Posts Tagged ‘Boston University’

Bake that Mac n’ Cheese!

I know I’ve been MIA for a little, but I’m back, and here’s what I’ve been up to:

There’s a hundred different ways to make macaroni and cheese, with every chef (self-proclaimed or otherwise) putting his or her own spin on the traditional dish. I’ve made mac n’ cheese in a saucepan melting cheddar into milk when I’m pressed for time, but for special occasions, I enjoy baking the dish, sometimes topping it with breadcrumbs.

This time, I made Mac n’ Cheese Smith Style, so named as it’s a family recipe from my friend Charles Smith. Here’s a before (as I was layering the large Pyrex with the ingredients) and an after (as my friends and I were working on seconds) picture.

beforemac
aftermac

Mac N’ Cheese Smith Style

  • 1 Lb. Elbow Macaroni Noodles (Sometimes I use Large Shells instead for variety)
  • 1 Lb. Sharp Chedder Cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups Tomato Juice
  1. Cook macaroni according to package (slightly less than done is good)
  2. Layer in casserole dish: First, tomato juice (just enough to cover dish bottom), second pasta, third cheese.
  3. Repeat until macaroni is gone (usually 3 thin layers).
  4. Only add 1.5 to 2 cups of tomato juice per layer and only 3.5 to 4 cups total.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.

Of course, mac n’ cheese alone would get boring without appetizers (I made a vegetable platter with carrot sticks, celery, zucchini, and squash and balsamic vinaigrette dip), or at least side dishes so here are a couple of side options.

platter

Side Dishes

  • Tater Tots! I bought the frozen Ore Ida package at Star Market, and fried them straight out of the freezer in a saucepan of heated oil (about 375 degrees F) for about 4 minutes. You can bake them, but that’s wholly foreign to me. Welcome to the South.
  • Sautéed Zucchini & Summer Squash – Now I’m not sure what summer squash is still doing in stores as it’s way, way out of season, but I cut both veggies in thin, 2 – 3 inch-long strips and sautéed them until the center was just tender.  I seasoned the veggies liberally with basil and topped it off with a little stone-ground pepper and salt.

Happy Eating!

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Before Winter REALLY sets in – Jamba Juice

jambaaaa

Featured: Chunky Strawberry Topper and Mango Topper

It’s about to cool down to freezing in Boston (and let’s face it, in anywhere north of Florida) and soon it will be too cold to justify one of my favorite dining establishments: Jamba Juice. The Tampa, Florida locations opened years ago, so I’d already become familiar with Jamba Juice by the time of my arrival at Boston University. Then, I found out that the only New England location was conveniently located in the George Sherman Union – a student center/food location in the center of BU’s campus. Success!

When I had dining points as part of my BU meal plan my first two years at BU, I’d have Jamba Juice for lunch every day, literally.  My Jamba intake decreased exponentially when I moved off campus and began cooking more at home, but recently I’ve been on a Jamba craze.

My favorite blend is, without contest, the Chunky Strawberry Topper. This Jamba “Ideal Meal” is a blend of frozen strawberries, frozen bananas, nonfat plain yogurt, soymilk, organic pumpkin flax seed granola, and peanut butter topped with fresh granola and fresh bananas. The 12 oz keeps me full for hours, so it’s the perfect lunch for me. I tried the Berry Topper too, but I think I’m partial to the peanut butter and granola in the Chunky Strawberry Topper.

For an afternoon snack, I love the Strawberry Nirvana. This Jamba “Light Smoothie” is made with lower calorie dairy base, frozen strawberries, apple strawberry juice blend, frozen bananas and ice. It’s delicious and it’ll keep you full for a couple hours – at least until dinner!

Unfortunately, the Jamba Juice location in the BU GSU is limited and doesn’t have the Jamba Bakery, which is an excellent source of delicious, healthy, and sometimes vegan goodies.  The Sourdough Parmesan Pretzel, Zucchini Walnut Loaf, and Greek Goodness Wrap make my top three!

If you’re a BU student and you haven’t gone to Jamba Juice yet, you’ve been missing out! This is a healthy, tasty and wonderful choice of dining out, and they will be cutting their hours soon for winter, so grab a Jamba while you can!

  • If you’ve been to Jamba Juice, what’s your favorite drink? Why?
  • Do you find the Jamba Light as fulfilling as the regular Jamba blends?

P.S. Jenny at Enjoy Your Cheerios blogged about Jamba Juice a while back.  Check out her blog if you’re a college student motivated by living a healthy lifestyle!

My Mom’s Homemade Vegetarian Chili

I’ve been blathering on about the delicious vegetarian chili at The OTHERSIDE Cafe on Newbury St., Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston, and randomly, if you’re in the area, or in the mood for a 3-4 hour drive from Boston – Crow’s Corner (Cafe/Bakery near Cavendish, VT).

Now I’ve finally gotten around to it: the source of my love for chili.  When I was little, we’d go to Sweet Tomatoes, which is an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Tampa, Florida.  I’m not sure if they have any locations outside of Florida, but if you’re ever in Tampa – go there! In the soup section of Sweet Tomatoes’ giant buffet, was a vegetarian chili dish.  It easily became my favorite in that section, but one day, they stopped making it vegetarian with, go figure, the addition of …you guessed it – chicken broth.

One day, my mom surprised me by making that dish I could no longer find while dining out – vegetarian chili.  Her recipe, which deviated from the Sweet Tomatoes recipe quite deliberately, was phenomenal.  I loved it even more than the chili I’d eat at Sweet Tomatoes, and since then it remains my favorite recipe and has quickly risen to the top of my list of comfort foods.

Here’s the secret:

Uma’s Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 large Potato
  • 1-2 Carrots
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • French cut green beans
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 inch Ginger Root, finely chopped
  • Serrano Peppers, finely chopped (if you can handle the spice)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Tomato paste
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Red chili powder
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Corn chips – Fritos scoops are my favorite.
  • Sour Cream (If you like it – I’ve met many people in New England who don’t… boggles my mind.)
  1. Make paste with garlic, 1/4 of the onions, tomato paste, 1/2 cup water in a blender.
  2. Put the paste along with the rest of the onions in a large sauce pan and cook for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add all but the canned vegetables and 1 cup water/enough water to cover all of the vegetables and cook until all vegetables (especially carrots/potatoes – those are tough veggies) are al dente.
  4. Add canned vegetables and let simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Add 1 tbsp (or more, depends on taste) of each cumin and chili powders.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  The chili should be spicy/tangy, but make sure the spice doesn’t overpower the flavor of the vegetables.
  6. Garnish with chopped, fresh cilantro.
  7. Serve in large bowls with corn chips and sour cream.
  8. Enjoy!
  • Do you have your own chili recipe? How is it different?
  • My sister adds corn to her chili. What other vegetables do you think make a good chili?
  • Any questions about the flavor or consistency?

Pan-Asian Food at Noodle Street

If any of you have ever been to Noodle Street on Commonwealth Avenue, you know that the menu might as well be a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.  When you open the menu, you first choose what type of dish you’re looking for – an entrée, a noodle dish, a rice dish, or a curry-based dish.  You can create any combination of noodles or rice, eggs, tofu, and veggies, and style of cooking.

Personally, I’m attached to the Drunken Noodle entrée, which is a noodle dish based in a spicy, basil sauce.  Because I’m picky, and I don’t like eggs in my asian food,  and nor do I like tofu (despite the number of chances I’ve given it, I can’t get past the texture), I usually get the Drunken Noodle with rice noodles, vegetables and extra vegetables.  I realize that sounds redundant to those of you unfamiliar with Noodle St.’s menu, but “vegetables & tofu” (I ask for no tofu) and “extra vegetables,” are distinct menu options.

My second favorite option here is the red curry, even though it isn’t the spiciest of the curry options.  The flavor and weight of the red curry complements my usual option of vegetables and extra vegetables, and a side of brown rice brings a nutty flavor to the food that white rice can’t compete with.  If your spice tolerance isn’t at the level mine is, the brown rice also takes some of the edge off the red curry, allowing you to devour even more in each sitting.

Finally, my third favorite option is the pad thai.  Pad thai is based on a peanut sauce, so it’s actually very mild.  It doesn’t lack for flavor though: the vegetables don’t overpower the peanut flavor of the pad thai.  It is in a completely different category from the spicy red curry or the spicy basil infused drunken noodle, and if I find myself at Noodle Street often, I welcome the change.  I like this dish with the wide noodle, even though the wide noodle itself is a type of rice noodle.

I have found that if I emphasize the “extra vegetables” part, I end up with a better ratio of vegetables to noodles than one part vegetables, 3 parts noodles. The vegetables included are fresh basil, red bell peppers, green chilis, snow peas, crinkle-cut carrots, onions, green beans and broccoli.   The combination mixes well and all of the vegetables are always cooked just right.

That being said, Noodle St. is notorious for its exceptionally cursory service.  While I’ve never received something I did not order, and I have never found anything wrong with my food, I have had to physically flag down waitresses to have my water refilled, I have had parts of my order forgotten, yet they still appeared on my bill.  The final positive side to Noodle St. is that most entrées cost around $10-$15, so it’s a completely viable restaurant dinner option for college students.

  • What’s your favorite dish at Noodle Street?
  • How do you feel about pan-Asian food in general?
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