A Ladylike Luncheon at Flour Bakery + Cafe

After 3 years of living in Cambridge, I think I’ve finally found my niche. I think it takes months, sometimes even years, to really settle into a neighborhood or new city that you move to. I grew up in Massachusetts and stayed here for school, but I’ve only been living in the city since 2005. My residences have run the gamut from a dorm room in Beacon Hill to a commune in Allston to a 2-bedroom in Brighton and then to my current digs in Cambridge. Each area I’ve lived in has had its own vibe, particularly when it came to the personality of the local dining establishments.

Flour Bakery + Cafe is, hands down, one of my favorite spots in Boston and Cambridge. I had been to Flour a couple of times over the past few months, but it wasn’t until my friend Michael visited from Minnesota last month that I realized how much I love this divine bakery and cafe. Michael and I visited the Central Square location of Flour 3 times in his 5-day stay. We couldn’t get enough! It was thus decided that Flour was to be the location for a luncheon I had with my friend Luke last week. Since he works near South Station, the Fort Point Channel location was the most convenient for us. It’s also my favorite 🙂

The options at Flour are limitless. In the past, I’ve eaten the lamb sandwich (the tomato chutney is to DIE for!), the grilled tofu (I would never say no to olive and red pepper tapenade) and the curried tuna. Since I have been abstaining from meat for the duration of Lent, on this occasion I opted to go with the curried tuna sandwich.

The last time I tried this I was craving a classic mayo and tuna sandwich with celery. This sandwich is anything but classic! I was kind of disappointed with my choice the first time around partially due to my specific craving, but also because there wasn’t enough curry. The curry adds a unique spiciness to the otherwise bland bouquet of tuna, and the bed of sprouts upon which the components of the sandwich sit is pure heaven. I had a MUCH better experience this time around, though. There was plenty of curry and the textures of the sprouts, apples and raisins made for a delicious luncheon experience.

Luke decided to go with a BLT. What a timeless choice, and look at how ladylike he is! Pinkies up, girls. It’s all about Emily Post when one is dining with a ladylike companion.

Did I mention the delectable confections at Flour? A ladylike luncheon is not complete without one (or two) of the fine desserts at Flour. Luke opted for a raspberry crumb bar, while yours truly went with an oreo.

In more Flour-related news, I recently had the good fortune to attend a book signing and demo, with my gal pal Sarah Stewart, at Williams-Sonoma with none other than Joanne Chang, owner of Flour and owner of Myers + Chang. I had never seen one of Joanne’s demos or attended one of her cooking classes before. She was such a delight! I was also very pleased to find that the creation of homemade pop tarts would be the subject of her demo. Her easy to follow step-by-step instructions during the demo gave me some great food for thought (no pun intended) when baking my own pop tarts, cakes, pies, etc. Joanne stressed the importance of having all of your ingredients at the ready so as not to waste time or jeopardize the integrity of your final product. I couldn’t agree more! After the demo, Sarah and I clutched our copies of the Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe and waited patiently in line for Joanne to sign them.

Sage advice, Joanne 🙂

I think that the moral of this story is that I (we) love Flour Bakery + Cafe!

A Tale of Two Spanakopitas

Growing up in a Greek/Italian household, a lot of the foods that were eaten both on a regular basis and during holidays typically reflected the flavors of our culture. There was never anything mundane about the food that my family created. It was always made with love and was often originated from a recipe that my YiaYia had floating around in her head. Both YiaYias regularly made their own version of spanakopita, but it’s my mom’s version that she perfected over the years that I have grown to love.

Traditional Greek Spanakopita

  • 2 lbs phyllo dough
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbs olive oil (for spinach mixture)
  • 1 tbs olive oil (to brush phyllo layers)
  • 1 chopped onion, sweet white
  • 8 – 10 large eggs
  • 3-1lb bags of spinach
  • 1.5 lbs feta cheese (if buying at the deli counter, domestic is best. if buying pre-packaged feta, make sure you drain all liquid before adding it to the spinach mixture.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove phyllo dough from freezer or refrigerator. It should be thawed to room temperature for optimal use.

Spinach Mixture

Rinse spinach in cold water and remove any and all stems. Squeeze spinach dry and place in a large paper towel-lined roasting pan, baking sheet or whatever can hold a large quantity of spinach. (I like to line large disposable aluminum roasting pans with paper towels.) Let sit overnight.

Remove handfuls of dry spinach, picking off any stray stems, and chop coarsely. After you have chopped all the dried spinach, beat eggs well. Crumble the feta into the beaten eggs and mix together with clean hands.

Add the cheese and egg mixture to the pan of dried spinach and mix with clean hands. Add the chopped onion and mix with clean hands.  Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the mixture just before you assemble the spanakopita.

Assembling the Spanakopita

In a large, round aluminum pan (I use a traditional Greek pan), layer 10 pieces of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan. Brush each layer with the melted butter and 1 tbs of olive oil. You should have 10 layers of phyllo dough on the bottom.

Add half of the spinach mixture and spread evenly. Layer 4-5 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with the butter and oil mixture. Add the other half of the spinach mixture and spread evenly.

Layer 8-10 pieces of phyllo, brushing each with the butter and oil mixture. Brush the top and final layer with the butter and oil mixture to ensure a crispy top.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a light golden brown. Let cool on the stove top and do not cover with aluminum foil. When cooled, cut into squares and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Dinner Spanakopita

This next recipe is a twist on the classic spanakopita recipe and really “turns up the volume”. I think you can guess what lovely lady I got this recipe from 🙂 It’s a tad less traditional and more Americanized than what I’m used to in a spanakopita recipe, but I’ve used it for dinner parties in the past and it’s always a smash hit! The spinach mixture is a breeze to make, but folding the phyllo into triangles can be a tad tricky.

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups small-diced feta cheese (12 ounces)
  • 24 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the scallions, and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.

When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the feta.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the dough lightly with butter and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs. Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush it with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (Use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of phyllo don’t stick together.)

Pile 4 layers total on top of each other this way, brushing each with butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs. Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed.

Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used. Place on a sheet pan, seam sides down. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked salt, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp. Serve hot.

I’ve gotten rave reviews on both versions of spanakopita, so you really can’t go wrong with either recipe 🙂

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

I can’t believe another Thanksgiving has come and gone! I always find that time speeds up around my birthday in September and then, before you know it, the holidays are here and we’re starting a new year. My parents hosted the holiday this year as they normally alternate hosting duties with my aunt and uncle. The house was bustling with family and extended family and, overall, it was a lovely day. There was a distinct difference in this year’s holiday as both of my grandmothers were not with us. When you lose a family member, the holidays are usually the hardest to stomach. This was our first Thanksgiving without my dad’s mom and it just didn’t seem right somehow. I try and cling to the small details I can remember about both to comfort myself when I’m missing them. For some reason, I’m obsessed with remembering how they smelled and how they felt when I hugged them. My mom’s mom always used to wear Oil of Olay and I always think “YiaYia Macrina!” whenever I catch a scent of it when I’m out and about. I think my dad’s mom was an Estee Lauder kind of lady, but I know it’s her perfume whenever I smell it at Macy’s. All in all, we had a lovely day, though. Ariana was a darling delight as always, and she can almost say my name! I can’t believe how big she’s getting.

I somehow managed to spend an entire week in Westford visiting my family and not going completely insane. I hadn’t been back to visit in 2 months and it had been just as long since I saw my family. I really needed the break from the city. I managed to steal my mom’s car on Monday and do some very necessary errands and pop by the cemetery. I forced my parents to watch The A-List: NY on Monday night and I think I gave them a bit of a culture shock. They were hellbent on watching Dancing With the Stars, but I allowed them to watch the finale on Tuesday (after Glee, of course). It was so nice to have a simple routine and be in close proximity to family. As the years have gone by, I haven’t been going back to Westford that often. Phone calls and emails are great, but there’s something rejuvenating about reconnecting with your family face-to-face. I think that one of the highlights of my time in Westford was spending time with Ariana. I cannot believe how much she is walking and talking since I last saw her in September. She’s like a little Energizer Bunny! We play a game where she runs away from me and I’m supposed to chase her then scoop her up and tickle her stomach. She laughs like crazy and I think it’s just the cutest thing in the world! I know I’m gushing, but I’m such a proud guncle! Oy, I think my ovaries might be aching 🙂

Now that Thanksgiving is over, one’s attention can turn toward the Christmas holiday. I’m so excited to get our tree and finish decorating the apartment. There are so many festive things going on in the city and I am making it a point this year to go to the tree lighting on the common to kick off my holiday season. I’ve never been a very materialistic person, rather, I enjoy the food, decorations and traditions that my family has kept up over the years. The presents are great, but it seems like every year the holiday gets more and more commercial.

In completely unrelated news, I am on pins and needles waiting to hear some news about some job stuff that I have in the works. The waiting game is terrible and I know that those of you who are job searching or interviewing know exactly what I mean. I’ve kept fairly mum on the subject of my unemployment these past 5 months as it is something I do not wish to dwell on. However, I’ve been a bit frustrated, lonely, annoyed and kind of down in the dumps as of late. These months of unemployment have definitely been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for me. There have beens up and honey, there have been some serious downs. I am not normally one who functions well without a routine or without constant mental stimulation, so not being a part of the daily grind has certainly worn me down a bit. As of late, though, my attitude has taken a nosedive. I’ve been, for lack of a better word, a total bitch. I think that being unemployed (and thus having far too much time on my hands to think) and being single around the holidays (yes, I said it) has made me a tad moody. Being the extremely self-aware individual that I am (nyuk nyuk), I’ve recognized how my behavior has been a tad alienating (how to lose friends and acquaintances: act like a total shrew!). I was so positive for so many months and then it just kind of came crashing down. It can get tiring keeping a stiff upper lip all the time, let me tell you. In conclusion, I am going to regain my positivity and not let my man PMS get the better of me. You hear that, Boston? I’m not going to have a mental breakdown, get drunk and try to grate my roommate in the food processor.

Whew. I feel refreshed after getting all of that out. I try to shy away from airing my personal business out there, but sometimes one needs a good life update to shake things up. I’m going to be doing some holiday cooking and baking in the upcoming weeks so I will surely be back on track with some delicious recipes to post!

And now, for an uplifting song from my favorite Canadian songstress, Celine Dion (and special guest stars ‘N Sync)



I have had the absolute delight of dining at Coppa twice in the past couple of months. I had heard about it from friends that live in the neighborhood and they simply raved about the cuisine that Coppa offers up. My friend Chris and I decided, on a whim, to check it out as part of one of our “Sunday Funday” excursions.

While Coppa is fairly small in size, it’s a very warm and inviting space. I felt right at home at our corner table amid the hustle bustle of the restaurant and its patrons. As I settled myself and had a chance to glance at the menu, I was not disappointed by the delicious array of choices that lay before me. Arancini? Chicken liver crostini? Wood-fried pizza? Please and thank you! As with any meal. Chris and I started by splitting a bottle of wine, and he chose the Sangiovese. Things I enjoy when dining Italian: wine. It was an absolute pitch perfect complement to my dinner choice: calves’ brain ravioli. I can’t imagine that most people in their right mind would choose to ingest something like calves’ brain ravioli, but I am a fairly adventurous sort of chap. I grew up eating mayiritsa, a soup we affectionately used to call “lamb guts soup”. My yiayia made it every year for Easter and eating calves’ brain provided me with a bit of nostalgia for Easters gone by.

I can hardly remember what Chris got for dinner because I was so into what I was eating. In any event, we both had a very satisfying dining experience.

Cut to last Thursday…

Chris and I (are you getting the indication that Chris and I eat together….a lot?) were wracking our brains for someplace to grab a bit of a dinner after the Uniform event that we attended. I usually like to make it a point to try new restaurants and stick with some solid haunts, but I realized that we hadn’t been to Coppa since our first jaunt. I had been fantasizing about the calves’ brain ravioli for weeks, so off to Coppa we went! It was unseasonably warm, so we were able to snag some prime real estate outside at one of the bistro tables. As I previously mentioned (and have several times), I had a mean hankering for the calves’ brain ravioli. Unfortunately, it had been taken off the menu but was available as a special. The choice was difficult, but I actually decided to go with the tripe, beef tongue and lamb stew (sidenote: I can’t remember exactly what it was called). Before we got down to business with our meals, I forced Chris to try the chicken liver crostini and arancini. Chris isn’t usually very adventurous when it comes to food, but he trusted me on this one and basically fell in love with chicken liver. We simply could not spread it on enough pieces of bread. It was divine! The arancini weren’t bad, but I find that if you’ve had one arancini, you’ve had them all. Again, I can’t remember what Chris got but it had chicken sausage in it and the most delectable sauce I’ve ever tasted. By the time our meal had ended we both had cleaned our plates with the last few bits of bread that were left on the table.

In true peteypumpkin fashion, I failed to take pictures of anything that Chris and I consumed. I blame the fact that I was ill-prepared and did not have my camera on me. (My phone has a fairly decent camera. I was just being lazy.) Also, I should not fail to mention that while the food at Coppa is utterly delicious, so is the staff! We had the most lovely young lady wait on us and I can’t wait to go back and see her again sometime soon.

I am eager to go back and partake in yet another tantalizing meal at Coppa when my travels take me to the South End!

Coppa on Urbanspoon

Excursion to Newburyport!

As a going-away present, my friend Liz decided to take me on a day trip/food excursion to my location of choice. What a cute and sweet idea! I didn’t want to go anywhere too far as Liz was driving, so we settled on Newburyport. I had only been once back in May 2008 when I went deep-sea fishing for my cousin’s bachelor party. That was an experience I never want to relive. Thankfully that wasn’t in the cards for Liz and I.

I met Liz at the Newburyport commuter rail stop so we could begin our day of food and fun! The first stop of the day was Fowle’s for a bit of breakfast, per the suggestion of my lovely friend Ashlie. I cannot even tell you how happy I am that I took Ashlie’s advice. This place was absolutely divine! Part news store, part diner, Fowle’s encapsulated local New England charm at its best. The food wasn’t half bad either 🙂

Liz had a delicious lemon and raspberry french toast. It looks magnificent and tasted just as good! The flavors of the lemon curd and raspberry were sweet enough to enrich the dense base of bread.

Liz was quite pleased with her selection.

I went for something a little bit different, the Irish Eggs Benedict. I am a guy that absolutely adores eggs benedict, so I will scoop up any chance I can get to try a different kind of eggs benny. Two poached eggs smothered in hollondaise sauce on an English muffin and a bed of hash….who could ask for more?

After we devoured our breakfast and had girl talk over a couple of cups of coffee, Liz and I were ready to hit downtown Newburyport! I didn’t realize that there were so many beautiful and unique shops around. The weather was absolutely beautiful for our sojourn to the North Shore so we were able to comfortably bop around here, there and everywhere. I think we even got a little bit of a tan!

I think the highlight of the day was stumbling upon the most amazing antiques market I have ever been to in my life. Liz and I were innocently strolling by the water, chatting about the weather and local events when we beheld this GEM: Oldies Marketplace. Make no mistake, this building was absolutely gigantic. We walked in and were greeted by beautiful pieces of furniture, jewelry, clothing, vintage china (vintage everything, really) and a plethora of other antiques-hungry tourists such as ourselves. We literally could not contain ourselves. Liz and I wanted to buy everything in sight, but I settled on a town map of Westford from 1875. What a great find! Here are some of the other treasures that Oldies had on display:

We were a bit peckish after all of that intense shopping, so we felt that a spot of lunch would do the trick nicely. I was hankering for a lobster roll, obviously, so we went on in search of the perfect place where we could get martinis and seafood. Ask and ye shall receive, Mr. Gemmellaro. The Thirsty Whale came to our rescue and answered our alcoholic prayers.

We sat in a cozy nook by a window and prepared ourselves to enjoy some tasty seafood and libations. I probably could have eaten one of everything on the menu because it all looked SO delicious. Liz and I ordered (dirty Grey Goose, straight up, duh girlie) martinis.

Liz got a delicious-looking fish sandwich and, like I haven’t mentioned a million times in this post, I got a lobster roll.

One cannot have lunch without dessert, so we went with a homemade pumpkin bread pudding. We were assured that it was homemade because our server’s grandmother makes it from scratch. It warmed my heart to hear that. How precious! I’d go back to The Thirsty Whale in a heartbeat. The food was fantastic, the atmosphere was comfortable and casual and the staff was so warm and friendly. This was a great find.

After lunch (and some pretty discouraging news via text), Liz and I walked off our lunch and poked around in a few more shops.

This day trip away from the city was exactly what the doctor ordered. I highly suggest taking a day and heading up to Newburyport before the summer’s end. Once this rainy weather is behind us I am definitely going to consider a trip back up. I really just loved the atmosphere and cozy feel of Newburyport, especially since I got to share it with a great friend!

For a complete album of pictures from my day in Newburyport, friend me on Facebook!

Broccoli Soup

I know.

ANOTHER soup recipe.

I can’t help it! I keep stumbling on delicious soups and I simply must make each and every one. I found this fine gem in the Improper Bostonian, courtesy of Chris Parsons of Parsons Table. The prep and actual cooking of this soup seemed a bit daunting as I had never blanched a thing before in my life, but it was as easy as 1,2,3. I was also a bit confused as to how the potato fit into all of this, but it added a bit of body to the soup.

Broccoli Soup

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 Spanish onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. broccoli, florets removed and cut into bite-size pieces, and stems thinly sliced
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups 2% milk

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, season liberally with salt and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the sliced broccoli stems to the onion, sir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with one cup of kosher salt. Prepare an ice bath. Plunge the broccoli florets into the boiling water and cooking for 1 minute then remove to the ice bath. Spin the florets in a salad spinner and set aside.

Heat the milk in a medium saucepan, add the potato and bring to a simmer. Pour into the pot with the broccoli stems and onion. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes). remove from heat and add blanched florets to the pot.

Blend in a high-speed blender and straing, pushing solids against mesh with the back of a ladle. Serve with kosher salt, white pepper or your choice of garnish.

I added some red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick. In hindsight, I should have added more zesty spices to turn up the volume while the onions and broccoli stems were sauteing. Anyway, the soup was quite tasty indeed! I really enjoyed making it and eating it. As with everything I make, I had enough to last me for a week. I ate it cold, I reheated it, I plunged bread in it and ate it as if it were a dip. Who knew you could find such a delicious recipe tucked in the pages of the Improper Bostonian?

Memorial Day Weekend & Wild Rice Casserole

Fact: I am a deadbeat blogger.

I can’t tell you how many times I say to myself that I will update my blog with all the things I’ve been cooking up and the fun things I want to share! I must be more diligent. Anyway. It’s time for a Memorial Day Weekend recap and a slow cooker recipe!

I’ve been looking to this long weekend for ages. I really needed that extra day off to relax and do the things that I don’t get to during the week. Things at work haven’t been too stressful, but not much has been going on with my job search. My focus hasn’t been on securing a new job and, strangely enough, I’m ok with that. I mean, I’m not being negligent here. I’m really looking forward to taking a little break and then really going balls to the wall with a search when my head is a bit more clear.

Onto the weekend recap! On Friday I was able to get out a bit early and meet Becca and her friend Jason at Cactus Club. It was quite a delight and a joy to sit on a patio in beautiful weather. We jetted to Dillon’s for a beer and then I had to scoot to Union Bar and Grille for Ryan’s birthday dinner. It was absolutely delicious! I have no idea what we had for dinner or what I ate, for that matter. I didn’t feel like being “that guy” who was taking pictures of food and documenting it for a later purpose. Also, I was a little drunk 🙂 After dinner cocktails were had at Rocca, a place I hadn’t been on a Friday night in ages. Our level of classiness took a nosedive as we ended the night at Machine. Randomly enough, I ran into a student tour guide that used to work in my office while at Machine. It was lovely to see him, but weird to see him at a place like Machine.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning for my deep tissue massage at Violet Skin Boutique. I’ve had a lot of neck pain/tension lately and I wanted to get it relieved, at least slightly, before my 5k next week. My appointment was with Carrie and, I must say, she was nothing short of amazing. She worked out all of my knots and gave me a really thorough full-body deep tissue massage. I left Violet feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I’d definitely go back again for a massage or even try another treatment. Post-massage, I met up with Jessica, her cousin and roommate at 647 for brunch before hightailing it downtown to meet Jamie, Stuart and Jason for a light lunch for Jamie’s birthday. The rest of the day was spent meandering home and doing a few errands.

I woke up on Sunday and felt like taking a Peter day. I cleaned, crock potted and did laundry. I recently purchased a slow-cooker recipe book on clearance at Borders, Slow Cooker Recipes for All Occasions. It has some really great recipes, and I’ve even managed to try two of them already. This weekend’s culinary delight was Wild Rice Casserole!

Wild Rice Casserole

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large green pepper, finely diced
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese (I used Shaw’s Mexican Blend for some spice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups wild rice, cooked according to package instruction

Before getting down and dirty with the crock pot, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften.

Add garlic, tomatoes, oregano and paprika. Continue to sauté until heated through. Remove to large mixing bowl to cool.

Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat; whisk in flour. Cook and stir until smooth and golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Whisk shredded cheese into boiling milk to produce rich, velvety sauce.

Combine cooked wild rice with sautéed vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the cheese sauce and mix gently.

Grease the inside of the crock pot stoneware. Pour the wild rice mixture into the prepared stoneware and. Cover; cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours.

It was quite delicious all hot and gooey right out of the crock pot. However, it’s been in the fridge for a couple of days and I’ve eaten it both cold and warm. Last night I warmed it up and sprinkled some mozzarella cheese on it, then topped it with salsa. Delicious! This would also be a great filling for stuffed peppers/tomatoes.

Memorial Day weekend wrapped up with a nice jaunt to Perkins Cove with my friend Chris. We frolicked, walked along Marginal Way and had DELICIOUS lobster rolls at Barnacle Billy’s.

An amazing end to an amazing weekend 🙂

Eggand’s Best Boston Blogger Dinner at Stella

Last Thursday I was fortunate to receive a last-minute invite (thanks Sarah Stewart and Mary Kate!) to Eggland’s Best Boston Blogger Dinner at Stella in the South End. I hadn’t met Mary Kate before, but as she is a high school friend of Sarah’s I knew she would be a sheer delight. I was right 🙂 It was so great to meet Mary Kate, reps from Eggland’s Best and my blogger friends. Stella was also an amazing place to host this event. I had only been there once for brunch, and I didn’t realize it was so huge. We were tucked away in a very private, spacious back room. We could hardly hear the hustle and bustle of the rest of the restaurant.

I totally stole this pic from my ladies over at WeAreNotMartha because I thought it was so cute. Here are my girls Susan (Transient Travels), Sues (WeAreNotMartha) and Chelsee (WeAreNotMartha). It was also great to see my girl Alicia (The Clean Plate Club). I haven’t seen Alicia in MONTHS. We need to plan a playdate in the city very soon.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera on me to snap some quality pics of the event, but I did have my trusty camera phone. I’m so proud of myself for documenting this experience 🙂

The tables were decorated with Eggland’s Best containers, informational brochures that were also included in our fab swag bags and bowls of EB’s eggs.

The menu was utterly delicious, and obviously included LOTS of eggs! We started with some fresh fruit and Stella’s chopped salad…

then onto linguine carbonara with a poached egg on top and omelet with duck confit…

which brought us to dessert: a chocolate torte with gelato and chocolate sauce. Yum!

There was also delicious-looking and fluffy French toast and grilled  sirloin steak and eggs. I was absolutely stuffed and couldn’t have forced down another bite of eggy goodness.

This event wasn’t all food and no work. While we were eating we learned all about the ins and outs of Eggland’s Best (what goes in, goes out!). I never realized how much work it is to produce a really fresh, delicious…egg. I actually went out and bought a carton of Eggland’s Best this past weekend when I made Ina Garten’s dinner spanakopitas. I could really tell the difference versus the eggs I normally buy. The rich color of the yolk and the texture of the egg, not to mention the pristine shell, was a far cry from what I usually purchase. (The spanakopita tasted delicious, too. A recipe for another entry!)

Did I mention the swag bag?

An Eggland’s Best umbrella, a cookbook, hard-boiled eggs, coupons, a plush egg….what more could a lady ask for? And did I mention the COUPONS?

Such a great night was had by all. I was thankful that Susan lives so close to me that I could just hitch a ride on home with her. Eggs can really tire you out.

I have so many more things to blog about! I feel like so much has happened to me lately in regards to food. I have recipes, dinner events and some fun peteypumpkin updates to share. So much happening, so little time!

Chilled Cucumber Soup

I recently took an amazing vacation to Miami with my friend Josh and stayed the the beautiful Palms Hotel and Spa. We had a fun-filled and relaxing 6-day, 5-night stay and would go back in a heartbeat. While there, we had a superb lunch in the hotel’s restaurant, Essensia, with the Director of Communications. While the menu was extensive and full of delicious food, I opted to start my meal off with something a bit unique: chilled cucumber soup. It sounds a little funky for those of us who aren’t used to cold soups, but you must trust me when I saw that I could not get enough of it!

Chilled Cucumber Soup

  • 1 cup crème fraiche (non fat)
  • 1 cup greek yoghurt (non fat)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar white
  • 1 tbsp. fresh dill
  • 2 ea. crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chopped white onion
  • 2 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 3 ea. fresh pears, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sliced almonds

Place all ingredients except the cucumber in a blender and blend well. Chop the cucumber in small pieces and add to the mixture. Turn the blender on briefly and then off to check the consistency of the gazpacho. Consistency should be smooth to slightly chunky. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.   Serve into martini glass, garnish with a sprig of dill and top with sliced toasted almonds.

Executive Chef Frank Jeannetti

Such a refreshing start to my delicious lunch! I recently made the cucumber soup at home and it came out almost as perfect as when I first ate it in Miami. I think the portion size in the martini glass is a bit much, so I would recommend serving it in a double shot glass at the start of a summer dinner party.

The bookends to my lunch, a churrasco steak, were both soups: the aforementioned cucumber soup and a creamy tapioca soup. More on the tapioca soup later 🙂

Cinnamon Raisin Brown Rice Pudding

Rice pudding…

A pudding of…RICE?

Yes. Rice pudding. It sounds weird and almost too quirky for it’s own good, but it’s probably one of the most comforting and enjoyable desserts/snacks I’ve ever made. I follow the blog of the lovely ladies over at WeAreNotMartha and they always inspire me with simple and delicious recipes. The rice pudding recipe really caught my attention and I set to work one late Thursday evening to prepare this tasty delight.

Cinnamon Raisin Brown Rice Pudding

  • 1 qt milk (I used 2%, but you could certainly use whatever you’d like)
  • 1/2 C uncooked brown rice
  • 1/4 C honey & maple syrup (I added a bit more to taste)
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1/4 T cinnamon

Combine milk, rice and sweetener in a large saucepan. WeAreNotMartha’s original recipe called for agave nectar, but I just worked with the honey and maple syrup. It was definitely sweet enough, and I added a bit more to taste.

Simmer this for about 30 minutes or so, and the mixture should start to thicken. Mine didn’t quite thicken in 30 minutes, but I stirred it up a bit and puttered around the kitchen doing a few other things while the mixture got roaring.

The next step is to stir in the raisins and cinnamon and voila! Twenty minutes later you have a thick and delicious brown rice pudding. I actually didn’t eat mine right away, so I didn’t cook my rice through all the way. I refrigerated the mixture and pulled it out the next night. I simply reheated it, added a bit more milk and cinnamon and it was good as gold. Pair this with a delicious cup of tea and there you have yourself a rainy day snack fit for a king.