22 December 2013

Warning: Do not read while hungry!

Tasted even better than it looks!

Tacos Taco Tacos who doesn't love 'im?! Especially authentic tacos! Typically when I make tacos I use ground beef for the meat, as I've always had ground beef tacos ever since I was a kid. Now when I told my amiga that she said "uh uh I've gotta show you how to make real tacos" or something along those lines. Of course I jumped right on board! She was at my doorstep a few days later, supplies in hand and this is where the fun began!

With time being so limited nowadays it's truly a convenience to pick up preseasoned fresh pieces of meat, and that is exactly what she did. Thinking back to it now I should've taken a photo of the packaging the meat came in, but ya live and ya learn right? Ha. Anywho she brought a nice piece of seasoned Carne Asada "Ranchero" which she picked up from a local Mexican store, white corn tortillas, some fresh limes, beets, avocado, pico de gallo, and of course some cilantro. I made us cocktails, and then It was time to get down.

Cheers friends!

We started out by throwing the meat in a pan, and while that cooked we prepared the rest of our ingredients. I should clarify though by "we" I mean she did, I was a mere witness to the magic lol. She got everything all prepared and even made us some home made guacamole, which was out of this world!! It didn't take much time to prepare the tacos and chips, and once everything was ready we started the "taco making" assembly line. I had never tried carne asada tacos before this night, let alone a taco with beets, lime, and cilantro but let me tell ya..I definitely will be having them again!!!

Chef Nita

Carne Asada 

Gettin it all ready!

Start of the guacamole

Doesn't get much better or fresher
than this!

Up close and personal
with the Pico

Everything about the dinner was delicious!!! From the freshly made guacamole, to the perfectly seasoned meat! I really liked the beets on the tacos too as they added that "crunch" which I loved! Everything was so full of flavor and fresh, and not only did it taste like heaven it looked super appetizing too!!!

Dinner is served!

Talk about a great night with great food and company! Life doesn't get much better than that! 

Until next time..Cheers!

15 December 2013

Top of the monrin' to ya

300+ years of goodness!

(Well afternoon really) Either way hot tea is good anytime of the day. I typically drink about 1-2 cups of hot tea daily, depending on what's going on that day, and who is around that day. When my mom is over visiting we tend to drink a lot of hot tea, no matter if it's the middle of summer or during the winter, that kettle is boilin'. It could be the Arab in me that fuels my love of hot tea, as we Arabs loovee our hot tea, especially Sage tea also known as Maramia. But I'll get back to that in a minute, for now let's talk about my love affair with Earl Grey.

There are so many brands of teas out there nowadays, all making the same type of tea but each with their own unique recipe. I've tried many different brands but my all time favorite Earl Grey producer is "Twinings" as it tastes the best in my opinion. But you don't have to take my word for it as according to the Twinings Earl Grey box......

I mean you just can't get any better than the original Earl Grey!

So back to Maramia..I've been drinking this Arab favorite ever since I was a kid, but had no idea that this type of tea had so many health benefits to it until I decided to write this blog! Ha. You can read about some of the health benefits here, I usually buy mine from a local Mediterranean store. We would always drink Maramia tea with our breakfasts with dad, or paired along with a dessert it's definitely tied for my favorite type of hot tea.

In case you were wondering
this is what it looks like.

Until next time..cheers!!

What's your favorite type of tea and tea producer?

13 December 2013

Birthday Weekend!

Birthday Cupcake from a
friend of mine :)

Well my birthday weekend was definitely one for the books! One of the best birthdays I've had in a sometime :) The birthday adventure began Friday when I threw a get together for all my close friends, it was the first birthday party I've had in a few years and it was a blast!! All my really good friends attended, and all of my girlfriends got to meet one another which was really cool.

Beautiful Tigers eye necklace my
cousin gave me :)

We had all kinds of snacks and drinks including punch (which I had never made prior to the party). My mom made me a delicious candy cane ice cream cake which was made with white cake mix and of course the candy cane ice cream, it was sooo good and such a hit at the party! My mom typically makes me mint chocolate ice cream cake made with chocolate cake mix, but I wanted something a little different this year, and she definitely came through for me for my birthday cake :)

My delicious birthday cake :)

After a fun night of partying with all my friends, my boyfriend and I took a little road trip down to Watsonville where we stayed the night. We decided on Watsonville as it's pretty central to both Monterey and Santa Cruz, which is where we wanted to venture. We woke up early Sunday morning and took Highway 1 down to Monterey where we walked around Cannery Row and enjoyed a couple of state beaches that are in the area. After soaking up Monterey we headed back on Highway 1 and stopped by Sunset Beach, a beach we've been wanting to visit for some time. It was our first time at Sunset Beach, but it definitely wouldn't be out last as it's my new favorite beach! I loved it because it went on for miles, and there wasn't a soul around! It was like we had our own personal beach for a few hours, definitely one of the highlights of our trip! After our little stop at Sunset we headed to Santa Cruz hitting up the downtown area first. We were kind of limited on time and sunlight so we just went to our favorite shops, including an antique shop Mr. Goodie's Antiques & Collectibles  which I previously wrote about here, and a local art supply store called Palace Art supplies which has unbelievably low prices on quality merchandise! After going to our usual favorite shops we headed to the Wharf for some dinner. Our favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz, The Dolphin, is on the wharf which is where we headed but unfortunately they were closed earlier than usual as it was Sunday. So instead we headed to our other favorite place Gilda's, we were dined on Salmon and Crab Cakes..both were out of this world! Really love eating on the wharf as every restaurant on the wharf has an ocean side view, can't beat that when enjoying a delicious meal! We got back on the road after dinner, heading up Highway 1 to another favorite destination of ours, a small berry stand/shop type thing called "Swanston Berry Farm". But unfortunately that place was also closed as they have winter hours right now which we were unaware of. But I highly recommend it as a stop as the berries are delicious and all organic! We arrived home later that night exhausted but full filled! We got a lot done in a small amount of time, and it was definitely a birthday to go down in the books! Not only was it my first time going to the ocean for my birthday but it was also the first time I had gone away for my birthday with a significant other! 

Morning in Monterey

My favorite building on
Cannery Row

Sunset Beach

I truest feel so blessed for how I got to spend my birthday, and can't wait to see what good things 27 will bring me! 

Until next time..cheers! ;) 

Here goes nothin'!

Green Balloon

One cold December night, I had tapas, wine, and fantastic company.
It's the little things in life that make us happy.

What makes you happy?

09 December 2013

Stewy Goodnesss.

This picture doesn't do this
stew justice! 

Happy December friends! Cold weather, Christmas, New Years..and my birthday month! Gotta say I love December! :) With the cold weather comes hearty warm dinners one of my personal favorites being Beef Stew. Although I've grown up eating it, and have always loved it I've never made it myself until today, and boy did it turned out wonderfully! A few months back my step dad had a cow butchered, which lead to my boyfriend and I coming into about 200 or so lbs of organic, grass fed beef. With this has come a variety of beef cuts, many of which I had never cooked before which included stew meat.

I kind of got thrown into making the beef stew so I didn't have a written recipe that I found online or anything, but I have had beef stew my entire life, and I had experience on my hand as my boyfriend's grandma happened to be here when the beef stew adventure came up.

The stew meat was frozen when this all started and was put into a pot as is with some water. Unfortunately I don't own a crock pot so I just used a regular old pot and let the meat simmer on low for about 4 hours or so. I added water about 3 hours in, as advised by my boyfriend's grandma, and at the 4 hour mark we added Beef Stew Seasoning Mix, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms (which I had never had in stew before).

Growing up the beef stew I always ate had smaller pieces of potatoes as they had disintegrated as the stew cooked. I thought this how every stew was until I learned a valuable piece of information from my boyfriend's grandma. Always used white or red potatoes as they are waxier and don't break down like Russet potatoes do. I saw the light! She had also suggested the mushrooms, which as I mentioned I never had in stew before, but they were a great addition to this stew!! Super happy with how delicious the stew turned out, especially the meat! I've never cooked meat that was as tender as the stew meat turned out so it was quite a nice surprise! Even my picky eater boyfriend who hates stew loved how it turned out! It was so easy to put together too, and I loved how I didn't have to stand over it while it cooked! I just went about my day as dinner took care of itself..can't ask for better than that! :)

Until next time..cheers!!! ;)

UPDATE 2/10/13: As I do own a slow cooker now, I thought I would update this post with an actual recipe for how I make my stew in the slow cooker (which is pretty much the same method as the above post, but I just use a slow cooker now instead of a pot). I'm not going to go into details regarding amounts of these ingredients, as I just kind of winged to be honest. Plus your stew seasoning can give you a better idea regarding quantities.

Noonie's Stewy Goodness: Slow Cooker Edition
Prep Time: 10 mins or so
Cook Time: 8 Hours (Low) 5 Hours (High)
Or until beef is tender.

Whatcha Need:
* Stew Meat of your choice
(I always use beef)
* Potatos
* Carrots
* Mushrooms
* Stew Seasoning Mix
(I always use McCormick's)
* Just enough water to cover the top of your ingredients

- Place stew meat at the bottom of your slow cooker
- Mix a little water with the stew seasoning, pour seasoning mix and the rest of the water into the slow cooker
- Pile everything else on top, cover and let it be
- Last but not least...enjoy!! :)

08 December 2013

Socrates Sculpture Park

The past few weeks I have been pre-occupied with finals, work, school, life, what I'm going to do when I graduate, and a whole host of other problems.... Which provided all the more reason to take a mini-break today and go for a walk!
I live in Astoria, which is well known for its waterfront parks (albeit few people in Astoria actually live on the water) and while I've been to Astoria Park a number of time I had yet to experience Socrates Sculpture Park.
The walk was about 30 minutes, on the way I stopped by a Greek Coffee shop I had been meaning to try which was as delicious and homemade as I had hoped. It was a bit more chilly than I had hoped, but it was beautifully brisk and I got some great views, photos, and art!

The tipped over speaker below was playing music too!

Hope you enjoy the photos.

04 December 2013

Gobble! Gobble!

This photo does NOT do this
dessert justice! :)

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone but I did want to share my little Turkey day creation. It is the season for pumpkin recipes after all. This was my boyfriend and I's 3rd Thanksgiving together, and just like many couples out there we have a split, run around, kind of day as we wanted to spend the day together and with our families. As typical this year we got to lounge around in the morning and spend some time together before we headed off to his uncle and aunt's home in Folsom, dessert in tote. After a delicious meal and dessert we headed to my mom's for "Dessert Round 2", which included pumpkin and cherry pies, as well as this delicious ambrosia salad that my mom makes for every holiday. It's one of those "I don't feel right if I don't eat it on a holiday" type desserts, that I truly look forward to. After all that grubbin', it was of course right to bed when we arrived home later that night. All in all a good turkey day.

So back to that "Turkey day creation" aka "Layered Pumpkin Dessert" that I mentioned earlier. I knew I wanted to make some sort of dessert that incorporated pumpkin. I also knew I wanted to make a dessert that I had never eaten before, or seen at a holiday function, and this is where this awesome recipe comes into play. I initially found this recipe on Pinterest, it immediately caught my eye because not only did it look good, but it sounded out of this world! So without further adieu.....

Layered Pumpkin Dessert

Prep Time: 3-4 Hours
Bake Time: 40 minutes


25 Ginger Snaps, finely crushed (1 1/3 Cup)
1/4 Cup Butter, melted
2 pkg. 8 oz. Cream Cheese,softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin
1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 t. Ground Nutmeg
2 Eggs
2 pkg. Vanilla Instant Pudding
1 Tub Whipped Cream
1/2 Cup Pecans,chopped


Heat oven to 350
Mix cookie crumbs and butter, press onto bottom of 13x9 pan, bake 10 mins
Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until well blended
Add pumpkin and spices mix, then add eggs 1 at a time blend all well, pour onto crust
Bake for 30 mins, then cool for 1 hour
Beat pudding mixes and milk with whisk for 2 mins, stir in 1/2 of your whipped cream, spread over dessert
Spread remaining whipped cream on top and refrigerate 3 hours or until firm
Sprinkle with nuts before serving.

I didn't change the recipe much except when I made it I opted to use Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg as it contained both of these spices. The other thing I did do different was use a muffin tin instead of a 13x9 pan as I wanted to make individual servings, this really pumped up the dessert's appeal! This recipe was pretty straightforward and the dessert turned out delicious! 

Hope everyone had a nice Turkey day! Heerrreee comes Christmas!
Until next time..cheers!!!

22 November 2013

Queens | Worlds Fair Site

For a few years now I've been wanting to go to the Queens Museum and World Fair site (aka the Queens Globe, set of Iron Man...) and this past Saturday night I finally did!

I was meeting a friend for coffee when I was invited to the museums grand re-opening. Offered free booze, free admission, and the chance to check one off my bucket list; so of course I jumped on board!!!

We hopped on the 7 Line and made our way to Flushing Queens. Meeting up with a few other folks at the local "white folk" Mexican restaurant (which was quite good), we went on an adventure hike to find the museum. Wandering around Flushing was an experience in itself, it felt as though we were in Anywhere-Suburban USA. That was, until we saw the iconic "T" shaped structure "Terrace on the Park" and knew we were close. We, in our ultimate wisdom, listened to the boys who tried to take a shortcut through the restaurants humongous parking lot; instead we were fenced in and it took us 15 minutes to realize so. After more wandering through parks at night in the dark... we finally found it!

I spotted the museum first, and hadn't realized that the globe was behind the museum, as we approached I witnessed the iconic globe! Seeing it at night was spectacular! It was just as shiny, watery, and lit up as I had dreamed. The water feature was magnified with the lighting, what a beauty!
Once I soaked up all my excitement, I turned around and went into the museum.

While the museum itself was nice, I was a bit surprised at how small it is. The exhibits were intriguing, but the piece-de-resistance was the model of NYC (photos below). As a city planner I had been wanting to see this for years. The scaled model is huge. The museum built a room and plexiglass walkway around it. Building heights, street widths, mini airplanes, the lot of it!
One of my favorite features is the little plane that flies in and out of LaGuardia Airport. It's tied to a string and circles back and forth. Too damn cute!!!!

After the museum we made our way to Flushing (another first for me) for the best Chinese food I've had to date! Fried rice with egg and scallion, eggplant, spicy chicken, and shredded lamb galore! Plus Chinese beer, tea, and all the white rice you can muster!

I'm sad I didn't take any photos while in Flushing, but you can bet your backside I will be back soon!