Category Archives: Charm City Kim Eats

How Do I Step Up Dinner?

One of my favorite things to eat for dinner is cereal.  A nice bowl of one of my hippy dippy cereals (currently I am loving Barbara’s Puffins) makes me happy.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy going out to eat but when I’m home, I’m happy with cereal.

But now we have a kid.  And Jeremy has visions of all of us eating dinner together as a family (because he grew up doing this whereas I did not so it seems strange to me).  Since AM is impressionable, it seems that now is the opportunity to instill good habits and routines.

I’ve read a few things on the web about parents trying their darndest to not become their kids’ personal chef.  They try to enforce the “everyone is eating the same meal” thing.  And I realized we totally don’t do this.

So now is the time to step up our dinner game.  Currently, I feed AM dinner right when we get home (because she starts FLIPPING OUT for some food as soon as we walk in the door).  Her dinner is usually pasta (with tofu and cheese).  I try to vary this but have only had success giving her the sweet potato/cannelini bean burgers.  She seems to hate every other dinner option I’ve tried.

I don’t want to become her “personal chef” and I’d like to give her more variety.  But this means that I should probably start eating a more substantial dinner.

So is this the norm?  Do most people cook dinner on most nights and eat together (as a couple or family)?  This seems so foreign to me.  My family only ate together on occasions (like holidays).  Otherwise, I’d usually eat something that my mom prepared for me while she watched me eat (she usually grazed all day on Korean food so she never really ate dinner).  Sometimes my dad ate with me.

The idea of cooking dinner nearly every night sounds exhausting!  How do you do this?  How do you make this work and not end up with a boat load of leftovers OR without spending a ton of money on food?  We already spend an obscene amount of money at the grocery store.

HELP ME!  I won’t be turning to Pinterest for this because I know I’ll just get lost in the world of recipes and then feel so overwhelmed and then so poor after I purchase everything to make these amazing meals.

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Pinteractive – Sweet Potato Burger

I’ll try not to ramble too much (my brain is a bit mushy from serving as a juror for the last few days!) – but I meant to blog about my pinteractive stuff last week and earlier this week.  I’ve done a few hair styles but never snapped a photo and have since cut my hair a few inches so the long styles I was trying out won’t work anymore.  But this week’s Pinteractive post is another food post.

I saw this pin for a sweet potato burger recipe.  I am always looking for a good veggie burger and I was also on the market for something new to feed Annmarie.

sweet potato burger

I hate coating/breading things and yet I found myself in that same stupid predicament with this recipe.  It consisted of mashed baked sweet potatoes and cannelini beans.  You mash the 2 together with some spices and then try to form patties.  The recipe warns that the patties will be very moist.  I think that was an understatement.

These were a major pain in the ass to make because it was difficult to get them to keep their shape (so transferring them to get coated in Panko flakes and then transferring them again to a pan to fry wasn’t very clean).

sweet potato burger

But the verdict?  These were really good.  Annmarie also approved.

enjoying the sweet potato burger

But would I make these again?  Probably not.  I don’t mind getting a little messy while cooking but I can only tolerate so much.  I’d definitely enjoy these if someone else made them for me though.

Nannersp

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Pinteractive: Baked Avocado Fries

I was eager to try this recipe when I saw it on Pinterest the other week.

I love avocados.  I love fries.  This seemed like a great idea!

This didn’t call for a ton of ingredients (another selling point for this recipe):

food 003

And now here is where things went downhill.  I guess I didn’t compute that I’d be breading slices of avocado (something that isn’t very solid).

My very messy station:
food 008

Can you see the buildup on my fingertips?  Panko flakes really stick to egg.
food 006

The recipe directed you to place the slices on a cooling rack that had been sprayed with cooking spray.  I skipped this step because this was already way messier than I anticipated and I didn’t want to dirty up more space.  These went straight onto the pan.
food 012

And here they are fresh out of the oven (I didn’t bother to style the fries so that they looked amazingly delicious):
food 013

The verdict?  Meh.  I really liked the crunchy texture but wasn’t blown away by the taste.  Jeremy didn’t like it at all.  He said he didn’t like the combination of egg with avocado.

I have 3 more avocados right now (I’m glad I didn’t make fries out of all of the avocados!) so I’m trying to think up what I could do with them.

Nannersp

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Not Quite Domesticated

I’ve still been sewing like crazy (and I still have not reached out to my aunt about obtaining my Grandma’s serger) but all of the pics I’ve taken of my projects were on my old phone.  And I haven’t gotten around to uploading them to my computer.

But I swear I’ve made things like…

- New kitchen curtains
– Onesies with ties sewn on them for Annmarie’s future husband, Reid

I bought a Groupon (technically my friend bought a Groupon that was good for 2 people and I’m her other person) for a sewing class.  While I feel more and more confident when I sew something – I know I’m not doing anything properly.  I worry that a lot of my stuff will fall apart in the wash.  And I’m sure there are better ways of doing things than I am currently doing because sometimes it takes me for f’n ever to do simple things like hem something.

Anyways.

My father-in-law accused me of becoming domesticated.  I don’t know if I’d go that far.  I like to think I’m becoming more creative?  Crafty?  Awesome?  I still don’t cook a lot and I’ve pretty much given up on baking anything because the process is too damn frustrating.  And I blame that all on blogs.  Bloggers post fabulous pictures of their baked creations.  My stuff looks like someone pooped out a cookie.

This week my office did a dessert exchange.  I thought this was a great opportunity to bake something fun and festive.  And I wanted some sugar cookies after seeing this.  I have this jar of cookie cutters that I’ve never used (but of course I had to have it and really thought that I’d be baking up a bunch of cookies shaped like cutesy things).  I should have taken a picture of the amount of dust that had collected on this jar (since it sat on top of our kitchen cabinets).  I had to wipe it off with a damp cloth.  Gross.

So anyways – I wanted to make Christmas sugar cookies (with colored icing and all).

I regretted that decision the night I started rolling the dough out because holy hell… what a pain in the ass.  And for such little output.  That recipe yielded 19 full cut out cookies (with dough leftover to make a plain round cookie and 3 letter cookies:

And not to mention that they appeared to be decorated by a child.  But they tasted pretty f’n good, thankyouverymuch.

My nice co-workers thought they were “charming” and said they appreciated that they were home-made.  Riiiiiight.

Also?  Pinterest will be the death of me.  I’ve already pinned a shitload of DIY Christmas decorations as thought I have time, patience and SPACE for any of it.

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Green Wine in Tetra Pak Packaging

I was piddling around a wine store the other day just because May has turned into the month of drinking lots.  I’m not sure what has brought this on but all of a sudden – I want red wine ALL THE TIME.

I’ve had a good experience with sulfite-free wine (purchased at Bin 604 in Harbor East) but haven’t had much luck locating any other sulfite-free wines elsewhere.

The particular wine store that I patronized had an article posted about sulfites and whatnot and yet the salesperson STILL couldn’t point out which ones were free of sulfites (I did an intense search of flipping over bottles and didn’t see a single one). 

When I can’t find a sulfite-free red wine, I tend to go for labels.  I picked up a fun looking one called “Red Velvet Devil” (it was a toss between that one and one called “Boom Boom” all by the same winery) and as we were checking out, I noticed a group of wines in these interesting packages (Tetra Paks).  The other thing that caught my eye was the $5 price tag.

I ran over to the table and asked the salesperson about the wine and she said it was great but unfortunately nobody was buying it because they were leary of the packaging.  So they marked it down.  I picked up 2 packs of the Green Path Shiraz:

Image of the Green Path Shiraz Wine package

Image of the side of the Green Path Shiraz wine package

Image of the size of the Green Path Shiraz wine package

The wine doesn’t seem to have its own website but I linked to an article above regarding its announcement.  Apparently Whole Foods carries this wine (unless you’re in Maryland when stupid alcohol laws prohibit the sale of alcohol in grocery stores).

So if you see it – try it!  I just wished I would have picked up ALL they had available!  $5 is a steal.

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Bake Off!

My department at work is hosting a “team building” function this week.  The function includes recreational sports/activities (no thanks), a trivia contest (yes please) and a bake-off.

Being the incredibly competitive person I am… strike that.  Being the UN-athletic incredibly competitive person that I am, I entered the bake-off.  I had recently come across a vegan dessert that looked amazing (vegan fruit tart) and decided to try my hand at baking something pretty.  This also gave me the opportunity to use the tart pan that I HAD to have when I was getting married… and have never used in the 3 years I’ve been married.

Because I’d never made this dessert before, I did a trial run last week.  My tester was Jeremy.

I mixed the crust in my food processor:
Vegan Tart Crust

I smooshed the crust into the pan:
Vegan Tart Crust - ready for filling

Vegan gelatin / fruit topping (what makes it vegan is the Agar flakes… and you find this in the Asian food aisle in Whole Foods. Or at least that was what a very frustrated Jeremy told me when I asked him to pick up the ingredients at the grocery store last week.):
Vegan gelatin stuff

Assembly (the fun part… although slicing the fruit wasn’t fun):
Assembling the Vegan Tart

Assembling the Vegan Tart

Vegan Tart - pre gelatin

The gelatin topping makes everything so shiny…
Vegan Fruit Tart - post gelatin

Vegan Fruit Tart

Want a slice?
Yum!

Think I have a shot at winning? I doubt I’ll win on flavor (although the verdict from Jeremy was that it was VERY good… but I’m going against a Mississippi Mud Pie and chocolate always wins over fruit). But I think I have a good shot at presentation.

What would you enter into a bake off?

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The Dogwood: A Review

I will warn you that there are NO pictures from my visit to The Dogwood restaurant in Hampden.  However, if there were photos, you would see mostly senior citizens in the background.

Jeremy and I realized that we have the same eating schedules as most grandparents.  We’re hungry early and we want to eat, dammit. 

So for our 3-year anniversary, we wanted to try something new.  Since we’re both vegetarians now (I can’t express how thrilled I am that Jeremy converted) – we wanted to go somewhere that offered more than 1 vegetarian entree… because sharing your meal is a part of the fun.  Hello?

The Dogwood was also appealing to me because of their “mission” (taken directly from their website):

Food

With a respect for classical technique and a love of straightforward food, The Dogwood lets the ingredients sing with its Sustainable American Cuisine.

We cook with the seasons and feature the finest local and natural ingredients, sourcing from sustainable, artisanal, and organic producers whenever possible.

The Dogwood is community gourmet. We develop relationships and opportunity by preparing, learning about, and sharing outstanding food and wine (and our knowledge about them).

I also learned, after the fact, their “social mission” is to “transform lives one plate at a time by providing training opportunity and paid employment to individuals who are transitioning from addiction, incarceration, homelessness, and/or underemployment.”  Someone said the idea of that might have freaked them out – but I didn’t even realize.  Every staff member that approached our table was fabulous and friendly.

So what did we eat?

Appetizers:

  • Grilled Olive Tapenade & Hummus – flatbread and crudites $5.25
  • Trio of Tuscarora Organic Beets – red beet ‘tartare’, herb creme fraiche, cider pickled golden beets, Chiogga candy striped beets, frisee lettuce and Rogue’s Smokey Blue cheese crostini  $11

It was all very good.  Jeremy was starving because he apparently skipped lunch so he devoured everything.  I had a few bits as well.  They also brought out Irish Soda Bread.  I’d never had that before either and it was awesome.

Entrees:

  • Forbidden Rice ’Risotto’ with Roasted Squash Curry  – zucchini and yellow squash, organic black rice, mild curried coconut sauce with Vann’s spices, currants, toasted almonds and today’s vegetable $18
  • Spring Pea Risoto & Tuscarora Oyster Mushrooms
    garlic sauteed mushrooms, parmigiano reggianito, fresh spring peas, organic pea shoots $18

I ate the “forbidden” rice risotto and it was frickin’ awesome.  I believe it was vegan as well.  Fresh vegetables, delicious and light… oh, so good.

Jeremy also really enjoyed his Spring Pea dish.  I liked it but it was A LOT of cheese.  As a person who doesn’t eat a lot of cheese, I appreciate it in small doses.  Don’t get me wrong – it was still marvelous.

I also ordered a glass of wine.  They had a special going on for 20% off bottles of Pinot Noir and normally I would have jumped all over it but we had a bottle of wine to drink at home (that super special bottle).  So… I just got a glass.  I picked this wine from their menu because it was under the section “Different (Which We Love)”:

Steele Vineyards Shooting Star 2008 Blue Franc (Lemberger, Blaufrankisch) (Yakima Valley, Washington State) 8/31

It was fruity.  And good. 

However, they had a few drinks on their drink menu that caught my eye (and are enticing enough for me to want to go back JUST to try these drinks):

  • The Dogwood, Springtime
    our signature cocktail: citrus-infused Prairie vodka, couintreau, splash of Campari, agave nectar, pomegranate juice and a splash of fresh lemon juice, topped with Prosecco, garnished with a cucumber round and a lemon twist, served over ice, sangria-style in a wine glass, 10
  • Death in the Afternoon
    the perfect amuse bouche: sparkling Cava with 21st century absinthe, in honor of Ernest Hemingway and the Pamplona running of the bulls he made famous. (Viva la celebracion!), 9
  • The Phoenix
    prosecco, splash of vodka, splash of St-Germaine Ederflower liqueur, garnished with a sprig of organic thyme (To second chances and to rising from the ashes), 9

Overall – I would highly recommend this place to anyone.  And if you go for dinner around 6:30pm (like we did) – you’ll be dining amongst senior citizens.  And I’m cool with that.

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Pizzazz Tuscan Grille – A Review

Another good friend turned 30 this past weekend and to kick off the celebration, we went out to dinner.  It was a beautifully sunny day on Friday (although it was a bit chilly) so we wanted an outdoor/good view restaurant.

I asked some tweeps for recommendations in the Federal Hill area and got some great ones (that I will have to check out someday) but as soon as I sent it – I thought of Pizzazz Tuscan Grille.  It is attached to the Pier 5 hotel (the wedding location of the birthday girl), I read that they had vegan options (so I knew it was veg-friendly) and it was near the water.

But of course – everyone and their mothers had the same idea about dining outdoors.  We were all starving so we opted to dine indoors but it was still close enough to windows and whatnot.  They also have quite the happy hour… it is equipped with “beer tub girls” and a live band. 

One of my complaints is that when we walked into the restaurant, it wasn’t entirely clear where/who would seat us.  We saw the “Please Wait to be Seated” sign by the entrance attached to the hotel so we walked over to the sign and waited.  And waited.  Jeremy finally grabbed a server and we were seated.

The birthday girl and I shared a bottled of Pinot noir (only $20) and it was fantastic.  I thought I snapped a pic but my phone apparently ate the picture.

I appreciated that the waitress wasn’t totally stuffy about the wine.  She started the whole schpeel where the server shows you the bottle and blah blah blah but I quickly told her that I don’t that formal sort of thing because it makes me uncomfortable.  She admitted that it makes her uncomfortable too and just poured me a full glass.  I liked her.

Since we were starving, we each ordered an appetizer and split it with our significant other.  Jeremy and I had the Insalata Mediterranean (organic spring mix, avocado, red onion, tomato, black olives, cucumbers and imported cubed feta, lightly tossed with cold pressed organic olive oil, seal salt and fresh squeezed lemon – piccoli $11, grande $15).

Photo of the Insalata Meditteranean

This is the "grande" portion size.

The birthday girl and her husband ordered the Caprese Con Pomadoro (seasonal organic tomatoes, layered with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella.  drizzled with cold pressed olive oil aged balsamic vinegar – piccoli $12, grande $16)

Photo of Caprese Con Pomadoro

I think this is the "grande" portion size.

After the bottle of wine and knowing what was in store for us for the evening, I didn’t want to order a large meal.  The birthday girl felt the same way so we split the Rustica pizza (roasted peppers, tomato slices, black and green olives and artichoke 9in $12, 12in $16).  One of the things I really like about Pizzazz is that they offer whole wheat pizza crusts:

“Fresh dough whole wheat, gluten free and cornmeal pizza available in 9″ only.  Can be substituted for any 9″ for an additional $3.  Rice and soy cheese add $2.”

Photo of the Rustica Pizza.

Mmmm... pizza....

The pizza was f’n awesome.

Jeremy ordered a Build your own pizza (piccoli $10, medium $14, grande $16).  For the life of me I can’t remember what he put on it other than artichokes.

Photo of pizza.

I think there are onions, artichokes and... I'm not sure what else is on this pizza.

The birthday girl’s husband also did a build your own pizza and got prosciutto and other stuff on it.

Photo of pizza.

Gross! prosciutto!

And what is a birthday dinner without dessert?  The server brought out a tray (I love when they do that) and I was stoked to hear that they had vegan desserts.

Jeremy and I split the vegan tiramisu:

Photo of vegan tiramisu

No animals were harmed in the making of this dessert. :-)

And the birthday girl and her hubs split a strawberry shortcake:

Photo of strawberry shortcake dessert.

I'm not sure what animals were harmed in making this dessert - perhaps they sacrificed a lamb?

So would I go back?  Sure!  I have to say, I’m pretty flexible when it comes to pizza.  I love it.  It is hard to fuck it up.  I just like that they offer whole wheat dough!

I will say that I found it to be a tad pricey… however.  They offer pizza toppings that I can’t find everywhere (most notably artichokes… it is SUCH a good pizza topping).  So, if you’re visiting the Inner Harbor, I definitely recommend trying this place.

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Mr. Rain’s Funhouse Brunch – A Review

My very dear friend turned 30 over the weekend and to continue our celebration (we karaoke’d our hearts out on Friday) – we hit up Mr. Rain’s Funhouse in the American Visionary Art Museum for brunch on Sunday.

Before even suggesting this location, I swore that I had seen a TON of vegetarian options here so I didn’t bother to revisit the menu before brunch.  I mean – its brunch.  There will be waffles and stuff, right?

Wrong.

I don’t want to imply that I had a bad meal – I think I was just caught off guard by the super fancy and unusual brunch menu.  I was also surprised that there was only ONE vegetarian brunch menu option.  ONE.  for brunch.

Anywho.

I liked their centerpieces.  They were peacock feathers in this weird metal twisted tube thing.

Picture of the centerpiece at Mr. Rain's Funhouse

We kick started our brunch with some drinks.  Most of us ordered the classic bloody mary ($9).  Just an FYI – there is no clam sauce (yay!) and they use ginger.  It was good but I really prefer my bloody mary spicy.

The birthday girl ordered a mimosa ($9) and she liked it.

Picture of a mimosa drink and a bloody mary drink.

The drinks were garnished: orange peel on the mimosa and an olive in the bloody mary.

Jeremy and I both got an order of the curried crepes (seasonal vegetables, bulgur wheat, chevre – $14) since it was the only vegetarian brunch menu item (outside of a salad).

Picture of curried crepes from Mr. Rain's Funhouse restaurant.

Delightful but not breakfast-y.

It was REALLY good.  However, I prefer (and Jeremy said the same thing) my brunch food to be more breakfast-y.

I don’t remember what anyone else got but I do know that they had kimchi pancakes with the bday gal’s meal.  And the pancakes were good!  Not as good as from a Korean restaurant (in my opinion) but still good.

I’m not sure if this review seems like a positive one for the place.  I thought it was good, just different.  It was also a tad pricey.  We spent $100 in drinks alone (2 drinks a person)!  I’ve always been accustomed to “all you can drink” bloody mary/mimosas at other brunch establishments.

Anywho – after brunch, we popped into the AVAM’s gift shop.

Picture of "beer goggles" and "champage glasses" from the American Visionary Art Museum gift shop

Jeremy's got beer goggles and Theresa's got champagne glasses.

Picture of "Happy Birthday" glasses and margarita glasses from the American Visionary Art Museum gift shop

Happy Birthday! And Jeremy's ready for some margaritas.

Picture of a two-headed baby doll from the American Visionary Art Museum gift shop

My what an adorable baby you have there. Yikes!

Apparently if you become a member at the AVAM, you get 10% off your meal at Mr. Rain’s Funhouse. 

Would I go back?  Sure!  Was I a little disappointed?  Yes, but am I not disappointed about something.  I tend to have really high expectations about certain things (like restaurants).

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A Weekend of Good Eatin': Samos and Great Sage

So while I am bummed that I didn’t attend FitBloggin‘, I am happy that I got to hang out with good friends Friday night and my old college roommate on Saturday.

Friday night – I met up with Katie and Stacy (and their dudes) for dinner at Samos.  It is a delightful Greek restaurant in my neighborhood.  If you’re in the area – GO THERE!  But FYI – they only accept cash.  Another fun FYI – they are BYOB.  They charge a small fee for BYOB but its still a hell of a lot cheaper than when you order a bottle of wine from a restaurant.

Samos Restaurant - Baltimore, MD

We all split an appetizer spread of tatziki, hummus and olive tapenade.  Magic!

I ordered the Greek Pizza without any meat (so it was comprised of tomato sauce, feta, mozzarella,artichokes, onions and olives for $10.25).  I didn’t pay attention to what anyone else got but my pizza was delightful.  I used to order the vegekabob until I found out (from one of the servers) that the rice is cooked in chicken broth.  Boo! 

Anyways – I love this place.  It gets packed very quickly so I recommend going early to beat the rush or be prepared to wait awhile.  I don’t think they take reservations either.  You go in and you write your name down then wait for your party to be called.

Now onto Saturday with my old roomie…

Despite not having lived together for 8 years – she will always be my college roomie because (1) she was the ONLY college roommate I ever had and (2) we had a blast living together and have lots of crazy stories from it.

Anywho.

She currently lives in Silver Spring and since I live in Baltimore – we met in the middle for lunch.  It was a great opportunity for me to go to Great Sage – a marvelous organic vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Clarksville.  And lucky for me – Angie was totally game for it too.

It was also GORGEOUS out so we wanted to eat outside.  Of course the patio was packed but we decided to wait it out and got an appetizer at the bar.  And I must say, the staff at Green Sage is AWESOME.  So awesome that I am willing to make that drive again and again.

I didn’t snap any photos because well… I forgot.  so I’ll just briefly chat about what I ate:

As an appetizer, I didn’t want anything too heavy (I had a big dinner the night before) so we split the MEDITERRANEAN HUMMUS PLATE:  house-made hummus accompanied by dolmas, artichokes, kalamata olive tapenade, roasted onion, crudités and toasted naan bread. $11

For lunch, I ordered the ROASTED VEGETABLE WRAP: Roasted vegetable medley of eggplant, red onion, zucchini and sweet potato with balsamic reduction drizzle, mesclun greens and chickpea hummus in a grilled flour tortilla. Served with Kettle potato chips. $9.50

It was f’n awesome.  I was presented with a plethora of marvelous things but I really just wanted a nice light wrap and this totally hit the spot.

Angie ordered the TERIYAKI CHICKEN SANDWICH: Teriyaki glazed ‘chicken’ on toasted naan with spicy Asian sesame slaw. Served with wasabi roasted potatoes. $10

She said she really liked it and I believe her because she doesn’t lie. 

We also split the RAW CHOCOLATE MOUSSE: Extremely rich, powerful and silky smooth, made with raw cacao, Tahitian vanilla and agave nectar. (Gluten free, RAW) $7

Holy shit – I am in love with this dessert.

I realize this isn’t the best post since I don’t have any photos to accompany it but trust me – this place is awesome!  I can’t wait to go back.

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