Text 10 Jul First Catering Gig and Personal Pizza

Hey Everybody!

So two wonderful updates for you… Last night I prepared potato salad and “grown-up mac and cheese” for my first catering gig. My good friend Ryan is celebrating his son’s baptism today and he asked me to prepare two side dishes to go along with his pulled pork. He promised to take pictures today so I will post them later along with the recipes. 

In other news, today we are watching the US vs Brazil, FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal match. We are making personal pizzas with dough from Lost Dog Cafe (located here in Arlington). http://www.lostdogcafe.com/ Every time I make pizza, I stop by Lost Dog to pick up some of their great dough. Will post pictures of our creations later. 

Video 9 Jul

Christmas Cooking

Video 7 Jul

Pictures from Stone Thanksgiving 2010

Photo 7 Jul Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

Video 7 Jul
Photo 7 Jul Peppers at the Farmers’ Market

Peppers at the Farmers’ Market

Text 7 Jul Eat Your Greens! - From November 21, 2010

Hello Again!

Hey everybody! Thanks for joining me for another yummy meal. I would like to open this week’s post with a challenge to all of you. As we quickly approach the holiday season, I challenge you all to think a little bit about the meals you will be enjoying with your family and friends and share them with all of us. Whether its the Thanksgiving meal with your in-laws, a Christmas day dinner with your friends, or even just a leftover turkey sandwich, let us know what you’re eating! Take some pictures of the preparation, the food, and the loved ones you’re sharing your meal with. The reason I started this blog is so that I can share my passion for food and love to share it with others. I would like to encourage all of you to take a step back and share your stories of “food is love” with others. So, shoot me an email at keiferma27@yahoo.com. Feel free to include just a story or pictures or both! I will be posting much more often over Thanksgiving and Christmas and I will be including your “food is love” experiences in the entries! Good luck!

Now, on to this week’s meal. This week I asked my mother for the recipe for one of my favorite holiday dishes: Broccoli Rice Casserole. We usually only have this for Easter, and since I have been away at school for Easter the past few years, I haven’t had it in a while. I knew it would be the perfect fix for my recent homesickness. So, mom emailed me the recipe and I decided to make it tonight along with roasted Brussels sprouts and asparagus, green beans, and grilled chicken thighs. Tonight, like every Sunday night, Ford and Christine joined me for another yummy meal with good friends.

Momma Keifer’s Broccoli Rice Casserole
Ingredients:1/2 c. chopped onion1 package frozen chopped broccoli - cooked1 can cream of mushroom soup1 1/2 c. minute rice - uncooked
1 small jar of cheese wiz (if you can’t find cheese wiz, you can use velveeta)1/2 stick of melted butter
This casserole couldn’t be easier! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Simply mix all of the ingredients in a medium casserole dish (8” by 11”). Put the casserole in your preheated oven on the middle rack for about 30-40 minutes. Look for it to be bubbling and for the rice to be fully cooked. You can make a few variations to this dish by adding crisp water chestnuts for a little crunch, or topping the casserole with some chips or crackers.
imageI also decided to prepare roasted Brussels sprouts and asparagus for a little extra green in our lives. Brussels sprouts are a great choice right now because they are in the peak of their season. These little cabbages often turn people away because of their common mistreatment. I find that when they’re boiled, they retain that “cabbagy” taste and pungent smell. But when you grill them or roast them in the oven, as I did tonight, they remain crisp and actually take on a sweet, caramelized taste. Just half the sprouts and snap the ends off the asparagus. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and your favorite seasonings in a large bowl. I personally prefer lemon pepper and truffle salt, but feel free to use whatever you like best. After you toss the veggies in the oil and seasonings, place in a large casserole dish or baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven until the veggies are caramelized and softened, but still with a crunch ( don’t let them get mushy!). I hope those of you who are scared of Brussels sprouts will try this quick and easy trick to get your greens.

Along with the veggies and casserole, I cooked up a can of Stone green beans and grilled some chicken thighs on my Caphalon grill pan (a GREAT investment for those grill lovers out there who want to grill in the winter).

Well, that’s it for this week. Remember to share with us your foodie experiences throughout the holidays AND remember that FOOD IS LOVE!

Text 7 Jul Veggie Pot Pie and Soul Food Eatin’ - From November 14, 2010

Hey All!!

I am finally back after two straight weekends of travel and lots of tests and homework, and boy do I have lots to share. This week I am reviewing two very different southern eateries as well as publishing the much anticipated veggie pot pie recipe. Let’s do the restaurants first, shall we?
A few weeks ago my cousin Ford and I decided to go to Eatonville. This southern-inspired restaurant is relatively new to the D.C. scene. Eatonville is the brain child of the same genius who brought us Bus Boys and Poets, a great DC area restaurant, bookstore, and performance space all rolled into one (inspired by Langston Hughes). Eatonville offers a very different environment from its indie counterpart. Located in one of my favorite D.C. neighborhoods, on the corner of 14th and U, Eatonville is set in a hip and diverse part of town and draws a diverse crowd. It is an upscale restaurant with a very down-home menu. They also feature a monthly “Food and Folklore” dinner series, bringing storytelling and fabulous food together for a unique dining experience.

I have eaten at Eatonville twice and both meals were far beyond my expectations. Of course as a southerner, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not Eatonville could deliver some good “Mama’s cookin’”. I was, however, blown away by the way the chefs managed to offer gourmet twists on the traditional southern dishes while still maintaining the love and soul we all know as being inherently straight from the heart of a good southern woman. I have put a link below to their website where you can read more about their menu, but just a few things I have had and have really enjoyed include: fried chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, fried green tomatoes, Cajun mushroom loaf, braised collard greens, and of course, macaroni and cheese (and you guys know I love my mac and cheese). In addition to the menu of delicious southern favorites, there is an extensive specialty “adult” drink selection, inspired by moonshine and whiskey. Some such cocktails include the Georgia Peach (my personal favorite) and the New Orleans Sidecar (Ford’s favorite). To top it all off, the service was impeccable. The only reservation I had about the service, which is just a personal thing and not necessarily reflective of the wait staff themselves, is that they don’t split checks. This could be a problem if you go with a big group of people (and you should because it’s the perfect place for a dinner party). So here’s how the review breaks down:
A reminder of my grading scale
"redonkulous" = five stars
"baller" = four stars
"I guess" = three stars
"not so much" = two stars
"ummmm no" = one star

Food - “redonkulous”
Drinks - “redonkulous”
Atmosphere - “redonkulous”
Service - “baller”


Alrighty, moving on to my next southern eatery… Momma Dean’s Soul Food. That’s right, you read correctly, the name of the restaurant is Momma Dean’s Soul Food. This little dive of a place is located on the outskirts of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Two weeks ago today I travelled to Conway, AR to visit Delaney and some Hendrix friends. Delaney told me that she wanted to take me Fayetteville for lunch on Sunday but she didn’t tell me where we were going, a surprise. When we pulled into the parking lot of Moimagemma Dean’s Soul Food, I was so surprised that this place in the middle of nowhere Arkansas bore the name of my late grandmother, known for her amazing food, full of love and soul. After I regained my composure from the shock, we went inside to find the place packed full of families and couples enjoying a great southern meal after finishing church. None of the chairs matched, the tables were all different styles and sizes, the plates and silverware were all different, and the drinks were served in mason jars… I knew immediately this was my kind of joint. Momma Dean herself (an elderly African American woman) was there, working hard clearing tables and making sure all of the costumers were happy. There is no menu is this restaurant, only a dry erase board featuring the day’s meats, sides and deserts. I, of course, had sweet tea (whimageich I had missed immensely since living north of the Mason Dixon). For lunch, I had fried chicken, mac and cheese, and fried okra. Delaney had fried chicken, green beans, corn bread, and mashed potatoes. For desert I had banana pudding and Delaney had chocolate cake. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere was full love and family. This is not the place you should expect expedient service, for the place is packed nonstop and the food is prepared on the spot. That being said, if you’re ever in the area, Momma Dean’s Soul Food is definitely the place to go. Here’s the review…

Food - “redonkulous”
Drinks - really, you should have the sweet tea… its perfectAtmosphere - “baller”Service - “I guess”
Now for the moment I know Courtney Taylor has been waiting for, the quick and easy, hearty and tasty veggie pot pie.
Ingredients:1/2 c. frozen corn1/2 c. chopped celery1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped onion (or 1/2 c. frozen pearl onions)3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. frozen lima beans1/2 c frozen green peas1 small can mushrooms1 can mixed veggies (with potatoes)1 sheet of puff pastry (thawed and rolled out)1/2 tsp cuminsalt and pepper to taste1 can cream of mushroom soup (98% fat free)1/2 can of cream of potato soup (more if you need it)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, cook garlic, onions, carrots, and celery until tender. Add all the rest of the veggies and simmer (the frozen veggies will add enough liquid) for 10-15 minutes or until all the veggies are softened. Add seasonings. Meanwhile, grease a deep pie dish. After veggies are soft, add the cream of mushroom and cream of potato. Stir together well and fill your pie dish with the mixture. Cover with the puff pastry sheet. Go ahead and let the dough form around the edges of the pan (forming a nice seal). Score the dough a few times to allow steam to escape. Place the pie on a baking sheet (just in case you have some spill over) and place in the oven on the top rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling and the dough is golden brown. Enjoy!

Text 7 Jul Ravioli Night and Fool-Proof Pumpkin Bread - From October, 2010

Hello again!!
This week’s blog includes a great, fool-proof recipe for pumpkin bread; crispy, baked ravioli with a spicy mustard dipping sauce; and ricotta, spinach ravioli with creamy tomato sauce.
Fool-Proof Pumpkin Bread
Here is a great, easy recipe for pumpkin bread (courtesy of Grandma Keifer) that you CANT mess up! In case you don’t know already, I don’t bake. To me, baking is a science (which is something I DON’T do) so it’s hard for me to measure everything out and follow the recipe exactly. However, this recipe is super easy and a lot of fun. Check it out and spread this traditional fall bread with all your friends and families.


3 1/3 c. all purpose flour
2 teas. baking soda
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 teas. salt
1 teas. cinnamon*
1 teas. nutmeg*
1 c. oil
4 large eggs
2/3 c. water
2 c. pumpkin (1 can)

*Nowadays you can actually find “pumpkin pie spices” in your local grocery store. This generally includes cinnamon and nutmeg. Therefore, if you decide to purchase this pre-made mix, add 2 teas. to your dry ingredients instead.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except the sugar because sugar is actually considered a “wet” ingredient in baking). Don’t worry about sifting. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry together with a hand mixer until smooth (about 5 min). Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan or muffin tin. Make sure that you only fill the loaf pan or muffin tins about 2/3 of the way to the top because your bread WILL rise and expand. If you have left-over batter, just make a second batch! For a loaf, bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. I would recommend even putting a pan with some water in the oven alongside your loaf in order to keep it moist. For a standard muffin tin, they may take anywhere from 20-35 minutes. For a little extra yumminess, add 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to your batter!

Ravioli Dough

2 c. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 large eggs, plus one egg for egg wash
1 tbsp olive oil

This seems easy, but it’s harder than it sounds (as I found out this morning). If you are like most of us amateurs and don’t have a pasta maker, this is how you make pasta dough. Put your flour down onto a large, clean surface (like your kitchen counter) and make a volcano shape. Add your three eggs in the center of the volcano and begin to beat the eggs slowly with a fork. About a tablespoon at a time, slowly incorporate the flour from the edges of the volcano, careful not to break the walls (otherwise you’ll have egg running all over your table). Add your olive oil and continue incorporating the flour until you have made a liquid with the consistency of a batter. Now using floured hands, add the rest of the flour and begin to knead the dough. Knead until the dough is elastic and smooth (maybe ten minutes). Now let the dough rest for about 20 minutes, covering with a medium sized bowl. After resting, split the dough in half and wrap each part in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready for preparation.


Now, here’s the hardest part (if you don’t have a pasta maker). If you have a pasta maker, you probably already know what you’re doing, but you need the dough about 1/8th in thick (you should be able to see your hand through it. If you do not have a pasta maker, like me, then you need to roll the dough out by hand to the same thickness. Cut the dough into about 3 inch wide strips.

After choosing your desired filling (sausage, ricotta, mushrooms, spinach, etc). Brush the pasta strips with your egg wash and then place a very small amount of filling about 1 to 2 inches apart onto the strips of dough. Place another strip on top and cut in between each pocket of filling with a pizza cutter. Using a fork, crimp down around the edges of each ravioli to seal. Set ravioli aside.

Crispy Baked Ravioli with spicy mustard sauce:

For this recipe, I filled my ravioli with a garlic chicken sausage I found at Trader Joe’s. I fried the sausage with onions and garlic.

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 c. bread crumbs (seasoned if you’d like)

1/4 c. yellow mustard

1/4 c. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp hot sauce

1 tsp Cayenne pepper.

1/2 tsp black pepper

For the ravioli, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dip pasta into buttermilk and then into breadcrumbs. Place on a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet (this will help to make the ravioli crispy all around). Bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes or until crispy and brown. Mix all your ingredients together for the mustard sauce and serve with your hot ravioli.

Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce:


1 large can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes (America’s Test Kitchen recommends Tuttorosso)

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/2 large onion

2 tsp dried basil

1 clove garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp olive oil


In a medium sauce pan, saute garlic and onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Then add tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 10 to 15 min. Meanwhile boil your pasta in salted water for about 4 minutes (they will float to the top when they’re done). Finish your sauce by slowly stirring in the cream. Heat thoroughly and serve atop the cooked ravioli.
Text 7 Jul More Chili! - From October 11, 2010

Hey Everybody!

This blog entry is a day late because my mom, dad, and sister were here visiting me and just left this afternoon! So this week I will be reviewing one of my new favorite restaurants here in Arlington, The Hard Times Cafe. Okay okay so I know that it is kind of a chain (there are like 15 locations around this part of Virginia and Maryland) but I have been to the one on Clarendon Blvd a few times and I was pretty impressed.
So this is the way this whole restaurant rating system is gunna go. I am going to rate each restaurant in food, drinks, service, and atmosphere. My rating system comes from phrases or words that I tend to use in my everyday life, they are as follows:
"redonkulous" = five stars"baller" = four stars"I guess" = 3 stars"not so much" = 2 stars"ummmm no" = 1 star

Hard Times Cafe is a local chain that features four different types of chili served in a variety of high-calorie, heart-stopping ways. Choose from vegetarian (my fave), Texas (sort of their traditional, go-to type), Cincinnati (Greek style, sweet chili), and Terlingua Red (the spicy, bright red chili). My personal favorite has to be the “Chili Taters.” Picture it now, a steaming hot pile of fresh-out-of-the-fryer tater tots (Sonic style) topped with your chosen chili, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. You can even add chopped onions, jalapenos, or diced tomatoes to your mountain of yumminess. If you are looking for something more traditional, you can always go for some Chili-Mac. Instead of chips or tortilla chips served with your meal, you’ll get an order of cornbread. A word of warning for all you Southerners out there, THIS IS NOT MOMMA DEAN’s CORNBREAD! This is a sweet and fairly dry cornbread (NOT my favorite), but hey, if that’s your thing, you’ll like this stuff. In general, the menu is simple is short, sweet, and to the point. Besides the chili, you’ll also find burgers, hotdogs, and some great wings, but obviously the take-home point here is the CHILI. Top your burger with chili, top your dog with chili, and even stuff a burrito with chili!
Therefore, I give the food and the Hard Times Cafe menu a … BALLER!As far as drinks go, it’s definitely beer or root beer. Hard Times Cafe brews their own root beer and although I’m not a fan of the stuff, I hear its great. Additionally, the beer ‘round Hard Times is CHEAP. They’ve got great happy hours every day and a variety of good domestic and imported beers on tap and in a bottle.
I’m gunna go ahead and give the drinks here a … BALLER!As far as service, both times I have ate at Hard Times I have had just normal experience with service. Your food comes super quick and everybody seems pretty friendly. The atmosphere is great, especially on game night! Big screen TVs upstairs allow those who want to watch the big game to do so in their own section, while downstairs remains a little more family (and conversation friendly).So, service get’s an… I GUESSWhile atmosphere gets a… BALLER
Overall, Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon gets a Mando rating of BALLER. I would recommend this chow-down place for anyone looking to have a beer and some wings after work or a big ‘ol bowl-o-chili on a cold winter’s night. Check out their website for menus, recipes, and even merch!www.hardtimes.comThat’s all for this week. Tune in next time for more of my foodie adventures. FOOD IS LOVE!

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