Chicken, Veggie & Quinoa Bake

We all have go-to recipes. Not only does it make dinner easier, but it also allows you to modify and make it your own over time. One of my favorite recipes evolved out of a (what else?) Pinterest recipe for a pasta bake. The original recipe is delicious, but leaned too heavily on pasta for my liking. First, I cut back on the pasta and upped the veggies. Then I finally perfected (in my humble opinion :)) when I eliminated the pasta all together for quinoa. Basically every ingredient can be used ‘to taste’ so this is a loose recipe. I wanted to share with you and highly encourage you to make it your own and report back. After all, there’s always room for improvement!

Ingredients:
  • Cooked chicken (I prefer shredded)
  • Cooked quinoa (or pasta), drained
  • Chive cream cheese, one package (room temp)
  • Canned tomatoes (I use one that includes chiles too since I love a kick!), one can
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini and/or summer squash, cut up
  • Peppers (any color), cut up
  • Minced garlic, red pepper flakes, whatever herbs and spices you desire!
  • ​Shredded cheese​

Preheat oven to 250. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except shredded cheese. Mix well. Ideally the quinoa/pasta is still warm enough to finish softening the cream cheese. Pour mixture into a pan, generously sprinkle with cheese and cover with tinfoil. Bake for a half hour. If needed, remove tinfoil and bake another 15 min to cook off some of the liquid and/or finish melting the cheese. Will depend on your oven and preference. I serve hot with ground pepper. Makes fabulous leftovers as well 🙂

Let me know if you try it out! I’m sparing you a picture on this post, as I’m not adept at food pics… yet.

DIY Cold Brew Coffee

I love coffee and, like any hardy New Englander, I drink it iced year round. While I know I’ll never stopping buying coffee out entirely, there’s certainly room to cut back. With that in mind, I have been saying I wanted to try making my own cold brew. So when I saw that Atlas Coffee Club was looking to work with Boston Bloggers, I knew it was sign to put my money where my mouth is…finally.

Atlas Coffee Club “sources premium single origin coffee from farms around the world and pays well above market prices for the beans, helping to ensure ethically sustainable farming practices and the highest quality coffee year after year”.  I am making a conscious effort to be more aware of what I consume, where it comes from, how it’s made and supporting businesses that are operating above board so I was happy to have the opportunity to work with them. It also fits into one of my favorite categories of things–  a monthly subscription service (individual bags are for sale too).

Based on my preferences, I went with Ethiopia, which arrived already ground. However, if you prefer to grind your own, whole beans are available as well. Either way, your coffee is roasted the same week you receive it, with the roasted date right on the package. It was cool that it came with a card explaining more about where my coffee came from, something I rarely thought about in the past, sadly.

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I loosely followed this recipe to make my cold brew, since a friend had used it and told me it was easy. And it was! You’ll need:

Pour your bag of ground coffee in first, top with cold water and put it in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours. You can adjust the coffee/water ratio to your personal preference. I used less water than the recipe calls for because I wanted it to be stronger. I figured I could always add water to it afterwards, like you would a concentrate, if necessary.

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I let my cold brew steep for just shy of 24 hours, then I covered my fine mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth (remember– you want to keep those grounds out hence using both) and hoped for the best. It went well! None of the grounds got through and I had plenty of strong, cold brew to keep in the fridge. Keep in mind that this undertaking is going to be slightly messy, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was fearing.

Now you’re ready to enjoy! Cover and refrigerate the remainder.

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I had mine with just cream, my go-to king cubes and an umbrella straw (because life is short). It was delicious!  The strength, freshness and quality all showed. I’d be interested to try this same technique with a different blend next time. To compare, but also to see if I can find my perfect coffee to water ratio.

Do you make coffee at home, buy it out, or both? Have you ever tried making cold brew before?

Disclosure: Atlas Coffee Club provided me with a complimentary bag of coffee of my choosing for my review. Using it to make a cold brew and all other opinions expressed are my own. 

Boston Burger Company

**Boston Burger Company was sweet enough to host me last week. I am a huge Davis Square goer and had been meaning to stop in for a long time, but hadn’t had the chance. While our food was comped, all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you so much for having me in, guys! **
 
As the size of my thighs will attest, I LOVE food. I’m thinking about my next meal while eating my current meal. I am unapologetic about both of these things 🙂 While I don’t generally eat a ton of red meat, when I want a burger, I WANT A BURGER. With cheese. And toppings. And fries. And I want it served with a delicious beverage. Well, all of my burger wishes were granted during this Tuesday night dinner. I’m an adventurous eater and since I was given this lovely opportunity to check out Boston Burger Co, I decided I would try something I wouldn’t find anywhere else which was the Vermonster [“sauteed granny smith apples and red onion, bacon, maple mayo, cheddar”]. Oh, wow, was I glad I did! The combo of flavors was unique, but played off each other very well. I guess it should be a no-brainer, since many of the flavors are found in breakfast offerings, but if you’re still hesitant to try them via a burger, don’t be. My dinner companion (my BFF) had the Buffalo Burger [“buffalo sauce, crumbled blue cheese, diced celery, boney’s special sauce”] which was out of this world as well. I am a buffalo and blue cheese snob and they clearly took both seriously. If neither of these sound up your alley, there is tons to choose from on their large menu which includes more than just burgers and fries. We already discussed bringing the guys back with us since we know they’ll be fans too. Next time, I’m going for The Sophie [“prosciutto, goat cheese, candied walnuts, fig jam, arugula tossed with lemon vinaigrette and drizzled with a balsamic reduction”]. Or maybe The King [“peanut butter, bacon, fried bananas dusted in cinnamon and sugar]. Or…

 

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Alongside our tasty main courses, we tried the garlic parmesan fries. The word “fries” is really an understatement though, as they were generously cut wedges of potato working the perfect crispy on the outside-melt in your mouth on the inside balance.

 

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To wet our whistle, we ordered cranberry margaritas. YUM! Definitely recommend. If you’re more of a burger and beer type, they got you covered on that front too.
Sorry the picture quality on this post isn’t the best! I was having a hard time with my camera and the lighting . Don’t let that deter you in the least though, this place is delicious and fabulous!

 

 

I visited the location at 37 Davis Square in Somerville (there are two other locations in Cambridge and Boston). Among other accolades, Boston Burger Co has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, “The Phantom Gourmet”, and won Rachael Ray’s Battle of the Best Burger.

Steak Me Out

With our hectic schedules, and family/friend commitments, it can be difficult for A and I to find solo time. With that in mind, we try to experience new things together to make the most of the time we do have! So a couple of months back, I saw a Gilt City for Taste Buds Kitchen’s BYOB cooking classes and immediately jumped on it. While I’m far from a culinary genius, I can cook, but there’s certainly room for improvement. While all of the workshops sounded incredibly yummy, the Steakhouse course took the (beef)cake. What is it that seems so daunting about cooking a steak well? Is that just me?

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Once I received the voucher, I emailed TBK and an actual human(!) nicely responded right away with instructions on registering. You know how sometimes places can be snooty if you have a voucher? Not here! With our uber busy fall, the first Steakhouse workshop we could attend was last week, but they have plenty of different events and workshops happening so I imagine it would have been fairly simple to have gone sooner as well.

Last Thursday night, we finally headed out to North Andover for our class! TBK was easy to find and there was ample street parking out front. When you walk in, the space manages to look both inviting and extremely clean. Andrea, Lisa and Gigi warmly greeted us, told us to wash our hands and to pick a station. We signed a waiver form, put on an apron and nametag and waited for the others to arrive (…I’m always early). There was pita bread and dipping oil to snack on and once everyone was in place, we opened our bottles of wine (why hello, Kim Crawford Pinot Noir); stemless wine glasses and water are provided!

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Next we got down to work, first watching Andrea do each step, then going back to our station and working (in two groups of 5) to mimic what she had demonstrated. I feel like it was informational, but also laidback. No one seemed stressed about it and all the couples were having fun together. And man, what I wouldn’t give to have everyone do all the measuring for me on a nightly basis. I’d definitely be making more meals at home! We put together wedge salads with homemade blue cheese dressing, red bliss mashed potatoes with truffle oil (on the side, used to taste) and pan seared flank steak. The potatoes were boiled for us after we cut them up, but we seared the steaks in groups ourselves. I have grilled and broiled steaks before, but never done them in a pan. It was easy! You just need to know what temp and what indicators to look for in doing so. Next we made a red wine reduction for the steak, something I have never even dreamed of doing. Again, it was just a matter of understanding what to do at what point, but overall fairly simple. The three instructors were always available for guidance, but also weren’t micromanaging our every move, so it was perfect.

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After everything was ready, we all sat down in place to enjoy the meal we had prepared together. Being a social person, I thought it was fun how the class brought everyone together and we all enjoyed the absolutely delicious food as well as each other’s company. We were able to pack up any leftovers and there were pamphlets with the recipes available to take home for reference.

In case this isn’t already clear, I thought it was an amazing experience from start to finish and I’m so glad we did it! Next time, I really want to try their brunch workshop with the girls. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, whether you go as a couple or with your lady friends, it was something different to do that also boosted my cooking confidence. Plus, how could you hate on anything BYOB?! Give it a go!

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p.s., if you have little ones, they do children’s workshops during the day. If you live outside of the greater Boston area, there are TBK locations in a few other states as well.