Monday, September 29, 2014

Besito Mexican Restaurant | Burlington, MA

I am spoiled by living in Somerville. I can literally walk or bike to a large variety of different restaurants and bars anytime I wish (even though I always find myself going to the same few places).

With that being said, it's rare for me to venture out (to the 'burbs, no less!) for a meal. And if I do, that meal better be damn good.

Thankfully, my recent meal at Besito Mexican Restaurant was well worth the short trip over to Burlington.

Besito Mexican might be in the Burlington Mall, but after walking in, you'll forget you're in a mall at all. The setting is borderline stunning, with fabulous lighting and decorative touches throughout. I also immediately appreciated how flawlessly clean and wonderfully quiet the restaurant was.

My cousin and I were seated right away in a comfy booth. We decided to start our meal with some tableside guacamole ($11.95) (made mild, medium, or spicy - we went for spicy) and a round of margaritas (when in Rome, right?).

Besito Mexican Restaurant | The Economical Eater

Besito Mexican Restaurant | The Economical Eater

Besito Mexican Restaurant | The Economical Eater

My cousin ordered the first margarita pictured, the Pepino Margarita ($11), made with Avion blanco tequila, cucumber, jalapeno, Cointreau, agave nectar, and fresh-squeezed lime. I went for the Classic Margarita ($9), made with Blue Agave blanco tequila, triple sec, and lime. Both drinks were spot-on in terms of flavor, and I loved how they both had a nice kick of booze without being overly strong (or worse, too sweet). The tableside guac was plenty to feed two people, and I loved the kick of spice from the jalapenos. (The complimentary chips and salsa here are also super fresh and delicious).

For an appetizer, my cousin and I both enjoyed a Taquitas de Camarones ($11.95), made with crispy shrimp, shredded organic romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, chipotle cream salsa, cilantro, and queso fresco. 

Besito Mexican Restaurant | The Economical Eater

This appetizer is SO worth ordering. The plump shrimp was cooked well, and the accompanying vegetables and sauces blended beautifully with the flavor from the shrimp. This was an ideal way to kick off the rest of our meal.

For entrees, Besito has a large variety of Mexican dishes, including tacos, enchiladas, and "main course" entrees. I went with one of the main course dishes: the Pescado Con Pipian y Atole ($23.95), which featured pan-seared mahi mahi with a blue corn and crab crust, pumpkin seed pipian, sweet corn atole, cilantro, and chayote salad. 

Besito Mexican Restaurant | The Economical Eater

The sauce underneath the mahi mahi was wonderfully silky and well-seasoned, and I adored the crust on the well-cooked fish. 

As a side dish, we got the Platanos con Crema ($4.95), which were fried sweet plantains with crema and queso fresco. They were indulgent and delicious, without being overly greasy or heavy.

Besito Mexican Restaurant | The Economical Eater

All in all, we had a fantastic meal at Besito Mexican. I'll definitely be venturing out of my Somerville bubble again soon to have another meal (and margarita) here!

Have you been to Besito Mexican Restaurant yet? If so, what's your review?

This dinner was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Besito on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Current Obsessions IV

I'm aliiiiiiiive!

Sorry for sucking at blogging lately. I'm still trying to figure out a schedule with my "new normal." The new job is fantastic - challenging and fun with a lot to learn - but it's also time-consuming. I'm still also doing some freelance writing on the side, so when I actually have time to breathe, all I want to do is spend time with Z, friends, family, and my bed.

With that being said, cooking is pretty nonexistent in my life these days - but I know it will come back. In the meantime, I've been obsessing over other things, like TV shows and booze. Read on:

1.) "The Leftovers"


This new HBO show is why I actually look forward to Sunday nights now. (Sadly, the season finale is a week from Sunday). The first episode was slightly confusing, but each episode after that explains more and more about the [interesting] characters. And the protagonist isn't hard to look at, either. The show isn't uplifting by any means, but it is so well written, and the actors/actresses are fantastic. Watch it!

2.) Cornhole

OK, so Cornhole (also called "bean bag toss") has been an obsession of mine for awhile now. We don't have a huge backyard, by any means, but it's just big enough to play a competitive game of Cornhole every single weekend. My cousins actually gave us a customized set (each board is painted with our alma maters' logos), causing us to love the game even more. The only rule at our house: You must have a beer in-hand while playing. No exceptions.

3.) Infusing booze

Z and I have been wanting to infuse our own liquor for quite some time now. So, a few weeks ago, when a friend sent us home with two giant cucumbers from her parents' garden, I decided to get started. I sliced up one of the cucumbers and grabbed some dill from our backyard, and threw them into a mason jar - which I then filled with gin. We're poppin' open the jar this weekend, so I will let you know how it came out! I'm already excited to use the hot peppers in our backyard with a vodka concoction.

4.) My new niece

My 3rd niece was born on August 20th, and she is the cuuuuuuutest. Z and I are finally meeting her next Sunday, and I am counting down the minutes until then. Becoming an auntie for the fourth time (I also have a nephew) makes me feel so damn lucky - being an aunt is so much fun! Now if only my sister would move a little closer to us (she lives in Maine)...

5.) My new camera

For my 30th birthday/new job, Z surprised shocked me with a brand new, grown-up camera: a Canon Rebel T3i. The first photo I took was a picture of the beer I was drinking at the time, and wow - this camera is worlds better than the point-and-shoot I had been using all these years (although, that camera still has its place and time). I still have a lot to learn with my new toy, but I am loving it so far. Get ready for some much better photography here on The EE!

What are you currently obsessing over?

P.S. Happy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Garden Vegetable Quiche

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of quiche. Quiches are incredibly versatile, full of protein, and a great way to use up leftover vegetables (and eggs!).

Right before we jetted off to Mexico for my friend's wedding last week, I realized we had almost a dozen eggs left in our refrigerator. So, I made this quiche and we ate it for several dinners and breakfasts before we left.

The catch to making this quiche extra rich and protein-packed is Hood cottage cheese. Hood contacted me to see if I'd like to try some of their new, savory flavors - Garden Vegetable and Cucumber Dill - and the Garden Vegetable was incredible in this quiche. Each of Hood's new flavors contain 13 grams of protein per serving, and the Garden Vegetable flavor combines cottage cheese with carrot, bell pepper, onion, green onion, and cucumber. (I loved dipping sliced cucumber into it for a quick snack!). For some added nutrition and flavor, I also threw some fresh tomatoes and red onion into the quiche.

Garden Vegetable Quiche | The Economical Eater

Garden Vegetable Quiche
Yields: 4-6 servings
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 cup diced red onion
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan
-2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced
-8 large eggs
-1/2 cup Hood Garden Vegetable cottage cheese
-Salt and black pepper
-Pinch of grated fresh nutmeg
-1/8 teaspoon dill weed
-1 store-bought pie crust

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
3.) Place the store-bought pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate. Once onions have cooled slightly, spoon them on top of the crust; sprinkle over Parmesan cheese. Lay sliced tomatoes on top of cheese and onions.
4.) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and cottage cheese. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and dill weed. Pour egg mixture over onions, cheese, and tomatoes.
5.) Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until center is set. Let cool slightly before serving.

[Print this recipe]

Now that the weather isn't super muggy and unbearably hot (I just jinxed it...), it felt nice to turn my oven on again and make this quiche. It also came in so handy for quick, satisfying meals before we went on vacation...yet again.

What's one of your favorite dishes to make when you need to use up leftovers? 

I received coupons for the Hood cottage cheese, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blueberry-Banana Beer Pancakes

Beer at breakfast just makes sense, doesn't it? Especially when that beer is cooked inside fluffy, delicious pancakes.

Blueberry-Banana Beer Pancakes | The Economical Eater

I had gotten Z The Craft Beer Cookbook for his birthday, and when he woke up a few Sundays ago, he suggested we make one of the pancake recipes out of the book. I was totally game, until I realized we only had a few of the ingredients both recipes called for. So, I improvised - and this beer- and fruit-filled pancake recipe was born.

Blueberry-Banana Beer Pancakes | The Economical Eater

Blueberry-Banana Beer Pancakes
Yields: About 10 large pancakes
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 large eggs
-3/4 cup brown ale (a pale ale would do fine here, too)
-2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-1 banana, chopped
-1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
-Non-stick cooking spray (or extra butter) for griddle

1.) Preheat electric griddle to 350 degrees, or a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.
3.) In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and beer. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk, whisking until combined.
4.) Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Stir in the banana and blueberries.
5.) Spray a griddle with non-stick cooking spray. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter onto the prepared cooking surface. Cook until the underside has browned and the edges have started to dry, about 2-4 minutes. Flip and allow to cook until cooked through, an additional 3-5 minutes.
6.) Serve immediately with good maple syrup (and peanut butter!).

Blueberry-Banana Beer Pancakes | The Economical Eater

These were the fluffiest and most flavorful pancakes I have ever made. To be honest, I've had some "hockey puck" pancake moments (like when Z and I first started dating), but over the years, I've gotten a little better. But who knew that beer would be my saving grace?

If you don't love the taste of beer, most of the flavor does cook off in these pancakes. So all you're left with is the incredible texture it brings.

Are you good at making pancakes? What's your secret?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Normal

Hello! I'm alive, I promise. Just trying to adjust to my "new normal."

Our trip to Iceland was magical. We spent a few days in Reykjavik, the capital, and then hiked for five days through rain, snow, and sunshine. The hike was actually pretty treacherous, but it was an once-in-a-lifetime experience nonetheless. It was also hard getting used to the sun only going down for a few hours very late at night/early in the morning, but we eventually found a way to fall asleep.

This was at 10:30 p.m.!

After we got back from Iceland - as in, the next day - I started my new full-time job as Chef Tony Maws' personal assistant + marketing "guru" for both his restaurants, Craigie on Main and Kirkland Tap & Trotter. So far, the job has been a lot of fun while also being challenging (in a good way). I've learned a lot in the one short week I've worked for him so far...and I've also eaten a lot.

I'm still doing some freelance work on the side (mostly food writing), but this new gig is my main priority. I think it will take a few weeks to see how much "side work" I can manage without going completely insane, but this blog will always remain.

I have a pancake recipe (made with beer!) coming soon, as well as some Iceland restaurant highlights. So stay tuned for those. ;)

What's new with you? How's your summer going?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vegan-Friendly BBQ Eats

Today's guest post comes from Lisa from The Vegan Pact. Vegan cooking from scratch is Lisa’s passion, and creating organic, animal-free meals without processed food is what her life revolves around. Here on The EE, Lisa is sharing some of her favorite, vegan-friendly BBQ eats. Enjoy!

Artichoke Spinach Cauliflower Bean Burger

When you think of summer BBQs, healthy vegan meals probably aren’t the first type of dishes you think of. Your mind probably gravitates towards hot dogs, cheeseburgers, heavy pasta salads, and beer, of course.

But eating plant-based at all the cookouts you'll be attending this season is easier than you think. There are lots of delicious, satisfying dishes you can serve that will give any of their unhealthy counterparts a run for their money. All those nostalgic summer staples you grew up with - like potato salad, stacked burgers, and cheesecake - are surprisingly even better when made vegan! And yes, you can still have the beer. :) 

Check out these fabulous summer dishes that are completely animal-free. AND good for your bikini body!

What's your favorite dish to make for a BBQ?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Must-See Vegetarian Eateries in Texas

Hello, Economical Eater readers! My name is Lizz from Lizz Delicious and I was asked by Michelle to share with you some of my favorite places to eat in Texas - in case you're traveling there this summer, or have plans to travel there in the future. I’ve lived in Texas since 2009 and have traveled throughout the state enjoying the dishes I find at the vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants located here.

To most people, Texas does not conjure up images of a vegetarian paradise. In reality, though, all of the state’s major cities feature vegetarian and vegan restaurants, cafes, and pop-ups that travelers shouldn’t miss!

The capital city is arguably the most vegan-friendly one in the state. In fact, PETA awarded it the status of most vegan-friendly in the nation during 2013. Whether you’re in the mood for a good burger, healthy plate of veg, dairy-free ice cream, or an indulgent dessert, you are bound to find what you’re craving in Austin.

Tofu Enchiladas from Mother's Café in Austin

Let’s start at Mother’s Cafe and Garden. A staple of the vegetarian community, Mother’s has been open for decades. Their extensive menu frequently leaves me overwhelmed! Everything tastes fresh and healthy, from their Portobello Sandwich to their Bueno Burger to their Tofu Enchiladas. Got a sweet tooth? Don’t miss out on a slice of their vegan chocolate cake or peanut butter pie. Mother’s also offers weekend brunch specials!

Then, there’s Counter Culture. Specializing in vegan comfort food, Counter Culture used to be a food truck. They established their brick and mortar in 2012 and haven’t looked back! What’s on the menu? How about some vegan Mac ‘N Cheese or a slice of Lentil Loaf? You can also get a Philly Seitan, Jackfruit BBQ, or a Tempeh Reuben Sandwich, if you’d prefer.

For something special, don’t miss Capital City Bakery, whose legendary vegan cheesecake is the best I’ve ever had. They have a rotating cupcake menu and also make other sweets and savories like Texas kolaches, ice cream sandwiches (made with local vegan ice cream), and shortbread-style frosted sugar cookies.

Home of the Texas State Veggie Fair which takes place every October, Dallas is another great city for vegetarians! There is also a lot to do there. For starters, you can visit one of many museums like the Dallas Museum of Art or the Frontiers of Flight Museum. If you're more of an outdoors person, the Cedar Ridge Preserve or the Trinity River Audubon Center may be right up your alley.

When you've had enough fun that it's finally time to eat, make sure you get over to the Spiral Diner. The vegan eatery specializes in diner fare like coffee and all-day breakfast as well as substantial salads, big honkin' sandwiches, and BEER! Get a Philly Cheesteak, you know you want to. They literally have the biggest vegan menu I've ever seen.

For something a bit more exotic, try the Cosmic Cafe. Their vegetarian restaurant is full of Indian flavors and flair. Vegan items are labeled and most regular items can be made vegan upon request. They have wonderful outdoor seating, shaded on a cozy covered porch. The food, atmosphere, and staff are welcoming.

San Antonio:
Living in Austin enables me to visit San Antonio quite a bit. It’s approximately an hour and thirty minutes from Austin and, despite its proximity, is incredibly different than Texas’s capital city. It is much more catered to tourism with attractions like the Alamo and the River Walk, a man-made canal system lined with shops and restaurants. It is also home to some of Texas’s best vegetarian restaurants!

Portobello Steak from Green Vegetarian Cuisine in San Antonio

Green Vegetarian Cuisine has been my favorite vegetarian sit-down restaurant since moving to Texas in 2009. They have since grown to having three locations, one in Houston, and an off-shoot restaurant called Earth Burger, a fast-food joint that’s 100% veg. The menu at Green is diverse. You can find Italian, Mexican, traditional American, and Asian items. All of their desserts are vegan, including their soft serve which has rotating flavors. It’s the best vegan ice cream I’ve had! If you can’t decide on something, try the Italian Enchiladas or the Chopped BBQ Sandwich. Those are my favorites.

Gluten-free folks and vegans alike will want to visit Vegeria, too. They are San Antonio’s only 100% gluten-free, vegan restaurant specializing in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. The flavors are wonderful, portions are huge, and the price is right. If you can’t make up your mind, just go with the daily Rosalie Special. Make sure you get something from the bakery case, too.

If you’re looking for places to eat closer to the River Walk, Juice Central and Senor Veggie are excellent options. The first is a juice bar with vegan ingredients like non-dairy milks and protein powders. Salads are available to-go, too. Meanwhile, Senor Veggie is a vegan restaurant with a diverse menu, but all with a Mexican flair. For instance, they have Lentil Texican Chili and Rustic Italian Polenta! Both are in walking distance of the River Walk. Depending on where you are, your walk may be 15-20 minutes.

The largest city in Texas just so happens to have the most vegetarian restaurants, too. The vast majority of eateries are Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian. They are located throughout the city as well, so you are bound to find something nearby.

The Pepper Tree is a Chinese vegan restaurant that has menu items and a buffet. They also offer a gluten-free menu.

If you’d like something a little more light-hearted, try Monster PBJ, a vegetarian food truck specializing in crazy peanut butter sandwiches.

For traditional American fare, stop by the Garden Kitchen, owned and operated by Dr. Baxter Montgomery, a physician who advocates eating a plant-based diet for health.

Houston has some amazing tourist attractions, too. If you’re looking for budget-friendly adventures, the Houston Arboretum and Discovery Center is free to the public. And dogs are welcome! With a reservation you can also enjoy a 90-minute guided boat tour of Port Houston at no charge. Who wouldn’t want to photograph the Houston skyline from the water??

If you’d like more restaurant recommendations for vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants, feel free to visit the Lizz Delicious blog. Thanks, Michelle, for letting me share some of my favorite eateries with your readers!