How ‘MasterChef’ Changed My Life

My love for “MasterChef” all started when my roommates forced me to join them on an episode of “MasterChef USA.” We had just recently moved into our cute little apartment (that creaks whenever you make a step) in Rosslyn, VA. The WiFi had just been installed, and my roommates decided that we had to have TV bonding night. I made sure to grab my phone as I never really enjoyed the fast-paced cooking reality shows. I ended up finishing the first episode only because I was hoping for some sort of “idiot sandwich” comment from Gordon Ramsay.

In two short weeks, we finished the entirety of “MasterChef USA” season 10. Since we’d moved in, I’d eaten rice and eggs every day for breakfast. A simple meal, for sure, but I began to imagine how I could make my meals reflect the beauty of the meals on “MasterChef.” After many attempts, my eggs looked great and my sister even complimented them, and my sister never compliments anything of mine! Then, of course, the attention seeker in me decided to post the eggs on my Instagram story. All it took was one person to swipe up for my pride to build.

Every meal after that has become a competition with myself. How can I make my meals look pretty enough to rival the ones on “MasterChef” and make my IG look pretty enough for validation from my followers? Let me show you a few of my greatest creations below.

These were the eggs that started it all. My mother and sister approved, so that’s all it took for me to gain enough confidence to share on my IG.

Thanks to my roommates’ “MasterChef” addiction, I actually found myself getting better with my skills in the kitchen. I was cutting faster, adjusting the heat properly, and seasoning just how it should be. On top of those, my food photography skills were improving as well. Take a look below!

This is my friend’s, Kiran, and my version of Chicken Tikka Masala.

In this recipe, my friend Kiran and I made our version of a Chicken Tikka Masala, something I was terribly craving since moving up to Virginia. I’d say we cheated on this recipe, because we used a store-bought sauce. It was good, but we found ourselves adding garlic, onions, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a heck ton of paprika.

This is a simple version of spaghetti and pan-fried shrimp.

Now this dish was a banger. It was my first time cooking pasta without anyone’s physical help, and a few noodles may have ended up on the wall (apparently if they stick, it’s al dente).

This is a ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich with corn salsa and chips on the side.

This meal above was one of my favorites because of all of the colors involved. It also took a little more work because I pickled the onions in the sandwich myself. The corn salsa was something my sister made all the time, but I never had the courage to try it out myself.

This is my version of deep-fried panko shrimp.

I actually gained a few pounds after eating these fried shrimp bits (jk … maybe). I’ve always had a fear of hot oil (*flashback to past traumatic experiences with popping oil burns*) but built up the courage to try out frying some shrimp because I was in the mood for something greasy. To be fair, I paired it with a salad to make it healthy.

This is a simple one: pancakes with some fresh strawberries and syrup.

These pancakes were extremely fun to make — partly because this was my first time making them from scratch. I didn’t realize how easy this dish is to make! After that morning, I vowed to never make pancakes from the box ever again.

Another simplified version of spaghetti and parmesan chicken (but no parmesan, oops).

When I say this spaghetti dish was memorable, I mean it. Despite how delicious this may look, it was probably one of the worst things I’ve made: It was very bland and undercooked. After giving myself some time to reflect (I literally sat on the couch and thought about this), I realized my mistakes: I didn’t let the chicken set to room temperature before frying it, I didn’t pound it flat enough, and, most importantly, I didn’t season it properly. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I’m glad I know how to improve myself for round two.

Overall, my experiences in the kitchen were entirely new adventures for me, inspired by my new love of “Masterchef.” Many of the recipes I shared on my IG story were actually my first attempts at them. When someone asks me what my favorite thing to make is, I always struggle to answer because I’ve only ever made everything once! Wait a couple of months and ask me that same question, and hopefully, I’ll have an answer ready to tell you.

An Ode to Leo’s Brunch

an ode to leos brunch

At 4E, Leo’s brunch has a special place in our hearts. So in honor of our love for this special occasion, here is an Ode to Leo’s Brunch.

A whistle blows outside the window,
Sun streams over my eyes.
Good God, is it noon already?
Well, I guess that’s no surprise.

The morning pat down commences.
iPhone, wallet, GoCard? I’m clear.
“Wait, this is Harbin 7, right?”
— Confirmed; roommates’ snores are near.

Roomie, we’ve gotta get up, I say;
Another Sunday has come to scare.
“I must go to Lau!” she cries suddenly!
I laugh and reply, “Don’t you dare.”

It’s time for brunch, I remind her,
Visions of tater tots dancing in my head.
“C’mon, the group chat’s blowing up!
Off to Leo’s; get out of bed!”

A familiar odor greets us,
as we saunter through O’Donovan’s door.
There’s that familiar look Suru gives us;
it screams “You look like you slept on the floor.”

Jeez, I just burped up Burnett’s, I lament;
cold water is what I need.
But the line for food reaches the staircase!
Patiently, we wait; it is our creed.

Scrambled eggs, pancakes, and tots! Oh my!
Surely we don’t deserve this feast.
The digits of my tuition bill pop into my brain;
seconds are necessary, at the very least.

The Sunday sermon commences, as Saturday night is sewn together.
“You did WHAT?” is the typical cry.
“No, I swear, check her Story. You can’t make this sh*t up.”
“Wait, I DEFINITELY know that guy!”

There are laughs, there are screams, there are guffaws about;
the muffled chair-scrapes signal plates refilled.
“Oh God, it’s 2:00,” one friend sighs to me,
And with that, the mood has been killed.

We decidedly tread home, successful troops;
mission accomplished without a doubt.
Reality hits, and sadly, we separate;
Off to Lau, my conscience shouts.

Another weekend, come and gone;
Monday looms; academics are near.
But at least we have Sunday Leo’s, and the friends who make it great;
until next time, lest other options appear.

Gifs: giphy.com, https://bit.ly/2e2oGEM

FREE IHOP PANCAKES TOMORROW

IHOP

Tomorrow is not just any regular old Tuesday – it’s IHOP National Pancake Day!

Yes, it’s true. Tomorrow, Mar. 3, your local IHOP is offering a free shortstack of its delicious buttermilk pancakes FO’ FREE.

But why? Well, IHOP is encouraging donations from each customer for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other specified charities.

Where is our local IHOP? There are two nearby-ish ones: 935 N Stafford St. in Arlington, or 3100 14th St. NW in the District.

Maybe you’re still not convinced that you should go. Have you seen these pancakes?

So yeah, you want to get yourself to IHOP tomorrow. The event runs from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. Because breakfast doesn’t have to be limited to the morning.

See you at IHOP, and don’t forget to donate!

Photos/Gifs: timeout.com, livingrichwithcoupons.com, plated.com, ihophawaii.com

Midnight Breakfast Is Here

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Tonight is the annual midnight breakfast at the fabulous O’Donovan’s on the waterfront (aka Leo’s). Students from all over campus will gather to enjoy the coolest meal of the day.

The midnight breakfast starts at 10 pm and is open to all students who show a GoCard. That means that a meal plan is not required. Warning: this event gets crazy crowded, so make sure to think through your plan of action.

Some cool things about the midnight breakfast:

  • The event is in the upstairs of Leo’s. The whole level will be decked out in all sorts of Christmas cheer. You can expect wreaths, maybe some tinsel and definitely some Christmas carols.
  • They use disposable dishes and cutlery. No searching for clean bowls!
  • The food is really good. I don’t know how or why, but something about eating breakfast food at 10 p.m. makes everything better. The pancakes are fluffier, the bacon is crispier – the food just tastes better.
  • There will probably be French Toast sticks. A delicacy of years past, French Toast sticks have only been present at breakfast a pitiful 3 times this semester. If Leo’s has any left (which they probably do, since they never serve them), you can expect platters and platters of this fine food. (Note: 4E is not promising French Toast sticks, just predicting. And hoping.)
  • The food is served by Georgetown professors. There are two long tables manned by a few of our favorite professors dishing out the breakfast entrees. This is the perfect time to ask questions about your exams and papers (jk, don’t be that guy) or questions about your professors’ personal lives.
  • Dessert. Leo’s always does dessert pretty well, but the snacks at midnight breakfast are on a totally different level. There is also a lot of fresh fruit.

Why should you go to Midnight Breakfast?

One word: Finals.

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We all need a break, and food is a great way to help the struggle. As the age-old adage says, “There is no problem that a little bacon can’t solve.”

Midnight and breakfast are two of my favorite things, and Leo’s addresses both with class and finesse. Come out tonight and enjoy delicious food and friends before the start of finals!

Photos/Gifs: https://31.media.tumblr.com/d79f2e4294fc7a9fc778ce9052614c68/tumblr_inline_n4vg1ovKD71ry9hph.gif; https://www.hercampus.com/school/duke/midnight-breakfast

Take a Break With Santa Tomorrow Night

Breakfast with Santa

Dreading the upcoming week of finals? Excited about the end of classes? Hungry for pancakes? Whatever the reason, get ready for Breakfast with Santa Claus tomorrow night. At 10 p.m. in the Great Room of the HFSC, InterHall will be serving up free pancakes, hot chocolate and coffee.

Maybe you think this event is beneath you. But you know who else loves pancakes?

The President.

Also, Santa will be there, as you can see in the letter below.

You won’t want to miss out on this — even if it’s just for a study break. All I’m hoping for is that DeGioia shows up in a red suit and a large white beard.

Photos: Facebook, pelicanparts.com, pressroomvip.com, funnyjunk.com, wordpress.com