Food & Drink

Sunshine and Whiskey

Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey

September is here, but that doesn’t mean we need to pack up the sweet tea lemonade and whiskey for good! One of my favorite cocktails this summer was one that we made for my friends’ afternoon tea themed engagement party. The sweet tea was in honor of the bride-to-be (a North Carolina gal) and the whiskey was the no-brainer complement. Although this was a refreshing summer concoction, leave out the lemon and garnish with a cinnamon stick for an autumnal twist. You could serve it hot or cold and you most likely already have most of the ingredients at home!

Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey

5 ounces sweetened iced tea
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 mint sprig
1 lemon wedge

Photography by Traci J. Brooks Studios

Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey
Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey
Jackietara blog - Sunshine and Whiskey

Secret Ingredient Crepes

Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog

Since the holidays just aren’t complete without copious amounts of cooking, baking, and [inevitably] eating, I decided to use some of my treasured time at home to make a Dolan family traditional dish: French crepes.  I grew up with my Grandmama frequently making crepes for me and my sister on mornings we spent with her.  Natalie and I were crazy for them, and often had competitions on who could eat more, and more quickly.  I think my record was 8 crepes as fast as Grandmama could crank them out.

Since Grandmama is no longer around, I enjoy making crepes in her memory.  Although it will never be the same experience as sitting on the kitchen counter and handing her eggs to crack in the mixing bowl, I’m happy that a little piece of her lives on each time I create this dish.

Recently I have been adding a “secret ingredient” of orange zest to give the crepes an additional citrus element.  If you haven’t tried it before, I highly suggest it!  You won’t be disappointed…

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
orange zest to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs.  Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt, vanilla, orange zest, and butter; beat until smooth.  Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat [I suggest using a little bit of vegetable oil].  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.  Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until small bubbles appear in the batter [the bottom will be light brown].  Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve warm and with your favorite fillings.  My all-time favorite is just sugar, but maple syrup, Nutella, and assorted jams are delicious too!

Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog
Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog
Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog
Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog
Secret Ingredient Crepes - Jackietara blog


Pastrami Hash

Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blog

As T and I gear up for the holidays grocery shopping, picking out recipes, and buying lots of alcohol, we are also thinking of ways to use up all of that wonderful leftover turkey, ham, veggies, and potatoes that will take up our entire refrigerator.  After a recent trip to Harold’s New York Deli in Edison, New Jersey, we had a lot of pastrami to eat.  Three days of pastrami sandwiches later, Teddy and I needed to get creative.  We looked in the fridge for a few key items: potatoes from dinner a couple nights ago; onions; eggs; and of course the delicious pastrami – the perfect ingredients for a modified corned beef hash.

Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blogPastrami Hash - Jackietara blog
Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blog Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blog

Recipe via the How to Cook Everything® app

2 cups cut‐up leftover pastrami
2 cups cut‐up cold boiled potatoes
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup liquid (stock, tomato sauce, milk, cream, or gravy)
3 tablespoons oil or butter

Toss together 2 cups cut‐up leftover pastrami and 2 cups cut‐up cold boiled potatoes, all in small cubes.  Add 1 cup chopped onion and ½ cup liquid—stock, tomato sauce, milk, cream, or gravy—enough to moisten the mixture without making it soupy.  Put 3 tablespoons oil or butter in a heavy skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium‐low heat. When the oil is hot or the butter is melted, add the hash and cook, undisturbed, until a nice crust has formed, about 10 minutes. Turn the hash and brown the other side or flip half of it over onto the other or brown the top under a broiler.

We modified this recipe a bit further by adding poached eggs.  To do this, fill a small cup with warm water and delicately break the egg into it.  Cover the cup with a saucer and microwave for 60 seconds.  Voila!  The easiest way to poach an egg.

Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blog Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blog Pastrami Hash - Jackietara blog


Oatmeal Makes the World Go ‘Round

Happy holiday weekend!  Although the root of this holiday is not so noble, I am thankful to have an additional day tacked on to my weekend.  I’ve been under the weather the last couple of days, so some much needed rest is in order!  T made this amazing oatmeal to warm me up – the amazingly comforting kind that transports you back to your childhood.  This recipe had almonds and figs in it, so I couldn’t help but take a picture and share!

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In addition to a handful of chopped almonds and figs, add a dash of sugar and top with a light pour of maple syrup.  Here’s to a cozy [long] weekend!


A Day in Annapolis

Growing up 1/2 Marylander, boats, crabs, and fresh corn on the cob were a summer staple.  These three things have been much harder to easily procure in the city, so you can imagine my excitement when Teddy told me that he and his ultimate frisbee team were planning on picking crabs after a beach practice in Annapolis.

It was a hot but gorgeous day at Sandy Point, so I decided to try my hand at a little sports photography while the gang did some drills running up and down the beach.  I was much happier to be on the other side of the lens that day!

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After a hot and sweaty practice, the team was ready for some crabs and corn, and a nice cold beer.

Summer love.

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Fourth of July Fun

Sandwiched between a long week at work and two Harry Connick, Jr. events at Wolf Trap, July 4th was a low-key holiday for me this year.  But “low-key” didn’t mean I had to sacrifice on fun and creativity!  Before our guests arrived, I decided to prepare my famous deviled eggs [a labor intensive but satisfying dish to make], melon with prosciutto [one of my all time favorites], and a berry champagne cocktail.

Luckily, Teddy made a blueberry syrup on a whim the day before, so all I needed was fresh strawberries and blueberries.  After having a little fun shaping the strawberries into hearts, I froze the berries for a couple of hours and chilled a bottle of prosecco.


This [red, white, and blue] berry champagne cocktail was a festive and refreshing libation after spending a few hours in the sun and a perfect way to celebrate our nation’s independence before watching fireworks on the National Mall.  The best thing is, you don’t have to wait for the next holiday to enjoy this drink – you can make it all summer long!

Berry Champagne Cocktail


A Snail Tale

If you didn’t know already, my three year anniversary with Mr. Teddy Wolff was this month [June 19 to be exact].  To celebrate three fantastic years as a duo, we planned a day of delicious culinary experiences.

The first was an unassuming authentic lunch at A&J in Annandale, VA.  If you ever want to have an inexpensive, traditional, and gratifying meal, go here.  A&J’s Chinese tapas are the epitome of comfort food and warm your soul with every bite.  I recommend the scallion pancake, pork dumplings, and spicy beef noodle soup [all menu choices were perfectly chosen and ordered by Teddy].  The soup is to die for and the noodles are homemade!

That night, Teddy and I opened a bottle of Lovingston Winery Pinotage [that I had been saving for a special occasion] and got going on our second delectable meal of the day, escargot. Both of my parents have made escargot several times for the family throughout my life and it has always been one of my favorite treats.  How can you go wrong with butter, garlic, shallots, and more butter?  The snails are pretty good too…



Octopus [I promise it’s delicious] Salad

As I promised in my last blog post, here is the recipe for octopus salad!  My dad has made this dish several times, and I have always wanted to try it, so I finally took the plunge and bought a package of frozen octopus on my last trip to Harris Teeter [I obviously haven’t been grocery shopping in a while… on my to-do list!].  Once you get past the tentacles, this is a quick, simple, and delicious dish to create.

2 lb octopus, thawed and rinsed (buy frozen and pre-cleaned)
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup roasted bell peppers
1/4 cup cured black olives (a key ingredient!)
1/3 cup fresh or dried parsley
(I recommend fresh, but dried parsley works in a pinch)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers
1/2 tsp salt

1. Thaw frozen octopus.


2. Slice tomatoes, shallot, and garlic, and combine with other ingredients.
Add pepper to taste.


3. Boil octopus for 20 minutes with a cork.  This can be any cork without plastic.  It may seem odd, but my chef-of-a-dad swears by it.  Be careful not to boil for more than 20 minutes.  Any more than that will make the octopus rubbery!


4. Remove the octopus from the boiling water, let cool, and slice into 1 inch pieces.
The octopus should be a nice eggplant purple color.


5. Mix octopus and the prepared salad and serve.



Green Machine

The weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, Teddy and I were left with a challenge: to eat all of the left-overs from his Panera-catered photo shoot.  We of course accepted this challenge with pleasure as we crafted a very green sandwich with the left-over baguette.

Piled high with turkey, provolone, spinach, and avocado [and all the fixin’s], our sandwich was a green machine and paired nicely [though coincidentally] with the holiday we planned to celebrate that evening.  To accompany our well-constructed lunch was a left-over house salad with tomatoes and onions.

Teddy and I pride ourselves with creating a meal with whatever we have in the fridge, so this was definitely a delicious [and healthy!] win for us.