Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner to participate in their Stay, Play and Write campaign. My mom and her girlfriends were already planning a trip to Tysons Corner Galleria to do some holiday shopping - so I figured it'd be the perfect time to coordinate with them and have a girls getaway. My mom and her friends arrived from Richmond early to get their shop on, so I wasn't surprised when she called to tell me that they had already checked into the room. I was surprised, however, when she said that we had THE RITZ-CARLTON SUITE... like... all 1800+ square feet!
All I could think is that I might be sleeping in the same bed that Harry Styles
The suite greeted us with double doors, a foyer, three bathrooms, king bed, formal dining room with seating for 8, kitchen, and a spacious living room with fireplace. Also -- the suite offers club access to the concierge lounge with 5 food and beverage presentations each day.
I was treated to a seat at the last class in the Fall Epicurean Series on Saturday with the Executive Pastry Chef, Fred. I posted this before, but each Saturday in October, The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner offered opportunities to cook with their team. I actually ran into a nice lady at the cooking lesson who said she was there because she read it on my blog... pretty cool! If they start this series up again in the future, I'll be sure to post the schedule. For now, you can check their calendar of events
for more happenings.
Anyways, the class was 3-4:30... and I probably would have a lot more to say, but they paired three of the four desserts with cocktails in those 90 minutes and I was just happy I didn't fall off of my bar stool. Chef Fred was pretty amazing and he made everything look SO easy. I am inspired enough to try to make creme brulee at home - his tip was to go straight to home depot and get a blow torch. I think I can handle that! Check out the sweet potato bread pudding, milk chocolate and caramel rounds, sweet potato pie, and pumpkin spice creme brulee:
Aside from enjoying the complimentary food and beverages in the club lounge, we also dined in ENTYSE Wine Bar & Bistro. Since there were 5 of us, we went ahead and made a reservation for 8pm. Good thing we did because it got packed. There was an awesome Latin trio performing - and I've been told that it's one of the only upscale places in the area with live music on the weekends.
For dinner, everyone in our party ordered surf and turf or the filet... you can't go wrong with either option. For breakfast at ENTYSE Bistro on Sunday morning, I had their famous eggs benedict with jumbo lump crab cakes. It was supposed to be a "shopping weekend" in Tysons... but I think we did way more dining then shopping.
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway - so close to home, but so far removed from the busy hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia.
I was provided with a complimentary stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is the smile of a child who just spent $10 on sugar.
In all honesty, I had not set my expectations very high for Mother's Day this year. We have had SO much going on in the past month with B having his tonsils out, complications of the surgery, and the semester of grad school coming to a close.
In order to not
set myself up for an emotional roller coaster, I have learned (it took me about 6 years to figure this out) that sometimes it is better to have no expectations at all and be completely thrilled than to have expectations set high and be let down. This crazy method of thinking worked in my favor yesterday as my lovebunnie surpised me with a day out in DC!
We landed the best seats at Nationals Park - on the second deck but right over the first base line. B brought money from his piggy bank to buy the world's most expensive cotton candy - and I was pleased to find a Blue Moon in my hand :)
After the game, we went to Guapo's in Shirlington
for a light dinner and pitcher of Sangria on the patio. My girlfriend, Anita, lives right around the corner in Fairlington and swung by to hang out with us in the beautiful breeze.
I am so so so lucky & thankful. BEST. DAY. EVER.
my new favorite made-up recipe for summer drinks! (inspired by the drinks we had at 9 Dragons
2 parts Grey Goose La Poire,
1 part Peach Schnapps
1 part apple juice
2 parts ginger ale
& a spoonful of Trader Joes mango sorbet to top it off!
shaken over ice - served in martini glasses - because that's what was clean at the time :)
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City invites moms to take a night off and celebrate national Mom’s Nite Out on Thursday, May 9 from 5-8 p.m. Focused on rewarding and recognizing the women who always put others before themselves, Mom’s Nite Out is a chance for mothers to treat themselves to a night of pampering, shopping and prize giveaways from stores and other community organizations.
· A FREE
swag bag stuffed with goodies from participating retailers for the first 100 guests to check in at the registration table on Metro Level along with chances to spin the prize wheel.
· Fashion shows, presented by District Fete, will take place at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the ground level in front of Nordstrom; featured looks from Macy’s and other retailers.
· A Jamaica Tourism Lounge
will be set up on the Metro Level with light bites and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, authentic hair braiding, chair massages and steel drum band performances.
· Bare Minerals Go Bare Tour will be set up outside of Brookstone offering makeovers, samples and special deals on Bare Minerals products.
· Aly Jacobs and the Mix 103.7 FM team will be on site, and Aly will emcee portions of the Mom’s Nite Out programming.
· Madame Tussauds will be on site with a Leonardo DiCaprio wax figure for photo opportunities.
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, 1100 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA 22202. Mom’s Nite Out is free and open to the public. Mom’s Nite Out is presented by Covidien
and Jamaica Tourism
. For more information on the event, please visit the event Facebook page
On the Saturday before Easter, we had plenty of family in town. Lots of young, growing boys to feed. To put it bluntly, the best way to feed these people is outside. My mom is famous for making pizzas on the grill - so we thought we'd try a new version. We adapted our recipe from Bobby Flay's Grilled Pizza with Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers and Onions and Oregano Ricotta.
We passed on the spicy sausage and went with sweet italian sausage instead. We also skipped the fontina cheese and replaced sheep's milk ricotta with whole milk ricotta. And we completely nixed the vinaigrette dressing.
2 pounds fresh sweet Italian sausage
2 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
5 large red pepper, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 ready-to-make pizza shells of your choice
1 tub whole milk ricotta
fresh herbs (oregano, basil)
Pre-heat grill. Grill sausage about 7-10 minutes per side. Toss onions and peppers in about 2 tbsp olive oil to coat. Cook peppers and onions on grill - we used a vegetable grilling pan made specifically for outdoor use. Remove sausage once cooked and slice. Roughly slice the onions/peppers after they have softened.
Heat grill to med-high. Brush dough with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with garlic salt.
This is important: place the side where you're going to put your topings DOWN first and grill so that it's crispy when you apply the goodies. Grill 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill and place on cookie sheet/cutting board to assemble pizza.
Divide the sausage, onions and peppers evenly over the two shells. Dollop ricotta (mix with herbs, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic salt to taste). Place the pizza on the grill, close the cover and grill until the cheese has melted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
If you have a favorite grilled pizza recipe - please share! I'd love to try it!
Is there anything better than celebrating your parents' 30th wedding anniversary? How about celebrating it with roulette, exotic cuisine, and dragon fire in your martini glass? That's what I call a celebration!
My brother, parents, and I hit up Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
on Friday for a night out on the town. Only 50ish miles away, the drive was not too bad on a typically-horrendous Friday rush hour. I kinda-sorta wasn't feeling so lucky. My brother, on the other hand, is eternally lucky. He wins, and he wins often. He spent the entire car ride psyching me up and trying to get the luck flowing through my veins.
I was a rookie at roulette. My brother's enthusiasm worked... for a short while. Before I knew it, he was up $700 and I was still placing $15 bets just trying to break even. In my non-casino life, I live by the motto "go big or go home" - so I figured "why change now?" and I started playing like a high roller and betting $100 chips. That worked three times until I was wiped out - completely. I'm not sure if he felt sorry for me (or just because he loves me so much), but my sweet sweet father then let me play with his chips - which I also promptly lost to the house. And I hadn't even started drinking yet... Meanwhile, my mom was playing a PENNY slot machine and somehow managed to turn $5 into $75.
We decided it was time to eat and headed over to 9 Dragons
- the space is newly renovated and boasts an updated menu of authentic Hong Kong-style cuisine and a selection of fresh sushi. The decor of the restaurant was so beautiful with deep reds and dark woods. Honestly, and I don't mean this in a bad way, it didn't even feel like we were in West Virginia.
If you go to check out 9 Dragons - you'd probably be set ordering from their specialty cocktails (I suggest the Drunken Dragon) and sushi menu. Since we were out celebrating a special occasion, we went ALL out. The service, presentation, and quality was extraordinary. I recommend the Wonton Soup, Hot Mama (spciy tuna, jalepeno) roll, and... well, everything else. Our waitress, Li Ling, took excellent care of us. Although 9 Dragons didn't offer dessert, we mentioned my parents' 30th and she said she'd get us a special surprise. Her surprise came in the form of a jumbo slice of fresh cheesecake made at The Final Cut Steakhouse. She literally walked across the casino to another restaurant to get us the best dessert in the building! Totally blew my expectations - and kinda made me forget that I had just lost $250 on the tables down the hall! Win or lose, it was a fantastic night out with the family! Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad!
*Special thanks to 9 Dragons for inviting us in to taste the menu!
My friend Wendy came into town to visit me after a whirlwind trip to DC. She was in town for the Kennedy Center Honors
weekend - and got to hit up the most fabulous parties, State Department Dinner, White House reception, and of course, the Kennedy Center event and supper. I lushed at hearing all of her fantastic stories! She is so fancy! Her driver
dropped her off at my house... and after her stay at the Four Seasons, I can't really even compete... but we had so much fun getting together and reconnecting! She showed up with some delicious Georgetown Cupcakes at my front door.
How sweet is that?
4 fresh tomatoes, 1 red onion, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 jalapeno, 2 cloves garlic, fresh squeeze of lime. rough chop in food processor. salt and pepper to taste.
super easy. semi-healthy. super cheap. most of all... delicious!
Every fall, I whip out my arsenal of seasonal recipes that involve pumpkin and spice. My go-to is pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I usually make these from scratch - until last year I forgot the baking soda (or baking powder? whichever makes these puppies rise) and it was a flop. Literally.
My mom makes a 2 ingredient pumpkin spice cake with just a can of pumpkin and a white cake mix (Weight Watchers recipe maybe?). I thought I'd try something similar for these cake-like cookies.
This is seriously the easiest recipe you will ever make. Only three ingredients. No oil, water, or eggs. Pre-heat the oven to 350 now... or else you'll be sitting around waiting for it to heat up long after the batter is put together.
One cake mix. I used a spice cake mix, but you could use white or vanilla.
One can of pumpkin. 15oz.
One bag of your favorite chocolate chips/chunks/morsels. I used dark chocolate morsels - I'm sure milk chocolate chips would be equally as delicious.
only three ingredients - cost me less than $4!
step 1: combine can of pumpkin with cake mix.
step 2: mix together for about two minutes until thick like a cookie batter.
step 3: stir in chocolate chips by hand.
step 4: cover cookie sheet with wax paper. spoon cookies onto sheet evenly. bake for 18-22 minutes.
tip: these cookies do not really change shape or spread - so if you just plop them onto the cookie sheet like I did, you will get a more "rustic" look.
step 5: let cookies cool & enjoy!
tip (not pictured): for a little extra sweetness, you can frost/glaze these cookies easily as well. take can of cream cheese frosting and microwave for 40 seconds or until slightly melted. drizzle over cookies.
Visiting my parents this weekend and my mom pulled out Emeril's Farm to Fork
cookbook that I passed along to her (was in my swag bag from the John Walsh event
). Emeril has this amazing recipe for a summer Lobster salad (served cold) - but we modified it and substituted shrimp. Of course, we grabbed almost all of our ingredients from the awesome local farmers market
. Nothing beats fresh picked sweet corn!
Here is our modified version of the recipe --
- 2 cups roughly chopped ripe tomatoes
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions
- 3 black peppercorns
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 2 pounds peeled & deveined shrimp
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot or red onions
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 6 ears of fresh sweet local corn
- 1 pint mixed tiny heirloom tomatoes, such as cherry, cherub, grape, or pear, of different colors and sizes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water, and set it aside.
In a 4- or 6-quart Dutch oven, or other heavy bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the chopped tomatoes, wine, water, onions, peppercorns, and tarragon sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered; then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Raise the heat to high, add the shrimp to the pot, and cover the pot immediately with a heavy, tight-fitting lid.
Steam the shrimp for a few minutes until it is bright pink/red. Immediately plunge the shrimp into the bowl of ice water, and let it cool for 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the ice water and set it on a rimmed baking sheet. Pull off tails, set aside.
In a medium nonreactive mixing bowl, combine the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Whisk in the 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne.
Cut the tiniest heirloom tomatoes in half, and quarter the larger ones. Add the tomatoes to the corn mixture. Add the shrimp, tarragon, and parsley, and mix gently to combine.
Season lightly with salt and black pepper to taste. Divide the shrimp salad evenly and serve immediately.
Yield: 6-8 servings Like this recipe? Be sure to pin it via Pinterest!