Category Archives: food adventures

Mushroom Ravioli w/Hot Garlic Sausage

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My sister and I made a trip to an Italian market in our hometown. It’s called Claros Italian Market and it was AMAZING! The food there was very authentic and I could definitely taste the difference. We ended up buying pretty much the whole store. I love mushroom ravioli so we got that with like 5lbs of hot garlic sausage. My dad grows cherry tomatoes so we didn’t have to buy any! 🙂

Mushroom Ravioli w/Hot Garlic Sausage
1lb of frozen or homemade mushroom ravioli
5 links of hot garlic sausage (I used smoked beef sausage as well as it just didn’t taste the same)
15 cherry tomatoes halved
evoo for tossing
grated parmesan cheese for garnish

– cook ravioli in a medium pan and set aside
– cook sausages and then cut into pieces
– throw ravioli back into pan and toss with evoo
– add sausage and toss again
– add tomatoes last and stir until just combined
– garnish with grated parmesan cheese

I used flavorful ingredients from the Italian market so I really didn’t have to season it at all. The ravioli was frozen and seasoned very well. The hot garlic sausage was also seasoned very well.
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I highly suggest using just Italian sausage. The smoked sausage taste weird with it.
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Prepping for the pasta 🙂
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Blood orange gelato! It’s freakin delicious!! I LOVE blood orange so it was the perfect treat for me.
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Delicious frozen mushroom ravioli
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Box of deliciousness!
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Slice of grand marnier cake and a bavarian creme eclair
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Yummy syrups for my coffee.

We also bought spinach pasta salad, smoked gouda, jarred pesto, homemade chunky meat red sauce, amaretto syrup, 3 kinds of coffee, zabaione syrup, spaghetti pasta, angel hair pasta, a cookbook, greek cucumber salad, and I think that’s it. But seriously…we bought the whole store. Overall it was great! The workers were very friendly and helpful in helping us decide what to get. When we couldn’t decide we got everything. I know, I know, it’s horrible.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Pennsylvania Road Trip

Am I a weirdo for dedicating a blog post to a trip I haven’t gone on yet? If I am, yay for the weirdos! My best friend and I have been texting back and forth about our trip to Hershey, PA. I did a lot of research about flights, hotels, food, entertainment, etc. The cheapest route for us would be for me to fly to Nebraska and meet her there, drive to Pennsylvania, visit Hershey, drive back to Nebraska, and then fly home. The drive from Omaha to Hershey is approximately 17 hours long. I’m usually not a big fan of road trips BUT my bestie makes an excellent travel buddy. We have the craziest stories and the best moments happen when we’re driving so why not? 🙂 We plan on driving through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio before we hit Pennsylvania. Being the micromanaging planner that I am, I’ve complied a list of all the places I want to go in each state. Sadly Iowa and Indiana don’t have any places that I know of. Does anyone know of any cool spots or good food in those two states? Help a sister out will ya?

I’m definitely going food crazy in Illinois and Ohio. For Illinois I want to inhale any type of Chicago style food that I can get my hands on. Portillo’s stands at #1 for me but I’m open to all suggestions. If anyone has them, let me know! We’ll be real close to the Chicago area. In Ohio, I plan on indulging any type of cassata cake as well as paying a visit to the Chocolate Bar and Lola’s. I’m really excited to visit Lola’s since it’s owned by Iron Chef Michael Symon. He is a beast..and rightly so. We’ll be close to the Cleveland area. I believe we’ll also be in Pittsburgh before we hit Hershey so a Roethlisburger is a must. I’m not a Steelers fan BUT it looked really good in the pictures. Yes, I’m super lame. I’m perfectly content with that though!

I’m still racking my brain trying to find places in Iowa and Indiana. I came up with nada. Seriously, someone help! I can’t wait for this road trip. It’s going to be awesome. We’re going to Chocolate World, Hershey Park, and the Chocolate Spa. We’re also going to inhale all the good food in between. The year needs to hurry up already cause I’m ready to go.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Travel List for 2015

Ever since vacationing at Catalina Island and visiting my best friend in Nebraska, I’ve been on a “travel kick.” I want to go everywhere. I keep making all these lists and plans that I’m slowly driving myself crazy. I’ve finally narrowed it down to three places. One of them is for sure and the other two are maybes. I couldn’t decided which one I want to go to more so I added both.

#1: Lake Powell, AZ – This made the list again because my sister said she wants to go. I think she’s still bummed we went to Catalina but it was fun. They have a great website for planning the trip. The only down side was I couldn’t find much about food and if anything, I always go for the food. We’re planning on taking a boat tour along with kayaking and all kinds of water stuff. If we go, we will most likely drive there. We’re not really looking forward to the drive. It’s approximately 8 hours from where we are and well…we could be in San Francisco in 8 hours. I am excited about going because it means I can check Arizona off my visit 50 states list.
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#2: Morro Bay, CA – This was originally no where on the list. However, my sister went on a trip with friends and made it sound so amazing now I want to go! She was telling me about the beach sand. I know it’s strange but we typically judge a beach by the sand and cleanliness. She said the beach up there surpasses Laguna Beach which made me really curious. Laguna is my #1 down here so I knew I had to put it on the list. She kept saying soft beach sand and I was convinced. I’ve never stopped here on the way to San Fran but I heard it’s really nice. We’ll either go to Lake Powell or come here. Is it sad to say I pick here instead? 🙂 It’s closer and we’ll be going to the beach! I’m hoping we can rent a house within walking distance of the beach.
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#3: Hershey, PA – My best friend and I are travel junkies. Since she moved to Nebraska, I’ve been scheming up ways for us to get together. I went to visit her in Nebraska last September and she came to California in December. However, she might be PCSing to Japan with her hubby at the end of this year. I was planning on visiting her again in Nebraska in the spring but since she might be going to Japan, I thought I’d visit her there instead. So now we’re going to Hershey, PA. Mainly for the chocolate. I’ve been dying to see Chocolate World and Hershey Park. I know, I know, I’m a 5 year old at heart. I’m not going to lie, I love me a good Kit Kat bar. Actually…come to think of it, I’ve never had a bad Kit Kat bar. Anyway, they also have a chocolate spa. We’re completely sold and definitely going after summer. Strangely enough, I heard of Hershey, PA while watching the HBO series Band of Brothers because of Major Winters. I might have to bring an extra suitcase just to fit all my goodies.
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And for the honorable mentions that almost made the list..
#1: New Orleans, LA – I love NOLA’s atmosphere. I love oysters…and cajun food. I was drooling when I looked at the food scene. I wasn’t sold on the super expensive hotels. If I were to go I’d at least stay for a week and it costs about a grand just for the hotel stay. Not within my budget.
#2: Washington, DC – This has been on my travel list for a long time. I want to go see all the monuments and soak in the atmosphere of Capitol Hill. However, like NOLA it’s just way too expensive for my budget right now. It would take me at least two weeks minimum to see everything I want to see.
#3: Charleston, SC – My sister likes places that are considered “quaint” and she’s into the bed and breakfast thing. I’m not much for that because I think my taste is a little too luxurious sometimes but I humor her. She wants a bed and breakfast AND a rodeo. Do they have rodeos in Charleston? If so where are they? Help a girl out because she said it’s my job to research so I need to add it to the list. I just want the shrimp and grits.

The list for 2016? You had better believe NOLA will be on there. And in addition to NOLA, Hawaii will be on there and possibly the Cayman Islands and/or Washington, DC. I have two must haves for vacay: one is the beach, two is the food. Everything else is secondary. I’m so excited! Oh and who got hired? This girl! 🙂 I’m truly blessed with all the opportunities that I have been given. Nothing but good vibes today!

**All pictures courtesy of Yahoo! Images.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Baking The Blues Away

Ever since the funeral, my family has been kind of in a slump. Everyone seems a little down so I decided to utilize my #1 self-care method. You’re right, it’s baking! I had been meaning to thank the veterans at the VA for helping get into the fellowship program I recently graduated from. Nothing says thanks and happy holidays like a tin of yummy PW cinnamon rolls!
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Three of the five tins
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My own pan! Or my moms…I woke up the next morning and half of it was gone.
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Stockings on the fireplace. Please excuse the grapefruits. My dad wouldn’t let me take them off the fireplace.
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The lights my dad puts up every year.
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An updated version of my Christmas tree! 🙂
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And last but not least, PW mocha brownies. Deliciously sinful. I’ve been meaning to bake some more this week. I’ll be baking some cookies and bite size brownies for family.

I’m glad I got to go to the VA today and see the vets. They were super excited when they heard I was coming in. Because I usually bring goodies of course. They were excited about the cinnamon rolls and dark chocolate almond clusters. I also wrote them Christmas cards to go with the goodies. I didn’t realize it but the cards were a huge gesture to them. A lot of them made jokes about receiving only that card or just a few cards but I know some of them don’t have family. It tugged at my heart quite a bit when we were talking about that since they’re like my second family. They taught me a lot and embraced me for my weirdness. They also talk freely about any topic when I’m around when they used to censor themselves. Apparently I’ve been in the trenches with them before so they don’t mind being themselves.

That’s all for now! I’ll do a post about how I packaged the cinnamon rolls. Happy Holidays!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

A Merry Christmas?

Every year around Christmas time my mom’s side of the family all come together to visit my grandfather, great-grandmother, grand aunt, and grand uncle’s grave sites at Rose Hills Memorial Park. There’s a Chinese holiday that’s behind the visit but I can’t translate it into English where it makes sense (I apologize). Every visit we’ve made, I always see funeral processions taking place. I’ve always thought to myself, wow that must really be brutal to have a loved one pass away during this time of the year. This year, I was that person. My uncle’s mother passed away a few days after Thanksgiving from a stroke. I wasn’t super close with her but every time I saw her she was always happy and excited to engage me in conversation. While attending her services today, I noticed two military funerals taking place. It really tore me up inside.

I think today was a test of character for me. During the service for my uncle’s mother, my aunt completely lost it and broke down crying. In my culture, the son always takes care of the mother when the father isn’t present. My uncle got onto the podium to thank everyone for coming to the service and my cousins just sat there while my aunt lost it. I felt really bad because my aunt was crying really hard and leaned on her oldest son for comfort. Every single person in that chapel heard her. I asked my sister what we should do because someone should go up to her row and comfort her. My sister told me, “okay, go. I’ll watch your purse.” So I went. At first I was hesitant but then I told myself I should live up to the standards that I hold others to. My aunt and I have had a lot of rough patches and while growing up we never got along/saw eye to eye. When she realized it was my arm around her and my hand reaching out, she thanked me. It’s safe to say that family always comes first.

This is the third funeral I’ve ever been to and I don’t know what it’s like for other cultures but in my culture we always have a “memorial meal” after the burial. Usually it’s at some sort of Chinese restaurant. Today we went to NBC Seafood Restaurant in Monterey Park, CA. It’s been a while since all of us have gotten together to eat out but I wish it was under different circumstances. I did take some pictures of the food we ate and the awesome egg tart my mom got me after we left the restaurant.
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In this picture there’s a bowl of rice, a bowl of crab/seafood soup (it’s expensive for we usually only have it for special occasions), a glass of Pepsi, and a plate of honey walnut shrimp and stir fry veggies.
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This plate has sweet and sour ribs, stir fry fish fillets with bok choy, and salted soy chicken with shrimp chips (usually they have the chips with Peking Duck).
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A better picture of my third round of food. The plate was super small or else I would only have one round.
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The delicious egg tart from Jim’s Bakery. It’s so so good! Eggy, sweet, and creamy on the inside and flaky on the outside. That’s exactly what an egg tart should taste like.

While today was bittersweet, I hope that I will remember to put family first above all else. I think that was the biggest lesson for me today. Keep your loved ones close and let them know that you love them.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Fake or Real?

For as long as I’ve been grown enough to know the difference, I’ve always heard people argue about a fake or a real Christmas tree. Some people like the fake kind better while others are vice versa. This year I decided to get a fake tree at Target. I was actually looking at some cards because I have a huge list to send to and I caved. I began inching towards the trees and admiring each one. At first I was just looking but then I found a 6ft tree for $25. It was a pretty sweet deal considering they were selling 3ft fake trees for the same price. Anyway, I got some ornaments and two strings of garland for the tree. I went with a gold theme so the ornaments are gold and silver and the garland is the same colors. In the mist of my excitement, I forgot to get the star. Who does that?! I always thought it was the most important part of the tree. I also needed some new lights because the ones my dad bought forever ago are different colors. My sister laughed at me when I told her she needs to get the star and some lights.
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This is the tree half way done. I still need to put on more ornaments, lights, and the star. More pictures to come when I do that!

I graduated from my fellowship program today! I’m officially certified as a mental health rehabilitation specialist. It was pretty awesome. One of my fellow classmates has his own baking business and he made cupcakes for our graduation. There were three flavors, oreo, vanilla, and red velvet. The oreo one was legit and the red velvet was also delicious. I’ve never been a vanilla cupcake lover so that one never wows me.
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I can’t wait to see what’s next. My internship is over. I graduated my fellowship program. Next up, is job hunting. I’m still waiting on getting a call back for an interview I went to. Hopefully they’ll call me soon. I get super anxious about that kind of stuff. It’ll be really weird not going to class anymore. I felt like my classmates and I really bonded over the last 12 weeks. It was a hell of a ride. I’m glad we’re done but it’s bittersweet. I’ll miss all the residents I had the pleasure of getting to know. I’m looking forward to quality family time this holiday season. I’m going to try my best to go visit Christmas Tree Lane up in Altadena. I always say I’ll go every year but I end up not going. I want to see the decorations this year.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Different Kind of Turkey Day

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter, family, and lots of yummy food. This year was a different kind of Thanksgiving than I’m normally used to. Usually all of my relatives from my mom’s side come and celebrate. Sometimes my dad’s side jumps into the mix as well. Yesterday, it was just the four of us. It was a quiet day but still interesting. I think this year was the only year that I actually cared about setting the table. I know, shame on me. But when you have like 20 people trying to get food at the same time it doesn’t make sense to do it. For those of you who can keep them away until every dish is ready, I commend you. Teach me your secrets. The big sis and I split the cooking duties. My parents slept in and hung out watching the Thanksgiving parade on tv. They also drank WAY too much wine but that’s a story for another time.

Because it was just the four of us, my sister and I wanted to keep it simple. Leave it to my mom to make it crazy. I made the turkey and my sister made the ham. We split the sides consisting of spinach and feta salad, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Oh and lots of alcohol for my parents.
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That’s my turkey. 3 1/2 hours at 350 and voila. Perfection! It was delicious and juicy.
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Sweet potato casserole. The top layer is a delicious reminder of butter pecan ice cream. One of my favorites 🙂
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My semi-ready table. The ham took too long so we started eating without it.
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My first helping of everything but ham.
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Thick slices of delicious and juicy ham! It was so good!!
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Fluffy mashed potatoes. A Thanksgiving staple at my house. I can have Thanksgiving without a turkey but not without mashed potatoes. Thanks daddy, haha.
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The best spinach and feta salad ever!

For once, there was no dessert. There wasn’t any room left in my tummy for it anyway but I didn’t mind. I usually make pumpkin pie year around regardless. So while people camped out and woke up crazy early for Black Friday, I’m chilling at home with my blanket and a cup of hot apple cider. Christmas baking begins tomorrow with blackberry shortbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and white chocolate cranberry pecan cookies. Happy Holidays!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina