Mother’s Day Fare

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Last weekend, Emily and I went to our parents’ house to celebrate our lovely and incomparable mother. She’s one of the kindest ladies I know, who will unfailingly stop on her way to work to rescue a lost dog or sneak into my house on the morning of my birthday to decorate the bathroom mirror with lipstick. (In the picture above, she’s that cutie in the middle. Shoutout to my Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob, too.)

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After attending church with my grandparents and enjoying a mimosa-infused brunch, the three of us headed home for a ladies’ day. We snuggled with the dogs (nothing unusual about that though), painted our nails, watched Wild (which is just beautiful, by the way), and took a break for afternoon tea. I made chocolate-orange popovers and little tea sandwiches for the occasion. Of course, it was a bit of an ode to my mom’s mom, the tea and petit fours queen.

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For dinner, I made individual vegetarian pot pies, a beet and goat cheese salad, and grapefruit bars for dessert. My cooking at home has waned significantly in the past few months, so I go a little crazy when I get the chance. It was a day of eating, but what holiday isn’t? Here’s my recipe for veggie pot pies. (adapted from this one).

Individual Vegetarian Pot Pies // makes 4

Ingredients: 
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. of butter
1 c. reduced-fat milk
3 Tbsp. flour
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
salt + pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, whisked

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté the broccoli, covered, for a few minutes. Add the carrots and onions, and sauté for several more minutes, until they’re beginning to get soft.

3. Combine milk and flour in a large saucepan over medium heat by whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3-5 minutes, until mixture is thick, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese slowly. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Don’t worry – it’s supposed to be that thick. If you’re struggling with the consistency, you can add a touch more milk. Fold in the veggies.

4. Cut the puff pastry sheet into four equal squares. Cut an X in the middle of each piece of puff pastry to vent. Divide the veggies-cheese mixture into four ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Top each with puff pastry and brush with egg wash. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until puff pastry is puffy and golden brown.

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Ms. Regan Goes to Washington

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A few weeks ago, Domenico and I dug out our thin, desert sweaters and scarves and flew across the country to visit Linnea at her new home in the country’s capital. For Domenico, it was the first visit to Washington. I was less of a novice, but it had still been about a decade since I’d been in the city, so we really relied on Linnea to show us around the town. Lucky for us, she was sweet enough to take us to her favorite restaurants and send us out into the world with very thorough metro directions.

Day 1: 

We got off a plane on Saturday very hungry and ready for a night out, so Linnea took us to Tryst, a coffeehouse/bar/working space that reminded me of Phoenix’s Lux. We caught up, ate tasty sandwiches, and then wandered next door to a crazy Wonderland of a blues bar where we danced to some old, blues tunes.

Day 2: 

We brunched (brunch is big in D.C. – along with beer and jogging) at Open City. After a pretty slow, leisurely morning, we were ready to see the sites, and Linnea took us to all the big ones: the White House, the Washington Monument, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. After all that monument-ing, we went to Linnea’s favorite museum, the National Portrait Gallery. This was a stop I hadn’t gotten to on my previous visits to D.C., so it was a new experience for me, and I have to say, I think it was my favorite museum as well. It was so rich with American art, exhibiting everything from Civil War-era photos to pop art that donned the cover of Time magazine. Of course, we had to take a few silly portraits of our own in the museum, especially when we saw the striking similarity between Domenico’s facial hair and that of Rutherford B. Hayes. That night, we enjoyed a fancy, Middle Eastern dinner at Mama Ayesha’s.

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Day 3: 

Linnea had to work in the morning, so we all got up early for breakfast at Founding Farmers. As a side note, I can’t get enough of all the history-love and plays on words in D.C.; in addition to this place, we also ate at We the Pizza and Busboys and Poets, a bookstore and restaurant named after Langston Hughes and his positions as both a busboy and poet at different points in his life.

Domenico and I were on our own for the rest of the morning, so we took the opportunity to visit the Natural History and American History Museums. So much history, guys. It was starting to get mildly exhausting, but there’s such an insane amount to see there that it seems wasteful to spend any time not touring some monument or museum. Linnea took the afternoon off, and met us for a tour of the U.S. Capitol. We also visited the Library of Congress, a.k.a. the most beautiful building in the city, and sat on the steps of the Supreme Court. This was probably our most American day of the trip, so I wore my most patriotic, vintage dress, of course. We met a friend from college for some tasty Korean food at Mandu and then took a nighttime trip to the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial. They were so beautiful at night, and it was a totally different experience visiting them after most of the crowds had disappeared.

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Day 4: 

We grabbed some pastries at Paul and headed to a tour at the NPR offices. It ended up being a truly interesting tour, and the offices are housed in a beautifully designed building. Domenico even got to stand behind the famous Tiny Desk with Bob Boilen. After our tour, we ate probably the most decadent meal in history at Astro Donuts – it included fried chicken, a maple-bacon donut, and a fried chicken sandwich on an old bay-spiced donut bun (!). We spent the afternoon at the Holocaust Museum (after which that lunch really seemed like a mistake). The museum was beautifully done and so powerful, but it left us feeling drained and definitely out of D.C.-touring mode. We had a little much-needed downtime at Linnea’s before dinner at Busboys and Poets, where we got to meet one of her closest friends in the city.

Day 5:

Whoa, it’s almost time to go home? That was pretty much the sentiment on our final day. We did manage to squeeze in a trip to the National Archives, where we got to lean over the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. (Sorry, Nicholas Cage – no alarms went off.) We also spent the afternoon at the Newseum, which was full of news-related artifacts, an evocative exhibit on 9/11, and a graffitied section of the Berlin Wall.

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Overall, it was a lovely – if brief – trip, and we were able to traverse so much of the city, which is rich with history, incredible museums, and passionate people. Some of our favorite take-aways were:

1. Everyone is on their way somewhere, often late, and they’re not going to be slowed down by your presence. I was almost run down in the metro center a couple of times, and a jogger definitely photo bombed Domenico and I in front of the Library of Congress.

2. Free access to cultural sites is amazing. The only activity we had to pay for was entrance to the Newseum, yet we saw such a wealth of museum exhibits and iconic national treasures.

3. When you walk eight miles a day, I think it means you deserve to eat a donut chicken sandwich, right?

4. Linnea is the best tour guide. She’ll be planning all of my vacations now.

Eat Here: Bragg’s Factory Diner

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This weekend, Domenico and I treated ourselves to a little brunch at Bragg’s before his weekend work shift. It’s a vegetarian/vegan diner that was a family-owned pie factory in its first life. It’s quaint and cozy inside, full of homages to Phoenix and good-old Arizona. Between the two of us we shared pancakes, eggplant bacon, biscuits and veggie gravy, and a coconut-curry waffle. Maybe it’s because it’s a pie factory at heart, but the pancakes and waffles were top notch. Bonus points: They had a weekend special in honor of Leslie Knope and her waffle love.

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The weather was perfect, so after breakfast, we briefly explored Grand Avenue, which is full of mosaic-tiled planters, colorful galleries, and trees strung with pompoms and tinsel. I’m serious. It’s a technicolor dream of kitsch. I even found a yarn-bombed palm tree scattered with crocheted granny squares.

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As a side note, on my way to a little hike this morning, I had a super tasty smoothie from 24 Carrots that featured avocado, coconut and lime juice. Plus, I got to visit with my sweet friend Rachel, who works there, briefly. I love how many wonderful and exciting vegetarian/vegan restaurants there are in the Valley. I think my next stop will have to be Nami for some soy ice cream.