From Demo to Homemade…delicious find

I was at Whole Foods last week and they of course had all sorts of food demos/samples out in the store.  One was this delicious salad that they were charging a good amount for and extra to add salmon or chicken to.  I looked at the ingredients and mentioned how I’d love to just make it at home.  The girl doing the demo said quietly ‘just google it under Martha Stewart…’  Score!  So, last night I served some wonderful Toasted-Quinoa Saute with Lemony Cabbage and Dill with Pan Seared Chicken. There aren’t too many ingredients in the recipe:

IMG_02021 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed well
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 head Savoy cabbage (about 1 pound), cored and thinly sliced lengthwise, divided
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 ounces pitted large green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Cerignola, halved (about 3/4 cup) — picked up basic green at Trader Joe’s
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

Step 1

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir in quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to high, and cook until water evaporates and quinoa is dry and tender, about 5 minutes (stir frequently to prevent scorching).  *I just cooked it like regular quinoa.

Step 2

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown in places, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining cabbage.


Step 3

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Return sauteed cabbage to skillet, add quinoa, and raise heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is toasted and crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chickpeas, olives, and lemon zest and juice, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in dill, and serve with yogurt.


The salad was amazing!  And, it’s dairy-free and gluten free!  We enjoyed it with two whites (one was opened earlier in the night).  Chalk Hill 2011 Sauvignon Blanc and Chateau St. Jean 2010 Chardonnay.



And for dessert we had some of the wonderful Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet.  That stuff is deadly!


Brasserie Beck

I was very fortunate this week to be able to return to a restaurant I visited several years ago, though this time it was just for a basic corporate lunch.  It was nonetheless just as amazing.  The location, Brasserie Beck in Washington, DC.  It’s a “contemporary European style brasserie” with a basic yet widespread menu.  Both times I’ve been there they have made amazing accommodations for dietary restrictions (lactose intolerance).  The first time the chef wanted to make something totally new as a challenge.

They are well known for their beer selection, boasting 9 Belgium drafts and over 100 Belgium bottles.  Darn, why was I there on a business lunch this past time?

For my meal I enjoyed an amazing Diver Scallops Salad — Avocado, Citrus, Shaved Fennel and Rocket Salad.  This is where they used oil to pan sear the scallops vs. butter.


My colleagues each enjoyed the Grilled Hanger Steak Salad — Mixed Greens, Charred Scallions, Warm Fingerling Potato Salad, Blue Cheese.

None of us had a bite of food left on our plates.  Would recommend checking this place out for lunch, dinner or just a nice happy hour.

From Spanish to Asian

There was a stat a few years ago that Bethesda has the most restaurants per capita in the country.  Not surprising.  And, as mentioned on a recent post, new places are opening all the time.  What can also be great about living right here is that these new restaurants send you coupons for FREE food.  Ahh, that lovely, rarely heard word.  Love it.  So, recently, another new place that opened its doors is Shophouse.  Ever heard of a place called Chipotle?  Yeah, thought so.  Owned by the same people, Shophouse just took inspiration from another continent.  So, the Asian flair is coming into play now and it’s pretty cool.  You (only) get a bowl (as in no burritos, my friends), pick your rice, meats, veggies, sauces, toppings, check out, eat.  They also note that the entire menu is dairy free and gluten free.


To start, you get brown or  jasmine rice, noodles or salad.

Then you pick meat — grilled chicken satay, grilled steak laab, chicken & pork meatballs or tofu.

Next veggies — broccoli, charred corn, eggplant and thai basil or green beans.

Then sauces — tamarind vinaigrette, green curry, spicy red curry.

To be followed by garnishes — green papaya slaw, pickles, herb salad.

And rounded out by toppings — toasted rice, crispy garlic, crushed peanuts, thai chilis.

You can get samples of everything so it’s a great way to get a taste of things.  They have fires/flames next to options that indicate levels of heat.  As in the green beans, hello!  You can also divide ingredients, as in get half/half.  So, say get corn and broccoli.  But, you can’t go three ways without paying extra.

I opted for a brown rice and lettuce with grilled chicken satay.  Then topped it with broccoli, corn and eggplant (yes, went extra), papaya slaw and herb salad and peanuts.  Then handed them my nice FREE coupon so the price was great (got the 3rd veggie for free because it was my first time there, so nice!). The regular cost for the chicken bowl was about $6.80, and it was huge.  I easily got 2 meals out of it.  So, another place to check out if you want to add to your list.


Christmas Eve Posole

This year I am celebrating Christmas with my family in a new location and we did something new for Christmas Eve dinner.  We went to their neighbor’s house for a laid-back, several-family gathering.  The main dish was a seafood bisque and I offered to bring a non-dairy dish because of my lactose intolerance.  I hadn’t had posole for awhile, it just sounded good, it’s quick and easy and with the wind howling around here in CO my mind was set.

I have relied on Cooking Light’s recipe for quite awhile and just had to quickly pull it up.


1 pound tomatillos — I always just use a big jar of green salsa
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds chicken breast halves, skinned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered (I’m a wimp for heat, use 1)
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 teaspoon salt

(These are toppings)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream $
8 lime wedges


The hardest part of this at the start is chopping the onions (just makes me cry…).


After they’re chopped, you just throw them, the chicken stock, chicken breasts, garlic, jalapeno, hominy and salt into a pot and bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 30+ minutes until the chicken is cooked.


Then, you take the chicken out and shred it.  And while you’re shredding it, you’ve added the tomatillos (or salsa) to the pot.



After the chicken is shredded, throw it back in there, heat everything through.


Then serve with cilantro, chips and sour cream, if you’d like.  Great addition to dinner!!  There was not much left at all.


HOP Part I

There are acronyms for far too many things in this world and I will take any chance to make a play on them.  So, for this blog, HOP stands for Hearts of Palm.  Ever wonder what they really are?  That’s what Wikipedia is for!!  Check it out.

I love the things (or swamp cabbage as Wikipedia just taught me).  I buy them at Costco where you can get two huge jars for about $8.  Anyway, I was having a gathering at my place this afternoon and threw together this great Heart of Palm Salad (HOPS) that somebody gave me the recipe for years ago.  It is beyond basic and great for light fare.


1 lb hearts of palm
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice (lime is better)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
2 or 3 heads of endive

All you have to do is drain and rinse the HOP then cut them into small pieces.  Throw them in a bowl.  Then, in another bowl mix together the lemon or lime juice, mustard, S&P.  Whisk in the oil until the mixture’s thick and blended.  Pour the dressing over the HOP and toss to mix.  Divide the endive leaves and fill each one with a bite-size scoop of the salad.  Done!  Great for parties because they require no silverware for eating (finger-food), are safe at room-temp for awhile, are dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian, and heck, fairly healthy.  So, all around, can please many palates.



As the food fun progresses (we know it will never end), I was able to check out another new place the other night (it’s been my true week of fun!).  After DC and Pizza Pi, I went to downtown Annapolis and per a friend’s suggestion checked out Red Red Wine Bar.  Hmmm, the name had me sold and when I knew what I was about to write, I had to pour myself a glass of such liquid to set the recap scene.

You walk in and see both beer AND WINE on tap…that’s one you don’t spot all that often.  Happy hour runs until 7 and includes a tap wine, ‘regular’ white & red (as in from bottles with corks or screws tops), beer and a unique sangria.  The atmosphere and decor are very nice and there are wine bottles for sale.

Wine menu-wise, you can get wine by the glass, flight or bottle.  They also have a full bar.

I sampled the sangria — super sweet, they had to add soda water to make it drinkable, had a flight of Pinot (CA, OR and NZ tastes) then had a wine on tap — interesting — a little too chilled, but worth the taste.

We had dinner and the food was good — I opted for seared scallops with couscous as did another at the table, while another opted for shrimp creole.  We then had a cheese plate for dessert.  Did you know even lactards (or those who are lactose intolerant) can eat, or should be able to eat, Manchego?  It’s from sheep milk!  I found this out last year…happiness.  Amazing Manchego plate with apples, dried cranberries, pecans and honey.

In the end, great overall evening, would definitely go back.  This is a great place to go when you have a variety of palettes, from drinkers to eaters.




The pesto-like dip was tested the other night with no complaints!

Then, the next day came about for taking a friend around DC.  Between museums, one must eat!  So, after going to pizzeria #1 and having a long wait, we opted for pizzeria #2…longer wait.  What now?  We stumbled upon another restaurant/pizzeria in the Gallery Place/Chinatown area that was amazing…District of Pi.  The restaurant is based in St. Louis and this location has been in DC for about 1.5 years.

Table-wise, no wait at 12:15pm on a Thursday (though we opted for the bar).  Great beer-on-tap selection and many pizza options, both thin crust and deep dish.  We opted for one of the thin crust specials of white bean, chicken, chorizo and arugula, requesting half with/half without cheese because of my lactose intolerance.

Now, the order was place AFTER great conversation about, and tasting of, the beer on tap.    They have amazing brews available and the bartender gave me samples of nearly half a dozen before I opted for a wonderful Bell’s Amber.

When the pizza arrived, it was amazing — thin, hot, perfectly ‘halved’ cheese-wise and delicious.  And, nice beer pairing, too.

If you’re in the DC area, I would highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s just about a block from the normal ‘turf’ of Gallery Place/Chinatown and amazing.

pi pi_beer pi_pizzapi2