Archives for category: Side by side

I have this really bad habit of going into a store for one thing and coming out with about ten others minus the one thing I intended to get in the first place.

Case in point: my recent trip to Cost Plus World Market .

I went with the intention of buying yellow pillows for the apartment I don’t quite have yet. Instead I found organic jasmine tea pearls, Italian blood orange spritzer, a chili-lime dark chocolate bar, one teeny-tiny tin of saffron, baggies of lavender and hot curry powder and a pot of blood orange marmalade.

Needless to say I’m a serious sucker for budget friendly treats.

I may have failed at “mission: buy yellow pillows,” but I succeeded in finding the one pivotal ingredient needed to make a dish I have been cooing over since I discovered it in the NYT dining section this past February. Read the rest of this entry »


Alright kids, this is the final Florida post from my recent Marco Island adventure. 

I know, I know. Sad day.

But look on the bright side! Now we get to move on to happy spring things like farmer’s markets and asparagus and sunshine! Okay, we might have to take a “rain check” on the sunshine ~ it is April in Washington after all. (Get it? Rain check? Ha! I kill me). I digress. Back to the beach we go…

P.S. props go to my padre for the stellar post title!

So, my last day of sun-soaked goodness happened to also be Easter Sunday. And what better way to celebrate than a crazy huge, food coma inducing meal! Okay, yeah I guess you could go to church (and don’t worry I did ~ on the beach even). But for now, let’s just stick to food. 

And so I present to you an Easter feast, courtesy of my loud and proud extended Italian family.  Read the rest of this entry »

Oh Canada! You stupendous Winter Olympic hoster you. Last Friday I watched your opening ceremony after a splendid meal of barbecued chili steak and was so smitten I wanted to run around and begin every sentence with “Ay.” Seriously, go find that guy who produced your spectacle infused extravaganza and make him a big batch of cookies; he deserves it.

So yes, barbecued chili steak chicken. It should be noted that when preparing mom’s old recipes it is wise to consult the “mom” in question first. Case in point: the recipe’s recommendation to use beef chuck steak. I should have realized something was amiss when my friendly neighborhood butcher gave me “that look.” It’s the look that says “Have you ever actually cooked steak? Do you even know what part of the cow you’re asking for?”

I received a second dose of “that look” when mom found my moo meat in the fridge the next day. She has since informed me that this recipe must have been added to ye old recipe box back when she and my father were “living on the cheap” as she puts it. Long story short, I decided to toss the steak in the freezer and buy a few chicken breasts instead. Looks like it’s the bronze medal for you this time chuck steak.

In the event your mom isn’t around to make you buy the right kind of meat, you can always wash dinner down with another chuck of the $3-buck variety. It goes surprisingly well with an Olympic opening ceremony and makes that three-hour parade of countries fly right by!


Barbecued chili steak or chicken
Be aware, this isn’t your ordinary barbecued chicken/steak recipe. Thanks to the inclusion of chili powder and vinegar this marinade escalates to a level of pure “zing.” It’s the kind of dish that makes your eyes pop open out of surprise. There is a lot of sugar in the sauce due to the ketchup factor, so make sure to get as much of the marinade off as possible before grilling. Otherwise, you will have a very dirty little grill.

You will need:
½ cup vinegar
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp. cooking oil
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 pounds steak or chicken breast


Heat your grill to medium-low

Combine first seven ingredients to make your zesty marinade. Reserve ½ cup.

Place your meat in a shallow dish and coat with said marinade. Let stand 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Turn meat several times.

Remove steak/chicken and pat dry. Don’t throw out the marinade! You’ll want to use it while grillin’.

Grill 10 minutes or so on each side for chicken and 12 minutes or so for steak, brushing occasionally with the reserved marinade. (Honestly, the grilling depends on how thick your meat is. My chicken breasts were monster size and took a good 15 minutes on each side.)

Transfer meat to a pretty platter and cover with ½ cup reserved marinade.

Yield ~ 6 servings

Three-bean salad
This would make a great hot summer day salad, especially if you are attending a swanky barbecue. You make it the night before, which also adds to the simple party factor. No day-of cooking for you missy! Just pop it into a colorful piece of tupperware and go!

You will need:
1 can green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onions, shaved thin and chopped
1 small jar of diced pimento peppers
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. salt


Add the first six ingredients to a large bowl and give it a stir.

Heat the sugar, vinegar, oil and salt until they boil. Pour over bowl of bean and veggie goodies.

Toss about and cover. Let stand over night in the fridge.

Yield ~ About 8 cups of summer