Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Veggie-Packed Quinoa Salad

Remember that time we thought spring had finally arrived?'s currently going on day 1,000 of being 40ish degrees here in Boston, topped off with some nice rain. Thanks, Mother Nature.

Thankfully, Z and I had this springy and vibrant quinoa salad last week to help us get over our spring blues. It was basically a "let's clean out the fridge" salad, but it worked. Chock-full of grilled asparagus, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and feta cheese, this was one satisfying yet healthy "spring" dinner.

Veggie-Packed Quinoa Salad | The Economical Eater

Veggie-Packed Quinoa Salad
Yields: 2 servings
-1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
-1 cup water
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1/4 yellow onion, sliced
-Pinch of granulated sugar
-1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar)
-1 cup chopped cooked asparagus (we used leftover grilled asparagus)
-1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
-Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1/4 cup crumbled feta 

1.) Place quinoa and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Uncover and fluff with a fork.
2.) While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for about two minutes; sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking until onions are softened and begin to brown/caramelize, about 10 minutes.
3.) Mix onions, red peppers, and asparagus with quinoa. Pour over lemon juice and season with crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
4.) Add crumbled feta, stir, and enjoy!

Veggie-Packed Quinoa Salad | The Economical Eater

The best part about this salad is that it's satiating - I'm not one to have a salad for dinner, but quinoa is packed with protein, which makes this "salad" fit for a meal.

This dinner also made us believe it was, in fact, spring. Even if just for 10 minutes. 

Don't forget: You have one day left to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift card to b.good + a mixed four-pack of Sir Kensington's all-natural condiments!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sir Kensington's and b.good Giveaway

I have quite the fun giveaway for you today - just in time for BBQ season!

The folks at Sir Kensington's reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I'd be down to sample some of their all-natural condiments. Based out of New York City, Sir Kensington's condiments are non-GMO, boast only real, legible ingredients, and their ketchup - unlike the "big guys" - has no high fructose corn syrup.

Sir Kensington's products are sold at stores like Whole Foods and Formaggio Kitchen, as well as restaurants throughout the United States - like b.good.

b.good in Harvard Square | The Economical Eater
b.good in Harvard Square.

B.good's goal is to make fast food "real" by having their food be made by people...not factories.

b.good in Harvard Square | The Economical Eater

I visited the b.good in Harvard Square for lunch last week and decided to try a Cousin Oliver veggie burger ($6.59), topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, and Chef Tony's homemade pickles (on a whole wheat bun). I also got a side of hand-cut fries ($2.99).

Veggie burger and fries at b.good | The Economical Eater

For dipping the fries in (and, later, smearing on my burger), I got a few cups of Sir Kensington's Classic Ketchup.

Sir Kensington's ketchup | The Economical Eater

The homemade veggie burger was chock-full of black beans and corn, and it was nicely crisp on the outside. The size of the burger was also ideal - filling enough, but not unnecessarily large. The well-seasoned, non-greasy French fries were also spot-on.

Most importantly, the ketchup was quite incredible. I've had "all-natural," homemade ketchups before that just don't have the nostalgic consistency of the ketchup we're all used to. But Sir Kensington's ketchup has that smooth, thick texture while possessing a fresh tomato flavor - without all of that extra sugar. The ketchup was also ideally salty, but not too salty that it could still pair well with b.good's fries. 

So, are you interested in trying Sir Kensington's condiments (and b.good) for yourself? The friendly folks at Sir Kensington's are giving a mixed four-pack of their condiments + a $25 gift card to b.good (valid at any location) to one lucky EE reader!

Sir Kensington's condiments giveaway | The Economical Eater

The four-pack includes what's pictured above: Sir Kensington's Classic Mayonnaise, Chipotle Mayonnaise, Classic Ketchup, and Spiced Ketchup.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about how you'd incorporate Sir Kensington's condiments in your cookouts this summer. I'll pick a winner Thursday (5/1) morning. (Please note: this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only). 

Good luck!

My meal at b.good was complimentary. All opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed.

B. Good on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 25, 2014

Boozy Iced Mocha

We live dangerously close to Cafe Rustica in Somerville, and I always order an iced mocha when we go there. I just love the combination of coffee and chocolate together.

Yesterday, after a successful meeting in Boston, I rode the T home craving an afternoon iced coffee - specifically, an iced mocha. But since it was Thursday and it was past noon, I decided to put some booze in it. 

Boozy Iced Mocha | The Economical Eater

Boozy Iced Mocha
Yields: 1 cocktail
-1 cup iced coffee
-Splash of creme de cacao
-3 ice cubes
-Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any milk you prefer)

1.) Pour iced coffee, vodka, and creme de cacao into a cocktail shaker; shake well.
2.) Place ice cubes in a rocks glass; pour coffee mixture over ice. Add almond milk and stir. 

Boozy Iced Mocha | The Economical Eater

Um, yeah...the hint of rich chocolate from the creme de cacao mixed with the roasted coffee and creamy almond milk was a divine combination. I could all too easily drink this in the morning vs. waiting for cocktail time. But hey, it's almost the weekend, and boozy drinks before noon are totally acceptable - so feel free to have one (or two) of these with brunch tomorrow morning.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Current Obsessions

Here's another edition of My Current Obsessions! (Other editions can be found here, here, herehere, and here). Here are all of the trivial, random, and/or delicious things I am loving lately.

1.) Whole bean coffee

Iced coffee | The Economical Eater

Z and I got a coffee/spice grinder for our wedding, but we didn't try using the whole bean coffee until a few weeks ago. Z went on a trip with his dad to Utah, and came home with a fresh bag of beans. I immediately grinded a few handfuls and brewed them...and, let's just say, coffee never tasted so good. The beans provided a much more intense yet smooth coffee flavor, and the taste was so much more fresh than the grounds I am used to. I'm officially converted! (Note: Z got the coffee at Beans and Brews).

2.) Pretzels dipped in Nutella

Pretzels dipped in Nutella | The Economical Eater have I never thought of this before?? Salty, crunchy pretzels dipped in sweet, creamy Nutella. It's a divine (and addictive) combination. 

3.) LevelUp


Have you guys ever used this app before? Basically, you download it for free, securely enter your credit card information, and you can use it to pay at participating retailers. The best part is: Most of the time, when you first use LevelUp at that retailer, you get a discount (anywhere from $1-$5+ off). From there, after you spend a certain amount of money at that particular store, you get another discount. And, as far as I can tell, LevelUp only works with locally owned businesses - so it encourages you to support local businesses while giving yourself some money off! Win-win. Z and I use LevelUp all the time at Pemberton Farms, and I recently scored $2 off at When Pigs Fly Bakery, too.

I realize I am basically a 12-year-old boy, but this game is SO fun. I never played it as a kid, but Z recently introduced it to me on our Wii, and...well, I am a teeny bit obsessed with it. It's basically like Tetris (which I also love), but with Mario characters and pills, which are used to kill off the viruses in the Tertis-like board. I just described the game horribly, but trust me - it's fun.

5.) Dirty martinis

Jalapeno Dirty Martini | The Economical Eater

...especially with blue cheese-stuffed olives. I never thought I'd be a fan of a cocktail like this, but it's got a great kick to it (especially my Jalapeno Dirty Martini), it's strong, and it's the perfect beverage to end a long week and kick off a great weekend. We make these a lot at home, but I also love the dirty martinis at Toscano in Harvard Square, Beat Hotel (also in Harvard), and West Side Lounge, right outside of Porter Square. 

What are you currently obsessed with?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Pasta with Peas, Mushrooms, and Parsley-Arugula Pesto

Ah, spring. The season that brings long-awaited warmer temperatures and happier moods to my corner of the [New England] world. But my absolute favorite part about spring: the fresh, local produce that starts popping up everywhere. 

Ramps, fiddleheads, arugula, fresh herbs - so many green, delicious things sprout up in the spring. And while we're still impatiently waiting for many of these things to be available to us, I tried willing spring's harvest with this super green, super tasty pasta dish. (You're welcome).

Spring Pasta with Peas, Mushrooms, and Parsley-Arugula Pesto | The Economical Eater

Chock-full of sweet peas, meaty mushrooms, and a bright, slightly peppery pesto, this spring-friendly pasta dish was a nice [albeit somewhat cruel] tease for what's to come. 

Spring Pasta with Peas, Mushrooms, and Parsley-Arugula Pesto
Yields: 4 servings
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 cups white button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
-Splash of dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-3 cups whole wheat penne (or whichever pasta you wish)
-1 cup frozen peas
-3 spoonfuls Parsley-Arugula Pesto (recipe follows)
-Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1.) Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and cook until they begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine, salt, and black pepper, and cook for one minute more.
2.) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until it begins to become al dente, about 6-7 minutes (time will vary depending on type of pasta used). With one minute of cooking time left, add peas. Drain pasta and peas together in a strainer.
3.) Return pasta and peas to the pot, and stir in mushroom mixture. Add pesto, and stir until pesto is incorporated. Serve with a generous garnish of Parmesan cheese.

Parsley-Arugula Pesto:*
-2 (loosely packed) cups fresh parsley
-2 (tighly packed) cups arugula
-1 clove garlic, peeled
-1/4 cup walnuts
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-Juice of half a lemon
-Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
-2/3 cup olive oil
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Add above ingredients, through crushed red pepper flakes, to a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn on food processor, and stream in olive oil while food processor is running.
2.) Taste pesto and add salt and black pepper as needed.

*One quick note: I made this pesto to make use of leftover parsley and arugula, so I kind of winged the amount of greens used. Just taste and adjust as needed after all of the ingredients are incorporated. 

Spring Pasta with Peas, Mushrooms, and Parsley-Arugula Pesto | The Economical Eater

This dish was surprisingly light yet full of nutritious, satiating ingredients. (Yes, Parmesan cheese is my opinion, anyway). We actually ate heaping bowls of this by itself, although you could serve it alongside a simple green salad and/or some garlic bread, if you so choose.

What vegetable and/or fruit are you most looking forward to this spring?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Scallion, Feta, and Red Pepper Muffins

I hope everyone (that celebrates) had a lovely Easter!

We spent Saturday night with Z's side of the family for Seder (we made the Surprise Tatin from Plenty for the occasion), then drove to my aunt's house Sunday morning for Easter brunch. Then, we took yesterday off to cheer on the marathoners (and get incredibly sunburnt...thanks, Irish skin). It was a lovely, long weekend filled with family, friends, food, and one too many beers.

For Easter brunch at my aunt's house, I decided to make something savory, since I knew there would be a lot of sweet items in the spread. I had a ton of chopped scallions in the freezer (they freeze so well!), which inspired this savory muffin recipe.

Scallion, Feta, and Red Pepper Muffins | The Economical Eater

Scallion, Feta, and Red Pepper Muffins
Yields: 18 medium-sized muffins (or 12 large muffins)
Adapted from First Look, Then Cook
-Non-stick vegetable or canola oil spray
-2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon paprika
-Salt and black pepper
-3/4 cup whole milk
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 large eggs
-1 cup chopped scallions
-3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
-1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar)

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups (or 18 muffin cups, for smaller muffins) with non-stick spray. 
2.) Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. 
3.) In a separate, large bowl, whisk milk, oil, and eggs to blend. Add dry ingredients; whisk just until blended. Add scallions, feta, and peppers; fold to incorporate evenly. 
4.) Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (for 12 muffins, cups will be filled to top; for smaller muffins, cups will be filled about halfway). Bake muffins until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 28 minutes, depending on how large your muffins are. Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Scallion, Feta, and Red Pepper Muffins | The Economical Eater

Each muffin is chock-full of salty feta, spicy scallions, and sweet, juicy red peppers. I absolutely loved the flavor combination in this recipe. 

Scallion, Feta, and Red Pepper Muffins | The Economical Eater

The paprika also added a great color and flavor to these muffins, without being too overpowering (the feta, scallions, and red peppers were the most apparent flavors). Served alongside endless amounts of quiche, pastries, and hash browns, these savory muffins were quite the hit at this year's Easter brunch.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Drink This: Night Shift Brewing Viva Habanera

Two things I love about living in Somerville/the Boston area: Night Shift beer and The Painted Burro.

Z and I have become regulars at Night Shift's tap room in Everett, and we've more recently discovered the beauty that is The Painted Burro. This Davis Square gem serves up some delicious Mexican food, with reasonable prices and friendly service to boot.

Last weekend, I got to combine both of my local loves at The Painted Burro's 2nd Annual Guac Off, where I was one of three judges (along with Jen Che of Tiny Urban Kitchen and Jay McKenzie, Somerville firefighter and winner of The Painted Burro’s Burro Churro Challenge). I'm the dorky one in the glasses in the picture below.

The Painted Burro's 2nd Annual Guac Off
Source: Marlo Marketing/Communications

During the Guac Off, we had to sample 12 different types of guacamole - the competitors really made some interesting guac creations. Some had booze in them, others had fruit, and one had ghost peppers - grown right in the competitor's backyard. They were all really interesting and creative, but the winning guac went to Somerville local Issac Hendrickson (pictured above, with the giant check). Isaac walked away with a $150 gift card to The Painted Burro, as well as the honor of having his recipe for Granada Guacamole with pomegranate seeds featured on the restaurant’s menu.

While I was eating my body weight in guac, I enjoyed one of my favorite brews to order when I'm at The Painted Burro (and Night Shift's brewery): Viva Habanera.

Night Shift Viva Habanera | The Economical Eater

Night Shift's Viva Habanera is just the right combination of sweet and spicy. This rye ale is brewed with agave nectar, which helps to tame down the spice from the habanero peppers that this beer's aged on. The habanero peppers are present in the back of your throat, but not overwhelmingly fiery, which makes this beer easily drinkable and friendly with food. Especially Mexican food - I love ordering a glass of this and sipping it alongside nachos, tacos, and/or guacamole (clearly).

Viva Habanera is available year-round (and at many local liquor stores), but if you go to the brewery, ask to get it combined with Night Shift's Taza Stout. It's like a rich and delicious chocolate-pepper party in your mouth. 

Have you tried any great beers lately? 

The Painted Burro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies

When I was younger, my friend Danyelle made me chocolate whoopie pies for my birthday. They were one of the best desserts I had ever had, and it was all because of her secret ingredient: coffee.

Coffee only enhances chocolate's flavor...especially in baked goods (and iced mochas, in my opinion). So, earlier this week when I was making some homemade chocolate brownies, I decided to add a splash of coffee to the mix. But I didn't just add any coffee: I added a [generous] splash of double espresso vodka.

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies | The Economical Eater

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Yields: 9 large brownies
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet
-10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
-1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Splash of espresso vodka (I used Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka)
-2 cold large eggs
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
-2/3 cups chopped walnuts (optional)
-Sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

1.) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper (or tin foil) so the parchment hangs over the sides (this way you can lift the brownies right out). Spray the parchment paper too.
2.) Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heat-proof bowl and place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Stir, watching the butter; if it’s not melting quickly enough, turn up the heat. Keep stirring until the butter’s all melted and you have a paste. Remove the bowl from the pot and allow it to cool slightly.
3.) Stir in the vanilla and vodka with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Add the flour and stir until it disappears, then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Stir in the nuts and spread evenly in your lined pan. Sprinkle the batter with a little bit of sea salt or fleur de sel.
4.) Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out mostly clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack before cutting into nine squares.

[Print this recipe]

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies | The Economical Eater

The alcohol in the vodka bakes off, but the rich coffee flavor sticks around - and definitely helps to enhance the chocolate's flavor like it's supposed to. I loved how fudgy and rich these brownies are, but the sea salt and walnuts definitely helped to cut some of the richness (in a good way).

These would make a fun treat for any Easter gathering, or simply enjoy one (or two) of these with a cup of coffee, a glass of milk, or for an after-dinner treat. Or, if you're really daring, pair it with some double espresso vodka on the rocks. ;)

What's your favorite chocolate dessert?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Brunch Recipes

If your Easter holidays are anything like my family's, that means you do nothing but eat indulgent brunch food and drink mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Sound familiar? Whether it does or not, Easter brunch is one fun tradition.

Here, I'm re-sharing some of my favorite brunch recipes that will add a little extra something delicious to your Easter brunch spread. Whether you're looking to keep things healthy, have a few indulgent (read: lots of cheese) dishes in the mix, or simply want a good Bloody Mary recipe, this post's for you.

(Don't celebrate Easter? There are some vegetarian-friendly Passover recipes at the bottom of this post, too).

10 Vegetarian Easter Brunch Recipes | The Economical Eater

Easter Brunch Recipes:

Vegetarian Passover Recipes:

What are your Easter and/or Passover food traditions?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Random Thursday Things

Today's post is totally random. I have a few fun things to share with you guys, so it's all going in one super random post!

First up, for the local readers: On Sunday, April 13th, I'll be one of the judges at The Painted Burro's 2nd Annual Guac Off. The event begins at 3 p.m., and you can join in on the fun by eating all of the guac that's up for the grand prize: bragging rights, a $150 gift card to The Painted Burro, and the honor of being featured on The Painted Burro’s menu. I hope you can make it!

Second: Have you tried Stonyfield's new Frozen Yogurt Pearls yet? They dropped off a few samples at my house for me to try, and so far, I've had the Peach and Vanilla flavor.

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls | The Economical Eater

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls | The Economical Eater

The peach "skin" creates an edible protective layer around the vanilla center by harnessing molecular interactions between the skin's ingredients, which are organic fruit and natural ions. Sounds a little scientific, right? Thankfully, the ingredients are mostly legible, with a few unfortunate exceptions (i.e., sodium alginate and sodium citrate, to name a few). 

The skin is melt-free, which made this little treat that much more enjoyable on a [finally!] warmer day. The vanilla center was fantastic with the peach flavor, but I did find it hard for my sensitive teeth to bite into this frozen pearl. (My hands were also stinging a bit from holding the frozen pearl, but you don't necessarily have to eat these as cold as I did). I do see these being a quick, low-calorie treat on a hot day (two of peach/vanilla pearls = 50 calories) - I just wish the ingredients in the skin were all familiar/natural. 

And, finally, we have a winner for my Birds Eye frozen veggies giveaway! The winner was chosen using

And the winner is...

Mike Gurney!

"Definitely would use the steamed veggies for a soup!"

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

Anything random you feel like sharing today?

The Yogurt Pearls were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

This was one recipe experiment that turned out so, so well.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas | The Economical Eater

I made these Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas for a catering client this week, and...I have to was kind of an experiment. I had visions of having to tell him his food would be a day late, and I would have to start all over again. But, thankfully, I didn't have to do any of that - the first batch came out borderline perfect. (I love when that happens!).

Chock-full of tender sweet potatoes, sweet corn, and hearty black beans, these "meaty" enchiladas are satiating - and delicious. The spice from the salsa verde, chili powder, and cayenne give each bite a ton of flavor, without being over-the-top spicy. 

Make these. Please.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas | The Economical Eater

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
Yields: 9 enchiladas (about 3-4 servings)
Inspired by Damn Delicious
-2 cups salsa verde, divided
-2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
-1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos
-1/2 cup diced red onion
-3/4 cup frozen corn
-1 clove garlic, minced
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-Pinch of cayenne
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
-9 flour tortillas, warmed
-1 Roma tomato, diced
-Sour cream, for garnish (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 cup salsa verde in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish; set aside.
2.) In a large pot of boiling water, cook sweet potatoes until tender, about 12-15 minutes; drain well and let cool slightly.
3.) In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, black beans, jalapenos, red onion, corn, garlic, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and spices.
4.) To assemble the enchiladas, lay tortilla on a flat surface and spoon a heaping 1/4 cup of sweet potato mixture in the center; sprinkle with cheese. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down onto prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sweet potato mixture. Top with remaining salsa verde and cheese.*
5.) Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
6.) Garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro and chopped tomato. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

*Please note that you will probably have leftover filling; I cooked a few additional "test" enchiladas with the remaining filling, but it wasn't really enough to make three more enchiladas with. I highly recommend spooning the extra filling into the baking dish with the enchiladas, or simply having it on top of your eggs the next morning (or in your salad for lunch the next day).

[Print this recipe]

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas | The Economical Eater

Melted cheese. And lots of it. Do I really need to give you another reason to make these enchiladas, like, now?

I didn't think so. ;)

P.S. Just a friendly reminder that today's the last day to enter my Birds Eye giveaway for some FREE frozen vegetables! I'll be announcing a winner tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 7, 2014

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas (+ a Giveaway!)

Happy Monday to you!

Let's start the week off with a tasty recipe and a giveaway, shall we?

The folks at Birds Eye approached me a few weeks ago regarding their new campaign - in conjunction with Disney - to get kids to eat more vegetables. In celebration of their Step Up to the Plate program, Birds Eye asked me to come up with a kid-friendly, vegetable-packed recipe.

And, what food do most kids love? Pizza. So, I created a cheesy, delicious pizza that successfully makes all of the green vegetables on top of it not seem so...kid-unfriendly.

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas | The Economical Eater

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas
Yields: 1 pizza (about 4 servings)
-1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 clove garlic, minced
-6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
-9 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in half
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-Salt and black pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.) Brush crust with olive oil and garlic; top with shredded mozzarella cheese. 
3.) In a small bowl, mix asparagus with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Top mozzarella layer with asparagus spears and peas. Sprinkle with Parmesan and a little bit of salt and pepper.
4.) Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. 

[Print this recipe]

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas | The Economical Eater

This perfect-for-spring pizza was packed with flavor thanks to the peas, asparagus, garlic oil, and cheeses. If I fed this pizza to my nieces and nephew, they wouldn't even notice the "green stuff" on top (especially after they took their first bite!).

Now, how about that giveaway? Birds Eye wants to challenge you, too, to step up to the plate and create your own healthy and kid-friendly veggie dishes. In order to help with that, Birds Eye is giving one lucky EE reader FIVE coupons for free Birds Eye products! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post saying what dish you'd make with these coupons. I'll pick a winner Thursday, 4/10 morning.

Good luck!

I received the same five coupons in order to create my kid-friendly recipe. All opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wines Around $10

Happy Friday! Let's talk [cheap] wine, shall we?

Wines around $10 | The Economical EaterWines around $10 | The Economical Eater

I went to another class at the Boston Wine School last week (read my recap of the last one here), but this time, it was all about Favorite Wines Around $10. And good wines at that!

Jonathon Alsop, who owns the wine school and teaches all of the classes, taught us a lot about how to find affordable wines - as well as what makes a wine affordable. Some fun facts/tips we learned that night include:

-The color of the label helps to determine the wine's price. For instance, brightly colored labels (pink, blue, etc.) make the wine cheaper, while more "sophisticated" colors (like black, for instance) can make the wine more expensive.

-A stained or torn label can take 50% off the price of the wine. Shop distressed!

-White wines and pink wines feature more bargains.

-Shop for wines made in Chile, Portugal, Greece, Spain, and South Africa.

-Go for grapes you've never heard of - they tend to be less expensive.

Now, onto the wines! Here are some tasty, affordable wines you should be pouring into a cup this weekend:

2012 Adega de Pegoes, blend of Fernao Pires, Moscatel, and Arinto (Setubal, central Portugal)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

This wine - which retails at about $7.99 - was slightly sweet, acidic, and quite dry. For those who love their wines on the drier side, this one's for you.

2012 Cline Viognier (North Coast, California)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

I tend to really enjoy viogniers, and this one was no different. It was actually one of my favorite wines of the night! This bottle usually retails for about $8.99-$9.99, and had great floral and fruity notes (think peaches and pears). The mouthfeel was nicely dry and sweet, without being overpowering in either department. 

2012 J. Lohr "Wildflower" Valdiguie (Monterey, California)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

This red wine boasted a lot of raspberry and cherry flavors, while the nose featured plums, chocolate, and more cherries. The color of this wine was also noteworthy - it was a beautiful, vibrant magenta. (Hey, you drink with your eyes first, right?).

2012 Tenuta Rapitala Nero d'Avola (Sicily)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

The smell of this wine was a little acerbic for my liking - it boasted lots of pepper and spice. The taste and smell was borderline sour, too. I wouldn't say it was a bad wine; it was just a little too strong for my liking. However, if you like the more spicy wines (vs. sweet), this could be a decent option for you.

2011 Tilia Bonarda (Mendoza, Argentina)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

This was another one of my favorite wines of the night. Reminiscent of a malbec, this slightly tart wine featured lots of tannins, a pleasant spicy nose, and lots of fruit flavor. It paired very well with cheese, too!

2011 Chateau Roustaing (Bordeaux, France)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

Our final wine of the night was this drinkable red wine, that usually retails around $10.99. The nose was less harsh then the red wines we tried before it, and the taste was fruity and ideally sweet. Personally, I thought this tasted a little stronger (alcohol-wise) than the others, but I think this wine could stand up well to food - such as steak, cheeses, and pasta with red sauce, to name a few.

[Side note: We started the night with a glass of NV 90+ Cellars "Lot 50" Prosecco (Veneto, Italy), which typically clocks in around $10.99. 90+ Cellars is located right above the Boston Wine School].

Overall, I learned a lot from this class, and will be seeking out quite a few of the wines we tried in my local wine store. I tend to buy the same wines all of the time, so it was great discovering some new-to-me wines - at prices I'd actually be happy to pay. 

What's your favorite affordable wine? I'm a big fan of the Apothic wines.

This class was complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Piperi Mediterranean Grill

I rarely go out for lunch. Even when I worked in an office, I almost always brought my lunch with me. I find that every time I go out for lunch, I end up feeling full, sluggish, and tired for the rest of the day.

Piperi Mediterranean Grill in Boston | The Economical Eater

But when the folks at Piperi Mediterranean Grill ("Piperi" is Greek for peppercorn) reached out to me and asked if I wanted to check them out for this blog, I was intrigued. Their website states that they use nothing but fresh ingredients (never frozen - they don't even have a freezer); their dishes feature mostly lean meats, vegetables, and beans; the chicken they use is humanely raised without antibiotics, growth stimulants, hormones, or animal byproducts; and they never use trans fats. They also use Gozi bread for all of their sandwiches, which I thought was unique. Gozi is a modern interpretation of Gözleme, a traditional hand-rolled pastry from Turkey. It's a little thinner than pita bread, but has a similar taste and texture.

Being a falafel fiend, I decided to order the Falafel Gozi ($6.50) for lunch on the day I visited.

Falafel Gozi from Piperi Mediterranean Grill in Boston | The Economical Eater

The Falafel Gozi is chocked full of red cabbage slaw, creamy hummus, mixed greens, and tahini sauce. The employee who made my sandwich also recommended adding the Moroccan carrots to the mix, and that was one damn good decision.

Falafel Gozi from Piperi Mediterranean Grill in Boston | The Economical Eater

The tangy cabbage slaw and spiced carrots complemented the crispy, non-greasy falafel beautifully. The sandwich could have easily been too heavy without the mixed greens, which helped to lighten up the dish nicely, while also providing a necessary crunch in each bite. And you totally get what you pay for with this sandwich - there were a ton of falafel inside, which made for one satiating lunch.

The Falafel Gozi is one of Piperi's "favorite combinations," along with dishes like the Chicken Gozi ($7) and the Veggie Plate ($7.50), which consists of brown rice pilaf, roasted vegetables, Moroccan carrots, hummus, olives, and yogurt cucumber sauce. But if you're feeling creative, you can make your own dish or sandwich - you simply pick whether you want a sandwich, salad, or mezze plate and build from there. 

Piperi is easy to get to via public transit, but if you have to drive, they're adjacent to a parking garage.

Overall, I think Piperi is a great quick lunch option that's affordable, delicious, and actually somewhat healthy (and not too filling for a mid-day meal). If you work or live in the area - or even somewhat close by - I highly recommend stopping in and trying some of their food (especially the falafel!).

Do you typically go out for lunch, or do you bring a lunch to work? 

Piperi Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

This meal was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spinach and Chickpea Curry Tarts

I know, I know - I just made a spinach and chickpea curry concoction in February. But that recipe got kicked up a few notches with these Spinach and Chickpea Curry Tarts.

Spinach and Chickpea Curry Tarts | The Economical Eater

I made these tarts for a Kitchensurfing demo I did at the Williams-Sonoma in Natick earlier this week, and, I must say - they were quite the hit. The flaky, buttery puff pastry envelops the flavorful filling within - and with dollops of raita piped on top (not pictured), these are borderline irresistible. 

These elegant tarts are also super easy to eat while standing, so these would make a fantastic addition to a cocktail party menu.

Spinach and Chickpea Curry Tarts | The Economical Eater

Spinach and Chickpea Curry Tarts
Yields: About 18 tarts
-2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 yellow onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 teaspoons curry powder
-1 teaspoon coriander
-1 teaspoon turmeric
-1/2 teaspoon garam masala
-Pinch of cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-2 handfuls baby spinach (about 2 cups)
-1 tablespoon chopped parsley
-Salt and pepper, to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Heat olive oil in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until mostly softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3.) Add chickpeas and spinach, stir, and cook until spinach is mostly wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Add parsley, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat, and taste for seasonings, then adjust if/as necessary. 
4.) Lightly spray two muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 9 equal squares. Lightly push each square of pastry into muffin tins to form a "cup." Fill each pastry "cup" with the chickpea mixture (about 1 tablespoon per cup). 
5.) Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly in pan before serving. 

*As I mentioned before, I served these with a dollop of raita on top, which made a world of difference. The cool, creamy raita really helped to calm the curry and other spices, as well as add a necessary texture to these tarts. My rough recipe: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt; 1 seeded cucumber, diced; 2 scallions, chopped; generous pinch of ground cumin; salt and black pepper. Stir all ingredients together in a medium-size bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Spinach and Chickpea Curry Tarts | The Economical Eater

These were a great mix of healthy, indulgent, spicy, and flavorful - I won't even tell you how many of these I popped into my mouth when I was originally testing this recipe. They're a little too easy to eat, but, thankfully, everything in here [besides the pastry] is actually quite good for you! 

What's your favorite appetizer to make for a cocktail party? I love making different kinds of hummus or deviled eggs!