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.

Picnic (Sans Ants)

Sis and I LOVE a good theme party. We were trying to think of something special for Mother’s Day this year. We thought for a half second about a picnic in the Arnold Aboretum for Lilac Sunday. This is apparently the only time a year you can picnic there. Sitting on the ground to eat there just because we can’t normally didn’t quite fit. Also, with the rain on Saturday, we weren’t convinced Mother Nature would play nice.

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That seems like a baby-stroller activity and nobody in our fam is quite there yet. It also kind of seems like something to take a mom to do if her children aren’t around.

We had a picnic at our parents’ house! The picnic theme was super fun and delicious.

We took inspiration from Bobby Flay since in his throwdowns he always tries to make the everyday a bit better or more special.

We served:
BLTs with pesto mayo and thick cut bacon
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Roast Beef Sandwiches with horseraddish dijon spread
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Tabouli since Mum doesn’t love macaroni salad as much as the average person.
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And pickles, fruit, and Cape Cod chips. I got some delectable treats from Lyndell’s Bakery since I didn’t acquire all the baking skill my mum has (and since I worked about 9 hours on Saturday).

I made a drink too:
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Ingredients:

4 cups lemonade (I used crystal light yellow)
4 cups zero calorie lime seltzer
1 lime sliced

Directions:

Prepare the lemonade as instructed. (I planned to use raspberry lemonade but was short on pitcher space since yellow was already made)
Mix chilled soda
Serve with lime slices (freezing lime bits into the ice would be very cute too)

Just add some cheap-o red baskets & napkins and you’ve got yourself an indoor picnic!

Wish me luck! By the time you see this I’ll be UBER close to the end of the production week and the start of my event. Watch out world, I become a whole new person after I rejoin society!

Easy 3 Ingredient Dip

I made an ap for Easter and wanted something lighter and healthier than I’d usually head towards. This is a white bean based dip with homemade pita chips. This ended up being a good one to bring somewhere since it is served cold and the pita chips could be made ahead of time or purchased.

Ingredients

1 can white beans, drained
1 jar roasted red peppers (with liquid)
½ cup fresh parsley
1 tbs garlic
2 wheat pita pockets

Directions

Rinse and drain white beans
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Add beans, red peppers with liquid, parsley, and garlic to a food processer.
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Blend, stirring partway, and leaving some chunks.
Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.
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I toasted some of my own pita chips. Tearing the pitas all the way apart made for a thinner chip with fewer calories. The dip was good, fresh, and super easy. It would be great on bread, stirred into pasta or soup, or anything!

I think you definitely have to like these ingredients to enjoy this but this handy dip includes a simple list of ingredients to have on hand.

Mother’s Day

For some reason at this point of my life, Mother’s Day brings me to tears. I am so lucky to have the best mother ever. I realize more and more how much my mother means to me. Mother’s Day makes me misty eyed because she’s happy when her daughters are happy. One of her favorite sayings when times are tough is, “a mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” We have all been very lately and I’m glad to celebrate her since she so often celebrates us.

I work at an organization whose event participants celebrate the women in their lives and I just wish I could celebrate my amazing mother everyday. I’m very lucky, and I cherish my mother.

Plus, does your mom make Chocolate Ring of Coconut Fudge Cake?

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Love you Mum!