Archive of ‘Dinner Plans’ category

Tough Streets, Good Eats

Welcome to our second installment of “Dinner Plans!” This is what a normal Saturday night looks like for us. We both are full from dinner and have escaped to our individual couches to spread out. Actually, who am I kidding? We have been on these couches way before dinner was even ready! But isn’t there something incredibly satisfying sprawling out on the couch with a full belly and a night of movie watching ahead of you? My favorite kind of nights and we don’t even have kids yet! So we flip through our Netflix account as Chris repeatedly asks me what I’m in the mood to watch. He will always be in the mood for anything and everything and I’m, well, not. I get into very specific movie moods and can’t rest until I find exactly what I’m looking for. There is something I really enjoy about adventure and the characters have to get from Point A to Point B while handling other circumstances. Queue in “The Warriors,” and I have found my ideal movie. Please don’t make fun! It’s a great movie that Chris will break down in a sec and if our last Dinner Plans put you asleep, then this movie will be very entertaining for you. But don’t take it too seriously! If you can see past the mild sexism and politically incorrect script, then maybe you will enjoy this movie as much as I do. Just make yourself some delicious food and enjoy a night in the city! (more…)

Menu (Click the titles of the recipe to be directed to the actual recipe).
Crispy Kale Caesar
Steakhouse Pie
Coconut Macaroon Nests with Chocolate and Whipped Cream

Despite what you may think, watching and discussing “The Warriors” was not my idea. Oh yes, my favorite genre is terrifying post-apocalyptic scenarios, yes my adopted NBA team this year is the Golden State Warriors (cause my Lakers are unwatchable this year) and yes I love 70’s films. But at last, the choice to watch this film was not mine but my wonderful wife Ashley’s.
Several years ago, I some how convinced her to watch this 1979 cult classic for the first time, prior to which I had never seen myself. You have to know that Ash has residence towards anything made in the 1970’s (I had to tape her down to a chair to get her to watch Taxi Driver and The Godfather). I don’t exactly understand her allergic reaction to films of the 70’s but it’s caused a rift in our marriage. Yet, she has such a love for this particularly very 70’s feeling film. The main reason for this appreciation is the plot/driving force of the film revolves around the main character’s dire need to get from A to Z without getting killed. These are a particular film, in which “innocent” and outnumbered characters are trying to navigate/escape from danger, to reach safe haven or finish line of some sort. This genre of film includes, the classic “Running Man,” the underrated “Judgment Night” and the Ice-T vehicle, “Surviving The Game.”
“The Warriors,” in particular, is a film that (apparently) takes place in the not so distant future, in the ugly, violent streets of New York City. Cyrus, the leader of the Gramercy Riffs, who are considered to be the most powerful street gang in the city, organizes a meeting of all the cities gangs. During the meeting Cyrus is assassinated by Luther, the leader of rival gang known as the Rogues. In the pandemonium of the situation, the Warriors get wrongfully accused for the murder. Now they must travel from The Bronx all the way back home to Coney Island without being captured by the numerous gangs out for blood. Sounds pretty ridiculous, I’m sure, but it’s a joy to watch for all the reasons of it being good and silly.
Although, again it takes place in the future, the film is an extreme window into the troublesome days of the 70’s in the five boroughs of New York. Director and co-screenwriter Walter Hill, is not only looking to give us thrills but also to terrify us in a fear of the youth who will revolt into murderous psychopaths, such as the gangs that hunt for the Warriors. This doesn’t mean our heroes the Warriors are saints; no, they have the capability to be just as destructive and dangerous as everyone else. Hill makes sure we see this gang, as no better than the rest of the thugs who seek to take them out. This film is a blast to watch, if not for the fight/chase scenes, at least for the awesome hair styles, ridiculous various gangs (including samurai black militants, baseball team and mimes) or the over-the-top performance by David Patrick Kelly, who plays Luther delivering the most famous line from the film, “Warriors! Come out to pla-yee.” This an ideal movie to watch with friends who’ll have a good time and a few laughs at this cult classic.

A Night in the Mediterranean

Chris and I are absolutely thrilled to introduce you to our new series, “Dinner Plans!” In this series, you will be getting the best of both worlds! I will be creating a special menu for your night in and Chris will contribute a film with a short synopsis and review; all you have to do is the grocery shopping! Since we both work together, including driving in the same car day in and day out, we get plenty of time to “catch up” or discuss the true meaning of life. After spending so much time with your spouse, the arsenal of things to talk about runs a little dry. One way we have been able to re-connect is watching movies together. Sure, we will watch our fair share of “guilty pleasure” movies that don’t require too many brain cells but what really inspires us are the movies that allow us time to process and discuss afterwards. Similar to marriage, films don’t always give us the full answer or at least the answer we are looking for. But the beautiful part of watching a film like this with your spouse is it causes both of you to share what you think and that is always a great way start to any conversation! I hope this encourages you to be intentional with your date nights, even if it’s just an evening at home. This week we dive into the Mediterranean with an inspired meal and the film, “Before Midnight.” (more…)

For your night in the Mediterranean menu (click on the titles listed to be taken to the actual recipe):
Herbed Feta Mini Peppers
Winter Stuffed Shells
Blood Orange Mousse Trifle with an Easy Caramel Sauce

Before Midnight

Could you imagine what Romeo and Juliet’s relationship would’ve been like if they decided not to “romantically” commit suicide? Would they have grown tired of each other and broken up, realizing that they weren’t soul mates but instead young foolish kids who wanted what they couldn’t have at the time? If Jack and Rose had managed to get on a lifeboat together making there way for New York City, would Rose complain to Jack about his lack of maturity and how they are always broke because no one is buying Jack’s paintings. In the Before series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight), Linklater tackles this idea of what happens to “star crossed lovers” after the falling in love stage is long gone.

Director Richard Linklater’s (Boyhood and Dazed & Confused) Before Midnight is the third film in a trilogy that follows a couple who we’ve encountered for one day every nine years of their relationship. In this 2013 installment, the couple are now in a committed relationship since we saw them last, in the previous film Before Sunset. We catch up with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Deply), while they are on a family vacation in the southern part of Greece with they’re twin daughters and Jesse’s son from a previous marriage. In Before Midnight, we find the couple have passed the courtship/honeymoon stage of love and now reside in the “getting real” stage with each other.

With this film and several other Linklater films, most recently Boyhood you come to realize he is not only fascinated with our relationship with other people but our relationship with time. At the center of Before Midnight, time together has allowed for a more interesting chapter in this film series between these two characters. Long is gone the adoring, “we are falling in love” phase of their relationship that we, the audience, have come comfortable with seeing not only in this series but also in cinema in general. Instead, Linklater, Deply, and Hawke are more intrigued with what happens to romance once you’ve become comfortable with your partner.

Hawke and Deply do an amazing job (as always in the series) establishing themselves and each other in this film as the embodiment of the characters. They haven’t missed a beat since last we saw them, which just makes you at ease while watching the two of them, like they are old friends of yours. The writing is masterful during the entire film but the closing fifteen minutes is really a tour de force of acting and writing.

This is the perfect date night movie for any couple, whether you’ve been dating for a month or married for ten years; you’ll find something that is relatable or will one day be relatable to you. Also, after watching Before Midnight, you’ll want to plan your honeymoon or anniversary in the beautiful location of the film, the southern region of Greece, which almost plays as a character itself in the beautiful film. Enjoy.

Snow Day Inspiration

Have you seen “all of this snow” we are about to get, yet? If you have, I hope you are warm, dry, and have something incredibly yummy baking in your oven. For the rest of us, here’s to keeping our fingers crossed that something might happen overnight! In the midst of all of this getting snowed in talk, my darling SIL (you know, whose baby takes up half of my Instagram feed), asked me what are some good go-to’s when plans of snow are coming our way. That inspired me to write a blogpost because I know we are not the only ones who like to pig out when those clouds get heavier and heavier with yummy snow! So here are some recipes I’ve gotten from around the web that I have made, want to make, or I want YOU to make. Enjoy and please stay safe! (more…)

1. I have been asked about my Brie and Beef Puff Pastry with Mango BBQ a lot recently. It’s such a cinch to make and perfect for using leftover pot roast.

2. Don’t forget about my light, great for dipping, Peanut Butter Cheesecake Dip!

3. Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread because who doesn’t love monkey bread, let alone pizza monkey bread?

4. I made these Honey Mustard Fried Chicken Sliders last night and they were perfection!

5. Beer Battered Onion Rings make everything better!

6. Want something sweet without the commitment of turning on your oven? These 1-Minutes Chocolate Mug Cakes fit the bill! And they are gluten-free!

8. I love her and this Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons are all you need to stay cozy!

9. Paleo? No problem! Paleo Bananas Foster needs to get into my dessert rotation now!

10. Cookies make any snow day extra special. My Clementine Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies are chewy, soft, and the perfect ratio of chocolate and citrus. Don’t have clementines? Try whatever citrus you have on hand! Except lime, definitely not lime!

Thanksgiving Inspiration

Happy Friday! I hope this post finds you well! I wanted to help you this Thanksgiving, just in case you needed a point of reference as to what in the world to make next Thursday (can you believe it?!). One down side of having my own blog is that it doesn’t give me too much time to try other cooks’ recipes, which I love doing. So I gathered some of my recipes for you (and still more to come) but also some recipes around the Internet that I plan on making or dream of making this holiday. So sit back, relax, and get that mouse ready for some bookmarking! (more…)

1. I’m sure you saw these from yesterday.
2.Here’s a new kind of casserole to have at your holiday table, just minus the chicken because chicken and turkey might be overkill: Thyme Chicken Pasta Bake
3. Oatmeal Cookie Apple Crisp because duh!
4. Let’s update that sweet potato casserole to this gratin.
5. These macaroons need a proper send off before Christmas peppermint everything takes over.
6. My favorite stuffing ever.
7.I made this pie for the first time last year. It’s like a brownie meets pecan pie. Nothing wrong with that!
8. Mac and cheese became a tradition when I got married. Brie Mac and Cheese with Figs is the perfect mix of elegant and rustic.
9. Making your own ice cream just became a lot easier. I’ve made this no churn ice cream twice already and it would go perfectly with any Thanksgiving pie. Enjoy the other recipes on the blog, very simple, delicious, and gluten free!
10. If you are looking for something other than pie for dessert, look no further. It’s everything we love about pumpkin pie except easier and moussier (so not a word!): Pumpkin Mousse.

Now, enjoy your weekend of planning and grocery shopping! What are you looking forward to the most for Thanksgiving? Also, I do have some more recipes coming up next week that are easy peasy and great for any holiday so stay tuned! Happy Weekend guys!

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Coming off of weeks of vacation, birthday celebrations, and the ultimate candy holiday, Halloween, low carb is key to our survival right now. I always like November because it gives you a break before the real heavy eating starts. By now, spaghetti squash is no secret to the endless possibilities of carb replacement. I made chicken alfredo with it and it was perfect! Totally satisfying and hearty without the food coma.

I started by first baking a whole spaghetti squash in the oven at 350 for about an hour. This time depends on how large your squash is; mine was pretty large. After the squash is cooked, cut it open lengthwise and let it cool (it will be very hot!). Once it has cooled slightly, spoon out the seeds in the middle. Take a fork and pull out the strands of squash; it will look like noodles! I like to toss mine with a olive oil and salt and pepper. Place aside.
Our alfredo is just heavy cream in a small saucepan with 2 smashed garlic cloves in it. Let the cream simmer over medium heat for just about 5-10 minutes, until the cream has thickened. For the two of us, I used just about 3/4 cup of cream so adjust according to how much you need. I shredded some rotisserie chicken and added it to the squash. Then just pour the cream over the chicken and squash and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. This is definitely an easy and quick meal that feels healthful. Enjoy!

Breakfast for Dinner

So my plan for the section, “Dinner Plans” was to show you meals I make throughout the week that aren’t really a recipe but something that might inspire you for a quick and simple dinner. Since I work full time and by the time we eat, it is now dark outside, I started to shy away from this segment. Natural light is best when taking pictures of food and by the time dinner is made there isn’t any natural light, I didn’t want to post a pic that wasn’t up to my standards. But I’ve had a change of heart! I won’t let lamp lighting get the best of me! So here it goes! Dinner Plans: The Dark Ages. Glad you’re here with me! (more…)

One dinner I can always easily throw together is breakfast. Scrambled eggs, omelettes, fritattas, fried eggs are all on my mind when making dinner. I also use breakfast for dinner as an opportunity to use up any veggies that are almost going bad. This dinner is scrambled eggs with butter, roasted bacon (the new way to cook bacon), and garlic parsley mushrooms and onions. Place bacon on a sheet pan and roast at 375 for about 12-15 minutes, depending on what you like your bacon to be like (crispy, chewy, etc). Saute onions until translucent, add baby bella mushrooms. Once water has evaporated from mushrooms add garlic and thyme. Cook for another minute then add parsley. You are done! PS. I always love a leetle bit of mayo on my egg sandwich. It’s a Cracker Barrel thing! Happy dinner making!

Graffiato: A Restaurant Review

It is no secret that Chris and I love pizza. Living in Los Angeles, we had at least 3 favorite pizza places; all offering a different type of pizza. In Maryland, it’s been hard finding a legit pizza place that goes above and beyond in their creativity. We have friends who have done their thorough research, going to Annapolis then Baltimore, then DC. They have recommendations I’m sure we will eventually try. A friend of ours that used to live in DC told us about Mike Isabella’s Graffiato: a low key pizza joint that also offers creative small plates (caesar salad with cream cheese croutons, anyone?). Graffiato has become our go to restaurant when in DC and their pizza is beyond amazing. We also share a couple of small plates (go big or go home, right?), making the whole experience one a foodie or an average joe will never forget. We were in DC on Sunday to see our favorite band play, Arcade Fire, and of course squeezed in a dutiful trip to Graffiato. Unfortunately, this time around, the pizza was the only aspect of our dinner we thoroughly enjoyed. The small plates seemed a little bit off. This was our 5th or 6th time going so we will give them a free pass on having a bad night. But again, the pizza was still nothing short of umami greatness. Also, their brunch is delicious and they have bottomless mimosas. Enought said. (more…)

It was Restaurant Week but we decided just to do our own thing. If you go to Graffiato, make sure to score a cocktail. They are delightful but oh so strong…in a very good way.

The top small plate is one we ALWAYS get. It’s a pork ragu gnoochi with a whipped rosemary ricotta. It has always been so delicious and I’ve tried to recreate it numerous times and have failed. I will persevere! The bottom small plate is a charred hanger steak with whipped potato and a VERY spicy chimichurri sauce. This definitely wasn’t our favorite small plate, we were trying something new. Probably won’t get it again but everyone was getting this flatbread with pepperonis I am now regretting not ordering. Until next time…

Now, here is the show stopper! It’s the White House pizza: taleggio cheese with salty prosciutto and a sweet honey drizzled on top. My usual meat lovers husband can’t get enough of this pizza. If it were up to him, we would get two of this pizza but I always demand another option.

This pizza was also really good! It was a greek pizza with lamb, arugula, caramelized onions (my love language), and a tangy tzatziki sauce. Oh and crunchy homemade potato chips on top! I loved the savoriness of this pizza. A lamb gyro on pizza, what could be so bad?!

I’m a sucker for the White House pizza but this stole my heart for the night. I had to take a bite before I took a picture. Priorities, priorities… Did you notice those lovely salt flakes on the crust? THEY SEASON THEIR CRUST! Do we need to ask for more?

All in all, Graffiato is a unique and delicious place to visit if you ever find yourself wandering the salty streets of Chinatown. Anything that sounds good on the menu will be good… unless they are having an off night, which doesn’t happen often. We love Graffiato and hope you make a stop there soon! If you do, let me know what your favorite item on the menu was! Betcha I’ve tried it!

Portobello Pizzas

Can I just address the elephant in the room? You might not like mushrooms, let alone huge ones with gills that look like they could fit small a child in one. I get it. I love mushrooms and sometimes wish they had the nutritional value of something very green. I like to use them as a meat substitute or to add a little substance to a dish if a starch isn’t included. These pizzas have been a great summer staple, using ripe grape tomatoes and fresh basil. Those big gills are also removed so these ‘shrooms are more appealing to eat. (more…)

They don’t really taste like pizza but are a good substitute for the carby counterpart if you’re like me and could eat your weight in delicious crust. I’ve made this with sausage and ground beef. Both were yummy. I’m sure some ground turkey would also suffice. This meal is quick with no musses or fusses, just what I like for a weeknight meal. As you can see, Chris loves this dish and I do too.  For a fun hors d’oeuvres, you could stuff baby portobellos with the same mixture. I would say the world is your oyster but I don’t want to make my texture sensitive friends feel more uncomfortable.

I will see you guys tomorrow for our first ever free giveaway! I hope this Thursday flies by for you! Unless you are at the beach, then I hope it’s very long.

Roasted Veggie Sandwich with Goat Cheese

So I had this for dinner last night and was going to post about it later in the week. After my first bite, I knew I had to post it today! Last night was a rare occasion wherein I only had to cook for myself! The possibilities! Why is it that when our men are away, us women cook vegetarian food? Or that’s how it is in my house at least. I don’t always need meat in my meal but Chris is a ravishing beast without it so I try to always include it. I will, however, make this sandwich for him later on and I bet prosciutto or bacon would be a lovely addition. This sandwich doesn’t have to be vegetarian but the veggies are definitely the attention getters here. (more…)

I cut up a variety of vegetables, all the same size, tossed them with extra virgin olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper and roasted them in a 425 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. Have you roasted onions before? You’re welcome. I also used eggplant, red bell pepper, summer squash, zucchini, and mushrooms (gotta love CSAs!). I then made a salsa verde with 2 kinds of basil and crumbled some goat cheese. You can use any type of bread or roll for this but the ciabatta roll takes the cake. I split it open, spread the salsa verde on the bottom half (be liberal! You want this to be dripping!) and goat cheese on the top. Add hot veggies, top with the other half of the roll and cut on a diagonal. So many flavors that all seamlessly work together. You won’t be upset when you’re told to finish your vegetables!

Sorry for the lack of pictures. My lighting wasn’t the greatest (thanks summer evening storms!) and I was too hungry to have patience. We are only humans, right? Happy sandwich making!

Roasted Salmon with Dill Salsa Verde

I would apologize for the carby overload this week but in reality, I think you should be thanking me. I’ve given you a reason to eat carbs, unabashedly, and in the most marvelous way possible. Alas, it’s summer time and although we binge eat at our cookouts, we also have to play it cool. When it’s super hot outside, I like to do minimal cooking possible. “Throwing together” is more my pace when I’m sweating just from walking 2 steps from my car to my house. I also love a yummy sauce that doesn’t need to be reduced over the stove; just a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and we’re in business! But really, eating light can be a great and rather delicious idea. And what better season to do it in? The herbs are plentiful, the veggies are crisp, the fruits are juicier than ever.

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I use salmon for this dinner but I think any white, mild fish would taste just as great! I season my salmon with salt and pepper and I roast it at 275 for about 20ish minutes. Meanwhile, I take a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, parsley, dill, juice of half a lemon, one tablespoon of chopped capers, and one clove of minced garlic and throw it into a mixing bowl. Can you predict what comes next? We mix! This is our dill salsa verde and it’s fresh, herbacious, and the right amount of garlicky. If you were expecting the salsa verde you get at Mexican restaurants, I apologize for that disappointment. But this Mediterranean version is great to try this summer on fish, chicken, pork, or, why not, steak! Get creative with the herbs too!

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