There are three places I shop frequently for groceries: Fruit Center, Fresh Market and good ‘ol Stop ‘n Shop. It’s ridiculous that there isn’t a “one-stop shop” near us, but I’m fortunate that these three markets are all in close proximity to where I live. Why do I make three stops, you ask? Fruit Center is where I buy my produce, seafood, herbs and cheese (most locally sourced and organic). Fresh Market is where I buy my bulk spices (can buy smaller quantities which is mucho cost-effective), meats and specialty items. Stop ‘n Shop is where I get my tinfoil, paper products and laundry detergent.
Whole Foods is also in range, but at the rate that Whole Foods markets are popping up I’m concerned with the integrity of the “organic” labels. It’s also well known that you can’t leave WF without spending a week’s salary on groceries. A Trader Joe’s is under construction a mile down the street from me, and will likely be the FOURTH place I stop at for bulk almond flour, frozen foods and such. Four stops. Am I the only one who does this? Or am I just THAT picky about my shit??
Now that you know my shopping issues, let me tell you about a product I found at Fruit Center this past weekend that I’m loooooving. Yarra Valley martinated feta cheese. This stuff is DELICIOUS and I could eat it with a spoon it’s really that tasty. Don’t get sticker shock, it’s well worth the splurge if you’re making a fresh salad of cucumbers, tomato, olives, etc. (Sorry to my lactose intolerant peeps)
- 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, rough dice
- 1/2 cup cherry tomato, sliced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup marinated feta, crumbled (be sure to confirm it’s gluten-free!!)
- 1 tablespoon good quality oil, or oil from the marinade (like I did)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. This can be made ahead, but please keep in the fridge and give a stir before serving.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a juicy hunk of watermelon. In fact, if you told me you don’t like watermelon, I would think you’re weird. Nothing tops off a BBQ like a slab of sweet seedless joy, amirite?
While reading a recipe I wanted to try, I found this one on Paleo Cupboard and HAD to make it. It looked so pretty and delicious and healthy (win-win-WIN!). Imagine rolling up in a cookout with this dessert? Well, with the one in PC’s photo, because I clearly need to work on my fruit cutting skills.
Just a note, I halved the ingredient list because the watermelon I purchased was organic and tiny. I didn’t toast my almonds (I actually forgot…oops) and the cake was still delicious. Make sure to follow PC’s instructions on how to cut the watermelon.
- 1 large seedless watermelon (seeds suck)
- 2 cans full fat coconut milk, left in the fridge overnight
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon organic honey
- 1 cup sliced raw almonds
- Fresh fruit for topping (I used blueberries and strawberries)
To make the coconut whipped cream:
Scoop out the firm cream from the coconut milk can into a bowl. Add the honey and vanilla, then stir to combine. You can whip the cream using a hand mixer to froth it a bit, but I just mixed it by hand and refrigerated it until it was firm.
Prep your ingredients:
Slice your watermelon (follow instructions on Paleo Cupboard’s link above) and blot dry with paper towels. This will help the cream adhere to the watermelon. If necessary, slice your fresh fruit. Put the sliced almonds in a shallow bowl.
Dip the outside of each watermelon slice in to coconut whipped cream, and then in the almonds, then reassemble into the cake shape on a platter. Top with more coconut cream and then assemble fruit on top of the “cake”. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve to prevent the cream from melting.
How freakin cute is this cake???
While trying out a few recipes last year, I got a little fed up with leftovers. A recipe that calls for 1/2 can of coconut milk, or 1/4 cup of chicken stock leaves me scratching my head for how to use the remaining liquid. It’s not always convenient or possible to use leftovers timely, and Joe is always telling me I waste food. Soooooo I put on my thinking cap, took a trip to Marshall’s and solved my problem. Behold:
For less than $3, I bought a couple ice cube trays, some easy peel labels and I was in business. Mark the date, pour the leftover liquid and freeze. Next time you need some coconut milk, broth or juice, pop ‘em out!
Produce can be ridiculous these days, and you might need a second mortgage to purchase fruits and veggies for the week. Seriously, a head of cauliflower can be as much as $3.99. Or a pineapple $5.99. Never mind if you want organic!! So when I’m shopping for my weekly groceries, I’ll check out the reduced produce section. GASP!!! Oh, get over it. It’s usually stuff that’s been sitting around a little longer than you would like, but you can find some good stuff FOR A BUCK. Peep these gems I scored on my last bargain excursion:
For $3 I got a bunch of produce I know I’ll use. If there is a section of onion that has rotted or is “questionable”, just cut that section off. The rest is still good!
And now for a refreshing salad recipe (adapted from Food & Wine) using a red onion I found in reduced produce…..
- 1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (gluten free!)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 blood oranges
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons torn basil leaves
In a bowl, toss the red onion with the vinegar, salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature until softened, approx. 15 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, peel the oranges (make sure to remove all the white pith). Thinly slice the oranges crosswise. Arrange the oranges on a platter – be creative and make it pretty – and scatter the red onion on top. Drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with the basil.
Dill is an underrated herb.
I used to only think of dill as it relates to giant sour pickles. I’ve also experienced dill in potato salad, but I’m not a fan of potatoes covered in gallons of mayonnaise. You’ve seen it at summertime cookouts sitting in a container for God knows how long, while flies swarm and the mayo turns rancid hour after hour after hour. No thanks.
I had some sweet potatoes kicking around, and thought I’d try to create a lightly dressed potato salad for the upcoming warm weather that won’t creep your guests out. I made a batch of this salad and asked Joe his opinion. He liked it enough to eat all the leftovers and leave me nothing. Shady.
- 3 organic sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3-4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
- 3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (more or less depending on your taste)
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Drizzle some coconut oil, salt and pepper on the sweet potatoes. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until tender. While your potatoes are roasting, you can hard boil your eggs, fry up your bacon and measure out your ingredients.
Once potatoes are done, combine with the remaining ingredients until mixed well. Can serve warm, or cover and store.
“But Danielle, what will I do with this leftover dill??”
I asked myself the same question! I took an old recipe from this site, and modified it to suit my tastes. It works well with rosemary, but the dill won me over.
- 3-4 chicken breasts (or thighs)
- 1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard (I used old school Grey Poupon)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450˚.
In a shallow baking dish, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Combine the maple syrup, mustard and vinegar, and pour over the chicken. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes until cooked through. Let the meat rest for a few minutes then sprinkle the chopped dill over the top.
I paired mine with some adorable roasted heirloom carrots. You can use just about any roasted veggie with this dish.
Note: the potato salad and chicken are not meant to be served together. Just some ideas for ways you can use fresh dill.
You could also add dill to scrambled eggs, toss in with salad greens to add some added flavor, or a cucumber salad. What is your favorite way to use dill?
One thing I have to make clear for all my readers (all seven of them) is I don’t believe in overkill foodie reviews. There is truly nothing worse than when you read a review that details each plate, every sip, a sneeze, what the sauce reminded someone of and a photo supporting every move the author made. What this does is either (a) set an expectation that may disappoint and (b) remove the element of surprise. Remember when we would go out to eat and order something off the menu without checking with Yelp, Chowhound and social media?? It drives me NUTSO when Joe checks his cell before ordering a glass of wine for fear it will suck. TAKE A GAMBLE!! If it sucks, chances are you can tell your server and they will make it right.
Now that you know my stance on foodie reviews, I’d like to take a moment to share my experience at the Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar. It’s not a new location by any means, but a good place to grab a bite. And if you’re a fan of Whiskey, look no further as the Whiskey menu is roughly a mile long. They also offer whole pig roasts, if you’re into that kind of trendy nose-to-tail dining with 10 of your closest friends.
Joe and I met our friends Shaun and Sarah for dinner and drinks in this dimly lit spot right outside of Fenway. There is parking next door for about $8, but I suspect you wouldn’t be so lucky if there was a game happening. The vibe was relaxed and casual, and they have a gluten-free menu!
Things I liked about CPH:
- The Cucumber Collins is a must try. Very refreshing and didn’t knock me on my ass like the Whiskey might.
- Fried Brussel sprouts were the bomb.com.
- Service was fantastic. In fact, the server made a hiccup in our order and brought out a cheese plate to make up for it on the house.
Things I wasn’t so crazy about:
- The place was packed with people which made it difficult to get to and from the ONE restroom for women. Not bad for the owners, but not great for someone who had two cocktails and 15 glasses of water.
- We were seated in the corner and I had to stare at this guy and frankly, he creeped me out….
Bottom line: if you’re in the Fenway area, I recommend this place for cocktails and food. Three out of four of us ordered the Carpetbagger and we were not disappointed. They also make a mean mint julep and the Kentucky Derby is coming up….just sayin.
If you have any “hot spots” that you think Food-Dee would like, please comment below!
Joe’s Sicilian family gets together once a year for “ravioli day”. Cousins all bring ingredients to make the secret family recipe and share some laughs. I’ve been part of it for the past three years, and I look forward to the camaraderie and food more and more each year. My allergy prevents me from eating the homemade ravioli and meatballs, so I bring my own gluten-free pasta, and one of Joe’s cousins makes gluten-free meatballs.
This year, I was asked to bring an appetizer and wine. I knew everyone would bring wine (we always end up with about 10 bottles…see below) so I thought sangria would shake things up a bit. I made pear and pancetta crisps for the appetizer, which were a hit from one of our previous parties and would be light enough to enjoy before the feast. I can’t recall where I first saw the recipe for this, but they are a delicious and light appetizer for any occasion.
Pear & Pancetta Crisps
- 15 thin slices of pancetta
- 15 thin slices of pear (I used bartlett and red anjou, but any pear would work)
- 4 oz package goat cheese, crumbled
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 450˚.
Arrange pancetta slices in a single layer over aluminum foil on a shallow baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. They will crisp up as they cool.
Core and slice the pear. Top each slice with pancetta, goat cheese crumbles, pepper and a drizzle of honey. Garnish with thyme leaves and serve!
This is a ridiculously easy, relatively inexpensive, delicious recipe for sangria. I’ve perfected it over the last couple years and had to actually keep track of what I put in it to provide a recipe for all you drunkies. (kidding….sort of). I recommend using cheap red wine for this, as an expensive wine will just get masked by the citrus and cinnamon. Then again, if you’re moneybags and want to go all out who am I to stop you?
- 2 (750 ml) bottles red wine
- 1 liter ginger ale
- 2 oranges, cut into wedges
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
Squeeze citrus into your serving vessel, and then toss in the squeezed wedges. Add wine, ginger ale cinnamon and sugar then stir to combine.
Let the sangria sit for a while – the longer the better – and then serve over ice. Enjoy!
Scenes from ravioli day:
Mixing the dough.
As you can see, I didn’t need to bring wine..
The Sicilians in charge of the filling.
Courtney and I enjoying Island Creek oysters.
Wouldn’t be ravioli day without dirty martinis!