Breakfast for Dinner at The Breakfast Club

Whether it’s an outing with girlfriends, a date with a new guy, or just another meal with the kids, breakfast food is a go-to. I love breakfast for any meal. I adore brunch. Breakfast for dinner is a big thumbs up. It’s the meal with the most sweet, the most savory, the most eggs, and the most coffee. 

The Breakfast Club is throwing three amazing Breakfast for Dinner nights, and to spread the word they kindly invited me over to try out their food.

So glad we had a pre-scheduled outing for brunch today. Thanks for hosting us, The Breakfast Club.

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

The Breakfast Club is nestled in Brighton with a parking lot AND on-street parking nearby. We found a spot the day after the last big blizzard just fine, a true shock. Diner style digs with big booths and a bar greet you, along with plenty of 80’s memorabilia.

I brought the kids along since they are up for pancakes everyday. There’s no kids menu, but that didn’t matter. We ordered a short stack for them to split along with a fruit bowl and a muffin.

Eating out with kids often means ordering a fruit bowl. Nice to see one that looks so tasty. #hosted

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

I admit, I use the fruit bowl as a measuring stick for any restaurant that offers one. It’s where you can tell who’s phoning it in and who’s trying. The Breakfast Club gave us a gorgeous fruit bowl that was nice and big, with a wide variety of fruit, and none of it looked old or sad. Nicely done. The pancakes in the short stack were bigger than the kids’ heads, which didn’t stop them from diving in. Syrup in squeeze bottles meant things were less messy than usual, too. Oh, and the muffin was served halved and toasted. 

Sorry vegetarians, but there's little I love more than a house-made corned beef hash. Swoon. #hosted

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

As for me, I ordered the eggs over house-made corned beef hash. I adore corned beef hash and I’m lucky enough to live in a place that considers it a normal breakfast food. The downside is I’ve had a lot of mediocre hash. In fact, most of it doesn’t seem to have a hint of corned beef, there’s none of that bright tang in your mouth when you take a bite. But this hash? This hash was delightful. One of the best I’ve had in ages. The sourdough toast was wonderful and well-buttered. The breakfast potatoes were a little boring, but I honestly didn’t mind. 

The best part, to me, is that the prices were actually lower than what you find most places around town. All omelets and breakfast plates are under $10, and the cups of coffee are bottomless. They’re open until 2 a.m. so I know where I’ll be getting my next late-night fix.

If you’re a fellow hash fan, the first of The Breakfast Club’s three Breakfast For Dinner nights are for you. Monday March 2nd from 6-9 pm their St. Patrick’s Day Dinner has all kinds of cheeky Irish food in a four-course meal. It includes Lucky Charms parfaits, Bailey’s French Toast, and a riff on Corned Beef & Cabbage with their house-made hash. Finish it off with an Irish Coffee milkshake. Tickets are $35.They’re also offering Easter and Spring-themed dinners on the first Mondays in April and May, tickets at the same link.

 

The Perfect Fall Brunch

sponsored post image The Perfect Fall BrunchIt’s no secret that I love brunch. And I love cocktails with brunch. But I tend to be kind of choosy about my brunch cocktails. I don’t want anything too strong or too heavy. Not too sweet either, but a little sweet and a little light is good. There’s a reason the mimosa is such a popular brunch drink. Bright, pleasant, bubbly, perfect.

The lovely folks over at St. Elder asked if I’d do a fall brunch and try out some of their favorite fall brunch cocktails. They did not have to twist my arm.

I teamed up with my partner-in-crime Kathy because she is wonderful and she bakes. Baking is definitely helpful.

Pancakes 1 The Perfect Fall Brunch

Friends with sourdough starters are excellent. We knew we had some serious cocktail work to do so we started the meal off with these Sourdough Pancakes with Apple Compote so we’d have plenty of time for tasting. (And photographing.) Pancakes and compote give you plenty of opportunities to throw in seasonal flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.

We decided to start off with the light and bubbliest cocktails and work our way up.

First up: the Classic Elder Shandy. 

Classic Elder Shandy 1 The Perfect Fall Brunch

Classic Elder Shandy Drink and Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

I do love cider, and the Elderflower liqueur gives it a nice herbal tinge that adds depth. Honestly, this is a great year-round cocktail. When do you not want a drink with apple-y sweetness, the scent of citrus, that’s nice and refreshing?

Next on the agenda, the Lemon Flower Spritz.

Lemon Flower Spritz with Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

Perhaps the best discovery of this cocktail adventure was Sipp. The Lemon soda was mild and herbal and added great flavors without too much sweetness. Worked so nicely with the prosecco and the elderflower. I want to mix that Sipp with everything. In Boston you can find Sipp at Savin Hill Specialties in Dorchester, Roche Bros in Quincy, and Deluca’s Market on Newbury Street. Live elsewhere? Check here. Or order online here

The Lemon Flower Spritzer was great for spritzer lovers, one of the favorites of the day, a more chic and sophisticated Mimosa. (Yes, there are ice cubes in it. Sorry about that. But I forgot to put the Prosecco and the Sipp in the fridge and I wanted a cold drink, darn it.) And can we just stop to appreciate the adorableness of baby Prosecco bottles? I want to cuddle them. (And then drink them.)

Then we moved into the slightly harder drinks. Pacing ourselves, as you do. Next was the Elder Rum Shandy. 

Elder Rum Shandy with Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

Another reason Kathy is handy? She’s the kind of person who already has nutmeg at her house and a new bottle of local rum. I am a sucker for cocktails with fresh grapefruit, I find that it brings something you don’t expect. We sampled this one twice, once before adding the cider and once after. It’s pretty great either way, one as a real DRINK and the other as a refreshing more brunchy drink. Another benefit of the “top with cider” approach to drinks is you can make it heavier or lighter depending on how much you add.

And lastly: the Honey Blossom Shandy.

Honey Blossom Shandy with Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

I don’t see many successful whiskey-based cocktails, but using the Hard Honey definitely brought a smoothing note to the sweeter mixers that helped them blend well with the whiskey. This would be a great one for the men who turn up their noses at more girly cocktails.

I’ve always been a fan of elderflower liqueur (I love to add it to my G&T’s) but these were definitely ways of using it I’d never thought of. The cocktails were mostly basic and simple without a need to buy a lot of random mixers. Using the cider was great, I love having cider in the house and it’s a great option for those who want it straight without the cocktails.

Any of these cocktails would be a great option for those hours of holiday food prep when everyone’s around and getting busy but you don’t want anything too hard so you can keep your wits about you near the stove. A great way to lighten up the day and get everyone in the spirit with some seasonal flavors. 

Thanks to St. Elder for putting together an amazing box of goodies and mixers to help put this post together. It was so much fun!

Chicken Verde Lettuce Wraps

sponsored post image Chicken Verde Lettuce WrapsWhen Hood asked me to put together a recipe for a dinner entree using sour cream, I immediately said yes. Because apparently I have no idea how hard it is to make a recipe. Respect to all the food bloggers out there, you guys have a hard job. 

But I put in some time and effort and ended up making a tasty meal with a little Mexican flair that is mild enough for kids and super healthy. 

The star of my dish? TOMATILLOS!

Hood Resized 2 Chicken Verde Lettuce Wraps

I love tomatillos, and an opportunity to give them some visibility was one I was happy to take. I do like salsa, but salsa verde made with tomatillos instead of tomatos is by far my favorite. It’s got a more citrusy tang and some sweetness that works well with creamy sour cream or cheese. (Yes, I am a sucker for Enchiladas Suizas.)

My original vision was to create a kind of street taco with a crema from tomatillos, avocados, and sour cream. But after a few tries I moved in a slightly different direction when my crema just didn’t get the right flavors or substance. Plus I found that a corn tortilla overwhelmed my mellow tomatillos.

I was thinking about salads and then it hit me: lettuce wraps. A healthy way to serve my dish plus an extra green ingredient to make a real “verde” dish.

This is a slow cooker meal, perfect for a working parent and super easy. Tomatillos were easy for me to find in the grocery store, even here in New England! If you have trouble just hit your local ethnic grocery. They’re also cheap (win!) and it’s a great time of year for tomatillos and avocados both. 

If you’ve never used tomatillos before, they come in a husk. Make sure you give them a once over before you buy. Like many veggies, smaller means more flavor. When you get them home, take off the husk and give them a good rinse since they tend to be a little sticky.

Hood Resized 1 Chicken Verde Lettuce Wraps

 

Chicken Verde Lettuce Wraps

1 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed thoroughly
2 cloves garlic
1 lb chicken breasts (or thighs)
2 white onions
1 bunch cilantro
3/4 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. sour cream
2 avocados
1 head butter lettuce
2 cobs fresh corn (optional)
 
Broil the tomatillos and garlic cloves (unpeeled) until slightly charred, turning once, about 5-10 minutes. Peel the garlic and halve the tomatillos.
 
Add chicken, tomatillos, garlic, chicken broth, and a few stalks of cilantro to slow cooker. Slice one onion and add. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
 
Remove chicken and shred. Pour remaining contents of slow cooker into the blender. Mix, then set aside about half the liquid. To remaining liquid, add sour cream, cilantro to taste and 1 avocado, cut into large chunks. Stir until smooth. Add salt to taste. 
 
Combine chicken with half of the sauce, adding more bit by bit until it’s very moist.
 
Slice remaining avocado. Dice remaining onion. Add some chicken, avocado, onion, and corn to each lettuce leaf.
 
This also works as a chicken salad you could eat over lettuce or in a sandwich. It’s mellow, tasty, and delicious. You can use reduced fat sour cream to keep this dish more healthy, though it’s already solidly healthy and good for you. 
 
Thanks to Hood for inviting me to their Sour Cream Meal Makeover Cook-off! It was tons of fun and a great chance to pull out my cooking skills. I was compensated for my participation.

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:

arms holding creation w lily Crudite Creations Review
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.

20140612 141354 e1405868970665 Crudite Creations Review

20140612 141359 e1405869423789 Crudite Creations Review

IMG 20140612 142416 e1405869309574 Crudite Creations Review

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.