Friday, July 29, 2011

Olive Oil Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Danyelle and I have been best friends since second grade. She's seen me at my worst, she's seen me at my best, and I know, no matter what time of day it is, I can call her when I need a friend. Danyelle also happens to be one of the strongest people I know - she's a mother of two young boys, and her husband, Scott, is currently serving in Iraq. She's got a lot on her plate - and, well, so does her husband.

Last weekend, I had time on my hands and wanted to make Scott something special - hoping that this package I sent to him would bring a glimmer of light to his day. I perused numerous dessert recipes, and finally stumbled upon this one. The photos, description and recipe told me right away that these cookies were fit for a hero.

Olive Oil Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: About 17 cookies
Adapted from The Crepes of Wrath 

-2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon honey
-2 eggs
-1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of soy milk
-1/2 cup each of milk and white chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Combine sugars, vanilla, honey and olive oil. Beat in the eggs one a time. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, then add in a tablespoon of milk to make the dough a bit firmer.
3. Roll the dough into balls with your hands (I used an ice cream scoop) and place on a greased and/or lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and set. Allow to cool for a bit on the baking sheet, then move to another surface to finish cooling.

Of course, I had to taste test one, and I was pleasantly surprised with the end result. I have to admit, I was skeptical that olive oil in place of butter would produce delicious chocolate chip cookies. But thankfully, the cookies came out moist, almost fluffy - the texture was unlike anything I've ever had before, at least in cookie form.

The combination of white and milk chocolate didn't hurt, either. I hope these cookies brighten Scott's day like they brightened mine.

Since I’m a huge loser and only one person entered my Tommy Doyle’s giveaway (thanks, Daisy!) I’m giving EE readers one more chance to enter. I’ll leave the giveaway open until TONIGHT at midnight EST, and will announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tommy Doyle's and Eversave Giveaway

I’m part Irish, so I grew up eating a lot of corned beef, boiled cabbage and (once I turned 21) Irish coffees. Through food, my parents made us proud of our Irish heritage, although I will be happy to never eat corned beef again. Sorry, Mom.

Because of my Irish pride – and my love for my day job at – I instantly said yes when Colleen asked if I wanted to giveaway a Tommy Doyle’s Save on my blog. Eversave in Boston is running a deal today for $30 worth of food and non-alcoholic drinks at Tommy Doyle’s in Kendall Square, Harvard Square or Hyannis – but it only costs the customer $15. Today, EE readers have a chance to win a FREE Tommy Doyle’s Save! Here’s how to enter:

1.) Leave a comment on this blog post about your heritage and why you’re proud of it.

For additional entries:

2.) Tweet: "I want to win a free Save to Tommy Doyle’s from @MichellePC and @EversaveBOS!"

3.) “Like” Eversave Boston on Facebook and comment below saying you did so

4.) Follow @EversaveBOS on Twitter and comment below saying you did so

The giveaway will end tonight at midnight EST. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow morning. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Worth the Splurge: Oleana

Some meals are worth emptying your bank account for. Meals, for instance, that are made with quality, fresh ingredients with beautiful presentations served by knowledgeable waiters in a comfortable, lively environment. Meals, for example, that are served at Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge.

Z and I have been dying to try Oleana, and we finally had the opportunity to do so a few weeks ago when Z’s parents generously treated us to a birthday dinner (Z’s birthday is six days before mine – on July 4th!). We all sampled a variety of tapas that evening, including Warm Olives with Za’atar ($5)

The cheese plate ($11), which came with homemade string cheese, fresh mozzarella and Shanklish with spiced figs….

And numerous other dishes that were all magnificent – including the Spinach Falafel with Tahini, Yogurt, Beets and Crinkled Cress ($12). However, the most notable dish of the evening was the Chickpea Terrine with Apricot, Pistachio and Tahini Sauce ($9). This gem was one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. Hands down.

The dish itself is innovative, but the textures, flavors, spices and ingredients were all 100 percent spot on. I could easily eat this dish everyday for dinner for the rest of my life and die a happy woman. It was that good.

Oleana’s inventive menu, attentive staff and amazing use of flavors and spices (not to mention their dedication to local ingredients) makes this Cambridge spot worth every single penny.

Have you ever been to Oleana? What's your review?

Oleana on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Polenta with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Blueberry Wine Sauce

In the summertime, there’s nothing I love more than a farmers’ market. Fresh cheeses, veggies, fruits. Homemade jams, sauces, marinades. Farmers’ markets are local, culinary meccas that make me proud to be supporting such passionate, hardworking people and their businesses.

Due to my support for local food, I also write for the website Local in Season. My latest article – for a recipe involving polenta, goat cheese, onions and blueberries – was just posted this weekend. Blueberries are at their finest this time of year, and this recipe really lets them shine.

What's your favorite farmers' market in the area and why?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dinner and Drinks at The Melting Pot

Coupons make meals taste better. Especially when that meal consists of melted cheese and hot, gooey chocolate.

About a week ago, two of my former co-workers and I had a long overdue dinner together at The Melting Pot in Burlington. One of my fellow diners had purchased a Buy With Me coupon to The Melting Pot previously - she paid $50, but it was good toward $100 worth of food and drink - and she was kind enough to use it toward our dinner. We also happened to go on Ladies' Night Out, so there were some additional specials we got to partake in. Score!

The Ladies' Night Out menu lets you choose from a salad, a cheese fondue, a chocolate fondue and a signature drink for $25 per person (there are also other options available, but this was the one we chose).

To start, I had a glass of pinot grigio (based off memory, it was $5-7).

For my salad, I had the California Salad, made with mixed baby greens, Roma tomatoes, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese with raspberry black walnut vinaigrette. The salad was surprisingly spectacular - well dressed, and not overpowered by the gorgonzola, as some restaurant salads easily can be. 

For our cheese fondue, we ordered the Wisconsin Trio Cheese Fondue made with fontina, Butterkäse and buttermilk bleu cheeses with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry.

The fondue came with hunks of bread, apples, and raw veggies for dipping.

The cheese dip was intensely flavorful, although when we got closer to the bottom, all we could taste was the wine (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

For dessert, we all split the Yin & Yang fondue, which is prepared with half dark chocolate and half white chocolate - a divine combination.

Our chocolate fondue came with an array of decadent dessert dippers, including banana slices, strawberries, brownies, marshmallows and Rice Krispies Treats. 

I loved the sweet, sultry combination of the white chocolate with the dark chocolate. I’m not a huge dessert person, but I found the bite-sized desserts mixed with the silky chocolate was a perfect ending to a fun, satisfying meal.

The service at The Melting Pot was nothing spectacular, but our experience overall was a positive one (our waiter did also put birthday candles in a few of our desserts, since we all celebrate July birthdays). Dinner and drinks at The Melting Pot can be expensive, but, thankfully, my friend’s coupon made our meal basically free. Plus, who doesn’t like to have a little melted cheese for dinner?

What's your opinion of The Melting Pot? Do you think a meal there is worth the financial splurge?

Melting Pot - a Fondue Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites

I may have recently become a vegetarian, but that doesn't mean I don't crave hearty, satisfying meals. There's nothing worse than being hungry after eating dinner. So, when the kind folks from Dalyn Miller Public Relations asked me if I wanted to review this book:


...I didn't hesitate to say yes.

Priced at $19.99, this cookbook features 200 comfort food recipes that are 100% vegan. With a glossary, pantry recommendations, and cooking/baking tips to boot, this cookbook is perfect for any hungry vegetarian/vegan like myself - or for anyone trying to persuade their friends/significant others/families to eat a satisfying, meat-free diet. With recipes like Peanut Butter Rocky Road Pancakes, Orange Seitan Stew, and Sweet Potato Po' Boys, Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites can make any meatless meal comforting and substantial.

The first recipe I made from the book: Crispy Burritos Con Carne. Originally made with TVP granules, I revised the recipe a tad, but basically stuck to the original. Despite the slight revisions, this dish was fairly quick to make, and served alongside some homemade guacamole, it was downright delicious (and hearty).

Crispy Burritos Con Carne
Yields: 4 burritos
Adapted from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites
-1 cup crumbled tempeh
-1 tsp. granulated sugar
-1 tsp. ground cumin
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. chili powder
-10 slices jarred jalapenos, finely diced
-1 medium-size yellow onion, finely diced
-1 cup water
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1 cup sour cream
-4 whole wheat tortillas
-Vegetable oil, for frying

1.) In a large saute pan, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions, and saute until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Then, add the crumbled tempeh, sugar, spices and jalapeno slices. Pour the water over the mixture, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2.) Mix in the sour cream.
3.) Divide the mixture evenly among the four tortillas and roll by first tucking in the ends, then rolling up.
4.) Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over high heat. Place one burrito, seam side down, in the oil and fry for 10 to 20 seconds, until golden and crispy, then flip and repeat on the other side. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Serve immediately (preferably with homemade guacamole and Skinny Girl Margaritas). 

Although I am terrible at rolling up burritos, the end result was crispy on the outside, and warm and "meaty" on the inside. I also loved how the sour cream (which was non-dairy in the original recipe) made it taste like the filling was coated in melty, gooey cheese. My only gripe: The recipe wasn't spicy enough. Next time, I'll probably add some cayenne or hot sauce to spice it up a bit. 

Could you ever go vegan? Why or why not? Or, if you're already vegan, how do you ensure your meals are hearty and satisfying? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bad Blogger

Please accept my apology for being a terrible blogger lately.

Between gaining more responsibilities at my day job, preparing for the big move, and nursing a raging head cold, these past few weeks have been a little bonkers.

However, blogging is a big priority for me, and I promise I’ll have The EE back up and running ASAP!

In the's your week going? 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Fries

Processed foods scare me. The long, illegible ingredient lists; the unknown effects on my health/organs; and the unwelcome additions to my waistline.

With that being said, I rarely by frozen, pre-packaged foods that I could easily make on my own with fresh, natural ingredients. But when FoodBuzz offered me a free bag of Ore-Ida frozen sweet potato fries as part of their Tastemaker Program, I was optimistic. I was willing to give them a chance.

Stop and Shop had this product on sale, two for $6 total. At 6 servings per bag, that makes this bag of fries go for 50 cents per serving. Not a bad deal at all – but was the taste (and ingredient list) worth it?

First, let’s take a look at the ingredients:

Sweet potatoes, canola oil, modified food starch, rice flour, tapioca dextrin, sea salt, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate), xantham gum, annatto (color), sodium acid pyrophosphate. 

I love how sweet potatoes are the number one ingredient – I mean, why shouldn’t they be? – but there are some scary additions to the mix, as you can see. Despite the worrisome additives, the fries were surprisingly crispy, well seasoned, and not overly greasy (although they were a little greasier than I'd prefer).

Dipped in ketchup alongside a grilled cheese sandwich, Ore-Ida’s sweet potato fries are quite delicious. But because of the slightly illegible ingredient list, I probably won’t be buying these again. It’s just as affordable to buy a few fresh potatoes and bake them in my oven, topped with olive oil and seasonings.

Do you buy a lot of pre-packaged/frozen foods? Why or why not?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tavern on the Water

To get me out of the house (so Z could prepare for my surprise party), a few of my girlfriends took me out for a birthday lunch at Tavern on the Water in Charlestown. Tavern on the Water boasts gorgeous views of the Boston skyline and a sunny outdoor deck that gets a cooling comfort from the sea breeze (even on 90 degree days).

For a party of four, we did not have to wait long at all for a table on the deck, despite how crowded the restaurant was. Thirsty, yet feeling celebratory, I ordered an ice water and a glass of pinot grigio, served in a classy plastic wine glass (we ordered a bottle to split among the table - it's cheaper!).

For an appetizer, we all split the Queso Dip ($8.50), served with flash fried tortilla chips - because what's better than hot, spicy cheese on a humid July day? Nothing!

The cheese dip was traditionally spicy, wonderfully chunky and oh-so satisfying. I can never get enough gooey, melted cheese. 

For an entree, I ordered the Greek Salad ($9.50), served with feta cheese, olives and oregano vinaigrette. Despite the steep price tag, it was perfectly lightly dressed, and the vegetables (especially the grape tomatoes) were obviously fresh. For being a simple Greek Salad, it was rather impressive. 

The food at Tavern on the Water is not mind blowing, but it's definitely worth the money. Sitting on the deck and watching the boats go by also made dining there a relaxing, scenic experience. Despite the sunburn lines I have now from our sunny lunch there, I definitely plan to go back soon - but maybe for dinner, when the sun has set a little bit. 

Have you ever been to Tavern on the Water? What's your review?

Tavern on the Water on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fried Egg with Spicy Rice and Beans

Between the new house, the humidity and my decreasing desire to cook in my current, tiny kitchen, I have had next to no motivation to cook these days. Let's just say the dozen eggs in my freezer have gone to great use lately. But the other night, the thought of eating yet another fried egg sandwich with cheese and salsa was just not appealing to me. So I improvised.

Fried Egg with Spicy Rice and Beans
Yields: 3-4 servings
-3 cups of rice, cooked according to package directions
-3 eggs
-6 jarred jalapeno slices, diced
-1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
-1 tsp. cumin
-1/2 tbsp. chili powder
-1 tsp. dried cilantro
-Lime juice, to taste
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1/2 cup salsa (preferably hot)

1.) Heat olive oil in a large pan over low to medium heat; add black beans and jalapenos. Let cook for about two minutes until beans are slightly heated through.
2.) Add garlic, cumin, chili powder and salt and pepper; stir. Add cilantro and lime juice, and let cook off for 30 seconds. Lower heat, and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.
3.) While beans are simmering, fry egg in a separate pan, without breaking the yolk. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
4.) In each serving bowl, spoon in one cup of the cooked rice, followed by a layer of the bean mixture. Spoon some salsa on top of that, and then top each bowl with a fried egg.

I love runny eggs all by themselves, but over spicy beans and rice? Amazing. And wonderfully comforting, without sitting like a rock in your stomach. This just may become my new go-to meal.

Have you been cooking a lot lately in this humidity? Where does your motivation come from?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrating 27

Birthdays are so much more than just party hats and cake (even when that cake was made from scratch by your boyfriend).

Birthdays are so much more than presents and celebratory drinks (even when those drinks are enjoyed on the sunny deck of Tavern on the Water with girlfriends).

Birthdays are also nothing about being another year older - even when that year marks the "official late twenties" era of your life. 

Birthdays are about your friends and family who care enough about you to make your day (and you) feel as special as humanly possible. Birthdays are all about appreciating the gift of another year of life with those very special people. 

My 27th birthday was Sunday. Z, and about 20 of my friends and family, surprised the heck out of me with a birthday party/BBQ at Z's home. I sobbed - in front of everybody - and was so unbelievably touched by their love and kindness on that day (and, well, everyday). I am convinced my 27th year of life will be the best yet, because of the people in my life. Thank you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

ButterGirl Baking Co. in Somerville

It doesn't get much more local than this.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a private tasting at the home of ButterGirl Baking Co., located in Somerville. Melissa was kind enough to invite me, and other bloggers in attendance included Molly and Rachel.

Laurelyn, the mastermind behind ButterGirl Baking Co., runs her baking business out of her quaint apartment in Somerville. With a simple passion for everything sweet, it was clear that this baker knows what she is doing - based off the wide variety of cookies, brownies, bars and pastries on her circular dining room table. Laurelyn even served us wine.

Wine AND baked goods? I knew I was in for a treat.

Laurelyn chatted with us about how she's always loved to bake, and how some of her family's recipes have ended up in her baking business (i.e. her Brown Sugar Shortbread cookies). Other varieties we tried included Double Chocolate Heart cookies...

Brown Sugar Shortbread and Double Chocolate Hearts.

Oatmeal Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies...

Pictured with Flourless Peanut Butter cookies.

Pecan Squares...

And my favorite of the evening: The rich, decadent Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Brownies.

Everything we sampled was clearly made with "real" ingredients, and, as cheesy as it sounds - a whole lot of love. Even Laurelyn's Chocolate Chip Cookies were outstanding - they were thick, slightly chewy and chocked full of mini chocolate chips (they're also available with walnuts).

The best part? You can enjoy ButterGirl's creations, too, by simply clicking here. Orders cost anywhere from $15 to $45, on average. And because Laurelyn and I know how much you all like to save a buck (or two) - she is being generous enough to let EE readers take an extra 20% off their first ButterGirl order. To apply the discount, simply use coupon code "foodies" at checkout, and enjoy 20% off these indulgent, homemade treats. 

If you could try any treat from ButterGirl Baking Co., which treat would it be and why?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Economical Vacation in the White Mountains

Before the long weekend commenced, Z and I took a few days off to enjoy some time in the White Mountains before the holiday crowd overtook the area. Bright and early Thursday morning, we packed the car and made the sunny road trip up north.

Our destination: Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch, N.H.

After a fun and relaxing road trip, we were excited to have finally arrived at our destination 3.5 hours later.

Our trip – which, for three nights and four days cost us only $400, most meals included - consisted of some scenic hikes, new friends and surprisingly great weather.

We also ate very, very well, including a return trip to a place I’ve been dying to go back to for over three years now: Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Co.

Located in one of North Conway's historic buildings, Moat Mountain features refined American eats as well as an impressive beer list, complete with their own brews, as well as some domestic and local brews. Z and I both had a sampler of Moat's own creations, which were all fantastic, with the exception of the Czech Pilsner. It just was not tasty. 

For a snack, we split the Mexican Nachos ($9.99), simply dressed with black beans and cheese, with salsa on the side. We also ordered a side of guacamole ($1.99). Despite the simplicity of the snack, the nachos were wonderfully crispy, and the toppings were consistently generous throughout. No soggy nachos here!

On Saturday afternoon, our trip in the White Mountains had come to an end, but our vacation did not stop there. Before an intense game of miniature golf in Lincoln, N.H. (which I won, might I add), Z and I had lunch al fresco at Woodstock Inn Brewery in Woodstock. There, I had a Raspberry Weasel Wheat Ale (and, later, a Pig's Ear Brown Ale, not pictured).

For our appetizer, we split the Loon Golden Ale Dip ($6.99), made with roasted garlic, jalapenos, gorgonzola, spinach and roasted red pepper. Served with spent grain flatbread and tortilla chips, this creamy, rich dip was addictive and delicious. 

For my entree, I ordered the Tuscany Salad ($9.99), which came with more gorgonzola cheese, mesclun greens, roasted mixed mushrooms, fresh pineapple, red onion, beets and honey roasted walnuts. Served with balsamic vinaigrette, this salad had a great blend of fresh summer flavors. The portion, however, was a little too unnecessarily big, and unfortunately about half of it went to waste. 

Overall, we had a fantastic vacation - it was so nice to get away, enjoy the scenery and not have cell service for a few days.

How was your long weekend?

Woodstock Inn on UrbanspoonMoat Moutain Smoke House & Brewery on Urbanspoon