Backyard Farms and Nebo Fall-Fresco Luncheon

This past Friday I was invited by Backyard Farms to a special luncheon at NEBO featuring dishes from NEBO‘s new fall menu and featuring Backyard Farms brand new Somerset Pink Tomato.

Backyard Farms is a 42 acre farm located in Madison, ME committed to growing fresh, ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes all year round. They are the largest grower of year-round tomatoes in New England. All tomatoes are picked and shipped within one day to local markets in the Northeast. You can find their flavor packed tomatoes as local Whole Foods and Hannafords and see them at many of Boston’s local food festivals and events throughout the year. Now you can get fresh, local tomatoes YEAR ROUND instead of product that is imported from Mexico. Talk about tasty!! Backyard Farms was also the recipient of Whole Foods 2014 North Atlantic Produce Supplier of the Year.

NEBO, one of Backyard Farms Chef Partners, is located on Atlantic Ave in Downtown Boston and owned by sisters Carla and Christine Pallotta. Former hairdressers and spa owners these sisters decided to leave the beauty business behind in 2005 and opened the original NEBO in Boston’s North End. The name of the restaurant even comes from that original location (NEBO = North End Boston)! Here you will find authentic Italian cuisine in a comfortable atmosphere reminiscent of their mothers kitchen they grew up in. In the spring of 2013 NEBO moved into the sisters dream location at Atlantic Wharf featuring a stunning open kitchen, floor to ceiling windows, and of course hand-rolled pastas made in house.

I was SO excited for this luncheon. I had eaten at NEBO once before and it was fantastic and I am a huge tomato fan so this was a match made in heaven.

When I arrived I glanced over the menu and boy did it look good :)

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First we got to hear about Backyard Farms and meet some of their team members. I loved hearing about their new Somerset Pink tomato which is full-flavored beefsteak tomato that took many years to perfect and requires very specific growing conditions. It has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity due to its higher sugar content and is just as tasty eaten as is as well as incorporated into a recipe.

Next we got to meet sister Chefs Carla and Christine Pallotta and learned all about their childhood growing up in the North End and what brought them to leave the hair salon business behind and open up the super successful NEBO with no prior restaurant training. I loved the stories they told about the dishes their mother would cook them each and every night, some you can even find on their menu to this day!

Then came the first course – Backyard Farms Someset Pink Tomato with Burrata, Saba and EVOO.

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Backyard Farms Someset Pink Tomato with Burrata, Saba and EVOO

How beautiful are these tomatoes?

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Backyard Farms Someset Pink Tomato with Burrata, Saba and EVOO

The saba had hints of cinnamon and ginger and really took this dish to the next level.

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Backyard Farms Someset Pink Tomato with Burrata, Saba and EVOO

I loved how in between each course Chefs Carla and Christine came out and explained each dish and told us all about the local North End vendors they get they fresh products from. We had the opportunity to ask the chefs questions and hear more of their personal stories. It made for a really intimate dining experience!

While we listened we got to snack on a beautiful charcuterie board featuring prosciutto, mortadella, finocchiona salami, coppa, speck and served with Backyard Farms Vine Ripe Tomato Jam and bruschetta aglio e olio.

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Prosciutto, Mortadella, Finocchiona Salami, Coppa, Speck with Backyard Farms Vine Ripe Tomato Jam and Bruschetta Aglio E Olio

First of all, tomato jam is UNREAL! It had a flavor I wasn’t expecting and much similar to a jam you would make from a grape or berry.

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Backyard Farms Vine Ripe Tomato Jam

The bruschetta was a potato based bread that has been in the chefs family over 100 years. It is starchier than most bruschettas because of the potato and held up really nicely topped with all of the charcuterie ingredients.

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Bruschetta Aglio E Olio

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Prosciutto, Mortadella, Finocchiona Salami, Coppa, Speck with Backyard Farms Vine Ripe Tomato Jam and Bruschetta Aglio E Olio

I was already getting stuffed but could not wait to try the spaghettini with Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomatoes, capers, olives and EVOO. Nothing beats hand-made pasta and the cocktail tomatoes added such a pop of flavor. I am usually not a fan of olives, especially in warm dishes, but these olives were outta this world. They were meatier than any I have ever tried and had a nice deep almost spicy flavor to them that paired really well with the acid from the tomatoes and capers.

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Spaghettini with Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomatoes, Capers, Olives and EVOO

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Spaghettini with Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomatoes, Capers, Olives and EVOO

Next came this beautiful dish of baby clams, finicchiona salami, ceci and Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomatoes. The clams are imported from Italy and the crusty bread topped with aioli was the perfect vehicle to sop up all of the flavorful broth and top with the tomatoes.

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Baby Clams, Finicchiona Salami, Ceci and Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomatoes

Last but very not least was this beauty of a pizza. Backyard Farms Beefsteak Tomato, prosciutto cotto, ricotta, mozzarella, arugula and parmigiano.

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Backyard Farms Beefsteak Tomato, Prosciutto Cotto, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Arugula and Pamigiano

Put ricotta on any pizza and I’m all over it. So freakin good!

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Backyard Farms Beefsteak Tomato, Prosciutto Cotto, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Arugula and Pamigiano

Each luncheon guest got a gift bag. I was so excited to open it up and see I got my very own Backyard Farms Somerset Pinks and Cocktail Tomatoes along with an adorable cutting board and tomato knife.

Get ready for some recipes featuring these beauties in the next week!

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I want to thank Backyard Farms and NEBO for inviting me to this tasty and informative luncheon. I had so much fun learning all about the Somerset Pink tomato, meeting the team as well as Chefs Carla and Christine and getting to try these amazing dishes!

Now I’m ready for the Whole Foods to open on the Ink Block so I can get these tomatoes any time :)

Backyard Farms
River Rd.
Madison, ME 04950

207.696.5300

NEBO
520 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 04950

617.723.6326

21 Day Fix: Chicken Mac and Cheese

So I am one week into round 3 of the 21 Day Fix and could not be happier with my results:

11.7lbs down and 12″ gone

Holy crap. I only just started this journey on September 2nd!! I was so excited when I saw those numbers!

The week prior was crazy busy with a lot of meals out so I really stepped it up this past week by following the meal plan to a T, portioning out my food using the 21 Day Fix containers, and got in some double sessions with Autumn’s DVDs in the morning and classes at my gym at night.

I did still squeeze in some time for fun and went out with friends on Friday and Saturday night but I stuck to vodka sodas and made sure to sneak in a few waters here and there. We gotta have some fun right?

I am currently in the second week of co-hosting my own 21 Day Fix challenge group on Facebook and it is SO much fun! Some of the challengers are brand new to the 21 Day Fix while others are well into their multiple rounds. It is so inspiring to hear my challengers success stories, amazing results, delicious recipes and see how they motivate each other each and every day! It is also a great place to get that extra push I need on those days I am struggling to press play on my workouts.

If you want to join in on the challenge group fun I will be co-hosting another round starting on November 3rd. This rounds theme will be “Healthy for the Holidays!“. Leave a comment on this post and I will get you all of the details!

Healthy for the Holidays

As the days are starting to get shorter and colder it makes me really want some comfort food and what is more comforting than mac and cheese? However, comfort food does not have to blow your waistline and make you feel bloated after eating it! This recipe for chicken mac and cheese has no butter, no salt and no creamWHAT??

I usually poach and shred my chicken in large batches so I can use it in meals and salads throughout the week so feel free to increase the quantities listed in the recipe and make a lot at once :)

Do you have any good shredded chicken recipes?

Chicken Mac and Cheese

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 small chicken breast (will portion out to 1 red)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup whole grain pasta shells  2 yellow
  • 1 cup baby spinach  1 green
  • 1/4 cup cheddar and american cheese, mixed  1 blue
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Squirt of lemon juice

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken breast and cook for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Transfer to a cutting board or plate and shred. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of each of the following: Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika. Portion out 3/4 cup (1 red) and set aside.

Bring another pot of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of whole grain pasta shells (2 yellow) and cook according to the package direction. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Add the cooked pasta back to the warm pan along with 3/4 cup of shredded chicken (1 red), 1 cup of baby spinach (1 green) and 1/4 cup (1 blue) of cheddar and american cheese, mixed. Add in the reserved pasta water as needed to help wilt the spinach and melt the cheese.

Season with a pinch of garlic and onion powder, freshly cracked black pepper and a squirt of lemon juice to taste and enjoy!

Chicken Mac and Cheese

BAM!!!

Who said you can’t have comfort food on the 21 Day Fix?Chicken Mac and CheeseChicken Mac and Cheese

Henrietta’s Table

This post is looooong overdue, and unfortunately it is not the only one. Summer fun in Newport then immediately getting started with Beachbody coaching and the 21 Day Fix in September kept me from keeping up with my posts.

Totally worth it.

Back in August my friends and I decided to take advantage Dine Out Boston (formerly Restaurant Week). I love Dine Out Boston because twice a year in March and August participating restaurants put together a pre-fix coursed lunch and/or dinner menu for these fantastic prices:

Lunch:  $15/$20/$25

Dinner:  $28/$33/$38

I think it is a great opportunity to try a new restaurant or visit an old favorite. Some restaurants even price in wine pairings to take your dining experience to the next level!

After hearing rave reviews from friends and coworkers about Henrietta’s Table I jumped at the chance to make a reservation here with my girlfriends. Located within The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA this farm-to-table restaurant has been wowing guests for 15 years.

To start I chose the New England Salt Cod Cake with arugula, lemon herb vinaigrette and tartar sauce. It was nice and light and I loved the tang from the tartar sauce.

New England Salt Cod Cake

New England Salt Cod Cake

I was really excited about my choice of the Ozark Mountain Grilled Smoked Pork Chop with apple sauce and appleJack demi. I struggle to cook pork at home because sometimes it comes out perfectly and other times it is overcooked. I now have a meat thermometer in the house so hopefully that will solve my cooking issues.

Henrietta’s Table’s pork chop was PERFECT!

Ozark Mountain Grilled Smoked Pork Chop

Ozark Mountain Grilled Smoked Pork Chop

The mashed potatoes made from locally grown potatoes were out of this world. Seriously, I have never had mashed potatoes as yummy as these. They were unbelievably creamy!!

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

While I was stuffed to the brim I had to try the fresh, warm, Blueberry Almond Crostata served with vanilla bean ice cream. I usually steer towards chocolate for dessert but I am so glad I chose this. The crust was so flaky and the vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect match to the tart blueberries.

Fresh Blueberry Almond Crostata

Fresh Blueberry Almond Crostata with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I loved everything about Henrietta’s Table – the food and atmosphere were both comforting and cozy. I will be going back in the near future to check out the ever changing, seasonal menus!

Check out Henrietta’s Yard Sale on Sunday – Thursday offering two pre-fixed coursed menu options: 2 courses and 1 side for $32 OR 3 courses plus 1 side for $37. AWESOME!!

Henrietta’s Table
One Bennett St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

617.661.5005

21 Day Fix: Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Toast Croutons

 This past Friday I was lucky enough to visit the Xhibition Kitchen located within Stetson Hall West at Northeastern University. I had been anticipating this event for WEEKS. The guest was none other than my favorite blogger Jessica from How Sweet It Is! Read her blog, she is such a talented cook and writer. I laugh out loud reading her posts and want to be her best friend.

I had pre-ordered Jessica‘s cookbook ‘Seriously Delish‘, read through all 298 pages and marked off which recipes I wanted to make right away. So off I went, cookbook in hand, to meet my all time favorite blogger and recipe creator. I wish I could paste in every iPhone emoji right here to show my true excitement about this!! Instead here is the picture I took with Jessica that day- she even signed my book!

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The one on the left was the signed bookplate she sent me for pre-ordering the book

One recipes I had marked off in the cookbook was for Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Toast Croutons. I was so excited when I found out this was one of the dishes Jessica was cooking during the demo demo AND that we got to taste it. I was blown away with the ease of the recipe and the depth of flavor – it just screamed IT’S FALL!!

Here are all my photos from the demo:

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Jessica Merchant from How Sweet It Is

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Whipped Goat Cheese with Warm Vanilla Berries on Toast and Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup

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White Cheddar Apple Crisp

If you have been following along the past few weeks you know I have been loving my 21 Day Fix journey. I am actually on my 2nd round of the program and will be excited to share this rounds results come October 13th.

This is NOT A DIET.

It is a lifestyle change that has completely changed how I feel mentally and physically and I love every second of it! What has made it the most fun for me is taking recipes and tweaking them to work with the 21 Day Fix yet still be packed full of flavor.

Since this is more of a long term goal for me I do splurge here and there (hello movie theater popcorn this past Sunday) but it is not every day and the splurges are small. In this recipe I splurged by making the Cinnamon Toast Croutons that are part of Jessica’s recipe. They are out of this world and take this soup to a whole new level. Feel free to leave them out to truly make this 21 Day Fix-approved.

As mentioned in previous posts, the Shakeology shakes that come with the 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack really do help curb all cravings so it is rare for me to crave sweets or really salty junk food now. It’s a miracle!

Starting Monday, October 13th I will be co-hosting a 21 Day Fix Challenge Group on Facebook and am always looking for more people who want to lose weight and learn portion control all while having fun and sharing great tips and recipes with other people with similar goals in mind! I lost 7lbs and 9.5 inches during my first round of the 21 Day Fix and could not have done it without the support of my amazing group :)

Can you believe this this amazing looking soup is 21 Day Fix-approved?

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Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is cookbook Seriously Delish

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Cinnamon Toast Croutons (omit for this recipe to be 21 Day Fix-approved)

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • 4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 2 cups organic vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons raw slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk, plus extra for drizzling
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 scallions, sliced

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Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Cut 2 slices of whole grain bread into cubes. Spread them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.IMG_4430

Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Let the croutons cool on the baking sheet and set aside.IMG_4433

Dice up 1 small sweet onion.

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Mince 2 large garlic cloves.

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Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or coconut oil) over a medium low heat and add the onions. Saute until soft and translucent, approx. 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Pour in the 1/4 cup of amaretto and cook down for 5 minutes until all of the alcohol has cooked off the liquid has reduced by half, stirring occasionally.

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While the amaretto is cooking down peel and cube your butternut squash (or do this in advance to save time!)IMG_4450

Add to the pot with the onion, garlic and amaretto mixture along with 2 cups of organic vegetable stock, 2 cups of water and 4 fresh sage leaves. Cover the pot and reduce the heat slightly.

Let simmer until the squash is soft, approx. 20 minutes.
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While the squash is simmering add 2 tablespoons of raw slivered almonds to a small pan. Heat over a medium-low heat until they start to turn golden brown and release their flavor. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside.IMG_4456

When the squash is done simmering remove the pan from the heat. Remove the sage leaves and carefully pour the mixture into a blender (you might have to do this in batches depending on how large your blender is).

Puree until creamy and transfer back into the pot you cooked the squash in. Keep warm over a low heat.

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Stir in a 1/2 cup of canned coconut milk and freshly cracked black pepper.IMG_4462

Serve with a few extra drops of coconut milk, toasted almonds and sliced scallions.IMG_4465

21 Day Fix: Spinach and Colby Jack Stuffed Chicken Roll-Ups

I LOVE THE 21 DAY FIX.

So much so that as soon as I hit Day 21 on my first round I started up the next day for a whole new cycle – any takers to jump in and do this round with me? Let me know I would love to add you to my team :)

This time is even more exciting because I am familiar with the meal plan, know what true portion sizes are, and I know how to meal prep for the week so nothing goes to waste. Since the challenge kit comes with the portion control containers there is no weighing food or counting calories – if it fits in the container, you can eat it!

I also love, love, LOVE my Shakeolgy shakes and can’t imagine starting my morning without one. Most importantly, I am getting in better shape and can see and feel the difference. This cycle I am doing my 21 Day Fix DVD’s in the morning and adding in 60 minutes classes at my gym at least 3 times a week. The classes range from Group Kickboxing and Power, to Barre, Hip Hop Cardio, Spinning and a Foam Roll and Stretch class.

I feel so much stronger and on days I know I am doing a double at the gym I will drink half a Shakeology shake in the morning after my DVD workout and then another half a shake in the afternoon before the gym. It really helps to give me that extra boost of energy for my evening workout.

The recipe I am going to share today was a spur of the moment trial that came out amazing – I love when that happens! Since I wasn’t sure how this was going to come out the ingredient list is for a single serving but feel free to up the quantities to make a larger batch. This dish goes perfectly served alongside whole grain pasta, brown rice or quinoa and an extra side of veggies.

I am still shocked every time I make a dish full of flavor that contains NO SALT and NO OIL. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Spinach and Colby Jack Stuffed Chicken Roll-Ups

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast   1 red
  • 1/4 cup of fresh baby spinach   0.25 green
  • 2 tablespoons of shredded colby jack cheese   0.5 blue
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Large pinch of garlic powder
  • Large pinch of onion powder
  • Large pinch of paprika

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Place your chicken in a plastic ziplock bag or between two pieces of saran wrap. On a cutting board using a the flat side of a meat mallet pound your chicken breast until it is a thin, even thickness. Season the side facing up with freshly ground black pepper.

Place the baby spinach and colby jack cheese on top of the chicken close to one end. Roll up the chicken and secure with as many toothpicks as needed to keep the chicken rolled.

Season the top of the chicken with more freshly ground black pepper and a large pinch of garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Rub the seasonings in so they really stick.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F. After 20 minutes turn the broiler on high and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes until the top of the chicken becomes golden and crispy.

Remove the toothpicks before eating.

 

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