Take Out Olympics

Sometimes I’m sure I have the most fun meals ever. Don’t be jealous, make this party happen!

Take Out Olympics are like a take-out potluck. Each guest spends the agreed upon amount on take out and everyone shares! It’s a fun way to get to know food in a new neighborhood, to try something new in the area, or for the host not to spend forever cooking! To make it Olympics you can add the requirement that it be international cuisine and vote on winners for categories of your choosing. You know how much I love to vote on food!

We did a relaxed version for lunch at the office. SO FUN! You can consider it olympic pre-trials if you wish. There was so much great food from all different places! We went with $10 for any cuisine you wanted.

I went to Boston Kebab House and went to the Meze Bar and got some fried zucchini fritters and some tortellini salad. There were so many great ones to choose and I spent $9.13. It came with my choice of wheat or plain pita. Now that it’s nicer out I’ll definitely stop here for lunch items.

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Ms. J got Mmmac & Cheese in Faneuil Hall. We sampled traditional and a beef one.

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Ms. M got chips and guac from Andale which I wasn’t aware is Zolcalo on the go! Unfortch the guacamole didn’t compete with somebody else’s guacamole. Our next Ms. K provided chips and quac from Boloco. Theirs won out because it was richer and they didn’t stretch the avocados too thin.

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Ms. K got us cheese quesidillas with chips and salsa from somewhere nearby, but we didn’t catch the name. Maybe they should remain nameless since they put the salsa onto the chips making them soggy.

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Mr. K went to Thai’s Bistro to get drunken noodles. They were deliciously spicy which I loved and now I know a good spot nearby.

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Not-my-Mr. J went to one of my local favorites, Sultan’s Kitchen. He got a chicken and rice dish with tomatoes.

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Mrs. A had a brilliant thought and got grilled cheeses from CheeseBoy! We had the classic and a tomato basil. Both were as good as I imagined though it seems tough to justify walking 15 minutes to get grilled cheese but I guess the cheapskate in me is OK with it since they’re less than $4.

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Ms. S spent her $10 the most creatively. She went to McDonald’s and got 10 $1 fry packets.

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Ms. C got us dessert at Bailey & Sage. She got strawberry fozen yogurt with oreos and coffee yogurt with heath bars. Amazeballs as she would say.

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It was really fun and actually an ideal amount of food. We were rudely interrupted by a fire alarm but it was wicked fun and a great introduction to some alternative restaurants right around us.

Guest Blog: Dessert Diva

While I’m in NYC working an event I’d like to reintroduce you to Miss Liz.

Miss Liz writes:
For the last few months, I have been the de-facto “party planning committee” work (Me-physician assistant working at at hospital-this will be come important later). Collecting money=annoying, but menu planning=fun. Well, one of our physicians left for a fellowship position last week, so I made trifle, which is one of my specialities.
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But this presented a problem because I really couldn’t make the same thing for another physician’s going away party this week. Someone suggested cupcakes but I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. The next morning during rounds, one of our physicians is eating a frosting filled donut (Yes, physicians eats frosting filled donuts for breakfast and then talk to you about diabetes and heart disease!). The donut inspired me, why not try filling cupcakes with frosting?
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Overall, it was actually very easy and went well. I used boxed cake mixed and make the cupcakes as per the box.
After they cooled, I used a knife to pop the top off, then with a pastry bag filled with frosting I injected until the top of the cupcake bulged.
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Then I frosted the cupcakes as normal. Everyone loved the cupcakes and thought they were so fancy. Its a great easy and fun dessert especially if you need to take it to go!
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One suggestion-I made two batches chocolate and vanilla. The vanilla cupcakes were considerably smaller and I had a harder time getting the top off. So next time, I would air of the side of making bigger cupcakes.

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I also made mini-cupcakes. These are great and remind me of my childhood, when my mother would make small muffins for us which we called “baby girl muffins”. But I didn’t even attempt to fill these! I use this all the time, mostly for brownies. I know it sounds crazy, but I prefer brownies from the box. So, i just spray the tray with pam and bake. When the brownies are done, you don’t have to cut anything and it makes serving very easy!
Thanks Miss Liz! If YOU are interested in being a guest blogger email emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Ranch Burgers and Apple Slaw Apartment Style

You could pour ranch dressing on an Old Navy $5 pair of flip flops and it would make them taste good. I took a tastier approach and was so excited about my creation. I made Ranch Chicken Burgers and Zesty (mayo-less) Apple Slaw in my own kitchen…no party required!
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Ingredients:

¾ pound ground chicken
½ packet dried ranch dressing/dip mix
3 tbs ranch dressing
2 bulky rolls

Directions:

Mix ground chicken, ranch mix, and dressing
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BBQ or cook on a grill pan flipping once.
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Serve on toasted rolls with ranch dressing on top.
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Ground chicken and ground turkey are more likely to fall apart so don’t overflip! I took a tip from my pal Guy on Diners Drive-ins & Dives: I flipped them but feared they weren’t going to be fully cooked so I covered them and added a touch of water for some steam.

They were cooked perfectly! That is tricky without my trusty meat thermometer but I was so proud of myself. They were juicy and I definitely tasted the ranch.

I paired it with some slaw. This was awesome and is a nice alternative to creamy slaws. I put in some apple I planned to use otherwise but had on hand.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage/slaw mix
½ gala apple, chopped into matchsticks
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs veggie oil
¼  cup cidar vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tbs dijon mustard
dash red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat oils, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and red pepper over medium heat just until warmed through.
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Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Toss with cabbage and apples.
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Refrigerate several hours and pour off excess liquid.
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I liked how light it was with a zesty crunch. This would be a great picnic or bbq item. I only made enough for 2 or 3 servings which was perfect.

Green or red onion would be a great add in and broccoli slaw would be great too. Shortly after making the burgers I made them again and Mr. J cooked them on a BBQ. Aside from our poor puppy not having a yard, not being able to use a grill is our biggest issue with this apartment and something we greatly look forward to enjoying in a house someday.

These made me super jazzed about other burgers inside. I can’t eat red meat so I miss out on fun ones at restaurants like stuffed burgers since they rarely come in turkey or chicken burgers. I’ll just have to make it happen! I have a feeling Mr. J would love a blue cheese stuffed one. I was thinking cheddar or spinach and feta stuffed. Stay tuned!

Hot Hot Hot

Caliente Kitchen

We went back and forth about what to do for dinner when we were in Florida but it’s not an area where we could wander and peruse menus. We spent the day strolling a wildlife refuge peeking at gators and the rest of the day we were on the beach. For dinner we started with mojitos. I got a great blackberry mojito and Mr. J had a super refreshing cucumber mojito.
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Mr. J spotted a few menus but was undecided and I was in the same boat. I saw Caliente Kitchen which was right across the street so we ended up there.

It was such a fun dinner! We both really enjoyed it and were happy with the choice!

Ohh the chips.
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Good thing the chips weren’t bottomless because they were so good we could have kept going! They were fresh and had the greatest seasoning. I think it was chili powder and cinnamon. YUM!

I took my cue from the beautiful beaches and couldn’t get enough seafood. I chose shrimp tacos with a cilantro dressing. There was a nice zest to the sauce and I loved them. I don’t get enough fish tacos.
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Mr. J got traditional beef tacos. He thought they were good and enjoyed the whole thing.
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It was a great last vacation meal before heading back to Boston.

Marinate Those Mushrooms

I love marinated mushrooms and once I figured out the secret to making them I whip them up regularly. They’re so good on salad, antipasto, or on their own. Also, it’s easy to make marinated mushrooms in any quantity! That’s a perk for me who is the only fan of mushrooms around.
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I used balsamic vinegar to change it up but I normally go with cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. Once they marinate over night I usually drain out the excess marinade but I keep them in the same jar.

Ingredients:

6 large mushrooms, cut into quarters
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar (any variation)
1 tsp garlic
salt & pepper
dried spices that will compliment the vinegar choice
1 tsp sugar
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Directions:

Drop mushrooms into boiling water for 2 minutes and drain.
Mix oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and spices in a glass jar. Shake vigorously.
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Add mushrooms and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

I often use white button mushrooms but I had a few big ones that I just cut up and put onto my salad lunches this week. Lettuce is my least favorite part of the salad so I often just put a few veggies together and call it salad but I had some quinoa and some spinach and thought marinated mushrooms would be a great addition!

Do you know quinoa? I got red quinoa and have enjoyed it all week. My friend Ms. J LOVES quinoa and makes it all the time!
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When on Vaca…

Some things are just fun and exciting when you don’t have them around you. Sonic and Chick-fil-A are prime examples (and 2 restaurants with artery clogging goodness) we just had to enjoy on vacation. It’s also double-y fun since I rarely get fast food. Growing up I was told McDonald’s was a restaurant for grandparents to take you to.

Sonic’s concept gets a bit lost on northerners since you can’t rollerskate outside for several snowy months of our year…thus adding to the appeal in other places. I will recognize that Massachusetts got a Sonic where cars waited lined up for hours when it first opened! Plus, who can forget the witty banter of the couple in the commercials? Loved those and I love the How-to.
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My hardest decision at Sonic was which icecreamy/slushy beverage to enjoy. I got a strawberry limeade chiller. Mr. J got a mocha java chiller. Yum and double yum.
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I went with the BLT toaster. The Texas toast makes the sandwich here. I didn’t have my hopes up for real lettuce, which I was spot-on with my assumption. The bacon was perfectly crispy and the tomato was pretty good. I’m an avid BLT-eater and I prefer it in that order: bacon; lettuce; tomato. It wasn’t in that order but although I may notice, I don’t discriminate.
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Mr. J felt like he HAD to get a burger since he’s never eaten there. He went with the Sonic bacon cheeseburger. He liked it, but said it was no Five Guys. Of course we shared some tots.
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Because I only get to love Chick-fil-A when I’m in Charlotte or Houston with work, I made sure we made a stop there too…as if we hadn’t had enough heart-stopping food.

for me: Spicy Chicken Deluxe with pepperjack on a wheat roll (note the real lettuce)
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for Mr. J: Chicken Deluxe
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We shared waffle fries and loved it. Check out the nifty ketchup!
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If you’re concerned about my heart-don’t be. I’m eating lots of veggies now that I’m back!

Tasti (Forgive The Spelling- It Wasn’t Me)

After majoring in English and Journalism in college it always annoys me when companies misspell words to be catchy. Tasti D-Lite? Yikes! Grammatical errors are the same. Toys R Us? Come on!

I put that aside and eat their ice cream none the less (Tasti’s ice cream, not Toys’). Boston got it’s first Tasti D-Lite a while ago, but I hadn’t been other than in NYC. When I saw one in Florida I knew it had my name written allll over it.

I scooped ice cream, for a living, as a summer job in high school so I sympathize when ordering ice cream especially if they have to sing, dance, or wear funky uniforms. Their staff don’t have to lean head-first into freezers so I only felt so-bad for them. Luckily my ice cream was just ice cream so there was very little explaining to do whereas they have to teach customers what it means.

I got mud pie…which wasn’t the best ever. I felt guilty asking for a sample but I probably should have gone with the Cinnamon Crunch or Toffee Crunch which I just assume I’d prefer.

Mr. J got cake batter with fudge and vanilla crumbles. I thought his was super sweet but he liked it enough even though soft serve is more my thing than his. He leans towards regular ice cream but as Mum would say he could “choke it down”.

To Tavern or Not To Tavern

All the taverns I know don’t esthetically measure up to what I think of as a tavern. Tavern on the Square…Baseball Tavern…Hill Tavern…I could go on. Anywho, this “tavern” we found, Village Tavern, was a great feast our first night in Florida.Mr. J and I went to Florida for a wedding and some much needed fun in the sun. Boston has been dreary and rainy for weeks now so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect…also because my event just happened 2 rainy weekends ago. Time to celebrate love and my return to society. We went to Boynton Beach, FL. Normally I plan vacations to the minute with choices, but this one I just went with the flow. We had a room from the wedding room-block and a flight and we were there! I didn’t even scope out restaurants in advance!
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We happened upon Village Tavern on Yelp and thought the menu had some promise. We really enjoyed it!

Mr. J doesn’t do seafood (even though he’s from Maine) BUT he will enjoy the occasional bacon wrapped scallop. They were HUGE and amazing and had a great teriyaki glaze that wasn’t too sweet. We fought over the last one and split it.
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Somebody HAD to try the house potato chips with ranch dressing…I hadn’t planned on partaking but they were just so good. Besides, I’ll never make these at home.
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I got Ten Spice Glazed Salmon and loved every bite. It was served with curried couscous, red peppers, broccoli, and roasted almonds.
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The salmon was spicy and perfectly grilled. I thought the couscous might make for too many different flavors but it didn’t. It was great! The almonds were definitely not roasted so I cast them aside. If you’re counting, that’s 2 glazes. I need to learn to make a good glaze.

Mr. J chose the 8 oz filet with salad and mashed potatoes. While his plate wasn’t as picturesque, he liked it.
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It was quite the hefty meal and we enjoyed everything. Our server was friendly and everything came out super hot. I was thoroughly impressed with how quickly everything went from the kitchen to our table. Mr. J’s mashed might have sat for a bit but everything else was piping hot! (just like the 88 degree weather)!

Quality Ingredients Make a Quality Lunch

Since I rarely order lunch it always seems like a big occasion when I buy it. Lately I’ve just been working non-stop and the week prior to my event I didn’t have the energy to grocery shop, pack lunch, or make anything.
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When my office moved I knew I’d miss my favorite Thai and favorite Indian restaurants but that’s about all that prior location had going for it. Now, there’s a plethora of options!As an avid watcher of Phantom Gourmet I’d seen Al’s State Street Cafe featured on there. They feature a $6.25 special for small sub, chips, and a soda.
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I got the State Street Cafe Special with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and prosciutto with balsamic vinegar on warm fresh bread.

These quality and fresh ingredients made this sandwich delectable. The bread was warm and soft. The experience is half of the fascination. They work the line and keep. it. moving.
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Stop by, but don’t linger at the menu board or it’ll be a no-sandwich-for-you situation.

I’m off to Florida for a long weekend, wedding, and hopefully some Chick-fil-A. Stay tuned!

A1 Gets an A+

A1 Diner
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Mr. J and I LOVE diners and it was always surprising to me that we hadn’t been to the famous A1 Diner in his hometown in Maine! Their website calls themselves “Maine’s Most Unique Restaurant”. I recently went to “Boston’s Friendliest Pub” so this amused me greatly.

During a quick visit a few weeks ago we stopped in right at the cusp of breakfast and lunch. We decided on breakfast and I loved every minute of it.
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I got an Orange Poppyseed Waffle. It was amazing. I never see orange and poppy seed as a combo but it was great! I liked the fluffyness of the waffle and the citrus flavor. It was a good deviation from my usual bfast choices since I tend to go savory rather than sweet.
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Mr. J got an egg, bacon, toast, combo which is his standard. Use your imagination since I deemed it not quite picture worthy, much to his dismay.

Mrs. C got an Orange Pecan or Orange Walnut waffle and real maple syrup. I forget which nut but how cool to put nuts in there?!
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They had some interesting dinner meals/specials that make me want to go back. I’m sure the grilled sandwiches and burgers are only as diners can make them.
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Their website has some recipes so maybe I’ll have to whip one of those up sometime. I’d like the Hungarian Mushroom Soup, but I don’t have tons of mushroom eaters in my life. Or crabcakes, or pistachio lime salad, or lemon sauce for dessert.

Just as The Terminator would say: I’ll be back.