Monday, October 31, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Remember last week when I promised you the recipe for the roasted red pepper dip I made for my Eggland's Best dinner? Well...a promise is a promise!

I found this recipe in the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook which I received in my goodie bag at the Boston Brunchers' one year anniversary party. Based off how this dip came out, I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot of use out of this cookbook. 

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook 
Yields: about 2 cups
-3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed, and cut to lie flat
-6 tbsp. olive oil
-1 small onion, coarsely chopped
-1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
-1 tbsp. ground cumin
-1 small garlic clove, minced
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
-Salt and pepper, to taste

1.) Turn on broiler. Spread peppers out over aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and broil until skin is charred and puffed but flesh is still firm - about 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking.
2.) Transfer peppers to medium bowl, cover with foil, and let steam until skin peels off easily, about 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and discard skin; set peppers aside.
3.) Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeno, cumin and garlic; saute until garlic softens, about 1 minute longer.
4.) Transfer mixture to food processor. Ad peppers and parsley; process until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve. (Dip can be refrigerated for up to 1 week).

The end result was a spicy, slightly sweet dip that was perfectly light for a healthy, tasty appetizer. Served with Stacy's pita chips, it was a fantastic start to the meal - and our friends seemed to really enjoy it.

Side note: Today's your last chance to enter my Eggland's Best giveaway! Ramekins, an apron, free eggs, and more are up for grabs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My First Burger at R.F. O'Sullivan's

Before I made the decision to become a vegetarian, I honestly considered trying a burger at R.F. O'Sullivan's first. After all, their burgers have been acclaimed "the best" in Boston several years in a row. It was worth considering.

I never ended up making it to R.F. O'Sullivan's as an omnivore, but the other night, I went as my current vegetarian self - and left well beyond satisfied.

That, my friends, is a burger

R.F. O'Sullivan's has a slew of meat-based burgers on their menu, ranging from traditional to creative (Chinatown Burger, anyone?), and none cost over $10. The restaurant only has one vegetarian burger on the menu, but you can dress it up any way you like. I got mine piled high with jalapeno slices, avocado, tomato and lettuce. All burgers are served with your choice of Sullie's fries (giant, thick-cut, beautifully seasoned steak fries) and/or onion rings.

Washed down with an ice cold draft of Sam Adams' Octoberfest, this made for an almost-perfect meal. 

The only bad thing? I can literally smell R.F. O'Sullivan's from our new house. It's that close. This could be dangerous....

Have you ever been to R.F. O'Sullivan's? If so, what's your review?

R.F. O'Sullivan & Son on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dinner for a Cause + a Giveaway!

This is what I look like after cooking dinner for more than just two people:

Not a pretty sight, is it? But when cooking a big dinner like this is for a good cause, it's worth it. Especially when that cause is for breast cancer research.

A few months back, Eggland's Best reached out to me and asked me if I'd be interested in hosting a dinner party. In return, I had to use their products, and Eggland's would donate $100 in my name to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Clearly, I was on board.

For the second year in a row, Eggland's Best (EB) will be pledging a donation of $50,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and through November 15th, the company will have the Komen for the Cure ribbon on their eggs in place of their signature red EB stamp.

In addition to their generous donation, in return for the dinner, EB also provided me with coupons for free EB eggs, four ramekins, an apron, a whisk, a spatula, an egg timer, a tote bag, and a plush egg. Eggland's Best coupons for my guests were also provided, as well as a $100 Visa gift card for me to buy extra groceries with.

For the appetizer, I made Roasted Red Pepper Dip (recipe to come in a future post), served with Stacy's Pita Chips.

For the entree, I made two different kinds of quiches: Mushroom with fontina and tomato, mozzarella and basil.

On the side, I served simply-prepared asparagus, which was cooked in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes. The asparagus was lightly dressed (by Z) with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed red pepper and salt and black pepper.

I also served slices of warmed sourdough baguette with butter.

The end result was a delicious, satisfying meal that was surprisingly quick and easy to prepare. It was also really nice having two different kinds of quiches for my guests to try.

For dessert, my friend Christine prepared some meringue cookies for the group. The meringue held up beautifully - not sure if it was the eggs themselves or Christine's "beating" method, but the cookies turned out wonderful and elegant. 

Overall, Eggland's Best's eggs helped me prepare a well-rounded, delicious dinner for my guests - while also raising awareness for a great cause.

In addition to being able to host this dinner, Eggland's Best is also giving away a sweet prize to one lucky EE reader! Just comment on this post regarding how you contribute to raising awareness or funding for breast cancer, and you could win the following:

-2 free EB Dozen coupons
-1 free EB hard cooked and peeled variety coupon
-4 EB ramekins
-1 EB apron
-1 EB whisk
-1 EB spatula
-1 EB egg timer
-1 EB eco bag
-1 EB plush egg

For an extra entry, "like" Eggland's Best on Facebook here, and leave a separate comment saying you did so.

The giveaway will end on Monday (10/31) at 11:59 p.m. EST. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, November 1st.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: Despite Eggland's Best's generosity in providing me with a gift card, coupons and materials for this dinner, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Local Libations

We all I know I love beer. Especially craft, locally-made beer.

Because of my passion for local brews, I've recently launched a new column on Local in Season called "Local Libations." Each month, I'll talk about a local, seasonal brew that's worth sipping on.

My first piece for this series was a recap of the Cambridge Brewing Co. beer dinner, held at Cambridge Common. You can read the full review here.

Are you a beer fan? If so, what's your favorite style/brewery?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boston Brunchers' One Year Anniversary Party

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of partaking in the Boston Brunchers one year anniversary party at Island Creek Oyster Bar. The Boston Brunchers was started by Renee and a group of bloggers who met at a blogger dinner, where they discovered their shared love for brunch. Now, the Brunchers meet up at least once a month to catch up, network and enjoy delicious food at restaurants all over the Boston area.

This particular brunch had about 40 people in attendance and a slew of sponsors (many of them local businesses) - and every bruncher left with a hefty goodie bag filled with coupons, cookbooks and culinary samples.

The meal started with a freshly baked pastry basket for the table. The basket consisted of a blueberry muffin, doughnut muffin, cinnamon roll, butter croissant, raspberry coffee cake and a citrus scone. I went for the scone, which was perfectly flaky and packed with fresh citrus flavor. 

As I waited for my meal, I sipped on a Bloody Mary, which came with extra fixings (hot sauce, horseradish, etc.). I added some Sriracha to mine, which made it wonderfully spicy (without this addition, the Bloody Mary was pretty tame).

For my entree, I went with the Cinnamon French Toast, which was piled high with caramelized apples and toasted walnuts. I'm not a big sweets-for-breakfast kind of person, and feared this might be a little too much for me - but it was a surprisingly savory dish. The toast was cut thick and grilled enough to withstand the weight of the apples, which was quite an impressive feat. I would definitely order this dish again.

Island Creek Oyster Bar served us Brunchers a fantastic meal. Thanks to them, Renee and the sponsors below for such a fabulous brunch! (And thanks to Megan for the list below).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Vegetarian Ventures: Tofu Parmigiana

We finally have a kitchen, which means I can start posting recipes can. Good recipes. Like this one!

An old friend from high school - and fellow vegetarian - has been kind enough these last few months to send me new vegetarian recipes she's tried and loved. All of the ones she's sent me have tasted/looked great, but this last one is in a league of its own. It also happened to be the first meal we cooked in our new place.

Oh, and for the omnivores - you won't miss the chicken with this dish. I promise you.

Tofu Parmigiana
Yields: 4 servings
Original source: Unknown
-1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
-1 tsp Italian seasoning
-1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
-1 small onion, chopped
-8 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce
-Crushed red pepper flakes
-1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1.) Combine breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. Cut tofu lengthwise into four "steaks" and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the tofu with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.

2.) Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and begin to brown, 4 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.

3.) Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the tofu steaks and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn over and sprinkle with Parmesan. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the tofu, pour marinara over the mushrooms, add crushed red pepper, and scatter mozzarella on top. Cover and cook until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Serve (preferably with garlic bread and whole wheat pasta).

The end result tasted exactly like chicken parmigiana, but without the added grease chicken can bring to the dish. The texture of the tofu also held up surprisingly well - it wasn't mushy, although it did crumble a bit when I was dredging it in the bread crumbs.

Overall, this was a comforting, delicious first meal in our new home. 

On a side note, I picked a winner for the Stonyfield giveaway using The winner is...Julie!

"My son Andrew loves yogurt-I think he would really like to try the blueberry."

Congrats, Julie! Please email me to claim your prize.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How We Celebrated (So Far)

We're slowly but surely moving into our new home...

Who knew we had so much stuff? The move actually went surprisingly smooth on Saturday, thanks to some great friends of our's, but by Sunday night, we were ready for a break. We had brought home two bottles of wine from our Italy trip last year - and had saved one for this occasion. Sunday night, we popped it open...and let's just say, it was well worth the wait. 

Lacking the desire to cook, we put together a spread of fontina, sliced baguette, marinated olives, peppadews, sesame seitan and mushrooms, courtesy of Whole Foods.

It was a simple dinner, yet relaxing - and a great way to celebrate being in our new home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stonyfield Oikos Greek Yogurt + a Giveaway!

I've never been a huge yogurt fan. The tangy, almost-sour flavor has just never meshed well with me.

This past year, however, I discovered Greek yogurt - still a bit "tangy," but chocked full of protein - and most brands that make Greek yogurt pack it with "real" fruit (versus the artificial "fruit at the bottom" varieties).

So, when Stonyfield Farm asked me to review their Oikos Greek yogurt, I was immediately on board. I purchased three different flavors: blueberry, vanilla and plain.

The blueberry flavor tasted like it was made with fresh blueberries, and the creamy, thick texture was almost indulgent. Packed with 13 grams of protein, this cup also helped my stomach stay satisfied for the rest of the afternoon.

On a different day, I tried the vanilla for breakfast, and mixed in some frozen blueberries and Crispix cereal. The vanilla flavor wasn't incredibly apparent, but that could have been because of what I topped my yogurt with. Either way, the texture was still spot-on - and I loved how this cup had 15 grams of protein in it. 

The plain yogurt was - well, plain - but I still appreciated the texture and flavor. This (along with the vanilla flavor) could go well with just about anything. Next time I purchase it, I plan to spoon it over some waffles with sliced bananas for breakfast. 

In addition to letting me try three flavors of my choosing, Stonyfield has also generously offered to give one EE reader five coupons for five free single servings of their Oikos yogurt.

To enter, leave a comment on this post about what flavor of Oikos single serving yogurt you'd like to try and why. For an extra entry, tweet: "I just entered to win free @Stonyfield yogurt from @MichellePC!" I'll pick a winner Friday morning. Good luck!

Disclaimer: Stonyfield provided me with three coupons for three single servings of their Oikos yogurt. Despite their generosity, my opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Four months ago: We closed on the house. 

Two months ago: I moved out of my apartment, and into Zach’s old house.

A month and a half ago: Zach and I moved into his parents’ house.

Tomorrow: We FINALLY move into our home!!!!

Moving day is finally here. The two month wait was well worth it – despite how stressful it was at times. Our house now has a brand new bathroom, brand new walls, brand new ceilings, and brand new basement stairs and windows. It definitely ended up being more of a fixer-upper than we initially thought, but now we have a beautiful home to move into.

Hope you all have a great weekend! Next time, I'll be blogging from my house!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Local, Innovative Eats at Russell House Tavern

I've heard a lot of good things about Russell House Tavern's food - and how must of it contains some form of meat. But on Sunday evening, when Z and I popped into Russell House to catch a beer and the end of the Patriots game, we were pleasantly surprised to find a few vegetarian-friendly dishes on the innovative, practically-genius menu (I can still appreciate a good meat dish when I see one!).

We sat at the bar, and Z ordered an Opa Opa Milk Stout (we both tasted a sample before he ordered a glass), and I got the BBC Oktoberfest. To eat, we split the Warm Verrill Farms Pumpkin ($10), which was a salad comprised of fresh pumpkin chunks, Cremont cheese, spicy Holliston honey and toasted walnuts.

We also had the Melted Cambozola Cheese ($9), which was thyme garlic flatbread served with warm, gooey cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms.

Despite the simplicity of these dishes, both were bursting with spot-on flavors. It's always obvious when high quality, fresh (and here, mostly local) ingredients are used in a dish. We were both impressed with the attention to detail, flavor and quality, even in these fairly "safe" dishes.

Although the price tags are a little high for the portion sizes at Russell House Tavern, I appreciate immensely Chef Michael Scelfo's dedication to local, quality food and his creativity with it (beef heart ravioli, anyone?).

Have you ever been to Russell House Tavern? What's your review? 

Russell House Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sopes and Margaritas

There was one day last week where I worked from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and I just needed tequila as soon as I left the office. Z also had had a busy day, and was on board for some liquor. I'd been eager for a while to try out Jose's Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, so we decided to meet there for some (strong) margaritas and Mexican food.

Jose's is a family-owned Mexican restaurant serving up authentic cuisine (many of them family recipes). We started with some complimentary spicy salsa and warm, crispy tortilla chips.

Then came the margaritas. Jose's offers an impressive array of these popular Mexican beverages, but Z and I both went for the original (please note I'm not listing prices in this post since I'm going by the prices on their website, which seems to have an outdated menu).

The margaritas were strong, wonderfully portioned (i.e., large) and had the perfect ratio of lime/citrus flavor and higher shelf tequila.

For my entree, I went with the vegetarian Sopes, which were piled high with grilled vegetables, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. On the side, my dish came with black beans (I also had the choice of refried) and rice (their rice and beans are 100 percent vegetarian).


I also ordered a side of guacamole for Z and I had to have with our dishes. The guacamole was obviously fresh and wonderfully traditional.

I had never had sopes before, but I was very impressed with Jose's dish. The vegetables themselves were wonderfully seasoned, and I got my dish "spicy" - which it was, without being overwhelming. 

For Z's entree, he ordered a veggie-filled burrito (also "spicy") that came with a delicious mole sauce. The menu on Jose's website doesn't list it - so I can't give you many more details - but trust me when I say that it was filling and delightfully tasty. The sauce was also beautifully silky and packed with the flavors of pepper and cocoa.

Overall, our meal at Jose's was well executed and enjoyable - and we ended it with one more margarita each. Because of their lengthy menu, I am excited to go back there soon to try some more dishes that I'm not that familiar with. 

 Where's your favorite place to go for Mexican food in the Boston area?

Jose's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Curry-Spiced Red Lentil Burgers

One thing I love about cooking is the ability to take a recipe and make it your own based off what you have in your own kitchen and what your preferences are - even if that original recipe was written by the masterminds over at Food & Wine.

Last week, Z and I did just that. Most of our spices are in storage, so we had little to choose from - and we also don't have the money to go out and buy all new spices for one single recipe. So, we took this recipe and made it our own - and saved a whole lot of money doing so.

Curry-Spiced Red Lentil Burgers
Adapted from Food & Wine
Yields: 5 servings
-1 1/2 cups red lentils
-1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
-3 medium carrots, roughly chopped (although I recommend "finely" chopped)
-3 tbsp. minced garlic
-1 1/2 teaspoons red curry powder
-1/4 teaspoon chili powder
-3/4 cup plain, dry bread crumbs
-1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt
-1 teaspoon lemon juice

1.) In a large saucepan, cover the lentils with cold water by 2 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer the lentils until they are very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the lentils well.

2.) Preheat the broiler. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the carrots and two-thirds of the garlic and cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in the curry and chili powder and remove from the heat. Mix in the bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the parsley, the eggs, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 5 patties.

3.) Line a baking sheet with foil. Brush the foil and both sides of the burgers with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Broil until golden, about 3 minutes per side.

4.) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the lemon juice and the remaining garlic and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Serve the burgers hot and bun-less, with the yogurt sauce on the side.

On the side, we had oven baked potatoes flavored with dried rosemary, salt and pepper.

And we washed it all down with some Ommegang Abbey Ale.

The end result was a spicy, almost exotic-flavored burger that was nutritious and economical to boot. The yogurt dressing helped to cool down the spice of the burger, too, while the crispy, flavorful potatoes and the full-bodied Belgian beer rounded out the meal beautifully.

Do you follow recipes to a T or do you improvise when necessary?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bagels and Weddings

Only in New Jersey would you see something like this:

Yes, that's a Christmas tree decorated with blinking string lights, pumpkins and other Halloween decorations...inside a local coffee and bagel shop. 

Z and I were in New Jersey this weekend to see one of my best guy friends from college get married. It was a beautiful, incredibly fun wedding. In fact, the wedding was so much fun that Z and I didn't even eat "breakfast" the next day until almost 2 p.m. We were both craving bagels, and after a quick Internet search, I stumbled upon Coffee Grinder Cafe and Bagel Shop, which was right up the road from our hotel (which was located in Bridgewater).

With a 5+ hours drive ahead of us, we both went for a quick yet satisfying breakfast: two fried eggs, pepperjack cheese, and tomato on toasted bagels. I went for the spinach bagel, while Z opted for the everything.

Both of our sandwiches were basically perfect - both in flavor and for curing our hangovers - and both sandwiches plus an iced coffee and juice cost us just over $13. I love finding hidden gems like this one when I'm traveling!

Every time I find a bagel shop like Coffee Grinder Cafe in New Jersey or New York, I always wish Boston had a locally-owned place like it. Does anyone know of any local cafes that make their own bagels?

Coffee Grinder Cafe & Bagel Shop on Urbanspoon