Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Aint Never Had A Beef Like You

b.good - Cambridge, MA
Frank's Potatoes
     Eons ago, after a cleverly crafted tweet, the b.good truck came to my work and delivered free chocolate
milkshakes to us. It was THE BEST way to end the work week. So, that was my introduction to b.good and I've been following them and getting their emails ever since because I'm technically part of their "family." I'm not sure if I've explained their story yet, but their focus is making fast-food "real" by making it the way it should be... by people, not factories. I still hadn't visited one of their actual restaurants yet, when I got an email about Frank harvesting his potatoes, and if you came in before Sunday, you'd get a free order of fries. Also, I still had 2 other free orders of fries loaded onto my "family" card that I hadn't taken advantage of yet. Well... it's impossible for me to turn down free food, so one Saturday after the workout, Meagan and I went over to b.good to take advantage of two orders of free fries. On the wall right when you walked in, they had a picture of Frank on his farm and a little blurb about his potatoes from Hatfield, Massachusetts. Along with Frank were photos and information about two other families that b.good was sourcing their beef and other ingredients from. I'm a real big fan of this. Locally sourced and "real" ingredients. It's comforting to know who I'm supporting when I'm eating out. Not to mention, the environmental impacts of buying local.
     As I mentioned before, we went for our free fries and they were phenomenal! They came out looking just as I expected. Real. All different shapes, sizes, and textures. As if an individual, rather than a machine, had imperfectly sliced all different sizes of potatoes. The first thing Meagan said was "they're kind of creamy," and she was totally right. The outside was slightly crispy, but the potato inside was so moist and practically creamy. They also had some sort of delicious seasoning on them, perhaps with a little paprika? I'm unsure. But I do know that I can't wait to go back one day and try their burgers.

Coolidge Corner Clubhouse - Brookline, MA
Mile High Nachos

     Remember my "nacho average run" pre-CRASH B? Well... I'm slowly checking off the six restaurants that I visited with "the best nachos in Boston." Very very slowly. I've currently only been to one. However, Coolidge Corner Clubhouse was highly recommended by everyone and their mom, so one Saturday evening after sitting outside at MixFest downtown, Meagan wanted to go get food. We scooped up Jimmy and headed to Coolidge Corner Clubhouse where I could finally put their nachos to the test. I was pumped. The place looked like your standard sports bar, but a little older. By that I just mean there weren't seven thousand TVs and the look and feel wasn't very modern. I will instantly love a place if they offer me something free before my meal. For example, bread, popcorn, peanuts, or in this case, small packets of breadsticks. I care not of the quality because it's free and delicious. Jimmy and I decided I'd order the half plate of Mile High Nachos, he'd order a greek salad and we'd split both. That's a lie. We didn't agree on the half plate size. I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes when I told the waitress I only wanted the half order.
     The greek salad was actually really awesome. It had a bunch of grilled chicken, green peppers, a few tomatoes and they used a mix of romaine lettuce, spinach and a bunch of other mixed greens. I love when places do that. Makes me respect them a little more. Maybe because it makes me think that they value nutrition and are willing to spend a little more on greens rather than just romaine or iceberg lettuce. I'm weird.
     The nachos were, in fact, a mile high. Never have I ever seen a place do such an incredible job layering cheese and chips. The entire bottom of the plate was covered in cheese, and it seemed like each chip in the entire stack had cheese on it. It was incredible. And it was a good blend of cheddar and monterey jack cheeses. The meat chili that came on top was great too. It was practically all meat and full of flavor, but I wished there was more. It also came with jalapenos and salsa with huge globs of guacamole and sour cream thrown on top. There was no skimping on these guys. I'd definitely say they're the best nachos I've had here in Boston so far. They beat out the nachos from Cambridge Brewing Club, the Hill Tavern and Tavern in the Square because of the cheese layering technique and the delicious chili.

Sloppy Joes - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

My Heavenly Sloppy Joes
I do like sloppy joes... I do. But when they're at some sort of function, I'm never going to be super excited about it or anticipating seconds before I even finish my first. Don't get me wrong, they're tasty, but generally, I feel like they're pretty standard and generic. However... I stumbled upon a sloppy joes recipe on pinterest (from Ellie Krieger on the Food Network) and thought I'd try it out for myself. Real homemade sloppy joes. No packets. No cans.
     Conveniently, that week Whole Foods had a sale on grass-fed, free range, antibiotic and hormone free 90/10 ground beef from some family farm in Missouri. I picked up about a pound and a half of it and knew it was sloppy joes time. First of all... this was the most amazing ground beef I've ever eaten. "The look of it, the taste of it, the texture... "(-Goldmember) was so different than any other ground beef. There was very little fat that cooked out, and it almost smelled game-y. The taste and the feel of it in my mouth felt so clean. I know that's really really weird, but it was just different and eye opening. I had no idea that ground beefcould be different in so many ways.
     Anyway, I threw in some kidney beans, a ton of spices, onions, garlic and a few other key ingredients (similar to the mountain meatballs recipe Jake and I made a while back) like molasses and Worcestershire sauce. I'm sure if I followed her recipe exactly it would've been delicious, but I made a few additions and substitutions, as always. I omitted the jalapeños and red peppers (simply because I didn't have any on hand), and instead of using a mix of tomato sauce and tomato paste, I used only a tomato basil tomato sauce from Trader Joe's (it's my favorite). I also added from fresh basil from my mom's garden. I would definitely say that this is up in my top 10 favorite dishes I've ever made. It's incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. I spent everyday at work dreaming about getting home to eat it. Here's my version of her recipe.

Sloppy Joes

1.5 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 3/4 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

4/5 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Brown the meat and the onion in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard.

2.  Add the garlic and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

She's pretty
     I want to bake everything... all the time. Brownies, cookies, cakes, muffins. You name it. But I can't for lightweight reasons. So whenever the opportunity arises where I can make a recipe I've been wanting to make for a while, and I can count on other people being there to enjoy 95% of the fruits of my labor, I seize it. Thank you Head of the Kevin 2! For the breakfast post HOK2 I decided to make these peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins. The picture looked great, they had great ingredients and they really caught my eye when I found them on Annie Eats. I've made similar breakfast banana-y muffins before, but these ones took the cake. They were so easy to make and incredibly tasty, especially when they were fresh. With a slight hint of peanut butter in the muffin, creamy peanut butter on top and the sweet taste of banana all throughout, it kind of felt like a treat but was still full of nutrition. An energy powerhouse.  I think it also helped that I used some super ripe bananas that were plenty sweet. This is key.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. applesauce
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
6 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (I mixed 1% milk and a tbs of lemon juice)

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin cups with paper liners (this recipe made about 15 muffins for me). In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with a fork.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until smooth. 

3. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients gradually and mix just until fully incorporated.

4. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA
I wish you could've smelled these shrooms
     It's finally getting a little chilly outside and it's making me super eager to make soups. It's a very exciting time. I've had this Adventures in Cooking recipe for a Hungarian Mushroom Soup on the back burner since the spring. A little more rich than my normal soups, this one is up there in the top 5. I made it with sliced baby portabella mushrooms, sliced large portabellas, and a ton of paprika and dill. I wonder if the paprika and dill are what make it Hungarian. Hmm... Also, instead of sour cream like the recipe called for, I used greek yogurt (which I feel like is practically the same thing), and it gave it an awesome creamy texture. I'm pumped to have a huge pot of this in my fridge for dinner all week.
Final product

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

8 Ounces Crimini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 Ounces Small Portabello Mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (or Greek Yogurt)
2 Cups Onions, chopped
5 Teaspoons Hungarian Paprika
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
1 Teaspoon Fresh Dill, finely chopped (I used only dried dill)
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1/4 Teaspoon Marjoram

1. Sauté the onions in a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 cup of vegetable stock, paprika, thyme, marjoram, dried dill and soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms soften and become dark in color (This smell will blow your mind).

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then whisk in the flour and continue whisking while the mixture cooks for another 3 minutes. Add the milk and continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes allowing the mixture to thicken, stirring once every minute or so. Empty the mushroom mixture into the milk mixture. Add the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetable stock and the lemon juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and watch mixture until it stops boiling. When the boiling ceases, stir in the sour cream, salt, pepper, and fresh dill if you have it.

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