Thursday, October 27, 2011

Terrier for Life: Making Lasting Connections (And Please fill out a brief survey!)

BU Hockey wins the 2009 National Championship
Back when I was deciding where to go to college, I sent away an application to Boston University (along with about seven other schools). I wanted to go somewhere where I didn't know everyone and where I could have a new experience. When it came time to pick a place, I figured why not try something new? So I packed up a car full of stuff and headed east from my suburban St. Louis home and landed in the heart of  Boston. I couldn't have imagined that 10 years after arriving on campus that I'd be back to BU as an employee. On my first day of work I ran into my first professor in the elevator and almost had a panic attack that I forgot my homework! Almost four years later I'm approaching my 10 year reunion and still heading into the School of Management everyday for work. I had a great experience as a student and am glad that I can continue my connection to BU. Coincidentally, this weekend is Alumni Reunion Weekend. While I'll be working for part of the weekend, I'll also put on my favorite scarlet & white BU shirt to cheer on the men's ice hockey team from our season ticket seats!

About a month ago I got an email from Lily Keung, a BU student in the School of Management, asking for help with a school project. In the junior year at the School of Management, students work in teams to develop a new product and build a business plan from scratch. I gladly agreed to take part in a focus group - not only was it a BU project, but it also had to do with a cooking product! After the focus group, Lily asked if I could help her team gather some feedback on their product. I hope that you'll take a few minutes to read below and fill out her team's survey. It's short, fun, and an interesting new product to consider!

Hi fellow foodies!

My name is Lily and I currently attend Boston University. As Juniors in the School of Management, we are working on a semester-long project that involves teams of students creating a new product and developing a formal business plan. A large portion of this project involves getting feedback from consumers of our product to refine our target market and overall marketing strategy. Our product is in the category of bakeware, and thus we are reaching out to all those who love to cook and bake! If you would just take a few minutes to fill out our online survey, we would really appreciate it. Please also pass it around to anyone who loves to cook and bake around you (relatives, roomies, etc)! Lastly, thank you to Lara for hosting us on her blog. BU Love!

Survey deadline is Tuesday, November 2. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions/concerns!
Lily Keung

Go Terriers!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Boston Brunchers: The Cottage in Chestnut Hill

It was my second time going to a Boston Brunchers Brunch, so the deal I made with the wife was that to go, I had to write the post. As you can see, not only am I good at eating my wife's cooking, I am also good at procrastinating. Sometime last month, I joined my wife, Renee over at Eat.Live.Blog and about 17 others at The Cottage in Chestnut Hill for brunch. I was very interested in going because we previously had brunch at The Cottage's other locations. The one in La Jolla, CA and the one in Wellesley. I was anxious to go to the one in Chestnut Hill because we heard they had changed their menu to be more like their California offerings. We had such a fabulous meal in La Jolla, that we were disappointed that on our trip to Wellesley we couldn't find the same menu items. [editor's note: we went to the Wellesley location right when they opened and they did not have a full brunch menu]

The restaurant was well furnished and the abundance of beadboard made me feel like I was in a very well decorated and maintained cottage. So that made sense to me! Off the top, let me just say that everything was fantastic. I was immediately comfortable in my seat, the wait staff was very attentive, and the atmosphere was perfect for a Sunday brunch. The owner and chef came out and explained the menu and the talk around the table was that the mashed potato omelet was one of a kind. The promise of mashed potatoes made my ordering easy and when I told the waitress what I would like, her reaction was truly unique. I've never had a waitress show such genuine excitement over something I ordered. I knew I had made the right choice.

 I forget what the wife ordered, but I think it was an omelet with a whole bunch of guacamole. It looked really good too. [editor's note: I ordered the Southern California Special omelet]

The wife's Southern California Special omelet
When the food arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find that on the side of my mashed potato omelet was a fruit cup. I thought this was great. I already had plenty of potatoes in the omelet so why would I want the typical hash brown side?

That they adjusted their offerings showed that they were putting a lot of thought into what they were sending out. Needless to say, the omelet was fantastic. I had to slow myself down so I didn't inhale it in seconds. What helped divert my attention was the complimentary scone that also came with my dish. It was fluffy, flavorful, and had little sugar crystals on top.

There was nothing to complain about, it really was a nice meal. To top it all off, a fellow bruncher ordered some French toast stuffed with strawberries and marscapone for the table and I was able to try a slice. I consider myself a bit of a French toast connoisseur, and I can say that this was right up there with the best I've had.

All in all, it was a great brunching experience. It made me feel, if only for an hour or two, that I was back near the Pacific Ocean, feeling the sea breeze come off the water as the sun warmed my skin. Not a bad feeling when in reality I was only looking out at Rt. 9 in Newton. The next time we are going out to brunch, we'll be sure to think of The Cottage so that we can, if only briefly, escape to some sun and fine California flavors.
Truffle tater tots to start
[Editor's note: The Cottage provided us with complementary brunch, coffee, and juice. We paid for tip. Also, The Cottage opens at 9am for brunch - perfect for those of us who get hungry a lot earlier than 11 am!]

The Cottage on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's Cooking

Kitchen and bathroom renovation are in full swing! That means we have set up a temporary kitchen in our dining room. Combined with a busy schedule, cooking has been interesting. There has been a lot of toasting, microwave eggs, frozen soup from our freezer, and cereal. We have done really well with not ordering takeout during the week. By the time we get home we just want to eat, not wait for takeout to arrive. Weekends we tend to go out for breakfast and dinner - but that is usually because we are out running errands related to the renovations or starting to prepare for our other new addition.

So far we've put the toaster and microwave to the most use. Not wanting to leave out any appliances - this week I put the waffle iron and slow cooker to work for us.

First up, turkey and cheddar melts! This is where the waffle iron came in handy. I assembled some roasted turkey from the grocery store and a thick slice of cheddar on whole wheat bread. After the waffle iron heated up I added in the sandwich, closed the lid and waited for the 'ready' alarm.

After 2 flips and cooking cycles the sandwiches were toasty and ready to go!

I am already thinking up more delicious sandwiches - pressed PB & Banana (with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB),  goat cheese and fig spread - the possibilities are endless!

Next up in our remote cooking adventures is a slow cooked brisket. I modified an recipe I've used in the past. Using what I had on hand, I modified the recipe and technique. I turned the slow-cooker to high and as I sliced onions I added them in to the pot. That allowed them to heat & sweat a little before I added the rest of the ingredients. My idea was to brown the onions and maybe sear the brisket, but the slow-cooker wasn't quite hot enough for that. Even without browning, the brisket came out fall-apart tender and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. Thankfully the 3.5 pound brisket will feed us most of the week!

Slow-Cooker Brisket
3.5 pound brisket, fat trimmed
Dry mustard powder - about 2 tablespoons
Celery salt - about 1 tablespoon
Ground black pepper - about 1 teaspoon
1 medium vidalia onion, cut into 1/4 inch rings
1/2 pound baby carrots
6 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
Soy sauce - 3-4 tablespoons
Worcestershire sauce - 2 tablespoons
Beef broth

Heat 6-quart slow cooker on high heat
Add sliced onions and allow to cook
While onions are cooking, rub brisket with mustard power, celery salt, and ground pepper
Allow brisket to rest while you peel and slice potatoes
Remove onions from the slow cooker and set aside
Line the bottom of the slow cooker with potato slices
Add brisket on top of the potatoes
Next, layer on the onions then carrots
Add soy sauce, Worcestershire, and enough beef broth to fill the slow cooker about halfway (too much & it will boil over)
Squeeze ketchup on top of carrots
Place the lid on and cook on high for 6 hours
When finished cooking, put brisket and vegetables in one container and the sauce into a separate container
Refrigerate overnight
Before serving, scrape any accumulated fat off the juice

Next up for the slow cooker - spicy turkey and kidney bean chili. And then a cinnamon applesauce made with local Massachusetts honey crisp apples.

Do you have a favorite microwave or slow-cooker recipe that doesn't require a lot of prep work? We've got a few more weeks of creative cooking and could use some ideas!

I'll leave you with a look at the kitchen in progress. Today the electrician came to start wiring for all of our new outlets, switches, and appliances. No more cords across the kitchen!

And here's a look from the kitchen into the bathroom. Next up this week, putting in the tub and the bathroom walls. Next week - tiling the bathroom floor and shower/tub area.

We still have a few more things to pick out - kitchen faucet, cabinet hardware, light fixtures, and outlet covers. There are so many choices!!!


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