Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Taste of Boston 2016: Part 1

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My husband and I love to travel. It's been great to have someone to explore a new place with, each focused on something different. Him: history, relevance, sports, and culture. Me: food, relevance, and culture. Together, we have grown to have a better appreciation of all the places we visit as we take on each other's perspectives. So with a full week in Boston, here's what we tasted and what we recommend should you decide to visit this amazing city! This is a 3 part post where we'll split the various places (as they are quite a bit!), including some places in Cambridge, MA as well. Ready for the run down!?


25 Temple Place within Jim Curley Bar
Boston, MA 02111

* This is a unique 1920's inspired restaurant set inside a modern, hipster bar. Named after Humphrey Bogart (aka Bogie), the restaurant is small, quaint and seats about 10-12 people at any given time. We loved how it's a completely different vibe than the bar it's set in with the velvet walls, burgundy curtains and a speakeasy secret feel. We were shown some of the various hidden doors, cabinets, and exit ways in the space, left from the original building. As for the food, it was pretty amazing for steakhouse fare. Portions were pretty generous, so much so that we split each course between the two of us... and still had leftovers to take home!


1301 Boylston St (@ Fenway + multiple locations)
Boston, MA 02215

We took in a game at the 'Green Monster' - the famous Fenway Park. There are plenty of food options outside of Yawkey Way, a major street in front of the park that is closed off for ticket holders, street performers and vendors to use before the game. But as you may have guessed, prices on Yawkey and within the park are steep. Instead, we hit up Tasty Burger, a Boston burger chain that has 5 area locations plus one in the DC area. If you ask me, it's Boston's version of the In & Out Burger, only (dare I say) better? The thing to get here is the 50/50, which is half fries and half onion rings to go with your burgers. Patrick prefers to go full on with just the super thin sweet onion rings next time, but I liked the variety of both. The burgers are awesome - perfect ratio of bun to burger to toppings. And because Tasty Burger is the official burger of the Boston Red Sox, it seems only fitting that we try the location at Fenway. For a unique drink option, give the Cherrywine or the Raspberry Lime Rickey a try!


multiple locations

While watching a Sox game, you will soon learn about Del's Frozen Lemonade. A refreshing slush made with crushed ice, lemons and sugar, it's a must at a summer ballgame at the Monster!


500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215

If you're looking for a more refined place to eat after a Sox Game, check out Island Creek Oyster Bar. They start things off with housemade bread and an amazing compound butter. For an appetizer, give the fresh oysters a try! The lobster roll is especially good with little to no mayo... just a lot of fresh lobster meat set in a toasted rosemary roll, served with coleslaw and kettle chips. Another dish we enjoyed is the Fish & Chips. If you love ciders, we fell in love with Downeast Ciders, a local cider available only in the east coast. This was refreshing and truly tasted like apple juice with a touch of sweetness!


30 Germania Street
Boston,MA 02130

Speaking of ciders, that leads me to our next recommendation. Samuel Adams Brewery is south of downtown Boston and accessible by mass transit or the T (orange line). Free tours are held Monday through Saturday which includes a lot of information on how beer is made, the process involved and of course, a tasting of 3 types of Sam Adams beer. The small beer tasting glass used for the tasting is also yours to keep as a souvenir! After the tour, a complimentary trolley is available to take you an Irish Pub, Doyle's. We opted not to go there for lunch. Instead, we hopped the T and hit up the next place...


44 Province St.
Boston, MA 02108

Boston is most definitely a sandwich loving city. There are all kinds of delicious sandwiches to be found here but one of the best sandwiches is at Sam Lagrassa's. This downtown sandwich shop is only open Monday through Friday from 11am  - 3:30pm. If you do the math, this place is open 22.5 hours a week. So the window for getting your hands on their sandwiches is relatively small. That said, plan ahead! The most popular sandwich on their menu is the Chipotle Pastrami. Their famous Rumanian pastrami is topped with coleslaw, swiss cheese and a spread of chipotle honey mustard before being grilled on an Italian sesame roll. Another recommendation is their Roast Beef Blues. Black Angus Roast Beef is served on an Italian sesame roll with horseradish, caramelized onions and crumbled blue cheese dressing. For a few dollars more, you can make it a platter meal with the addition of french fries (or potato salad) and coleslaw. And while in Boston, try some clam chowder! Sam Lagrassa's version is good too.


60 School St.
Boston, MA 02108

Boston is a city of many firsts and historical moments. In the food world, the Boston Cream Pie's birthplace was at Boston's Parker house, now widely known as Omni Parker House. Inside the hotel is a restaurant called the Last Hurrah. It's there where you can come in and order the original version of Boston Cream Pie. Interestingly, it's not a pie at all but rather a yellow layer cake filled with pastry cream and topped with a rich chocolate frosting. Decadent yet the perfect portion size!


6 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108

Across from the XV hotel we stayed at, we ventured to this Irish pub. Boston owes a lot to the Irish immigrants who help build the city years ago. As a nod to the Irish, we wanted to try some authentic Irish fare and Emmet's didn't disappoint! According to the menu, the restaurant is named after an Irishman born in Dublin. He was involved in some uprising in the summer of 1803 which led to his arrest and was tried for high treason. He was then executed and there is speculation over where his remains lay. Aside from the deep history of the restaurant, we recommend the curry chip and Irish potato skins. For entrees, the restaurant is especially known for their Shepherd's Pie. Another recommendation would be their Irish Bangers & Caramelized Onion Mash.


131 Clarendon St. + other locations
Boston, MA 02116

On most mornings during our trip, we ate fresh fruit and yogurt so we could eat heavier meals during lunch and/or dinner. However, we could not visit Boston without a breakfast trip to Flour Bakery + Cafe. We enjoyed the Breakfast Sandwich with ham (also with bacon). The true star of this bakery though is their Sticky Buns with dark, sticky caramel and toasted pecans. The bakery also has 2 cookbooks - Flour & Flour, Too - which I picked up as a souvenir. I can't wait to crack them open and start baking!



inside Boston Logan Airport
Terminal A


Legal Sea Foods is an iconic Boston restaurant chain and no trip to Boston would be complete without a visit. So as much as I wanted to resist, we checked out the airport location for that one last taste. As if I needed any more lobster, I opted one last lobster roll and one last bowl of clam chowder here. Patrick enjoyed the calamari. It pretty much summed up how wonderfully delicious Boston is and we can't wait to come back for more!

Stay tuned for more Boston restaurant and food recommendations with Part 2 - The North End!



Friday, August 19, 2016

Round Up: Bacon Bonanza!

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TGIF! We're wrapping up this week on a delicious note... with bacon! Some may agree that bacon makes everything better. If you feel this way, this post is dedicated to you! Here are 15 recipes we love that highlight bacon like no other. From salads, appetizers, main entrees and everything in between, you can easily incorporate bacon in any meal...

It's all the best parts of a traditional BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich, only in salad form and without the extra carbs...


Sweet caramelized onions and smoky bacon are set in a flaky crust with creamy mozzarella cheese...


The inspiration for this version comes from our favorite burger toppings - blue cheese, bacon, mushroom and bbq sauce...


Sharp cheddar cheese, smoky crumbled bacon and fresh parsley were mixed into fluffy pancake batter before cooking up, then topped with crispy fried chicken tenders. 


Gluten free pizza crusts are topped creamy blue brie cheese, crisp duck bacon, fresh baby spinach, chopped tomatoes and a drizzle of garlic olive oil for a gourmet spin on homemade pizza night...


This Baja BLT Sandwich incorporates some cheddar cheese and a healthy dollop of spicy guacamole with the usual suspects of bacon, lettuce and tomato...


Seasoned ground beef, beef broth, and {gluten free} pasta are coupled with a smoky bacon cheddar cheese sauce before baking up with a toasted topping of breadcrumbs.


Crisp bacon, creamy swiss cheese and caramelized mushrooms bake up in a savory egg custard that's baked into a flaky pie crust...


Fresh green beans are roasted until tender with a slight crispness, then garnished with bacon for a little something extra...


Buttery Yukon Gold potatoes are tossed with a little apple cider vinegar, mayo, horseradish, crisp bacon and green onions before smashing together for a flavorful side dish with a little kick...


This Classic Lettuce Wedge Salad was simple and delicious with its tangy blue cheese dressing, colorful toppings of diced tomatoes and red onion, and the best part - crumbled blue cheese...


Seasoned beef, kidney beans, tomatoes and a unique blend of spices are only highlighted by the smokiness of bacon in every bite of this chili. For those that want a flavorful bowl, you'll find it right in here...


A creamy egg and cheese sauce, studded with crisp bacon and topped with chicken transformed plain old spaghetti into something elegant!


Jalapeno peppers are sliced in half, filled with cream cheese and cheddar cheese and wrapped in bacon before getting baked...


These little micro cabbage looking vegetables are delicious when pan roasted with bits of bacon.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Pan-Fried Soft Shell Crab & Cornmeal Crabcakes

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Hope you had a wonderful weekend! We've extended our weekend to a whole week... and we're eating our way through Boston, MA. Follow us on Instagram (@wcchicago) to see what delicious things we're up to! Since we're visiting the east coast, it seems only fitting to share a seafood recipe or two with the abundance of fresh seafood. That's why I'm highlighting soft shell crab and crabcakes!


Both soft shell crabs and crabcakes are some of my favorite seafoods. They are easy to prepare and fairly similar too. These recipes incorporate some yellow cornmeal which adds a nice texture and flavor too. Serve these up together, as I did, with some fresh lemon wedges and a sprinkling of snipped chives for color...


Pan Fried Soft-Shell Crabs
Joelen's recipe

4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned & rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4  cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying


Dry each crab on paper towels to soak up any moisture. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 

In a shallow dish, combine together the flour and cornmeal. Dredge seasoned crab in the flour mixture. 

Add olive oil to a skillet set over medium high heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crabs in skillet and cook 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer cooked crabs to paper towels to soak up excess oil. Serve hot.



Tender Cornmeal Crabcakes
Joelen's recipe

Crabcakes
1 1/2 cup lump crab meat
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Zatarain's Creole seasoning
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

*Spicy Mayo
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon sriracha (or more, if you like extra heat/spice)


Combine all the crabcake ingredients, except the oil, in a medium bowl. Divide the mixture into 4-6 portions, forming each portion into a patty.

Add olive oil to a skillet set over medium high heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crabcakes in skillet and cook 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer cooked crabs to paper towels to soak up excess oil. Serve hot; drizzled with spicy mayo (optional).

*Spicy Mayo - combine mayonnaise and sriracha, stirring until well incorporated. For easy use, transfer mixture to a small squeeze bottle or simply spoon on or serve on the side if desired.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Round Up: Beach Eats!

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As we start to wind down for the summer, you may be trying to squeeze in a few more lazy days at the beach or pool! I know we're scrambling to find some time for relaxing by the water before the chaos of the fall and upcoming school season creeps in. So if you're planning on hitting the beach these last few weeks to make it count towards the summer of '16, here are some tasty eats to bring along with you!

These Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps are a combination of appetizer, salad and main course, all wrapped up in one. Popular on some restaurant menus, these wraps are quick to put together, healthy and fun to eat at any time of day...


Succulent pieces of chicken are dipped in a flavorful batter of eggs, flour, seasoning and hot sauce before frying to a golden brown. 


Colorful yet packed with flavor, shingled fresh mozzarella and vine ripened tomatoes get splashed with a pesto infused oil and balsamic vinegar over a bed of arugula...


These Coconut & Ginger Chicken Skewers are perfect for the grill and bring on the taste of the tropics. A tenderizing, flavorful marinade of coconut milk, fresh ginger and a blend of spices really elevates the typical chicken skewer to something special and healthy too!...


It's a beautiful salad to present on a table and a wonderful mix of flavors. Sweet peaches, red onions, and fresh basil leaves are tossed with lemon juice salt and extra-virgin olive oil for a colorful taste of summer...


These capture the flavors of Thai cuisine and bundles them up in a wrap with sweet and spicy components! 


This colorful and flavorful dish brings a bit of tropical sunshine to the table...


This has a great balance of spinach/artichoke flavor without it being too overpowering


Cucumber, parsley, tomato, green onions and quinoa are tossed together with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and garlic for a light, refreshing salad...


These S'Mores Cookie Bars takes all the things you love about s'mores and makes it portable and easy to enjoy...


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Teriyaki Ginger Chicken Skewers

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Still firing up those grills?! I've been on a skewer kick lately because somehow I came across a box full of wooden bamboo skewers I forgot about from previous summers. So when you have a box of skewers, you try making whatever you can on a stick lol! Here's an easy recipe for Teriyaki Ginger Chicken Skewers where chicken breast strips are marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, honey and garlic overnight... resulting in a flavorful and tender treat. Garnish with some sesame seeds and green onions to complete the dish...


The marinade for the chicken was inspired by a recipe I found. I tweaked it a bit for my tastes until it came out perfect for us. This also works nicely with pork and beef, but chicken breast definitely is our favorite protein to use in the recipe. To serve, we enjoy this with steamed brown rice and a green salad. The skewers make for a great appetizer too for those summer and cocktail parties! 

Teriyaki Ginger Chicken Skewers
recipe inspired by AllRecipes

Marinade:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup distilled or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
25 bamboo skewers, soaked in water
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
2 stalks green onions, finely chopped


In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients and transfer mixture into a gallon sized storage bag.

Add the strips of chicken breasts to the marinade, seal and chill for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto soaked bamboo skewers.

Grill skewers over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.

* If you don't have a grill, you can also bake these in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions before serving.

Monday, August 8, 2016

1st Wedding Anniversary: Spanish Paella Party!

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The past week has been a busy one (hence the slight break in new posts) but I'm happy to be back! It started off a couple weekends ago where we celebrated my father in law's birthday. A week later, we celebrated my husband's big 40th birthday and an early celebration of my mother in law's birthday. This past weekend, we celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary. So, it's safe to say that this is our family's celebration season lol.


Our 1st wedding anniversary is a very special one for both of us - one that we value quite a bit, given some of our personal history. Having the opportunity to look back on the past year has allowed both of us to fall more in love with each other knowing the journey we've taken previously and where we are headed in the future together. To celebrate, we wanted to bring back our loved ones who have been there for us as a couple; our wedding party!


Just a year ago, we were gathered around family and friends for our wedding. It was not a traditional wedding by any means (and we aren't exactly the most traditional people either.) So for our wedding party, we didn't chose individual bridesmaids or groomsmen. Instead, we made it a family affair with chosen families to go down the aisle together as our witnesses. These family friends came over once again over the weekend to join in a celebratory Spanish Paella Party for our first wedding anniversary.


Patrick and I love Spanish cuisine and culture. And last year, we had a Spanish Paella party that was a great success. We decided to do it again and are looking forward to doing an annual Spanish Paella party for years to come! To make it possible, we hired Chef Ken Gluckman of Paella Party Catering. He prepared his amazing paella from scratch for our guests while talking about the history and culture of Spain. It was a great experience for our guests and a delicious meal as well. While Chef Ken took care of the paella, I prepared a spread of various tapas and appetizers for our guests to enjoy before and during his demonstration.

We made sure to have a colorful table with fresh fruits, cheeses, crackers, cured meats, empanadas, spanish pimento cheese dip, guacmole, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, etc. We also had 3 types of sangria - 2 versions of a classic red wine sangria and a tropical white wine sangria. Sneaking in on the table are some filled churroes and macarons.


Another spread of hot & warmed tapas were provided that included bacon wrapped dates, Spanish meatballs, grilled beef short ribs, chicken pinchos (skewers), garlic shrimpi pinchos (skewers), grilled garlic bread and spinach & cheese stuffed portabello mushrooms.


We set up a central area for Chef Ken to prepare our Paella Valenciana. He was fantastic at his demonstration and our guests were enjoying learning all about paella...



Before we knew it, the paella was done! We were impressed with the presentation and more importantly, we loved the food...


Everyone had so much fun! The party continued well into the evening and we loved every minute we spent with our closest friends and family. There's no doubt our Spanish Paella party will be a summer tradition with our wedding party and we're already looking forward to next year.



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