Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finally... after nearly 8 months you get chicken!

I know... seriously.  Why did I name the blog Chaos&Chicken if I never cook chicken?  The same reason I cooked a $70 organic turkey two Thanksgivings ago and did not eat it.  Its simple, I really make no sense.

Tonight not only do I have one chicken recipe, I have two.  At Chaos on K we are feast or famine, all or nothing and just plain crazy in between, with little rhyme or reason. 

On a cold, rainy night after a very long weekend that included too much fun, too much work and too little holiday shopping, all this gal wants to do is relax, cook and listen to good tunes.  You know--- less chaos, more chicken.  To be true to this want, I purchased one rotisserie chicken* and turned it and the items in my fridge into two fabulous soups that I will take for lunch all week. So easy, fast, mostly healthy and I multi-tasked--- my fridge and kitchen are now clean!   

Ginger Chicken Soup
1/2 of rotisserie chicken, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 container of chicken stock
1 inch ginger, grated
5 stalks parsley
salt and pepper for taste

Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic for both recipes.  Divide and add chicken stock, chicken, ginger and 1/2 of parsley.  Cook on low for 30 minutes.  Add remaining parsley, mushrooms and salt/pepper.  Cook for 10 more minutes.  Serve warm. 




White Bean Chicken Chili

1/2 of rotisserie chicken, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 clove garlic
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can cannelloni beans
1 sm can green chilis
salt and pepper for taste


Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic for both recipes.  Divide and add cannelloni beans, tomatoes, green chilis, chicken, remaining stock and cream.  Cook on low for 10 minutes.   Serve warm.

*one of only two meats I will eat on bone, the other is lamb shank.  I will still never eat a wing, a chicken leg or even speak to you if you eat the large turkey legs served at festivals.  This is much, much progress in my neurotic, make-no-sense- type of world.  I know, I am very complicated and am not for figuring out.  Seriously, do not try, it is a lost cause!

Chaos&Christmas Mix, 2009

Finally, my friends, I have found my spirit!  Apparently it was covered in glitter, located right under my Warm Wishes Holiday Mix, circa 2006. 

While cleaning my apartment I found an old holiday mix CD.  As I listened and loved, I decided that it was time I quit my scroogey ways and start making my way down Christmas list.  Every year I try to make the holidays homemade, chaos style.   Friends and family get some sort of half purchased, half created gift most ALWAYS comprised of a mixed CD and cookies.  I am very predictable.   This is serious business as lots of thought goes into it into the right mix of ingredients and music.

It's too early to start on the cookies (Rach, I might use your nice oven when I dog sit) but I now have the makings of a Chaos&Christmas 2009 Mix.  The list needs some editing but here is what plays in the background as I make two fabulous soups in my apartment now filled with holiday spirit.  The melodies are comprised of familiar, new, upbeat and melancholy... just like 2009.

Jingle Bell Rock    The Ventures          
All I Want for Christmas    Matt Costa   
The Man With the Bag    Jane Monheit       
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow    Michael BublĂ©           
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer    Jack Johnson 
Pennies from Heaven    Louis Prima          
Merry Christmas Baby    Otis Redding          
No Christmas for Me    Zee Avi  
White Christmas    Sonya Kitchell            
Spotlight On Christmas    Rufus Wainwright 
Santa Baby    Eartha Kitt           
The Heartache Can Wait    Brandi Carlile        
2000 Miles (Live)    The Pretenders            
Baby, It’s Cold Outside    Dianne Reeves & Lou Rawls          
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm    Billie Holiday         
Winter Song    Sara Bareilles &Ingrid Michaelson
Christmas Song    Dave Matthews &Tim Reynolds   
River    Herbie Hancock Feat. Corinne Bailey Rae
Last Christmas    Coldplay

*Not all were available on iTunes, so iMix is missing several tracks*

Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wheatberries are the new quinoa...


... and boots are the new pump. Seriously--- know it, believe it, love it.   It is the gospel, pass it on. 

You know how much I love Quinoa... well, I have found its cousin--- Wheatberry! Full of bran and protein, this grain makes a GREAT base for a salad and fits my scoopable meal concept perfect for packed lunch on the go.


Wheatberry Superfood Salad

2 cups cooked wheatberry (Cook for hour with 7 cups of water)
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes
2 cups Chopped Kale
1/4 cup Chopped Parsley
Dried Cranberries
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste


Massage Kale and Parsley with spoon of EVOO.  Add other ingredients.  Mix with salt, pepper and more EVOO and vinegar.  Serve room temperature. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chaos Christmas List

Dear Santa,
As the holidays approach, I am thankful for all I have but I realize that my new life at Chaos on K is without a couple of essential items. To humor the season of giving, here is one gal's 2009 Holiday Wishlist:

1. A food processor. Last week I was all set to make my Edamame Brushetta for an Anthro Happy Hour. Edamame- Present. Garlic- Present. Fresh Parsley- Present. Olive Oil and Spices- Present. A food processor to blend it with- Absent. I angered as I realized it lives in the 24141 zip. Luckily I can adapt, with my quick culinary wit I moved on to my emulsion blender which worked but is no replacement to my Stainless Steel Cuisinart.

2. A griddle. Just this Saturday morning I had a grand idea to entertain with my famous Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (see recipe at Chaos Breakfast in Bed entry, circa 2008) . Couldn't. No griddle. You can make lots of things on a snowy Saturday morning without a griddle but darn it, you cannot make pancakes. I'm just saying.

3. Cable. I have fought it for long enough. I know, TV is bad. TV rots the brain. But tell me Santa, how is a gal that likes to cook to stay abreast of the latest and greatest if she does not have The Food Network. Not to mention my loss of Californiacation, Weeds, Entourage and a whole host of other mindless shows that can help me procrastinate.

It's that simple. Three things. That is all I, my kitchen and my little shoebox of an apartment need... well that, water pressure, consistent heat, a new pair of brown boots, unlimited iTunes gift card and extra money for a trip... but really, I will take what I get.

xoxo,
Cooking Gal @ Chaos that has been very good, circa 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Food Porn?!

Seriously. Seriously!!! Look at that picture.

I need to take a dish to event on Sunday and I am wondering if I should test my baking skills and temperamental oven for this one. Making the caramel can be precarious but I think I am up for the challenge. It is really all I can think about...If not this weekend then very, very soon.



Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup½ teaspoon vanilla extract




For the topping:
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ tablespoon light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup salted peanuts



Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Put the pan on a baking sheet with edges.


To make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Melt chocolate and butter together using a double boiler.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. You will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. Pour the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.



Bake the cake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out almost clean (what sticks should resemble sticky crumbs, not molten cake batter). Transfer the pan to a rack and cool he cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan. During baking the cake probably will have puffed to the top of the pan don’t be concerned if tit sinks a little or it if develops a crater in the center. Cool the cake to room temperature.


When the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper. Wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right side up. Refasten the sides around the cake.

To make the topping:
Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring , until the caramel turns deep amber., 5-10 minutes. Lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan add the cream and butter. When the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps. Stir in the peanuts, and pour the caramel and peanuts into a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or heat proof bowl.



Spoon the peanuts on top of the cake. Then spoon the caramel on top of those. You’ll have a layer about ¼ inch high. Allow the topping to set to room temperature-about 20 minutes before serving. Try to get all of the peanuts onto the cake, and reserve excess caramel for drizzling when serving.


To serve, run a blunt knife between the caramel and the pan and simply remove the sides of the springform. If this isn’t the case, hit the sides with some hot air from a hairdryer or wrap the sides in a towel moistened with hot water. Drizzle additional caramel over the cake and allow it to run over the sides.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Dip Down Memory Lane...

As I scavenged my computer this week for a dip recipe for a friend's beer club party, I came across six years worth of Encore Party Recipes. Ah the days of parties with staff to serve, bar tend and clean up, that you could also write off as advertising. I would throw a couple a year but always one big one during the holiday season. (Dear Vintage Cellar, Can you turn $200 into 10 cases of wine. XOXO, Stacey) They sure were fun and I did reward my ShopGals for working so hard... sometimes it was reward enough to see me relaxed with the Whos Who of the town buzzing with holiday cheer at the end of the evening. I am also sure that I gave away an outfit, bag or maybe a bonus to employees in my sheer Christmas delight on those evenings.


This year there will be no ShopGal holiday party or Festive Cookie exchange but there will be many functions that we all need to show up with a dish for. Wipe you tears, turn on the tunes and get to work... Here is my dish on the best, easiest and most liked dips to please the masses, ShopGal recommended:

*(recipes altered from Food &Wine, Cooking Light, sdp and jenny wagstaff of ShopGal Catering)

Asiago Dip with Crostini or Crackers
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato sprinkles
1 (8 ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
32 (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette, toasted or crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl; spoon into a 1-quart casserole. Sprinkle with 1tablespoon cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with toasted bread or crackers.

Blue Cheese-Walnut Dip
½ cup light cream cheese product
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
12 ounce carton 1% low-fat cheese
2 tbsp brandy
2tbsp finely chopped walnuts

Place first 3 ingredients in food processor. Process for 1 minute. Stir in brandy and walnuts. Serve with crackers, apples, pears etc.

Lemon Artichoke Dip
1 small lemon, halved
1 bag frozen artichokes
8 large unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
Crackers or bagel chips, for serving
Directions

Dethaw artichokes.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Drain the artichokes and pat dry. Cut each
artichoke into eighths. Quarter the remaining lemon half and remove
the seeds. In the bowl, toss the artichokes with the lemon pieces,
garlic, olive oil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and spread on
a large nonstick rimmed baking sheet. Bake the artichokes for about 40
minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender. Let cool
slightly and discard the thyme. Coarsely chop 8 of the roasted
artichoke pieces and reserve. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.

Peel the garlic; place in a food processor. Add the remaining roasted
artichoke and lemon pieces; pulse until finely chopped. Add the
mayonnaise and cream cheese and process until smooth. Season with salt
and pepper. Add the reserved chopped artichokes and pulse just until
combined. Spread the dip in an even layer in a small shallow baking
dish.
In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over the
dip. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through and the topping is
golden. Serve with crackers or bagel chips.

Garlic and Dill Feta Cheese Spread
8oz package of cream cheese softened
4oz package of feta cheese crumbled
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp fresh dill
½ tsp seasoned pepper
¼ tsp salt

Mix all ingredients in the food processor. Chill 8 hours. Serve with cucumber slices and crackers.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
16 ounces marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Tabasco
Spiced Pita Chips, for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the
chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until
softened, about 5 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring
occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the
white wine and cook until nearly evaporated. Add the spinach and cook,
stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and
lemon zest and season with Tabasco. Cook, stirring, until the dip is
creamy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm or at room
temperature with the Pita Chips.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Let them eat pie...

This year, in the midst of my chaos, I chose not to celebrate Thanksgiving. I did not travel to family. I did not except traditional dinner invitations. I did not feast on the norm. Instead of turkey there was tapas. Instead of pie there was paella. Instead of family there were friends. I thought this is what I wanted. I thought this would easier, less messy. I thought wrong.

After a day of craving I realized I want the pie. I need the pie. The pie is essential to me getting through the chaos. I cannot turn back the clock but I can look forward to the next holiday. I can embrace the caroling and the lights and the travel. I can be thankful for family and let them in.

And maybe, just maybe, I can continue to bake and perfect the most tasty pie to take home for the holidays. After all, isn't it all about the pie?

First step in the process...

Bourbon And Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from Tyler Florence

Pie Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs1 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup or sugar cane syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

To make the pastry: combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly and trim the excess around the rim. Place the pie pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling: melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, remove from heat and let cool. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until frothy and then blend in the sugar. Stir in the syrup, vanilla, bourbon, salt, and the melted butter mixture until well blended.

Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the pie crust and carefully pour the egg mixture over them. Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed, about 45 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a thin knife in the center of the pie, if it comes out pretty clean, you're good to go. Transfer the pie to rack and cool completely before cutting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Day A Little Less Expected...

When I left for work at 8:00 a.m. I did not expect to be late. I did not expect to encounter two fires, a re-route and a missed train. I did not expect to stand in line at Starbucks for 10 minutes and I did not expect that they would be out of Christmas Blend. I did not expect for a co-worker to be fired and I did not expect to be blown off by someone that I was hoping to see. After all these barriers I did not expect for a day filled with anything but... but that is what the unexpected is all about, right?




Thanks to the fires and waits and the being stood up I am able to tell the tale of an evening filled with unexpected company, at an unexpected restaurant with unexpected cuisine. As as much as this planner hates to admit this, the best times are spent when all the plans go out the window... or in my case, catch on fire.


The only expected part of my evening was that it was spent on 14th Street, where I spend sometimes 4 out of 7 evenings. One unexpected phone call, a metro ride and a 15 minute walk led me to a spontaneous evening at Masa14, a restaurant new to the bustling 14th Street bar scene. I expected a wait but got a seat. I expected Spanish but got a fusion of Asian-Latin. I expected an overpriced, mediocre menu but saw small plates under $10 with creative ingredients and fresh flavors.



I shared Yukka Fries with a Spicy Lime dipping sauce that made eating fries seem a little more acceptable. I started with a Seaweed Salad that had amazing texture and flavor followed by a Tuna Sashami Flatbread that was adorned with wasabi aioli and arugula. The service phenomenally matched the food and my company was just as flavorful ... something I do not find in DC on an ordinary weeknight--- especially on a day filled with barriers. A day that started out challenging turned into wonderful... something this gal certainly did not expect!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Relationships, Food and Life Lessons...

As most of you know, food is such an intregal part of my life. I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to share good food with people I care about. And most of all I love to share stories about all of the above. If you think about it, food is interwoven into all of our social make-ups-- memories, rituals, holidays and religion. For instance, next week is Thanksgiving and sure it is about the family and the thankfulness but it is more about the food and the sharing and the tradition. But that does not mean our meals will all be the same...

I just read a great little read, The Gastronomy of Marriage, an autobiography laced with cooking and relationships and a pending marriage- a memoir covering six months of the authors life. It is about the similiarities and differences found in all relationships... played out at the table.

As a food lover and writer, the author uses food and dining as the central metaphor and oh there are differences. She likes to have the menu planned in advance; he actually seems uneasy if it's not a last-minute inspiration. His family taught him the light, clear flavors of Chinese cooking, her Italian heritage taught her about rich sauces and deep warm tastes. Like all relationships I have been in, there are tensions, rewards and panic... but most of all there is a common love for food that keeps all the other items in check.

I was drawn to this book because of the food but it reminded me of a lesson we all need to remember: Diversify your tastes and celebrate your differences! So often we discount people because we have different palates. Just because Sam likes Sushi and Penny devours Pot Pie does not mean that they are incompatible. These differences are like spices. A pinch of this, three pinches of that, a little compromise and a lot of learning is needed to create their own meals, their own life ...and maybe, just maybe if stirred right that will be the most delicious meal of all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meltdown and no tuna melts...

Last night I was at my salon, Bang, which happens to be around the corner from my favorite Tuna Melt place--- you know, the one with the heavenly sour dough, having a new guy cut my hair. Anyone that knows me knows that my hair is my thing; hair, food and music. I am always searching for the perfect cut and the perfect hairdresser. Last night my hairdresser had a meltdown, mid-cut... and this was a far cry from perfect.

Over analysing over drinks and roasted vegetable salad (will power not want kept me away from the decadent Tuna Melt), my friend and I decided that D (the hairdresser) sees himself as an artist and the meltdown came from lack of forsight on what to do with my canvas. I began to empathise as I remembered a time I had a slight meltdown (or ten) while preparing my beloved store this time of the year for the holiday season. Nothing is more frustrating than getting designers block after moving all of the furniture in the middle of the floor, mid day and knowing you have to create something because your store is FULL with customers. Sometimes you have to just move forth and create, forsight or not. You fight back the tears and the fear of failure and you move forth! D finally moved forth and created. I am unsure whether either of us is truly happy with the canvas...what I am certain of is that he is glad the furniture has been moved. *As I reminisce I am missing all my ShopGals and all the support they gave me through my 10 (well maybe 10.5) meltdowns. I have a feeling that I will think of you often, if not daily over the next month. Love you madly!*

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chaos, Curry and My Cherie

I cannot smell Curry without thinking of my dear friend, Cherie. I also cannot get a massage, paint, eat on the floor or hear Nora Jones without her sweet face entering my mind. I have not seen her in almost four years but she is still an influence in my day-to-day.

You see, Cherie put curry in everything. When she made soup- curry. When she cooked Mexican- curry. I swear I had apple pie this gal made that had a hint of curry.

After a chaotic week (I know, it was only Wednesday) I was feeling a little nostalgic and in need of that peace my friend would bring me as we shared lunch daily in my business, circa 2003-05. Last night, as an ode to my Denver residing friend I made my version of Curry Lentil Soup. It has a little bit of her, a little bit of me and a lot of memories laced into every bite.

Red Lentil and Tofu Curry
Adapted from Gourmet
1 small onion, medium diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 pound firm tofu
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 tablespoons, fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon oil In a small sauce pot. Cook onion and garlic over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add ginger and cook for another minute. Add lentils and water and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are soft enough to fall apart, about 20 minutes.

While lentils are boiling, rinse tofu and trim ends off. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Gently press tofu between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

In a wok or skillet heat remaining tablespoon oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook cumin seeds, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tofu cubes and gently stir fry (after you first put in tofu, leave it untouched for about 2 minutes to allow it to slightly brown, then stir.) Add curry and salt. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer tofu mixture into the lentils. Cook curry for another 4 to 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, toasts or crackers, baguette or multigrain bread.

I enjoyed this meal sitting cross legged on my floor, listening to the soothing voice of Nora and reminising about good times spent with great friends on Monroe Street in Radford, circa simplier times... or were they?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Supper from a Super Hero

So, I was once told that if I were a Super Hero I would be named Procrastinator X and I would flutter about with my sparkly cape (hopefully in a variety of colors with super boots to match) saying "I will get you... Tomorrow!"

As I work best under pressure (famous words of the eternal procrastinator) I found myself in a bit of a super hero moment last night. I replaced my wand with a spatula but I was putting off work like it was my business. Instead of at my computer I found myself in the kitchen cooking... something that was not on this Super Hero's agenda but sure turned out magical.

On the Magical Menu: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

4 cubed sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 onion, chopped and cooked
1 red pepper, chopped and cooked
1 can black beans
1 cup fresh corn
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Mix potatoes, beans, onion, pepper, corn and spices together. Fold into Spinach Tortillas.
Top with fresh salsa (I used the Trader Joes with Cilantro). Broil for 4 minutes. Cover with cheese (I used a Monterrey Mix). Broil for 2 more minutes. Serve with Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt.

Last week I made this for friends I accompanied the Enchiladas with an Arugula Salad with chopped mangos and a garlic lime dressing. And a lot of wine. SO GOOD!!!

I am a multi-tasking procrastinator so I also made Squash Soup, Wild Rice Salad and a big mess that I conveniently had to clean up. I then proceeded to make three friends mixed CDs w enclosed, detailed letters that I will place in the mail this morning. After all, who needs to start work right away... Of to save the world and the kitchen, one meeting and meal at a time.

xoxo- Procrastinator X

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Detoxification and Dinner

Wouldn't that be a good song or book title?
I always think of life experience and occurrence as a song, book or sitcom title. So far I have 5 different series (all running 7 seasons), 19 bookcases full and a 53 Mega Hits!

This week is all about the emotional, nutritional and physical detox. Seriously. After all of the people and the drinks and the food I am spending this week balancing out... starting with dinner. I am proud to say that it is only Tuesday and I have cooked three separate, very nutritional dishes and have packed my lunch daily. Unfortunately as I sit here I am drinking a glass of my favorite TJ's Bordeaux and have made plans for two nights this week. One life item at a time--- guess a gal needs some toxins, right?

Two detoxifying dinners:
Wild Rice Salad
In my new cookbook, Clean Cooking, (again, Thanks Mom!) I learned that wild rice is a grass and not a grain. This makes it a GREAT protein source as well as packed with fiber. This salad can be hot or cold and it so yummy! Adapted from New York Times recipe with my imagination--- basically, it VAGUELY resembles their recipe :)

1 cup wild rice, rinsed
Salt to taste
1/3 cup lightly toasted broken walnut pieces
1 can chopped artichokes
1 can garbonzo beans
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice of a lemon
Head of brocolli steamed and chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Bring the water and artichoke juice boil in a large saucepan, add salt to taste and the wild rice. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and splayed. Add brocolli and artichokes for last 5 minutes. Drain and toss in a large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Adapted from The Clueless Vegetarian

1 tbsp EVOO
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 clove garlic
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 28-oz (796mL) cans diced tomatoes
2 19-oz (540mL) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano

Heat the oil in your RED DUTCH OVEN:). Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the onions are soft - about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, curry and the cumin and cook for another minute or so. Add the vgetable broth and the cubed sweet potatoes, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender - about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with all the juice from the can, the beans, salt, and oregano. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then let simmer until the potatoes are completely tender - about 20 minutes. Puree 1/2 and serve with a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

Cooked listening to these new tunes (or old on new mixes)
Slow Down- Wallis Bird
The Great Salt Lake- Band of Horse
The Chain- Ingrid Michealson
Selfish Jean- Travis
Float On- Modest Mouse
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa- Vampire Weekend
Got To Have You- The Weepies
Back in Your Head- Teegan and Sara
Time to Pretend- MGMT
Mercury Falling- Sting
Throw it All Away- Brandi Carlise

Now, off to watch David D in last season's Californication... a great addition to Detoxification :)

xoxo- Detox Debbie

Monday, November 2, 2009

Very Cool Gift

So, some of my favorite gifts this weekend were time spent together, a mailed pumpkin, dark chocolate treats, mixed CDs and a great Kenneth Cole Bracelet. My most unique gift was Granola. Yes, Granola.

A dear, thoughtful and creative friend gifted me a "Make Your Own Mix"
at MixMyGranola.com. A very innovative company that I recently learned was almost a client of the PR Agency I work for. With my $15 I logged on to the site where they walk you through choosing a base granola (I chose an organic Mussolini) and then you get to customize it with all sorts of good things. Dried strawberries, blueberries, raisins, Goji berries, kiwi chips... the list of fruit goes on and on.

Then you get to the nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, pepitas — over a dozen choices! Then there were the potential mix-ins: protein enhancers, coconut shreds, yogurt pretzels, even M&Ms.

I stayed away from the chocolate (I know, will power, right? ). I will report back on the taste but the concept is awesome. It was fun to shop for my ingredients online over coffee this a.m. Fun gift for health contentious friend or a student at school. Gift rating, A+... you are in the lead KTK... seriously :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fortune Telling, Fried Green Tomatoes and Five Mixed CDs

Whew, what a weekend! There was no carrot cake but there was much celebrating!!!

I had my fortune read by Miss Jessica, ate amazing fried green tomatoes and received five really great mixed CDs... that, a visit by two former Shop Gals, unique food, lots of red wine and time spent with the people that mean the most made for an amazing culinary and celebratory week. No worries to those of you not involved... I felt your love telepathically... and the fortune teller told me you were there in spirit!

Favorite foods consumed during my week long culinary celebration:
Fried Green Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing- Founding Farmers
Wood Grilled Calamari with Lentils- Cafe Saint X
Roasted Beet Salad and Goat Cheese Salad- Bar Pillar
Porcini Risotto- Potenza
Roasted Chestnut, Ricotta and Artichoke Pasta- Posto
Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels- Chocolate Paper

I also checked out a new bar located in Logan Circle called ChurchKey that has an UNBELIEVABLE beer selection with 75 brews on tap and hundreds in the bottle.

I do not need a fortune teller to tell me that if I keep up this restaurant tour I will need new jeans but it was totally worth it! I just left Trader Joes with healthy produce and grains and new recipes are soon to follow.

Today is Nov 1--- it is a new week, a new month and a new year for me. As I listen to my new tunes while perusing my great new cookbook (Thanks, Mom!), I make you a promise of more time spent cooking, consistent chaos and a continuation of carefully crafted recipes... after all, Miss Jessica said writing was definitely in the cards.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey Jealousy...

So, do you remember that song by the Gin Blossoms, Hey Jealousy? When that song was popular in 1992 my niece Clarissa was two and very adorable. She went around singing "Hey Josey" because of her favorite cartoon Josey and the Pussy Cats. This is the version that played in my head as I laid in bed today, very sick, with my best friend telling me about her mid week get away in NYC. Not only is she in my favorite city, in the fall, but she is eating at two of my favorite restaurants. (Yes, since I am quarantined in my DC apartment with no appetite or energy to cook I have to write about another person's life---Sorry folks, that is all I have).

Buddakan is an upscale Asian Fusion restaurant located in the Meat Packing District. Very underrated from the outside but the grand nature of the dining area proves it different on the inside. The last time I was there I had Edamame Dumplings that were AMAZING... The parent
resteraunt is in Philly and I wish the very handsome (and talented) chef, Michael Schulson would concider another in DC... come on Mike, I could do the PR???!!! Or marry you... whatever it takes!



Balthazar is a traditional French bistro that has an energy that cannot be described on words. The hustle and bustle is rejuvenating but you can spend hours talking over lunch or a cappuccino. Co-chefs, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr have done a fabulous job bringing a taste of Paris to NY. Again...guys, What about DC??? A comparable restaurant I have spoken of is CanCan in Richmond, VA that I believe was an adaptation of this model. Great food and atmosphere anytime of the day.

Jealous or not, I do wish my dear friend a weekday rendezvous full of fantastic memories, fall foliage and fun food...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Free time, favorite friends and fried items

On Sunday I had lunch with one of my favorite DC dining companions after weeks of little contact. The result??? Hours spend driving the Founding Farmers bartender crazy, sore cheeks from laughing and a slight upset stomach from the bad food I am not used to consuming. I cannot believe that in farm to table restaurant we managed to choose such unhealthy options. We had ranch popcorn (trendy appetizer, flavor changes with chef's preference), five dips with homemade chips (yeah, theybring three and we asked for two more types... basically a dip with extra dip and a side of dip). For our entree (like we needed one) we had a gourmet grill cheese
on rye with Gruyere and white cheddar with tomato soup. Seriously, a salad was ordered but since the lettuce was not fried we did not eat it. Days like this remind me to make time for the people that make you laugh, operating without a schedule can bring you the best surprises and everything is a little better dipped in something.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Something Like My Salad...

I taught for six years at two different universities. On the first day of class part of my meet your teacher spill would go something like this:

"Just call me Stacey. Not Ms. Price, that's my mother. Not, Ms. Stacey, that's your kindergarten teacher. I have something like a husband and something like a kid. One I have lived with for ________(fill in blank between 5 and 10 years depending on the semester) and the other is furry with four legs."

Since then there have been many "Something Likes" and I even have found my friends and family using such saying. Borrowed from East Village Kitchen Blog, this is "Something Like My Hot Fall Salad" ... but better. My family is visiting this weekend so their is no room for chaos in the kitchen but Monday, Monday my friends, I will make this salad!

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad
Borrowed from East Villiage Blog and Bon Appetit, November 2009

3/4 cup French green lentils*
6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash(from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika**
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

PreparationPlace lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain.

Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.

Combine lentils, pumpkin, and oil from baking sheet with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates; sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chaos and Construction

Yes, it is true... Chaos and Chicken Kitchen is under Construction. I promise this is no excuse (see right) to make up for the fact that I have not been cooking. In fact, I cooked last night (see below) .... but that was before the chaos and the construction and the chiseling.

Apparently there is an ordeal with the kitchen pipes in the old Shormeade building and I came home to a small man chiseling away my wall between my office and kitchen. I say this calmly now but I was far from calm then. Especially since I did not expect to come home to this small man or his jack hammer. Or the plaster dust. Did I mention it was EVERYWHERE? (read in loud frustrated voice). After a rant or two, a walk around the city and a call into my property manager I received the promise the the project would cease next week. So this week, as many in the past, there is only chaos, no chicken with the promise of less construction to come.

To hold you over, here is the recipe for a fun fall salad I created lastnight. It needs a name...any ideas?

Fall Hot Salad (Told you it needs a name)
Sweet Potatoes, cubed and cooked
Beluga Lentils
Spinach, cooked
Dash of salt, cinnamon, curry and red pepper
Teaspoon olive oil
Mix and serve. Preferably without plaster dust. Preferably with wine.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chaos Goes Capeside...

This weekend I enjoyed a relaxing time waterside in Riverside, Rhode Island (5 miles from Providence). I spent three days with one of my best friends eating, drinking, shopping and exploring the cape. And laughing... laughing oh so much! I came back to the District more clear headed, rejuvenated and optimistic than I have been in a while.

(Me and Jill on the water in downtown Providence, a block from her office at Brown. After a glass of wine at Hemmingways and an afternoon of exploring it is windy and cold and we miss the bus while snapping this picture)




Favorite Rhody Food Spots:
At Olga's Cup and Saucer (right, see owners) I enjoyed a savory veggie sandwich on Sour Dough and a spicy, Chipotle Corn Chowder.

At The BeeHive Cafe (left, see helpful counter gal) in Bristol, for brunch on Sunday I ate a Smoked Salmon BLT that I am still dreaming about. Seriously, I would pay up to $8.42 to eat that sandwich again tonight. Their food was all organic and the pastries in their cases were so hard to resist!

For the majority of meals, J and I cooked at home with lots of Pinot Noir (insert our laughter, story telling and sometimes lyrical dance) ... a night spent with a good friend, good music and good wine are the best ingredients to make for the best restaurant in any town.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Even a Poor Gal Gets Her Coffee...

... okay, I am not poor--- yet but my reserve is dwindling so I am trying to be a little more frugal. Yes, chaos gal can be frugal... she just picks and chooses her frugality.

For instance, I cannot give up good coffee so a frugal gal must rationalize or minimize this expense. I mean, do I need to spend $4 a day on caffeine? Recently I have been accumulating free Starbucks coffees by taking the "Via Taste Test Challenge." Each time you participate you get a free cup of Pikes Place. I have taken the challenge at three different District SBs and two in RI. I know, pathetic, right? I figure I have given this company enough money over the last 10 years that a free coffee here or there does not hurt.

The lesson learned is that a frugal gal does not have to go without the things she loves, she just has to get creative and consume in moderation... a challenge I am up for nearly everyday.

*Via is Starbuck's latest launch of gourmet instant coffee. It is actually quite tasty and is always the stronger on the taste test.*

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Recipe for Fall

Perfect Fall Day
Ingredients
2 brown leather boots
1 pair skinny jeans
1 part wool/ 1 part cotton sweater
1 tablespoon crisp air

Dash of cinnamon


Mix first three ingredients with air. Take a walk, meet a friend, grab a latte and sprinkle dash of cinnamon on top!


Today was the first day of Fall for me. I know, I know, technically it was last Tuesday but I was still donning a cute summer dress and acting frivolous... Today--- well, today was a turning point. I pulled out my boots and sweater and I swear I saw an orange leaf fall.

Ahhh...there is something about this time of the year that is rejuvenating. Though you are adding clothes I can't help but believe that you are shedding the months and are given the chance for a start over. Today, to me the crisp air signifies change...

Tonight, in honor of this change and the air and the boots, I am cozy in my apartment listening to a new mix, testing a new recipe and getting excited for what this season has to offer.

In the pot...

Spicy Squash Soup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Onion, diced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb. Winter Squash, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. potato, peeled and diced
3 cups of Water
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add carrots and onion, cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin, curry and red pepper flakes. Saute 5 minutes. Add squash, potato, yogurt and water. Simmer, covered about 30 minutes. When soft, puree with a emulsion blender. Add Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with greek yogurt and chives. Enjoy!

On the iPod. . .

Fall Mix
Go Home- Amanda Jenssen
Try Not to Breathe (Live)- REM
Why Does it Always Rain on Me- Travis
We Will Become Silhouettes- Postal Service
Sort of- Ingrid Michealson
San Francisco- Brett Dennen
Don't Panic- Coldplay
High and Dry- Radiohead
Save it For Your Prayers- Duffy
Skinny Dipping Girl- Joe Purdy
Girlfriend- Wolfgang Amedeas Phoenix
Running to Stay Still (Live from Paris)- U2
The Story I Heard- Blind Pilot
World Spins Madly On- Weepies

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Shy Less than Perfect

In a perfect world I would not rush and forget and drop balls.

In a perfect world my hair would not curl in humidity.

In a perfect world my oven would stop burning things.

In a perfect world my electric bill would not be $138

and, in a perfect world this is the dessert I would have brought last night...if it wasn't for the rushing and the forgetting and the burning and the hair and the meltdown about the $138 bill for 450 square feet apartment (for god's sake, I know I put off good energy in here but $138 worth? Seriously?). In a perfect world I would not have had to run to the bakery and you would have devoured this perfect dessert. But instead you got Nutella Brownies and they were freshly baked, just not by me and you still loved them.

That's the great thing about friends--they love you even when you are not perfect and they understand when you have crazy hair and rants and are late and show up without the dessert you were going to bring. We may not live in a perfect world and I may not be a perfect gal but at the end of the day when you are surrounded by good people, good conversation and good tunes, a shy less than perfect is okay by me. It is actually, well, perfect!

Tiramisu
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups strong espresso, cooled
2 teaspoons dark rum
24 packaged ladyfingers
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined. In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and rum. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom. Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture. Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.
--
Happy Thursday.
xoxo, not so perfect gal

Monday, September 21, 2009

Is it SO Wrong to Want it All?

Lately I have been wanting my cake, cheesecake and maybe even a cupcake-- have it fed to me by someone cute and successful---all with no calorie intake. I know, I know, these demands are too high. This mentality gets a gal in trouble. And yes, a gal must give up something... but does she always have to make a choice?

For instance...last night at TJ's I was making a decision between sweet and savory. Do I get the Olive Oil Popcorn or the Soy Ice Cream? Did I want sugar or salty? After minutes of deliberation I did not choose... I got both because really, what is so bad about having a little of each?

Isn't life best when we have a little balance? Days filled with a mix of social and personal time, outfits paired with a pattern and solid, music combined with lyrics and instruments and dinners filled with equal proportions of sweet and savory. We should remember that in life we crave variety and without it we get bored, passive and stop growing.

Speaking of cravings... this morning a friend I have been wanting to see posed the question, "Cheese or Jam?" Mind you, he was referring to my music choices but of course I made it about food (as I always do). It reminded me of my favorite sweet savory treat that is the perfect example of this balanced life I crave. Full of all things comforting--- cheese, bread and fruit, Baked Brie can be served as a dessert or appetizer and is amazing whole or made bite sized.

Baked Brie and Jam
(Taken from the Rachel Ray website)
  • 1 sheet frozen prepared puff pastry, 11 x 17 inches, defrosted
  • 1 wheel brie cheese, about 5-inches round
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 box water crackers

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice brie in half across the middle.

Step

Spread the puff pastry sheet onto a counter and roll it to an 1/8 of an inch thick. Place half of the brie onto the puff pastry. Spread the jam on top. Sprinkle the almonds on the jam.

Step

Replace the top half of the brie. Wrap dough up and over the brie, starting at the corners.

Step
Turn over so the sealed side is underneath.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with crackers.

Baked Brie and Jam is proof that you can almost have it all, that you do not have to make a choice and that life is a little less boring with balance. I am still working on that calorie thing... again, sometimes a gal must give up something.

In fear that I would eat it all, I did not make Cheese and Jam for dinner but I did eat a balanced meal served playing a cheesy Ben Lee song and an 8 minute jam by Perpetual Groove and a couple of Coldplay songs in between... cause really, why must you choose?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Cinderella Story with a Not So Fairy Ending...

In the fairy tale, when Cinderella broke her shoe she met Prince Charming and lived happily ever after... but we all know that is not how it works. When my shoe broke I met Lola, and not only was she not charming, she yelled... loudly.

Nearly two months ago, on my way out to meet a Prince and various Princess wanna-bes at a nightspot called Marvin, my favorite BCBG gold wedge broke. The average gal that was already tired might have taken that as a sign to go home but not this optimistarian... I was looking for the the happy ending. One cab ride and a new pair of equally cute shoes later I was on my way to a very fun night. The night proved itself eventful and worthy of the cab fair but the story does not end with the taxi turning into a pumpkin, there is still the issue of a broken shoe... and Lola.

SO, a month later after much delay I deliver the said shoe to the cobbler for repair. She was no Prince but if she could make these gold pieces of art whole again who needs a Prince? Days pass, weeks pass until almost a month is gone. Each night when I dress I want those shoes and I realize that I have yet again forgotten to retrieve them from my shoe fixing princess. Until today. Today I went to the cobbler. Today I met Lola. Today was the day that Lola yelled. Today I yelled back. Lola is no Princess...she is a pauper that has lost my shoe. My beautiful gold BCBG wedge. She lost my shoe and she yelled. She yelled at me for waiting so long to retrieve it. She yelled at me for not keeping up with my slip and she yelled at me for yelling back.

So, folks, there is no chicken in this story, nor is there a recipe but there are a couple of lessons:
1- Do not delay the retrieval of clothing, purses or shoes being repaired. The more time lapse the easier it is for your paperwork and your treasure to be lost.

2- Just because someone is wrong does not mean they are apologetic. Sometimes they are just plain mean.

3- No matter how optimistic you are there is not always a happy ending. Yes, I said it. Maybe
I should have let go of the shoes with my inhibitions on that night two months ago when the ending was good. Maybe I should not have wished for more. Maybe there is no Prince or Princess at the end of the story. Maybe all we get in the end is Lola, and she is yelling... loudly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

I love beets.
I love the color of beets.
I love beets with arugula and goat cheese.
I love how they bleed on your hands or over the cheese in your salad.
With each drop of the red juice I picture nutrients seeping into my body...

On Sunday I attempted for the 2nd time since I moved to roast beets in my oven. The first time I torched them. Since then I am learning to control my gas stove and I had more than a bloody mess. I had delectable, flavorful, blood red, full of juice beets ready for a yummy salad.

Simple Roasted Beet Salad
Ingredients:
Cookie Sheet of Roasted Beets (three big sliced or five small)
Arugula
Goat Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup of fresh OJ (squeezed)
Basil
Walnuts
EVOO
Salt, Pepper

Slice beets and sprinkle with sea salt and evoo. Roast at 500 (425 if you have gas oven) for 30 minutes. Set aside. Chop basil. Add to 2 parts olive oil, 1/2 part OJ, 1/2 part Balsamic Vinegar. Whisk in salt and pepper. Add to arugula with crumbled goat cheese and walnuts. Coat with dressing.

Before my salad my Sunday was feeling a little off. Even though the sun was shining, I felt a little run down. There is something about a beet that is comforting, grounding... maybe it is the organic nature of the plant, maybe it is the rustic color or maybe it is the wonderful flavor. Whatever it is, I am thankful for for Mother Earth for providing us with such a colorful, tasty vegetable.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wanita Wishlist

So a long time ago in a small VA town, far far away I volunteered my time to an art program called Little Masters. Each Saturday there was a little dark haired girl that would come to art class and say, "I want_____. I need_______." Every week the blank would change with a new want and a new need for her mom, myself and anyone else that would listen. I named her Wanita.

Today as I enjoyed a relaxing Labor Day I found myself with a couple of wants and needs of my own...


1. At Barnes and Noble and I spied a new cookbook I need, Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More than 200 Recipes for a Healthy Sustainable You. I was going to buy it but then I realized that I wanted three... one for me, one for a birthday gift and one for my other whole foods eating companion. Suddenly a $30 purchased became much more. My need to give became daunting. I bought nothing.


2. A job. It is hard to appreciate a Labor Day off when technically, your laboring is limited. (Dear Employers: Can you fill this want and soon-to-be need? I ask nicely. Please, I beg of you.)

3. Amnesia. I really want to forget how good bread and cheese are, especially buttery brie on a crusty baguette served with garlicy tomatoes. I am such a healthy eater but almost on a daily basis I think of bread in a not-so healthy way. Seriously, today alone I thought about this tasty treat for 2.36 hours. Damn those simple carbs...

4. These shoes from Anthropologie. I really, really want them. Scratch that, I really, really NEED them.

5. Today was the last official day of summer. I wished it to be sunny so I could frolic. It rained. All day. I did not frolic. Guess a gal cannot get everything she wishes for.

xoxo,
Wanita Price

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Julia, Julia and Stacey

I just returned from seeing Julia & Julia and I think I can say that the movie was as cute as the book--- and as a read-the-book-then-see-the-movie type of gal, that rarely happens.

Just a couple of things I took from it...

1- My pot... the controversial red pot is present in both Julia's kitchens. It is the larger model that I wanted but it is still the same pot. I pose to you, "If one had red enamel french pot as kitchen staple, is she destined to have career in food industry?" As a possibletarian, I think so.

2- I love the kitchen melt down scenes... I certainly remain more composed as a cook but I do remember this one Christmas that I had turned our kitchen into a bakery after working 15 hours in my cute little boutique, the week before Christmas... I was EXHAUSTED and should not have tried to bake eight new recipes after 9 p.m. Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda... let's just say when Scott tasted a cookie at midnight and said it was, "Just okay." I lost it. Dough, tears and curse words were flying. If I recall correctly it went something like (please read in loud, sniffley voice), "Here I am making Christmas special for our whole f*** family while you are in there with your TV and your dog and your piddling and all you can say is they are just okay. OKAY. OKAY???? Seriously, would you tell Santa that is toys are OKAY???" Too bad New York Times didn't call to interrupt that one.

3- I think we all can take something, cook or no cook, from the scene near the end when Julia P. heard that Julia Child "hated" her. She said, "But I love her and I think if she would read my blog she would know that I was not disrespecting her. The Julia I know would understand me." The husband reminded her that was the Julia in her head not the real thing. I think we all have someone on a pedestal in our head, we all make assumptions and we all fantasize and romanticize situations... it is just important for us to know when to decipher the real person vs. the person in our head.

In honor of the movie I will enjoy something decadent, cooked with real butter and a good glass of French wine to end my relaxing city day. (Please read in Julia Child voice) I am Stacey Price, Bon apetit!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rainbow at the end of my day...

Remember ROY G BIV?

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was still the owner of a super cute gift and clothing shop that also housed a creative yarn and card making shop... One day in September Karen asked me as she was trying to knit a baby hat in the colors of the rainbow, "What colors come first?" I, without thinking, spouted off, "I think it is red, you know, ROY G BIV." She thought I was making up another answer that I did not know (not that I do that or anything) and had me second guessing. After Googling it, I knew I was right.

Technically it is the order of colors in the visible spectrum from shortest to longest, to me it is how I learned the colors in the rainbow... and how I choose to eat. I had not thought about that acronym since grade school. Funny how things stick with you.

Just like anything else in life, I can apply this concept to food. I follow the rainbow philosophy of dining--- the more colorful the meal, the better it is for you.

R- The first and favorite color you find in the rainbow is RED. Red, for red wine. In a wide mouth glass, Pinot Nior today, preferably.
O- Sweet potatoes, roasted with a yogurt curry dip or possibly my specialty, Black Bean & Sweet Potatoe Soup. A fast fix is carrots, always best dipped with hummus or in tonight's case, blue cheese pecan dip from Trader Joes (thanks, Kathy!).
Y- Yellow Peppers, my favorite roasted with onion and mushrooms. Or possibly roasted squash will do the trick. Since fall is here it is time for Butternut Squash soup!
G- Greens of any sort, sauteed with garlic and olive oil.
B- Blueberries and Greek yogurt, need I say more?
I- Plums, Black Cherries, Cranberries... I love my dried fruit mixed in my live cereal with soy milk.
V- Eggplant roasted with tomatoes and garlic... served hot or cold.

Tonight for dinner I had most of the rainbow fast and easy with my sauteed Swiss Chard & Avocado, Carrots and Blue Cheese Dip and glass of Pinot Noir.

I tore the chard and stalks into 2 inch strips and blanched with a minced garlic clove and salt in saute pan until tender. I served with chunks of firm avocado. If I had, I would have shaved Parmesan on top or maybe some blue cheese but alone it was still great!

My meal was colorful, tasty and healthy... also well deserved after a long day of running around making others happy. Add a visit from a friend bearing dip, one SATC episode and much laughter later and that is one of my favorite ways to end a day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Tale of Sourdough, Assumption and Misinterpretation

Oh... and patience. This is definitely a tale of patience.

I have a problem with patience, especially when food is involved. On a glorious Sunday afternoon where I am sure that the birds were chirping around my head, in a neighborhood that I have grown to love, at a restaurant that serves amazing carb filled heavenly sandwiches on sour dough* as fluffy as clouds, with my favorite DC dining companion... that is where this tangled tale begins.

I may have had on my rose colored glasses but I was starved... and so was my companion. Upon arriving we were pleasantly surprised when the outdoor table customers had paid and even vocalized that they were ready to leave. I mean, could the day get more perfect?

That is, until they would not MOVE. As we waited, patiently at first, we noticed their non-verbals. The woman looked angry, first at her date and then at us. The longer we stood there, the more she glared and the longer they sat. With each second we grew more annoyed, more impatient and more judgmental.

Twenty minutes later they were still sitting, fumbling with their straws and we were quite disturbed. Maybe if we go inside they will leave. NO. Maybe if we hover they will leave. NO.
The bartender tries to convince us to sit at the bar. NO. We were holding out if we had to physically remove them.

By this point, my assumption is that they are being spiteful. They are unhappy, mean people. That's it, I know it.

Finally, thirty minutes and counting they stand-up, we start to make our move and they linger... LINGER, I tell you---hugging, talking and organizing the big dog that escaped from under the table. With each gesture we grow more mad. These people were ruining our day. Our day, you know, with the sun and the birds and the rose colored glasses. Then, we see it... maybe it was the way that he glanced over his shoulder or the cold hug he gave her or the tear in her eye--- this gal was doing more than lingering onto the table, she was lingering onto a relationship that was clearly over. They were breaking up. Breaking up over pancakes, mind you.

After a caloric tuna melt my perspective changed. Maybe it was the heavenly bread or a carb endorsed state of euphoria but my sediment for Karly (this is what I named the what I first labeled hateful but now fragile, girl in the tale) had changed, I no longer felt so angry. I had misinterpreted their behavior. I made it personal as we often do. I forgot that we should not make assumptions. And mostly, I forgot to be patient. After all, I think if I were broken up over pancakes I might behave the same way. I am not sure if I would linger but I would definitely be angry. . . because---come on man, the least you could do is order a gal something on the sourdough. Geez!

*Heavenly sourdough, caloric sandwiches and people watching can be found at Stoney's Lounge
on P and 14. Remember, bring your appetite, patience and an open mind.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Funny How Life Is...

I am finding that lately my days are filled with pleasant and unpleasant coincidences. I think about someone and they call... I think "wouldn't it stink to be locked out" and I walk out without my keys. Luckily for me the positive far exceeds the negative.

Today, my coincidental surprise was of the tasty sort.

I was in VA at Crate and Barrel when spied Cheesecake Factory. I normally hate a chain restaurant but this is one that is an exception. They have an amazing salad adorned with a Cilantro Peanut dressing that I could drink if it was appropriate to. Recently they have been selling it in-house and today I kicked myself for not going in and purchasing it. I mean, seriously Stacey, it is $8 and you were there.... but I did not buy it and I regretted it since 11:03 a.m.

This evening at Trader Joes they were sampling Spicy Peanut Slaw and as any good, hungry, money saving customer I sampled it... and there it was... my dressing.... here, three blocks away, $1.99 I find a Spicy Peanut Cilantro Dressing that was so good I gobbled my salad before I could photograph it for you. (And yes, I have incorporated meat back into my diet, only slightly

Spicy Peanut Salad with Grilled Chicken
Grilled Chicken Strips
Chopped Red Cabbage
Chopped Cucumber
Chopped Snow Peas
Arugula
Mixed Greens
2 tablespoon Spicy Peanut Cilantro Dressing
Toss and Serve.

Served with the wine of the day from Best Cellars--Monarc Oliverhia Irsay and tunes from Brandi Carlise (who I plan to see October 7th!!!!!), it was one of the best meals I have had in a while. In honor of my recently read book I ate slow, with wine and good tunes... I was just alone, but not lonely. Now, tomorrow I will focus on employment of the permanent, well paying type, good hair and a fun evening... We will see what surprises these thoughts will bring me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chaos & Confusion in the Cupboard

I am reading a fascinating book, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan that is making me question my eating in a way that I never have.

I like to think that I am a fairly healthy eater. At times I am a little wacky at what I put in my body but I also clearly indulge with brownies, gelato and beverages, often. No judgement! Pollan says that most of American culture has become a little too obsessed with healthy eating. I know that I go to three separate grocery stores so I can get my Ezekial Live Cereal, homemade Peanut Butter and Brown Quinoa in bulk. I eat organic veggies and little meat. I think to some this could be seen as obsessive but to me it is the norm.

The book explains that we (the health obsessed) eat for the nutrients not the food. As a culture we are positioning foods as healthy but adding nutrients like Omega-3 or pro-biotics to foods that do not typically have them. I find myself victim to this... I am a sucker for enhanced Omega-3. The problem with this is that our bodies may or may not process these manufactured nutrients.

This book, though not rocket science, has muddied up my views on soy, nuts and overall consumption.

Seven main concepts that I took away:
1- Look at label. Less is more in terms of ingredients
2- Avoid products that have health claims. If they have to "claim" it... well, you get the point.
3- Shop open markets or the peripheries of grocery. Stay away from the box.
4- Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
5- Eat wild foods when you can, including meat.
6- Eat as the Asians do... or the French... or the Indians. Anyone except us dumb, unhealthy Americans.
7- Pay more, eat less, eat slow and with someone. Cook and enjoy your food...with wine.
That's advice I can take. So, if anyone is up for dinner, in honor of Pollan, I will cook wild and leafy foods with the promise good tunes and great wine and slow eating! Bon a Petit!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Love! Love! Love! Creative food options...

After a great day off enjoying the warm, not humid sunshine of the city, I met a friend at Bar Pilar on 14th Street for a snack and a glass of wine and was pleasantly surprised at the creative food options on the menu. I left both satisfied and inspired. This is the true test of a restaurant in my book. If I can leave wanting to re-create the dish or simply create something else then I have had a good experience. Pair this with good ambiance and great company and I will be back so soon. (Not to mention good wine and beer options!)

We were not very hungry but enjoyed Swiss Chard with Blue Cheese and Sour Cherries and a Sweet Corn and Parmesan Soup. The gal next to us was eating a Roasted Beet Salad that looked amazing. So many small plates and vegetarian options under $9 and the menu also had very temping meat options including a crisp bronzini with caper olive relish! I bet the calamari would be amazing, too!

With two small outdoor tables and a cozy outdoor scene, this is yet another 14th St restaurant I will frequent again...

No wonder this street was rated #1 Restaurant Street in DC, 2009. What a great way to start the Restaurant Week Celebration!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aftershocks. . .

So, I decided that leaving your life is like an earthquake.

When you instigate such a change, your whole world and everyone's world around you is disrupted--- practically shaken to the core. Then in a matter of moments, or weeks in my case, the ground stops shaking and things start to find their place. No matter what the decimal the quake we know that minutes, days, weeks or in my case a month later you can have an aftershock.

Today, on M Street in Georgetown I had my first aftershock. It was unexpected , confusing and sent me straight in the arms of the barista at Baked and Wired*. One Raspberry Creme Cheese Brownie and cappuccino later I was feeling a bit back to normal. It is amazing the power of the sugar & caffeine... and later the shopping and wine.

I am not sure how far my shock was felt but if you are still in disarray and no where near the District and my sweet sugar offering, cappachino making friends, I recommend this recipe for amazing brownies... they are not Baked and Wired recipe exact but you are sure to find comfort in this staple.

Raspberry Creme Cheese Brownies
Filling:

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened

2 tsp. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg


Brownies:

Cooking spray

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 Tblsp water

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

2 large egg whites

3 Tblsp raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., coat an 8 inch baking pan with cooking sray.

To prepare the filling, beat the first 5 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well blended, set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring well with whisk. Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spread two-thirds of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Pour filling over batter, spreading evenly. Carefully drop the remaining batter and preserves by spoonfuls over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife to marble.


*Baked and Wired is my favorite DC coffee shop/bakery. Located on Thomas Jefferson, right down from my part-time gig at Anthropologie, this locally owned place is a gem! The employees always are in the best spirit, service is AMAZING and the baked goods... only a lyrical dance could express my love! As an added bonus, everything is organic... you know I love that. And plus, I am sucker for the guy that puts a heart in my very dry cappuccino. It is the little things that keep this gal coming back for more!