Review: Panas Gourmet Empanadas

A few weeks ago, I was coming back from a Saturday work event (yea, I know – miserable) and was getting pretty hungry. I also needed to run some errands in Dupont. But luckily I was with a cool coworker, and she not only offered to come along on my errand, but pointed out a cool empanada place in Dupont that I’d never noticed before. So we decided to check it out.

Panas Gourmet Empanadas | Arlington DarlingPanas Gourmet Empanadas is in a basement space on P street, west of the circle. It’s cute and bright! You get the sense that these empanadas will be a quick, light, scrumptious meal.

Well…quick and scrumptious they were…but light they were not. We ordered an 8-empanada combination called the “Paranda” and chose mostly vegetarian options. I distinctly remember the Smoked Eggplant tasting very Italian, the Tamal being super spicy, and the BrieArt being my favorite. But they were all so rich! We scoffed at the idea that 8 empanadas would fill us up, and by the end we were stuffed. I think it was the cheese – they’re very generous with it, which made the empanadas delicious but rich.

Panas Gourmet Empanadas | Arlington DarlingVerdict: Panas is yummy and reasonably priced, especially if you go with a group and split a combo. And I do appreciate the variety of vegetarian options. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is health food – you’ll come away feeling a little regretful in that department.


Roundup of Superbowl Recipes

My family is not a football family – we are a baseball family (go Yankees!). So every year, as fans gear up to watch the Superbowl and get really worked up about this rivalry or that rivalry, I’m just thinking, “what will I eat?” The Superbowl is the perfect excuse to eat a lot and feel…American about it. Like Thanksgiving but without your family. And more junk food.

This year, I’m going to a friend’s house on the Superbowl for some low-key activities like watching the commercials, eating a LOT of yummy food, and half-heartedly cheering when something exciting happens in the game. I was thinking yesterday about what I would bring, so I wanted to post my recipe roundup here for all of you! Most of the recipes are from right here on Arlington Darling, except for the first one: Baked Southwestern eggrolls. I made my own adaptation of these last night and haven’t posted my version yet, but oh goodness they are good. I think they’re going to be the winner.

Hah, get it? Winner? Like…of the Superbowl? But…food? 🙂

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls | Annie’s Eats

Tuna-Apple Mini Melts | Arlington Darling

Roasted Rosemary Chili Pecans | Arlington Darling

Antipasto Skewers | Arlington Darling

Let me know if you make any of them for your own Superbowl get-together and how they turn out! Go team!

Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Guess what, guess what!? I just cut, peeled, roasted, and mashed my very first butternut squash all by myself.

I’m very proud, if I say so myself.

It was not as hard as I thought it would be. And I sort of mean that literally – the squash was softer than I expected. It was still pretty solid, but I managed to get one of my crappy knives through it with a little bit of elbow grease. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to, but I was. Then I peeled it (again, took a little elbow grease because the skin is very thick), cubed it, and roasted it for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Easy peasy.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce | Arlington Darling

After that, in order to make the pasta sauce, I used a potato masher to mash up the squash. To the squash, I added some sauteed leeks and garlic and about 1 cup of pasta water. For flavor, I added some thyme, pepper, and salt.

My mom introduced me to the possibility of this dish – she made hers with some shrimp, and I don’t think she used leeks. I adapted my recipe from Skinny Taste but mine is vegan. Basically a lot of different sources inspired me to make this dish, and you should feel free to evolve it to your own taste – you can boil or sautee the squash instead of roasting it, add some nice sage if you have it, or mix in some heavy cream or parmesan cheese.

Just don’t be afraid of the butternut squash! Trust me on that one. If you’re still a little leery of them, Whole Foods sometimes sells them already cubed.

1-1.5 lbs. of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
0.5 lbs. of whole wheat pasta shells
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thoroughly cleaned and sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

To Make:
1. Roast the peeled and cubed butternut squash at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, seasoned with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, clean and thinly slice the leek.
3. Sautee the leek and some garlic in a small saucepan with some olive oil.
4. After the leek is translucent and fragrant, remove it from the heat.
5. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water.
6. When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
7. When the squash are tender and beginning to brown, remove from the oven and transfer to a large glass or metal bowl. Mash with the potato masher. Add the leeks and reserved pasta water.
8. Mix together until you get your desired consistency for the sauce (I like mine somewhere between thick soup and mashed potato).
9. Combine with pasta and eat!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce | Arlington Darling

Enjoy :).

Big Curled Hair How-To

How to: Big Curly Hair | Arlington Darling

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to my hair (aren’t we all?). It’s either straightened and long, or pulled back into a smooth, chic ponytail. I occasionally vary my look and do a high teased bun, but rarely.

So I surprised myself the other day when I dusted off my curling iron and without further ado (and without watching any youtube hair how-to tutorials), I started curling my hair. The only thing guiding me was the voice of my BFF JJ, repeating in my head: “curl the curls away from your face.” I’ve been watching the girl curl her own hair since high school, so she knows what she’s talking about.

My result is in the two images on the right.

I don’t have a fancy technique, I just recommend getting in there with your tools and figuring what works for your hair. I’ve done it about five times now, for special weekend occasions (a.k.a. going out to bars – no inaugural balls or anything). I don’t do this look for work – it’s too Brigitte Bardot for daytime. Here are my tips:How to: Big Curly Hair | Arlington Darling

  1. Start with clean, damp hair.
  2. Blowdry your hair upside down. I never use a hairbrush when blowdrying because I don’t think you need it, and you definitely don’t for this hairstyle. Blowdrying upside down gives you the volume needed to pull this look off.
  3. Use a straightener (if your hair is curly) to tame any flyaways close to your hairline that you won’t be able to reach with the curling iron.
  4. Use a big-barreled iron (mine is 1″) and make sure it is hot!
  5. Section your hair into two big bunches with a clip, a top section and a bottom section.
  6. Using the iron, curl sections of your hair (anywhere from 1-3 inch sections work best on my hair), curling upward and outward with the iron. Hmm, how to explain that better? Must…use…my…words… Okay. Position the iron onto a section of hair so that the barrel is on the outside (the hair is between the iron and your head). Clamp the very end of the hair, then roll the iron upwards around the section, in a motion toward your head. This is opposed to rolling it under. Does that make any sense? How do the youtube hair girls explain this? I guess they have a youtube channel so they can just show you. That’s smart of them.
  7. After you curl each section, set it with hairspray. I’m a Jersey girl so I cannot stress the importance of this part enough.
  8. I always leave the face framing pieces until last because they need to be the best. As JJ says, make sure you position the iron so that the curls curl away from your face (Using the same motion that I described in #6 except by now I hope you understood what the heck I was trying to describe. This is why I start with the bottom  underneath sections…).
  9. Hairspray your whole head, and then hairspray it upside down. Then flip! Then hairspray it again! And then fluff!
  10. Be fabulous.

Recipe: Extra-Yummy Chocolate Box Cake

As you all know by now, I’m a lady of convenience. Yes, I like fresh food and yes, I try to be healthy, but sometimes there’s nothing better than opening up a box of packaged food, adding one or two ingredients, heating it up, and calling it a day.

Martha Stewart I am not.

So when my cousin asked me to bring a dessert for Christmas dinner, I wanted to make something special for my family, but easy. So! I took a box of chocolate cake mix and jazzed it up a bit (it was for Christmas, after all – can’t just serve regular ol’ boxed cake! I do have some standards).

Extra-Yummy Chocolate Cake | Arlington DarlingIngredients:
1 box of dark chocolate cake mix (like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker)
Ingredients to make a boxed cake mix (usually 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, and 1/4 cup water)

To Make:
1. Empty the dry cake mix into a bowl.
2. Add the usual number of eggs.
3. Substitute half of the oil with melted butter (so if the box calls for 1/3 cup of oil, do 1/6 cup of oil and 1/6 cup of melted butter).
4. Substitute milk for water (so if the box calls for 1/4 cup of water, use 1/4 cup of milk instead).
5. Mix together until blended well (use a hand mixer for a fluffier texture).
6. Bake according to box directions.

I think it tasted much richer than boxed cake usually does and it had a nice gooey quality. As you can see from the picture above, I then frosted it using about a can and a half of regular vanilla frosting and added some festive Christmas sprinkles. Whatever floats your boat. I also used a bundt pan which added to the festive-ness.

No one in my family asked if I had made it from scratch, so I guess I wasn’t truly fooling anyone, but… after all was said and done about half of the cake was eaten so I think that’s quite an accomplishment. Definitely making my boxed cakes this way from now on.