Mad Men’s Triumphant Return with Bacon Covered Meatloaf

Like nearly all Americans, both roommate Alex and I are huge fans of Mad Men. Since late fall, we have frequently mentioned hosting a party to celebrate the show’s undoubtedly triumphant return from a long hiatus and the start of the fifth season. At the time, March 2012 seemed so far away and we would only drop a few words here and there like, “we should make updated versions of 60s classics,” or “everyone should dress up like characters in Mad Men.” As the day drew near, Alex and I solidified our plans for this bonanza; we would indeed make everyone dress up in Mad Men inspired garb, and delicious and updated versions of 60s classics would be had. We invited a dozen or so of our dearest Mad Men loving friends and laid out the conditions for the evening: dinner from 7:00pm until 9:00pm when the show would start, no talking while the show is on, and yes, dressing up is required under penalty of exile.

Clams Casino from Tom & Shelley

Deviled Eggs, also from Tom & Shelley

That Sunday, I tapped into my inner Betty Draper and made two bacon covered meatloaves and Mothers Ruin Punch while Alex made green bean casserole.

A glass of mother's ruin punch

Alex's Green Bean Casserole

Not to be outdone, our guests brought over inspired dishes such as deviled eggs, clams casino, scalloped potatoes, spinach salad, bacon wrapped dates, and jello with cool whip.

EJ's scalloped potatoes

Needless to say, we had a feast at hand. All in all the night was a hit: everyone had a great time, the food was really amazing, and the first episode of Mad Men’s Season 5 was very good. To top it all off, I had an extra meatloaf to last me through most of the week! To all of this, I can only say Zou, Bisou, Bisou.

Jello & Cool Whip

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Fettuccine in Lemon Cream Sauce with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

I don’t normally cook seafood during the week because most of the time I need to pack some leftovers for lunch the next day and reheating seafood can be a little tricky. I do not want to be the person responsible for stinking up the office. One exception to this courteous inclination is a pasta recipe I first read about in my cousin’s blog for pappardelle, asparagus, and smoked salmon in a lemon cream sauce. Not only is this dish delicious, it comes together in about 30 minutes, making it an ideal weekday meal for me.

While the original recipe calls for pappardelle and three tablespoons of butter, I use the much easier to find fettuccine and replace the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for a healthier touch. (The sauce calls for 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Depending on your perspective replacing the butter with olive oil is either pretty worthless or a good effort in combating heart disease.) Additionally, if I have a few frozen peas on hand I throw them in for a little extra green, which, in my view, never hurts.

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Stir Fried Green Beans with Shrimp and Garlic

After an exhausting week at work, I had no desire to cook and no appetite. I just wanted to go home, pour myself a glass of bourbon, drink it, and go to bed. However, with a long run the next morning I knew going to bed with an empty stomach (or a bourbon-filled stomach) would not work out in my favor. I decided on a compromise of a fast and light dinner with the goal of getting something healthy in my stomach quickly so I could hit the hay on the early side.

After some perusing on the interwebs, I settled on making a stir fry with green beans, shrimp, and garlic. The recipe, on foodandwine.com, was provided by Eric and Sophie Banh who also provided the magazine with their lemongrass chicken recipe that I rely on heavily for a quick weekday meal. The Banh siblings know their Vietnamese food and I am happy they provided a handful of delicious and easy recipes to Food and Wine for the general public.

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Braised Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Chocolate Sauce

It’s officially Spring now, but I still can’t get over what a mild winter we had here in D.C. I am not going to lie, I am kind of bitter about the lack of snow and, more importantly, snow days. I never knew how much I enjoyed snow days until they were taken away from me by global warming. Still, I like to think that I was able to make the most of any cold weather that came my way.

Back in February, it was finally chilly enough for Alex and I to get back to the business of braising. Earlier that week, I sent Alex an e-mail suggesting we make a braised lamb recipe she had found and sent me several weeks back. Alex and I both enjoy braised lamb shanks and Alex was particularly intrigued by this recipe which combined lamb shanks with red wine and finished with some chocolate. I’m usually wary of using chocolate in savory foods, but the blog Alex had sent me proclaimed it was the best thing this person had ever eaten so unless this was the most cruel joke in the history of mankind, the combination couldn’t be too bad. The more I thought about it the more I believed I would really really enjoy these lamb shanks so while shopping for ingredients at Safeway, decided to go all in and double the recipe so Alex and I could have some leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day.

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Sundevich and The Benefits of a (really great) Roommate

Last month, I came across an article in the New York Times about people who live alone titled, “The Freedom, and Perils, of Living Alone” which really resonated with me. As a single gal, I have often contemplated finding a little one bedroom or studio apartment in which I can have all to myself. Yet for various reasons I have always opted to live with a roommate (or three) ever since moving to D.C. in 2004. When it comes down to it, I am a bit of a head case and if I was not forced to socialize via a roommate, I would likely live the life of a hermit. And of course, I have the irrational fear that I might go missing one day and no one would notice until weeks later. So when I read the New York Times article, I contemplated what weird habits I would form if I lived alone (hint: they are not pleasant ones), and immediately e-mailed roommate Alex to thank her for keeping me a bit normal.

When my old roommate Mike moved out of our cozy two bedroom apartment for a job in Santa Monica, CA last fall, I took to the internets, and through the magic of Craigslist, found Alex. I am sure everyone loves food in their own way but I was thrilled to find out that Alex and I both shared a great love of good drink and even better food. Alex wholly embraced Sunday dinners, eats some of my mid-week meals so I don’t end up eating the same meal for days, and even shares her meals with me so I don’t have to go hungry on those days when I work super late and am left without any food. We also have made the habit of including each other when ordering takeout or picking up food at one of the local sandwich shops.

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Salmon Cakes with Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf

The Super Bowl fell on the Sunday after my birthday this year and while most Americans enjoyed wings, hoagies, chili, and hopefully one of these concoctions, I was ready for something light and healthy after several days of indulging in terrines, foie gras, red meat and cake. After consulting with roommate Alex, we decided to make salmon cakes as well as a quinoa and vegetable pilaf. Unfortunately the local Safeway was missing a few key ingredients for the vegetable pilaf so I had to improvise by substituting snow peas for asparagus and leaving out the mint completely. While the meal turned out really well, Alex commented that the quinoa and vegetable pilaf would have more depth and be tastier if we had made it according to the recipe.

A few weeks later, I decided it was time to make this meal again for a meatless Friday Lenten meal. This time, I was able to find the needed ingredients at Safeway. In addition, I took Friday morning off of work in order to let maintenance men into the apartment to fix the kitchen sink. I had a lot of plans for the morning off, but the only thing I really managed to accomplish was to get some extra shuteye and put together this delicious lunch which also turned into a delicious dinner. All in all, roommate Alex was right, the quinoa and vegetable pilaf was even better with asparagus and mint. The salmon cakes were light and flavorful with little filler and a burst of flavor coming from the capers. I couldn’t stop talking about this filling, meat-free, healthy, and tasty meal.


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