Monday, June 29, 2009

Ikea


Ok, so I've always wanted to try Ikea's meatballs, I've heard friends rave about them for years. So when a friend wanted to head to Ikea to spruce up her new diggs we deiced that at about hour 3 we needed a lunch break. The swedish meatballs were addictivly bad. Not the disturbing concoctions of my grade school caffeteria (the only other place I've ever had swedish meatballs). Instead these were both bland and mouthwateringly tasty at the same time. When the lovely lady behind the counter served them up I thought there's no way I was going to eat all of those meatballs but after five minutes they were gone. I can't remember what they normally come with but I ordered them with pasta which was frankly unnecessary I could have just eaten the meatballs with gravy and the strange lindgon berry sauce that accompanies them. I have to say I'm really glad I tried Ikeas meatballs if for no reason other than that now I want to try to make them myself. I mean hey, if Ikea can do it so can I.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quesadillas!!

The one thing I really wanted for Christmas was a panini press. It is one of the few kitchen appliances I didn't have and the foodie in me was rabid about having one. So, my husband decided that he would accommodate this desire,despite our complete and utter lack of space. So voila, panini press. I use it for everything. Is it raining? Then cook the grilled chicken inside. don't want to fry those hamburgers, go ahead and stick them on the panini press. And the grilled cheese sandwiches, oh the grilled cheese sandwiches. I will never be able to eat one that has simply been cooked in a frying pan again.

After months of blissfully enjoying the wonderfulness of my panini press, I decided to get creative the other night when my husband called out quesadillas as a response to the age old question; "What do you want for dinner." These beauties not only tasted better than the ones you bake in the oven they looked beautiful. I felt like I was in a restaurant.


Quesadilla Paninis
2 chicken breasts cut into thin strips
1 medium yellow onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 packet old el paso taco seasoning
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp goya
1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 four tortillas

1/2 cup grated monteray jack cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

in a small bowl cover the chicken strips and onions with olive oil, then evenly sprinkle them with seasonings. Next throw everything in a pan and cook until the chicken is cooked and the onions are translucent. Spread half of the chicken and onions evenly over one half of a tortilla. Cover with cheese and fold the tortilla in half so that the chicken and cheese are encased in tortilla. Place the tortilla on the panini maker until the cheese is melted. Repeat with the second tortilla. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.
Yum!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stuff to Eat in the Suburbs: Waltham—Taqueria Mexico


If you live in the Waltham area, it’s likely that you have passed Taqueria Mexico a number of times and never really noticed it. Tucked away at the end of Charles Street a block away from where it connects to Moody, Taqueria Mexico is a hidden gem worth finding.

We originally discovered it while in search of Mexican food that didn’t require an hour wait (like Margaritas down the street). A quick Google search revealed this small Mexican place that we had been driving by for months.

The décor at Taqueria Mexico isn’t going to win any awards. The restaurant is filled with basic booths and tables and lightly decorated with authentic touches. There are two televisions playing all the time, though they are usually tuned to Spanish language channels. The focus at Taqueria Mexico is the food. They boast an extensive menu with the first page consisting entirely of a la carte items like tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos. Almost everything offered on this first page is under nine dollars, sometimes even under five; however, several of these items are small and it’ll take a couple of them to fill you up. The rest of the menu features a mix of authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex fare such as enchiladas, fajitas, ceviche, and a slightly disturbing tongue plate. These larger entrees won’t break the bank either, most items on the main course menu cost fewer than eleven dollars.

All of the food we’ve tried at Taqueria Mexico has been delicious. Some of our favorite entrees are the crispy chorizo taco and the tasty taquitos. The tender, salty chorizo meat, nestled inside a crispy shell and topped with lettuce and sour cream, may seem simple—but the complex flavor of the chorizo makes this taco a must-order no matter what else you’re getting for dinner. Eight small taquitos—crunchy corn tortillas wrapped around lightly seasoned chicken and topped with sour cream and guacamole—can easily become an appetizer for a table of four or most of an entrée for one. The nachos are good, though the enormous pile of toppings makes the chips go soggy quickly. The pollo enchiladas with poblano sauce are well rounded and filling with a rich combination of flavors. The chicken is moist and salty under the rich muddy flavor of the spicy poblano sauce.

Though the restaurant doesn’t serve hard liquor, it does offer a variety of beers, as well as some tasty sangria which is also fairly cheap. There's a small outdoor seating area, a rare commodity in Waltham, though it will have to stop raining before it becomes practical again. (Things are looking up on this front!)

Overall, Taqueria Mexico provides good solid Mexican food at a great price. The resturant can be crowded on weekend nights but the wait is seldom more than 15 minutes. Take-out is available. You can find the menu on the restaurant's website.


This post was originally featured on the Bostonist

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sometimes you just don't want a traditional breakfast


And this weekend when that happened to me, instead of making my husband take me out to Brunch, I decided to save some money and make an interesting brunchy concoction on my own. I was craving two things, eggs Benedict, and some kind of breakfast tart, like a quiche but less eggy and more other stuff. So, I started out trying to make the eggs benny. And as always, I found that for some reason the creation of a workable hollendaise sauce eludes me. I don't know why but I am just not capable of getting that sauce right. So, amidst my frustration I decided to try for the tart.
Puff pastry was the tart base of choice, so I took a sheet of puff pastry and built up the sides so that there would be a well for ingredients to sit in the middle. I wanted a kind of egg base, so I combined eggs and a little bit of cream and then used it as an egg wash for the puff pastry wall and then poured the rest in the middle, on top of the eggs I put,some torn up thinly sliced prosciutto. Then I added caramelized onions, pecorino Romano cheese, dubliner cheese, and aged Pecorino Romano. I topped the whole thing off with some very thin slices of tomato and then baked the whole lot at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. The results were spectacular. A delicious and filling breakfast tart with different complex flavor combinations in every bit. The butteryness of the puff pastry combined really well with the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the saltiness of the prosecutor coupled delightfully with the sweet tartness of the tomato slices. And underneath it all the eggs and cream created a light quichey texture for the whole tart. Overall I would call this breakfast an unqualified success. Hooray for experimenting!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stuff to Eat in the Suburbs: Needham—Pizzapalooza



Finding good pizza in Boston can be a complicated business. While some pizzerias focus solely on baking a good pie, others provide more well-rounded fare in the form of tasty sandwiches, paninis and pasta. From greasy to gourmet, you can find almost anything if you know where to look.

Pizzapalooza in Newton has a lot to offer the hungry diner. Their pizza is fairly good, if a little too heavy on the sweet sauce and light on the cheese for this Bostonist’s taste. Not quite deep dish and not quite thin-crust, Pizzapalooza’s pies come across almost like the best French bread pizza you’ve ever had, with a crunchy base topped by lots of chewy dough. You can order a whole pizza or get it by the slice. One of the best (if worst for your health...) things about ordering in the shop is that each slice is a quarter of a pizza!

Individual slices tend to be available in classic flavors, like cheese and pepperoni. However, their pizzas really shine when the chefs get creative in the kitchen. On our most recent visit, we sampled the Hawaiian (pineapple and prosciutto) as well as a creative concoction involving Italian sausage, ricotta, and caramelized onions. The Hawaiian is a perfect balance of sweet pineapple and salty prosciutto, with neither overpowering the other as can often be the case. The Italian sausage, ricotta and caramelized onions combine to create a really complex flavor; the sweet and salty Italian sausage is complimented by the sweetness of the onions and both are surprisingly well accompanied by the creaminess of the ricotta.

But pizza isn’t the only tasty treat you can find at Pizzapalooza. In fact, this Bostonist first fell in love with the restaurant's Panini sandwiches. The Panino Pollo is a simple Panini containing fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic marinated grilled chicken breast. But the first bite tells you that this is no ordinary sandwich; the sliced Italian ciabatta bread is clearly fresh-cut for each sandwich. And all of the ingredients perfectly complement one another, right down to the sprinkle of Pecorino Romano that adds a salty, tangy accent to the sandwich and gives it the final nudge from good to great. Finally, the toasting method leaves the sandwiches a perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. The Pollo is, in this Bostonist’s opinion, one of the best paninis in the area.

Another notable menu item is the “Pizzapalooza Cruiser.” This on-the-go option is like a rolled-up piece of pizza but without all the mess. Pizzapalooza uses its regular pizza dough, wraps it around a variety of ingredients, and then bakes them to perfection. The Maserati is a portable collection of complimentary yet complex flavors. Sweet Italian sausage, salty pepperoni, and melty mozzarella cheese are well accented here by Pizzapalooza’s sweet tomato sauce; and best of all this treat is wrapped up and ready to eat!

Though Pizzapalooza is not this Bostonist’s favorite spot for pizza every day, the pizza is good enough to keep us interested. However, the thing that keeps us coming back is the paninis. If you are a fan of crunchy bread and high-quality, high-taste ingredients, then you might want to give the Panini Sandwiches over at Pizzapalooza a try. For your first time we highly recommend eating on their patio instead of getting take out. This sandwich experience is worth savoring!

Originally posted on the Bostonist.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stuff to Eat in the Suburbs: Belmont—Angelato


For lunch in the suburbs this Bostonist is always in search of one thing: a better sandwich. Forget fruit plates and salads, sandwiches are what lunch is all about. A good sandwich can be special because of so many things: the bread, the meats, the condiments, the cheese. And each sandwich shop is unique in the way they combine these ingredients making it worthwhile to visit as many as possible to find the best sandwich options. This Bostonist has been known to drive as much as half an hour out of the way just to fill a particular sandwich craving and Angelato; a small sandwich shop, Italian deli, and geltaria in Belmont has become one of those detours. The first time we sampled Angelato's wares was after visiting Silk Road BBQ across the street. We noticed Angelato because we were in the mood for something sweet to finish off our lunch. Angelato is the company owned shop of the Angelato foods the company who makes Firenze frozen desserts which means that they have fresh local made gelato ready for serving in the shop. The hazelnut chocolate gelato alone was well worth the trip out to Belmont. The gelato had a rich dark chocolate flavor without being too bitter or too sweet, and the small pieces of roasted hazelnut were the perfect additionan occasional textured surprise hidden in the smooth creamy goodness.

As if that weren't enough to make a detour into Belmont, they also have sandwiches. The thing that makes the sandwiches at Angelato great is the unique pairings of flavors in their specialty sandwiches. Of course they have the old standbys, the caprese, the chicken parm, the meatball, and the ever popular make your own option. But it's the specialty sandwiches that shine at Angelato. Unfortunately, the really interesting sandwiches aren't listed on the online menu, but instead are on signs hung up around the deli counter. One sandwich in particular comes to mind, it has an unruly name but the sandwich consists of chicken salad, bacon, and honey mustard. This Bostonist was skeptical when she ordered this interesting combination but has since come to crave this unique flavor combination. The base of this sandwich, a shredded chicken salad, provides a nice smooth texture that is pleasantly interrupted by salty crunchy bits of bacon, while the honey mustard adds a sweet sharp tang that makes each bite a delight.

The other sandwich we sampled involved a breaded chicken cutlet, cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing. Another unexpected combination this sandwich was the ultimate salty richness. The creamy ranch dressing paired perfectly with the moist chicken cutlet and the cheese and bacon added perfect salty accents.

While this Bostonist has yet to try a sandwich based on cold cuts, the deli meat at Angelato looks top notch and the fact that you can purchase the meats individually leads us to believe we will be trying the "Three Honeys" sometime soon. So the next time you're looking to calm your sandwich craving head out to Belmont and give one of Angelato's creations a try, you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chicken Pasta Salad


This is an old favorite that I had completely forgotten about until the warm weather, and a desire to eat a little better, forced me to go looking for new and different recipes.
Now I hate dieting, I have problems controlling how much I eat, I am almost incapable of not giving in to cravings and I LOVE chocolate. So I don't think of what I am doing now as dieting, more eating better.The biggest problem I am having with eating better lately is my seemingly unending craving for pasta. I hadn't had pasta more than three times in three months and then suddenly I just couldn't live without it. So, instead of pasta sauce, or my husbands oh so helpful suggestion chicken parm we went with chicken pasta salad.
This one is really easy so here goes.

Chicken Pasta Salad
1 red pepper cut into long strips and cut in half
1 yellow pepper cut into long strips and cut in half
4 carrots (peeled and then shredded with a peeler)
4 stalks of celery (shredded with a peeler)
1 package of baby spinach
4 medium balls of fresh mozzarella cut into 1 in pieces
2 chicken breasts marinated in the same white wine vinaigrette dressing you are going to use on the salad then cooked in a skillet and grilled and cut into strips.
1/2 a package of pasta cooked
6 tablespoons white wine vinaigrette such as Brianna's french vinaigrette or as it's known in our house, the one with the artichoke on it.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl mix!this can be stored overnight, but if you plan on doing so add the spinach right before you serve it because it can get soggy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stuff to Eat in the Suburbs: Natick —The Met Bar and Grill


Since the Natick Mall turned into the Natick collection there have been a lot of changes. The stores are more expensive, there are a whole lot more of them, and the food court has suddenly lost its appeal due to the plethora of new restaurants that have opened up in the mall. New options include P.F. Changs, Cheesecake Factory, or Sel De La Terre if you’re feeling fancy. However, sometimes, when you’re at the mall or sitting around at home, you just want a good burger. On those days may we recommend the Met Bar and Grill in the Natick Collection.

The Met Bar and Grill is an offshoot restaurant to The Metropolitain Club steakhouse in Chestnut Hill. While the Met Bar and Grill has an extensive menu; including salads, pastas, and steaks; the main reason for visiting them, in this Bostonist’s opinion, is their burgers. In addition to their regular menu, the Met Bar and Grill has a specific Met Burger Bar menu. This no nonsense menu has one side entirely dedicated to burgers, including the signature burgers and the make your own burger options. On the opposite side of the menu are classic burger options such as fried onion strings, sweet potato fries, and heavenly shakes.

There are two different signature burger categories, continental and international. Burgers from both of these categories are delicious and a little bit different. Options like the LA (avocado, bacon lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and roasted garlic mayo) or the Athens (Tzatzki, feta, cucumber, tomato and hummus) are interesting and always satisfying. While their signature burgers are a reliable yet still interesting one stop order, the make your own burger option is the way to go for picky and adventurous eaters alike. They have more categories and toppings than this Bostonist has ever seen on a burger menu. Meat options range from kobe beef to a veggie burger and you can make it a double or turn your burgers into minis. You can go bunless in a bowl or add pan seared foie gras to your burger. Almost anything you can think to put on a burger is an option here. The base price of the burger is centered on the type of meat you choose and all of the extras are individually priced from .25 cents for dill pickles to 8 dollars for the foie gras. The burgers are a decent size and they all come with a small order of fries and a pickle. This Bostonist is always impressed at the juicy rich flavor of the burgers and the chef’s ability to always cook them perfectly. Never under or over cooked the Met Bar and Grill really knows its burgers.

This Bostonist highly recommends starting out your meal with the basket of “onion rings. Rings in name only these fried onion strings are simply amazing, the right ratio of onion to batter topped with the perfect amount of salt. The basket is big enough to feed at least three people as an appetizer. This Bostonist also swears by the shakes. The shakes are made to order at the bar, which makes it easy for them to execute the ingenious option of having your shake “liquored up”. Under the description of each shake is a suggested alcohol pairing. However, these shakes are well worth the calories even without the alcohol. These shakes are surprisingly light while maintaining the richness and flavor of a classic milkshake. They’re the perfect accompaniment to some amazing burgers.

The Met Bar and Grill takes reservations every night except Saturday when you need to have a party of six or more to snag yourself a guaranteed table. This surprising policy makes The Met Bar and Grill a great place to stop for food if you’re at the mall or just craving a good burger. You can take a look at the Met Bar and Grill’s menu or check out the décor at their website.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OOOH, its a Cake



Yes it is a cake. A delicious banana bunt cake. This recipe originally came from a fellow blogger.
Though I have tweaked it a bit here and there to make it my own and I just love this recipe. It combines a wonderful way of using old bananas with one of my favorite things, Dark Rum. The other great thing about this cake is that it gets better the longer it sits on your counter which is always a plus in my book. The little bit of rum added into the batter brings out the rum in the glaze better. While I am not normally an alcohol and cake person I was shocked at how well the banana and rum flavors went together.

Banana Rum bunt cake

1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 container chiobani vanilla greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plus a little more Dark Rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

For the icing
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Beat brown sugar and butter at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs beating until well-blended.

Combine banana, yogurt, vanilla, rum, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter into a 10-inch bunt pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. make sure to check it because it can go from soupy to burned easily if you aren't paying attention. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Combine powdered sugar, rum, and melted margarine; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

I stored this one on a covered cake plate, I think this helps the cake mature better.


Monday, June 1, 2009

And we're back. with Potato Salad

I admit, I was a little off my game in May. The only posts I really managed to get through were my posts for the Bostonist. But this is a new month and I am going to blog if it kills me.
So, to start off what should be summer ( its around 62 here in Boston) I made my favorite type of summer treat. Potato Salad. Now some people don't like potato salad, maybe its the eggs, maybe its the mayonnaise, maybe its the onions, but I love it! And I've spent some serious time taking my mom's potato salad and jazzing it up with innovations from friends and cookbooks until I have a potato salad recipe that is solely my own. So without further adieu, here's my potato salad.

Red Potato and egg salad (serves 6)

12 small red potatoes
1 small red onion
a small bunch of fresh chives or scallions
5 eggs
4 stalks of celery
mustard
mayonnaise
red wine vinegar
celery salt
salt
pepper
sugar

Finely dice the celery and onion and set aside.Prep the potatoes by peeling off any eyes or unappealing looking skin. You can leave the rest of the skin on for texture. Slice the potatoes into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces and boil them until they are just soft enough for a fork to pierce them. Don't let them get too soft or you will have mashed potato salad.Then transfer them to a collander
While the potatoes are boiling, hard boil the eggs (around 12 minutes after the water is boiling). Peel the eggs and transfer them to a small bowl. Smush the eggs into tiny pieces with a fork ( as if you were making egg salad). Then add mayo, mustard, celery salt, and red wine vinegar until you have achieved a kind of watery but very intensly flavored egg salad. If you think you have enough mustard, add a little more.

Next pour the egg mixture over the still slightly warm potatoes and mix thoroughly, then add the onions and celery. And finally, using scissors cut small pieces off of the chives and mix them in until they are relatively uniform throughout. Then season to taste with salt, pepper, mustard sugar and red wine.

I do appologize for not having specific measurements for the different flavorings but I swear it is different every time. If I come up with something consistant I'll update it here.

Garnishing Tip: If you get the chives out of your garden, you can use the flowers as a garnish!