Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Guest Post: Polish Beet Soup

Today I am so excited to share a guest post from my good friend Joanna. Joanna's family comes from Poland and this is her twist on Polish Beet Soup - a recipe passed down in Joanna's family through the generations. The beets even come from her very own backyard garden!

Oh yes, and Happy Halloween!

I really wanted to share Joanna's post today because with much excitement (and sadness)  today is Joanna's last day working in our office.

Joanna and I have been friends and co-workers for the past 5 1/2 years. Although I know we will stay friends and see each other often, I want to give Joanna and special thanks for all her help and everything she has taught me over these past 5 1/2 years. I couldn't have done it without her and will miss her so much!

Joanna - I am so excited for you to start this new career path. You will be great at it and they are lucky to have you!! Don't worry, we'll always keep you informed of when we are going to Foley's :)

Joanna and her husband Will are the talent behind The Adventures of WillieMann - Check out their AMAZING photos!!

Here is the recipe directly from Joanna...Enjoy!

I started with 8 cups of water.  If you're going for more, adjust ingredients as needed.

In 8 cups of water bring two beef bullion cubes, 1/2 tspn of black peppercorns, 1/2 tspn of allspice and 2 bay leaves to boil.

Add whole carrots and celery to broth for flavor.

Clean, peel and slice or shred raw beets... probably about 4 cups (once sliced), the more you add, the richer the flavor.

Add beets to broth and continue to boil until beets are tender.  Do not over boil (the soup will turn brown).

Bring to simmer.

Add 2 tblsp of white vinegar (I hear you can also use lemon juice) - this is to keep the soup a vibrant red and give it a little "tanginess".

Add 2 tspn of marjoram.

Add salt & more pepper to taste.

Simmer on low for about 10 minutes

All done!

Notes from Joanna:
In Poland, this is traditionally served over mushroom dumplings, but I just strained it into a cup for an afternoon snack.
The carrots and celery can be tossed (I saved the carrots for the dogs)
The beets can be chilled and used in salads the next day - how's that for efficiency!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinner at Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar

Jaime and I went on a date...

We got another fabulous deal from Gilt City and for only $45 we got all of this goodness!

It was my first trip to Lolita and I will definitely be heading back soon :)

First up was a complimentary grapefruit granita topped off with a shot of tequila. They serve it over dry ice so it looks really cool when it comes over to the table!

Along with the granita we were served complimentary tortilla chips with a trio of salsas: salsa verde, fire roasted creama, and the house salsa. They also gave bottled, housemade habanero sauce if you like your salsa extra spicy!

All 3 were great so I couldn't even pick a favorite! I tried the habanero sauce as well. It had a lot of flavor and wasn't all heat which I love in a hot sauce. I have a high spice tolerance (if that is a thing?) and it was perfectly spicy for me :)

The Gilt City deal included an order of guacamole to share. We were pretty excited when our waitress told us we could have our pick of either fresco (their house guac), picante (extra spicy!), especial (crab and lobster), or tocina (smoked bacon).

We chose the especial because really...when have you ever heard of seafood on guacamole?? And it's served with a side of garlic-wine butter.

Fresh lump crab and lobster on guac? Well it was GREAT! I tried a little of the butter drizzle but I didn't think it made a huge difference on the taste. Definitely an interesting topping though!

The first of 2 appetizers came highly recommended...Sticky Spare Ribs with a cumin and coriander barbecue sauce with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.

They were sticky.

And delicious.

And perfect.

They even give you warm towels after to wipe off your hands. And your face. And your clothes.

If you don't know already you will soon...Jaime and I love corn on the cob. 

Zocalo Corn. Grilled corn with a lime aoili. Dusted with chili powder and dipped in cotija cheese. Hello.

This corn was fantastic but still does not hold a candle to Papagayo's Alotes a la Parilla (grilled corn, aleppo Pepper, lime aoili and cotija cheese). BEST. EVER.

For our entrees we each chose a taco. I went with Blackened Mahi Mahi. With jicama slaw, chipotle creama, fresh avocado salsa, and pepitas.

These were fresh and light and I would definitely eat these again!

Jaime went with the pork belly!

We were so full. $45 for all of that food?? What a crazy good deal.

And then we ordered dessert. Actually, we ordered a Bananarama.

Churros are our go-to for Mexican desserts but I am SO happy we decided to stray. In case you are wondering, a bananarama is a crispy fried banana-caramel cheesecake burrito with a side of dark chocolate ice cream and pecan brittle and a butterscotch sauce drizzle. NBD.

While I loved our entire meal I would go back to Lolita time and time again just for this dessert!!

As we were waiting for our bill we saw a giant green puff of cotton candy coming right towards us.


Lolita gives all of their customers a large portion of cotton candy (I think ours was green apple flavor??) topped with pop rocks. 

So fun!

Lolita is at 217 Dartmouth Street in the Back Bay...I can't wait to head back!

For more awesome deals like this head over to Gilt City and sign up :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Balsamic and Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I have made Caramelized Brussel Sprouts before but thought it was time to try out roasting.

Loved it.

So easy to prepare.

Try it :)


  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons lemon olive oil  **if you don't have just use regular olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Rinse the brussel sprouts and remove any damaged outer leaves

Trim the bottom of the sprouts off and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Dice your onion very small.

Put sliced brussel sprouts and onion in a large plastic bag. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon olive oil, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon of honey, and salt and pepper to taste.
     **My honey came from my friend Dayna's wedding. Her family has backyard beehive and these cute jars of honey were given to us when we sat down for dinner. Now that I've had this I will never be able to buy the plastic honey bear kind again...

Shake to coat all of the brussel sprouts and pour out onto a cookie sheet covered with tin foil and lightly sprayed with canola oil spray.

Top with pine nuts and roast in the oven for 20 minutes  Toss once halfway through the roasting process to ensure even cooking.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pomodoro Sauce

I have tried a MILLION times to make a simple yet flavorful red sauce and every attempt failed.

Until now.

This sauce is packed full of fresh tomato flavor and hand picked herbs (aka my cute little basil plant on my window sill). Built slowly and given plenty of time to develop this is one of my favorite recipes EVER. Like, ever.

  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes  **I used San Marzano**
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 basil sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon of torn basil leaves
  • 1 lb spaghetti, cooked al dented according to package directions
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley  **I didn't have on hand so I used dried**
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Set a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl. Pour in the tomatoes letting the juice separate out into the bowl below.

With your hands crush the tomatoes to extract more juice. 

**Beware I got covered in tomato. Next time I will slice them in half with a knife first. Whoops.

Set the tomatoes aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium. Add the chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent (approx. 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 of the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the strained tomatoes, sugar and salt.

Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. The tomatoes will soften and the sauce will be slightly thicker.

Add the reserved tomato juice and bring the sauce to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the sauce from the heat, add 4 sprigs of basil and set aside.

While the sauce is simmering...

Boil a large pot of water, salt, and cook spaghetti until al dente.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water when you go to drain.

Place the pasta pot back on the stove over a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the other half of garlic and a pinch of red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove the basil from the tomato sauce. Add the sauce to the skillet. Simmer until warmed through. 

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Thin the sauce with the pasta cooking water, if needed.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, torn basil and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Garnish with additional cheese and basil, if desired. Serve immediately.