Let’s Eat!: Fresh Mozzarella Stuffed Bruschetta

Hey y’all! I hosted a girls night at my house this week and made a health-ier Mozzarella Stuffed Bruschetta. Back in Jax, my favorite restaurant, Biscotti’s serves bruschetta stuffed with mozzarella. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu. Maybe I was feeling a little homesick, who knows. Regardless, I made the yummiest bruschetta and wanted to share the recipe with you! You’re welcome!

First, I found a healthy version of bruschetta on my favorite website, Skinnytaste. If you haven’t heard of Gina’s site, you are truly missing out. Her recipes are amazing and I’ve never had a bad thing. Everything is healthy and fresh. Gotta love it!

tomatobasilbruschetta 090514

Mozzarella Stuffed Bruschetta:

I used Gina’s Bruschetta with Tomato & Basil recipe and added a twist.

Ingredients:

        – 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
        – 2 cloves garlic, minced
        – 1/4 small red onion, chopped
        – 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
        – olive oil spray
        – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
        – 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
        – kosher salt
        – freshly ground black pepper to taste
        – 16 oz baguette or French bread
        – 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
               – 1 roll of fresh mozzarella (I used Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

Combine tomatoes, chopped garlic, red onion, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Set aside.

Slice bread the long way (I tried this recipe twice. The first time, I just sliced it and stuffed with mozzarella. The second time, I cut it more of an angle and tried to scoop out some of the breading.) Slice the mozzarella in 1/4 inch slices and stuff the bread with it. Broil for 8-10 minutes (make sure to keep an eye on it, I burned the first loaf I made–as evidenced in the pictures above :-\).

Then, cover the bread/mozzarella in the tomato/basil mixture.

Slice and serve.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi guys,

I spent six hours cooking today so I would have enough healthy food for the week. I made Minestrone Soup, my own fresh tomato sauce (I winged it, and it was AMAZING), roasted veggies, Quinoa Breakfast Bars with Blueberries, and Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I winged these cookies, and I was impressed with how they turned out. They need to cook a little longer than traditional Tollhouse Cookies.

1 1/8 cup white flour
1 1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (or Crisco)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, 2 egg whites
2 cups Carob chips

1) First, I mixed the Crisco, applesauce, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.

2) Then, I added the eggs, salt, white flour, whole wheat flour, and baking soda.

3) Last, I added the Carob chips.

I baked them at 325 for 13 minutes.

Once they came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with Kosher salt.

I’m happy with them, though I think next time I may try oat flour instead of whole wheat flour.

Let’s chat! How do you lighten up your cookies? Have you ever cooked with Carob chips?

The Quick & Dirty List of All Things Boston

Visiting Boston? Check out the list below for all things Boston related.  I tried to note if my suggestions are pricey or not. (I’m still suffering from sticker shock).

Coffee Shops:

  • Darwins, LTD (Cambridge–two locations: Cambridge St. or St. Auburn St.). Amazing coffee, yummy sandwiches, and delicious Florentine cookies 😉
  • Barismo (Arlington): coffee shop that touts the fact that you won’t need sugar for your coffee because theirs is so good. It’s true.
  • The Thinking Cup (North End, Boston Common, or Newbury St.): coffee shop, small bakery, and light lunch (if I’m remembering correctly). I find it a little over priced, but they have yummy macarons.
  • Crema Cafe (Cambridge): Coffee shop with light lunch. Yummy coffee, grilled cheese wasn’t bad either, but I’d pass on the sweet potato chips
  • Boston Coffee Shop (Theater District): I want to love this place, but I had a vegan chocolate chip cookie and it turned me off completely
  • Tratta (Kendall Square): coffee shop and bakery–SO good
  • Flour (Central Square): coffee shop and bakery–light lunch/dinner/bakery. Owner has a few cookbooks out. It’s good and reasonably priced. I would skip brunch on the weekend–it’s packed.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts (or Dunks to the locals): it’s a national chain but the first one originated here. It’s kind of a thing. The locals would rather have Dunks than Starbucks any day 😉 I’m a fan of an iced coffee with skim and one Splenda. Definitely makes me happy!

Restaurants:

  • Life Alive (Cambridge) is a great vegetarian restaurant (wicked crunchy granola–smells like pachouli and cashiers have dreds, but super yummy) and affordable
  • Christopher’s (Porter Square): their Buffalo Chicken Tofu is the bomb.com–the bar area is good too
  • The Museum of Science: It’s a bar with yummy looking burgers–but they only serve beer and wine. I went there on a date for drinks, so haven’t had a chance to try the food, but I want to.
  • 5 Horses Tavern (Somerville): great bar area, killer brunch and lunch. One of my favorite spots in the ‘Ville. I’ve never had a bad meal there–they have really interesting brunch options (the last time I was there, I had quinoa with pears and apples for breakfast).
  • Pomodoro’s (North End): hands down my favorite restaurant in the North End. A little pricey, but great for a celebratory night out. Only has wine service. Salted cod pasta is ridiculously good. Owner goes across the street to get Mike’s Pastry’s. Not a huge eclair fan, but I love theirs (bonus: she brings over a mini version, so you don’t have to eat a days worth of calories in one treat.)
  • Giacamo’s: People rave about this place. Maybe we got it on a bad night. I got the special, and while it was good, and affordable, it wasn’t anything to write home about. I was also very disappointed when I saw a case of Barilla pasta in the back :\
  • Stephanie’s on Newbury: One of my favorite brunch places…the lobster roll is amazing, as is the clam chowder, and the burger. Decently priced drinks–full bar.
  • Pizza Regina (North End): the best pizza in the city (and reasonably priced). Prepare for a line–we waited 45 min, but it was totally worth it. It’s really cramped, and the service is kind of rude, but it’s worth putting up with.
  • Za’s (Arlington): pizza, salads, etc. Think Mellow Mushroom of New England. I had the mac & cheese pizza–wasn’t my fav–I don’t really like mac & cheese, not really sure why I ordered it, but my friends are obsessed.
  • Tryst (Arlington): LOVE. My favorite brunch spot in my neck of the woods. The steak & eggs is amazing. Reasonably priced too.
  • Max Brenner’s: chocolate everything. And I mean, EVERYTHING. Martini’s, pizza, crepes, you name it.
  • Park (Cambridge): Yummy place for dinner, though a little pricey. Cambridge can be expensive because of the Harvard $$, FYI.
  • Met Bar (Newbury Street): I’ve only been once, but I liked it. They serve lunch (I think), definitely dinner, and have a small bar downstairs. I just liked the vibe. I went around the holidays and had calamari (YUM) and a flight of hot chocolate. Was reasonably priced and a fun/interesting spot.
  • Tavern on the Square (Cambridge): a local chain, food’s OK…sports bar atmosphere
  • Not Your Average Joe’s (multiple locations): a local chain, food is good and reasonably priced

Night Life:

  • Legal Seafood at the Seaport–expensive but you can’t beat the view
  • Sissy K’s–I haven’t been there yet, but I heard it’s great
  • Bell in Hand–fun pub in Fanueil Hall area
  • Science Museum (Porter Square)
  • Joshua Tree (Porter Square)
  • McGoon’s Irish Pub (Tufts)–love their beer selection
  • Mead Hall (Kendall Square)–killer beer selection on tap
  • Toads: good local music–only serve beer and wine
  • Russel House: killer drinks–only went for post-dinner drinks but they were really different and interesting
  • Boston Beer Works

Things To Do:

  • Duck Boat Tour (look for a Groupon–otherwise, can be pricey)–also, you’ll need to schedule this ahead of time
  • Walk the Freedom Trail (Free!)–be sure to check out Bunker Hill–I loved it
  • The JFK Museum-one of my favorite things in the city–it’s $10 to get in, but sometimes you can get reduced passes or free passes at the library
  • Boston Public Library Tour-free on Sundays at 2 PM–so good!! A little long (2 hours ish, I think) but really well done
  • Walden Pond (Concord): Thoreau lived here for a year and wrote Walden Pond–it’s gorgeous and they have a replica of his home as well as the remnants of his original place. You’ll need to Zipcar a car to do this.
  • Orchard House: Louisa May Alcott’s Home: tour is $10 and well worth it. You’ll need to Zipcar a car.
  • American Repertory Theater (ART) (Cambridge)–great local theater
  • Broadway a the Boston Opera House–pricey, but the theater is AMAZING. So gorgeous.
  • Catch a movie (free) at the hatch shell
  • Catch a concert at the Blue Hills Pavilion
  • Fanueil Hall
  • Kayak in the Charles River (can pick this up in Kendall Square)–SO fun!!! We did this on my birthday and it was a blast. I got a Groupon, so you may want to keep your eyes peeled
  • Take the Commuter Rail to Newport and spend the day–get a lobsta roll and chowda at the Brick Alley Pub. Check out the Breakers or the other mansions in the area–Newport is one of my favorite places (it’s about an hour by car), so beautiful and a typical New England city
  • Rent a Zipcar for the day and go hiking in the White Mountains (New Hampshire)–New Hampshire is one of my favorite things about this area
  • Spend a Sunday in the Southend and go to SoWa, a vintage market and farmer’s market–the few times I’ve been, they’ve had fresh homemade donuts, breads, cheeses, and vegetables. Great vintage shopping, if you’re into that sort of thing
  • Rent a paddle boat on Boston Public Garden
  • Sox game! I’m not a huge baseball fan, but the stadium is awesome (the oldest in the country–you can do tours for $14) and the experience is fun (it’s no Swamp, but it’s fun)…one of those things you have to do while you’re here 😉
  • Tour the Boston Science Museum: great for a rainy day. I have a season pass and love taking the twins (my cousins) or friends when their in town
  • Rent a Zipcar and check out the strawberry festival in Concord–was really fun for a Saturday afternoon
  • Tour the Harpoon Brewery
  • The Cider House (Somerville)–just opened, heard it was cool but haven’t been

Enjoy the City,

C

Grab a Bite Before a Play: Abby Lane (Theater District)

A friend was in town and we needed a quick snack before waiting in line for dinner at the North End (more on that later) and we were both pleasantly surprised by Abby Lane. Great atmosphere, affordable apps and drinks, and the food was delish! Pictured below is the shaved asparagus and arugula salad with a crispy egg, red wine (Merlot, if you’re curious), and homemade buffalo chips with a blue cheese dipping sauce. Delish!

Walden Pond & Orchard House

A few months ago, a friend recommended I check out Walden Pond. She said it was “close” but I brushed her off because Concord always sounded far from me. Turns out, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump away. Fast forward to the first nice day we’ve had in months, the weather was beautiful, 60s and sunny, and I couldn’t stand the thought of being inside, so I threw on some shorts and went for a hike. 

Walden Pond is BEAUTIFUL. The drive over is gorgeous and once you’re there it’s just…breathtaking. I can see why Thoreau lived there. For those of you that aren’t familiar, Henry David Thoreau wrote “Walden”, an essay about his time living on Walden Pond. He writes about his time there and uses the four seasons as a metaphor for personal growth and development. For more on the subject, check this out. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a poetry fan, or a Thoreau fan for that matter, but after visiting Walden Pond, I am definitely going to check it out. It was so serene, even though it was fairly busy for a Saturday afternoon. You can take various trails around the lake, there is a small “beach” (sorry, former Floridian here), and you can also check out the remnants of Thoreau’s house, as well as a replica of the house itself. The house is very small, about 100 square feet, if that, and only housed a small wood burning stove, a bed, and a small table. I definitely couldn’t handle that! (Sorry, this girl likes to shop too much!).

After Walden Pond, I checked out Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s home. Louisa May Alcott is the author of “Little Women” and a native of the Boston area. Her family lived all over–in the city, Cambridge, and eventually residing in Concord. The Alcott’s moved 18 times before settling at Orchard House. Orchard House, named by Alcott’s father after the apple orchard on-site, is a beautiful old home, set against a large hill with large and dense trees. I wish I could describe it better, but it’s one of those things you’ll have to check out for yourself. The tour of Orchard House is $10, and well worth it. Our tour guide was a young girl, who couldn’t have been more than 16 years old, and she gave such a great tour. We were all impressed. She told us little secrets about each room, and told funny little stories about the family (Did you know the entire reason kids have recess today is because of Louisa’s father? He started an unconventional school for the time period and believed kids shouldn’t be chained to their desks or kept inside all day, that they should be able to run around and play outside?) No photo’s are allowed during the tour, but you’ll wish they could have been–May’s (Louisa’s youngest sister) original artwork is drawn onto the walls, there are original signed copies of “Little Women” in Louisa’s room, and if you look very carefully in the parent’s room, you can see an original doll from Louisa’s older sister, Anna. For more on Orchard House, and the tour, check out the Orchard House’s website, here.

Portsmouth, NH Adventures!

Hi Everyone (my whole 11 readers out there), I know, I’ve been a little lax on the posts lately but I’ve been a busy, busy little bee. You’ll see a ton of updates in the next few days…Ok, who am I kidding…tonight. Ha! I’ve been squirreling away the photo’s and posts, so get ready for a fun ride!

A few weeks ago, (Hey, I said I was behind!), I went to Portsmouth, NH to visit a dear old friend. It’s a long story, and I won’t bore you with the details, but she was my tutor in first grade, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to pronounce my vowels or identify a combined word (Example: doghouse. See, still got it.). Fast forward, 25 years, and after a quick Facebook search (thank you, Zuckerberg, I found my dear old friend and re-connected.) We decided to meet in Portsmouth, NH, which is a little over an hour away, for all you local Bostonians.

Portsmouth is a quaint seaside New England town, great for lazy Sundays (or Saturdays in our case) that boasts tons of cute little shops, concerts in the summer, and was once an Air Force Base (there is even a submarine you can tour). For more of the history on Portsmouth, go here. We went to a cute little bakery called Popovers on the Square for lunch. Each meal comes with mini or full sized popovers. What is a popover, you ask? (It’s OK, I had never heard of one either.) A popover is a light and airy baked treat (picture a cross between a croissant and a muffin). READ: Yummy.

We didn’t get to walk around too much as we had other plans (hel-lo, Kittery Outlets in Maine!) but it was a nice and relaxing afternoon, regardless. I would love to check it out when the weather is warmer.

So, dear reader, have you been to Portsmouth before? If so, what hotspots should I check out?