Woodman's in Essex, MA

We spent a Sunday looking at wedding venues and decided to stop at Woodman's in Essex for lunch before we ventured out. Boy is this place popular! There was a line out the door and down the street. The place was packed with folks hungry for some fresh and fried seafood. We didn't get anything fried because fried food can weigh you down especially if you have a lot of traveling to do, so with a thorough inspection of their menu we were able to put together a meal that was relatively healthy, filling and NOT fried.

Right in front of Woodman's is a large tank of live lobsters. They get transported to the brick-enclosed boiler right next to it. Carlos took a picture of this gentleman as pulled freshly cooked lobsters out of the boiler. You pick up your whole lobster order from him. There was a small table with little tubs of drawn butter, wooden lobster forks and bibs! Very cool set-up. I was considering getting a whole lobster but was a little annoyed that they didn't list a price.

Our line was pretty long but it moved fairly quickly. You order at the counter and they give you your receipt which has a number on it. You wait until they call out your number and your order is served in a large cardboard tray. While you are waiting, you can watch the poor folks in the kitchen as they fry, fry, fry away. On a hot muggy day like that day they must have been miserable.

There was a main dining area and an upper-level dining area (complete with bar). You have to stay in the dining area if you want to drink alcohol. Since we were not going to imbibe alcoholic beverages we decided to sit outdoors. They have numerous picnic tables underneath a big tent. The area overlooks a marsh. The view was nice but boy was it windy. When Carlos brought over the food, most of his potato chips had been blow away and onto the grass.

We ordered two corn on the cobs as a side. The corn was boiled which I dislike. They came with a container of drawn butter and we picked up salt and pepper packets to sprinkle over them. They were $2.95 each which I think is a total rip-off.

Carlos is not a seafood person. However he will eat fried calamari which there was none of at Woodman's. This makes complete sense because all of their seafood was local which made it super fresh. You won't find much squid in the waters of New England. He opted for the Steakburger medium-well. The burger ended up being so bloody that Carlos was surprised it didn't moo. It came with chips and a wedge of watermelon. I got the lobster roll which was $19.50 at that time. A mound of fresh, sweet lobster was piled upon a buttered and grilled roll. I was disappointed that there was no lettuce or tomato. It came with a side of chips.

A bit pricey, a bit windy, but we enjoyed our visit to Woodman's.

Gloucester House in Gloucester, MA

Carlos and I were looking at potential Wedding venues a little while ago. We crammed in 5 visits into one afternoon with the final visit being to Gloucester House. Having dinner there was a nice way to end a long day.

See the Portuguese flag?!

The inside of the dining room was dark and romantic. Our visit was during dusk so it got darker as the evening progressed. While it did rain earlier that day, there were plenty of people on the porch having their dinner outside. I had fun people watching and I particularly loved watching people devour their lobsters.

Just up the road is the famous Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial. This little lamp, which provided us enough light to see our meal, was a nice little tribute to that memorial.

 We ordered a pitcher of Sangria. It was delicious and weak enough that even after drinking the entire pitcher, neither of us were buzzed. We had a long drive home ahead of us so it was nice not to have to worry about driving home.

 Carlos and I usually get Calamari as an appetizer but the menu listed it at $13.99 which was way too expensive for us. Because almost all of the appetizers were seafood, and Carlos only eats calamari, tuna and crabcakes, he decided to skip an appetizer altogether. I really wanted to try their Raw Oysters so I got two! I know that sounds like a piddling amount but this set me back $5.50! They were delicious and the experience reminded me that I need to eat Oysters more often. I'm definitely missing out.

Carlos got the beef steak tip kabobs which came on a bed of rice pilaf. The very nice waiter (I think his name was Kevin) brought it over with A1 sauce which earned him major points! Carlos loves A1 but always has to ask for it. The waiter was thoughtful enough to think of it ahead of time. Kudos to him! He was super nice and treated us very well. I wish more waiters were like him. (Hey, Gloucester House, give him a raise!)

I ordered the Shrimp Plate which was on that evening's Specials menu. The shrimp were delicious plump and sweet. I'm so used to butterflied shrimp that it's always a treat to eat shrimp like this! It was served on a bed of rice pilaf with a side of zucchini, summer squash, onions and tomatoes. Both of our meals came with a little container of Apple-Cranberry relish which was a very welcome palate cleanser.

We capped off the meal with a slice of freshly made Key Lime Pie. The crust was perfection and the filling was nice and creamy. Carlos loved it but I had mixed feelings. The filling tasted like soap to me.  Carlos really wanted a Cappuccino but at $5.50 it was a bit too expensive. It does come with an amaretto cookie and a biscotti. We tried to get a cheaper cappuccino without the cookie and biscotti but that's the set price. Oh well.

Overall, Gloucester House had delicious food and very friendly service. The prices are a bit steep so if you come visit make sure you are ready to spend.

Mini Grilled Cuban Sandwiches

Aren't these adorable? I really wanted to make cuban sandwiches but I didn't want to invest in large bread loaves because the bread I get is never right for pressed sandwiches, I didn't want to cook pork tenderloin and I didn't want to break out the panini press. Basically, I was being lazy. So I decided to make these mini versions instead using mini multigrain loaves. I get them in the frozen section of my local Market Basket. They come in bags of 8 and I bake them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes and let them cool before I use them in the sandwich. The mini loaves are already cooked (not raw frozen dough) so really all you have to do is reheat them. I assemble all the goodies and place them on a grill pan and put a smaller omelet skillet on top. It's a trick I learned with Rachael Ray when I used to watch her 30 Minute Meals cooking show. I serve these with corn on the cob and even though they are small, I only need two before I feel full! Yay for portion control! I hope you'll try these mini Cuban sandwich delights.


8 frozen multigrain bread loaves, baked, cooled and sliced lengthwise
8 slices of Swiss Cheese
16 slices of ham (all-natural, no sodium nitrate or nitrite)
sandwich pickles
whole grain mustard

This makes 8 mini Cuban sandwiches

Heat up your grill pan to medium. If you don't like to heat it up dry, spray on a bit of cooking spray before you turn on the heat.

Assemble your sandwich. Add the two slices of ham (folded to fit), the smear on some mustard, cut a sandwich pickle in half and add the two pieces and then top that off with a folded piece of Swiss cheese. Top off with the other piece of bread. Add the sandwiches to your grill pan (in batches of 4) and place the omelet pan on top to press the sandwich down. Cook for about two minutes then flip over. You want to cook the top side (which is closest to the cheese) more for optimum meltiness. Cook for about 3-4 minutes then set aside. Repeat with the other 4 sandwiches. Eat while hot and enjoy with some corn on the cob. If you are reheating these for lunch, add to a toaster oven set at 375 degrees for a few minutes. Do not microwave!

Dark Cherry Limeade and Blueberry Lemonade

These recipes were originally posted on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Dark Cherry Limeade

juice of 20 limes
2 cups of sugar
2 limes sliced for garnish
handful of dark cherries, pitted and halved
12 cups of filtered water

In a gallon pitcher, add the lime juice, sugar and water. Stir. Take a handful of dark cherries, pit them with a cherry pitter and cut them in half. If you don't have a cherry pitter, just cut two pieces of the cherry off the pit with a paring knife. Stir again. Serve with ice and lime slices as a garnish. This will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge.

Blueberry Lemonade

8 lemons juiced
1 lemon sliced for garnish
1-1/2 cups of blueberries, or 1/2 cup of blueberry juice
2 cups of sugar
12 cups of filtered water

You can buy blueberry juice but I prefer to make this with fresh blueberries. Take the blueberries and rinse them. Put them in a shallow container with a flat bottom and mash them with a potato masher. Then add the blueberry mush to a large piece of cheesecloth and squeeze all the juice out with your hands. Make sure you have a separate bowl underneath to catch the juice. You can also just push the mash into a fine-meshed sieve.

Add the lemon juice, sugar, water and blueberry juice into the gallon pitcher. Stir. Serve with ice and lemon slices as a garnish. This will keep 2-3 days. Don't keep any longer than this because it will go bad fairly quickly.

Tip: To make either of these drinks a "fizz", fill up a glass about 3/4 of the way with the limeade or lemonade and then top off with some soda water. Stir once with a spoon.

Mint Lemonade

I recently got some Mint Lemonade at Bittersweet in Woburn. It was so delicious and refreshing and the perfect blend of tart and sweet. The very nice ladies that work there told me they sweeten theirs with honey. I tried to recreate it but not matter how much honey I put into it, it wasn't sweet enough. Oh well!

Juice of 6 lemons
a few mint leaves
6 cups of filtered water
1 cup of sugar
a sprig of mint and a lemon slice for garnish

Mix all the ingredients except for garnish. Add to a glass with ice cubes and top off with mint and lemon slice. The mint leaves start to fall apart so fish them out after a few hours. The mint flavor will stay there. To make this into a gallon to fill a gallon pitcher, just double the recipe.

If you are in the Woburn area, please go visit Bittersweet! They make some of the best desserts I've ever had.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Betty Crocker's Picture CookbookI recently purchased the Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook facsimile edition. It's basically a reprint of the 1950 edition of the book. No updates, no changes, no contemporary recipes. The cookbook as it was back in 1950. I love reading all of the recipes and the section openers. Oh how cooking and eating has changed over the years. One of the sections features Breads and has various sweet breads including Cinnamon Rolls. I decided to make homemade cinnamon rolls with yeast and everything because I've never made them from scratch before. I was inspired by the picture cook book but ended up using the more contemporary version I found on the Betty Crocker website instead.

They came out pretty well. I love to improvise with recipes and for this one I really tried to stick to the recipe. The Betty Crocker recipe included tips for making this a day in advanced. I followed those instructions to a T. The one part I kind of skipped was the kneading. It said to knead the dough in flour for 5 minutes. I ended up kneading it for less than 30 seconds. Oops! They came out a bit flat and I'm sure it was because I didn't knead it enough. Oh well. I did everything else correctly and they tasted just fine. I included raisins and the original picture cook book suggested chopped nuts which I might do next time. Carlos and I had hot cinnamon rolls for Sunday Brunch with some scrambled eggs and iced tea. It was glorious. It's worth taking the time to make these from scratch. All the hard work is very rewarding when you get to eat the result.

2 cups of all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1/3 cup of sugar
2 packets of active dry yeast
a sprinkle of salt

1 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 stick of butter, partially melted
1 egg

baking spray

1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tsps of cinnamon
1/2 cup of raisins

1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tbsps of milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsps of partially melted butter

Mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl. Heat the milk until just before it becomes scalding. It should be very warm to the touch. Add the milk, butter and egg and mix in the dry ingredients. Beat with a handheld mixer for a minute, scrape the sides and beat for another minute. 

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes. Grease a large bowl with baking spray, add the dough, spray a bit more on the dough and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours.

In a small bowl, mix the 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Melt the butter separately.

Take the dough and add it to a floured surface. I use sheets of waxpaper to protect my countertop.  Roll out the dough into a 15" x 10" rectangle. Measure it and make sure the dough is evenly distributed. Take the melted butter and brush it all over the surface. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top evenly. Then sprinkle the raisins over the top. Roll tightly and carefully from the long side up. Cut into 12 slices about 1-inch each. Use a serrated knife. 

Take a large baking dish and add the 12 cinnamon rolls making sure there is space in between each.

If you make this ahead, put the baking dish in the fridge overnight. Just make sure it's covered with plastic wrap. Let sit out for a couple hours before baking in the morning.

If you make this right away, let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake cinnamon rolls for 30-35 minutes. While the rolls are baking, add the powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla to a small bowl and mix. Remove the baked cinnamon rolls from the pan and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the glaze over the top. Eat while warm and enjoy!

Dinner with Mad Men ~ Iceberg Wedge Salad with Steak

I remember on an episode of Mad Men, John Slatterly's character Roger Sterling is sitting at a booth in a restaurant, downing drinks with Don Draper and a prospective client. Sterling is trying to keep the prospective client seated so he and Draper can have some extra time to woo him into their advertising firm. The client doesn't want to say but Sterling insists and orders them all Iceberg Wedge Salads with blue cheese dressing and topped with bacon.

I did some research on the history of this particular salad and while Iceberg lettuce was very popular since the 1920s, this salad didn't appear until the 1950s and was popular through the 1960s. Iceberg lettuce was your standard lettuce. Nowadays, we use a variety of lettuces but at that time Iceberg was the default. So instead of just your average chopped salad with Iceberg, you can dress up a wedge in a fancy way by topping it with blue cheese dressing and bacon. I like to add chopped tomatoes and either scallions or chives too.

For dinner, I decided to pair the Iceberg Wedge Salad with a nice juicy Steak to round it out as a full meal.

Fun fact: Back in the day, people would put steaks on black eyes or bruises to reduce swelling. But did you know that they would also use frozen heads of iceberg lettuce as cold packs for injuries?

For the dressing, I made a point to choose Ken's Steakhouse Blue Cheese Dressing. Why Ken's Steakhouse? The original Ken's Steakhouse restaurant is situated on Worcester Road (Route 9) in Framingham, MA. I grew up in Natick which is the next town over. There is a stretch of that road that runs from Natick and into Framingham that used to be called the Golden Mile. When Ken's Steakhouse started in 1941 it was actually called the Starvation Mile. It became the Golden Mile when that area was built up with lots of fabulous places like the Jordan Marsh dome, Cinema 1+2, the original Shopper's World mall, Howard Johnson's, Monticello Inn and of course Ken's Steakhouse. If Don Draper drove down that Golden Mile, he'd see something that was the equivalent of the Las Vegas Strip. A lot of those places no longer exist but Ken's Steakhouse still stands strong supported by loyal diners and their separate condiment business.

And this after all is Thoughtful Eating. I put a lot of thought behind every dish I make!

Iceberg Wedge Salad

1 head of Iceberg, cut into 4 wedges and cored
Ken's Steakhouse Light Blue Cheese Dressing
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
3 stalks of green onion, sliced

This makes 4 individual salads. Lay the wedge on it's side not on it's back. Otherwise it will rock and roll and make a huge mess of dinner.

To core the wedge, just cut off the bottom core part with a knife. The wedge should still hold together but be careful in case it starts to unravel. Top with blue cheese dressing, crumbled bacon, chopped tomato and sliced green onion. Serve with a petite New York style sirloin steak cooked medium or medium well. Enjoy with a dirty martini, if so desired.

Portuguese Festival in Woburn, MA

Last Saturday, Carlos and I headed over to the Portuguese-American Recreation Club in Woburn. They were hosting their annual Festa de Nossa Senora do Monte (translated it reads Festival of Our Lady of the Mount). The festival had a shrine, raffles, food and beverages, dancing, music and even a clown. I'm half Portuguese and my father is from the area of Aveiro, Portugal. I've been to Portugal numerous times and I've even attended local Portuguese festivals. So I kind of knew what vibe to expect. But each festival is different and I was really curious about the food. So Carlos and I went to the festival with dinner in mind not knowing what Portuguese delights would be available.

We got their two sandwich offerings. A Bifana sandwich (left) which was a spicy pork patty topped with cooked onions and mixed bell peppers. This was so delicious we ended up ordering another one. The other sandwich on the right is just Linguica. Linguica is fine and all but I much prefer a Chorizo sandwich because that's what I grew up with.

We ordered a bowl of Favas. It was served in a tomato & wine sauce with chunks of linguica mixed in. I don't ever remember having Portuguese Favas so this was fairly new to me. The sauce was delicious but the Favas seemed undercooked. I really wanted to try the tripe but because Carlos was sharing everything with me (he won't try tripe) and it was cash-only and we had limited money I decided to skip it.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that Portuguese are potato connoisseurs. They can make a potato taste like the best potato you've ever had and I have fond memories of eating very delicious fries in Portugal. These were no exception. A side only cost a dollar and boy were they tasty.

Sumol! My all-time favorite soda. This is a classic Portuguese juice soda that is very popular in Portugal. Specialty Portuguese stores will sell it here and I sometimes like to indulge in a L'aranga (Orange) one. They didn't have that flavor so I got an Ananas (Pineapple) one instead. Still very good!

When sharing with Carlos, I need to fight to get my food otherwise he'll devour it all. Here he is about to devour a Malassade.

We got one Malassade which is a Portuguese fried dough dusted in sugar. The difference between this fried dough and other fried dough is that this one is eggy which makes the dough rich and moist. Delicious!

We had a wonderful time attending the festival and dining on some delicious Portuguese fare! We'll be back next year for sure.

Goya 75th Birthday and Giveaway

I'm extending the deadline to 9/10 so you still have a chance to enter! See the original post below:


I really love Goya. As a Latina, I grew up with Goya products because frankly Goya provides all the key ingredients needed for a variety of Latin cuisines. My mother is Dominican and she uses Sazon Goya, Goya Chicken Bouillion, Goya Sofrito, Goya Guava Jelly, Goya Beans (canned and dry in bags), Goya Olives and Capers and Goya Fideos on a regular basis. I like to buy the Goya Beans (the low sodium canned kind), their hominy, canned corn, canned tomato sauce, olives, capers, garlic powder, cinnamon sticks, frozen plaintains, corn meal, chicken bouillion and beef bouillion. Goya products are really inexpensive. I always check the Goya section first before I buy any spices, herbs, sauces, olives, capers, beans and rice before I pick up these products in another section of the store. Chances are, if they are in the Goya section they will be cheaper and better quality. I stopped using canned or boxed chicken or beef broth a long time ago. I buy a big box of the chicken bouillion packets. Each packet gives me 2 cups of chicken broth. With multiple packets in a $1.99 box, I save a lot of money and space by sticking to bouillion. I just make sure I dilute it with boiling water. Goya products take up a good amount of real estate in my pantry and I believe in their slogan, Si Es Goya, Tiene Que Ser Bueno (If it's Goya, it has to be good).

Goya is celebrating their 75th birthday this year! If you look for Goya products with the "Match Your Birthday" logo on them, buy them! Collect the wrapper or box! It'll have 1 number on it. If you collect enough that you can number out your birthday (for single digit months it works with 0X), then you can enter their contest to win $75,000. I've been keeping my canned bean wrappers but haven't been able to get my birthday or Carlos' yet. They also have various birthday contests. Find more info about it here.

Goya provided me with the opportunity to give away one of their recipe boxed sets. Each boxed set contains 6 booklets featuring a different type of Latin cuisine including: South America, Central America, the Carribean, Mexico, Spain and Latin Fusion.

Each booklet contains information about the different cuisines, a list of the staples of each as well as recipes which include some Goya products as ingredients. One side of the booklet is in English:

and the other is in Spanish! I had fun reading the Spanish version. I'm fluent but could always use an excuse to brush up on my Spanish reading skills.

To enter, just fill the form below and tell me which of Goya's products is your favorite. The contest ends SEPTEMBER 10TH! and is only available to US residents (because I have to mail this myself!). Good luck!

Full Disclosure: I love Goya. Goya contacted me about hosting this giveaway and provided me with 1 boxed set to keep and 1 to give away. I received no compensation and my love for Goya products is genuine.

Dinner with Mad Men ~ Blue Hawaiian Cocktail

Every July and August since 2007, I've been watching new episodes of Mad Men. I don't watch much TV but I sincerely love this show and will go out of my way to make time to watch it. This year there is no new season of Mad Men. To fill the void, I watched every single episode from the pilot to the last episode in Season 4. Mad Men is on my mind a lot this summer. I love the elegance, the style and the food. I've been taking careful notes about the food that is eaten and the many, many drinks that are had and will be trying to recreate them.

A while ago, I got the Mad Men Cocktail Culture app for the iPhone. At the time it was free and you could only make one cocktail, the Vodka Gimlet, with it. Now it's $0.99 and my free version merged with the paid version (I still haven't paid), and I can make virtual 60s style cocktails. The game has you read a recipe for a cocktail, then go through the steps of making it based on memory. It's pretty neat. You can skewer olives, pour the alcohol, shake the mixer, blend with a blender, etc. At the end, you can virtually drink it too and have as many as you'd like without worrying about getting drunk. Swell!

I was really curious about making the Blue Hawaiian which was inspired by the Elvis movie Blue Hawaii. I made it virtually a few times on the app but decided it was time to make it for myself in the real world.

 Blue Hawaiian Cocktail

2 oz blue Curacao
2 oz of light rum
2 oz of cream of coconut
4 oz of pineapple juice
2 cups of ice

slices of pineapple
maraschino cherries

Makes two cocktails

Add the 2 cups of ice to the blender. You can get it a few early pulses to get it going. Add the blue Curacao, light rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice. Blend until smooth. Pour into cocktail glasses and garnish with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry.

Notes: If you are going to make this drink, make sure you are set on making it. I had to purchase a liter worth of blue Curacao because that's the smallest bottle my local liquor store had. After using a couple ounces, I don't know what I'll do with the rest of the bottle. I guess lots of Blue Hawaiians are in my future!

I didn't have any maraschino cherries because I forgot to buy a bottle. However, I had some black cherries so I took one, cut a slice in it and added it to the rim of the cocktail glass. It worked, but the result was not as pretty as it would have been with a bright red maraschino cherry.

Use cream of coconut. You can find it either in the Asian or Goya section of your supermarket. Don't think of substituting it with coconut milk or coconut water. You need cream of coconut which is thick and has the consistency of pudding.

I bought a large can of pineapple rings in juice. I used the juice for the cocktail and the precut pineapple rings for the garnish. I don't think it's worth buying a can of pineapple juice and a package of fresh pineapple rings (or a whole pineapple) when 1 can with both juice and rings is already available. It's cheaper too. Outsets the cost of that humongoid bottle of blue curacao!

Do you love Mad Men? Do you have the Mad Men Cocktail Culture App? Would you make a Blue Hawaiian cocktail?

Simple Steak & Pepper Kabobs

Sometimes simplicity is absolutely necessary. Especially when it's the end of the week and you are too tired to put a lot of effort into that evening's dinner. I made these kabobs with petite New York style sirloin steaks which were really inexpensive at Market Basket. I bought a few packs, removed the the string and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Any tender steak will do. Just don't use something fatty and fibrous like beef chuck. Skewered with red, orange and green bell pepper, drizzled with olive oil then grilled on an indoor grill pan (you can grill these on your backyard grill if you have one), these were very easy to cook. I served them on a bed of rice pilaf. It made for a delicious  meal.

Simple Steak & Pepper Kabobs


3 or 4 petite New York style sirloin steaks
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
extra light olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (optional)
a set of bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least 20 minutes to prevent burning
cooked rice pilaf

Remove the string from the steaks and cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch chunks. Core the bell peppers and cut into pieces that are roughly the same width as the steak chunks. Skewer the steak and the peppers. I do three pieces of each for each skewer. Season with salt and pepper if you prefer. This makes about 8-10 kabobs.

Heat up your grill pan. Drizzle the kabobs with olive oil. Once the grill pan gets really hot, add the kabobs. Cook for a couple minutes on each side. While the kabobs are cooking, cover the grill pan loosely with aluminum foil. This helps some of the heat circulate. Because not all of the meat gets face time with direct heat, extra circulating heat will help cook the meat more thoroughly. Cook until all sides of the meat are brown. Check one piece of beef to make sure it's cooked all the way through (or medium or medium-rare if you prefer that). Cook in two batches. Serve on rice pilaf.

Raspberry Limeade and Strawberry Lemonade

These recipes were originally posted on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Raspberry Limeade
20 limes' juices
2 limes sliced for garnish
1 pint of raspberries, rinsed
2 cups of sugar
12 cups of filtered water

Strawberry Lemonade
8 lemons juiced
1 lemon sliced for garnish
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved
2 cups of sugar
12 cups of filtered water

Add the lime/lemon juice and sugar into the pitcher first. The acid will help start dissolving the sugar. Then slowly add the filtered water, stirring ever so often to mix the sugar into the water. Drop in the slices of lime/lemon and add your raspberries/strawberries. Stir a couple more times but not too much because you don't want to break the fruit. Let chill for about an hour in the fridge. Make sure that you drink this within a couple days of making. The raspberries and strawberries will continue to macerate. 
For those of you who like your limeade and lemonade with a bit of a kick, try 1-1/2 cups of sugar. If the bite is a bit too much, add 1/4 cup more. You can also leave in the slices of lime or lemonade to continue adding some acidity to the beverage. Once you customize this recipe to your taste, it'll become second-hand nature to you and you'll be making this all the time!

Fresh Peach Pie

This recipe was originally posted on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Fresh Peach Pie

10-12 ripe fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
3 tbsps of sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of cornstarch
2 frozen pie shells, thawed
1 egg white with a splash of water, beaten

Peel and slice 10 ripe freestone peaches. Freestone and clingstone peaches look identical so you are more likely to come across freestone ones at your farmer's market or grocery store in August. Clingstone peaches will work they are just harder to slice.

Add the slices to a bowl and sprinkle over the 3 tablespoons of sugar of the top and stir carefully. Let sit for 15 minutes. The sugar will draw out some of the liquid of the peaches. Drain the peaches from their extra juice. This will ensure a less watery pie.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Sprinkle cinnamon and the cornstarch over the peaches. Stir carefully until fully incorporated. Add the peaches to one of the pie shells. Carefully cover the pie with the second pie shell. Cut a few slits on the top so that hot air can escape. Unless you are an expert pie crust maker, I highly recommend using Mrs. Smith frozen pie shells.

Take the egg wash and brush all over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and let cool for at least an hour before cutting in. Enjoy!

Chicken Cashew

Carlos and I did a one week experiment in which we ate dinners (which resulted in lunch the next day with the leftovers) that consisted of little to no carbs. No rice, no potatoes, no beans, no pasta, no bread, no nothing. I made this Chicken Cashew dish and added some extra vegetables and skipped the rice. It came out really well and was very easy to make. The original recipe is from Taste of Home magazine and I have modified it for my own purposes.

3 chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

2 cups of pea pods, snipped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper, hulled, seeded and cut into strips
2 celery stalks, chopped

1/3 cup of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
1 1-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
salt to taste
1 teaspoon of extra light olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup of cashews 

I find it's easier to cut the chicken breasts when they are slightly frozen.

Add the sesame oil and soy sauce to the chunks of chicken. Mix and set aside. 

In a bowl, whisk in the cornstarch into the chicken broth. Then add the honey, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, grated ginger, salt, extra light olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce. Whisk together.

In a wok or large skillet, heat up a bit of canola or extra light olive oil. Once it starts to sizzle, add chicken in batches and cook until nice and brown. Set aside. Add a little more oil and cook the vegetables just until they start to get a bit brown and their structure breaks down. You still want them to be a bit crunchy.  

Add the chicken back to the skillet, toss in the cashews and stir in the sauce mixture. Cook for only a couple more minutes until the sauce thickens. Serve hot (with or without rice). Enjoy!

Cherry Jam Tart

I recently picked up a copy of the latest Food Network magazine. They had a delicious looking photo of a Cherry Jam Tart along with a recipe. I'm trying to challenge myself more in the kitchen as I've become a bit lazy lately so I decided to try making this from scratch (except for the Cherry Preserves which I bought). It was very sweet but the lemon juice definitely cuts it. I modified the recipe so feel free to check out the original and compare.

2 small 8 oz jars of cherry preserves
juice of one lemon

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup of sugar
cooking spray
3 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
zest of one lemon (use same lemon as above)
1 egg
3 tablespoons of water
1 egg yolk plus 1 teaspoon of water

wax paper or parchment paper
a rolling pin
pastry brush
9 inch round tart pan
handheld mixer

In a small bowl, empty out the small jars of cherry preserves  and mix in the juice of the lemon. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, add the room temperature butter and sugar and mix thoroughly with a handheld mixer. Add in the flour, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest and 1 egg and mix with a large sturdy spatula. Add the tablespoons of water one at a time.

Separate the dough into two sections. Take 2/3s of it and roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Do the same for the 1/3 remaining dough. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 395 degrees.  Take a nine inch round tart pan and spray generously with cooking spray. Set aside.

Roll out the 2/3rd portion in between two sheets of wax paper. No extra flour is needed. Roll it out until it's big enough to cover the entire tart pan plus extra. Flip over and carefully place in pan working the edges up the sides. Roll out the 1/3rd portion so you have one long section (long enough to stretch across the tart pan) about 1/4 inch thick. Cut 9 or 10 strips with a sharp knife. Place the strips in a criss-cross pattern to your choosing.

Take the egg yolk and water mixture and brush all over the top.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and let cool. The cherry preserves can burn your mouth so please don't eat immediately. Enjoy!

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