Tag Archives: snowpocalypse

Snowmageddon 2014

imageToday’s snowstorm felt like déjà vu, since it seemed like yesterday the first Snowmaggedon struck DC.  I remember trudging through Tenleytown to Whole Foods with my roommate, and cooking up a storm in our tiny kitchen.  I remember watching an epic snowball fight in Dupont Circle.   And I remember blogging about it all right here.

In reality, of course, it’s been four years since the last Snowmaggedon.  My life is very different now from what it was then. For starters, I am no longer an unpaid intern or law student.  I graduated from law school last year, and moved away from Philly–my adopted city for the last three years–back to DC.  I now work as a lawyer and have gradually been adjusting to the big-law life.  I feel like a different person and much more adult than when the last Snowmaggedon hit, and when I first started this blog.

Yet there are some things that are still the same.  I am back where it all started, in DC, and am excited to find a dynamic and vibrant restaurant scene that, like me, has grown a lot over the past few years.  I still have an insatiable appetite and deep love for food.  And even though I’m now a salaried employee, I’m still the Unpaid Gourmet at heart–and will still be on the lookout for unique and affordable eats and “not-so-cheap but worth it” meals.

I hope to continue sharing my dining adventures and experiences with you, readers, on this blog.  It may have taken Snowmageddon to bring me out of hibernation, but I promise there are lots of good things–both old and new–to come this year on the Unpaid Gourmet.  Stay tuned, and stay warm!

Advertisements

Snowmageddon Cooking: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Gorgeous icicles adorning my window

Thursday was my third (and last) snow day. Even though the intense wind and snowfall had subsided, I still found it quite difficult to navigate my way outside. Snow still covered the roads and sidewalks, slushy puddles began to form in the walkways, and the already huge icicles outside my window (pictured above) grew even larger and longer. With conditions outside still treacherous, I resigned myself to spending another day indoors.

I had been resisting the urge to bake all week, but with another snow day to keep me indoors, I decided to throw caution (and my “diet”) to the wind and bake up a storm. I wanted to stay semi-healthy though, and found these whole wheat apple muffins on Smitten Kitchen which fit the bill perfectly. Even better, the recipe uses several basic ingredients which I already had in my pantry. The only things I had to buy were whole wheat flour ($3 at Whole Foods) and 2 Granny Smith apples.

The muffins were a cinch to make. The only thing I found worrisome was the ratio of batter to apples. I had WAY more apples than batter, and the batter was really thick–almost like bread dough. To thin it out, I added a bit more yogurt and a splash of milk (but did not change the consistency dramatically).

Despite this, the muffins turned out wonderfully and filled my apartment with warm spiced aromas. They made a lovely afternoon snack with a cup of Earl Grey tea, and made a delicious and hearty breakfast the next day. To stop myself from gobbling up all of them, I took the rest to my office (which was, thank goodness, open the next day), where they were a big hit. I didn’t have a single one leftover!

These healthy yet heavenly muffins should definitely be added to your baking repertoire–I know I’ll be adding them to mine!

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: They said 12, I got 17.

1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (I used light brown sugar)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
Splash of milk and extra yogurt, if your batter is too thick

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Snowmageddon Cooking: Turkey Meatloaf & Potato Gratin

Snowmageddon redux

The scene above is what I woke up to this morning. And I thought the snow storm last weekend was bad–but boy, was I wrong. The winds gusted at 40 mph, sending tree branches and icicles flying through the air. The streets appeared to be completely abandoned without a single person in sight. The snow continued to fall and pile perilously high. Snowmageddon had indeed unleashed its fury on DC once again. And hopefully, fingers crossed, for the last time.

Although snowmageddon has wreaked havoc on my work and social life (so many snow days!), it has benefited one part of my life: cooking. Snow days are perfect for stocking up on groceries (which apparently, many other Washingtonians thought to do as well) and cooking up a comforting meal at home. There is something so therapeutic about cooking that makes staying indoors all day more bearable: the aromas and flavors spread through your house and make you forget about the frigid weather outside.

I felt like making something hearty and filling that would give me the sustenance I would need to bear the cold. I decided on turkey meatloaf from my Real Simple cookbook (which I highly recommend) and potato gratin from Smitten Kitchen. Luckily for me, I stopped at my Safeway in Tenleytown yesterday, before the store was shopped bare and left unmanned (see the bizarre story here).

The turkey meatloaf was surprisingly delicious. The spinach and parsley added fresh flavor and color to the dish. The turkey was anything but bland and extremely moist. I added extra ketchup on top, which became slightly caramelized after baking and gave the meatloaf an extra sweet and slightly tangy flavor. Even better, the dish cost very little to make since many of the ingredients were already on hand (e.g. wheat bread, eggs, mustard, ketchup). In total, I spent $9.21 on the rest of the ingredients, for a dish which has lasted me several meals.

The potato gratin was also heavenly and so simple to make. I added some leftover parsley from the meatloaf to the potatoes and it tasted divine. The parmesan cheese and milk infuse into the potatoes, making them deliciously salty and creamy. I was amazed at how such a simple dish, with so few ingredients, could pack much flavor. Altogether, I paid $2 for yukon gold potatoes (I thought I’d splurge a little bit) and used milk and parmesan cheese I already had in the fridge.

The soothing flavor and warmth of this food made me feel very nourished and blessed on an otherwise bleak, snowpocalyptic day. For any other DCers stuck at home tomorrow for the snow day, I definitely recommend making these dishes.

Turkey Meatloaf

Adapted slightly from Real Simple

1.3 pounds lean ground turkey
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 32 oz bag of spinach (use about half the bag or 2 cups, and if you have spinach leftover, sautee it with garlic for a lovely side dish), chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 T Dijon mustard
1 large egg white
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. IN a bowl, combine the turkey, onion, spinach, parsley, bread crumbs, mustard, egg white, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

2. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and form into a 10-inch loaf. Spread the ketchup on top (I did not measure the ketchup; just spread it on to your liking.)

3. Bake until cooked through, 45-50 min.

Awesomely Simple Potato Gratin

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 large yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-fat milk
2 ounces cheese, grated or crumbled (Parmesan or Gruyere are the classics, but that doesn’t mean that goat cheese, blue cheese or any of your favorites won’t work as well)
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9- by 12-inch gratin dish with the pat of butter.

2. Slice the potatoes as thinly as you can (a mandoline works great for this) and arrange them in a layer, overlapping the edges slightly like shingles. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper and don’t be stingy—this is where the bulk of your flavor comes from and a third of the cheese before before repeating this process with your remaining potato slices. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Depending on how thinly sliced your potatoes are, you should end up with approximately three layers, with a third of the cheese and parsley between each layer (I put parsley in every other layer). Reserve the last third of your cheese for later.

3. Carefully pour the milk over the potatoes. It should come up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes; add more if this was not enough. Bake it for 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through the baking time, take the gratin dish out of the oven and gently press the potatoes flat with a spatula to keep the top moist. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the gratin for the last 15 minutes of baking. The gratin is done when the potatoes are soft and the top is golden brown, and the milk has thickened.

SNOWMAGEDDON 2010

New Hampshire Ave.

Snowball fight in Dupont Circle

Eerie snowmen