Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Massaged Citrus Kale Salad

I have always loved kale as you all know...but it wasn't until a few months ago that I discovered the awesomeness that is massaged kale. "What are you doing, turning your kitchen into a spa?" Well...in a way yes since you are massaging kale with olive oil, which does make your hands silky soft. But still, why massage? Well, the same texture you get from sautéed kale can be achieved by massaging raw kale as well. By working a mixture of oil and vinegar/citrus juice into the kale, you actually break down the fibers that makes the leaves tough. The result is a delicate, yet still crunchy salad. The best part is, you can massage the salad the night before, and it just gets better the more you let it sit in the fridge!

Sorry, there was no way for me to get actual pictures of myself massaging the kale since I like my phone "oil-free". However, the best way to massage is to...
  1. Grab a big bowl.
  2. Mix up a vinaigrette of 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons vinegar/lime/lemon juice (I like Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar), 1/4 teaspoon (or a squirt) mustard, salt/pepper to taste. You can add dry or fresh herbs here if you like as well.
  3. Add 4 handfuls of kale (trimmed and chopped)
  4. Get in there with both hands for 2 minutes. 
Alas, there are no photos of me massaging since I don't have three hands. However, if you'd like to come over and be my extra set of hands, I'll gladly share my food with you after! You know, a little bit of you you massage my back and I'll massage your kale kind of trade...

Hmmm, was that too cheesy?

Anyway, I like to top this citrus salad with sliced strawberries and pecans; although I've been known to add poached chicken, goat cheese or anything else looming in my fridge. Pictured above I served it with an open-faced sandwich of whole grain toast, avocado and an over easy egg.

So, how do you massage YOUR kale?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fun Food App: LevelUp

Some friends of mine told me that I always know about the coolest apps. I don't know about that, but when I see an app that rewards me for doing something I already do, I download it immediately and tell the world about it!

LevelUp is my new favorite payment app. Think of the Starbucks payment feature on their app, but instead of pre-loading money onto your account, your credit card is connected to the app and can be used at local restaurants. In DC, I've used it at Sweet Green, Boloco, Protein Bar, District Taco, BGR, and Taylor Gourmet, but they also service several food trucks and other restaurants around the city. LevelUp providers are listed according to what is geographically closest to you, which makes choosing your lunch spot a breeze.

Besides being able to pay for your bill (as well as tip if you like), you will get money off your purchases immediately after downloading the app, as well as once you reach various spending levels at each restaurant. I love that I don't have to carry around several loyalty cards to get free food! I still have $5 off Taylor Gourmet I need to use plus the ones pictured below. Talk about saving money! That's pretty much my entire bill!

Whew, can you tell I'm getting excited about this app just talking about it? Now, back to the serious matters at hand. I know the biggest issue with these types of apps are security. LevelUp doesn't keep your card number on their servers, but keep them directly with the merchants, so it's just as safe as swiping your card at the restaurant itself. Now, that's not to say it couldn't potentially be stolen (I had my credit card number stolen at a pizza place in New York, so it can happen anywhere these days!) but I think this is one of the most convenient and safe payment apps I've seen thus far! Hopefully vendors will see this is a great service to offer customers and will expand to more restaurants throughout the city!

I am not getting any referral perks for mentioning this app on my blog. I simply want to share this amazing app with all of you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sipping Chocolate

I'm stuck inside during a snow storm...in March! Plus I have to telework, so no adult snow day for me....What is this world coming to?!  How do I turn a cold day working into a comforting day indoors? Sipping Chocolate!

I first learned the difference between my childhood hot cocoa and sipping chocolate when I went to Angelina Cafe in Paris, France back in 2010. Seriously, if you are ever in Paris, go to this place and wait in the 40 minute line to get a table. Please just trust me on this one.

When I think of typical hot chocolate, I think of the little powder packet from Swiss Miss. The difference between typical hot chocolate and Angelina's "sipping chocolate" is the consistency and amount of sugar. Angelina's is like drinking a chocolate bar. But not just any sugary, overly-sweet Hershey bar. I'm talking rich dark chocolate. Belgian dark chocolate. Ok, well, it was probably French dark chocolate, but go with me here! Sipping chocolate has a thicker consistency than it's Swiss Miss counterpart, so think thicker than a latte, but thinner than chocolate sauce that you would put on an ice cream sundae. When you take your first sip, it's like drinking directly from Willy Wonka's decadent chocolate waterfall that's flowing from an airy chocolate cloud...

Ahem. Now that my obsession is evident, it's time to dig into making some sipping chocolate at home. The key to a good sipping chocolate is high quality chocolate, milk, and vanilla extract. That is it. No sugar. No powder. The point isn't to have a sweet drink but a rich, velvety chocolate experience.

To make a single serving...
  • First pour a mug 3/4 full of the milk of your choice (I use vanilla almond milk).
  • Next add 1/8 of a capful of vanilla extract (aka, more than a few drops, but less than a teaspoon). 
  • Finally add chocolate. I used 1.5 handfuls of Trader Joe's semi-sweet chocolate chips. The amount of chocolate you add is completely up to you! I like mine pretty rich, so for your first try, start with 1 handful of chocolate, then add more as your tastebuds prefer.
  • Stir the ingredients together over medium heat with a whisk until the chocolate has dissolved into the milk and it's heated to your preferred temperature (around 5-8 minutes). Please do not heat this on high heat because you will scorch the milk and potentially burn the chocolate.

That's it! Of course I'm a purist so I drink this as is, but if you want to mix things up add whipped cream, cinnamon, chili powder for some kick, or whatever else your tastebuds may demand!