Miss ya, March


If the infrequency with which I’ve posted this month isn’t a clue, I’ll tell you now: March was awesome!  Usually, this is a tough, long, cold month.  Instead, it was awesome.

[1] We made cinnamon bun waffles. [2] But mostly Matt just cooked for me. [3] I dyed my hair PURPLE. [4] My best friend became a certified Body Pump instructor. [5] We went to Myers & Chang on a special date night. [6] We went to CHICAGO. [7] Where we ate the best meal ever at Girl & the Goat. [8] And the best breakfasts ever at The Bongo Room. [9] And saw some beautiful places, like Garfield Park Conservatory!

Many more Chicago pictures to come, and hopefully just as much awesome in April!  Follow me on instagram to see what I’m up to this month!

MasterChef: TV Dinner

You know what I love about MasterChef?  No theme song to sit through until we get to the show!  You know what else I love?  Mystery Box challenges!

For some reason I feel like this is our first true Mystery Box– the first set was different for each home cook and the second was like, Christina’s choice?  I don’t know how those themes invalidate them, but in my mind they do.  This week’s Mystery Box had a fun theme: breakfast!

This box includes sausage, bacon, smoked salmon, eggs, tomato, asparagus, banana, berries, and English muffins.

This box includes sausage, bacon, smoked salmon, eggs, tomato, asparagus, banana, berries, and English muffins.

Before the home cooks get to work, Gordon Ramsay announces that they’ll be cooking with a chef they could learn a thing or two from: Graham Elliot!  While the home cooks have one dish to make in 30 minutes, Graham ups the ante and decides to whip up three– one for him, one for Christina, and one for Gordon.

Graham's dishes on the left; top home cooks' dishes on the right.

Graham’s dishes on the left; top home cooks’ dishes on the right.

The top three plates that the judges taste are Nick’s breakfast three ways, Katrina’s blood sausage frittata, and Derrick’s expertly plated breakfast trio.  The winner of the advantage in the elimination challenge is… Derrick!  Aside from not having to cook, he heads into the pantry to determine the fate of all other home cooks.

In the pantry, Christina, Graham, and Gordon show him some creatively packaged TV dinners to chose from.  The home cooks must elevate this dish.  From Christina’s salisbury steak with broccoli and mac & cheese, Graham’s meatloaf with mixed veggies and potatoes, and Gordon’s turkey with gravy, green beans, and mashed potatoes, Derrick picks…


Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, broccoli, and macaroni & cheese!  Olivia is embarrassed to admit that she doesn’t know what salisbury steak is.  She’s not alone– Hetal, the vegetarian, doesn’t know what she’s making either.  Somebody must tell them, though, because everyone secures their ground meat for the task at hand.

There’s another twist before they start cooking, though; Derrick gets another reward in that he can target a home cook of choice that has to stand idle for 15 minutes while the rest start.  Derrick selects Christopher, who only gets 45 minutes to cook while his competitors get the full hour.  Here are the results:

L to R, top to bottom: Nick, Christopher, Veronica, Hetal, Jesse, Shelly, Olivia.

L to R, top to bottom: Nick, Christopher, Veronica, Hetal, Jesse, Shelly, Olivia.

  • Christopher may not have had time to remove his ring mold from his mac & cheese, but his dish is both delicious and beautiful enough for Gordon to suggest they take 15 minutes away from him on every challenge!  He compares himself to both Jesus and Godzilla, and he’s become my fan favorite.
  • Hetal comes up to present in tears.  “Don’t eat it; it’s so bad.”  Hetal not only couldn’t taste her own beef, but she also had a mushroom allergy preventing her from tasting her own gravy.  That distracted her and ruined her whole plate.
  • Olivia’s plate goes over very well– a punch in every component!
  • Shelly’s seasoning is “Jamaican” Graham go crazy.
  • Veronica completely missed the objective.  She plated hers like TV dinner, despite being told by the judges not to.
  • Nick’s Italian twist on the dish goes over very well.  I laugh when he says his grandmother’s secret is to add parmesan… nah dude, that’s just how you make meatballs if you’re Italian.
  • Jesse’s looks bizarre.  The venison is extremely dry and bright white in color.

The top two are announced: Nick & Olivia!

The bottom three are Hetal, Veronica, and Jesse.  Sadly, both Veronica and Jesse are sent packing.  I’m glad to have Hetal still here; I like her!  Let’s see how Nick and Olivia do as team captains next week!

Belated Birthday in Beacon Hill

At this point, my birthday was over a week ago… 10 days to be exact!  On the day itself, I celebrated by going to dinner with my family.  This weekend, my friend’s threw me a little birthday brunch to ring in my next year.  It snowed heavily in Boston on Saturday morning, and by the time we left the streets were slick with slush.  Still, I shuffled through Beacon Hill with a belly full of brunch, bag full of gifts, and heart full of thanks. Here’s my belated birthday recap! IMG_6919 [1] My brother got me a record player for my birthday! [2] He got my Taylor Swift’s 1989 as my first record. This is also the year I was born!  [3] My friend Julia got me this adorable iphone case featuring a dachshund drinking Starbucks and a nautical monogram wine tumbler! [4] My dear friend Stacie sent me these adorable dachshund magnets!  Are you sensing a theme? [5] My first selfie of age 26.  Eep. [6] Beacon Hill Bistro where I dined with my sweet friends Carissa, Kelsey, Chelsea, Sarah, and Elaina. [7] Poached eggs with hollandaise is my absolute favorite! [8] Carissa made me a cross-stitch Piplup! [9] Kelsey bought me these awesome Edward Gorey Tarot cards while we browsed the paper shops on Charles St.  My friends just get me. A sincere thank you to everyone who made me feel so special as I entered the latter half of my twenties.  It was a wonderful birthday and I sure hope that sets the precedent for the year!  And happy birthday to my fellow Capricorns!

Hell’s Kitchen Recap: 16 Chefs Compete

“As chefs, we’re constantly required to use our minds 24/7,”

Uhh, Chef Ramsay, I’m pretty sure you mean as human beings… Regardless of this sentence bothering me grammatically and logistically, this is how Gordon introduces the memory/creativity challenge.  Our chefs are greeted by 58 silver domes, where 24 pairs of ingidients wait to be discovered in a giant game of memory.  The chefs work in pairs to match ingredients for four proteins: chiekn, ahi tuna, swordfish, and pork chop.  A match means they must use the ingredient, so it could be a double-edged sword.  Both teams run into this– the women end up with both brown rice and bastami rice, and the men end up with three kinds of potatoes!  Once the ingredients are assigned to proteins, the same pairs cook together.  Red and Blue go head to head on…

  • chicken, and both teams win the point
  • pork chop, and the men take the point
  • tuna, and the ladies take the point
  • swordfish where the women use both rices, but the men make a bigger mistake and lose!

The men have put hollandaise on the swordfish which Ramsay treats as a sin.  Although I can totally understand how this does not work, I am over-the-moon about hollandaise and would probably happily eat it on anything.

As punishment, the men have to harvest honey and pull honey taffy.

As a reward, the women enjoy a day at Laguna Beach!

The next day, Chef Ramsay wakes the teams up to a surprise wedding taking place in Hell’s Kitchen.  The elimination challenge has the chefs cooking wedding brunch including Belgian waffles, lobster scrambled eggs, and what the announcer calls a croque monsieur, but is actually a croque madame– the egg makes it a madame!

IMG_0447Remember Julia, the Waffle House contestant from seasons past?  This challenge reminded me of that breakfast service that let her shine.  Ramsay sent her to culinary school which, after winning, is the best of results from a show like this.

This service did not go as well as Julia’s season’s breakfast service.  Though the fruit salad appetizer goes out easily, exploding and undercooked eggs hinder progress.  Eventually, the teams find a rhythm and it’s a race to finish their respective sides of the dining room.  Both get down to the very last ticket, but the ladies clench the victory!  This means the men must my nominations for elimination.  Ralph, red-faced and Boston-accented to a fault, makes an argument for Demarco and Gabriel.

At elimination, Chef Ramsay adds Richard to the mix, calling him out on his performance.  Even though Richard and Gabriel lost the challenge for the Blue Team, as iterated by Chef Ramsay, there’s no doubt that Demarco is the obvious choice to go.  He’s been nominated for elimination every single week, and Ramsay stayed true to his word: this was Demarco’s last chance.