Tuesday, September 29, 2009

nutella peanut butter pillows

So, next on my cookie trials are the Nutella Peanut Butter Pillows, as showcased deliciously by The Cookie Blog. (Mine looks a little different because I forgot to buy peanuts for the topping). Click here for the full recipe.

At first glance, these may just look like normal peanut butter cookies, but there is a nutella treat inside! Thus, the name "pillows" because the peanut butter is a cushion around the nutella center.

I just have to say that making these cookies took FOREVER. The part that took the longest was rolling the nutella filling into individual balls. As I kept forming each ball, my hands would get stickier and stickier with the nutella filling. I think the heat from my heats just made the filling even more stickier, no matter how much powdered sugar I added to make the filling less sticky. I think most of the nutella filling ended up on my hands (and therefore in my stomach) by the time I finished forming all the nutella balls. (I had to wash my hands to rid of the nutella before being able to take the picture below.)

Then I had to form balls out of the peanut butter dough, flatten it to add the nutella ball in the center, cover the nutella and form a ball again, only to flatten it out once more on the cookie sheet. Let's just say it was a very long process.

And I was very surprised as to how large the cookies expanded once they were in the oven. I thought maybe I somehow super-sized my cookies without knowing it.

And there is the nutella center between the peanut butter cookie.
I had the same problem that I couldn't quite taste the nutella in the cookies (like I couldn't taste the mint in the mint chocolate chip cookies). However, my roomie and other taste testers (L, S & AL) all said the cookies were full of yumminess.

The funny part about this whole ordeal is that I was wondering why I didn't start moaning in ecstasy upon eating these cookies, even if I couldn't taste the nutella. It's because after eating three of these nutella peanut butter pillows, I realized that I never did like peanut butter cookies very much in the first place. What a hoot!

Next up: World Peace Cookies (cookies that are so good that it would bring world peace).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

what chinatown?

I finally made it to Chinatown in DC.

And this is pretty much it.
I went to Chinatown and shopped at Bed Bath & Beyond.
And that was pretty much it.

Disappointed? Yes, I was too.

lines, lines, everywhere standing in line

I really hate waiting in lines that are a gazillion people deep. Especially waiting in line for something that is worthwhile...like a free flu shot from school (I wouldn't say it's exactly free but included in my $60k tuition).

For the flu shot, I thought I would be in line for at least an hour, because there was a gazillion of people in front of me. To my surprise, as soon as the doors opened at 11am (I was in line at 10:59am), the line started moving fairly quickly. After ten minutes of waiting/moving down the line, a few people even had the courtesy to jump in front of me and acted as if they had been in line since the beginning.**

**side story**

The Boy, his father, stepmother and I were having a conversation about how old Asian women always cut in front of people everywhere they go. In supermarkets, in bookstores, in shopping malls, whereever there is a checkout line, an old Asian woman will find it is her right to be in front of you even if you were already in line first.

I argued that the only reason they think that old Asian women cut in lines all the time is because they live in San Francisco, Asian capitol on this side of the West Coast (okay, maybe the entire West Coast is Asian capitol of the US). They don't see anyone else cut in line because the majority of the people in San Francisco are Asians. Thus, you would more likely see an Asian person cutting in front of you in line.

I made this argument because I believe that anyone and every one will cut in line if the person they're cutting in front of allows them to, regardless of their skin color. I said that old women like to cut in front of me at the grocery store in Kansas City, and they weren't Asian at all.

So, to make my point even further, there were three women who blatantly cut in front of me while I standing in line for the flu shot. They were an African American, a Latino, and a Filipino. Okay, so there was one Asian lady in there, but still, you get my point.


In total, I think I waited in line for approximately 20 minutes from start to finish. Once you got a number card, it went fairly quickly. You sit down, nurse rubs alcohol patch on your arm, pokes you without warning, slaps a band-aid on you and sends on your way. You like my Garfield badge of courage?
***** ***** *****

The next line I had to stand in was for Maroon 5 tickets to their Back to School Tour (oddly, their website doesn't list GWU as a concert location, so now I'm wondering if they canceled and I just wasted my time and money...).

This picture below was where I started to wait in line, on the 4th floor!!!
Floor 2 at 30 minutes into waiting.
Ground Floor at 45 minutes of waiting...and now I can see the ticket counter.
50 minutes and still waiting...I'm so close!!
After an hour of waiting, SUCCESS!! Six tickets in hand and $180 poorer.
I do hope that they didn't cancel the GWU leg of their tour. If they did, I better get my money back!

purple potatoes

I was at the Vietnamese market (which is a LOONNNGGG walk off of a metro station) and saw a sign that said "purple potatoes, $2.99 per pound" (in Vietnamese).

Purple potatoes? The first and only time I had any purple potatoes were the mashed purple potatoes served at the Hawaiian Luau at the Polynesian Center. At the time, I just thought they added purple food coloring to make the mashed potatoes interesting. But then my friend told me that there really was such a thing as a purple potato and they're known to known in Hawaii.

So I bought myself three purple potatoes, grand total of $0.95. I really didn't know how to cook it so I just boiled it until I could poke a knife through it.
And here's a purple potato! I need some protein for dinner too, so I just ate my purple tators with chicken dumplings. Yes, weird combination. That is why I was having dinner with myself.
Anyway, I don't know if it was because I just boiled the purple potatoes and ate them with nothing else on it, but these tasted a lot different from what I remembered from Hawaii. The purple mashed potatoes in Hawaii tasted just like regular mashed potatoes, which was why I thought food coloring was just added.

These boiled purple potatoes, however, tasted sweet. It was a little like eating a taro, but not. And it wasn't quite sweet like a sweet potato. It was just sweet and it was good. So I ate all three potatoes in one sitting. I think boiled purple potatoes would make a good snack. I'll have to stock up the next time I make the trek out to the Vietnamese mall.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

mint-chocolate chip cookies

L suggested this website to me: The Cookie Blog. As I was reading it one day, the author showcased fresh mint chocolate chip cookies. So guess what? I had to try it out.

So, what's the verdict?

I cannot taste the mint. At all. I even tried out several cookies, searching for ones with the most green flecks. Nada. Not a hint of mint. It just tasted like a normal chocolate chip cookie to me.

My roommate, on the other hand, says she could smell the mint coming from the cookies AND she could taste the mint.

L says she could taste a subtle hint to the mint and that it was definitely not as strong as using peppermint extract.

All three of us agreed that the cookies were delicious. Good thing I still have a dozen cookies left from my Sunday baking!

Here's the link to the recipe.

Here's the link to The Cookie Blog.

cooking vegetarian

Ever since I've been in DC, I have either gone out to eat, or go out with others to eat. The only home cooked meal I had was when my roomie decided to make some lentils for dinner. Well, I finally cooked at home this weekend, and since the roomie is a vegetarian, I had to improvise.

I decided to make Mapo Tofu (spicy tofu) the easy way -- i.e., pre-made sauce in a package (and who knew you could buy this stuff on Amazon!). I don't have a lot of sauces in my kitchen yet, so it was just easier to do it this way. And mapo tofu usually requires ground pork, but I just omitted it for this occasion. The never-fail method tasted great!

The second dish I made was just a bunch of veggies thrown together to make stir-fry. I bought a pineapple a week ago and it was getting ripe, so I had to come up with ways to eat it. What better than to add pineapples to a stir-fry dish?

This stir-fry consisted of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, green bell pepper, birds eye chili pepper, and chunks of pineapple. Throw in some soy sauce, salt, and sugar to taste, and you're good to go.
We also had some rice with the dishes, of course. I'm craving some eggrolls, so I guess I'll have to look up a vegetarian eggroll recipe.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

miss saigon

During our outing through Georgetown, we also had lunch at the first Vietnamese restaurant I've seen since I've arrived in DC -- Miss Saigon Restaurant. I've been missing eggroll vermicelli and pho, so I was hoping this place would have some good eats.

I ordered the usual Vietnamese Ice Coffee, which I am pretty sure was the reason why I couldn't go to sleep until 2am last night (and I had the coffee at noon!). I should probably start off every day with a glass of Vietnamese ice coffee, at least then I won't fall asleep in class! =)

AL ordered the caramelized chicken with lemongrass cooked in a clay pot. This was AL's first experience at eating Vietnamese food. She liked it very much. She was very excited about having her main dish cooked in a clay pot as she had never had anything like it. It was a very flavorful dish (I had a bite of the chicken).

I will have to take her to a hole in the wall place that serves the same food but at a much cheaper price. I also have to get her to be more adventurous and order some other dishes that's not chicken, like papaya salad or the eggrolls.
As for me, I ordered the eggroll vermicelli, because I was craving the fried eggrolls and the nuoc cham. In my hungered state, I forgot to take a picture of the food before mixing up the contents of the bowl so that's why the presentation of the dish looks all messy. The eggrolls were pretty good, nice and crispy and stuffed with equal amounts meat and veggie. There was also equal parts vermicelli and salad (some places like to load up on the noodles and skimp on salad) so that was refreshing. I had to add a lot of hot sauce to the nuoc cham though because it wasn't spicy enough.
If not for the pricyness of the dishes (each entree above was $12.95), I'd come back here again for some good Vietnamese food. I think the place is catered towards more upscale dining because it was in an area of the upscale shops (think Rodeo Drive).

I'm still on the hunt for the mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurants, and of course that never-ending mission of finding the perfect Vietnamese sandwich.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

cupcakes cupcakes

Every time I am on the bus and it drives through Georgetown on M Street, I always see a line of people waiting in front of Georgetown Cupcake. It made me wonder how good the cupcakes were for people to wait in a line that is out the door and down the street. So today, I finally made it over to Georgetown. We browsed the shops and then had to get ourselves some cupcakes to fuel our energy for some more shopping.

And yes, there was a line, although it was a shorter line than usual.
At this point, I'm still in line and I haven't seen the inside of the store yet. I'm not even sure what the selections of cupcakes are so I can't even make a decision as to what one cupcake I should buy. I think we waited about ten minutes in line before we were able to get in the door.
I see the cupcakes!! Lots and lots of cupcakes!!
Yummy cupcakes....mmmm!
So what did I get?
A caramel apple cupcake and a coconut chocolate cupcake (to share with AL of course). AND the price was not that bad, only $2.75 a cupcake!
OH. MY. GOODNESS. Both cupcakes were sooooooo moist and the frosting was mmm mmm good. The caramel apple cupcake had a caramel center. Whatever was in the frosting, it was like apples and cinnamon. The coconut frosting was yummy too.
And just as a side note, Georgetown Cupcake donated all of the profits from today's cupcake sales to charity (some cancer group that I forgot the name of). So you see, my sweet tooth contributed to charity today. I think I need to donate some more to charity and get myself some more cupcakes. There's about six other flavors I want to try!

weekend of burgers

A classmate mentioned it was National Hamburger Day yesterday and so we had to go out and get ourselves a burger. (I just checked to see if this was true, and the burger holiday is either May 28 or June 28, so definitely it wasn't yesterday).

We decided to go to a local place that my roommate kept raving about -- Ray's Hellburger. My roommate is a vegetarian, so I didn't understand why she liked this hamburger place so much. Turns out she is in love with the grilled cheese sandwich plus all her favorite toppings of jalapenos, pickles, lots of cheese, some spicy green sauce, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting to mention. (image below).

I decided to go with the "Diablo" burger, cooked all the way through, with applewood bacon. This is a 10oz burger, people, and it was HUGE. Somehow, I managed to eat the entire thing. The "Diablo" part of the burger is this spicy "diablo" sauce that is smeared over the burger. I'm not exactly sure what's in the spicy sauce, but it gave a nice kick to my bacon burger. Sadly, this place doesn't serve fries, but instead there is a slice of watermelon included with every order of burgers. Even without the fries, the burger was delicious, and I kept moaning with pleasure each time I took a bite. It was probably a good thing there were no fries because I was stuffed to the gills from finishing the burger. Definitely a place to come back again for burgers.
Upon reading reviews for Ray's Hellburger, I discovered that Pres. Obama and VP Biden ate here back in May. According to the article, Obama just really wanted a hamburger and he wanted it at Ray's Hellburger. Of course, when Obama goes out to eat, an entire motorcade of assistants, security and media follow. He also bought everyone who was there a burger. What a nice guy!

* * * * *

After a long day of shopping with AL today, we decided to try out Five Guys Burgers and continue with our burger festivities. We decided on Five Guys because it was right across the street from Target where we had just finished shopping, and The Boy always told me to try out Five Guys because it's the In-N-Out of the East Coast. The set-up was similar, the menu was kinda similar, and the food...well, read on, shall we?

I ordered the mini-bacon burger because I didn't want to stuff myself again, and thinking a mini-burger was probably small in size. I also ordered a "regular" size of fries and a soda.

So, below is an image of my soda and bag in the food. At Five Guys, they don't ask if you're dining in or taking it to go. Every order is put into a bag.

This is the inside of my bag -- yep, it's full of fries. I don't know where the hamburger is buried.

I had to tear apart the bag just to get to the burger.

And there is my mini-bacon burger with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and jalapenos. Looks kinda big, eh? Well, it was big. It wasn't a 10oz hamburger, but it was a mini either.
I liked the hamburger from Five Guys, but it wasn't spectacular. I didn't moan with pleasure like I normally do when eating good food. The jalapenos were super spicy, though, gotta give that them. And the fries were not so good. Although they claim to make fries from fresh potatoes, it was not good. It was not crispy and it was pretty greasy. I only managed to eat a quarter of all the fries you see above because I didn't like it and I was kinda full from finishing the burger.

Bottom line -- In-N-Out still rules.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

breakfast anytime

A classmate and I went to IHOP for lunch last Friday before we headed to school for some legal research educational learning stuff. Breakfast dishes are always good eats every once in a while.

I ordered something called the "Split Decision," which included a side of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and french toast.

(What is up with all that giant blob of butter on both my pancakes and french toast? Who eats that much butter? I had to take the blobs of butter off and stick it in the corner of my plate. Yes, that's right, I really don't like butter.)

I managed to be able to clean my plate of the items below, but was only able to eat a quarter of the pancakes. The french toast filled me up too much to allow room for pancakes.

My classmate ordered the strawberry-banana-pancakes, and some eggs, hashbrowns and sausages. She said she didn't like the strawberries on the pancakes because it was not fresh strawberries but strawberries drowned in strawberry syrup. Other than that, it was pretty good.

I think next time I will order my usual pigs-in-a-blanket dish. Can't ever go wrong with that - equal parts pig and equal parts pancake!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Julia Child - cook extraordinaire

My favorite exhibit at the American History Museum was Julia Child's kitchen. Before you even notice the kitchen, though, there's a giant flat screen TV where it was airing a 90 minute video about celebrity cooks reminiscing about working with Julia Child. The video also showed Julia from her younger days and of her golden years. She was hilarious all throughout. I even watched the episode where they killed a live lobster on air. After 45 minutes of watching the video, we decided we had to move on if we wanted to see the rest of the museum.

This is the entrance to her kitchen, where guests would see first as they came through the front door of Julia Child's home.

The original copper pots and pans that Julia Child used.

True to form, the walls had outlines of all the pots so that Julia would remember which pot hung where.
Bon appetit!

Smithsonian #2 - American History Museum

I spent part of Labor Day learning about American history, aka Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It was a day full of fun and learning!

America was big on The Pill. Uncle Sam wanted to make sure you weren't having any unwanted babies. They had pill packs dating back to the 1970s. One lady even walked down memory lane: "I remember using those pills way back then! Gosh I'm old!"

Here are some images from the "America On The Move" exhibit, showcasing all the methods of transportation used throughout the years.

There was a small exhibit on American money. There were bills from back in the day when each state had its own separate money. Here, you can see how the size of the bill decreased over the years. There were no explanations on why the size of the bill kept getting smaller. (or maybe there was an explanation and I didn't see it.)

Ah, the industrial period...

This here is Martha Washington's inauguration dress.

And this is Laura Bush's inauguration dress.

Pop icons Kermit the Frog and Oscar the Grouch.

We were stalked by a museum volunteer who really, really, REALLLLY wanted to show us her favorite thing in the whole museum, which is this gold coin down below. All I remember is that some guy named John Smith from England left all his gold coins to the United States for the increase in intellect and that's how the Smithsonian Museums came to life. Boy, did I get the details of that story wrong. For one, the man's name is James Smithson, and he wanted his gold to go towards the "increase and diffusion of knowledge." Full history here. FYI, Mr. Smithson never set foot on U.S. soil until after his death -- his body is apparently in the crypt at the Smithsonian Castle.

America at war = tax collectors hung up in trees.

A piece of the Berlin Wall.

Next up, a post about the Julia Child exhibit!