Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

First off, Blogger hates me today…and is turning every single one of my pictures sideways (does this happen to anyone else? Is there a solution??).

Secondly, I stayed up way too late last night watching the Celtics. And by “way too late” I mean past my usual bedtime of 11 p.m. So, today I am nice and tired (a.k.a. cranky).

Finally, if I had any leftovers of this pumpkin chili, I would be a much happier girl this morning. Although I do not have said leftovers, it does make me happy to be able to share this recipe with you all. And if you happen to make it today, would you save me a bowl? Thanks.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili
Yields: 10 servings
Adapted from Taste of Home
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-3 cups vegetable broth
-2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
-2 vegetarian sausage links, chopped
-1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
-1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
-7-8 jarred jalapeno slices, diced (or, 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced)
-2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
-2 teaspoons chili powder
-1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon garam masala
-Pinch of cayenne pepper
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
Shredded cheese (we used Mexican blend), for garnish (optional)

1.) In a large frying pan, saute the onion and bell pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. 
2.) Transfer to a crock pot; stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until heated through. Serve with shredded cheese and toasted bread for dipping.

How about another sideways photo of this tasty, chunky, spicy chili?

Although the photos do this vegetarian chili no justice, it was a big hit in my house. Topped with melty cheese and served with toasted bread for dipping, this was one comforting fall meal.

Do you have a crock pot? What's one of your favorite crock pot recipes? I'm always looking for new ones!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stonyfield Greek Yogurt + A Giveaway!

I used to despise yogurt. The sourness, the weird texture - it just did not do it for me. But when Greek yogurt hit the grocery store shelves, I was a changed woman.

The thicker, smoother, creamier texture of Greek yogurt won me over almost immediately. I still have a hard time enjoying plain yogurt (I love me some fruit chunks and flavor swirls!), but my daily cup of this creamy goodness is what fuels me every afternoon during the work week.

So, why am I telling you this? And why should you care? I'll sum it up in three words: Free. Local. Delicious. 

Stonyfield Farm contacted me several weeks ago, asking me to try some of their Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt. While I'm typically a Chobani girl, I have tried Stonyfield's Greek yogurt before, and remembered being a fan. Stonyfield provided me with a coupon to try one of these yogurts for free, which I eagerly used on the 0% caramel flavor (Stonyfield also just recently launched a 1.5% line of their Oikos yogurts).

After my first spoonful, I was immediately impressed by how creamy the texture was. The silky caramel also blended easily with the yogurt, and there was enough to have a bit of the sweetness in every bite, without being too much. After a few bites, I added a little granola - the added flavor wasn't necessary, but I like a little crunch!

I'm always down to buy a local product over a non-local product, and I really enjoyed this flavor. I will definitely be buying more of Stonyfield's Greek yogurt in the future.

So, would you like to enjoy some free yogurt, too? Here's your chance!

The generous folks at Stonyfield have given me four extra coupons for one free Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt each - and one lucky EE reader can win them all! To enter, simply comment on this post describing your favorite way to enjoy yogurt (for breakfast? with granola, or without? etc.). For an additional entry, you can also tweet: "I want to win free yogurt from @Stonyfield and @MichellePC!" Just please be sure to add an extra comment on this post saying you did so.

I will pick and announce a winner on Friday, November 2nd. Good luck!

[This giveaway is now closed].

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blog Better Boston Food Summit at Stonewall Kitchen

Last Sunday, I spent the day at Stonewall Kitchen headquarters in York, Maine with a small group of Boston bloggers and food writers for the first ever Blog Better Boston Food Summit. From 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., I schmoozed, learned, ate and drank. It was clearly a very rough day. 

Our day started with a light breakfast, followed by a tour of the Stonewall Kitchen facilities. We also got to hear the story behind how Stonewall Kitchen got started, which was definitely an interesting tale!

Cooking School.

Giant freezer!

Where the magic happens.


After our quick 30-minute tour, the sessions for the day began. My first session was on food photography, taught my Stonewall Kitchen’s photographer, Michael Cabelin, in the company’s photography studio.

Over the years, the Stonewall Kitchen staff has collected hundreds of photo props from yard sales, antique stores, etc. The amount of props they had in this rather small room was more than impressive.

One of the key takeaways from this course, for me: You don't need fancy, expensive equipment to get a good food shot. As long as you have the right props, an interesting backdrop, and some natural daylight, you can almost always get a professional-looking photo.

Throughout the day, I also attended courses on writing restaurant reviews, recipe development and photo editing. The courses were taught by professionals in the business, and/or employees of Stonewall Kitchen. A full list of the speakers from that day can be viewed here.

In the middle of the day, we took a break for lunch. Our lunch was held in the Cooking School, where Patty Roche cooked each course in front of us before serving.

On the menu: Acorn Squash Soup with ginger...

Cheesy polenta with seasonal vegetables (chicken was also served with this)...

And an addictive Pear and Fig Cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Patty was hilarious, and her energy was contagious. Her food was also incredibly delicious, and we were all lucky enough to walk away with each of the recipes.

After lunch, we also got to sample some Stonewall Kitchen goodies. Despite how full I was, I was able to sample a few of the jams and mustards!

After the conference, we were encouraged to visit the Stonewall Kitchen store (we were also given a coupon that morning to use). I browsed the store for a while, but ended up not buying anything – you should see how many Stonewall Kitchen products we already have in our pantry. It’s a little insane.

As we were leaving, we were also given quite the generous gift bag, as well as an KitchenAid Immersion Blender, courtesy of Wayfair (one of the conference’s sponsors).

Overall, this was hands down of the best conferences I have been to. Not only was it held at Stonewall Kitchen – one of my favorite food products on the market – but it was also a more intimate conference, which resulted in being able to meet more people, and have more interactive class sessions. The speakers at the conference were also wildly impressive, and I learned a lot from each session I attended. Now I just need to get through all of my notes to make sense of it all!

What's your favorite Stonewall Kitchen product? I love their Wild Maine Blueberry jam!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Austin to Boston Food Swap

A few months ago, I signed up for my first blogger food swap. I signed up through the Boston Food Bloggers’ Austin to Boston Swap, Part Deux (in conjunction with the Austin Food Blogger Alliance).

My inspiration for signing up for the swap came from reading various bloggers’ accounts of swaps they’ve participated in. All of the bloggers’ posts that I read were positive, and it seemed like such a cool way to “meet” new bloggers and share local food with like-minded individuals.

My first ever food swap partner was Lizz, a vegan food blogger (remember her awesome soup recipes?). Lizz and I seem to have a lot of similar interests when it comes to food, so I was really eager to see what Austin area-made foods she put together for me. When I received the package, I was anything but disappointed.

In the box:

-Kerbey Lane Café Gingerbread Pancake Mix (I cannot wait to make these on a chilly Sunday morning!)

-Nile Valley Hibiscus Mint Tea (I’ve recently become a tea fan, so I’m eager to try this interesting-sounding combination of flavors)

-Sanderson Specialty Foods Texas-Texas Fresh Roma Roasted Salsa (Z and I go through salsa like it’s water, and this smoky blend is right up our alley)

-Thunderbird Energetica energy bars

-Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery Cinnamon-Cardamom Roll

-Alter Eco Dark Quinoa Organic Chocolate bar, the only non-local item in the box (I’ve already plowed through this baby, and it was delicious)

Some of the local items I sent Lizz included some Taza Chocolate, New England Cranberry Cranberry Apple Chutney, and Drew’s Greek Olive Salad Dressing and Marinade. You can read the full recap of what I sent Lizz here.

The Austin to Boston food swap provided a really fun way to sample local Austin food, meet a new blogger, and share some of our local eats. I would definitely participate in a food swap again!

Have you ever participated in a food swap before?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brunch at Back Deck

Most of you probably know by now that I love brunch. On the weekends, a lazy morning + delicious breakfast food is my ideal way to start the day. So when I received an email from Back Deck in Downtown Crossing regarding their new brunch menu – which includes pitchers of craft beer – I immediately told Z, and we made reservations.

The décor at Back Deck resembles…well, a back deck. The restaurant consists of three backyard-inspired, wooden deck spaces bordered by walls of sliding windows. With all of the natural light shining through – and the sounds of grilling in the open kitchen behind us – I truly felt like I was sitting on a comfortable back deck (while avoiding the morning chill outside). Even the restaurant’s menu is reminiscent of a backyard barbecue, including options like burgers, lamb skewers and grilled pink grapefruit.

Z and I wanted to sample several items from Back Deck’s new brunch menu, but we obviously had to start with cocktails (we decided a pitcher of craft beer at 11 a.m. probably wasn’t the best idea). For my cocktail, I went with the refreshing West St. Cooler ($9), made with watermelon, local Ragged Mountain Rum, a hint of Aperol, and a splash of soda.

This was a lovely way to start the meal – every sip quenched my thirst without being overly sweet, or too strong in alcohol. Sipping this drink made me feel like I was actually on a patio, enjoying the sunshine.

For appetizers, Z and I shared the Butternut Squash Soup ($6), which was garnished with grilled leeks, apple cream and pumpkin seeds. We also shared the Smoky Creamy Eggplant Spread ($8), which came with plenty of pita toasts, cherry tomato, and parsley salad.

The soup was incredibly silky and satisfying, and the garnishes really made this dish. Z felt that the soup was a tad under-seasoned, but I enjoyed that the focus of the flavor was on the squash itself (the garnishes also helped to add some extra flavors and textures).

The eggplant spread, on the other hand, was borderline perfect. Z and I are big fans of eggplant, and this dip was chocked full of smoky eggplant flavor. The texture was also wonderfully thick and creamy, while still being able to be generously spread on the pita toasts without causing them to crumble. Back Deck also gives you plenty of pita to enjoy with the spread – how many times have you gotten an appetizer that only includes two or three?

For my entree, I went with the Eggs Benedict with grilled zucchini and red pepper ($10) (you can also order this with ham or turkey breast, if desired). Z went with the Challah French Toast ($9), which was topped with a bourbon and brown sugar glazed banana (you also have the choice of ordering the French toast stuffed with banana and Hershey’s milk chocolate, if desired).

I love when restaurants offer vegetarian versions of Eggs Benedict, as it’s one of my favorite indulgent brunch dishes. Back Deck’s version consisted of perfectly poached, runny eggs, and the grilled English muffin remained wonderfully crispy underneath its creamy toppings. While the grilled zucchini and red pepper seemed a little odd at first, the dish did work – and the well-seasoned home fries on the side were a welcome accompaniment to this dish.

I tried one bite of Z’s French toast and the bread was surprisingly crispy. Paired with the large slices of sweet, syrupy bananas, however, the crispy, thick bread helped to keep this dish from becoming too sweet.

Since he knew we were visiting for The EE, Chef Paul Sussman also came out several times throughout our meal to say hello and tell us more about the food. For a busy Saturday morning, we were grateful for his attentiveness and information. Even before knowing who I was, our waiter was also knowledgeable about the menu, and willing to answer all of our questions about the food.

Overall, our meal at Back Deck was a successful one, and Z and I have already said we’d like to go back to try out their dinner menu. Thanks to the laid back atmosphere, the casual – yet tasty – food, and the craft beer pitchers, we will be going back.

Are you an Eggs Benedict fan?

Back Deck on Urbanspoon

Our food and drinks were complimentary, but as always, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A New Kind of Snackin'

If your Sundays are anything like mine this time of year, then they’re centered around football, beer and snacks. And one of my favorite snacks to enjoy during the game is chips – especially tortilla chips (with salsa, obviously). 

So, when Garden of Eatin’ asked me if I’d like to try two of their new flavored tortilla chips – Sprouted Blues and Sweet Potato – I couldn’t say no.

Photo courtesy of Crier Communications.

Garden of Eatin’ first brought their chips to store shelves in 1986, their first product being blue corn tortilla chips. A division of The Hain Celestial Group, a natural and organic foods company, Garden of Eatin’ is the number one manufacturer of natural and organic tortilla chips in the United States. All of their products are made without any genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. In addition, both new flavors that I sampled are kosher and certified gluten-free.

Here’s the breakdown of each type of chip I tried:

Sprouted Blues Tortilla Chip: This hearty chip is the first on the market made with the sprouted grains combination of brown rice, lentils, and quinoa. It's thicker texture makes it perfect for dipping, whether it be in a chunky salsa or a warm, cheesy dip.

Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip.

Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip: Made with organic yellow corn and organic sweet potato, these babies pack 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per serving. The sweet potato chips were also wonderfully salty - some may think they are too salty, but for a salt fiend like me, they are perfectly seasoned. And, as a result, scarily addictive. 

Both varieties of chips also have only a handful of ingredients that are mostly legible (each bag had one or two that were not), but compared to a bag of's clear which one's more "natural."

Garden of Eatin's Sprouted Blues and Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips can be found in natural food stores or in the natural foods aisles of select grocery stores (my local Star Market has them!). Each 7.5 oz. bag sells for a suggested retail price of $3.49.

Given both chips' taste, sturdiness (for dip!), and quality of ingredients, I would definitely buy these again. I'm also eager to try some of Garden of Eatin's other chip varieties (Black Bean Chili? Yes, please!).

Have you ever tried Garden of Eatin's chips before? If yes, what's your review?

Both bags of chips I received were complimentary, but, as always, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Guest Post: Three 'Souper' Easy One-Pot Dishes

*Hey guys! Today, I'm featuring a guest post from my new Austin-to-Boston food swap buddy, Lizz! I'll be posting a recap of my first food swap experience soon, but for now, check out these awesome vegan soup recipes from Lizz.

Hello, Economical Eaters! My name is Lizz and I run a blog called lizz delicious. I began my blog in December just for fun. It occurred to me that sharing food and recipes with others was something that I enjoyed immensely. I also realized that my recipes tended to be different from those of other vegans. While I do, for special occasions, spend hours in the kitchen making delectable feasts, it's definitely not something I do everyday. And that's one of my many goals with my blog; encouraging everyone to make vegan food by exposing them to simple and yet delicious techniques.

I met Michelle through the Austin to Boston Food Swap and the two of us decided it would be fun to write a guest post for each others' blogs. I'm spending this month devoting my blog to posts about making vegan living easier for something called the Vegan Month of Food. I thought it only appropriate to share something similar with you. I've been vegan for a long time, but I am just as apt as the next workin' fool to want to be in and out of the kitchen after a long day at work. These three recipes are easy to make, provide leftovers, and are all very tasty. I hope you enjoy them!

Spinach and White Bean Soup
Yields: 4-6 servings
An easy to make brothy soup accented with the freshest of veggies. Low-calorie deliciousness.
-1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced
-1 or 2 large carrots, sliced thinly
-6 cups water
-2 cubes of Rapunzel's vegan bouillon with herbs
-1 14.5 oz. can of Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup pasta noodles (elbows, rotini, etc.)
-1/2 tsp. black pepper
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 4 oz. bag of fresh and washed baby spinach leaves

1.) Saute the shallot and carrot in a small amount of olive oil for a few minutes, until the shallot looks tender. Add the water, bouillon, beans, pasta, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until the pasta is cooked.
2.) Add the spinach and heat through. Enjoy!

Lizz's Easy Vegan Chili
Yields: About 4 servings
Very hearty, very quick, you can fine tune this chili to your preferred level of spiciness. I use a local store-bought seasoning mix for my chili spice. It just makes things easier. Start by adding the amount that the seasoning mix recommends, then add additional mix until your desired heat is reached!
-1 green bell pepper, finely diced
-1 cup sweet yellow corn kernels
-1 package of vegetarian seasoning mix (or use this recipe)
-1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-1 can of Italian diced tomatoes
-1 package of ground beef substitute
-1 cup tomato puree
-1 cup vegetable stock (or 1/2 Rapunzel's vegan bouillon cube in 1 cup water)

1.) Put all of your ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, and cook until veggies are tender.

Homemade Tomato Vegetable Soup

Homemade Tomato Vegetable Soup
Yields: Makes 8 1 1/2 cup servings
I made this lovely, warming soup for a holiday potluck last December. My co-workers loved it! Start by following the instructions. Taste halfway through and add salt, more pepper, or a green herb like basil or oregano as desired. I like it just the way it is!
-1 tbsp. Bragg's liquid aminos
-2 stalks of celery, finely diced
-1 onion, chopped (optional)
-1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables (like Lima beans, green beans, carrots, and peas)
-1 cup frozen corn kernels
-2 Rapunzel's vegan bouillon cubes
-1/4 tsp. black pepper
-1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
-8-10 cups water
-1 cup elbow or spiral noodles

1.) A large pot is required for this recipe! If you aren't sure whether or not 8-10 cups of water will fit, begin by adding all of the other ingredients (except pasta) first, then pouring the water on top. You should have at least 1/2- to 3/4-inches of space between your liquid line and the top of the pot. This will help keep it from boiling over. 
2.) Bring it all to a boil (monitor closely!) and then reduce the heat so that it still bubbles but doesn't foam up and boil over without being supervised. I usually lower mine to medium high heat with the lid to the pot nicely ajar so that liquid can escape as it simmers. 
3.) Let bubble for 45 minutes, then add your noodles. Cook for another 8-10 minutes or until your pasta is cooked.

Thank you for reading! Happy cooking!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

This time of year, I want nothing more than to bake with pumpkin…and butter. When those two ingredients are warming together in the oven – with a slew of warm spices – and filling my home with an overwhelmingly comforting aroma, I immediately become aware that fall has arrived.

On Friday, I worked from home since my car was out of commission. Z was also working from home, and since it was a cold, kind of dreary day outside, I decided to make our work day just a little bit better…by making these bars.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Yields: 24 bars
Adapted from
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 tsp. ginger
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1 tsp. garam masala (optional)
-1 tsp. baking soda
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-1 large egg
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 cup canned pumpkin puree
-1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides (I used a slightly smaller pan, and it worked fine - it just made thicker bars, and took a few minutes longer to cook). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2.) With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
3.) Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
4.) Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares (my smaller pan made about 16).

These pumpkin bars would be just as moist and chocked full of chocolate chips without the garam masala, but this spice – typically used in North Indian and South Asian cuisines – add just a touch of exotic flavor to these bars. The garam masala I have consists of cloves, cinnamon, cumin and coriander, to name a few, and I found that it blended beautifully with the pumpkin, ginger and nutmeg. I also use this spice in a wide variety of Indian dishes (I also used some in my pumpkin pie last year).

Are you a fan of fall baking? What have you made so far this season?

P.S. For my vegan version of this recipe, click here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jalapeno, Gin and Basil Martini

It's been one of those weeks. Actually...two weeks. It all started when I broke my phone. Then, my car wouldn't start (two very expensive "issues"). Now, I have a raging head cold.

On Friday afternoon, I decided it was time for a strong cocktail, and this is what I made (with a little inspiration from Sues at We Are Not Martha). The several shots of gin and the heat from the jalapenos helped to make these last few weeks seem a little bit better.

Jalapeno, Gin and Basil Martini
Yields: 1 cocktail
-6 basil leaves
-Juice of 1/2 lemon
-Juice of 1/2 lime
-2 oz. gin
-1 oz. jalapeno simple syrup
-Tonic water

1.) Add basil leaves, lemon juice and lime juice to a cocktail shaker; "muddle" with a wooden spoon. Add gin, jalapeno simple syrup and ice; shake well.
2.) Pour mixture into a martini glass. Fill the rest of the glass with tonic water. Garnish with 1-2 more basil leaves.

Even if I can't enjoy this cocktail today thanks to the DayQuil pumping through my body, you should. For me. And for you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Tips For A Stress-Free Wedding

Good morning!

Today, I'm guest blogging over at Megan's blog, Delicious Dishings. I'm sharing my tips on how Z and I are keeping our wedding planning (mostly) stress-free. You can check out the post here.

I'll be back tomorrow with a new blog post here on The EE. Until then, have a fabulous Thursday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Square

Here's what the perfect Sunday evening looks like:

Although I love cooking a big, homemade meal on a Sunday, sometimes take-out is just as comforting. Especially after a few hours of football and cleaning. And if it's a rainy Sunday? I crave warm, spicy, satisfying food - and Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines to fill this craving. 

Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Square is also one of my favorite local Indian restaurants for take-out (there are only a few small tables inside). Although they do not deliver - and they only accept cash - their food is worth finding parking (and dollar bills) for. On this particular Sunday evening, I went with the Malai Kofta Lajawab ($9.95), vegetable balls cooked in a tomato sauce with nuts and raisins.

The sauce was silky, obviously fresh, and packed with warm spices. The vegetable balls were also perfectly cooked, and scooped up with some warm naan and basmati rice? Borderline heaven.

To share, Z and I also ordered some Onion Paratha ($2.95) and dipping sauces: Fresh Mint Chutney and Raita ($1.25 each).

The warm paratha with the soft, well-seasoned onions paired beautifully with the fresh chutney and Raita (I also dipped just about everything else on my plate into these sauces).

If you're looking for an authentic, comforting Indian meal to enjoy at home - without doing any of the cooking - I highly suggest picking up some food at Punjabi Dhaba. Just remember to bring cash!

Are you a fan of Indian food? What's your favorite place for it?

Punjabi Dhaba on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mohegan Sun BrewFest

This past weekend, Z and I enjoyed a trip to Mohegan Sun for their first ever Sun BrewFest. Z won two tickets to all three sessions of the event plus an overnight Saturday stay via a retweet contest held by @BostonTweet.

It was a relaxing, fun weekend (and we also didn’t gamble any more than $20. Phew!). 

Because it was Mohegan’s first brewfest, it was clear a few kinks still need to be worked out (one example: the Uncas Ballroom, where the event was held, was huge…but only a small amount of space was used for vendors and lines). The brewfest was still a great way to discover new-to-us beers, though, including quite a few Connecticut-based breweries (Thomas Hooker’s Chocolate Truffle Stout was a favorite).

After trying a number of beers, we met some of my Quinnipiac friends for dinner at SolToro Tequila Grill (I highly recommend their Mushrooms and Spinach Enchiladas, $14). Then, we hit the casino…and later, one of the dance clubs. It was a blast!

The next morning, we overslept…and almost had to pay for that hotel room. Luckily, we were able to dodge that bullet and enjoyed brunch at Todd English’s Tuscany (the only place in Mohegan that serves breakfast/brunch past 12). I ordered a Frittata-Style Omelette ($10) with caramelized onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and goat cheese. The omelette came with well-seasoned potatoes (albeit a bit greasy) and my choice of toast (I went with the English muffin). 

Despite the abundance of goat cheese on my omelette, this breakfast definitely hit the spot (and it was able to kill the slight beer hangover we were both feeling).

We had a blast at Mohegan. Thanks again to @BostonTweet and Mohegan Sun for running the giveaway that made this all happen!

Have you ever won a Twitter contest before? If yes, what did you win? I won a Betty Crocker gift bag once!

Sol Toro Tequila Grill on Urbanspoon Todd English's Tuscany on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 5, 2012

True Bistro in Teele Square

Teele Square in Somerville, Mass. is home to some of my favorite local restaurants and bars (and the home to the lovely folks behind Slumbrew). It’s unfortunately a square that many Somerville peeps don’t frequent, as it’s closer to Arlington and Medford, and just outside of Davis Square. But it’s worth the “trip” for places like Masala, PJ Ryan’s, Rudy’s and True Bistro.

True Bistro is a vegan restaurant with an upscale atmosphere and a downtown vibe. The mostly white interior, closely-placed tables, and romantic lighting all make this restaurant an intimate dining destination for omnivores, vegans and vegetarians alike.

We all know I’m not vegan – mainly because I couldn’t live without cheese – but True Bistro makes me forget that cheese even exists. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the point is, their food is fantastic. I know a number of omnivores who dine there and have given the place rave reviews (one of our omnivore friends was even seated next to us – just by coincidence - on this particular evening).

Our meal started with some fresh rolls and some good quality olive oil for dipping.  

For a drink, I went with the Pomatini ($9), which was made with Absolut Vodka, Cointreau, and Izze Sparkling Pomegranate Juice.

To accompany my cocktail, I ordered a cup of the soup of the day ($5), which was a mushroom soup. The soup was seasoned perfectly, and I loved the variety of mushrooms used.

What's with Blogger and the sideways photos?!

For my entrée, I ordered the House-made Tagliatelle ($16), which consisted of herbed cashew cream, portobello mushrooms, spinach, and smoked tofu.

This was an incredible dish. Who knew cashew cream tasted so much like alfredo sauce, without the bowling-ball-in-the-stomach feeling afterwards? The homemade pasta and fresh vegetables only helped to complete this surprisingly light pasta dish. (I also took half of it home for lunch the next day, making it $8/serving).

Although Z and I don't usually order dessert, we had a Bloomspot deal that included two appetizers, two entrees, and one dessert - so we decided to go for it. Currently on True Bistro's menu is a Pumpkin Cheesecake ($8), made with that delicious cashew cream (and bourbon). The crust is a pecan crust, and served as a garnish is a brown sugar cream.

The cheesecake was wonderfully smooth and full of pumpkin flavor. I also loved how it wasn't overly rich and heavy like many cheesecakes can be - the cashew cream made this version a little fluffier and lighter, but just as creamy in texture.

True Bistro's menu is subject to change, thanks to their dedication to using "the freshest plant-based ingredients." Based off my dining experiences there so far, I have a feeling whatever they feature on their menu will be a success. 

Have you ever eaten at an all-vegan restaurant?  

True Bistro on Urbanspoon