- Serious Eats: A quick look at "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" show.
- Bakerella: Donuts from Sublime Donuts in Georgia, yum.
- One Bite At A Time: Bacon chocolate chip cookie recipe.
- Florida Girl In DC: Chocolate salted caramel cupcakes, and a recap of the Food Bloggers for Haiti bake sale!
- Facebook: How to suck at Facebook, ha.
- Gossip Girl: Recap from NYMag.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Normally, I don't ask my dad to bring me anything specific from Japan when he travels back to the States- I'd likely be asking for beauty and hair products that would take too long for me to explain to him/for him to find, at which point he'd probably tell me that I can't ask for anything anymore, haha. On occasion I'll ask for random snack foods, especially Kit Kats, since they make SO many fun and unique flavors in Japan that are only sold there. Apparently less is more when it comes to asking for stuff, because this time around I asked for Kit Kats, and got a box of ALL THAT STUFF in the photo above. Score!! Of course it helps that my mom probably asked for most of this stuff and sent me the duplicates/extra, haha.
Here are the Kit Kats that I got- these are a pretty easy gift to ask for, since the airport carries a ton of these. They're good gifts for traveling with (light, packs easily, flat) and are often sold only in specific areas, which makes it a worthwhile "I went to _____ and got this for you"-type of gift. These are all boxes of 12 mini Kit Kats, in a box that is meant for sharing (these are v. popular office/co-worker gifts since everyone can share). Up front we've got a Rilakkuma-branded Strawberry Milk Kit Kat box- super cute!!! Back left, we've got a Tokyo-region Kit Kat, Shoyu (soy sauce) Kit Kat box...yup you read that right :o) Back right, we've got a Kinako (soybean flour) Kit Kat box. I will be reviewing these flavors in later posts!
Assorted Japanese curry mixes. I love Japanese curry, but the curry roux blocks that are used a lot in making it is pretty unhealthy for you. Recently they've started making "calorie-off", or reduced calorie curry roux. The PRIME brand boxes in the back are pretty cool too because they are packaged in single-portion amounts- meaning I can make a single-serving of curry at a time, if I wanted to.
On the left is Hoji tea bags, for hot or iced unsweetened tea. These will be handy for bringing into work since they are already portioned out and ready for use. On the right are two bags of quick-dissolving Matcha tea powder- these can be used for baking, like I do currently, or for drinking (mix with water, or even milk to make green tea lattes!)
A package of Ningyo-yaki, which are a popular snack which comes in all shapes and sizes in Japan. Yes, the faces are pretty creepy, but that doesn't stop them from being tasty, haha. These had a regular red bean paste filling inside. I wrapped them and froze them, which has helped to keep them fresh for longer.
Some fish-based furikake, or rice seasoning mixes. Might sound sort of strange for some of you, but if you grew up with these, they're a nice addition to bowls of rice :o)
Kaki no tane, which are spicy rice crackers that are super duper addictive and delicious. This particular brand is apparently pretty well-known and sorta pricey. I say that mainly because normally these rice crackers don't come in a decorated tin, then wrapped in paper, with a bow around it, haha! Fancyyyyyy.
Last but not least, some fun Japanese treats. The top row are various flavors of Navona cakes, which are like lighter versions of whoopie pies. The bottom are chestnut paste-filled shells called "Monaca" in Japan. These have a pretty short shelf life so I had to eat them pretty quickly- not that I minded, haha.
So that's a quick roundup of all the fun Japanese goodies I got in the mail- I'm excited for everything, but particularly the new stuff that I haven't tried before. Huzzah to Japan and all of its fun foods!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I saw this recipe from Kirbie's Cravings for a Chocolate Yogurt Loaf Cake, and thought it sounded pretty interesting. I had a bit of plain yogurt left (bought a quart when I already had a full one at home), so I thought a yogurt cake would be a good way to use some up. I wasn't really in the mood to make a chocolate loaf though, so I subbed in Matcha powder for the cocoa powder/coffee.
The recipe is very simple and comes together pretty quickly. I love the color of the green with the browned edges, and the yogurt makes this cake nice and moist without adding any extra flavor. You could probably use this recipe as a base for lots of other yogurt loaf cakes: orange, strawberry, honey, chocolate chip, Nutella, etc. A great "base" recipe to keep around, especially if you eat plain yogurt on a regular basis anyway, like I do.
A big "Thank you!" to California Tortilla for their general awesomeness and their use of Facebook and Twitter to reach out to their fans. I recently received a bottle of their California Screamin' hot sauce from winning their Hot Sauce Trivia contest, woo! Love this sauce, and now I have a big-ass bottle of it, sweeeeeeet. My only wish is that they weren't taking the Thai Burrito off their menu....tearrrrrrr.
Monday, March 29, 2010
- Description: Milk chocolate eggs with soft fondant center; Milk chocolate eggs with caramel center.
- I Paid: $2.99 for each box of four eggs (at Target)
I've been on a minor kick of trying out new things. Apparently there are a ton of things that I never grew up eating, so I don't have a lot of the nostalgia that a lot of people do with some foods. One of these is Cadbury Creme Eggs. Having never celebrated Easter, I never really got these when I was little, and as I grew up I guess I never really had a hankering for a ball of soft fondant, haha. I figured now was as good of a time as any to try these, since they are all over the place this time of year.
Unfortunately, Target did not have single eggs for sale, but had four-packs of the creme and caramel eggs. I will say that the idea of these is cute- who wants a plastic egg, or worse, a hollow real egg, when you can have a completely edible chocolate + filling egg, right?
Caramel and Creme eggs- opened
...That being said, I literally would rather eat a plastic egg than ever eat one of these Cadbury eggs, ever, ever, ever, again. These were just overly sweet and overwhelming from the first tentative bite. I honestly can't believe that people can actually eat a whole one without their teeth melting. I have to say, I sort of expected this with the Creme egg- just the idea of soft fondant creme makes me gag a little. But the caramel- I had higher hopes for, since I love caramel inside chocolate. It's just too much, too sweet, too gooey, and just too...blechhhhh for me. I will stick with the sugar-shell mini eggs from now on- now those, now I can get behind...crunchy, chocolatey, yummm.
What say you, lovely readers? Are you pro- or anti- these Cadbury sugar bombs known as the Creme and Caramel Eggs? Let the battle begin! :o)
So as I have mentioned to a good number of you, I was super duper excited about the launch of the Liberty of London for Target collection that came out mid-March. Luckily I have two Targets (one by my apartment, one by my work) that had a pretty varied selection of the collection. When I went to the Target by my apartment the morning of the launch, it was already getting combed over by a bunch of women, which I wasn't expecting. Guess all those commercials really had an effect on people around here! Here's a look at some of the items I got- I'm waiting on two bags that I ordered online, and I have one floral-print sleeveless top that I forgot to photograph.
Mini photo frames
Spiced Black Tea candle
Sugared Grapefruit candle
Stationary gift set
Another notecard set my mom sent me :o)
Girls' Floral maxi-dress (perfect length for me!)
Women's black babydoll dress (sorry for the bad lighting)
If you haven't by now, I would definitely recommend checking out the whole collection, whatever your specific Target store might carry. All of the items are super cute and reasonably priced. The clothing was of much better quality than other collaborations have been in the past, maybe because Liberty of London itself is big on textiles/design to begin with. The collection is generally shelved separately from the regular store items, under big hot pink signs that say "Liberty of London for Target". Check it out if you get a chance!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Lotsa green goin' on
I have to admit, this set wasn't exactly my favorite..far from it, to be completely honest. A) I don't like mint chocolate items with the exception of Andes mints- strange, I know. Something about those little tiny tile layers...Anyway, and B) I don't like Irish Cream flavored stuff. Blechhh. However, in my self-proclaimed quest to try every single cupcake flavor, I forged ahead and tried these out. So brave of me, I know, right?? Ha.
Irish Cream- Definitely a cute-looking cupcake. And the lighting in the photo is bad, but these could totally be little Guiness-ish cupcakes with the dark chocolate bottom and light tan frosting on top. This one did taste like Bailey's (this cupcake is non-alcoholic, btw) but I definitely ate more of the cake itself than the frosting. Cute idea, and if you like Irish Cream flavored things, you will love it.
Mint Chocolate is a regular menu flavor, one I've been avoiding for a while. The cupcake itself is v. cute, love the color combo of the pale green frosting with the dark chocolate cake. Again, it's hard for me to really say much about it because I already don't like the flavors, haha. But I will say that the frosting was sufficiently minty without feeling like you're eating toothpaste, and balanced out the rich chocolate cake v. nicely.
So there you have it- a somewhat half-assed review of two cupcakes that I wasn't really excited to try. But seriously though, if you like these flavors I would recommend trying them out. They look adorable, and the frosting/cake flavor balance is done really well. The Mint Chocolate is available on the regular menu, but the Irish Cream one is available through March so...better hurry if you want it, haha.
March = Cookies n' Cream and Irish Cream cupcakes over at Georgetown Cupcake. I headed to Bethesda to pick up the free Chocolate Salted Caramel cupcake and figured I'd try the Cookies n' Cream one as well, then carried the box around to lunch at Ren's Ramen down the street. After lunch, I placed the box on a shelf while I was putting my coat on... and then..my bright pink Georgetown Cupcake box literally committed suicide right in front of my eyes. Flipped completely upside down. The family standing by me literally gasped as we all watched it fall.
**Warning: the following photos might be disturbing to cupcake fans**
So, yeah, needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. But, it's not like they fell out of the box and into the street or anything, so it wasn't like they were completely ruined. I pushed some of the frosting back on the cupcakes and tried them out over the course of the next two days.
The Cookies n' Cream - oh man, the frosting is awesomeeeeeeee. But I'm a huge Oreo cookie fan, so if you're not, you might not love it, but then I don't really know why you'd be trying this to begin with, haha. The cake itself seemed to be a vanilla-based, Oreo-crushed, mixture that I really liked a lot. I wish it wasn't just a month-long special!
The Chocolate Salted Caramel was v. decadent and delicious. The salt flavor doesn't really come on that strong- it's more like the caramel tastes less sweet and more muted than what you might expect. It's a great combination of caramel and rich chocolate cake, although I think it'd be cute if they sprinkled some sea salt on top or something to give it that "salted" look, like people do on salted caramel candies and chocolates.
I think both of these would be fantastic as regular menu items- fingers crossed!!
I like shopping at Trader Joe's mainly to try out new products, be it new in the store or just new to me. My mom actually told me about these frozen crab cakes that she got on her last trip, so I thought I'd give them a try for myself. I really liked that they were a 2-pack of small-ish crab cakes, perfect for me. You just thaw it in the fridge beforehand, and then pan-fry, bake, or deep-fry, whatever you feel like. I prefer a really crispy crust, so I put panko crumbs on the outside before pan-frying with a little oil. These were great! Some might think they are pretty thin/small, and I agree- but the lack of excessive filler makes up for it, I think. I had one of these with a salad and it was a nice meal for super cheap (the 2-pack is under $3, I think?) If you like crab cakes, give these a try next time you're in a Trader Joe's and see what you think!
Earlier this month N and I checked out Kushi, a Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant sorta near Gallery Place. I was looking forward to trying this place out- I like the concept of Japanese-style bar foods, and a new Japanese place in general in DC.
The atmosphere is modern but inviting- more spacious than I had thought it would be. There's a large U-shaped counter seating area, a few pockets of regular dining tables, a small bar, and a sushi bar off in the back left corner. I had a few drinks at the bar and checked out the extensive menu while waiting for N to arrive. The photo below is literally one portion of the menu- lots of items to choose from!
One portion of the extensive menu
The day's specials
Amuse: Otoshi- Bean sprouts, mustard, soyWe grabbed seats at the grill area and started off with the amuse above- cold bean sprouts with mustard and soy mixed together, topped off with some thin nori slivers. It was a nice couple bites to start off the meal. It reminded me of a lot of side dishes in Japan- simple ingredients, but bold flavors.
Robata counter looking out to the bar
Lotsa grillin' going on
Nankotsu (Chicken cartilage), Crispy chicken skin
Like I said before- the menu is pretty friggin' big. It might take a while for you to decide what you feel like eating. Luckily the majority of the grill items are one skewer, so you could pick a bunch and not worry about getting too much of the same thing. The two items I got first probably aren't the most popular, but definitely two of the more interesting options on their menu. The Nankotsu, or chicken cartilage, is pretty much how you might imagine (or not want to imagine, as the case might be, haha). The tare (sauce) was really tasty, and while this was my first time with whole pieces (usually it's chopped up finer, at least when I've seen it before), it's really more of a texture thing than anything else. Meaning, if you are ok with eating something that is pretty chewy and crunchy at the same time ("kori-kori" in Japanese), then go for it! Onto the chicken skin, it might seem weird to some of you, but I looooove fried chicken skin. This was really tasty- crispy, crunchy, and yummy fried goodness.
Potatoes, Kabocha squash
My next order was the potatoes with salt, on the left side of this photo. These were soft and not mealy, pretty much on par with what you'd hope for in a grilled potato, I guess. I enjoyed the salt that they put on the side for you to dip it in.
Chicken thigh, Chicken with shiso and ume
Lots of people I know don't like chicken thighs, but I think it's way more flavorful and less dry than chicken breast can be. It probably also helps that chicken thighs are used pretty regularly in Japanese cooking so I might just be more used to it in general. This was covered in the same tare as the nankotsu and was moist and delicious. Many of their grilled proteins seemed to come out of sous-vide pouches, so they retained a lot of moistness and flavor even after spending time on the grill. I thought that was an interesting idea, especially to keep items fresh and infused with flavor.
Aburi-sake (Lightly torched fatty salmon) nigiri
Onto a sushi menu item- I wasn't originally going to have any sushi but I generally cannot pass up aburi sake. It is just so so so so so rich and delicious, especially if it's done really well like this one. The fish was meltingly tender and the light torching on the top adds an interesting layer of flavor. It's definitely not an everyday item (well, at least it probably shouldn't be, haha), but I'm glad I tried it here. My mouth is literally watering just writing about it here, ha.
Scallop in the shell (from the day's specials menu)
Finally, I got an item of the day's specials menu- Scallop in the shell. Great presentation, nice lemony/acid flavor in the sauce, the scallops were a little on the small side but tasty.
Overall- I thought Kushi was a great addition to the DC restaurant scene. Service was nice, I never felt ignored or pushed from any upselling which is always good. It's got an extensive menu that encourages people-like me- to come back and try everything. I think that adventureous and non-adventureous eaters can happily eat here, since there are lots of items to choose from. I will definitely be back to try some more items, especially off the sushi menu if it's as good as the salmon I had this time! This place can get pricey if you let it, which is the case with most "small-plates" restaurants in my opinion. I personally enjoy these restaurants because I can try more items at one time, so it's really a matter of what you choose on the menu. Worst case- you can always get a few plates here, then go next door to Taylor Gourmet for a filling sandwich :o)
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sweet potatoes have long been one of my favorite veggies - so yummy, especially as potato chips or French fries. This Ina Garten recipe is a baked version of sweet potato steak fries, or potato wedges. It's super simple to put together - your oven is pretty much doing all the work, haha. Just be sure to keep an eye on it so the sides crisp up evenly and they don't burn.
These "fries" were fan-friggin-tastic. Brown sugar is a common ingredient in sweet potato recipes, and with good reason- such a tasty combination! These are a great side dish, or even just a meal on their own if you choose to eat a ton, like I do. Crisp on the edges, soft and pillowy innards, not mealy at all. I'm getting hungry just writing about this, haha!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The finished brownie
As soon as I saw this Cakespy recipe for Sweet n' Salty brownies, I knew that I had to try out something similar to it. Luckily, T was visiting for the weekend, so it was a great excuse to do so :o)
I used a boxed dark chocolate brownie mix which had extra chocolate chips included, then added peanuts and pretzel Goldfish to the brownie batter. These were a great balance of sweet chocolate and saltiness, plus lots of texture from the peanuts. One thing I would change is replacing the pretzel Goldfish with pieces of real pretzels. The Goldfish are softer than real pretzels, and got even softer after baking in with the batter. Cute idea, but didn't work out in real life.
I call this a faux recipe cus a) it's not homemade; and b) it's just one example of how you can doctor up something simple to make it more interesting. Next time I'm thinking peanut butter, caramel, maybe even some white chocolate chips...? Anyone else have fun mix-in ideas?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Mocha, Chocolate Chocolate Chip
You guessed it, another Georgetown Cupcake post, ha. This day's Free cupcake was a new one for me- Chocolate Chocolate Chip. I also picked up a Mocha cupcake, which I have had before, pre-blogging.
The Mocha cupcake is really cute (love the chocolate-covered espresso bean!), and a fun cupcake for lovers of coffee-based drinks. It does taste mostly of chocolate, but the fluffy frosting is super tasty and balances out the cake really well. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip looks exactly like their Chocolate Squared cupcake, down to the blue fondant flower. In fact, I was a little worried that they had just given me a Chocolate Squared one instead, haha. But once you bite into the cake, it's all good! Lots of tiny chocolate chips are dotted inside the rich chocolate cake, so so so yummy! Probably not as exciting as one of the more unique flavors, but c'mon- it's CHOCOLATE.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Mise en place
I came across this Bakerella recipe for a Chocolate-Matcha Bundt cake a while back, but put it on the back-burner, mainly because I didn't even have a Bundt pan at the time. However, I recently got my hands on one after going to my parents' house for the weekend...aka, I jacked this from the kitchen cupboard, obviously. It's a mini (~4 cup) pan, v. cute and tiny. I was feeling too lazy to split the original recipe, so I just made the full recipe using my Bundt pan and a regular loaf pan.
This recipe came together easily, and I sort of liked the whole "marbling" process. Pretty much you just drop alternating spoonfuls of the matcha half and the chocolate half into the pan. If you have kids, it'd be a great recipe for them to help out with, haha. No need to be too careful or precise with this one, folks.
As you can see the cakes come out with a cool swirled/marbly effect. The cake was moist, and both flavors worked really well together. I loved the balance of the chocolate with the slightly sweet green tea flavor, plus, the colors look great mixed together! I would absolutely recommend this recipe - might help if you have one big Bundt pan and/or a lot of mouths to feed, haha :o)
Friday, March 19, 2010
On Tuesday night I had a chance to attend a screening of "The Bounty Hunter", starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. I would've wanted to see this movie eventually anyway, so I was happy that I had a chance to see it for free. J and I both agreed that it was a good, fun, movie- probably better than I expected, to be honest. It didn't have the exact rom-com type storyline that you might expect, and was pretty funny as well. I'm not saying you should go out and buy it when the DVD comes out, but it's probably worth seeing if you like either of the actors or feel like seeing a light, fun movie. It comes out today nationwide.
In a bit of unexpected fun, I was in the movie theatre waiting for J when I saw someone that looked verrrrrrrrrry familiar come in towards the ticket booth...
Top Chef Spike!
For those of you that don't watch Top Chef, Spike Mendelsohn competed in the 4th season of the series, and now owns Good Stuff Eatery in DC. Fueled by liquid courage from Happy Hour at Clyde's, plus the fact that I generally have no shame about my obsession with Top Chef, I chatted with Spike for a few minutes before heading up to the theatre for the movie. He was super nice and chill, and seemed sort of amused that I was so excited to meet him, while J literally had no idea who he was/why I was so psyched to meet him, haha. Needless to say, happy hour + Top Chef sighting + free movie = a great night!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Gretchen Christine Beaute Prize
If you watch the Real Housewives of Orange County on Bravo, you will know that Gretchen Rossi was starting a makeup line during the last season (which ended just a few weeks ago). I was a lucky recipient of one of her lip glosses from the Gretchen Christine Beaute line, courtesy of a Twitter contest. I received a Lumi-Shine lip gloss in Soulmate, a pretty coral color with lots of shimmer. I think they were pretty smart to send this shade, because it's a warm, flattering color for just about any skin tone. It also came with a mini-magazine with little tips and info about beauty and healthy living. If you're interested in checking out her makeup line, go to the product site here. A big "Thank you!" to the Gretchen Rossi team for having a fun giveaway!
I never really thought much about getting a case for my cell phone before, mainly because I've always had clamshell/flip phones and didn't really see a need for a cover. That started to chance when I got a Blackberry for work and I thought it'd be better to keep it protected since it's not "covered" like a clamshell phone is. I got this cover from Amazon, and it's sorta interesting because it looks like a soft silicone case but it's really a hardshell case. I figured this was also a good time to put a fun purchase from Japan to use. It's a privacy screen for a cell phone, and it works the same way as a computer screen. Meaning, it prevents people from seeing your screen unless they are directly in front of the phone. All you'd see from the side is a blank pink screen, like in the photo above. It's good for metro rides or nosy people in general, ha. After I put the screen and the case on, I realized that my phone resembled a dog toy moreso than a real, functioning phone.....haha!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Happy St. Paddy's Day, everyone!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I got a small bag of roasted hazelnuts from my mom, and set out to find a good, easy recipe to use them with. It worked out well, as there was a recipe for Hazelnut Cookies in my new Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook. Here's the recipe- not sure why the name is different, but it's the exact same recipe as in the book.
These were airy and tasted like hazelnut meringues almost, probably because of all the egg whites. I have to say, I wasn't a huge fan of these- probably directly related to them being like meringues, which I don't love in general. Luckily, my co-workers aren't like me, and really liked these cookies, haha. I will say that they're a good size for snacking on, v light and airy. I would recommend these if you're a big fan of hazelnuts and meringue-type cookies :o)
Koala's March cookies have always been one of my favorite childhood snacks. They are little crispy nubbins of a thin cookie shell, filled with milk chocolate. And yes, each one has a different koala design on it- usually doing random things like playing tennis, or dressed in a costume of some sort. Over the years, they've made many variations in terms of flavor, usually temporary ones for that season or special occasion. One of those limited flavors would be the Winter Maple Milk above. When I opened the package, it definitely had a sweet, strong, syrupy smell. The koalas themselves were darker due to the cocoa powder, I'm assuming. Sort of funny since they looked like they'd been hitting the tanning booths a little too much, ha. The insides were a white chocolate based filling that was v. sweet, almost like eating solid sweetened condensed milk. These are a cute little snack that are good for a small chocolate fix. These were v. sweet, even more so than the regular chocolate ones, but I'm glad I tried out a season flavor. You can usually find Koala's March boxes at Asian supermarkets, or even International/Asian sections of large supermarkets.
Monday, March 15, 2010
As many of you probably already know from a) the constant commercials that have been airing recently; or b) me telling you about it, the Liberty of London for Target collection is out in-stores and online as of yesterday! Here's the collection online, which strangely doesn't have everything that I've seen in-store (like the stationary, candles, etc.). I am really excited about this line because I LOVED the Liberty store when I spent a semester abroad in 2002, and the patterns and design are all super cute. I already have quite a haul but that'll be shared in a later post (I ordered some items online so I don't have them yet, haha). But if you're near a Target, go now and check it out- the one by me already had a good crowd pawing through the goods as of 10:00AM yesterday morning!
24K Red, Ceramic Base and Top CoatOne fun thing about entering so many random contests, is forgetting you entered until you actually win something and get it in the mail! This package came courtesy of an Allure magazine giveaway held back in November. It came with a letter saying that the original product, You Under the Mistletoe polish, is no longer available, so they sent the 24K Red polish instead. The way I figure it- free is free, they didn't even have to apologize for sending a replacement, ha. But that was a nice touch on CHI's part.
The 24K Red is a bright, shimmery, opaque polish that I've been totally loving as a pedicure. It's a great pop of red and I'm v. happy with the results after 2 coats. I probably won't use it on my hands but that's mainly because I don't wear much red polish in general... but I could see it being v. pretty and classic-looking on some short nails. The Ceramic Base and Top coat is pretty much your basic under/over coat, not too thick but felt like it was actually protecting the polish, which is always good. Overall, a fun and useful contest prize for sure!