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Archive for the ‘delicious dinners’ Category

When I was in Cleveland Park this weekend, seeing The Hunger Games (I could wax poetic about it FOREVER but I’ll let Jessica do that; it’s more in her wheelhouse), my moviegoing buddies brought me to a shop I’ve never been to before. Vace is an Italian deli, meaning: Homemade pasta, pizzas and meats.

Photo from DCist. Thanks guys!

I don’t have to tell you about how tasty homemade pasta is (the nice folks at Urban Spoon can do that for me), but I did pick up some pistachios and a bake-at-home spinach lasagna. Hoooo-leeeey poop. This lasagna has lasted for days, and the noodles were so fresh, even though the thing was near-frozen. They didn’t go overboard on the ricotta or sauce, and everything stays together and doesn’t slop around when you cut it. It has been delish. Three pounds anything is probably too much for a lone wolf like myself, but it has been more than worth the money. Will definitely be stopping by to try the pizzas, bags of noodles and homemade pesto in the future.

Any neighborhood joints calling your name?

-Lindsey

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When last we checked in, dear food blog, it was the beginning of Lent and I was all aglow in paczki memories. I must admit to you, however, that last Friday, I knowing committed the Catholic faux pas of eating meat. (NOTE: Mom thinks this is a bullshit rule, and so do I. Mama Woho’s take: “God doesn’t judge us for eating meat.  That is a man-made rule….it is not a commandment or beatitude….and come to think of it, they may be man-made too.” She is so wise!)

I figured God wouldn’t mind, regardless, because I was going to be having real Texas barbecue.

A few months ago, my dear friend Alesa and I were talking about places we had never been. We both mentioned Austin, and she said, “But what if we just went? NO SERIOUSLY. What if we went?” And that’s how our trip to SXSW happened. Couple this with an interview I did with a really cool guy named Boyd Bush, who mentioned at the end of our conversation, “If you’re ever near Austin, my family and I will take you for a great barbecue.” Do not idly offer me food, sources! I will take you up on it, every time!

So on Thursday, Alesa and I scooted on down to San Antonio, stopping at the Alamo and Riverwalk for the afternoon. Then we drove on up to Austin, where her friend graciously put us up. We went downtown for all the hot sxsw action. I was food-truck focused: I wanted to find the truck Paul from Top Chef owns. Alas, it was not meant to be, but I did enjoy fried chicken, wrapped in a waffle, taco-style, from a Lucky J’s trailer. The chicken had a kick and the waffle was just the right amount of malty. Plus, the girl working the window had an amazing skull-and-crossbones tattoo on her leg. The crossbones were bacon. Bless.

Friday morning, I met with Boyd and his family at the Salt Lick in Round Rock. If you didn’t watch this season of Top Chef, a) I don’t know what’s wrong with you, and b) you missed out on the Salt Lick episode, where the contestants cooked on the restaurant’s all-night outdoor barbecue pit. I was super-stoked for the MEATS, of course, but the real reason for the trip out to Round Rock was to give Boyd his copy of the magazine: He’s on the cover in April! And he’s my first cover story! (I’ll link to the story when it’s published online in a few weeks.) I don’t post too much about my work, but this was an exceptional occasion, and Boyd and his family were just so warm and genuine. He seemed pretty tickled with the story and photos, too.

Boyd and me, with our cover story. His lovely wife took this photo! Please excuse my rumpled appearance; I was about to rock out later that day.

The Bush family advised me on ordering, and let me tell you, they did not lead me astray. I had brisket so tender you could weep, pulled pork that could never be created in a crock pot, and a rib that made me want to gnaw on the bone for days. DAYS, I tell you! Plus, the sides were pretty good, too (coleslaw had no mayo; potato salad was almost cold mashed potatoes). But nothing beats eating food outside in great company, so that may have clouded my judgement somewhat. Bush family, thank you for taking the time to introduce me to Texas BBQ!

Other big food hits for the weekend:

  • The pad thai taco from The Peached Tortilla. Delightful!
  • Butter pecan pancakes from The Old Pecan Street Cafe. The maple syrup was so real it hurt Log Cabin’s feelings.
  • Homemade warm chocolate-cinnamon-ginger cookies with ice cream at The Snack Bar, which is just too cute. South Austin, I could move to you.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures of, you know, FOOD. But I was really in Austin to meet good people, and rock the hell out. And to that, I’d say: Mission accomplished.

Bonus Ben Kweller picture. He is wasted and ready.

-Lindsey

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feast and famine.

Despite my years of Weight Watch-ing, city travels and general attempts at bourgie livin’, I am a simple woman with simple needs who will revert to her most basic roots when in need of comfort.

Seen here: McDonald's cheeseburger and a Miller High Life, posted partially to illustrate my basest hungers and partially because my hair looked pretty good that night.

That said, I know I need to eat cleaner. And when it gets cold, I love to make soups. Lo and behold, xojane.com published a really good cabbage soup recipe, which can be detox-y and delicious when you need it to be, and also filling if you add the right ingredients. Here’s my take on it:

You’ll need:

Garlic, one big red onion and one small yellow onion, all minced

Crunchy veggies. I used celery, a green pepper and leftover matchstick carrots

One head of cabbage, shredded, or a bag of shredded cabbage

One big can of unsalted tomatoes (I stuck my immersion blender in there for a little while to make everything more liquid-y)

Herbs aplenty. Whatever you got.

Here we basically follow directions. Get your biggest pot, drizzle some oil in the bottom, get your garlic/onion combo going. Then dump in the crunchy veggies. Let everything sweat it out a bit. Dump in your cabbage. Cabbage is the best and it’s not used enough except in old Polish people’s kitchens. Let that look a little wilty before you dump in your can of tomatoes, and add a little water. Let it stew up for a while. And your herbs and some salt and pepper. Eat it when everything seems good and tender but still has some crunch.

Now that there is a fine vegan soup. If you want to make it a hair more filling, I throw in some rice. Still vegan! On spicier days I cook up a chicken andouille sausage from Trader Joe’s and pop that in there too. That is not so weight-lossy or detoxifying but it’s good for one’s own state of mind, I think.

This soup will last all week and keep at least that long. It’s healthy and delicious. But remember: It’s OK to have a cheeseburger and a beer every once in a while, too.

-Lindsey

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Hello. I promised you a Thanksgiving post. This is the one, you guys.

It started, as it always does, with an invite to The Vegans’ (trademark pending, I’m sure) annual Vegan Orphan Thanksgiving. God bless these small, thin people and their yearly no-meat gathering on Thanksgiving day. I attended last year for dessert (you may, perhaps, recall that I made a vegan bourbon pecan pie), but if we’re being “really real,” as the kids say, I gotta have turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition. So I invited folks over for the first-ever Woho Meaty Thanksgiving for Orphans.

Only one person could come.

That, I suppose,  is to be expected. Why would the vegans travel home specifically for a family meal they can’t eat? Why would any omnivore stay in town when their Granny is cooking the most amazing meal of the year?

I wasn’t deterred, though, and good pal CJ even bequeathed me a turkey that he got from his work. A 13-pound frozen beast. For two people.

That’s my head, for scale.

So, being the recipient of the most generous holiday gift to date, I knew I needed to make this bird sing. First thing: I knew it wouldn’t fit in my apartment-sized oven. BUT! I’ve broken down a whole chicken a few times (did I ever tell you guys about the knife skills class I took this summer?), so I figured a turkey would be the same thing, but bigger. Rachael Ray has pretty good suggestions on her website, too. I got myself a new 8-inch Henckel knife and got ready to get down.

Problems I encountered en route to bird eating:

– The center of the bird remained frozen, despite putting it from freezer to fridge on Monday and from fridge to enormous cooler with a single ice pack on Wednesday.

– A 13-pound turkey is a lot stronger than a three-pound chicken.

– My knife skills need more sharpening, har-har-har.

But! When it was all said and done, I had two legs, two wings, most of two breasts, and plenty of back and neck meat. I treated the breasts and a leg as you would your regular turkey, EXCEPT I also fried up some bacon, chopped it up pretty fine, and massaged that under the skin with the butter and herbs. GENIUS.

The pieces I prepared went into the oven and in two hours were a delicious golden-brown. The bacon flavor really added a smokiness, as well as much-needed fat to the white meat.

Here’s the rest of our two-woman spread:

Remotes in there for realism.

– Twice-baked mashed potatoes (mash ’em the night before with sour cream instead of milk, scoop into baking dish, heat before dinner)

– Sauteed green beans with slivered almonds and garlic

– Grandma H’s cranberry salad

– Candied carrots

– Southern sausage stuffing

– Sweet potato coins

And of course, we still joined the vegans for dessert, with this bourbon pecan pie recipe that I veganized (it’s Paula Deen. Also, please make your own crust. It isn’t hard, I swear).

The leftover turkey and green beans went into a soup later that weekend, and I’ve been enjoying it with rice all week. Your move, Christmas.

-Lindsey

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In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I found myself looking forward to the day-of not because I would get to enjoy the company of my friends (which I did,) gorge myself on food (which I did), drink a lot of wine (which I did), or text message my Black Friday shopping boyfriend at 4 a.m. to ask him to grab some Tums at Target (which he did).

No no no. I was looking forward to spending the day in the kitchen, preparing a lot of food.

This isn’t weird to me. I learned how to cook some basic things (read: desserts) at a fairly young age. My parents were always indulgent when 12-year-old Jessica wanted to try a fancy pasta recipe that involved buying cheesecloth and fresh shrimp, and my sisters and I were granted full kitchen access. My high school friends and I used to throw little dinner/snack parties and wow each other with how decadent/elaborate we could get with indulgent snacking. I did a fair bit of cooking for my family when I lived at home.

Making food has always been a fun and satisfying activity. Even though I never set out to have food serve as a “hobby” of mine, I recognize it as one now. Standing in the kitchen, preparing a meal, takes you away from the rest of your life.

This is not revolutionary stuff. Plenty of food writers have captured this experience with a great deal more eloquence and sensory details than I can muster. But it’s important, I think, to having a healthy relationship with food. You have a lot more respect for the food you eat, the body you have that you fuel with that food, if you take the time to prepare it yourself. And if you enjoy the process? It gives you reverence for the act. It makes you want to do it more. It keeps you in the kitchen, even when you have no energy or motivation. If cooking becomes part of your downtime and not part of your chores? Then every day, you are nearly required to have enjoyment.

I say this from the midst of a really-busy semester. I’ve been subjecting my boyfriend to weekly meals of rice & beans & ground beef. While I find this endlessly delicious, as I have previously discussed, my boyfriend finds it largely uninspiring. I won’t even buy white rice! How mean of me. Anyway, as the weeks go buy, menu planning has become harder and harder this semester. I want things to be quick, easy, and healthy. That doesn’t leave very many options.

Yesterday I spent 4 hours cooking a single meal. My excitement for Thanksgiving cooking coupled with the unfamiliar feeling of standing in the kitchen for 2+ hours made me realize that I’d temporarily forgotten that cooking is fun.

It is.

And the time and effort and chutzpah to try a new recipe often make for a tasty result! I cooked a chicken and sausage gumbo from Annie’s Eats last night. There were three separate meats involved, and a roux, and copious chopping. I accidentally ate too many snacks while I waited, so I was barely even hungry once it was done.

But it was delicious.

And the boyfriend didn’t make quite the same face as when we at gumbo in New Orleans… but he liked it.

I hearby solemnly swear to make something interesting over Christmas break.

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Hello, friends: Jessica here!

First of all, if some of you missed Lindsey’s Kitty Litter Cake? Well, I am having trouble recommending anyone look at those pictures, actually. My stomach is not strong enough to look at cake-poop, much less eat it, apparently. However, it did turn out amazingly realistic, and Lindsey’s post also features one of our many mutual friends (and one of my favorite friends), Frank. Say hi to Frank, everyone!

Okay. Moving on. Topic at hand: Thanksgiving. It is on Thursday. As it usually is. But unusually, I am having my first Thanksgiving away from family… which means this is the first Thanksgiving where I have been somewhat charged with menu-planning and food cooking!

And for the first time, I am realizing just how bizarre everyone’s family food cultures truly are.

Our slap-dash, twenty-something Thanksgiving looks a little like this:

The hosts:

  • G, our longtime friend from Michigan
  • G’s roommate, from Texas

G’s guests:

  • Myself, from Michigan
  • My boyfriend, from Michigan
  • Our roommate, from Elena

G’s Texas roommate’s guests:

  • Cousins who live nearby… but maybe are from Texas? I don’t know.

So, my involvement in this event planning has revealed a number of people telling me what they MUST have for Thanksgiving. As in, if there is no X, Y, or Z on the table, then why bother?

The whole event began with G’s Texas roommate, who, despite living in an apartment building in Boston, MUST have a Deep Fried Turkey on the table for Thanksgiving.

 So… turkey. Complete. What’s left? I asked G. He had come up with a little list of things he was going to make – green bean casserole and something with sweet potatoes – and what was missing.

The Texas Cousins were bringing cookies and brownies. Hmm. Weirdos. Whatever. I asked G what I could bring, and he said we probably needed either potato salad or cole slaw.

To that I say: is this a barbecue??

Michigan boyfriend says as long as someone is making green bean casserole, we are good to go, but he insists on making corn bread and maybe biscuits that taste like they are from Red Lobster. I am still hoping to persuade him into following a RECIPE for corn bread, being that it is bread and relies on certain scientific reactions to make it… um… bread.

Even though I have already committed to dessert patrol – a pie and a bonus cake – I feel a need to pipe in an offer a vegetable to the table, since they seem notoriously absent.

Both Michigan Boyfriend and Kansas Roommate give me funny looks. Apparently, vegetables are quite optional at many Midwestern tables. Kansas Roommate indicates that the only vegetable that makes the cut at her house is a casserole made from creamed corn, crumbled cornbread, milk, and cheese. Oh, and they have turkey AND a ham.

So without further ado, here are the Thanksgiving essentials in my family. You probably think they are as weird as I think yours are.

My Thanksgiving Table

Turkey – often grilled.

My parents started grilling their turkey out on the charcoal grill to keep the oven available during the day. They must have liked this system a lot because most years our turkey spends time outside. Even if there is snow on the ground.

Mashed potatoes

You can’t pour gravy on potato salad. Just sayin’.

Homemade bread

My dad spends entire days baking a few times a year, so we either reheat a loaf of his famous cheese bread or make some potato rolls the day before. They are usually very thick, doughy, and way too filling for Thanksgiving… but so delicious.

A salad with mandarin oranges

This is somewhat blasphemous – both for its salad-ness and its Asian-ness – but my aunt brought it over one year and it was so tasty we keep resurrecting it.

Broccoli Casserole

Look guys. I didn’t eat a green bean casserole until I went to Thanksgiving at my Michigan boyfriend’s house a few years ago. I was too busy eating an entire brick of Velveeta, mixed with frozen broccoli florets, oil, and eggs, and baked with crunched up crackers on top. My bad.

An assortment of interesting vegetables

Even before half my family went vegetarian/vegan/food allergic/picky (wait, that’s like, all my family), my mother always used Thanksgiving as an excuse to try out a fancy vegetable recipe. And hey, when else are you going to make those 7 ingredient green bean dishes you see in Real Simple every month? Tuesday after work? No. Of course not.

Chess Pie

In addition to the traditional pumpkin (or sweet potato, which is actually superior), and some kind of fruit pie, my family makes this delicious yellow-y custard pie. It seems weird, but tastes delicious.

 

Sadly enough, I will not be eating any of these things this year for Thanksgiving, except for an interesting vegetable. But as long as someone else handles the giant turkey (and apparently a few gallons of peanut oil…) I am open to the formation of new traditions.

Happy Holidays to you! Anyone making anything particularly delectable this year?

 

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Last month, Mama Woho came to town:

That’s her, eating a sandwich. Isn’t she the cutest?

Mom is my favorite food guest, because my sister eats vegan exclusively, and my dad has trouble with spicy, but also tries to eat healthy because he trains for century rides on his bike. Mom and I have what I like to call “the most normal” eating habits, so when she visits alone, I miss the other two, but we have a lot of food freedom. Here’s what we ate when she was here:

Friday: Tacos at Taqueria Distrito Federal

Mom had one each of chicken, pork and steak. I had two lengua (tongue) and one al pastor and got mad at myself for not getting two lengua. It’s the best! But I couldn’t convince Mom to have a bite.

Saturday: Sandwich and sides at the Smithsonian Museum of American History

This was surprisingly good. We split a roast turkey sandwich on cranberry-pecan bread, then got a side of mac and cheese and steamed veggies. The mac was really good, with the baked stuff on top, you know what I mean? The veggies were still crisp and flavorful. The sandwich was totally filling and delish. The Museum of the American Indian has a really good food court too, but this one was surprising in the best ways.

Also Saturday: Hotdogs and beer at the Washington Capitals-Detroit Red Wings game

If you don’t like hotdogs at sporting events, you can just FADE. Also, if you don’t like hockey, we probably can’t vibe. Here’s a sampling of the pregame skate (mom’s favorite part. Mine too).

Jimmy Howard, I like you.

 Sunday: Sandwich and fancy chips at Dean and Deluca

Where I come from, we don’t have D&D. When my old friend moved out to “the city” and I was still living Up North, she sent me a gift package from Dean and Deluca and I imagined the fanciest food store ever. And as far as grocery stores go, D&D is pretty fancy. I like to call it “rich people groceries,” and don’t usually visit much since there’s a Trader Joe’s a few blocks away. However, when it’s time for lunch in Georgetown, D&D’s sandwiches are all I want to eat. Mom and I split the turkey sandwich with basil mayo and avocado, and each got our own bag of Route 11 chips, which are a local delicacy that I would dare say are better than Better Made, but just barely.

Also Sunday: Delivery from Thaitanic

When the whole family is in DC, the one restaurant we can agree on is Thaitanic, the Thai place up the street from my house. Vegan stuff for my sister, seafood for Dad, all kinds of stuff for me and Mom. By the end of our whirlwind weekend, Mom and I just wanted to loaf and watch Food Network in our sweatpants. So we did, with the cashew chicken and veggies and spring rolls (top five favorite foods!) from Thaitanic.

Now it’s a countdown to Christmas. Until then, I’ll be dreaming sweet tasty dreams of family dinners.

-Lindsey

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