Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homemade Applesauce

You know you're a child of the 70s if you can complete this line..."pork chops and _____."

I'll never forget watching the Brady Bunch with Peter Brady repeating "pork chops and applesauce" when Alice told him what was for dinner.  It must've been the way he said it and it's stuck with me all these years.

Well, I set about making my own homemade applesauce, which my Mom used to make a lot.  It turned out to be a great treat although I didn't serve it with pork chops.

Homemade Applesauce
(Courtesy of Kelly Oliver)

6 apples, cored, peeled and chopped (use more or fewer apples if you have them)

Place chopped apples in a saucepan and partly cover with water.  Simmer apples until tender.  Use a potato masher to mash the apples to a smooth or chunky consistence (whatever you prefer).  Add cinnamon and sugar to taste.  Applesauce should keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.

And yes, making applesauce is really that easy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cookie Season: Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies - Two Varieties

So this past week, my colleagues decided it would be a nice tradition to start a cookie exchange, to which I happily agreed.  So I got to work and ended up making two varieties of Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies.  Why two varieties?  Well, I started with the more brownie-like variety but because the dough was so thick, I wasn't convinced they would turn out well.  Thankfully, I was wrong, and they ended up being my favorite of the two (just because they were more festive), although they are both good recipes.  Recipes included below so you can choose one (or make them both).

Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies #1
(Courtesy of Kelly Oliver, adapted from the Food Network's December 2009 magazine)

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. peppermint extract
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder)
¾ t. salt
¼ t. baking powder
cup chocolate chips
¼ cup peppermint candies, crushed (optional)

Beat sugar and butter until fluffy, then beat in egg, vanilla and peppermint extract.  Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder; stir into the butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and peppermint candies.  Chill dough for 30 minutes, and then roll into balls.  Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies #2
(Courtesy of Kelly Oliver, adapted from Crisco's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe)

¾ cup Butter Crisco
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
2 T. milk
1 T. vanilla
1 t. peppermint extract
1 egg
1 ¾ cups flour
4 T. cocoa powder
1 t. salt
¾ t. baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (or mint chocolate chips if you can find them)

Beat Butter Crisco and light brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg.  Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda to the mixture.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Chill dough for 20-30 minutes, and then drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fabulous Food Friday: Five Guys

It seems like a rare treat when I leave the office to eat lunch out, rather than bringing it with me.  Today was one of those rare days.  I celebrated the near-close of a long week by eating at Five Guys.  And it was the most satisfying meal I've eaten all week.  There are just some days that call for a great burger and fantastic fries.  Oh, and here's some trivia for you: the first Five Guys opened in my 'hood, Arlington, Va., in 1986!  Now they have over 450 locations in 30 states.

If you haven't eaten at a Five Guys yet, go there the next time you're in the mood for a burger and fries.  Don't feel guilty either!  It's good to splurge a little.

Five Guys
-Various locations throughout the country.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yummy Breakfast: Peach Pie Smoothie

So I tried something new for breakfast this morning rather than my usual eggs or cereal -- a Peach Pie Smoothie!  Talk about a change of pace.  Is it legal to have this kind of "dessert" for breakfast?  Oh, and it's healthy too!

Peach Pie Smoothie
(Courtesy of Ellie Krieger)

1/2 cup skim milk or lowfat milk
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 cup unsweetened frozen peaches
1 T. honey
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger

Combine all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.

Here's the link for more information on this recipe:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Most Important White House Job

I came across this great article that gives a look at one of the most important jobs at the White House: The Pastry Chef.

Sounds like he needs to start his own pie shop so that we can get a taste. Hail to the Chef!

* * *

CAPITAL CULTURE: Obama pastry chef the Crustmaster

By NANCY BENAC (AP) – 9 hours ago

WASHINGTON — Poor Bill Yosses. He's the White House pastry chef. He makes desserts for a living.

He works for Barack and Michelle Obama. They talk about healthy eating. All the time.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Not at all.

Yosses' creations — especially his pies — have won over even the Obamas.

The president calls him "The Crustmaster."

The first lady points to pie-on-demand as one of the big plusses of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"I'm the dark side," Yosses joked in an AP interview. "They love our pies."

Read the rest here:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quick Weeknight Meal: Broiled Fish with Citrus and Herbs

I got to wander into Whole Foods this past weekend, which was quite a treat. I came out with two bags of groceries including green beans and a white fish I hadn't tried before: turbot. Whole Foods even gave me some inspiration for a way to prepare this delicious white, flaky fish. I used the Whole Foods iPhone app and found this gem. This is a great recipe that only takes a few ingredients and is super-simple to make. Try it and see if you like it too.

Broiled Fish with Citrus and Herbs
(Courtesy of Whole Foods)

3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 minced shallot (I subbed in red onion here, which worked well.)
1/4 t. dried tarragon
4-6 oz. mild fish fillet(s) such as sole, tilapia or arctic char (I used turbot.)
1/2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 chopped Kalamata olives (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, shallot and tarragon. Simmer until thickened, 15-20 minutes; cover and set aside.

Heat broiler. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil 5 to 6 inches from heat, just until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes per half inch of thickness.

When fish is done, transfer fillet to serving plate, spoon sauce on top and sprinkle with olives.

I served freshly steamed green beans on the side, and you could also add rice as another side dish to soak up the extra orange sauce.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Quick Weeknight Meal: Sweet Italian Sausage with Zucchini and Tomatoes

This dish is becoming one of my favorites because it's a quick and healthy weeknight meal. Depending on the size of your family, it usually yields extra (for two-person households), making lunchtime the next day even better.

Sweet Italian Sausage with Zucchini and Tomatoes
(Adapted from a Whole Foods recipe)

6 links Sweet Italian sausage (I prefer using turkey sausage)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)
1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I use 2 zucchini)
3/4 pound mixed red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper

Prepare sausages according to package directions, either in a sauté pan or on the grill. While they are cooking, heat olive oil in a large heavy sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and oregano, stir for a few seconds, then add zucchini and cook 3 to 5 minutes.

When sausages are cooked, cut into large bite-sized pieces and add to pan along with tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until tomatoes are just softened, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a large platter and serve.

Tip: I like to serve this over roasted garlic & olive oil cous-cous, which is super quick to make.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cookie Season: Snickerdoodles

Now that it's getting closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's just about time for that coinciding time of "Cookie Season." Ahh...yes, that glorious time of baking dozens of varieties to share with family, friends and co-workers. I enjoy making cookies, probably because of my sweet tooth, but just like cupcakes, cookies are easily enjoyed and always put a smile on people's faces. (They might grimace first, but I know that's just a front because cookies always disappear fast.)

To kick off Cookie Season, I made a batch of Snickerdoodles last weekend. I'm including the recipe that I used below, but if anyone has a better recipe to share, please do!

(Courtesy of The Best of Gooseberry Patch's "Old Fashioned Christmas Favorites")

1/2 cup shortening or butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
cinnamon and sugar

Cream shortening (or butter) and sugar. Beat in egg. Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture; stir. Refrigerate for one hour. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in the cinnamon and sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Yields 2 dozen.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It was a Julia kind of weekend...

This weekend was all about food. Saturday, after a trip to the grocery store to refill my refrigerator and pantry, my friend Peggy and I went to a cooking class at Mon Ami Gabi, appropriately titled the "Julia Child Cooking Class." It was set up as a cooking demonstration where we could ask the chef questions as he made classic French Onion Soup, Beef Bourguignon served over pappadelle egg noodles, and Chocolate Mousse. We got to taste each dish -- not just a small sample but a regular sized portion of each. Essentially, we got a three course meal (wine included), a live cooking demo, the recipes, and a parting goody bag with chocolate candies and a tarragon compound butter. What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon! We then met up with our husbands to go to dinner. Perhaps not surprisingly, we still had room for more food even after all of that!

Sunday afternoon, while Chris was working on a big work project, I took the opportunity to make lunch, bake cookies, and make a slow-cooked pot roast.

Thankfully, the majority of food this weekend was good although there were some mishaps. On Friday night I made chocolate chip granola bars from a Whole Foods recipe, but for some reason they refused to be cut into nice neat squares after they cooled. I practically had to chisel them out of the pan (yes, that was my exercise for the day). All was not lost - the bits and pieces will be good as a snack (albeit a messy one) or over yogurt.

I'll post pictures of these various dishes and add some recipes during the week so please check back.

Oh, back to my friend Peggy for a second. She just started her own food blog this weekend so definitely check it out:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fabulous Food Friday: Chipotle

Chris and I just got back from a trip to Texas, where we ate more Tex-Mex food in one week than I ever have in my life. Yet I still have a hankering for some Tex-Mex food. Since it's Friday, I'll recommend a reliably good Tex-Mex style place that I hope is very familiar to all of you - Chipotle. You just can't go wrong with anything they have on the menu. And speaking of reliable, my order rarely strays from a Burrito Bol with rice, black beans, peppers and onions, barbacoa, mild salsa, lettuce, cheese and sour cream. Yum! Chris' order usually stays the same too...Burrito with black beans, grilled chicken with a little extra, mild salsa, and corn.

Have I tempted your taste buds yet?

You may find a recommendation of a chain restaurant to be strange, but I actually have met people who still haven't been to Chipotle yet.

Oh, and for all of you iPhone fans, Chipotle has an app that allows you to find the nearest location and to place an order. Yes, there's an app for that.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fabulous Food Friday: Mon Ami Gabi

Chris and I recently ventured to Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda for its Restaurant Week. If you've never been there, Mon Ami Gabi serves classic French cuisine and everything about it is enjoyable. We started with Baked Cheese, which is goat cheese baked in tomato sauce served with buttered baguette crisps. Even though I'm not usually a fan of goat cheese, I was even craving this a few days afterwards. Our entree was the classic Steak Frites, a wonderful hangar steak served with French fries. For dessert, we had chocolate lava cake with ice cream (in the picture above).

The DC area has two locations, one in Bethesda and the other in Reston. If you're looking for a nice date night place, Mon Ami Gabi is a must.

Web site:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Easy Chicken BBQ

When you're in the mood for BBQ, where do you go? If you're in the DC area, I suggest Rockland's (various locations) or the Dixie Pig (Chinatown). If you're from the South, you might wince at those suggestions, but to this Yankee, those are pretty good places. I will probably have to update those BBQ suggestions because Chris and I will be feasting on BBQ from the Salt Lick near Austin, Texas, later this week. We've heard a ton of rave reviews - even from native Texans - about the Salt Lick so it should be pretty good. It's our first vacation to Texas, and I'm very excited.

Today, I was craving some BBQ but feeling like a homebody, so I made my own. Hey, it's probably not as good as the Salt Lick but it's a delicious substitute. Here's the recipe:

Easy Chicken BBQ

4-6 chicken breasts
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, plus an extra cup for sandwiches
Sandwich buns

Spray inside of the slow cooker lightly with cooking spray. Put chicken breasts into the slow cooker and top with the entire bottle of the BBQ sauce. Set on low setting for approximately 4-6 hours (check your slow cooker because cooking times vary). Shred the chicken when it's finished. To serve, top each sandwich bun with a nice amount of the BBQ. Add a little extra sauce on top of each sandwich, and serve.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fabulous Food Friday: Wegmans Seafood Bar

Ahhh...Wegmans, how do I love thee, let me count thy ways. In the photo above, you're looking at some of the best scallops in the world that you can eat at the best grocery store in the world. My husband Chris and I went on a date the other night to Wegmans in Woodbridge, Va. If you're thinking, "Why on earth would you go on a date to a grocery store?" then you haven't been to Wegmans! At Wegmans Seafood Bar, we can sit at the "bar" and watch our food being made right in front of us, with a glass of vino or beer in hand. The scallops they serve seem to be the biggest on the planet. After the meal, I make Chris stroll through the store with me (though I don't think he minds) where I salivate at the extensive cheese counter, hummus and olive bar, dessert and bread counters, and pretty much everything else in the store. Now that's my idea of a great date!

To find the nearest location and to check out this Fabulous Food phenomenon, visit:

If by chance a Wegmans official ever comes across this post, here's my request: please put a Wegmans inside the Beltway! I know it would have great success! :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So Good Salmon and Roasted Asparagus

I realize I've been posting more "sweet" recipes so far. Although I could pretty much eat anything sweet any time, I'm sure I wouldn't live very long. Thankfully, there are simple dishes like salmon and asparagus that give my diet some nutritional benefits. This recipe is great for a quick weeknight meal, but also nice for company. I'll often add cous-cous as a side dish.

I came across a great salmon rub from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Ellie Krieger. She recently posted this to her Twitter feed. Good stuff.

Salmon and Roasted Asparagus
(Salmon rub courtesy of Ellie Krieger)

Salmon Rub Ingredients:
1 t. cumin
1 t. coriander
1 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
salmon filet (for two people)

Combine salmon rub spices in a small bowl. Place salmon (skin side down) on a broiler pan covered with foil. Drizzle some olive oil over the salmon, spread to thinly coat. Rub the spices onto the salmon.

Asparagus Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus, washed and ends trimmed
olive oil

On the same foil-covered broiler pan as the salmon, lightly coat the foil with cooking spray. Put asparagus on the tray and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Turn the asparagus to spread the olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Depending on the thickness of the salmon, you may need to add a few more minutes, but be careful not to overcook it otherwise it will get tough.

One of the best things about this dish is that it's a one pan meal, which means cleanup is a breeze!

Alternate coating for the salmon: I often like to use pesto to top the salmon. You can use any store-bought pesto (or make your own if you have time). Instead of making the salmon rub, I will just lightly coat the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Bake the salmon for the same amount of time as noted above. In a separate pan, heat the pesto for a few minutes over low heat. Top the salmon with the pesto when you're ready to serve. The pesto-topped salmon is an especially elegant (and tasty) dish for company.

My mom often makes her own pesto, so I'll see if she will let me share the recipe. My parents are lucky to have a garden and they grow lots of great things such as tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, lettuce, and lots of basil to make pesto.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What the World Eats

Came across a fascinating article about "What the World Eats," along with photos of the food that families across the world eat in a week. The families list their weekly food costs and their favorite foods. Check it out:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Breakfast in a Pinch

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, probably because a cup of coffee (or two) accompanies anything I eat for that meal. It can be hard to be creative for breakfast, especially if we want to eat protein rather than just carbs. So on Saturday, after a week of eating fried eggs and eggs over easy, I decided to make a low-carb crustless quiche. That's easy enough, except that when I looked over the available ingredients in my fridge, I was missing some key elements (spinach, chorizo, and cream) needed for the recipe I usually make. And even though we're close to the neighborhood Whole Foods, I really didn't want to leave the house. So I took a risk and made some substitutions (like subbing skim milk for cream). Thankfully, when my husband said, "This is the best quiche you've ever made," and took a bite myself, I realized that the risk paid off. Here's the recipe for you to enjoy, especially if you're in a pinch.

Crustless Quiche
(Courtesy of Kelly Oliver)

8 eggs
1/2 cup cream or skim milk
2 Sweet Italian turkey sausage links
1 cup shredded monterey jack or cheddar, or a combination of those
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (I used jarred red peppers to save time.)
2 or 3 teaspoons jarred salsa (optional)
1 teaspoon minced onion
crushed pepper, to taste

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Beat eggs in large bowl, add cream (or milk).

Remove casings from Italian turkey sausage, crumble, and saute until browned.

To the egg mixture, add cheese, red peppers, minced onion, pepper, salsa, and turkey sausage.

Use a rectangular baking dish or a deep dish pie pan coated with cooking spray. Add egg mixture to the pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until center is set. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

If desired, top with an extra teaspoon of salsa as a garnish.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fabulous Food Friday: The Dairy Godmother

I'm starting a new feature to commemorate my first week of blogging which began last Friday. On Fabulous Food Friday, I'll highlight some of my favorite DC metro area restaurants and food finds.

I'll begin this week with something sweet. If you haven't yet tried The Dairy Godmother in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA, you must visit soon. They make homemade ice cream, and my husband Chris and I will often go there for a treat on Sunday afternoons. Almost needless to say, but the ice cream is simply fabulous.

Here's their info and a great YouTube video:

The Dairy Godmother
2310 Mount Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22301

Making Granola

One of my favorite recipes is for "Nutty Granola" from Ellie Krieger, who offers a lot of food inspiration. I particularly like this recipe because I know what ingredients are going into my granola, and it's really simple to make. I often add this to my vanilla yogurt along with some fresh blueberries for breakfast or for a snack. My friend Amy came over the other night to make a fresh batch.

Nutty Granola
(Courtesy of Ellie Krieger, "The Food You Crave")

Cooking spray
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients, mixing well to coat everything with the maple syrup. Spread on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. (Note: I haven't stored mine in the refrigerator and it tastes just fine.)

My friend Amy making granola.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


So I'm happy to report that the reactions to the Apple Galette (with my first homemade pie crust) have been positive. I will have to keep trying to perfect this pie crust though...that's a warning to all my friends, a.k.a. taste testers. If you would like to be on my Taste Testing Team, please let me know. :-)

In other good news, my day has been made by the discovery of a Julia Child Cooking Class being offered by Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda, MD, in October. I'm grabbing a friend and we're going to learn how to make Classic Onion Soup au Gratin, Beef Bourguignonne and Chocolate Mousse. Ahhh....I cannot really explain how exciting this is. I promise to take lots of pictures and share the recipes with you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Pie Crust

So I finally decided that I needed to try to make my first pie crust rather than buying the Pillsbury ready-made crusts (which are delicious and very handy). I made the crust and used it in an Apple Galette recipe. It looks beautiful, but I'll have to let you know how it tastes later. I have a friend stopping by tomorrow night and that will be our dessert. (Ahh...patience.) It's certainly made our home smell like buttery pie crust...yum!

Apple Galette
(Courtesy of the Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook)

Pastry for 1 crust pie
5 medium apples (2 lbs.)
1/4 cup sugar
2 T butter or margarine, cut up
2 T apricot jam, melted

Prepare pastry through chilling. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough to 15-inch round. Transfer to large cookie sheet.

Peel apples, cut each in half. Remove cores and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Fan apple slices in concentric circles on dough round, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle apples evenly with sugar and dot with butter. Fold dough up around apples.

Place 2 sheets of foil under cookie sheet; crimp edges to form a rim to catch any drips during baking. Bake galette 45 minutes, or until apples are tender. Place cookie sheet on wire rack. Brush apples with jam. Cool slightly to serve warm.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mom's Cornbread

So one of the best, most-used recipes in my collection is for my mom's cornbread. I'm making some today to go along with a big batch of chili that we're having for lunch with some friends.

Here's the recipe:

Mom's Cornbread
(Courtesy of Jean Walmsley)

3/4 cup yellow corn meal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg

Combine corn meal, flour, sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add milk, oil and the egg to the dry ingredients and stir together by hand. Bake in an 8-inch square pan (metal or glass) at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (I use a glass pan because I have a gas oven.)

This is seriously easy to make and very delicious. Enjoy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Beginning

As I sit here thinking about where to begin, the writer in me realizes that there are so many directions I could go and then begins to get overwhelmed. So I'll just begin by saying welcome to my new blog. This is kind of like a food diary, though I think it will be a great way to share tips, recipes, observations, restaurant suggestions and other food finds - which is what I always share with my friends in person or on Facebook, but with more room to do so.

While this blog will focus on food, the theme is Clarendon, my home with my husband. We got married at Cherrydale Baptist Church near Clarendon, and had our reception at the Clarendon Ballroom. I'm grateful to live in the neighborhood where we began our marriage and this blog is a fitting reminder of that wonderful beginning.

The picture is from our wedding day on April 23, 2005.