Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peanutbutter Cheesecake Brownies

I think the title pretty much says it all (peanutbutter +cheesecake +chocolate=one happy customer). I was trying to figure out a way to make my cheesecake brownies more original, so adding peanut butter into the mix sounded perfect (plus I get brownie points from my mom for mixing pb+chocolate). Like my s'mores brownies made with a graham cracker crust, I decided that I should add it to the brownies as an extra layer of yummyness.
I actually overcooked these bad boys a little...left them in the oven while I took my cousins for a run but they still were a huge success. Please excuse the photos, sun went down before I remembered that I needed to photograph these yummy treats.

Peanutbutter Cheesecake Brownies
Ingredients for a 9x9 pan
1 box of Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Decadent Brownie Mix
2 eggs (one for the brownies and one for the cheesecake mixture)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 block of softened cream cheese
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a bowl using a handheld blender cream cheese, vanilla extract, sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Try not to eat.
3. In another bowl mix together brownie mix, eggs, water and oil and pour into a greased pan (or in my case a pan with a graham cracker crust...instructions at the end).
4. Drop spoonfuls of cheesecake mixture onto the brownies and swirl around with a knife.
5. Put in the oven for about 45-50 minutes (Start checking the brownies after about 35 minutes to see if they are cooked).
6. Let cool down and then store in the fridge. 
As I said before, these were amazing! If you don't like peanut-butter you can just leave it out of the recipe. Although the graham cracker crust is a good addition, the peanut-butter cheesecake was enough-not it is not crucial to the recipe if you want to cut a step out of this process.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
5 T melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

1. Mix together all of the ingredients and press in a pan.
2. For a crispier crust put in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

This post was part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Duncan Hines.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Raouche Cafe

I met my friend Carrie the other day for lunch and we decided we were in the mood for some Lebanese. I was looking up places to see if there were anything halfway in between us and Raouche Cafe looked like a winner. The place smelled AMAZING when I stepped inside and I knew it was going to be good.
Every Lebanese restaurant I go to I have to order their version of Fettoush $5.75. This version wasn't bad, the dressing was a little sweeter then I am used to, but overall a good salad.
We also split an order of Kibbeh $3.95 (ground beef and wheat stuffed with ground beef, onions and pine nuts). Sooo good. I highly recommend getting this-it may look different, but it is really good and not to intense flavor wise for those hesitant to try new things. 
I decided to try their Beef Kabobs $10.25. The meat was tender, flavorful and good quality.
C ordered the Chicken Shawarma platter $10.45 (thinly sliced chicken served with a garlic sauce). This was really good too, but the garlic sauce they serve on the side is crazy intense, enough to ward of vampires...or you know anyone within a 5 foot radius.
The food was good, the service was good and the prices were good. The only bad thing is that this place is not closer to my house!

Grade: B+

703-205-9099
2839 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA
Raouche Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 21, 2011

Basil Eggs in French Bread

I have been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw it on Food Network a couple of years ago.When I got an email from the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program that I had been selected to receive a free sample of Land O Lakes Eggs I knew that I finally had a reason to try this recipe!
This is a perfect brunch or breakfast party recipe, very easy to make and you just pop it in the oven (some sort of fruit salad would go great on the side!). The great thing about this recipe idea is that you can really do whatever you want with it once you have the base.
Basil Eggs in French Bread 
Ingredients, serves ~5-6
Loaf of French Bread (or any bread of your preference)
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
4 Land O Lakes eggs
3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons EVOO

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut off top of loaf and scoop hollow out the bottom half, saving the bread for later
3. Spread the olive oil in the bottom of the bread and put in the over for about 8 minutes to crisp up.
4. While bread is crisping up, whisk together eggs, milk, chopped basil and Parmesan cheese.
5. Cube extra bread and add about 2 (you can add more based on your preference) cups of it to the egg mixture.
6. Pour in hollowed out bread loaf and cook for about 50-60 minutes until the eggs are cooked.
 
7. Slice and serve. 
To reheat, set over to 350 and put in for about 15-20 minutes
 
Comments/Tips/Suggestions: 
-Tastes good reheated
-The original recipe called for more milk and one less egg, but after reading all the recipe comments I lessened the milk by a little. I added an extra egg after pouring the mixture in the bread and thinking that i t was not full enough. 

recipe source: Giada's Everyday Italian

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tony's take 2 (Fairfax)

I feel like this is the millionth time I have been to Tony's in Fairfax, but the reason for this post is that I have made it a point to keep on trying new things instead of getting my usual.

Ok...so this may not be something new, but it is a delicious classic that I always get. Cheese Pizza. Perfection.
Eggplant Parmesan Pizza. Pretty Tasty, the eggplant is sporadically placed, but a good slice overall if you like eggplant.
Cheese-steak Pizza. I was surprised I liked this slice seeing that it has meat on it. The only thing that would make this better is adding some onions and peppers to it.
Sicilian Pepperoni. Good if you like Sicilian style and pepperoni. I prefer thinner crusts, and I don't eat pepperoni on my pizza (I am the weird person that takes it off and eats it separately and then eats the pizza sans the pepperoni).
This was a great dinner, I am never disappointed when I stick to their pizzas. At this point I feel like I have exhausted all my options on the slices so I will finally just go back to my usual...a slice of Cheese and a slice of Cheese with pineapple added on, and when I am feeling like I need a change get a slice of their Margherita Special.

Grade: A

Tony's New York Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Peking Gourmet Inn

I was really not looking forward to writing this review, very nervous in fact. Peking Gourmet is a Chinese restaurant in Falls Church that is an absolute favorite of my uncles, a place that has had him coming back for 25 years. I was afraid that I would not like the food and risk offending him, but luckily I had no such problem.

Peking Gourmet has been open since 1978, putting pride and craft into their restaurant. Making sure their food is quality from making homemade pancakes to owning land so they can grow their own green onions.
We each started off our meal with a TsingTao beer. It was a nice light beer, perfect for me.
For an appetizer we had two orders of the Fried Chinese Leek Dumplings. Amazing. I LOVE fried dumplings, and these were surprisingly very light for fried dumplings, maybe the addition of the leek? All of the flavors meshed really well together, and it was a nice change from your typical fried dumplings.
 
For the other appetizer we had an order of Crab Rangoons. Peking Gourmet sticks to the original way of making these by just using fresh crab meat and the fried outer layer. Most restaurants now serve these with imitation crab meat and cream cheese in order to cut costs down. The rangoons were served with a sweet garlic sauce which paired together wonderfully.
One of the entrees was Szechuan Beef Proper, one of the "Chefs Specialtie's". DE-LISH. I have always loved crispy beef, but this is hands down the best version I have had. We actually were all pretty stuffed on the duck, dumplings and rangoons so I got to take this home and had it for lunch the next day. Even better.
Alright, are you ready? The highlight and star of the restaurant...Peking Duck (I forever thought this restaurant was called Peking Duck because I have heard so much about the duck). They can go through 200-300 ducks on any given night, very impressive.
They bring it to your table and carve the duck for  you, putting the delectable crispy skin on one half of a plate and then the meat on the other.

Then you get a pancake, put some hoisin sauce (plum sauce), then some green onions, duck skin and meat and roll up. So GOOD.
Then they gave us a pallet cleanser, a sweet sort of cucumber juice. It was interesting...I would not personally order this, but when they are handing out complimentary samples of it, I will take a glass again.
This place was amazing. A little too expensive to become a regular at this point in my life, but if you want some awesome duck or amazing crispy beef, this is the place to be. The service for us was impeccable, the server was nice, and so was the manager. Both noticed that the duck was a little dry while being cut, so they let us know they were going to bring us out a new one when they could have easily just let us eat it that way. I personally would not have known, but my uncle was happy.

This place is also famous in the political spectrum. It's a favorite of the Bush families, and if you go to the restaurant you will see photos of a whole bunch (walls are covered) of political figures and a few celebrities.

Perfect place for a special occasion or some really good Chinese Food.


Grade: A

703-671-8088
6029 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA
Peking Gourmet Inn on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cake Batter Pancakes

Sprinkles have the ability to put a smile on my face (especially when they are in the shapes of stars) so when I saw these through pinterest I knew I just had to make them.
They are a perfect special occasion, for kids or if you just want a change in your breakfast routine. Plus they just put a smile on your face (unless you are like my uncle and refuse to try them bc they have sprinkles on/in them)

Cake Batter Pancakes
Ingredients (makes about 10-12 pancakes depending on how big they are)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup yellow cake mix
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
~3 Tbsp sprinkles

Directions
1. Whisk together dry ingredients
2. Add wet ingredients and whisk together
3. Mix in Sprinkles
4. Preheat griddle to about 300 degrees and pour batter onto the griddle (I used a 1/3 cup) and when you see the pancakes bubble flip it over until they are light tan on both sides


I don't think this next part is necessary (I think butter and syrup work out perfectly) but I don't like it when there is an overload of sugar in my food. My cousins, being the sugar monsters that they are both declined this glaze on their pancakes. It is very pretty and if you like sugar this glaze is worth a try.

Vanilla Glaze
Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
sprinkles (optional)
Directions
1. Whisk all the ingredients together until you get a consistency you like (you may need to add more milk or vanilla, just taste as you go) and then add the sprinkles if you choose and pour over the pancakes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pupatella

I actually heard about this place from the guy who runs 7th Hill Pizza, Anthony Pilla. When my roommate and I went, we asked him if he knew of any pizza places that were a little closer to us (ie VA) and he recommended Pupatella. Fast forward 8 months and I am finally giving this place a try. I actually tried to go last February, but they are closed on Sunday and Monday-important to note.

I decided to try the Arancini with Eggplant (fried risotto balls) $4 forgetting that my friend is allergic to eggplant. We just scraped out the middle and she ate the outer layer with the risotto. The fried outer layer was good, as well as the eggplant and mozzarella, but I have to come to terms with the fact that I don't like risotto. 
My friend got the Diavola $10 with spicy salami, mozzarella and basil and she thoroughly enjoyed it.
I got the Margherita DOC $12 with Neapolitan buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil. This was equally delicious, you can never go wrong with a margherita pizza.
This is one of the best restaurants I have been to in awhile and one I will be returning to in the near future. Finally, a pizza place that is only a short drive away instead of a commute into DC :).

Grade: A

571-312-7230
5104 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA
Pupatella  on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sprinkles Cupcakes

I got a coupon the other day for 4 free cupcakes at Sprinkles which expired Monday so my roommate and I took a little road trip there Sunday night. I don't know if something was happening that weekend but Georgetown was PACKED. I was going to just park in a parking garage and suck it up to pay the fee but I lucked out and avoided parallel parking and a garage all together. All I had to do was back into a space right in front of the store (ignore the fact that L had to get out and tell me how far to pull back).

Sprinkles is known as the original cupcake store- the one who started this crazy cupcake trend.

Top Left: Red Velvet: southern style light chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
Top Right: Chocolate Coconut: Belgian dark chocolate cake with coconut cream cheese frosting
Bottom Left: Carrot: walnut-studded carrot cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting
Bottom Right: Dark Chocolate: Belgian dark chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate frosting
We got there later in the day so sadly they didn't have a lot of options but who is complaining when it is free? The line was not bad, we were probably only waiting for about 10 minutes as opposed to Georgetown Cupcakes whose line was down the street when we drove by. 

Overall all the cupcakes were moist and flavored well. The Dark Chocolate was delicious, but very decadent and rich so you will be satisfied after a bite or two. Carrot Cake was equally delicious, I don't like walnuts but I would suck it up and eat them in this cupcake.The Red Velvet and Chocolate Coconut were o.k., I didn't like either, but the roommate did. I am a very picky person, I don't really like cake. She took the cupcakes to her friends after we did our tasting and they scarfed all of them down. 

I would give this place a chance again as all of their ingredients were quality, but I would check online here and see what flavors are for which days and I would look into ordering online and picking up to avoid lines. 

Grade: B+

202-450-1610
3015 M Street NW
Georgetown
Sprinkles Cupcakes on Urbanspoon