Thursday, February 28, 2013

Turkey Rice Bowl

This dish came about one night when I had made stuffed peppers for dinner.  I mixed the mixing, stuffed the peppers, put little toothpicks into them so they wouldn't fall over on the baking sheet I was using...Finally, I got them plated and ready for dinner, and everything tipped over and fell out.  I was left with two plates, each with two halved, empty peppers, and a pile of the filling.  And I had one of those moments where I just said, "This is not a hassle that I want to deal with," and told Matt that I was never making stuffed peppers again.  Over-reacting?  Possibly.  

But then I came up with this delight!  We have this, or a variation of this, once a week.  I'll fill you in on the variations as we go:

First, sautee minced garlic and sliced shallots in olive oil until softened.  While those are cooking, put on a pot of yellow rice.  You can obviously use white rice, or brown, or wild, but I love love love how colorful this dish is with the yellow rice, so I stick to it.

Add some diced green peppers.  You could, of course, do ANY kind of pepper, or add shredded carrots (which sweetens it up a bit), or grated potatoes, or zucchini.  All have been done at my house, and all of them are delicious!

Once the peppers (or whatever) have softened a bit, remove the mixture from the pan into a bowl.  Now, brown ground turkey breast (or ground turkey, if you're not too worried about being healthy) in the same pan.  Once it is all cooked, add 1 small can of original Rotel and some Sriracha if you'd like.  Mix this all up, and cook over medium-high heat to reduce the tomato juice, for about 5 minutes. (On a side note, Rotel is one of my favorite things to keep stocked in the kitchen.  You can use it for EVERYTHING, and it lets you add a little heat without you actually having to handle hot peppers, which always freaks me out a little).  

Add the green pepper mix back into the pan, and mix it all up!

Serve the meat mixture over the yellow rice, and garnish with sun-dried tomatoes, if you'd like.  We had this with jalapeno focaccia bread, and I could not have been much happier than I was eating this meal.  Let me know if you try it!   

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Abbi's Places in DC for Groups

Best Museum:
The National Gallery of Art is absolutely a gem of this city.  During the summer, there are free jazz concerts on Friday evenings with a gorgeous fountain you can cool your feet off in, and the use that same fountain as an ice skating rink during the winter.  The modern art exhibit is awesome, and their collection of Dutch still lives is amazing.  The light tunnel connecting the east and west wings is epic.  And it's free!  Yay!

Holy bananas, the $20 admission fee for the Newseum is totally worth it.  The view of the capital building is phenomenal, there are real pieces of the Berlin Wall on display, and a gorgeous collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photography.  Their temporary exhibits change pretty frequently, so you can visit once or twice a year without seeing the same thing over and over again.

Best Bar:
The Gibson is hands-down, the fanciest drink place I've been to in the city.  Not that it's a super upscale, intimidating place at all.  It's a beautiful, intimate lounge to get some great cocktails.  You won't find cranberry and vodka on the menu here; rather, the bartenders shake up drinks with egg whites, elderflower liqueur, lots of mint.  No food on the menu- you'll have to go next door to Marvin's if you're hungry.  I've only been once, but really wish I had hit it up again.  It was great to just tell the bartender what kind of liquor and tastes I like, and have a custom-made drink just for me.

Bedrock Billiards on Columbia Road is a great place to go for a drink and cheap game of pool.  (Oh, don't worry- I am truly awful.)  Cheap drinks, fun music, and an empanada close by to grab a quick bite afterward.  After JP proposed to me, we had an informal party there with a bunch of our favorite DC friends, and it was a great space to just relax and let people come and go as they had time on a Saturday night.

Best Kitchen Supply Store
I love browsing fun home stuff with friends (maybe this is what domesticated grown-ups do?).  Home Rule fills that hole in my social schedule.  Their shelves are full of lots of color, practicality, and fun.  It's right on 14th Street, a few blocks from a great Room & Board and Busboys & Poets.  What a great neighborhood!

Best Shop for Gifts
DuPont Circle is home to Tabletop, a shop full of great stationery, jewelry, cute table decorations, and bar accessories.  I've picked up gifts for at least 10 people here, and they always go over well!  Check it out for Jonathan Adler salt-and-pepper shakers, Kobo candles, and cute Doodle books for kids.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Abbi's Favorite DC Restaurants

It's moving day for the Diegos!  We're en route to Atlanta, and I'm feeling nostalgic for our time in the capital.  Let's call this week's posts 'Abbi's Farewell to DC.'  Check back throughout this week to get an idea of what made me fall in love with this city!

JP and I moved to DC in early September 2008, and I absolutely love the last four and a half years we've spent here.  It's been wonderful to discover the food DC has to offer, and I'd like to offer up five of my favorites.  There are so many more amazing places in the capital, so start here and keep going until you find your own personal treasures.  

Best Comfort Food
If you've had a rough day and need something warm and soothing to get you through the evening, head to Mandu, my favorite Korean restaurant, and order up some bibim bap.  It's a rice and vegetable medley topped with a fried egg.  To make things even better, there's some gochujang (a bean and chili paste) served on the side.  I like the dolsot version, which comes in a hot stone bowl, allowing the rice to crisp up on the bottom.  Hard to be in a bad mood when your tummy is so happy!

Best Healthy Food
DC is lucky enough to have a few local salad chains, but my favorite is always Sweetgreen.  They're all over the place in DuPont and Georgetown, my two closest neighborhoods, so I'm close enough to grab their Misoba and Chic-P salads at least once a week.  Bonus: they'll top a salad with sriracha!

Best Coffee
If you've got time to kill in DuPont, you should stop by Filter Coffeehouse.  Their beans are roasted in Maryland, so it's pretty darn local, and their menu has only coffee-based beverages.  This ain't a Starbucks, with their frappes and egg sandwiches.  Filter smells like coffee, the baristas aren't super pretentious, and how cute are the bike racks?  Love the French press and mug!

Best Takeout
It's hard to find decently priced Mexican food in DC.  I like mole sauces and ceviche as much as the next person, but seriously, I just want a burrito sometimes.  When that happens, we order from Super Tacos.  (Please visit the website; their song is amazing.)  Tacos and burritos served with tortilla chips, flan made right in the restaurant, and absolutely delicious tamales...ahhh, I'm hungry just thinking about it!

Best Date Night
I'm biased because this restaurant is two blocks from our place, and I hate walking a long distance in high heels.  However, the ambiance and food of Blue Duck Tavern is unparalleled in DC.  We've been for dinner (all of their veggies are delicious and served in large portions, and their entrees are divine), and sometimes just hit it up for a quick drink and dessert in the lounge area.  There's a tea sommelier, if you're into that.  Also, Barack has taken Michelle there.  JP and I are basically the Obamas of Foggy Bottom; no biggie.

This is just the start!  For vegan fare, hit up Sticky Fingers; definitely go to Truckeroo during the summer to try out the food trucks in the city; and always take advantage of Restaurant Week, when tons of DC restaurants offer pre-fixed menus of their best dishes for a great rate.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Haley's Week in Photos

Layla and I spent the majority of last week on the couch: she, resting and I, applying for jobs.  Matt always jokes that Layla's job is to keep the couch from floating away, and she does a darn good job at it!

I was invited to Nesi's last weekend, because Amber was in town, and we had so much fun!  Nesi made squash ravioli with snow peas and mushrooms, and peach and pepper glazed chicken.  It was a delicious meal, and fabulous company (as it always is)!

Matt has started back playing soccer with his friend who lives nearby, which means that I get to go and sit on the sidelines and play with his friend's baby.  It's a win-win, really.  I sometimes go with him just to kick around the ball, but who are we kidding?  

When I visited Papa and Grandma this week, we had to run out to Home Depot, and I got to share the back seat with the Princess.  How lucky am I?!

My breakfast every day this week: garlic, peppers, and turkey breast omelette with rosemary peasant bread.   ...delish!!

Abbi's Week in Photos

A farewell treat at our favorite bakery in Georgetown, Baked and Wired: lavender and chamomile tea with a phig newton for me, and cappuccino with a honey badger brownie for JP.  We'll miss you!

The babygirl has taken up official lodging in the office chair while we pack.  She's been so cute and sweet during the move, but we could totally use an extra set of opposable thumbs with all the boxes and tape.

An old stencil JP found from his graffiti days.  Street artist?  Tagging?  Whatever.  As you can see, it's he and I.  Clearly.

It's getting crowded in the office.  

Another farewell meal, this time at Good Stuff Eatery (the new location in Crystal City): fries, toasted marshmallow milkshake, and smokehouse burger.  This baby wants meat, so the baby gets meat (every once in a while). 

Speaking of baby, the churro is 17 weeks old as of last Monday!  I kind of wish this belly was a bit bigger; hopefully that milkshake helps it along.  
I am a happy camper these days.  Things are slowly but surely moving along in the baby department, we're moving down to Atlanta on Monday and will be moving into our house on March 8, and I'll be spending next weekend in Savannah with some of my favorite girls!  What more could a girl want?

In anticipation of being somewhat unavailable next week, I'll be posting some of my DC favorites on my days.  Monday is best DC restaurants, Wednesday is best places to go with visitors, and Friday will be my absolute most memorable places in the city.  Should be a good time!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dijon Pork Chops

Guys, have you noticed my deep and abiding love for pan sauces yet?  I hope I'm not getting boring with all of these "Sauteed (Something) and Pan Sauce" recipes.  If I am, shout and I will broaden my horizons--Matt would probably thank you.

Start out by melting about 2 tablespoons of butter in your pan.

Salt and pepper the pork chops.  Sear the pork chops for about 4 minutes on each side, then remove them from the pan.

Add minced garlic and scallions to the pan, and allow to cook for about 30 seconds.  In a small bowl, whisk together about 1/4 c. dijon mustard, 1/2 c. chicken broth, and a couple shakes of red wine vinegar.  Add this to the pan, and allow to simmer until reduced slightly.  

Add the pork chops back to the pan, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Sorry, not the best picture, BUT!  This was delicious with wild rice and mixed veggies.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Life and Hard Times

In the midst of packing, I came across this 1933 James Thurber autobiography, which I read for high school English Lit.  Have you read it?  Seriously, it is an absolutely wonderful misanthropic humorous book.  Even better, every event he wrote about took place before he was 25 years old.  Hey, your own 20s could be worth a book!
Thurber grew up in Columbus, Ohio, with his mom, dad, senile grandfather, two brothers, and a cousin who sleeps with camphor next to his bed in case he needs to be revived in the middle of the night.  He includes stories of the night a bed fell on his father in the attic (note: it didn't really), the family dog who bit everyone except his mother, the day the dam in the city broke (note: it didn't really), and his time at Ohio State University.  He's absurd, but incredibly earnest; the stories are short and giggle-worthy; and Thurber's illustrations are charming.  You know he used to be a humorist for The New Yorker?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Soft Scrambled Eggs and Creamy Leeks

Lately, I've been craving comforting foods, ones that require a few simple ingredients and fill the kitchen with homeyness.  This particular meal, from The Sprouted Kitchen, is perfection.  Leeks, the most beautiful and sensual of the onion family (mostly because they don't make me cry!), are combined with butter and a bit of cream until they reach the consistency of silk.  Eggs are scrambled softly and slowly in a cast iron skillet.  Both are put on a plate, and are delicious when served half-and-half on the same fork.
If possible, watch your determined husband create two baguettes out of thin air and serve this meal with  the fruits of his labor.  The only thing that smells better than caramelized, buttery leeks in the kitchen is freshly baked bread.
Oh!  And this meal is equally delicious when served for breakfast.  Just throwing it out there.

Soft Scrambled Eggs and Creamy Leeks (from The Sprouted Kitchen, Sara Forte, 2012)
Modified for a late-night dinner for two people who had a massive lunch; just multiply as needed depending on your own hunger
3 eggs
5 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
4 leeks, cleaned, halved, and sliced into thick half-moons

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Stir in 3 Tbsp. cream, and continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed.  Divide between two plates.
2. Whip eggs with remaining cream until light in color.  Add some salt and pepper.
3. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add eggs.  Allow eggs to set on the bottom, then use a wooden spoon to pull in uncooked portion to the middle.  Keep doing this until all eggs are set, then immediately put onto plate with leeks.
4. Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Haley's Week in Photos

Matt and I had an opportunity to go to the venue for our wedding last weekend, and the weather was beautiful!  I cannot wait to marry that man in such a beautiful setting!

We also sent out to visit Dad and Karen (and Remi)!  I brought a new golf club out to practice my swing, and it was quickly determined that the club was defective.  That's the only possible excuse for my awful showing. 

Library trip!  

Family dinner on Sunday was at Aunt Nesi's, and it was the first time Roxy had seen her boyfriend Matt in years!  She really missed him!

Matt took me out for a wonderful dinner at Ta-boo in Palm Beach for Valentine's day, and I had pan-seared scallops and chocolate mousse and wine.  I was (and still am!) a very happy girl.

And speaking of Valentine's Day, we got all of these adorable cards!  Thank you to Abbi and GINC and Alisen for the extra sunshine yesterday!

This was Layla's outfit yesterday.  She was not impressed.

Abbi's Week in Photos

Last Friday was just awesome, even from the beginning.  I took Mia on her morning walk and, when I got home, JP had made pancakes!  More, please.  

 Then it was off to the Baltimore aquarium!  There were sea anemones...


 ...a big ol' shark tank...

 ...and a very artistically done jellyfish exhibit!  Very cool stuff; I'm glad we could check it off the DC bucket list.

 After the aquarium, we headed to the Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point for some crab dip and fried pickles.  Yum!
(It was a day of wonderful eating.)

 We also headed to the National Building Museum over the weekend.  There's a great space (for kids) where you can build things with big foam blocks.  My kid-at-heart husband was right at home.

 Tuesday was a farewell/surprise baby shower for us at my work!  The women in my office know I love chocolate, so they had a truly delicious cake made for the occasion.  Hard to tell from this angle, but it's a house and stork.  Just unbelievably sweet of them to be so generous and thoughtful.  I work with an amazing group of people.  Today is my official last day, and it's a bittersweet goodbye.

 Check out the shower loot!  Flowers, teeny onesies, hooded bath towels, and tons of great blankets!  As I was unwrapping them, I kept telling JP, "Look how tiny this is!  Oh my goodness, it's so little!"  Finally, he said, "It's going to come out of you," at which point everything seemed massive.

Yeah yeah yeah, it was Valentine's Day yesterday.  Really, we all should have been celebrating Jerry Springer's 69th birthday.  Come on, people.  He's a national treasure.
(Taken on our breakfast date to Baked and Wired.  I got a dirty chai.  Hey, it's Valentine's Day!)

The view from up top.  Getting bigger and bigger; the churro is the size of an avocado this week!