Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Spectacular

Opting for the low-key All Hallows Eve, we gathered together for a simple dinner.. my part: spaghetti and meatballs. I was going to use bottled sauce, but on Amanda's suggestion, opted for a homemade version with canned tomatoes, garlic and basil. The recipe was inspired from: but was modified with meatballs instead of just cooked ground beef. I also added caramelized onions, sauteed zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms instead of the canned mushrooms called for in the recipe.

I generally don't like my homemade sauce because it tastes very acidic-like.. like raw tomato. But this recipe calls for simmering the sauce for 1 hour (I actually simmered it for A LOT longer while waiting for everyone to show up)..which made that raw canned tomato taste disappear. The resulting sauce was.. well.. saucy, which is an excellent outcome in my book!

Add to this meal some glorious shrimp and cheese bread, garlic bread, and Gorgonzola and nut squash, we had a spectacular Halloween feast! To top it off, Tad brought pumpkin pie and Suee brought cupcakes-- spooky Howl-O-Ween Cupcakes (pictured above). The werewolf cupcakes were delicious!

And of course, to accompany, what better way to celebrate the fall season than pumpkin beer! I decided to find a bunch of varieties so that we could do a side-by-side comparison...

Alas we drank to much to tell! Bwahahahaha, Happy Halloween Indeed!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Apple Crisp

Fall- the air is chilly, the leaves are colorful, and the harvest season means natures bounty is plentiful this time of year. For Columbus Day Weekend, Potato and I took a journey into western VA, West Virgina, and Maryland. Along the way, we bought a 1/2 peck of apples and a giant pumpkin at a roadside farmstand in West Virginia. The leaves were very colorful and we passed several vineyards along the way-- but we didnt stop-- because we were busy looking for a camping spot before the sun went down! We resolved to go one a Northern VA/Maryland wine tasting tour, because all of the vineyards looked amazing! (If you're interested, we can make a day trip out there... you know where to find me)

The apples were so pungent they made the car smell appley all the way home...and I couldnt wait to eat them! 6 or 7 apples later (over a few days) I was looking for a change. So I made apple crisp! The apples were starting to get soft, so they werent as tasty to eat-- but you cant tell in the final apple crisp. I got the recipe from the food network (you can find it here: I used red delicious apples..which is waaay off from the tart granny smith called for in the recipe... but it was still deliciously consumable!

French Onion Soup!

I have been craving french onion soup for a LONG time. You know how it is-- lusting over the recipe during those 10 minute internet breaks at work, falling asleep thinking about the caramelized onions and melted cheese, and even pondering different and new expressions that you might invent upon tasting such a delicious creation.. (Good God This Soup is Dancing on my Tongue Like Mario Lopez). Wait, you dont fantasize like that? Well anyway, my long drawn out dreams were always cruelly crushed like a clove of garlic before being simmered in olive oil and spinach. But I digest. It boils down to this (hehe I'm so punny), I lacked the requisite cooking vessels to prepare such a creation. You know- those cute bakable soup bowls with individual lids. So I would eventually close or fall asleep unsatisfied with the status of my cookware collection. That is, until a visit to the Salvation Army store out in Sterling. There, sitting on a shelf between some abandoned nick-knacks and a collection of mis-matched beer steins, were a perfect set of two ceramic soup bowls! FOR A DOLLAR! I almost cried I was so excited!!

All my planning was not in vain-- I had the recipe stored (you can find it here: and almost all of the ingredients on hand. A french baguette was all I needed, and this creation was a reality! I used swiss cheese, and caramelized the onions with a dash of freshly ground peppercorns. With wine and the rest of the baguette, the soup was everything I had hoped for and more.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dragon Fruit

The Korean market is a magical place of hope and wonder: Behold, the DRAGON! errr.. fruit. The phytological history of the dragon fruit was concisely summed up by my nephew: A dragon visits and leaves the dragon fruit.

Ok so perhaps that is not the most scientific of explanations-- according to Wiki, the dragon fruit is a fruit from a cactus like plant, grown in tropical South-East Asian countries. After a quick tutorial on how to eat it (cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon), we were ready to eat!
The crunchy black seeds gave the fleshy fruit a texture akin to the texture of kiwi, but the taste was different-- sweeter and plainer -- and delicious! It was expensive.. but definitely worth a try! I am willing to splurge on this fruit again. And until the day I can try it amidst its natural environs, I will have to be content with the glories of the Korean market.