Cava Fresh // Crazy Feta Artichoke Dip

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

Happy Friday! This morning started off pretty chilly, but the weekend forecast here in DC is looking pretty darn gorgeous. Hoping you all get to have a nice weekend, too!

If you follow me on le twitter and instagram, you’re probably aware that I started working with Cava Mezze and Cava Mezze Grill to photograph all of the beautiful dishes and ingredients on their menu — and, as a food photographer who gets to chow down on everything after photo shoots are done, I can definitely say that the food tastes even better than it looks.

Liz and Nikki set me up with a couple of their dips, so this is the first of two recipes I’ve put together — a twist on an artichoke dip that my stepmom makes (which is really just one of the biggest highlights every time I go home to visit). With the added kick from Cava’s Crazy Feta, it’s the simplest of ingredients, and I’m not sure I love anything more than I love feta cheese.

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

 

I made this little pot of crazy feta artichoke dip for a friend’s birthday, which we celebrated Wednesday night over homemade pizza and bottles upon bottles of wine. I mentioned to the host that I made it with the Cava Crazy Feta dip, and she opened her fridge and revealed a few of the Cava dips that she already had in store… so they’re pretty much everywhere these days :)

We ate the dip with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, heated in the oven and ripped apart by hand. I suggest you do the same! And look for Cava’s amazing products in your grocery store — here in DC, they’re at Whole Foods. And pretty much in everyone’s fridge.

Follow Cava here :)

Cava Mezze: facebook // twitter // instagram
Cava Mezze Grill: facebook // twitter // instagram
Cava Foods: facebook // twitter // instagram

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

crazy feta artichoke dip // sweetsonian

Crazy Feta Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 package Crazy Feta by Cava Foods
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the egg, and then mix in the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and half of the parmesan.
  3. Stir in all of the Crazy Feta, and add the artichoke hearts, breaking them apart by hand as you add them to the bowl.
  4. Once completely mixed, transfer them to an oven-safe bowl, and top with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and hopefully bubbling.
  6. Cool slightly, and serve with pita or tortilla chips.

Marinated Flank Steak with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

I’ve been struggling, lately.

With everything. It’s not that I’m emotional, or sad, or upset in anyway. I think I’ve just been exhausted, and lazy… if the two go together in any way.

I’ve been avoiding posting something on here. I’m not exactly sure why, but I guess I go through phases — extended periods of time without any creativity at all. And being a creative by trade, all day, err’day, I’ve had difficulty recovering from the weeks that burn me out. These slumps aren’t easy. I, for one, have always hated being lazy or having nothing to do. But I find myself craving it. Scratching fingernails on imaginary chalkboards in the air, itching for a vacation from the daily grind. A few days that involve nothing but sitting on a beach with a nerd read, or curled up on my couch with a never-ending list of critically-acclaimed movies to watch on Netflix.

A cup of tea or a glass of wine. There’s nothing else I need.

Except, every now and then, a damn good steak. I take pride in my abilities to transform a good slab of meat into a meal that will change your life. There are many things that make me a laid back, lighthearted individual. Steak is not one of them. I take my steak seriously.

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

An old love interest, years removed, whom I hadn’t heard from in months, got back in touch the night I made these steaks. I had just wrapped up a pretty stressful series of projects at the day job. I had been biking to work all week, and the weather was just below bone-chilling that week. Yet, as frigid as it was outside, this little designer was one-hundred percent burnt out. So naturally, I did what Shaeda would do in that situation — I stopped by Whole Foods on my way home to pick up more than a pound of a beautiful, oh-so-gorgeous slab of steak.

By the time I got home, I had a series of texts from you-know-who. In typical fashion, we caught up a little, reminisced a little, and being thousands of miles apart and sans commitment, really opened up about our lives. You see, this summer, we reconnected, but just like 90 percent of our conversations since the beginning of time, we didn’t actually communicate much. Except this summer, I didn’t have the patience to put up with it. I was happy without that mess (and any other hot mess, to be honest). Looking back on that was the farthest thing from my mind… and that simple fact was one of the most empowering feelings I’ve had all year.

Needless to say, we chatted about all of this for an hour or so… while I was prepping a pound and a half of steak. It was the version of me that until recent years, was in complete control of the situation. Between the steak and taking charge of what I considered just a year ago to be a miserable, failed romance — I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so sexy and in charge.

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

This post is actually a procrastination post. I have two projects due before I leave for California next Friday. And I’ve been planning a Twelve Pubs of Christmas pub crawl for months… that’s happening on Saturday. Needless to say, I probably shouldn’t have spent this much time writing this post.

I probably should just go make myself another steak.

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

marinated flank steak with feta // sweetsonian

Marinated Flank Steak with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato, derived from Dukan It Out

Ingredients

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. In a ziploc bag, combine your steak, balsamic, parsley, cilantro, paprika, cayenne and red pepper flakes. Squish the marinade around so that the entire steak is covered — and let it sit for a while. I left mine on the counter for 30 minutes or so, which also lets the steak come to room temperature. If you’re marinating for longer, do so in the refrigerator, and then let it sit out for 30 minutes to an hour prior to cooking.
  2. Heat a good cast iron pan over the stove on high, getting the surface so hot that you can only hold your hand above it for a second before pulling away.
  3. Slice your steak according to individual servings. Place the steak on the pan, and let it sear and sizzle for 3 to 4 minutes. Then, turn over and repeat on the other side. Slice it open to check how cooked it is — and continue cooking to the temperature you prefer. I take it off when it’s a little more rare than I like, and then set it on a cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes, letting the juices distribute.
  4. While your steak is resting, combine the feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and chili flakes. Sprinkle generously over your steak, and serve hot.

 

Green Herb Shrimp with Summer Squash Quinoa

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Oh, to be a freelancer again.

That extended vacation from Google was quite nice. But… it’s 1:40 am and I still feel like I have a ton of work to do.

Cooking store-bought zucchini isn’t anything like cooking summer squash from the garden, so this definitely brought back some great memories from the house on Capitol Hill. It feels like it’s been ages.

I have a deadline in the morning, but Adriana (the bestie from middle/high school now roommate) and I have a date with Caroline Wright’s Twenty Dollar Twenty-Minute Meals tomorrow. So I need to make sure I have a couple of free hours in the evening to cook a proper dinner!

zucchini

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So, all that being said, I’m going to refrain from writing a full post tonight. I have a playlist and a fun twist on my own personal comfort food in store for you this week. No more of this letting-weeks-without-blogging escape my grasps.

And hopefully, you’re getting more sleep than I am this week!

I know, I know what you’re thinking. I chose this life. Womp, womp. I did. And I love/hate it (mostly love).

Until tomorrow, you have this: Sara Forte’s shrimp with herbed quinoa. Her book called for cous cous, but I only had quinoa. So we made it work.

pesto

basil

Green Herb Shrimp with Summer Squash Quinoa, derived from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook Continue reading “Green Herb Shrimp with Summer Squash Quinoa”

Watermelon, feta, and balsamic vinegar

watermelon2

Quick lunchtime update: I may or may not have just eaten a pound of watermelon for lunch.

Normally, I’m a big advocate of eating fruit as-is. But these watermelon and feta salads are just all over the internet, so we made one this weekend just to try it out.

It’s a winner. I understand why they’re everywhere now.

watermelon1

Watermelon and Feta Salad — this is pretty simple.

Watermelon
Crumbled feta cheese
Arugula
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Slice your watermelon however you like it. For presentation, I thought a stacked salad would be nice. Arrange your watermelon on a heap of arugula, top with crumbled feta, salt and pepper, and then drizzle just a little bit of balsamic vinegar on the plate.

A few updates… and an Avocado, Tangerine, and Feta Salad

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Before we get started with another delicious recipe, I thought I’d catch you all up on some housekeeping.

As you probably already know, my longtime companion, Google Reader, is going kaput. While I was initially grumpy and heartbroken, Google Reader’s announcement drove me to Feedly, which is basically what Google Reader would have been if Google had only invested in its design.

Anyway, get Feedly. The fonts are better, the colors are better, and you have more control over what your reader looks and feels like. Just… trust me.

Also, if you’re following Sweetsonian on Google Reader, please make sure to forward Sweetsonian to Feedly, or whichever RSS reader you decide to go with.

When you do so, be sure to subscribe to www.sweetsonian.com/feed — NOT just www.sweetsonian.com. We want to make sure everything gets transferred correctly now, right? I won’t try to explain why the internet works this way, because, well, that’s probably not why you came to this blog.

In other news, this girl is moving! I’m not moving to New York City quite yet, but for the moment, I’m headed to an adorable two-bedroom apartment near Dupont Circle. I’ll be sharing my home with a few different people over the course of the next year, but the ultimate goal is to eventually turn that second bedroom into a full-time design studio for my freelance business… let’s say, in three or four years.

I’ve decided to put New York on hold for the moment. I kept going back and forth with my big city obsession and my first true love — Washington, D.C. And, things don’t seem to be aligning quite perfectly with New York yet, so Sweetsonian will stay an indefinite while longer in this pretty little town.

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While there is no doubt I’m going to miss the home I’ve made on Capitol Hill, the drive back to Dupont comes from a few different directions — a natural, demographic shift of my friends to Northwest DC, a desire to downsize, and just an overall change in priorities as I get older. I wanted a more permanent home; something that I could really grow into a personal sanctuary.

And obviously, the first thing on my mind was “how good is the lighting for food photography?” The answer to that is AMAZING. Even though I’ll be shooting photos from my bedroom, the apartment layout makes it easy to shoot a beeline from the kitchen to the makeshift photography studio I’ll be setting up at my desk.

So, you’ll probably notice a change in my writing, as major life changes tend to draw out sentimental, reminiscent tones. And as I count the number of boxes my life fits into, I’m sure things will get more and more real.

I guess that’s that. Go on. Go ahead, and make the switch to Feedly. Everyone’s movin’ around, in one way or another.

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Avocado, Tangerine, and Feta Salad, inspired by Food & Wine

Ingredients
1 ripe avocado
2 tangerines
A few handfuls of baby arugula
Feta cheese

2 tablespoons lime juice (freshly squeezed, as always, is the best)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

It’s a fresh salad, so my directions will be brief.

In a jar, combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Secure the lid, and shake vigorously.

Peel your orange with a sharp paring knife, leaving as little of the white rind as possible. You could technically peel like with your fingers, like you would normally with a citrus, but the knife effect is much prettier. Slice your avocado — to get the nice, slender slices, I quarter the avocado, and without cutting through the skin, slice each quarter into three or four slices. Then, I peel the skin off. This leaves you with nice, clean salad-style slices.

Dress a room temperature or chilled plate with the arugula, sliced avocado and tangerines. Drizzle with dressing, and top with crumbled feta (you could also use goat cheese if you hate on feta), salt and pepper.