Energy Bites (No Baking Required)

IMG_2652

Absolutely no baking required? We’re into it.  If you’re looking for something quick to eat in the morning or right before a workout, these are tasty, super easy to make and definitely give you some much needed energy.  Let us know how you like them! Recipe inspired by GimmeSomeOven.

IMG_4897

Ingredients:

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/3 cup Maple Syrup

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup Flaxseed Meal

1 cup dry Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 cup of Chocolate Chips (get the smaller morsels)

1 tbsp. of Chia Seeds

1/3 cup of dried cranberries

Instructions:

  • Stir ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30+ minutes.
  • Take out from fridge, roll mix into balls.
  • Store in airtight container/ziploc bag and enjoy!
Advertisements

Best Boston Restaurants for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and whether you are going on a blind date or dining with a boyfriend or girlfriend of several years, here are our favorite Boston restaurants for every type of dating situation.

0-6 months

You’re tying to impress your new flame and want to go somewhere romantic and hip. You want the place to be an extra source of conversation and the menu to be unforgettable. Here’s where you should go:

craigie on main

Craigie on Main – Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin

7 months – 1.5 years

You’re officially dating and there’s minimal confusion as to what your relationship is. Now, you want a restaurant that shows you have been somewhat listening up until now and get each other’s likes and dislikes. You want to impress but also not break the bank. Make a reservation at these places:

ten tables

Ten Tables

  • Ten Tables – Jamaica Plain/Cambridge
  • Asta – Back Bay
  • Painted Burro – Somerville

1.5-3 years

Now you have some favorite places together and many great memories throughout the years. But, today is not like everyday and you’re looking for a change of pace. The relationship is too young to just go to Shake Shack, here’s where to stop by:

russell house tavern

Russell House Tavern

3-5 years

We get it, you like each other. You kind of forget where you went for Valentine’s Day year 1, 2 and maybe 3 but you won’t let the excitement drift. Let’s not go nutty with pulling out the chair and getting the special Valentine’s Day dessert, but take each other somewhere trendy, comfortable and most of all memorable.

jm curley

jm Curley

  • jm Curley – Downtown Crossing (the best drinks/the best food)
  • East Coast Grill – Somerville (get the drink that you’re only allowed to get 2/night)
  • Lone Star Taco Bar – Allston (try all the tequila and pair with all the tacos)

5+ years

You don’t need our advice, you’ll find a place. You got this down.

Red Carpet, Red Velvet Popcorn

IMG_2633

(Disclaimer: Pretzel Crisps provided samples but thoughts and opinions are our own)

There’s nothing better than eating a ton of desserts, hanging out with friends and making fun of all the awkward Grammy performances. This year, we made Red Carpet, Red Velvet popcorn for the big night. It was the perfect blend of salty and sweet and if you love dessert mixes, you’ll love this one. This recipe was inspired by Cookies and Cups.  It’s perfect for a red carpet event or really anytime you have a sweet tooth.

What’s your favorite dessert mix?

IMG_2609

Ingredients:

8 cups of popped popcorn (we used 98% fat free popcorn – have to cut calories somewhere)

Red Velvet cake mix

3 cups of original Pretzel Crisps

20 oz white chocolate morsels

2 cups of chocolate covered peanuts

3 eggs

1/3 cup oil

Sprinkle of sea salt

Steps:

1) Bake Red Velvet cake based on the box directions (we needed oil, 3 eggs and water for the Duncan Hines mix)

IMG_2611

redvelvet

2) Pop the popcorn in the microwave – use box directions for recommended time

3) Melt the white chocolate morsels in the microwave (1-2 minutes). Tip for melting chocolate: don’t microwave until morsels are completely melted. Microwave until they are almost there and then mix with a spoon.

IMG_2618

4) Microwave chocolate covered peanuts for only 20-30 seconds

5) Break up pretzel crisps. We put them in a ziploc bag with a sprinkle of sea salt and then hit them with a hammer to break them up. Add pretzel crisps to popped popcorn.

IMG_2617

6) Pour the melted white chocolate and milk chocolate peanuts over the popcorn mix.

IMG_2620

7) Remove cake from oven and let it cool. Once cool, take about 1/3 of the cake and sprinkle it over the popcorn mix. Based on your preferences, add less or more red velvet cake. As expected, we sprinkled a little more cake at the end.

IMG_4869

8) Let the mix dry and then store in an airtight container or…start eating!

Red Carpet, Red Velvet Popcorn

  • Servings: 8 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
Ingredients:

8 cups of popped popcorn (we used 98% fat free popcorn – have to cut calories somewhere)

Red Velvet cake mix

3 cups of original Pretzel Crisps

20 oz white chocolate morsels

2 cups of chocolate covered peanuts

3 eggs

1/3 cup oil

Sprinkle of sea salt

Steps:

1) Bake Red Velvet cake based on the box directions (we needed oil, 3 eggs and water for the Duncan Hines mix)

2) Pop the popcorn in the microwave – use box directions for recommended time

3) Melt the white chocolate morsels in the microwave (1-2 minutes). Tip for melting chocolate: microwave until it’s not completely melted and then mix with a spoon

4) Microwave chocolate covered peanuts for only 20-30 seconds

5) Break up pretzel crisps. We put them in a ziploc bag and hit them with a hammer. Add pretzel crisps to popped popcorn.

6) Pour the melted white chocolate and milk chocolate peanuts over the popcorn mix.

7) Remove cake from oven and let it cool. Once cool, take about 1/3 of the cake and sprinkle it over the popcorn mix. Based on your preferences, add less or more red velvet cake.

8) Let the mix dry and then store in an airtight container.  Then eat and only share with your favorite people.

Homemade Almond Butter

IMG_4819

We always intend to buy almond butter but when we reach the aisle and read the price, we roll our eyes and walk away. Finally, we realized that almond butter is exceptionally easy to make and affordable. It only takes two steps to make a ton of almond butter.

See, you can actually save money and eat right!

Ingredients:

1) 2 cups of almonds

2) 1 tsp of maple syrup

3) olive oil

IMG_4814

Steps:

1) Roast almonds in the oven for 12 minutes at 375 degrees

2) Put them in the food processor for 5-7 minutes

3) Scoop out your homemade almond butter

At the end, we added maple syrup to increase the sweetness of the almond butter.

What other healthy DIYs should we try?

Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Greek Yogurt

IMG_2547

This morning at 5am, I had the desire to bake and baking I did. I have always wanted to try Greek Yogurt as a substitute for butter and I thought a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe would be the right opportunity to do so.

I was inspired by this recipe from Heather’s French Press which I found on Pinterest. It turned out to be the perfect recipe because we had all the essential ingredients and some extra ideas to personalize it.

We did the honor of being the first taste testers and we loved them!  They are super light and fluffy – the greek yogurt really added a nice touch. We HIGHLY recommend this one.

Ingredients:

1) 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

2) 1/2 cup of brown sugar

3) 1 cup of sugar

4) 2 eggs

5) 2 tsp of vanilla extract

6) 2  cups of chocolate chips

7) 2/3 cup of Greek Yogurt

8) 1 tsp of baking soda

9) 1 tsp of sea salt

IMG_4798

Steps:

1) Mix flour, baking soda and salt

IMG_4800

2) In a separate bowl mix eggs and the two types of sugar. Add in vanilla and yogurt. Mix well.

IMG_4802

3) Slowly mix in the flour combination. To do this, I poured some of the flour mix in and stirred and then added a little more and stirred again. Irepeated that until the entire flour bowl was poured in. Believe it or not, this makes a huge difference.

IMG_4804

4) Finally, add in the chocolate chips

IMG_4808

5) Drop cookie dough (1 tsp for each cookie) onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. We had to use two baking pans.

IMG_4812

6) Bake for 11 minutes at 375 degrees.

IMG_4828

7) Cool on rack and be thankful that you have about 25 of these guys to devour. Share only if you wish 🙂

IMG_4833

Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Greek Yogurt

  • Servings: 25 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
Ingredients:

1) 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

2) 1/2 cup of brown sugar

3) 1 cup of sugar

4) 2 eggs

5) 2 tsps of vanilla extract

6) 2  cups of chocolate chips

7) 2/3 cup of Greek Yogurt

8) 1 tsp of baking soda

9) 1 tsp of sea salt

Steps:

1) Mix flour, baking soda salt

2) In a separate bowl, mix eggs and the two types of sugar. Add in vanilla and and yogurt. Mix well.

3) Slowly mix in the flour combination. To do this, I poured some of the flour mix in and stirred and repeated that until the entire flour bowl was poured in.

4) Finally, add in the chocolate chips.

5) Drop cookie dough (1 tsp for each cookie) onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper

6) Bake for 11 minutes at 375 degrees.

7) Cool on rack and be thankful that you have a batch of 25 cookies almost ready to eat!

How To Tell If Fish is Fresh

When it comes time to make your favorite fish dish, one step will absolutely make or break the meal; buying fresh fish. While you would like to assume all the fish sitting on ice at your local grocery store is fresh, that is not the case. So, next time you want to head to the store to buy some fish for dinner, remember these points when picking them out.

1. Look at the color – The duller the color of the fish, the longer it has been out. Look for the fillet to be shiny, almost iridescent when it is the most fresh.

2. Smell it – This isn’t always easy when the fish is behind the counter, but don’t be afraid to ask to smell it. If the fish is fresh there will not be a strong scent. You may notice a very light fish smell, but if it is very pungent, it may have been out for a while.

3. Texture – The fish should be firm to the touch, and not able stay indented from your touch. There should also not be any white or milky liquid around the fish, any liquid on it should be clear.

4. Ask – If you really aren’t sure, just ask the person behind the counter when the fish was brought in and if it was packed on ice or frozen.

Tip: Frozen fish gets a bad reputation (sometimes for good reason), but just because it was frozen does not immediately make it of lesser quality because it is often frozen right on the boat minutes after being caught. That means know your location when getting fish. For example, If you are getting atlantic salmon on the west coast, frozen is more likely fresher.

Look for a future post discussing fresh caught vs farm raised fish!

FRESH

fresh salmon

NOT FRESH

bad salmon

Butternut Squash Lasagna – Classic Dinner Twist

IMG_2518

Over the past 6 months, we have experimented with so many different vegetables and have recently become very fond of butternut squash. The sweetness of the vegetable really compliments so many different dishes. We had some extra no-boil lasagna noodles and decided to whip up a butternut squash lasagna last night. It was super simple and really tasty, here’s how we did it:

Ingredients:

1) Olive Oil

2) Butternut Squash – 16 oz

3) Shredded Cheese (1 cup) – we used mozzarella cheese

4) Spinach – 16 oz

5) Parmesan Cheese

6) Ricotta Cheese ( we used whole and fat-free to cut down the calories)

7) 1 Egg

8) Lasagna Noodles

9) Mushrooms (1 cup)

IMG_4771

Directions:

1) Boil water and add butternut squash – cook until the butternut squash is really soft. Strain the butternut squash (but save 1 cup of the water to add to the sauce) and use a fork to mix the butternut squash until it’s a puree texture.

butternut squash lasagna

2) In a sautéing pan, add olive oil and mix in mushrooms. Then once the mushrooms are cooked, add in mashed up butternut squash, sprinkle on parmesan cheese and add that 1 cup of leftover water from the pot.

3) In a separate mixing bowl, add about 1 whole container of ricotta cheese (15 oz). We used half whole milk and half fat-free ricotta cheese. Then add in 1 egg and the spinach – mix everything together well.

IMG_2513

4) Layer butternut squash on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Add one layer of no-boil lasagna noodles on top of that layer.

5) Then add the spinach/ricotta mixture to the top of the lasagna noodles followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layering as you prefer.

6) Cover up lasagna with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

IMG_2520

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Lasagna

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

1) Olive Oil

2) Butternut Squash – 16 oz

3) Shredded Cheese (1 cup) – we used mozzarella cheese

4) Spinach – 16 oz

5) Parmesan Cheese

6) Ricotta Cheese ( we used whole and fat-free to cut down the calories)

7) 1 Egg

8) Lasagna Noodles

9) Mushrooms (1 cup)

Recipe:

1) Boil water and add butternut squash – cook until the butternut squash is really soft. Strain the butternut squash (but save 1 cup of the water to add to the sauce) and use a fork to mix the butternut squash until it’s a puree texture.

2) In a sautéing pan, add olive oil and mix in mushrooms. Then once the mushrooms are cooked, add in mashed up butternut squash, sprinkle on parmesan cheese and add that 1 cup of leftover water from the pot.

3) In a separate mixing bowl, add about 1 whole container of ricotta cheese (15 oz). We used half whole milk and half fat-free ricotta cheese. Then add in 1 egg and the spinach – mix everything together well.

4) Layer butternut squash on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Add one layer of no-boil lasagna noodles on top of that layer.

5) Then add the spinach/ricotta mixture to the top of the lasagna noodles followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layering as you prefer.

6) Cover up lasagna with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Ginger-Dill Haddock With Udon Noodles & Oyster Sauce

Ginger Haddock

We were looking for a new flavor to add to our weekly fish recipe, and while rummaging around our spices we decided that ginger would add a strong aromatic flavor to a white fish like haddock. To add a salty counter to the ginger we decided to make udon noodles with a drizzle oyster sauce. Tip: We used the oyster sauce because we had it and thought it would be fun – don’t be afraid to use what you have and experiment.

Ginger Haddock

1. Clean off and dry the two filets.

2. Mix in  small bowl the salt, pepper, Fumee De Sel (if you have it) and ginger and apply the spice mix to both sides of the haddock.

Ginger Haddock

3. Heat up oil on medium-high heat in a medium-large pan and cook the haddock approx. 4-5 minutes on each side, or until tender and flakey.

Ginger Haddock

4. Boil water and then add udon noodles and a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil for approx. 8 minutes or until soft.

5. Plate both the haddock and udon noodles, drizzle with oyster sauce.

Haddock with Udon Noodles and Oyster Sauce

Now enjoy! And print the recipe below to make it yourself!

Ginger-Dill Haddock With Udon Noodles

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
Ingredients:

2 filets of haddock (approx. 1/2 lb each)
6 oz of udon noodles
2 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. Fumee De Sel (chardonnay oak smoked salt)
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup oyster sauce
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper

1. Clean off and dry the two filets.
2. Mix in  small bowl the salt, pepper, Fumee De Sel (if you have it) and ginger and apply the spice mix to both sides of the haddock.
3. Heat up oil on medium-high heat in a medium-large pan and cook the haddock approx. 4-5 minutes on each side, or until tender and flakey.
4. Boil water and then add udon noodles and a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil for approx. 8 minutes or until soft.
5. Plate both the haddock and udon noodles, drizzle with oyster sauce.

Homemade Larabars

This was an exciting project for me! I absolutely love Larabars but as we all know, it’s pricey to buy them all the time. I’m always looking for a delicious but filling snack  pre or post workout and Larabars have been the ideal solution. To save a few dollars and to try out a fun rainy day project, I decided to try making them at home.

I have to say, they were SUPER easy to make and came out delicious!

I did my research on several other blogs that posted about homemade Larabars and from there, created the recipe below. This is a basic Larabar concept but feel free to personalize with what flavors you like or even try out their fun flavors like Peanut Butter Cookie or Cherry Pie!

Basic ingredients:

1) 1 cup dates (pitted)

2) 1 cup dried fruit

3) 1 cup nuts

Ingredients that I used: 

1 cup of Medjool Dates (I had to pit them but it was super easy)

1 cup of orange flavored cranberries & raisins

1 cup of almonds and a few chopped walnuts (walnuts are not shown below but it added them for taste. From what I read, use less walnuts than more because the bars come out oily)

IMG_4669

How I did it: 

1) First, roast the nuts at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Gives them a great flavor! I would just put them on a baking pan, sprinkle with some olive oil and throw them in the oven. After you roast them, let them cool off for 15-20 minutes.

IMG_4676 - Copy

2)  Simply put the 1 cup nuts, 1 cup dates and 1 cup fruit in a food processor and pulse for about 1 minute. The ingredients should start to have a bread crumb texture.

IMG_4684 - Copy

3) If you pulse for about 20-30 seconds longer, it will start to form into a ball in the food processor (see below). When it does,  it’s done!

IMG_4685

4) Lay out plastic wrap, and smooth the mixture into a rectangle shape. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for several hours.

IMG_4690

5) After a few hours, take it out of the refrigerator and slice the rectangle into 8 bars. You can make 16 small bars or 8 reasonably sized bars. I went for 8!

IMG_4695 - Copy

Ready to try making Larabars at home? I’m hooked.

Make Cooking a New Year’s Resolution

10 ways to make cooking a new years resolutions

It’s easy to order delivery or go out to eat – we get it. We love to cook but we are guilty of avoiding dirty dishes and refusing to wait until chicken bakes or a casserole bubbles. This year, many of our friends found a love for cooking. We also have friends that are still super skeptical of cooking and find it tedious, time consuming and expensive. If you’re in the latter group, we’d like to challenge you to make cooking a New Year’s resolution in 2014. We can’t change you but we want to encourage you, you may find you really love it.  You don’t have to  break the bank or slave in the kitchen to make cooking a habit and most importantly don’t forget that the end result is delicious food. Keep your eye…and stomach on the prize 🙂

Here are 10 ways to start cooking in 2014, effortlessly, cheaply and deliciously:

1. Simple is Still Delicious

Don’t over-complicate things. Stick with the basics like pasta, rice, chicken or even stir fry’s.  In 2014, now add a personal touch to your basic meals. If you’re making noodles, maybe try a new sauce or if you’re making a stir fry try using fresh herbs or a new spice. Believe it or not, that’s cooking.

2. Pick Recipes Before Shopping

One way to guarantee that you will cook something during the week is plan ahead. Look through cookbooks or blogs and find a recipe that you’d like to make. Then, when it’s time to shop, make sure the ingredients are on your list.

3. Use What’s In Your Fridge

You don’t even need to go outside to cook something. Use what’s already in your kitchen, pantry and refrigerator to make a delicious meal. We often forget what we bought last week or what we have hidden in the back of our fridge. Rediscovering what you already have could open up a world of cooking opportunities.

Fun tool to use – type in what ingredients you have in your home and see what recipes you can make.

4. Do a Potluck with Friends

One way to open your palate is host or attend a potluck with friends. Keep a theme in mind and delegate a different element of the meal to each friend. This will allow you to sample several different dishes and inspire your own cooking. This will also help you test out your own creations with friends who will give hopefully give you constructive feedback. Don’t bully each other out there.

5. Set a Cooking Goal:

My co-worker Amy Schoenberger recently told me that she set a cooking goal for 2014. I loved the idea! Set a goal that you will cook one new dish each month, week, whatever works for your schedule! I know for us, if we set a goal, we’re more likely to actually do it.

6. Weekends Help

Sometimes cooking does take time and we know the weekdays are busy. Use the weekends to try out recipes, use the slow cooker or try a baking project. If you don’t want to rush after work, the gym or whatever your daily routine entails, use the weekend.

7. Watch the Experts

One of the biggest inspirations for us is watching people who really know how to cook do what they do best. From parents to contestants on Chopped, we get inspired by how they work with different ingredients, short cut recipes and how they manage a well organized and delicious meal. Watch the experts and you will learn the right tricks.

8. Cookbooks and Blogs are Everywhere…for free.

Don’t love food shows or don’t have any good cooks to observe? Rummage through cookbooks and look at blogs all over the internet. You could even stop at a Barnes & Nobles, take a photo of a cookbook recipe and make it at home. Explore your family’s and friend’s cookbook collections. All without spending a dime.

9. Cooking Class on Google+ Hangout

Google+ Hangouts are REALLY cool. Stay on top of upcoming hangouts and you could get expert tips from famous celebrity chefs and brands…right from your home computer.

10. Buy Yourself Something New For the Kitchen

The age old trick – buy something new and you’ll feel inspired. It works! Buy a brand new pot, cooking utensil, spice or cookbook. It doesn’t have to be anything big! Adding something to your kitchen so it feels more you and you might want to spend a little more time in there.

Are you adding cooking to your 2014 resolutions?