Category Archives: Events

Dining Out for Life 2011

March 10th marks the 15th annual Capitol Area Dining Out for Life. This is a wonderful one-day event where area restaurants pledge to contribute anywhere from 100%-25% of their nightly earnings to Food and Friends.

Food and Friends is one of my favorite local organizations. It is the only organization in the Washington Metropolitan area that provides home-delivered meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses free of charge.

Some wonderful restaurants are involved in this year’s event including Posto (donating 100%), Bistro du Coin (50%), Dino (35%), Bistro La Bonne (35%), BlackSalt (25%), Hank’s Oyster Bar (25%), Ray’s the Classics (25%), Urbana (25%), and Firefly (25%).

Last year my girlfriends and I had a great Dining Out For Life dinner at Commonwealth (RIP!). We even ran into a Member of Congress and his entire staff (hint, hint Capitol Hill…while you’re avoiding a government shutdown, do some good for the DC community.)

So make a reservation, grab a group, enjoy some delicious food, and donate to a very worthy cause!

P.S. Food and Friends are still looking for volunteers to work as Restaurant Ambassadors on March 10th. If you are interested go here.

Giving Back This Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rescue Mission

Throughout the year on State Dinner I celebrate food in abundance. I am blessed to be able to have a well-stocked kitchen to cook in every night and the ability to dine out at the area’s newest restaurants whenever I please. I try to count my blessings often. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, we collectively take stock of all the things we’ve been provided with throughout the year. Which quickly leads one to think about those who are doing without (and with the current economic situation, there are more families than ever that are struggling to make ends meet).

It has always been a tradition in my family to volunteer year round, but most importantly during the holiday season. My Mom donates a turkey every year to a local area food bank. And for the past few years I have either donated money or volunteered my time at DC-area charities. Below you will find a couple of  food-related ways you and your loved ones can volunteer your time this holiday season. Please remember that these organizations need your help year-round, so while it is important to help out needy families during the holiday season, please consider also stopping by in June as well.

Photo courtesy of the DCJCC

DCJCC

Everything But the Turkey November 22nd and 24th 6:30pm-8:30pm. 500 volunteers meet at the DCJCC (1529 16th Street, NW at the corner of 16th and Q Streets) to prepare 10,000 servings of food for people in need in the Metropolitan area. Over 100 social service agencies (part of DC Central Kitchen) benefit from the side dishes prepared during Everything But the Turkey. I volunteered here last year and had a great time preparing lots and lots of bread stuffing. EBTT is appropriate for all age groups as well, so feel free to bring the entire family!

Note: There is a requested $13 donation to cover some of the supplies used during the volunteer days.

Food and Friends

Food and Friends provides nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. I have been donating to Food and Friends for years because I find their mission particularly compelling. They don’t just provide food for those in ill-health but also provide companionship and company. There are a number of opportunities to assist Food and Friends during the holiday season:

  • Slice of Life is a holiday fundraising event where people in the DC area can buy pies and the money will be donated to Food and Friends. Fellow food blogger Dining in DC is selling pies in various flavors like sweet potato, pumpkin, and chocolate cheesecake. Consider helping out her efforts. In addition to buying a pie you can volunteer on November 23rd from 10:30am-8:30pm (various shifts are available) at one of the 22 pie pick-up locations through out the DC/MD/VA area.
  • Turkey Box delivery will take place November 22nd-24th. The Turkey Boxes include everything a family will need for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, side dishes, dessert). Flexible schedules are available and you will be given a couple of different addresses to deliver to.
  • On November 22nd-24 at 8am, 10am, 1pm, and 5pm, groups will be gathering to prepare food for Thanksgiving meals. Also on Thanksgiving Day you can volunteer to prepare and deliver meals.

Photo courtesy of creativeloafingdotcom

Bread for the City

Starting now through December 24th Bread for the City is welcoming volunteers in to their Northwest Center (1525 7th Street, NW) and Southeast Center (1640 Good Hope Road, SE) from 1-3pm, Monday-Thursday to help pack up turkey dinners (fully equipped with all the classic fixings). Bread for the City plans to distribute these meals to over 8,000 families in need.

There are also options for larger, corporate volunteer days, so consider gathering taking a half-day at the office and give back to your community.

If you know of more Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities in the DC area please feel free to list them below in the comments area.

The Great American Dine Out

It’s not very often that I get a chance to combine my blog with my daytime job as a lobbyist. In all honesty, I have tried to keep my two lives separate. But for the past year I just happen to be working on an issue that I not only find inspiring professionally, but have also had a strong interest in personally for quite awhile. The issue of childhood hunger in America has reached a critical peak over the past few years. Currently 1 in 4 children are food insecure. This means that they

Photo courtesy of Bruce Tuten

go without nutritious food on a fairly regular basis. It is a travesty that in the richest country in the world a child should want for food.

Part of my job is to advocate for these children. Through my work I have come in to contact with the wonderful group Share Our Strength. Now there is a way that you can get involved, enjoy a delicious meal, and help hungry kids all at the same time. From September 19-25 Share Our Strength will be sponsoring the Great American Dine Out. Thousands of restaurants from around the country will participate and a portion of the proceeds will go to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, which works to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015 (the same goal set by President Obama).

Photo courtesy of Strength.org

75 restaurants in the DC area will be participating, including Proof, Estadio, Ping Pong Dim Sum, California Tortilla, and Art and Soul. A complete listing of the restaurants can be found here.

So gather some friends, make a reservation, enjoy a delicious meal, and help change a life!

Free Dessert Day

What’s better than a free lunch? Free dessert! In honor of the series premier of Top Chef: Just Desserts, Opentable.com is partnering with Bravo TV for a free dessert promotion on Wednesday, September 15th. 83 restaurants are participating in one-way or another. Some pastry chefs are preparing a special dessert for the occasion. You can get red velvet cake at Firefly, vanilla ice cream profiteroles at Mon Ami Gabi, and donut holes with dipping sauce at Darlington House. And many restaurants, like Bistro Cacao, Zola, and Capitol Grille, are

Image courtesy of Kitsunbabe

allowing you to choose a dessert off of their regular menu. Personally, I’m grabbing lunch at Againn, and hoping to check out the sticky toffee pudding I’ve been hearing so much about.

A full list of participating restaurants can be found here. (There are many reservations still remaining).

And don’t forget to tune in to Top Chef: Just Desserts at 11pm on September 15th (tomorrow!). DC’s own Heather Chittum will be cheftestant.

Note: Restaurants around the country are participating in Free Dessert Day. If you live outside of DC, go to Opentable.com to see which restaurants are participating in your city.

Photo courtesy of Alain Limoges

A Top Chef Master Comes to DC

Marcus Samuelsson is one of my favorite celebrity chefs. Besides being gorgeous he has a memorable story and takes a unique approach to his cuisine. Chef Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and now resides in New York City.  His unique background is reflected in his cooking both at the Scandinavian -themed Aquavit in New York City and through the Townhouse Restaurant Group of which he is a co-founder. Chef Samuelsson also was the head chef at this past November’s White House State Dinner for the Prime Minister of India. And of course most people now know him as a winning cheftestants on the second season of Top Chef Masters.

Well lucky for us DCers, Chef Samuelsson will be holding a cooking demo and book signing at the Metro Center Macy’s this coming Thursday as part of the Macy’s Culinary Council. Chef Samuelsson’s new cookbook “New American Table” is a beautiful mix of recipes, photographs, and stories about all that is good in American cuisine. You can tell that Chef Samuelsson is deeply influenced by his New York City neighbors because there are recipes from Jewish, Asian, Latin, and Italian cuisine, just to name a few. Some highlights appear to be the Mussel-Artichoke Tart, Blueberry Kasha, Chicken Curry with Vegetable Fritters, and the Bay Scallops with Nori-Spiced Watermelon. Yum!!

Here is more info on the cooking demo. I hope to see you there!:

Where:
Macy’s Metro Center
Home Store, Lower Level
1201 G St NW
(between N 12th St & N 13th St)
Washington, DC 20005

When:
Thursday, April 29, 6PM

RSVP:
Because seating is limited, reservations are required.
To RSVP please call 1-888-MACYSNY

Click here for more information about the event and the Culinary Council.

Chocolate Fudge

I love, love, love chocolate fudge! I’ve tried tons of different recipes, many that use corn syrup or marshmallows. I’m not sure what either of those ingredients do but after trying this simple recipe from the new Gourmet Today cookbook I’ll never use fancy fudge recipes again. This recipe takes about 15 minutes of actual cooking and contains only 4 ingredients (most of which you probably already have in your fridge or pantry).

I made this lovely fudge recipe for the Rose Park Bake Sale and it was a big hit—I think part of this had to do with the fact that I packaged the fudge in brightly colored mini-takeout boxes. Note to future bakers: kids are attracted to anything brightly colored with a handle, even if it is a more adult treat. (Perhaps next time I’ll package the boxes with fruit and vegetables!).

Ingredients:
¾ pound chocolate (I used a combination of ½ bittersweet and ¼ semisweet), finely chopped
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation:
1.    Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
2.    Stir together all ingredients in a metal bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of barely summering water, and heat until chocolate appears to be melted, 5 to 8 minutes. Gently stir with a rubber spatula occasionally, letting chocolate rest for a few minutes if it appears to stiffen, until smooth. (If you so desire, this is where you can mix in chopped nuts).
3.    Pour mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, about 4 hours.
4.    Run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert fudge onto a cutting board, peel off paper, and cut fudge into 1-inch squares. Serve cold.

Note: the fudge keeps, refrigerated, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 64 pieces (depending how large you cut them).

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies

For the Rose Park Bake Sale I wanted to try something out that was fun and different. I’m a huge fan of all things carrot cake but I certainly wasn’t going to be able to make multiple cakes, and mini-cakes was out of the question since I only have 2 mini-loaf pans. Then I came across a recipe for inside-out carrot cake cookies in the new Gourmet Today cookbook. Perfect!

These came out well…although I was hoping they would be prettier. But the taste was there, so who really cares right? They were a big hit at the bake sale and were the first item to sell out.


Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1 cup (about 3 ¼ ounces) walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
¼ cup honey

Preparation:

Make the cookies:

1.    Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat the over to 375˚. Butter two large baking sheets.
2.    Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
3.    Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
4.    Drop 1 ½ tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets on racks for 1 minute, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Make the filling and assemble the cookies:
1.    Blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor or with an electric mixer until smooth.
2.    Spread a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling on flat side of half of the cookies and top with remaining cookies.

Note: You can also use this delicious cream cheese frosting recipe.
The cookies keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 1 day.

Makes about 1 dozen sandwiched cookies.

Rose Park Bake Sale

This Saturday, April 24th the 6th Annual Rose Park Spring Celebration will take place. Sponsored by Friends of Rose Park and the Proper Topper, this family friendly event will include pony rides, face painting, a baby animal petting zoo, live music, and best of all—a bake sale table!!

Photo courtesy of El Swifterino

Yours truly will be there selling some yummy treats as well as The Passion Fruits, Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC, Don’t Forget the Flour, and One Bite At a Time. All proceeds will benefit the Friends of Rose Park. Friends of Rose Park is a non-profit organization that funds maintenance and improvements to this neighborhood treasure.

Rose Park is located between P Street, NW and M Street, NW, bounded on the west side by 26th and 27th Streets and on the east side by Rock Creek Parkway. The celebration is a free event and will run from 10:30-12:30.

So let’s hope for some sunshine and I’ll see you there!

Cheese for Charity

This coming Sunday, April 11th, according to the Powers That Be, is National Cheese Fondue Day. While it might not be a Hallmark holiday, it is a pretty awesome celebration! I have very fond memories of eating fondue as a child, usually for my birthday. We would use the fondue pot my parents got as a wedding gift in the early 70s, fully equipped with fondue forks in the classic 1970 hues of mustard yellow, olive green, chocolate brown, and burnt orange. While we only had cheese fondue once or twice, my Mom would cut up strips of chicken and beef, we would cook them in a hot pot of oil and then dip them in the various sauces my Mom mixed up. I loved it!

Fondue is a fun, social, adventurous way to have a meal. And now you can do it for a good cause. In honor of National Cheese Fondue Day, Melting Pot restaurants around the DC/VA/MD area will be hosting Cheese for Charity. They will be opening early, and from 1pm-9pm $10 of every cheese fondue purchased will benefit a wonderful charity. The Arlington and Reston locations will be donating to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Gaithersburg proceeds will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and money raised from the Washington, D.C. location will go to Food and Friends. All of these are wonderful charities that I have a close connection to, so grab a few friends, make a reservation, and head over to the Melting Pot to celebrate National Cheese Fondue Day.

There are still reservations available on OpenTable or you can call the restaurants directly:

Washington, DC—(202) 857-0777
Arlington— (703) 243-4490
Gaithersburg— (301) 519-3638
Reston— (703) 264-0900

P.S. I also highly recommend that you sign up for The Melting Pot’s newsletter, Club Fondue. They have fun events all the time: Ladies’ Night, Double Date Night, and Wine Down Wednesdays. Plus when you sign up, you get a certificate for a free chocolate fondue. Yum!

Picture courtesy of Monsieurb44

Bake Sale to Benefit Haiti

Next Sunday when you head to the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market make sure to stop by a great bake sale sponsored by a number DC Food Bloggers. Not only will you be able to pick up some delicious treats from some of DC’s best bakers but you will be contributing to a wonderful cause—members of Doctors Without Borders that are helping to treat the citizens of Haiti in the aftermath of the horrible earthquake that hit the country in January.

Some of the bloggers participating in the bake sale will be Adventures in Shaw, Macheesmo, French Twist DC, Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC, Pete Bakes!, Thrifty DC Cook, Not Derby Pie, One Bite at a Time, and Urban Bohemian.