Friday, February 8, 2013

The Benefits of Being a Broke Foodie

If you are in the DC Metro area then you have probably, by now, heard that Georgetown's Dean & Deluca has shut down because of horrifying health code violations.  My initial thoughts were (1) damnit, the last of the public restrooms in Georgetown is closed and (2) there goes the dream of ever hosting a fancy cocktail party featuring high end charcuterie that would finally show the world how successful I've become.

Then, I realized something about my current financial inability to purchase fancy caviar and types of cured meats that I have never even heard of:  I dodged a bullet.  Being financially unable to make even a special grocery store trip to Dean & Deluca means that there is a higher chance my food has not had prolonged exposure to rat feces or mold (note to readers, don't read the health inspection report after eating a big meal.)  I buy my groceries from Giant, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's.  I know that Giant is clean because I've seen them scrubbing the meat and seafood counters with bleach.  Everything at Trader Joe's comes in a sealed package.  And Whole Foods, well, the verdict is still out on them, but I don't feel too terrible because I only buy coffee and almond milk from there.

Not only did I dodge a health related bullet, but I have also forced myself out of a rut.  By being broke and incredibly cheap, I have also forced myself to use ingredients that I never thought I would use.  In college, to stretch my food budget (and by food budget, I mean liquid bread and potatoes budget), I stopped buying meat and started buying tofu.  I learned that it was cheaper to buy flash frozen veggies and throw it into some pasta, rather than buying a sodium laden Lean Cuisine.  In the past year, my husband and I have learned how to make incredibly delicious meals using beans.  Not only are these meals inexpensive and healthy, they are really tasty too.  Being broke has forced me to expand my cooking repertoire beyond boring grilled chicken breasts.

So, I may still mourn the loss of Georgetown's Dean & Deluca, but I think my sadness will be more for the loss of the free bathroom than for the food.

I really don't want to know what is inside that box.

Photo Credit - 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Recipe - Baked Ziti

After much pestering by me, one of my very best friends re-instituted her annual Christmas potluck.  I've been exited for this since she agreed to have the party.  However, I've also been nervous.  As a self proclaimed "Foodie" (aka, arrogant food jerk) I thought that I need to impress the hell out of everyone by cooking something that no one else would have even thought of.  Of course, it would have to be overly complicated and take me all day to make.  Using high end ingredients would be a plus.

Then I saw how many people RSVP'd.

Complicated?  Screw that!  I decided to tap my Italian roots and pull out the cheesy gooey goodness.  I hope my baked ziti pleases.  And if not, it is an family recipe, so I will use my super Italian guilt power to make them love it.

Baked Ziti  serves 20, or 4 if you are my mom cooking for Christmas
  • 4 boxes of ziti pasta 
  • 3 jars of vodka pasta sauce (must be vodka sauce)
  • 6 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 pint containers of ricotta cheese 
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • spices:  pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes
  1. Fill a large stock pot (6 qts) with water and set to boil
  2. Put half the beef in a pan, season with the spices, and cook on low.  (I used a non-stick pan).
  3. Once the water is boiling, put in two boxes of the pasta and cook according to the instructions.
  4. Once the pasta and beef are cooked, it is time to assemble.
  5. Drain pasta and transfer to a large baking dish.
  6. Transfer the cooked beef into the large baking dish.
  7. Empty one jar of pasta sauce into the baking dish.
  8. Add in 2.5 cups of cheese and one of the ricotta pints.
  9. Mix (I had to use my hands to really mix in the ricotta.  If you are someone who is eating this cheesy goodness, I did wash my hands first.)
  10. Top with 1/2 of another jar of sauce and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  11. Place in over and cook for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  12. Repeat with the other half the the ingredients.
  13. To reheat, place in over at 400 for 15 minutes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Out of season tomatoes are the worst

Can we all agree to stop using tomatoes when they are out of season?  Twice in the past two weeks I've made the mistake of eating out of season tomatoes and I regretted it each time.  

Two weeks ago, after an incredibly long Saturday, Alan and I went to Subway, where I got myself a six inch Italian sub with all the fixings, tomatoes included.  I took one bit and could not get past the mushy feeling of the extremely gross tomatoes.  Even wonderful cured meats could not cover the taste of these so called "tomatoes!"  I felt robbed of all happiness, or at least all the happiness that a cured meat sandwich could bring me (which is a lot of happiness, really.  Boy, do I love cured meats.)

So, I don't know what mental block occurred, but I decided a week later to try another tomato.  This time, I was at brunch this past weekend at Fireflies in Del Ray.  I ordered the (to die for) quiche with a side salad.  There it was.  A simple romaine letter salad topped with croutons, Italian dressing, and two Roma tomato slices.  The tomatoes looked good enough.  They weren't mushy to the touch this time.  How bad could this be?  

I can be incredibly naive when it comes to produce.

It was terrible!  Mushy, grainy, and a hint of pesticides.  It tasted like slightly frozen, expired yogurt.  It tasted like my tongue crapped in my mouth!  There was none of that delightfully bright acidity that we all have come to expect in a good tomato.  Instead it was just a heaping pile of disappointment.  Good thing I had the quiche.  

If you see this outside the months of July through October, it is a basket full of LIES!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I've had the same thing for breakfast for seven years

Almost every day, for the past seven years, I have eaten the same thing for breakfast. 


I know, it is weird.  How can I eat the same thing, nearly every day of the week, for seven years?  I've spent the past seven years trying to answer that question too.  As far as I could figure out, it is cheap, easy, filling, and very comforting, which meets all the requirements I have for breakfast (as well as any other meal).  Also, eating the same thing almost every day for the past seven years has really indulged my crazy person side.  Really, doing the same thing every day for seven years cannot be normal.  I mean, I am perfectly okay with it, but then again, I am a lawyer, which means that I am slightly crazy. 

Let's not forget, it is also tasty.  I wouldn't the same thing everyday without it tasting good (okay, maybe that is a little bit of a lie, but really, I promise, this is good.  I do oatmeal right.)

First, I get  bulk rolled oats from Whole Foods.  None of that over-sugared instant packets for me.  I'd like to say that I am all humble and I just don't love sweet stuff, but the honest answer is that I don't eat prepackaged oatmeal because I am a breakfast snob.  I've watched nearly every episode of all 14 seasons of Good Eats, I get food snobby.

Next, I throw some cinnamon in there.  At this point it may seem that I put cinnamon in everything.  No, I don't.  Just in breakfast foods.  I'm slightly weird, but I do have taste buds.  Finally, I top it off with the boiling water.  Originally, heating up the water separately was a holdover from the fact that I lived in a microwave free apartment for four years, but at this point it is habit.  Also, since the water is hotter, the oats absorb it better, which means better oatmeal.

What I've learned from this over the past seven years by eating the same thing nearly every day, and in the past 10 minutes by forcing myself to confess this to the internet, is that I am slightly crazy, incredibly weird, and really, very okay with that.

The Quaker Oats Quaker may be silently judging me, but I don't care.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Drink is Awful

The contents of this blender bottle are horrible.  It takes like ground up chalk mixed with stale coffee.

Every time I read a food blog and see these perfectly crafted pictures I think to myself "this can't be real."  Really?  Daily food posts of brand new ideas?  All of them are perfectly photographed?  Any they taste good?  

LIES!  We all know that some of these recipes taste bad.  No one will admit it, but bad recipes are out there.  No one wants to take responsibility for it though.  

Ladies and gentlemen, I present a food blogging first:  A bad recipe.  

In the above pictured bottle is a protein shake that I concocted.  Last month, after becoming fed up with my apartment complex "gym," and through much persuasion from my friend Lauren, I joined a gym.  A real, mega-gym, where the people are insanely attractive and there are massive displays of health supplements lining the wall as you walk in.  In my effort to embrace all that is the mega-gym lifestyle, I decided I needed to start drinking "recovery drinks."  It will help my body repair itself after my incredibly grueling workouts.  

Yes dear friends, the contents of the bottle include soy based protein powder.  Well, what has led me to believe is protein powder.  Along with convincing me to join a gym, Lauren had convinced me that protein drinks are good.  Once again, LIES!  I don't know what Lauren put into her protein drink, but mine tastes like someone cleaned an eraser over a glass of ground up almonds and didn't even have the decency to put sugar in it.

Without further delay, I will share this recipe with you.  Unlike other food bloggers, with me you get the good, the bad, and the hideous.

Protein Shake:


  • 8 oz cold coffee
  • 8 oz almond milk
  • 2 tbs protein powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender bottle.  Shake until well mixed or you worked up the nerve to actually consume this abomination.

Although I spent a decent amount of time complaining about this drink, I should say, because I am both cheap and a bit of a masochist (I did mention earlier that I am a lawyer), I will continue to drink a variation of this until I finish the tub of powder.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Recipe - Breakfast Burritos

With the advent of Pinterest and the change in my husband's work schedule, I have become really interested in creating freezer meals.  Freezer meals are bites that can be cooked in a large batch at one time and then portioned out for individual servings throughout the week.  I like it for two reasons (1) since my husband and I don't get to eat together every day, we can still eat the same meal and mentally share that, and (2) a lot less dishes to clean on net, since I am only cooking once as opposed to five times.  I've mastered the one pot meal in college because I hated doing dishes that much.

One of the most popular recipes that I have seen on Pinterest I have seen has been the make ahead breakfast burrito.  I swear I've seen ten different varieties of the same darn burrito, but none ever seemed that great to me, nor did they seem that healthy.  In light of that, I developed my own spin on the burrito, and I must say, it is really tasty and filling.

Breakfast Burritos
Total time:  30-45 minutes (depending on how fast you can fold a burrito)
Servings:  about 16 burritos, depending on how full you make them

Ingredients and gear:
  • 1 qt of egg whites
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2 C shredded part skim cheese (I've used mozzarella and Mexican blend)
  • 2 small cans on diced green Chile peppers
  • 2 packages of large whole wheat flour tortillas (in the picture I have the white flour tortillas because I went grocery shopping at a small store this week)
  • 1 pound bag mixed pepper strips,or another vegetable if you so desire
  • desired seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, cayenne, whatever you want)
  • aluminum foil - torn into squares that are about the size of the tortillas

  1. Put the eggs, egg whites, Chile peppers, peppers (or other veg), and seasonings into a large skillet.  Whisk until the entire skillet is well mixed and the whole eggs are broken.  You can do this in batches, but I don't because I don't want to double my work.
  2. Cook the eggs on medium, scrambling the mixture as it cooks.
  3. Once the eggs are cooked, set up your assembly line.  You can use my method as a guide (see picture below).
  4. Assemble the burritos:  Put a spatula full of eggs on the bottom third of the tortilla, sprinkle with some cheese, and fold the burritos.  Here is a good video that shows exactly how to fold a burrito.  Mine never look that good.
  5. Wrap in foil and place in the freezer.
  6. To reheat, remove foil (or don't and see a really awesome light show in your microwave), and heat up for 3 minutes on high.  Then flip the burrito over and cook for another 2 minutes.  Time varies by microwave.
  • Eggs on the left, work space in the middle, bowl of cheese to the right, and tortillas waiting on the right.  When assembling, I place a tortilla on the foil and then fold the burrito in the foil.

Friday, November 30, 2012

How I Take My Coffee

You may think that a post entitled "How I take my coffee" would be incredibly simple.  Maybe you think it is narcissistic.  Why is my coffee preference so important to tell the world about?  To me, it is personal.   What goes into my coffee is a story of my relationship with myself and my husband, as well as a story of me and my love of food.

First, there is the mug.  One of the most important parts of a good morning coffee is the vessel that it comes in.  There are two mugs that I will always try to reach for first in my cabinet (assuming they are not already in the dishwasher):  my Minnie Mouse mug or my Lawyers Have Heart mug.  

The Minnie Mouse mug was a souvenir that me and my husband got on our Honeymoon at Disney World.  It is part of the set (the other mug, the Mickey Mouse, belongs to Alan).  We decided on mugs as our souvenirs because it was the most accurate description of who we are as a couple.  Nearly every weekend of our first year dating was spent getting coffees at this restaurant  bar/ coffee shop in our college town called "The Artful Dodger."  It is where we spent a lot of time talking, getting to know each other, and blossoming into a couple.

The Lawyer's Have Heart mug is a fundraising gift I received when I ran a 10K race in July 2011.  If you know me, you'll be incredibly confused about that last sentence.  Run a 10K?  I always hated running and still do to this day.  In fact, I didn't actually run a 10K.  I ran/ walked a 5K (the race organizers shrank the course because it was too hot to run 10K).  The mug doesn't represent running; it represents me being a lawyer and busting my ass through three incredibly hard years of law school.

Now for the blend.  I go for the Whole Foods Pleasant Morning Buzz.  I buy the whole beans so I can grind at home.  I've tried so many blends, and this is the only blend where the coffee isn't too bitter for me and not too light for Alan.  Once again, a compromise between the two of us.  Of course I buy whole beans and grind at home, like a coffee nerd.

Finally, the add-ins. I used to laugh at people who took cream and sugar in their coffee.  Why would they bother?  Oh God, you're using Splenda?!  I still, to some extent, maintain this attitude.  People that put cream and sugar, to me, are not improving the taste of coffee, they are covering it up.  Instead, I opt for cinnamon and almond milk.  I add the cinnamon into the grounds, so that it is infused into the brewed cup without any sort of weird powder in the bottom of my cup.  Then I add just a touch of almond milk for a nutty flavor.  The combination adds a rich and nutty flavor and makes a great start to my day.

How do you take your coffee?