Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 30th, 2010

Review: Gatorade Natural

I recently received these two bottles to try out the new Gatorade Natural drinks, which are now available at Whole Foods stores.  I don't normally buy sports drinks, but I figured it would be interesting to try out a new formulation of Gatorade.  There are a few positive changes to these drinks, according to the press release that came with the bottles:
- Natural versions of Gatorade Thirst Quencher and low-calorie G2 made with natural flavors, colors and ingredients.
- Provide the same scientifically proven hydration and performance benefits as Gatorade Thirst Quencher and G2.
Since I already like the regular Orange Gatorade, it's really no surprise that I'd like the G Natural Orange Citrus flavor as well.  This one tasted significantly less sweet, in a good way.  You definitely still get that hyper-orange flavor you'd expect, but it's dialed back a few notches for sure.  I would definitely buy this flavor again! 
The G2 Natural Berry bottle was good, but I didn't like it as much as the Orange Citrus.  This is mainly based on personal preferences, as I tend to prefer orange flavors over berry flavors, especially for drinks.  It had that sorta "miscellaneous berry" flavor thing going on that I don't really like, because to me it's a little too close to "medicinal" in flavor.  However, like the Orange Citrus, the sweetness was dialed down so it wasn't as artificial tasting as I expected it to be. 
I tried out both of these over the course of a week after working out at the gym.  Did I notice any sort of performance-related benefits from drinking these?  Not really, although they were both refreshing to have after working out.  I'm probably not the best person to test out the performance benefits since I'm not a marathon runner or anything, ha.  I didn't notice any negative side effects though, so that's a plus? Haha. 

For another blogger's perspective of these new Gatorade drinks, check out Q's blog here.  If you are already a fan of Gatorade and/or like having it around at home, I'd recommend trying out these natural versions to see how you like them.  Also, if anyone's interested in more information or coupons, let me know!  

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 29th, 2010

Cupcake Bank from All Things Cupcake

A big "Thank you!" to the All Things Cupcake blog for hosting a cute cupcake bank giveaway!  It's proudly sitting on a shelf in my living room, waiting to be filled with some moolah - for buying cupcakes, obvi :o)  
True to their name, All Things Cupcake is an extensive resource for anything cupcake-related.  Lots of fun to browse around the site, but also good if you're looking for specific recipes, stores, or anything like that as well.  Go and take a look if you haven't already!  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 28th, 2010

Love, Love, Love: Ben & Jerry's Milk & Cookies Ice Cream


In the spirit of pop music and all-around cheese factor, let me just start by saying that if this ice cream had a theme song, it'd be Usher's "O.M.G", for realsies. 
I first tried this Ben & Jerry's flavor on Free Cone Day, and have been hooked ever since.  It's an addicting combo of the following layers of yum: Vanilla Ice Cream with a Chocolate Cookie Swirl, Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies...DROOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLL.  A pint of this in your home is imminent danger to any sort of diet that you might appear to be on at that point in time.  I especially love the chocolate chip cookie addition, because it's like you're eating cookies n' cream ice cream with a lil' sumthin' extra.  SO SO SO SO SO GOOD.  It's actually a good thing (for my health and general well-being) that my local Harris Teeter doesn't carry any of the new flavors, cus I have to go out of my way from regular grocery shopping to buy this.    
Seriously, I don't know why you're even reading my post at this point, what you really need to be doing is GETTING IN YOUR CAR AND BUYING A PINT (OR MORE) OF THIS ICE CREAM IMMEDIATELY.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 25th, 2010

Georgetown Cupcake: Free Strawberry Lava Fudge Cupcake

On one of our recent fake runs where we wind up eating more than we actually exercised, M and I headed into Georgetown for a change of pace.  It was early enough in the day that the sidewalks along M street were still relatively clear, unlike a weekend afternoon where you literally have to navigate through a million fashionistas to get from one store to another.  Before getting lunch at Tackle Box, I suggested we stop in Georgetown Cupcake so we could get a free cupcake.  It felt a little weird being able to get a free one in the Georgetown location, since I'd normally never be there on time to get one, haha.  The free cupcake that day was a Strawberry Lava Fudge cupcake, which I had not yet had and was excited to try.

 Hello, lava! (har har)

The cupcake tasted great, don't get me wrong, but I was a little disappointed in the name vs. what it actually was.  You see, Georgetown Cupcake has a Lava Fudge cupcake on their regular menu, which consists of a chocolate cupcake with a fudge core in the middle.  Yummmm.  So when I saw the free flavor as "Strawberry Lava Fudge", I expected that same gooey fudge core.  Turns out this one was their Strawberry cupcake with a fudge flower pattern drawn on top.  Not quite a "lava fudge" cupcake, if you ask me.  Regardless, of course I still ate it since I enjoy their Strawberry cupcakes- especially the frosting, woo! :o)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 24th, 2010

Georgetown Cupcake: Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake



And we have another (new!) monthly flavor from Georgetown Cupcake, in the form of a Banana Chocolate Chip cupcake! Take a look at that thick, chocolate frosting- this is v. different from their usual, fluffy one, more like a piped ganache, it's that thick.  The banana chocolate chip cake underneath was moist and studded with mini chocolate chips throughout.  

So... if there's banana in it, you can totally eat this for breakfast, right?  Hey, whatever excuses work for us, haha.  Unfortunately this cupcake is only available on the regular menu through June- but I'm sure that it will pop up again as a free flavor at some point this year :o)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 23rd, 2010

Frosting Cupcakery: 'Nilla 'Nilla and Choc-a-lot Cupcakes

I recently trekked up to Frosting Cupcakery on the day of their official "grand opening" on June 5th.  As you might recall I didn't have a great experience with their cupcakes from my first visit, but since I had some stuff to do nearby, I figured I'd give them another try.  It also helped that part of their grand opening was a "Buy one get one free" special, haha.


'nilla 'nilla + Choc-a-lot

I picked up two of their classic flavors: 'nilla 'nilla (vanilla bottom with a vanilla buttercream top) and Choc-a-lot (chocolate bottom with a chocolate fudge top).  The 'nilla 'nilla frosting is really really good.  It's that sorta custardy vanilla flavor that I personally enjoy, reminds me of a vanilla Jell-o pudding pop (RIP), super delicious.  The cake was good too, a simple vanilla cake, but honestly- the frosting was the highlight for me.  I really think it's because it reminded me of a Jell-o pudding pop, and I still can't get over the fact that they don't make those anymore............tear.     

I can't really speak to the Choc-a-lot cupcake, because I didn't eat it, haha.  I gave it to M so maybe she can shed some light on that cupcake in the comments section :o)  I will say though that the cupcake looked rich and choco-tastic; however the snow flake fondant topping sort of threw me off... it's June..........??  Haha.  If I'm in the area again (which I will be, there's a fab BCBGMaxAzria AND Whole Foods across the street), I will try out another one of their flavors, preferably with the same pudding pop frosting :o)

1-year Blogiversary (!!!)

How random/ironic is it, I posted about a Birthday cupcake yesterday, and as it turns out, June 22nd was this blog's 1-year blogiversary!  Whooooooopsie, I didn't realize it until the night of.  I guess I could've done something special but hey, better late than never in acknowledging it I guess, haha. 

Thank you to everyone that takes the time to read my posts and comment!  Here's hoping for many more yummy food, reality tv, and all sorts of fun stuff to blog about :o)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 22nd, 2010

Georgetown Cupcake: Free Milk Chocolate Birthday Cupcake


I'm a huge fan of dark chocolate, but sometimes, you just want that familiar, old-school taste of classic milk chocolate.  This free Milk Chocolate Birthday cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake fits the bill perfectly- classic vanilla cake topped with rich, smooth milk chocolate frosting and a smattering of round rainbow sprinkles.  I highly enjoyed this cupcake, and hope to see it again as a free option.  It was offered as a May special but doesn't look like it'll be on the schedule for the rest of the year.  See you again soon (hopefully), Milk Chocolate Birthday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 21st, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes --> Strawberry Pound Cake

A while back, N posted about her recipe for these fantastic-looking Double Strawberry Cupcakes, and I was instantly drooling.   As luck would have it, we met up shortly after she made these, and she was nice enough to bring me one!  Check out that cute packaging! 

The cupcake was super delicious- rich cake combined with yummy fresh strawberry frosting.  I set out to make the recipe the following week, but wanted to try out just the cake first to see how it'd turn out.

I decided to make a variation of N's recipe, as a loaf cake rather than individual cupcakes- mainly so it'd be easy to bring into work.  The loaf came together v. easily.  I started the bake time at 25 minutes, and went at 10 minute intervals to check the middle with a toothpick- I think in the end the cake took about 40-50 minutes to bake.  Depending on your oven you might want to bake at an interval also, so you don't under/over-cook the cake.


One issue I encountered was how to go about incorporating the strawberries.  I wound up layering the sliced strawberries in the top third of the cake, because I was afraid they'd all sink to the bottom of the pan.  The strawberries didn't sink, but instead wound up being sort of hidden when I sliced the cake- all you see are the flat lines of the strawberry discs, haha.  Next time I'll probably just mix the slices throughout so it looks nicer when the loaf is sliced.

Overall this cake turned out really well taste-wise, and a great way to celebrate strawberry season.  Everyone at work liked it, and it's an easy recipe to showcase in-season fruits in general.  Thank you N for the original cupcake recipe, and of course for the yummy strawberry cupcake!  

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 18th, 2010

Silver Diner Clarendon- Fresh and Local Blogger Event

I was recently invited to a Blogger event at the Silver Diner in Clarendon, to hear about their Fresh & Local menu, as well as some other recent developments to their menu.  Most people wouldn't associate diner food with "fresh and local", so I was interested to find out what their approach was to this.  I was a little worried about getting there on time, due to the daily traffic nightmare that is the DC metro area, but luckily the drive to Clarendon was uneventful and I even managed to be one of the first people there, haha.

I received a welcome folder and chatted with a few of the other people (both running and attending the event).  Once more bloggers started arriving, we received an order of all-natural chicken tenders (Kids menu item) and MD crab dip with tortilla chips.

Chicken Tenders

Crab Dip

This post is pretty photo heavy, but here are a few things that were discussed during the presentations and the Q+A session:

- The focus is on local, fresh foods- catering to a changing community of people that are becoming more educated about their food sources and choices (example: from watching "Food, Inc.").

-Silver Diner found from customer feedback that many were willing to pay more for natural, local food. 

-The revamped Kids menu is focused on educating (kids and parents) and providing more choices to all customers, particularly with the increasingly high numbers of childhood obesity issues. 

-The new Eat Well Do Well card (formerly the Blue Plate club card) will allow customers to link to schools that will allow them to receive money towards children's health initiatives.  The emphasis is on programs that directly benefit children's health in local schools.  They are the first restaurant to do so - many of these programs have only been utilized by large chain stores and other non-restaurant industries.

After a few presentations about the diner's Fresh and Local menu, we dug into a huge buffet of menu items:
  • Turkey Sliders on Whole Wheat 
  • Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crab Burgers
  • Kids Menu Teriyaki Chicken + Salmon
  • Chopped Cobb Salad
  • Local Blueberry and Goat Cheese Salad
plus a few other dishes.

The spread Part 1

The spread Part 2

My plate

Turkey Sliders

Gluten-free Brownie Sundae

Strawberry and Blueberry Cobbler


Gift basket

We also received a cute summer basket filled with goodies as we left the event- including fresh blueberries, Greenberry's coffee, Starr Hill beer, and more information about the Silver Diner's new menu items.  I would like to thank the Silver Diner for a great opportunity to hear about how a chain diner can successfully initiate a significant fresh and local focus to their dishes.  The food was great, it was fun to see other (new and familiar) bloggers, and I am happy to know that larger companies can still take it upon themselves to aim for healthier, more local food choices.    

Silver Diner- Clarendon
3200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 17th, 2010

Review: Nivea Sun-Kissed Beautiful Legs Lotion

With the start of summer comes the onslaught of Tan Awareness Season, aka companies bombarding tv's, magazines, and the interwebs for all things to make you tan.  I'm a sucker for new products, especially if I see the commercials for them over and over and over again...thanks, Nivea. Of course I dove right in and picked up a few items to try out this season, one of them being this Nivea Sun-Kissed Beautiful Legs.


I got the Medium to Dark shade since my skin is somewhat tan-looking year-round and gave it a try for about 2 weeks? or so, on and off.  Short and simple- this shizz WORKS.  My legs were noticably darker within the first two or three days of use.  Also, I knew it worked because the spots where I had not applied the lotion thoroughly were totally obvious, haha!  Namely around my ankles/feet and behind my knees in some spots.  Which would be fine if I wore regular shoes and work skirts all the time, but becomes much more apparent once I'm wearing flip flops and shorts, ha.  Regardless, that's an easy fix- just be careful and make sure you use the lotion on all the parts that you'd like to be tan :o) 
As far as the shave-minimizing claim, I do think it has somewhat of an effect.  I'm not doing any hard-core clinical trials on this here but it does seem to keep legs smoother for longer than before.  The smell is similar to other Nivea products, with a little tinge of something different... but not quite as harsh as most self-tanners, I'm happy to say.  Definitely smells better than the Jergens gradual tanning lotion, if you've ever tried that one before.  This particular lotion also comes in Light to Medium, for those of you that are starting off on vampire-esque levels, ha.  Either way, whether you're a self-tanning newbie or a regular user, I'd recommend giving this one a try!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 16th, 2010

Japanarama Love, Love, Love: Matcha Kit Kat


This was truly a no-brainer.  I love matcha.  I love green tea flavors in general.  For the most part (with a few known exceptions) I like the crazy Japanese flavors of Kit Kats.  Ergo, this is a short post, since it was pretty clear from the get-go that I would loooooooooooooove these Matcha Kit Kats. 


Opened up 

Soooooooo tasty, perfect balance of green tea flavor and sweet chocolate, pretty light green hue, I could easily eat a lot of these in one sitting.  I think these would also be fantastic as part of a dessert- like crumbled into vanilla ice cream, or as part of a parfait with custard and fresh fruit, yummmmmmm.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 15th, 2010

Sunsilk Styling Creme


Thank you, nameless magazine/sponsor, for sending me a prize of this bottle of Sunsilk Styling Creme!  I'm totally not being snarky- the package came with nothing else inside so I have no idea which magazine/online contest I won to get it, haha.  I've tried Sunsilk products before, and I always love the smell of them.  Something about it screams SUMMER to me in the best way possible.  I've been using this product at night on damp hair after showering, and it does a good job of detangling and smoothing out my hair, without weighing it down.  It's a nice pump mechanism that distributes a small amount at one time, so this is good for all hair lengths.  I usually average about 4 pumps per use, in case you were wondering, ha.  I haven't tried blowdrying/flat ironing immediately after using it (which, I think is what it's meant for, haha), but I imagine it would work well for heat protection also.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 14th, 2010

Review: Cargo Goodies

I've generally had good experiences with CARGO cosmetics in the past, so when I saw a bunch of their items on sale on the Sephora website, I was pretty excited to get a few new items.  Unfortunately, the reason why they were on sale is because Sephora is no longer carrying CARGO products :o( , just as an FYI. 



In the past I've used Clinique's Touch Base for Eyes in Canvas Light as an eyeshadow base, but since I was running low anyway, I bought the CARGO EyeBase you see above.  I love the click-pen applicator; so easy to use, distributes the product nicely, and great for travel.  The color is lighter than my skin tone but that's not really an issue since I'm putting eyeshadow over it.  In fact, it works well for me as a base slash highlighter for my browbone area since it is a lighter shade, haha.  I haven't really put it through any rigorous testing in terms of staying power, but overall I've been v. happy with this eyeshadow base so far.    


Water Resistant Bronzer

I also picked up this CARGO Water Resistant Bronzer, also on sale from Sephora.  To be honest, I didn't really believe that it would really be water resistant, but I wear bronzer year-round so I just figured it was worth a shot.  The bronzer feels really smooth going on and isn't as sparkly as some of the other CARGO bronzers I've tried before have been, which is good.  It hasn't felt tacky or heavy on my skin, even on the really humid days we've had around here recently.  Overall though, I couldn't tell you if the water resistant properties are really working or not.  As a bronzer, it's a great shade for me and I like it so far (I've been switching between this and my regular- Tarte Mineral Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess).  I haven't actually tried going to a beach or a pool with this on, but maybe soon I'll give it a try.  I'll be trying this out all summer- if I have any new info/findings I will let you all know, haha :o) 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 11th, 2010

Daily Candy Contest!


A huge "Thank you!" to Daily Candy for having a really fun contest via Twitter!  The gift box was chock full of goodies:

- Daily Candy theme umbrella
- Daily Candy Lexicon book
- Baggu reusable shopping back
- LeSportsac crossbody bag
- Murad night cream
- Bliss triple oxygen instant energizing eye masks
- Jet Blue theme wine charms
- OPI nail polish
- Lipsmackers lip balm
- Degree anti-perspirant
- Daily Candy theme disposable camera

I honestly wasn't expecting the prize to contain so much stuff, but it was definitely awesome to get!  If you aren't already a Daily Candy member, I'd highly recommend it- lots of informative and fun e-mails about the latest products, restaurants, and city hotspots :o)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 10th, 2010

Georgetown Cupcake: Chocolate Ganache + Caramel Apple


Chocolate Ganache + Caramel Apple

I know I've had the Chocolate Ganache one before, but for the sake of the blog (and also cus I can't even remember when I might have tried it before), I picked up one of those at Georgetown Cupcake, along with the free Caramel Apple cupcake.  I've posted about the Caramel Apple cupcake before- here's my previous review.

The Chocolate Ganache cupcake is a decadent duo of rich chocolate cake with a glossy chocolate ganache topping.  If you're not a big "frosting" person and you love chocolate, this cupcake would be totally perfect.  Also, if you are traveling with/carrying around the cupcakes, this might be a good option- since there's less of a chance of smashing the frosting against the sides or the top of the box.  This cupcake is super rich and chocolate-y, and it's a nice change from the regular frosting/cake ratio.  Try it out if you get a chance! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 9th, 2010

Love, Love, Love: Tabard Inn Donuts

A few weeks back, M and I met up to go running around the Dupont Circle area.  It was a beautiful day, perfect weather, and after we were done, we wanted to grab a bite to eat.  As luck would have it, the original destination (Tangysweet for frozen yogurt) was not open yet, and we took a chance on Tabard Inn for brunch instead.  Despite our gym clothes wearing, gross and sweaty appearance, they didn't shoo us out- and instead gave us an awesome patio garden table to brunch at.


The brunch itself was awesome (I got Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon), but I HAVE to comment on their fresh-made donuts.  Just LOOK at those beauties!  Piping hot to the table, accompanied by a light and fluffy vanilla whipped cream to dip the donuts into.  They were OMGSOGOOD and I would absolutely come back (with cuter clothes and makeup on) for brunch here again, even if I was just getting these donuts.  Argghhhhhhhh....drooling now just thinking about it!  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 8th, 2010

Trader Joe's Macarons


I first heard about the elusive Trader Joe's Macarons in a Serious Eats and totally wanted to try them as soon as I could get my hands on them.  Which, as it turns out, was harder than I expected.  I couldn't find them at either of the two Trader Joe's by me, and had pretty much given up after a few sporadic visits.

Just as I had pretty much given up on them, I stopped into a Trader Joe's in NJ with my mom one weekend- and there they were!!!  I quickly snagged a box, and brought it back in a cooler with me to Maryland at the end of the weekend.  The box recommends taking out however many you want and thawing them at room temperature before eating.  However, I (along with my friend A) have found that the Vanilla macarons taste really good frozen/not thawed out, sort of like a custard-y sweet ice cream-ish treat.  I personally like the Vanilla macaron more, because it's a v. specific Vanilla taste that is similar to a vanilla custard they use in Japanese ice cream, snacks, and pastries.  Loves it! 

Both flavors are good though, surprisingly so for being a frozen macaron, haha.  I'm no way near a macaron expert- I've only had them a few times, including Bouchon Bakery in NYC, but I don't really know enough about different brands/types at all.  Just saying that these (if you can find them) are a great snack/dessert item to keep around for a quick sweets fix, and/or bring to a dinner party to share.  I just hope they eventually start carrying them at the Trader Joe's stores that are actually close to me!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 7th, 2010

Recipe: Cucumber and Couscous-stuffed Tomatoes with Mango Mint Salsa

Generally speaking, I'm not really a recipe-creating-type of person.  I like cookbooks and usually don't stray too far from the instructions in them.  Boring, I know, but I bought these cookbooks for a reason, right? 

However, when I saw that Olga of the Mango & Tomato blog was holding a recipe contest for her 2-year blogiversary, I figured it was a fun chance to make my own recipe, using mangoes and tomatoes.  After considering a few ideas, I came up with (drumroll please)... Cucumber and Couscous-stuffed Tomatoes with Mango Mint Salsa! This dish is simple, vegetarian, easy to revamp with other veggies if you want, and a nice way to celebrate fresh produce.  Granted, this recipe isn't anything groundbreaking, but I think it would be a nice salad/side dish option for summer BBQ's and dinner parties.  Please let me know what you think if you try it out, and fingers crossed that I do well in the contest! :o)  

Mise en place (minus the lime, whoops)

Cucumber and Couscous-stuffed Tomatoes:

- 4 medium-to-large tomatoes
- 1 box (5.8 oz) couscous (I used the Near East Whole Grain Wheat Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Couscous.)
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cucumber, diced (I cut the seeds out to keep the dish from getting watery.)
- Salt and pepper to taste

Mango Mint Salsa:

- 1 ripe, peeled/pitted mango, diced
- 1/2 of a small onion, finely diced
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint (I used around 10 mint leaves.)
- Mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Cook couscous according to package directions, substituting the water with vegetable broth to add more flavor.  Set aside to cool completely. 

Combine all of the Mango Mint Salsa ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly, and place in the fridge to chill. 

Cut the tops of the tomatoes (I cut about 1" around from the stem) and scoop out the innards with a small spoon, creating a tomato "bowl".   Set the tomatoes onto individual plates or a serving plate.

Once the couscous is cooled, add the diced cucumber, and mix thoroughly.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Fill each tomato "bowl" with the Cucumber and Couscous mixture, then top each stuffed tomato with the Mango Mint Salsa.   Garnish with mint leaves if you're feeling extra snazzy.  Enjoy!



En-hance. (Super Troopers reference, haha)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 4th, 2010

Sunday Dinner at the Majestic Cafe + Lavendar Moon Cupcakery, Old Town Alexandria, VA

A few friends and I recently headed out to Old Town Alexandria, VA, for The Majestic's Sunday Dinner.  Every month they have a different set menu for a family-style Sunday dinner, with May's being "My Mother's Civilized Picnic": Fried Chicken, Mac & Cheese, Creamy Coleslaw, Sauteed Spinach, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.  Sounded like a fantastic menu, and we were all excited to EAT!

But first... since we were a little early, S and I stopped in Lavender Moon Cupcakery to see if they were open so we could pick up some cupcakes.  I can't remember if I mentioned it on my blog before, but I tried to come here once before, and they were closed (sold out), unfortunately.  Luckily, this time around they were open and had a bunch of cupcakes for us to choose from.  I bought a Flourless chocolate cupcake with sea salt and almonds to bring home.  S got four to take home: Chocolate peanut butter fudge, lemon coconut, triple chocolate, and berry.  I ate my cupcake two days later- the frosting was delicious and I loved the texture of the almonds and the slight sea salt flavor to bring out the rich chocolate.  This was a fantastic cupcake and I'm really glad I got to try it!  

Ok, back to the Majestic dinner. It was pretty much torture to sit and watch all of the plates come out of the pass, each one not being our dinner, haha.  Finally we got our food, which included a huge platter of fried chicken, and all of the side dishes as well.  The fried chicken smelled fantastic, and had a crisp, crunchy skin that yielded a really juicy, delicious chicken.  I try to not make a habit of eating fried chicken that often but this was definitely worth working out earlier in the day for!  I liked the other side dishes as well, especially the cute little mini biscuits.  The steamed spinach was pretty blah and didn't have much flavor, unfortunately.  I totally would've been happy with just the chicken and no sides, to be honest- haha!

Dessert was a strawberry shortcake, and the presentation was v. pretty.  The strawberries were delicious, but I have to say that the shortcake itself tasted really dry and unappetizing to me.  I ate the strawberries and the whipped cream, and left most of the shortcake behind, unfortunately.  Overall, this was a fun way to enjoy dinner with friends, in a cozy, friendly atmosphere.  The chicken was really tasty and I would definitely order fried chicken here again, if it was offered on their regular menu.  All in all, a fun and yummy night in Old Town Alexandria!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 3rd, 2010

Review: Honest Kombucha Tea


Local business pride aside (yay Bethesda!!), I'm a big fan of Honest in general for their tasty teas and juices.  So when I saw that they had come out with a Kombucha line, I figured I'd pick up a few bottles and try them out.  Kombucha is definitely an interesting and acquired taste, in my opinion.  Basically it's tea that is fermented with raw bacteria/cultures, among other things, and supposedly is super healthy and beneficial for our bodies.  Yeah, it's a little bizarre to think about all the fermented bacteria etc., especially because you can see the raw threads floating around the bottom of the bottles, haha, but I personally have grown to like it.  

I tried the Lemon Ginger flavor first, and it was good, but a little TOO tart for me.  It would definitely wake you up first thing in the morning though, that's for sure.  V. tart with a strong ginger flavor, if you try it make sure you like ginger flavor, haha.  I liked the Peach Mango flavor a lot more- strong but not overwhelming on either fruit flavor, just the right balance of sweetness as well.  If you're a Kombucha newbie and want to try one out, I'd recommend the Peach Mango flavor.  I haven't tried any of the other flavors since these two, but I am looking forward to tasting the new Apple Jasmine and Maqui Berry Grapefruit flavors!  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 2nd, 2010

Recipe: Martha Stewart's Applesauce Spiced Cupcakes

I picked up a jar of applesauce a while back, thinking it'd be nice to use on some sort of baked good.  If you look online, there are tons of recipes that substitute oil/butter/sugar for applesauce, to get that moist, fluffy consistency w/o being too bad for you.  Well, as you can see in the recipe, Martha didn't exactly go THAT route, considering there's butter and two kinds of sugar in her recipe, haha.  But hey, I didn't say I was making cupcakes from her book because they were healthy, so let's keep it moving, shall we?

Mise en place

The recipe comes together v. easily and smells great- I did sub in walnuts for the pecans, but that didn't change the fantastic smell of these cupcakes.  I used pre-made cream cheese frosting for this because I already had it in my cupboard, but feel free to make the frosting recipe if you are so inclined/have the time to do so.


All done! 

The applesauce in these cupcakes definitely bumped up the taste and fluffyness of these cupcakes- these were really delicious!  Everyone seemed to enjoy these at work, so I'd say they were pretty successful.  Give these a try if you like apple-based baked goods, or even if you just bought a too-large jar of applesauce and want a recipe to use some of it up.  I love the smell of apples and spice- perfect for a chilly or rainy day :o)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lunchtime Links for June 1st, 2010

iVillage + Target Giveaway!

I was super surprised and SUPER excited to get all this in the mail from an iVillage contest - since it was just sent out when the contest ended, I had no idea that I had won!

The prize pack was all Giada DeLaurentiis items, mostly from her new Target line:
    • Giada At Home cookbook
    • Tomato basil pasta sauce
    • Parmesan garlic vinaigrette
    • Ground coffee 
    • Farfalle pasta
    • Ice cream scoop
    I was excited to get anything at all, but especially happy to receive a copy of Giada at Home since I have most of her other cookbooks and was planning on buying this one too.  This prize package was totally amazing- "THANK YOU" to iVillage for having such an awesome contest (and "choosing" me, obviously)!!