Kitchen hack – get more juice from your citrus

Lemons
Photo by Dennis Skley via flickr

This is so simple, yet I had no idea!  Spoiler alert…cut your lemons and limes lengthwise!  You’ll get way more juice from them!

 

Cinnamon vinaigrette

Cinnamon vinaigrette.  Sounds a little strange, right?  Stay with me here, this easy vinaigrette is addicting.  It packs a powerful punch, with just enough sweetness and spice to spruce up sliced fruit or salads.

CinnaVinagrette

Try this on a spinach salad with fresh strawberries, green apple slices and grilled chicken, delish!

Cinnamon Vinaigrette //

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon agave syrup

Whisk all ingredients together and enjoy!

Best ever homemade burger

TommyBurger

For years my dad has been making his own burgers, affectionately dubbed, “Tommy Burgers”, they’ve always been a staple at family BBQs and events.  A good, homemade burger patty is hard to come by, many times they end up dry and bland.  Yesterday, for our Memorial Day celebration, we decided to take a stab at recreating the infamous Tommy Burger.  They were fantastic (as expected).  For added flavor, we spiced ’em up with garlic aioli, cheddar cheese and truffled mushrooms and served it on a buttery brioche roll.   Get ready to be wowed, this isn’t your average burger.  Here’s how to make ’em…

BurgerIngredients

Ingredients //
1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 slices Italian bread, torn into small pieces
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions //
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  It works well to squish the mixture with your hands.   Form the mixture into four patties and refrigerate, covered in plastic wrap, for a least an hour, up to 24 hours before grilling.

Enjoy!

Best ever banana chocolate chip muffins

GoBananas

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had grossly over-ripe bananas hanging out on your counter, left to die a slow and painful death. I’m with ya, in fact last night I finally decided to do something about it as I just couldn’t watch them suffer any longer. Turns out, over-ripe bananas make the best muffins. With a little help from a tried-and-true Food & Wine recipe, I whipped up a batch of the best ever banana chocolate chip muffins I’ve ever had. It was super easy and as luck had it, I had all of the ingredients on hand. You seriously need to try these!

muffinsgalore

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients //
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 6)
3 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus a few extra!)

Directions //
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper or foil liners. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, melted butter, bananas and eggs; mix thoroughly. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until the batter is evenly moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.  **Important note: I only baked my muffins for 24 minutes as they were already golden brown and I didn’t want them to dry out!  Keep an eye on yours and plan accordingly.

Enjoy!

Date night

Philadelphia boasts numerous offbeat indoor/outdoor events and activities all spring/summer long.  With so much going on in this city, you’d think it would be easy to plan the perfect date.  Just the other day I Googled “date ideas in Philadelphia” and I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed with the results.  Some of the search results were just plain lame, while others on the opposite end of the spectrum, seemed like grand affairs.  As a general rule, I believe a good date involves food/drinks/fun (and not necessarily in that order).  Here are 5 date ideas that involve just the right amount of planning – not too lame and not too over-the-top.  Oh, and did I mention these ideas are friendly on the wallet as well (bonus)!

1.  Cheesesteaks & Garage

Casual
If you live in this city, contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually eat cheesesteaks on a regular basis.  Spend your evening in South Philly at two of Passyunk’s finest – Pat’s King of Steaks and Garage.  Pick up a “wiz wit” and head over to Garage where they happily allow you to BYO cheesesteak.  Garage has a great beer list, loud music and skee ball and a pool table.  That’s right, they have skee ball, enough said.

Pat’s King of Steaks // 1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia
Garage // 1231 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia

2.  BYOB & Beers

NoLibsDinnerDrinks
Modo Mio is a casual, regional Italian BYOB offering up the Turista menu, 4 courses for just $35.  After dinner, head down the street to Frankford Hall and grab a few German brews while you lounge in their outdoor beer garden.

Modo Mio // 161 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia
Frankford Hall // 1210 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia

3.  Cook/La Cucina at the Market

FoodieShowTell
Cook by Audrey Claire and La Cucina at the Market offer cooking demos and dinner to eager Philadelphia phoodies.  Both are on the pricier side and can be difficult to secure as they tend to sell out super fast.  This date requires more advance notice than the others but are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Cook //  253 S 20th St, Philadelphia
La Cucina at the Market  // Reading Terminal Market, 51 N 12th St, Philadelphia

4.  Dim Sum & Karaoke

GroupDate
In Chinatown you’ll find 2 hot spots perfect for a group date.  First, BYO to Dim Sum Garden and indulge in loads of freshly made dumplings.  Side note: Do not miss their signature soup dumplings…nom, nom!  After dinner, and presumably a few drinks, you’ll be ready to belt out some tunes at Yakitori Boy.  If you make advance reservations, you can affordably reserve a private karaoke room for 6 guests and showcase your best Celine Dion!

Dim Sum Garden // 1020 Race St, Philadelphia
Yakitori Boy //  211 N 11th St, Philadelphia

5.  Mini Golf & Radicchio

FriendlyCompetitionDinnerDate

Head over to Franklin Square in Old City and battle it out on the mini golf course.  A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right?   Afterwards, head a few blocks north to Radicchio Cafe, a cozy BYOB that serves up a mean grilled calamari salad (pictured).

Franklin Square Mini Golf // N 6th & Race St, Philadelphia
Radicchio Cafe // 402 Wood St, Philadelphia (4th & Vine)

What’s your favorite date night in Philly?

Genius food hack

I saw this video on another blog I read and had to share this.  If you try this at home, be sure your knife is nice and sharp, otherwise you’ll be left with half-sliced, banged-up tomatoes.  And, after you slice all those teenie-tiny tomatoes, may I suggest you roast them in the oven and serve them on a toasted baguette slice with some fresh basil.  It’s the perfect snack (or appetizer) anytime of the year.

RoastedCherryTomatoes2

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes //

Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss the sliced tomatoes in olive oil on a sheet pan.  Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until soft and tender.  Serve as a side dish (great with grilled meats) or on toasted baguette slices with some fresh basil and additional olive oil.

True story, peel a head of garlic in 10 seconds

One of my good friends recently shared this video with me…mind blown.  Roasted garlic anyone?