Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lemon Bars

I had never made homemade lemon bars but after making these, I thought to myself, "Why Would anyone not make these homemade?". This is by far one of the simplest things I have ever made and it was so delicious too. I oddly made these for halloween...i'm not quite sure why but I did and everyone seemed to enjoy them.

Adapted from: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

For the Crust
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 Cups of Flour
1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs
3 Cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of fresh grated lemon zest (about 4-6 lemons)
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (from those zested lemons)
1 cup of flour
Confectioners' sugar for dusting on top

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer

3) Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.

4) Dump the dough onto a well-floured cutting board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 30 minutes.

5) Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let it cool but leave the oven on.

6) For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

7) Dust with confectioner's sugar.

8) Share and ENJOY!

I really loved these lemon bars and they are so simple. If bringing them to a friend's, I recommend cutting them into little "bars". Makes it easier to serve and eat.

Made: 10/30/10

Posted: 01/12/10

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie andddd CRUST!

As you will be able to tell soon, if you already were not able to, I really enjoy Joy the Baker's Blog. She is super legit, funny and her recipes are very easy to follow.

Sweet Potato Pie is a family thanggg where I come from, but I knew that if I had any intention of making Sweet Potato Pie for the upcoming holidays, I needed to start working on perfecting it now. I took to the Joy the Baker to find a basic recipe for Sweet Potato Pie, and then I proceeded to call my aunts to find out if this is essentially what they was.

However, to be super ambitious, I decided to make the crust too. I had never made the bottom to a pie, so I thought that I would give it a go and although it is much more of a time consuming process, at least you know the ingredients are real and not all of that processed mumbo jumbo.

Ingredients for the Crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature

2 Tablespoons cold milk

Directions for CRUST

1) Whisk together (in a medium sized bowl) flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.

2) Add frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater and tablespoon of cream cheese.

3) Time to get "dirty"- work the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture, breaking the butter and cream cheese up until they’re in well incorporated into the flour. A little crumbly...

4) Combine the milk and oil.]and add to the flour/butter mixture. With a fork, begin to combine the ingredients, making sure that all of the flour mixture is introduced to the liquid.

5) Once mixed (doesn't have to be perfect) and place it into a clean 9-inch pie plate. With your fingers, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides. Molt to the pie plate as evenly as possible but don't worry about your finger indentations.

6) Place the prepared crust in the freezer while you preheat the oven and prepare your filling.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Pie Filling

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon of cloves ( I switched this up from the coriander in the original recipe)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2- 5oz cans evaporated milk (1 1/4 cups evaporated milk)

3 large eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Directions for Sweet Potato Pie Filling

1) Boil two medium sweet potatoes in their jackets in a covered pot over moderate flame, until sweet potatoes are very soft and tender. Make sure a knife can go through a potato very quick and smooth.

2) Drain your potatoes and let them cool.

4) When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes, cut into chunks and place in a large bowl. Mash potatoes thoroughly with a potato masher. NO lumpssss.

5) Measure 2 cups and put in a medium sized pot with the packed brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves , salt, the 1/2 stick butter, and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk.

6) Cook on low flame for about 5 minutes, whipping with a wire whisk until butter and brown sugar are melted down and mixture is well blended, smooth and starts to bubble. Remove from fire and let cool in pot.

7) In a medium sized bowl, beat the three eggs with a fork. Add the second 5oz can of evaporated milk, granulated sugar and vanilla to the eggs and continue beating until creamy.

8) Pour the cooled sweet potato mixture from pot into a large bowl. Stir in the egg mixture. Blend thoroughly with a whisk and pour into your crust.

9) Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a cookie sheet inside.

10) After the crust is heated, pour the filling into the pie shell and place it onto the cookie sheet.

11) Bake at 450 for ten minutes and then turn your oven down to 325 and bake for 50minutes-1hr. The edges and the center will be slightly raised but shake to make sure the center is set.

12) Remove from oven. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before serving.


Things I have learned: the first time takes the greatest amount of time. As I continued to make this recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my speed of preparation increased greatly (I guess that is true for every recipe). Additionally, this is super delicious and completely worth the time. I will admit that I started using the pre-made crusts for the holiday season which obviously cut down on the time and was just as delicious. Sorry, the pre-made crusts win out this battle for me. I heavily recommend the "Oronoque Orchards" brand of pie crust. Gah, I want some pie like now...OH and this can be gluten-free using a gluten free pie crust!

MADE: 10/28/10, 11/24/10, 12/24/10
Posted: 01/12/11

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Oh Hey Joy. I made another one of your delicious treats. I love that browned butter thing you told me to do because it has done magical things for the baked goodies coming out of my kitchen. Thanks. you're the best.

Needless to say, I baked something delicious from Joy the Baker. This standard White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie was definitely taken to new heights with the addition of browned butter. I've been told that it adds a "nuttiness" flavor and frankly, i just thought the people telling me this were a little nutty. However, I tried it and I have to agree...Browned Butter is the way to go.

Adapted from: Joy the Baker


1/2 cup (1 stick) BUTTER (and only BUTTER)

1 cup packed light brown sugar (or dark...if you prefer)

2 Tablespoons milk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

1 cup white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli just tastes better)


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) In a medium saucepan melt the butter, swirling and stirring the butter until nicely browned bits appear in the bottom of the pan (about 5-7 minutes).

3) Once the butter is browned, remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.

4) Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer add the brown sugar and slightly cooled butter. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

5) Add egg and beat for one more minuteeeee.

6) Add milk and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

7) Turn the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients all at once.

8) Incorporate the dry ingredients until just mixed in and fold in the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips.

9) Scoop two teaspoon sized balls onto a lined baking sheet.

10) Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are deliciously golden.

11) Share and Enjoy!

Well, I love this recipe. I love that it is very easy and that simple of step of browning the butter adds so much more flavor. I also love the size of the cookies...I hate a flat cookie (unless it is a "snap" and I hate a hard cookie but this cookie is perfectly bite size and filling. However, I can not promise that you won't go for more than one...

Made: 10/26/10

Posted: 01/11/11

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

I believe in baking for the season. What I mean by that is, the fall is all about apple and pumpkin, so I was trying to infuse those two ingredients into all of my recipes. I had always seen those bags of butterscotch morsels in the isle next to the choco chips, etc...but i had never picked them up. However, this recipe looked so simple and busy, so I thought I had no choice. Don't get me wrong, I love me some butterscotch, but I just never had any inspiration to bake with them before but thanks to my good bud, Joy, I finally received that motivation I needed to make something magically butterscotch happen in the kitchen.

Oh did I mention that pumpkin was involved too? Adapted from Joy the Baker


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola ( I just used standard vegetable oil)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup butterscotch chips


1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil (the original recipe used parchment paper...which you have to butter) and butter the paper.

2)Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.

3) In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute.

4) On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.

5) Using a spoon/ice cream scoop/1/4 cup scoop/your hands, scoop mounds of the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart.

6) Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm, about 16 minutes.

7) Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack (or I just use a plate) to cool.

8) Share and Enjoy!

These are like pillowy bundles of deliciousness. They are so fluffy and jam packed with flavor, you can definitely not eat just one. Everyone raved about these bad boys and they really hold their own. Definitely a cookie recipe that everyone should have and use. often.

Made: 10/26/10

Posted: 01/12/11

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Sadly, this is not a movie review of that adorable movie. However, do not fret. This is a recipe of my first attempt at this staple entree meal in any chef's cooking adventures or road to becoming a chef. Something like that. Obviously, I am no Top Chef but I like to have my own "Julie and Julia" food adventures in the kitchen as you may have noticed and so one night, I decided to try out this infamous dish.

There are so many Ratatouille recipes out there, so it was just finding which one was closest to the fresh veggies that I had on hand. I think that I will definitely be trying this dish again in various forms, but more on that later.

I adapted this recipe from Palachinka


2 zucchinis

1 Large Eggplant

1 Red bell pepper (I didn't have one on hand...weird i know, so i used 1 red and 1 yellow )

1 Yellow bell pepper

1 big Onion (red or white or yellow)

1 small tomato (but I used a pint of grape tomatoes and halved them)

1 clove garlic

1 Cup of crumbled Feta or Goat Cheese

olive oil

various dried herbs: rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives....etc (whatever you have on hand and fits your taste buds)

salt and pepper to taste


1) Preheat your oven to 325

2) Slice zucchinis, eggplants, larger onion and peppers as thin as possible

3) Line them in a artistic fashion in either a OILED round, square or rectangular baking pan on an oiled round baking pan in the following order ( I think it looks pretty if you have a similar pattern) .

4) Continue your pattern until you have used the ingredients.

5) Pour oil on top of the veggies.

6) Halve the cherry tomatoes or thinly slice your regular tomatoes and de-seed them. Also mince your garlic clove. Add both the tomatoes and garlic to the pan.

7) Finally, top with various herbs, salt and black pepper and a dash of water. Sprinkle with herbs, salt and black pepper and pour very little water so the vegetables don’t burn inside the oven.

8) Bake in a preheated oven on 325°C for about 10-15 minutes.

9) Top with Feta or Goat Cheese ( I just like the added flavor)

10) Bake for another 15 minutes.

11) Share and Enjoy!

Made: 10/24
Posted: 01/12

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats

Well, they are not actually as adventurous as they sound, but nevertheless, I thought they were pretty ingenious.

for best buddy of BOOF's birthday (Mo), I wanted to send her something delicious and GLUTEN FREE to celebrate it with since I could not be there myself. It was fall and I love me some pumpkin and I know that Mo does too, but I wanted to do something other than a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread because I needed to overnight whatever I was making. Because of their gluten-free nature, I decided on a Rice Krispie Treat of the Pumpkin variety. Now, I was not able to find some ingenious way to add to infuse the pumpkin into the rice krispies, but what I did was pretty stellar and i even had enough to give some to my classmates...who loved it too.


1 Box of Rice Krispies (but you'll only need about 8 cups)
1 Pack of Marshmallows (mini or regular)
1 1/4 cup of pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 cup of Confectionery sugar


1) Follow the directions on the box for making rice krispie treats :-)

2) Spread rice krispie treats into 9x13 or 9x9 pan

3) Add Pumpkin and Cream Cheese together and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of confectionery sugar to the pumpkin and cream cheese and mix well. Check the consistency and flavor. If too thick, add some more confectioners sugar.

4) Once icing is too your liking, spread on top of the rice krispie treats.

5) Share and Enjoy!

Man o man. these are quite tasty. It is not too inventive but yet it is quick, easy and delicious.

Posted: 12/28/10
Made: 10/17/10

Pasta with Mushrooms and Pumpkin Gorgonzola Sauce

Sometimes you make something that says that it is "cooking light" but really, it feels heavy BUT it also feels delicious, so then you just go with it. well, that is what this dish was for me.

When I first perused through my cooking light book, I came upon this recipe and immediately was sold. I love pumpkin, I love mushrooms and I LOVE cheese, so I may or may not have felt that this recipe was a god's gift to me. I had wanted to make this numerous times before but I ran into some issues with certain grocery stores not selling gorgonzola (really, who does that?) and other random dilemmas. However, the day finally came where I had all the ingredients to whip up this gem of deliciousness.

  • 1 pound uncooked pennette (small penne)-- I am certain I just used regular penne...and I used about 3/4 of a standard box
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 3/4 pound whole mushrooms)-- I used white sliced because that is what I had :-)
  • 4 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage-- yeah, didn't use this
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
  • Fresh sage sprigs (optional)-- yeah, didn't use these...I know, I lack when it comes to fresh herbs but I am on a serious budget here!

1) Boil water and cook pasta but make sure to keep it warm.

2) Heat oil in a Dutch oven (or any largish pot/pan with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic; cover and cook 3 minutes.

3) Uncover; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

4) Combine milk, cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir with a whisk.

5) Add cornstarch mixture and cheese to milk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Cook 2 minutes or until thick and smooth, stirring constantly.

6) Remove from heat; stir in pumpkin, salt, pepper, nutmeg and a tablespoon of brown sugar(my special ingredient).

7) Add pasta and pumpkin mixture to mushroom mixture; toss well to combine. Top with fresh herbs, if you like that sort of stuff.

8) Share and Enjoy!

I may or may not love this dish. It is a little time consuming but I had leftovers for almost the entire following week, so it was definitely worth it. I find that if you use canned pumpkin (as I do), there can be a strange after taste. This may just be me, so I added some brown sugar to add some more flavor but also to help mediate that weird taste.

Posted: 12/29/10
Made: 10/17/10

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Plum Pie

it's no secret. i really do look up to deb @ smitten kitchen, heidi@ 101 cookbooks and joy @ joythebaker, an enormous amount. I love when I check my email in the morning and i have something delicious to potentially create awaiting me in my inbox. oh the little pleasures of life.

i had some plums that i needed to use up and i always have some apples when this gem popped into my inbox, i knew I would be in business. I also undertook this adventure because i had never made a pie before! Although this is a single crust pie, so it's kinda is still a pie in a form!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Single Crust aka "The Lid"
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup plus 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse or flaky salt (or less of table salt)
Milk or cream, for brushing crust
Coarse or fine sugar, for sprinkling crust ( I actually used some brown sugar)

1 pound ripe plums of your liking (i.e. quartered and pitted)
1 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Squeeze or two of orange or lemon juice

Special Addition: 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg



the lid:

1) In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.

2) Mix in the lightly beaten egg and scrape down sides.

3) Slowly add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until combined.

4) Scrape dough into a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes, or until firmed up.

Meanwhile...Assemble the pie:

5) Preheat oven to 350°F

6) Butter a pie or baking dish....gotta love that pyrex!

7) Add the fruit and spinkle it with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange or lemon juice.

8) Gently toss the ingredients together once or twice

9) Roll out the firmed-up lid dough on a very well floured counter and gently lift it onto the pie and trim the overhang. It will most likely tear (use those little torn pieces to patch up your holes :-) )

10) Brush the crust with milk (and melted butter), sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 40 minutes, until lightly golden on top.

11) If you would like, serve with ice cream or whipped cream BUT this beauty stands alone just as well.

12) Share and Enjoy!

Notes: I may or may not have eaten this pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the following two days. be prepared for that. so good. make this. share this. I would also potentially just try the same thing with a (god forbid) pre-frozen deep dish crust just to give the entire whole pie appeal. but this is delicious, quick and easy.

POSTED: 12/28
Made: 10/15

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sicilian Gnocchi with Eggplant

gnocchi. gnocchi. gnocchi.

there is just something about that word that can make a girls heart just crumble. the thought of those pillowy balls of pasta potato dressed in some delicious outfits...they really can be the life of the party.

although i am not at the homemade gnocchi place in my life yet (but soon!), i have found some super duper tasty things to do with gnocchi. I've think we've had fun with two gnocchi dishes before with the Fire Roasted Gnocchi the Lemon Gnocchi from a while back but for this dish, I thought I would take it "Sicilian Style".

I really had no idea what this meant but the blog that I adapted it from made it look delicious and super vegetarian, so I was all in.

Adapted from: Vegalicious

  • 1 package gnocchi (shelf stable...can be found at most local grocery markets)
  • 1 eggplant, cubed in small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 Cup of small cubed tofu
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato chunks
  • 2 handfuls raisins (yes, even I...the girl who doesn't like raisins...put raisins in the dish)
  • Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, thyme)...whatever you have in your fridge/cupboard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Nutmeg

  1. Boil the Gnocchi and boil until they float to the top.
  2. Drain the Gnocchi from the water and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the eggplant, onions and garlic in the oil until the eggplant begins to soften and the onion becomes glassy.
  4. Add the ground tofu.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, raisins and Italian seasonings.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
  7. To serve, either add the gnocchi to the sauce, or serve the gnocchi with the sauce on top.
  8. Share and Enjoy!!!
I really enjoyed this dish and it was really easy to make and really delicious. I love finding individuals who are dedicated to finding filling, healthy and tasty vegetarian meals...that are also well-balanced! it is a hard task but this definitely fits the bill and I would definitely make this again!

Actually Posted: 12/29/10
Made: 10/12/2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

DC Noodles

Stop 2 of Birthday Weekend in DC.

Apparently, I was trying to make up for all the time that I didn't spend in U Street during my time in one weekend. I met up with good buddy of Boof, Rach, for lunch at DC Noodles.

After hearing numerous good reviews from lots of buds, I decided to try out this place out. DC Noodles used to be formerly known as "Simply Home" and "", but nothing really changed in the U Street restaurant. Upon entering, the decor is very deco-modern with a cement floor, hardwood tables, and white deco seating. It features red walls and the bar is lined with those similar high white deco seats. The design scheme is very clean.

the menu is filled with every sort of noodle you could possibly imagine, so the biggest problem is making a decision. I ordered the Crispy and and Soft Tofu in the Spicy Broth which is served with soy and lime dressing, ground peanuts, bean sprouts, string beans, carrots, cilantro, spring onion and I ordered it with the thin rice noodles (but you can also have thick rice noodles). I was extremely happy with my choice as the flavor profile was spot on with a nice complexity and a lot of subtle seasonings coming through. Don't worry for all my meat lover buds, you can also choose to have chicken, pork, beef, seafood, shrimp & meatball, fish meatball & crab meatball, and vietnamese pork sausages...essentially, there is something for everyone.

there are various other dishes that I would love to try, so I am sure that when I get back to DC one of these days, I will find myself at DC noodles again. they also have a nice selection of appetizers, and various other non-soup/broth noodle dishes. the restaurant also features a full bar which is a nice touch with what appeared to be some very tasty mix drinks on the menu.

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to DC Noodles. I know that best buddy of BOOF, Mo, really loves it because they use rice noodles which is obviously beneficial to Gluten-Free buds. I think everyone can find something that they will enjoy on this menu for a very reasonable price tag. If I still lived in DC, I could definitely see myself coming here more often.

Grade: B+

U Street Cafe

This was the first foodie stop on my Birthday weekend way back when I visited my former stomping grounds, Washington DC.

I met up with BOOF buds, Brookster and Clairebear and Clairebear's new hubby(!), Grantsky. We met for breakfast at the small comfortable, U Street Cafe, most aptly named. U Street Cafe is located in the fantastic hipster and historical U Street Neighborhood of DC and the cafe is well known for it's really great coffee selection as well as their ALL DAY breakfast menu. They automatically received a point in my book...breakfast is THE best meal.

Although the location is small, it definitely gives it a more intimate and friendly feel in a very busy part of town. It has nice open windows in the front of the cafe which provides a host of natural light which definitely allows the cafe to feel bigger than it actually is.

For breakfast, Clairebear and Grantsky ordered the "Omelet as you like it" which also came with two pieces of toast and homefries. They had a whole bunch of delicious things in that omelet and they really enjoyed it. They also said the homefries had a good seasoning to them as well.

Brookster ordered the Breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese on an everything bagel. She said that it was really tasty, but it was a standard breakfast sandwich so nothing too special.

I ordered the veggie quiche which came with a side of fresh fruit and I really enjoyed it. I could tell the veggies were very fresh and there wasn't an overwhelming amount of egg and cheese to the veggies. Very well done.

Overall, I really enjoyed my breakfast at U Street Cafe. I would definitely venture back there for a day of studying or just a quick cup of coffee to catch up with friends. It is a good quick, inexpensive and filling meal for those of us young professionals/students on a budget. They also serve lunch and have a variety of sandwiches, but why eat lunch when you can eat breakfast all day long!?!

Grade: B

There are so many things to do in U is hard to list them all. However, I think DC's best kept secret is Meridian Hill Park, so take your coffee to go and go for a stroll at the park located nearby.

Skewers Restaurant

yes, we finally made it to the birthday dinner. BOOF buddy, Twin, and I share the same birthday (get the nickname, twin), so for our birthday weekend/my triumphant return to the district, we planned to have a large group of friends get together for dinner. Oh and ALSO, it was also the triumphant return of BOOF buddy, Dotus, and his birthday was a week prior, so we were celebrating him too! Boom Bam Thank Ya OCTOBER.

We had originally planned to go to Pizza Paradisio and then head to Biergarten Haus. Unfortunately, Pizza Paradisio doesn't take reservations (sad day because the pizza is delicious), and the Biergarten was all booked up. This left us scrambling for somewhere to go in the last minute. We had decided on La Moma but as you obviously can tell, I had already been there with Twin, so I honestly wanted to try something new and different. I got to opentable and tried to see what was out there, and I found this restaurant, Skewers, which was well rated AND could accompany a party of 20 that evening! woohooo.

Skewers is a Middle Eastern Restaurant and is partnered to the Mediterranean Restaurant, Cafe Luna. Cafe Luna is located on the basement/ground floor level of a Restored townhouse in Dupont, and Skewers is located on the upper level. Despite being under the same management and being located on top of each other, each restaurant has a very distinct feel, decor and identity. Skewers is filled with a lot of mosaic and middle eastern decor but all composed of very warm colors and dim but comfortable lighting.

Because we had such a large party, I was lazy and only reviewed my dish. However, I can say that everyone really enjoyed the whole experience and their food, most of all. However, as a table did order Hummus which was nice, fresh and extremely tasty. For my meal, I ordered the Shrimp Biryani and numerous members of the table also ordered Lamb and Beef Biryani. Biryani is a traditional Indian/Middle Eastern/Arab dish with spiced rice, sauteed vegetables and your choice of Kabob. I decided on Shrimp rather than the usual mixed vegetables and was really happy with my choice. Not only did they not skimp out on the amount of shrimp that they gave me (which usually happens in most restaurants), but the dish had a lot of great flavor and seasoning throughout.

There are numerous other dishes available at Skewers, and I think it is a great destination for a mid/large group celebration. There is also a Belly Dancing performance during dinner hours, which is fun but also kinda weird after it goes on for a few songs. Nevertheless, I had a really enjoyable time at Skewers and it was the perfect foodie and fun end to my DC return Birthday Weekend.

Grade: B+

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mushroom Lasagna

Best guy friend of BOOF, Finance P, was stopping in on his way back to good ol' fishkill so I promised him dinner. I decided to be ambitious and make this Mushroom Lasagna that I had seen posted on Smitten Kitchen the day before.

This was my first adventure in making lasagna, despite my mastery of casseroles, so I knew it was going to be an adventure...i only could hope it would turn out well.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen


Olive oil
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used less, because this seemed like a lot)
1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms (I just used sliced white)

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 cup of Shredded Mozzarella

1) Preheat your oven to 375°F.

2) Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil, that will help keep your noodles from sticking together as they drain. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3) Making the sticky sauce: Bring the milk and garlic to simmer in a saucepan,

4) Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in a large saucepan.

5) Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring

constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, and nutmeg.

6) Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside.

7) Prepare mushrooms: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in a large sauté pan. Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly.

8) Assemble lasagna: Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top*, then more sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), 1/3 of the mushrooms and 1/4 cup grated parmesan and mozzarella. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining sauce and last 1/4 cup of parmesan and mozzarella.

9) Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

10) Share and Enjoy!

Well, this was really good but I definitely have a few things to work on for my next lasagna attempt. Make sure your lasagna cooks evenly...I had a slight problem with that. My sauce always was a little thicker then I believe it's supposed to I might try to add some more milk the next time or I may have let it reduce too much. So don't do that. :-) Overall, if you like mushrooms (as both of us did), then you'll love this.

POSTED: 12/28/10

Made: 10/07/10

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

peanut butter is delicious.

do i really need to say more than that?

i guess i'll give you a little bit more of a preface. good new buddy of BOOF, Scrimalls, was taking her big test and so I wanted to make sure that I made her something special and delicious to celebrate the culmination of the end of that test. I subtly asked her what her favorite flavor profiles were to get an idea of what i would make. she told me that she enjoyed mostly anything but especially peanut butter. Clearly, we were meant to be friends. So, I got to baking. I knew that I would make some standard Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies but I also wanted to make something a little more special than that. I got to searching and found this gem...

Not only was I really excited to just make these from a pure "peanut butter gives me joy" standpoint, but I also was excited because I think this was actually the first thing that I made from Joy the Baker. Needless to say, I love her.

For the Blondies:

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 5 cubes

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 cup smooth and natural peanut butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the Icing

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted-- I actually omitted this because I was lazy and just added some more cocoa as needed.


For the Blondies

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2) Grease a 9×13-inch pan (you can also line it with parchment paper...if you choose to do so)

3) In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted.

4) Remove from the burner and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the peanut butter. Stir until incorporated.

5)Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Make sure it is cool because you don't want scrambled eggs!

6) Whisk together salt, flour and baking powder.

7) Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated.

8) Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (really, let it cool).

Directions for the Milk Chocolate Frosting

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cocoa powder and salt.

2) Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar followed by 1 tablespoon milk. Beat well.

3) Add another cup of powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk.

4) Add cocoa powder as necessary and beat to incorporate.

5) Add the final 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if you need a bit more thickness. Spread evenly over peanut butter blondies.

6) Oh my goodness, please go Share and ENJOY!!!

These were delicious. yeah, they were really good. If you don't like peanut butter, than you obviously will have some issues with this but really, these were delicious. go make some. I'm also going to try and attempt to find away to make these gluten-free...I feel like it wouldn't be that hard with all the peanut butter.

Posted: 12/29/10
Made: 10/06/10