Much Needed Scutra for Dinner

Before we return from our honeymoon, I needed to share a drool-worthy meal we had before the wedding.During major wedding planning crunch time we were lacking groceries, we were in need of a date night, and we definitely needed a fun distraction while racking our brains for creative table themes. The wedding wasn’t a DIY affair, but Mr. J designed everything and the table blurbs in frames was our only project. Luckily we had a gift certificate to Scutra in Arlington that was burning a hole in our pockets!
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It was such a blissful and relaxing evening. We got dressed up, kissed the pup goodbye, and headed to our reservation. Of course I scoured the website menu before going and honestly I’m sure I would have enjoyed everything on the menu. Love Mediterranean food!
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I started with the garlic baked muscles. Garlic butter and feta? YES PLEASE! They were beautiful and thought the feta was great for a touch of saltiness.
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Mr. J had the roasted tomato soup with Parmesan encrusted scallops. He just recently started to enjoy scallops and I think the Parmesan crunchy exterior was a perfect contrast in texture for him.
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These aps were awesome and got us really excited for the main dish. Each was a perfect size to leave us adequate room to keep eating!

I got seafood crusted salmon. Oh. My. Goodness. My perfectly pink salmon was topped with crab and lobster. It doesn’t get any better than that. It was served with an asparagus risotto and a pesto drizzle. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It was hot and flavorful. Such a great combination of flavors that didn’t overpower one another.
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Mr. J got a special, and boy was it special. He had 14oz sirloin steak with a butter and raspberry beer sauce over mashed potatoes. Mr. J heard it listed with the specials and was hooked. He loved it and finished every bite.
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I had a crisp chardonnay knowing I’d have seafood for dinner and Mr. J had a final Sam Adam’s summer ale. I enjoyed every bite. This was such a wonderful dinner. Mr. J was happy with his choices and we definitely got dinners we couldn’t/wouldn’t make at home. There was no room for dessert.

The reviews seemed mixed regarding the service and atmosphere. We thought it had a really nice atmosphere, our server was friendly, and I’d be happy to go back anytime. I liked that it was classy and well decorated, allowing us to dress up a bit for a really special meal.

Have you had a meal recently that you just thoroughly enjoyed AND appreciated happening right when you needed it? This was one for me. I’ll be back next week with LOTS of tastes to relay from my trip to Spain & Italy! Stay tuned!

Chicky Parm

While I’m eating my way through Italy & Spain, I figured I’d share my Chicken Parmesan recipe with you. I was really happy with it and will definitely make it again. Chicken Parm isn’t always something I order out, but I do love it. We had some mammoth chicken breasts from our favorite butcher which feed 2 so I knew just what to do with one. As you may recall, Mr. J grabbed Lemon Pepper marinated chicken and he wasn’t a big fan.

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast (or 2 normal sized)
¼ salad dressing (Italian or Greek)
½ Parmesan Cheese
1 cup marinara sauce
1 egg & tbs water, whisked
1 cup bread crumbs (I mixed Panko & regular)
¼ cup shredded mozzarella (or sliced Provolone)
Pasta (quantity & variety of your choosing)

Directions

Marinate the (defrosted) chicken breasts in salad dressing.
Butterfly or slice a pocket into the breast. I don’t claim to have strong knife skills so I cut a pocket rather than mess with it too much. Stuff each breast with a few tablespoons of Parmesan.
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Carefully dip each breast into egg then breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (yes, this was 1 breast, halved!)
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While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta to serve with the Chicken Parm.
Take chicken out when cooked through and top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Return to oven just until melted.
Serve over pasta.

Mr. J and I loved it! I probably didn’t stuff it with enough cheese, but I think it was a nice touch. The chicken was super moist and the breading had a great crunch.

I didn’t quite make my own sauce, but I did doctor-up some jarred sauce with my own seasoning and some tomato paste. I finished the pasta in the sauce which was good, but my timing wasn’t perfect so it was a touch over-cooked.
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I wonder about making a few at a time and freezing them. It seems like a handy thing to have pretty ready for a busy weeknight dinner. I keep chicken in the freezer anyway so I’ll have to remember this when I’m defrosting chicken and needing an idea.

I didn’t bake it again after it cooked through since I wanted the crust to be really crunchy and feared it might get sogged. Maybe next time I’ll try pounding it out to be really thin instead of stuffing it. Either way would be delicious. Baking the chicken instead of pan frying definitely kept the moisture in, and I usually don’t like frying things.

This was a great dinner that got us pumped up for our honeymoon to Italy & Spain!

Pizza Class

Ms. L and I suffer through countless emails a week ALL YEAR until the “Take for 10” comes out. This one week a year is when the Boston Center for Adult Educationoffers select classes for $10…instead of the regular $140 +$75 for materials.Last year we took a great class and were kicking ourselves that we hadn’t signed up for more than one. This year we were ready. There were so many we wanted to take.Well, we missed our chance and the classes we really wanted were full. On the waiting list we went. The next day we decided to try some others. I got a spot in the Pizza & Calzone class. Ms. L got wait-listed. I can’t say she missed much.bcae_lineup_390_590
I went by myself and was psyched my former colleague was there. It was nice to see a familiar face and the group was very friendly as well. I can’t quite say as many good things about the class.

If you read often, you’ve noticed I make pizzas and calzones all the time. I didn’t really learn anything and I wasn’t impressed. It really should have been called Pizza 101 or Intro to Pizza. Notice I didn’t mention calzones in either title option…that’s because we did not once talk about calzones in the class. I did agree with her sauce choice, it was a good one.
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We each got a blob of dough to play with. I felt like a 6-year-old playing while mom made dinner. Our instructor used refrigerated dough, and preshredded cheese. I mean I do too, but this seemed basic for a class.
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She also introduced us to a pizza stone. I love mine, and I’m glad I already knew the correct care instructions since hers seemed a bit incorrect.
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We made a big pizza on a pan and one on the stone to taste the difference.
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I’ll have to be more selective next time when choosing a class. I enjoyed the class I took last year, and I took a Intro to Blogging class and was really impressed. This just wasn’t the right fit for me.

Dinner Straight from the Freezer

I just had a really great frozen meal. No, not a TV-Dinner style meal, but real food, just frozen. Way back when, for my birthday (in March) Mrs. S sent me a gift certificate to pick out a frozen dinner of my choice. They came with a protein, starch, veggie, and even dessert. Unfortunately it got a bit buried and I didn’t choose right away.
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Once we were in the final planning stretch for our wedding, it seemed like the PERFECT time to have a ready-made meal to call on. It came from Omaha Steaks and was delicious.omaha_box_590_390
We had chicken cordon bleu, twice baked potatoes, green beans with herbed butter, and cheesecake. It was a meal for 4, so that meant two dinners. Score!
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It was a really nice gift. I think anyone stressed at work, busy planning a wedding, bringing a new baby home, or just moved to a new home would all really appreciate this.
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Wedding Treats

My wedding day is finally here! I can’t believe it is time! Tomorrow Mr. J and I will be married and we’re super excited. The planning process has been pretty smooth and easy. I can’t wait! This time last year we were in NYC for a weekend getaway when Mr. J surprised me and proposed.
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Cake wasn’t something I cared about…I was thinking of some cake alternatives but Mr. J wanted a cake so we’ll have cake. The tastings were pretty crazy. They bring out huge spreads of cake choices or filling to try. It was fun to taste ‘em and I’m sure everyone will enjoy our cake. I don’t usually eat cake at weddings but I’ll be sure to report back. I wanted to eat the decorated strawberries above but we weren’t sure how long they’d been there, or if they were just decoration.
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Think sweet thoughts for us!

Lobstah

Just as the end of summer my mum and I squeezed in a lobstah fest. All the non-seafood eaters had burgers, which they seemed to enjoy, though nothing compares to a lobster.
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I love them! I really prefer to eat them at home. Having a server checking on you while you’re dredging meaty chunks into sweet butter isn’t necessary. Also, I don’t don the plastic bib.The thrill is actually in the meat. Mr. J peered over since we were crackin’ away after the burgers were gone. He inquired if the tail or the claw was better. It really made me think. I don’t think I have a preference. I love it all. Check out the size of the claw!
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I had a lobster roll at Anthem this summer and was unimpressed. Lobster as a roll is my least favorite form since I prefer it hot and buttery.

“Lobstah” makes it really feel like summer.

Restaurant Week Luncheon

Boston’s Restaurant Week now happens several times a year, thus making it not-that-special if you miss it. I don’t always love it because I feel like it’s usually a group outing where we’re trying to accommodate everyone in the groups tastes.Some of the menus are really dumb-downed, the waitstaff hates it, and it feels like the B team in the kitchen. Now it is 2 weeks long so it’s not “a cool find”; it’s something you can’t miss. Long gone are the days where the restaurants pulled out all the stops trying to woo new customers. Let me just get off this soap box now…

Maybe it was the restaurant choice (Marliave), maybe because it was at lunch, maybe it was the menu, maybe they just have good waitstaff, I don’t know what it was but they restored my faith in restaurant week!
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My colleagues and I joined our sister-office for a restaurant week lunch outing at Marliave. I couldn’t get over the menu. It has stayed up on the website for awhile so take a peek! Literally something for anyone. I have just a selection of our choices for a glimpse of the meal.

I started with the mac & cheese. I mean, are you surprised? It was probably the best I’ve ever had…and I’ve had a lot. They use house cut ziti which makes all the difference. The black truffle doesn’t hurt either. It is served in a small caraf that couldn’t be cuter.
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Ms. M had the caprese. Seems like a slightly less filling choice. It had aged balsamic and fresh balsamic. She said she could absolutely tell that it was Italian mozzarella. She lived in Italy as a child. She’s also vegetarian so I totally trust her on this.
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The second course was troublesome for me. So many choices! I ended up with fish & chips which is kind of random for me. I wanted the risotto but knew that wouldn’t pair well with the mac & cheese.
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Ms. M got the mushroom risotto. Apparently if you don’t like mushrooms, this dish still won’t turn you to the other side.
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I really wanted the rarebits, but would be on cheese overload. I also had been eyeing the muscles appetizer. I should have just asked if I could have 2 first courses.

Peeking down the table the trout looked lovely and the portabello would have been good too. I suppose nothing could follow the mac & cheese anyway. I also didn’t eat much of it anyway so choosing something that reheated well was probably wise.
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Dessert just made me want to roll on out of there. I was seriously so full and getting antsy that I couldn’t eat dessert. I chose the box of truffles and brought them back to the office. I really enjoyed them the next day.
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Ms. M had the chunky brownie sundae. It was delicious. She graciously offered me a bite. We all had commented on the butterscotch pudding. I tasted it and really couldn’t get over how creamy but light it was. Yum.
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Based on the size portion of the glorious mac & cheese, I wish our server offered to wrap the massive amount remaining. Also, It took way too long for a weekday lunch that close to the financial district. Our reservation was for noon when it wasn’t busy at all and we had to really push to get the check once dessert. Empty plates showed we were done but we still waited quite awhile.

The mac & cheese was worth the $20.11 (plus tip) alone. They won me over and I’ll definitely have to hit up Marliave again…especially when cocktails are appropriate.

Food Swappin’

In an effort to increase my green score I decided to attend a food swap. Just kidding. I’m already considered “fairly green” since I’ve attended other swaps. I had kept my eye, and my twitter, focused on the upcoming food swap dates the Boston Food Swap was hosting. I could finally go in August!
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It’s now September and the next swap is fast approaching all before I’ve even posted the August one! I need to be cut some slack…it’s now into the single digits until my wedding. Eeeeek!

How it works:

Folks sign up and bring whatever swapable items he/she’d like.
Swapable foods have to be home grown, cooked, baked, or foraged.
There are no set quantities or suggested items.
Once arriving and laying out the goodies, everyone mingles and samples.
Bidding occurs by offering your own treats in exchange for somebody else’s.
The trade! The bids are only indications as to who wants your food. Hopefully you want food from others who want yours, thus the trade transaction.

It was really fun and I’m glad I went. I’ll definitely go again. I brought marinated mushrooms mostly because I was thinking what would travel well and what was easy yet interesting to whip up.
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I went with 12 canning jars so I had plenty to trade with. I’d guess there were about 20-25ish people there. I used 2 sizes of jars and was thankful to have some larger and smaller ones. I hadn’t even planned that some small trades would be more even.

It felt a bit like a potluck with strangers. Honestly, I was proud of myself for going by myself. I didn’t know anyone there and met some great people with all sorts of tasty treats! It was wayyy better than a cookie swap.
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I got some lime rice pudding, refrigerator pickles, smoked turkey meatballs, butternut squash ravioli, plum salsa, raspberry preserves, cookie dough apple butter, and assorted baked goods.
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I wasn’t psyched about the baked goods. Although I don’t bake, it felt like nobody wanted them that much. They were good, but 2 very small cookies? Seriously?
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While making my traditional (Italian) marinated mushrooms and balsamic marinated mushrooms I feared ‘what if nobody wants my stuff’. I thought about what it’d feel like to come home with stuff I brought. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and I kept that in mind when bidding since I had so many to offer.
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Mr. J reminded me I wouldn’t be able to trade what I didn’t bring. He’s such a wise one.

Walk Like an Elephant

I finally got a chance to try Elephant Walk! I’ve been wanting to but just haven’t thought of it when it was actually time to go out! I’ve lived near several locations now so it was about time.
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After a beachy day and before a night on the town, a wonderful gaggle of girls and I ate here for a bachelorette party. I really loved my meal and was totally intrigued by all the other meals! I should confess I had no idea what Cambodians ate…apparently quite similar to their neighbors in Thailand. Lots ‘o rice and meat with veggies.We had our own table in a great little niche downstairs. It was so great to be able to ‘do our own thing’ (read as: be as chatty and loud as we wanted).
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I started with a sweet & pear flavored cocktail. I don’t remember exactly what was in it…wish they posted a cocktail menu online since this would be a fun one to recreate.

We shared some rouleaux and some vegetarian rouleaux.  These spring rolls were fried & crispy like a Chinese egg roll. They came with tuk trey a sweet & spicy sauce for dipping. The rouleaux were great for sharing and came with plenty to go around.
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I chose a shrimp curry dish called Curry de Crevettes…how creative. It came with asparagus, bok choy, snow peas and a mound of rice. I forgot to ask for brown rice though. I like that it’s more flavorful and nutty than white rice. The health benefits don’t hurt either.
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It was a sizeable portion and I ate the shrimp out once I started getting full since I knew I wouldn’t take it with me.

The bride-to-be got a veggie curry entree which looked really good. We made a stop back to her apt before going out so she was smart to take the rest wtih her.
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I thought the presentation on this pork special was great. I usually hate when meat is sliced for me but they made this look good! The crisp greens on top made me very intrigued.
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The beef tips (Loc Lac) seemed like the most simple dish on the menu. They are grilled with black pepper, garlic, & soy. There was a lime dipping sauce I would have liked to try…especially given my love for lime dressing.
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With such a big menu I loved that the French influence made it easy for me to scan quickly to get to chicken or fish! There were tons of vegetarian options (like tofu not just meatless options) and lots of gluten free choices. I liked the sauces a lot and thought everything seemed really fresh and flavorful.

I was really impressed. The food was really good and our servers were great. All of our meals came out at the same time and there were probably 10-12 of us! Like our friend Arnold might say, I’ll be back.

Lemon Pepper Kebabs Without So Much Pepper

Summer mugginess and I don’t mix so something cool, fresh, and Mediterranean sounded perfect. It was also a good use for some marinated chicken hanging around.
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The boneless skinless lemon pepper chicken came from our fav butcher. Mr. J thought it was too peppery so I thought re-marinating it in a basic Italian dressing would tone down the pepper a bit.

One of my favorite things about Greek and Mediterranean food is that the fresh ingredients get to be the focus. It screams summer to have so much crunch and individual flavor.

Ingredients

1 large boneless chicken breast, marinated, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 tomato
1 English cucumber
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup Italian or Greek dressing

Directions

Soak wooden kebab sticks in lukewarm water
Skewer chicken chunks alternating with pepper chunks and grill.
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Chop tomato and cucumber before mixing with feta and dressing.
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Serve kebabs with rice pilaf and cucumber tomato salad.

I couldn’t stop marveling over how perfectly cooked the chicken was. It was perfectly juicy. I think the size of each piece had a lot to do with that. The peppers got a nice char too without losing all the crunch.

The kebabs, plus buttery rice pilaf, plus salty feta in a crisp salad was awesome. I was really happy with it and thought this meal was nicely well rounded.

Have a good Labor Day Weekend everyone! Can you believe it is already September?!