Making Macarons

Don’t let the looks fool you. Yeah they are good looking. Heck they are even edible. But I didn’t like them. They were too chewy/dense flat for me. Yes I will try again. But this was my first try. I am determined to get these right. I eat them too much, to not know how to make them myself. And at two dollars EACH, it’s worth knowing how to make it with my own resources right? My batter (if that’s what you called it) made exactly a dozen macarons. That would be like $24.90 if I bought at a shop (that included taxes).

Instead of trying to start with a basic french macaron recipe, I went straight in for the kill. I made hazelnut macarons with a nutella filling. Maybe I should have learned how to make a basic macaron first. Oh well. I live dangerously. If you were to buy almond flour, it would pretty much cost about $1- $2 an ounce. I got a bag of blanched almonds, 8 oz for $3.99 and only needed 6oz for this recipe (because I made up the rest in hazelnut flour). I ground it myself with my new toy, Cuisinart Spice and Nut Grinder and it worked out fine. Everything was working out the way it should.

I aged the eggs for a day. At room temperature. Because someone said so. Is that why there was a slightly funky taste? Or was that just my nuts not meshing well together. Hm.

I had all the right tools needed. (Silpats are the best way to go, you get perfect bottoms)

and cute little feet. It all looked good. I made them a little too big though. The boo liked it, he pretty much ate them all himself.

I will try to make the basic chocolate one next. And then move on to pistachio. Once I get the technique then I can adjust the taste, right? Yeah that sounds like the best way to go!

Until then I will eat Michel Patisserie Macarons to get the right flavors in my head.


Bistro Cacao for Dinner

Photo Jan 25, 7 03 07 PM

How much do I love this place? Probably too much. Out of all the French restaurants I’ve been too in the area, this is the best. Really. If you ask me where I want to go to celebrate something, I want to go there. As I mentioned in a previous post the atmosphere is very romantic and inviting. Need a recommendation for a romantic dinner date place, Bistro Cacao for dinner is it.

The service is exceptional. We had Karim, who was polite, observant and very personable. He really knew about the food, and made sure to point me in the right direction when I had questions. Who would have thought to eat a duck medium well? Not me. And thats why I have eating adventures, to learn as much as I can about food. Now lets get to the good stuff. Food.


Their dinner menu is not as extensive as other restaurants, which is perfectly fine in this case, because I think that ensures that every dish is awesome. I missed having a good french charcuterie like in France, and the places that I’ve gotten it around here just didn’t quite hit the spot. When I asked Karim, he put together a board of cheeses and meat for me, even though happy hour was over (thank you!). It came with crostinis, not french baguettes, but it still worked out perfectly. For my main course, I chose the pan seared duck breast, with a port wine blueberry reduction. It was accompanied with braised endives (my first time) and  potato gratin.


I got the duck breast cooked medium, which left me with a tender, juicy cut of meat. Even though smothered in sauce, the duck came out with a beautiful crisp crust. I’ve never had such a tender cut of meat. Except maybe a cow’s tongue, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with a well prepared cow’s tongue will immediately be disgusted so I don’t wanna make that reference. I didn’t even make it to the sides, I wanted to devoir all of the duck. And I did. The boo had the filet mignon which was equally amazing, and he cleaned his plates. His sides were also a potato gratin, baby carrots and haricot verts.


Filled to the brim, Karim asked if we wanted dessert. I was so full, and I had to regretfully decline. A few minutes later, he brings us a dessert any way, on the house. Yum, profiteroles. Cream filled puffs with a scoop of ice cream, and chocolate sauce.  He places it in front of the boo and says to me jokingly, “You are full, so I guess you can’t have any,” with a wink. After I gave him a mock look of surprise, he puts the plate in the middle and hands me a spoon and says, “Happy Anniversary!”.

I love this place so much.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Yes, I tried to make and eat a vegetarian burger. Yes it was good, but NO I WILL NOT CRAVE THIS. I love burgers. I love the beef, I love the bacon. This will never replace a juicy, bacon-y burger with crunchy tangy pickles and oodles of cheese. Nope, not for me. But some of you did ask how I did it (via my instagram) and I am happy to oblige!

Portobello Mushroom “Burgers”
Makes 6

6 portobello mushrom caps, stem removed
2 tbsp olive oil
Coarse Salt
Ground Black Pepper
Steak Seasoning (optional, your favorite kind will do)


Preheat the oven to 425F. In a roasting pan, toss the mushrooms, and olive oil with a little seasoning. Place is stem side down and add 3/4 cup of water. Cover pan loosely with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.

Add it to a toasted bun with your favorite toppings and enjoy! You might wonder why I chose this way versus grilling. I feel like grilling it would make it lose its juiciness, and yeah it would have that charred taste you love from a burger, but its not the same kind of protein so it won’t work.

Meatless Quesadilla

Remember how I am trying to eat less meat, and attempting to only eat meat on the weekends? Yeah I’m struggling. But this is one of the deliciously simple, quick meatless meals I made. Here’s how:

Enjoy when done! You can added any kind of cheese you like, I also threw in a slice of pepper jack for an added kick of flavor. I don’t like to eat the garlic, so you can just discard that (that’s why I leave it whole, and smashed versus mincing) or put it in someone’s quesadilla that wants it!

Meatless Quesadillas

4 white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 of a medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, smashed or minced
1 tbsp of butter or olive oil
1-2 tsp adobo seasoning
cheeses of your choice
2 flour tortillas

Melt butter, or heat olive oil in a skillet. Saute onions and mushrooms with adobo seasoning until mushrooms are cooked and onions are clear and caramelized. Remove mushrooms and onions from pan and set aside on a plate. Keep the remaining butter in the pan.

Add the tortilla to the pan, put desired cheese on one side, then top with onions and mushrooms. Fold over the opposite side and the the cheese melt and seal. Then flip the quesadilla to brown the other side. Repeat this with the second tortilla.

Suki Yaki at Mama Miemo’s

A few weeks ago, I scrounged up the confidence to make my mom’s suki yaki sauce. From that I made a delicious soup, my most favorite noodle soup dish that she used to make. And I made it, and it was good. Very proud of myself. It brought in a swirl of warm comfort and memories of my mom. But more on that in another post.

When you make this sauce you get a huge pot of it, and so I froze some for later use. This was the later use.

Traditionally, Suki Yaki is the term used for a hot pot meal in Japan. I call this meal sukiyaki because of the sauce. We grilled meat instead of cooked it in a hot pot. This is how we did it at my house.

I marinated some beef, cut up some pork belly, and cleaned and deveined/shelled shrimp. I washed some napa cabbage, sliced up onions, green onions, and mushrooms. Everyone gets a little dish of suki yaki sauce, a plate of rice and chopsticks.

..and butter… a small bowl of cut up butter. We gather around the griddle, butter it up, and throw the meat and veggies on there, and everything just cooks together. The onions caramelize and it just smells awesome. It was great to have everyone over, gathered around the table enjoying the meal, sharing laughs and love.

I am working on writing all these recipes, so if you see anything that I make that you’d like to know how to make, let me know!

Homemade Funnel Cakes

This happened, at about 11:40pm. My dear little brother was craving funnel cakes so bad, that he was starting to barter for me to make them. I don’t even remember the last time I had funnel cake. I prefer my deep fried and sugar powdered goodness to come in the form of a beignet. When I think of funnel cakes, I think of my summer with a theme park season pass.

Anyhooo. I was a little daunted with the idea of making it though. Funnel cakes, there’s got to be some kind of difficulty to it right? Or else people would make it everyday instead of eating it only at county fairs and carnivals? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I had everything to make it with in my cupboards. So simple, and quick! Whisk together your wet and dry ingredients, put it in a squeeze bottle, squirt into a design in hot oil… voila! You have funnel cake. Dry on paper towels and sprinkle on powdered sugar. Enjoy while hot!

Homemade Funnel Cakes


1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a small deep pot, heat about two cups of oil over medium-high heat until hot.

While that is heating, beat egg and milk. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to the wet ingredients, whisk until smooth.

Using a funnel, a squeeze bottle, or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped, drop into hot oil working from center outwards in an overlapping pattern. Flip until evenly browned on both sides. Set on a plate with paper towels to catch excess oil. Serve with powdered sugar

Tanpopo Ramen

Ramen, Pho, Suki Yaki, all these things have something in common. They are noodle soups, and they are all comforting. AND I NEEDED IT. After getting poked and prodded by doctors the other week, and STILL being sick a week later I needed some comfort food. Not up for the trek out to my beloved Toki Underground, we decided to try out Tanpopo Ramen House in Annandale.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this place, noting that things got better as its been opened longer. Sick and wanting a fatty broth I went for it. A dark restaurant inside a tiny shopping center it gave the hole in the wall feel that you’d expect from a ramen house. They also served sushi. The walls were covered with cute ramen eating faces. There were only 2 other tables when we got there, and service was good, even though we were in the back corner away from everyone.

I got the tonkatsu. It was milky, and noodley and had all the soothing qualities I needed at that moment. It wasn’t as savory and POW like Toki’s…but it definitely gets the job done for something you don’t want to drive out the city, and look for parking, or wait for. But that’s the trade off. I was sick, and needed something to warm my insides. They have a couple different broths to choose from and plenty of add ons. I will definitely give it another shot when I’m not stuffed up and dying.

Tanpopo Ramen House
4316 Markham St
Annandale, VA 22003

I survived driving through a blizzard on a mountain

What was I thinking when I told my cousin that we would come to OHIO for Christmas. Isn’t that where it snows a lot? But of course she’d have a cute baby that I can’t refuse. We left friday night, and somewhere along the way, we were in the middle of the mountain as a blizzard swirled around us. Cars were pulling over and getting snowed in, mack trucks were driving in the middle of the lane, and we were still driving along merrily. It was hard to see with the wind and the snow, but some how we survived.

I’d like to thank this car and it’s driver. All wheel drive, and snow tires. Top Gear indeed.

The Thurman Cafe


I think by now you are familiar with my burger obsession. This is not great for my waist. But great for my belly. In addition to that list, I’ve added Smashburger. On a recent trip to Columbus, Ohio, I of course had to stop at The Thurman Cafe.

This place was featured on Man vs. Food. No I didn’t try the Thurmanator. The regular bacon burger was more than enough for me. This burger weighs in at 3/4 lb. Stacked with a plethora of bacon and mozzarella cheese. Served with a side of chips and a pickle spear. I was there for the holidays, so I downed it with Great Lakes Christmas Ale, ON TAP!

The verdict:
It was full of flavor, and the patty is huge so it was definitely juicy, but maybe a little too juicy. My bottom bun was completely soggy and I continued eating my burger with only the top bun. Me personally, I like a good bun to meat ratio, so that killed me. I think the Travel Channel gave it the hype it needed, but I don’t think I’d wait in line for it again.

Pistacia Vera

Why am I so obsessed with macarons? Is it because of the pretty colors? Or the gently sweet bite sized delight it delivers? They’ve been around forever and I am just now obsessing. I know, I am always late. Well, when I was in Columbus, Ohio I decided to see how the midwest does macarons.

Pistacia Vera calls themselves a dessert boutique. I agree. A cute little shop set in German Village, with tall windows, this place gets a little busy on the weekends. The staff is super friendly and very helpful. It gets a little tight in there but once you settle in its a nice place to hang out.


There is something for everyone, with plenty of hot and cold drinks to choose from, as well as a brunch menu and a long list of desserts to choose from. But lets talk about the macarons.

Yes they are different in the midwest. Or at least here. Their flavors include: yuzu pink guava, maple walnut, mocha hazelnut, gingerbread (seasonal) passionfruit, black raspberry, buckeye, chocolate cherry cordial, caramel pecan, coconut creme, pistachio, and peppermint chocolate.

As you can see, to my dismay, they don’t have the “classic” flavors I adore other than pistachio (which was awesome by the way). They do have a lot of unique flavors and colors which I admire. Pink guava was fun. The chocolate cherry cordial really tasted like one… too bad I don’t like those in their real form. Of course you can’t be in Columbus and not have a buckeye anything.

Over all they were REALLY good. They are more creamy in the middle because they use a buttercream filling instead of the classic jams. They are a lot more fluffy and chewy in the middle than the ones at home, but that again, goes to preference and I like both. Glad I can go visit Columbus and not miss out on my favorite dessert 😀