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HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS: Sushi lovers

Who loves sushi?!

If you have a sushi lover in your life, be sure to check out my list of 10 fun holiday gift ideas, including one that’s well, a bit of a splurge.

Continue reading “HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS: Sushi lovers”

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS, $20 OR LESS: Cake lovers

Cake, cake, cake.

The confection that has won our hearts throughout time.

If you or a loved one are a fan of cake, or cupcakes, check out these 10 fun, holiday gift ideas, for $20 or less in my article on my BuzzFeed channel!

Continue reading “HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS, $20 OR LESS: Cake lovers”

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS: Chocolate Chip Cookie Lovers

It’s a wonderful time of year.

The holidays are among us! And I thought, what better way to get you prepared than a series of gift ideas for those who LOVE their food & drinks.

Hence, I’m starting a series of posts dedicated to different kinds of food and drinks, with gift ideas ranging from $0-$100+ dollars.

And this first post is dedicated to those who LOVE one of the best cookies of all time, the chocolate chip cookie. 

Continue reading “HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS: Chocolate Chip Cookie Lovers”

Cool Article of the Week – 11/11 – 11/17

These cool article(s) of the week are dedicated to all of you wonderful college people out there, living in the dorm rooms.This is also dedicated to the budget-friendly person who wants some really awesome, cheap and easy food ideas.

Ah, college.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Living in the dorms (er, residence halls, as one of my closest friends always corrects me on! She was an R.A. ), with those communal kitchens with the oven/stove. I remember having big communal group dinners with my friends at times, in our residence halls, sitting around the couches and having a great time.

You had to be strategic, because you don’t have a TON of space in those kitchens, but you had to have yummy food too! (Hence, as well as those group dinners in the dorms, there were tons of late night orders as well to various pizza places, ah, the days).

So as Thanksgiving is on its way, one article of the week speaks 11 Easy Recipes for Friendsgiving In Your College Dorm (thank you, BuzzFeed Food!).

Photo credit: BuzzFeed Food
Photo credit: BuzzFeed Food

I appreciate that they advise to make turkey cutlets. I’m actually a huge fan of those and when I was home living with my parents, that was one of our meals we’d make, breaded turkey cutlets with gravy and noodles. Delicious! And VERY easy to make. I approve!

The one on the list I probably would not make is #8 (Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Brussel Sprouts). As much as I love those vegetables, I think mashed potatoes, cornbread, biscuits, etc. are beautiful items for a Friendsgiving menu. Those personally don’t yell out “college comfort food” to me, but I see how throwing roasted veggies in the oven would indeed impress people.

screengrab2
Photo credit: BuzzFeed Food

What would you make on the list? Let me know, comment below! 🙂

Speaking of college foods, this VIDEO is technically article #2 that I know ALL of you will love, again, from BuzzFeed Food.

Simple College Snack Hacks You Should Know.

Oh man.

First of all, love the use of Kroger products throughout this video (love you, Kroger!).

Second, these ideas are GENIUS.

If you ever wondered what to do with your cereal, ramen noodles, or kettle corn to spruce it up a bit, you will definitely be salivating over these easy ideas.

((And for the record, Nutella DOES make everything better.))

 

Photo credit: BuzzFeed Food
Photo credit: BuzzFeed Food

=)

Enjoy!

 

 

SYRACUSE — The Mother’s Day Meal that only cost me $11!

Yes, tonight my Mother’s Day dinner cost just $11.

All thanks to my dear foodie-food-blog friend, Nandini. (Check out her blog by clicking here. Amazing recipes especially for you vegetarians out there!)

So how did Nandini and I pay about $11 each for a huge feast, including an alcoholic beverage for each of us?

LivingSocial.com.

Nandini had bought a deal a few months ago through LivingSocial Syracuse for The Mission Restaurant right in downtown Syracuse.

The deal was this: pay $15 for $30 worth of food at The Mission Restaurant.

We both had meant to go for dinner together awhile back, however, our schedules have been extremely busy this semester and haven’t gotten together as much as last semester.

But this weekend was the weekend! And with coupon in hand, we headed over for a feast of fresh, delicious and most certainly delectable Pan American food. This was my second time to The Mission, with the first time only having an appetizer.

A view of the side of the restaurant from outside during late afternoon.

Here’s some history about the beautiful building the restaurant is in: according to The Mission’s menu, the building used to be the Syracuse Wesleyan Methodist Church and was built in the 1840s. This building also was “an important 19th century way-station on the Underground Railroad.” There is actually a “cramped tunnel” in the basement of the building.

The inside of The Mission.

And you can see such history when you walk into The Mission. Beautiful peach colored walls with a deep blue ceiling which has intrinsic designs. Gorgeous stained glass windows line the perimeter of the restaurant, giving the restaurant lots of natural lighting. What I learned at the end of tonight’s meal, which I didn’t know until tonight, was that there is a balcony above the kitchen if you look up, where the restaurant’s office is. The waiter told us you can only access the office/balcony by ladder, and then told us how everything in the office was transported up there through using the ladder. I actually asked the waiter too if he peers out over the restaurant while he’s up there and of course, he replied with a “yes.”

When Nandini and I walked in we were told we would have a 35 minute wait. We decided to head to the bar and get margaritas. Nandini got a regular margarita on the rocks with a salt rim for $5.50. For $6, I got a strawberry margarita:

Mmm, mmm, good. I must say it did get a little watery towards the end, but that does happen with a lot of frozen drinks. And hey, it was a warm day out today, in the 60s/70s! Hooray! The margarita had a light strawberry taste with a hint of tequila peering in, which was good. I got a sugar rim as well, which was delicious!

We were then seated probably about 15 – 20 minutes later, in a really cute circle booth in a corner of the restaurant. We were greeted by our friendly male waiter who gave us fresh-made Tostaditos and Salsa (chips and fresh-made tomato salsa). What Nandini and I both loved about the chips was that there were no signs of oil at all on the chips, meaning they were either baked or really, really well – drained. The salsa melted in your mouth with the fresh chunks of ripe red tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices and what I thought was a lemony-type taste in it as well. It was the perfect start to the meal.

We then perused through the menu and found a side dish we decided to share as an appetizer. I have had plantains before: fried plantains my friend made for me one time and then a fried plantain steak sandwich at TGI Fridays that was so obsessively-good. But never have I had the following side dish: fried green plantains with mojo.

I’ve also never seen plantains presented in such a way: these looked like potato latkes to me. This appetizer was savory versus the expected-sweet: the plantains had a rich texture and with the seasonings and salt on top, was perfectly balanced with the mojo sauce on the side: a tart vinegar-like dipping sauce with several seasonings and spices on it. These also weren’t greasy at all, even though they were fried. These were only $3, and if you want to try a great non-meat appetizer, this is definitely for you.

Thinking about what to eat I thought about my friend Jessica who was with me the last time I was at The Mission. I credit her for introducing me to pulled pork at Mexican restaurants, and I have been eating pulled pork at these types of places ever since. I remembered she had a burrito the last time we came with the ‘Puerco Pibil’ filling: “Yucatan style shredded pork with achiote and orange,” according to its menu. I decided to get this $11 burrito, and get vegetarian black beans inside it. There was a choice of salsas to choose from to put on top of the burrito as well: I chose Tomatillo Serrano: “Tangy green salsa with bits of blackened tomatillo. Bold heat.” I love tomatillo salsa: I love the refreshing taste of the green tomatoes and I love the spice the fruit gives off when you eat that kind of salsa.

While unfortunately the picture I took of my meal didn’t come out, this burrito was honestly one of the best I have ever had in Syracuse. The pulled pork was outstanding: it melted in your mouth and I actually felt like I was eating at a barbeque joint versus a Pan American restaurant. The chef at The Mission knows how to cook meat, that’s for sure! The beans gave the burrito a nice, rich flavor as well, with the salsa on top being the slight kicker. I say slight because it wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. The salsa was a little bland, I’ll admit, but I overall enjoyed the burrito. And of course I got my new obsession guacamole on the side. The Mission’s guacamole was rich, filling, creamy and very flavorful. I saw a sign on the way into the restaurant that you can get its guacamole to go anytime when you come in, so if you’re looking for the fresh stuff, definitely stop by.

Nandini let me try her $11.25 Tres Queso enchilada, which had Monterey Jack, Mexican cotija and queso blanco in a tomatillo sauce. The picture of her enchilada came out:

The cheese in the enchilada was outstanding: while it appeared rich and creamy it was actually very light, tangy and flavorful.

The Spanish rice that came on the side of our dishes was very good too. It had just the right amount of spice in it. My dish, unlike Nandini’s, came with something that looked like cole slaw on the side. It was actually ‘cabbage salad,’ and had an amazing spice to it, which Nandini told me was cumin seeds. Tasting the cabbage salad reminded me of eating Nandini’s amazing Indian cooking. (Again, please check out her blog!)

Once we finished our entree-feast, we perused the dessert menu. We ended up splitting the $5 Banana Bread Pudding.

I’m a huge fan of banana bread, so pudding of the bread? Yes, please!

Banana Bread Pudding at The Mission, $5

It was made with macadamia nuts and Mexican chocolate, served warm and topped with rum-caramel and chocolate sauces and fresh whipped cream on the side.

This was one of the best desserts I have ever had in Syracuse as well. I must point out though that the warm bread was not really a pudding-type texture in my eyes. However, I’ll admit , I haven’t had a lot of bread pudding to know what the texture should be, so I could be wrong. The two strongest flavors of the dish were the rum-caramel sauce that heightened my taste buds, and the macadamia nuts, which brought out the savory in the dessert.

After eating all of this food, the bill came out to around $34 for the both of us, including tax. Using the LivingSocial deal Nandini had, we each spent about $5 on the meal including tip, and then $6 previously at the bar.

Thank you, Nandini, for showing me the true-story wonders of not only LivingSocial.com, but The Mission.

And a HUGE Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mother’s in the world today, especially my mom. I love you very much and am so grateful and thankful for you.

—–

The Mission Restaurant

304 East Onondaga Street
Syracuse, NY 13202-2085
(315) 475-7344

Hours:

Monday: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm | Tuesday thru Thursday: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm

Friday: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm | Saturday: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm | Sunday: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm


SYRACUSE — My Cinco de Mayo 2011 dinner.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I know it’ll be over as of this time of night…But what was I thinking about all day today? Guacamole.

It’s honestly my latest obsession in food.

And this obsession started when Chipotle came to Syracuse.

Photo courtesy of avocado.org

Look at the picture to the left of the California Avocado Commission’s ‘Guacamole Auténtico.’

Avocado fans: looks delicious, right?

Guacamole consists of avocados, of course, but there are many variations of the delicious, creamy, flavorful dip. Tomatoes, lime juice, onions, cumin, you name it, it could be in guacamole. And hey, the calorie count for the bowl to the left is good – 170 calories per serving!

When I think of guacamole lately, I haven’t thought just about the delicious, fresh ingredients, but the health benefits of avocados too.

One of my best friends, who happens to be an amazing CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant), told me that avocados burn off fat in your belly! This excited me even more about eating avocados. While yes, they are creamy and to some, may be considered “fatty,” according to LIVESTRONG.com‘s article on “Food That Helps You Lose Belly Fat,” avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats, and have potassium, fiber, folate and vitamins A & D. The article also says avocados keep you feeling fuller longer! And some belly fat just may burn off too.

Here are some other facts from Avocado.org:  avocados are sodium and cholesterol-free and have only five grams of fat per serving! Also, the avocado is also known as the “Alligator Pear” due to its pear shape and green skin.

But guacamole also makes me think of Mexico, as guacamole is of Aztec origin. Which leads me to now yesterday, Cinco de Mayo. I’ll admit, I don’t usually celebrate this holiday every year.

But this year I decided to have a little solo celebration. And tonight, I thought I’d learn a little bit more about this day and why it’s so important.

According to HuffingtonPost.com, “Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexico’s surprising victory over the French — then said to be the world’s most powerful army — at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Still, the holiday is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually Sept. 16, and receives limited recognition throughout much of Mexico, despite acknowledging the country’s heritage.”

So on May 5, back in 1862, Mexico won victory over the French. And on this day, many celebrate the holiday by heading out for some margaritas and/or eating some Mexican food.

Me?

I decided to head to one of my favorite quick Mexican food spots: Chipotle.

I went tonight to the location near SU. The line was very long, but very well worth the wait.

Here’s my burrito bowl that I had: carnitas (pulled pork) with pinto beans, chipotle-lime rice, cheese, medium-hot salsa and of course, the star of the show, guacamole. The carnitas was especially tender tonight which made the bowl extra delicious. The guacamole and salsa were the overpowering flavors over the rest of the bowl’s ingredients, however. It was a delicious, filling entree.

Tonight's burrito bowl.

When I’ve been going to Chipotle lately I’ve been getting a side of guacamole on the side with some chips. Unfortunately, tonight, the location I went to ran out of chips as of 9:30 p.m. So, instead of getting chips and guac tonight, I decided to walk to the corner store down the street to get some Nacho-flavored Combos, hoping they’d make up for my lack of chips and guac:

My nacho-flavored Combos I bought.

While unfortunately these combos tasted just like the regular cheese combos and didn’t have much spice to them, I love Combos, so I definitely devoured those too tonight.

Now I really wanted a margarita tonight to wash this all down. Because the Chipotle by campus doesn’t have a liquor license yet to sell margaritas-in-a-bottle, I thought the corner store might have a margarita cooler-in-a-bottle that I could have.

While they unfortunately didn’t have this either, I decided to get something completely different. I got Twisted Tea, and decided to try the “Sun Brewed Style” version.

My Twisted "Sun Brewed Style" Tea. Ooh La La. 🙂

I remember having Twisted Tea back in senior year of college and remembering how awesome it was. This hard tea tonight had that tea flavor, which was good, but it did like sun-brewed tea-soda in a way, which I don’t think was as favorable as the other Twisted Tea I’ve had before.

Overall, my Cinco de Mayo was very well-spent.

Again, happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I hope you had an amazing time celebrating too and had some guacamole and maybe a margarita too! Please share with me what you did on this holiday!

Cheers.

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