Monday, December 28, 2009

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I've made these Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Oatmeal Toffee cookies 3 times now, and people love them! It's another Giada de Laurentiis recipe off It had very high ratings, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It has a good amount of stuff in it, but all of the flavors compliment one another so well. Overall, its very easy to make. The only thing that slowed me down a bit was chopping the hazelnuts and toffee.

Ingredients (makes 4 dozen)
• 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 4 ounces English toffee candy (recommended: Heath or Skor bar), finely chopped
• 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped
• 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Chop the hazelnuts into smaller pieces than you see in the photo. I've used larger pieces and smaller pieces in different attempts, and I think the smaller ones make the cookies taste better because there are more to be evenly spread throughout the batch.

Also finely chop the toffee. These are once again too big for my taste, and I would chop them even smaller.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended.

Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.

I found it easier to mix everything by hand only because the cookie dough was so dense and I wanted to make sure all of the pieces were evenly distributed.

For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fojol Brothers of Merlindia- DC

I was at the "For the Love of DC" event at the Longview Gallery on 9th & M St NW, and saw this crazy-looking truck parked in front of it. It was a Fojol Brothers of Merlindia truck! Started in January 2009, they sell Indian food from their truck in different parts of DC.

The people working had amazing outfits on that reminded me of an 'old school' circus/carnival. I didn't get a picture of the guy working, but he had a huge moustache.

After looking at their website, I learned that besides selling food they also work events, which explained why the food was free! The serving size was very small, but there were popular Indian dishes to choose from: Spinach & Cheese, Lentils, Chicken Masala and Chicken Curry.

My friend got the chicken curry on basmati rice. He said it was awesome.

I got my favorite - Spinach & Cheese on basmati rice. It was AMAZING. I couldn't stop thinking about it after that night. Very good quality that you might not expect from a food truck.

What I also liked was that they had a compost bin on the back of their truck. The mini bowls, napkins and utensils were all biodegradable. I like it when businesses are thinking about the environment.

One of the coolest things that attracted me to this truck was the music! They were playing some amazing funk that really made it worth being outside in the cold. You can see the guy grooving while he's ordering, haha.

I have never seen anything like it. A circus-looking truck with Indian food and funk music...better than the hot dog carts, for sure! They use Twitter and their website to inform people of there daily where abouts. Since this was for an event, they didn't have as many selections as they normally would, but I saw Lassi pops on their menu, and I want to try those in the summer.

Follow them on their website

Friday, December 18, 2009

DC Restaurant Week (Winter): Jan. 11-17, 2010

It's been announced! DC Restaurant Week for Winter 2010 is quickly approaching. Seems like the menus haven't be posted yet, but check out the list, and start making reservations.

I'm looking to try 2941 Restaurant, or Oya.

January 11-17th, 2010
Pre-fixed 3-courses
Dinner: $35.10

Participating Restaurant List

1/12/10 EDIT!!!! ----> has some of the menu's on their site:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ba Le Vietnamese Food & Deli- Rockville, MD (CLOSED)

UPDATE (6/11/11): I don't know when or why, but there is a Closed sign in front. I can't tell if it's permanent, for relocation or renovations.

Last week I was CRAVING Vietnamese food. I don't know how to make it, and whenever I go back to visit my dad we go out to eat somewhere non-Viet. Ba Le has been my saving grace ever since I've moved out. Sometimes pho isn't going to do it, and I need some fish sauce over bowl of rice or noodles. Located across the street from Wintergreen Plaza on the Pike, there are only a few spaces around the restaurant, but more parking in the vicinity. The closest metro stop would be Rockville on the red line.

This is pretty much the view of the whole place, with a table or two on the right cut out of the frame. The walls are painting bright green and orange, but its a really cozy place.

The front counter sells smaller items like egg rolls, summer rolls, steamed buns, desserts, etc.

Along the wall is their drink selection. There's sodas, coconut juice, teas, etc. I'm a huge fan of chrysanthemum tea and the basil seed drink. As a kid I used to pretend they were tadpole eggs.

They also have a small retail shelf where you can buy coffee, dried fruit, candy, hot sauce, etc. I have that exact brand of coffee at home.

Speaking of coffee, I always have to get a 'Vietnamese Iced Coffee' for $2.75 when eat Vietnamese food. They have the mixture already made, add ice and seal the top for you. I think this makes the process faster and more travel-ready, however I don't think its as strong.

The bf ordered a 'Banh Mi Xa Xui(Barbeque Pork Sandwich' for $3. He's not a fan of the traditional Banh Mi Thit that has pate, headcheese, and ham in it, but this one he liked a lot.

I ordered the 'Com Thit Nuong (Grilled Lemongrass Pork on Rice)' for $7. It was so good. The rice was fluffy, the meat very tender and had great flavor. Really satisfied my craving...I ate every single grain of rice.

The bottle of fish sauce on the table was huge, but I used a lot of it on my rice and pork. Vietnamese food doesn't taste complete without it, in my opinion. That's like having Korean food without kim chi or fries without ketchup.

Enjoying his sandwich with his carrot toothpick...

The place is very laid back. You order and pay up at the register. It is self-seating with utensils on a shelf near the window. Someone will bring your food out to you, and its usually very fast. The menu consists of rice, rice noodles, grilled meats, seafood, soups, sandwiches and rice crepes. Food is affordable because nothing costs over $9.75. Bring cash unless you plan on spending over $10.

842 Rockville Pike #A
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 294-7808

Mon-Sat: 9am-9pm
Sun: 9am-8pm

Ba Le Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

South Street Steaks- Bethesda, MD

Iphone review: Recently the bf and I hit up South Street Steaks because he had a coupon for a 'buy one get one free' sub. Originally in College Park, they have relocated to a much bigger space in Bethesda. There is metered street parking and a tiny metered lot right next to it. The closest metro stop would be Bethesda on the red line.

Always nice to see awards on the walls.

This is where you order your food. Then you pick it up from another window when your food is ready. They offer 9" or 12" cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, hoagies, wings, hot sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, sides.

This is the eating area, which is much bigger than the College Park one. They have TVs everywhere too.

I ordered a '12" Cheesesteak with American cheese' for $7.99. It was really good, but I think I would've preferred the 'Trio' because that one has mushrooms and peppers in it too.

The bf ordered a '12" Jamie's Fav Cheesesteak with American and Whiz cheese' for $8.49. He put ketchup on his. We ended up switching 1/2 way through our subs because I really liked his.

Good place to go because they're opened until 3am on Fri/Sat. They serve beer, there are TVs, lots of coupons on their website, and affordable. The most expensive normal menu item is $8.99. They also have an eating challenge called the 'Misteak'. Each Misteak's are 2.5lbs for $14.99 each, and to win you need to eat 2 of them in 30minutes. You can order online, fax, phone or in person.

4856 Cordell Ave
Bethesda, MD

South Street Steaks on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Carmen's- Rockville, MD

Last month my friends and I wanted something sweet and decided to go to Carmen's. They are known for their Italian ice, custard, and gelatis. Located in Rockville off I-270, exit 6A, there is plenty of parking in the front lot. The closest metro stop would be Rockville on the red line.

Here are the regular store hours and the new fall/winter hours.

The interior is very colorful and fun. There are many diff flavors of Italian ice, custards, and yogurts to choose from. They also offer hot items like drinks when it's freezing outside and cookies, pre-packaged ices to-go, candy - just lots of cool things!
The prices are extremely affordable. These are the prices for small items: Italian ice ($1.75), Custard/Yogurt ($2.55), Gelati ($2.80).

As a child I knew what Italian ice was because my mom would buy the little cups from the supermarket. However, my bf was the one who introduced me to gelatis in college.
Me: Gelato?
BF: No, Gelati. What the heck is Gelato?

We come from different worlds =) Basically, a gelati is a cup filled with both custard and Italian ice. People think frozen custard is the same as soft-serve ice cream, but its not. It has a higher percentage of butterfat and egg yolks which gives it a thicker, smoother texture.

What's really nice is the seating area they have inside and outside. It was a beautiful day so everyone was sitting outside, including us.

The past couple of times I've been, I've gotten a gelati with cherry (they have a cool name for it, but its basically cherry/berries) Italian ice.
On the 8th of every month it is owner Jason's son's birthday. It is called Jayden Day and in celebrating all ices and gelatis are 1/2 price! It just so happens we were there on the 8th. The line was out the door! So we paid like $1.50 for it.

My friends got their blue raspberry flavor and mango. Mmmm....

Everyone is always super friendly and helpful. If you've ever had Rita's gelatis before, this place tastes way better. The prices are very cheap. Pay with cash, as it is preferred. However, there is a credit card machines for transactions over $5. It's really just a fun place to grab dessert at with friends and hang out.

1115 Nelson St
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 545-1154

Carmen's Italian Ice & Cafe on Urbanspoon