Grilled Cheese, KL Style

City Eats (which, by the way, I have decided is a mostly useless site that seems to exist just to inspire my blog posts) recently released a list of the Ten Best Grilled Cheeses in DC. Not only have I not been to just a handful of the establishments on their list, but I think they missed a few! And, as everyone knows by now, I am the district’s #1 cheese lover. I might not be the most knowledgeable, or the snobbiest, but man do I love cheese. See previous blog evidence here (I do not think this evidence would hold up in court or follows the rules of an appropriately cross-referenced article on Wikipedia but it certainly holds weight in my book).

KL’s Top Grilled Cheeses in DC and Arlington:

  1. Earl’s Sandwiches. Why do more people not know about this place? It’s a gem of a sandwich shop tucked into the area between Courthouse and Clarendon. I like to go there when I need a little pick-me-up and order the grilled cheese special, which has asparagus, tomato, and cheese on buttery toast. It is greasy, perfectly-cooked perfection. Total indulgence and right in the neighborhood.
  2. Northside Social. Can I rave enough about this place? This Clarendon coffeehouse has a lot of virtues (previously extolled on this very blog), and its grilled cheese is one of them. One coworker raved that it was the best grilled cheese in the DC area. I hardly ever order it because Northside has many other tempting bites to offer, but when I do, I am always very happy. It comes with a side salad so you can feel slightly more virtuous about eating it.
  3. Shake Shack. This is my non-traditional pick, because it’s really a veggie burger and not a straight up grilled cheese. Shake Shack’s veggie burger is composed of two very thinly sliced and breaded Portobello mushrooms which are then stuffed with cheese and fried. You end up with a glorified mozzarella stick. Then they put it on a bun, with the special sauce. Heaven. Who could resist fried cheese on a bun? Not this girl. I have been to Shake Shack more times than is appropriate for a vegetarian.

Okay, so that list is pretty short – mostly because I try not to stuff my face with cheese everywhere I go (despite mounting evidence to the contrary). But these three places are clutch.

I will admit that one of my favorite grilled cheeses is the homemade kind: plain white bread, lots of butter, and sliced American cheese. Sorry to those of you out there who are groaning with disappointment, but when you need comfort food nothing beats that and a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup. Childhood right there. But on days when I want to feel a little more like a grown-up, I might make one of these:

Yum :).


Mo Money, Mo Problems, Mo Mustaches, Movember

In case you didn’t already realize it, November is men’s health awareness month – specifically, awareness about prostate and testicular cancer. And someone decided, at some point, for some unknown reason, in Australia (which explains a lot), that in order to raise awareness of this issue, men should grow mustaches. And they call the month: Movember. Men around the world grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues.

Mo’ mustaches…less problems? I guess that’s the idea.

Awareness is important. And men doing silly stuff like trying (and possibly failing) to grow a mustache is just darn funny sometimes — as my friend Steve can attest to. So I’ll keep this short and simple:

  1. If you are male, grow a mustache (for the remaining week of Movember anyway), then go get yourself checked out. Regardless of your age. Young, old, in between, whatever.
  2. If you are female, try not to laugh at the men in your life growing mustaches. After trying unsuccessfully not to laugh at their peach fuzz, encourage them to get checked out.
  3. Visit Steve’s blog and laugh your butt off. And appreciate the fine things he and his facial hair are doing to raise awareness! Then donate to his Movember team. I just donated and it feels better than his December 1st shave is gonna feel.

This issue is pretty close to my heart: two members of my family had prostate cancer and they beat it through early detection and treatment. Go mustaches!

Holiday Gift Idea: Must Have Box for Him

When thinking about what to buy for my dad for Christmas, I think back to a memory from when I was a teenager. I went through a Bath & Body Works phase (who didn’t?) where I had a whole collection of vanilla-scented body lotions, body wash, body spray, etc. You know what I’m talkin’ about. One day, trying to share my excitement about all of the vanilla with my dad, I made him try some of the vanilla-scented hand cream. When I asked him, “now how does that feel?” He replied, “it feels like I want to get it off me.” This response has now become a family joke: any time someone asks, “how does it feel,” we reply in unison, “it feels like I want to get it off me!”

In short, my dad is not the type for fancy hand creams or non-essential luxury items. He does appreciate fine wine and a good cheese on the regular, but he wouldn’t be caught dead owning more than 4 pairs of shoes and the majority of his non-work wardrobe is full of holey t-shirts. But, he is the main man in my life at the moment so I want to buy him something awesome for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don’t think this latest gift idea from Popsugar is going to work out so well for that…

They have just released a Luxury Must Have Box exclusively for men! If you’ve got a man in your life who would enjoy the gentleman’s equivalent of what we ladies have been getting in our Popsugar boxes, then I think you’re in luck. It’s $100 so it’s more expensive than the regular boxes, but judging by the quality of the content I’ve been getting in my monthly boxes (read about them here and here), the contents will be good. Unfortunately this is Popsugar’s first box geared toward men so it’s a mystery as to what it will contain, but my best guess is:

  • An old-fashioned shaving kit or high-tech razor
  • A fashionable (but manly) scarf or a tie
  • A small, trendy food item like bourbon caramels or organic beef jerky
  • Cologne or body wash
  • A book, such as something by Erik Larson
  • Something tech-y like noise-blocking headphones
  • And probably more, since the box is supposed to be a “luxury” box
J. Crew Donegal Wool Scarf

Something like this scarf, maybe?

Like I said, I’m not sure my dad would really appreciate this particular gift. But I know a lot of men out there who would – if your dad, boyfriend, best friend, husband, or brother is one of them, get your butt to this Popsugar box fast. On the website this morning they posted that there are only 608 left.

Happy gift-giving! Expect more gift posts to come as the holidays approach :).

Recipe: Vegetarian Pumpkin Lentil Curry Soup

I think one of the best things about the weather getting colder is that it is once more acceptable and, let’s face it, pretty much necessary to eat soup. What is better than having a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter’s night? And even better, you only have to clean one pot after you make it.

I have now successfully made this Pumpkin Lentil Curry soup twice, both times for guests. However, it makes such a large amount that I have multiple single-serving containers in the freezer, which will supply me with delicious homemade lunch all winter long. It freezes really well so it’s perfect for single girls like me who can only eat so much soup at a time!

The critical error I made the first time I made this soup was not having enough curry powder. The soup was good, but didn’t have the robust flavor I was expecting. So make sure you have a good quality curry powder on hand. And the apple is an absolute must in this soup – don’t omit it. I’ve actually increased the amount of apple from the original recipe since I really, really love what it adds to the flavor. One of the things that makes this soup so easy is that all of the ingredients are pretty shelf-stable (even the apple and onion) so you can put it together without having to run to the store. We all know how I hate that.

Arlington Darling | Pumpkin Lentil Curry Soup

All ingredients directly from the arlington darling pantry. No grocery store required. Woo hoo!

Recipe adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion (or 1/2 large onion), chopped
1 1/2 apples (or two small apples), chopped
48 oz. vegetable broth (I use a combination of box stock and vegetable bouillon)
2 (15 oz.) cans pure pumpkin
2 tsp mild curry powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
1/2 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper, to taste

To Make:
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add the chopped apple and onion and cook until translucent and tender.
3. Then, add vegetable broth and simmer.
4. Whisk in the pumpkin and all of the spices.
5. Add the lentils, coconut milk, and honey.
6. Simmer on low for 40 minutes until thickened.
7. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Arlington Darling | Pumpkin Lentil Curry Soup 2

It’s not the prettiest-looking soup, but it sure is yummy.


To be thankful for…

…that this tree didn’t fall on my parent’s house during hurricane Sandy:

Arlington Darling | Hurricane SandyMy parent’s driveway is in the bottom of the shot. The white house is across the street from my parents. Thank goodness it didn’t fall on their house, either! Just innocuously sideways. Everybody in the neighborhood lost power for a few days, as to be expected when huge trees fall into power lines.

Thanksgiving is coming a little early this year for our family!