Author Archives: JustFrank

About JustFrank

Just a typical Washington, DC Suburbanite - University of Maryland Graduate, loves to spend time with his girlfriend, go out on the weekends, and spend quality time with his family.

Asian Napa Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients:napacabbage
1 large head Napa Cabbage, shredded
1 (3 ounce) package chicken ramen noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup slivered almonds
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/8 cup white sugar

Directions:
Crush ramen noodles, place them in a medium skillet and brown in butter over medium heat. Add almonds and sesame seeds. Stir often to prevent burning and add powdered seasoning mix from ramen noodles. Toss in a large bowl with cabbage and onions.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

Review:
This slaw is my current obsession (and a recipe that calls for ramen noodles-it has to be delicious)! Don’t freak out because of the ingredients just yet because there are a couple alterations we do when making this. In trying to still keep down the calories and carbs, we use one packet of sweet-n-low instead of the sugar, and some non-stick spray instead of the butter. Of course, you can play with using something different other than almonds if you prefer, as well as the oils and vinegar.
Enjoy this cold slaw/salad at your next BBQ or even as a quick side dish during the week. Try it out and let me know what you think!

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, chopped Spinach
1 (13 3/4-ounce) can Artichoke Hearts
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a casserole dish with nonstick spray. Heat the spinach in a microwave oven on high for 5 minutes and squeeze dry. Drain the artichoke hearts and coarsely chop. Combine all the ingredients except the jack cheese in a large bowl. Stir well. Scrape into the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the jack cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers, pita chips or tortilla chips.

Review:
Everyone has had Spinach Artichoke Dip over and over – at restaurants, at parties, or maybe you’ve even made it at home. This is a very easy recipe that takes no time to whip up, you might even have most of the ingredients at home already. I do like to add a little of the pepperjack cheese into the mixture so it is cheesy throughout; you can do to the same with the parmesan cheese but just be careful that you don’t put too much on top or there will be a hard layer that everyone will fight with. As with many of my recipes, I use low fat mayonnaise and low fat sour cream to cut down on the calories (now you can have a couple more chips)!


Posto – Washington, DC (Logan Circle)

We went out last Saturday night with Wendi and Stuart in DC at one of their go-to restaurants that is now one of the places Erin and I can’t wait to get back to. Posto (www.postodc.com), located in the Logan Circle neighborhood of DC, is a lively, modern Italian restaurant with a warm ambiance and amazing food.

As we walked through the door, we were greeted by smiling faces and were taken to our table that was in the center of a large dining room surrounded by a massive, inviting bar to one side and a huge, wood-burning oven to the rear where fresh bread and pizzas are made. The wait staff were very prompt to take our drink order and were beyond professional.

We had a white pizza as an appetizer that was loaded with delicious burrata cheese, roasted garlic, grape tomatoes, and basil; the crust was perfectly cooked and the toppings blended perfectly together. After this, I just knew dinner was going to be amazing.

After hearing the list of nightly specials, Stuart and I decided to go with the braised short ribs tossed with fresh pasta while Erin and Wendi had truffle and cremini mushroom pasta and a fresh pizza with arugula, truffle oil and an egg. The short ribs with pasta was absolutely delicious – the ribs were cooked perfectly and were so tender that they seemed to melt into the fresh pasta. Of course I had to taste Erin’s pasta; the flavoring of the mushrooms melded so. well with the creaminess of the perfectly saucy pasta. If you’re wondering about the egg on the pizza, it’s delicious! Erin and I recently had this delicacy at Graffiato’s, Mike Isabella’s tappas restaurant in Chinatown – the egg is rich and adds the perfect flavoring and texture to the pizza. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a must try if you ever see it on a menu.

We were fortunate enough to try a new dessert that the chef was testing – it was something to the sorts of a chocolate peanut butter tort. The flavor was out of this world – perfectly rich and savory sweet – and was served with a small scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream. After looking at the menu, you’ll definitely want to save room for a dessert to share.

If you’re looking for a great new restaurant to try out in DC, or even if you’re looking for a new spin on some of your favorite Italian dishes, Posto is a must try. A lot of times I associate Italian meals with unbuttoning my pants and wanting to go to sleep – not at Posto, the portions here were absolutely perfect! I was a little worried since we were headed out after dinner, but none of us were lethargic or talking about being stuffed (and don’t worry, the prices were really good). Erin and I definitely added this to our favorite places in DC and will be going back sooner than later!


Serendipity – Washington, DC (Georgetown)

Erin has been wanting to go to Serendipity since it came to DC last summer and we finally had the chance to over the weekend. Brought to DC after it’s New York City fame, Serendipity is a restaurant that specializes in dessert and is known for their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. We were in Georgetown over the weekend during the late afternoon and I thought this would be the perfect time to try out the new addition to the Georgetown restaurant scene.

Normally, you can only get in with reservations that are made well in advance, but the chilly Sunday afternoon must have helped us since we got in right at 7:00p. Walking into the restaurant feels like you’re entering Alice’s Wonderland – the light fixtures are all different, some small and some large, some high and some low, the clock is extremely oversized, there are extreme colors on the walls and the menu is cartoonishly large. We were seated in the front area of the restaurant – the bar area with a couple of tables that reminded me of an old school diner. The wait staff were professionally dressed wearing shirts with ties and were very cordial.

After looking at the menu, we decided that we were definitely going to save room for a dessert (at a place like this, you have to make your meal decision based on what comes afterward, right??). The menu was very vast; everything from salads, to burgers and sandwiches, to chili and matzo ball soup, to pasta and filet mignon, and even foot-long hot dogs. While variety can be a good thing, it can also be hard to make a decision and typically leans towards no real specialty in the restaurant. Well, I already said the specialty was dessert so I think you know where I’m going with this… We ordered sandwiches (something we hardly ever do but we’d already has brunch so anything healthy about the day was already out the window!) and they were just ok. The cheese on Erin’s wasn’t melted all the way and mine was pretty bland with cold sweet potato fries.

After dinner, we took a long look at the big, literally and figuratively, dessert menu. Since I had never been to the NYC location, I thought it would only be appropriate to start out my Serendipity dessert-trying with a Frozen Hot Chocolate. Yes, it was confusing to me at first too but it all made sense as soon as I tasted it. The dish that resembles an ice cream sundae with straws coming out of it was most similar to the texture of a milkshake and a slupree put together. It tasted great – like a hot chocolate that was in an icy dessert form. We ordered the “for one” size and split it; it was plenty big enough for the two of us. Other than this traditional flavor, they had many others along with a wide variety of other ice cream desserts and sundaes that all came in both a small and a large size.

All-in-all, the food here was not that great; there are definitely some different things on the menu that you’re not likely to find at other places around DC but the focus is really on the chocolate. Will we be back? Yes, and we’ll probably come back to try a different kind of entrée next time, but we’ll definitely be back for dessert. My suggestion to you would be to make a late reservation and head there after a nice dinner in the city for a Frozen Hot Chocolate and a cup of coffee or espresso.


Broccoli, Tomato and Cheese Strata

In the past, we’ve made several variations of quiches and frittatas for breakfast and brunch get-togethers but Erin thought we should try something different this past weekend. Similar to a frittata or a quiche, this casserole has an egg base with several other ingredients to make an all-in-one meal.

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups French Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Broccoli Florets
1 1/2 tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
8 Eggs
3 cups Milk
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
4 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp. Basil, chopped

Directions:
Place cubed bread in a buttered 9×13 inch baking dish. Top bread with 1 cup cheddar cheese, tomatoes, broccoli and 1 tbsp. parsley.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over break and gently press to soak every cube. Add dollops of ricotta over top of dish. Sprinkle strata with basil and remaining cheddar cheese. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove strata from refrigerator and bring to room temperature (about 1 hour).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Bake until strata is puffed and lightly golden brown, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before serving and garnish with remaining parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Review:
Think of this as a breakfast bread pudding; warm, rich, filling, and delicious! This was a huge hit at this past weekend’s brunch and was the first dish that was gone. There’s always room for a hot casserole-type dish whether your hosting or going to someone’s house; this recipe was very good and will definitely be used again for our breakfast/brunch outings.

This variation had several kinds of vegetables but it would be very easy to mix it up – you could make the same recipe with spinach and feta, or with onions, peppers, and mushrooms, or really any other variation that your family likes. In this variation, we didn’t add meat to keep the dish kosher, but it would be very easy to add breakfast sausage or chicken to really make this a one dish breakfast.

For the cuts that can be made, you can always use Egg Beaters or Egg Whites (the kind that come in the pre-made container) that contain almost no calories, fat or carbs but still have protein, you can use fat-free milk or fat-free half and half, you can always use reduced fat cheeses, and you can even find whole grain French bread at grocery stores like Balducci’s or Whole Foods.

Regardless whether or not you make a couple calorie cuts, this dish is an easy way to prepare for a meal if you’re having company or even if you’d like to sleep in a little longer since all the prep work is done the night before. Enjoy the idea and share your family’s variations!


Brunch Kugel

One of my favorite brunch dishes is the Kugel that Erin’s Grandma makes on special occasions and for family gatherings. Since we were hosting brunch this weekend, I thought it would only be appropriate to make a variation of this delicious dish so everyone could experience this delicacy. For those of you who didn’t have this variation of Kugel at brunch over the weekend or don’t know what Kugel is, the easiest way to explain it is a sweet, creamy, egg noodle dish that is typically found at meals during Jewish holidays or Shabbat. This recipe wasn’t as good as Grandma’s, but it was definitely a good start…

Ingredients:
For Noodles-
16 oz. Egg Noodles
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, but into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup Lowfat Milk
5 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
20 oz. Crushed Pineapple
16. oz. Sour Cream
16 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese

For Topping-
2 cups Cornflakes, coarsley crushed
2 tbsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

Directions:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Cook noodles in a 6-8 quart pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain well in a colander, then return to warm pot and add butter, tossing until noodles are coated.

Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined, then whisk in sour cream. Stir in cottage cheese and pineapple and add to noodles, stirring to coat well. Spoon entire noodle mixture into baking dish.

In a seperate bowl, stir together cornflakes, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over noodles.

Dot with butter and bake until dish is set and edges are golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Review:
Well, there’s no nice way to say this… do not even think about making this if you’re worried about the calories. There are many dishes where you can cut out the fat, calories and sugar, but Kugel isn’t one of them. You have to treat yourself every once in a while through, right? This is truly a treat to save for a special occasion.

This recipe is pretty easy to make and tastes delicious. One of the modifications I would make would be to add about a half cup more milk to make the dish a little more moist and creamy; if you follow the directions and use the amount that it originally calls for, the dish will be fine but I think it’s always better to be a little moist. Also, for the topping, be sure that it gets pressed into the top layer of noodles so it isn’t just sitting on the top; you want this to be a crunchy topping but you don’t want it to seem like it’s just loose cereal on top of the noodles, it needs to be incorporated.

Erin says that she would add about a half cup more sugar to give it a little bit of a sweeter taste and would also add raisins. Many Kugel recipes call for raisins so add them to your liking.

Overall, this recipe is a good way to perfect your own variation of Kugel. You can add items that you and your family like and you can also take away some items that you may not like in this version. Experiment a little and let me know what your perfect ingredient list!


Crock Pot Korean Ribs

These Korean Beef Short Ribs are going to be one of your favorite dishes when you’re done — a little spicy, a little sweet, a little smoky and oh-so-tender. These are a must try!

Ingredients:
2-3 pounds of Beef Short Ribs
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Brown Sugar
5 whole Jalapeno Peppers
1/2 cup Water

Directions:
Place either frozen or thawed beef short ribs into the crock pot. Combine soy sauce, water and brown sugar and add to the crock pot. Finally, add in the whole jalapenos and cover.

Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is fall-of-the-bone tender.

Review:
I have to say, the name of this dish isn’t too explanatory and I wouldn’t want you to think this is an Asian dish (don’t think General Tso or Sesame Chicken) but a meat-lover’s dinner with a twist! Don’t be scared… this was absolutely delicious.

Erin whipped up this meal one morning before she left for work and (Viola!) it was ready when she got home. Like the directions say, it’s just a matter of mixing everything together, putting it in the crock pot and letting it cook low and slow – or is it long and low?? (Erin!) – at any rate, the results were amazing. The beef was so tender that it was falling off the bone and was flavored so well! The sauce is pretty thin, but it’s perfect if you want to add a little on top as you’re making your dinner plate; it’s almost like a smoky, and a little sweet, BBQ sauce.

Don’t worry about the jalapeno adding a spicy-heat to the dish. Once they are cooked, they add a nice smoky flavor to the dish, but they don’t add any spicy heat. If you want a little kick (this is what I did), cut up the pepper and eat it with meat… Mmmm. It was not at hot as you think eating a whole jalapeno would be; I don’t even think my eyes watered and I can be a wimp when it comes to spicy things. To compliment to delicious short ribs, we had a salad and white asparagus (one of our favorite vegetables); if you’re not looking to cut out carbs, this would have been great with mashed potatoes, a sweet potato, or even rice.

If you don’t use beef short ribs regularly, you should find a way to work them into your meals – they are absolutely delicious and are so flavorful and tender. I would have never thought to use this cut of meat unless someone told me about it… that’s why I’m sharing this with you! Try it out and let me know what you think.