Cooking with CourseHorse

I received a complimentary ticket to this cooking class from CourseHorse in exchange for a blog post about my experience. However all opinions are my own, and my already-established enthusiasm for Tavern Road’s classes can be read here.

I remember a couple of years ago when, because I was still having a hard time working out less than seven times a week, my therapist suggested I look into taking some fun classes that weren’t fitness-related. I wish something like CourseHorse had existed in Boston back then, because it would have made me much more likely to take her advice (instead I just bought a new coloring book).

Photo by Paul Garmon

CourseHorse is a discovery and booking tool for local classes. Their community outreach manager recently contacted me about sharing an experience at one of the classes listed in their directory. Naturally I picked a cooking class at Tavern Road because I already knew I’d love it, but there were tons of other cooking classes in Boston listed. Cooking isn’t the only activity you can find. Though still in beta here in Boston, CourseHorse already has classes listed in arts, tech, fitness, language, and more. You can search by neighborhood, price point, time of day, and even skill level. Once they officially launch, the amount of classes listed will be even more extensive.

Photo by Paul Garmon

The theme of this particular cooking class was Taco Tuesday. We worked with Chef Louis DiBiccari to create the best taco bar I have ever experienced.

Photos by Paul Garmon

To kick off the class, we were treated to a cocktail demo by none other than Instagram superstar Tenzin. He showed us how to make a mezcal cocktail – the perfect taco pairing.

Photos by Paul Garmon

From there we set to work making taco shells, fresh salsa, guacamole, and the most delicious creamy corn.

“Be sure to get the perfect picture of me flattening this dough.”

Photos by Paul Garmon

As usual Louis worked in as many local ingredients as possible into our cooking, including artisanal hot sauce from Alex’s Ugly Sauce of Boston.

Photos by Paul Garmon

We ended up with shrimp, Brussels sprouts (!!!), hamburger, and pork tacos. I had an incredible time at this class and if you couldn’t tell from the picture below, everything was delicious.

A huge thanks to CourseHorse for making it possible for me to attend this class, and to Paul Garmon as well, a fellow class attendee, who took some incredible photos. If you’re interested in using CourseHorse to search for classes in Boston, be sure to sign up for their email list for updates on when they launch with more classes!

Have you ever taken classes for fun? On what?

What’s your favorite taco?

Weekly Wins

I started writing this post with the intention of finishing it next week, and calling it a February recap. Then I decided I wanted to come up with a more fun title, like February Wins. And then I realized that “week” and “win” both start with a “w”, so here we are, with a post called “Weekly Wins” (because alliteration) that’s getting published sooner than I anticipated. You probably didn’t need to know any of that!

Anyway…here are some “wins” I experienced in the last week. It’s been a bit frustrating because I haven’t had as much time to work out as I’d like to, but fun all the same.

Recipe Win

Oh man, we have a new favorite recipe in the house. I’ve made tons of different Mexican casseroles and “lasagnas”, but the Mexican Style Lasagna by Picky Palate is a clear winner. I think it’s the addition of Mexican-style rice (I used a box from Goya) that does it. It tastes fantastic both fresh and leftover and is an excellent pick for a meal to make at the beginning of the week and portion out for lunches.

Workout Win

I’m not a huge workout buddy person after work, but when it comes to weekends or early morning workouts, I’m all about it. ClassPass’ cancellation fee usually keeps me pretty accountable, but sometimes it feels worth paying $15 to stay in bed. That’s why I was psyched when my friend Matt agreed to join me for a Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, and Miley Cyrus ride at Turnstyle Back Bay this past Saturday morning. I knew that no matter how much I didn’t want to work out, the promise of a friend waiting for me would get me to class. Plus, how could I miss out on that theme!?

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Valentine’s Getaway in Newport

Though my stay and some food and drink were complimentary, all opinions are my own.

Jeff and I took a couple of off-season trips to Newport, RI last winter, and we were fortunate enough to be able to do so again this year on a little Valentine’s Day weekend trip thanks to the Newport Marriott. We stayed there in November 2015 and had a lovely time, so we went into this trip with high expectations that – I’m happy to report- were met thanks to a gorgeous room, above-and-beyond hospitality, and tasty food and drink.

The harbor view rooms do not disappoint.

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January Recap

I can’t believe it’s already February! I (mostly) have let blogging get away from me so far in 2017, so I decided to write a post recapping what I’ve been up to so far this year (aka in January). It’s honestly not anything different than what you might expect, but what can I say, I’m fairly predictable. Let’s go.

Cooking

I’ve continued to experiment in the kitchen with fun recipes that both Jeff and I can enjoy. I used this recipe to make some super easy meatball sliders, and made my best round of calzones yet – one buffalo chicken and one Hawaiian. I also made some of the “usual suspects”, like taco salad and tater tot trash dip (on Jeff’s birthday).

Capo’s New Lounge

I already was a fan of Capo in Southie, but last Thursday I had the chance to attend a media event for their new lounge, and I have to say it may be the coolest space I’ve ever seen in Boston!

Picture your grandpa or uncle’s old wood-paneled basement, and you’ll be able to picture Capo’s lounge. The walls are decorated with kitschy decor like taxidermy animals and light-up booze signs. Corners with couches and coffee tables make visitors feel like they are actually hanging out in someone’s home.

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

And best of all, Capo does not ruin the vibe of this lounge with a DJ. Instead they bring in live music like brass bands, which fits the atmosphere perfectly.

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Did I mention the cocktails are fantastic, and that eating in the restaurant upstairs gets you easier access to the lounge downstairs? I know what my game plan is for the upcoming weekends!

#VibeWithATribe

I have been visiting Recycle Studio through ClassPass for awhile now, but was still excited to attend RPR‘s #VibeWithATribe blogger event at the studio this past Saturday. A group of bloggers took a spin class taught by one of my favorite Recycle instructors, John. We followed up our good sweat with bubbles courtesy of Champy and snacks/juice from Pressed.

I received a pretty awesome Recycle gift bag, which has become my new gym bag! Inside were lots of goodies including a gift card from local Boston fitness brand Crane & Lion. I’ve already used it to order a pair of leggings and can’t wait to try them out!

The bag I received (photo courtesy of @Recycle_Studio on Instagram).

The leggings I ordered! They’re on sale right now, FYI.

ClassPass Debate

Speaking of ClassPass, I’m still not sure what I want to do fitness-wise after my next cycle with them ends. Right now I’m getting 20 classes per month for $120, which is a great deal and pretty much the amount of classes I’d want to use in a month. But I’m only getting 20 classes to “ease” me into their new structure of 10 classes per month for $120, which I definitely can’t stick with. I’d need to buy a membership elsewhere to supplement that! Right now a few options I’m looking into are FitReserve, a similar platform to ClassPass that could offer me 20 classes a month (yay!) but at an increased price of $185/month (boo…but still a good deal when you look at price per class). Or if I want to keep my monthly fitness fees the same, I could join Turnstyle for $120/month and get unlimited access to spin and bootcamp classes. The only issue with that is, I really like how platforms like ClassPass and FitReserve give me location flexibility. Turnstyle has a few locations but none of them are as convenient for me as some of the studios on ClassPass/FitReserve, like Charlestown Cycling Club. My head is spinning just as I type this…what’s a class-addicted girl to do?

Wine

I wanted to give a shout-out to a Prosecco I recently discovered. I usually don’t drink Prosecco because it’s too sweet for my palate, but my parents gave me a bottle awhile back and I found it in the fridge this week. I decided to open it when I made our calzones because it would pair well with the spicy buffalo chicken, and was pleasantly surprised by how dry it tasted! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a champagne girl through and through, but this $10 bottle of Prosecco is more in my price range.

Food, going out, fitness classes, and wine. Yup, I’m pretty sure that this is all standard stuff. Still it was a good January overall (with temps that weren’t TOO frigid – yay!) and I’m excited to see what February brings!

What was the best part of your January?

Any recommendations for what I should do after I leave ClassPass? Has anyone tried FitReserve?

Any recommendations for another cheap, dry sparkling wine?

It’s Not a Big Deal

This post has been bouncing around in my head for about a month now but I’ve been having trouble getting just inspired enough to actually write it. However I finally decided to the other night as I was thinking about something while lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. I had made chicken pot pie noodles for Jeff and I to eat for dinner, and I ate one helping. Then I put my bowl in the dishwasher, and went about my evening. I didn’t eat a dessert either. But the difference is – none of these things were endlessly debated. None of them were done out of punishment. I actually didn’t think about them at all. And that’s because I’m finally realizing that food is actually not a big deal.

There was a time when I’d think all day about the dinner I was going to eat, and worry about if I’d have more than one helping, and if I’d want a dessert. Then dinnertime would come and I’d eat a helping, want to eat another (because I’d starved myself all day), debate eating another, finally do it, feel like crap, and beat myself up. But then my mind would shift to dessert and I’d think about ice cream in the freezer, and wonder for another half hour if I should eat it, and finally decide that it was OK to have a little since I hadn’t had any in the last week.

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A Best Dressed New Year

I received a complimentary dress rental in exchange for an honest blog post about my experience. All opinions are my own. Read to the end for a special discount!

I started thinking about New Year’s Eve a few months before December 31st, because Jeff and I made our New Year’s plans pretty early on, the second we found out the Timberfakes (Boston’s Justin Timberlake cover band) were going to be playing the Middle East in Cambridge. We did the same thing last year, and knew it was a solid way to spend the last night of the year.

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The Restaurant To-Do List

People who know me or just follow me on social media know that lately there hasn’t been much variety to where I go out to eat. I spend a ton of time at Eastern Standard. Ward 8 is a great local spot. Bar Mezzana in the South End is incredible. Other than that? Up until recently, I was drawing a blank.

The eggs benedict at Eastern Standard, enjoyed after a kick-butt workout with a side of session IPA.

The farro tagliatelle with duck ragout at Bar Mezzana – a truly incredible dish.

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What I’m Loving Lately

I actually had to search my own blog to see if I’ve previously done a post with this title, because it sounded so familiar. But good news – I haven’t! So here’s a little round-up of a few things I’m loving lately, because I don’t want to write a whole blog post on each of them (and I don’t think that would be nearly as fun for you to read, either).

Blaze Pizza

I’ll start with full disclosure…Blaze sent me two free pizza vouchers, and those are what Jeff and I used the first time we tried this place. But we have also been talking non-stop about it, and have made plans to return on a couple of occasions. (Both plans were foiled for a variety of reasons, but that’s not important.)

blazepizza

I describe Blaze Pizza as “Subway, but with pizza”. For a flat fee (thick crust is extra…and worth it), you go down the line and pick as many toppings as you want. Then the pizza is fast-fired at an extremely hot temperature, and ready for you in minutes. You can also add finishing touches after the pizza is done, like balsamic vinegar or – oh baby – ranch dressing. While I was happy with the creation I made above, I was very jealous of Jeff’s pizza, which escaped into his stomach before I could get a photo of it. Guess we’ll just have to go back so he can recreate it and I can get my picture! Blaze is a national chain so look for your closest location here.

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Recent Boston Eats

It’s been awhile since I shared some of the good food I’ve experienced here in Boston, so I figured I’d comb through my camera roll and highlight anything I found in there that was taken recently. In my eyes, if I took a picture then the food must have been good (the exception, of course, being if the lighting was awful…in that case, no photographs are taken).

Bar Mezzana: Pasta

If you haven’t tried Bar Mezzana yet, drop what you are doing and go there now. You don’t even have to read the rest of this post; I’m confident the experience you end up having will tell you why I’m recommending it. The restaurant is located in the South End’s luxury Ink Block apartment complex and focuses on pastas, raw seafood, fresh crusty bread topped with all varieties of spreads, and prosciutto with house mozz. LOTS of house mozz.

barmezzana

I personally cannot stay away from the pastas. I’ve sampled three so far and can’t wait to return for more. I’d recommend all of those three: orecchiette with sausage and fennel, paccheri with lobster, and another variety with rabbit that looks like it’s off the menu now (darn). For dessert, go for an espresso martini. Bar Mezzana’s bar staff is super knowledgeable and this espresso martini is probably the best I’ve ever had.

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4 Favorite Dinners (And What They Mean)

I have really enjoyed cooking dinners for Jeff and I to enjoy together at home, even before we moved in together (check out my Pinterest account to see almost every recipe I’ve ever made). This post first started as a sort of round-up of four favorite home-cooked meals that we both have loved. However, I realized after I picked out the four that they all had a common theme. They were all meals that I would not have made for myself at home (as-is, at least) a couple of years ago…or even a year ago.

I used to consider home-cooked meals my “chance” to have complete, 100% control over ingredients and cooking methods. That meant making everything as “clean” as possible (very little fats, if any…veggie based…carbs only if I had worked out that day). In my head, this off-set any meals that I had out or bites and drinks I enjoyed at events I attended. So when sharing these four favorite dinners, I’d also like to highlight what about each dish makes it a big step for me, and shows how far I have come in my search for letting go and just enjoying food.

jambalaya

To this day I still am not a HUGE fan of rice, but Jeff loves it. He had mentioned jambalaya to me several times, so I decided to try my hand at making it using an easy recipe from Cook, Craft, Love. I considered doing the rice on the side and having none or only a little, but what good is a deconstructed jambalaya? So I just made it all in one pot, just like the recipe asked, and actually ended up really enjoying it…rice (carb) and all.

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