Tortilla Soup

Hello all! The last two months have been crazy. I was busy finishing up exams and clinical hours for the end of the semester and planning for our wedding when I had a severe headache that ended up being a rare brain cyst requiring surgical removal – so scary! Thankfully, surgery was successful and I recovered in time to walk down the aisle and marry my best friend 3 weeks later. We relaxed and recovered from the wedding and pre-wedding health scare during our  honeymoon in Banff, Canada, and Napa Valley. After enjoying so much decadent food and relaxation (ie not much exercise) on our honeymoon, I am ready to start eating healthy again. I hated being in the hospital and a critical component of maintaining health and avoiding doctors is good nutrition. Today, I tried out a recipe adapted from the Avocado Tortilla Soup recipe from the Vitamix cookbook that came with the blender. The result was a fresh, delicious meal that  left me feeling re-energized rather than overstuffed. Ingredients included  2 cups vegetable stock, 5 roma tomatoes, one carrot, one celery stalk, 1/3 bunch of cilantro (leaves only), 1/2 avocado, 1 cup of black beans, 2 handfuls of tortilla chips, and 2 tbsp penzey’s chicken taco seasoning. Making the soup was super easy. I added the first six ingredients  to the vitamix, blended on high for 10 minutes, and then added in the seasoning, blackbeans, and tortilla chips, blended on the lowest setting for a few seconds and my soup was ready! This could be modified to include chicken and would be great served with toppings such as diced jalepenos, diced avocado, cashew sour cream or regular sour cream, and/or cheese.

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Eating In

Eating out is great fun but is not so kind to the waistline. With our wedding coming up, I want to eat healthier so am working on finding easy quick and tasty recipes that work for both me (I don’t like much meat) and Greg (who doesn’t like many veggies). I would like to develop a list of staple recipes that I can always turn to in a pinch.

This week I made chicken and artichokes (http://www.dinneralovestory.com/tag/chicken-with-artichokes), a recipe from Dinner a Love Story blog. I had high hopes for the recipe as it is easy and sounded tasty. Our meal turned out eatable but not one that I would care to eat again.

Other recipes that I’m thinking of trying out this week are Crispy Black Bean Quesadillas with Feta and Slaw (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/02/crispy-black-bean-tacos-with-feta-and-slaw/), Sausage Bean & Kale stew, some kind of fish with Trader Joe’s Miso Broth, or Sweet Potato, Blackbean and Corn Enchiladas (http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/06/sweet-potato-corn-and-black-bean-enchiladas.html). . . . . Wish me luck! Hopefully I will find some winners to make the process of deciding what to cook each week easier with less wasted leftovers.

Crane & Turtle

Snapshot:

Location: Washington, DC
Food: 4 out of 4 stars
Service: 4 out of 4 stars
Value: 3 out of 4 stars
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Greg and I recently dined at Crane and Turtle, a new restaurant in DC with friends. It was one of the best meals we have had in a long time. Here is the run down of what we enjoyed:
Small bites to start:
-Sea Trout Carpaccio, -Big Eye Tuna Tataki, -Hamachi Tataki, and -Tako Wasabi
Appetizers:
-Grilled Quail, -Butter Poached Sun Shrimp
Entrees:
-Sweet & Sour Lamb, – Maine Scallops, – Pan Roasted Monkfish
The consensus at our table was that everything was delicious with the exception of the Sweet and Sour lamb. It was a served as a stew and the sweet and sour taste did not come through. The Hamachi Tataki was the favorite small plate with Greg preferring the Big Eye Tuna Tataki the best.  The accent sauces were so good that we requested extra bread to sop up all the deliciousness. This was the first meal in a while in which I felt that most of our dishes were great, not just ok. I hope when we go back again that we have the same great experience. Enjoy!
Heather

 

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Going Green

Today I made a Green Smoothie using my “new” used Vitamix.  Greg, my fiance, bought me a Vitamix from Craigslist for Christmas. Buying a used Vitamix was much more cost effective and the older models supposedly last longer.  I also love the thought and extra effort that go into finding a gift on Craigslist.

I definitely need to balance out all of our delicious dining out with healthy dining in so am thrilled to have a Vitamix to make healthy eating even easier. My attempt at a green smoothie came out pretty good, one of the better ones I’ve made. I recently tried a carrot smoothie with leftover carrots I had on hand but it did not work as well. I managed to get down one glass of it but couldn’t bring myself to drink the rest. Here is the recipe I used for my Green Smoothie adapted from the Strawberry and Greens Smoothie in the Whole Food Vitamix Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/Vitamix-Whole-Food-Recipes/dp/B00801WPLS).

Recipe:

1 cup water

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 cup fresh strawberries (I left the green tops on, much easier and still tasted good!)

2 very ripe frozen bananas

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Designer Whey brand from Trader Joe’s)

1 tbsp ground flax seed (I also purchased this at Trader Joe’s)

1 tbsp chia seeds (Much cheaper at Trader Joe’s than Whole Foods)

Add all ingredients in the order listed to your Vitamix or high-speed blender. Blend and Enjoy.

Here is a picture of my smoothie. It tastes better than it looks, I promise!!

smoothie

 

 

Amoos House of Kabob

Snapshot:

Location: McLean, VA
Food: 3 out of 4 stars
Service: 3 out of 4 stars
Value: 4 out of 4 stars
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Amoos is our new go to place to eat. We had a rocky start with Amoos as we were turned away the first two times we attempted to dine there. Once due to a private party and a second time due to no available tables. We learned that although Amoos does not get alot of hype and is in an old small strip of stores, reservations are a must if you want  a guaranteed table. Since learning this, we have enjoyed the food at Amoos three or four times and it is consistently good. The staff are friendly and it is not uncommon for the part-owner to wait tables if he is taking a break from the kitchen.
The veggie kabobs are my favorite. The kabobs come with roasted eggplant, peppers, onions and tomatoes and are served with fluffy moist rice seasoned with fresh dill. The eggplant is delicious and eggplant is not usually my choice of veggies. Greg has tried a few different dishes including a turkey special around the holidays and has also had lamb chops. He has liked everything he tried thus far.
Hope you enjoy if you decide to visit Amoos! Don’t forget to make a reservation.

Eventide: Suprisingly Good for an Odd Bar

Greg and I went to Eventide (http://www.eventiderestaurant.com/) for dinner about two weeks ago after he had read some good reviews including a review from Tom Sietsema. We had a nice evening, the dining room has a good ambiance, wasn’t too stuffy, but also not too loud and overcrowded. The seating was very interesting, the booths had an arm rest on the side that must be opened in order to get into the booth. Made it feel very cozy!  We’ve started to add a spoiler alert to summarize our rating of the restaurant for those of you who don’t have time or patience to read all our musings.

 
Spoiler Alert (Ratings out of 4 stars)
Category: Clarendon
Food: 3 stars
Service: 3 stars
Value: 2.5 stars
 
Summary of our food
Drinks: Blackberry cocktail and wine is ok, nothing special. 
 
Complimentary Bread: I was delighted to find biscuits in the bread basket. The biscuits were buttery, flaky, and melt in your mouth good. 
 
Appetizers: Beet salad also delicious, good marriage of flavors. Walnuts, bleu cheese, beets, thin slices of beet jelly, and the only pickled egg I’ve ever liked topped the salad along with a balsamic vinaigrette with ahint of horseradish. The Oyster soup is very good to excellent. Included 4 big fat oysters, a lobster bisque broth with bits of ham, celery and of course oyster crackers. 
 
Entrees: Scallop and fried artichoke entree tasty. Contained 4 large scallops nicely browned and sliced and fried bottom quarters of artichoke (artichokes a little too charred for our taste but we still cleaned the plate).  Dish accented with three sauces, ricotta bleu cheese sauce, black garlic puree and a red pepper sauce. Red pepper went great with the fried artichoke. However, the scallops were best on their own without the sauce as when cooked well don’t need anything added.
 
The lobster roll (actually an appetizer but I ate it for dinner) was the best we’ve had in DC area and sadly we havent had one from anywhere else yet. New England is on our vacation list at some point. It was served open face style with shredded lobster mixed with green onion and topped with two claw clumps. Two different kinds of mayo/aoli were served on the side. I found the aioli on the side to be key as you can choose how much to add. I’m always sad when the mayo overpowers the lobster but I was not disappointed by Eventide’s take on the lobster roll.
 
Dessert: We finished our meal with a strawberry polenta cake and fought over the last bite ( I won:).

Thanks all, until next time.

Heather

Ray’s the Steaks

Greg and I have been dining at Ray’s the Steaks since we first met and before the existence of Hellburger, Ray’s to the Third, and other Ray’s locations. When we lived in Colonial Village, we dined at Ray’s every one or two weeks. It located in a  small space, between Pho 75 and Guajillo. There was always a wait, often times more than an hour, the service was always terrible, and the steaks were amazing.

Last night (approximately six years after our first dining experience at Ray’s)  we went back to Ray’s to celebrate Greg’s birthday with some family. Ray’s the Steaks moved several years ago and is now  in a larger space less than a mile from the original location. Consistent to its roots, the service was poor. The waitress couldn’t tell the difference between a lemon and lime and never brought out limes when requested. I had hoped to surprise Greg with a key lime pie for dessert with candles but we ended up with a slice and one candle. To top it off, the waitress forgot to ask anyone else if they would like dessert before dropping off the check. At least the waitress remembered our table, unlike a previous dining experience when our waiter completely forgot about us including closing out our check.

Since we first started dating, I have stopped eating red meat and chicken so I can’t comment on the steaks. From our table it appeared the hanger steak was the winner out of all the steaks. Greg had a huge cowboy cut and liked it but wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as usual when dining at Ray’s. Other guests tried out the filet mignon and enjoyed it but weren’t wowed. I had the shrimp scampi and a house salad. The scampi was good but nothing to write home about and the house salad is simple – mostly greens with a few cherry tomatoes coated in a balsalmic vinaigrette. I have learned to order the appetizer portion of the scampi or scallops as the entrée portion generally includes only one additional shrimp or scallop but costs $10 more than the app.

Overall, it was a great night celebrating with family but Ray’s was definitely better in the good ole days when rudeness was the status quo of the restaurant staff, the wait was long, but the steaks were the best around town.

Bottom line: Although still listed in the top 100 very best restaurants by the Washingtonian, Ray’s moved down a few slots on our list  (to be posted soon). We will likely continue to stop by once in while when Greg has a hankering for a steak as its close to us, the value is good, and they have non-steak options for me but won’t resume frequenting the restaurant as often as we once did in the past.