Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tea at the Taj

A few weeks ago a close girlfriend of mine (Allyson) and myself went out for a girls day, and it took us to the Taj in Boston for Traditional High Tea. This was one of the most exciting experiences of our lives. We were truly treated like queens while we were there.

Our afternoon began with a walk through the Public Gardens and a stroll down Newbury Street in Boston for some shopping, and gallery browsing. What made it better was the day was a perfect 10, which made walking such a nice thing to do.

When we were seated at our table ... it was such a cute table for two in an elegant room with high ceilings, a fireplace and the most beautiful drapes adorning the windows. The room was wall covered with damask fabric which made each table have its own personal conversations that stayed with them and not with everyone in the room. Did I mention that there was a woman playing the violin the entire time. The setting and the company were just awesome that day.

We both had a difficult time deciding on what we were going to drink for tea and what we were going to eat for sandwiches. But then we realized all we had to do was figure out the tea and the sandwiches and sweets would be chosen for us.

The tea that was chosen was Green and Earl Grey ... and when they arrived we each had our own pot, warmer and tea leaf strainer ... it was so nice.

This is the Menu for Taj Royal ... as they call Traditional High Tea, and what we had ...

This was our First Course:
Smoked Salmon and American Caviar
Cucumber & Cream Cheese
Traditional Egg Salad
Lobster Profiterole
Prosciutto and Melon

(and that is Allyson)

As you can see they come to your table on this beautiful tiered platter. I am not sure if we know which one is best ... but what we do know is each bite was a mouth full of flavors that complimented the tea so nicely.

Then came the Second Course
Currant and Cherry Cornmeal Scones served with Devon shire Cream and Lemon Curd
Traditional Opera Torte
Citrus Tartlette
Chocolate Dipped Strawberry
Pistachio Financier
Spiced Chai French Macaroon

As you can see it was on another tiered platter. Each level had its own yummy goodness to be savored bite by bite.
By the time we finished eating all the sandwiches and the sweet treats we were full. Not only were we full of sweet treats and savory bites but we were full of stories and memories to last us both a long time.

Thank you Taj Boston for such an enjoyable day being a girl.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

It is game night and you have your friends and their children over and you want the kids to get involved in what you are making and still be able to watch the game at the same time. I found that pizza is the answer to all this.

If you are an avid reader of my blog you know that my husband is lactose intolerant and for a while he was having issues with gluten (I am happy to say that gluten is back in his diet and he is not allergic as we first thought). But there is really no good way to make pizza unless you use mozzarella cheese and white pizza dough. So this did cause some issues in my house, but my husband likes my pizza so much he found a way to eat it. The answer is Lactaid Tablets. They are what helps my husband and so many out there to eat the dairy they love and not suffer after. And yes we do have these tablets everywhere; the car, house, my purse, etc.

Pizza is something we usually remember as kids having at sleepovers or pizza day at school ... but this is not the pizza I like to eat so why should I subject my guests or husband to it. My husband and I do go out for pizza but the pizzas we go out for are usually wood fired pizza with very unique toppings such as duck con fit, ricotta cheese and fig compote. I am not the large cheese type of person. The more unique the topping combination the happier I am. But this topic can be saved for another blog.

When the time came for me to make my first pizza I wanted it to be more like me and what we like so the BBQ Chicken Pizza was born. If you think about it all you need is three basic ingredients to make a pizza they are dough/bread, sauce, and cheese and you have a pizza.

This is how I make my Pizza
1 dough ball
1 small container of pizza sauce
1 bottle of BBQ sauce
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced onion
4 precooked chicken tenders, shredded
thyme, basil and oregano to sprinkle over top
salt n pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees

Start by rolling out the dough so it is the desired size for baking (meaning if you are using a 18" round stone roll to that size or if you are using a cookie sheet roll to that size)

Like traditional pizza add the sauce to the center of the dough. Then add the BBQ sauce to the exterior of the dough ... and with the back of a spoon in a circular motion mix the sauce and the BBQ sauce so the top of the dough is completely covered.

Next add the toppings of chicken, onions, and red bell pepper evenly over the sauce mix. Next add the seasonings and the salt-n-pepper. By adding the seasonings now they become married to the the veggies and chicken and the flavors cook under the cheese layer. Then lastly add the cheese. By topping it all with cheese the bubbly goodness can bake under that layer and meld all the flavors together.

It usually takes about 35-45 minutes to bake a pizza. When it comes out of the oven let it rest on the counter for a few minutes before cutting and serving.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Keep in mind with this post today that this was the 1st time I made Stuffed Peppers, so this is very much trial & error. And as you guessed it there was an error but much of it was right on and I cannot wait to make them again. They are really easy to make and if you have eaten the right things during the week this is a good way to use leftovers you may already have in your fridge. Stuffed Peppers are one of those dishes that my grandmother would make on a week night for dinner, and after making mine I know why.

This is what I did

2 bell peppers, with tops cut off and cleaned out
1/2 lb. ground meatloaf mix
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Pappy's Choice seasoning

1 cup brown rice (cook accordingly)

1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon basil, dried

1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute the onions ans the garlic in olive oil with Pappy's Choice/your favorite seasoning. Add ground meat and dried herbs. Let rest and drain all the oil from the meat. By giving the meat time to rest it will give you the opportunity to handle it when stuffing the peppers.

Mix the meat and the rice together in a separate bowl. Stuff the peppers and top with the cheese.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes till the cheese is melted.


The day I made these ones we only had American Cheese in our house, each pepper was topped with one slice of cheese and as it melted and became golden brown it had a strange effect ... but it was very yummy.

There are substitutions that can be made through out this recipe based on what you and you family likes to eat. For instance instead of using Pappy's Choice seasoning you can use your favorite salt-n-pepper seasoning mix. If you would rather use ground turkey, chicken or deer meat it can be substituted for the meatloaf mix. White rice can be used in place of brown rice any time.

These peppers also had one more hidden ingredient ... Home-made pesto. I had a small container leftover from another night so I thought why not add the pesto to the peppers ... a tablespoon was added to each pepper between the meat and the cheese. It gave these peppers more flavor and made them more yummier than imagined.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to stuffed peppers. Give them a try ... I guarantee you and your family will love them like my family does.