...blue sky...

Happy Friday!  I don't know about you, but I could really go for laying in a field looking up at a blue sky this weekend.  Maybe sitting on a wool blanket, out in the country air somewhere.  It's dawning on me more and more how much I appreciated and now miss open spaces.  We'll try and find some this weekend- and I'll try and be a better blogger and update you on recent kitchen creations.  t.g.i.f.  

...happy harvest...

You could say we're ready.  Thanks to Target and their $2.50 decorations (the pumpkin and candle decor) we are quite festive.  Like every other year, I'm justifying my candy corn intake by telling myself they use honey in it.  It's awesome.  Hope you're enjoying the cooler weather like we are!

That quilt was made by my great-grandma.  Pretty awesome, right?  

...founding farmers...

We're going here tonight.  Normally I'd do a review post our meal, but I don't really think I need to.  I know it'll be awesome, and I know if you haven't been here, you should go.

We just watched Food, Inc this weekend (I know- I can't believe either that it took me this long to see it) and I'm especially excited to go and feel okay about eating their meat.  That movie got to me and from now I'm going to be way more picky about what kind of meat we buy!  Makes me miss SB Farmers markets where you could get chicken, pork, and beef all from local organic farmers.  I'll stop there before I get on my soap box.

I will say it got Benjamin excited to hunt- knowing I'd find it an incredibly organic way to get meat.  Who thinks someday I'll be posting a recipe on venison?!  We'll see about that one...

T-minus 3 hours til fried green tomatoes...

...weekend fun...

We just sold a toy and got a toy. (Correction- toy ended up not selling.  I really don't admire people who shop like girls!!)  The price of the sale is going towards something else, but the price of the new toy was beyond on sale.  It was used, a fun little lens, and we had fun this afternoon testing it out.  Get ready blog- I'm excited for how pretty you're about to look.  Here's some pictures from lunch at Fireworks Pizza- a little joint in Leesburg (where we went) that I'm pretty sure now exists in Arlington as well.  Hope you're enjoying the weekend!

...a burger review...

Last night Benjamin and I checked out the highly acclaimed Burger Joint in Alexandria.  We'd heard so much about this spot and being a fan of burgers, and wanted to check it out.  We soon found ourselves dissecting the meal, the fries, and the price.  Between the Burger Joint, Elevation Burger, and of course, Five Guys who do we love...and who do you love?

First up, last night.  I got "the burger" and Benjamin got "the wellington."  Mine was your classic burger, onions, pickles on the bottom, a mojo sauce that wasn't anything to write home about, a nice bun, and of course, the burger itself.  Benjamin's had a nice mushroom onion mix on top, packed in and scooped on.  It seemed like a reduction that had cooked for awhile, making the flavours really come together.  It was good- real good.  We ordered a side of their fries- nice and crispy- and onion rings- also nice and crispy and good in that the onion didn't come out the first time you bit into it. (My favorite onion rings are still at Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara, but I guess that doesn't count here.)  Everything was made to order- also a big plus.  The dislikes of the joint.... the bun was too big.  I like how both other joints have buns that just fit.  Not mess (less mess) and easier to handle.  We both agreed it was good, but we had a greater love...

Elevation Burger.  I really enjoyed this place when I lived here last because of their In-N-Out feel.  The grass-fed beef, the handcut fries, the 'healthy' olive oil they fry them in- all make me a happy camper.  I also really value the feeling after going there- just right.  Not too full, and not too overwhelmed by grease engulfing my arteries.  Overall, it's just my favorite.  Surprisingly, it's Benjamin's as well.  It just tastes good.  I clicked on their website and it says, "Ingredients Matter."  Elevation Burger, you had me at...ingredients matter.  

Five Guys.  These burgers are also good in size and quite delicious.  The only thing that has me going there less is the portion control on the fry portions.  If you want a greasy burger and there are a group of you- good place to go.  Also, they have cajun fries which are a major weakness for me.  I'll search the bag for the most seasoned one...  

Next time we go out for burgers, Elevation please.  Although sometimes, Five Guys it is.  Who do you love?

...pw's chipotle corn chowder...

I made this soup tonight.  Pioneer Woman's post about it got to me and I really just had to make it, as soon as I could. Here's my night of take on it- it's spicy.  Well, I added some juice from the adobo's because I really love that flavoring, Benjamin insisted on 'hot' Hatch green chilies, and I added 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce.  So- my fault.

If you don't want to be drinking water throughout your meal, add just one chili in adobo, and mild green chilies.  It reminded me a bit of this other recipe, although I think I prefer this one.  Oh, also I didn't use fresh corn- didn't have it.  So canned it was, and it was good, real good.

...annapolis boat show...

We sound so classy just by the title of this.  Truth is, Benjamin had never been to Annapolis and we needed to get out this past weekend.  We decided to head there, even though we knew there would be some crowds.

Despite the price we paid to park, everything else went quite well.  Benjamin had a lot of fun, and I in turn had a lot of fun seeing Annapolis with him- a place I've been to countless times thanks to my dad being a ring-knocker.

We stopped at Pussers, then walked the streets where Benjamin stopped into a cigar shop and the below ensued.

I had fun snapping pictures, and yes, I'll take that house please...

Benjamin would like one of these...

In the mean time, we'll settle on enjoying a place we can't afford to live, probably ever, but it's so fun to go and look and people watch. Especially on boat show weekend.  It's interesting in such stressful economic times, so see so many carrying on life as they know it.

We did also stop into Middleton tavern and have oysters Annapolis.  I think we like them raw the best, but they were good nonetheless.

Enjoy the pics, and if you can, head up there sometime...

...chicken curry salad...

Do you think there's such thing as bloggers block? There is. I don't know what it is, but I've had a hard time this past week coming to the b.l.o.g. Apologies. It's probably because I care about this.  And when I care, there becomes pressure and that moment of "oh no..I hope I'm doing ok..."  To ease myself back in here we have a simple yet really delicious recipe that's sure to spice up your lunch box.

1/4 cup mayo
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons water
some grilled chicken (I used about 6 chicken tenders just cooked simply in a skillet)
3/4 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup celery
3-4 T. raisins
some salt and pepper to taste

You're done.  There you go.  You made something you'd order at a cafe thinking you couldn't make it, but guess what?  You just did.  Enjoy- on some crisp romaine or as a sandwich.

...wild mushroom risotto...

I'm pretty excited to tell you about this recipe.  It's more than solid and I think you should add some mushrooms and arborio rice to your grocery list today.  Make this soon.  This serving is perfect for 2 people, as it comes from the Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook.  I doubled the recipe sans mushrooms the other night as well, and enjoyed it again.  Not as much though as when there were mushrooms involved.  Next time I make it I think it would be perfect with some steak, a big salad, and some dinner guests.

I've come across some recipes for risotto that are less than straight forward.  It probably makes for people to be scared of making it at home, and figure it's one of those things they should just rely on getting from a restaurant.  I found this recipe to not only be helpful, but theorapuetic.  It was nice to have Benjamin there to switch off stirring as well. In fact, as he was stirring this perfection, I was able to clean up and not worry about so many dishes post dinner.  Hooray.

Recipe adapted from the cookbook mentioned above...

3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces shitake and cremini mushrooms sliced (discard shitake stems)
1 T chopped garlic
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine- (we used a chenin blanc which was too sweet for me to drink, but worked fine here)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 T unsalted butter

  • To start out, put your stock in a pot and get it nice and hot- not boiling but simmering
  • Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the chopped onion-saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms (clean them by just taking a damp cloth and rubbing gently any dirt off- don't ever rinse them in water.  That's just bad)  Cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes (just don't burn the garlic- also bad)
  • Add the rice- stir for 30 seconds
  • Add the wine- enjoy the smell, and think about how awesome this is going to be
  • Let the liquid absorb- this is where the stir stir stir comes in- you've got to do it- constantly
  • When the liquid is absorbed, add 3/4 cup stock until that absorbs, then keep adding stock in 3/4 cup increments.  This process takes some time, but I'm sorry- are you in a rush? 
  • When all the stock has absorbed, stir in 1/4 cup cheese, thyme, and butter.  
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.  
Enjoy it...and let me know what you think!

...breakfast sandwich (perfected)...

As I was making yet another breakfast sandwich, Benjamin ran over to the post office...then to the little bakery and came home with a loaf of ciabatta.  These are the ways to my heart.  The sandwich was perfected this morning- crusty bread, some wasabi mayo from Trader Joe's, and a little mozzerrella melted on the eggs right as the finished cooking...We're ready for the day now...after another cup of coffee that is. 

....happy weekend!...

Over the weekend you might want some of this (apple blackberry pie)...or some of that (mushroom risotto).  Or both.  I'd go with recommending both.  To help you out with getting from A to B...I'll be sure to share the recipes with you either tonight...or tomorrow.  Pinky swear.  Happy weekend!

...saturday breakfast sandwich...

Before you run out the door tomorrow and spend $8 for a breakfast sandwich you could make at home....check this out.  I woke up last Saturday more hungry than usual which in part plays into the fact we have the most incredible dark blinds in our room.  We only let them down during the weekend really or else we'd probably never get out of bed.  It makes the room so dark it's easy to roll over and realize you're not such the early riser after all.

I fried up some eggs in this pretty cast iron pan I was gifted with last Christmas, and basically made a BLT with an egg.  Not all that fancy, but then again, all that good.  So try it out.  As for us, we may be splurging tomorrow and trying out Carlyle for breakfast- but we'll see.  We might be full after a dinner of Lobster Rolls thanks to Red Hook Lobster truck at Curbside DC.  Getting hungry just thinking about it...

...flowers in the fall...

The weather is getting cooler, but that didn't stop my Mom and I from throwing in some pansies this weekend.  Apparently they'll come back in the spring which will be just lovely.  A two-for-one type of deal I'd say.  They look all nice and inviting, wouldn't you say?

...basted buttered and baked steak...

This way of cooking steak has become the only way we cook steak.  It's really just too good.  If you don't cook your steak like this or are getting sad about the cooler weather and the lack of grill time you're about to have, don't fret.  I learned about this from a friend in Santa Barbara, and Benjamin and I have adopted it as the only way we cook steak really.  He read an article where the one and only Thomas Keller recommended this same technique, so now we're really hooked.

We got this incredible All-Clad pan for the big day and absolutely love it.  I'd more than highly recommend a purchase of one yourself.  We let the pan get hot, add some oil and add the well seasoned room temp steak.  Don't move it.  Let it get a good sear, then after a few moments flip.  At this point, Benjamin said Thomas told him to add a pat of butter, let it run off, then baste the steak with it's drippings and the butter.  Whatever you say Mr. Keller.  We did and boy was it good.  After it's got a good sear, and it on there for a few moments you throw it into an oven at 375 for 10 minutes for medium or 8 minutes for medium rare.  I vote for 10 minutes.  It's still pink and incredible delicious.

At the end, take your steak out and put onto a board to let it rest for about 8-10 minutes.  This is when all the juices come together.  It makes it so when you cut into it there aren't just juices going everywhere.  We sliced ours up for some friends, and fed many more than we thought with 2 steaks.  I served it up on our cow platter (also thanks to the big day.)  I'm pretty sure this platter with steak juice is just the way it was intended to be....

...scallops with wilted spinach and arugula...

A couple weeks ago my parents stopped by for dinner.  It was a Friday, I was lacking food in the fridge, and not really looking to make something that night.  Fridays have me beat, and I'm definitely more up for eating out that night.

They stopped by, and my Mom said she brought scallops.  I love me some sweet and seared scallops, and was thankful for this delicious, impressive recipe thanks to Martha, that took moments and really wowed the men of the family.  I'd recommend this to impress friends, or just your own family some night.  

Serves 4
  • 16 large sea scallops (about 1 1/4 pounds), rinsed and dried,
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil (I used conola)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 bag baby arugula
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet. Arrange scallops in skillet, and cook on 1 side until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Flip, and cook until scallops are opaque, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Add garlic, and cook for 15 seconds. Add spinach, arugula, red-pepper flakes, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing greens often, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter, top with scallops, and serve immediately.