Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Foodie Finds

Ever been curious about a product but been hesitant to try it? I am thinking about making a new segment on friday about products I have tried and what I think about them. This Friday is dedicated to my all the random things I have tried at Trader Joe's. Hope it helps :)

1. Chunky Spicy Guac. Nothing beats fresh guac but this is pretty good for the store bought kind if you dont have time to make your own or you need a quick snack.
2.100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars. Pure Genius.Pretty good dark chocolate in snack size bites. This has been permanently added to my snack drawer at work.
3. Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds. I love the whole Salty+Sweet combo, but these were just to salty for me...however my aunt loved these.
4. Grilled Pesto and Chicken Wrap: I got this because of the "cashew walnut pesto vinaigrette." This was just meh, I could take it or leave it. Don't regret eating it but probably wouldn't get it again.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Basil, Goat Cheese and Harissa Oil Bites

I was wandering around Tysons Corner the other day and I came upon a store called Under the Olive Tree. A store featuring different Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars. I have been wanting to try one of these places forever so I ventured in and pretty much tried every thing they had to sample. I ended up buying 3 different infused oils, but I am just going to talk about one of them today, the Harissa Olive oil. It was delicious and I couldn't figure out what to do with it so I asked the lady working there and she suggested that I pair it with mozzarella or goat cheese with some basil.

I paired it with with both goat cheese and mozzarella and found that the goat cheese is the clear winner. This is a winning combo of flavors, the basil, goat cheese and spiceyness of the Harissa Oil are all perfect together. The mozzarella is not bad, but you need to eat it immediately for it to taste good, while the goat cheese does well sitting out for awhile-making it the perfect party food, although it will not last that long. This recipe doesn't have exact measurements, just "guesstimates" and is a good outline for making your own creation. If you don't have Harissa Oil, most olive oils will work, the Harissa just shines in this recipe. 

Basil, Goat Cheese and Harissa Bites

Ingredients
Baguette or French Bread
Olive Oil (in my case Harissa infused)
Fresh Basil
Goat Cheese

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thinly slice your bread and drizzle a little oil over each slice.
3. Spinkle some freshly chopped basil and then some crumbled goat cheese over each slice.
4. Bake for 5-10 depending on your preference for the crunchyness of the bread.


I also got the Versatile Blogger Award from Neshanne at Oishii Treats, so I wanted to thank her, and give her a little shout out to go check out her blog...especially her Stuffed Zucchini Canoes, will def be making a version of this over the summer!

Naked Pizza

I had been wanting to try Naked Pizza for awhile, so when a deal popped up on Living Social I was immediately sold. After day of shopping my friend and I were wandering around the shopping area next to Pentagon Mall and I decided it would be a perfect time to use my deal since I was already there.

Naked Pizza is all natural, they don't use additives, preservatives, colorants or any weird chemicals....sounds good to me! They also have a lot of other cool nutritional facts you can check out here.

I decided on a Medium Pizza (12") with jalapenos, onions and pineapples. Sounds weird but it was delicious. You could tell that the ingredients were fresh, especially the jalapenos. The pizza was $13.06 (Started off $7.99 + 3 toppings @ 1.69 a topping) which is a pretty good deal. This size will serve 2 people comfortably that don't have large appetites.
photo(4)I also got a Spinach Salad $5.99.  Very fresh but I feel like its a big price tag for the size of the salad.  

This meal was good, and I will be ordering from them again in the future, pizza that is actually good for you delivered, what could be more perfect?

703-412-3777
1101 South Joyce Street
Arlington, VA
 Naked Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chocolate Filled Biscuits

Are you looking for an easy, delicious and impressive recipe to share with guests? Look no further, for I have found it! I had some extra biscuits the other day when I was making pizza stuff biscuits for my cousins and I was trying to figure out what to do with them. I noticed a massive Costco style bag of chocolate chips in the pantry and I had my idea!

 

Ingredients
Refrigerated Biscuits (1 for each person/dessert)
~1/2 cup chocolate chips (whatever you want to stuff) for each biscuit
Egg
Flour

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. On a clean surface, sprinkle some flour and roll the biscuit out until its about the size of your hand (~5inches), its important you just have space to put your stuffing in.
3. Place chocolate chips on half of biscuit, and then fold the other half over it, using a fork to seal the edges.
4. Beat the eggs and then using the wash, spread over the top of the biscuit.
5. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the top is golden brown.


**Next week I am going to have a small giveaway...stay tuned**

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rocklands BBQ in Alexandria

I had a lunch date with my mom the other day and we decided to try something new and ended up at Rocklands BBQ. It's a little off the main road, you probably will think you are going to an office building, but I promise you if you just drive down the road a little you will see it.

My mom and I both ordered the 3 meat combo (brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken) with 2 sides each. And then we decided to split an extra side of sweet potato fries.
Brisket: Decent
Pulled Pork: Really good!
Pulled Chicken: Good
Sweet Potato fries: Amazing!
Cucumber Salad: Good, would have been better served cold
Mac and Cheese: Good, perfect side to BBQ
Coleslaw: Average
Texas Hash: Not bad, my mom liked this but I've never really been a fan of the stuff
 
 
I will say I was a little disappointed in their BBQ sauce selections. They didn't have very many of their own personal sauces, although they did sell a variety, so it was cool looking at those. Most of the ones they had available for people to try were just the hot ones, so if that's how they do their sauces, more of a variety would be nice.

After trying a couple of hot sauces which were not overly hot, I tried my last sauce, the sauce that doomed me. I guess I though because the other ones were ok, I would be ok. Thought wrong. This sauce murdered my mouth. I can't even begin to tell you how much pain I was in. The only thing that helped was keeping ice in my mouth, but that only helped a little.
I also got a rootbeer float, which I was really thankful for after experiencing the hot sauce. Next time I will prob just stick to the rootbeer plain or water.
This place was good. I am still looking for my perfect BBQ place in the NOVA area. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know!

Grade: B

25 South Quaker Lane
Alexandria, VA
Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling Company on Urbanspoon

*Stay Tuned! Next week I will be doing a small giveaway from a restaurant where I met the awesome chef*

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mexicali Blues

Last week was gorgeous...so happy its finally getting warm and sunny! To celebrate the warm weather, some friends and I met the other night at Mexicali Blues for dinner on the patio! Finally...eating outside is so much better.

For happy hour they had $4 Margaritas and $2.50 Coronas so we each partook in that. I got the Margarita which was ok, I'd suggest just sticking to beer. My friend Lili got a marg too, and hers was horrible, someone seriously messed up hers.
The Chips and Salsa served were good, average chips and salsa.
They were having a special for $2 Enchiladas, so we each got 2. They let you choose your stuffing....pork, beef, chicken, papas refritos or bean and cheese. Lili and I got the same stuffing (beef and pork) while Rommie got chicken and beans & cheese.
Pork: Lili and I both agreed this was our favorite, flavored well.
Beef: Ok, There was something about the flavor I didn't like but the texture was good.
Chicken: A little dry
Beans and Cheese: Good, Rommie liked this one the best.

While I am not upset I went here, I will probably not return here in the future. The service wasn't good (although Rommie and Lili said it wasn't bad when there were only a few people outside), although maybe they were just been understaffed. Drinks were ehh, and the food was ok. Rommie and Lili's enchiladas were served cold, while mine was lukewarm. Luckily the company was good and the weather was gorgeous. Afterwards we wandered to Boccato Gelato and Expresso to get some gelato. Yum.

Grade: C
2933 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA
703-812-9352
Mexicali Blues on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 16, 2012

District Taco

I've heard a lot about District Taco so I was really happy I finally tried it. I went with my friend and we got the meal to go since it was a Thursday night and there was a lot of tv to be watched (Community, Archer and catching up on Wed nights Psych!). There is a lot of seating in the restaurant, which is good because I hear it can get pretty packed.

There was a line when we got there, but it moved pretty quickly. One of my friends drove by the other night and said the line was out the door, not sure I would have ventured in if that had been the case last night. Once we ordered we were given a number and then I promptly went to the salsa bar and got one of each of the salsas for us to try. There was a Salsa Verde (ok, not my favorite), Chiltomate, medium (ok, mild flavor) and Mestizo, hot (my favorite, and there was a kick). The bar also included chopped jalapenos, onions, cilantro, limes and pico de gallo-awesome.
I got 2 tacos $2.25 each (the restaurant suggests 3 a person, but 2 was the perfect amount for me). One taco with the Barbacoa and one with the Carne Asada, both topped with Pico de gallo and lettuce. The barbacoa was delicious, and the carne asada was ok, I got a couple grisly pieces so that turned me off to it. I would def order the barbacoa again. I also love how they are on flour tortillas because I am not a fan of the corn. The great thing about the tacos is that there are a ton of toppings to chose from so you can get exactly what you want/like.
My friend got the Burrito Mojado $8 (black beans, cheese, Salsa de Chili, sour cream, lettuce & tomato) and he chose the Barbacoa as well. He liked his meal, and said it had quite a kick to it, which they do warn you about when ordering. This was big enough for 2 people, def get your moneys worth out of it.
We decided to split and order of Large Chips and Guacamole $5.50. Very good portion for the guac, and it was pretty good.
I liked this place, for what it was...cheap and quick Mexican, the food was really good, portions and prices were excellent and every employee that I interacted with was very nice.

Grade: B+

5723 Lee Highway
Arlington, VA
703-539-2165
District Taco on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

You can go ahead and thank me right now. The only thing that would make this sandwich better is if it were healthy. I rarely watch TV but if you catch me watching it, it is almost always set on food network. I got this idea from a Paula Dean "Bananas" episode and thought it sounded fabulous. I never looked up her recipe, but just put my own measurements in and it turned out better then I could have imagined. This is a perfect special treat sandwich, or even a dessert. Either way, you need to go make this ASAP. 

Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Ingredients: Serves 1
You can tailor this to as many people/sandwiches as you like. The great thing is you can just throw it together...unless you put a ton of cinnamon or honey in you pretty much can't go wrong with this sandwich. 
2 slices bread
~1/2 Cup crunchy Peanut butter
~1/2-3/4 Sliced Banana
~Tbsp Honey
~tsp cinnamon
Tbsp White Chocolate Chips (optional)
~1 Tbsp butter
Cinnamon Sugar to sprinkle

Directions
1. Mix together pb, honey and cinnamon and spread on both slices of bread
2. Put sliced bananas on one of the slices of bread, and then if you wish, the white chocolate chips and then put the slices of bread together to make a sandwich. Put butter on both sides of bread.
3. Over medium heat melt some butter and then place sandwich in pan. Cook each side about 2-3 minutes until golden brown on each side.
4. While still hot sprinkle a little of the cinnamon sugar on both sides.
5. Sit back and enjoy.

Tips
-Enjoy with a glass of cold milk

China Cafe

I was feeling particularly lazy last night so I decided to order Chinese food from a place right by my apartment, China Cafe. I overloaded on food of course-not being able to make up my mind. 
I got what I thought would be a safe bet, the dish I usually first try and new Chinese restaurants, Cripsy Fried Beef ~$11.00. I was really disappointed by this dish. It was not properly covered in sauce or as crispy as it should have been. 
Fried dumplings (6) ~$5. This was the highlight of the meal, not the best dumplings, but pretty darn good, I actually just ended up eating these for dinner. 
Veggie Fried Rice (small) ~$4. They did not skimp on the veggies, but the flavor was pretty bland. 
Although this place didn't wow me I'd be willing to go order from here again. Its literally a minute drive or a couple minute walk depending how lazy I feel. Next time I need a quick fix for dinner I would consider ordering from here again, probably something with chicken in it, and def the dumplings. 

Grade: C-

1039 W Glebe Rd
Alexandria, VA 
703-836-3888
China Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kora Restaurant

Months ago I was going over a computer program with a new coworker and we discovered we had a lot in common...at least food related :) We started talking about restaurants and cooking (after the training of course) and she mentioned Kora. Later on I saw a groupon for it and new that it was meant to be, I immediately purchased it.


I hadn't seen my friend Carleigh in foreverrrrr so invited her to try it with me. I made reservations through open table and we went on a Tuesday night around 6. I wouldn’t say it was empty, but reservations were probably not necessary.


We started off our meal with the Stuffed Eggplant Appetizer $9 (rolled eggplant with basil, marinara, mozzarella, ricotta and parm). This was delicious, we both loved it! The perfect appetizer and it only furthered my love of eggplant.
Bread and oil was decent, not the highlight of the place.
I love dining out with Carleigh because a lot of the time we end up splitting meals so we always get to try more things! We decided to split a calzone and a pizza.We decided on the Chicken Confit Pizza $13 (caramelized onion, arugula, mozzarella and sweet chili sauce). This was good. Flavors went well together.
For the calzone we ordered a Sausage $13 (tomato sauce, sausage, mozzarella, ricotta, spinach, garlic). Very good, we both preferred this over the pizza.
The food was pretty good, but as I have read in others reviews and agreed with the service is horrible. The waiter was nonexistent, and when he did manage to come around he acted like it was the last place he wanted to be. He was annoyed that we were not ready to order and left us for about 15 minutes and we had to flag him down so we could order. Our waters were empty most of the night, and he ended up refilling my tea with water which I didn’t feel like correcting at that point.


While the food was pretty tasty, the service was horrible. I probably wont be back unless someone else really wants to try this place or there is another groupon.


Grade: C


2250 B Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA
Kora Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Merzi...Indian Chipotle?

After going to the Newseum (if you haven't been I strongly suggest it) my friend and I decided that we would get a bite to eat. After wandering around for a little bit we came across Merzi, basically an Indian Chipotle (however it is not affiliated with Chipotle).
It starts with the same premise as Chipotle, you pick your base. In Merzi's case rice, naan, chaat, salad or roti. Then you pick you protein: chicken, lamb, tandoori chicken, beef, shrimp or veggie. After you decide on those two, its time to decide on your veggies and sauces.
I got rice with beef (bottom photo) with an assortment of toppings. I tried the Warm Medium Creamy Tikka Masala and the Cold Cilantro Mint chutney...both delicious. My friend got the lamb with the Spicy Onion Tomato Masala, both good as well. 

The concept of Merzi is very cool, the food is made up of all quality ingredients, and everything tasted very good. My only complaint (and this could be in part because of the way I picked my dish) was that there were too many flavors going on. Maybe I am seeing it like a Chipotle where if I pile on all the veggies/salsas they all taste amazing meshed together. Everything at Merzi was good, but I felt like there were too many competing flavors. 

If you have never had Indian food before and you are hesitant to try it, this is a great way to get your foot in the door. 



415 7th Street NW
WashingtonDC 
Merzi on Urbanspoon