Monday, August 31, 2015


I can't believe tomorrow is September. Where has the summer gone? Oh yeah, it didn't start until, like, July.

This was a busy, last weekend of August with lots going on.

On Thursday night, my friends Ashley and Shawn held a mini-party to say goodbye to our friend Cait who is off to a new adventure in travel nursing in Denver, Colorado.

Ashley made a BOMB meal for us.

It was stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in bacon along with rice with basil from her own basil plant, tomatoes, and feta. There was also asparagus and...lots of wine. We watched Ashley and Shawn's wedding video as they had the same wedding videographer as we did. Then said goodbye to Cait :(.

I took the day off on Friday and after picking my cousin, Jaime, up from the airport, I headed to Country Fest at Gillette Stadium. Woohoo!

Summer concerts are the best.

On Saturday, my parents had a party with some friends and family since my cousin was in town. Last year, we had a "fiesta" as a way to introduce bridesmaids and groomsmen to each other in the summer prior to my wedding. The fajitas recipe that my parents used from the Pioneer Woman was such a roaring success, we have used it a number of times since! We broke out the ol fajita recipe again for this party with all the fixins'. I made a recipe called Cowboy Crack that was a dip with black beans, corn, avocado, tomato, lime, and a couple of other things as an appetizer. 

My sisters made homemade guacamole.

I could eat this whole bowl. 

Jaime grated some cheese. We ended up with a giant bowl of cheese. Oops. 

It was a gorgeous day as it wasn't humid but sunny. Everyone gobbled up the fajitas then dove into the desserts brought by my friends Mandy and Robbie along cookies brought by my sisters' friend Britt.

Um don't mind the whipped cream mess on the above delicious mini peanut butter cheesecakes. They were SO GOOD but Mandy and Robbie accidentally dropped the container of whipped cream and broke the top off. I managed to get the whipped cream out at least...

They also made sopapillas which are basically Spanish pastries with cream cheese and cinnamon. Yummm.

My mom also made an awesome peach sangria that was a big hit with everyone. 

More to come with events from this weekend in my next post!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back to Basics and Other Random Things

And I quote Ina Garten.

After the amazing Chicago posts, this one will probably be pretty boring. I apologize.

There hasn't been a whole lot of exciting things on the food front this week. Tonight I decided to go "back to basics" and made chicken parm which I haven't made in a long time.

I used this recipe from Cooking Light as the base.

I only made a couple of changes like using whole wheat spaghetti and I baked the chicken filets in the oven instead of cooking them on the stovetop. I also used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara sauce instead of making my own. In case you haven't noticed, I rarely fully stick to recipes and tend to use things I have on hand instead of buying extras. Recipes are merely suggestions and after some practice, you can change them as needed. 

Tip for crunchy chicken fingers/breasts: Always dredge the chicken in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. FEB. Also, make sure you season the breadcrumbs and/or the flour to add flavor. Put a cooling rack onto a large cookie sheet and spray it with oil or cooking spray. Pre-heat your over to 425 and put the chicken on top of the cooling rack. The rack allows the air to circulate around the chicken keeping it crunchy!

Although this week was more on the boring side, last week I enjoyed a "Morocturkian" feast put on by my friends Mandy and Robbie. The foods were from the Mediterannean, Turkish, Indian, and Moroccan cuisines. It was seriously amazing.

I'm not going to remember the names of some of the foods but we had naan, tabbouleh, grilled meats, grilled paneer, grilled veggies, a plethora of dips (spicy feta, hummus, and tzatziki), pita chips, and other delicious things. Obviously washed down with wine. Lots of wine.

Grillmaster, Robbie, hard at work. 
My husband and I also went to Night Shift Brewery in Everett last week. They have a newer taproom that was really cool inside. There was a block party for the release of a new beer called Ever Weisse, a sour ale aged with strawberries, kiwis, and hibiscus. We opted to try some flights so we could have a few different beers including the Ever Weisse (it's the one that looks pinkish at the top).

We liked quite a few of them and would go back.

I also made these fig-sicles. I heart my popsicle mold. It's so much fun and you can make healthy, lower calorie treats in the summer (or all year-long). All I did was blend together 2% plain Greek yogurt, a couple of figs, honey, and almond milk. Then, I tried to place some figs on the sides of the molds so you could see them. Wah-lah

Sorry for this all over the place post. This weekend, my cousin is visiting from Oregon so it will be lots of family time. I also have Country Fest on Friday and saying goodbye to my friend Cait before she leaves for Denver to be a traveling nurse for a few months. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

CHICAGO Continued and Finished

I know I have left all of you on a major cliffhanger with our Chicago trip. I shall continue on whether you want me to or not.

I completely forgot one of our meals! I know, how dare I? But it was actually one of our favorite meals of the trip and it was a place that we discovered once we arrived (without prior research). On Monday night, we went to a place called Bub City near our hotel. Bub City serves Nashville style BBQ and other great food.

For an appetizer, we had jalapeno poppers.

For our entrees, they had awesome sides to pick from. I got pulled pork served with something called Sweet Potato Fluff. Turns out, it was exactly what it sounded like.

Whipped sweet potatoes topped off with toasted fluff. 

Tim had burnt ends 

With buffalo tater tots

This place was really good AND they played country music. Our waitress was originally from Manchester, NH so that was cool too.

On Tuesday, we started off our day with some delicious donuts at Firecakes Donuts.

 I went for the birthday cake donut which was absurd looking back on it but totally amazing in the moment. I had to get a picture of its glorious two layers filled with frosting in between and all around and then covered in sprinkles.

The other donuts were much smaller and included Maple Glazed Pineapple and Bacon, Valrhona Chocolate & Espresso Cream, Old Fashioned Buttermilk, and Peanut Butter Cup. I swear that we don't normally eat this gluttonous.

After this ridiculous breakfast, we headed off to the river where we were going to take an architectural boat cruise around Chicago. It was the perfect sunny day for it.

I will save you from a million pictures of buildings by only showing a couple. You're welcome.

Willis formerly Sears Tower on the left

After this we had lunch on the riverfront at a place called City Winery. It was the perfect day to have a carafe/beaker of wine.

We souvenir shopped for a bit after that, rested back at the hotel, then headed off to Wrigley Field to see a Cubs game. Wrigley is very similar to Fenway but the area around seems a lot smaller along with the field seeming much smaller. Although, we felt we had a lot of legroom and seatroom. Weird.

We went to the Goose Island Beer Garden prior to the game as a last minute decision and it turned out to be awesome. For starters, they had limited editions of Goose Island beers made just for Wrigley Field and the food was really good.

The Cubs won! Also, they have this really great and corny song called "Go, Cubs, Go!" that everyone was singing around us at the end of the game. We felt left out because we had no idea what they were singing.

The next day, Wednesday, was our last day. We had a few hours to kill in the morning before our flight so after eating breakfast at a place called Brunch (genious, right?), we actually went back to Wrigley Field for some souvenir shopping in the area. I'm glad we did because we got to see the park when there wasn't a million people around and even got our picture taken.

After this, we headed off to the "beach" to see what a lake beach looks like. Remarkably similar to an ocean beach in case you were wondering. This was Montrose Beach in the northern part of the city. After this, we had to go back to the hotel to catch our flight.

It was such an amazing trip. As I mentioned, I highly recommend Chicago and there was so much to see and do that we didn't even get to do. Also, we avoided deep dish pizza (sorry, not sorry). So as soon as we got home, we had some legendary bar pizza from Town Spa in Stoughton. Initially we were going to go to Lynwood Cafe in Randolph but of course they were closed for vacation. Gotta love a good, greasy pizza (oh, and, with a Goose Island beer!) in MA.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Go Fig

I am going to take a break in between Chicago posts to talk about reality. Because there has been some good eats on the homefront.

On Sunday night, Tim and I went over to my parents' house for some grilled pizzas! Complete with homemade dough. 

My dad shaped the crusts. The pizzas cook pretty quickly on the grill so you have to prepare all ingredients in advance and have them ready to go. 

You brush one side with olive oil, put it down, let it cook for about 3 minutes or so with the cover closed. Then you flip the pizza, throw on the sauce and toppings, then close the lid again. Each pizza takes less than 10 minutes to cook.

Our toppings consisted of pepperoni, linguica, eggplant, and mushrooms

So good.

I also just have to share this gorgeous side dish I made last night that you probably saw on Instagram. 

It is a Yottam Ottolenghi recipe from the Jerusalem cookbook. I changed it up a little bit based on the ingredients I had on hand. Instead of reducing balsamic vinegar, I used pomegranate molasses. Instead of goat cheese, I used feta. 

PSA - Get fresh figs while you can!! They only come out for a short period of time in the spring and then again in late summer. A.k.a. now. ROAST THEM. EAT THEM RAW. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

CHICAGO Part 2 of... a lot of other parts coming

I know I left all of you hanging on the edge of your seats. Now that day 1.5 is over, I'm onto the next couple of days of our Chicago rendezvous. 

Sunday morning we had originally planned to rent bikes and go on a bike ride up and down Lake Shore Drive on Lake Michigan. But we happened to have caught the weather at breakfast (at a place called Eggsperience) and saw there was some impending rain so we scratched that. Instead, we walked the Magnificant Mile which is a stretch of high-end stores. Like ones we can't afford but just looked at. For you Bostonians, the Magnificant Mile is similar to Newbury Street but bigger. 

Then we went to Eataly. I had been to this Mario Batali empire in New York City and was thrilled to see there is another location in Chicago (also one being built in Boston at the Prudential Center next year. EEK!). This is essentially Italian heaven. Since I studied abroad in Italy, Italian cuisine (REAL Italian cuisine, not American-Italian food) is near and dear to my heart. The set-up is like a giant market with small markets and restaurants inside. There is a meat section, fish section, alcohol section, sweets section, etc. etc. and also coinciding mini-restaurants (one with pasta and pizza, one that is more high-end, one for seafood, etc.). 


I mean just look at all the goods.

There was even a pasta maker.

We didn't want a huge lunch but we ended up with a platter of charcuterie, cheeses, bread, olive oil, and wine. You may have seen this on Instagram. But give me this and I am a happy girl. The honey, we found out, had amaretto in it. #foodinspiration.

After Eataly and some resting, we went to the Goose Island Brewery for a tour. Chicago has a ton of breweries in the city or just outside of the city. It was hard to pick which one too visit (plus they all only give tours at certain hours). We settled on Goose Island because we had heard of the beer but didn't know much about it.

It was a really good tour and they do a lot of unique things with their beers. Above is a picture of where they age certain types of beers. Some are aged in oak barrels and some are aged in bourbon barrels, depending on the beer. They served small glasses of beer at different points during the tour so you could listen and drink. That doesn't always happen with tours.

We went back to their brand new taproom to try more beers. Baby beers!

We then went to an earlier dinner to a Japanese restaurant called Momotaro. We sat downstairs at their Izakaya bar. Now, we had seen Izakaya on one of Anthony Bourdain's shows before and had always wanted to try it. It was really good but not what we had expected. On Anthony's show, they showed people around an open grill, watching skewers being cooked. But Izakaya by definition is basically tapas and small plates to be shared. Therefore, we just had a different perception going into it.

It was really dark in there so I apologize for the terrible pictures. We had Uni Chorizo Toast (the bottom picture), a spicy tuna roll with crunchies on it, a Chicken Thigh and Scallion Robata and a Wagyu Beef and Shishito Robata (both of those are meat skewers essentially).

Then, we made another attempt at the tiki bar. We were super happy we went this night (Sunday night) instead as it was far less crowded and we could sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders. This place was called Three Dots and a Dash. And it was amazing. It felt like we were on vacation on a tropical island for starters.

Each drink comes in its own special cup and illustrated on the menu.

Oh and they were STRONG. Luckily we were walking home.

The bartenders put a lot of care into the awesome garnishes too. We decided we need to open a tiki bar in Boston. Anyone want in?

On Monday morning, we took a long walk to a restaurant called the Little Goat Diner just outside of downtown Chicago. The Girl and the Goat is one of the best restaurants in Chicago and since we couldn't get reservations there, we went to their sister restaurant. 

There were cute little goats everywhere! The inside looked like an old school diner but upscale somehow at the same time. We shared a cinnamon bun to start.

Tim has a cinnamon bun obsession but doesn't eat them often so we took advantage of them being on the menu.

For breakfast, I had Crumpets with Chorizo Maple Syrup topped with gooseberries (which are delicious and I had them for the first time ever here) and blueberries.

It was a great sweet and salty combination (with a bit of smokiness from the chorizo) and the crumpets were sooo buttery.

We took the L train back into the city and walked around Millennium Park. We had to make the obligatory visit at the Bean.

and also to the Buckingham Fountain.

Chicago has some gorgeous parks and Millennium is huge. We then headed over to the United Center to see where the Chicago Bulls play. We met Michael Jordan (not really, just his statue).

Then went back to Navy Pier. But, as you can see, rain was on the way.

We made it back to the bus just as the skies opened up. Whew. That night, we went to an improv show at Second City Comedy which is a very well known comedy theater and improv school. A lot of very well-known comedians started here including Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Mike Myers, and a ton of others. I highly recommend making a visit to one of their theaters while in Chicago.  After the show, we had some drinks at a restaurant near our hotel to end the night. Also, since it was Monday, we thought they had $6 drinks buuuut they did not. Oops.

Stay tuned, more Chicago to come!