Friday, November 30, 2012

Drink This: Fallen Angel at Trina's Starlite Lounge

Happy Friday! Who's ready for a cocktail?

I recently returned to Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, and had a much better experience than the first time around - probably due to the fact that I only drank on my second visit. And my drink was good. Trina's offers a slew of "fancy drinks" for $10 each, and while all of them sounded creative and delicious, I was glad I ended up going with the Fallen Angel...twice.

The Fallen Angel is a spicy mango margarita with a BBQ dusted rim. Since it was served with a straw, I didn't enjoy the BBQ spices as much as I should have, but the libation itself was fantastic. Slightly sweet and slightly spicy, this drink had the dangerous combination of being easily drinkable yet probably very strong (the sweet mango flavor masked any taste of booze). Hence why I had two...

Side note: The folks behind Trina's also own Parlor Sports next door, and every Tuesday night the small sports bar has Words with Real Friends. Basically, you can go, drink, enjoy some food specials, and play board games. We went this past Tuesday and it was a lot of fun.

Fun at Parlor Sports!

What cocktail/beverage are you looking forward to drinking tonight?

Trina's Starlite Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 29, 2012

White Bean, Ricotta & Pesto Pizza

Growing up, I was the kid at the birthday parties popping pills. Lactaid pills, to be specific. Those chalky, tasteless, awful little pills helped me better digest the insane amount of pizza, ice cream and ice cream cake that was served at just about every kid's birthday party I attended. 

As I got older, I refused to keep taking the Lactaid chalk pieces – I’d rather die of a stomachache then take another one of those. And eventually, as I got older and my tolerance for dairy grew stronger, I didn’t need them anyway. Thankfully.

And now, at the ripe age of 28, I can eat more cheese than just about anybody. Which is probably a good thing, considering I’m a vegetarian and all. But I digress.

My love for cheese was what was behind the inspiration for this oh-so-cheesy pizza – it has a cheese sauce, covered in more cheese. What more do you need to know?

White Bean, Ricotta & Pesto Pizza
Yields: 4 servings

-1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
-1 tablespoon arugula pesto (or any pesto you prefer)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 onion, sliced
-1 small garlic clove, minced 
-1 whole wheat pizza crust (I used Boboli)
-1/2 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.) In a small bowl, combine ricotta, pesto, salt and black pepper. Set aside.
2.) In a frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, and cook – stirring often – until translucent and almost “sticky,” about 7 minutes (I also added about 1/4 teaspoon of white sugar to quicken the caramelization process). Add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute more (be careful not to burn the garlic).
3.) Spread ricotta mixture onto pizza crust; top with beans, onions and garlic, and mozzarella cheese. Cook according to directions on the crust's package (or, if you’re using homemade crust, cook until mozzarella cheese is melted and crust is to your liking).

This pizza is tasty, but rich and filling – so I highly suggest serving something light alongside it. We had a simple arugula salad, which was the perfect complement to this ultra cheesy pie.

What's your favorite kind of cheese?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Recovering

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

I’m slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things at work/in “real life” after such a fantastic and relaxing four-and-a-half-day weekend. But it hasn’t been easy. Between recovering from four days of Thanksgiving indulgence, wedding planning (more on that later!), and preparing for my new career (more on that soon!), it’s been quite the slow transition. But hey, that’s what beer is for, right? Right!

Anyway, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We celebrated the holiday at my older sister’s house in Maine. The day was filled with family, friends, cute little kids, delicious food, and lovely libations.

The stuffed mushrooms I made (I also made a vegetarian stuffing).

My sister's creation: rosemary-raisin crackers topped with sliced pear and goat cheese. So good!

My nephew (who's wearing the sweater vest I bought him) & my brother.

My youngest niece, Z and bro.

My other niece...who's currently going through the "Terrible Twos." Good times. ;)

My brother's banana cream pie with chocolate chips. Delish!

The rest of the dessert spread.

What would Thanksgiving be without an episode of "Fraggle Rock"?

The next morning: iPhone games and pajamas. 
How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Himalayan Cuisine at Annapurna Restaurant

My Annapurna don’t want none unless you got buns hun. 

Can you tell I’m ready for a four-day weekend? Sorry.

Annapurna Restaurant – located on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge – serves authentic Himalayan cuisine in a rather non-authentic setting. The tiny restaurant has about 12 tables, with several television sets mounted on the walls (I forget if they had the sound on or not on this particular evening). While the TVs are random, the oddness of them somehow adds to the restaurant’s quirky charm.

The food, though, is quite good – and Annapurna’s menu offers a slew of options for vegetarians and omnivores alike. And if you order your food spicy, it is actually quite spicy (but not my-mouth-is-on-fire spicy, which is nice).

On my second visit to Annapurna a few weeks ago, I started my meal with a bowl of Roasted Veggie Soup ($4), made with carrot, zucchini, cauliflower, onion, ginger, garlic and Himalayan herbs.

This soup was delightfully comforting, albeit a bit underspiced.

For the table, we ordered Potato Naan ($4) and Plain Naan ($3) to have with our meals. The potatoes in the Potato Naan were baked right into the bread. Do I even need to tell you how good that tasted? I didn't think so.

I used my share of the naan to scoop up an order of Aloo Gobi Mutter ($10), made with cauliflower, potatoes, and peas cooked in fresh tomato and onion with Himalayan spices.

I asked for my Aloo Gobi Mutter "spicy," and spicy it was. The tomato broth the veggies were served in was also wonderfully seasoned. This was an all-around comforting, flavorful dish. 

I really enjoy Annapurna Restaurant for its tasty food, various menu options, reasonable prices, and friendly service. I know we will be back again soon (perhaps to watch the evening news with some freshly-baked naan?).

I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

Annapurna on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jalapeno-Cilantro Tequila and Tonic

I’ve been talking (or, writing) about Thanksgiving a lot lately. In all honesty, who hasn’t? For foodies (and thankful people) like myself, Thanksgiving is one major holiday.

But in my family, we don’t just appreciate the food and the company – we also really appreciate the cocktails. After all, what’s a festive celebration without some libations?

I probably won’t be making this particular cocktail on Thanksgiving – mainly because I don’t trust myself (or anyone in my family for that matter) to pick-up my 6-month-old niece after drinking tequila. 

How cute is she?

We’ll stick with the wine and beer this year. But if you won’t have tiny children at your Thanksgiving table, I highly suggest giving this cocktail a try. I call it a Jalapeno-Cilantro Tequila and Tonic. I made this cocktail for one, but just simply double the recipe to make two. 

Jalapeno-Cilantro Tequila and Tonic
Yields: 1 cocktail

-1 cup sugar
-1 cup water
-1 cup fresh cilantro
-2 ounces Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila (or, your favorite spicy tequila)
-Juice of ½ a lime
-Ice cubes
-Tonic water
-Extra cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

1.) In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a slow boil while continuously stirring until all sugar has dissolved. Add the fresh cilantro just as the water and sugar mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 7-10 minutes. Let cool, then strain into a container (i.e. Tupperware). Discard cilantro leaves.
2.) Pour 1 ounce of the strained simple syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, lime juice and ice cubes; shake gently.
3.) Fill a glass (I used a pint glass) with ice; pour in tequila mixture. Top with tonic water, and garnish with cilantro leaves.

This is one refreshing cocktail – with a wonderful kick of spice in every sip.

For the remaining cilantro simple syrup, just simply store it in a Tupperware container in the fridge. It can last up to a month.

Also, thanks to everyone who participated in my Nasoya giveaway! I chose a winner using

Congrats to Wen – she is the winner! 

“I like my tofu simple. The simplest way is to steam it awhile then topped with chopped garlic and soy sauce.”

Wen, please email me within 48 hours to claim your prize.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Tofu Strudel

Happy Thanksgiving week! 

I know I’ve already given you guys some vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving recipe ideas, but I’m also sharing a vegetarian entrée on the Wayfair blog right now that would be perfect for Thanksgiving: Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Tofu Strudel. It’s filling, delicious, and chocked full of seasonal flavors. You can check it out here.

What dishes are you excited to make for Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pumpkin, Black Bean & Tofu Fajitas + A Giveaway!

Tofu – you either love it or you hate it. I used to be a hater…until I had tofu prepared, seasoned and served appropriately.

Now that I’m a vegetarian, liking tofu makes creating meals that much easier. Tofu is such a versatile food, and I’ve become increasingly educated on ways to prepare (and enjoy) it.

So, when Nasoya asked me if I’d like to try some of their more “unique” tofu products (and to give one of you some in return), I happily obliged.

Nasoya offers a wide variety of vegetarian-friendly products, but I was most impressed with their tofu offerings. They offer a decent selection of Organic and Natural Tofu, as well as their TofuPlus. Since I had never seen, let alone tried, Black Soybean tofu before, I decided to try Nasoya’s TofuPlus creation, which is a good source of calcium and protein, and is rich in antioxidants. And since we had leftover canned pumpkin in the fridge, I decided to use the tofu in these seasonal fajitas.

Nasoya's Black Soybean TofuPlus.

Pumpkin, Black Bean & Tofu Fajitas
Yields: About 6 fajitas

-1 package Nasoya Black Soybean TofuPlus (Organic Firm), drained and cut into strips
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
-Cumin powder
-Chili powder
-Pinch of cayenne
-Dried thyme
-Salt and black pepper
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 yellow onion, sliced
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/8 cup fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
-1/2 lime (cut the other half into wedges and use as garnishes)
-6 fajita tortillas
-Other garnishes (optional): Shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, and chipotle salsa

1.) In a large Tupperware container, mix pumpkin with cumin, chili powder, cayenne, thyme, salt and pepper. Add tofu, and stir carefully. Place lid on Tupperware, and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, so that the tofu soaks up all of the flavors.
2.) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, and let cook until translucent and slightly caramelized, about 7-8 minutes (I also added a little sugar to my pan to help the caramelization process). Lower heat if onions begin to brown.
3.) Place onions on a plate; in the same pan used to cook the onions, add marinated tofu strips (feel free to add more olive oil if necessary). Cook tofu on medium heat, and allow all sides of the tofu to turn a light golden brown (about 5-6 minutes total). Add beans, stir, and turn heat to low; let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4.) Taste bean and tofu mixture for seasoning; adjust as necessary. Add onions, cilantro, and juice from 1/2 the lime. Stir, and remove from heat.
5.) In a microwave, warm the tortillas. Pile each tortilla with about 1/4-1/2 cup of the tofu filling. Garnish with cheese, avocado, salsa, cilantro and one lime wedge.

After eating this meal, Z said – and I quote – “this was the best meal I’ve had in a long time.” And it was healthy to boot!

Neither of us noticed a difference in taste with the Black Soybean tofu vs. regular tofu, but it was nice to know we were eating tofu that was even better for us. Taken right from Nasoya’s website:

Nasoya Organic Black Soybean TofuPlus uses black soybeans, traditionally used in Chinese medicine because of its healing benefits. It's rich in antioxidants, fortified with Vitamin E and Calcium and has 8g of protein.

I found this Nasoya product at Whole Foods (they seemed to have the best selection), but click here to see where you can pick-up Nasoya products near you.

Or, would you rather try out Nasoya's products for free? I have two coupons for two FREE Nasoya products for one lucky EE reader to win! Just comment on this post letting me know what your favorite way to prepare tofu is (baked? fried? pureed into a smoothie?). For an extra entry, tweet "I want to #win free tofu from @MichellePC and @Nasoya!" and leave a separate comment saying you did so. I'll pick and announce a winner on Tuesday, November 20th.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vegetarian-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

Thanksgiving is less than 10 days away. When did this happen?? It honestly feels like summer just ended.

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, or simply enjoying the holiday with your loved ones, I thought these vegetarian- and Thanksgiving-friendly recipe ideas would come in handy. Because, if you’re anything like me, Thanksgiving sneaked up on you this year.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Brunch at Foundry on Elm

Last Sunday, I joined the Boston Brunchers at Foundry on Elm in Davis Square for…well, brunch.

I’d been to Foundry on Elm twice before - and only one of those visits included eating. The first time Z and I went was almost right after they opened, and we weren’t that impressed. Nothing specific happened, we just didn’t fall in love with the place. However, we heard so many great things about it for months following our first visit that we recently went back and had dinner there. Needless to say, our second visit did not fail to impress.

On the morning of our blogger brunch, Foundry was launching their brunch buffet. We were given the option of ordering off the blogger brunch menu (which featured many of Foundry's regular brunch dishes), visiting the brunch buffet, or both. While we all contemplated what to do, one of our waiters brought two plates of warm French Beignets with lemon curd and chocolate sauce to our table to share.

Light and airy on the inside, crispy and perfectly sugary on the outside, these were some damn good beignets. And dipped in the lemon curd and chocolate sauce? Borderline heaven.

Our blogger brunch menu also included a complimentary Mimosa or Bloody Mary. Being a Bloody Mary gal, I went with the obvious option.

Foundry’s Bloody Mary is delightfully spicy, but I do wish it came with more garnishes. I love Bloody Marys that are basically garnished with an entire salad (although, just olives and celery would also do).

A few of us bloggers decided to take a peak at the buffet (and sample a few of the items – it’s research, afterall). The buffet had an impressive display of pastries, savory breakfast dishes (Eggs Benedict included), as well as fruit, granola and yogurt, to name a few.

I sampled a few bites of Foundry’s Pain Perdu Pudding, made with roasted apples and pecan caramel. The photo I took is atrocious, but trust me when I say it tasted divine. Sweet, comforting and incredibly flavorful.

Once I finished gorging on sweet beignets and pudding, I decided to go for a more savory option for my entrée. After finding out that the Vol-au-Vent could be made without bacon, I immediately decided to order it.

Served with spinach and a poached farm egg vol-au-vent (a small hollow case of puff pastry), and smothered in a creamy mornay sauce, this was one decadent dish. Although the spinach was slightly oversalted for my taste (I added more pepper, which helped), I loved almost everything about this dish. The rich egg and flaky, buttery pastry combined with the silky mornay sauce was a lovely combination of textures and flavors. If I had had a hangover, this would have cured it.

The atmosphere at Foundry on Elm is slightly upscale (marble bar countertops, rich colors, more upscale menu options), while still having a casual feel (red leather booths, open kitchen). Oh, and they have a pretty impressive beer list, too – when we went for dinner, no one at our table had a hard time finding a brew they liked.

I will definitely be making a return visit to Foundry on Elm soon (thankfully, I live close enough to go there anytime). Between the friendly waitstaff, quality food, and extensive beer options, this might just become one of my new favorite neighborhood spots.

Which do you prefer: Brunch buffet, or sit-down? Personally, I prefer sit-down...but only because I'm lazy.

All of my food and drinks were complimentary (I just paid gratuity), but as always, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own.

Foundry on Elm on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hearty Kale, Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

For the last few years, Z and I have vowed to make lots of soup during the winter months. Every year, we have failed. Until this year.

Between the Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili and my Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili, Sundays in our house have smelled good lately. And thanks to Pinterest, I also gained new inspiration to break away from the chilis and try my hand at a hearty winter soup.

This little number can probably be made in the crockpot, too, but I was able to whip it up right on our stovetop within an hour (that time includes all of the chopping, etc.). I do advise you, however, to cook the sweet potatoes slightly before starting on the soup – by the time my lentils were tender, my sweet potatoes were still hard as stones.

Hearty Kale, Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup
Yields: 6 servings
Adapted from Real Simple
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, mostly drained
-1 bay leaf
-1 teaspoon dried thyme
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-Pinch of cayenne pepper
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water
-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
-2 cups frozen kale
-1/2 cup green lentils

1.) Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes. Add bay leaf, and season tomatoes and onions with thyme, cumin, turmeric, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper. 
2.) Add vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale and lentils. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
3.) Taste soup and adjust seasoning as necessary. Spoon into bowls (remember to remove the bay leaf!), and serve with bread for dipping (we enjoyed our soup with some Robinhood Meetinghouse Sweet Potato Biscuits). 

I’m a big fan of stews vs. soups, and this soup went down like a nice, hearty stew. The thick potatoes, protein-packed lentils and fiber-filled kale not only made this soup ultra satisfying, but insanely nutritious to boot. I definitely plan to make another batch before the winter is over!

Which do you prefer: soups or stews?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eat This: Cheese Plate at The Independent

One of my biggest pet peeves = unnecessarily small cheese plates served at restaurants. I get that a cheese plate is not supposed to fill you up before a meal (assuming the cheese plate is offered as an appetizer), but I’d like more than two bites, please.

Well, The Independent in Union Square serves the most generous cheese plate I’ve seen in the Boston area. Maybe I don’t get out much? (It’s possible). But look at this cheese board, piled high with three artisanal cheeses and several accompaniments, including yellow beets, walnuts and some awesome sesame crackers:

Z and I were at The Independent last week to celebrate (more on why we were celebrating later), and this impressive cheese plate was a fantastic way to start our evening. We were able to plow through this between the two of us, too, without ruining our appetites for dinner. Take note, other restaurants – us diners can handle more cheese.

What was the best thing you ate this weekend?

Independent on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

9th Annual Mayor's Holiday Special

Happy Saturday!

A former colleague of mine recently told me about the 9th Annual Mayor’s Holiday Special (she’s the PR rep for this promotion). This is the first I’ve heard of this – and it sounds like an awesome way to save money this holiday season – so I wanted to make sure my Boston peeps knew about it, too.

Basically, the Mayor’s Holiday Special (which is created in partnership with ArtsBoston and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau) runs through January 1, 2013 and offers half-price tickets to a wide variety of Boston-area shows (think Dr. Seuss’ "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Boston Ballet’s “The Nutrcacker” and Blue Man Group). In addition the half-price event tickets, the Mayor's Holiday Special also offers a list of free local festivities, as well as a $10 off restaurant voucher. A list of participating restaurants can be found on the ArtsBoston’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

You can read the full press release about the Mayor’s Holiday Special here. I hope you guys have a chance to take advantage of some of these fun and affordable holiday festivities!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Robinhood Meetinghouse Biscuits + Giveaway Winner

Pre-packaged, frozen foods rarely have these phrases on their packaging: “Family-owned”; “no GMOs”; or “Only fresh, simply ingredients.” But Robinhood Meetinghouse’s packages do.

30 years ago, Chef Michael Gagne of Maine created what is now Robinhood Meetinghouse’s frozen biscuits. The combination of flaky puff pastry with the traditional texture of a biscuit is what made Chef Gagne's recipe so popular - eventually, Chef Gagne was even able to open his own restaurant in Maine, called Robinhood Meetinghouse. At the restaurant, patrons were treated to baskets of his piping hot biscuits. And now, decades later, the Gagne family’s biscuits are available to all of us – right in our grocer’s freezer.

I had the pleasure of trying out three of Robinhood Meetinghouse’s biscuit flavors, thanks to their PR company, People Making Good. The three flavors I got to try were the Cream Cheese Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits and Cinnamon Rolls. (Other available flavors include Double Chocolate Biscuits, Triple Ginger Biscuits and Herb Parmesan Biscuits, to name a few). Here’s how each flavor I tried fared:

Cream Cheese Biscuits


After (three biscuits were eaten before this picture was taken).
Made with only seven simple ingredients, these flaky, buttery biscuits were the most versatile of the bunch. We enjoyed them dipped into vegetarian chili, but I could also see these being the perfect bread for brunch sliders, or simply slathered with butter and jam for a snack.

Cinnamon Rolls

The box for these cinnamon rolls says that with every bite, you’ll be reminded of your childhood. Well, my childhood included a lot of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and while they were delicious, I don’t think they were made with legible, real ingredients (but I could be wrong). Robinhood Meetinghouse’s version is made with real ingredients, resulting in a sweet, decadent pastry that lacks all of the extra fat and chemicals. I also was able to quickly pop these in the oven on a work morning, resulting in the house smelling like the weekend (and resulting in Z and I having something different for breakfast during the week).

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Real sweet potato is added to Robinhood Meetinghouse’s Cream Cheese Biscuits to create this perfect-for-fall recipe. We enjoyed them alongside some kale, sweet potato and lentil soup (recipe to come!), but I could also eat these for dessert with a smattering of cinnamon and butter on top.

Robinhood Meetinghouse's frozen biscuits can be found at a variety of grocery stores (click here to see where you can buy them near you), and they can also be purchased online. After trying these three flavors, Z and I are definitely planning to buy their biscuits in the future. Not only did they taste homemade (but were very easy to prepare), we're also always eager to support a local family business - not to mention a product that's made with real, legible ingredients.

What's your favorite frozen food product?

Disclaimer: These biscuits were complimentary, but as always, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100 percent my own.

Thanks for all of your entries! I picked a winner using

And the winner is....Kate!

"I love enjoying my yogurt as my breakfast with some berries and sometimes granola. I also use plain yogurt as an alternative to sour cream or for a base of a dip!"

Congrats, Kate! Please email me at within 48 hours to claim your prize.