Monday, April 30, 2012

The Friendly Toast

As you can see...this isn't a Meal Plan Monday.  Typical, right?

There are two reasons for that:
1) I ended up making an impromptu trip home to Missouri and therefore will be trying to cram a visit to all of my favorite restaurants into the short amount of time that I have instead of making food and eating at home.
2) I haven't posted a new eatery post for April...and tomorrow is May.

So there you have it.  An April eatery swap for the Meal Plan Monday.  Hope you don't mind.

If you remember back in January when I started this whole "new eatery" thing, the very first restaurant I tried to go to was The Friendly Toast.  From which I was turned away due to a 2 hour wait and looming hungry horns.  Sunday Brunch in Boston = impossible to get in anywhere good without a wait and hungry horns.  Well, I learned my lesson and returned to The Friendly Toast this month during midday on a Friday.  No wait, no hungry horns.  Win.

It didn't take long to figure out why there was an obscene wait the first time around.  Other than the fact that this place is just cool, it was literally one of the best breakfasts that I have ever experienced.  All it took was one bite, Kaston and I looked at each other to show approval, and then immediately started drooling.

Seriously, you need to make this place your next breakfast stop.

Let's explore the pictures so you can see what I'm talking about, yeah?  (Please excuse the high quality, beautiful pictures from my phone...)

There it is.  Perfectly situated in Kendall Square....calling your name.

Remember when I said this place was just cool?  Well this is what I mean.  The decor is wonderful.  And when I say wonderful, I mean random flea market finds that have been thoughtfully placed and hung around the restaurant for the diners viewing pleasure.

Naturally this was our favorite sign.  Classic Missouri.

Incredibly large creepy doll...

Precious isn't it?

 Unfortunately this doesn't look as delicious as it was.  Kaston had the Guy Scramble which was scrambled eggs with cheddar, black beans, avocado, and corn salsa.  A combination that you can never go wrong with.  It was also served with big slices of homemade toast and delicious homefries.

I had The Peasant.  1 pile of scrambled egg whites with Cuban rice, corn, carrots and soy sauce, and another pile of spinach, feta, and black beans.  Served with homemade wheat toast.  Do you realize how thick those pieces of toast are?  Hommmmemade toast.  Yes.

First bite.

Um yeah.  This is what we took HOME.  And we were starving when we arrived.  Portions are Texas sized to say the least.

He looooves having his picture taken.

Did I mention they have a bar?  That's right folks.  A bar.

I have to say that this is one of my new favorite places in Boston.  I cannot wait to return for another delicious meal whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Or...maybe I'll go for all one day. Think that's allowed?  Surely so.

Now it's your turn to go visit.  Just remember if you're going on a weekend...plan ahead.  The lines are long but well worth the wait.

The Friendly Toast
1 Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA
Sunday-Tuesday: 8am-10pm
Wednesday and Thursday: 8am-11pm
Friday and Saturday: 8am-1am

Visit their website {here}

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shrimp with Cilantro-Lime Pesto

Guess what.

I finally made pesto.

Remember how I've been telling you for the last 8 years that I'm going to make pesto...soon...?  Well, the time came.  And I did it.  And I adored it.  (P.S.-that 8 years thing...was a lie.)

Let's talk about this stuff for a minute.  This wasn't just any kind of pesto.  It was cilantro pesto.  Yeah, you heard me.  Cilantro.  Usually pesto comes in the form of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and yummy cheese.  But this recipe pulled the ole' switcheroo, putting a South of the Border twist on this Italian classic and...I loved it.

Other than the pesto, this recipe is incredibly versatile.  For example, the original recipe called for linguini but I swapped it out for brown rice.  Why?  Because it's what I had.  I made it with shrimp, but you're feeling chicken tonight?  I say go for it.  You don't like feta cheese?  Throw in some Parmesan.  You catch my drift.

shrimp with cilantro-lime pesto...
from Bon App├ętit
Makes: 4 Servings   Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 10 minutes   Total Time: 25 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

1 1/4 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus 1/4 cup chopped
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tablespoon jalapeno, chopped and seeded
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 lb linguine (or rice)
1 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 
3 Tablespoons tequila
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper

  1. In a food processor, combine 1 1/4 cups cilantro, green onions, lime juice, garlic, and jalapeno.  Blend until a course puree forms.  With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup of oil.  Season generously with salt.
  2. Cook linguine (or rice) in a large pot of boiling water until tender and done.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook until almost opaque in the center, about 3 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and add tequila.  Return skillet to heat and stir until sauce is thickened and syrupy, about 30 seconds.  Add pesto and stir to coat.  Remove from heat.
  4. Add pasta (or rice) to skillet and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide among plates, sprinkle with cheese and chopped cilantro.
  5. Enjoy!

P.S. - Earlier today I went to the restaurant for April's "new eatery" post that I'll be sharing with you sometime before Tuesday...and OH MY GOODNESS.  It was in possibly the best breakfast I've ever eaten.  I can't wait to tell you about it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

First, you should you know that sharing this recipe with you, at this moment, is keeping me from a complete brain meltdown due to cramming ridiculous amounts of finance information into my brain.

Boo finals.  It hurts.

So thank you for being there to read this.  My brain feels a little less mushy already.


Second, I need you to throw out any preconceived notions you have about cheese and sweets.  Lemon Ricotta Cookies?  Yeah, yeah I know it sounds strange.  But trust me, it's not.  The ricotta creates this fabulous cake like texture and the lemon makes for a light and refreshing treat.  Oh, and did I mention you get to slather them in a lemon glaze?

 You want one don't you?

Or 27 of them...

lemon ricotta cookies
Makes: 3-4 dozen cookies   Prep Time: 10 minutes  Bake Time: 15 minutes  Cooling Time: 20 minutes   Total Time: 45 minutes

for the cookies-
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

for the glaze-
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350°, line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and gather your ingredients.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the room temperature butter with 2 cups of sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  About 3 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the eggs one at a time.

Beating each one until well incorporated.

Add the ricotta cheese.

The zest of one lemon.

And 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Mixing on medium speed to combine.

On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients.

Until you have a smooth batter.  Drop the dough (about 2 tablespoons per cookie) onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges.

While the cookies are baking, combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and the zest of one lemon in a small bowl.

Stir until smooth.

When the cookies come out of the oven, let them cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes or so.

And then drizzle each cookie with about 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon glaze.

Then let the glaze harden for an hour or so.

Mmm.  Lemony fresh.

Time to eat!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

It's going to be one of those weeks.

A week filled to the brim with events, working, and wrapping up with school.  A busy week topped off with finishing classes for the semester?  I'll take it.

Unfortunately for you however, this means that I won't be home ONE night this week. recipe posting might be a little less frequent.  But I'll give it my best shot, alright?

Since I won't be home to actually prepare dinner this week I thought we could focus on lunch for this weeks Meal Plan!  Besides, lunch often gets ignored and replaced with a quick trip to the deli or a big greasy slice of pizza.  And I don't think lunch likes that too much.  It wants to be made, taken with you to work/school, and loved just as much as the other meals.

Question: What are your go-to lunches during the week?


 As soon as I make my way home from the coffee shop and before I have to skedaddle off to class, I'm going to make this little salad.  It's super simple to throw together and would be the perfect lunch to make ahead and grab on your way out the door.  I'll probably add some grilled chicken but any kind of protein would be delicious with it!
Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad


Tuesday is going to be my most time crunched day.  Solution?  The glorious crockpot.  Seriously, tell me you own one?  You just throw some ingredients in, turn it on, and then come home to a fully prepared meal?  Sold.  Tuesday, I'll be able to throw everything in before I leave for class and come home by lunch to this delicious barbeque chicken that I can toss over a salad or have with some sliced up avocado.  Yum.
Barbeque Shredded Chicken
-from The Kitchn


Huevos Rancheros, I love you.  I usually don't have things like this for breakfast BUT for lunch?  You bet.  I'm planning on having some leftover barbeque chicken from Tuesday to top this delicious lunch off.  Want to come over?
Scrambled Huevos Rancheros


This past weekend I made pizza on the grill (which was an absolute hit and I'll probably share with you later this week even though I only have pictures via my phone) and I have a ridiculous amount of leftover ricotta and zucchini.  And since I have a bit more time for lunch on Thursday I'll have time to bake.  Mmm spring galettes.
Savory Zucchini and Ricotta Galette


 Friday is a SUPER exciting day for our little household.  And that's because Friday night is the My Politic CD release party at Out of the Blue Art Gallery in Cambridge!  That's right ladies and gentlemen, My Politic has just released their 4th album, American Will!  Over the past year I have been able to sit back and enjoy while they holed up for hours on end to make this album.  I'm so impressed with their dedication and skills to bust this thing out in our living room.  That kind of thing doesn't happen anymore.  If you're around Boston on Friday, April 27th I highly encourage you come out to celebrate with them.  It will be a night to remember.  I promise.  If you can't join us, then you should check out the following links to buy a copy of the CD and stay updated on upcoming events/shows!
My Politic Blog - for more information on the show and upcoming events.
CD Baby - To purchase the new (and old!) album.
Itunes - American Will will be on Itunes soon, so if it's not up quite yet check back in a couple days!
Also, I'm in charge of bringing a some food for the evening.  A vegetarian dish to be exact.  So I'll be making the above...
Mango Quinoa Salad

And finally what is a celebration without dessert?  In my isn't.  So these will probably have to tag along.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Bars 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Banana Cake

Banana cake.  Banana bread.  Banana bliss.

I don't really care/know what to call this delicious thing.

It's supposed to be a cake.  But really it's just a big pan of the best banana bread you've ever tasted that's been slathered with cream cheese icing.  Doesn't sound too shabby does it?

I made this "cake/bread" hybrid the other day for a friend's birthday.  I actually had no idea what kind of dessert he liked so I went out on a limb and decided on banana.  I will admit that I did have a little help from the 8 million bananas that are always piled on top of his microwave.  But still, banana bread is a classic.  Heck, I might even throw it in with chocolate and vanilla.  Is that allowed?

Well, if should be.  Because, umm, this really good.  It sits at the perfect crossroads between an incredibly dense bread and a super spongy cake.  It's not too sweet, but the ripe bananas and buttermilk make for a super rich flavor that is complemented by the thin layer of frosting that's slathered all over the top.  And did I mention that all it takes is a little mixing, a greased pan, and an oven?  Yep, that's it.  So wonderfully simple.

banana cake...with cream cheese frosting

Makes: 1 9x13 pan   Prep Time: 10 minutes   Bake Time: 35-40 minutes   Total Time: 50 minutes

{Print Me}


for the cake-

  • 2 2/3 cups pastry flour (or 2 2/3 cups minus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour)
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large or 4 small very ripe bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the frosting-
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mash the bananas.  Beat in eggs one at a time, until each is incorporated.  Then mix in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Lastly, add the dry ingredients to the batter just until combined.
  4. Pour batter into your prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a rack.
  5. While the cake is cooling, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and no lumps remain.  Add the vanilla or almond extract and beat until incorporated.  Slowly add powdered sugar.
  6. Frost the cake, slice, serve, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grilled Vegetable and Black Bean Salad

As I was doing a little spring cleaning on my computer last night I stumbled upon several tasty recipes that had slipped right through the cracks and never made it to you.  What can I say?  I'm not perfect.  It must have been some combination of laziness, forgetfulness, and a little recipe A.D.D.

Either way, they have been found and will be presented to you over the next couple of weeks.  Unless I lose them again...

It's a rule in Boston that on the first couple of "warm" days you must 1) find a patch of grass and lay on it, even if there are 50 others laying in that exact spot and 2) go outside and grill.

Well, not really.  But as soon as it starts warming up, the people of Boston flock to any small grassy area they can find and that delicious *charred* smell from the grill starts to take over the city.

So, obviously we had to partake...I've spent a few afternoons basking in the sun and we've had several very lively grilling parties.  Hello, summer.

This particular night we threw on some Garlic Chili Tilapia and I made the Bean and Corn Salad to go with it.  It was a quickly thrown together meal but it was quite perfect. 

Oh and can I tell you how much I love grilled vegetables?  If someone would have given me a knife and fork right then and there I would have said screw the salad and just went after it.  But then I would have missed out.  Because the salad was delicious.  So don't ever let anyone do that.  They'll thank you later.

Okay so, it starts out as your typical "Mexican" corn/bean salad.  But then you throw in some rice.  And then you throw in your grilled vegetables...andddd then you toss it in a tangy citrus dressing.  And finally you top it with avocado.  Goodness.  Want to know what puts it over the top?  The tangy dressing paired with the grilled vegetables.  The deep flavor of the veggies with the light and fresh tang of the dressing = Perfection.  That being said, you can't skip out on grilling the vegetables in this dish.  I'm sorry to put restrictions on you like that, but it's 100% necessary.

grilled vegetable and black bean salad...

Adapted from Eating Well

Makes: 4-6 Servings   Prep Time: 5 minutes   Grill/Cook Time: 10-12 minutes (veggies) 25-30 minutes (rice)   Total Time: 45 minutes

{Print Me}

  • 2/3 cup brown rice (I used Trader Joe's microwavable rice and cut out the 30 minute cook time!)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 large ears corn, husked
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into 1/2 inch rings
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup salsa (hot or mild)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Cook rice in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, 25-30 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Or if you have microwavable rice, throw it in the microwave and skip this step!
  2. In a large bowl, toss rice and beans.  Set aside.
  3. Preheat grill.  Oil the grill rack using a paper towel.  Grill corn, onions, and pepper, turning frequently, until tender and charred, 10-12 minutes.
  4. Cut kernels from cobs and add to rice and beans.
  5. Dice pepper and onions and add to the rice mixture.
  6. Whisk salsa, orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, oil, and cumin in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Peel and dice avocado.
  8. Spoon rice mixture onto a serving dish (can be served hot or cold), top with dressing and avocado.
  9. Enjoy!

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