Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rosemary Chicken Salad

My parents are in Ireland as we "speak."

Lucky dogs. I guess that's what happens when you work 40 years or something like that. I just started working a year ago...I have a long way to go.

There are positives and negatives to my roomies being out of town. One perk? I can make all the messes I want for two whole weeks as long as they are organized by October 8th. One negative? I have no help. No one to put away a dish here, soak a pan there. No one to empty the dehumidifyer or take out the trash.

It's exhausting to be on your own!

That's not to mention cooking for yourself, too. We all know I love to cook, but after a really really long day, the last thing I want to do is come home and stand over a stove for two hours. I refuse!

So, this week and next, I will be (and have been) making things that are quick, delicious, and done in thirty minutes or less. I'm Rachael Ray and this is-- oh wait. Sorry. Got carried away.

But the point remains-- if you have a little bit of time (and some leftover chicken!) then you will be eating this extremely tasty, healthy chicken salad!

What ya need:

About 3/4 pound (or 3 cups) roasted skinless chicken (chopped)
1/3 cup green onions
1/4 cup smoked almonds
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of Salt
Crack of Pepper
Fresh bread for sammies!

What ya do:
1. Okay this is really difficult, so pay attention. Combine everything EXCEPT the bread. Spread on bread. Ta-da! You've got yourself a light dinner, a filling lunch and an extra half hour to watch Bravo TV... or maybe that's just me.

Have a lovely (hopefully dry) Thursday!! Ta-Ta 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Life Recap!

Oh Monday.

You welcome me with your rainy clouds.

I, unlike a lot of people, like the rain, so this Monday is not so bad after all! So, this post is a major recap, because I've missed telling you all about my weekends, and the past few have been busy!

As some of you know, two weeks ago I celebrated my twenty-third birthday. 
Since I'm a foodie, I absolutely insisted on a fun dinner. Right now, Farmers and Fishers is all the rave in DC. I've heard great things, and one was that it's the hardest place to book. Well, I must have charmed the host on the phone because somehow I booked it for fourteen people on a Friday night. I have fourteen friends!! Neat.

This place is awesome. Not only is it located right on the Georgetown Waterfront, but the food is all local/regional. I was super excited and not let down a peep. As we all showed up, we were directed toward the bar where most of us sipped on wine. I got the sauvy, which is always my favorite. About 15 minutes into sipping, we got our table which was a littttle tight but good none the less.

Alex and I (and most of the table) got the hummus platter to start. And although the chocolate dipped bacon lollipop was intriguing, the grilled navajo bread was crispy and charred and the perfect start to dinner.

I ordered the bronze style salmon which was a lightly seasoned filet topped with balsamic onions. To be brutally honest, the salmon was OK. The onions were awesome. I sampled a lot of other's dinner, so I was still a happy camper.

Alex got the State Fair burger which was angus beef mixed with steak sauce served with fries that I loveeed stealing off his plate.

Amie got this incredible pizza that had chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, white cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on top of a creamy garlic sauce, garnished with fresh tomatoes and basil. Such an Amie choice. SO yummy.

Melly got this a homemade ravioli with orange-herb butter sauce, fennel, fresh-cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese. It was rich but it was tasty.

Everyone else got everything else. I can only vouche for those sitting next to me. It all looked good... including my chocolate cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting made by Melanie. Yum!!

The rest of the night was spent at the outdoor bars. As you can tell from the pictures, it was a night full of sillyness. 23 is the new 16!

The next day, Alex had to leave, but the party wasn't over. My mom was in the kitchen baking (I wonder what!) but I spent most of the day vegging out with Amie. 
 We had another dinner date with my parents that night at the DC Chophouse.

I went about a year ago with my friend Deegan and her boy toy, and I remembered great things. I know we ate a ton the last time, but a few things stood out to me like the hand crafted beer and the skillet cornbread that was hard to resist. Oh and the best steak I've had. Ever. Which I was "just too full to even try!" but when her boyfriend went to the bathroom we pretty much ate every last bite of. Oops.

Anyway, so Sue, Dick, Amie and I headed into DC. Both of my parents got beer (Dad with an awesome dark brew and Mom with God knows what... although it must have been potent because she was sure being silly). Amie and I split a bottle of Sauvy. Again, my fave.
The cornbread came out with three starter salads. More exciting were the main courses. We covered all of our bases.

I got the BACON wrapped filet mignon. Oh it was delightful. It came with Wisconsin cheddar mashed potatoes. The meat was perfectly cooked and although the bacon was a nice bonus, the filet could easily stand alone.

Amie got the crabcakes which came with a nice little corn salsa/relish and a good dipping sauce. It's all about the sauce people. The fries were awesome too. She did a good job not eating all of them and I definitely reached over to her plate a handful of times.

My dad got the chicken piccata, which was also served with the potatoes. He lurrrved it.

My mom got...drumroll please....a salad!!!! Not super exciting but good in terms of salad. The menu is pretty pricey so I'm sure she was just being a frugal fannie. None-the-less, a good choice.

After dinner, we drove through China town and Amie and I planned to hit up Arlington for birthday night two. We bar hopped a little and called it a night.

Finally, on Sunday, I got to have my cake! I was pooped from a weekend of socializing and I needed to decompress with the family. We had a really light grilled chicken dinner followed by big bowls of cookies and cream cake with French silk ice cream. The whole weekend was full of friends, family, fun and food, but by the end of it I just wanted a bowl of ice cream and my cake. I was exhausted!

So, the week continues and on Wednesday, my physical therapist invites me to dinner with the whole staff. I gratefully oblige! Nelson, my PT, raves about Korean BBQ all the time. I myself have never had it, never been curious, and never thought twice about it. Well, he said, come to the Honey Pig in Annandale. You say jump I say how high? Thursday night (after a lovely coffee date with my friend Lisa and hours of work and class) I met up with Nelson and company at the Honey Pig. Holy moly.

He said they order up thick slabs of bacon. I didn't believe him because he usually says they order dog and squirrel. Well, this time he wasn't lying. They cook the meat right in front of you with some spices and veggies too. It was literally, slabs of bacon with garlic and other seasonings. And I would love to tell you I knew it was unhealthy so I politely passed it up but when in Rome... or Korea...

Awesome! The sauces perfectly complimented the meat. And we did wrap it up nicely in little lettuce cups, so I totally got my veggies in. Right? I was particularly keen on this bean paste and a clear sort of sweet sort of salty sauce. Yum. I probably over ate a little bit because on Friday morning, I felt like I had a heart disease. "Welcome to my life," Nelson says.

Friday was supposed to be a quiet night in with Melanie. But, as luck would have it, Friday night was also the Legwarmer's Concert at the State Theatre in Falls Church. Naturally, we had to go. I mean, live 80's music, awesome outfits and hours of dancing? Check. Mel and I amped up on about 3 red bulls and hit the dance floor. While others were drained, we were still boppin' like nobodys business. At about 12:30 we were both so exhausted, knees aching, feet burning. So fun. So tiring.

Saturday we got good old Bruegger's with PUMPKIN COFFEE <3<3 which was fantastic and wonderful. I had a few hours to kill before I met my friend Matt in DC where we had lunch at this awesome little spot: SweetGreen. It's a salad/wrap restaurant and we both got a salad (he totally copied me) and then headed to Logan circle to have coffee and biscotti. So DC of us. Too bad I'm a Fairfaxian; I almost had you all fooled! After an hour of Housewives on Bravo, we hit up Nord's Rack. Saturday night (much later) was a movie night. Oh and I made an awesome pasta dish for one which has no pictures but was shrimp, spiral pasta, marinara sauce, and a touchhhh of cream.

I spent all Sunday doing work and baking cookies and here I am Monday, ready to go to sleep. Glad to catch you up!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Devil's Food Peanut Butter Cookies

Right now, I'm reading 50 pages of heavily taxing advanced exercise physiology homework about the illegal use of androgens in athletes including methandrostenolne, luoxymesterone and nandrolone decanoate.

Can you blame me for baking cookies?

I didn't think so. After a wonderful weekend which included a 80's cover band concert and hours of dancing, a DC meet up for lunch and coffee with a good friend and 16 hours of sleep, I was so prepared to be productive today. And I was, to an extent.
But I can't be productive any longer. And I know that as soon as the week begins, there is only room for productivity. No fun in sight! Well, maybe a smidgen. So, today, during the steady spit of the rain, I made what was quite possibly one of the most addicting cookies yet; a devil's food cookie gets a fun enhancement with the addition of creamy peanut butter chips. In a nut shell: delicious.
These are pudding cookies. Can you believe that pudding can be made into a cookie? I was pretty impressed too.

Because of the pudding, the cookie almost tastes like cake. It's chewy and soft and wonderful...and you can't stop at one!

Perhaps the best part of this little gem is how easy it is to whip them up. So grab your favorite box of Jell-o and whip up a cookie that will suit your tastebuds. I'd like to try butterscotch pudding with white chocolate chips, french vanilla with dark chocolate chips, but I'll take it one at a time.

Without further ado, here's the recipe.

What ya need:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1-3.4 ounce package instant devil’s food pudding mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
12 ounces peanut butter chips

What ya do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Mix the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, pudding mix, and vanilla. Beat until creamy.
4. Add the eggs and mix well.
5. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the peanut butter chips
6. Use a tablespoon to drop onto ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. (I got about 50 cookies this way)
7. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes.

What combination would you use??

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

I like coffee. A lot. It’s my only vice, I promise.

Well, that and ice cream. And chocolate. And most sweets.
Okay, so I have a lot. But coffee is really it. The big one. And day after day, there is nothing more satisfying than my first gulp of warm goodness.

The debate goes on about what treats go best with coffee. A scone perhaps? Or maybe a muffin? As of about a month ago, I would have agreed with you. And though I’ve seen many people dunk an oblong semi-biscuit semi-cookie into their mugs, I had never tried it. And I wasn’t interested.

Is it soft? No.

Can I nuke it in the microwave? No.

Is it sweet? No.

Nope, not interested. But curious. So one day, as I sat in a little cafĂ©, I tried it. A double chocolate chip biscotti—okay. I liked it. It got all chewy when I dunked it. I can dig it. Then, tried a caramel macchiato one. That was the one that won me over.
The white chocolate! The subtle sweetness! The mixture of textures! Sold.

And, well, it’s officially autumn, so why not make my new found treat season appropriate? Done and done.
My house smells like pumpkin pie. My coffee pot is steaming. I’m in heaven.

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

What ya need:
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup mashed canned pumpkin
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1-1/4 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cup white melting chocolate wafers

What ya do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl; stir well.
2. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla, stirring well with a wire whisk. Slowly add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Mixture will be very crumbly; it will gradually become moist after stirring.)
3. Melt butter n a large skillet over medium heat; add macadamia nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until nuts are browned. Remove from heat and cool completely. Knead or gently stir cooled nuts into dough.
4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 portions. Lightly flour hands and shape the uncooked biscotti into the lengths of a cookie sheet, about 15 inches by 6 inches. Place each piece of dough on a separate cookie sheet. 

5. Bake for 23 minutes; cool logs 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2" slices using a serrated knife. Place slices on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks. And top with melted white chocolate, if desired (you should do this)

For a step by step how-to, check out one of my previous guest posts!