Noble Pig A blog dedicated to delicious, homemade food, travel and lifestyle. 2019-09-12T13:25:34Z WordPress Cathy <![CDATA[Fruit Salad with Ginger-Mint Syrup]]> 2019-09-12T11:51:18Z 2019-09-05T23:36:14Z Read More about Fruit Salad with Ginger-Mint Syrup]]> Almost any fruit is excellent here – even peaches, nectarines and cherries would work well. Use what strikes you for dessert and serve with sugar cookies. The ginger-mint syrup is especially good when your fruit needs a little extra sweetness.

When you’re not sure what to serve as a side dish, you can’t go wrong with this tasty Fruit Salad with Ginger-Mint Syrup. This salad is perfect for brunch, backyard barbecues or anytime you are craving something delicious. It does help that this fruit salad is so simple to put together. The ginger-mint syrup really takes this salad to a new level.

I love serving this fruit salad as a side dish with my pulled chicken sandwiches or alongside the best biscuits and gravy for Sunday brunch. However, there are plenty of times where just a bowl of this delicious fruit salad was all I needed for lunch. Too bad there are rarely leftovers when I do make it.

Using a syrup in a fruit salad is especially helpful during the non-peak fruit months (the shoulder months of summer). This is when fruit needs a little assistance in the sweetness department. We all love a beautiful fruit salad in the spring, but many times fruit is just not at it’s best. Using the ginger-mint syrup will bring new life to your fruit salads and you never have to worry about picking the perfect (sweet) melon again.

How Do I Make Ginger-Mint Syrup

It’s so easy. Ginger-mint syrup is basically a simple syrup, made by combining sugar, water, fresh mint and fresh ginger and bringing to a boil. Reducing the ingredients by half, over heat, concentrates the flavors, making them stand out. Be careful not to overcook the syrup as it will become thick and bitter. Overall, it takes about ten minutes to make this syrup on the stove. Cooling time on the counter and in the refrigerator are also required.

When Do I Add The Ginger-Mint Syrup

There are a couple of different answers to this question. I personally like to let the syrup come to room temperature and chill it (about two hours). I gently stir in the syrup with the fruit right before serving. The longer the syrup is in contact with the fruit, the more flavorful the fruit becomes. However, the syrup can soften the fruit a bit so I tend to add it right before serving, but that’s my personal preference. However, adding the syrup to the fruit and letting it chill together in the refrigerator for several hours does work well. If your fruit is not as ripe as you’d like it, I would let the fruit and the syrup sit longer together before serving.

What Kind Of Fruit Works Best In This Fruit Salad

  • Melon – Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew
  • Berries – Raspberry, Strawberry, Blueberries, Blackberries
  • Stone Fruits – Peaches, Nectarines, Mangoes, Plums, Cherries
  • Apples and Pears
  • Pineapple

How Long Will This Fruit Salad Last

The short answer is three to five days. To maximize the shelf life of this fruit salad keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leaving this or any fruit salad out at room temperature for more than two hours will allow it to deteriorate quickly.

How Do You Cut Fruit For This Fruit Salad

I like to use a melon baller scoop for my melons, but cutting the melons into squares is also fine. I just happen to love the way the round melon balls look in a fruit salad. We eat with our eyes first! The pineapple is best cut into squares. I leave the berries whole and intact. If I were adding cherries, I would pit them first. If you’re going to add other stone fruits to your salad, I would slice them into wedges.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Serve This Fruit Salad

I can’t think of a month not to serve it! In the summertime, when the fruit is naturally sweeter, the ginger-mint syrup adds a whole other dimension to the already delicious fruit. During the months when fruit is not as sweet, the ginger-mint syrup helps bring out the natural sweetness of the fruit you have chosen to use. Trust me, you will be enjoying a delicious fruit salad in December with this recipe!

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Fruit Salad with Ginger-Mint Syrup

Almost any fruit is excellent here – even peaches, nectarines and cherries would work well. Use what strikes you for dessert and serve with sugar cookies. The ginger-mint syrup is especially good when your fruit needs a little extra sweetness. 


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • zest and juice of one lime


  • 2 cups watermelon balls
  • 2 cups cantaloupe balls
  • 2 cups honeydew balls
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 2 pints blackberries
  • 2 pints raspberries
  1. For the syrup, simmer the sugar, water, mint, ginger, lime zest and juice in a saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half, about ten minutes. (You do not want to overcook or the syrup will become bitter and thick.)

  2. Strain the syrup into a small bowl and let come to room temperature. Place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours.

  3. Prepare fruit and chill at least one hour.

  4. Right before serving toss fruit and syrup together in a large bowl. Serve immediately.

Cathy <![CDATA[Cucumbers with Mint Vinaigrette]]> 2019-09-12T12:11:26Z 2019-08-27T19:38:46Z Read More about Cucumbers with Mint Vinaigrette]]> Keep it light and refreshing ~ Cucumbers with Mint Vinaigrette are the perfect side dish for any meal. They are especially wonderful with Asian Cuisine.

Even if you’re not a big fan of cucumbers, these Cucumbers with Mint Vinaigrette are a must try. They are the perfect palate cleanser between spicy bites of food and are a perfect side dish for any Asian cuisine dishes. I find it really amazing how much cooling effect these cucumbers have whether it’s a hot day or your menu includes some spicy heat recipes.

I love serving these refreshing cucumbers as a side dish with my Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry, Cashew Kung Pao Chicken or my Asian Lime Ribs.

I have to admit, these cucumbers have been my sole lunch many times over. If there are ever leftovers from dinner the night before, it’s almost a guarantee I will be enjoying them as my next meal. These cucumbers can easily stand alone for lunch and/or a refreshing afternoon snack.

How To Thinly Slice Cucumber

The trick to any sliced cucumber salad is to slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can. Wafer thin is how I usually refer to my cucumber slices. This is easily done with a mandoline slicer, an amazingly simple kitchen tool that is easy to set up and will have you slicing in minutes. The smaller mandolines are easy to wash, dry and store; nothing elaborate is necessary. With a little a practice, you will find having a mandoline will save you hours of work. The mandoline is definitely one of my favorite kitchen tools. If you place value on uniformly cut veggies, a mandoline is totally for you.

How To Make Cucumbers With Mint Vinaigrette

  • Prepare cucumber by thinly slicing with a mandoline. Leave the rough, green peel on the cucumber
  • Add seasoned rice vinegar, fresh mint, ginger paste and red papper flakes to the bowl of a blender and puree
  • Toss pureed mixture with thinly sliced cucumbers
  • Chill for at least thirty minutes before serving

What Should I Serve With Cucumbers With Mint Vinaigrette

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Cucumbers with Mint Vinaigrette

Keep it light and refreshing ~ Cucumber with Mint Vinaigrette are the perfect side dish for any meal. They are especially wonderful with Asian Cuisine.

  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced, skins on (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar (do not substitute)
  • 20 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tsps ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Thinly slice cucumber (leave the skin on) on a mandoline.

  2. Puree in a blender the seasoned rice vinegar, mint leaves, ginger paste and red pepper flakes.

  3. Toss mint puree with sliced cucumbers and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  4. This dish holds up great for several days in the refrigerator.

Cathy <![CDATA[Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry]]> 2019-09-12T12:25:51Z 2019-08-17T09:44:15Z Read More about Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry]]> This Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry will have you in and out of the kitchen and eating fast.

Grilling is not the only way to cook in the summertime. And yes, even though we all might love to cook, a quick meal like this Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stiry-Fry is always a welcome treat! It’s fast and easy like my Cashew Kung Pao Chicken and my Gingery Pork Ramen.

What’s nice about this stir-fry dinner is that most of the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time, just keep them chilled until you are ready to cook. When it’s time to heat the pan or wok, the cooking time is very minimal. And yes, this meal is nice enough for a dinner party…win-win.

Feel free to replace the shrimp with chicken (I prefer thighs). It tastes just as good!

How To Prepare Fresh Plums for Stir-Fry

Make sure your plums are ripe. They should smell sweet and fruity, should give slightly to a squeeze, and be semi-soft.

For this dish, you’ll want to cut “lobes” from your plums around the pits and slice into half-moons as shown.

How To Make Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry

  • Prepare shrimp, scallions, garlic, ginger (if not using paste) and plums
  • Combine sherry, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, cayenne and cornstarch in a medium bowl, making sure cornstarch is completely incorporated
  • Heat oil in a large saute pan or wok over med-high heat until the oil appears to be shimmering
  • Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry for about 15 seconds until fragrant, stirring constantly
  • Add shrimp and stir-fry until opaque; about 2-3 minutes
  • Add liquid mixture, scallions and plums and simmer until the liquid thickens, another 2-3 minutes more
  •  Serve over steamed rice

Recipe Tips

  • If you’re using a saute pan to stir-fry, it must be big enough to hold everything without crowding. I recommend using a 12″ sized pan
  • Make sure the pan or wok is really hot when you start cooking as the pan cools down rapidly as ingredients are added

What Should I Serve With Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry

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Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry

This Easy Shrimp and Fresh Plum Stir-Fry will have you in and out of the kitchen and eating fast.

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can also use chicken)
  • 5 scallions (green and white pieces) cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp <wprm-code>fresh ginger paste</wprm-code>
  • 2 ripe plums, sliced
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  1. Prepare shrimp, scallions, garlic, ginger and plums. Make sure to keep each of these items separate. Set aside until you are ready to stir-fry.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine sherry, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, cayenne and cornstarch. Set aside.

  3. Heat oil in a large (12") saute pan or wok over med-high heat until you see oil shimmering. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for about 15 seconds, stirring constantly (do not burn). Add shrimp and stir-fry until opaque, 2-3 minutes. Add liquid mixture, scallions and plums; simmer until liquid thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Serve on top of steamed rice.

Each serving is approximately 1-1/3 cups.


When it comes to ingredients, like ginger and garlic, I prefer to use fresh ginger paste in a recipe like this. I find it incorporates better and it’s very handy to keep in the fridge. I also prefer the already minced garlic (found in the produce section) in a large jar. It’s a great thing to keep in the fridge too. Having these items around also cuts way down on preparation time which I love.


Cathy <![CDATA[Fresh Creamed Corn]]> 2019-09-12T12:26:30Z 2019-08-03T11:00:09Z Read More about Fresh Creamed Corn]]> Take full advantage of sweet summer corn and make of batch of this delicious Fresh Creamed Corn. This classic American side dish will be a hit at your next barbecue.

I’m not sure why everyone waits until Thanksgiving to make or serve creamed corn? Late summer is the perfect time to take advantage of summer’s most prized gift…sweet corn. Nothing captures the essence of summer’s bounty quite like this deliciously decadent Fresh Creamed Corn recipe. Luckily, this creamed corn recipe does not bare any resemblance to the canned stuff. You are in for a treat!

There are many ways I love to serve fresh corn during the summer months. I think my Fresh Corn and Basil Cakes are just about my favorite way to see fresh corn used up. I also love adding corn to ice cream and a fresh cherry salad.

Now that fresh corn is showing up at the farmers markets, this is the perfect time to test making this scrumptious side dish. One of the most important things to remember when buying corn is that as soon as it’s picked, sugar begins converting to starch. If you want tender, sweet corn, purchase it, cook it and eat it the same day (or as close as possible to the same day) it’s picked. The corn will last for a few days in the refrigerator, but the quality and taste will decline each day.

How Do I Remove Corn Kernels From The Cob

To remove kernels from the corn cob, stand cob upright and carefully cut straight down along the cob. Scrape the cobs with the back of the knife to release the “milk”.

You can use a food processor or a blender to puree two cups of kernels with half and half.

What Is Creamed Corn

Creamed corn is when you take whole pieces of sweet corn and combine them with a soup-like mixture of milky residue from corn kernels that have been pulped and scraped from the cob. The resulting “creamed corn” has a velvety and creamy texture that is pretty irresistible.

How To Pick Corn That’s Fresh and Sweet

  • Look for corn silk that’s pale in color, a little sticky and brown at the very tips.
  • The tops of the ears should feel filled in with kernels developed right to the ends.
  • The cut end should be fresh, moist and free of spots. Old cuts take on a rusty look.
  • Ripe kernels release a milky juice. An overripe ear is dry and tough.

How Do I Make Fresh Creamed Corn

  • Cut kernels from ears of sweet corn that have been husked
  • Puree two cups of corn kernels with half and half in a food processor or blender
  • Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet
  • Simmer corn kernels, pureed corn mixture, heavy cream, half and half and cayenne pepper
  • Add salt to taste

Other Great Ways To Enjoy Summer Corn

  1. Charred Corn Crostini with Feta and Lime
  2. 13 Delicious Ways To Eat Corn This Summer
  3. Fresh Corn and Chicken Chowder 
  4. Corn Relish
  5. Elote Corn

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Fresh Creamed Corn

Take full advantage of sweet summer corn and make of batch of this delicious Fresh Creamed Corn. This classic American side dish will be a hit at your next barbecue.

  • 9 ears sweet corn, husked (approx. 5 cups kernels), divided
  • 1 cup half and half, divided
  • 4 tbsps butter (preferably Kerrygold)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  1. Carefully cut kernels from ears of sweet corn. Using the back of a knife, scrape the cob to extract the milk. Divide corn in two and three cup measurements.

  2. Puree two cups corn in a food processor or blender with 1/2 a cup of half and half.

  3. Melt butter in a nonstick saute pan (no smaller than 12") over medium high heat.

  4. Add remaining corn kernels, pureed corn mixture, cream, remaining half and half, cayenne and salt to taste. Simmer until thickened, stirring often, about twenty minutes.

The dish has thickened enough when there is more visible corn than liquid left in the pan. You will also be able to run a rubber spatula down the middle of the pan and mixture will remain separated momentarily. The amount of time it takes to thick will depend greatly on your stove. Anything smaller than a 12″ nonstick pan will also add considerable time to the thickening process.


Serving size is approximately 1/2 a cup.

Cathy <![CDATA[Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktail]]> 2019-09-12T12:58:15Z 2019-07-07T10:30:18Z Read More about Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktail]]> Serve these Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktails for brunch or on the patio for a perfectly crowd-pleasing sipping experience.

Who else loves brunch? I think of it as the ideal meal for any type of daytime entertaining, where two meal periods can be combined into one wonderful feast. Brunch is more than often a casual get-together, enjoyed on weekends or vacations where strict timelines do not exist. Brunch is the perfect occasion to serve these Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktails for your whole family to enjoy. They add a whole new level of yum to brunch time entertaining.

Brunch is one of those occasions that can be enjoyed as an event all its own and for no other reason than the desire to share a relaxing afternoon with family and friends. I highly suggest serving one or two main dishes, such as my Broccoli, Bacon and Cheese Pie or my Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole. And filling in the gaps with fresh pastries, such as this Fresh Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake. Since brunch epitomizes both casual entertaining and festive celebrations, almost anything will go!

Due to the more informal nature of brunch and the flexible menu, it’s a great time to celebrate with family and friends of all ages.

What Is The Difference Between Prosecco and Champagne

Prosecco is a light, fruity sparkling wine from Italy, while Champagne is from France. The methods to make them are also different. The “traditional method” is used to make Champagne, while Prosecco is made with the “tank method”. Champagne is aged in bottles under high pressure so the bubble finesse is fine, persistent and sharp. Prosecco is aged in large tanks with less pressure so Prosecco bubbles are lighter, frothy and spritzy with less persistence. Grapes grown to make Champagne hale from a cooler region than where grapes for Prosecco are grown. This alone makes Champagne a leaner and more acidic wine.

Is Prosecco Sweeter Than Champagne

Prosecco is generally a little sweeter than Champagne. The bigger and looser bubbles and tropical fruit flavors make it a perfect choice to use in sparkling cocktails. In short, Prosecco won’t overpower the flavors of other spirits and modifiers used in your drinks. It’s the perfect choice for these Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktails.

Tips For Successful Brunch Entertaining

  • Choose a serving style – formal or informal
  • Select a location that’s right for the style you chose ~ dining room, eat-in kitchen, outdoors
  • Choose a menu that combines make-ahead dishes with last minute preparations
  • Do as much advance cooking possible the night before
  • Choose serving vessels and utensils the day before and have them ready
  • Create or purchase a simple centerpiece or floral arrangement as a focal point on the table
  • Set the table the day before if guests are to be seated at one table
  • If food will be outdoors have mesh domes available to prevent bugs from landing on the food

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Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktail

Serve these Grapefruit Prosecco Cocktails for brunch or on the patio for a perfectly crowd-pleasing sipping experience.

  • 1/4 cup Cointreau, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice, divided (about 3 grapefruit)
  • 2 cups prosecco, divided
  • 4 grapefruit wedges for garnish
  1. Pour one tablespoon Cointreau, two tablespoons grapefruit juice and a 1/2 cup prosecco into each of four chilled Champagne flutes (or wine glasses). Stir slightly with a long-handles spoon to mix.

  2. Garnish each glass with a small grapefruit wedge and serve immediately.

Keep all ingredients chilled in the fridge before making this cocktail.


Cathy <![CDATA[Roasted Garlic Bruschetta]]> 2019-09-12T12:31:14Z 2019-06-25T22:30:26Z Read More about Roasted Garlic Bruschetta]]> Roasted Garlic Bruschetta, the perfect party appetizer that can be made mostly ahead of time. This elegant dish shines brightly with the simplest of ingredients.

I’ve always been slightly obsessed with bruschetta as an appetizer, the freshly chopped tomato-basil version served at most Italian restaurants. Bruschetta bites are always a good and welcome treat to start off any meal. However, this Roasted Garlic Bruschetta is a game-changer! Slow roasting the tomatoes makes them explode with flavor. Even off-season tomatoes taste amazing when using this method. This bruschetta is one you’ll serve again and again. It’s the perfect start to barbecues or fancy holiday dinners. You won’t be able to get enough.

When I say I’ve always been “bruschetta obsessed” it hasn’t always been with just traditional bruschetta. This breakfast bruschetta is honestly one of my favorites along with this simple and easy dessert bruschetta. When it comes to appetizer bruschetta, this steakhouse version is ridiculously delicious. If you are enamored with the flavors of the pacific northwest, you absolutely need to taste this.

Any way you look at it, you can’t go wrong when it comes to serving bruschetta for any meal or any course.

What Type Of Tomatoes To Use For Bruschetta

I personally love using a mixture of grape and cherry tomatoes for this bruschetta recipe. The smaller tomatoes already have a “more” robust flavor profile. Roasting the tomatoes takes them up a notch further.

With more traditional bruschetta (garden style), larger varieties work just fine.

Is Bruschetta Served Hot or Cold

The short answer is BOTH! I prefer bruschetta served at room temperature, but sometimes the serving temperature can be weather dependent. A hot, summer evening might call for chilled tomato topping, while a chilly, fall evening might be the perfect time to serve up a warmer version.

Your tomatoes for this bruschetta should look like this when they are done roasting. The edges will be slightly wilted, but the insides will not be completely dried out.

I try to have as many of the tomatoes (cut side) facing up when I roast them. Facing up ensures they will remain more intact when they are removed from the pan.

The garlic is roasted with the tomatoes, skins left on. When finished, the roasted garlic will easily slide out from the intact skin.

The roasted garlic adds so much flavor to this dish.

How Do You Keep Bruschetta From Getting Soggy

  • Keep the bread and tomato mixture separate until serving
  • Bake or broil the bread as close to serving time as possible

What Main Courses Go With Bruschetta

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How To Make Roasted Garlic Bruschetta

Roasted Garlic Bruschetta

Roasted Garlic Bruschetta, the perfect party appetizer that can be made mostly ahead of time. This elegant dish shines brightly with the simplest of ingredients.

For the tomatoes:

  • 3 lbs cherry and grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 head of garlic, separate out cloves, but leave the skin on
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • large pinch coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, chopped

For the bread:

  • 2 rustic-style baguettes, sliced into 48 pieces (about 1/2" slices)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large raw garlic cloves, peeled
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (275 F if you use your convection setting).

  2. In a large bowl (ceramic or glass) toss tomatoes and garlic with two tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread tomato mixture out evenly on two large rimmed baking sheets. (Do not use foil or parchment paper.) Bake tomatoes about 80-90 minutes or until the edges have dried up a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.

  3. Remove garlic pieces from the baking tray and squeeze out the roasted garlic into a bowl (ceramic or glass). Smash garlic with the back of a fork, breaking it up into separate pieces. (The goal is to not have the garlic clump together when you toss it with the tomatoes. Use your hands if necessary to break apart.)

  4. Divide the balsamic vinegar evenly among the baking sheets and toss to coat with the tomatoes, scraping up any crusted bits to the pan with a wooden spoon. Add tomatoes and all pan juices to the bowl with the garlic. Add final tablespoon of olive oil and chopped basil. Toss together gently. This can sit covered at room temperature for a few hours.

  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (400 if you use your convection setting). You can also use the broiler if you choose.

  6. Brush two large rimmed baking trays with olive oil. Place slices of baguette onto trays and brush the tops and sides of bread with remaining olive oil. Bake or broil the bread until the edges are brown and bread is a little crunchy; about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the tops of each slice with a raw garlic cloves.

  7. Scoop tomato mixture onto the top of each baguette slice and place on a serving tray. Serve within the hour.

Cathy <![CDATA[10 Kitchen Essentials That Spark Joy]]> 2019-09-12T12:33:20Z 2019-06-14T15:27:02Z Read More about 10 Kitchen Essentials That Spark Joy]]> Ten of the best Kitchen essentials I choose NOT to live without. Each one of these items makes my time in the kitchen quintessentially easier and therefore a little more joyous.

It has taken me a long time to say goodbye to many non-essentials in my kitchen. I’m amazed at the accumulation of gadgets, appliances and other items I simply don’t need, but have held onto for one reason or another. I started asking myself, “Would I buy this again today?”. If the answer was no, I got rid of it. (It’s a great question to ask yourself, when cleaning out your closet too.) It’s so easy to hold onto things we have completed our relationships with, but no longer need. This is the clutter of our lives. Wouldn’t you say it’s so much better to have one amazing kitchen knife instead of ten mediocre ones?

It’s not surprising our kitchens are overrun with things we really don’t need. Everywhere we look, we’re bombarded with information on what our kitchens are currently missing.

  • Cooking shows recommend their products.
  • Infomercials constantly have new appliances to show us.
  • Celebrity chef cookware that’s all the rage and in every magazine.

However, the ten kitchen essentials I have listed here are things I use daily/weekly for years. I would replace all of them if they wore out or became broken. Every single one of these items makes my life in the kitchen a little bit easier and therefore fills me with joy. And we all know when kitchen items bring you joy…you’re definitely getting old. Ha. 

Citrus Juicer

If you have spent any time around this website, you know how obsessed I am with this citrus juicer. So how does one become passionate about a citrus juicer? Honestly, I don’t even know when or how I ever started using this particular juicer for my lemons and limes. I just know I can’t live without it. Here’s the thing about this press, it doubles the amount of juice you can squeeze out of a lemon or lime. That’s impressive! Even citrus that is somewhat dry, this gadget is going to extract all the available juice. (You’ll be amazed at how much juice can be extracted from a lemon or lime that appears dry when you squeeze it with your hands.) With certain recipes, like my Lemon Drop Martini or my 5-Minute Spicy Lemon Broccoli, I indicate to use the juice of one lemon. You would need to use two lemons to get the amount of juice I’m getting from one lemon using this press. There are some cheaper presses out there, but they do not compare to this very well made version.

Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Who wants another small appliance taking up space in their kitchen cabinets? I don’t. However, years ago I started using the single version of this breakfast sandwich maker and have since upgraded to the dual version. Breakfast sandwich making is a pleasure with this small appliance. It’s also easy to clean. You can get as fancy as you like with ingredients for your sandwich, but I especially love this BBQ Bacon-Onion-Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich when I want something more than just eggs and cheese. This takes up very little space in my kitchen cabinet.

Mango Splitter

If you have ever been tasked with slicing a mango, you know how frustrating it can be to cut around the seed. This mango splitter will change your life. I love using fresh mango in a favorite smoothie and a delicious pasta salad, but I have always dreaded slicing the mango, until this tool came into my life. Even if the mango seed is off to the side, the splitter will find the seed edges as you press down and make a perfect slice every time. This splitter is such a time-saver and you just might start buying fresh mangoes again.

Food Scale

I’ve had this food scale for about six years now. If it broke today I would replace it immediately. One of the best features is its eleven pound weight capacity. The high weight limit is so important if you’re trying to weigh ingredients in a heavy bowl or pan. If you love to bake cakes or bread from scratch, you know measuring ingredients (especially flour) by weight is so important. I would never make my favorite pound cake or sheet pan banana cake without weighing my ingredients. One extra ounce of flour in baked goods can make such a difference when it comes to texture of the final product. This scale is flat and compact and easily fits into a drawer. It’s a must have for every kitchen.

Wireless Meat Thermometer

This meat thermometer is a lifesaver. I love being able to place the thermometer into the meat before it has cooked. Poking meat with a thermometer while its cooking and having the juices run out has never made sense to me. The three foot cord is long enough to reach into the oven, with the thermometer case on the outside. The cord is heat resistant up to 600 degrees, which makes it perfect for the barbecue too. This wireless thermometer also comes with a wireless pager to let you know your meat has reached temperature, even if you’re not in the room. You simply cannot make pork tenderloin or turkey without a meat thermometer, unless you prefer them overdone. A good meat thermometer is one of the best investments you’ll make for your kitchen.

Wooden Muddler

A simple item I use for so many things. I originally bought this wooden muddler for making mojitos. However, it turned out to be useful for so many baking projects. I love using this muddler for tamping down crusts in no bake desserts and pressing pie dough into place. It’s one of the best and most used tools I keep in my kitchen drawer.

Rapid Egg Cooker

We eat so many hard boiled eggs at our house. In fact, a day rarely goes by that we don’t make a dozen eggs in our rapid egg cooker. Making hard-boiled eggs is now an effortless task. The eggs are ready in about fifteen minutes from a cold start. When the eggs are finished, I immediately plunge them into an ice bath for about ten minutes. This stops the cooking process and makes peeling them so much easier. It’s now so easy to make one of my favorite appetizers on repeat, with my constant supply of hard boiled eggs.

Egg Slicer

As simple as it is, this egg slicer totally sparks joy for me. One thing I really dislike is slicing up hard boiled eggs only to have the yolk stick to the sides of the knife and mess up the pretty slices. First world problems right? However, if we’re slicing eggs for a salad, we want them to look good. I’m also ten times more likely to use hard boiled eggs in a salad if I have this gadget around to slice them up. It’s a win-win in my book.

Whoopie Pie Pan

I have six of these whoopie pie pans in my kitchen. And guess what, I rarely bake whoopie pies. However, I do use these pans to make perfectly round shaped cookies (my obsession), mini pies and perfect brunch eggs. I always weigh the cookie dough on my baking scale (above) so all cookie balls are the same weight in grams (34 grams). I place one cookie ball in each whoopie pie cavity.  The result is perfectly round cookies that are beautiful for gifting and eating. No more flat and spread out cookies when you use these.

Citrus Juicer

This is honestly one of my most prized kitchen possessions. This heavy duty citrus juicer will press your grapefruits and oranges to almost dry with the turn of a lever. Very easy to clean too. I love setting up a serve yourself cocktail bar with lots of fresh grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes, bottles of vodka and gin and let everyone make their own drink. It’s always a hit! This juicer is also perfect for that one glass of fresh orange juice in the morning.

I want to hear about the items in your kitchen that spark joy! Leave a comment and let me know.

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Cathy <![CDATA[Where to Eat, Play and Sleep in Boston, Massachusetts]]> 2019-09-12T12:38:25Z 2019-06-07T01:48:23Z Read More about Where to Eat, Play and Sleep in Boston, Massachusetts]]> Having visited Boston five times in the past twelve months, I’m finally ready to give some of my recommendations on Where to Eat, Play and Sleep in this amazing, historic and iconic, New England destination.

Honestly, it’s hard to know where to begin. After visiting Boston five times in the past twelve months, with an average trip lasting about ten days, I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are so many choices when it comes to where to eat, play and lay your head down to sleep in Boston! The city of Boston has an amazing food scene, incredible history and every type of hotel you can imagine. There is something for everyone, regardless of budget, interest and diet. Boston is definitely a vacation destination to put on your bucket list (especially if you’re a history buff).

If you know me, living in New England is a dream of mine, however, I’m not sure if that fantasy will ever materialize for this west coast girl. Regardless, I’m currently taking full advantage of the fact that my son is attending college in Boston and am happily eating my way through the city when I visit. There is so much history and things to do in Boston, I can only hope to see most of them in my lifetime.

When it comes to tackling Boston, especially if you are only there a week or a few days, learn to use the subway right away. Do not rent a car, it’s one of the hardest cities to drive (and park) in. Uber and Lyft are also readily available. However, assuming the weather is decent, I prepare to walk the city. It’s the best way to see Boston and get a feel for where you are. I average walking about twelve miles a day in Boston. Not only does this help counteract the ridiculous amount of food I consume, but I get to pop in and out of places I might have never stopped in before. Be ready for freezing temps, humidity, rain, snow and wind…pretty much anything depending on the time of year.

(Spring blooms along the Charles River Esplanade)


(Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden)

Before heading to Boston I highly suggest familiarizing yourself with the neighborhoods – there are twenty-three in all! And each neighborhood is so unique.

Boston Neighborhoods I Love

  • Back Bay – this is where my son lives and it’s honestly one of the most picturesque parts of the city. So many of the homes and building facades found here could be sketched right on to a greeting card (and they probably are), it’s that charming.
  • Beacon Hill – one foot in Beacon Hill and you feel like you’ve been transported back in time, but in a very good way. Cobblestone streets, incredible cheese shops and gorgeous homes make up this area. You feel like you’ve stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting.
  • Chinatown- the Leather District – a fun and bustling hub of Chinese culture and you don’t want to miss Dim Sum (try Hei La Moon and China Pearl) in this area…it’s awesome.
  • Downtown – lots of history in the downtown area, especially The Freedom Trail. Make sure to hit up the Downtown Crossing area for shopping and you’ll find the theater district in this area too, which is so pretty lit up at night.
  • Fenway-Kenmore – this is where we usually stay! I’m a baseball fanatic and the Red Sox have always been a favorite team. There is nothing more unusual and amazing than to have a baseball stadium right smack in the middle of a big city and in this neighborhood. This area buzzes with excitement on game days and it’s a great central location in the city. The streets are lined with restaurants and bars, making it festive year round.
  • North End – This is the hub for Italian-American culture and definitely one of the more visited neighborhoods in Boston. It feels like Europe. The air smells like Italian food and the streets are lined with bakeries where you can pick up your favorite cannoli or any Italian pastry you can imagine. Paul Revere’s House is also located here. It’s always busy and buzzing with people.
  • South Boston – this area has exploded lately with the Seaport District. So much great food, museums and creative energy in this area. You could easily spend the whole day here enjoying time on the water.

What Food Is Boston Known For

  • Lobster Rolls
  • Baked Beans
  • Boston Cream Pie
  • Oysters
  • Fenway Park Frank
  • Clam Chowder
  • Cannolis
  • Frappes

Where To Eat In Boston ~ Pricey/Fancy

  • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse – you’re here so you might as well get the Prime Tomahawk Steak (it’s amazing), the Caesar salad, Lobster Mac n’ Cheese and the warm apple turnover for dessert. You will be stuffed, but it will have been worth it.
  • Abe and Louie’s – a fancy steakhouse (think white dinner jackets worn by the servers), but you must try the Maine Lobster Casserole if you’re not up for meat. All the classic sides are done extremely well and the warm rolls on arrival are perfection. Top notch service too.
  • Grill 23 – so fancy! Get the 100 Day Aged Prime Ribeye (18 oz, charred salty crust, rich flavor…so tender you can cut it with a fork), it was amazing. A side of Grill 23 tots with truffle oil are also a must and their cocktail game is strong!
  • Boston Chops South End – Very hip steakhouse in a former bank, with this gorgeous Amish bar built right in the middle. If you want steak, the prime bone-in-ribeye is the way to go (butter, garlic, and spices (like rosemary) and made in a cast-iron skillet ~ it’s meat decadence), but you also need to try the Double Cut Pork Chop with Carolina Dry Rub…wowzer. Make sure your table gets an order of the mile-high onion rings and the Poutine Style Twice Baked “Loaded” Potato. It’s all a requirement.
  • High Tea at the Boston Public Library – the perfect way to spend an afternoon. The Boston Public Library is gorgeous and tea room is a great place to enjoy it. Fancy tea service and lots of loose leaf teas to choose from ~ our favorite tea is the The Cozy Copley.
  • Craigie On Main – This place. It’s crazy good. If you can, order one of the impossible to get burgers. And what I mean by “impossible” is that they only make eighteen of them per night. And are only available in the bar. (get there at 5 PM if you want one.) The burger is its own half-pound masterpiece of flavor made with choice cuts of brisket and short rib. Bone marrow and suet are involved. It’s unforgettable.

Where To Eat In Boston ~ More Casual But Delicious Meals

  • Citrus and Salt – I never anticipated finding my ABSOLUTE favorite Mexican food in Boston. It’s more like creative-coastal Mexican, with a Miami vibe. I love going for dinner, but I think I love going for brunch even more. In the evening the vibe is more clubby (loud music) etc., but during brunch it’s just lovely and hip and it looks like you’ve stepped into an Instagram filter. Here are some things you cannot miss when visiting…the Grilled Street Corn with Hot Cheeto Crumbs (omg), Guacamole – it’s unreal, the Warm Agave Glazed Blue Cornmeal Biscuits are off the charts, the Chilaquiles Rojo are perfection, the Chicken Waffle Tacos are to die for, the Raspberry Fre is a must, a pitcher of the white sangria is worthy of an award. End the meal with a Dole Whip (with an aged rum shot obviously) and Churro Bites. You will NEVER regret stuffing yourself here. Order an extra helping of the Hot Cheeto Corn to go because you will want seconds for a midnight snack at your hotel.
  • Island Creek Oyster Bar – We’ve had so many amazing meals here. Start with a crispy oyster slider and a tray full of raw oysters (they will guide you on what to get). Rosemary’s Lobster Roll is not to be missed and neither is the Banoffee Pie.
  • Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage – I have to say this is THE BEST BURGER I’ve ever had. Ever. This place is right across the street from Harvard. There might be a line and you’ll have to wait. It’s so worth it! They have a million hilariously named burgers, my fave is “The Viagra”, but the burger is the best because the meat is fantastic. You could eat it plain and it would be the BEST burger. Their secret recipe is just WOW. The restaurant is a fun, quirky, looks like the inside of a dorm room type of place. You must go.
  • Tresca – located in The North End (Little Italy) this Italian place hits all the marks. I dare you to order the Veal Chop Parmesan that’s as big as your head. It’s prepared perfectly.
  • Sumiao Hunan Kitchen – think upscale Chinese with a super quirky and modern vibe. This super hip bar and restaurant is one of the only places you can find Hunan Cuisine in Boston. They have a fun cocktail menu and we LOVED the Yellow River Beef with a side of Chinese Broccoli. This place can’t be missed.
  • Eventide Oyster Bar Fenway – start with oysters, but finish it off with their Brown Butter Lobster Roll…it’s unmatched and crazy insane good.
  • Limoncello – you feel like you’ve walked into an Italian family’s home for dinner. It’s lively, they talk to you loudly and it’s full of people all of the time. When you call to make a reservation, they will stop the conversation to yell at someone in Italian. It all felt normal. The bread, olive oil and olives on the table are welcoming. The Lobster Risotto is mind-blowing as well as the meatballs. And not to be understated is the Rosette Al Montasio Ed Olio Di Tartufo ~ you must order it. This place is most definitely a Boston treasure.
  • Eataly – It’s epic. While there are many restaurants in Eataly to enjoy, we happen to love La Pizza & La Pasta. Their truffle fondue pizza is beyond delicious and I have not found a homemade pasta dish of theirs I did not like. This restaurant has some great Italian beers too. Skip dessert and head over to the walk-up gelato bar (in Eataly) for a double scoop.
  • Boston Burger Company – Oh my gosh this place. The burgers and all their toppings are pretty wild, in a good way. Two of my favorite burgers are the VERMONSTER and THE KING. Taste them for yourself. However, make sure you save room for dessert and order one of their insane Freak Frappes…they will blow your mind…and your diet.
  • Lucca – Another gem in the North End. Make sure to start your meal with the rosemary bread and meatballs to share. You won’t be sorry.
  • Flatbread Co – This is a bit out of Boston proper, but easy enough to take an Uber. I am obsessed with Flatbread Co (a chain found mostly in New England). However, this particular Flatbread happens to have a candlepin bowling alley (much smaller bowling balls and thinner pins ~it’s both easier and harder than 10-pin) right inside the restaurant. How cool is that? Perfect place to take kids and play some games. Make a lane reservation!
  • Bleacher Bar – Calling all baseball fanatics, this is such a cool and unique place.  This restaurant/bar is literally located beneath the Fenway Park’s bleachers and has a view of centerfield. Order the pork belly Cuban sandwich and a bowl of chicken noodle soup…both are so good.
  • Mamaleh’s Delicatessen – (open breakfast to late lunch) you will sit and agonize over the menu (it all sounds so good), so if I had to steer you towards something…splurge for the $42 smorgasbord of schmaltz on rye, chopped liver, potato kinish, meat knish, deli pickles and kreplach. It’s like a Jewish pupu platter. You will not regret your decision. Their dill cream cheese is also a game changer. Oy.

Where to Eat In Boston ~ Extremely Casual/Grab and Go

  • Sal’s Pizza – You walk in and choose a slice and they pop it in the oven. Seriously the best crust ever! They also have an epic 19-inch, three-pound pizza if you’re really hungry.
  • Tasty Burger – This is a solid burger joint in Boston (several locations). Always good and love their French fries. Perfect for grab and go.
  • U Burger– Gourmet burgers at a quick and casual place (several locations in Boston). My fave is the Boom Burger and the handcut onion rings. You’ll be sad if you don’t get a frappe too.
  • Noodle Street – Delicious. Generous portions. Inexpensive. Super casual.
  • Bricco Salumeria – Literally tucked into an ally on Hanover Street in the North End, you’ll miss it if you’re not looking closely. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Italy upon entering. The best deli sandwiches on their homemade bread. My fave is the Panino Lady, but their meatball sandwich is pretty epic.
  • Galleria Umberto – head to the North End for the MOST delicious slice of cheese pizza! And it’s only a $1.55 per slice…cash only. Here’s the thing, it’s Sicilian-style pizza (they do have other Italian eats) that is super cheesy, thick crust with just the right amount of chew. (If you are tired of thin crust pizza, this is your place.) Go early because they close when all the pizza pies are sold.
  • Wahlburger – casual place and delicious gourmet burgers. Lots of locations, but we head to the one located in the Back Bay. The place is PACKED when there is a game at Fenway Park. And yes, Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlburg is a partner with his chef brother, Paul Wahlburg in this restaurant chain. It’s really hard to not sing the “Good Vibrations” tune when we’re eating there. The food is great for a quick bite. And they serve alcohol.

Where to Eat In Boston ~ Doughnuts/Bakeries

  • Blackbird Doughnuts – Thank goodness my absolute favorite artisinal doughnut shop is located 3000 miles away from my home. First thing I do when I wake up in Boston is head over to their shop. Honestly, Blackbird makes the best yeast doughnuts, with the perfect chew. Their menu is seasonal with all types of fun flavors like tropical banana, strawberry honey or orange cranberry, just to name a few. A must try is their everything bagel doughnut…my favorite. Amazing cold brew coffee too. And the doughnuts are packed in pizza boxes, which somehow makes them even more irresistible. And don’t forget to order their doughnut cake for your next birthday celebration.
  • Tatte Bakery – this bakery is culinary artistry at its finest. Not only does Tatte have the most welcoming and inviting atmosphere (many locations too), the pastry and breads are so beautiful. I never leave without a boxful of deliciousness. It’s impossible to choose just one or two items. And don’t forget your cardamom and honey latte.
  • Flour Bakery & Cafe – warm baguettes from the steaming oven, buttery, raisin-filled brioche with sweet icing, silky-smooth chocolate cream pie, lemon curd cakes filled with raspberry preserves and the MOST amazing sticky buns you will ever find. The sticky buns are made with traditional yeasted French brioche dough and finished with cinnamon sugar/toasted pecans in a pan filled with brown sugar glaze. They are crazy good. And sell out so get there early. Make sure you have them warm it up for you.
  • Mike’s Pastry – Famous, famous Italian bakery in the North End. There is always a line out the door, but it moves fast. Skip buying your cannoli here (you are going to get them across the street at Modern Bakery) and grab a dozen black and white cookies for your hotel room or the plane ride home. HOWEVER, if there are a few of you, make sure to grab la sfogliatella, otherwise known as “the lobster tail”. This gorgeous piece of pastry art is a giant flaky shell (on the outside) with a voluminous amount of white fresh cream filling on the inside. It’s light and rich at the same time. It’s not to be missed. Cash only.
  • Modern Bakery – This is where you’re going to get your cannoli…their ricotta filling is just better. And it’s right across the street from Mike’s. In fact, go to both places and have your own blind-tasting of cannoli just for fun. Cash only.
  • Sofra Bakery – If you can only get one thing, make it the Egg Samdwich! It’s heavy on the exotic ~ spiced feta butter, halloumi cheese, and bacon on house-made brioche. It will be a good morning after indulging in this.

Not only does Boston have some amazing restaurants with exceptional eats, there are a plethora of sporting events (with all of their championship teams) and points of interest around every turn. Your biggest decisions when visiting Boston will be deciding what to experience first. The possibilities are endless. 

Where to Play (Have Fun) In Boston

  • The Freedom Trail – the Freedom Trail is actually paved into the sidewalks. It’s a line carved into the sidewalks that connects sixteen locations that are significant in American history. You can walk it yourself or you can hire a guide dressed in historical clothing who will take you around and explain it all to you. Either way it’s pretty fascinating, but the guides are super fun and stay in character.
  • Boston Public Library – I mentioned having high tea here, but you’ll also want to take an architectural tour. The library is a stunning mishmosh of 19th century to modern era architecture, with a robust art collection. Make sure to peek into gorgeous Bates Hall while you’re here.
  • Cambridge Center Roof Garden – most people don’t even know this exists. This clandestine garden sits on top of a multi-story parking garage in Cambridge’s Kendall Square (go to the parking garage at 4 Cambridge Center and follow the signs to the green oasis that has a beautiful view of the city.) Bring your lunch on a sunny day. There’s even a ping-pong table.
  • Mapparium – at the Mary Baker Eddy Library – this is a three-story stained glass globe and you get to stand inside it. Your geography skills will be tested as you try to identify countries, some that no longer exist. It’s honestly very cool.
  • Harvard Natural History Museum – this was one of our favorite museums. The glass flower collections were just wow. Great mammal hall…again wow. The birds, bees, arthropods…all just wow. So worth a visit. Great for the whole family. You will be impressed.
  • Boston Public Garden – I’ve visited the garden in the fall, summer and spring…all were beautiful, but spring was especially extraordinary. The tulips and all the flowers blooming. The garden is peaceful, whimsical and full of history and located right in the middle of the city. Make sure to find the famous duckling statues.
  • Swan Boat Ride – also found in the public garden and available for rides at certain times of the year. These swan boats date back to the 1870’s and are pretty magical.
  • Warren Anatomical Museum – there will be those of you who just want to visit the Museum of Fine Arts and that’s fine, but if you want to see something weirdly different, this is your place. Most come to this museum to see the skull of Phineas Gage, a mysterious medical miracle who survived being impaled in the head by an iron rod, and whose personality completely changed after it happened. If that’s not macabre enough, make sure to see their collection of impressive kidney stones.
  • Boston Tea Party Reenactment – this is what started the American Revolution and they love to reenact the tea party in the Boston Harbor. You even get to dump the tea into the sea. A must.
  • Most Photographed Street In the USA – Acorn Street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. Make sure to take a peek and bring your camera. It’s a beauty.
  • Observation Deck at Independence Wharf – kind of a semi-hidden gem that not many know about (470 Atlantic Ave in Boston). Great views of the harbor and surrounding high rises. Bring binoculars and a photo ID (you need an ID to get up there). You’ll have views of Harbor Island and can watch the planes coming in and out of Logan Airport. There are a few benches too.
  • Fall Foilage – one of the most beautiful cities in the fall, especially when framed with fiery orange leaves.
  • Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University – basically a tree sanctuary (not on the main Harvard campus, but close) with beautiful nature walks and perfect for a picnic. However, if you are in town for Mother’s Day they celebrate “Lilac Sunday” with the most impressive collections of lilacs in all of North America. It’s a must see.
  • Fenway Park – if you’re in town during baseball season, grab tickets and see a game at the oldest baseball park in America. Fenway Park is small so almost all seats are good. If you can’t make a game, make sure to take the tour of the park, it’s a great one.
  • Celtics Game– if the Celtics are playing, head to TD Garden and watch. It’s so easy to get there and back on the subway from where ever you’re staying. Boston is pretty much the center of the sports universe,  so when in Rome. And Boston fans can be very entertaining.
  • Newberry Street – a completely enchanting eight block street in the Back Bay. Lots of boutique shops, dining, art galleries. The perfect place to stroll on a warm evening.
  • Shop on Charles Street – if you are looking for a less crowded, but iconic Boston shopping experience, this is your street. Antique shops, gourmet grocers and little indie shops are what you will find here, with less tourists. However, you are going to feel every bit of real estate envy in this area. A turn down any side street and you are transported into a world of street lamps, carriage houses and cobblestone roads. It’s magical.
  • Walk the Commonwealth Avenue Mall – Commonwealth Avenue is a major street in the Back Bay of Boston, but at one point becomes a tree-lined parkway as you head towards the Public Garden. The homes are gorgeous along either side and it’s one of the most beautiful and peaceful walks in the city.
  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library – right on the water. We really enjoyed this. So much history and I loved seeing so many of Jackie’s outfits on display.
  • The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – a beautiful art museum (love the garden). Fun fact…the entrance fees to the museum are discounted if you wear Red Sox memorabilia and free if your name is Isabella.
  • Architecture Boat Tour – perfect for the architecture buff. Panoramic views of both historic and contemporary architecture from the Charles River Basin, the Charles River Locks, and Boston Harbor. If the weather is nice, you’ll want to do this.
  • Charles River Esplanade Walk – one of Boston’s most beloved parks, located right on the Charles River. This is where I take my morning walks when I’m in the city. Located in the Back Bay.
  • The Sport’s Museum – located right inside TD Garden on level five and six (where the Celtics and Bruins play). All kinds of historical Boston sports memorabilia. The museum tour will take you to TD Garden arena’s top floor, where you get to pay homage to all the arena’s championship banners. There are lots. During the off-season, you get to check out the visiting team’s locker room.
  • The New England Holocaust Memorial – This is not a museum or a “fun” activity, but a memorial. I highly recommend reading about the memorial first and all the symbolism found in the artistry. It’s very well thought out. Located downtown on High Street, try visiting in the evening as it’s quite impressive with all the lights, but very, very sobering.

The choices are endless for a large city like Boston when it comes to where to stay and the type of accommodations you prefer. Boston hotels are not inexpensive by any means (unless it’s winter). I know lots of people, with bigger families, choose to go the Airbnb route and have had decent luck in Boston. With all the places we’ve stayed, the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is our favorite. It’s centrally located and in one of the most beautiful parts of the city. We can walk almost anywhere from the Back Bay and have always felt safe.

Staying out of city limits (15-20 minutes away) to get a good deal on accommodations is a possibility. However, if you are in Boston to experience the city, don’t do this! You want to be able to walk outside your hotel and smell the food, see the sites and get to know the streets. There is nothing like this city so you might as well enjoy it.

Where to Sleep (at a Hotel) in Boston

  • Marriott Residence Inn Back Bay/Fenway – we love, love staying here because the location is perfect. We are steps away from Fenway Park, Kenmore Square, Newberry Street, the Charles River…it’s all so close. If you have a student at Northeastern, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, MIT, Berklee etc you are close. There are so many restaurants and bars right out the hotel door. The rooms are bigger than regular Boston hotels and you have a full kitchen. (And they are NICE rooms.) Breakfast is provided, which I never eat, because there is just too much great food in Boston. They have a lovely rooftop patio with bar service in the evening. Perfect for a family, but it’s not cheap.
  • Intercontinental Boston – if you want to be fancy, this is it. It’s a luxury waterfront hotel with incredible views. It’s close to the North End, the aquarium, Faneuil Hall marketplace and the city’s business district. The rooms are lovely and have huge bathrooms. I highly recommend splurging on the club level rooms, mostly because their club level VIP InterContinental Lounge is like whoa. The food they have going at breakfast and in the afternoon is pretty sweet. However, don’t overeat because you will miss all the amazing Boston food.
  • Hotel Eliot – This hotel is a small, boutique luxury property in the Back Bay. It’s lovely! It has an amazing sashimi bar too. Think timeless elegance with modern comforts. Great location. You will love this place.
  • Hotel Commonwealth – also in the Back Bay, a very nice luxury hotel with incredible subway access (right across from Kenmore Station). This place is gorgeous and feels very urban and hip throughout.
  • Encore Boston Harbor – this hotel opens this month. Every day I get an email from Wynn Hotels trying to lure me to stay at their newest luxury palace casino. If it’s anything like the Wynn and Encore properties in Las Vegas, you will be just fine here.

My hope is to continually update this guide as I visit more and more of Boston. There is just so much to see and eat!!

Please feel free to add your Boston suggestions in the comments, I would love to know all your favorites!

Also let me know if you want to know where any of the above pictures were taken.

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Cathy <![CDATA[Last Minute Chili Dip]]> 2019-09-12T13:25:34Z 2019-05-27T09:30:27Z Read More about Last Minute Chili Dip]]> Last Minute Chili Dip is the perfect dish to make for a last-minute party invitation, drop-in company, impromptu pool parties and swarms of teenagers who might have descended on your home. 

If you’re a mom of teenagers you learn to be prepared for almost anything. Last Minute Chili Dip has saved me on several occasions when a gaggle of starving teens show up “to hang out”. However, this Last Minute Chili Dip works for more than just satisfying teenage hunger problems. It’s the perfect quick bite to share when the neighborhood decides to get together for a pool party, a block party or drinks on the patio.

This Last Minute Chili Dip is the perfect sidekick to my Skinny Taco Dip and pairs nicely with The Best Mojito and these Frozen Peach Margaritas. (The kids will be happy with soda!)  You can’t miss pleasing the adults with any of those drink and dip combinations.

A few pantry and refrigerator staples is all it takes to be ready to make this dip. It’s always great knowing you have something to serve when company shows up unannounced or you have something to bring to a last minute gathering.

Last minute Chili Dip is also the perfect solution for an emergency last minute dip on game day. The dip comes comes together so quickly you can even whip it up at halftime in no time at all. I can’t think of anything more perfect.

Tips For Making Last Minute Chili Dip

  • Keep pantry and refrigerator stocked with staples to make this dip
  • Swap out green chiles with jalapenos if you prefer a spicier dip
  • Use all “no bean” chili if beans are not your thing
  • Add a can of corn if you have it on hand for texture
  • Warm up serving dish before adding your finished dip
  • Serve with tortilla chips and Fritos “Scoops” for variety
  • Garnish with chives, green onion and tomato if you have them on hand, but it’s not necessary

There are so many options and ideas when it comes to quick and easy, last minute appetizers. I love making these Mini Brie Bites in a pinch or these Bacon and Cream Cheese Crescents any chance I get. The possibilities are endless, but most importantly, keep things on hand you know you can put together quickly.

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How To Make Last Minute Chili Dip

Last Minute Chili Dip

Last Minute Chili Dip is the perfect dish to make for a last-minute party invitation, drop-in company, impromptu pool parties and swarms of teenagers who might have descended on your home. 

  • 1 15 oz can chili with beans
  • 1 15 oz can chili with no beans
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chiles or jalapenos, drained
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • optional garnishes include tomatoes, chives or green onion
  • tortilla chips and/or Fritos Scoops chips
  1. Heat chili, green chiles and cream cheese together in a nonstick saucepan.

  2. Stir well until mixed thoroughly and transfer to a warm serving dish. Top with shredded cheese and any garnishes you choose.

  3. Serve immediately with tortilla chips and Fritos.

Cathy <![CDATA[Orange and Avocado Salad]]> 2019-09-12T12:47:17Z 2019-05-22T21:56:30Z Read More about Orange and Avocado Salad]]> This refreshing Orange and Avocado Salad makes a colorful and flavorful lunch or dinner meal salad. I especially love this salad served as a side dish with a Mexican-inspired meal.

If I had to pick only one canned fruit to eat for the rest of my life, it would be mandarin oranges. I’ve always been obsessed with the flavor of those little canned gems. Mandarin oranges always add the perfect amount of sweetness to so many savory dishes and they are especially good in this Orange and Avocado Salad.

Some of my favorite recipes with mandarin oranges include this Mandarin Orange Sheet Cake, my Simple Zesty Pork Tenderloin and this Tangy Sweet Shredded Carrot Salad.  All of these recipes, including this Orange and Avocado Salad is elevated by this delicious orange fruit. If you want to serve this salad as a meal, you can always add some grilled chicken. However, I love serving serving it a side salad with my Slow Cooker Chile Colorado. It’s the perfect match of flavors.

Now that it’s almost summer this refreshing salad is going to be a welcomed addition to the menu, but hooray that all ingredients are available during the winter months too.

What makes the dressing so easy to put together for this Orange and Avocado Salad is you pour the ingredients into a mason jar, shake vigorously and it’s ready. No whisking necessary. To get the most juice out of your citrus, make sure you are using my favorite handheld squeezer. It is by far my absolute favorite kitchen drawer item I own.

Tips For Making Avocado and Orange Salad

  • Use premium canned mandarin oranges if you can find them.
  • Make sure your avocado is ripe, but not mushy.
  • Let the dressing and the avocado mixture chill together for at least 30 minutes. This really brings the flavors together.
  • Use a mix of crunchy and less crunchy salad greens for the best texture.

Do Canned Mandarin Oranges Have Vitamin C

The short answer is yes! Canning methods have come a long way and producers of canned fruit usually fortify them with vitamin C. Canned mandarin oranges in light syrup have only a smaller amount of vitamin C than fresh oranges. Good new right?

Someone asked me lately if you can eat too many mandarin oranges? I mean, sure you can. Keeping things in moderation is the best approach in life! Unless we’re talking about coffee, then there is no such thing as too much.

Come back and let me know how you liked this recipe, it’s honestly one of my favorites.

If you’re still looking for something delicious with mandarin oranges, this Mandarin Orange Pretzel Dessert has my whole heart and so does this delicious Ambrosia Salad.

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How To Make Orange and Avocado Salad

Orange and Avocado Salad

This refreshing Orange and Avocado Salad makes a colorful and flavorful lunch or dinner meal salad. I especially love this salad served as a side dish with a Mexican-inspired meal.

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsps avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 11 oz can mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced (whole avocado should weigh about 6.5 oz before peeling & dicing)
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 oz) thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 cups lettuce greens (mix of romaine and spring mix)
  1. Add orange juice, lemon juice, oil, sugar and salt to a mason jar, shaking vigorously until combined.

  2. In a large bowl, add mandarin oranges, avocado and red onion. Stir in the orange juice mixture gently (you don't want to mush up the avocados). Cover and let chill 30 minutes while the flavors blend.

  3. Add lettuce to the chilled orange mixture and toss slightly.

This salad serves two people.