Delicious Treats You Don’t Want to Miss in the Greater Boston Area

1. ANYTHING from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester

sugar mags

sign image via, french toast via

This is the breakfast place that I take everyone to when they come to visit . . . and also the one that I go to WHENEVER I can come up with a reason to go out for breakfast! The food here is out of control phenomenal. Whether you order Georgia’s French Toast (like French toast and S’mores all-in-one), or the Carrot Cake Pancakes with the maple butter, or the Goatie (an incredible omelette with tomatoes, caramelized onions, & goat cheese), or the AMAZING porridge (one of my favorite things ever!), you won’t be disappointed!

2. Dinner (Try the Kibbeh!), at Kareem’s in Watertown

Dinner at Kareem's When you step into this restaurant, it almost feels like you’re having a luxurious Syrian dinner in the home of a friend. . . the intimate setting and novelty of seeing your food prepared before your very eyes is an experience in and of itself, but it is more than simply unusual as a setting. In addition to the setting and service being fabulous, the food is also incredible – like a magical blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern goodness. Everything is fresh and flavorful and hits the palate perfectly. They only take cash or check, which is good to know in advance, but it’s worth the pre-planning to have this dining experience!

3. New England Ice Lollies in Newburyport

lollipop ice   It feels wrong to just call these incredible creations “popsicles”. These cannot be demoted to the same status as those frost-bitten things in the back of your freezer. . . these are heaven. Refreshing and cold on a hot day, they also are some of the most flavorful and delectable things I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting!

4. Ice Cream at The Cherry Farm Creamery in Beverly

cherry farm creamery It’s delicious, it’s local, and it’s the perfect creamy, decadent treat for a hot summer night. Or afternoon. Or morning.

5. Cake from D’Amici’s in Lynn

Cake from D'Amici   My sister buys birthday cakes here whenever the opportunity arises (and with a rotating door of 5 children in your home, the opportunity arises with happy frequency!). I can honestly say that their cake is awesome, but MORE importantly, the frosting is PHENOMENAL.

6. Tortelloni di Zucca at Chianti in Beverly

This is the only item on this list that is unaccompanied by a photo. . . probably because I usually am FAR more focused on eating it than playing food paparazzi. I wish I could truly and fully describe to you how delectable this dish is.  It is homemade pumpkin tortelloni is served with bits of diced pear and caramelized nuts in a creamy  Gorgonzola sauce. It can be yours for a mere 16 dollars and it’s worth every penny.

7. Barbecue Chicken Pizza &Key Lime Pie Martinis from Soma in Beverly

Soma   These are my stand-by favorites any time I get the chance to go out, particularly when I’m craving barbecue chicken pizza goodness. Top it off with a key lime pie martini (rimmed with graham cracker crumbs!) and you’ve got the best quality comfort food you could ever ask for.

8. Decadent Lemon Blueberry Mascarpone Cake from Jaho’s in Salem

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Jaho’s coffee shop in Salem is a wonderful spot. They have an unbelievable array of teas, drool-worthy gelato,  some incredible pastries (including the cake, which I adore) AND free wi-fi. It’s the perfect spot – lovely for relaxing, meeting up with a friend, studying, or even just grabbing something yummy to eat.

9. Pastries, Bread, and Coffee at A& J King Artisan Bakery in Salem

A and J King

This small artisan bakery is tucked into a little corner of Salem, MA, and it has the most incredible breads and pastries you will find outside of France. It is definitely 100% on par with the best I tasted in the year I lived there!

10. Chocolate Orgasms from Rosie’s Bakery in Cambridge (or Chestnut Hill!)

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My sister brought me this as a thank-you after I babysat for her. It was out of control delectable.

11. A quite-nice Chicken Kabob Salad . . . but INSANELY amazing PITAS from North Beverly Roast Beef in North Beverly

chix kabob salad - north bevs

I kind of already explained it in the title, but let me just explain. . . the salad is good and all, but the PITA BREAD. It is insanely good. They make it fresh and you can see the puffy pillows of pita cooling on the counter right before they get cut and served to you FRESH. They are divine. I always order an extra.

12. The Cinnabun Pancake from The 17 State Street Diner in Newburyport

17 Street Diner Cinnabun Pancake

I recently tried this delicious magical pancake for the first time. It is simultaneously both the most fluffy and the most delicious warm  breakfast treat you will ever taste. I don’t even usually like cinnamon, actually, and it is still the best pancake I could ever conceive of.

 

[Salad] Bar NOTHING

Summer meals are sometimes less-than-appealing to plan . . . particularly if it happens to be on the hotter side. SO, I just thought I would remind you of an option that you may have written off!

salad bar optionlettuce image via

 
That’s right. Now, salad sometimes sounds less-than-appealing. I mean, salad can just be so blaaaand, right?

WRONG.

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Salad is only boring if you lack imagination, friends. The spread above is the delightful smorgasbord of salad accoutrements that I recently enjoyed with friends.

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A few things you might enjoy on a good salad:

  • avocado
  • sweet corn
  • chives
  • peppers of all colors (pan-seared for some extra deliciousness)
  • chick peas (baked, if you want that extra little crunch!)
  • bacon
  • kale chips
  • sunflower seeds
  • pine nuts
  • sugar snap peas
  • mushrooms (sautéed is better)
  • dried cranberries
  • olives (unless you’re me)
  • basil
  • snow peas
  • tomatoes
  • beans (black beans, kidney beans . . . )
  • cucumbers
  • radishes, if you’re into that kind of thing
  • strawberries
  • onions (might I suggest shallots?)
  • cheddar cheese cubes
  • carrot shavings
  • hard boiled eggs
  • croutons (homemade are delicious, if you can manage it!)
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • peach slices
  • apple slices
  • wheat berries
  • broccoli florettes
  • slivered or sliced almonds
  • candied pecans (or walnuts)
  • beats (I bake them and cut them into chunks)
  • orange slices
  • feta cheese

Anything I forgot?

 

 

Baklava-lovah!

I just made Baklava for the first time!

What is baklava, you ask? Well,Google give us this handy definition:

baklava defined

 

OR, you could just look at this beautiful visual straight from my very own kitchen!

baklava - cooking

I used the Pioneer Woman recipe, because, after reading her book, I decided that she is a kindred spirit and that I just absolutely love her. Her recipe for Baklava is fairly simple and straightforward. The only thing I might change about the directions would be to melt the butter, or at least let it get very very soft, before putting it on the uncooked/layered Phyllo dough. If you don’t do this,  the thin sheets of dough will tear. This might seem like common sense, but (embarrassingly enough) some of us could still use the directive. I might also put a flashing warning sign above the recipe regarding the RIDICULOUS amount of sugar/calories these bad-boys have . . . I mean, let’s just say that you wind up mixing butter and sugar with TWO CUPS of honey at one point. So, maybe don’t eat this if you’re diabetic. Health-factors aside, however, the Baklava was delicious and a smash hit with the crew who requested it!

Baklava

 

The Aunt Donna Legacy: Making Pizza!

At the end of a long day, when I am too tired for creative meal preparation and too cheap for takeout, there is one perennial favorite recipe that resurfaces, coming to my rescue time and time again.

Aunt Donna’s Pizza CrustMy Recipe Book

Seriously, in my ever-growing Family Recipe Compilation Notebook, this is by far my most turned-to recipe. Take a closer look:

recipe 2Could this get any easier? I think not. Six ingredients, one of which is WATER. If you don’t have these in your cupboard, it’s time to go shopping. Once you follow the recipe process, the assembly is a cinch!

Step 1: Choose what you will use as toppings (think outside the box, here, people).

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Step 2: Prepare your work Area.

step 1

Step 3: Spread the dough onto your (greased) Pizza pan.

step 2

Step 4: Select your sauce of choice. I’m obsessed with using barbecue sauce, and Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold is my hands-down favorite. When your dough is saucy, sprinkle it with onions, peppers cherry tomatoes, whatever you happen to have handy of the vegetable persuasion.

step 5

Step 5: Add more than you think you want. Pizza with stuff is always better. Balance the amount of bread out with obscene amounts of vegetables.

step 6

Step 6: Cheese.

step 7

Step 7: Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven and resist the urge to eat immediately, as studies show that this will result in a burnt tongue.

finished pizza

Step 8: Slice and ENJOY YOUR PIZZA!

sliced pizza

I’m a [VALEN-]tiny bit excited.

love is a balloon

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When I say I love Valentine’s Day more than any other holiday, I get a multitude of reactions. Most frequently some version of this:

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Occasionally, I’ll get something more like this:

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But usually it’s more like this:

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I have ranted in the past about why I think people need to get over themselves with regards to Valentine’s Day, so I don’t want to get too much into it again. But I basically love Valentine’s Day like Buddy the Elf loves Christmas.

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Things You Should Consider Doing This Valentine’s Day:

1.) Give Unexpected Compliments to Unexpected People

compliment

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2.) Watch this Video, because THIS is a great example of LOVE!

3.) If you can’t think of somebody in your life to share the love with, then find somebody who needs a little extra love in their lives and DO SOMETHING about it!

Colin's Facebook Page

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There is a little boy in Minnesota whose birthday is coming up, but who doesn’t have friends at school . . . his mom made this facebook page, and you could always take a moment to write him a birthday card tomorrow!

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4.) Watch Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!

win a date

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This movie recently came up in conversation, and I remembered just how fantastically fun a chick-flick it really is. Plus, it’s not TOO goopy for a valentine’s day, even if you are single and feeling depress-y about the fact.

5.) Give somebody a valentine, for crying out loud! It doesn’t need to be a sappy one!

eyes for you

Whatever you do, please remember to share the love, even in the Valentiniest  of ways! There are so many shoddy reasons that people celebrate any holiday, but what a wonderful thing it is to have an entire holiday devoted to showing the people that we care about how much we love them. If that isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

[if you want to read more about my love of Valentine's day, click here]

Bare it All: Taking the Mother Hubbard Challenge

One of my this-month’s-resolutions (year resolutions are just not my thing) is derived from a poem you may know. Have you read the first stanza of that old classic poem about Old Mother Hubbard and her zany pup?

OldMotherHubbard-01

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Well, I have no dog, and I don’t keep the cat food in the cupboard, so rest assured that this challenge has nothing to do with developing an inability to feed pets and everything to do with bare cupboards. Let me explain. Context: When I returned home from my Holiday at home in Ithaca, NY, old Mother Nature was kind enough to force me into hibernation with a serious nor’easter.

wicked slippery

(borrowed from a friend’s facebook wall – no other source available at this time!)

With nothing but snow-shoveling (which I avoided) and the season premier of BBC Sherlock Series 3 (ASLDFLKJS:LDKFJ!!!! I had to stop after the third time watching, just for a break from all the fangirling…) to distract me, I got down to cleaning the house . . . only to find that my kitchen cupboard situation has gotten majorly out of hand.

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That’s right.

I have too much food.

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Holy First World Problem, Batman, am I right?

So, in an effort to be thriftier, less wasteful, and also more appreciative of what I have  . . . not to mention in an attempt to begin to purge the cupboards (and the fridge and the freezer), I have decided not to buy any new groceries this month, with the exception of pet-related necessities and the occasional eggs/milk that may be required of me. I am going to try to:

(drumroll please)

BARE IT ALL!!!

. . . and by “it” I mean kitchen. 

Wish me luck!!!