Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day... Gorillas, Grills, and Gills

Sheesh... I'm pooped. 

Good weekends can really drain ya, right? I hope everyone had as good a time as I did! Memorial Day weekend was always, always about a soccer tournament growing up--and by growing up I mean as of two years ago, I never had a free Memorial Day. It was always filled with games, igloo coolers and orange slices. 

Times, they are a-changing. My weekend actually involved zero soccer. Not a ball in sight! So what did I do, you ask? Well, take a looksie!

Friday night, Alex drove into town to watch his little sister play in the NCAA semi-finals for women's lacrosse. Unfortunately, they lost to Northwestern, which was a huge downer. 

Saturday, we went to the zoo. Yep. The National zoo in Washington, D.C. is incredible because it's FREE! Look at all the animals!
This is me with an elephant, ain't she charming?
Tiger, rawr.
This is the face Alex made when I told him to look like an anteater?

Before we hit the zoo though, we ventured to Murphy's of D.C., an Irish pub right off Connecticut Avenue near the zoo. There were sooo many restaurants there, from Lebanese to Thai, Indian to Japanese, and of course, McDonald's. Murphy's was a quiet little pub, away from the family filled brunch place near by. We were served quickly and had a great lunch people watching. People watching in D.C. is absolutely... well, ridiculous. We actually saw a grown woman use the bathroom right on the side of the road...charming! But, alas, it didn't ruin our appetites.
Alex got a roast beef sandwich and I went for a more traditional Reuben, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island all pressed between two slices of Rye goodness. I love this sandwich, and this is one of the best I've ever stumbled across. It came with these huge slabs of fry, but I didn't really have any. Washed it down with a Hard Core Cider, which is a beer from a Boston Brewery. Really sweet, and not much like beer, but still good.

By the end of the day we were lucky to find my mom was making dinner. At least that's what she told me. What actually happened is I made burgers for everyone. Tomayto, tomahto.

Sunday was another outdoorsy day spent at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax. We waited an hour for a boat, and although I'm impatient, it was really humorous to watch people try to row. No coordination. Nope, not a bit.  

On the other hand, look at this stud! First step Burke Lake, next step Atlantic.
What did I do, you ask? Well... see for yourself. 
I promise I rowed a little.. see? (Or was this just a photo op? You'll never know!)
I just was no good. And it was a million degrees. And I probably got hungry... never a good combination. So, naturally, I start thinking about food...and how yummy barbecue chicken with grilled vegetables would be.
Remember kids, if you can dream it, you can achieve it!
The sauce was from a jar... no great recipes here. Grilled veggies are the best though. I just don't think they can be topped! We ended the night with s'more (ice cream). It's the yuppie way of the old campfire tradition! 

Finally, today. After a 3 mile walk in the excruciatingly hot sun, an iced coffee and a quick lunch, Alex was on his way home to Philly. Fortunately for me, I live with my parents, so the fun never ends! (Sarcasm?)

We went to Roosevelt Island right off the Potomac River, and sizzled a little longer. 
Look! Me in a swamp.
And berries for your cereal!
And flowers for your garden!
I've almost had enough nature for one weekend. Can we please go out to dinner so I can act like a Prima Donna? Thanks! So, for dinner, we went to this place nearby called Captain Pell's. It's a crab shack that I've barely ever heard mentioned in the 22 years of my life. Considering I've lived here for 10 years, I'm fairly surprised it's never been spoken of. However, my mom dropped it tonight, and seafood after a day full of hot sun sounded perfect. I cleaned up a little from our all-day outdooring, and we set off. 

Turns out, I would have looked more appropriate in my pinny and shorts! When I first got out of the car, I was a little turned off by the smell of really fishy seafood. Ughh... this is not going to be good. But then I walked in and saw the place was packed. Absolutely packed. And everyone was smacking down at their tables with wooden mallets, downing beer and iced tea. It felt like the beach... in Fairfax County! Awesome. The food was great, the ambiance welcoming.
Remember when I said last post that I didn't eat fried food much? Well, you're not going to believe me after you keep reading. We ordered two entrees and a side of hush puppies. I insisted on the hush puppies, God knows why.
We got a plate of snow crab with butter n' coleslaw n' all the fixins! Mmmm... the crab tasted so fresh! And it was fun to crack em open. What a challenege.
We also got the combination platter filled with --gulp-- fried everything. Fried shrimp. Fried oyesters. Fried scallops. French fries! Oye veigh. It's almost too much for me to handle but I took it like a champ and loved every second of it. 


Here are just some other pictures of the joint.
You could get all-you-can-eat crab if you dare.
But portioned worked for me...I'm still full.
Notice, no green on these plates. But potatoes are a vegetable right? Whoops! Hey, I never eat like this! It's not going to kill me. But, it is going to fill me with happiness and a memory of a great weekend. I hope you had a fabulous weekend, because like I said mine was great. Back to the grind tomorrow! Peace n Love!

PS: I just went upstairs to find this... matching tee-shirts in bed. Absurd.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pecan and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken

I haven't had fried chicken in years.... years! It's not that I dislike it, because believe me, when I had no palette, I loved Popeye's/KFC. It's just that, well, nutritionally speaking, it's not the leader of the pack. I can imagine there are some outstanding fried chicken recipes out there, but for now, I'm happy with the following: Pecan and Rosemary Oven "Fried" Chicken.

I'll be honest, it doesn't taste fried. It does, however, taste a little bit like a Thanksgiving dinner. And the bonus? It's a light recipe! I know... awesome. So, definitely give this one a try, because it's truly a chicken dish that will make it into my routine.

What ya need:
1/4 cup low-fat butter milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 (6-oz) chicken cutlets
1/3 cup panko (these are Japanese breadcrumbs... use regular if you don't have panko!)
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (use walnuts if you'd prefer)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano if you're ritzy)
3/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Cooking Spray

What ya do:
1. Preheat oven to 425°
2. Combine buttermilk and mustard in a dish,whisking together. Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.
3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Combine panko, nuts, Parmesan, rosemary, salt and pepper in a dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and dredge in the spice mixture. 
4. Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 13 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.

It was crispy, flavorful, and like I said, tasted a bit like Thanksgiving, but summery? I don't know how to describe it! But... yummy, really yummy. You'll want to try this, really. It's simple and healthy! Give it a try instead of your regular grilled chicken!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Old Man Retirement Blueberry Pie

Why the name you ask? You betcha, Dick Davis has retired! Dad is done, after many many years in the work world, and tomorrow is his first day of freedom. Well...sort of. But, to celebrate, I dipped my toes into something different--pie. I'm the chocolate lover, my mom prefers some sort of praline dessert but my dad has this elusive interest in things like tiramisu, baklava and Amish pies.

Driving to Penn State for several years taught him well. The Amish know how to do it. From their cherry cobblers to their fresh bread, it's hard to turn down. This is where I learned my dad likes pie. Cherry, peach, blueberry, apple, you name it. So, in honor of dear old Dad, blueberry pie it was.

I found the recipe in gasp Cooking Light. Let's get this straight. I don't think desserts should be light. Desserts are meant to be rich and sweet and sinful. Well, here's the catch. If fruit is the main ingredient in a dessert, you can feel a little better about it (unless you totally kill it with sugar, butter, cream cheese, or other rich flavors). Luckily, this cake doesn't do that! So, we got a healthy sweet fix that was a cinch to make.

Now, let me preface this by saying there are two ways to do this. The easy way, or the hard way. I took the easy way.

What ya need:
2 refrigerated pie crusts (you can make your own here, if you're feeling ambitious)
6 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen works)
1 cup sugar, divided
3.5 tbsp corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

What ya do:
Preheat oven to 375 and pour blueberries into big mixing bowl

Mix 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar with the cornstarch and salt in a separate bowl. Pour and gently toss over blueberries.

Stir in butter and vanilla. Spoon gently into one pie crust.

Cut other pie crust into 6 1.5 inch slices for lattice topping. Arrange over pie and seal strips to the edge of the crust.

Place on a baking sheet covered with foil (the center will ooze out). Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp sugar.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.

This dessert filled the house with a homey, comforting smell. It was the perfect choice for my Dad, and even my mom took a big slice. Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and enjoy.

Bliss... I wish my pictures turned out better. Guess this is why I'll never make top 9! Try this for your Memorial day!

Women's Bean Project Brownies

In addition to a less than stellar Tuesday, I never posted the brownie pictures! See them below. They are chewy, moist and a perfect amount of chocolate. I also added in chocolate chips because I can't just accept something as is. This mix is pretty good though. I'd get it again!
Look up Women's Bean Project to learn about this good cause helping women break the cycle of poverty an unemployment. 
On a sidenote, I have a pie in the oven! I should tend to that!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bello-Burgers and Brownies

What a long little Tuesday. Tuesday has the potential to be such a nice day because I don't have work, school or anything. Today however, was not a nice little Tuesday. It began with the gym, where I went an hour early-- oops. I like to go at 10:00 so I can watch 19 Kids and Counting on TLC (my "non-college-jock" work out is very much low key). Well, turns out I was in time to watch A Baby Story. Who cares about babies? Not me.

Then, I went to Barnes and Nobles for coffee and cookbook browsing and a woman working there told me "you're not really sitting in a good spot...this is a high traffic area." Umm, false! There was little to no traffic. I moved reluctantly.

Then, I went to physical therapy, where I got needles stuck into my ankle so it will work normally again-- ouch!

Then, I went to my high school girl's first game in regionals and they lost, so their season is over. 

Then, something else, but that's not worth writing.

So, my Tuesday hasn't been FABULOUS, but you know what makes it better? Good food. So, that's what I was determined to create. The plan? Portobella burgers and finally use the brownie mix I won in a giveaway. Chocolate makes everything better, really. Now, I must say, a few years ago if you were to tell me I was going to eat a giant mushroom between two pieces of bread and call it a burger, I'd probably smack you in the face...ewww mushrooms. 

Now, let the records show I LOVE THEM. There, I said it. And feta. And grilled peppers and squash. So, haters, stand by, you might change your mind. Portobella mushrooms are juicy and almost meaty. They're easy to marinate and a nice change to your average burger. So, here we go.

What ya need:
4 fresh portobello shrooms
2 bell peppers (red or yellow)
2 yellow squashes, ends trimmed off
1 large ripe tomato
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
2 tbsp diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 oz feta cheese (or goat, but I hate goat cheese)
12-16 basil leaves

What ya do:
First, remove the stems from the shrooms.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds and flatten the peppers with your hard.
Cut the squashes into 1/2 inch thick long slices. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Combine shrooms, peppers, tomato, pepper and squash into a ziploc bag.
Look, fresh rosemary! With the dirt and everything!

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, rosemary, onion, salt and pepper. Add this to the vegetables and allow to marinate at room temp at least 10-15 minutes.
Remove veggies and grilled until tender. Transfer to a large platter and drizzle with the balsamic. Season with salt and pepper. 
Spread the cheese evenly among one side of each bun. 
 Build the sammies with grilled veggies and basil leaves. Put the remaining side of the bun on top and try not to make too much of a mess! 
My dad got the "Big Bear" burger. It was huge!!! 
And then it 'sploded everywhere. Stilll yummy.

Then, like I said, I needed emotional eating. So I made the brownies. They were sooo yummy. And as mentioned in an earlier post, a good cause! Check and check. I need to leave the kitchen though, because they smell divine and I need to stop. Hopefully your Tuesday brought you more joy than mine, but all things considered, I guess I'm doing alright. Ta ta.