pancakes, I don’t slice the bananas, I don’t dice them, I mash them until they look like baby food so every bite there’s a bit o’ banana.  I know some people are cringing at that thought, you banana haters I’ll just…. I’ll just never understand.  I digress… banana pancakes are my favorite, but there’s one fruit that is always good when baked and I had to try them in pancakes.  So ladies and gentlemen…something easy, cheap and really not all THAT creative but rully freaking good, and I mean ruuulllllyyyy good…Apple Cinnamon Pancakalacies!

Like I said, recipe for the batter itself, I get right off the Bisquik box (I always cut this in half since I’m cooking for one so feel free to do that as well):

– 2 cups Bisquik batter mix

– 1 cup milk

– 2 eggs

Mix this all together until the batter is smooth.  I always use a granny smith apple because I think the sour from the green apple pairs so well with the sweet of the cinnamon.  Here’s my tip on how to make sure these pancakes are as tasty as possible… grate the apple, don’t dice or slice.  Take out a cheese grater and have at it.  This way, it’s easy to cook.  Usually when you cook with fruit diced in pancakes, the area around the fruit takes longer to cook, sometimes coming out still doughy and wet.  We don’t want that, so to make sure your pancakes cook thoroughly, I suggest the grater.  Add a dash of cinnamon– a little cinnamon goes a long way…

As your mixing in the apple and cinnamon, try a splash or two of vanilla extract and about a tbsp of honey.  They really lighten up the pancakes.

Now, I’m sure most of you have made pancakes before, but sometimes they’re a little hard to flip, even if you’ve done it time and time again.  The best way to know they are ready to flip the first time is when little air bubbles start appearing in the batter.  That’s when you know they’re ready to flip.  They should be cooked over medium heat to make sure they cook evenly.

All you need on top of those babies is some butter and some syrup.  Again, this goes back to my post on the maple salmon, PLEASE, I beg of you, do not ruin your delicious pancakes with the fake stuff…get yourself some real, New England maple syrup and go to town.  Now, if you don’t like syrup, these pancakes really don’t even need them!  The cinnamon provides a lot of sweet.  The best accompaniment with these flap jacks are some crispy strips of bacon!  The salt from the bacon is a great compliment to the sweet of the apple cinnamon.

Alright, I know it’s only Monday, but I’m already thinking about the weekend which means you should too!  Wow I’m a bad influence…  If you can, keep this little nugget in the back of your mind for an upcoming weekend and I guarantee you will enjoy them.  I’m thinking of taking a stab at homemade pizza again this week.. we’ll see how well that goes!  On that note, it’s time to sign off and hopefully dream up another delicious recipe to bring you this week.  Until then, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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Fall in the District

October 22, 2009 at 11:56 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

So it’s officially fall in Washington, DC, meaning the weather jumps from 34 degrees one day, to 70 the next… its ridiculous.  Regardless of the weather, fall brings out my favorite smells and dishes!  It’s almost time for Thanksgiving which means all the food magazines are coming out with their “what to do with Turkey leftovers” editions, how to make cranberry sauce like you grandmother, and mashed potato secrets.  It’s also the time that the candle companies put out their autumn wreath, pumpkin, apple cider and fall leaves scented candles!  Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than that… or does it?

Fall also brings eggplant and pomegranate season!!!  Anyone who knows me knows that if pomegranate or goat cheese is involved, chances are, I’m going to order it.  Eggplant, while available all year round just seems like such a cozy meal for me, so I tend to gravitate towards it in the fall and winter.  At home, my favorite pizza is eggplant and onion pizza from Franco Gianni’s, which I was so excited to have last week one of my 2 recent trips up North.  Having the eggplant fresh on my mind, I decided while at the store getting my food for the week ahead and figuring out what to have for dinner that night, to get a baby eggplant and fry it with some mozzarella.  This dish is so tasty and another dish that you can make look expensive that is in fact, very reasonable.

Of course, as my starter, I made a delicious Caprese Salad:


Just some tomatoes from the vine, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a ready made balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing.  I guess I could honestly say, if asked the question “what’s one dish you could eat for the rest of your life and never get tired of?” it would be this.  Easy, cheap, everyone should know how to make it… and it always just looks so pretty.

I was snacking on this while tending to my eggplant which I started by slicing into about quarter inch slices leaving the skin on.  The skin is full of antioxidants and turns that beautiful purple color when its all cooked.  Before I move ahead, here are the other ingredients I used:

– baby eggplant

– fresh mozzarella

– vodka sauce

– whole wheat penne pasta

– fresh basil

– one egg

– Italian bread crumbs

– about 1/2 cup of flour

– oil for cooking

Now, while this dish is easy you have to be VERY careful when heating the oil.  I would suggest using a pot or a very deep frying pan since you’ll need to cover the bottom of it with oil that will obviously get very hot and will start to sputter when you first put the eggplant down.

Alright, so back to actually cooking, after you’ve sliced the eggplant, coat each side with flour, then egg, then the breadcrumbs.  When you’ve done that, cover the bottom of the pot or pan with oil and turn to a medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the pieces of eggplant in gently and with some sort of utensil (not your own fingers!)  Turn eggplant once at first, allowing each side to get a nice crunchy brown color (I’d say about 3-4 minutes on each side), then turn the heat to low, you can keep flipping after the 3-4 minutes on each side to brown it to your tasting.  Place the leftover mozzarella you’ve sliced from your Caprese Salad and place a piece on each of the eggplants.  You can let the eggplant continue to cook and the cheese to melt as you make the pasta.

Since I’m assuming you all know how to make pasta, I’ll skip the obvious.  I do however suggest heating the sauce in a separate pot (or in a bowl in the microwave if you’re so inclined) before adding it to the dish.  It will cool the dish down immensely if you do not.  When your pasta and sauce are ready, lay the pasta down, then the eggplant then the sauce and top with some basil.


I was cooking for one, so I had plenty of eggplant leftover.  If you do have leftovers, here’s a great suggestion.  The next day, I got a nice fresh sub roll, toasted it, heated some more sauce, placed the sauce in the roll and placed my leftover eggplant and mozzarella in the sub.  It was my own eggplant parmesan sandwich and damn was it good.

Now that I’ve shared my recipe for this week I have to let you know I’ve completely caught up on Top Chef Vegas, FINALLY!  And thank God most of the people I can’t stand are gone… except… Robin.  She’s awful and she never shuts the hell up!  I have to say though, listening to Mike I. and Laurine talk about her just cracks me up.  I loved the episode where they had to deconstruct dishes, and of course, when Mr. Charlie Palmer was the guest judge.  I spend way too much time in his restaurant in DC as it is on the ground floor of my office building.  It was great to see him on the show especially since the Volt brothers both worked for him.  I also learned I need to get to the Pigs and Pinot party he hosts every year in Vegas… someone please start working on that? Thanks.

Alrighty, I’m going to start dreaming up the next recipe I could throw together for another post.  Since it is almost Thanksgiving as I said before, it’s almost time for my grandmother’s cranberry and apple casserole so keep your eyes out for it!  Until then sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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Swimming Upstream

September 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Alright, alright, you know I’m trying to get used to this blogging thing, so I apologize again for the delayed new post.  My association had its board meeting last week so there was no way I had time to cook for myself.  Anyway!  I am here now with a new post, new review and a new recipe that is easy, cheap and delicious!

As I said, last week was my board meeting which went well, but on our last day, a couple of my coworkers and I wanted to thank one of our colleagues for allowing us to make him our bitch all last week.  So instead of sticking around for the “make your own deli sandwich” looking display, we headed around the corner to Bistro Bis located at the Hotel George near Union Station.  Bistro Bis has (obviously) French/Belgian cuisine and is known for being a place to spot top legislators and lobbyists due to its close proximity to the Capitol building.  And for those of you who actually care about seeing that stuff on your lunch break, I still wouldn’t recommend this place.

I had been here once or twice before and the food is decent, but it doesn’t stand out as being a place that is unique or worth the money.  If you really want mussels, go to Granville Moore’s on H street, NE (and on Monday’s they are half off!).  And if you really want Belgian cuisine, I recommend Brasserie Beck on 12th.

The food not being memorable was one thing, but the service was entirely different.  I understand that you’ll catch a place on a bad day once, and maybe it’ll keep you from there for a while, but this was so bad, I’m never going back.  Not only did it take our food an hour and a half to get to the table, but our server was horrendous.  We didn’t see him through most of our wait time, and when we did, he blamed our wait on the kitchen.  Now, I don’t know how many of you have worked in the service industry, but here’s what your job entails… making sure the customer is all set.  No one cares whose fault it is that you brought me the wrong wine, or that my food is cold, or that I’ve now been sitting here for over an hour for a $13 cheeseburger.  Your job is to come over to the table, apologize, and make sure we have everything else we need, not blame someone else.  Another faux pas, we didn’t see a manager until the food had actually come out… and they forgot part of our order.  Yeah, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Sooo needless to say, I will not be frequenting Bistro Bis anytime soon, or basically ever again.  There are too many other places where the food stands out and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg that I would rather waste my time and money thank you very much.

Phew, now that I have gotten that rant out of the way, I have a delicious and easy recipe that is good for anytime of year.  I got this from my brother who can cook with the best of them.  He made it while I was home in August and it was divine.  It’s Maple Baked Salmon with rice pilaf and asparagus.

Now as I was getting everything prepared and ready to cook, I switched on the TV to see what could entertain my ears while I watch my food cook…low and behold, my favorite movie Across the Universe was on.  I knew it was going to be a good night.  I am a HUGE Beatles fan, and this movie did a great job telling a story through some of their finest song writing.  It’s wicked trippy, so for those of you who would like to stay away from the psychedelic, I would not recommend this movie… I also suggest we stop begin friends.  So, now that I’ve got my Beatles tunes through the eyes of Julie Taymor, my food prepped and my wine poured, its time to cook!

So about this maple syrup, I’m not talking about your Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin maple “syrup” aka CRAP.  What you need is the REAL New England Maple Syrup.  It’s going to be the most expensive piece of this meal you buy, but use it, (especially the next time you have pancakes), I promise, you’ll never want to go back to the rubbery stuff.  Everything else for the meal will probably cost about $10-15 depending on where you get your fish.

I got just over a half a pound of Salmon because I was cooking for one.  The best part about that size, I could have definitely cooked for two (that means leftovers woo!).  Also, just grab a small batch of asparagus and a box of rice pilaf and you’re ready to go!

Utensils you will need includes a pastry brush, casserole dish, frying pan, and a pot.

To get started, preheat the oven to 350.  While the oven is heating up, paint the bottom of the casserole dish with the maple syrup, just enough to cover the space the fish will take up while you bake it.  Then place the fish over that area and paint more syrup to the top and sides of the salmon.  If you like things sweeter, you can add a couple coats.  Once you have put the salmon in the oven, bake for 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the piece you have.

Once the fish is in the oven, begin cooking your rice pilaf, this will also take about 20-25 minutes.  The directions are right on the box, so I won’t get into those details for you.

When there’s about 10 minutes left, put your asparagus on the frying pan and fry until soft.  You’ll notice they will start turning a vibrant, beautiful green as they cook.  You can cook them by covering the frying pan with a top and letting the asparagus sweat itself, or do what I do, which is toss them in a little olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and let them cook.

When you’re all done cooking, making a nice display out of this dish is just too easy.  Spread some rice pilaf on the bottom of the dish then some asparagus stalks, then place the piece of fish on top of it all.  If you’ve cooked the fish enough, the skin will part from the meat as you slide the spatula in between them.


It looks so fancy, but is so easy!  Like I said, I cooked for one, but had enough of everything for leftovers for tonight, so cooking this meal for two will not cost you anymore than it cost me.

Now to recommend some wine.  I frequented my favorite wine shop, Au Domaine, where they just so happened to be having an Italian wine tasting (man was Saturday my lucky day!).  There, I tried a Pinot Bianco from the Northern region of Italy.  I knew this would be a great compliment to this dish since it has beautiful flavors, but dries the more you drink it.  This compliments the sweet of the maple syrup on the salmon.


The picture of the label below is a little fuzzy, but the wine comes from the di Leonardo vineyards and runs about $10.99.  It’s a great wine to drink the day you buy it, or a couple weeks down the road and is well within a reasonable price range.

Alright kids, well I hope you enjoy this dish, I know it’s one I will be making again (and again and again).  Watch out for another post up here this week/weekend since I need to start expanding my stomach for the Sicilian food fest that is my trip Providence, RI next weekend.  Anyway, until then sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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August 20, 2009 at 10:49 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Well since my last post on Saturday, a smattering of things relevant to this blog have happened (hence the post title.)  Tuesday I made a delicious, EASY and cheap dish that yields plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week.  It’s a dish that my mom used to make all the time, bow tie pasta with spicy Italian sausage.  I like my food with spice, you can obviously use whatever heat sausage you’d like.  Hell use Turkey sausage if you so please, that also works in this dish.  Now none of this is homemade, although one day when I have time I’ll include a recipe for homemade Vodka Sauce, but its something I wanted to include for those cooking on a budget (because honestly, who isn’t these days.)  In total this meal will run less than $10 and will make enough for a week’s worth of pasta.

This is so simple, all you need is a 16 oz roll of Hot Jimmy Dean Sausage ($3.99), a 16 oz box of Farfalle bow tie pasta which you can find for $1-2, and a bottle of Classico Vodka Sauce which usually runs about $3-4.

– In a frying pan, cook the sausage through while breaking down with a fork.

– While sausage is cooking, boil water, cook pasta

– When the sausage is done, drain the grease by putting a paper towel over the plate you will put the sausage on, dab the top with another towel

– When the pasta is done and drained, place it back into the bowl, keep stove on low, pour vodka sauce on top let the sauce heat up as you mix it over the pasta

– Lastly, add the sausage, mix it in with the pasta and sauce and, voila! You’re done!

It’s that simple.

Now, because this WOULD happen to me, after I made a week’s worth of lunch or dinner with this dish, my schedule completely filled up with business lunches and dinners with friends to catch up before my vacation next week.  In DC, August is the time of year to do these things.  Congress is out, it’s too damn hot for tourists, and everyone takes their vacation, so it’s a great time to take advantage of the usually busy restaurants in the city.  This is exactly what 3 of my colleagues and myself did yesterday.  We decided our lunch would be at Kinkead’s, An American Bistro.

This restaurant is right in the Foggy Bottom Shopping Center on the GWU Campus (my grad school Alma mater!)  It’s an American bistro with a heavy seafood influence (twist my arm.)  Now, I had been running late from being called into a senior staff meeting, which is weird because I’m no where near senior level management…anyways!  I showed up desperately looking for a strong drink to calm my nerves, and settled with the Red Zin they serve by the glass.  I was so frazzled I didn’t even ask what it was, but it was quite delicious.  My colleagues all went with the crabcakes which they said were phenomenal and I went with the Cashew and Coconut crusted Cod with Brazilian Style Chile Coconut Milk Sauce with Shrimp, Yucca, Lime and Cilantro, it was as amazing as it sounds.  I would definitely recommend Kinkead’s although I still think the Oceanaire has some of the best seafood in the city.

Since I had some catching up to do at dinner time as well, my friend and I decided to FINALLY try the Good Stuff Eatery on 3rd and Penn, SE.  For those of you who watch Top Chef, this is the burger and salad joint Spike from Season 4 opened.  Now from what I had heard, the burgers are good, not quite as good as Five Guys, but what keeps you coming back there instead of Five Guys are the milkshakes.  I wholeheartedly agree.  The burgers were so good, I went with the Good Stuff Melt that had Muenster and Cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions with the Good Stuff sauce and a plain vanilla milkshake.  My friend went with the Coletti’s Smokehouse which has applewood bacon,sharp Vermont cheddar, fried Vidalia onion rings with
Chipotle BBQ sauce and a Toasted Marshmallow shake, their number one seller.  The milkshakes were the best we’ve ever had.  Hands down, if you’re ever craving a milkshake, go to Good Stuff.  They’re also known for the Milky Way shake… that one’s next on the list!

This trip was fitting as last night was the premier of Top Chef Season 6 which takes place is Las Vegas!!!  Now, it’s as just a shock to me as it was my mother that I LOVE Las Vegas and hosting a show like Top Chef there is a great idea.  It’s a hot spot for foodies and celebrity chefs.  Without getting into a complete synopsis of the show, they’re already throwing out more twists and turns than ever.  Fitting in Sin City.  The first quickfire challenge was a relay challenge and I love those.  Watching Preeti (who I honeslty could not tell if she was a guy or a girl for the first 10 minutes) try to shuck clams was embarassing.  Seriously, how did you make it on this show.

The winning relay team then had to challenge each other with a dish that included the food that was their leg of the relay.  Girl from Philthadelphia won. Ugh.  Anyways, the elimination challenge was great, they had to base a dish over a vice of theirs.  Some chefs got very creative, especially the winner, Kevin whose dish was based on his procrastination.  He switched the food that was supposed to be slow cooked to fast, and the fast cooking food to slow.  He wowed the judges and I wanted to scratch his beard and make him do a little Leprachaun dance.  While Kevin’s dish was awesome and I really do enjoy watching him, I’m totally rooting for Michael Isabella!

Michael Isabella1

Yeap! That’s my guy.  And you wanna know why?!  He’s the Head Chef of Zaytinya, one of my top 5 favorite restaurants in Washington, DC.  It’s one of Jose Andres’ 5 restaurants in the area and is a Lebanese and Mediterranean Tapas place.  My best friend and I go there all the time to sit outside, enjoy a bottle of Cypriot wine, eat pita bread (and other delectable dishes) and play “who has the better deal.”  Yes, each couple that walks by, we say, out loud, which of the two is getting the better deal.  Try it sometime. Oh, and there can be a draw, but there seldom is.  Anywho!  Michael did really well the first episode, I think he can make it pretty far.  He does have to step it up a little bit if he wants to be a finalist.  Whip out that braised lamb with almond pasta, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers.  If the judges find it as orgasmic as I do, he wins.  At the end, Tattoo Neck (yeap you can guarantee they’ll all have nicknames by the end of this season) has to “pack up her knives and go.”


Thank God, I couldn’t even remember what she looked like or what she cooked because I was too busy staring at her tattoo neck and gagging over her peach- sized earring holes…

Alright, now that I’ve written a small dissertation about my week in food, I’ll let you all go.  Until then sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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