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Cheddar & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms Holiday Repost!

23 Nov

Years ago, Joey found a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that was similar to this one. Since then, we’ve tweaked and improved on it every time we make them for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any number of special occasions. We’ve been making them using the same recipe for a few years now. And also since then, we can never make enough.

They are pretty simple to make. And they will make your house smell incredible too! You probably have most of the ingredients just sitting around in your kitchen. Trust me, people will DEVOUR these. They will think you are incredible in the kitchen. And they will request these anytime you need to bring an appetizer to any gathering. They might even throw parties just so that they can eat these again. Continue reading

A Farewell to T.T.’s

24 Jul

IMG_2636I’m not ever as stumped at how to start an entry as I am on this one. Maybe it’s because this subject matter truly has a soul to it? I mean, yeah sure, we all love food. Good food pretty much writes its own blog posts. When it’s time to get serious, and do some memory browsing and back-gazing, that’s when stuff gets real.

T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge closes its doors for good this Saturday night. I don’t think I have never referred to it using it’s full name, but there it is. I’ve walked through those wooden double-doors as much as any entryway I may have ever crossed over in my lifetime. I’ve definitely referred to it as my version of Cheers. (The tv show version. Not the actual bar, obviously.)

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I’ve sat at that bar on a slow Monday night scratching lottery tickets as the venue goes acoustic for “The Other Side of the Bear” events. Those were pretty great nights that were made better when I found myself surprised at the talent behind the low-volume vocals catching my attention. Mondays when the stage is closed down and the lights were turned off in the main room. Shari could usually be found working those nights. I remember attempting to concoct new cocktails in plastic cups with $7 bottles of liqueur all too often. This, of course, all occurring after the great Livejournal debacle of 2002.

You see, there was a time when I didn’t know many of the faces at T.T.’s. On this particular night – November 5, 2002 to be precise – it wasn’t my first at T.T.’s, but it is the initial memory I have of my deep friendship with Shari, one of the bar/club’s veteran bartenders. That memory is brought to us by Livejournal, the letter “B”, and raspberry flavored vodka mixed with – if I recall correctly – chambord and Coca-cola.

Hanging out there with my now husband, we were watching Imperial Teen perform on stage. Shari’s name was still unknown but her company was welcomed openly. On this night in particular for whatever reason, I was struck by T.T.’s amazingness. And so, in early 2000s fashion, I commented about the night and Shari in my Livejournal blog (The Friendster equivalent of Tumblr). I of course mentioned the fact that I loved having her be my bartender, as well as commenting on her, umm…see for yourself:

I also saw Imperial Teen at TTs tonite and that was kick ass as well. they rocked, and it was neat seeing them in such an intimate venue. as usual, our bartender chick was sweet and kind and cute (even with her ghetto booty!) rock.

Yeah. I went there. That quote is responsible for a friendship of thirteen years that I can not imagine my life without.

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T.T.’s was always a welcoming place – regardless of the bands playing the stage each night, you knew good folks would be there, and that if you didn’t know them, you soon would. I never felt awkward for even a minute being the gay dude in a rock club, and I love them for it.

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The club made me and Joey feel so secure and comfortable and safe that we asked Bonney, T.T.’s owner of 43 years, if we could host a same-sex marriage music benefit The answer was, as is most often the case with Bonney, “Yes!”.

Joey and I put on several fundraisers there under our now defunct LegalLove.org. The first show featured Ad Frank, Mary Lou Lord and Annie Clark, to name a few. Ad and Mary Lou so happened to have both played their last sets at T.T.’s this week. Annie Clark might have been asked to play during the final week, but I’m assuming she was too busy being St. Vincent to even be considered.

The response from the Boston music scene was incredible. This at a time when gay marriage wasn’t even legal in Massachusetts with fierce opposition trying to shut it down. So many people – too many to list here but – aided with their talent and tones to support the idea of equal marriage rights for all under the law.

T.T.’s wasn’t just a rock club, it was a community of individuals who stood for good things, played pretty incredible (and occasionally crappy) music and enjoyed life while it was theirs to enjoy.

Someone who enjoyed the hell out of life was Jeanne, T.T.’s much loved and celebrated bartender. There was something about Jeanne’s smile, that when you got it, – when you truly received it – you realized you were special. Then you realized everyone got that smile from Jeanne. Although she is no longer with us physically – because cancer is a motherfucker – stepping into T.T.’s you can still feel her greet you as you pass through the doors and glance towards the bar.

Not only have I gained many lasting friendships at T.T.’s, I’ve discovered great music and had an untalliable number of life-affirming experiences here. Picking one is pretty impossible. A few that come to mind however:

Seeing Rilo Kiley open for Meghan Toohey’s The So and So’s and then seeing Tegan and Sara play in all their acoustic glory in the same week.

When Kay Hanley would introduce Letters to Cleo by saying “We’re Letters to Cleo and we’re from Boston, Massachusetts.” in front of the T.T.’s stage backdrop. Every show.

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Hanging with Jenny Lewis, sharing a drink and getting schoolgirlish about Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill.

Mingling with your favorite local talents at the annual holiday party (to which I recall bringing some damn good deviled eggs to one year).

When Lady Lamb had her first gig there and blew everyone’s skullcaps off.

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When I was working the door and charged Juliana Hatfield admission only to feel like a horrid human once I realized who I had just charged admission to.

Or one of my top 5 moments! The time Joey and I took our pug Riley to visit Shari on a lazy weeknight (as one does), had a seat at the bar and then were joined by Hanson (Yes, that Hanson) coming to sit at the bar next to us. The Hanson brothers petting our dog and sharing a drink. A typical night at T.T.’s.

There are lots and lots of memories. I have laughed here. Cried here. Rocked here. Kissed here. Danced here. Fought here. Hugged here. Played Scrabble here. Eaten Hi-Fi here.

T.T.’s will be gone, but the community that has been created by the four-plus decades of being in business will continue. Thanks for everything Bonney – you’ve done this life very right. 

Hibernation is over.

14 Mar

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Clearly I have been hibernating all winter. It’s been long, cold and snowy. I’ve only left the house to go to work, or to shovel. Or to cut branches of forsythia in the yard to force them to bloom so that I could hold onto the hope that spring is indeed on the way.

If you’ve got forsythia in or around your yard and you want to bring some spring indoors:

1. Cut forsythia branches (12-42 inches in length depending on your arrangement).

2. Put in warm water.

3. Wait 10-14 days and you’ll have bright blooms!

Grilled Peach, Corn & Prosecco Mussels

20 Oct

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Having recently returned from a farewell-to-summer week on Cape Cod, I couldn’t have been more in the mood to cook up a mussel dish. Inspiration wasn’t far; meandering around the neighborhood reminiscing about the beach, cocktails and oysters, it was next to impossible to ignore the near-ripe peaches hanging over the sidewalks. Who knew there were so many peach trees in the city?

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That’s when the idea struck me: combine local peaches with fresh mussels in a dish that celebrates all things summer, by welcoming in autumn’s bounty.

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While sorting through the vast variety of peaches available at my local market, I was drawn to the oddly shaped and aptly named Donut Peach. It looks as it sounds – like the healthy version of a cider donut. Just next to the peaches were fresh picked ears of Massachusetts-grown corn, a delight I can never pass up. I added them to my bag, and the meal began to come together.

Find my recipe and the rest of the post here!

Finished! My Reupholstered Victorian Chair

17 Sep

FInished Chair

So it may have taken a year, but this chair is finally complete! I put so many hours into this piece and enjoyed every single minute of it (except for maybe the multiple tacks I hammered into my fingers).

Here’s a shot while I was adding the double welt around the edges…

double weltI made each button on this chair by hand and secured each individually. I folded and unfolded so many times to get the seams and crevices aligned perfectly. I fluffed and set the horsehair and hoghair inside the seat and the back to get it all arranged just right. I tied each spring in the chair eight ways and tacked the twine into place.

The devil is in the details, but the details are what make this chair stand out!

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The chair has definitely transformed from its previous (and original!) fabric…

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While I did enjoy the original design, the fabric was worn and dingy, especially on the seat. I tried to mimic the original design in my version. The instructor of the class was very impressed with the original details (which made me feel like a horrible person for tearing it all off!) but was also pleased with the amount of effort and thought I put into the redesign.

Classes were always exciting and there were plenty of points I wouldn’t have even thought about, so having a teacher who has decades of experience in reupholstering the right way was a blessing. There are two ways to do things: the easy way and the correct way. While it takes a little more patience and time, I like to opt for the correct way in situations like this, especially if I am using energy and time to learn a skill.

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There was a lot of “measure twice cut once” running through my head. To further complicate things, I had to be sure to cut the fabric so that velvet all ran in the same direction…otherwise it would have affected the colors matching perfectly…something I probably would not have come up with on my own.

I ended up giving this chair to my mother for her birthday, as it was nice to be able to gift something I made with my hands (other than food for a change!) and to give her something that held something special as opposed to something store-bought. It also fits in nicely with her circa 1881 home.

I’m looking forward to my next reupholstering adventure soon!

Lemon Ricotta Gnudi

28 Jul

 

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This pasta was a joy to make, and really freaking simple. Two of my favorite qualities in a dish. Plus, now that fresh vegetables are so much more readily accessible here in the Northeast (yay summer!), it’s easy to get creative with your pairings.

If you’re curious, gnudi are sort of like gnocchi, and I’m not positive of the true difference (which I feel my Italian ancestors would be deeply disappointed by). My understanding is that gnocchi are traditionally potato-based while gnudi are traditionally ricotta-based. Maybe? Maybe.

These guys are made-up mainly of ricotta, flour, bread crumb and egg. They are delicious, fluffy little pillows of flavor once complete. Just take a look at all these gnudi pics! (Sorry, I couldn’t not put that in this post.)

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This recipe uses fava beans in the supporting role. This legume isn’t one that I use often – or ever – but I’m glad I introduced my kitchen to it for this recipe. If you don’t like the fava bean option, it’s cool. We can still be friends. Peas, edamame, lima beans – whatever you fancy – will work just as well.

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The gnudi dough mixture also contains some lemon zest and basil. They blend in nicely, and compliment the flavors well. You can also, as always, add in some of your favorite herbs from your herb garden. (Check out my Radio Flyer Herb Garden for some ideas!)

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Once the gnudi dough has been shaped and floured, they will need to be chilled for a bit. At least an hour – or if you’re unlike me and plan things ahead, up to 24 hours before you’re ready to indulge.

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Once you drop these into boiling water, let them sit there until they float to the top. When that occurs, let them cook for about two minutes more. Scoop the cooked gnudi out and combine them with the butter/fava bean mixture (in the recipe below…). Eat up, and enjoy!

To make, click to the right to expand ingredients and recipe.  Continue reading

50 Shades of Grey (Goose) Dirty Martini.

25 Jul

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In celebration of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer, People.com chose a few cocktail recipes they thought would fit nicely with the release, with one of my own being featured. I created this recipe for an Eat Boutique post that I did, and am sharing it here again. 

Given the circumstances, I think I will be referring to this one as the Fifty Shades of Grey (Goose) dirty martini from here on in.

 

Martini

 

Extra Dirty Martini
Makes 1

2½ shots vodka
½ shot dry vermouth
5 tsp. olive brine

In a cocktail shaker, mix ingredients together over a generous amount of ice. Shake and pour mixture into a chilled martini glass, garnish with a few olives.

 

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Turkish Pickled Ramps

23 Jul

While cleaning out my fridge, I found this jar of pickled ramps that I prepared at the end of April (when ramps were in season…). While it may not be pertinent to the summer harvest, I still enjoyed making these photos and the shoot that accompanied it, and am sharing them here.


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For ingredients and instructions on how to make these addictive pickled ramps, head on over to my piece at EatBoutique.com.

Ginger Cornmeal Biscotti

3 Mar

Cornmeal and ginger biscotti

You’ve got your coffee…but what about a little something to go along with it on this Monday? I’m opting for some of these tasty biscotti that I conjured up a few weeks ago.

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The main ingredients are candied ginger chunks, cornmeal and chocolate. I show you how to make your own candied ginger here.) There’s also orange zest, almonds and anise seed. It’s a pretty flavorful treat that is super easy to make. Bring some with you for catching up with a friend or to your office to share with coworkers. The mix of flavors within will leave your cohorts in awe of your supreme baking abilities (which you may or may not have…but let’s just let them think you do either way).

For the full recipe and some more photos, head over to my recipe at Eat Boutique.

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Extra-Dirty Martini.

20 Jan

MartiniOr would that be a Filthy Martini? Either way, I enjoy these. 

There was a period of time, somewhere around my early-to-mid twenties, when I would only drink dirty martinis. My affinity for this libation arose after a friend of mine introduced me to a properly made “extra dirty” martini. I will forever be thankful to him for making my acquaintance with this cocktail and the olives that accompany it.

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Whenever I travel to northern New England, I always make time to stop in to my favorite place for drinks and comfort food. Located in Eaton Center, NH, this pub is a little nook tucked away at the back of an 1880s boarding school – now turned into an inn at Crystal Lake. 

MartiniThis place will always – always – have the best dirty martini I have come across in my travels. The gathering room is called the Palmer House Pub. It is where the locals gather while the tourists and leaf peepers/skiers dine in the attached restaurant….Finding a bartender who can make this with the correct proportions of vodka to vermouth to olive brine is not as common as I would like it to be. There is one place, however, that I can always count on.

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To read on, follow the link for the full post at EatBoutique.com

It’s a giveaway!!

2 Dec

EBGiveawayOkay folks! It’s time for a giveaway! I have a pair of tickets to attend this Saturday’s Eat Boutique Holiday Market in Boston, Massachusetts!

I had such an amazing time visiting all of the different vendors and authors at the Eat Boutique Market last year, I thought I’d give the opportunity to one  of you lucky folks! This year’s venue is much bigger than last – and it is going to be filled with samples, workshops, tastings and plenty for you to buy for yourself and your holiday list!

You only need to do TWO things to be entered to win!

1) Follow this blog (if you already aren’t) by using the box in the sidebar to the right.

2)  Leave a comment below. (Maybe about your favorite local/handmade/homemade product?)

That’s it. You’re entered!

You have until 9PM Thursday December 5th to enter and the winner will be randomly chosen by an online sweepstakes generator and notified by email on Friday.

You want an extra entry?! Okay. Follow @petrelis on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway to your followers. Boom! You’ve just doubled your chances.

(Below are some of the photographs I’ve styled and used in my posts for EatBoutique.com.)

Union Square Donuts.

10 Oct

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So I had a REALLY great time shooting and writing this post on Union Square Donuts in Somerville, Mass…

Are donut parties something that people do? They should. And every single one of those parties should be catered by Union Square Donuts in Somerville, Massachusetts. It is guaranteed I would never decline an invite.

donut-6I’ve heard folks around town talking about this donut shop for the better part of a year, so I’m delighted to report that I finally got my hands/mouth on one of these. (Okay, fine, I tried six flavors – if we’re being honest.)

 

donut-7The popular donut making operation started out as the brainchild of Josh Danoff and Heather Schmidt. After a mere two months at their first location, the duo’s creations were in such demand that the business had to relocate to a larger space (its current location at 16 Bow Street).

donut-3donutThe donuts are (does it even need to be said?) made fresh daily. I arrived at 10 AM the morning of my visit, which happened to be the release time of the special Fluffa Nutta donut, a marshmallow Fluff topped donut with peanut butter cream filling.

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I mean, seriously! Fluff was created in Union Square and is a bit of a local celebrity – there is even an annual Fluff festival, at which these will hopefully be making an appearance.

See my full post on Union Square Donuts at Eat Boutique.

Upholstery Class: Week One.

25 Sep

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After wanting to take an upholstery class for a while, I finally was able to get in and sign up before all of the spots were filled in this 9 person learning experience. I also purchased a spot for my husband, as he is also interested in learning how to restore furniture appropriately. 

I found this chair on Craigslist for $48 and it was exactly what I had in mind. It was an antique and had character in its bones, which I suppose were my only criteria. Upon starting  to take this apart, tack by tack by tack, it became clear that this chair had originally been crafted with great care. The instructor noticed this as well, and commented on the hand sewn details of the interior, the hog hair filling, the burlap crown on the inside of the cushion filled with more hog hair, and the different sized tacks used for differing details.

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Another interesting part which I loved about the chair, as did the instructors, was the backrest of the chair. The fabric had been sewn, tacked and held in place with handmade buttons in an intricate way which would have taken great skill and talent to accomplish. It may not show in the photo below, but it is quite impressive in the flesh (fabric?).

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The underside of the chair was dusty and dried out, and was easy to take apart. With each tear and pull, more dust floated out and I was able to get a clearer view of the springs.

 

By the end of the three hour class, I had removed EVERY tack, which was one of the most meditative and relaxing things I have done in a long while. There was something so satisfying about pulling and picking out each individual spike. The only thing left intact is the fabric and hog hair on the front of the backrest. This is to preserve the uniqueness of the chair, and replicate it when reupholstering it.

I will update my progress here as the weeks go on. Now to decide on a fabric….

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. And Cheese. And Bread.

8 Sep

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We had already made a tasty dish this week utilizing a pint of tomatoes from our CSA box from Saltbox Farm in Concord. There was still another pint waiting around the kitchen, nearly a week later, with not much inspiration to be found for it.

 I was flipping through Jennifer Perillo’s book Homemade with Love for dinner ideas and found a simple recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes. I headed into the kitchen, grabbed the tomatoes  and sliced them up. After following her simple instructions, I had a warm dish of late summer perfection to devour.

While the tomatoes were roasting in the oven, I ran out to the store for bread, apples, pears and fig jam. Oh – and cheese – Herve Mons Morbier; Emmi Gruyere Reserve; and Les 3 Comtois Comte. The tomatoes have definitely won out as the favorite cheese and bread compliment this evening. I am surprisingly full with nearly half of the cheese still remaining – quite an oddity in my presence.

The recipe, courtesy of Homemade with Love:

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Add everything to an 8-inch square baking dish and toss. Adjust seasonings to taste. Bake until tomatoes are slightly collapsed and tender, about an hour. Enjoy warm or store in fridge for up to two weeks.

Strawberry, Leek & Goat Cheese Quesadilla.

28 Aug

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I sometimes forget how a few simple ingredients can come together to make a dish that truly stands out. This is one of those recipes, and I would like to thank Sara Forte for bringing this to my attention in her cookbook of delights, The Sprouted Kitchen – a tastier take on whole foods.

I try and utilize fresh ingredients which haven’t traveled too far as often as I can. This recipe called for fresh strawberries, and there are plenty of berries around this time of year. Another main component of this unusual (amazing!) take on a quesadilla is goat cheese, which is another locally produced item that is fairly easy to find. Pair those with leeks, mozzarella and brown rice tortillas, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable treat.

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Leeks and strawberries and goat cheese? Yes, they do work together. Each of these ingredients has its own distinct flavor characteristic which manage to meld together in such a way that you are left wondering why you haven’t ever put these together all at once before. (It may also lead to run-on sentences.) I’ve had similar flavor combinations in the past and called on those examples to tell myself that this would be amazing. It was, and much more than I was hoping for. Are you feeling reassured yet?

For more, head over to the rest of my post at EatBoutique.com

Rainbows and bunnies, for real.

17 Jun

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I made it home from work right before the skies opened up and an hour or so long thunderstorm rolled through. When the thunder stopped and the storm eventually fell apart, the skies cleared from west to east as the sun began to set, casting a rainbow over the Boston skyline. 

I first noticed it out of my living room window.A clearly defined double rainbow making its way through the trees and roofs. (I thought it was “rooves”, but no. It’s not. That’s hooves, apparently.) At the same time, the humidity in the air broke, and I had no choice but to wander outdoors to follow it further.

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On my way to find a bigger slice of rainbow, I ended up having conversations with strangers on three separate occasions, something which rarely happens in Boston – and to have it occur three times in twenty minutes? Crazy (and welcomed). I also saw a brown rabbit and a twenty-something year old dude standing three feet away from it taking pictures of it eating. That doesn’t happen much here either.

I arrived at my vantage point about 10 minutes after leaving my house. Here are some shots I took with my phone of the Boston skyline, on what I have dubbed Boston Day (because the date is 6/17, and also, our area code).

As I turned to leave, I looked at the sky to the west. It was missing the rainbow, but had the sunset, and was equally as awesome.

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Clementine (Orange…) Pistachio Muffins.

10 Jun

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I was lucky enough to get a copy of Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook Homemade with Love, featuring recipes from her blog In Jennie’s Kitchen. I chose to write up a review of one of the many difficult to choose from recipes, but ended up going with the delicious Clementine and Pistachio Muffin recipe. Not only was it fun to make, it was a joy to photograph. Here’s part of my post from Eat Boutique:

As soon as I unwrapped Homemade with Love, the newly released cookbook from Jennifer Perillo, I knew this was going to become one of my favorite cookbooks. Yes, I was absolutely judging this book by its cover, and I happened to be completely correct about it.

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Reading Jennifer’s story of how she came to her current place in life, the lines between cookbook and the start of a really great novel became slightly intertwined. I was not familiar with Jennifer’s blog or her story, but know now that I will be a reoccurring visitor to In Jennie’s Kitchen.

Homemade with Love could double as an owner’s manual for the self-sufficient kitchen. Providing both a list of must have pantry items, as well as recipes for easy-to-make basics – you’ll be off to making truly homemade meals and treats right away….

 

To read more about my experience with this amazing recipe, as well as recipe for it, I urge you to go to read the rest of my post here. And also, be sure to check out Jennie’s blog if you have not done so already!

Homemade Caraway Seed Mustard.

6 Jun

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Maybe it just occurs in my kitchen, but I’ve noticed a small collection of condiments rapidly taking hold over the shelves on my  fridge door. Horseradish, chutney, peanut sauce, relish, and mustard – just to name a few of the residents. Looking more closely within the mustard neighborhood, I decided it might be time to try creating my own mustard. It’s really quite a simple process, and the customization opportunities are only limited by what you can come up with in your head.

I searched through my spice rack to see if any inspiration would develop, and then I came upon the caraway seeds. I added the seeds to a traditional mustard recipe and what developed was a spicy mustard with a rye bread familiarity. This would be perfect for both creating a filling reuben or for something more simple, such as dipping fresh baked pretzels.

Giving the flavors a day to settle in gave this mustard a completely different vibe. It went from a subtle tangy kick to an all out spicy attack on my taste buds, which I must say I enjoyed wholeheartedly. The level of heat you prefer can be negotiated. If you want a spread that is less spicy, do not grind the mustard seed too finely. The more you grind the seed, the spicier your mustard will become…

For my recipe, head over to Eat Boutique!

Nepenthe.

31 May

One of my favorite experiences this year took place in Big Sur on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Joey and I started out in LA and drove up to San Francisco, staying with friends and their cats, as well as a few nights at inns and hotels.BIG SUR

We made the stop at the recommendation of a trusted advisor. She suggested we stop in at Nepenthe when we reached Big Sur. We arrived and pulled off the road into the parking lot and luckily found a spot as soon as we entered. (I may have just made my own spot, same thing.) This place was packed with people taking the same drive we were, following the advice of their friends as well, I assume.

The wait for a table overlooking the cliffs of mountains meeting up with the sandy shore was about an hour. An hour wait in the middle of nowhere, it seemed so wrong, but we decided to hang out. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.

I enjoyed a beer and a burger while sitting on the edge of a cliff looking out into the sky, the sea and the trees.

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Nepenthe, which I believe takes its name from an ancient drug known to cure grief and sorrow, is accurately named. Looking out into the horizon, one could not feel anything but awe. There is something about this stretch of road and wilderness which energizes and soothes deep into the soul. Clearly, I highly recommend this stop if you ever make this drive yourself.

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Sometimes I’m busy…

30 May

Sometimes two months goes by and I’m all like “Didn’t I just update my blog last week?”. No. That was 10 weeks ago.

Since then, I’ve turned another year older. Driven the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco. Saw President Obama’s motorcade. Purchased a second car. Built a fence out of wooden pallets. And I’ve started running again.

I’ve been enjoying the warmer New England weather and the outdoors in general. The flowers are starting to bloom and there is life in the backyard again. One of my favorites, the columbine, is a simple flower that has welcomely taken root throughout my yard, and its seed pods make it super easy to spread to new spots.

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While out for a walk a few nights ago, Joey and I came across this wooden rocking chair sitting next to someone’s trash barrels ready to be destroyed. We headed straight home, got in the car and claimed ownership. It’s rock solid, for real.

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In addition to the rocking chair, I’ve added some new plantings over this past weekend, including the pink lupines below. They fit nicely in the border under the birch tree clump that I planted last year.

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I’ve been working on some food related posts which will I’ll be sharing in the near future…but I guess I have been busy, just not blogging. And I miss it. And I’ll be back more often.

Simple Spaghetti Squash

18 Mar

spagsquash-4Since my garden has an aversion to allowing squash plants to thrive, spaghetti squash, luckily, is easy to obtain throughout the fall and winter in the produce section. There are countless ways to use the meat of this squash – bakes, au gratins, pancakes, etc. – however, the purest way to enjoy it is to simply slice it in half and bake.

Once you scoop out the seeds, place in the oven and cook for about an hour. In the meantime, you can chop up some of your favorite herbs, combine them with butter and have them ready and waiting when the squash is out of the oven.

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The presentation is always lovely and is another added perk of this squash variety. Plate it with some fresh baked corn muffins and roasted Brussels sprouts for a healthy and filling meal. If you know other ways to utilize spaghetti squash in a recipe, please share in the comments below.

Click here for the recipe on my post at Eat Boutique!

Anise Sugar & Thyme Cornbread

1 Feb

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Cornbread is always a pleasing and filling addition to any meal it accompanies. This cornbread is no different. It’s filled with fresh thyme and sweet anise sugar – adding a unique element to an already tasty side. 

I came up with this recipe while working on my latest post for Eat Boutique. If you want to make this to warm you up in the middle of winter, head over to read about my Cast Iron Skillet Herbed Cornbread.

Hot Spiked Cherry Spiced Apple Cider

29 Dec

GTT-4I love a hot winter weather drink of the adult persuasion. Cold and/or snowy nights are the best for snuggling up with with a steamy mug of something – hot  chocolate, coffee, tea, etc. Now, I don’t have anything against those guys, they are great for early mornings and tame nights. What I’m talking about specifically here is a drink that holds its own whether you are sitting on your couch watching The Walking Dead or hanging with friends and taking a to-go drink to walk through the falling snow.

THIS drink. It is THAT drink.

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Normally, I’ll take a well-made  hot toddy to get my through a cold night or chilled Saturday afternoon. But this cupful of steamy cocktail fun is just a little more edgier than its counterparts are. It adds a bit more color into an otherwise subdued category of winter refreshment.

I first had a rendition of this in Provincetown at the beginning of December after coming in from the freezing rain while walking the streets shopping for Christmas gifts. Chilled to the bone from the winds blowing off the Atlantic, I was looking for something to heat me from the inside out.

Hot apple cider with cherry flavored rum. I saw it on the menu and initially passed on it, ordering the regular spiked cider. My husband on the other hand ordered the cherry cider thing. When the drinks arrived I had a sip of his, and insisted we swap drinks right then and there. He did not fight me, as for some reason he was not as in love with it as I was.

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It tasted like melted down Luden’s cherry cough drops poured into hot spiced apple cider. It was warm and soothing – a liquid winter candy clearly made by unicorns and elves who live in the woods high-up in the mountains of, most likely, Vermont. (Yes, that is the description I am going with.)

When trying to reconstruct this at home, I thought best to add in some other flavors as well. A pinch of cardamom, a cinnamon stick, whole cloves and a few drops of orange bitters. (I’m still debating on whether or not to include actual Luden’s cough drops.) You could also put in one of these homemade bourbon soaked cherries.

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This is a sweet, but not overpowering mixture that hits many of the right notes. Your tastebuds are likely to agree.

Warning: These go down fast, tasting like candy and all. Use that knowledge as you see fit. Continue reading

Aside

December!

9 Dec

I have not forgotten about this blog. I have just been slammed by so much life lately! All good. We will continue with our regularly scheduled progamming shortly…

Until then, here are some holiday mercury glass decorations on my table….

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A picture of the albino squirrel who lives near me and came to visit this morning…

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And a shot from taking a friend on a “The Town” tour through Boston, because that’s what she really wanted to do…

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A real blog post will be forthcoming in the near future. That’s the plan at least…

A new endeavor…

22 Oct

I am excited to announce that my first post writing and photographing for Eat Boutique, an online magazine and market,  is up! I truly admire the aesthetics and ideas behind what they have accomplished, and I am honored to be a part of it, in whatever small way I am able.  I urge you to go check out eveything they have put together over the past several years.

Below is an excerpt from my first contribution on how to make a delicious and filling veggie taco (Hint: Fried Green Tomatoes).

“Being a carnivore married to a vegetarian can sometimes be a challenging adventure. Over the past ten years I have been enlisted as a vegetarian-by-default at many a meal. During this time, however, I have grown to appreciate plant-based foods in ways that still surprise me. Using vegetables in unexpected places to fill the void in a meatless marriage has become a skill I am still honing, but there are those moments when a vegetable dish leaves me completely satiated.

Vegetarian tacos have been a recurring presence in my kitchen and typically involve a frozen meat substitute defrosted and flavored with a taco seasoning packet – and a lot of cheese. This dish, however, has none of the previously mentioned vegetarian taco curses. Using the leftover green tomatoes gathered from my garden right before the first frost settled in, I refocused the vegetarian taco into an exciting, fresh and multi-layered delight.”

Click here to read the rest of this post and to view images of how beautiful this dish is….

Stitch by KMIDesign – Cambridge, MA

9 Sep

Here’s a post about one of my favorite Massachusetts designers Kate Maloney Interiors (written/photographed by my favorite person!). Check out Kate’s storefront, Stitch, in Cambridge, Ma and see all of the uniquely awesome items she’s picked up to pass on to you!

Joe And Sometimes (y)

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Ever look at a shelter magazine or blog and see spaces that look frigid and sterile? You sit and wonder, “Does someone actually live there? Ok, clearly these people don’t have kids or pets or personalities.”  Well if that is your impression of what high-end interior design looks like, look again.

Cambridge based Kate Maloney Interiors creates gorgeous spaces that are meant to be lived in by the whole family.  Kate and her team infuse each project with a quirky mix of pattern, color and texture.  Though usually not one for labels,  Kate’s style could possibly be coined as, “Cantabridgian Chic” or perhaps “Boho Modern.” Whatever the label you come up with, each home is always a great balance of the old and new; creating spaces that are timeless, stylish and always functional.

Established in 2003, Kate’s design office recently expanded to include a new retail venture called Stitch. “After…

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Boston Local Food Festival

11 Aug

On Sunday October 7th, 2012, the Rose Kennedy Greenway will host the 3rd annual Boston Local Food Festival. The festival is a celebration of local food, local farms, local businesses and more. There will be plenty of music, samples and activities all day long. In addition, there will also the the Local Craft Brew fest on October 5th featuring some of the best local breweries around!

I am excited to be blogging for this event, getting to know some of the sponsors and participants while at the same time sharing information with you all! The first company I got to know a bit better was Olivia’s Organics. You can my article about them on the Boston Local Food Festival blog.

Stay tuned for more with some of the festivals sponsors and participants!

Fresh Fried Eggplant Slices

8 Aug

So I was very excited to find that the first thing ripe and ready to eat from my garden was an eggplant. I had never grown an eggplant before, and it seems to require little attention and maintenance to get to the eating stage.

I cut this little gem off from the stem with much excitement. While I have plenty of recipes in my mind that I am going to utilize eggplant for, having just one small eggplant limits the extent to which I can carry through on those ideas at the moment. 

So, with it being the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, I glanced around my kitchen and decided I had the ingredients for frying up some eggplant slices. First thing I did was cut the eggplant into about 1/4 ” slices and pressed them while I got everything together.

The Italian in me knows that the best way to prepare eggplant like this is to salt the slices and press out the excess moisture – and if you listen to my mom who listened to her mom who listened to her mom, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and leave overnight if you can.  But, in real life, when I just want to eat fresh food by frying it up in oil, twenty minutes will totally suffice.

Once the eggplant is pressed, coat with fresh breadcrumbs (or, if you’re like me, use the can you found in the back of the pantry shelf that was probably opened three years ago and is 3/4 empty…either way works.) Then…fry it up!

Drain the eggplant as it comes out of the pan and set it aside while you cook up the rest. Plate and serve with a fresh tomato sauce (or, again, follow the path of the breadcrumbs…) and eat it all in under five minutes while sitting on the couch catching up with your DVR. Or, you know, you can serve it to friends/family in a civilized manner if that’s your thing.

To Make:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant sliced into 1/4″ pieces (or more than one, depending on how many servings you’d like)
  • Oil (enough for frying, heated in skillet/pan)
  • Breadcrumbs (1 cup)
  • Pasta Sauce (or other dippy yumminess)
  • 1-2 eggs heated

Recipe:

Dip eggplant into eggs and then coat on both sides with breadcrumbs. Place into hot oil and cook until browned on each side. Place cooked eggplant on paper towels to drain excess oil off. Repeat process until all all cooked. 

Plate and serve with sauce.

Pile It Up.

26 Jun

Here’s a shot I took while cooking the grits for Boston Bacon Takedown. This is about seven pounds of bacon. All of it was delicious.  

Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Grits, Deviled Egg Style.

25 Jun

This weekend one of my best friends (Shari!) and I took part in the Boston Bacon Takedown. Twenty home cooks creating dishes all using bacon fifteen pounds of free bacon. Last year the two of us were so impressed by all of the entrants, we decided that the following year we would give it a go. And we kept our word.

We decided to go the savory route instead of the sweet route. Last year the sweets just were a little too much, and there was an overload of maple accompaniments which after two or three recipes using the same groundwork became just a bit too much to enjoy. And we were blown away by last year’s winner who made an asian inspired taco that was insane.

Our entry? Cheesy bacon jalapeño grits, served deviled egg style. Topped with bacon, of course. The concept came to me and I thought it was a pretty safe bet. After boiling and peeling FOURTEEN DOZEN eggs, I was having second thoughts. At this point, however, my thumb was barely intact from being impaled by egg shell and it was too late to turn back.

The grits portion was a mad science experiment that actually succeeded. We started with 36 cups of liquid, boiled it, and added 72 ounces of grits. Once that thickened up, we added Gruyere cheese. And then we added some cheddar cheese. And then we added some more cheese. From there on in, it was anyone’s guess how this thing was going to turn out. It took about forty minutes for us to tweek it to perfection.

All totaled, we put in about 6 decent sized jalapeños. Somewhere around 8 tablespoons of Sriracha red chili paste. About a cup of lemon juice. Six pounds of bacon cooked and put through a food processor. A few cloves of garlic. Some dijon mustard. Some melted bacon lard.   And of course salt and pepper to taste.

WHAT!?! It worked. It was delicious.

While we didn’t win (first place went to a caramel bacon candy – sweet won this year, who would’ve guessed?!) My favorites this year included the bacon corn dog and the bacon wrapped blue cheese meat balls.

We also came home with a few parting gifts from Le Creuset, which is never ever a bad thing.

Now, does anyone know how to remove the smell of fifteen pounds of cooked bacon from one’s home?

Recipe:

Okay. Let me be real here. I have no idea what quantity of anything was used. All I can say about this is start out with some grits in a pan. Then, add in cheese until it suits your taste. Add in a decent amount of cooked bacon cut up in a food processor (or chopped…). Then, add in pepper/garlic/dijon mustard puree, salt, pepper and sriracha until it starts to taste awesome. Then, add lemon juice! (This was Shari’s tip and it made a HUGE difference. The Greek in me should have known this. The Greek in Shari did.) Finesse until you are blown away. Eat plain or stuff into a hard boiled egg. 

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