Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mom's Famous Sugar Cookies!

For anyone who's had my mom's sugar cookie recipe they know exactly what I'm talking about - these are the best sugar cookies out there! The key to the recipe is not rolling your dough out too thin and also, not baking the cookies too long because they will keep cooking once they come out of the oven. The recipe card above is one of my favorites - I have my own at my apt, but whenever I'm in NH at my parent's house and pull out this recipe card, it reminds me of all the times we've baked these cookies! The other great thing about these is that you can decorate based on the event or holiday.

Most recently I wanted to make some festive holiday cookies for winter so I opted for a pink cookie batter and used cookie cutters in various shapes - my stocking one is one of my favorites, but I also love this mitten shaped cookie cutter!
Last year I think I made my most impressively decorated holiday sugar cookies yet - so I might have to top them this year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thanksgiving down, Christmas Next

I'm clearly behind as I still haven't posted about Thanksgiving, so I absolutely must write this one up before Christmas comes this weekend! At first I was told that there wasn't much room for me to do a lot of cooking, as my mother was taking care of most of the food - but then, the night before, when I got home I was told I could cover a long list of things! Fine by me! This year we just had dinner the four of us, and then got together with extended family for dessert so here goes - my thanksgiving in pictures!
I got up pretty early to get started, but even then - by the time I got up my dad had already gotten the turkey ready to go and into the oven. Last year I tried to brine the turkey and I didn't find that it made a big difference in flavor or juiciness, so no brining this year. Still very important though to baste throughout the cooking process.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Full of Fun Food in Washington, DC!

Just last weekend I got to head down to Washington, DC for a long weekend visiting good friends! One of my favorite parts of city-hopping on weekends is getting to check out new restaurants and to cook with friends I'm visiting! I got to both of these this past weekend - as well as re-visit some old restaurants I loved when I lived in DC. Of course, all of this is better when you get to enjoy good food with good company, so thanks to all my friends down there for a fabulous weekend away!

Friday I dragged my friend to Nando's Peri Peri near Dupont Circle - this delicious Portuguese chicken place that I discovered last summer. They also recently opened a 2nd location near Chinatown - so I guess other people have discovered them too! They have different spice levels of their chicken and you have all kinds of options - from salads, to wraps, to roast chicken dishes with sides. Lots of options for everyone - and while I usually go for their mildest chicken it still has a ton of flavor.
This time around both my friend and I ordered the butternut squash and couscous salad with the chicken on top, with a side of grilled pita - oven roasted butternut squash and red onion with olives, grilled corn and couscous, served with their house dressing on a bed of greens. Even at peak lunch hour on a Friday we didn't have to wait long and by the time we put our order in there was a table ready for us. We both were impressed with how organized they were.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shabu Zen Date Night

After walking by this place a number of times I finally got to try it out a couple weekends ago - and now I'm on an "interactive cooking" kick! Think Japanese Hibachi where they cook right in front of you - but with Shabu Shabu cooking you actually do it yourselves! I'm sure there are some people that go out to dinner so that they don't have to cook, but this is different - it's like an activity and dinner all rolled into one. Plus - since I like to cook, it only makes sense that I really enjoyed myself at this place!

2 locations - 80 Brighton Ave in Allston and on Tyler St. in Chinatown

When you walk in you'll see that every table has a stove top right at the table - then you'll have to set to work navigating the menu. Our waitress was very helpful and explained all the decisions we had to make. Essentially you choose the broth flavor and the types of things you want to cook in the broth - so many options ranging from 5 different beefs to seafood or a tofu variety plate. Lots and lots of options!
We started off by choosing the House Special Broth (the pots they bring are divided into two sections in case you want to choose two different types of broth or two different spice levels) and agreed on the Boneless Short Rib Beef as our main protein. The dishes are listed individually, but it was plenty of beef to share and I think would've been a lot for just one person. Every main entree is served with an assorted vegetable platter (on the right there) and your choice of Udon, Vermicelli or Jasmine Rice.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Banana Muffins

As I've said before - I hate wasting possible 'ingredients' so whenever I have ripe bananas I can't stand the thought of throwing them away even if I don't have anything specifically to bake for. With 2 ripe bananas sitting in my fruit basket, calling my name, I decide on making muffins - knowing how much I like the peanut butter and banana combo I thought it might be interesting to make banana muffins with peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips. The oatmeal and wheat flour make me feel like I'm at least getting some fiber into these muffins, but they are by no means healthy given the entire stick of butter the recipe calls for.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Banana Muffins
1 cup wheat flour          1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup oats                     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon              3/4 cup brown sugar
2 medium, ripe bananas (about 1 cup worth)
1/2 cup butter, softened in microwave
1 egg                             2/3 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

375 degrees, 22 mins
Makes 18 regular size muffins

Quick Spinach Dip in Boule Bread!

This spinach dip is an easy go-to for a party appetizer - everyone always seems to love it and there aren't 5 million ingredients that you need to worry about.

Spinach Dip in Boule Bread
1 package frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeeze out all the extra water)*
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow pepper
1 package Lipton Vegetable soup mix
1 1/3 cups light sour cream
2 TB mayonnaise
Mix everything together and refrigerate for a good hour before serving. Cut out and scoop out the center of a boule bread - use the bread you scooped out to dip into the dip, and spoon the dip into the bowl of the boule. You can also put out some baby carrots, celery or other vegetables to dip in!

*Don't be tempted to skip the step where you squeeze out the water from the spinach - there really is a ton of it in the box since it's frozen. After squeezing mine out I had a whole cup of green spinach water which is NOT an ingredient in this dip!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Almost Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 stick butter                   1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar        1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla                 1 cup chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients:
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups ground oatmeal
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

I was looking to just make plain old, traditional chocolate chip cookies and found this Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe - it called for ground oatmeal (so I put the oatmeal in a food processor until finely ground). It gave the cookies an oatmeal-y taste though - and was definitely a noticeable ingredient, but they still came out good.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Cookies

I came home to bake cookies tonight and realized I only had about 1/3 cup of white sugar left - and it was way too cold to go back outside to the grocery store. So I set out to find a recipe that would work with just brown sugar. Surprisingly I found quite a few and set to work. One of my favorites food blogs is Simply Recipes (link at the bottom left of my own blog) - and I really feel like her recipes are reliable and tasty. That's where I got the base for these, but as usual - I changed it up a little. Don't even try the batter - it might just be better than the cookies themselves.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Veggies Galore

One of my fave lunch spots in Harvard Square is Veggie Planet - as you can guess by its name it is a vegetarian restaurant, with lots of vegan options/alternatives as well, and they've been open for over a decade. They have daily specials in addition to a great menu of dishes that can be put on top of pizza dough, coconut rice or brown rice, plus salads, soups and other entrees like mac and cheese and peanut udon noodle salad. I like their lunch special - 1/2 pizza with salad or soup, and my go-to is their "Henry's Lunch" - roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, rosemary and sage, goat cheese and asiago on pizza crust. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike can find something tasty and very filling for lunch here. I've never ventured to try their brunch so when they decided to open a sit down, diner style version of their restaurant in Central Square I was quick to try it out. Veggie Galaxy is a diner style restaurant with many of the same great concepts as their smaller Veggie Planet, but with all kinds of new menu options as well to keep the two menus a bit different.
Veggie Planet - 47 Palmer Street, Harvard Square
Veggie Galaxy - 450 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square

My friend and I ventured there during the Head of the Charles weekend thinking that since it was outside the main Harvard area - it would be less crowded. We were right! No line on a Sunday morning at 11:30am for brunch - I'll take it! It took us a really long time to read our way through the menu - and so many of the items sounded good. My usual indecision led me to a toss up between savory and sweet.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Olé con amigos - Inman Square

After trying to get a reservation at Rendezvous in Central Square, they didn't have anything but really late openings so we went back to our list of restaurants we've been wanting to try - we all agreed on Olé in Inman Square. We were able to get a reservation for 8:15p on a Friday night for our group of 7 and they seated us right away - even before our whole group was there! This restaurant is pretty big - it's separated into a front and back room, and the place has a nice festive feel to it.

Olé Mexican Grill
11 Springfield Street, Cambridge - Inman Square

Most of the group started with a variety of drinks - ranging from the Olé Gimlet to their traditional margaritas, sangria and Mexican beers. My friends who had been there before said we must get the guacamole made at the table - so we ordered two of those, which was a perfect amount for our group size as you can see from the empty bowl below. They also brought out a untraditional salsa that wasn't chunky, but rather very pureed and had a sort of smoky tomato taste to it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bosphorus - Inman Square

I have a very bad habit of buying groupons and forgetting about them - then realizing I need to use them in the next 48 hours. Thankfully my old college roommate was around to help me use a last minute forgotten coupon to a new Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in Inman Square - Bosphorus. I think we both really enjoyed our selections - and chose a few dishes to share so we could try out some different dishes. Some of the reviews online suggest that their service is slow, but I think because we were there earlier in the night and on a weekday, we were fine. I would definitely go back!

1164 Cambridge St, Cambridge - Inman Square

The atmosphere is nice - seems sort of middle eastern with fun lighting. This could be a good group restaurant with plenty of large tables. The menu is extensive so it made it a little difficult to choose, but the nice part is that many of the dishes come in small or large, so you can opt for small plates to share or just ordering individual entrees.

We started with a cold dish - Stuffed Baby Eggplant with tomato ragout, bell peppers, goat cheese and tabouleh. We both expected the dish to be a warm appetizer, but it was delicious - we were very happy with this order. It's easily shareable - I don't think I could eat this all by myself and still have room for another dish.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cauliflower and Chickpea Cilantro Curry

At the beginning of this week I attempted to plan out everything I would cook for the dinner this week . I've been a bit lazy about trying out new recipes and cooking anything extensive - especially when I don't get home from class two nights a week until 8pm . But tonight I stuck to my cooking plan! I had seen a couple recipes for Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry over Rice - so I thought I'd try it out.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Cilantro Curry
1 TB butter
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 TB mild curry paste
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup water + 1 tsp chicken bouillon
1/2 head of cauliflower
1/2 can of chickpeas
1 cilantro cube
3 TB white wine
1/4 cup of tomato sauce
dash of ground ginger
dash of cinnamon
handful of chopped spinach
salt and pepper

I realize this is a lot of ingredients but I think it's because I wasn't following a recipe. I have a bad habit of throwing everything but the kitchen sink in a dish when I'm not following something because as I cook I keep thinking of things I think might enhance the flavors/dish. Unfortunately, I didn't track my amounts, but with this recipe - it's a bit of a 'how you like' situation. I don't like my dishes spicy, so I use less curry paste. I tried to at least estimate the amounts I used here!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tofu Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

I know, I know - it's been well over a month since I've written any new posts. I apologize - it's been one heck of a month, with lots of weddings, family, friends and the start of a new fall course. With all of my weddings behind me, I'm back and with lots of foodie things to share with you!

After a lovely fall afternoon apple picking my friend and I worked up an appetite so we decided to make some dinner together at her place. Soon to come is some sort of yummy fall apple dessert with all of these great fresh apples! I had bought a package of tofu a few weeks back that I needed to use so that was an easy selection. Our go-to with tofu has been stir fry so far, so we went with that and decided on a peanut sauce, like you often find in thai restaurants.

Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, choppped
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 TB rice vinegar
3 TB reduced sodium soy sauce
1 TB toasted sesame oil

The nice thing about this peanut sauce is that you can use it on almost any sort of stir fry - you don't have to like or want to use tofu. It would go great with chicken or shrimp - or even just lots of vegetables!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cherries galore this summer!

You may have noticed, like me, that the cherries have been on sale an awful lot this summer. You'll hear no complaints from me as they're one of my favorite fruits that I don't usually splurge on because of their high price per pound. With all the recent sales I've been experimenting with new cherry recipes - and not just sweet ones!

I tried making a cherry relish - the original recipe I looked at didn't call for any cooking - just chopping and mixing, but I thought the flavors might come together more if they were slightly cooked. I made this Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry with Cherry Relish and Asparagus and the flavors worked pretty well together. I just tossed the shrimp and vegetables with a pretty basic mix of olive oil, salt and pepper - put on the grill and served with the cherry relish. A very healthy summer meal with lots of flavor!

You don't have to be too accurate with the ingredient amounts in a relish because you don't really have to worry about the consistency changing. I was surprised to see that a relish is defined as simply "a condiment, appetizer, something savory or appetizing added to a meal." In my cherry relish I had diced fresh cherries (of course!), diced red onion, fresh ginger, garlic, salt and pepper, and maybe a little olive oil and juice - like a citrus, lemon, lime or orange. The biggest part of the process is pitting the cherries, which is not fun and dyes your hands red.

Just goes to show that cherries can be used for cooking savory dishes, and not just sweet ones!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lobster and Grilled Corn Pasta

Once a year we have a lobster and steamer feast - we never really understood people that enjoyed ordering steamed lobsters in restaurants. It's such a messy meal which makes it much more enjoyable in the privacy of your own home. We had our lobster night yesterday, given the nice long holiday weekend - and it was a delicious night of cooking in! Steamers dipped in melted butter, steamed lobsters, grilled vegetables and pasta salad. Perfect summer night. I must have eaten too many steamers or something because by the time I had cleaned my lobster (I always start with the legs and smaller pieces, working my way up to the delicious claws and tail - much larger pieces!) - I wasn't even hungry anymore. A good solution though - I saved some of my lobster meat and used it today to cook this delicious dish.

Lobster and Grilled Corn Pasta
Lobster Meat
1 ear grilled corn
1/2 cup dry, wheat pasta
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil (chiffonade)
1 TB chopped fresh chive
1 TB olive oil
salt and pepper

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Farmers Market = Tuesday Ravioli Night!

After visiting the Harvard Farmer's Market on its first Tuesday this summer, my coworker and I decided we should institute Tuesday Ravioli Night into our schedule. Unfortunately our schedules didn't really allow us to maintain this sort of weekly dinner ritual - but rather we managed to have just one 'Ravioli Night.' We tried a package of Swiss Chard and Currant Ravioli from Nella Pasta, based in Jamaica Plain.

The raviolis were very good, we agreed, but we also agreed that the price was a bit high for the 2 serving package ($11). Compared to going out to an Italian restaurant, yes, less expensive for sure. The woman working at the Nella Pasta stand at the farmers market suggested simply tossing the ravioli with a little bit of olive oil, but that clearly wasn't going to cut it for me!
The ravioli were a good size, and the easiest thing to mess up is overcooking them. Because it's fresh pasta they cook much quicker than you expect - just 3 minutes or so. We tossed with more than the olive oil - diced fresh tomatoes, zucchini, some fresh parmesan, trying to keep in mind that with such a unique flavor filling inside we didn't want to over do it.
The end product was delicious - and filling. I would definitely get these ravioli again - a lot of the times when you buy fresh ravioli at the grocery store all of the flavors taste the same, but you could definitely taste the swiss charge currant filling in these. They also try to keep their ravioli varieties according to season, which is such a great idea - for a list of other kinds, check them out here! Amongst the spring and summer varieties - I can't decide which I'd try next, they all sound delicious!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

City Girl Cafe - Inman Square

I've had this place on my 'to-go' list for a while now and finally made it there at the end of July with my friend to kick off her post-bar celebratory weekend! We both really liked it here - cute atmosphere, local feel, great food, unique menu options, and on top of all that, great prices! They offer brunch, lunch and dinner - so I hope to be heading back soon to try more of their dishes out!

City Girl Caffe
204 Hampshire St (Inman Square), Cambridge

Monday, August 29, 2011

Perfect Summer Salad with Chickpea Burgers!

When my friend and I decided to cook dinner in one night a few weeks ago we decided on trying out a recipe for chickpea burgers. I thought a little summer salad would be a good side, so I came up with this mixture of ingredients to highlight some of the fresh basil from my porch! It was a great refreshing salad to put together but it's best served soon after you make it - so don't make too far in advance.

Tomato Basil Corn Salad
1/2 TB white wine vinegar
1 TB olive oil
salt and pepper
1 ear of corn (cut off, not cooked)
2-3 tomatoes
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
2 TB green pepper, chopped
lots of fresh basil!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Get out of your Salad rut!

Sometimes salads can get boring if you make the same kind over and over again - so I decided to try out a couple new ideas that I've seen at restaurants a couple times. Once is a nice filling salad and the other is a bit lighter, but both are perfect for a dinner party first course when you're trying to impress!

Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
Pears (halved)
Goat Cheese
Lemon Juice
Toasted Walnuts
Greens (Butter Lettuce mix)
Apple Juice (baste the pears)
Brown Sugar
Red Onion
Dried Cranberries

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles!

With a summer work party on the horizon and a busy few days before, I knew I needed to make something that would last for a few days since I couldn't bake the night before. Cookies are great in this sort of situation because you can make the batter and freeze that, or you can even make the cookies and freeze them as soon as they cool - that way they're perfectly fresh when you bring them to your party a few days later! Rather than the traditional chocolate chip I was thinking that a cinnamon chocolate chip cookie would taste good and found the idea for this chocolate chip snickerdoodle! If I may say so myself, I think they came out great - lots of compliments from coworkers and they weren't too time consuming, which is always a plus.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar and 3 tsp cinnamon to roll in

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Let's Talk About Food Festival @ MOS

More than a month ago I stopped by this great event organized by the Museum of Science as a part of their Let's Talk About Food Series. A big shout out goes out to Lisa and her team from the MOS - as it turns out, the team I used to intern with at the MOS was running the event. Their goal was to bring together people to celebrate food, health, cooking and science - all along the Cambridge Parkway and the Charles. I planned to just swing by and look around, but ended up staying for a good four hours. Due to the rainy day the turnout wasn't great - but it meant that I got great front row seats and lots of face time with exhibitors. They had a big tent set up with the main stage - where various local celebrity chefs presented different dishes and sessions, in addition to a long line of exhibitors running all along the Charles. The Museum of Science was also marketing their new exhibit - Around the World in 80 Diets, which I'm hoping to check out next.
I arrived just in time to see Jody Adams (of Rialto in Cambridge) present her session on cooking with lobster - and the program listed a special guest, who turned out to be Deval Patrick! I was a big fan of Adams on Masterchef on Bravo, so this was so fun for me to watch. She talked about her new restaurant coming - called Trade (at Atlantic and Congress in South Boston), and the importance of cooking within the season. They introduced Governor Patrick as a secret foodie who likes to be the cook at home for his family. Just like me, he talked about going to farmers market, seeing what looks good and then cooking what he finds! He even joked that he often catches his State Troopers on his security team watching the Food Network. They showed us how to split a lobster for their recipe - a Lobster Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette sounded delicious - with tarragon, lemon and orange zest, olive oil, dijon mustard, vinegar, grilled corn, scallion.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Choc Chip Waffles

I'm a total sucker for breakfast and on weekends in particular I like splurging on a breakfast that takes a little longer to make since I don't usually have the time before work. At the same time, sometimes breakfast can be heavy so I this was my attempt at making a healthier waffle. You might be thinking - chocolate chips, that's not heathy, but, if you use dark chocolate and not a lot, it's okay! Everything in moderation, right?

Whole Wheat Banana Choc Chip Waffles
1 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup ground almonds and oatmeal (3-4 TB each)
1/2 TB ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp brown sugar
1 egg and 1 egg white
1 tsp lemon juice (plus enough milk to = 1 cup liquid)
1 TB oil
1 TB chocolate chips
1/2 banana, sliced thin

For most waffle or pancake recipes the usual process is to mix all of the dry ingredients and then mix all of the wet ingredients, then combine the two just until mixed. This recipe is no different.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mexican in South Boston

It's a good thing I waited to write this post about Papagyo because since I went for the first time I've been back a second time! The space is where Achilles Project used to be - a restaurant I never quite understood. Because I used to work in this area I tend to get back there a little more than the usual person - there's not much else in the area, though the harborwalk is nearby and that's a great walk to take after being full from dinner!

283 Summer Street, South Boston
The restaurant space itself is rather large - plenty of room, with both high top options by the bar and big wooden tables perfect for groups of 10+. The walls are painted really bright colors with lots of paintings on the wall to fit in with the mexican theme of the restaurant. They call themselves a "mexican kitchen and tequila bar," and I think that totally fits the bill. The service was a little slow but the food itself comes out really quickly. They have a great drink menu with lots of interesting options and the margaritas are served in giant glasses more like goblets! I've tried the traditional margarita (strong!) and the peach mojito - both delicious. The food prices are pretty inexpensive, and the drinks are reasonable if not on the slightly steeper end but remember you're getting quality and quantity here.

After a recommendation by a friend, two of us decided on the fish tacos. The other two got the shrimp and avocado salad, and one of the enchiladas dishes.
The other big draw here is the guacamole! They make it right at your table and you can choose how spicy or mild you'd like it - for $8.95 it's a little steep but it's a really big portion that will get you right through dinner. The fish tacos came with 3 tacos, but I almost wish it had come with 2 tacos and a side of beans and rice rather than eating the same 3 tacos and that's it. I did like that the fish wasn't fried though, which you often find with fish tacos. I also tried the Verde Enchiladas, which were a tiny bit spicy for my taste but still yummy. I love tomatillos - so whenever I see anything with those at a mexican restaurant I'm tempted even if it says spicy right on the description.
The second time I came here was actually for a bachelorette party, which worked out great. They have this great hightop group table called their 'tequila table' because it's surrounded by 2 walls of tequila bottles. It's reserved in two hour blocks so be sure to call pretty far in advance for a weekend night. Just going with a friend or a couple friends? As I mentioned earlier, this place is pretty big and draws an after-work crowd, so I wouldn't worry about having too long of a wait. Definitely recommend checking this place out, especially if you work or live near the South Station/Fort Point area!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dinner with Friends - you don't always have to go out!

Sometimes I find myself looking at my calendar and finding that I have dinner plans every night in a given week - I don't like to go out to dinner that much so if I'm making after-work plans a good solution is cooking in! It's more affordable and certainly better for you - and your apartment is definitely BYOB!

Months ago my coworker had me over her condo for dinner - and given the late spring timing, we tried out a dish with cherries, which we both really ended up enjoying. It was good for after work too because it didn't take too long to put together. Ever since this dinner whenever cherries are on sale I try to find a new dish to try with them - they're not just for making pies!
We prepped the ingredients first - pitted and sliced the cherries in half, sliced some red onion, made a simple champagne vinaigrette dressing and tossed everything together with arugula.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday Night Happy Hour

Next time it's a Tuesday and you're looking for something to do after work - I have something for you, if you're willing to head to the South End that is!

439 Tremont Street, South End
From 5-7pm most weeknights Masa has a great happy hour deal on their tapas bar menu. For $5 you can get a little taster of 10 different bites from the menu, with things ranging from a chili almond stuffed date to a poached shrimp with tostones and salsa. It's probably difficult to share since it's just one bite, but for $5 you can probably manage to order one for each person! The drinks are great too - last night I tried the Raspberry Mojito ($9) and would absolutely order it again, delicious! My friends went more traditional opting for a glass of wine and margarita. Don't worry about getting a spot at the bar - we were the only ones holding the place down until almost 6pm.

647 Tremont Street, South End
After Masa we made our way down the street to Tremont647 for their $2 Taco Tuesday night!! This has been on my radar to try out for a while and I'm glad we finally did. The prices were reasonable, especially with their $2 taco menu and the food was pretty good. They have a small patio area out front, but it was way too hot to be outside so we opted for a nice table inside. It's pretty loud there but we were glad to not have a wait for a table. We started with drinks - I enjoyed my choice at Masa better. I tried their special drink of the night - a Watermelon Daquiri, thinking it would be frozen, but it was on the rocks and didn't taste a lot like watermelon. My friend tried their Raspberry Vodka Gimlet and loved it though. We started with chips, salsa, guacamole and their "sides plate" - and be warned, while I'm super sensitive to spicy things, it seemed like everything had a bit of a kick to it. Not enough to stop me from eating though! The service was great - food came pretty quickly. Our server suggested 2-3 tacos per person, so we listed and each ordered 3, plus a couple sides to share - we got the plantains and the rice and beans. Plantains were yummy - loved the banana guava ketchup that it came with! Apparently the tacos change every Tuesday, with some staples. We tried the chicken, pork and fish ones - I think the chicken was my favorite and I didn't like the fish. It was way too fried and hard - definitely wouldn't get that one again. The chicken taco had chopped up canteloupe salsa in it and the pork had a mango salsa I think. With the sides and drinks I probably would've been fine with just 2 tacos. The server also convinced us to try one of their desserts and if I may say so, it was a flop. It was a chocolate crepe with mango ice cream on top, but for $7 price tag and the tiny portion it was definitely not worth it. I mean, the crepe tasted good, but I think we each got one bite and we were playing nice and sharing well. So if you're craving dessert I'd say skip it there because there are plenty of other dessert options in the area - like South End Buttery (cupcakes and other treats), Picco (ice cream) and probably others I'm unaware of!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

I love summer desserts - and strawberry shortcake is definitely at the top of the list. A friend was having a birthday party outdoors at her new apartment and I offered to bring a dessert but I wasn't sure if she would have silverware, bowls, etc. When I found this recipe from Martha Stewart for strawberry shortcake cookies I thought it was a perfect solution to my problem! What a great idea Martha - everyone loved these cookies. They're a bit more cakey than cookies, but that's what makes them multi-purpose (could also have them at a brunch/breakfast). I also had the idea to throw in some chopped dark chocolate into half of the batch, which I decided made a sort of Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cookie! Also delicious - and I've had at least a couple people ask for the recipe since making them, so here goes:

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
2 cups diced strawberries
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 TB sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 TB cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup light cream
sanding sugar for sprinkling on top
1/3 cup dark chocolate pieces (if you want!)