Tag Archives: food

Crudite Creations Review

I get asked to review a lot of things and I honestly pass on most of them. For me to take on a review I have to feel that the odds are pretty good the thing will be useful and/or awesome. 

When Crudite Creations reached out, it was an easy sell because, well, this is what they make:

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Image from Crudite Creations

No, those aren’t flowers. They’re veggies. For me the only question was: would the actual delivery live up to the picture?

Move over, fruit arrangements, towers of cupcakes, artfully arranged candies. I fell for this concept hook, line, and sinker. The natural beautiful colors of veggies, a healthy and refreshing snack for your party, and a huge step up from the tray of veggie sticks that’s obligatory at so many gatherings.

So how did my delivery go? There was no way I could take on this tower myself so I had it brought to work where I shared in the bounty with my co-workers. The response when it came in the room? Awe.

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Not only did it look gorgeous (those lilies? leeks with baby corns in the middle) but it also came with two dips: hummus and onion. They were obviously freshly made. The hummus was the perfect amount of lemony, light and smooth. The onion dip… well, I was really tempted to just eat it with a spoon and skip the veggies all together. It was AMAZING. 

Fresh, local ingredients. A local business based in Newton. Boston friends: this is a must for your future baby showers, wedding showers, company parties, etc. Pricing is similar to what you’d get for a fruit arrangement, but you’ll be supporting a local business, local foods, and healthy delicious eating by going with Crudite Creations instead. 

Thanks to Crudite Creations for providing this arrangement and dips. 

The D-Word

Here are 4 words that I’ve never said before but are now actually true: I’m on a diet. 

Why do I feel kind of shameful saying that? I do. I’ve felt weird about it since I started last week and I decided that meant I probably needed to blog about it to work through whatever it is that’s going on with me.

It’s not that I’ve never tried to lose weight. I just never did anything official, anything with rules. I would just watch what I ate, so to speak. I cut back on things, I ate smaller portions, I worked on healthier foods, etc. But I never called it dieting because I was just trying to be healthy or whatever. It’s not like watching what I ate meant I wouldn’t eat cheese. (God, I miss cheese.)

But now I’m all official. And while internally I feel really good about this decision, it’s one I am really embarrassed about making public.

I have good reasons. I know I’m justified. I gave myself a year after Tessa was born to not worry about my body. And then I gave myself a year to gradually work on it. But those years have ended, and while I lost most of my baby weight, I’m stuck. Very stuck. The only time I made progress since hitting my plateau was the stomach flu. And it all came back a week later. I’d like to give it a real effort to see if I can get where I’d like to go. It’s a realistic goal but one I haven’t been able to meet on my own. 

I joined Weight Watchers because 1) it’s at work so it’s not extra effort for me to get there, 2) it’s covered by my insurance, and 3) I have a group of online friends who have done it and who know their stuff and who are super supportive.

Now that I’m in it I finally get why people hate dieting. It is TERRIBLE. I am surrounded constantly by things I cannot eat. I am meeting someone for a drink on Friday and I will have to limit myself to a single glass of wine and even then I’ll be using up a majority of my extra points for the day on that one glass. Goodbye to a cold beer on a warm day, it was nice while it lasted. And now he wants to make it dinner and I’m trying to think of how I can order a meal that won’t be one of those “girly” meals that makes it really obvious I’m on a diet. At home I have lots of options for what I can eat and on that front I’m doing okay, but wow there’s just so much that isn’t an option. 

I realize how many restaurants I follow on Twitter, how many bloggers are posting recipes, how much I think about and talk about food. It sucks. 

But the embarrassment may suck more. Why am I embarrassed? Since when is it not okay to decide you want to lose extra weight? Maybe because I’ve worked so hard on accepting my body and being okay with it that now admitting I’m still not fully comfortable is admitting some kind of defeat? Maybe because I think I’ll have to insist that I really need it when people say I don’t?

I’ll be honest, I do not like my stomach. It is so much worse after Tessa. I still get people asking if I’m pregnant from time to time. I hate that. I know losing weight may not do anything for my stomach at all, but I’d like to at least give it a shot and see what happens. I’d like my dresses to fall a little better, like my jeans to fit a little better, all that stuff. 

And let’s be fully honest. I’m single. I’m dating. As much as I don’t want my looks to matter, they do.

On the bright side, my will power is pretty kickass. Then again, it’s only been one week.

I guess I just want to throw this out into the ether because I wonder what the rest of you out there do and if there’s some amazing tips you can give me or if you can just pass along some solidarity or commiseration. Because there’s 11 more weeks of this to go. It’ll be September when I’m finished. Summer will be over, Graham will be in school, the time stretching in front of me is intimidating.

Also I’m kind of nervous that I’ll lose weight but it’ll all come from my boobs. Worst possible outcome.

Brunch at Puritan & Company

restaurant Brunch at Puritan & CompanyWhen people ask me about where to go for brunch, I like to have a lot of good answers. So a meetup with the Boston Brunchers to a place I haven’t been to before is always welcome to see if I can add them to my list. This time it was to Puritan & Company in Inman Square in Cambridge. I know Inman Square is a bit of a hotspot food-wise but this was actually my first trip out there as someone who spends more time on the other end of the city.

 Brunch at Puritan & CompanyI was one of the first of the group to arrive and I had to take a few minutes to appreciate the decor. I’m not one of those people who swoons over pretty restaurants, but I was pretty close to it. A country chic decor that still had a nice youthful feel. I fell in love with the brocade on the benches. It was bright and airy, felt kind of like the kitchen you’d see in a magazine.

Though they have a full cocktail menu, they also have their 3 brunch favorites (mimosa, bloody, and a gin cocktail called the Park Avenue) for under $10, a rarity for menus around the Boston area. 

 Brunch at Puritan & CompanyYou would make a big mistake by skipping out on their housemade pastries to start off your meal. While not a big pastry person myself, it’s a big focus of their brunch. There’s a table in the middle of the restaurant where they all sit out for display. We tried a bunch of different ones. Just as you’d expect, I really loved the savory ham & gruyere pinwheels. 

But I also found myself really really in love with their coconut caramel danish. Hugely tasty without being too sweet, I would die for an entire one all for myself. On the other hand, while I loved the Boston Cream Donut, it was too rich for me to eat alone. 

 Brunch at Puritan & CompanyFor the main dish I ordered the Corned Beef Hash, I’m a sucker for a good hash and when I see one on the menu I’m hard pressed not to order it. It came in a skillet with some bright and beautiful sunny side up eggs.

Definitely not your typical hash, this was cooked so nicely, with big pieces of braised beef  and ribbons of potato. It was a much milder hash than I usually have and I could’ve used a bit more seasoning, but it was a great dish.

The Brunchers were big fans of the Wagyu Steak and Eggs and I had a nice bite of someone’s Coppa Ham Sandwich. 

You’ll probably want to make reservations, or come outside the brunch rush, but that’s true for most brunch places. But you could definitely bring a picky eater here and make them very happy.

Thanks to Puritan & Company for feeding the Brunchers free of charge.

Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

event Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAEThe other day I was chatting with some friends and we bemoaned the fact that as adults with kids we no longer have “activities.” We don’t have soccer practice or skating lessons or dance classes, the stuff that used to define us when we were younger. For me, getting out and doing something fun and different (and possibly even educational) is a choice I want to make as much as I can manage. I want to shake things up, be something more than a working mom who spends all her time working and mom-ing. 

My most recent foray into fun and learning: the Cupcakes and Cocktails class at Boston Center for Adult Education. The great thing about this class? Yes, you’ll learn plenty of baking tips and leave with some amazing recipes. But you’ll get to have plenty of adult fun, too. Seriously, if you and your girlfriend or spouse or whoever are looking for a fun and different night, I can’t really think of anything I’d rather do.

As someone who loves teaching, I’m usually pretty picky when someone teaches me. Lucky for you, the Cupcakes and Cocktails teacher, Dustin, is pretty fantastic. Full of knowledge and witty repartee, he keeps the evening fast and fun.

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Be prepared to work on your baking skills. Even more: be prepared to work on your baking-while-intoxicated skills. Because before the cupcakes show up, the cocktails start coming. One for each type of cupcake you make. (Our class had 3.)

We began with the Birthday Cake Shot. With a cherry at the bottom of the glass, whipped cream and sprinkles on top, and a smooth taste that reminds you of almond buttercream frosting, it’s a memorable way to start the evening.

 Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

The group was divided up with each of us playing one part in making one of our three kinds of cupcakes. I was the official stirrer of the sangria compote for our Chocolate & Red Wine Cupcakes. And we all took turns helping out with the decorating. I’m no pro, so I stuck with the simple frosting on the Spring Break cupcakes (they had a coating of jello shots over the top). 

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Between each batch we’d make a new cocktail to go with it. A really tasty and quick sangria. A perfect winter hot toddy. It definitely helps you get a little relaxed while you get to know the people joining you in class.

In addition to a few great hours of fun, the baking tips were really good. (Maybe I should start doing it again one of these days…) I got some of the best on video. (You’ll have to click through…)

For example: don’t sift flour anymore, and when you’re measuring it, make sure you don’t add too much by packing it down. How to do it? A little shake shake… Looking for a simple way to fill the pastry bag before you frost? Use the top of your Cuisinart. Add some chocolate drizzle? Line up your cupcakes on foil and just use a glass.

And when your cupcakes come out of the oven, how do you keep them moist? Just cover the whole counter with plastic wrap. IT WORKS. These were some of the moist-est cupcakes I’ve ever eaten in my life.

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The Cupcakes and Cocktails class runs regularly at BCAE. It’s $60 for non-members with a $25 materials fee. Which is actually a pretty great deal for an evening of fun AND three (or more) cocktails AND over a dozen cupcakes that I took home with me. I would happily do it again. And the more friends I could bring, the better. There’s no need to head out to overpriced after-dinner drinks, relax somewhere that you can actually hear each other talk AND get plenty of sweets. It’s a win-win. 

Thanks to Blog and Tweet Boston and the Boston Center for Adult Education for hosting such a fun event. 

Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

restaurant Brunch at Towne Stove & SpiritsThe brunch buffet is one of those special indulgences that you don’t have on just any occasion. But if your family’s in town and you’re going to take a Sunday afternoon to go shopping on Newbury Street or go on a duck tour. If so, popping in for the Sunday Brunch Buffet at Towne Stove & Spirits is a great pick. 

Located right at the Prudential Center and Hynes Convention Center, it’s convenient to Back Bay and the Orange and Green lines. Buffets are a different kind of brunch. More expensive than a la carte, but give you the opportunity to try a bunch of different things and serve any palate. 

Towne fits the bill with a great indoor space and great variety, including hot and cold items, pastries, carving and omelet stations and even dessert.

Towne graciously hosted the Boston Brunchers for their Sunday-only brunch buffet.

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The highlight of the cold items for the bruncher crew: oysters, for sure. (It was too dark over there for me to get a good picture.) In fact, unlike most buffets our group filled their plates entirely with cold items before even hitting the hot bar. I’m not an oyster person myself, but I enjoyed their cheese quite a bit.

 

 

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Similarly, the pastry spread was not massive, but had well-chosen items for the most part. (My coffee cake was meh, but everything else was nice.)

The hot bar had two stations. One with waffles/pancakes and meat carving, the other with omelets. The omelet station offered egg whites, a big plus as far too many don’t. My eye went immediately to the egg dishes. I tend to do that.

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The one big downside to a hot buffet is that you may not always have your food at the perfect temperature. My benedict was a bit cool, though it seemed like everyone else got theirs at a better temperature when they came over a few minutes later. I would’ve liked a little more flavor in the hash, too.

 

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The dessert table is the only one I could get entirely into one shot and it does a good job of showing you the kind of variety they offer. Shortcakes, parfaits, whoopie pies, cookies, and much more. The big hit, though, was one I highlighted on Instagram:

 Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

That, my friends, is Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding and it was far and away the most talked about item at the table. Really tasty and surely added a few pounds to all our waistlines. 

While I wasn’t totally blown away by their savory dishes, I had a very nice brunch with the buffet. (Another buffet plus: if you’re not crazy about a dish you can scrap it and head out for another one.) It definitely fills a need with a solid buffet, lots of choices, and a convenient location.  The $38 per person price tag is relatively reasonable for the area, plus they only charge $14 for kids under 12. And there’s plenty of kid-friendly options if you’ve got little ones along for the ride.

Thanks to Towne Stove & Spirits for hosting the Brunchers and providing us each with access to their brunch buffet. 

My Mom’s Holiday Rolls

rolls image My Moms Holiday RollsThis year we’re doing our second visit to Kim’s place for Thanksgiving. And as my gift to her, and the rest of you, I’ve received permission from my favorite cook to share her Oatmeal Dinner Roll recipe. My Mom tends to test several different versions of the same thing until she finds the absolute perfect one. This recipe has been a solid favorite in our house for the last decade or so. Mom likes them because they’re easy and everyone eats them. She assures me that even if you haven’t made rolls you can make these, though she cautions new cooks to read the recipe through first, you have one step that needs to happen about an hour before you start.

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Day Off Work Everyone!

My Mom's Oatmeal Dinner Rolls
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 cup old fashioned oats
  3. 3 tbsp butter
  4. 2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
  5. 1/2 c. warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  6. 1 tbsp sugar
  7. 4 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in oats and butter. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat; let cool to 110 degrees. Stir together yeast, warm water, sugar in a 2-cup measuring cup; let stand five minutes.
  2. Beat oat mixture, yeast mixture, flour, salt and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
  4. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
  5. Punch dough down and divide in half; shape each portion into 16 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place evenly into 2 lightly greased 9 x 1 3/4-inch round cake pans.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Notes
  1. Mom recommends you put butter on your fingers when breaking up the dough into balls. You can add a little flour if it's sticky, but too much may dry them out.
  2. Plan to start the oats an hour before you continue.
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