Friday, April 27, 2012

Drink This: Ithaca Apricot Wheat Ale (From Your Own Kegerator)

A few months ago, Z and I invested in a kegerator.

If you're a craft beer fan like us, I highly suggest purchasing a kegerator. Although it's a hefty cost upfront, it's definitely an investment...that should pay off big time in the end. We're currently keeping track of how many beers we get out of each keg, and dividing that by the cost of the keg itself - so as we get some more data, I will be sure to share that with you guys. Plus, you can come home from a long day at work and fill a pint glass with ice cold beer, straight from the tap. Have I sold you on this yet?

The latest keg we bought was Ithaca Apricot Wheat Ale. This crisp, refreshing brew is perfect for sipping in the warmer weather. With a 4.90% abv. and subtle hints of fresh apricot flavor, this has become one of my favorite spring/summer-time beers.

If you're not a big fan of fruity beer, I still recommend trying this - the apricot flavor is obvious, yet not overpowering.

Cheers! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread

When one of my friends is celebrating...well, anything...I normally give them the gift of food. Since I'm not a crafty person, I feel that something homemade and edible is always a personal, thoughtful gift to give to those you love. With that being said, when one of our friend's birthdays rolled around last week, I knew I wanted to make him something sweet and delicious - but cupcakes, brownies and cookies seemed so overdone to me at the moment. So instead, I baked him a loaf of a bread. 

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread
Yields: 1 loaf
Adapted from
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 egg
-2 tbsp. butter, melted
-1 tsp. orange extract
-1 cup vanilla soy milk
-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.) In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat egg, butter, orange extract and soy milk; mix well. 
2.) Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.
3.) Pour into a greased loaf pan; baked at 350 degrees for about 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing bread from pan to a wire rack.

This was a total experiment, so I was relieved when the bread turned out as well as it did. Although it was a bit dry (I'd probably add a little more soy milk next time to see if that helps), the flavors were still spot-on (I love the combination of chocolate and orange). Warmed up with a bit of butter, a slice of this would be heaven with a cup of coffee in the morning. 

Do you sometimes bake gifts for your friends/family? What's your favorite edible gift to give?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trina's Starlite Lounge

Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square may look like a dive bar from the outside, but once you walk'll be reminded not to judge a restaurant by its exterior.

The dimly light restaurant on this Wednesday evening was bustling with patrons, who were either dining at the black-top tables or sipping a cocktail while watching the game at the contemporary bar. My cousin (my companion for the evening) and I were sat immediately, and we pored over the cocktail menu before even glancing at the food.

Starlite Lounge has an impressive list of creative cocktails (all for $9). After some intense deliberation, I went with the Violette Hour, made with cucumber vodka, lime, lavender syrup, and Creme de Violette.

Despite the curly black hair that was chillin' on the side of my glass when it was served to me, this was one dangerously delicious drink. I'd kill to sip this refreshing, sweet cocktail on my back porch in the sunshine.

For my entree, I had the Spring Vegetable Sandwich ($9), which was piled high with sea-salted roasted asparagus, three cheeses, greens, radish and herb vinaigrette. It was also served with a side of curried cauliflower salad.

The sandwich was hearty and innovative, albeit a little too salty for my liking (and I'm normally a salt fiend). The cauliflower salad was well seasoned, although heavy on the mayonnaise - it also included some form of meat, which I didn't realize until a few bites in (my fault!). Overall, this wasn't a successful dish in my book, but it also wasn't a total flop. 

Despite the lackluster meal, I'd definitely be open to visiting Starlite Lounge again in the future. Whether it be for a cocktail or one of their draft beers (BBC Steel Rail, anyone?) - or even for brunch - I'm open to giving them another chance.

Have you ever been to Starlite Lounge? What's your review?

Trina's Starlite Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Last week, our friend - who lives in Israel - was home visiting. Her and Z met in high school, so she's been a part of his life - and now, my life - for quite a few years. When we heard she was coming to town, we immediately made plans to get together. We decided to invite her to our house for dinner, drinks and lots of catching up.

A few days before she came over, Z and I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, and purchased these beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes. When I was planning what to make for dinner, I knew I needed to incorporate these beauties into whatever I created.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
Yields: 4 servings
-1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
-1 sheet (about 8 oz.) frozen puff pastry, thawed 
-Extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp. minced garlic
-Salt and pepper
-Herbed goat cheese, crumbled

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place thawed puff pastry on a lightly greased baking sheet; score the pastry in several places with a fork, leaving the outer edges un-touched.
2.) In a saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Brush oil and garlic mixture over the puff pastry.
3.) Place the halved heirloom tomatoes flat-side down over the oiled pastry (I color-coordinated my tomatoes...but you don't have to). Season lightly with salt and pepper; sprinkle goat cheese over the tomatoes.
4.) Bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, or until dough is golden brown and edges of tomatoes begin to darken.

This ended up being a simple, elegant and gorgeous dish. I served it with a simple arugula salad and some sliced baguette with dipping oil. Although the tomatoes caused some more "wetness" than I preferred, this tart was still a success in my book. And it provided a great way to enjoy the flavors of I the only one thinks tomatoes taste better during the warmer months?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homemade Bread Crumbs

When life gives you stale bread...make homemade bread crumbs.

Last week, Z and I had half of a leftover baguette that was hard as a rock - but I refused to let it go to waste. Being my economical self, I whipped out my food processor and some seasonings, and turned that stale bread into something useful. 

Homemade Bread Crumbs
Yields: About 1 cup
-1/2 stale baguette, roughly chopped
-Dried oregano
-Dried parsley
-Salt and pepper, to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread chopped bread out evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet; bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes after removing from the oven.
2.) Put bread in a food processor with oregano, parsley, salt and pepper; pulse until finely processed and well mixed.
3.) Once bread crumbs are completely cool, place in an airtight container (I also put mine in the freezer since I wouldn't be using them right away).

Easy and economical - just the way I like it. :)

How have you saved money in the kitchen recently?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Impromptu Dinner at West Side Lounge

Last Sunday, Z and I were in the mood to go out for dinner - and for once, to not use one of our many daily deal coupons. Our first choice was Cambridge Common (where we're regulars at) - but CC unfortunately recently revamped their menu, and removed the one dish Z was hoping to order.

A little bummed, we decided to have a beer and some deviled eggs at CC while we contemplated our next move. After some deliberation, we decided to walk across the street to West Side Lounge.

Before we left the house, I (embarrassingly) watched an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. In the episode, Vicki drank a dirty martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives. I was dying for that same martini, so when I saw that West Side Lounge had one on their menu, I was beyond excited.

West Side Martini.

For an appetizer, Z and I split the Fresh Veggie Spring Rolls ($6.95), which are made with Thai basil, noodles, cilantro, pickled cucumber, carrot and green mango, and are served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. 

These were wonderfully light and fresh, and the combination of flavors was spot-on.

For our meal, Z and I decided to split the Roasted Spring Vegetable Ravioli ($14.95), which was coated in a light spinach pesto with sundried tomatoes and chardonnay-braised fennel.

Z and I saved a lot of money and room in our stomachs from sharing this dish! Although the serving looks a little small, the ravioli were stuffed generously, and the pesto sauce was silky and luxurious. The flavors in this dish were also spot-on, and although I could have easily eaten the entire serving myself, I was glad I ate in moderation.

West Side Lounge has a pretty impressive menu with a variety of vegetarian and omnivorous options (although the menu is mostly meat-based). I'm eager to go back and try the Spicy Feta Dip ($6.95) and the Homemade Veggie Burger ($10.95).

Have you ever been to West Side Lounge? If so, what's your review?

West Side Lounge on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Eat This: Pierogies and Flatbread at The Beehive

Last week, a few co-workers and I surprised our friend (and other co-worker) at The Beehive in Back Bay. I had only been to The Beehive for cocktails before, so I was excited to return for a sit-down dinner.

A few of us at dinner.

My meal started with the Truffled Potato & Cheese Pierogies, served with caramelized onions and sour cream ($10.50). I shared these with Colleen.

The pierogies were wonderfully crispy on the outside, while the inside was bursting with savory, salty cheese and fluffy, whipped potatoes.

For my meal, I went with the Mushroom and Ricotta Salata Flatbread Pizza ($12) - I'm guessing on the name and price, as their website menu is not updated.

The large, fresh shavings of ricotta over this crispy flatbread pizza were the star of this dish for me. Paired with the wilted greens, "meaty" mushrooms and delicate drizzles of olive oil, this was one surprisingly elegant and satisfying entree.

Although the prices at The Beehive are a little more than I'd prefer to pay - especially for a weeknight dinner - I must admit that the quality of food, jovial service, and lively atmosphere (complete with live music, nightly) were worth the extra few dollars.

The Beehive on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stone Brewing Co. Dinner at 5 Napkin Burger

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a Stone Brewing Co. beer dinner at 5 Napkin Burger in Boston. The evening was filled with delicious eats, great beer and even a few familiar faces.

Jen and I.

The evening began with a cocktail half-hour in 5 Napkin's private event room, where we had the opportunity to mingle with the other guests, as well as a rep from Stone Brewing Co. Light appetizers (like guacamole and house-made chips) were also served. Then, we were brought into the dining room to sit at a large, family-style table to eat and imbibe the night away.

On the menu: Peel and Eat Shrimp & Beer Boil, served with Stone IPA (the chef graciously served us vegetarians his new tomato and avocado's brand new to the menu); Veggie Burgers, made with beets and lentils, served with the Arrogant Bastard Ale (omnivores also had the option of the Mushroom Bleu burger); sweet potato and French fries served family-style; and S'mores Pie, served with the Stone Smoked Porter.

Overall, I was very pleased with the pairings as a whole, not to mention the accommodating staff and the innovative dishes (beets + lentils, in a burger?! Yes, please).

The typical cost for 5 Napkin Burger's beer dinners is $45 including tax and gratuity. Their next beer dinner is taking place with Long Trail Brewing Company on April 24th.

Disclaimer: Z and I attended this dinner free of charge. Despite 5 Napkin Burger's generosity, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own. 

Five Napkin Burger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mushroom and Gruyere Quiche

Z and I were lucky enough to celebrate both Passover and Easter with our respective families and friends this year. We spent Saturday in Western Massachusetts with long-time family friends of Z's, enjoying Seder in the countryside. On Sunday, we drove out to Haverhill to see my Mom's side of the family, to enjoy some brunch (complete with mimosas) and laughter with people we haven't seen since Christmas. It was a fun weekend filled with lots of great people. 

For Seder, we promised to bring the vegetarian entree. With little time to prepare something, I decided to make a few quiches - quiche, I find, is versatile, easy to make, and almost always delicious. 

Mushroom and Gruyere Quiche
Yields: 2 quiches
Adapted from
-2 frozen deep dish pie crusts, defrosted
-2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
-4 large shallots, chopped
-20 oz. white button mushrooms, roughly chopped
-8 large eggs
-1 1/3 cups half and half
-2/3 cup soy milk
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
-2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese, divided

1.) Preheat oven to 325°F.
2.) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate; spread out to cool slightly.
3.) Whisk eggs, half and half, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Stir in 2 cups Gruyere cheese and sautéed mushrooms. Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over quiche.
4.) Bake quiche until puffed, golden brown, and just set in center, about 40-45 minutes. Cool 30 minutes. Cut into wedges.

I made the original version of this quiche for my Eggland's Best dinner a while back, but I have to say, I liked this version better. The mushrooms were plentiful, and the salty, obvious Gruyere cheese throughout just helped to make this one elegant, delicious dish. Everyone at Seder seemed to enjoy it, too.

How did you celebrate the Passover and/or Easter holiday(s)?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Drink This: Citron and Tonic

Happy Friday!! Is anyone else as happy as I am for this week to be almost over??

Let's just say...this week calls for a cocktail (or 10). If you're in the mood for one, too, then I highly suggest trying this refreshing, slightly sweet beverage...that's dangerously missing any taste of alcohol.

Citron and Tonic
Yields: 2 cocktails
-4 oz. Svedka Citron vodka
-Tonic water
-Orange juice
-Two lime wedges

1.) Fill two pint glasses with ice cubes. Add vodka, and fill each glass with tonic water, leaving several inches at the top of the glass. Top each glass with a generous splash of orange juice, and squeeze a wedge of lime into each glass. Serve with a straw.

Who else plans to drink a cocktail tonight?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Growing up, breakfast for dinner was my favorite night of the week. Whether we were having French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, or all of the above, I thought it was so rebellious to eat breakfast food at the dinner table.

These days, I still love having breakfast for dinner sometimes - but my tastebuds have become a little more sophisticated over the years. Now, if I plan to have breakfast food for dinner, it's usually some variation of a "gourmet" egg this one:

I had some leftover goat cheese from my Whole Wheat Pasta with Goat Cheese, Arugula and Peas, so I decided to incorporate it in a dinner last week. I wanted something simple and nutritious, without having to go to the grocery store, so I whipped up this simple egg sandwich. First, I scrambled two eggs with some soy milk, and cooked them up in a frying pan. When the eggs were just about done cooking, I added a handful of the crumbled goat cheese. Then, I toasted two pieces of When Pigs Fly bread, and sliced up some tomatoes. I piled my sandwich high with the cheesy eggs, some arugula and the tomato slices. I then enjoyed this monstrous sandwich alongside some roasted potatoes. 

Despite how simple this dish was to make, it was an elegant breakfast-for-dinner dish (not to mention very filling). Adding goat cheese to scrambled eggs also makes them wonderfully fluffy and creamy.

Are you a fan of having breakfast for dinner? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sunday Funday

The reason I didn't blog yesterday: I had a little too much fun on Sunday.

I spent the beginning part of the weekend with some of my immediate family in New Hampshire. It was a glorious day and a half filled with drinking chilled white wine by the fire, sight-seeing around New Hampshire's beaches, and just spending quality time with the fam dam. When I arrived back in Somerville on Sunday, however, I was in the mood for some comfort food and cold beer - so I called up my cousin, Carolan, and we went to Joe Sent Me.

Carolan had a gift certificate to Joe Sent Me, so we decided to get a few appetizers to share - and spend the rest of the money on drinks. Over the course of the afternoon, I had several BBC Steel Rail Extra Pale Ales as well as a Whale's Tale Pale Ale

BBC Steel Rail #2...or #3?

To eat, we had Bazooka Joe's Fried Pickles with ranch dressing on the side ($7.95)...

...As well as an order of Joey Bag O'Donuts Basket O'Fries - Freshly Cut Regular ($3.95) (you also have the choice of Cajun or Sweet Potato fries).

I've met very few fried pickles I haven't liked, and Joe Sent Me's version is one of the many I've enjoyed. The pickles were delightfully zesty and slightly spicy, and the cool ranch dressing helped to tame the vinegar from the pickles. The fries were also a notch above most bar's French fries - they were wonderfully crispy on the outside, and well salted. 

Overall, it was quite a fun weekend. I was sad to see it end!

What are you looking forward to this week? Z and I are going to a beer dinner at 5 Napkin Burger tonight - I'm excited for that!

Joe Sent Me (Cambridge) on Urbanspoon