Entries Tagged as 'dinner'

diner en blanc, washington, dc

2

19.8.14

Have you guys heard of Diner en Blanc? It’s basically a giant flashmob dinner where everyone brings their own table and chairs, and everyone wears all white. The event started in Paris (obviously, it’s all very French) and has since spread to a whole bunch of other major cities around the world. It really looks like quite the spectacle!

Anyway, some friends of mine have been working on starting the tradition in DC (this is three years in the making) and I got looped into leading a group of Washingtonians from our meeting point to the dinner location, which won’t be revealed until the day of. In case any of you are going, or live in another city and are lucky enough to get a coveted ticket to these events, I’ve been planning with friends and colleagues — what to wear, what tables to buy, and what to have on our menu!

If you do end up heading to whatever iconic location the dinner will be at, get in touch! Would love to meet some of you — and I’ll be doing some photography and video during the event. Xo!

 

diner en blanc // sweetsonian

Above: hat // dress // tote // ring // wedge // necklace

First things first — I’ve been looking for a basic white dress that I could reuse for work or for parties. This v-neck will do the trick… and it’s under $100! At a splurge price point, this dress has a beautiful trim. And on the opposite end, Forever 21 has a great option — yolo.

Shoes — I’m not the biggest fan of white shoes for a few reasons, but these Topshop/Nordies wedges could end up being a comfy spring and summer staple. These neutral wedges are a close runner-up, and these kate spade gold wedges have my name written all over them.

Bag — the event calls for a “white picnic basket,” but in the videos, you see people with their neutral or multicolored carts. I’m not sure where the hell to find a white picnic basket, nor am I sure I’d use it more than once, but I already own and swear by this tote. I’m a fan of white bags for a polished look (as long as you put in the work to keep ’em clean!) so the MK will be carrying my camera, and our dinner.

Accessories — the party’s supposed to be elegant, so naturally, I envisioned a big, white, Audrey-style hat. This neutral wide brim would be perfect! Here’s an all-white version for just $10 more. As far as jewelry, I’ve been switching from my high school and college obsession with bold silver pieces to delicate yellow gold pieces, so the Satya necklace might make an appearance. I’ve been pining over that gold flower ring, which I imagine would complete the look. Two of my favorite jewelry designers are Gabriela Artigas and Gorjana — check them both out! They make gorgeous gold pieces.

Table and chairsthis table rolls up into a carry-on bag, and these white chairs are just perfect. Looking for another option? This table would go perfectly with these little stools (and you could reuse them as side tables on your patio after the event).

Butter-Poached Lobster Rolls

0

28.7.14

butter-poached lobster rolls // sweetsonian

You guys — lobster tails were on sale at Whole Foods last week (tipped by Shaeda) so naturally, we went a little crazy. I picked up a few tails, and was pretty set on making some butter-poached lobster rolls.

My first lobster roll wasn’t too long ago — as a kid, I wasn’t always the biggest fan of lobster. I didn’t dislike lobster, but I did (and for the most part, still do) feel that lobster was unnecessarily expensive. It’s good, but it’s not as good as say, a fantastically prepared steak.

butter-poached lobster rolls // sweetsonian

I haven’t had many opportunities to chow down on seafood this summer (less sailing, few trips to the north east), but we made sure to get back on track with homemade lobster rolls. The butter-poaching process gives you an even more tender meat, and I’m personally a bigger fan of the hot lobster roll, the simpler, less-mayo-y version that leaves you with chunks of meat, tossed in melted butter, chives, and salt and pepper.

If you luck out at Whole Foods and find lobster tails for $5.99, get some, and give yourself a real piece of summer :)

butter-poached lobster rolls // sweetsonian

butter-poached lobster rolls // sweetsonian

Oh Emma Thompson. You get me every time.

butter-poached lobster rolls // sweetsonian

butter-poached lobster rolls // sweetsonian

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Butter-poached lobster rolls (makes 2), after the jump. (more…)

Chicken with Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

0

02.7.14

roasted chicken with mediterranean vegetables // sweetsonian

The past couple of weeks have been weird for me, and filled with situations where I’ve felt unlike myself. I won’t get into too much, but part of it might have had something to do with having Airbnb’rs and cat sitting for Winston and second guessing when my move to New York actually will be. Rest assured, I’ve figured it all out. And once I did, I took Saturday night to myself — I took advantage of a quiet apartment and read most of the current summer read, and ended up taking a late night trip to the gym. I missed the spin and yoga classes, but generally, I’m okay with that, because I can just hop on a bike and coach my own spin class. The Sarah Gerrity spin class.

roasted chicken with mediterranean vegetables // sweetsonian

On my walk to the gym, dusk was setting and the fireflies just started appearing — side note, we don’t have fireflies in California, so they have a special place in my heart, and I still get excited every time I see them — but on my walk back from the gym, it was dark. There were some straggler fireflies, and the crispness of the night instantly brought me back to my first summer in DC, back in 2010. Having recovered from my first, very brutal winter, I was more than ecstatic to have a spring and a summer, filled with rooftop bars and embassy parties, and cooking dinners on my Dupont patio. Watching the flight patterns landing and departing from DCA, with a glass of wine and usually while sharing hookah with Kristen or Rachel was the usual. Saturday night reminded me of that. So naturally, I was wistfully remembering the days of my youth. Not that I’m not still young, but it’s weird how much you could change in four or five years.

Back then, I thought I’d live in DC forever, I thought running was the only exercise I’d ever need, and I also wanted to stay in that first group house until everyone else moved on, so I could just buy it for myself and gut it completely when I was ready to have a family of my own. Oh, how things have changed. I’m trying to savor my last summer in DC as much as I can. The days aren’t quite numbered yet, because a few things are still up in the air. The air is crisp, and I’d hate to say things are changing, because I’ve said that so many times and the changes I think might happen don’t actually come about. But as much as I love the winters, the summers are nice too. And I’m going to soak up every inch of not-urban jungle that DC is.

roasted chicken with mediterranean vegetables // sweetsonian

roasted chicken with mediterranean vegetables // sweetsonian

roasted chicken with mediterranean vegetables // sweetsonian

roasted chicken with mediterranean vegetables // sweetsonian

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Chicken with Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables, adapted from the Clever Carrot, recipe after the jump (more…)

Crab and Artichoke Green Salad

2

13.6.14

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

When the weather gets warm, I get food lazy. As in, I’m too lazy to actually cook, and end up just throwing together meals I can eat raw — salads, carrots and hummus, fruit… you know. And it’s okay, because the produce tastes better in these warmer months, anyway. I’m just waiting for it to get really hot, because the only good part about heat and humidity is the tomato season.

And when summer hits, you start hearing everyone talking about adventuring for some crab meat — in this part of the U.S., that means getting your hands covered in Old Bay and picking away at some Maryland Blue Crab.

My first foray into crab-eating was when I waited tables — at that seafood restaurant in Southern California, that I’ve written about so much. I know pretty much everything there is to know about seafood because of that job, and I’m generally grateful for that.

At the restaurant, we had live dungeness crabs, but in most of the salads, like around most of the U.S., we used canned jumbo lump crab meat, caught and packaged in the South Pacific (not so glamorous, but just say “South Pacific” and everything sounds better).

Now that I live so close to Maryland, pickin’ at crab is a cherished summer activity, perhaps after a beautiful day sailing or floating on a donut-shaped inner tube at the shark tooth capital of the world. If you have access to fresh jumbo lump crab meat at your grocery store, it will taste slightly less briny and will only be slightly more expensive — but otherwise, canned jumbo lump crab meat works a-okay.

The tartness from the lemon makes this salad perfect for a hot day, provided you’ve just pulled the ingredients out of the fridge. I, in fact, ate one for dinner one night, and jarred another to take to work the next day. The flavors held up perfectly.

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

 

Crab and Artichoke Green Salad, derived from the Fast Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 can artichoke hearts
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3.5 oz.  lump crab meat
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced chives
salt and pepper
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
3.5 oz (ish) arugula or mixed greens

Instructions: 

First, remove and drain both the crab meat and artichokes from their respective cans. While they’re draining, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl.  Slice the artichokes, if you prefer.

Toss the greens, chives, artichokes, and crab meat with the dressing. Serve with fresh shavings of parmesan cheese.

Broiled Balsamic Artichokes with Pesto Mayo

0

19.5.14

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

It’s been a while since I worked in the restaurant business. But, aside from the managers I worked for, I do look back on my days as a hostess and waitress pretty fondly. I was by far one of the youngest people working in that restaurant, and frequently referred to as the baby — which I never really minded. It was only another means for me to dip my toes into the social lives of the wait staff of Los Angeles, which is its own beast in and of itself.

Back then, I always felt like I had multiple lives. There was my life at UCSB, pretty and pristine on the beach, with jungle juice (bleghh), running to the Goleta Pier, and fake-fighting with my gay over the hot TA that would eventually become one of my oldest friends. Then, there was my life at the restaurant, counting cash in my parents’ car, triple-seating my ex’s new love interest whenever she picked a fight with the guy, and capping off our late-night shifts with underage cocktails at Fridays (the mojitos were exciting back then, but I shudder at the thought of ever going back to a TGIFridays in the San Fernando Valley). And finally, there was my life at UCLA — football games on the weekends, Red Bull all-nighters in Powell Library, and finally living in my own apartment in Westwood.

The worlds rarely collided. It was as if I teleported between entirely different dimensions when I crossed the borders between Los Angeles, Calabasas, and Santa Barbara.

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

I wouldn’t trade in those days for anything. Since then, friendships have come and gone, and my little brother is even working at that exact restaurant. I see patterns in his social life and his thought processes that reflect what I went through as one of the younger members of a restaurant that was about to graduate from college.

And he mentions things like trying to hide his relationship with another hostess, and, well, I did the same thing when I worked there. But in hindsight, I try to give him advice that would help him be less foolish than I was — even though I know too well that those words of wisdom would be fruitless to a 21-year old in lurve.

Perhaps I don’t want him to get attached because I know that it’s easy to get lost in these worlds. Being 19 or 22 in college in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara feels so unreal at this point in my life. The things I worried about then, the silly problems that stressed me out or made me feel invincible or made me cry — looking back, I wish I knew so much more about why they did or didn’t matter. I come from a family that doesn’t acknowledge emotions at all, so I had no idea what depression was when I went through it. I didn’t know what it was until it hit me in the face. But since leaving California, I feel like I’ve inadvertently surrounded myself with people who have their own stories, their own comparisons of their separate lives that have helped me understand my emotions, how to become more self-aware, and when to recognize when you have real issues to face, or when you’re having a mini panic attack over something that will be an invisible speck in the grand canyon view of your entire life.

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

And really, I’ve just recently come to terms with anxiety — what it is, what it actually feels like, and how to deal with it. Emotions are so incredibly layered, and part of me wishes I met the people I’m so close to now back in high school, when self-awareness could have come in so, so handy. These days, I can just pop some ibuprofen after one too many cocktails, or something else when I realize that I’m physically stressed about something that really doesn’t matter. Like when I’m suddenly overcome with doubt or guilt for some memory that pops into my head from my waiting days or from high school. It’s weird how the littlest memories can strike the most negative or positive emotions for me. Perhaps, you know what I’m talking about.

That being said, science is a wonderful thing. And so are friends who help you through your anxiety. Maybe I’m just rambling at this point.

This recipe was actually one of the recipes on the menu at that restaurant I worked at, where I went through just roller coaster after roller coaster of emotions. I even checked their current menus to see if it was still there, but they’ve since taken this artichoke item off — so I improvised as closely as I could. It was pretty successful, and brought me back a little bit, for better or for worse. For the good moments, it’s nice to sit in bed and reminisce the late nights we spent smoking cigarettes in backyards in Los Angeles, or the pool parties I used to throw in my parents’ Christmas-light-ridden backyard. For the anxiety-inducing moments that I can’t push out of my head on my own, well, there’s always a half a Xanax in my bag. I’ve never been so thankful for science.

Recipe after the jump.

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

broiled balsamic artichokes with pesto mayo // sweetsonian

(more…)

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese

2

13.5.14

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

Disclaimer: I promised Shaeda I would wait to make this until she was in my apartment. I broke that promise. But can you blame me?

Toad-in-a-holes take me back to being a little kid, visiting my grandmother. I don’t know if you all remember this, but before the American Girl dolls were a thing, the American Girl books and paper dolls were a thing. And being the bookworm that I was, I powered through all of them. Naturally, I look most like Samantha (most is a stretch) so she was my favorite, but my grandmother, having grown up in New York during World War II with the victory gardens and all, well, her favorite was Molly.

And when I was sufficiently obsessed with the book series and the stories of all of the characters (Grandma read every single book after I powered through each one), they came out with a series of cookbooks. I can’t remember if I had every single one, but I know that I had Molly’s. And, one of the recipes we made — usually for breakfast for Grandpa — was the toad-in-a-hole. A piece of toast with a hole in it, and a fried egg right into the bread. It’s delicious.

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

And I’ve had this idea for a few weeks now. A toad-in-a-hole grilled cheese. It’s been making me salivate. And with all the spin classes I’ve been going to, well, I’ve been letting myself ease into some carbs. So I made this.

But I wanted it to have a kick. So I threw on some sriracha. Obviously, it would be fun to use homemade sriracha, but I haven’t been home much lately, so I haven’t made any of that this year. The classic green top worked out great.

My only regret is that, next time, I’ll add in some slices of avocado. Now that would be perfect.

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

 

Recipe after the jump. (more…)

Easy as Chicken Pot Pie

3

10.2.14

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

The last time I was in New York, it was frigid. We spent our Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn — I spent more money than necessary on handmade jewelry at Artists and Fleas (quite possibly my favorite place on the earth), and after wandering to the waterfront for pretty photos of Manhattan and strolling around Brooklyn in the Nordic-temperature shade, we stumbled into a little cash-only joint named Juniper.

It smelled delicious, and had a space heater at the door. And right as we walked in, we eyed a giant bowl of mac and cheese that had just arrived at a nearby table. We salivated. So, we stayed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

For being a restaurant with maaaaybe 6 tables, it took an unnecessarily long time to get our diet cokes and later, the check, but the comfort food was pretty amazing. I had the chicken pot pie, which I instagrammed and later dreamed of. After a few bites, I looked up at Shaeda and said, “We have to make this.”

She agreed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

It seemed to be no coincidence that both Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living featured chicken pot pie recipes. It’s like their editors knew that we’d all be facing a brutal winter this year. In the past two months, I’ve seen more snow than I’ve seen in the three years it’s been since Snowmageddon. It’s lovely, but I do find myself checking flight prices to Miami every other day.

So today, I was determined to make this. I found the adorable mini saucepans at the TJ Maxx downtown (score! Similar ones here) and came up with a simple, but comforting recipe for chicken pot pie. Most recipes called for potatoes, and some for cream, but y’all know about my attempts to stay on track with some form of a healthy diet. I was surprised to realize that chicken pot pies don’t actually need much, other than chicken, vegetables, butter and puff pastry. It’s high in flavor, low in guilt. I’m okay with that.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • About 3/4 lbs. chicken, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallot and onions. Once the onions start to brown (maybe after 3-4 minutes), add the carrots, celery, and chicken. When the chicken starts to brown and burnt bits start to collect at the bottom of the pan, stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Add the chicken broth, and a pinch or two each of salt and pepper. Also add the spinach and stir, letting the stew simmer and thicken.
  4. Transfer your stew to two oven-safe bowls, dividing evenly. When I made this, I placed my puff pastry directly on top of the bowls. The puff pastry didn’t rise as high as it normally would, which I believe had something to do with the dough touching the stew directly — so on my next batch, I cooked the puff pastry on a baking sheet separately, and then placed the cooked puff pastry on the stew afterwards.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until the puff pastry has risen and turns a golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Soup Swap!

3

27.1.14

soup swap // sweetsonian

Remember the days before people named storms? The first crazy name for me was Snowmageddon, back in 2010 (best storm ever, as far as I was concerned). But these days, it seems like every storm on the East Coast needs a corny name of its own. It’s silly.

As a friend of mine says, “back home, we just call it ‘weather.'”

Anyway, with the Polar Vortex, part two, on its way, I thought I’d share something my office really enjoys: soup swap.

We stole the idea from Shaeda’s office, but we’ve done it twice so far, and it’s still a huge hit. Basically, everyone makes a giant batch of soup, divides them into individual containers, and brings them all to the office, where we keep them in the refrigerator. Some coworkers take the soup home to share with their families, but most of us just keep them at the office so we don’t have to carry lunch every day (plus, we’re usually here after hours, so soup swap takes care of dinner most nights, too).

Here’s a sample of the recipes my coworkers brought in. They were all delicious! Hope y’all have something to warm your heart and your stomach until this cold spell passes.

Lentil & Sausage Soup  // Fresh Corn Soup // Lemony Chicken & Orzo Soup }

 

2014 is my jam.

2

06.1.14

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

2013 was a long year. Not a particularly bad one, for me, but a long one.

Last January, my boss at the Energy Department asked me if 2013 was the year Sweetsonian would take off. I hadn’t thought about it until that moment, but I did decide right then. Yes, yes it would. 2013 would be the year Sweetsonian takes off.

So, I got to work. I’ve learned so much about blogging in the past year alone. I’m happy to be here, even though I’ve fallen off the boat in the past couple of months — I’ve told you all about my issues with exhaustion. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I worked hard to write regularly, not just for you, but for me. Because writing here helps me sort out my own priorities, and it helps me decide what’s worth talking about and what isn’t.

I feel like I’ve opened up way more than I ever have in the past year. Like that time I wrote a very heartfelt confession of the best and worst lovespell of my life (which happened to be my first post picked up by Refinery 29, naturally). I’ve written a lot about him. And my mother, or hints to the lack thereof.

I was talking to one of my friends about goals — I, for one, have always been a very goal-oriented woman. Her mother encourages visualizing. That is, taking a few minutes every day to close your eyes and visualize your goals — who you want to be in the future, where you want to live, what you’d like to be doing with your life. I fell in love with this concept, partially because I’m a desperate victim to even the slightest distraction. Distractions from the day job projects or the freelance ones. Distractions because the internet is a volatile place. Distractions from reality because I might have mild ADD. As a child of the internet, don’t we all?

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

Anyway, by taking a few minutes out of each day to clear your mind and just visualize the things that you want in life, you allow yourself to keep your goals in check. It’s a lot like yoga, which I’ve been practicing diligently for the past couple of months. Yoga is that one place where I actually can clear my mind of the noise. It’s a nice sanctuary at the beginning or end of a long day.

For the past couple of weeks, I let myself visualize when I feel myself getting frustrated or stressed. It’s nice to just take a deep breath, close my eyes, and picture a nice house in Brooklyn with a kitchen filled with light and a pretty office, with one desk for my computer and another for my typewriter. Doesn’t that sound nice? Just typing up that imagery brought a smile to my face. Because my three goals this year are to get hella fit, move to New York, and fall in love. Ambitious, but nice to visualize.

I’m thinking, realistically, that 2 out of 3 would be great. Expecting 3 of 3 might lead to disappointment (men of DC, I’m talking about you), but as Lauren told me in a text last night, 2 out of 3 is a pretty good goal for most things in life. I definitely agree.

For now, it’s a bit chilly in Washington. I have the day off, so I did a little bit of cooking — this stew is derived from a dear friend, and is a go-to dish when I have people over in the fall and winter. Serve it by itself, or with a generous helping of fried or broiled salmon, bacon crumbles and fresh parsley.

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

Lemon, Leek & Cannellini Stew, derived from The Spinning Plate

Ingredients

  • 3 cans canellini beans (any white bean is O.K.)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 large leeks, rinsed thoroughly and chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 heaping handful jullienned sundried tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cups white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain your cannellini beans, and set aside.
  2. In a cast iron Dutch oven (or any large pot), heat the bacon grease, and add in a drizzle of olive oil. Sautee the chopped leeks for a few minutes, until they soften and start to brown on the edges. Then, add in your sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, beans, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add in the chicken (or vegetable) broth, with a pinch of salt and maybe a few pinches of pepper. Stir, cover, and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, letting the beans soak in the flavors from the broth.
  4. Then, stir in a cup of wine, and squeeze the juice from the lemon into the stew. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so, and serve.
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