Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor-less Labor Day Weekend

Holiday weekends are the best right? And luckily, it still feels like summer around these parts. I love fall but this year I am just not ready for it. No pumpkin anything until it is actually fall. My husband and I have a rule. No pumpkin, no pumpkin coffee. Nada. Last year he confessed he broke our rule at his bachelor party. I promptly ordered a pumpkin beer at the bar I was at. 

The past few days have been a mix of going out to eat and cooking. I took advantage of having the Portuguese sweet bread lying around to make individual baked french toasts. Usually this is a large casserole-type breakfast but with only two of us, I wanted to control the portions a bit. 

I used the recipe below from A Less Processed Life except I replaced challah bread with the sweet bread. The hard part about any kind of baked french toast is planing ahead as the bread usually has to soak in the "custard" overnight. I did plan ahead and was able to pop the ramekins into the oven on Sunday morning. 

Since that was Sunday, Saturday was pretty event-filled. In the morning, I went on a hike with 3 of my friends from college, Kristen, Jess, and Mara.

I told them they would make the blog :).

We spent a couple of hours hiking up and back down the Blue Hills in Canton, MA. The views at the top were beautiful as it was a gorgeous and clear day.

There was a lovely view of the Boston skyline from the top. We had lunch at the Hillside Pub in Canton. 

At night, Tim and I went out to eat at Loco Tacqueria & Oyster Bar in South Boston. We had been dying to go here and it is usually really busy. We caught it just right and were able to walk in and get a seat. Immediately, we loved the atmosphere and decor.

Drinks were up first.

Hi husband in the background

I had "The Britney" which was white tequila, muddle watermelon and mint, lemon juice, and blueberries. "A little crazy and awesome" according to the menu and perfect for summer. Tim got the Tropic Thunder with Don Julio silver, mezcal, muddle grilled pineapple, and ginger. It was amazingly smokey without being spicy from the grilled pineapple.

We split ceviche as a appetizer. This particular one had sea bass, aji amarillo leche de tigre (Concentrated key lime juice, fish, and blended aji limo according to Wikipedia), green mango, and Thai basil ice. It was delicious. A combination of fresh, creamy, and spicy. And beautifully presented.

We just had to get guacamole and chips. But this guac had grilled pineapple in it. AN AMAZING ADDITION LET ME TELL YOU.

Then, for dinner, we split 3 different tacos.

There were the Cola Pork Carnitas, Root Beer Braised Chicken, and Baja Style Fried Fish. Each were unique. Our favorite was the fish tacos.

This was too much food. But, oh well. YOLO.

Among a couple of other random things I made the past few days was Crockpot Ancho Chile Short Ribs from Paleomg. Definitely recommend making these! Very easy and extremely flavorful. I made a couple of changes to it. I had bought a pound and a half of boneless short ribs so I used those but kept the sauce recipe the same. I also seared the ribs before putting them into the crockpot. I used chili powder instead of using dried ancho chiles as I could not find those. Additionally, I took out some of the broth and thickened/reduced it on the stovetop with cornstarch and water at the end.  I served them with pureed cauliflower.

Cauliflower actually isn't a bad replacement for mashed potatoes. Plus, since it was hot out, I wanted something lighter besides mashed potatoes or polenta (I know, not Paleo at all). You can either steam or boil the cauliflower. Then, I use an immersion blender to puree them. I added some milk but you can use any kind of liquid (water, stock, etc.) to thin them out. I added some butter for richness. 

I am also experimenting with refrigerator pickles which I've never made before.

You slice up (or cut into sticks) 2 pounds of cucumbers. I used local ones that I got from the Quincy Farmer's Market. Using two 32 oz mason jars, I added 2 cloves of garlic, peppercorns, dill seed, and cayenne pepper into each. On the stove, you just bring apple cider vinegar and water to simmer with salt (I also added a little bit of sugar). The jars are topped off the with hot vinegar mixture once the pickles are put in. I let the jars cool to room temperature and then put them into the fridge. We shall we how they come out in 48 hours.

Did you do anything fun this Labor Day weekend??

Baked French Toast 
Makes 2 individual servings
Adapted from A Less Processed Life

2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 loaf challah bread or Portuguese Sweetbread, cut into 1-inch cubes (2 1/2 cups)

For each serving:
powdered sugar
maple syrup

1. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and orange juice.
2. Gently stir in the bread cubes until they are evenly coated in the custard mixture. Let the bread-custard mixture sit for about 15 minutes to allow the custard to fully soak in.
3. Lightly butter two 6-ounce ramekins. Spoon the bread-custard mixture into the two ramekins. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
4. In the morning, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the French toast for 20-25 minutes.
5. Top each serving with powdered sugar and pure maple syrup.

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