Sunday, May 12, 2013

"You Two Look Drowsy" - A Post NSR1 Feast

MIXX - Allston, MA

Toppings galore from MIXX
     Racing season was picking up quite quickly, along with the search for healthy treats. Cookies? No. Cakes? No. Froyo? Perhaps. After spending the afternoon watching the Boston Marathon with Joan, I decided to keep walking a bit and hit up MIXX, a frozen yogurt place in Allston that's always packed. I've heard it's one of the best in Boston, so I had to give it a try. All froyo places seem to have the same feel. Simple, bold colors. Modern furniture. Clean. This place was just like Zinga in Kenmore. They had self serve frozen yogurt, so naturally I had to try all of them. Cookies and cream, banana split, original, chocolate, taro, peanut butter... you name it, they probably had it, and I probably tried it. I'm just a lost cause when it comes to the toppings. My treat went from "healthy" to "excessive" within 30 seconds of hitting the toppings bar. All in all, it was delicious. Namely because I topped the thing with at least 2 full mashed reeses cups. But the frozen yogurt was so good. Each flavor was unique and spot on. The taro was really good, and the original was great without an overly powerful zing that you get with some frozen yogurts. I'm not sure how to compare frozen yogurt places, because the concept is simple, but MIXX is definitely worth the extra trip down Comm.


Uno Chicago Grill - Princeton, NJ

Avocado Egg Rolls
     Large sums of melted cheese on bread had become a thing of the past as a result of NSR1 weight requirements. I was absolutely determined to get a deep dish pizza for lunch/dinner the day of our last weigh-in in Princeton. Mary and I found an Uno, a restaurant I've been wanting to go to for a long time. There's one in Kenmore in Boston, and it always smells incredible when I go by. That Saturday evening we headed there for dinner. We may have gone a little overboard (naturally), but who cares? As an appetizer, we got these awesome avocado egg rolls. They were basically avocado, onion, cilantro and lime wrapped up in your standard egg roll wrap, deep fried and served with this INCREDIBLE tamarind cashew dipping sauce. What is tamarind? We had no idea, and we attempted to research it with no success. The warm avocado was absolutely delicious, especially with that sauce. I'm not kidding. We saved every bit of that sauce and put it on anything and everything that we could the rest of the meal.

     We spied another table with a plate of breadsticks. Instant panic. Those were not on the menu. I did not see those on the menu. What are those? Waitress, can we get some of those? The salt on these fluffy, warm, toasted cheese topped breadsticks was out of this world. I know that sounds stupid, but try avoiding sodium for a couple weeks, and then we can talk. These breadsticks hit the spot ... especially with that tamarind cashew dipping sauce.
The Chicago Classic

     In an effort to not get in too far over our heads, we decided to split the individual Chicago Classic deep dish pizza and get a side salad with chicken. The grilled chicken with the salad was pretty good, and the salad itself was decent. Nothing too fancy. But this pizza.... oh my. This pizza had crumbled sausage, chunky tomato sauce, mozzarella and romano cheese. We added broccoli and onions as well. Mary mentioned that chunky tomato sauce on pizza was a game-changer for her, so I really wanted to try it. I swear, we must have looked like crazy people. We sat there staring at our slices of pizza in absolute amazement after each bite. The crust was thick and crispy on the outside and was lined with cheese. They must've layered the cheese down on top of the crust first, then added the vegetables and topped it with the tomato sauce. Genius. Maybe this is how Chicago deep dish style pizza works, I don't know. Either way, it was a new and unique way of topping a pizza for me. Mary was right, the chunky tomato sauce was incredible. It was more of a topping as opposed to just a sauce. Make sense? In combination with the broccoli and onions and sausage, it was fabulous.

     We walked out of Uno in an absolute state of euphoria. The waitstaff at the door even said, "Wow, you two look drowsy" as we left. So what?

Hoagie Haven - Princton, NJ

      It is virtually impossible to go to Princeton and not have someone, somewhere recommend you go to Hoagie Haven. Well... I now understand why. The Sunday after racing NSR1, Mary and I stuck around to row some double combinations with a few other girls. With no weigh-in in the absolute near future, we wanted lunch. And I mean we wanted LUNCH. Mary dropped me off at the door and I navigated myself through the sea of high school lacrosse players and soccer players and finally made it to the counter, behind which at least 10 workers were sliding around frying meats, pouring sauces, and toasting buns. It was chaos. The place was miniature to begin with. I ordered one "Body Bag," a BLT and a side of fries. I knew as soon as he pulled out the 16 inch hoagie roll (I'm guessing) for the Body Bag that we weren't going to need that BLT or the fries. It was too late. Ready for this?

The Body Bag
     After getting our food, we made our way to a park by the river to sit and enjoy. I'll start off with the easy stuff. Salt and pepper on the fries? Incredible. Why don't more places do a s/p combo? And the BLT was great. Refreshing compared to the other mountain we attempted to climb (see below).

The precious insides of the Body Bag
 We unwrapped the Body Bag, and it was still piping hot. This behemoth was lined with a layer of hash browns and ketchup first. Next was your standard Italian hoagie. In this case salami, capicola and ham I'm guessing. Other inclusions: provolone cheese, cheese steak, 4 fried eggs and sliced onions. Overkill? Absolutely. The grease was running down my arm, and all was right in the world. The meat, the salt, the bread. All good things. All things that don't go well with a weigh in. It was like stepping into heaven. Let me just say, maneuvering our long boats through downtown Princeton was worth it.

Beet Hummus - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

     In my pinterest stumblings one day, I came across a recipe on The Inventive Vegetarian for Beet Tahini that looked very similar to a recipe that my boss' wife, Meredith, had made one day for me. It was so delicious when she made it, so I wanted to try to recreate it. When Meredith served hers, she served it on a greek yogurt covered piece of whole grain toast with a piece of mint. Hmmm... maybe it wasn't mint. I can't remember. Either way, I'd totally recommend taking a piece of toast, spreading a little greek yogurt on it for the zing, and topping it this beet hummus. It's so simple and satisfying. Another winning combo: toast, regular hummus and this beet hummus. I don't think I'm an enormous fan of tahini, so partially out of fear, I only used 2 tbs of tahini instead of the half cup this recipe called for. Feel free to experiment. Warning: if you try to make this, you will make an enormous mess. Guaranteed.

Beet Hummus
Beet Hummus on toast with Greek yogurt

2 beets
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup tahini (I used 2 tbs)
Salt, to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400F

2) Wash and trim, but don’t peel, the beets, then wrap each one in tin foil and toss it in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until a knife can easily pierce each beet.  Once the beets have cooled enough to handle, rub them with your thumbs and the skins should come off easily.

3) Roughly chop the beets and the garlic and put both in the bowl of a food processor.  Give them a quick pulse to start breaking down the beets.

4) Add the tahini and lemon juice and puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt as desired.  Serve cold or room temperature with crackers or raw vegetables.

Middle Eastern Chic Pea & Sweet Potato Soup - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

Middle Eastern Chic Pea and Sweet Potato Soup
      I think this may just be THE BEST soup I have ever made. No joke. My excitement to eat it everyday for lunch was just stupid. I found this recipe off of Eating Well's website, and decided to tweak only one thing (this is unusual for me). This recipe called for basmati rice, but I used red quinoa instead for the protein. I'm sure rice would be good too. The key ingredients in this recipe, I think, are the orange juice, sweet potato and cumin. Yes, I said orange juice. It gave the broth a refreshing and citrus-y sweetness. I was totally surprised by how much flavor the cumin added as well. Normally I wouldn't see cumin as being critical to a recipe, but it really complimented the flavors of this soup. This soup was a little bit sweeter than most (perhaps the reason I liked it so much), and I believe it to be because of the OJ and sweet potato. The longer the soup sat in my fridge, the better it got. I think the sugars from the sweet potato started to break down and began sweetening the broth. But the soup didn't have a dessert-y sweet taste. It was more a savory sweet taste. The combination of the chic peas, the sweet potato and the flavors infused into the broth made this such a unique treat. Definitely give it a try. 

Middle Eastern Chic Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbs olive oil
3 medium onions, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 cup orange juice
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can chickpeas
3 cups sweet potato, diced
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 

1) Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring often, until tender and well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. 

2) Add cumin and coriander and stir for about 15 seconds. Add orange juice and broth. Stir in chickpeas, sweet potato, rice and salt. Bring to a boil.

3) Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the sweet potatoes are breaking down to thicken the liquid, about 45 minutes. Season with pepper and add chopped cilantro. The soup will be thick and will thicken further upon standing.

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