Friday, June 29, 2012

Eat This: Huevos Rancheros at The Friendly Toast

If you find yourself with a hangover at any point this weekend, I highly suggest you head on over to The Friendly Toast and order this:

The Friendly Toast’s Huevos Rancheros ($10.75) consists of cheddar cheese melted on their anadama bread, topped with two poached eggs, avocado and fresh salsa. Crispy, well-seasoned homefries are also served alongside this perfectly heavy dish.

The poached eggs were a little too overcooked for my liking, but the silky yolk still managed to envelop the thick cornbread and creamy avocado beautifully. The refreshing salsa also helped to counteract the decadence from the rest of the ingredients.

I ordered this at The Friendly Toast’s Portsmouth location, but the Cambridge restaurant has the same menu.

What's your favorite hangover food?  

Friendly Toast on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jalapeno Poppers with Chive Cream Cheese

On Sunday, a few of my girlfriends came over for what we called “Bombers and Poppers.” Basically, our goal was to make fried jalapeno poppers (and other fried dishes) while drinking delicious craft beer bombers (22-ounce bottles). It was an unhealthy, delightful afternoon. 

I was in charge of the poppers, and after searching a few recipes online, I decided to do my own thing. We had some leftover whipped chive cream cheese in the fridge, so I made sure to use that up in my recipe.

Jalapeno Poppers with Chive Cream Cheese
Yields: 11 poppers
-8 oz. jalapeno peppers
-6 oz. Philadelphia Whipped Chive Cream Cheese
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-3/4 cup milk
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
-2 quarts canola oil for frying

1.) Cut the stems off of the jalapeno peppers. Carefully, hollow out the middle of the peppers with a small knife, removing all of the seeds and "veins."
2.) In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and cheddar cheese together. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Using a small teaspoon, spoon this mixture into the hollowed out peppers, pushing down to ensure the entire pepper is filled (I used my finger to push the mixture down into the pepper).
3.) Put the milk and flour into two separate shallow bowls. Dip the stuffed jalapenos first into the milk, then the flour, making sure the jalapenos are well coated with each. Allow the jalapenos to dry for 10 minutes in the fridge.
4.) Dip the jalapenos in the milk again and roll them through the breadcrumbs. Allow them to dry, then repeat to ensure the entire surface is coated.
5.) In a large pot on the stove, heat the oil to 365 degrees. Deep fry the coated jalapenos for about 2 to 3 minutes each, or until golden brown. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.

The end result were spicy, indulgent jalapeno poppers. The peppers themselves remained slightly crunchy while the warm, gooey cheese provided a punch of fantastic flavor.

Oh, and one of the other items we fried on Sunday were know, just to wash down our jalapeno poppers with. Basically, all we did was dip the Oreos in pancake batter and fried them, then served them with powdered sugar and maple syrup.

Sunday wasn't the healthiest day of my life, but the calories were well worth it.

What's your favorite kind of fried food?

Monday, June 25, 2012


Sox game. College friends. Beautiful wedding in Western Mass. Too many beers.

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eat This: Patata Rossa from The Upper Crust Pizzeria

Warm, melt-y fontina. Thinly sliced red bliss potatoes. Sweet, caramelized onions. Fresh sprigs of rosemary.

That pretty much sums up one of The Upper Crust Pizzeria's newest pies: the Patata Rossa ($20.75, large). Not only is it fun to say (pa-ta-ta!), it's also incredibly delicious. It's a white pizza with a beautiful blend of toppings - and the crispy, thin crust is always a welcome base.

As a bonus, Z and I used one of our Eversave coupons to buy this pie, so it only cost us about $2 after taxes.

What delicious dishes have you discovered lately?

The Upper Crust Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cherry Hand Pies

My Dad loves pie. Like…loves pie. Growing up, we almost always had a pie in the house, whether it was homemade (by my Mom) or bought at a nearby bakery. Chocolate cream, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry…he loves them all. But his absolute favorite is cherry pie. So, for Father’s Day, I brought out my shiny red KitchenAid mixer and made my Pops some cherry hand pies…from scratch.

This was my first attempt at making homemade pastry dough, and I used this recipe (I used this same recipe for the filling, too…and included the almond extract). Let’s just say pastry dough is insanely easy to make. It was almost amusing, considering how intimidated I was before beginning the process. I may never buy store-bought pastry dough again!

As a bonus, my Dad loved these hand pies (the scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side didn’t hurt, either).

Have you ever made pastry dough from scratch before?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Drink These: Horchata and Jamaica at Anna's Taqueria

A few weeks ago, I was invited to have dinner at Anna’s Taqueria in Porter Square to enjoy some of their food and get some information on what the restaurant chain has planned for the summer. Their PR rep was kind enough to invite me, and we enjoyed a good meal together. However, the drinks we washed the meal down with were the highlights of the evening for me. 

Here are two of the drinks we sipped on (we also had the Mexican coke ($1.85), which is made with real cane sugar instead of corn syrup):

Horchata ($1.75): A refreshing drink made fresh daily from ground almonds, rice milk and cinnamon.


Jamaica ($1.75): Often called a “Mexican fruit punch,” this beverage is made fresh daily from brewed hibiscus petals.

All three drinks tasted great and quenched my thirst, but the Horchata was my favorite. Not only did this creamy drink help to cut the spice from my food, but it was also wonderfully sweet and not too thick. On a hot day, however, I’m not sure how thirst-quenching it would be, but the Jamaica would be absolutely lovely.

I highly recommend ordering any of these drinks the next time you go to Anna’s.

Side note, for the parents: Anna’s is launching a kids’ menu in the next few weeks!

What's your favorite non-alcoholic beverage to sip during the summertime?

Disclaimer: Although I was treated to dinner and drinks by Anna's PR agency, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own.

 Anna's Taqueria (Porter Square) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Zumba, Blogger-Style

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Zumba class at Hill Studios in Watertown with the Boston Brunchers.

I had never tried Zumba before, and was excited to see what the class entailed. When I arrived, I was greeted by the studio’s welcoming and enthusiastic owner, Kevin. He showed me where to go to change into my workout clothes, and, soon after, the other bloggers started to arrive, including Renee (the event organizer), Bridget, Liz and Erica, to name a few.

Our class taught was taught by Kim. Right away, I could tell Kim was going to be an awesome instructor. She was full of energy and clearly passionate about Zumba. Since this was a class held just for us bloggers – and since Kim doesn’t normally teach on Wednesday nights – she also had her two daughters in tow, who were adorable and provided some additional entertainment throughout the class.

Let’s just say…Zumba = sweat. Kevin told us an hour of Zumba burns about 1,000 calories. I think I sweated out at least 2,000 last night (TMI?). We basically danced and shook our groove thangs for 45 minutes, followed by some arm and ab workouts. Kim did not mess around with us. At all.

It was a lot of fun to do something active with some fellow bloggers (Elizabeth joined us a little later, too!), but it was also really nice to try a new workout, and challenge parts of my body that haven’t been challenged before.

Kevin, who is originally from Waltham, opened Hill Studios in May after several years of working on Broadway (no big deal). In addition to Zumba, the studio also offers tap, jazz and hip hop dance classes, as well as kids' yoga. Class pricing can be found here.

Thanks again to Kim, Kevin and Hill Studios for a great workout, and for inviting us Boston Brunchers for a class!

Have you ever tried Zumba before? If yes, what did you think of it? If no, are you interested in trying it?

Disclaimer: The Brunchers and I got to attend this Zumba class free of charge. Despite Hill Studios’ generosity, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baked Blueberry Cream Cheese Doughnuts

Now that the weather in Boston is consistently 70-80 degrees, turn on your oven and bake these. It’s worth it.

In an effort to use my doughnut pan more often – and, in this case, make use of leftover cream cheese – I scouted out a recipe for scrumptious doughnuts over the weekend. The end result is a surprisingly light, mostly healthy doughnut that’s super moist and super tasty.

Baked Blueberry Cream Cheese Doughnuts
Yields: 12 doughnuts
Adapted from Everyday's a 'Hollyday'

-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 egg
-6 oz. whipped cream cheese
-1/2 cup plain soy milk
-1 tsp. lemon juice
-1/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and chopped

-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 tbsp. plain soy milk
-1/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and smashed

1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 6-count doughnut pans (or just make them in two batches, like I did).
2.) In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3.) In a small bowl, whisk together egg, cream cheese, soy milk and lemon juice. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in chopped blueberries. (The batter will be pretty thick - this is a good thing).
4.) Divide batter evenly into doughnut cups, filling each about half full. (I used a pastry bag, but you can always just use a tablespoon/whatever you have on hand).
5.) Bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or, when you touch the doughnut it springs back up). Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes in the pan. Set on wire rack to cool completely.
6.) In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, soy milk and smashed blueberries to create a thin glaze. Dip each doughnut into the glaze.

A delicious doughnut coated in glaze that’s not chocked full of fat = a dream come true? I think so.

Do you bake at all during the summertime, or would you rather leave your oven off?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Eat This: Avocado Eggs Benedict

If you haven't noticed by now...I love Cambridge Common. Z and I are regulars there. It's within walking distance from our house, the food is consistently good and affordable, there's rarely a wait for a table, and the staff is friendly and efficient. For the drivers, there's also a small parking lot behind the restaurant, which is super convenient considering Cambridge Common is right on Mass. Ave.

Since we're such fans of CC, we almost always take out-of-town guests there for at least one meal. So, when a few of Z's friends were in town from NYC last weekend, we decided to all go to CC for Sunday brunch before our guests headed home. I ordered one of my favorite brunch dishes from CC that day: the Avocado Eggs Benedict ($7.95).

Served with giant home fries and fruit, this is one decadent dish (and a great hangover cure, FYI). The creamy Hollandaise sauce and the runny eggs envelop the fresh avocado and fluffy English muffins underneath in a sultry, luxurious fashion. I had all I could do to not lick my plate clean.

What's your favorite brunch dish?

Cambridge Common on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower

I’m Irish, so as a child, I only knew that potatoes could be served "mashed."

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve since realized that just about any vegetable or fruit can be mashed – although, not all of them would taste very good (mashed rhubarb? No thank you).

For some time now, I’ve wanted to try mashed cauliflower. I’ve wanted to experience it firsthand, to see if it really is worth all the hype. So, when I was left with half a head of cauliflower earlier this week, I knew I needed to attack it with my immersion blender…and add several different kinds of cheese to it.

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower
Yields: 2 servings
Adapted from
-1/2 head of cauliflower
-1 tsp. whipped cream cheese
-2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
-1 tbsp. unsalted butter
-1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
-Generous pinch of cumin (about 1/4 tsp.)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Set a small stockpot of water to boil over high heat. Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool. Pat cauliflower dry with a paper towel.
2.) In a bowl (with an immersion blender) puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, butter, garlic and spices until almost smooth. (You could also use a food processor for this step).
3.) Garnish with a little extra cumin, then serve.

The end result surprisingly resembled my beloved mashed potatoes quite well (although, let’s be honest…nothing else can ever replace mashed potatoes). The creamy texture and sharp flavor from the Parmesan and cream cheeses really helped to round out this dish and make it comforting. The cumin also added a delightful, subtle smoky flavor throughout. I literally had to stop myself from eating both servings.

What vegetables, besides potatoes, have you had mashed?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Corn and Tomato Salsa

Normally, when I have fresh herbs leftover, I turn them into a pesto. Pesto is easy to make, and easy to freeze if you don't eat it right away. However, last week, when I was faced with a bunch of leftover fresh cilantro, I didn't want to just make more pesto (although, I did end up making some...). At the time, it was still unusually warm here in Boston, so I was craving something cool and refreshing. I had everything on hand to whip up a summery salsa, so got out my food processor and made something delicious happen.

Corn & Tomato Salsa
Yields: About 2 cups
-1 cup frozen (or fresh) corn, thawed
-1 tomato, roughly chopped and seeded
-1/4 cup cilantro
-6 jarred jalapeno slices (or 1 small fresh jalapeno, sliced and seeded)
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-Pinch of cayenne pepper
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-Generous squirt of lime juice

1.) Put corn, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin and cayenne in a food processor. Pulse until just mixed. 
2.) Taste corn and tomato mixture, and add salt, pepper and lime juice to your liking. Pulse again until mixture is just beginning to get smooth, yet still slightly chunky.

The end result was a slightly spicy, refreshing salsa. The cilantro and lime juice helped to cut the spice from the cayenne and jalapenos, so this concoction is pretty mild. For the next few days, Z and I enjoyed this salsa with various egg sandwiches.

Local readers: What about this weather we're having? I want the sun back!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Veggie Galaxy in Central Square

I had been hearing a lot of good things about Veggie Galaxy. Last week, I finally decided to check it out for myself.

Veggie Galaxy, located in Central Square, is a vegetarian diner and vegan bakery. The shiny, 50's-style diner decor was bustling with patrons on this particular Friday evening. Those waiting for a table - or a stool at the bar - were lucky enough to admire the cases of vegan baked goods at the front of the restaurant while they waited.

Z and I decided to snag a seat at the bar, since the wait was shorter for a bar seat. The bar was directly across from the open kitchen - the chef was about a foot away from us - immediately putting us at ease. It's always nice to be able to see your food being prepared out in the open.

I started my meal with a glass of Altoona Hills' Chardonnay ($6).

For an "appetizer," Z and I split the Salad of the Day (their typical salad prices range from $5.75-$7.25+). I don't remember the name of it, but it came with roasted pears, Swiss cheese, raspberries, red onions and fresh arugula.

I also forget what this salad was dressed with, but it was perfectly dressed - not too dry, not too soggy - and the combination of flavors throughout this salad was excellent. 

Veggie Galaxy's dinner entrees are all reminiscent of classic diner fare with a vegetarian twist. Some examples include Vegetarian Pot Pie ($11.95), Beer Battered House Smoked Tofu ($11.95) and a variety of burgers all named after surrounding squares, including Central (burger prices range from $8.95-$9.50+).

I ended up going with the The Club ($9.50), which was grilled housemade tempeh bacon, balsamic roasted tomato, romaine, pickled red onion, tarragon basil pesto and roasted garlic mayonnaise. 

As you can see, this was a massive sandwich (only half of it is pictured above). I ended up removing the middle piece of bread, mainly to save room for the sides of potato salad and lightly dressed arugula. The smoky tempeh bacon, crispy lettuce and fresh tomato in this sandwich was a fantastic combination, and an innovative twist on the classic club sandwich. Those who love the real thing will (and should) appreciate this healthier version for what it is: tasty, filling and full of flavor.

Our meal at Veggie Galaxy overall was a successful one. I can't wait to go back to try one of their milkshakes, as well as one of their mushroom chickpea burgers. 

Have you tried Veggie Galaxy yet? If yes, what's your review?

Veggie Galaxy on Urbanspoon