What’s for Dinner? Wednesday: Risotto

Back with another What’s for Dinner? Wednesday! Tonight I’m sharing one of our favorite meals to make together and eat together: red wine risotto with peas!

Risotto is a great meal to cook with someone.  Not because it’s extremely complicated (it’s not really at all) but because it’s a time consuming meal and gives you time to chat in the kitchen (without the distractions of phone, computer, TV). It’s pretty much just stirring constantly for 25-30 minutes and it’s nice to have someone to keep you company.  Oh, and you put like a cup of wine in the recipe and drink the rest 🙂

Mike and I love to make risotto together because it gives us time to connect. We’ll take turns stirring and sitting, talk about things that are on our minds, and drink wine. Sometimes, though, much of the conversation is “mmm, this is going to be so good” or some variation of that statement.

Risotto is really just a fancy comfort food.  It’s warm, creamy, and you eat it out of a bowl with a spoon. What’s not to love?

Our go-to risotto is Giada’s red wine risotto with peas.

I’d love to know:

Do you like risotto?  Share/link up your favorite risotto recipe in the comments!

Are there any meals that you bond over with your significant other/family/roommates?

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Date Night

Back again with another What’s for Dinner? Wednesday and tonight happened to be date night! We haven’t had date night in quite some time: either since my birthday date or when we went to the Nationals’ game. It’s one of my 2012 resolutions to go on one date night per month so tonight not only did I have a nice dinner with my husband but I also got to check a box on resolutions spreadsheet. Win-win!

Mike’s trying to “get into sushi” and we had a Living Social deal for Sushiko in Chevy Chase (Friendship Heights) that expires at the end of the month so we decided to go to Sushiko for our first date night of the year.

We started with some drinks: a rum and Coke for Mike and a mangotini for me.

Then I had a house salad with ginger dressing to start (which I pretty much inhaled and then had to tell myself to slow down, that I’m not in an eating contest, I’m on a date).

Don’t you love how vibrant and fresh that looks?

Next we ordered two rolls to share: the rock shrimp cilantro and the crunchy spicy salmon.  Mike chose both of these and I was happy to oblige.  Sometimes it feels so good to just trust your partner’s judgement. And it paid off.  Both rolls were delicious. The cilantro in the rock shrimp cilantro roll was so bright and fresh, it was awesome!

We topped off our meal with a soft shell crab roll.

Good meal.  I imagine we’ll be back again soon.

I’m glad we both enjoy sushi now.  Sometimes if we need a quick dinner we’ll stop at Whole Foods and grab some out of their pre-made case. It’s so funny how tastes can change.  If you would’ve told me 3 years ago that I’d like sushi by now I probably would’ve said you’re crazy.

I still kind of struggle while eating it though.  I feel like it’s a lot to put the whole thing in your mouth at once but it’s really poor sushi etiquette to not take it all in one bite.  (I learned that on a Bobby Flay Throwdown I think).  And honestly it just looks bad if you don’t. But I feel like it’s a lot to get down and I start to swallow it before I even get to taste it. Does anyone else have this problem?

I’d love to know:

Are you a sushi fan?  

What did you have for dinner?

What’s for Dinner? Wednesday: How Sweet It Is edition

Happy Hump Day! Aren’t long weekends great?  Having an extra day or two to relax and unwind is a wonderful thing.  But long weekends are a gift that keeps on giving: a short work week before or after.

But after two short weeks of work, the last two days in my office have had me feeling wiped out by 3:30. All I wanted to do when I came home today was take a nap.  After my 15 minute power nap on the couch, I was still pretty drained so I was happy to see that the meal we had planned for tonight was actually pretty speedy.

Me, as we sit down at the coffee table to eat: “Wow, this is going to be soo good.”

Mike: “Yeah, where’d you get this recipe?”

Me: “Where do you think?”

Mike: “How Sweet It Is?”

Me: “Uh, huh.”

[I get most of my recipes here so this is no surprise. Like the sangria and cookies I made for NYE, the fish sticks we had for dinner earlier this week, and the crockpot recipe we’ll have tomorrow or Friday.]

Me: “Don’t you love Jessica?”

Mike: “Yeah, is she single?”

What?! Isn’t my referencing her blog and bringing her delicious recipes into your life enough? I mean, I know she has a good sense of humor but come on!

So anyway, this is what we had for dinner:

BLT Salmon Tacos

These were really good, though I think I’d have much more to say if I hadn’t literally inhaled my first one.  Yeah, I kind of felt overwhelmed after that.

After Mike wolfed down his tacos in like four bites: “Mmm, yeah, that’s a keeper. I’d definitely have that again. That would be good in the summer too.”

Remember when I told you to make “try one of Jessica’s recipes” one of your new year’s resolutions? Yeah, I meant that.  Have you?

For dessert, we shared a Karen’s Birthday cupcake from Baked and Wired that I picked up on a lunch walk with my friend Allie.

And, I just put in the last 5 loads of laundry from our bed bug situation.  Good. Day.

 

 

Day One

January 1, 2012 was a good day.

We got up and relaxed and then picked up breakfast items at Starbucks.  We came back and made coffee in the mugs Mike got me for Christmas and had breakfast.

Then we had our money conversation where we figured out our budget, made some goals, and came up with a plan to monitor our variable budget lines: the tracker below.

Our current goals: allocate money each month for life events (i.e. friends’ weddings, Christmas) so we don’t have to put those things on our credit cards, and pay off the lowest of my student loans by the 4th of July. In addition to those two joint goals my goal is to pay off my American Express by April 1. (You can read more about our various accounts here.)

Our other new plan is to chat each time one of us gets paid about upcoming expenses so that we can stay on top of things and continue to be on the same page. Usually we’d just chat when the accounts were getting low, or after one of us randomly checked our online banking. This often left us frustrated and feeling like “we have no money.” But that’s a reactive way to deal with things and we don’t want to be reactive, we want to be proactive. Being reactive leaves you feeling out of control but being proactive will leave you feeling on top.

After our talk, I got in bed to read Catching Fire (the second in The Hunger Games series). I love laying in bed reading especially when it’s sunny out and the sun shines through the window. Of course I fell asleep.  Then I woke up to our neighbor talking on the phone and wishing someone a Happy Birthday! Like not OK. This happens pretty regularly (mostly at night when I get in bed at 9pm) so I figured it was a good opportunity to knock on the door and tell her.  She didn’t answer the door.

We had lunch and did laundry.  Folded it while listening to an old episode of the Dave Ramsey show.  Have you listened to this show? It’s crazy how much debt these people have paid off. Mike and I find it inspiring.

Then we headed down to the National Mall to throw the frisbee around. It was a warm day for winter, Mike was wearing shorts, and when my heart rate started to get up after a few good throws and catches, I took off my jacket.

Sometime in the last two years, Mike and I started throwing the frisbee around. I’m not sure why but I’m so glad we did. Mike really likes to play sports, any type of sport, and when we throw the frisbee around I feel like his buddy.  It’s also exercise, I can get a pretty good sweat going and feel my heart pumping. And it’s a good time for us to chat. When we lived in our old apartment, we’d walk up to the mall and toss it around on the lawn in front of the Capitol. Now that we live further from the Mall, we’ll have to make more of an effort to get down there to do but I really hope we do that more.  Why not take advantage of the great city we live in?

We stopped at Pinkberry on the way home for a light snack.  And then hit the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner.

We made a butternut squash calzone , using the filling from Jessica’s stuffed shells, with a gorgonzola cream sauce on the side. OMG was this good.  I think Mike almost died of satisfaction.

Then we watched Crazy Stupid Love.

January 1, 2012 is reflective of a lot of things I hope the rest of the year will be filled with: productivity, fun, quality time together, creativity in the kitchen, and relaxing time. We were out and about but also home. We were productive but also had time to play.

I’m really hopeful for 2012.  I think it’s going to be a great year.

I’d love to know:

How did you spend January 1, 2012?

What’s for Dinner? Butternut squash stuffed shells

I just finished my last bite and had to share this meal with you immediately.

Butternut squash stuffed shells.

We made Jessica‘s Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Lasagna a month or so ago and absolutely loved it.  So I was excited to try the stuffed shell version and it didn’t disappoint. You take a bite and the squash is creamy and buttery and garlicky. Delicious. If you’re more of a penne person, try the penne version.

I think this is going to be a go-to recipe in our house.

catch up at kitchen

mike was out of town for work this weekend so to catch up we went to kitchen 2404 for mac and chicken and a couple beers when he got home last night.

kitchen is one of our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood and one of the few restaurants we went back to after having a living social deal. it’s a small, comfortable restaurant serving delicious southern comfort foods at super reasonable prices. we’ve been a bunch of times and have really enjoyed almost everything we’ve had: the BBQ gulf shrimp, the crabmeat + corn chowder, the ribs, the hushpuppies, and the fried pickles.  but last night, we were there for the mac and chicken.

we had been talking about going to kitchen for beers and mac and chicken for a while. it’s the kind of place that’s perfect for comfort food and conversation on a crisp fall night. luckily there wasn’t a need for comfort food but it was a nice fall night and we wanted to catch up. i find that sometimes if we stay home, i get easily distracted and don’t give mike my full attention. so when mike texted early in the day “beer and mac and chicken tonight?” i replied “yes! great idea!”

we started off with some beers and fries

and then shared the mac and chicken.

everything was great.  my favorite beer–magic hat #9–was nice and cold, and the mac and chicken was hot and creamy.  it was a great way to catch up after a few days apart.

so tell me

what’s your favorite way to catch up with someone?

magnolia’s at the mill

while we were in virginia wine country for a night away at stone manor bed and breakfast we went to dinner at magnolia’s at the mill.

i’ll admit that i didn’t have the highest expectations going into magnolia’s at the mill. i figured it would be fine, a filling dinner out, but nothing special.  boy, was i wrong.

we started with some nice fall beers. mike had brooklyn octoberfest and i had post road pumpkin. beth suggested the calamari so we had that for our appetizer.

it was yummy but i was probably in more of a salad mood. we took our time before ordering dinner.  i had the seared pepita spiced scallops with sweet potato mousse and brussels sprouts. i was so impressed when my food came out.

the deep orange of the sweet potato and the vibrant green of the brussels sprouts were so striking together, the toasted crushed pepitas looked like crunchy fall leaves on top of the scallops.  the potatoes were so smooth and had a light sweetness to them while the pepitas had a crunch and saltiness that provided a nice contrast.  the scallops were perfectly cooked and so were the brussels sprouts. home run!

mike had the lothar’s sausage plate. mike says “it was great. (smile).  no, it was the perfect meal for a cold, rainy night.”

for dessert we shared the chocolate chip cookie sundae. the cookie was right out of the oven so it was warm and gooey and the vanilla ice-cream melted nicely on top of it. honestly, this exceeded my expectations. a chocolate chip cookie sundae is such a simple dish that could so easily be mediocre. but not at magnolia’s. it’s clear that they put thought into their food.

aside from the delicious food, the service was great.  our server let us relax and stretch our meal. he was also really knowledgeable about the menu.

i highly recommend magnolia’s at the mill.

a night at stone manor

as a wedding gift, my girlfriends gave mike and me a night at a bed and breakfast in virginia wine country. i picked mike up from the airport on sunday afternoon and we headed to stone manor bed and breakfast for a night of relaxation and catching up.  from reagan national airport, it was just a short hour and 20 minute drive into the rolling hills of northern virginia.  it’s always so nice to get out of the city for a bit, there’s something about seeing grass and trees as you drive.  it feels free.

we arrived at stone manor around 2:30, a half-hour before check-in, but were warmly welcomed by owners spencer and beth.

spencer took us right into the kitchen, offered us a glass of wine and took us on a tour of stone manor. spencer bought the house in 1986 and shortly after he met his “sweetheart” beth, they began transforming the house into the manor it is today.

our room, the manor suite, was the last stop on our tour.  after we put our things down and spent some time looking around, we settled in for a much needed afternoon nap. boy was the bed comfortable: soft but firm and those pillows! ah, it was so warm and cozy, perfect for a cold, rainy october afternoon. after our nap, we chose a movie, the pelican brief, from the dvd collection and got back in bed to watch a bit.  after about 45 mins (remember i’m not a movie person), it was time for a break.

mike went to read in the library and i followed shortly after looking for the wireless password. i heard some people in the kitchen and went to ask for the password.  beth was there with another guest and offered some homemade bread and hummus, followed by another glass of wine.  i stayed chatting for a bit and soon enough it was time for dinner.

at spencer and beth’s recommendation, mike and i headed to magnolia’s at the mill in purcellville, just a short 15 minute drive away. i wanted to stop and take pictures of the beautiful tree covered mountains in the distance and the chimney smoke billowing through the trees but it was raining so i just looked intently out the window. our meal was absolutely delicious (check back at 4pm for a post about dinner) and we drove back to stone manor with full bellies.

we took a relaxing bath in the huge jacuzzi tub using the bath salts beth made just for us. as i sit under blankets in our drafty apartment, i wish i was back in the warmth of the bath.  the warm water and scent of the lavender in bath salts was so calming.  we both commented how relaxed our muscles felt when we got out.  after the bath, mike watched the phillies and i blogged for a while.  though our stay was coming to an end as we went to bed for the night, we still had breakfast ahead of us in the morning.

a six course breakfast was served in the morning. the first course, pineapple and cheese grits was served in a martini glass. it sounds weird but was actually pretty good.  as beth said “anything with a pound of butter and ritz crackers has to be good.” juice was a blend of orange, pomegranate, and blueberry.  another guest proclaimed “this is the best juice i’ve ever had” and i might have to agree. it was so sweet but light and refreshing all at the same time.  next up was “the comfort food of the breakfast world, think of it as macaroni and cheese,” beth said. it was two kinds of potatoes, 3 or 4 types of cheese, heavy cream, and eggs. then we had sweet onion, sweet pepper, and cheese in a puff pastry. i know you’re wondering how we managed to fit anymore in at this point, but we did. you would’ve found a way to fit these in too: corn griddle cakes (beth’s great grandmother’s recipe), two types of homemade sausage–pork sausage with and chicken sausage with mango and habanero pepper, and rancher’s style thick cut bacon. finally to end the meal was a chocolate peanut butter muffin. this was an amazing meal made with love.

we had such a nice time at stone manor bed and breakfast. if you’re looking for rest and relaxation, i definitely recommend a night (or two).

thanks, girls!

are you ready for some football?

after a productive morning with coffee with some chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie bread, reading/writing, cleaning, and the gym (mike) and yoga (me), i am ready for some football.

it’s week 1 of football season and eagles are playing the rams. [note that as i write this the game is on in the background and i say “eagles are playing the…” mike says “st. louis…” i shrug “i don’t know” mike says “rams.” thank you.]

to keep me occupied during this week’s game, i will make note of all the silly things mike screams at the tv during the game.

  • two mins in: “god dammit! that didn’t take long”
  • 10 mins later: “come on baby, come on baby”
[alright this might get too inappropriate…]

football feast week 1: pepperoni calzone and pepperoni/spinach calzone. and yuengling of course.

this was delicious. i started reading for class shortly after eating and was falling asleep on the couch before half time. so far, getting into football is going great. goal for next week:  stay awake for the whole first half.