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I’ve moved!

28 Feb

Friends, I apologize for practically abandoning this blog in the past couple of months – I shifted gears to focus on getting my new one designed and up and running. And now it is! I still write about food, but I’m now focusing on other topics, like design, style, and inspiration. It’s a bit of a departure from food blogging, but I’m happier to be able to write about a range of interests.

So check out the new blog: A Whisk & A Mile. I hope you enjoy. 🙂

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Making some changes…

12 Sep

I just realized that I never actually published a post I wrote weeks ago about this, so I’m writing this now…

Obviously I haven’t been posting. At all. In like 2 months. There’s a reason for that! I’m trying to switch over to wordpress.org and I want more control over the look and feel of my blog so I’m going through all the necessary motions (signing up for hosting, reading tutorials and a book on wordpress.org). I didn’t want to be posting while I’m trying to make changes.

Also I haven’t been posting here because I’m retiring this blog. Ha – I say that as if I’ve written for 20 years or something. I’m actually changing the name and widening my focus a little. I will continue to write and photograph food and recipes and my cooking adventures. But there are other things in my life that I really would love to blog about, like running and design. So I will. 🙂 Also, I hadn’t been happy with the name “The Novice Nosher” for awhile, and I felt like it limited the topics I could write about. So there will be a name change, a new design, and a wider range of topics. I hope these changes don’t come across too drastically. And I definitely hope that you guys will continue to read what I have to say and show.

So…as soon as my new blog is ready, I will post the link here and also have this set up to re-direct to the new site. I really appreciate your patience and I apologize again for suddenly going blog-MIA without explanation.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

Love,

Lisa

These are a few of my favorite things…

29 Jun

Today’s a little something different on the blog…super wonderful Kat over at Kat’s Health Corner tagged me with this lovely award!

How sweet is that? This is totally new to me, so hopefully I’m doing this right. The only terms are that we answer the following questions about us. I love hearing tidbits about other bloggers; essentially this is a community and it’s nice to learn more about the people who’s blogs I read.

Here goes:

1)   Favorite cartoon character: Wall-E. I mean, how much cuter can a robot get??

2)   Favorite thing to photograph: Other than food, my nieces. Of course I fully believe they’re the cutest babies in the world. Whenever I visit my brother and his family, I take a million photos of them.

3)   Favorite thing to cook: I actually haven’t made it in awhile, but it would probably be Amatriciana, which is one of the first recipes my boyfriend and I tried together when we first started dating. It’s delicious and making it brings back a lot of happy memories.

4)   Favorite way to exercise: Running, hands down! I think I’ve talked enough about this before where this would be obvious. It’s not always easy (especially when there’s speedwork involved), but I enjoy going as far as my legs can take me while soaking in the scenery – which is especially nice when I jog around the monuments!

It ain't pretty, but I love running.

5)   Favorite Movies: Empire Records, Breakfast at Tiffany’s Singin’ in the Rain, Star Wars (IV, V, VI), Inception, My Fair Lady, The Hangover, Bridesmaids, The Devil Wears Prada, Pride & Prejudice (both the Colin Firth version and the Keira Knightley version).

6)   Clothing: My typical daily cycle of outfits are: workout clothes in the morning, then work clothes all day, and then I change into my fat pants and a giant t-shirt when I get home from work. It’s all about comfort when I’m at home. Otherwise, I’m always wearing flats or flip flops and a good chunk of my wardrobe comes from Madewell. LOVE their clothes.

7)   Flower: It’s a tie between orchids and peonies.

8)   Breakfast: Overnight oats!!! I’ve been eating them every morning this week. This is what usually happens with breakfast – I find something I really love and then eat it for weeks straight and then suddenly get sick of it and move on to something else. Any ideas for what I should try next?

9)   Book: I just finished reading Kara Goucher’s Running for Women, which was quite inspirational and informative, at least for a novice runner like myself. I also finished Creative, Inc. – also inspirational and informative but career-wise. Some of my all-time favorites: Wuthering Heights, Food Rules, Blue Like Jazz, Pride and Prejudice, On the Road, Blackberry Wine, and though it’s a play, I loved reading Twelfth Night.

10)  Least favorite food: Cauliflower. I can’t say I hate it because I’ll actually eat it ONLY if it’s been mixed thoroughly with other ingredients that mask it’s flavor. But I refuse to eat it solo, I don’t care how healthy it is.

I’d like to pass this along to 3 equally amazing bloggers: Sheridan over at Barkless Vegetables, Lindsey at The Internationally Minded American, and Meg at Fledgling Foodie. Tag, you’re it!

Little Victories

30 Mar

I’m a big believer in noticing the little things that you achieve every day. I think it helps me remember that life is a blessing and that I should be grateful for everything (good and bad) that happens. I don’t shout out loud and jump for joy for every single little thing, but every now and then I feel better knowing that accomplished something, big or small. Things like, “I completed my homework early for Illustrator class! Woot! Now I can spend my evenings relaxing.” or  “I pumped out 3 miles on the treadmill – sweet! My heart will pump stronger and I’ll be a better runner.”  “I made a sandwich!!” Wait…what?

You guys probably know by now that I’m not a naturally talented home cook by any means, and that the novice in me continues to live on as I struggle to not burn my toast. But I think of little things that I haven’t really tried making before without a full recipe, and I try them, and they actually turn out good! Well, in my opinion. Hey – at least The Bf tried this as well, and he did enjoy it.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like sandwiches in some form. And anyone can appreciate the ease of making them, plus their portability, if the occasion calls for it. I’m especially a lover of warm sandwiches, the kind with melty cheese. So after a long dance practice one Sunday, with the rest of the afternoon and evening ahead of me and a couple of ingredients that I realized would go well together, I made this spicy Chicken & Chipotle Mayo sandwich. It’s probably similar to something you’d find at Wendy’s or some other fast food joint, but healthier. Quick, healthy, and tasty? Like I said, I’m all about the little victories.

Chicken & Chipotle Mayo Sandwich (for 1)

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast or 2 chicken tenderloins
  • Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 1/4 cup mayo (I lean toward light/fat-free and it doesn’t take away from the taste)
  • 1-3 chiles in adobo – depends on how spicy you like your mayo
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • optional fixings: lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado

Directions

Preheat the broiler on your oven at 400 degrees and place a rack on the 2nd level to the top. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper and chili powder generously on both sides. In a skillet over medium heat, add a little oil or spray with cooking spray and cook the chicken until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the pan. With a food processor or blender, combine the mayo, chiles in adobo (with a little bit of the adobo sauce), the lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Lightly toast the bread in a toaster. Arrange the sandwiches by placing the chicken on top of 1 slice of bread, and then the cheese on top of the chicken. Place this and the uncovered slice of bread on a baking sheet covered in foil and place that in the oven. Allow the cheese to melt, about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the chipotle mayo on the uncovered slice of bread, and top the chicken and cheese side with whatever fillings you choose. Enjoy!

If you haven’t checked out my video of Seasonal Pantry’s Underground Dinner, check it out here! This is another one of my little victories that I’m proud of putting together, so I hope you enjoy it.

Do you notice little accomplishments that you achieve in your everyday life?

Mail order goodies

28 Feb

Have you guys heard of Foodzie? I don’t even remember how I heard of Foodzie, actually. This isn’t any sort of paid for or solicited plug; I just love this site and what they stand for, which is supporting local food producers and opening consumers’ worlds to the deliciousness that small food businesses have to offer. (I’m the daughter of a man who immigrated to the U.S. and built his very successful small business from the ground up, so I’m all about helping the “little guys” out.)

One of the cool things about Foodzie is that they offer “Tasting Boxes” every month: you receive a small box of samples from their current favorite companies. Like a flavor of the month, so to speak. It’s an opportunity to try products and flavors that folks might not normally buy. Plus it introduces consumers to the small companies that may not have a big marketing voice. I, for one, would not normally think to buy granola bars from a random company in Washington State, but the February tasting box included these awesome Almond Chocolate bars from Olympic Granola. So now I’m trying to find a place in my disposable income budget to get my hands on more tasty granola bars.

I like the locavore movement, and I definitely agree that some of the best foods can be found within your own zip code. But sometimes, ‘local’ includes reaching across the country for a great food product, and I don’t see anything wrong about that, especially if it’s for food that is made with wholesome ingredients. The nice thing is that we’ve got the technology – and sites like Foodzie – to do the reaching for us.

Tea for two…and more

9 Feb

27 is an odd number. I mean, it’s odd in terms of even numbers and odd numbers, but in terms of age, there really isn’t anything spectacular about it. It’s like you’ve passed your mid-twenties because you’re only 3 years away from 30. It’s not as monumental as 21 nor as exciting as 25. Is this starting to sound depressing?

I don’t mean it to. I turn 27 today and I am incredibly happy and blessed to have lived this long. It may not seem like a big age to someone who’s already reached 40 or 50 or beyond, but I’m grateful to have reached this far and already lived such a fulfilling life.

When it comes to food and birthdays, I don’t hold myself back. It’s one of the few days in the year during which I refuse to feel guilty about anything I eat, be that a healthy apple or a giant slice of cake. In the past, I’ve celebrated with cupcakes, Thai food, alcohol (of course), and more cupcakes, among other choice cuisines and dishes. I like to eat the foods that have their own little niche in my heart, the comforting foods that bring back good memories or make me smile upon every bite.

Afternoon tea is one of those foods – er, meals – that I have fond memories of and have always enjoyed and indulged in for a long time. Now, I’m not British, so I didn’t grow up with afternoon tea, but I am half-Indian so tea is a major part of one of my cultures. I had my first afternoon tea in London when I vacationed there with my family in ’03. After that, my Mom, sister and I were hooked, and we were always finding ways to have afternoon tea somewhere in Orlando (which, thanks to Disney and all the resort hotels, it wasn’t hard).

Sometime when we were in college, two of my best friends became equally obsessed with afternoon tea as I did, and we decided to try creating our own version at home. With little and baking experience among the three of us, this tea ended up being more of an endeavor than we had planned. We ended up having enough sandwiches to cater a party. And after baking scones and attempting to make clotted cream (emphasis on “attempting”), we were finally finished making everything by dinnertime. So we had afternoon tea for dinner, and loads of leftover sandwiches for the next day.

The Boyfriend somehow remembers all kinds of little random things I tell him about me and uses that knowledge wisely when it comes to gifts and celebrations. So he surprised me the other day with a visit to the Mayflower hotel, which serves afternoon tea in its Café Promenade. How freakin’ sweet is that??

The entire service was very lovely, as it should be – it’s $28, but for an extra $7, you can get a glass of champagne to go with your tea (which we did). They have a great selection of teas, including English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Oolong, and more. I opted for a Ginger Twist, which was very flavorful with hints of ginger, orange, mint, and whole melee of other ingredients. The food is equally tasty. We each received a tray of tiny sandwiches and pastries. Sandwiches included smoked salmon, eggplant, crab and more. The pastries included the usuals like a little fruit tart and a scone. Each place is different in terms of what they include, but I have never had an afternoon tea service that didn’t include at least 1 scone. Which is great for me, because the scones are my favorite part. And with a little jam and clotted cream? Yum! The Bf and I were oddly overexcited for the scones. Each little piece of pastry or tiny sandwich was very tasty, elegantly presented, and by the end, we were happily satisfied. Birthday or not, afternoon tea is something I will probably enjoy for the rest of my life.

I’m actually also celebrating another birthday tomorrow – my blog birthday! The Novice Nosher will be 1 year old and going strong. It’s a constant work in progress but I have so much in mind to bring to the table in the near future. And can I say how incredibly thankful I am for those of you who are reading this, who either read on occasion or actually read on a regular basis? I love telling you guys stories and showing you the things I make and eat and I’m just happy to have someone with open eyes and ears. So thank you. 🙂

1 night, 3 courses, 17 bottles

28 Jan

Someone once said that wine is a marker of history. One bottle, with its particular year, its name, even the design of its label, will pour out of it hundreds of stories chronicling the events of the time during which it was made. For serious wine lovers and collectors, wines can signify important moments in their lives: a cabernet shared on an anniversary, a champagne popped to welcome a newborn. Wine can create new memories instead of just marking them as well. Good wine, especially augmented by good food, can bring complete strangers together to create a memorable night.

There’s an online forum, or community if you will, of wine lovers and collectors called Wine Berserkers – people that go berserk over wine. The Boyfriend, with wine being one of his biggest pleasures in life, is of course a member. Occasionally when there’s enough of a contingency gathered in a particular city, a bunch of “Berserkers” will gather at a designated restaurant, break bread together, and of course, pop a lot of corks.

So a small group of DC-area wine enthusiasts agreed to meet at Charlie Palmer Steak on a Friday night and each bring along 2 (or more) bottles of some of their best. I tagged along as sort of a plus one with The Bf, who I’m not surprised could not turn down an opportunity to drink some really, really good wines.

Is it wrong to admit that I initially was more excited about the food? I’ve eaten at CPS before and their cuisine is always impeccable. We each participated in a three-course tasting menu that had at least 3 options for each course. I started off with Tuna Tartare, which had a small dollop of avocado sitting in a light pool of ponzu sauce, served with crispy flatbread. I liked the creaminess of the tuna and avocado mixing with the crunch of the flatbread. That put dinner off to a good start.

I followed with Roasted Wellington Farm’s chicken, which kind of seemed like their “upgraded” version of fried chicken, with a thin but crispy skin and hearty, juicy meat. It was served with fava beans, morel mushrooms, braised Swiss chard and gnocchi. Everything sat on a light broth that soaked the chard but added a punch of flavor to the doughy gnocchi. I couldn’t help but dip each bite of chicken in the sauce to give it more flavor; it was salty, but the kind of saltiness that I expect with a fried chicken-type of dish.

Dessert was decadent, its flavors on the total opposite of the taste spectrum with every piece of it being rich and sweet. I choose their Chocolate Hazelnut Pyramid: a light chocolate mousse structured like a pyramid with a wafer-like foundation supported by filo tuiles. A server poured warm, glossy, ganache on top of the pyramid, making it a gorgeous and delicious presentation. Despite being stuffed to the brim from the tartare and the chicken, I pushed my way through the dessert and didn’t leave a lick.

As delicious as everything was, the stars of the dinner were not the food. We were all gathered to taste a whole rundown of wines, starting off with a little champagne, then moving on to whites, reds and ending with dessert wines. The majority of the lineup consisted of 1990s California Cabernets, bookended by French burgundies and dessert wines. I wish I could tell you the names of each bottle we tried but 1) there were so many and 2) I didn’t bother to take notes. But I know what I enjoyed and that I can remember: Dominus. I think it was the 1995 that I liked the most (there was also a 1997). Dominus, if I remember correctly, makes Bordeux-style wines in Napa. And though they’re not on the highest price range of wines, they’re not cheap either. So apparently I have slightly expensive taste? But that’s part of the fun of wine tasting – the discovery of oneself and ones tastes, whether that be in a particular Cab or Chardonnay.  The crowd favorite of the night, which everyone called the “Wine of the Night” or WOTN, was a 1990 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. I’m not even going to attempt to describe it as beautifully as the Berserkers did on the forum, so check out their notes.

It was fun to watch the seasoned pros: older men and women who have done tastings in foreign countries, who write about wine on the side and read about it regularly, who have collected bottles for years and years. They would ingest each glass with their eyes, noses, and then their mouths and subsequently describe what they tasted with such poetry, using words you’d normally use to describe a person or a work of art. Having written poems and stories and journals for fun all my life, and having studied English in college, I loved seeing and hearing all of this. Someone would mention a name of a winery or a certain year or a specific varietal and somehow everyone else would just know what the heck that person was talking about. There’s a stigma, sort of a long-running joke, about oenophiles and how they sound stuffy and pretentious as soon as they start talking about wine. And for a small handful of them, yes, it’s true. But with this group of people, including The Boyfriend, it was all simply, sheer excitement. They truly love wine and every aspect of it, from its history to its creation process. That passion is something anyone can appreciate, whether it’s about wine or art or baked goods. It’s a passion, that, all pun intended, should never be bottled in.

A few Nosher noms…

19 Jan

You know how I am with baked goods. We go way back. Ted’s Bulletin is also getting nostalgic on us by serving pop tarts, which are like artisanal versions of the ones we used to eat in our childhood. Except these don’t come wrapped in crinkly silver bags and are much, much fresher. And probably better for you too.

I actually attempted to make these myself at home. There was quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears. Ok, maybe not blood but definitely a lot of elbow grease and unbridled frustration. That I will tell you all about on Friday.

I have this goal to try every single food truck in DC at least once. Which really isn’t a lofty goal because there aren’t a lot of them (maybe about 20 tops? I haven’t actually bothered to count). I’m just loving this whole food truck movement and keeping my fingers crossed that it’s here to stay. And judging from the scene in cities like New York and LA, I don’t have anything to worry about. DC is too competitive to let something good like this fall by the wayside.

And as much as I love baked goods, I love macaroni and cheese (maybe I just love carbs in general). So when I heard that a food truck named CapMac, which specializes in mac & cheese, was coming onto the scene, I was so stoked. I finally got to try it on a frigid Sunday while running errands in Eastern Market. It’s definitely cheesy, a little spicy because they use pimento cheese along with cheddar. AND it’s topped with crushed Cheez-its, which I don’t actually like to eat on their own but they work really well in this.

Also on the food truck scene is Takorean, DC’s own Korean taco truck. I tried a sampler of their 3 taco offerings (beef, chicken, and tofu). Surprisingly, I loved the tofu the most. It’s been marinated in a hoisin sauce, so it has this great sweet-tangy taste to it. The kimchi/cabbage/slaw that you can get on top are all delicious (although I wouldn’t have minded if my kimchi was spicier).

I had this huge stash of chocolate during the holidays, and I brought it home to Orlando to try and get the rest of my family to finish it off. Total success. I’m convinced chocoholism is hereditary. Which is good for Seasonal Pantry, because they can easily sell their absolutely delicious confections to suckers like me who will never stop eating chocolate in any form, mixed with any other ingredient. I wrote about the guys behind Seasonal Pantry back in December, actually; their story is ongoing and I’m still anticipating the opening of their local sandwich shop. But for now, their food is available though their food clubs, which you can sign up for on their site.

A foray into Thanksgiving…

19 Nov

Inadvertently, I’ve made a few meals recently that I realized are not only healthy, but actually coincide well with the Thanksgiving holiday. You could certainly make the Tomato-Basil bread pudding as an alternative to Stove Top stuffing. And despite the fact that Boyfriend and I simply ate these as our dinner one night, these Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tapas would be great to serve if entertaining your family or having a small gathering for Turkey Day.

Cookbooks for parties and large dinners, like “Great Gatherings-Star Chefs Entertain at Home,” which is where we found this recipe, have ended up being very useful for me. “Great Gatherings” is full of dishes that are perfectly large enough to be doled out at a packed dinner table. So when occasions and holidays that warrant tons of eating roll around, the books get lots of use. In addition to that, having recipes on hand that make one very large portion, which can be slowly eaten by one or two people throughout the week, proves their use on non-holiday times of the year. Now, I wouldn’t fully assemble these tapas and eat them throughout the week. But you could make the mushroom mixture, reheat the next day or after, and put on top goat cheese and bread or baguette slices.

However or whenever you decide to serve these, I don’t think you (or your guests) will be disappointed. Unless you really despise mushrooms. However, The Bf normally hates mushrooms, yet he devoured these tapas. For him, it’s a texture issue, but the creaminess of the goat cheese and the toughness and crunch of the bread significantly lessens that squeaky chewiness from the mushrooms that he hates.

If I was hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year, these would be on the menu. Prep and cooking is not hard or time-consuming, thus leaving enough time and energy for more arduous dishes. Not to mention it’s a delicious recipe. I just loved the spiciness of the paprika mixed with the goat cheese’s tartness. There are many strong flavors that go into this dish, the combination of which should make your palate open up and stand at attention, ready for whatever is served next.

Chef Elizabeth Brown’s Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tapas

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound large cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered through the stem end
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon Spanish hot smoked paprika (I didn’t have Spanish paprika on hand; regular works just fine here)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Minced zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound fresh goat cheese (I tried this with Laughing Cow Swiss and shaved Parmesan and both also tasted yummy)
  • 16 slices baguette (we used a whole-grain baguette and it tasted great with everything else)

Directions (adapted slightly)

Slice baguette and spread the goat cheese on top of each piece. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter with olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the butter froths, add the mushrooms and cook, tossing and stirring frequently, until just cooked through and beginning to brown. This will take 3-5 minutes. My mushrooms ended up browning quicker than my timer set at 4 minutes, so just watch them carefully while continually stirring.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, or until fragrant.  Add the sherry, paprika, parsley, and lemon zest, toss to combine, and stir for 30 seconds, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Take the pan off the heat and spoon about a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture on top of the baguette slices. Or, you can pour the mushroom mixture into a deep bowl or dish and have guests spoon the mixture onto their cheese and bread.

I left my heart in…

16 Sep

Guess where I was this past weekend? 😛 I’m still recovering from a whirlwind mini-vacay to the beautiful San Francisco. And by recovering I mean frantically burning off the 5 pounds I gained in four days. That is how well – and how much – I ate there.

Recovery also means catching up on work, catching up on sleep, and catching up on the serious side of life that I avoided for a few days while on the summer vacation that I waited to take until now. While everyone was away at the beach or jetting off to Europe or roasting under the sun in Mexico, I stayed in D.C. and held fort until things seemed to calm down and until Virgin America decided to throw a big sale on flights around the country.

Now that I’m back from the West Coast, I have so much to gush on.  And I will admit that my California-born-and-raised boyfriend was right when he raved about the food scene in San Francisco. (This is one of the few times he’s right, I’ll give that to him). You can get really good food in the city (and it’s surrounding areas) for cheap. I hate to say it, but DC lacks in that department because the mentality that expense = quality has reigned for the most part. Although that is slowly changing, thank God.

Food issues aside, I have lots to say and lots to show. Foodcation: San Francisco comes soon.