Thursday, March 21, 2013

Take me to the Caribbean!! Old Favorite: Jamaican Beef Patties

I'm so tired of the winter. Like seriously. All I want is warmth, sun, beach, ocean. Sounds like I want to be on vacation, huh? Well then what better way to pretend you're somewhere fabulous in the Caribbean than to eat and drink like it, right?! I found this recipe on - take a guess...Pinterest of course! And per usual, it failed me not. These were so delicious, and so easy to make (much to my surprise). I'm seriously tempted to make a bunch, freeze and stockpile them. Now just have to find a good rum punch recipe, according to the beau lol.

Jamaican Beef Patties (Adapted from Baltic Maid
Pastry Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup / 1 stick / 113 g unsalted butter, softened but not melted
3/4 cup ice-cold water

Meat Filling
olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 green onions, chopped (was fresh out of these :-/, worked fine without lol)
1 clove garlic, grated
2 Scotch bonnet chili peppers (any color), seeded and minced (So I couldn't locate these :( , so I ended up using about 2 tbsp of this Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce I found at the grocery store)
1-2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper, or  to taste
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups water
2 slices whole grain bread, processed into crumbs in a food processor

Egg Wash
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water

In a bowl, combine the flour with the salt, baking powder and the curry. Add the butter and mix it in with your hands until it resembles a very coarse meal. At this point add the water. Squeeze the mixture until it just forms a ball. Knead once or twice to combine fully (the less kneading, the better).

Divide the dough into two pieces, shaping each into a thick pancake. Wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for several days.  Take it out 30 minutes before using it.

For the filling, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and add the beef, onion, spring onions, garlic, peppers, and thyme. Fry the meat until it turns brown and the moisture has evaporated. Add the curry, salt, and pepper, and constantly stir. A crust will form on the bottom of the pan.

Add 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir and scrap the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown goodness on the bottom of the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and more water if necessary. Cover and let everything simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir the mix occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Divide each dough pieces into 4 pieces. Divide the meat in the pan into 8 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough pieces into a rectangular shape with rounded edges. Place one of the meat portions on one side of the rolled-out dough leaving a free border of about 1 cm.

With your finger, apply a little water around the edge. Fold the one side over the dough over the meat and seal the edge. Lightly press a fork around the edge to make a pattern. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or foil sprayed with non-stick Pam, whichever you fancy). Brush them with the egg wash and bake them for about 20 minutes or until the pastries turn golden.

Then Bon Appetit! 

Feel free to top with cheese or your favorite hot sauce, but beware the scotch bonnet peppers/sauce packed the meat filling with its fair share of heat.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LOTD: HipsterGeekChic @ Back in TIME Sessions

Vest: Romeo & Juliet | Shirt: Sanctuary | Pants: Paige
Glasses: Amazon | Necklace: Cross - F21, Bambi - Vintage

So apparently, Philly's Monday night best kept secret is out. About a year ago, a friend of mine invited me to this whiskey bar over on 13th & Sansom that played live music. And then we became regulars. We'd arrive around 9:30, appropriate our high-top table in the back, have a few glasses of wine, nosh on the awesome fries, sometimes dipping them in the mac & cheese topped with BBQ brisket, until the music started around 10. Then room would fill with the soulful sounds of Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, you name it. Artists from all over the city would come to perform at this semi-open mic night/jam session for an awesome crowd of music lovers.

I mean you've got to love live music to drag yourself out on a Monday night, but it was always worth it. Sooner rather than later, the word got out, and last week when we went for my fellow regular's last night in Philly, it was literally standing room only. I'd never seen it so packed, but it per usual was an awesome show.

So I figured, since word's already out, I can divulge my Monday getaway.

Here's a clip of some of the musicians rocking out:

I think the bar itself might be more known for it's whiskey selection, as well as it's dance party scene on Saturday nights upstairs. It's definitely got to be one of my favorite places in Philly, and def worth checking out if you enjoy any of the above.

TIME, 1315 Sansom St., 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Dan Dan Obsession

So if you live in Philadelphia, or maybe even came to visit for a short time, there's a strong possibility you've heard of a restaurant called Han Dynasty, well known for its fiery dishes, each coming with a spice level choice ranging from 1 - 10 - let's just say that my max is 6, and even then I can barely finish the entire dish. Nonetheless, there is one dish in particular, that littered the Yelp reviews and almost every article I read about Han Dynasty before going, and it's called "Dan Dan Noodles". I'm not even sure I can describe the dish to it's justice, but for you I will try. It is served in a medium sized bowl steaming with a pile of flour noodles topped with bits of succulent fried ground pork, but the key - the key is the sauce, the most amazing sauce, patiently waiting at the bottom of the bowl for you to combine the three components and go into Asian Cuisine heaven.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that PYT was teaming up with Han Dynasty to create a Dan Dan noodle inspired burger served with Sichuan fries, offered for one week only. On the last day of course, the beau and I headed down to our old stomping grounds in NoLibs to experience what everyone on social media was describing as life changing.

I barely looked at the menu, but clearly I should have looked a little longer, seeing as how when I asked for the Dan Dan burger, the server looked at me a bit confused. "Oh, excuse, I mean the Handy Nasty burger." Which you can find the description for below...

We shared a pitcher of Golden Monkey to pass the time, clearly accustomed to waiting at PYT. After a while our burgers finally arrived, I waited anxiously as they put the plates down....

...and in typical PYT style, there was barely a 5 oz patty sitting on a huge "soft white Chinese bun". o_O...Despite being off put by the apparent size of the burger, I dug in and was further disappointed to find a bland - not even spicy, but basic tasting meat patty overpowered by watery cucumbers and soggy sugary bread. Womp! I will say that the Sichuan fries were quite tasty, so much so that the beau tried to order just another batch of fries, but to our dismay they were "no longer selling them separately." At this point, we were pretty much over it.

Having not quite had my Dan Dan fix that I was expecting, I decided to have a serious go at the Original Han Dynasty Dan Dan Noodle recipe that I'd found online a few months ago, but sadly couldn't pin to Pinterest because there was no picture, devastating, right? Anyway, when I say I really hit the nail on this, it's by far the closest I've ever come to recreating a restaurant dish. So good! Had to share it with you all, with pictures! So you can pin to your heart's desire. Enjoy!

Dan Dan Noodles (Adapted from
4 serving(s)

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 ounces ground pork (I actually used about 8 oz, left over from dumpling night ;) )
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons preserved Chinese vegetables (available at Asian markets)
1/3 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons sesame paste
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chile oil
1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorn oil (available at Asian markets)
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pound flour noodles (I used fresh ones from the refrigerated section, but any pasta will work!)

1. In a wok over high heat, heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Brown pork and garlic. Add preserved vegetables and 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce. Remove from heat.

2. In a bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sesame paste until emulsified. Add remaining 1/3 cup soy sauce, water, chile oil, peppercorn oil, and sugar, and whisk until emulsified.

3. Cook flour noodles according to package instructions.
4. Pour sauce into an empty serving bowl, add cooked noodles, and top with ground pork. Toss tableside.

And then dig in!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

LOTD: When in Doubt...Belt it Out

Sweater: H&M | Scarf: F21 | Belt: F21 
Skirt: Evelyn | Boots: Lauren by Ralph Lauren

Yikes! It's been almost a month since my last post, and even longer since I did a LOTD. Not sure if I haven't done a LOTD because I wasn't inspired, or I hadn't been inspired to get particularly sassy with my attire because I was off the LOTDs for a while. Chicken or the egg, huh? Either way, here's one!

I'm really over winter. I know, crazy since I'm a January baby and all, I should love the snow, right? Nope, not one bit. When it's cold like this, I can't fathom doing anything but layering up, wearing chunky sweaters and tights and boots. But I still want to look somewhat feminine and cinching my natural waist always seems to do the trick. I'm not averse to belting anything, sweaters, dresses, coats even! When in doubt, belt it out!

What's your trick to jazzing up a look? Funky Belt? Fierce Pump? Sexy Red Lip, maybe?


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Official Birthday Dress - Shop Your Closet 1st!

Blazer: Not Sure :-/ | Dress: D&G (Fall 2010 Collection)

I cannot even begin to explain how crazy the past few weeks have been. I told you before 2013 started with a bang and things clearly have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. But, I thought it important to show my blog a little love particularly having just celebrated my quarter century birthday ;)! How does 25 look on the girl??

Now I used to be one of those girls that would go shopping every time I had an event to go, or a special day, because those are reasons to buy and wear something new, right? Wrong...just wrong. For the sake of your pockets and for the sake of all the beautiful clothes you've acquired on the "just-because" shopping days, we've got to learn to shop the closet first! And I really did realize this when I looked through my closet, and I realized just how many beautiful dresses I had (ok, so I have a thing for dresses, for some people the addiction is shoes, for me it's fabulous dresses), like this D&G number, that I would only wear for very specific or special occasions. I bought this dress in late 2010 for my 23rd birthday dinner party. I took tons of pictures in it, felt beautiful and like the life of the party, as I should have.

Clearly I've learned a thing or two about makeup since then. But honestly, I have not worn this dress since that dinner in January of 2011, and not without trying. I'll go to grab it for an event, and either don't want to stand out too much if it's a wedding or other demure affair, or feel like it's too awesome for just dinner and drinks. Seriously what is more fun and festive than brightly colored polka dots? And when can and should I be a bright ball of fun and be the center of attention? Why my birthday of course! Since it was a little cold and rainy this time, I paired it with a pair of black tights and suede booties. And I've decided to make this the official birthday dress, for every January 28th thereafter, whether it's a Monday night dinner or a Saturday afternoon for tea, I will put this dress on and feel as fabulous as it makes me feel and celebrate my birth. As long as I can fit it, of course lol. And when I put it on, I'll remember all the memories of celebrating all that is me. Maybe I'll even bust it out on my half birthday in July lol.

What about you? Got a favorite dress in your closet that only gets worn for very special occasions? Let's figure out how to get it into a better rotation!

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Favorite BYOBs in Philadelphia

(Google image)

At a JL meeting this week, I was jokingly told that I should quit my job and write about all the BYOBs and fun things to do in Philly, to which I said, funny that you should say that, I kind of have a blog to do that, haven't quit my day job though. But it did remind me that one of the things this blog was supposed to do was tell you about some of the awesome gems Philly has to offer.

And one of my favorite parts about living here is dining on delicious food without breaking the bank because there are just so many wonderful restaurants here, but equally importantly, enjoying a nice bottle of wine with dinner without paying $50-100 for them to pour it for me. So here are my top 10(ish) favorite BYOBs, broken into categories for a bit more guidance to your foodie adventures:

Fun, Loud, Celebratory:
1) La Viola (Ovest) (Italian)
252 S. 16th Street, Rittenhouse 
La Viola will always have a place in my heart, mostly because the fondest of memories have been created here. It is THE go-to dinner spot to fill up on yummy, but affordable home cooked tasting Italian food, while drinking wine and other libations (they do not judge what type of bottle you put on the table, as some other establishments have...) to your heart's content before hitting the town for a long night of dancing and other shenanigans, especially if you're a Penn student of any kind. It's the only place I know of in the city that will seat a party of 20 at 10pm and won't kick you out even when you're laughing hysterically with friends well after midnight. Nestled comfortably at 16th & Locust, it's just a hop skip and a jump from all the nightlife Rittenhouse Square has to offer. Oh and they have two locations across the street from one another, I prefer Ovest simply because it's the bigger of the two, which to me means higher chance of faster seating, especially on the weekends, beware...
Favorite menu items: Funghi Trentino, Penne All'Oriolo

2) La Locanda del Ghittone (Italian)
130 N. 3rd Street, Olde City
We actually stumbled upon this place when our other neighborhood gem, Il Cantuccio, was booked, and apparently there's a bit of a family rivalry. Nonetheless, Ghittone has become another go-to for a heart-warming, open kitchen serving up piping hot delicious Italian meals, always tempting you with some fabulous special of the evening. It's shaped in an L, and larger parties are normally seated along the longer side of the dining room, making the short side seem like a smaller more intimate restaurant, without the pressure of being quiet. Joe, the maitre'd/server/entertainment for the evening, is a fun-loving guy that does the best he can to seat you, even when it's packed to capacity or their shutting the burners down. Great place to kick off a night on the town in Olde City, and parking is almost always a cinch.
Favorite menu items: Crepine con Funghi, Gnocchi del Giorno

3) Lolita (Mexican)
106 S. 13th Street, Midtown Village
So I'm not sure you can ever go wrong when you're told to BYOT - T is for tequila! With the most delicious carafes of margarita mix flavors like blood orange and strawberry basil, I'm not even sure the food has to be that great. But it is. Pretty sure the short rib was the first thing I'd ever seen the beau eat and not even offer for me to try because it was too good to share. I personally am a big fan of the Carne Asada with plantain crema and fried yucca, delish! Conveniently located near lots of fun places on 13th, another great place to celebrate an event or kick off the festivities of the evening.
Favorite menu items: Guacamole, Carne Asada a La Lolita

Intimate & Romantic:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Friend Categorizing

The decision to stay in Philadelphia after college wasn't particularly hard at the time, because despite droves of people heading to NYC and other similar metropolitan areas, I still had a handful of friends opting to stay or still in school here. But as each year passed, one more friend would relocate, and I found myself lacking a core group of girlfriends. Marathons of Sex and the City and Girls reminded me what it was like to have a crew, you know? Where everyone knew each others business, and you didn't have to give the entire back story when you had a new juicy story to tell. Granted, I think I haven't really had a "crew" for a while, even in college, I had very close one-on-one friendships with people, who almost always had their own "crew" that I wasn't necessarily apart of, but they valued our friendship enough to call me one of their "best friends". We'd always have our dinner dates and girls nights full of wine and laughter, but the girl group outings definitely declined after college.

The coupling up certainly had something to do with it. I look back at my 23rd birthday dinner and while 20 people were at the table, it was comprised of at least 8 couples, but mind you only two of them married. And God forbid anything happen that might make having only couples as friends awkward and/or social life suicide, I remembered the importance of having good girlfriends. So again, I started to make the effort of rekindling girls nights and outings, which were always warmly received and excitedly attended, but the invitations weren't being extended at the same rate. But yet, I'd see these same people on social networks seeming to have the time of their lives with other girlfriends who lived in the city.

Do they not really like me? Am I lame or boring? Psh couldn't be that, I'm the life of the party lol. I would think to myself. Confused by the fact that I was apparently tolerable in some settings (couples dinners, select group outings, etc.), but not others. "Looked like fun, guess I missed the invite...", I'd jokingly say sometimes, only to get the "Oh I thought you'd be hanging out with your man" or "It was a real last minute thing." And I probably was curled up watching some awesome movie on Netflix with him, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have liked the opportunity to join or decline the invitation for a raincheck. 

But then I started to realize that some people have different friends for different things. Like Google+ Circles. Some are party friends, some are couple friends, some are shopping friends. I personally am not one of those people. If you're my friend, you're my friend in all situations, and I'll invite you to anything I host and pretty much anywhere I'm going. I'll give you the choice whether or not you'd like to join from your own comfort level. But apparently, that's not how everyone operates. 

I've read lots of articles about how hard it is to make new friends in your 30s, but apparently the mid 20s in a big city aren't a cakewalk either. I've met lots of cool people in the past few years, but taking it from first introduction to the next friend date without seeming like a total creeper is somehow escaping me. Joining the Junior League has helped, having created a core group of like-minded women, seeking to build a social network that all live or work in a 10 block radius. But it's still a category of "Junior League" friends.

Is the time period where you made non-circumstantial true friends really over? From conversations with friends in living in other major cities, I'm starting to think it might be. How's it been making new good friends for you post-college?