Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lobsta Roll Friday

RESTAURANT REVIEW:
Whose been to Neptune Oyster in the North End in Boston?
Yesterday, Daisy invited Gretchen and I to her Summer Lunch Series.  Daisy has Fridays off and has been trying out new restaurants all over the city for lunch.  I was psyched when she wanted us to join her.  Well, psyched and scared.  I had already heard the lobster roll was an "investment" and I wondered if it would really be worth the hefty price tag.  Yep, $25 bucks for this roll.  Well I'm happy to report, it's well worth the cost.  If you live in the Boston area, you should totally check this place out.  If you don't live here, the next time you come to Boston, go to the North End and get the lobster roll.  I promise you will not be disappointed!
Daisy, Gretchen and I arrived around 1:15 and were lucky to get a seat.  They almost gave our table away but Daisy arrived just in time.  FYI- you need your entire party to be seated.  The place is really small and its shared seating.  But with how good the food is, I don't think anyone minded! I had already looked at the menu at work so I knew exactly what I wanted.
See that?  You get a choice. Available HOT with Butter or COLD with Mayo.  Since I have a slight fear of mayo, I was happy with this option.  The waiter came over and we ordered 3 Coronas and 3 HOT Lobster Rolls.
Cheers to Friday! About 15 minutes later, our delicious meals arrived.  Just looking at this thing, I knew it was going to be amazing.  It looked like there was at least 2 1bs lobster meat in one small hot dog roll!
And with this delectable sandwich came an enormous amount of french fries.  But not just any french fries... absolutely perfectly over salted crispy skinny fries- my favorite! This lunch definitely filled me up and I definitely ate lets see... like 98.8% of everything you see here.  I couldn't resist!


So if you are in the area, go get this.  So worth it.  


After Neptune, we went over to the Cupcake shop next door.
Gretchen craves sweets immediately after eating and I love a good cupcake so we decided to spilt the Smores Cupcake.  I'd show it to you, but Gretchen ate half before I photographed it.  Sorry!  But it was really yummy and only $2.25. Steal!


After work Dave and I headed to our friends Dean and Joanna's new apartment! They grilled delicious turkey burgers and lemon herb chicken.  Joanna also made a Corn, Bean Salad that was fabulous!
FOOD DILEMMA:
After dinner, we started talking about meat and where you buy it.  I learned a lot hanging out with Dean and Joanna.  They buy all their meat from Whole Foods and Dean sees a huge difference in the quality.  He goes through 7! YES 7 pounds of meat a week, mostly chicken, some ground turkey and sometimes pork.  He says they generally spend about $60 on meat.  The cheapskate in me almost died when Dean told me he usually spends about $6 a pound on chicken.  But then he talked a lot about the quality of meat and about Food, Inc.  (a movie I still haven't seen).  I know the food industry is horrible and I'm trying to do my part by buying local farm fresh produce.  And with meat... I've been really actively trying to limit meat in our diet and I've been cooking more vegetarian.  BUT.  And this is a big BUT.  I do have a hard time resisting chicken, steak or pork at the regular grocery store when it goes down to $1.99 a pound.  But Dean is right.  I should care more about the quality of meat I buy.  I know I should. 


I do the best I can.  I'm not against processed foods, but I do try to eliminate them from my diet as much as I can.  Do I still eat some.  Yes.  I am not here to preach to anyone- I just try to do the best I can.  Right now thats getting most of my veggies and fruit from my CSA and the rest of my food from my week I get from either Stop N Shop, Shaws, Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.  I'm only human, but I will continue to actively try to eat better quality and more humane treated protein. 


RUNNING:
I ran 15.50 miles this morning with Nancy and two others.  It was an awesome run and I felt great the entire time.  And when we started at 6:40am, it was 59 degrees! It felt like fall.  Our pace was slower than normal but it went by really fast- 2 and a half hours of running seemed to fly by.  Must be because of my amazing running partners!  After the run, Nancy and I did Body by Jake onDemand.  Have you done it?  It was intense!  I'll be sore tomorrow.


Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 30, 2010

National Lasagna Day & CSA Week 6

(I started this post yesterday then fell asleep in the middle of it... so it was yesterday July 29th that was National Lasagna Day)
I found out that today is National Lasagna Day on twitter when I was on my way home from work. This was ironic because I had found a recipe for Pesto Lasagna from The Italian Dish that I wanted to make tonight.  So it was perfect timing.  I also got a big bunch of Basil yesterday at my CSA (see below) so I had all the ingredients to make this lasagna. 

It was rich, creamy and filling. I added in shredded zucchini, added cheese to the bechemel sauce and used no-boil lasagna but other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe.
Pesto Zucchini Lasagna
Ingredients:
Pasta:10 - 20 no-cook lasagna noodles or fresh pasta sheets, cooked or regular lasagna noodles, cooked (next time I would not use no-cook noodles.. there isnt enough liquid in this recipe so not all the noodles cooked through)
Pesto:
3 ounces of shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1-1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Bechamel:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1.5 cups milk (fat free)
1/2 cup cream
1/8 cup of mozzarella cheese
Topping & Filling:
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1.5 cups of shredded zucchini
Instructions:
Make the pesto: Add the basil, garlic, cheese and pine nuts to food processor.  Process, using pulses, till finely chopped.  With machine running, add the olive oil until pesto is smooth. 
Make the bechamel: In a heavy medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and stir for a couple of minutes, until the flour is cooked.   Add about a third of the milk, slowly, and whisk over medium heat. When the sauce is smooth, add another third of the milk and whisk.  When the sauce is smooth again, add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Add in cheese until thick creamy sauce forms.
Assemble lasagna: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In an 8x8 pan, place about 1/3 cup of the bechamel to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay first layer of lasagna noodles.  Add enough bechamel to coat the noodles.  Add some pesto and spread into the bechamel.  Add a handful of the grated Parmesan.  Add another handful of shredded zucchini. Continue to layer the noodles, bechamel, pesto, zucchini and Parmesan until the last layer of noodles.  On top of this, just spread the bechamel only, add the rest of the Parmesan and top with the mozzarella.  Sprinkle the oregano on top.  Wrap tightly with foil (preferably Reynolds No-Stick foil). Bake for one hour (if using regular, cooked noodles) or one hour and 15 minutes (if using no-boil noodles). Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes more, until top is golden.  Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before slicing.
I had leftover bechemel sauce (because clearly I don't measure anything) so I added 1 ear of corn cut off the cob, the leftover shredded zucchini and a handful or two of kale and sauteed that down in the sauce for a nice side.
While the lasagna was in the oven, I decided to bake.  I've been getting a TON of CSA Blueberries and I've seen a bunch of recipes for Peach and Blueberries Pies, Cakes, Crumbles, Crisps.  I decided to make a cake inspired by Shannons blog over at tri2cook.  Shannon made a Raspberry Peach Cake but I adapted it to make a Blueberry Peach Cake.
Blueberry Peach Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup oat flour (just ground oats)
1/2 cup white flour
1t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/2-1t cinnamon (whenever I see this in a recipe, I use my pumpkin pie spice instead)
4T butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar

 2 large eggs
2T applesauce
1/2t almond extract
1 small container of Choabani plain greek yogurt
3 small peaches, thinly sliced
1c blueberries
1t granulated sugar
2t white flour

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours through pumpkin pie spice).
In a mixer or using a hand held mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. (Mine never got really fluffy- I didn't feel like there was enough butter for that..) Add the eggs, then add applesauce and almond extract. Fold in half of the dry ingredients, the the yogurt, mixing as you. Then add in the rest of the dry ingredients.  Pour into an 8" cake pan sprayed with nonstick spray.   Shake the pan to spread out the batter.  Bake for 15min. While the cake is baking, combine the topping ingredients (peaches, blueberries, sugar and flour) and lightly toss together so the flour and sugar get absorbed by the fruit.  After 15min in the oven, remove the cake and top with the berry mixture.  Return to the oven and bake 25-30min more. Cool the cake for 15min in the pan on a cooling rack.  Then serve with ice cream or a little powdered sugar on top.

Okay, so after 30 minutes, my cake was not cooked through.  I probably cooked this cake for longer than 45 minutes.  But in the end, it was really tasty and tasted like it was sort of healthy!  If you ask my friend Gretchen, I am usually pretty scared to bake because of the 1-2 sticks of butter that is usually required.  When I saw this recipe, I was excited because it only had 4T of butter in a whole cake!  I had never used Oat Flour before and all I did was ground up my regular oats.  I felt like that was the part of this cake you could taste the most.  All in all, this was really good.  The peaches and blueberries tasted so fresh and perfect!  I love how blueberries turn this beautiful purplish-pinkish color once cooked!

Moving on... Wednesday I picked up Week 6 of my CSA.
CSA Week 6:
Free Range Eggs
Corn on the Cob
Basil
Blueberries
Kale
Tomatoes
Peaches
Zuchinni
Spring Onions
Cucumbers
Romaine Lettuce

And just to make a long post even longer... here's what I made Tuesday night... whose eaten Tempeh before? 
I bought Tempeh at Whole Foods this weekend.  After Saturday, Sunday and Monday of over-indulging on meat and seafood, I felt we needed a vegetarian dish.  I looked on Heidi's 101cookbooks blog to find some recipes.  I decided to make Heidi's TLT Sandwich which stands for Tomato, Lettuce and Tempeh. I changed her recipe quite a bit based on what I had in my house (no cherry tomatoes, no maple syrup)
TLT Sandwich
Ingredients: 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar (or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 1/3-inch thick strips

1 Large Tomato tomatoes sliced thinly
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil olive oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 small head of romaine lettuce, cored, then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
1large avocados, mashed with a pinch of salt just before assembling
4 whole grain bread, well toasted


Instructions: 
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Whisk together the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and pepper. Pour 1/3 of the tempeh marinade into an 8x8 baking dish (or something comparable) - you want a dish that is just big enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer - this way it will be fully enveloped by the marinade. Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the tempeh, cover and keep in the refrigerator for a couple hours, overnight or until ready to use. (Yep, I just refridgerated for a half hour) While the tempeh is marinating, roast the tomatoes. Mix together the olive oil, sugar, and salt and pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, and place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet. When the tempeh is done marinating heat a large pan over medium-high heat and cook the tempeh slices for a few minutes on each side. You may need to do this in batches if you don't have a big enough pan. Set the tempeh slices aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.To assemble each sandwich take one slice of bread and slather a generous layer of mashed avocado, then add some salt and pepper. Place a small helping of the shredded lettuce on top of the avocado, a few tomatoes, then a few slices of the tempeh, and more tomatoes. Enjoy either open faced or topped with another avocado-slathered bread slice.

I had extra tempeh and extra marinade so I also made Roasted Vegetable Tempeh Pasta by roasting whatever veggies I had- tomatoes, summer squash, brocolli, green beans, snow peas and mixing it with the tempeh and the marinade and whole wheat pasta shells.  I also added in the extra avocado on top.  This was a good dish for lunches and we enjoyed it all week!
Alright, that was a long post with lots of delicious food!  I'm looking forward to an enjoyable Friday with lunch at Neptune Oysters  with my blogging friends mixed in and a 15 mile run in the AM! 
Stay tuned..

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NYC Marathon Training Week 4

I'm now into Week 5 of Marathon training, but first lets recap Week 4! Week 4 was okay. I did my long run in the middle of the week and I think it exhausted me for the rest of the week.  But that's okay because I felt really great on that run.  And truth be told, the long run is the most important run during training anyway.  Mileage was way down on Week 4 but I'm not too worried considering I'm already at 17.5 miles for this week and it's only Wednesday!  Here's the Recap:

Date: Monday July 19, 7:30AM 
Route:  Therapy

Mileage: 0

Total Time: 0

Avg Pace:


Date: Tuesday July 20, 7:30AM 
Route:  Speed Treadmill

Mileage: 3.75

Total Time: ?

Avg Pace:Workout- 1X1200, 400 Rest, 1X800, 400 Rest, 1X800, 800 Cooldown
(this is what a workout looks like when you have no time to complete it... the goal was to do 3X1200s but I had to go after work and I was in a rush to make my train! Oh well)

Date: Wednesday July , 6:11AM 
Route:  Treadmill

Mileage: 13.1 miles (half marathon!)

Total Time: 1:58:28

Avg Pace: 9:02
(I ran from 6:11am to 8:09am on the treadmill, watched tv, read magazines, listened to music, went through two bottles of water and 1/2 a pack of jellies but I finished my long run during the week!)

Date: Friday July 23, 8:30AM 
Route:  Outside my house

Mileage: 4

Total Time: 36:30

Avg Pace: 9:09
 
And yep, I didn't run Saturday or Sunday.  Planned to run Sunday but as you can tell, I was very busy on Sunday!  Oh well. This week will be better!
Total Mileage for Week 4: 20.85 miles

Week 5 Update:
Monday- 8 miles
Tuesday- 3.5 miles
Wednesday- Speed on Treadmill, all distance under 7:50min/mile pace
1 mile warmup 6.0 at 1.0 incline
400 at 1:54 (7.7MPH)
400 Rest
600 at 2:45 (7.8MPH)
400 Rest
800 at 3:41 (7.9MPH)
400 Rest
1200 at 5:43 (7.8MPH-8.0MPH)
400 Rest
800 at 3:44 (7.8MPH)
400 Rest
600 at 2:39 (8.0MPH)
400 Rest
400 at 1:40 (8.5MPH-9.0MPH
1/2 Mile Rest
6 miles 54:50, 9:05 pace

Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Year Anniversary!

Two years ago today, I got married on a beautiful summer day to the love of my life.  Its seriously AMAZING how fast time flies!
Here are some of my favorite pictures of Dave and I.  We had such a wonderful day!

To celebrate our anniversary, I made Smitten Kitchens Braised Short-Ribs with Swiss Chard and Mashed Potatoes and a Horseradish Cream Sauce.  A rich winter dish that we enjoyed in the middle of the summer.  It was a REALLY long process but the results were delicious!
So tender and so perfect!
And for dessert, I made Creme Brulee.
After a long day yesterday, Mad Men last night (do you watch) and waking up at 5:30am today and running 8 miles, I'm tired! Time for bed... goodnight!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anniversary Weekend

Our two year anniversary is tomorrow and we celebrated by going to Capital Grille on Saturday night. Have you been? I love Capital Grille and I was excited to have some meat!  I've been eating a lot of (mostly) vegetarian meals lately so I was ready! Here we are before leaving the house.
Once we got the restaurant, we got seated at a table that looked like this- Rose petals and a signed card from the staff! So nice!
But then, we sat.  We sat for 20 minutes without a waiter coming over to greet us.  Finally we stopped someone and asked for a waiter.  When our waiter came over to our table she apologized profusely and handed us the Capital Grille signature drink: Stoli Doli's.  Stoli Doli's are made with Pineapple and Vodka.  Strong and delicious.
For our appetizer, we chose:
 Wagyu Beef Carpaccio 
Premium Japanese Wagyu beef blended with seven spices, seared, chilled, and sliced razor thin.
Garnished with fresh arugula and Lemon Vinaigrette.
 Sorry, the picture stinks!  This was really good.  I love arugula and fresh parm and of course the meat. Eating all three together was so delicious. 
Next up, we ordered:
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing 
Tender, baby spinach leaves, onions and mushrooms meet the warmth of our signature
bacon dressing. Chopped egg and smoked bacon are sprinkled on top for good measure.
It was around this time that the older man to my left mentioned to his wife, "She's taking pictures of her food, you see her..." So I tried to limit the flash.  But the pics were blurry without the flash!
Okay this salad was AMAZING! Egg, Bacon, Spinach, Mushies- perfect!
For dinner I ordered:
Filet Oscar 
Our 10 oz Filet Mignon, served with steamed asparagus spears, colossal
lump crabmeat, drizzled with our housemade BĂ©arnaise.
Umm, yep.  This was to-die-for.  Filet is amazing.  This is why you pay the money for steak; it melts in your mouth.  Wow.  The crab, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce was pretty amazing too.
Dave ordered:
Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Caramelized Shallot 
Butter 
A wonderful flavor combination with caramelized shallots, seasonings and coffee
rub to create a first-class steak many guests claim as their favorite. 
But I forgot to take a picture : (.  His steak had a subtle coffee flavor and was so rich and just yum!
And for our side we ordered:

Lobster Mac 'N' Cheese 
Baked Campanelle pasta and fresh Lobster meat, tossed in a Mascarpone,
Havarti and Grana Padano cream sauce, topped with Panko bread crumbs
and grated white cheddar.
As you can probably guess, this was a lot of food. But before we even had time to look at a dessert menu, our waitress brought this over and said Happy Anniversary!
This was:
Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake 
Chocolate lovers will rhapsodize over this rich, dense dream of a cake. A hint of espresso, fresh raspberries, whipped cream and Melba sauce make for an unforgettable finish to any meal.
Clearly, we hated it.  Overall, dinner at Capital Grille did not disappoint.  Even though we had a rocky start, it finished great!  Dinner at the Capital Grille is absolutely worth the cost for a special occasion.
_____________________
Today, we went to Crane's Beach in Ipswich. Cranes is my favorite beach on the North Shore of Massachusetts- and this is why-
After hanging out at the public beach for a couple hours, we got picked up in a boat by our friends Rick and Caitlin and headed to the private beach.  And there I got to hang out wit this little guy:
This is Cait's and Rick's adorable baby who just turned 1!
Love him!
After we left the beach, we headed to Danversport Yacht Club (where we got married) to have dinner.
We started with:
Sorry, no pictures, my camera died!  The mushroom caps and crab cakes were so good!
Next up we ordered my favorite salad in the whole world:
And for dinner I ordered the Seafood Newburg:
(This is a pic from the last time I ordered it)
Scallops, Shrimp, Lobster, Crab in a cream sauce with Garlic Mashed and Green Beans.  Perfect!
Great day and great weekend!
Tomorrow is our official anniversary and I have quite the dinner planned.  When we got home from the beach, I immediately started prepping and cooking braised short ribs.  They just came out of the oven a half hour ago and they will be delicious for tomorrow's dinner.  Here's a pic before the braising...
Stay tuned for tomorrow's special dinner!  Good night everyone!  I'll leave you with this:
More wedding photos to come tomorrow

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CSA Week 5

CSA Week 5- Here's what I got: Strawberry Jam, Spring Onions, Romaine Lettuce, Kale, Green Beans, Brocolli, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Fennel, Arugula and Corn. 
So many great goodies!  So the first thing I have to say is that if you only get one thing at the Farmer's Market this summer, GET THE CORN.  There is such a huge difference between corn on the cob at the grocery store and corn from a local farm.  With that amazing corn, I made Corn Chowder with Bacon adapted from Cooking Light.  It was so good!
Corn Chowder with Bacon
Ingredients:
2  bacon slices
1/2  onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups of corn, cut off the cob (use the freshest, most local corn you can- it makes a difference!)
1.5 cups  skim milk
1/2 cup of cream
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
3/4  cup  (3 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions:
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven/or pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble and set aside. Add celery, onion and pepper and 1 cup of  corn to drippings in pan; sautĂ© 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Place remaining corn and 1 cup milk in a blender, and process until smooth. Add pureed mixture to vegetables in pan; stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream, salt, black pepper, and cheese. Cook over medium heat (do not boil), stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Ladle chowder into bowls. Top each serving evenly with reserved crumbled bacon. Sprinkle with additional black pepper, if desired.

This was such delicious soup, I seriously loved it.  Fresh corn is so amazing.  You can taste such a difference between the crap you buy at the store.  With the soup I made Kale Chips and Sauteed Zuchinni's/Summer Squash Quesidillas.
I write about Kale Chips all the time and they really are some of my favorite food of all time.  The quesidillas were made with 1 zucchini and 1 summer squash diced in half and sauteed with olive oil salt and pepper.  Then I used my whole wheat flour tortillas with melted cheese to put the whole thing together. Delicious!


I am off to celebrate our 2 year Wedding Anniversary at the Capital Grille. Can't wait!