Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pepper Tears

Yes, this blog is called Onion Tears. 

I was chopping up jalapenos and my life became Pepper Tears. I usually wear gloves when cutting jalapenos but for some reason I thought I was superwoman and didn't need them. Then I thought it would a brilliant idea to take out my contacts when the below soup was simmering. 

That burned. 

So anyways, as I mentioned in a previous post, this week was brought to you by the letter O as in Oh She Glows. Last night's dinner was a Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew right out of the cookbook (I wrote Soul as Sole originally. No sneaker stew here).

It was a nice, warm, and hearty soup for a cold winter's day. But healthy too. It made a large batch that serves 6.

It's a great way to get a lot of veggies in and it has a touch of peanut butter and spice. I added the juice from a half a lime to brighten it a bit at the end

Minus the pepper tears, it was an awesome stew

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sakeeee (and Sushi)

One of my local Whole Foods, in Dedham, offers all kinds of cool cooking demonstrations and classes at their Culinary Center. Some are free, some are $10.00, some are $5.00. All are so worth it. I have been to a couple in the past and attended a Sushi and Sake class last night with two of my work friends, Danielle and Kristen. 

We walked in to a lovely sushi spread ready to go. We had small glasses lined up prepared for the tasting, steamed edamame pods lightly salted for snacking, soy sauce, wasabi, chopsticks and a plate. Time for sushi and sake!

Sushi, I love. Sake, I am not as familiar with. My husband and I have had some brushes with it, some good, some not so good. This $10.00 class was a great way to get education about sake and eat sushi. Who can say no to that?

Our first sushi was a summer roll with rice paper and peanut chili sauce. I forgot a picture of this one (oops) but you can see the sauce in the above picture. Also above, the next piece was an albacore sashimi that was lightly seared but extremely fresh. 

Next was a typical "inside out" sushi (if the seaweed is on the outside, it is traditional sushi). This had avocado, cucumber, and avocado with brown rice. We also had two types of salad, a seaweed salad, below, and a calamari salad (not pictured).

We also had a tempura shrimp with spicy mayo. It was amazing combination of crunchy, spicy, and fresh.

Our dessert was mochi with an ice cream on the inside

We tried 4 kinds of sake that paired very well with the different sushi/salads/mochi that we had. Sake is becoming more and more popular in the US which has lead to the creation of mass-produced "table sake." These sakes are not of the high quality that sake from Japanese breweries are made from. The Premium kinds are what you want to go for and are best enjoyed chilled (not hot). The grades are dependent upon how milled the rice is when brewed (ranging from 30% milled away to 50% milled away). Basic sake is rice, water, and yeast but some brewers add a spirit made from sugarcane for a different flavor profile. Many brewers in Japan have been around for generations and hundreds of years. Some don't even have an exact recipe!

Sake has about the same alcoholic content as wine but has a fresher, cleaner taste. There tends to be less calories in sake compared to wine along with being gluten-free and a lot of the time, kosher. We tried 2 junmai's, a junmai nigori (meaning unfiltered and must be shaken before serving),  and a junmai ginjo. Refer to the above reference sheet (excuse my notes).

Kristen, Danielle, and I will be going to another Whole Foods demonstration for wine and small bites at the end of March so we are super excited about. The Culinary Center is going to know us by name shortly. I think they already do...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Maple Soy Portobello Burgers

Last night's meal consisted of a repeat from a Plated recipe (a rare repeat on my part). I got this from Plated awhile ago and the good thing is that you get these large recipe cards so you can cook the meal over and over again. You can also save the recipe as a PDF. Right now I have both versions but I keep all of my electronic recipes in Dropbox for easy access.

It is a very easy, quick recipe for a weeknight meal:
  1. Into a flat bowl (like a pasta bowl, these portobellos are huge), combine the juice of 1/2 a lime, about 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Wipe off 2 portobello mushrooms with a damp cloth and then marinate in the mixture for at least 10 minutes
  2. Then, heat up a saute pan to medium heat and pour in both the mushrooms and the marinade. Let this cook for 10-15 minutes until the mushroom is browning and tender.
  3. While the mushrooms cook, mash up 1/2 of an avocado with the juice from the other half of the lime, salt, and pepper.
  4. Toast your buns.
  5. Assemble burger.
  6. Eat.

Hm, clearly my bun is much larger then my shroom. Oh well, it still tasted great.

I did not make the side salad this time (it was really good). Instead, I roasted some red potatoes. I took about a pound of baby red bliss. I poke holes into them with a fork (IMPORTANT) before cooking them in the microwave for 4 minutes. After that I combined about 2 teaspoons olive oil, 

this seasoning, and a touch of extra salt after chopping up the potatoes. I cooked them in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes or so. They probably could have been cooked longer but I was impatient.

I'm not ashamed to say I ate the potatoes with ketchup. I am a ketchup fiend. Although, I've gotten better about it now that I'm older and eat far less chicken tenders. 

That's all folks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Back on Track

It is nice to get back to a normal eating routine. Don't get me wrong, all of the food this weekend was AMAZING but time for regular food.

I should probably take some food styling lessons

I stick to shopping on the "outskirts" of the grocery store. Meaning fresh produce, dairy, meat, etc. I really try to avoid processed food except for random snacks. As you can see from this week's haul, it is 90% produce and a few other random products. But I'm super excited because I am cooking a number of recipes from *drumroll*....

Yes, this is a vegan cookbook. Clearly I'm not a vegan. I'm pretty sure the amount of charcuterie I ate on Saturday night alone amounted to a small pig. But I enjoy trying recipes from all kinds of lifestyles/diets like veganism, the Paleo diet, gluten-free diets, etc. I like a variety of my foods in my diet and strive to try new recipes. This cookbook was given to me by my awesome coworkers for my birthday. The photography is beautiful and the recipes are simple but flavorful. I have been following Angela Liddon's blog, Oh She Glows, for years.

I decided to do some prep for the week last night. This forces me to grab the already sliced fruit instead of the Cadbury Mini Eggs that my husband snuck into the pantry yesterday. Realistically I can't fully avoid the eggs. But prepping some snacks and meals for the week really makes life easier.

I <3 blood oranges

I cut up a number of veggies and fruits to make a juice for the week. I concocted my own recipe here and threw in a half a cucumber, 2 apples, 3 blood oranges, a lemon, 1/2 beet, and 1/4 of a pineapple. For winging it, it came out pretty good. It made about 5 cups of juice for early this week.

Next up I made the Out-the-Door Power Chia Donuts from The Oh She Glows Cookbook.

This was a really easy recipe and came together in less than 10 minutes (and baked for 20 minutes). The batter included baking powder, oat flour (I just processed rolled oats in my Ninja), chia seeds, cinnamon, maple syrup (I did half maple syrup and half honey because I'm low on the syrup), almond milk, salt, and I think that was it. I made a glaze with confectioners' sugar, lemon, and almond milk. The recipe includes a coconut lemon icing recipe but decided to do my own thing. I love the donut pans I (we) received as a wedding present. 

I also cut up some more fruit to have handy and called it a night.

Oh and I'm really excited about this....more to come! Any guesses on what this means??

Monday, February 23, 2015

50 Shades of Pizza

The birthday food binge continues on! This time with my family birthday party yesterday. Seriously detoxing this week. 

My dad grew up next to a legendary pizza bar in the South Shore area of Massachusetts called the Lynwood. It's been open for like 60+ years and looks exactly the same as the day they opened. They only serve pizza and drinks. No salads, no apps, nada. Also, they only accept cash. 

Lynwood serves bar-style pizza unique to this area of the world. Bar-style pizza is personal-sized with a fairly crunchy, buttery crust. The crust overall isn't super-thin or super-thick. My dad worked in the kitchen for a number of years when he was young and has learned some of their secrets. He also has special, seasoned pizza pans (pictured above and at left) from another local bar-style pizza join in the area. This is key. A few times a year, my family will have a bunch of people over and make lots of pizzas that are polished off in a matter of minutes. No fancy toppings (buffalo chicken is as fancy as we get here).

My dad has a specific routine and certain ingredients he uses. Lately, my mom and he have been making their own pizza dough (previously they bought it refrigerated from the grocery store). All toppings are prepped. The cheese is shredded. The sauce is mixed. The other toppings are sliced/diced/put into bowls. All while we each take nibbles of the pepperoni or cheese. He panicked on the first batch of pizzas that he put in the oven because he forgot the oregano on top and almost burned himself in the process by trying to sprinkle it on top. The sacrifices we make.

To continue with his routine, he tears brown paper bags and lays them out on the counter. He carefully weighs each piece of raw dough to make sure they are the exact same size. After letting them rest in the oiled, seasoned pans, he starts flattening the dough out in a specific way. Adding sauce and toppings, the pies go into a very hot oven until crispy. This night, as per usual, he stuck to traditional pizza toppings like linguica, hamburger, mushroom, pepperoni, "bean special" (baked beans on the pizza), red pepper, cheese, buffalo chicken, BBQ chicken, and a couple of others. There were about maybe 12 pizzas in total for 9 people. They were devoured in like no time at all.

Prep is key

I mean, don't these look amazing? I always eat an obscene amount (leftovers this time though!) and feel disgustingly full.

But it is so hard to stop eating. We talk about how we say "just one more slice" and end up eating three more. 

Additionally, the title of this post has really nothing to do with anything that I'm going to talk about except that my sister's boyfriend suggested this be the title. So it stands. Thanks, Adam.

There is a piece of red pepper to mark one of the pizzas. I forget why. I think so
he would remember to put chicken on it halfway through.

After laying around for a bit and digesting (and opening presents!) we had my birthday cake which was a tiramisu cake. I missed taking a picture of the cake with the candles actually in it so you all get a picture of the cake with a bunch of holes in it instead. You're welcome.

See the chef in action!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Birthday Binge Continues

In addition to yesterday's visit to the Plate, my friends and husband surprised me with a dinner out. I mean, I knew I was having dinner somewhere. The actual place was a surprise.

After a trudge through the slushy streets of Boston, we arrived at Marliave. I was super excited when I saw this as Marliave is on my list of Restaurants to Visit in the Boston/Providence area (yes, I have a legit running list. Don't judge.).

Marliave has a cool, vintage feel with an actual history. You walk in and it looks like you are in a speakeasy during the Prohibition. The restaurant opened in 1885 and was founded by a French immigrant, Henry Marliave. The owner of Grotto in Boston bought it a few years ago and added an Italian influence. The dishes are definitely a mix of French, American, and Italian. The drink list is filled with ingredients such a bourbon, allspice, St. Germain, and rye and features "Smashes, Slings, Mules, Daisies, & Royals." I obviously got a Mule called the Plymouth Mule with vodka, cranberry shrub,  and domaine de canton ginger (a ginger liquor). 

My second drink, not pictured, was a James E. Pepper featuring bourbon, vanilla, orange, bitters, lemon and sugar. All drinks were $12. Not bad at all, well-made and strong. I loved all of their unique flavor combinations.

Next up was cheeses and meats. You can pick them out a la carte from the menu and there are American, French, and Italian cheeses. We picked 3 cheeses and 2 meats that came with warmed bread, fig jam, walnuts, and honey. Seriously, give me this spread anytime and I'm a happy girl.

Sorry for the not so great quality of the pictures, it was a bit dark and my heavy duty iPhone 5 could just not handle it. Oh! Also, we ordered Escargot. Yup, I had snail. They weren't in the shells but hey were cooked in butter, garlic, and cheese and it tasted amazing believe it or not.

Our main courses were served in those really cool silver serving things. The waiters and waitresses brought our meals over and then lifted them all up at the same time for the great reveal.

I got a Beef Wellington which I've never had before but I figured I should go all out because it was my birthday and all. Sorry again for the horrible picture but Beef Wellington is basically beef tenderloin wrapped in a pastry crust.

We skipped dessert as we had another secret destination to go to, also in the city. As a note, never use the Waze app when you want to go to a place that you want to keep a secret from someone. It told us that we were going to be arriving at Drink in 1000 feet (actually, maybe even further away). Who does that?!

Drink was our final stop of the evening in the Fort Point area of Boston. We had to wait about a half hour to get in because they make sure it doesn't get really crowded inside. Everyone gets a seat or at least space at the bar which winds around throughout the whole place. Drink is located under Sportello and both are owned by the renowned Barbara Lynch. This also had a speakeasy feel being in a basement with lots of beams and exposed brick. 

The cool thing about Drink is that there is no cocktail menu (they have wine and beer and small plates) but you tell the bartender what you like/what you are in the mood for and they concoct something for you. Obviously you need to be fairly open minded but can get pretty specific in your request. I wanted something with bourbon but on the sweeter side. He asked a few follow-up questions (did I like cherry? did I want something light or spirit-driven?) and came out with a bourbon and cherry libation. So good and strong. The bartenders do not rush you at all and you can really take your time. Which is a nice change of pace for a bar. Next I wanted something more on the dessert side and sweet and got this:

I forget what was in it but it was almost like a creamy espresso martini. Perfect end to a perfect night. The drinks were $12 each so definitely reasonable. I wouldn't recommend coming with a big party (someone tried to get in with 15 people. But he was alone. And then he found out all of his friends were across the street at not at Drink.).

Has anyone out there been to Drink before?

Nutella on my Scarf

What are the pros and cons of having your birthday in the middle of the week (this past Wednesday, the 18th)?
  • Your birthday is in the middle of the week
  • The next morning is a workday
  • There's still a large chunk of the week left
  • The week is extra long with the Monday holiday (that's my theory anyways)
  • You can celebrate all week
  • You can have celebrations on both weekends straddling the actual birthday
  • You have an excuse to constantly eat food because hey, it's your birthday
As per the last bullet, there have been lots of opportunities to eat. Figures that I start a food blog about my cooking when I've been going out to eat all week. But that's ok because ultimately, this is a food blog.
Today started off with a visit to one of my favorite restaurants, The Plate in Milton for breakfast. My husband had the full day off from work (a rarity) so we obviously had to go here. A lot of Saturdays and Sundays I do tend to cook breakfast but I have like 1 egg left so that was not possible

So what did we order? Tim got an egg sandwich with a HOMEMADE english muffin, fried egg, fresh tomato, arugula, cheese, and aioli. Really fresh

I got something that they only serve on the weekends, a Nutella and bacon sandwich on brioche french toast. Yup.

Their Cinnamon-Sugar Chubs are also a must have when you go. They are baked donut holes that are rolled in butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Here's the Chub close-up:

As a side note, did you know the owner of Nutella, Michele Ferrero, passed away? Sad, sad day. As another side note, the Nutella in Italy/Europe is much better than the American Nutella. As a third side note, I got Nutella on my scarf.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Last night, my work friends and I ventured out to Toro in the South End (Boston if any non-Bostonians read this). I had heard a lot about Toro and had been dying to go.

But sorry, I forgot to take pictures so I am just going to describe my experience. I know, what food blogger doesn't take pictures of their food? #fail. 

Toro is part of Ken Oringer's Boston empire which includes Coppa, Clio, and others. It is a Barcelona-style tapas bar with true Spanish tapas of all types. This place is on the small side and unfortunately does not take reservations. We had an hour and a half wait (my friend expected it to be two hours) and even had to put our name in for the bar! But two seats at the bar did open up after about 45 minutes of waiting then a third seat opened and we were golden. We had a bit of a challenge because one of us (not me) is vegetarian and another of us (not me) was observing Lent and also has a gluten intolerance. But this was the place for us, plenty to pick from. 

We all drank the Verdad Y Amor cocktail which was tequila, hibiscus, lime, and ginger. Awesome combination and it was a lovely dark pink shade. We might have had a couple of those. Just a couple.

I'm going to list the tapas we had. All were amazing.

  • Tortilla Espanola (basically like a creamier frittata with potatoes and aioli
  • Escalivada Catalana (smoked eggplant with onions, peppers, and tomatoes that could be sopped up with bread)
  • Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija ("street corn" that was slathered in cheese, aioli, lime, and espelette pepper. It was charred to perfection)
  • Filete a la Plancha (grilled, marinated skirt steak with butter and red onion marmalade)
  • Patatas Bravas (pieces of heaven or also fried potatoes with aioli and a spicy tomato sauce)

Apparently there was a pork belly dish that was highly recommended but they changed it and made it into pork belly sliders. The bartender had a discussion with us about this. We decided not to go with the sliders (due to the meat/gluten issue) but he brought a single pork belly slider with a harissa BBQ sauce and kimchi just for me. Awesome.

Another funny story. My friend noticed the bartender had a small tattoo on his hand and she asked if it was the Scorpio symbol and if he was a Scorpio. He was basically like, no, I'm an Aquarius. So I asked him when his birthday is. Turns out, we had the same birthday! He gave us mini Palomas (grapefruit juice and tequila) in celebration of this historic day that two awesome people were born on. 

And then we went home.

I call that a successful night.


My friend Mandy is a picture hoarder but she did decide to give me a picture. So now I have one picture of myself from my actual birthday at Blue on Highland in Needham.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snowday Moscow Mules

Ah yes, I just love the sound of dump trucks and plows removing snow right outside my window. And that also prevent me from actually getting to my apartment because they are blocking both ends of the street. New England weather is amazing really.

A couple of my friends have recently become obsessed with Moscow Mules. Moscow Mules are a wonderful concoction of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. So simple yet refreshing. Then, you can add your own twists after that with things like flavored vodkas or juices. But I like just a regular Moscow Mule.

The Mule was not created in Moscow, sadly. The reason it even has "Moscow" in the name is because of a marketing ploy between a ginger beer company and vodka company. Legend has it that these owners were sitting in the Cock 'n' Bull pub in L.A. and decided to combine the vodka, the ginger beer, and randomly lime juice into a copper mug. Because I would totally think of that too. But thanks to this marketing ploy, the Moscow Mule was thrown to the masses in the 1940's and seems to be making a comeback more recently. And this is how we end up in 2015 with Alyssa and her friends becoming obsessed with this drink.

But the copper mug is amazing, no?

Mine is from Pier1 (I'm not in the picture above but I do have the exact mug thanks to my friend Ashley)

Anyways, since Sunday was a snowday, I made my husband and I multiple (very strong) Moscow Mules. I highly recommend drinking before shoveling out your car. Way more fun that way.

Also, kind of funny but irrelevant story behind the mugs in the picture above. Two of my friends Cait and Ashley (left and center, respectively) were the ones who started this Moscow Mule obsession. So for Christmas, I decided to get them their very own copper mugs and also bought one for myself. My friend Mandy (right) didn't know she liked Moscow Mules until New Years' Eve at Ashley's. I felt bad and gave her my mug (or she took it from me. Depends on who is telling the story). From that day forward, our mugs are called "pity mugs" or "guilt mugs." Real cool, I know. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It’s All About That Cheese, 'Bout That Cheese (Plated Review)

Being buried under 5 feet of snow and having to stay inside for hours/days on end makes me crave ALL THE THINGS. And gain like 20 lbs.  Because I want to keep cooking and baking. This was my little creation for lunch on Sunday, the 15th. 

Essentially a huevos rancheros on tostadas. I cooked black beans in a pan with garlic and onion and then added some chicken stock. I partially mashed them and added chile, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and Epazote and let them simmer for a few minutes. What is Epazote you say? It is essentially Mexican Oregano

PS – I buy my spices through this site or through World Spice Merchants ( 

I toasted 4 corn tortillas at 425 for about 10 minutes or so until crispy. Assembly began with the tostadas, adding on the beans, salsa (jarred, sorry I’m not sorry), Greek yogurt (I use this instead of sour cream), avocado, and hot sauce. Complete with a Moscow Mule obviously.


Have you guys heard of Blue Apron and/or Plated? I’ve utilized both but tonight I am going to talk about Plated. A couple of weeks ago, I found a coupon deal for Plated to get 4 free plates with a purchase of 2 (or something like that) so I decided to try it out.  For Plated, you can pick from a set menu of meals and choose if you want a Tuesday or Friday delivery. All of the ingredients come wrapped up in a freezer box and dropped at your front door (complete with recipes). The best part is that you have the exact amount of each ingredient that you need. No need to buy 5 pounds of thyme to use 1 sprig!

Each “plate” costs $12 each (so $24 for a meal for 2 people). Not horrible. Lots of convenience and fresh ingredients. The meals take 30-50 minutes and tend to be around 500-700 calories each. They also are sophisticated meals that are “chef-inspired.” So I did the first round as a trial with 4 recipes then accidentally didn’t read the fine print and ended up ordering another week’s worth of meals. Happy mistake but unexpected when my husband called me at work to tell me Plated showed up at the door. Now it is cancelled for reals like I originally intended.

Sunday night’s meal was Seared Chicken, Mushroom Sauce, and Twice-Baked Potatoes. Really good overall. I messed up the twice-baked potatoes, I don’t think I cooked them enough the first time so I basically destroyed them trying to get the flesh out. So they became twice-baked potato lumps. But they tasted great!

Tonight’s meal was Carrot Risotto with Fontina, Lemon, and Thyme. Really good. Directions were pretty easy, here is what the card looks like.

Sorry I screen-shotted (shot?) the PDF version of the recipe card.

The time was accurate although I feel like the carrots roasting in the oven took longer than it said.

Here’s early in the process:

Here’s the finished product. Pretty close right?

The hubby gave two thumbs up and started singing “all about the cheese, about that cheese” to the tune of Meghan Trainor. Definitely a good, meatless Monday kind of meal…on a Tuesday.

I definitely recommend Plated for someone who enjoys cooking and wants to try new things. I'm not sure how great it is if you are a rookie, it might be more on the complicated side. But it forces you outside of your comfort zone to try new recipes and ingredients. The meals have all tasted great.