Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Fought the Stir-Fry!!

I have spent way too much of my life trying to figure out the key to good stir-fry. I have literally ruined woks upon woks of food with stir-fry that your dog would run away from. Which is a shame because the southerner in me makes a lot of food at one time. So that’s loads upon loads of yummy veggies in the garbage or us suffering through a giant bowl of ick! And if you know me, you know that I do not eat with the intention of eating something that doesn’t taste great!

So out of the blue one weekend I picked up baby bok choy at the farmers’ market. I simply love this stuff. However, since the baby bok choy looked so great, I decided to give stir-fry one last shot and totally wing it. Forget these recipes online that I’d been trying to recreate! So that’s just what I did.

I’m not sure why but I started with 10 cloves of garlic and about 2 inches of fresh ginger minced. Thank you mini food processor! You are going to think this is way too much. In fact, when I started cooking it all together I was worried I had ruined what was sure to be my LAST stir-fry! But lo and behold, this is exactly what my past stir-frys had been missing! Eureka!

With that said, here’s the breakdown:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Pre Wilt
*I cut these into tiny pieces
½ eggplant, diced
½ red pepper, sliced
½ red onion, sliced
1 pkg shitake mushrooms, sliced
handful green beans
3 heads baby bok choy, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
2” fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper sauce
2 single serving packages Udon noodles
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ or less cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
olive oil

Put your wok (or whatever pan you’re using) over medium-high head. Put a little olive oil into the wok and sauté chicken until its cooked. A little tip here, leave the chicken for 2 minutes longer than you think it needs before you stir it up. This will get one side brown and crunchy. Cook the chicken all the way through and set aside in a bowl. Then put 2 Tbsp. olive oil in the wok, add the garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper sauce. Stir that around for several minutes until the flavors are completely in the oil. Add all the veggies and toss around until your veggies are wilted, but not soft. Approximately 10-12 minutes. You may need to add more oil while cooking but use sparingly. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame seeds in a bowl. You may need to microwave it a minute to break down the honey. After your veggies are at the right tenderness, add the chicken back in and stir in the soy sauce mixture. Cook for a few more minutes tossing around until the mixture is evenly distributed and the chicken is warmed back up. This time I threw in Udon noodles because I had previously picked them up at Reliable Market in Union Square (which I recommend you visit). But normally, I would put it over brown rice.

With Udon

You should know that these veggies are not set in stone. Use whatever you like. Just make sure it’s veggie laden and you’ll be all set. You could use shrimp too, but I had chicken. Really anything can be substituted EXCEPT the garlic and ginger. Do not remove this part, it’s the most important!

Aaaaand TAAADAAAA! It was amazing! Yeeehaw! I took on the stir-fry and I won! And we didn’t have to choke down another terrible stir-fry and never will again!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Boston Collaborative for Food & Fitness

You’ve probably heard of Jamie Oliver and his health food in school movement. What you may not have heard about is our own hometown heros that have been working on a food & fitness movement in the communities around Boston. And they’ve been doing it since 2006! You could call them the pioneers of the movement and they certainly deserve as much accolade as Jamie Oliver. Especially since they don’t have celebrity behind them, just their ideas and their will power! The group I’m talking about is the Boston Collaborative for Food & Fitness.

The BCFF works with a Youth Advisory Board for their GO 4RESH CAMPAIGN. The YAB consists of motivated youth throughout the community who are working towards their mutual goals of providing healthier and locally produced school menus. This farm to school initiative is hoped to provide students with healthier options, but also to properly fuel the students to concentrate and learn better as well as engage in physical activity all afternoon. The other upside to this goal is that the local farmers also thrive with a large demand! These young leaders and their support system at the BCFF stand to revolutionize the way students in Massachusetts eat…leading the way in what we can only hope will trigger a nation-wide demand for better! Not to mention make it cool to eat at school!

This isn’t all the BCFF is doing, however. They are also working on improving the community food environments. Why shouldn’t we all have access to the freshest, healthiest, localist…wait, is that a The BCFF believes we should, regardless of what neighborhood or socioeconomic group we fit into. They are working towards increasing markets for local foods through direct sale and retail venues, increasing access and affordability of healthy food in retail outlets, specifically independent stores in low-income neighborhoods, and building a sustainable infrastructure by supporting community coalitions focused on healthy food systems. Specifically, the Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition and the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing.

On top of their food movements, the BCFF is also working on a fitness initiative. As we all know, in a healthy lifestyle, being active is absolutely essential. They are embarking on this project with increased active transportation by development and implementation of Complete Streets Guidelines as well as converting small-scale underutilized open space into play areas, gardens, and small parks with the hope that local proximity will encourage people to get active! With physical education programs being cut nationally due to lack of funding, it is important for us, as members of a community we are proud of, to take this issue into our own hands. Getting active is something we can all stand to do and definitely get behind!

So lets get to work people! Lets get behind the wellness of our communities and of our neighbors! Lets get behind our own health and well being! The BCFF and GO 4RESH can use and welcome all the help you want to give! Contact them! They will have a booth at the Boston Local Food Festival on October 1, 2011 happening at the Boston Waterfront in Fort Point Channel! You’re going to be there anyway, so stop by their booth and get involved! You can also contact them through their website at

Whattaya waiting for?! Lets change the way we eat, lets change the way we play, lets get healthy Massachusetts!

Become a fan of the Collaborative on Facebook! So stop reading this blog and get to it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baked Potato Burgers

For my birthday this year, all I wanted was a quiet dinner at home of crab legs and an old school style baked potato. You know those baked potatoes…with sour cream, chives and bacon bits. So that’s what I had. It was delicious! Fast forward two days and I’m home trying to figure out what to do with the ground beef that was thawed out. My motivation to cook was totally in the pot when all of a sudden the light bulb went off! Baked potato burgers! We had left over chives and bacon bits…it would be super easy and hopefully as good as the baked potato two nights before.

So I got to it and the outcome was absolutely perfect! This was definitely one of those you impress your friends with at a not so ordinary barbeque! Let me apologize for the old school measuring…that’s just how I usually roll!

Here’s the dish:

Enough ground beef for 4 burgers
*I buy all my meat in bulk and divide it up so I don’t have 
an exact measurement here
½ cup bacon bits
*Use the good ones from Whole Foods or make your own from real bacon
Few shakes of Montreal Steak Seasoning
Few shakes garlic powder
Few shakes dried parsley
Handful chopped fresh chives
Few shakes Worcestershire sauce
Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese
*This is better than sour cream for flavor and consistency
 Red onion, slices
Spring Mix greens
Pepperoncini rings
Whole wheat buns
Olive oil

Mix the ground beef with the first 6 ingredients. Squish it around really well so that its all mixed in and the bacon bits are evenly distributed. Patty them out and let them sit in the fridge for at least an hour, but two would be better. Get your grill screaming hot. Brush the burgers with a little olive oil. Depending on how done you like your burgers, cook accordingly. But try to get them a bit scorched on the outside. Let the burgers rest for 5 minutes. Put on the bun (I realize this is an obvious step, but hey….). Spread a tablespoon of Boursin (or however much you want) on top of the burger. Top with sliced red onion, pepperoncini rings and spring mix.

This thing is seriously delicious. Typically I don’t like bacon on my burgers, call me crazy, but mixing the bits into the beef made this non-traditional bacon burger super amazing and wow flavor! This is no ordinary burger friends!

I’m going out on a limb and saying it’s the best burger I’ve ever come up with! I swear my best ideas come when I’m throwing left over stuff together! And it’s pretty too!

Cheers to bacon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jamminist Jambalaya

When I was growing up, I remember Sunday being a big dinner, well more of a supper day. Especially in the cooler months, I remember my mom making one-pot wonders. These are the foods that get cooked all together in one pot. I think the updated version of these are recipes for a slow cooker. But my mom is old school, so all of our one-pot dinners were made in a dutch oven. She would usually cook them all day. Some of my favorites were pot roast and goulash. To this day the woman doesn’t use a slow cooker. It’s funny to me because the idea of cooking a pot roast or anything for that matter on top of the stove in a dutch oven (with the exception of sauce) terrifies me. I mean, how do you cook something all day with actual heat under it without just killing it or starting a house fire? Anyway, for me this is what the cool months are all about.

Luckily, I live in New England and autumn is slowly creeping on us! Today is one of those perfect days for a one-pot meal on what has proven to be a seriously lazy Sunday! So I stole a couple of recipes and converted them Meagy style for tonight’s dinner.

Paula Deen has this amazing jambalaya recipe that couldn’t be easier and takes little to no time. So I’ve stolen that recipe and cranked up the heat with quadruple the called for cayenne pepper. I like to sweat when I eat! If you don’t, follow her recipe or just double it! Also, don’t cook the shrimp in the jambalaya like the recipe calls for. But still be sure to cook the mixture for those extra minutes when the shrimp would be in there! No one likes half cooked rice!

Click this to connect to her recipe  Ms. Paula's Jambalaya

I’ve also stolen the idea of jambalaya from Hungry Mother restaurant. I’ve only been there once, but they made jambalaya with fried catfish resting on top rather than cooking seafood in it. They also topped it with a green tomato relish. It’s genius but unfortunately Ms. Paula’s jambalaya is much tastier.

So tonight, I’m mixing the two recipes and instead of frying catfish, I’m going to cornmeal bread the shrimp and bake it. I love catfish, especially fried catfish, but I have shrimp and lets be a little healthier! *wink wink

You’ll want to make the green tomato relish first so it has time to marry.

Green Tomato Relish

½ Green tomato, finely chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
½ lime, juiced
½ handful cilantro chopped

Mix all of it together and chill it in the refrigerator.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Follow Ms. Paula’s directions and after you’ve got your jambalaya rocking and rolling, start breading your shrimp. You can leave the tails on but no shell! Put cornmeal into a Ziploc bag, throw in the shrimp and shake shake shake! When you’ve got about 10 minutes until your jambalaya is ready, spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray. Place the shrimps in a single layer and spray the top of the shrimp. Bake the shrimp for about 10 minutes flipping them over half way through.

Scoop some of the finished jambalaya into a bowl. Place baked shrimps on top. Garnish with the green tomato relish.

Here’s to my chilly willy evening and my super hot n spicy Meagy style jambalaya, albeit mostly stolen.

 Cheers ya’ll!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Peas Pweeease!

PEAS. Stop. What is your first thought? IIIIIIIII know what it is. Your first thought is of smushy canned peas. The ones your mother made you eat when you were a kid. Likely your mental image of them is a grayish color not found in nature. If you have this memory, and don’t deny it you know you do, you probably also have a memory of the texture and maybe a memory of gag reflex! Oh crap, in my time blogging, I’ve forgotten to tell you that I’m a psychic!

Now I’d like you to release this image from your mind. I know it’s hard but I’ll start a support group for you…ATBP, “Adults Traumatized by Peas”. Now I’d like you to try and imagine a delicious vegetable called a pea!

Not too long ago, I picked up some shelling sweet peas. These are the same as the peas in the can except fresh and in pods, and not disgusting. So I cooked them on instinct of how it might work and served them to a VERY skeptical husband who is also a card carrying member of the ATBP.

Here’s the breakdown:

2 or 3 lbs shelling peas
*this is really variable and completely up to you, if you want more by all means go for it!!
*use as much as you like, but don’t skimp too much, its really good
Leeeeeeetle Bit-a-buttah
*don’t’ shoot me…a) I’m Southern b) Its not that much

This really doesn't do them justice!
Ready for this….this is so easy! Shell the peas. Put some water in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. While it’s coming to a boil, chop up your chives. Throw the peas in the water. Let them cook for about 4-5 minutes. This is the key to making them different from the canned kind!!!! Keep them crisp! Strain them and throw them in a bowl with the chives and an itty bitty bit of butter. Toss all the ingredients and add s&p to taste but be careful with these, don’t over do it. You want the star to be the peas!

Done and done! And I guarantee you’ll love them! I have a converted and completely rehabilitated husband!

Yaaaay peas!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Family's Comfort Food

One of my most comforting memories from college involves food obviously. My freshman year, I moved into the dorms with a total stranger! This girl, Beth-O became one of my most essential support systems and best friends throughout my college experience. So naturally our parents watched over us both. Beth was from Ohio, so her family wasn’t really close. But her dad, Bob, came in pretty regularly to spoil us and we ate it up! Beth comes from an Italian family and while running into an Italian family is no special thing here in Boston, down south it’s an entirely different story. So after us girls got apartments, Bob would come in and make food for us, I mean her, but we all got together at her place and hung out while he cooked! Bob made these crazy meatballs that I cannot adequately explain. They were magical. But Beth would make this delicious marinara/spaghetti sauce for them. I would stand over her shoulder until she was finished getting all the ingredients in and we would eat it cold straight out of the pot before it even had a chance to marry! This stuff was amazing.

Beth gave me the recipe for this delicious sauce before I left Kentucky. I tried over and over to make this stuff, but I think it was more the care and comfort that made it what it was to me, so I never was able to get the taste right. The problem was, I was completely spoiled for sauce and could not entertain the idea of jarred sauce ever again! So I took this calamity into my own hands and came up with the recipe I make now. I make it in huge batches to freeze for easy dinners later. Learned that from them too!

Here’s my recipe. It’s nothing like Beth and Bob’s, but its pretty good!

1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 handfuls sliced baby bellas, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
sprinkle of garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 – 14.5 oz can tomato paste
2 – 30 oz. cans tomato sauce 
2 – 30 oz cans crushed tomato (unsalted)
olive oil
Cast Iron Dutch Oven (or any deep pot)

Put onion, green pepper, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a few splashes of olive oil into the pan. Sauté on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft. About 10 minutes. If the veggies start to stick to the bottom add a little more oil. Just be sure they’re soft! Stir in the tomato paste and cook on low heat for about 5 -10 minutes stirring frequently. You don’t want it to get dry, so watch it closely. Stir in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Turn the heat to super low, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. I stir about every half hour making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. If you want to cook it longer, go right ahead!

WARNING: This is a super spicy marinara. If you’re not into super spicy, cut the red pepper flakes back or get rid of them completely.

This sauce is going to taste a bit different to you than what you’re used to because I don’t add sugar to cut the acidity! I like it with kick and don’t love the idea of sugaring up something that is otherwise healthy.

My times in the kitchen with those two special people sharing their culture and other friends gathering around for food and comradery are some of my most comforting memories from my time at the University of Kentucky. Maybe you can turn my recipe into the same for your and your friends and family.

Ciao ya’ll! 

Friday, September 9, 2011


Alright beloved followers. I've dropped the ball a bit with the blog. I've been traveling my face off (i.e. two trips to the west coast) and haven't been cooking! Blasphemy, I know. With a weakened immune system due mainly to this traveling I'm sick as a dog so I unfortunately have failed you again. Unless you wish to hear about last night's chicken noodle soup in bed watching Mary Poppins! I didn't think so. So the bone I'm going to throw you is a great restaurant recommendation.

Tonight Josh and I ate at East by Northeast in Inman Square. I'm not going to go through the 11, that's right, 11 courses one by one. What I will say is that when you go, do not expect sesame chicken and lo mein. This is the most innovative "chinese" food I've ever seen.

We sat at the bar and both of the waitress were super nice, but also funny and they were both happy to talk food with us. There was an edamame and corn course that was super. So I was chatting with the waitress about it to which her quote was, "It's the corn!" So why is it the corn my friends??? Come to find out, Phillip, the owner and chef picks up the ingredients for his menu at the farmers' market. Duh, it's corn season!

So we went through the courses and you can tell the veggies are super fresh and they even taste local. I don't know, they were just better. According to the waitress the menu changes every season, but the seasonal menus also change slightly just depending on what's looking good at the farmers' market. Additionally, they always have an 8 course "chef's tasting" which is whatever comes out of Phillip's head! And what a genius head it is!

Side note, East by Northeast is in the same square as Christina's and Toscanini's and Chef Phillip is even making his own ice cream!  It was delish too!

So friends, get down to East by Northeast for some local fresh chinese food! They're at 1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Freshman 15 - Don't Do It!!!!

Hey friends! I am working on a blog that will "air" in a few weeks with regard to the Boston Collaborative on Food & Fitness! I got involved through the Boston Local Food Festival which will take place on 10/2/11! What a great project (both of them), but you'll have to wait for the skinny on the BCFF until the blog goes out! Anyway, I have been thinking I'd like to connect fitness into this blog without getting boring. I'm still looking for creative and fun ways to do it and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated!

But for today, I wanted to talk about an article I read on In a recent email conversation with Amy, she asked for suggestions for a care package going to her cousin who is headed to college this weekend! Oh my, I can't believe its that time of year! Seems like yesterday I was doing the same (we won't mention how long ago that actually was)!

I randomly came across this article about avoiding the dreaded FRESHMAN 15 and thought it useful information for all of us, not just the college bound!

Here's they synop!

1)     Don't skip! Throw granola bars, cut veggies, nuts, etc. into your backpack before you leave your house! This way you're not missing meals, starving to death and then eating your face off in chicken fingers later!

2)     Save your quarters for laundry! The point here is don't eat out of the vending machines. It absolutely does not take a rocket scientist to know the stuff in those things is bad for you physically but also mentally. Learning and attention span are compromised when we're not fueling our bodies with good food!

3)     Try extracurricular activities! This is a terrific one! Colleges and Universities across the country have tons of clubs and teams to get you up and moving. Find a few and get to it! This will also make you some friends in a new environment, and don't we all agree the best thing we all took away from college was our lifelong buddies!

4)     Stock your mini-fridge with healthy items! This really explains itself. Avoid the pizza rolls and fill your fridge with veggies, fruit, lean meats! I sat across from this girl in my Womens' Studies class who always snacked on a snack size Ziploc of turkey. At the time I thought it was strange....she was in MUCH better shape than I was!

5)     Avoid late night snacking! This, in my opinion, is by far the hardest thing to avoid in college, but is VERY much what caused me to gain the Freshman 15! You're up late...ehehemmm studying....and you want to eat. If you get to that point, try to get some sleep instead. You're probably overdoing it anyway and sleep will get your brain back on track for the trecherous 8am class!

6)     Eat reasonable portions! This goes back to the snack size Ziploc. On grocery day, portion everything out in baggies so you can grab and go with your busy busy college class and socializing schedule! This kills like 14 birds with one stone!

7)     Eat meals slowly! This has never been a problem for me, but if you're like my husband, you only chew about 20% of the time in a mad dash to get on to the next thing. Don't do it! Eating too fast doesn't trigger your "full" feeling until you've already eaten way too much. Sit down and eat. Eat in class while you're "taking notes"! But be conscience of how long it takes you.

8)     Drink lots of water! Ok so the hard truth is that you're in college and you're likely drinking more beer than anything else. I'm not your mom, so I won't tell you not to do that. What I will say is in the morning instead of grabbing a soda, fill a nalgene with water! The expert in the article suggests an 8oz. glass of water before any meal stating that "one study in particular found those individuals who did so saw a 44% boost in weight loss"! Additionally, this will ultimately make those hangovers easier to manage!

9)     Be aware of WHY you're eating! If you are eating because you're stressed out, bored, homesick or something other than hungry try to be able to identify that! If you find you're eating because midterms are about to kick your butt, take a study break and head to the gym! Again with the birds and stones!

10)     Don't deprive yourself of favorite snacks, but eat them in MODERATION. So the cafeteria pizza is definitely not good for you. But if you never allow yourself any of it, you one day cave and instead of eating one slice you turn around and the whole pizza is gone! And not only have you just ingested 2 -3 days worth of calories and fat but now you also feel like crap! When you want a cookie, make sure you're not just bored, and have one...not the box!

Great article!

Hopefully this will help Amy get a healthy care package together and for all you headed off to college...Enjoy! These are the best times of your lives!!!