Recipes

Monday, March 30, 2009

Restaurant Week Part 2 - Moroccan Style

Good Evening peeps! Speaking of peeps I can't wait for Easter :) But anyways...

My second adventure in Boston's Restaurant Week happened last Sunday (the 22nd) in Charlestown. A city just north of Boston, across the water from the North End :) Charlestown is a beautiful old city (or is it a town? I'm actually not sure), with gorgeous town houses and historical features. It's where they keep the U.S.S. Constitution!

The restaurant, however, was anything BUT old New England...I give you...Tangierino
I'd also like to preface this by saying that the lighting was VERY dim, and there for picture taking was a little difficult...we actually needed the waiter to re-light our little tea light candles because when we tilted them towards the food the wax put the flame out! Woops :)

The decor was so cool...Dark = blurry pics. But if you'll notice on the left side of the picture there was 1 table with people seated beneath this draped fabric tent thing over their table. It was like a little private dining tent.

There was also a belly dancer that came around.All the tables and chairs had intricate metal work on them...such detail on everything.

Downstairs is a Hookah Bar...we didn't get down there this time, but I want to sometime soon!! I don't enjoy smoke but Hookahs are cool to look at haha :)

There was a good selection of dishes...I started with a refreshing glass of Savignon Blanc...mmm. I wish I remembered the type because it was delicious!
First we were served some DELICIOUS hummus (it had a little kick to it) and plump green olives on top.Soft bread to dip
Our appetizers came out quickly...I chose a traditional dish:
Chicken b'stila - delicate domed phyllo pie of chicken, toasted almonds, and mint yogurt sauce

This was awesome! Almost like dessert with chicken. It was this phyllo filled with a mixture of shredded chicken and the almonds, but there was also a touch of spice like cinnamon and the whole thing was dusted in POWDERED SUGAR!! It almost reminded me of fried dough! My first bite was a little too sweet, but I got used to it and it because so delicious. The mint yogurt sauce was also quite sweet (I was expecting more tang), but it went well. I didn't end up eating much of the yogurt sauce but this was like nothing I've ever eaten before.

For my main course I choose the:

7 Vegetable Cous Cous - cous cous medley of braised butternut squash, baby turnips, cabbage, carrots and chick peas
It was served to me in a big Tagine.

This tagine is designed to keep condensation from escaping while cooking and therefore keeping everything moist.

The cous cous was fluffy and perfect, the vegetables were good too...however I couldn't get past the fact the all the vegetable flavors kind of blended into 1 flavor, like a vegetable broth flavor. Don't get me wrong it was a delicious flavor but I wished I could have tasted the veggies more. At least this was not a heavy dish and I felt great eating just half and taking the rest home :) You all know how much I love leftovers!

I really branched out at dessert and did NOT order the chocolate mouse layered thing...but instead opted for homemade sorbet and SO glad I did!

The flavors that night were tangerine and watermelon!! This stuff was INCREDIBLE!!! The watermelon reminded me of when I was a kid and would order Watermelon Sherbet from Friendly's or Baskin Robbins! And the tangerine was slightly creamy and just so refreshing.

Obviously I stole bites from Brian and Jocy:

I do have to say for a Chocolate Mousse dish, this was not as heavy and filling as more are. There was a layer of white, milk, and dark mousse (if you couldn't already tell from the picture).

I also had tastes of their main dishes: Jocy had the lamb, Brian had the duck. Both were delicious and both also had hints of cinnamon!

I definitely would come back here...I really haven't been exposed to this type of food before and its so unique and flavorful!! Brian LOVES cinnamon so he was in heaven!

Per usual, its past my bed time!! Good Night!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Restaurant Week Part 1

Good Morning Bloggies! It's such a gloomy rainy morning here in Boston :( At least yesterday was nice!

Brian and I began HOUSE HUNTING yesterday!! We saw 4 houses with a Realtor and today we are going to hit up a few open houses. This is just the beginning and we haven't really seen anything we like, but at least we have time.

Boston Restaurant Week is officially over now. I mentioned this before, but twice a year in March and August a LARGE number of Boston's best restaurants (along with surrounding communities) host a prix fix 3-course menu for $33.09/person for dinner, or a 2-course lunch for $20.09.

My first restaurant excursion was Wednesday, March 18th.

Mom and I had reservations at Sorellina in Boston's Back Bay.The decor of this place was very calming and relaxing. Lots of white fabric and soft lighting.
We were at a table for 2 which had 1 chair and then I sat in this long booth which had big comfy white pillows.

If you look at the website, our table was along that large lit up picture on the wall (the one with the trees). I had my back to it.Mom's contemplating what to order.

I'm not a big drinker, esp with my meals, and my mom is REALLY not a big drinker but LOVES margaritas. They had a Blood Orange Margarita on their cocktail menu so she asked if it could be split into two smaller glasses. Mmmm refreshing! But I would not have been able to drink a whole one.
That is a typical restaurant week menu. 3 choices for appetizer, 3 for entre, and 2 desserts. Some restaurants offer many more choices, but its up to the individual restaurant. However, I usually try to go to places offering more choices which you will see in my other reviews.

We were served a warm crispy loaf of ciabatta bread...mmm.We decided to share two appetizers.

The first was the:
Salumi - sopressatta, Pecorino Toscano, cherry peppers agro dolceThe sopressatta was delicious, as was the pecorino cheese...but for some reason I was expecting the cherry peppers agro DOLCE to be sweet, not hot. Nope. I was wrong. I took a bite...SPICY! Hahaha! Well I learned :)

Then there was the:
Insalata - mixed baby greens, Bartlett pears, dried cranberries,
chardonay vinagrette.
This was also delicious. I LOVE dried cranberries on a nice salad like that. Then there was that big piece of homemade herb flat bread served with it.

For my main course I ordered the:
Salmon - Pan Roasted, mostarda glaze, seasonal vegetable assaggioA nice perfectly cooked piece of salmon with a sweet mustard glaze. The veggies were AWESOME, not sure exactly what they were but there was definitely some fennel involved and other crunch type sliced veggies that were kind of pickled...mmm. The salmon was good, nothing amazing though. My mom had duck and THAT was awesome.

The biggest "bummer" moment was with dessert, not that it wasn't great, but their initial menu online had a "Warm carrot torta with caramelo"...I so had plans to order that. Alas the menu was different when we arrived :(

We both got the:
Crema - semi sweet chocolate, pistachio biscotti, whipped cream
I mean you really can't go wrong with a chocolate mousse type dessert, and this was heavenly. I couldn't finish it though...it was rich!

Overall this was a great meal, we had great service, and I loved the atmosphere. However, a couple next to us was ordering off the regular menu and some of their dishes just looked way better...so I really want to go back and order off the regular menu. I know they are famous for their Kobe beef meatballs!

It was a great dinner with mom, she loves when I get her into the city during the week for a nice dinner out (and she pays too...BONUS!!) :)

Stay tuned for Restaurant Week parts 2 and 3!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Q&A and Winners!

First down to business.

The three lucky winners of the Fiber One Chocolate spa gift packages are:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

11
74
14

Coco
Chocolate mousse, especially those with dark chocolate, the bitter kind!

Sarah
Brownies. And hot fudge. Wait - a hot fudge brownie sundae... yes, that's it.
Danielle
Yum! I'd love to be entered :)


Send me your addresses girls and I will make sure these get to you!!

Q&A Part 2:

This question came about after my post about the bridal shower I helped plan for my friend Jen!

Sabrina (aka Rhodey Girl) asked:

Could you do a post on how you managed the time for it all? Did you prep mostly everything the day before? Was the frittata easily sliced?
I'd love to elaborate :)

Whenever you're preparing a big meal for many people (in this case about 3o), it is always a good idea and most of the time NECESSARY to plan ahead and figure out what can be prepared ahead of time.

The Shower was on a Saturday at 11:00AM, at a location 45min away.

I'll go through each item and how it was broken down:
Shopping:
  • Most was done on the Wednesday before. I got all the items I could at this 1 store which has the best prices. The items had to sit in my car for a while so I didn't get any of the dairy or meat items.
  • I also wanted to get the berries later so they were fresher
  • Definitely couldn't get everything at 1 place
  • In the end there were 7 trips to 5 places haha...good thing I like grocery shopping, and good thing there is a 24hr Shaws nearby for those last minute "oh crap I forgot..." moments.
Muffins:
  • Because the scones are more reliant on peak freshness than the muffins, I chose to do the muffins Friday night. They'd still be served less than 24hours after baking.
  • I made both the blueberry corn muffins, followed by the Chocolate Coconut Banana muffins on Friday night and let cool completely before placing in large Zip loc bags
Scones:
  • Scones are one of those things that are really best when fresh from the oven, so I really wanted to bake these the morning of.
  • There was some parts I could do beforehand though. On Friday night I prepped the dry ingredients to which I then cut in the butter. This mixture went into the freezer.
  • The dry ingredients/butter came out Saturday morning, I added the wet ingredients, shaped, cut, and baked!
  • For the Scones I also made clotted cream, this was done Friday night as well and just sat in the fridge until it was ready to serve.
Fruit and Yogurt Station:
  • I was really excited about this idea, and 1 reason was that NO PREP NEEDED!
  • When we arrived at the bridal shower house, we placed everything in bowls and set it out!
Fruit Platter:
  • All the fruit was cut up Friday night.
  • We also assembled the whole fruit platter and just wrapped it up tight with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
NOTE: We have an extra fridge in the basement which was KEY to this operation. We would of really had to clean/empty our fridge other wise.

Frittatas:
  • There's nothing too appealing about an egg dish that's made the day before, so these definitely had to be cooked the morning of. However, getting all the ingredients prepped saved TONS of time.
  • I blanched the asparagus on Thursday night and placed in the fridge until needed.
  • I grated the Gruyere cheese Thursday and placed that in a container in the fridge until needed.
  • Friday, we cooked up the chicken sausage as well as the balsamic caramelized onions and placed in containers until needed.
  • Saturday morning, I mixed up the egg mixture, placed the ingredients in the pan, poured the egg mix on top, and baked.
  • When I arrived at the house I placed both Frittatas in the oven on like 250 to keep warm
  • NOTE ON THE ASPARAGUS - was it easy to cut?? Well it wasn't hard, but because the egg is so much softer, next time I would pre-cut the asparagus into bite size pieces so that you wouldn't need to cut through the asparagus when cutting a slice of frittata! The other frittata was fine :)
Chicken Salad
  • Thursday I cooked the chicken, let cool, then bagged it and placed it in the fridge
  • Friday I made the chicken salad; cut/shredded the chicken, sliced the grapes, and cut the celery...mixed it all up with the dressing then placed in large zip locs.
  • I didn't want to assemble the sandwiches until we arrived so the pitas would not be soggy. I had some helpers assemble the sandwiches that morning :)
Others:
  • Jocy made her penuche cake Thursday night because it keeps well.
  • The only prep needed for the salad was slicing strawberries Friday night.
  • The little brie/ham/apple crostinis were assembled at the shower with the only prep being cutting the brie and the baguette Friday night.
All in all it was not an overwhelming amount of work. Jocy and I didn't get to bed til about 1am Friday night then were up at 5:30am Saturday...so the lack of sleep wasn't great, but that was the worst of it :) Everything else went smoothly and it's KEY to have a helper. Sous Chef Jocy did a lot of the cutting and interim dish washing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bride's Registry Guide

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Cookware.com with the proposition to work with them to form an article relating to bridal registries and cookware...which just happen to be two of my FAVORITE topics right now! I mean this couldn't have come at a better time: I am getting married, recently started up 3 different registries, am looking to buy a house, and I use cookware all the time :) A match made in heaven if you ask me.

This is also being timed perfectly with the sending of my Save The Dates! My friends and family should be receiving them in the mail in the next couple of days and if they go to my wedding website, they will find links to my registry :)You heard me correct, I have 3 registries and may add a 4th! I mean there's just not 1 single store that satisfies my needs haha. For example, I have a registry at Pottery Barn (yay!), this is almost entirely for dinnerware. I just LOVE the Emma collection and didn't find anything I liked as much anywhere else so that's where that came from.

So without further ado...

Brides Registry Guide to Cookware

There comes a time in a bride’s life when we need to pick out the proper wedding gifts that will suit the everyday needs of their new home. Despite the fact that we want to concentrate on the honeymoon and endless nights of take out, we need to come to the realization the importance of making our new house into a home. As with any occasion, there is a difference between items that we must have and items we desperately want and it’s time to filter that list out in order to be prepared for our upcoming wedding registry.

When creating your gift registry, it’s important to think of your current cooking lifestyle around the home and about those must-have items that may get overlooked on an everyday basis. Whether you’ve grown up cooking alongside your parents at an early age or don’t know the first thing about boiling water, having cookware sets on your registry list will be a saving grace in the long run. Any five to eight piece set is sufficient for your kitchen as this will provide a variety of different size pots and sauté or frying pans to suit all of your cooking needs. Depending on you and your partner’s diet, there are many essential items to add to your kitchen to help you achieve the delicious dish you’re after. Aside from the fundamental pot and pan set, trying new cookware tools can actually add more flavor to your meals and ease to your daily cooking routine.

In terms of kitchen tools that are necessary for any kitchen, tongs, wooden spoons, and spatulas can be your best friends as they make sure your meats are flipped properly, sauces are well blended, and mixtures are smoothed over evenly. Furthermore, you can never have too many mixing bowls for those ingredients that require additional seasoning. Kitchen accessories and small appliances should also be considered on any wedding registry for added convenience and can include garlic presses, stand up mixers, citrus squeezers, cutlery blocks, and nonstick rolling pins. These handy tools will make your life in the kitchen a whole lot easier when you’re preparing meals for your new family or entertaining guests around the holidays.


Thank you Cookware.com!

In my opinion the epitome of Bridal gifts is the "Kitchen Aid Mixer"...oh yes! I was SO lucky, my grandmother went out and bought me a mixer like 2 days after I got engaged; she was SO excited haha!

My Chrome BeautySo now that this is off my list, some of the other big ticket items I am (hopefully) looking forward to are:
  • My dinnerware and glassware
  • Knives!! (we registered for the Wusthof Classic 8-piece set...I've wanted a really nice set of knives for SO long!)
  • Cookware Set! - I have actually accumulated a decent number of nice pans over the years, but I'd love me some All Clad Stainless! Well in a perfect world I'd have some beautiful Mauviel Copper pots, but lets not get a head of ourselves :)
  • Oh and then there's the oh so fun random kitchen tools...can you tell I LOVED registering
  • I'm also really excited about the Food Scale :)
I could go on and on! We haven't even picked out any table linens or many other decorative items. Like I said we are starting the house hunting process and don't want to pick out those things until we know what we're working with...we might want a dining table first :)

Around the Blog World:
Barney Butter Giveaway!! Hells yes!

Jumbo Empanadas is giving away a VitaMix blender!!!! This would be a SUPER wedding gift...hint hint!!

Elina at Healthy and Sane is giving away a Mix My Granola Gift Certificate!

New Chocolate Obsession

Speaking of Chocolate, if you haven't already entered...My Fiber One Chocolate/Spa giveaway is still going on!!

Recently I was a VERY lucky recipient of a giveaway myself! Through the Food Buzz Tastemakers program I was able to be part of a product review for Recchiuti Confections out of San Fransisco!

As soon as I saw the word "Confections" I was excited. Then I visited their website...WOW. There were so many different combinations of chocolate, fruits, and nuts, as well as chocolate bars, boxed chocolates, SAUCES!...I could not wait to see what I was going to receive.This made me excited...and that was before I read what was inside!
I don't know if you can read that so let me clear things up...this was the:

Asphalt Jungle Mix - A riot of Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts & Almonds, Cherries Two Ways and Peanut Butter Pearls.

Ummm YES PLEASE!! I was almost in disbelief of the combination of chocolate covered goodies in this package.

All I can really say to this is HOLY YUM!! The nuts were delicious...with the dark chocolate and hint of burnt caramel. There were two different types of cherries. One seemed to be like the usual dried cherries I am used to and the other were a more plump not as chewy version! The peanut butter pearls are AMAZING. Little spheres of crispy PB covered in silky dark chocolate.

I will be SAD when this is all gone...LUCKILY the wonderful Recchiuti people are offering 15% off all orders from now until April 11th. Just use the promo code : "buzz"More Weekend Eats

Obviously I've eaten more than this, but to save time I'll just mention a couple of blog worthy treats I've enjoyed thus far.

Friday night I was OVERLY excited to get home and make a Boboli pizza haha. Don't know why I was so excited, but I was...I had a Whole Wheat Boboli Crust, ham, pineapple, cheese, and sauce.

HAWAIIAN PIZZA!

Oh yes! I haven't had this in AGES, so I was excited.
I probably ate 1/3 of the pizza but it's definitely not as big as a normal pizza and it tasted SO much healthier than the kind you order. Much less grease!! Mmmm.Smoothie Time!

I've been so intrigued of all the "green" smoothie type things I've seen all around the Blog World lately that I wanted to try my own. I had Kale on hand so gave it a shot.

  • 1 cup Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Breeze
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 3 Kale leaves
  • 1 T Almond Butter
  • 1/2 scoop Vanilla protein powder
So mine wasn't very green but it was delicious!Probably could of added more Kale but this tasted great!! Next time I will add more Kale, and this kept me full all morning.
Now that the weather is getting (ever so slightly) warmer...I will be enjoying more smoothies and protein shakes! Yay!

Restaurant Week

It's Restaurant Week (weeks) here in Boston. Numerous Restaurants in and around the City (including most of the high end places) offer a prix fix three course menu for $33.09 per person for dinner and $20.09 for lunch!

This is a great opportunity to try out some of the more expensive restaurants in Boston as a great price! I always try to go to at least 2 or 3 when this rolls around twice a year. I went last Wednesday with my mom to one, and going to another tonight...then Brian and I will go to a final restaurant Friday. I'll do a full Restaurant Week Post after Friday! Can't wait :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Q&A and Giveaway!

I have another fun giveaway for 3 lucky readers, but first I wanted to answer a couple of questions I have been asked recently that I thought would be worthy to answer in a blog post!

The first came from Heather, a little over a week ago regarding my grandmother's Birthday Brunch we had! Her question was:

"Do you ever find it hard to eat healthy foods in healthy amounts at these events? Is it hard maintain your weight loss or are you pretty used to balancing everything out now!"
This question could pertain to ANY family function for me...there is always AMAZING food and LOTS of it. I do have strategies for these events, but they only go so far.

  • I try to eat the healthiest foods in the largest quantities. There's always some sort of salad, or vegetables, and fruit, so I kind of give myself a free-for-all on these hoping they will fill me up and deter me from eating more of the not-so-healthy items. This is definitely key, if nothing else to make sure I get a good amount of fruits and veggies.
  • However, as much as I try, my issue isn't with the amount of any one item, it's the need/desire to try everything, and most of the time there is quite the variety.
  • I'll eat my plate of food and all is well, but the other problem is that the food is still out...sitting on the counter...in the kitchen...where everyone ends up "hanging out". This inevitably leads to nibbling.
  • Oh the nibbling...little bite there, little piece here...why am I still eating, I am full! but it's sooo good and it's right there.
So in conclusion I usually eat too much...*sigh*. However, this usually takes care of my hunger needs for the entire day haha.

THANKFULLY, I've never "gained weight" from any one of these family gatherings. I usually have an overwhelming desire to workout a lot the next day and eat really healthfully so it all balances out.

Maybe next time I should take a cue from the little kids and go play outside instead of lingering and chatting by cheese platter.

I think the biggest problem is when there are multiple "food friendly" events near each other...which I feel has been the case lately...but I tend to automatically go into "must workout more/harder mode" which isn't fun sometimes when I get panicky, but in the end there's nothing wrong with a little more exercise in my life.

In the end, I don't own a scale so I only weigh myself like once a month and my weight hasn't changed in a couple years...so I think I'm okay. Although, losing 5lbs before the wedding wouldn't be the worst thing in the world ;)

Wow, I can really ramble on sometimes!! In lieu of my ramblings...I will save question #2 for tomorrow :)

On to the Giveaway!!

This one involves CHOCOLATE and RELAXATION...yes please!That would be a super fun gift basket filled with chocolate/spa themed goodies!!

In celebration of Fiber One's new flavor of their Chewy Bars, Chocolate Mocha, THREE lucky winners will receive one of these fabulous gift baskets filled with:
  • A coupon for 1 FREE Box of the Fiber One Chocolate Mocha Chewy Bars
  • A Bath Pillow
  • Chocolate Scented Soap
  • Coffee Scented Candle
  • Lotion
  • Bath Salts
I finally broke into my box of bars this week...So if you love chocolate and coffee (which I KNOW 99.9% of you do!) you will LOVE these...when I first opened the wrapper it smelt like a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans...mmmmm! Plus I LOVE the chewy chewy texture.

I tried these Fiber One bars for the first time last year...the Peanut Butter and Oat flavor and LOVED them. These bars may have more than 3 ingredients, but they were a great snack and obviously provided me with lots 'o fiber...so I feel like as long as your not downing these 3 times a day they would be a great treat.

Plus:
  • Fiber can help you satisfy your appetite and manage your weight

    • Research suggests that people who have high fiber intakes tend to have healthier body weights

  • Fiber can help keep your digestive system on track

  • 9 out of 10 Americans aren’t getting the recommended amount of fiber
And if you're not one of the lucky winners...you can still print out a coupon HERE for $1.35 off!!

You Know the Drill:

1. Leave a Comment...preferably your favorite chocolate item
2. Mention this contest on your blog if you have one!

I'll Choose a winner Tuesday, March 24, at 10:00PM EST

Good Night Bloggies!!