Thursday, February 26, 2015

Strolling Through the North End

Today during my lunch break I decided to brave the cold and take a walk through the North End in Boston. In keeping with avoiding every bakery (my soul aches to admit that) I tried to just take a few photos of the every day beauty of what makes Boston such a great city. 

 These little duckies and gulls hang out right by my work. Winter doesn't stop them from swimming. Not. One. Bit. 
 Who can resist a red door hidden among bricks? One day when I buy a house, it will have red doors. Or maybe I'll go all the way and just have a red house! 
 Brick apartments are such an integral part of the city of Boston. Especially in the North End. And hello--does anyone else want a cool gold lion on the top of their door? I do. I definitely need one in my life.
 A sneak peak of the harbor sandwiched between every shade of red and orange brick. Just call me Moses because the seas of snow have parted. 
 I had this alley all to and the brick buildings were bonding. 
Some lucky squirrel or pigeon is going to have a party with this treasure trove of bread crumbs. No Joke. 

Sweet Salad Dressing

 Working in the North End means having the constant temptation to eat out, or just choose dessert for lunch, (because that is always a viable option) I have been trying to fight those temptations with all-powerful salad. 
 But salads need a seriously good dressing, or your basically just chewing weeds like a wee little sheep. Baaaa. 
Thankfully I have the most magical recipe that takes all of two minutes to prep, which will supply you with enough dressing for a week!

Salads can be so delicious if they have fun things in them. For example, mine are a bunch of lettuce 
or spinach, half an avocado, a small handful each of craisins, walnuts, and black beans along with half and orange. Oranges definitely count as a winter fruit for us Bostonians. 

Sweet Salad Dressing

Makes enough for 5 salads for one individual over the course of 1 week. Yes, I did eat salad for lunch every day this week to prove this dressing will go the distance so no need to go crazy. A little goes a long way. 

  1. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)
  2. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I like to use a raspberry one- how fancy are you feeling?)
  4. 2 tbsp soy sauce
  5. 2 tbsp maple syrup
  6. 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  7. 1 tsp finely chopped garlic (if you don't have fresh, just used garlic powder)
  8. 1 tsp diced shallots (optional)
  1. This is an easy one. You pour everything one by one into a glass jar--if you're poor like me, a washed out Ragu Pasta Sauce jar is your handy kitchen friend. Put the lid on and shake, shake, shake. Get your groove on. Drizzle the gloriousness all over your salad. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Breaded Pork over Roasted Peppers & Penne

Alexis and I have come to the conclusion that pasta is an obstacle to getting to what everyone actually wants to eat: the vegetables and pork. 
Ohhhhhh sweet pork…I love thee above all other meats!  By sneaking in some peppers I'm counting this as a 100% healthy dish.  

Breaded Pork over Roasted Peppers & Penne
Serves 2 little "porkers" happily.

  1. 1 red pepper (sliced)
  2. 1 sweet onion (sliced)
  3. 1 clove garlic
  4. 1 lb pork cubed
  5. 1 egg whisked 
  6. 1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese 
  7. 1 cup bread crumbs 
  8. spices to taste: that's code for shake each one several times until their glorious scent permeates your nose.
    1. oregano
    2. garlic powder
    3. salt
    4. black pepper
    5. 21 salute seasoning
  9. canola oil for frying
  1. Coat the bottom of a small frying pan with extra virgin olive oil. Sautee the sliced pepper and onion with a dash of salt, pepper, and one clove of garlic smashed in a garlic press. 
  2. Boil a medium size pot of salted water for your choice of pasta. No need to make the whole box. I used about 1/3 and that was plenty for two people. 
  3. While the pepper and onion are sautéing, heat a thin layer of canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Prepare a cookie sheet covered with a thick layer of paper towels to put the meat to cool down. 
  4. Combine cheese, bread crumbs, and herbs in a shallow bowl. 
  5. Pour whisked egg over meat and mix by hand until all the meat has been coated thinly.
  6. Dip pork into dry mixture until well coated and plot those little babies right into pan. The oil is ready when it immediately starts bubbling around the meat. 
  7. Allow the pork to cook for about a minute on each side, turning once. You may need to do so again if a piece is not cooked all the way through. 
  8. Once one batch is done, place on the paper towels so that the pork drains. 
  9. Once the pasta has cooked, been drained and rinsed, pour the sautéed peppers and onions over the pasta to coat it. This will help the pasta not stick together and taste out of this world. Top with the breaded pork and sit yourself down with a handsome fellow, a good friend, or make it a party of one and save the rest for lunch the next day.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Thailand Tea Party

For my first solo photo shoot I used the one thing I bought while in Thailand, which was this gorgeous tea set.  
So of course I had to bust it out to eat with my sugar cookies ...and some seriously divine red velvet cheesecake. 
Tea service anyone? 
It is important to have lots of treats with tea. LOTS OF TREATS.
Tea is one of the few joys in winter. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Roasted Curry Chicken with Vegetables

This was only the second time I have ever eaten leaks. How shameful am I; living a leak-less life up until now?
Lunch with  Alexis  is a total food party. I figure if she is going to take such great photos, the least I can do is feed her delicious things. 

Roasted Curry Chicken with Vegetables
  1. 3 boneless chicken thighs
  2. 1 1/2 cups sliced baby carrots
  3. 1 leek (green part only)
  4. 1/4 cup salted butter
  5. 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  6. 1 tbsp curry powder
  7. 3/4 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  9. 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  10. pinch of nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Place meat in large cast iron skillet. I used a 12'' one to accommodate my vegetables. 
  3. Slice baby carrots and chop up leek into pieces about the same in size as the carrots.  Add to skillet.
  4. Drizzle everything sparingly with olive oil. Enough to just coat everything.
  5. In a small saucepan on the stove combine butter, brown sugar, mustard, and spices. Constantly stir, once it starts to boil it's ready.
  6. Use a pastry brush to slather the chicken with the sauce and then coat the vegetables with the rest.
  7. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 30 min. Uncover and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Adventures in Thailand

The most adventurous thing I have done thus far has been to go traipsing about Thailand and Cambodia with my older sister Maria and her best friend Jan this past Thanksgiving. 
 This was the first temple we visited. 
 We are such cuties.
 Maria looking fabulous as always.
 My adorable self looking, well… adorable. 
 Jan and I waiting for our fruit smoothies. We treated ourselves to fruit every day.
 We all took a cooking class as a birthday gift to me. Jan was making red curry paste. It smelled awful! We make a six course meal each. I admit to not caring for Thai food as much as I had hoped. 
Maria taking yet another fruit snack break. Jan consulting her Thailand travel guide in order to determine the best place to lunch. (Clearly I'm not contributing to the planning.)
We visited an elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai one day. Obviously this little nugget was the center of attention.
 Jan bathing an éléphant. Work it girl. Use those arms. 
 Naturally we had to get a group photo.
Best friends lounging together with all their mugs. Seriously, they were on a hydration kick. Every 30 minutes or so they would look at me and say, "Kate, have you drank some water?"
 We all went for a run one morning. It was outrageously hot. We got a lot of strange looks. Those Thai people definitely don't exercise. We were the crazy American tourists. 
 Maria taking a selfie while I try to be useful and capture the scenery.  
 Jan climbing the narrow stairs. Too many stairs at all the temples. TOO MANY! I'm afraid of heights and going down was so frightening, but it was worth it to being the top for a few moments.  
 Angkor Wat is a huge temple complex. We spent a whole day going from temple to temple. It truly is a magnificent palace. 
 Maria making her γιαγια "grandmother" face. Glamourous shades, hands on her hips, she is not taking any sass. None.
We biked through rice paddies in Cambodia. Maria made a friend. He just hopped right on her bike. 
 More cutie pies. 
 On our river rides to see the floating villages Maria and I decided to check out the scenery on the roof. 
 Maria and Jan had at least two coconuts per day. Once they had drunk all the water, the vendors would cut the coconut open and they would eat the flesh. It was a perfect hydrating treat, which means Maria and Jan gave their seal of approval.
We didn't really spend much money on trinkets or gifts to ourselves. We did come across a wonderful pottery shop though, and that was such a treat. I think all three of us spent the equivalent of $50 and we bought four huge bags of goodies! I love a good bargain!

Sugar Cookies

In honor of Valentine's Day, I made some simple hearts to share. I even thought, why not write a valentine or two? I also was trying to ply Alexis with sweets so she would take some photos for me. 
I then realized I don't have a boyfriend to share them with… nor someone to write a valentine to.
More for my roommates and I.
Math lesson: Three is a good snacking number for one person.
Don't they just seem to say "Take me. Eat me. I'm full of sugar; you'll love me. I promise."

Sugar Cookies: Makes 12 cookies
  1. 1/2  cup salted butter (room temperature)
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup flour 
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats. 
  3. Beat butter and sugar together in a  stand mixer on a medium speed until fluffy.
  4. Add egg and continue to beat an addition minute. 
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Add flour and mix on a slow speed.
  7. Roll out dough and use cookie cutters to cut out desired shaped.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes. They are delicious without icing, but if you feel the need for more sugar--no judgement-- just combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 4 tsp milk together.  

Day Trip to Portland, Maine

Went to Portland Maine for a day trip this past Saturday. It's an easy two and a half hour trip from Boston, so Alexis and I sang along to Mumford and Sons for the WHOLE car ride. Our friend Christian didn't seem to mind too much….
 Went into a coffee shop… but only cared about the chocolate.
 Found some cool graffiti in the city, so naturally someone had to pose in front of it. Alexis is a total babe. 
Java spills can happen while walking through slush.
 My best friend Alexis (that's right; I took this photo all by myself) on the left and my younger sister Taxia on the right.
They said "Oh we'll just share one." Naturally I interpreted that as "let's get two". Guess who had to go get a third cookie?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chocolate Macarons With Nutella Filling

 My friend Alexis and I are back at it again! The sky is the limit with two people who love food the way we do.
 I may have taken a sampling of one of these babies. 
 Since they are so small, I eat several but only count it as a single serving.
The perfect treat to offer to guests. You will look very impressive.
On second thought, don't share, which means more for you.

Chocolate Nutella Macarons: Makes between 15-20 macaron sandwiches.
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 cup almond meal/flour
  3. 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  4. 2 large egg whites (at room temperature)
  5. 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  1. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and if need be, draw 1 1/2" circles spread 1" apart along each one. (I highly recommend doing this as it helps make more uniform macarons).
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 
  3. Sift together powdered sugar, almond meal, and cocoa powder twice. This is a crucial step and should not be skipped. The finer your flour, the more perfect the tops of your macrons will be.  (I use a food processor to make my almond meal more fine.)
  4. Using a hand mixer/stand mixer whip the  egg whites into a heavy froth. As you do so, add 1 tbsp of sugar every minute or so. Do this until the egg whites form stiff and glossy peaks, which is called meringue. 
  5. Fold the meringue into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until it reaches the consistency of "molten lava". Resist the urge to over mix. This will cause the batter to become runny and the macarons will not form "feet", the classic sign of a French macaron. 
  6. Put the batter into a piping bag and pipe out 1" circles. The batter will spread, so the cookie will be bigger. Be sure to leave room between each circle. Once you have filled a tray, lift the tray about 6" off the table and let fall. This will allow any air bubbles to pop. 
  7. Allow both sheets to sit out for 35-45 minutes, or until the macaron have created a film on their surface. 
  8. Bake one sheet at a time for 16-17 minutes. You do not want the bottoms to brown so be careful not to over bake. 
  9. Allow to cool for several minutes before removing from the parchment paper. Line up matching macaron to make sandwiches.
  10. Take a spoon and put a dollop of Nutella (don't be shy about how much you use) in the center of half of your macaron. Take the corresponding macaron and sandwich  the Nutella. 
  11. Being extra gentle, slowly twist each macaron in the opposite direction as the other to evenly distribute the filling. 
  12. Although you can eat them right away, (let's be real, you have to sample your work immediately- I sure do) they taste even better when they have been refrigerated for at least a couple of hours. They last up to 5 days refrigerated.