Tis The Season, to gift food.

As the holidays roll around one thing I love to do is, EAT. And lately, I’ve found some SUPER cute and delicious looking holiday recipes on Pinterest. So what I’ve decided to do is pick three that I think are great for a) eating and b) gifting.

The first treat I chose is peppermint marshmallows on a stick by RoseBakes. This is a great idea for all the hot cocoa lovers out there. The marshmallows are coated with chocolate and peppermint (or sprinkles, or nothing, or whatever else) and then are used to stir hot chocolate. It’s a simple recipe that kids and friends can do together. They can be wrapped up with plastic and a nice ribbon as an accessory to a gift or kept for all those nights in front of the fireplace.

The second is the perfect treat for cookie and brownie lovers who love to bake! This one comes from The 36th Avenue blog on their list of “Extraordinary Christmas Projects” as number 15, but for me it’s higher. All you need to do is bake cookies/brownies in a cutter, decorate, wrap and gift! They get a tasty treat and a cookie cutter.

The last one I’ve chosen is a fan favorite but made a little different by Marie of G*Rated blog. Chocolate covered pretzels! Square pretzels, melt Hershey Kisses for a few, add an M&M on top, bake some more, cool, and munch away! This exact one is for Valentines Day but all you really need to do is change the M&M’s to a color that matches the holiday you want, preferably they’ll be made soon and they’ll be red and green, yipee!

All the treats are linked back to their original posters, or at least the ones I found them at. I hope you love these as much as I do! Happy Holidays!

Easy Peasy! Ziploc Zip n’ Steam

For a quick post I want to post about something that saves you so much time and is so convenient. Ziploc Zip n’ Steams!

I know you’ve seen them around but you’ve probably wondered if they really work. The answer is yes! I use them all the time for my quick dinners. I mainly use them for potatoes. SO simple, cut up your potatoes, season, put in bag, microwave and voila, you’re done! I highly recommend it, so during your next trip to the grocery store, pick one up!

Baked Angel Hair Pasta w/ Sausages and Tomato and Artichoke Sauce

I recently went to one of my FAVORITE stores, Costco and they were handing out free cookbooks! Of course I picked one up because I love Costco and I love cooking, plus, who would turn down a free cookbook? Here it is:

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Of course my boyfriend immediately starting flipping through for something for me to make and this is what he stumbled upon, Baked Angel Hair Pasta with Sausages and Smooth Tomato and Artichoke Sauce. I knew it would be tough, but I figured I’d just go for it.IMG_0590

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds (about 8 likes) mild Italian sausages
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 lage garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped or 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 5 marinated or fresh artichoke hearts, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly oil a 12-by-9-by-2-inch baking casserole. Place sausages in casserole. Stick bay leaves between some sausages and place casserole in the oven until sausages are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the sausages from casserole and set aside.
  • In a skilled, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, parsley and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, bell pepper and artichoke hearts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce teat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until denser, about 50 minutes. Pass the sauce through a strainer and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a vigorous boil. Add pasta and boil until half-cooked (follow package instructions), about 1 1/2 minutes.Drain and toss the pasta with the sauce.
  • Arrange the pasta in the empty casserole that the sausages were cooked in and place the sausages in rows on top. Bake until the top of the pasta begins to get a little crunchy, 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan liberally over the casserole and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

My changes:

  • I did not pass the sauce through a strainer because I like my sauces thicker and with the full veggies.
  • I noticed that as it was baking, it seemed to be going a bit dry so I threw in some mild salsa (yes, the kind you dip chips in) and it honestly made a huge difference.
  • I used Sargento Shredded Italian Cheese mix instead of straight Parmesan.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the dish! It didn’t turn out perfect, but a lot better than what I thought it would be. Next time will be much better, I know it! (Because, yes, this is a dish I will make more than once) I made this dinner for my mom and boyfriend and they both really loved it. I think the only thing I would really do different next time is use canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

I hope if you make this recipe, you like it as much as I did. Plus, pasta is the ultimate winter comfort food. Keeps you full and warm! 🙂

Easy Turkey for Thanksgiving

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This will be the easiest recipe ever. So easy, that you’ll look at it and know exactly what to do. This recipe calls for apples (red and green), caramel dip, blueberries and candy corn.

You will literally need two blueberries and one candy corn, unless you want to make a number of this dish. The caramel dip will come already in a little cup with a top you can just remove. And you will probably need about 3 red and 3 green apples. You will also need a round plate.

I admit that I am too lazy to write out instructions but you actually don’t need them. Here’s the picture!

So self-explanatory, easy, and cute, RIGHT? I hope you all want to make this easy dish for your next holiday party!

Happy Holidays to all, and to all, goodnight!

Pinterest Fail

Who has ever found an awesome recipe and thought “I HAVE TO TRY THIS!” But then you try it and it’s a total disaster? That is why someone named Jenna started an amazing blog called PinterestFail. It’s a blog filled with people’s experiences with trying new recipes or crafts they have found on Pinterest. Here is one of their more recent ones where someone tried to make peppermint sugar cookies.

This blog provides some of the best laughs around. I recommend you all take a look at it and laugh, loud!

My New Addiction: Cava Mezze Grill

As we all know, I love food. I also love Chipotle but now, there’s some competition, sort of. There is this new restaurant at Tysons Corner Mall called Cava. Apparently, it’s been a restaurant but they put in a smaller, fast food type in the mall. It’s basically the Mediterranean Chipotle. It is literally set up just like Chipotle. You walk in and there’s everything right behind the glass, you tell them what you want and voila! Here’s there menu off of their website:

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The biggest difference between Chipotle and Cava (besides their food type) is that Chipotle charges by meat and Cava charges by their base (rice, pita, minis, salads, etc). It’s also kind of pricey, maybe because it’s in one of the most expensive malls around? Who knows. But here is my personal favorite!

IMG_0421Mine is always: rice, 2 scoops of taziki sauce, chicken, tomato & onion, tomato & cucumber, feta cheese, kalamata olives, lettuce, pita chips and lemon. And boy oh boy, is it phenomenal and filling. It’s so good that I’m that person who takes a picture of my food and posts it on Instagram. I’ve also had Cava’s Instagram like my posts. Yup, I feel cool!

I go to this place almost every single time I go to Tysons now. I highly recommend you try it!

 

Lebanese Taverna — LOVE IT.

I want to quickly brag about my love for the Lebanese Taverna. Being Lebanese, I am very critical on “Lebanese” restaurants. I have to admit that this is the first place I have gone to that the food has been close to home with no Americanizing. Their menu has probably every dish that Americans have heard of, even Shawarma. Shawarma sales recently went through the roof after Robert Downey Jr’s character, Iron Man in The Avengers suggested that they go eat some Shawarma. There is even a post-credit scene that shows all the characters eating Shawarma. Incase you missed it, here it is:

And let me tell you, that clip made me so happy! The funny thing is I have always thought the Shawarma dish was the best dish at Lebanese Taverna. My tip though, get the garlic sauce instead of the thaini, trust me. It is DELICIOUS and perfection.

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You should definitely try out the Lebanese Taverna when you get a chance. They have 4 cafe locations and 6 restaurant locations. The one I usually go to is in Tysons Corner Galleria.

 

Well, wow, I’ve just made myself so hungry! I’ll definitely be taking myself to the Taverna this weekend!

Middle Eastern Meat Pies!

Hello, hello, hello! I’ve finally had some time to get back into the kitchen and back to my blog. The next few recipes I will be posting will be quick and easy bites.

This one is once again based off instinct. You can use as much or as little meat, onions, sauce, etc.

Middle Eastern Meat Pies 

Ingredients

  • Ground Beef
  • Pocketless Pitas
  • Chopped Onions
  • Petite Cut Tomatoes
  • Ketchup (optional)
  • Hot Sauce (optional)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  • Pour a small bit of oil into a pot, no more than 1/8th of a cup. This will be just enough to cook the onions and beef.
  • Start by browning the onions in the pot, once browned add beef, and salt and pepper to taste.

  • Once beef is browned, add in the petite cut tomatoes. Continue stirring until it is all cooked.

  • While cooking, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Once it is all cooked, you may add:
    • Ketchup if you feel the beef is too dry
    • Hot sauce for an extra kick
  • Place pocketless pitas on a baking tray

 

  • Put cooked beef and tomato mixture onto pitas, leaving a bit of space around the edges
  • Bake in oven for about 5 minutes, enough to cook/warm the pita bread. For a crispier crust, bake 8-10 minutes.

 

And here is the final and delicious product!

 

Extra Tip: Since I baked mine just a few short minutes ago and will not be eating them until tomorrow, I only baked them for for a few minutes. That way, I can re-bake them tomorrow in my convection toaster oven to the crispiness I want.

 

I hope you all enjoy!

Welcome to Miami! — Or not.

For this weeks food blog, I am going to talk about the food in Miami! I was there Thursday through Sunday so I was unable to cook and blog about it. I figured it would be a good idea to talk about the food I ate while on my trip. You would assume that the food in Miami would be good, like BANGIN good, right? No, not at all. I actually hated almost every single thing I ate. I’ll take you through a little day by day!

Thursday we went to Lincoln Rd for the first time. It’s basically a strip with a bunch of stores and restaurants. We decided to eat at some Italian place that was 10.95. We figured, why not. First, there was a floater in our water so we ordered soda. Then when our food came and it was very tasteless. We figured since it wasn’t that good, we would try a different place for the next night.

On Friday, we went to Bice on Ocean Drive. And boy, let me tell you how horrible this experience was! First, we get to Ocean Drive and we were basically attacked by some pushy waiter trying to get us to sit down. Unfortunately, it’s a big thing in Miami for waiters/hostesses to stand on the sidewalk and try to get you to eat at their restaurant. We told the first waiter “We’re going to see what else there is” and he snapped at us “All 27 of these restaurants are owned by the same people, the menus aren’t going to change!” Well, in that case, let me just stay here.. NO WAY.

We succumbed to some waiter at a place called Bice, which is part of the Victor Hotel. This was by far my WORST restaurant horror story in a long time. First, we were brought free “champagne” which was the cheapest tasting thing ever. Then when we ordered, I ordered a beef sandwich cost $20. Yeah, talk about over priced. The sandwich comes with onions and mushrooms and I specifically asked for “NO mushrooms”. While we waited the 25 minutes for our food to come, we realized we were never offered water, or anything to drink, so we had to ask. That was my first big strike. Then, when the food came, there was mushrooms on it. I called a waiter over and told him the mistake and he took it back. My friend looked at me and said “You know they’re just going to scrape it off” and I said “Yeah, so I hope they just get it all off.” This is how it was brought back..

Yes, there are still mushrooms. Not only that, they took the onions with them. -___- That’s the second strike. When the waiter came back he asked what happened and I told him and he goes “Yeah, you asked for no tomatoes.” and I said “No I didn’t” and he goes “Onions?” – I was baffled. Did he think he was funny? I was fuming by this point. Please don’t mock your customers! I said “Please let me speak to the manager” and his response was “Why?” WHY?! And that’s where I went off. No water, no service, rude service, messed up order, etc. I told him “You are so lucky I’m not allergic to mushrooms or else I could sue you.”

I am really not one to complain to waiters, trust me I’m not. I’ve been working in retail and food for eight years, so I appreciate people and hate bothering people. But when I’m really pushed, I will say something.

The waiter came back (never bringing the manager) and said “I can give you 20% off.” In my mind, it should be free but I didn’t want to argue anymore so I just said “Ok.” He walks away then turns around and comes back and says, in the most sarcastic voice, “Do you WANT the 20% off?” Yes, of course I do. THIRD STRIKE.

I honestly don’t recommend this place to anyone. It is truly a zero. Pushy waiters who just want to make money off tourists.

Saturday we decided to make our way to Espanola Way!

We went to a restaurant called Oh! Mexico. This place, wasn’t that bad. I ordered Steak Fajitas. They LOOKED delicious! But the taste wasn’t really there.

But I will say, the service was awesome. The people there were very nice and it was extremely refreshing going somewhere and not being harassed by the waiters. We actually gave our waiter a tip (I’ll explain the tips later). So, I’d give this restaurant a 6 out of 10.

And Sunday, our last day there, we went to brunch at the Eden Roc Renaissance. The food was actually really good. The only reason I’m blogging about it is because there was a little table set up that gave me a good laugh. Take a look.This table was set up with Middle Eastern foods. The salads, Tabouleh, Fattoush, and Israeli Salad and the sauces of Tahini, Baba Ganoush and Tahini. However, all the signs were mixed up. I sent this picture to my mom and she replied “OMG, where is this?!” and when I told her and pointed out the mixed up signs she said “It’s the principle that counts.” And I’ll credit them, it was actually pretty tasty. But for the high class hotel that it was it SHOULD be good.

 

My overall experience of Miami is, it’s not as cracked up as people say it is. The food isn’t that great, it’s a HUGE tourist site so you receive no respect and all the “locals” treat you like dirt. As far as the tips go, EVERYWHERE you go, they automatically add either 17% or 18%. And I honestly believe that waiters deserve tips on how they treat you, not just because they “rely” on it. The only place we added a tip was at Oh! Mexico because the waiter(s) were very nice.

Thank you for an ‘OK’ trip, Miami. I won’t be seeing you anytime soon! 🙂