Spring is finally here!! I have already committed to storing away my winter clothes, so no doubt it will snow in May! So it means dining on patios, open toed shoes, maxi dresses and my favorite, picnics! Not a fan of the outdoors? You could easily do this on a porch (skip the bugs) or throw a blanket down on the floor and transform your living room into the perfect little picnic spot for date night in. Leah and I teamed up with Willow Tree Farm to create some fun ideas to add to your basket, using their delicious chicken salad that comes in flavors like: buffalo chicken salad, premium white meat chicken salad, cranberry walnut chicken salad, sriracha chicken salad and avocado chicken salad.
So if you are going completely gluten free, this recipe is for you. I love lettuce wraps, yes, even the ones at PF Changs. Leah and I thought that we would do a fun take on lettuce wraps (not just a scoop of chicken salad in a lettuce cup) and added in Fox Point Pickling Company’s dill carrots for that extra little zing and that big crunch. Just grab a small head of iceberg lettuce and start peeling off those layers – added bonus, there’s little cleanup to do here!
What’s all over Pinterest? Ball jar meals. So Leah and I took the buffalo chicken salad (that has a nice little kick to it) and added in some layers of black beans, chopped onions, shredded lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and micro greens. Eat straight from the jar or bring along a bowl to pour it into. Tie up a small baguette in wax paper to complete this meal. We made our own lemonade for the daytime version of this meal:
1 3/4 cup of white sugar
8 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of lemon juice
Combine 1 cup of water with the white sugar in a saucepan. Bring up to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Plate in refrigerator until chilled.
Squeeze lemons to make 1 1/2 cups of juice. In a large container, mix together lemon juice, chilled simple syrup and 7 cups of water.
For the evening version of this meal (or even the afternoon 😉 ) pair with a single serve rosé (bonus if you can find one with a straw!).
Everyone loves Mexican, why not try this: corn salsa from Trader Joe’s, black beans, jack cheese, buffalo chicken salad and an olive tapenade to top it off. Serve with a side of your favorite corn chips. So easy to travel with you could even bring it to work for lunch with you during the week!
How much avocado toast can you have? Why not try the new avocado chicken salad from Willow Tree, it is made with avocado mayonnaise and is sweetened up with cranberries. The salad itself is gluten free, even though we served it up on this crusty baguette. We simply paired this chicken salad with some micro greens and pickled carrots. We garnished with some pickles we picked up on the North Fork from Sep’s Farm and a cute fruit salad.
What’s your go to meal for a picnic? And share with me some of your favorite spots!
Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Willow Tree chicken salad for this post. All opinions are my own.
Pressed Cafe recently opened it’s second location in Burlington (their other locations in Nashua, NH). I am always looking for new lunch spots, so I was excited to meet up with some friends here. I love everything about this space: the tin ceilings, the wooden tables, the industrial style lighting and the exposed brick. This place gets pretty crowded during lunchtime, so I recommend getting there a little early to grab a seat. You order at the counter and they bring your order to your table when it’s ready. This is such a great fast casual restaurant, with a little bit of everything, so everyone, even the kids will find something they like. Kid’s items include: mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, turkey and cheese and ham and cheese (served with a kids drink and your choice of apple, banana or chips). Yay for some healthy options for kids!
Everything on the menu sounds delicious, it was hard to me to choose. I had the mac and cheese with pulled pork (a favorite dish of mine) but here are some other items you can expect to find at Pressed Cafe:
Fresh smoothies in flavors like peanut butter power, strawberry sunset, wakie wakie (dairy free!!) or the green monster
Frozen drinks like a limon-nana or a frozen espresso hurricane
Pressed raw juice in flavors like: carrot cake, citrus energy c, v10 or the detox
Breakfast is served all day: try the spicy Green burrito or the Maine lobster burrito. Have a breakfast sandwich or a smoked salmon bagel. They have organic steel cut oatmeal and acai bowls.
Power bowls full of quinoa or grown up mac and cheese with things like short rib, bbq chicken, spicy buffalo chicken or lobster.
There is a never ending list of paninis, salads and soups to choose from if you are hoping for a lighter lunch.
So stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner, they are open 7 days a week from 6am – 10pm! Bonus points because it is close to the mall, a really great Nordstrom Rack and the H Mart is literally around the corner!!
200 District Ave., Burlington
While shopping at TJ Maxx and Home Goods in Bedford (yup, will travel for a good TJ Maxx…), we were working up an appetite. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Red Heat Tavern nearby as we were driving around. I had been to the Wilmington location and had a great experience, so I knew this would be a good choice. The restaurant is enormous so even though they had a decent lunch crowd, we didn’t feel like we were on top of other customers. I had my son with me, so we had to be at a family friendly place (bonus that they also have great food for adults).
I love their kid’s menu. Choose your meal: chicken fingers, hot dog and cheese in a tortilla, hamburger, grilled cheese, mac and cheese or a quesadilla (that definitely covers ALL the bases). Then you get a choice of three of the following sides: cucumbers, celery carrots and hummus, apple sauce, fruit kabob, French fries, onion strings, apple slices with peanut butter, tortilla chips, kettle potato chips, seasonal veggies or a frozen vanilla yogurt. I love that they have some healthy options in there (along side of the French fries). You can get one dipper: ranch, honey mustard, salsa, bbq sauce or sour cream. Top it all off with a drink: apple juice, cranberry, soda, chocolate milk or regular milk – all for $6.95.
We were there on a Monday, so it was create your own mac and cheese day (for me, not the kid). For $14.95 you start with cavatapi and their 5 cheese mac sauce (you can get gluten free rotini) and one of the following: fried chicken, pulled pork ,Kayem dog, chili, grilled mesquite chicken, or meatloaf. Mix in, or drizzle sauce on top: buffalo, chipotle bbq, honey bbq, ranch, blue cheese, brown bbq gravy, white gravy or beurre blanc. Mix in mesquite pepper and onions, smoked bacon, charred tomatoes, spinach, cherry pepper, fresh jalapeños, roasted red peppers, arugula or blue cheese crumbles. Top that all off with fried onion strings, fritos, fried egg or cornbread crumbs. Ummm…yes to everything!! I had mine with pulled pork and fritos and man, was it delicious. Trust me on the fritos part…
The roasted cauliflower side was tasty, made me feel not so bad about housing that mac and cheese (there was plenty to take home too). We also had the steakhouse salad (pictured above), $16.95, with coal fired beef steak tips, cut and marinated in house, applewood smoked bacon, Creole potato chips, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, house made croutons and a smoked blue cheese dressing. You can double your steak for $5.95 more. I love the steak tips here, and the wings here are not to be missed (boneless or bone in, mesquite marinated chicken wings made two ways: Buffalo style with smoked blue cheese dressing or sweet Thai style with sriracha aioli).
Red Heat Tavern Bedford
152 Great Road, Bedford, MA
Just when I move out of the neighborhood, new restaurants start popping up. Union Square Donuts moved into the old Wulf’s fish market on Harvard Street. Great to have another option in the ‘hood that is open early, perfect for families with young children. There is a small seating area that was full when I pulled up at 8am! (They are open 7 days a week from 7am – 6pm).
Original donuts are $3 and premium donuts run from $3.50-$4 per donut. Original flavors include: Belgian dark chocolate, vanilla bean, sea salted bourbon caramel, cinnamon sugar, Vietnamese coffee (seasonal), toasted coconut (seasonal), birthday cake (seasonal), and old fashioned cake (seasonal). Premium donuts include: Boston cream, raspberry jam (seasonal), maple bacon, brown butter hazelnut crunch, blackberry basil lime (seasonal), and miso butterscotch (seasonal). They offer 3 types of vegan donuts at $3.50, cinnamon sugar, Belgian dark chocolate and blackberry basil lime. Don’t feel like a donut? They have donut holes ($2 for 6 and $4 for 12) in sugar glazed and cinnamon sugar.
So how are the donuts? My faves are the brown butter hazelnut crunch and the vanilla bean. They are doughy and a little dense, and they have just the right amount of sweetness.
Need a drink to go with those donuts? They brew hot Counter Culture coffee and have nitro cold brew on tap. MEM loose leaf tea is served hot as well as a variety of espresso drinks. Coffee and tea not your thing? Not mine either. Don’t worry, they carry Spindrift sodas and seltzers as well.
Parking outside is on street at meters or on side streets (parking for 2 hours unless otherwise posted).
Union Square Donuts
409 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA
Article 24 is a fairly new restaurant in Brighton, brought to you by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (who run Local 149 in South Boston, The Biltmore Bar & Grille in Newton, and Biltmore & Main in Reading). They are open for lunch and dinner and have a great bar scene at night with things like karaoke, trivia and live dj’s.
The approachable menu of American cuisine has dishes like: mac fritters with house sriracha, deviled eggs, beer hall pretzels, oysters, chicken satay, hog wings (pork lollipchops with spicy hoisin), burgers, tacos, and ramen. All sandwiches come with your choice of fries, sweet potato fries, waffle fries (!!!) or tater tots. Appetizers are around $7 and main dishes hover around $14.
And let’s not forget brunch with delicious dishes like breakfast burritos, lobster Macmuffins, corn flake crusted French toast and “bad kid’s pancakes” (Irish cream and coffee liqueur swirled into our buttermilk batter. vanilla whipped cream, powdered sugar, whiskey syrup. 21+ only, please.)
Head downstairs for a taste of San Diego style tacos at Bandita. Taco options include: BBQ pork belly, chorizo, baja fish, al pastor, barbacoa and more. And don’t forget the guacamole (you can add mango, chorizo or lobster!!), quest fundito or the carne asada fries. Prices range from $5-$16.
Bandita will be hosting their first tequila dinner on May 3rd at 7pm. For just $35 you get a three course meal paired with one of their tasty tequilas. Just think of it as prep for Cinco de Mayo.
Here are some other weekly events at Article 24:
Saturday and Sunday – Music themed Breakfast 10:00am to 3:00pm
Monday – Burger Specials!
Tuesday – Stump! Trivia
Wednesday – Enjoy Bar Bingo and win prizes, starting at 8pm!
Thursday – Thirsty Thursday – Sing your heart out with Karaoke at 9pm!
Friday and Saturday – Come try our beer and shot combos to kick off your weekend early! Live DJs and live music 10p-1a!
Parking is available on street, but is limited. Leave yourself a little extra time if you plan to drive.
458 Western Ave., Brighton, MA
Our plan: meet up at Hi Rise Bread Company on Mass. Ave and go out for ice cream afterwards. I had been wanting to try Honeycomb Creamery for so long, and get my hands on those rose gummy bears I had been seeing all over Instagram. What really happened: we showed up to Hi Rise, my daughter managed to have a blow out diaper, all over me, and oh wait, Honeycomb is closed on Mondays. So I trek out to the car to change a diaper while Leah scopes us out a seat. The seating area is a little tight and not stroller friendly at all, or is that just my stroller that is the size of a Cadillac? So what could possibly save this day? Breakfast for lunch – a #47, which is ham, a hard boiled egg, and cheddar cheese on a potato bun, grilled. Yup. And ALL.THE.VANILLA.BREAD. Score that I got myself an end piece. Not pictured, because, well…I ate it before I remembered to take a photo.
Everything in their bakery case looks amazing. I picked up a little of this and a little of that, just to treat myself. I mean, girl logic, if ice cream wasn’t happening I can totally replace those supposed calories with baked goods right? The vanilla bread is so delicious, slightly sweet and the crust is the best part! And those home made Oreos? Swoon.
As I mentioned before, seating is a bit tight and there were a lot of people who were working – so the tables weren’t turning over. Great if you’re grabbing something to go, or you don’t mind sitting at the bar at the window – but come early for a good seat.
Parking is at meters on the street.
Hi Rise Bread Company
1663 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA
The Concord Ave. location of Hi Rise Bread Company is the original location. Patrons can watch breads and pastries being made in the open kitchen, pick up beer and wine or even grab dinner to go (fresh or frozen). There’s a great communal table here as well as some smaller tables by the window. It’s packed here, just like the Mass Ave location, but this one feels a little more spacious.
I don’t get lunch here this time, I’m only here for some sweets. There are so many to choose from and Leah has hooked me on the vanilla bread. The problem is that I want one of everything. How good do those lemon meringue pies look? Oh and those home made oreos? Yeah. Exactly. I love the lemon curd cakes too, they’re just pure perfection. All of their baked goods are rich – so rich, and what I like about them is that they aren’t sickly sweet.
So should you decide to pop in for lunch, what can you expect? Breakfast served all day – breakfast sandwiches, omelets, and this thing called a “sin sandwich” which is Valrhona dark chocolate and Nutella on brioche that is grilled and topped with powdered sugar. GAH!! They had salads, house, kale, spinach etc. along with egg salad and a delicious sounding avocado salad (half an avocado served with radish, tomato, cucumber and red onion on a bed of mesclun greens). Don’t forget the grilled chicken sandwiches or the vegetarian options, as everything here sounds delicious. Not feeling super hungry? Some sandwiches are available to buy as a half sandwich and they have a rotating selection of house made soups.
Breads are baked daily in house and include: challah, cornbread, wheat, sesame bun, raisin pecan loaf, potato bread, and brown bread among others.
Hi Rise Bread Company
208 Concord Avenue (at the intersection of Huron and Concord), Cambridge, MA
Franco’s Trattoria is located in a small strip mall in Sudbury. It’s a family owned and operated restaurant that puts out some delicious pizza. They have a nice selection of items on their menu: pizza, pasta, calzones, sandwiches, salads, wraps and more. They have an affordable kids menu with most items ranging in at $4-$6.
I’m a big fan of their pizzas, thin crust with just the right amount of sauce and cheese.
We order take out frequently here, but it is also a nice place to dine in. We always see a lot of families in here. The meatball pizza is another one of my go to orders.
I’m a big fan of their fried raviolis ($7.95). They give you a generous portion and they could certainly be a meal by themselves.
Desserts here are a little hit or miss for me. The limoncello cake and the tiramisu were just ok. If you’re planning on dining in, I recommend the gelato!
365 Boston Post Road (Route 20), Sudbury, MA
Closed on Sundays
Passover starts today, and if you’re like me, you hear the word matzo (matzo/matzah) and you run in the other direction. So I collaborated with Leah, from Leah’s Life, on some new twists on an old standby. These “tartines” are so simple to make, even I could swing it (but instead I basically watched Leah make them and I snacked on the extras). Don’t celebrate Passover? You could easily make these recipes with crackers or toast as well.
First up, cantaloupe with feta cheese and basil. Feta cheese is one of my favorites, so this is something I would totally make at home. Now I just have to actually go to the market and figure out how to pick a fresh melon.
Everyone loves peanut butter and banana. Step it up to the next level and drizzle with a little honey for an afternoon snack for the kids (or maybe breakfast for you!).
I never would have thought about this one: a shredded apple and nut butter tartine. I think it’s that extra step of actually shredding the apple that I couldn’t see myself doing (I can barely see myself slicing an apple these days). Top off with a dash of cinnamon and it’s a sweet treat
How cute are these compartment trays?!? Leah’s are from Muji, but Chinet makes some as well that could be so cute for any variety of snacks!
For you sweets fans, spread some Nutella over top and sprinkle on some of your favorite candy toppings.
This almost makes you forget that there is matzo underneath! Almost…
Avocado toast is so popular these days, throw some slices on your matzo, drizzle with some good quality olive oil and top off with a sprinkle of sea salt!
This one probably takes the most effort, since you have to cook the asparagus, but even then, it’s pretty quick and simple. Cook asparagus. Spread matzo with feta cheese and top with some lemon zest. Add asparagus over top. This would be a great appetizer if you’re hosting a dinner, it looks like you spent a lot of time on these.
My new obsession is the Trader Joes, “everything but the bagel sesame seasoning blend”. Sure you could mix this together on your own, but you know you’re going to be at the Trader anyway, so mind as well save yourself some time and just let them do it for you!
You could spread the matzo with cream cheese and add the spice mix, which includes sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, black sesame seeds and poppy seeds. So many uses for this spice mix, trust me, you’ll thank me later!
Feel like kicking that recipe up a notch? Throw on some smoked salmon. A little goes a long way.
Again, looks great plated – makes your guests think you’re fancy.
For a classic, melt some of your favorite cheese on your matzo and add a dash of your favorite herbs.
I saved the best for last, the banh mi. We made ours with chopped liver, smoked turkey breast, pickled carrots and jalapeño. Feel free to add things like picked daikon or cucumber as well.
What’s your go-to matzo recipe?
Rosebud has been on my list for some time now. I’ve been wanting to try their boozy shakes and their pies. They’re located in Somerville and only open for lunch on Fridays. They also serve brunch on Saturdays AND Sundays! I decided to head in to do some research for my Pi Day post. I manage to sneak into a spot in the open lot across the street. The pay lot accepts credit cards – yay, otherwise, try grabbing a spot on the street. From the front the restaurant looks tiny, just a little car, but when you go inside, you realize that there is a whole restaurant behind it. I love the decor, from the bright green bar chairs to the large statement mirrors on the wall.
It’s hard to decide what to order, but we end up going with the griddle cheeseburger and the pulled pork sandwich. The cheeseburger ($11.95) comes with yellow cheese, lettuce, shaved onion, pickles and WGS (wicked good sauce). For a few dollars more you can add an over easy egg or some smoked bacon. The burger comes with crinkle cut fries, but you could get onion rings too…or in this case, half and half. I went with the pulled pork sandwich ($9.95) that came with pulled smoked pork, creamy slaw, pickles and a house sweet heat sauce. The sauce is finger licking good and the pulled pork is really tender. Other lunch menu items include: croquet monsieur, pesto chicken, tuna toastie, mushroom melt, flatbreads, smoked chicken wings, wedge salad, and Thai sticky ribs.
They have a rotating menu of pies that change monthly. This month they have mocha cream, blueberry crumble, peanut butter fudge, Dutch apple, and cranberry pear. You can try a slice or grab a whole pie to go. We couldn’t resist the mocha cream pie. The filling was light as air and SO decadent. The pie crust wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but the filling more than made up for it.
What’s your favorite pie?
Rosebud American Kitchen and Bar
381 Summer Street, Somerville, MA