Sunday, December 28, 2014

#308 Spinach and Sausage Spaghetti, By: V

This is an old post from the week before Christmas, but I wanted to get it up soon.  Of course, I don't want to bypass the Christmas holiday!  Most of this week was spent at home.  N is in town from San Francisco and we all had some great quality family time, watching some new Bollywood movies, having a delicious Christmas dinner, and sharing our secret santa dad and I had each other, and I have to say he did a pretty good job!  I see living in a house full of ladies has influenced him somewhat...he gave me a box full of wonderful treats, an infinity scarf, necklace and earring set, a clutch, candles (Indonesian Sandlewood - mmmm!), and even a Chipotle gift card :) He's a smart one! 

While Thanksgiving our family sticks with the traditional main entree of a roast turkey, for Christmas our family usually mixes things up. This year we had chicken pot pie, roasted brussels sprouts and a mixed salad.  During the afternoon we snacked on buffalo chicken dip, sundried tomato cream cheese spread and southwest egg rolls --- along with some delicious sangria and apple cider.  

The table as we're getting it set for Christmas dinner....

But now, it's back to work tomorrow...but, it's a short week and we welcome 2015!! :)  

Now, here's my post for Spinach and Sausage Spaghetti.  

On Tuesday I met up with a close law school friend of mine for happy hour.  The weather was a bit cold and rainy, but we warmed ourselves up with some red wine and delicious Mexican fare.  I met my friend at Fuego Cocina in Arlington.  When we both use to work together we would frequent some of the restaurants in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, but Fuego Cocina was one that we missed. We decided to share the Queso Fundido, which arrived in a cast iron skillet filled with chihuahua and oaxaca cheese, blistered peppers and chorizo crumbled on top.  You simply spread this cheesy filling into one of the warm fresh corn tortillas -- such a simple and delicious cold weather treat!  Next we ordered the Suadero and Baja tacos.  The Suadero tacos are filled with beef brisket, red and white onions, and finely chopped jalapenos.  The Baja tacos are filled with crispy fried tilapia, cabbage and topped with a delicious habanero blood orange crema - sort of the perfectly balance of spicy, sweet and creamy.  It was a wonderful start to the week and a great opportunity to catch up with such a close friend and have some much needed one-on-one girl talk time.  

On Thursday, S and I went to his work holiday party.  I had never been to a holiday party that was at an actual dance club, which was interesting needless to say.  A DJ, Open Bar and some small appetizers, it was a fun evening at Opera.  A late night, turned into a slow start to Friday.  

Yesterday, I grabbed brunch with one of my closest friend's (we've been friends for 14 years!) in North Bethesda at Founding Farmers.  I had the steak and eggs, which came with a biscuit, hash browns and a roasted tomato.  I washed it all down with a Gibraltar.  The Gibraltar hails from San Francisco (shout out to N!), and came out of a need to have a drink taller than a macchiato but shorter than a latte.  It's pretty delicious! 

Now for my recipe this week: 

Sausage & Spinach Spaghetti

16 oz spaghetti (whole grain or regular)
6 oz of baby spinach
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz Italian sausage (casings off)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
24 oz Marinara 
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (Italian flat leaf or curly)


  1. In medium saucepan on low heat, place olive oil, garlic cloves and red chili flakes.  Cooking this on low heat will allow the olive oil to take on the flavors of garlic and red chili slowly.  
  2. Once the garlic turns a golden brown, turn the heat to high and add in the Italian sausage, crumbling it into the pan.  Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage pieces.  
  3. Then add in the washed baby spinach.  Let the spinach cook through so that it appears wilted. 
  4. Add in your cooked spaghetti (use the directions on the box to cook the spaghetti).  
  5. Stir in the marinara.  I used a Bertolli brand marinara sauce, but feel free to use or make any kind of your choosing. 
  6. Stir the whole mixture together and take off the heat.  
  7. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.
Serve with garlic bread and/or a green salad.  I like topping mine off with some fresh grated parmesan cheese and chili flakes. 

Friday, December 19, 2014


#307 - Butter makes it better! by:  N

I love this time of the year filled with guilt free eating.  Its ok to take cream, butter and bread and whip up all kinds of heavenly dishes.  Think about it!  Egg nog?  Would you have that in April just ‘cause?  A big ole’ bird stuffed with bread, sausage and butter.  You feel like eating that in July?  Don’t think so!  I even made some of the Thanksgiving dishes twice!  Yes, I’m horrible!  And I don’t even care!  I went out and bought some good ole REAL butter and let me tell ya….Barefoot Contessa was right!  Butter makes everything better!  You know that “secret” ingredient or flavor that you wonder about in most dishes...its butter people!  I barely ever have it in my “real” life so when I do get that taste for butter...I can’t get over myself.  There is no other time but now to fill up on these delectable dishes that just sound ridiculous at any other time of the year.  So get to it! There is just a couple of more weeks left to indulge ;)

Here is one of the recipes for a dish I whipped favorite!

Grean Bean Casserole

1 packet mushroom gravy mix
2 tablespoon BUTTER
½ cup milk
¼ cup low sodium chicken broth (you can use any kind of broth)
1 packet frozen green beans (who buys canned vegetables anymore!!)
1 box of the fried onions (the traditional green bean casserole recipe  is on this box)
I substituted the cream of mushroom for a roux made with with gravy powder, milk and broth.  The gravy powder has around 200 mg sodium, the cream of mushroom has 870 mg sodium. Something to think about when you make any casserole with these creamed soups!

  1. Melt butter and add the gravy mix and slowly heat for 1 minute
  2. Add milk slowly, while stirring to make sure that the milk doesn’t curdle
  3. Add broth slowly, stirring to create a creamlike substance without lumps
  4. Add the thawed beans, with ½ cup of fried onions and cook slightly
  5. Pour into a greased pan and top with ½ cup more fried onions
  6. Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes


Sunday, December 14, 2014

#306 Chicken Picadillo, By: V

What started as a sore throat quickly became a full blown upper respiratory infection this week.  So, I sat myself at home and became close friends with orange juice, soup, and all the other sick day usuals.  When I was finally feeling a bit better toward the end of the week, I decided to make myself avocado toast.  This quick and healthy treat has made its way around the food blog world and right onto restaurant menus.  I even saw it on a brunch menu for a new D.C. restaurant the other week, the avocado toast was served along with a variety of other toasts (gravalax is a common topper, but now we see avocado, goat cheese and hummus served on top of a crunchy toast base).  I simply took a half avocado and smushed it on top of a crunchy piece of sourdough toast.  Sprinkled with a bit of red chili flakes (or salt/pepper, olive oil, lemon), and bam!  A great side to soup or salad and a nice snack.  

Toward the end of the week I took a visit with my roommate to my favorite burrito spot in Arlington:  Pedro & Vinny's.  They grill the meat fresh to order and have a delicious array of sauces/salsas.  I've never heard of cucumber as a burrito filling, but it's delicious!  I ordered the steak burrito and my roommate ordered the chicken and of course we cut both down the middle to give one half of each to the other person.  What a treat! 

This week's recipe is Ground Chicken Picadillo.  Picadillo is a traditional dish in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines.  It is commonly made with ground beef and tomatoes, and a variety of other ingredients based on region.  This chicken version incorporates green olives, which is commonly seen in the picadillo recipes of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba.  Picadillo can be seen with potatoes, eggs, capers, bell peppers and other ingredients and variations.  This dish is my simpler version.  

Often recipes call for a tablespoon of tomato paste, but all that's available is a full can.  My picadillo recipe includes tomato paste, and I found a great way to use a portion of the tomato paste from a can and saving the rest for other recipes.  A great idea is to empty the can into a ziplock bag, take your finger and separate it out into smaller sections, freeze, and you can then cut off a piece of tomato paste whenever you like and keep the rest back in the freezer.  Hope this proves helpful for some of you!

Ground Chicken Picadillo


1 lb. ground chicken 
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps chopped curly leaf parsley
1/2 small tomato, diced
4 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup green olives
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan.  Once the oil is heated add the garlic and onion.  Cook the onion until translucent.  Then add the ground chicken.  Cook the chicken through until it is no longer pink.  
  2. Turn the slow cooker to high heat.  Add the chicken, onion and garlic mixture to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the tomato, tomato paste, green olives, garlic powder, cumin, bay leaf and water to the pot.  
  4. Cover with a lid and cook on high heat for 1 hour.
  5. Turn the slow cooker off, take the lid off and add salt, pepper and curly leaf parsley to the mixture.  Stir thoroughly and serve on top of rice.

Monday, December 8, 2014

#305 Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Burgers, By: V

Earlier this week S and I went to dinner at Farmers Fishers Bakers down by the Georgetown waterfront.  It was a rare day with gorgeous weather, so we had to take advantage.  And, it was a good thing too, because two days later we'd see the first snow of the season.  S ordered the Crab Cake Sandwich and I had the Cioppino which was filled with shrimp, squid, fish and mussels.  Both were delicious!

On Friday night we went to the Washington Wizards vs. Denver Nuggets game.  The Wizards won!  I've been to two games this season, and the Wizards won both, can't say I'm not thinking I could be a good luck charm (just kidding!).

The following morning, a close college friend of mine and her husband hosted S and I for a nice brunch.  It was a great spread! She served us croissants (Trader Joe's has delicious frozen ones that you can pop in the oven) with nutella and mixed berry jam, turkey bacon, a delicious pancetta basil quiche, yogurt mixed berry parfaits, and potato latkes.  Everything was washed down with mimosas and pumpkin spiced coffees.

After brunch in Rockville we drove out to Reston for my annual work holiday party.  The catering at the holiday party was delicious.  I won't get into all of the food details, but the charred swordfish and chive creamed potatoes were my favorites.  So, after a long weekend, I made these chicken burgers for lunch this week.  

And, thennn I got really sick....

This should explain why there was no post yesterday.  I called out of work today and laid in bed nursing myself to the point where all I have is a throaty deep voice.  Hopefully I'll be back to 100% soon! 

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Burgers - Serves 4 


1 lb. ground chicken 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (or red onion)
1 tbsp goat cheese per patty (so, 4 tbsps total)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp coconut oil

  1. Place the ground chicken in a large bowl.  Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, parsley and onion to the bowl.  Incoporate these ingredients into the meat, but do not over work the meat (this can lead to some pretty dry and tough burgers). 
  2. Form the meat into four patties.  Place on a plate.  Take 1 tbsp of goat cheese and place on the middle of a patty. Do this for all four patties.
  3. Press the cheese into the burger.  You can do also re-form the patty into a ball with the cheese in the middle and press back out into a patty shape.  
  4. Melt the coconut oil in a pan on high heat.  Place the patties into the pan and cook for two minutes on one side.  Flip over and cook for 2 more minutes on the other side.  Lower the cover to medium heat and cover with a lid.  Keep like this for about 4 minutes until the patties are cooked through.  

These can be placed on a whole wheat bun and topped with sliced avocado, tomato, lettuce or spinach, whatever you like.

Often burger recipes involve adding breadcrumbs, eggs, or milk soaked bread to the meat mixture to act as a binder.  I prefer to avoid any of these fillers, and I've found that the burgers will stay together fine, as long as you gently flip them over and take care to form the patties so that they are tight.

Friday, December 5, 2014

#304 Thanksgiving and a Leftover Turkey Dinner Idea, By: V

Well, we're over a week past Thanksgiving, but thought I'd still put up a Thanksgiving post and quick recipe to use your leftover turkey.  I'm guessing at this point all that turkey is over, and if it isn't you should probably toss it!  But, if you've decided to freeze some turkey or you enjoy making turkey, then here's a simple recipe you can keep on hand, Shredded Turkey Enchiladas with Red Sauce.   

This will be a brief post, and I'll be back on Sunday with another blog post. 

Here's a picture of the turkey fresh from the oven.  This year N stayed in San Francisco, and decided on an extended stay for the Christmas-New Year holidays.  But, we managed to Skype with her during the latter half of our food fest.  Since it was just our parents and me, we made a smaller turkey breast, gravy, green bean casserole (N's favorite),  baked sweet potatoes, cranberry-ginger chutney, and stuffing with a mix of roasted vegetables.  

Our dad carving the turkey...

The table all set.  Of course, we'd have some red wine too!

I was at our parents house for four days, so on one of the days our mom (Malli) and I made a load of cookies to share with our respective work colleagues.  These are sugar cookie blossoms with a caramel hershey kiss in the middle, but, this wasn't all.  We also made cranberry organge biscotti, ginger molasses cookies, mint chocolate chip cookies, toffee walnut cookies, and coconut macaroons! My friends at work loved every last one.

And noww....the enchiladas :) I shared these with S when we both got back to D.C. from visiting our parents.  He loved them just as much as I did.

Yes, they're just that creamy and gooey.

Shredded Turkey Enchiladas


12 flour tortillas
3 cups shredded turkey
2 8 oz. packets of Frotera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce
                                with roasted tomato + garlic
8 oz. or 2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz. sour cream

  1. Take your turkey and shred the meat into a large bowl.  Measure out about 3 cups of turkey meat. 
  2. Take one of the Frontera enchilada sauce packets and empty it over the shredded turkey.  Mix thoroughly.  
  3. Warm your tortillas over a gas burner or stove top.  
  4. Spread a layer of sour cream on one side of the tortilla along with a sprinkle of the shhredded cheese. 
  5. Take one tablespoon of the chicken mixture and spread it evenly down the center middle of the tortilla.  Roll the tortilla and place it in a baking dish.  Keep doing this with all of the tortillas. 
  6. Top the rolled tortillas with a layer of sour cream and empty the other packet of enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas.  Top with the remaining cheese.  
  7. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  

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