Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More Holiday Treats

As I mentioned, my holidays were full of many sweet things, not just dessert, but family, friends, and warm tidings (cheesy, aye?)

Of course, all of these family affairs were punctuated by eating delicious foods!

The morning started with my mother's side of the family at my grandmothers house, and hor d'oeuvre.

The whole clan

Sister, Mom, Me

At home we began with some veggies, crackers and cheese:

One of my family's traditions is the "Christmas Pineapple" which represents good luck-- and so happens to go well with ham, and was my family's rational for what I would eat when I was a vegetarian.

Here's my Christmas dinner plate:

Salad (made by Jess and myself) with Romaine, grape tomato, cucumber, mushrooms, clementine, black olives, grapes, carrots, broccoli and red peppers.
Meatball (Made by daddy)
Ham (also made my dad)
piece of fresh roll (from local Jewish Bakery)

And a few candids:

grammy and dad

Jessica and Sister

By the end of the night we were all exhausted and suffering from a food coma

Jessica and Snugs ended the night with a spot of tea and a lil nap.

Christmas Treats

One of the dangers of the holidays is the all of the tempting treats that lead to weight gain. My holiday, like most, was full of many temptations.

This year Jessica joined my family and I for Christmas this year. She was sweet enough to make some delicious peppermint bark.

She made a short bread-like cookie dough base, then covered it with chocolate, crushed up peppermint, and drizzled with white chocolate. Perhaps Jess will share the recipe on her blog.

They were a bit dangerously delicious.

Another tantalizing treat came in the form of anise cookies. Every year my family gets fresh Italian cookies from a local Italian bakery, Wholley Cannoli. They are so soft and decadent. One issue I had this year was my recent nut allergy! I had never noticed that the cookies often contained walnuts and almonds in them. They were sneaky little nuts too! I split a few cookies with Jess only to discover nuts hiding inside. It was quite the dilemma.

My sister also shocked the family by baking several treats (she is generally not the 'domestic
one.) She made some funfetti cupcakes, and peanut butter cookies, which I again had to skip, but they looked awfully pretty!

Treats were not only for the human population, my kitty Aliyah has a serious substance abuse problem with cat nip. For christmas I gave her a "boogy mat" that gets filled with cat nip, and she sure found that to be a treat!

Snugs also tried to make a "treat" out of Ghreylin, but that was prevented, thankfully.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tropical Foods

For my "Computers in Nutrition Education" Class I had to design a website based on some nutrition topic. Mine was on, "Eating Healthy on a Budget" (Feel free to check out my website... keep in mind it was built completely from scratch and this was my first building of anything.... )

Whenever I talked about my website project to J. His response was always, "How to eat healthy on a budget? Shop at Tropical Foods!" Some of the lowest priced groceries in Boston, and lots of tropical produce, spices and odd cuts of meat that you cannot find anywhere else in Boston.

After listening to him constantly chattering on and on about Tropical Foods, his Family's business, the other day after walking to the Animal Rescue League, to do my birdie research, I decided to walk to nearby Roxbury to check out this grocery store for myself.

I felt like a bit of a creeper taking pictures in the grocery store,... I got a couple weird looks from the employees and other costumers, but I got a few!

Their produce section was quite something, they had all of the normal - produce: apples, bananas, lettuce, and whatnot, as well as tons of more ethnic foods, such as ripe and green plantains, a very large variety of yams/ yucas/ other unknown root vegetables like these:

And of course, they had my favorite section of any grocery store: the discount produce section! One of the items in the discount section was this guy:

I have no idea what it is, nor could I find a description of it anywhere,.... but it was on clearance!

They also had the most amazing array of spices, marinades, oils and hot sauces I have ever seen.

Of course a long with their healthy produce, they also sell a variety of unhealthy treats, such as some delicious (??) pork rinds:

Their meat selection was very extensive and scary (to me...) They even sell conch meat, which apparently is very popular (it honestly just reminds me of Lord of the Flies.)

I was especially excited to hear an advertisement over the interc0m for Pizza Wine while I was in the store! Too funny...

J. was very excited that I actually ventured out to Tropical Foods. Apparently most of his friends are too scared to travel out to Roxbury (It really wasn't all that scary.) As a sign of his appreciation for my business, I received my very own Tropical Foods sweatshirt!

So if you are trying to eat healthy on a budget, or looking for some specific ethnic foods, check out Tropical Foods in Roxbury!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Kinda College Kid Dinner

I have a guilty pleasure:

boxed macaroni and cheese.

Horribly unhealthy, very calorie dense and low in nutrients... but soo tasty.

I do generally add some veggies to it, since eating an whole bowl of macaroni just doesn't really appeal to me, but lately I've been trying out a new "recipe"- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese.

What I added was:

1 box macaroni and cheese (I made it with nonfat soy milk, and some brommel and brown yogurt based margarine.)
1 can pumpkin
1 cup peas (frozen, defrosted)
1 cup carrots
2 cups Oriental Mixed veggies - broccoli, waterchestnut, peppers, snappeas etc.

The pumpkin added a very nice creaminess to it, and also it made me feel a little better about the fact that the mac and cheese was an unnatural orange color, since the pumpkin was orange. Adding the pumpkin and other veggies helps to add nutrients, fiber, and filling qualities, so that you don't eat quite as much mac and cheese!

It was especialy good with a bit of hot sauce on it for an added kick. and on the side I had a serving of Trader Joe's soy nuggets.

Macaroni and Cheese and Chicken Nuggets... kinda a college kid meal.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis the Season to be Gourdy :)

Last FridayLast Friday I went to a splendid gourd and wine dinner at the Aspesi Abode.

Our Dinner was complete with a spaghetti squash, acorn squash and green beans.

Spaghetti squash is pretty amazing. It was simply baked in the oven for maybe an hour, and then topped with tomato sauce and cheese. The squash just peels out in strands like spaghetti! It just kept coming out, like an endless spaghetti maker.

The acorn squash was our "dessert" gourd prepared with butter and brown sugar.

There was also "Wine and Beer!" (just like rent.)

We tried the Harpoon Ginger Wheat Beer... It was VERY gingery, a little too gingery for my liking, but decent.

Throughout the dinner we also got to enjoy the lovely gingerbread house that L. had made.

It was a very enjoyable and seasonal meal :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Introducing Ghreylin!

Introducing the newest addition to the family: Ghreylin.

I love birds... I had my first bird, a cockatiel named Dermon, in the 5th grade. She was handtrained, and very friendly. Unfortunately, her time with us was short. After Dermon, I got 3 parakeets... they were nice but they never became very friendly and wouldn't let me hold them. The last of the 3, passed away and I've been expereincing bird fever.

It was exaserbated by my best friend Ariane, getting a new cockateil, Ester, who I got to share a very 24 hour car ride with from Florida back to Mass, so we definitely bonded.

Next semester I am taking two online classes, which I am not excited about, but I figured it would be a good time to get a bird, since I'll have time to be home and bond with it.

I was looking at breeders to get a baby bird, since then they are the easiest to train and get them to be friendly and what not. While looking at breeders, however, I kept seeing postings for adopting birds. This past Tuesday, I went to the Animal Rescue League of Boston to check out the little guys there... which is where I met "Whistle". He is about a one year old cockatiel who was left in an abandoned apartment. When they found him, he was just kind of flapping around the apartment, with an injured wing (presumably from the random flapping around) and mlnourished. He was doing significantly better in the shelter but was looking for what they call a "forever home" and so, I took him home!

Since as I mentioned he had been abandoned, "Whistle" was the name the shelter gave him for his stay, so I decided to rename him, Ghreylin, based off of Ghrelin, the hormone in the stomach that makes you hungry, basically because I always thought it would be a pretty name and I am a nutrition dork.

He wasn't hand trained, but he's warming up. He bites, HARD, if you get your hand too close, yet he'll come and chill inches away from me on the bed, and will eat millet out of my hand, so I am hoping this is the start to a beautiful relationship.

The only dilemma, of course, is that Sookie wants to eat him. I keep trying to teach her, Ghreylin is family, not food.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Girls Night

A couple of weeks ago, on one of the first unpleasant snowfalls, the girls and I had a nice little girls night in. Jessica, Erika, and I met at Megan's house where she cooked us a lovely dinner of homemade pizza.

She makes delicious pizza dough, I've had a pizza by her where she mixed some rosemary and Italian spices into the dough. It was devine.

This pizza was made with white dough (she attempted whole wheat but the flour was bad), it was topped with tomatoes and some greenery (not gonna lie... it was a couple weeks ago I may not remember it.)

Since Megan informed me that she was making Pizza I realized it was the perfect time to try out the Pizza Wine J. got me!

"An Affair between wine and pizza!" (sold in Boston only at Tropical Foods!)

I actually really enjoyed the pizza wine. It was not what I had expected, it had a slight carbonation to it, it was almost in between wine and a wine spritzer. Nice and light and fruity! Great for a girls night.

Erika, Megan's friend from home, also brought some Berkshire Beer

It is a very flavorful beer-- I honestly do not know enough about beer to describe it as hoppy or wheatie whatever but I like it.

They also make one of my favorite beers: Berkshire's Coffeehouse Porter. Described by Berkshire as "this dark ale combines the taste of real organic coffee with out popular Drayman's Porter." Apparently they have also created a coffee flavored beer on tap, but I have not tried that yet that I know of.

The evening was pretty spectacular. It was very good to catch up with the girlies, and enjoy good food and drinks. Jessica also took the liberty to snap a couple of photos such as of Meg and me,

ain't we lookers?

Girls Night again soon, ok??

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Squab: Apparently nothing to squack about

This past weekend, I finally got to try out a restaurant I have been hearing a lot about: Chau Chow City.

The main appeal of Chau Chow's is that it is until 4 am, which is good after a night out. We had gone out to Ned Devine's near Faneuil Hall then took the walk to China Town. J. ordered some normal things: vegetable lo mein and sesame chicken. The lo mein was good, on the greasier side, and was made with thinner pasta than usual, but overall not too shabby. The sesame chicken was nice and saucy, the chicken was a bit fatty.

Jon, on the other hand decided to take the road less travelled by. As he perused the menu he asked me, "What is squab," I said it was some form of little bird. So, he ordered squab. The waiter seemed a little surprised, and asked if he only wanted one squab. We stuck with one.

The squab came out- (at the time I did not realize the importance of the squab, and it was 3 am, and a long night, so I neglected to take pictures.) it was very weird looking. Very boney, and dark brown. The plate is was on was nicely decoratated with some large flower decoration, presumably to distract from the squab's appearance.

J and J both hesitantly tried the squab... both with the same reaction: Squab was the worst food they had ever tasted. The rest of the night was spent coming up with comparisons to what squab tasted like, the general consensus was, "Pigeon that had been raised its whole like of a diet of sewage."

Despite this, Jon managed to finish his whole plate of Squab! What a champ! Admittedly it was very boney, and not much actual meat to eat.

Here is a close up of the creepiness that was the squab:

I refused to try the squab based on the very bad reviews, and the fact that I am still not entirely comfortable with eating any meat-- let alone "sewage fed poultry" meat. I did ask the waiter what exactly squab was, to which he replied "Baby Chicken."

Upon further research, most evidence points to the fact that squab is in fact, baby pigeon, so their description was not very far off in regards to the fact that it tasted like a pigeon.

According to another source, you are actually supposed to eat the entire squab, including the bones, in which case, a lot of squab was wasted that night.

Jon was very proud of himself, and said, "Now, I can say I have tried squab."

I, cannot make that claim in life yet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas :)

I just finally published my post on Thanksgiving, and already Christmas is around the corner!

After our absurb amounts of decorating Dan and I did for Halloween, our apartment looked depressingly barren once we took down our spooky decorations, so it wasn't long before we decided we needed to start sprucing things up for the Christmas season.

There are upsides to having a currently-out-of- work roommate, such as coming home to a magically decorated apartment!

We currently have a very lovely tree, some lights in the windows, stockings, and even handmade red and green garland.

I am personally getting in the mood with a nice piece of Trader Joe's Peppermint Bark,
along side a spot of peppermint tea!

The only radio station that comes in at St. E's happens to be the oldies station, which, since the beginning of November has been playing Christmas music, so I am definitely getting into the spirit!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Long December?

Long December,...

In the beginning of this month I started writing a post titled, "Long December," purely because I have had that song stuck in my head for weeks, and I wanted a reason to post it... Lo and behold its already the 9th and I never even finished that post!

This month is absolutely flying by.

I have a lot of backed up posts to write so without further ado...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giving Thanks :)

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving. I went home to Worcester Wednesday afternoon through Friday afternoon.

Thanksgiving was super mellow. It was just my immediate family: Dad, Mom, Tara, and my Grandmother for some of it.

My sister also brought home my "neice" Snuggles, which is always a treat. She is growing up and learning so many new things! She now sits, stays, gives her paw and dances... I've been trying to teach her roll over for quite a while but she just rolls over on her back and wants her stomach patted.

I started off the afternoon/ breakfast with some cheese and crackers:

For Thanksgiving dinner we had far too much food especially considering the number of people present. We had: Turkey, asparagus, green beans, squash, salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and
blueberry pie.

The only thing I cooked was the asparagus which I just put a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil on and steamed it in the microwave. I do not come from a very "culinary" family so overall most of the food was very standard-- so no fun recipes to share unfortunately.

This year is was a big deal that I "had to" eat turkey. I did try some, it was ok, but I still prefer the vegetables. I also determined I only like the unhealthy parts of the turkey, the dark meat. The white meat didn't really taste like anything but it was unpleasant to chew. I'd really rather just stick to the greens and squash :P

I learned that Snuggs takes after her Auntie, and not my sister- She loves green beans!!

Tara's plate was slacking heavily in the vegetable department.

One of the best things about having Snuggles around was that I got to take her for walks! I love to walk, but sometimes it can be boring to just go for a walk by yourself, so having an adorable lil pomapoo to join you makes it all better. We went for a walk before and after dinner, probably doing about 3-4 miles total, which is pretty significant for lil Snugs considering her size! Plus Tara barely ever walks her, so I definitely wore the lil pup out. We even ran for about half of each walk... which made me feel rather pathetic when I was having trouble keeping up with Snuggs.

At any rate, Thanksgiving was a nice little "break" and I tried to enjoy the home cooked food and being around family and friends. I'm rather excited for "Christmas break" to have a little bit more of a legit break. But must be Thankful for everything :)