Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ category

“I’m ba-ack!”

August 20, 2011

Wow, I’ve been MIA the last few weeks. Not that many people noticed, but I feel weird not having blogged for so long. So here I am, bright and early on a Saturday, ready to share my experiences from the last few weeks.

A few weekends ago I met up with some college roommates in Ocean City, Maryland, and we had a blast relaxing at the beach, going out for dinner and drinks and catching up. Here’s a picture of us at Liquid Assets, a bistro and package store with an awesome menu.

We started off the evening with martinis, shared a decadent cheese plate and enjoyed our delicious main courses. I got garlic chicken with roasted tomatoes, onions, fingerling potatoes, Benton’s bacon, spinach and herbs. One of my friends ordered the open faced slow braised Carolina pork BBQ with chipotle coleslaw and thick cut fries, and the other two got seared scallops risotto with roasted garlic and shallots, peas, mushrooms, fresh herbs and grana padano.

My garlic roasted chicken

The pork BBQ

The seared scallops risotto

The weekend following our Ocean City Extravaganza was a busy one as well. Jim and I hosted some friends, went to a Red Sox game and attended a two-day marriage prep class. The Red Sox game was a blast — thanks to our friend, Candace, we managed to get second-row seats!

Our view of the park

Unfortunately, the Red Sox did not win this game (and what’s worse is they lost to the Yankees), but we still had a great time. We enjoyed watching Dustin Pedroia do his little hop move before fielding the ball, making fun of Candace for her “crush” on Josh Reddick (I put crush in quotes because the rest of us sort of invented it) and going out after the game.

The marriage prep class was quite an experience. Due to a friend’s recommendation, we attended the one at the Espousal Retreat House in Waltham (completing a “Pre-Cana” marriage course is a requirement for a Catholic wedding, which we’re having). We showed up on Saturday to discover that 75 other couples in the greater Boston area were doing the same thing. Apparently, this was a record number. We spent the next couple of days together, listening to married couples share their marriage experiences and insights, receiving advice from a priest who’s worked with hundreds of married couples and discussing different aspects of marriage with out significant other.

The Espousal Retreat House in Waltham

In fact, they had each us one us complete forms devoted to specific topics, and then discuss our answers privately with our fiance (or fiancee). Topics ranged from finances to goals to religion. It was helpful to discuss those taboo topics you always try to avoid but really should confront. My fiance and I learned a few things about one another, but were pretty happy must of the subjects we’d already addressed (and were familiar with the other person’s perspective on).

The big theme of the weekend was: COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE. Even if you have an issue with another person (say, a friend of the family), you should always be willing to discuss your concerns with your husband or wife. Because you are a team and that person is there to help you out. They will feel validated knowing you trust them with your thoughts, and you’ll end up with a constant source of support and encouragement.

Last weekend my fiance and I headed to Syracuse, NY to take care of more wedding planning. We met with our priest for the first time, picked out the church readings and decided on the layout of the reception space. Also, my fiance designed wedding programs using his fine-tuned Excel skills. I was so proud of him. I had spent hours trying to figure out how to format Microsoft Word properly for a program. And then he goes ahead and whips up an awesome, perfectly formatted program on Excel in no time! I really think he should market his wedding program making skills!

Not only have I been so busy the last few weekends, but it seems like nearly every weeknight I’ve had some event to celebrate. For example, it was my sister’s 29th birthday on Wednesday (we had an awesome tapas meal at Solea in Waltham), my friend Bridget’s going away dinner on Tuesday, and my 3-year anniversary on August 10.

I love this card my fiance gave me for our anniversary

Finally, I feel like I can relax. I was so tired from all the recent happenings last night, that I went to bed at 8:30 (yup, on a Friday night). But now it’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday, I’ve already had my coffee and Stella D’oro almond toasts, and I’m feeling good! I’m really looking forward to this weekend — my only plan is to attend the Futures at Fenway doubleheader. Actually, I have one other plan as well: to celebrate my fiance’s acceptance into his graduate school program of choice! He’ll be attending Northeastern for political science starting in three weeks– yeah!!!

Thanks, Ocean City for the Seafood Skins

August 2, 2011

I sampled this in Ocean City, Maryland this past weekend (at BJ’s On The Water). It’s called Seafood Skins and basically it’s potato skins topped with seafood salad (shrimp, scallops and crab) and cheddar cheese. Sort of a heart attack on a plate, but wow was it good.

Eat at Casa Romero in the Back Bay…

July 27, 2011

…or else! It’s so freakin’ amazing. My fiance and I had dinner there the other night, and let me tell you I couldn’t get enough of my entree. But let me back up a bit. We started off with drinks and some complimentary salsa and chips.

My sangria

Chips and salsa

Those were good, though nothing particularly amazing. The guacamole was also fine.

But let me tell you, my entree really knocked my socks off. I had sauteed pork tenderloin tips with tomatillos, cilantro, potatoes and roasted poblana peppers. The pork was so tender and flavorful, the potatoes were so cute all chopped up into tiny pieces (and delicious), and the tartness of the tomatillos really complemented the savory pork.

I was so thankful to have leftovers today for lunch!

My fiance ordered enchiladas with pulled chicken, mole poblano sauce, cheese and Mexican creme fraiche. He said they were some of the best enchiladas he’s ever had. My initial thought upon trying a bite was “Wow, this is nice and chocolate-y!”

Both dishes were served with delicious rice and beans.

Appetizers range from $6.50 to $11.50, and entrees range from $16 to $28.25. If this in in your price range, and you’re craving Mexican, make sure you stop here. The waitstaff was so friendly (they even gave me extra rice and beans for my to-go container without me asking), and the decor is beautiful/colorful. Enjoy!

Some food notes from my brother’s graduation weekend

May 9, 2011

My brother just earned his MBA from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. After the ceremony on Saturday, we helped ourselves to complimentary finger foods. I especially liked these skewers of sausage bits, green olives, cheddar cheese, and cherry tomatoes. The appetizer is colorful, tasty, and seemingly easy to make.

Here’s the cake my mom bought for my brother.

The cake was made by Connie Decker, the same woman who’s going to make my wedding cake (I mentioned her in this earlier post). I am so happy we’re going with her for the wedding, as the cake was incredibly moist and the filling and frosting were also quite good.

I made dinner yesterday for Mother’s Day. It was so nice walking through the aisles of a grocery store and not having people all around you.

Tops supermarket in Fayetteville, New York

Normally I shop at a Shaw’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts and it’s always so crowded.

Smoked salmon and fingerling potatoes

February 23, 2011

I had smoked salmon, and I had fingerling potatoes. So I googled “smoked salmon” and “fingerling potatoes” and found this awesome appetizer recipe. Basically, you cut the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise, roast them in olive oil until they’re golden brown (for me it took about 40 minutes), and let them cool.

Then, atop each potato slice you add a piece of smoked salmon, some creme fraiche or sour cream (I used veggie cream cheese instead), and some caviar or capers ( I put a caper on top of each potato).  Here’s the finished product:

For dinner I had a bunch of these with broccoli.

The broccoli I ate

I would highly recommend this salmon recipe. Trader Joe’s fingerling potatoes work quite well (they are amazingly tasty). If I were to do the recipe again, I would use sour cream or creme fraiche (as the recipe suggests) instead of cream cheese. I think cream cheese (especially the veggie cream cheese I used) is a little too heavy/strong.

Spinach and mushroom pinwheels, pork tenderloin with herbed breadcrumb crust, baked butternut squash, and strawberry blueberry pie

December 31, 2010

Leftover pork

Leftover pie

The dishes listed in this post’s title are just a few of the recipes I’ve recently tried out; they’ve all served me very well! I was invited to a friend’s going away party several weeks ago, and wanted to make a creative appetizer containing some veggies. I stumbled upon this spinach and mushroom pinwheel recipe from allrecipes.com (I really love this site!).

The recipe itself is very easy, though you need to start making the pinwheels several hours before your event. That’s because you need to chill the dough for 3o to 60 minutes, and then chill it for another hour once it’s been covered with the spinach/onion/mushroom/flour/oregano/salt/lemon juice/garlic powder/Parmesan cheese paste, and rolled up.

I made the pork tenderloin, squash and pie for a Christmas dinner. The pork was AMAZING. I was all worried about making a meat dish, since meat can end up too dry or just plain bland. Well, I found this wonderful recipe on epicurious.com.

Basically you buy three pounds-worth of pork tenderloin (typically two tenderloins), trim the exterior fat, and then prepare a breadcrumb mixture. Then, you roll the pork in egg followed by the breadcrumb mixture, brown the outside of the pork in a pan for five minutes, and bake the pork until it reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit (for me this took about 55 minutes, but I had 3.4 pounds of pork).

The breadcrumb mixture contains crumbs from fresh French bread (I used a blender to make the crumbs), fresh chopped parsley, fresh chopped rosemary, and crumbled bay leaves. Deliciousness! The meat was so tender and tasty.

And the baked butternut squash (from cooks.com) just melted in our mouths (and kind of tasted like candy…in a good way). I chopped up the squash into little squares and covered it with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Then I baked it for about an hour (15 more minutes than the recipe recommends).

The strawberry blueberry pie was sort of my own creation. I based it largely upon this allrecipes.com three berry pie recipe. Because I didn’t have raspberries I added one cup more strawberries and one cup more blueberries. That worked out fabulously. The recipe was sooooo easy. Obviously the blueberries didn’t need to be chopped, and the strawberries only needed to be halved. I mixed them up with some sugar and cornstarch and voila!, the filling was made. I didn’t bother making my own crust so that part was super-easy as well (though I’d love to find a good pie crust recipe one of these days).

I baked the pie for about an hour (with foil over the crust for the first half), and the thing was done.

Yeah for yuppie nachos!

November 28, 2010

Christopher's in Cambridge's Porter Square sells "yuppie nachos."

I tried Christopher’s “yuppie nachos” the other night (read about my love for Christopher’s in this blog post). In addition to tortilla chips, here’s what they include:

  • melted cheddar, jack and goat cheese
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • guacamole

How’s that for a fantabulous combination? It tasted just as good as it sounds. For my main course, to make up for the somewhat unhealthy appetizer, I had a Christopher’s salad (just $3.95!). It includes:

  • seasonal greens
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • sliced red onion
  • Kalamata olives

It came with some sort of Dijon mustard dressing that was quite tasty. I was really happy to have ordered this salad because a) it was delicious and b) it wasn’t jumbo-sized like most salads I’m accustomed to getting at restaurants.

Pretty good experience at Met Back Bay

November 16, 2010

Met Back Bay is located on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood

Last week my boyfriend and I dined at Met Back Bay for our two-and-a-quarter-year anniversary. We didn’t realize the restaurant had only been open for a couple of weeks. Our waiter was EXTREMELY knowledgeable about the wine list and food options.

We didn’t want to spend a ton on wine so we settled for a 2008 Napa Valley Chappellet red (specifically the Mountain Cuvee). It was a mixture of several grapes, and oh so smooth. Our waiter was a sommelier, and very apt at helping us choose the appropriate bottle. Within a minute of sitting down at the table we were served complimentary bread sticks with cheese. The cheese, which sort of tasted like a fancy version of cheese whiz, was served in a cute see-through jar. This was a nice touch.

The waiter also helped us decide on our main courses. I ordered the Long Island brick duck with foie gras and spiced crusted sugar pumpkin, and my boyfriend ordered the Lobster Fra Diavolo (lobster with hollow spaghetti). Our food was very good, especially my duck and his lobster. The duck was moist but not greasy (I find that duck meat is often greasy). I think the waiter said the duck was cooked with some sort of citrus juice.

I was surprised to discover that the foie gras was actually very sweet. It tasted like it had been mixed with maple syrup or something similar. This actually worked out really well, however, as it effectively complemented the savory duck and neutral-tasting pumpkin. All in all I was pleased! And so was my boyfriend. He asked the table next to us how their lobster New England pot pie was. They gave us the thumbs up, though they said it was too much to finish in one sitting. We certainly didn’t have that problem!

One negative thing was our cheesy flaky crescent rolls didn’t arrive until we were done with dinner. They were supposed to be the appetizer! The manager came out to apologize, and our waiter apologized numerous times. He clearly felt bad about the situation. They said there had been some sort of miscommunication and they are still working out the restaurant’s kinks. The rolls were really tasty, albeit a tad greasy.

For dessert we had coffee and apple cider donuts with vanilla ice cream. Once again, I wasn’t doing my body any favors, but the dessert was certainly yummy!

Overall we liked the restaurant’s decor, which included cushy red chairs, red padded walls, and a lovely bay window overlooking Newbury Street. We were lucky to score a booth right up against the bay window. We also liked the dark wood beams above us. According to my boyfriend, they “sort of gives it (the room) a traditional New England appeal.”

Being my journalistic self, I asked him to give another quote about the decor. He said: “They sure could use some art on these walls.” I personally liked the art-free walls, thinking they contributed to the room’s modern and clean-cut feel. But he thought a couple of small works of art would have done some good.

Here’s the dinner menu in case you’re interested in checking out this restaurant. I didn’t take any photos because my camera is broken:-(.

Pictures from the Jon Stewart rally

November 1, 2010

I wasn’t particular interested in attending the rally, but I did so because my boyfriend expressed an interest. Plus, it was a great opportunity to see two friends who live in the Washington D.C. area. So we went. Well, it was kind of a disaster for the first half. We, like thousands of other people, figured we could just hop on the subway an hour and a half before the rally was scheduled to start. Bad idea. We first arrived at the College Park metro stop. There was nowhere to park and a line encircling the lot numerous times.

A group of people waiting in line at the College Park metro stop

We decided to try out the Greenbelt metro stop instead. This is the first stop on the green line so we figured it’d have emptier trains and consequently shorter lines. Well before determining the crowd’s size we had to find a parking spot. There were none left at the metro stop, so we went to a nearby Marriott to see if we could pay for a spot. The guy inside told us that because we asked, he would allow us to park in a corner of the lot for free. But when we tried to do so, we were told by a security guard we couldn’t. We went back inside to tell the original guy what had happened. He told us he was sorry, but that he had to change his mind.

We ended up parking about a mile and a half from the Greenbelt stop at a Giant grocery store. This is my friend and her husband walking toward the metro ahead of us:

Once we got to the Greenbelt stop we realized this crowd was no smaller than the one at the College Park stop. The endless line resembled the long line of Zeds waiting to get haircuts (just one hair on each head) in Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

We tried waiting for a few minutes to see how fast the line would move. Meanwhile, we chatted with a couple from Delaware behind us. They were starting to regret their decision to come to this stop. As we realized the line was not moving much at all, my friend came up with a plan. She works at the National Institute of Health, and has a reserved parking spot there. She realized we could park in the spot, and then hop on the subway right there. We had to get back to our car first, however, so we hailed a cab. He pretty much ripped us off, but it was worth it.

Inside the cab

We parked the car at the NIH, and got on the escalator bringing us down to the subway. Check out its size!:

There was practically no one in the subway– it was pretty crazy! We got tickets, and caught a train right away.

Me and my boyfriend riding the subway

When we got to the rally, it was super-crowded obviously. We couldn’t get too far up, but we got to see lots of interesting and funny signs. Here are a few:

The guy who made this sign wanted to take a picture of me holding it.

The best sign

There were people of all ages at the rally:

I like this shot I took from atop my boyfriend’s shoulders:

It was sooooooooo hard finding a place to eat following the rally. We must have stopped at 10 or so places, only to be told each time the wait was an hour or so. We finally found a place, the Haad Thai Restaurant, with a somewhat shorter wait. We did get seated fairly quickly, and our appetizers (We had Pinky, which is shrimp rolls served with sweet and sour sauce, and Hoy Jaw, which is minced chicken and crab cakes served with spicy, sweet and sour sauce) arrived promptly. Our main meals, however, took awhile. Oh well, they were delicious (I had Beef Pad Z-U, which is beef with wide rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, and egg).

My married friends (both medical doctors!) at dinner

One thing that surprised me about Washington D.C. is that the subway trains are few and far between. On Saturday night around 9:30 (mind you it wasn’t just any Saturday night– it was Halloween, the night of the Jon Stewart rally, and the night of Howard University’s homecoming), we had wait 20 minutes for a train. And we were at the popular Foggy Bottom (George Washington University) stop. It made me appreciate Boston’s frequent trains!

  • Peek Gai
  • Peek GaiChicken wings stuffed with crabmeat and mushroom served with sweet & sour sauce

I love Christopher’s in Porter Square

September 3, 2010

christopher's restaurant in Cambridge

Isn’t the outside portion of Christopher’s Restaurant & Bar so cute?

Inside is nice, too. There’s nothing better than getting a seat on one of the bar stools (don’t worry Mom, I only have a drink or too) on a blustery, winter night. The wooden bar area and nearby fireplace make you feel nice and cozy. The bartenders are very friendly, and the clientele is laid-back.

I’ve had quite a few of their menu items. For appetizers, I prefer the spinach and artichoke dip and southwestern tofu dip. For dinner, I like their sirloin tips and chicken piccata. I’m not so much a fan of the stir fry (not too tasty) or spinach and artichoke burrito (I didn’t like the combination of spinach, artichokes, goat cheese, cheddar and mozzarella, red sauce, vegetarian black beans, mango slaw, greens and pico de gallo– call me crazy since it sounds good on paper!).

For dessert I loooovvvvee their chocolate mousse. One time I went there for an after-dinner snack and had that with a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (best wine there). It was the perfect match! I also like their caramel apple granny pie.

For you beer lovers, they have an extensive list of beers on tap (including nine weekly specials).

This post makes it sound like I go out to eat all the time. That’s not really the case– it’s just that my boyfriend used to live right near Christopher’s so that’s where we went when we didn’t feel like cooking.


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