Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tiegan Tuesday

The Teeb isn't feeling very well this week (tummy issues). While it really blows having such a lethargic dog around— she IS quite the willing subject for photos. Yay for melancholy?

No no no... I hope she feels better soon, but in the meantime here are some shots of our crazy little mutt.

"Mama, why are you sitting so close to me?"

"Woman, you better get that camera out of my face."

"Hah! I'm shunning you."

"Shunning is hard work."

"Maybe if I just stare at her, she'll go away."

"...Or maybe she won't."

"ok, ok—I give up."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Date Night

As you may recall, about three weeks ago Amwilli propositioned me with this oh-so-enticing invitation:

"I need to get on your calendar for Sunday June 27th in the evening, b/c I'm taking you out yo"

Now, I'm always excited when the Mister puts a little preparation into anything, but I didn't have the highest hopes for this one (could've had something to do with receiving the request via gchat). I couldn't have been more wrong—and I certainly don't willingly admit that very often!

We ended up at VOLT, the restaurant owned by Chef Bryan Voltaggio. Bryan competed on the Las Vegas season of Bravo's Top Chef— and through doing so really put VOLT on the map (subsequently making dinner reservations a hot ticket item). I've had the opportunity to experience VOLT for lunch, but dinner is just a whole other animal— and it was perfection.

The restaurant is in the center of Historic Frederick, Maryland— on a tree-lined street that's filled with restaurants, bars and shops. VOLT sits at the end of one block in a converted mansion from the 1890s.

These photos are pretty dark, so you'll have use your imagination...

My courses:
split pea soup | lobster, crème fraîche
cherry glen farm goat cheese ravioli | celeriac, maitake mushrooms, sage brown butter
pineland farm beef strip loin | new potatoes, ramps, chanterelle mushrooms
meyer lemon tart | lemon curd, raspberry purée, mousse

Amwilli's courses:
asparagus salad | (I don't remember what was in it, but it was delicious)
cherry glen farm goat cheese ravioli | celeriac, maitake mushrooms, sage brown butter
sturgeon | cauliflower, beluga lentil, verjus, crisp onion
textures of chocolate | bitter chocolate ganache, chocolate caramel, pistachio, raw organic cocoa

I didn't want to be the weirdo snapping shots of all the dishes, but I managed to get a couple of our desserts:

meyer lemon tart

textures of chocolate

We were sent home with raspberry pound cake (which will be a fantastic way to end tonight's dinner)

Overall, dinner was prettttty fantastic— easily one of the best meals I have ever had. The food was spectacular, the service was impeccable— Amwilli has even deemed it his new favorite restaurant in the area. Along with the food, I think all the "courtesy of the kitchen" goodies (amuse bouche, luscious post-dessert bites, raspberry pound cake) may have had something to do with it.

My absolute favorite part of the evening? My date, of course ;-)

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday in a nutshell

Saturday was a fantastic day full of food, friends and fun. Here's the rundown—

Food: lunch courtesy of Lola Café and Bakery in Rockville. Argentinian empanadas and quiche. The empanada shell is unreal and the quiche is quite decadent— good thing they're on the small side!

Next up, Barefoot Contessa red velvets. Normally I'm not into prepackaged baked goods, but this was a lovely gift, and I wanted to take some goodies to the ladies. I ended up tossing the frosting mix that was included and making my own just to feel a little better. In any case, if you're looking for a quick red velvet fix, this is definitely the way to go!

Friends & Fun: Miss Mac was in town for the weekend so we headed to J & J's for a much-needed get-together. The girls stayed in and the boys went out on the town... oh my, how girl talk has evolved from when we were 14-year-olds!

Quotes of the night, in no particular order, and without any context (to maintain a little mystery, of course):

"We can talk about the boys, or talk about babies." "Is that what our lives have become?" "How sad."

"Wow, that's a large amount of hair down there!"

"She's the mother of my children, the flowering garden of my... gardens."

And in honor of my favorite quote of the night, which (sadly) I cannot post due to it's graphic content...
Highlight: We named it "Sunshine."

Highest Light: Seeing the loves of my life!

Lowlight (deliciously low, but low nonetheless):

Lowest Light: ALL the cupcake tops I ate when I got home. Yeah, that's right—TOPS only. I was like a frosting junkie. I blame the André!

I L♡VE seeing you girls! More pleeease.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup Fever

I have been captivated by the 2010 World Cup! In celebration of the last match and in preparation for today's big match vs. Ghana, here's FIFA's updated "Power of 10" commercial:


This particular World Cup commercial is also a goody because its reminds me of the #10 in this family!

Did someone order the Mykonos Burger?

Next up on our trip through The Skinnygirl Dish is a stopover in Greece!

Recipe #2: Mykonos Burger

We love burgers. But we also enjoy fitting into our clothes, so 1) we can't have them all the time, and 2) we're always looking for healthy variations. The Mykonos is a turkey burger that calls up all the flavors of a hearty Greek meal.

The ingredients list looked a little lengthy at first, but once I realized I had all but 2 items, I was supremely happy. After a quick bop to the store for some parsley and feta, I was off...

I mixed all the good stuff above (minus the Greek yogurt) in with the ground turkey. When I'm making burgers I like to use 90% lean ground turkey breast. Turkey has a tendency to dry out, so a teensy bit of extra fat will help with moisture.

Mmm... feta. That's right kids, it goes IN the burger!

I made the patties the night before to give everything the chance to really settle in. I'm also pretty lazy by the time Friday rolls around, so I just wanted to be able to plop these suckers on the grill.

I'm a big fan of grill marks and deliciously seared in flavor. And our over the stove grill plate gets the job done beautifully. It's also a griddle on the flip side (Thanks, Mama Willi)!

The garnish in the recipe is Greek yogurt with some lemon juice and parsley (yum!) I also added a tomato and red pepper slice for some color...

The bun is an Arnold Bread Sandwich Thin® — whole wheat, and only 100 calories a piece.

Reasons it's healthier than a normal burger:
♡ lean turkey breast
♡ 100 calorie sandwich thin
♡ Greek yogurt instead of mayo
♡ less cheese in the burger than there would be ON the burger

The Mykonos burger was scrumptious! I loved the flavor combinations and how I could taste the different components in every bite. I also really enjoyed the Greek yogurt condiment as opposed to ketchup, mayo or mustard (and for those of you who know about my ketchup obsession, this is a BIG deal). Amwilli loved them, and ate a couple as a result— although something tells me he would have done this regardless :)

I was able to make six patties, so we have plenty of leftovers for a quick lunch sometime this weekend. I will definitely make these again!

Mykonos Burger: ✩✩✩✩½ (out of 5)

Now, Friday night just wouldn't be complete without a cocktail! And what better way to keep the healthy tone of the evening than with the Skinnygirl Margarita?

This version leaves out all the sugary calories that you usually find in mixes. It's a strong drink, but you can add lemonade or club soda to thin this out a little. I went for full fire power since this was my first time trying an SGM. I got through about 1½ before it was lights out.

Skinnygirl Margarita: ✩✩✩✩✩ (haha, of course)


Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Blog: Father's Day at the College World Series

Amwilli planned an unforgettable Father's Day celebration for Papa Willi this year— here's their story:


My Omaha Father’s Day weekend trip was amazing; however the flight out was a nightmare. Lesson learned on this trip: don’t book a flight through Chicago in the summer time. I couldn’t get an affordable direct flight on United to from DC to Omaha so I had to catch a connecting flight through Chicago O’hare. Unfortunately there was no connection—I got off the plane and found out my flight and most United flights in and out of Chicago O’hare were canceled due to thunderstorms. The airport was a mad house...

... and United offered me nothing better than a “stand-by” option early Saturday morning. United also had banners all over the airport bragging about how they were “#1 in on time arrivals in 2009.” Makes me wonder what happens when you fly with #2. Suffice to say, I didn’t take the standby flight; instead I rebooked with Southwest out of Midway (Chicago’s other airport), rented a car (cheaper than a taxi ride) and drove across town early Saturday to catch my 9 a.m. flight. Despite not being #1 in on time arrivals in 2009, Southwest got me to Omaha a few minutes early, and my Dad, who flew in the night before (also on Southwest hmmm…), picked me up and we were off to the ballpark.

For the uninitiated, the College World Series (CWS) has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha every year since 1950. This is the last year it will be at Rosenblatt because next year the CWS moves to a brand new ballpark in downtown Omaha. That means an end to one of the oldest traditions in the local economy: turning your yard into a parking lot. The stadium is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, and the locals clean up during the two weeks the CWS is in town. Some cram 10-12 cars into their yard and charge anywhere from $10 to $20 per car (and sometimes per car, per game). Thus, with little overhead—other than some wear and tear on the lawn—these lucky residents pull in a few thousand dollars in cash, under the table every year—though this is likely their last year in business.

A trip to Zesto (not Zesto’s, they get mad) is another CWS tradition likely ending this year. The locale was perfect for 60 years or so—right across the street from the main entrance at Rosenblatt. Zesto soft serve ice cream is a CWS staple, and they claim to have the “best burgers in town.” The soft serve was amazing, but the burger was average (especially by efwilli standards).

After Zesto, no CWS trip would be complete without visiting all the various vendors lining the street in tents outside the stadium. On the walk, one must also head into Stadium View Sports Card, where the owner (no joke) gives you a free beer just for stopping in. After perusing the tent-city shops it’s on to Fanfest...

It's an array of vendors in the Rosenblatt plaza selling food, bats, gloves, drinks (no alcohol), and even LG refrigerators and 3D TVs at the “LG experience.” Fanfest runs the entire first weekend of the series when most families with children in tow are at the CWS. We spent some time at Fanfest both days I was at the CWS. Of course, we were there for the games and managed to see all four that weekend (despite a few rain delays).

There isn’t a bad seat in the house at Rosenblatt. For the first game, we sat down the first baseline and still had a great view.

Then in game two, we were general admission which means bleacher seats in the outfield. This brings me to another CWS tradition—getting in at General Admission. They sell an unlimited number of General Admission Tickets ($10 each) and let you in first come first serve. Some people even line up as early as midnight the day of a game! Since we had to exit the stadium after Game 1 and get in line, we were obviously not there that early. Here’s the line after we’d been in it for a few hours:

It winds back and forth up the grass hill behind the stadium. By the time we got in, it was standing room only, but it was a great standing room.

Plus, sitting in General Admission you get to be a part of one of the best CWS traditions: keeping the beach ball away from the security guards.

Sunday, we had reserve seats under the overhang behind home plate for Game 3. Being under the overhang was great because we had to wait out a 3-hour rain delay before the game, and a 2-hour delay during the game. We stayed nice and dry while they rolled out the tarp and watched the unlucky fans sitting out in the open scatter for cover.

Game 4 was pushed to Monday morning. Luckily, because my Dad’s flight was delayed by four hours, we were able to go to the Monday morning game (he was on United).

Sadly, it was eventually time to head home, but at least I can say I got to partake in pretty much every CWS tradition. Next year the stadium comes down and a zoo goes up. After so many years of watching the games on TV, my Dad and I had an amazing time taking in a few games and witnessing some history in the final season at “the Blatt.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whippin up some Pad Thai

I thumbed through The Skinnygirl Dish with the idea that I'd stop when a recipe made my mouth water or tummy gurgle with delight. Thankfully, it didn't take much thumbing to find a winner.

Recipe #1: Pad Thai

I'm not sure what the rules are with reprinting recipes from books, so I'll refrain from doing that... BUT I threw a whole bunch of this:

...into this:

When it was all in there, it looked like this:

Not very appetizing, huh? After some serious whisking, it looked way more sauce-like (no pics, so take my word for it!) All the while I was preparing the lovely rice noodles:

I bought the noodles at Lotte, and the rest of the ingredients at Safeway. Note to self and other Asian cuisine novices: must spend some quality time in Lotte, loads of good stuff (and for way cheaper than the international aisle at other grocery stores).

Anyhoo... I drained the noodles, poured in the sauce, then stirred and coated. The final result is a beauty:

This pad thai is absolutely delicious and super easy to make. From start to finish it took about 15 minutes. I was really impressed with the flavor and that I didn't have that "so full I can't move" feeling I tend to get after a starchy meal. I didn't add meat because I was in a bit of a time crunch, but I think it would be incredible with shrimp or another meat that picks up other flavors easily. I also love that this recipe serves 4, because I survive on leftovers on class days.

Reasons it's healthier than regular pad thai:
♡ far less sugar, fat and starch than restaurant orders
♡ smaller portions
♡ no egg*

*I'm not as concerned with the egg as the other stuff, but I am glad I was able to knock out the additional 70 cals.

This recipe is definitely a keeper! My only complaint is probably attributable to user error... my noodles were a tad sticky, so it was difficult to get the sauce to coat the whole pot evenly. Other than that, I'm happily slipping this into the dinner rotation.

Skinnygirl Pad Thai: ☆☆☆☆ (out of 5)


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