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! :)