Tag Archives: easy recipes

Tasty Peanut Butter, Chocolatey, Coconutty Treats

I recently started a new job and I am out and about in the city everyday.  This can pose a problem for eating at traditional times, which can sometimes be rough for me.  I have a confession to make, if I don’t eat regularly I turn into a grumpy six year old.  If I miss a meal because I’m on the go, I suddenly find myself on the verge of a temper tantrum.  It is a serious problem, but after many years, I have found that the solution is always having a snack on hand.  This embarrassing fact about me and my new job have inspired me to experiment with delicious solutions to this problem.

For today’s post I made scrumptious peanut butter, coconut, chocolate energy balls.  This recipe is super easy and perfect for healthy (ish) snacking!

ingredients

The ingredients

Oatmeal

Coconut, Chocolate, Oatmeal

Delicious chocolate chips

Delicious chocolate chips

Adding the coconut flakes

Adding the coconut flakes

Time for the peanut butter

Time for the peanut butter

Mix it up

Mix it up

Close up of the finished product

Close up of the finished product

Peanut butter energy balls

Peanut butter, coconut, chocolate energy balls

Ingredients

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

1 cup coconut flakes

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla

How to (are you ready for how easy this is?)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Refrigerate for 45 minutes.  This will make the mix easier to mold.  Make small bite size balls from the mix.  Refrigerate and enjoy!

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Dinner with Fork It

I know I have said this many times, but I will say it again, I am no chef, but I enjoy cooking and love entertaining.  This post is dedicated to a dinner party I co-hosted with my dear friend Natalia who is the founder of Fork It and a food contributor to We Love DC.  Natalia is food and pork obsessed and  an incredible entertainer.  So I enlisted Natalia to put together a delicious yet doable menu and she did not disappoint!  I always find myself getting intimidated by the fancy titles of dishes and the mouthwatering pictures, but Natalia assured me that a dish does not have to be hard to make to be delicious.

Please enjoy the recipes, pictures, and hard hitting interview with Natalia, foodie entertainer extraordinaire.

Ricotta Bruschetta  

Ricotta

Bread

Tomatoes

Garlic

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut tomatoes in half and cover with salt, pepper & olive oil to taste.  Mix in garlic cloves with the halved tomatoes.  Put tomato mixture into the oven for about 20 minutes or until roasted (keep an eye on them).  Mix ricotta with olive oil, salt & pepper to taste.  Generously slice bread and toast in the oven.  I used my toaster oven for this since the large oven was occupied.  Make sure to get a quality loaf of bread—we used ciabatta.  Once the tomatoes are roasted, pile the ricotta cheese and tomatoes (remove the garlic) onto the toasted bread.  Then enjoy!

Sautéed Kale with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Kale

Sweet potatoes

Garlic

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Cut sweet potato into small cubes and place in the 350 degree oven.  For this dinner the tomatoes and sweet potatoes had to share the oven.  Let sweet potatoes roast for about 30 minutes or until soft.  As the sweet potatoes start to soften sauté the kale with olive oil, salt & pepper, and garlic.  Once everything is cooked, top the sautéed kale with the roasted sweet potatoes.

Bacon and Mustard Crusted Scallops served over Caramelized Onions

Bacon

Scallops

Vidalia Onion

Maple Peppercorn Mustard

Honey

Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Vegetable Oil

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice onion.  Sauté onions in olive oil on low heat until onions are clear.  Mix mustard, a dash of red wine vinegar and a drop of honey.  Generously salt and pepper the scallops.  Lightly cook (really only half cook) the bacon.  Then chop bacon into teeny tiny pieces.  Sear scallops in vegetable oil on high heat for a minute on each side.  Coat one side of the scallops with the mustard mixture.  Sprinkle bacons bits on top of the mustard glazed side of the scallop and then place in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Once scallops are fully white remove from oven and serve over caramelized onions.

Open faced Apple Tart

Apples (pink ladies or delicious equivalent)

Phyllo Dough

Honey

Powdered Sugar

Make sure dough has fully defrosted.  Preheat oven to 415 degrees.  Thinly slice apples.  Spread dough onto a baking sheet.  Line dough with apple slices and glaze with honey.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream.

And now the interview….

What are the most important ingredients to hosting a successful dinner party?

Simplicity. I always try and stick to recipes that impress but are simple to execute, whether through advance prep or basic, wholesome ingredients that pack a lot of flavor but don’t require much “dressing up”. Getting as much done before hand is key, so that when your guests arrive you can actually be there to host and converse. A good group and a constant flow of wine is a guarantee of a good time, so make sure to pick your dining mates right, and your wine, plenty. I find 8-10 the best number of people to have over at once, and always when seating, mix it up – separate couples, separate roommates , etc.

What tips do you have for hosting on a budget?

Go vegetarian. Protein is always what makes that grocery cost go up, and for a while I cooked only vegetarian – during college mostly. My go-to dishes to feed a lot of people actually always tend to be meat-free, like bruschetta, blue cheese stuffed dates (but even better when wrapped in bacon), crostini with ricotta and figs drizzled with honey, kale salad with roasted sweet potato, avocado slices with crushed pistachios and truffle oil, etc. Main dishes to feed a group and stay low-budget can be vegetarian as well, like a mushroom lasagna, any kind of meat-free pasta or risotto, cous cous with harrissa spiced vegetables, pumpkin curry, tofu curry, etc.

You can make your table look amazing at low-cost too, keeping the décor simple – mason jars with candles and empty bottles of wine (or funky bourbon bottles) filled with water, are easy fixes.

What is your specialty?

I really am not sure I have a specialty per se. I am always trying new recipes and improvising. Even when doing an older recipe, undoubtedly something will change. Since I spend half my free time reading new recipes, the list for must-try’s just keeps growing. But if I have to feed a big group on the fly, ill either do lamb burgers with tzatiki and a big kale salad, or a vegetarian pasta.

When baking, since I am a bit newer to that game and it is more of a science, I lean towards a flourless chocolate cake or apple pie. I used to make ice cream a lot as well, a bourbon honey ice cream was probably the best that came out of that phase.

What inspired you to start Fork It?

I had a lot of time on my hands right after college and wanted to get busy, doing something that I cared about but didn’t feel like work. I spent all of my free time reading about restaurants, sifting through magazines and blogs. My friends called me “urban spoon” and always asked for recommendations of where to go, so I figured why not create a visual platform to document my food happenings, both recipes and stories. Honestly, I did it for myself and never expected it to go anywhere. Then I started tweeting, only about food, and it just organically grew into something more. I didn’t expect Fork It to open any doors, but alas, now I write for We Love DC.

How did you become involved with We Love DC and what piece are you most proud of?

Marissa (We Love DC’s food editor) was introduced to me by one of my best friends, and I received a message from her one day just asking if I’d be interested in writing for them. Obviously, no brainer. It’s been an amazing experience because its forced me to practice my writing, explore the city, and meet new and interesting people. The pieces I am most proud of I guess are all my “firsts” – the first post I ever wrote was about Toki Underground, and my first Capital Chefs piece, on Anthony Lombardo of 1789. I also enjoyed writing the ‘Why I Love DC piece’

What are your top 3 favorite restaurants in DC and favorite dishes at each?

 This is a hard one….

Toki Underground – the Toki Monster and Hakata Classic. Simply, the best combination ever.

Thai X-ing – Pumpkin curry. Just straight up thai food orgasm.

Obelisk- Burratta. The whole meal at Obelisk is amazing, but the burratta they serve as appetizer to begin truly has the power to transport you to Italy.

Palena- On Sunday’s they have a special, limited menu, and the gnocchi is to die for. And I don’t ever order gnocchi.

I also just went to Suna’s soft opening and wow, there were some seriously good dishes there. Johnny Spero’s interpretation of “fowl” dish (which I rarely eat) really impressed me, as did his Pork.

What is your ultimate comfort food?

A hearty bowl of pasta and glass of red wine can cure, if only for a short while, any bad moment. And cheese, and pork belly (not necessarily together but I am sure that would be comforting).

 If you could cook a meal with any chef who would it be and what would you cook?

So, I actually have been lucky enough to cook a little bit with Jose Andres and that was a seriously amazing experience, and one I would want to repeat on a full scale, go to the store with him, choose the menu (probably paella), cook together. He’s a pretty fantastic guy, and goes beyond the kitchen and into the world of philanthropy, which I respect. So undoubtedly, lots of great conversations and inspiration to come from a shared cooking and eating experience with him. I’d also have to say Gaston Acurio, a Peruvian chef who has really changed the way we approach food in Latin America. He has pioneered the idea that food can be a vehicle for social change. I would want to make an array of ceviches and piscos with him.

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Tying the Knot–Dinner and Drinks

This past weekend I hosted an engagement party for my bestie.  It’s kind of crazy to think that I have known these ladies since we were 12 years old and I feel truly lucky to have such incredible people in my life!  People that make me laugh harder than I have ever laughed before, people that understand how I feel without me having to say anything, and people that will always be by my side.  And by my side they were–we cooked the entire meal together minus the guest of honor, of course.  

The evening was full of laughter, drinks, and delicious food.  We customized the menu to the future bride’s particular tastes and I must say it was quite a success.  I have recently started to enjoy cooking and am definitely still a beginner, so trust me when I say each dish is very do-able and delicious!  Hope you enjoy the recipes as much as we did!

Sparkling White Wine Sangria

Sparkling White Wine Sangria with Vodka Infused Fruit Skewers

Very Dry Chardonnay

Vodka

Sparkling Water

Ginger Ale

Strawberries

Apples

Grapes

Pineapple 

The proportions depend on how strong you want the Sangria to be and the size of your pitcher.  For me, each batch consisted of two bottles of wine, a cup(ish) of Ginger Ale, and a splash of Sparkling Water.  I chopped all of the fruit into bite sized pieces and then soaked the fruit in vodka for a couple of hours before adding it to the Sangria.  As the evening went on we also added a little vodka directly to the mix.  I also froze the grapes and used those instead of ice.

Baked Brie Bites

Sliced Brie

Baked Brie Bites

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Brie (1/2 a wedge)

Jam (choose your favorite flavor) 

This dish was so easy!  Preheat  the oven to 375 degrees.  Unroll the crescent rolls.  Cut the cheese into large bite sizes, spread the jam over the inner center of the rolls, place the cubed slices of brie in the center of each unrolled crescent roll, then roll it up.  Cook in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until deliciously melted. 

Watermelon Avocado Salad

Salad Skewers

Watermelon

Avocado

Feta

Tomato

Grapefruit

Balsamic

Vinaigrette

Olive Oil

Salt 

Pepper 

The theme of the evening was “tying the knot” and we put most of the dishes on bamboo skewers with knots on the end.  This salad was one of the skewered dishes, but can easily be served sans skewer.  Chop all ingredients into large squares and add balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Fig and Brussels Sprout Rigatoni

Brussels Sprouts and Fig Rigatoni

Rigatoni Pasta (1 box)

Brussels Sprouts (1 ½ pounds)

Figs (6-8 figs)

Yellow Onion (half)

Fontina Cheese (6 ounces)

Milk

Garlic

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil 

Boil the water/make the pasta (make sure to salt the water before adding the pasta and cook the pasta slightly al dente because the pasta will cook more in the oven).  Sauté the Brussels Sprouts and onion in a little oil and add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Grate the Fontina Cheese.  Once the pasta is made, drain water and return pasta to the pot then add the grated cheese, figs, sautéed onions and Brussels sprouts, and a splash of milk to the pot. Mix ingredients (keep heat on a low level—this will make the mixing easier).  Once ingredients are mixed place them in a baking pan and into the oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

Shrimp and Chicken Skewers

Fresh Veggies for the Skewers

Leftovers from the Main Course

Shrimp Skewers

Shrimp

Chicken

Red Pepper

Zucchini

Squash

Tomato

Pineapple

Salt 

Pepper

Garlic 

First, make sure to soak the skewers in water for at least 45 minutes before cooking.  Cut the ingredients into equal pieces–this will insure that they cook evenly.  Rub whatever spice combo you would like onto the skewers.  Mine were seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and rosemary. The shrimp will cook within 10ish minutes so cut shrimp accompaniments into smaller pieces.  The chicken will cook in 15ish minutes.  Warning: it is really easy to overcook kabobs so keep a close eye on them! 

Strawberries and Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crumble

Strawberries Stuffed with Cheesecake mid Graham Cracker Crumble

Fresh Strawberries

Cream Cheese

Powdered Sugar

Vanilla

Graham Crackers 

Cut the tops off the strawberries and slightly hollow strawberries (if you want more filling hollow more).  I promise this process isn’t as painful as it sounds.  Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar (sweeten to taste), and a teeny splash of vanilla together–this can be done by hand, but your arms might get a little tired.  Put the graham crackers into a bag, smash them up then pour crushed remains onto a plate.  Fill the strawberries with the cheesecake filling then dip the cheesecake end into the crushed graham crackers. 

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Slightly Melted Ice Cream Sandwiches

Cookie Dough (we didn’t have enough time to make homemade cookies so we went with Pillsbury cookie dough and it was delish)

Vanilla Ice Cream

Semi Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips 

Bake the cookies and let them cool COMPLETELY.  Once they have cooled, sandwich the ice cream between two cookies and put in the freezer. 


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