Monthly Archives: February 2012

Chipotle Mexican Grill

A chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeno, used primarily in Mexican or Mexican-inspired cuisine. It is also part of the name of a well-known chain of “fast-casual” restaurants in the northern Virginia region, specializing in burritos and tacos. The restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill, can also be found throughout major metropolitan areas in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Sampling its menu, I have come to appreciate the restaurant chain’s fresh ingredients of rice, chicken, pork, steak, beans, vegetables, and salsas. In addition, service is very quick, despite the long queue, especially during the mid-day or evening meal times. The picture above was taken during a recent visit for a quick meal. It’s located at the corner of Duke St. and N. Jordan St. in Alexandria, VA. It was shot with the Nikon s8200 (f/8.8 @ 1/1000 sec; ISO 800).

My favorite menu item is the Burrito Bowl… all of the freshness, heartiness, and robust ingredients of a burrito, but without the messiness from the drippings of the tasty ingredients all over one’s hands. Enjoy!

cK one

Calvin Klein’s iconic perfume, hitting the scene in 1994, brought sexiness to the unisex fragrance. With its light, citrusy notes, ck one reminds me of those earlier care-free days of youth. This has become my favorite fragrance. Take a time warp back to those frolic-filled days of playgrounds, water fountains, neighborhood parks, and musical ice cream trucks.

I made the above image with the Panasonic GF-3 mirrorless camera with post production processing using PhotoShop Elements 9

140 mm
3.2 sec @ f/8 ISO 160

Lactose Free Mac & Cheese

What to do if you’re lactose intolerant and wishing for some comfort food after a dreary Monday workday. Well, here’s the answer… a quick lactose free mac & cheese. My friend Judy perfected this simple, quick, and care-free recipe.

2 small packages veggie sliced cheddar cheese
1 lbs macaroni shells
1 stick non-dairy margarine
1 can condensed tomato soup

Begin by cooking the macaroni shells until al dente. As the macaroni cooks, combine the margarine, soup, and cheese together in a medium sauce pot and heat over medium heat until the cheese and margarine have melted. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Once the cheese and margarine have completely melted and all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together, pour over the cooked macaroni in an oven proof casserole pan. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees.

Serve with a side of your favorite vegetables. Enjoy!

Whitney Houston… we will miss you!

Greatest Love of All

Steak with Vegetables

Instead of heading to the nearest Chinese take-out and grabbing another order of greasy and fried foods, here is a twist on a favorite that can be easily prepared at home. It emphasizes the use of fresh and prime ingredients. Great for a quick after work meal or a Friday night dinner at home. Frozen cut vegetables can also be used to reduce the preparation time.

1 rib-eye steak, cut into small strips
1 cup julienne red and green peppers
½ cup julienne yellow onion
½ cup thinly sliced carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp low salt soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fermented black beans
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
¼ cup water
salt to taste

Begin by adding a couple of pinches of salt and the olive oil to a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Swirl the skillet to evenly distribute the oil around the bottom. When the oil starts to smoke, add the sliced steak, and stir-fry a few minutes until the strips start to lose their red color, but not cooked through. Add the vegetables and continue to stir-fry a few more minutes, thoroughly mixing all of the ingredients. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, fermented black beans, and water; mix thoroughly. Bring the sauce to a boil and cover. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables reached their desired tenderness. If necessary, add more water to increase the sauce volume.

Serve over rice. Enjoy!

A Healthier Alternative

Here is a slight twist to the traditional spaghetti and meat sauce meal. Made with ground chicken or turkey, there is a significant reduction in saturated fats. For this recipe, I used:

1/2   lb lean ground chicken (turkey also works)
1       can Italian styled chopped tomatoes
1/2   cup regular tomato sauce
1/2   cup Cabernet Sauvignon, though any robust red wine will also work
2       tbsp olive oil
1/2   lb spaghetti (or your favorite pasta)

First, begin by cooking spaghetti (or your favorite pasta) to barely al dente with plenty of water. As the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce by spreading the olive oil in a 12 inch skillet, and warm over medium heat until barely smoking. Next, add the chicken, and saute for a few minutes, until thoroughly browned. Mix in the can of chopped tomatoes and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce and red wine. Mix thoroughly and continue heating to reduce the sauce to a desired viscosity. Fold in the cooked spaghetti. If the sauce is too dry, add more red wine. Cover and continue cooking on low heat for 5 minutes or until fully hot and the sauce is boiling.

Serve with a side of steamed vegetables and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Enjoy!

Winter Sunday Breakfast

Winter Sunday mornings are meant for lazy beginnings, rising later, catching up on news, and of course, time preparing a sumptuous breakfast. Here is a traditional breakfast of eggs, sausage with mixed veggies, coffee, and juice. Perfect for a winter Sunday morning!

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