Travel day

Travel

We all love it, but travel can just as easily go wrong. I have to say the hardest thing about the early morning flight is actually the early morning itself. In order to catch a 6 AM flight out of SFO,  it means leaving as early as 4:15 AM.

As luck would have it, it was a pretty uneventful travel experience. The airport was a little more crowded than usual but I managed to get on the plane, make my connections and found myself a Boston, 15 minutes ahead of schedule, albeit 12 hours later.

Next stop, Residence Inn Seaport downtown to meet Paul, with old friends Josh & Brent in tow, who came in from San Diego and would also be staying Ptown.

Residence Inn Downtown 

Any visit to Boston for me that is non-work related, usually begins and ends with a stay at this facility. Between the friendliness of the staff, the super convenient location for both water events and inner city Boston events, just makes for it to be a perfect place to relax & recharge.

This inspired, converted building turns the stay into something that feels like you’re actually on a “urban adventure”. From it’s super airy atrium, to the modern desired modular rooms; this place, has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Each of the rooms we’ve stayed in, has a slightly different layout which is how they all fit into the natural structure of the building. Giving those who live in tradition houses an opportunity at staying in a super cool urban environment.

Close to public transportation, including the ferry for those folks headed down to the Cape. They’ve got in-hotel full service coffee shop that caters to the neighborhood, as well as it’s traditional Residence Inn morning buffet. Much like other Residence Inns, the staff tend toward the awesome side of hosting. Working at whatever they can to help make your stay the best.

Word up though; while not the most expensive of the hotels in this area it isn’t inexpensive. So plan ahead, sign up with Marriott deals so that you can utilize your points or discounts as appropriate. This site also is within a short walk to the childrens museum; so on this visit also staying were more families than previous stays which made navigating the breakfast buffett a little “treacherous” as not all children (and some adults it would seem) have been taught proper public shared food space/buffett curtesies or hygiene practices. So if you want particularly kid or family-friendly you might want to call ahead to find out if there’s a kid focused weekend happening. Another fav feature is the “grocery option”. Many of the facilities will now do some basic grocery runs to stock up the very workable kitchens. Billing your rooms and saving you time.

Dinner and what not

This is a great central location for nice walk to the italian area of town. Which we do each trip for pizzia at Regina Pizzeria (the original one). If you want calm, quiet dinner – this isn’t the place. It’s loud and ethnic as only a small family place can be. The 30 min walk, takes you through several community parks, right by the front of the Boston Children Museum, which is sure to have something fun going on and eventually right into the Italian section of town.

Travel to Provincetown

Our next stop of the trip starts on Saturday am, and brings us to to the Ferry. Which normally would take us out over the water into Provincetown. But for the first time, rough weather water warning meant this trip taking a motor coach supplied from the Bay State Cruise Company to get us to Provincetown. [By the way, “rough weather water” warnings means more than a few passengers on the early ferry, ended much “green around the gills” than normal]

Now, while I will miss the boat ride, I don’t need a tossing boat & seasickness to start my day. I say as long as “someone else takes the wheel, and it’s not me driving” go for it.  Needless to say the 2.5 hour drive by coach bus, ended up almost 3.5, but was pleasently stressless it a bit cramped. [hint – this is the Cape, time flows differently so 2.5 hours = 3.5, its new “old” math for the Cape]

Getting Settled

Once we got settled in at Fisherman’s Cove, our “home away from home”, it was time for a short walk and some food. Since it was already 4:00, we opted for sandwiches now and diner later. We walked further down the West End to Relish, (I wrote about Relish in previous trips as well here (2015) and here 2014) bringing them back to the condo and our first waterside meal of the summer. Then it was time for the boys to go down for naps, while I took a walk to get caught up with my local peeps and the “news” around town.

The day slowly came to an end with a pleasant sunset watching on the main deck, while we waited for everyone to get ready for dinner. For the opening night, we took a short walk into town for burgers at Local 186  (I wrote about Local 186 previously here). Closing out the evening with a stroll to walk off the dinner and meander around till we settled in for the night.

Over all, a good first day.

 

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Count down to vacation

So the annual vacation starts this week

Needed to whip up something quick for dinner before takeing Paul Burketo SFO. Repurposed toasted chicked was the perfect base for a quick Tomato, Broccoli Chicken & Cheese Bread. Now that you can get the dough in bags as most of the major store (instead of convincing the local pizza shop to sell you the dough or marketing it yourself) making these breads are super easy to whip up. The big secret to getting the a good brown crust is super hot oven 450 degrees or more for 20 minutes then reduce to 350 for 10-15 min more. So while the bred was in, it was time to finish the “haircut” the bamboo got a few days earlier. The need to trim them really is because of the shedding of leaves. They tend to clog the hot tubs ya know.

 

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Roasted Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Bread

This is a super adaptable and quick meat stuffed bread made with store bought pizza dough and a great way to use up leftovers.

Course Appetizer, Entree
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 5
Author CyberGuy

Ingredients

  • 1 bag Store bought pizza dough use the one in the bag (or make you own dough)
  • 2 cups Chopped protein - this case I used roasted chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheese your choice - reserve 1/4 cup for topping
  • 2 tbsp grated part cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup chopped raw broccoli Or other vegetables
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  1. Take out the dough and let it come to room temperature and rise (about 2 hours)

  2. Turn the over on to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone - put it in now in the lower middle rack

  3. On your counter - place a sheet of aluminum foil. drizzle some olive oil on it and spread the dough out into a rectangle - depending on the size of the dough - will determine how thin and large you can press it out.

  4. Drizzle more olive oil on the dough, sprinkle with what ever herbs or seasonings you have handy on it. Spread the chicken, broccoli and cheeses on the top half. But leave an inch at the top.

  5. Pat the mixture into the dough gently. Gently role the lower half up on to the top half (think calzone). Then dab some oil on your fingers and use as glue to seem the edges.

  6. Then grabbing both ends of the foil, use it as a guide to role the bread into the "log" shape.

  7. Cooking you can either - place it on the pizza stone as is (or with out the foil) But I tend to keep the foil on as it makes for easier clean up if the bread leaks. 

  8. Sprinkle the bread with the remaining cheese (add some more grated cheese if you like) and place in the oven. Cook for 20 mins at 450, then reduce heat to 350 and cook until done. Apron  15 - 20 min more. 

    To improve the outer crust - toss in a few ice cubes on the bottom of the oven to create some steam as you shut the oven.

  9. Remove from the oven and place on a rack for 5 min - then peel away from the foil. Wait 10 min and cut.

 

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Sunday Sunny Sunday

With the sunny glare brightening everything this morning, even the “wake call” courtesy of the helicopters overhead didn’t stop our walk. Once Dino did his business, it was my turn to think about my Sunday plan; breakfast, deck work, writing, and dinner.

So I figured a good start would be hearty red eye gravy, country ham, and eggs breakfast. This begins the count down to our vacation at the end of the week.  The red eye gravy is pretty simple to make. The recipe I use comes from one posted on Onestate.com here.

Then for later, to snack on over coffee, a quick chocolate banana bread. This is a simple adapted recipe that uses brown sugar and cocoa powder along with some allspice to add some depth.

 

 

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Lemons & Artichokes; now that’s a Sunday. 

Dino chillen

Dino “chillen” in the Kitchen. Daddy’s little “hoover”

Meat stuffed Artichokes was on the menu last Sunday. While often a family holiday treat growing up. Living in the Bay Area gives me access to them much easier; But mostly this weekend, it was because my pal David and I stopped by some produce stands, on the way back from Santa Cruz and the artichokes looked so good. So went with the basic catch all recipe I use these days. Of course, it also being a warm weekend that meant I had a constant companion in the kitchen to help me cook and clean up the floor. So since it isn’t  my fault the weather shifted. I say so; buck up and stay out of the kitchen while these little babies simmer.

So lots of versions exist online both with and with out stuffing. Many restaurants also offer them grilled with a dip or stuffed with grated cheese and toasted bread crumbs (nice but sorta wimpy to me).

For me  – I always go back to the way we always had them growing up. A mix of ground meat (I like to use a mix of beef and sausage), parsley, the peeled and diced stems of the artichoke stalks (when cooked they get tender), seasoned bread crumbs, grated cheese, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, then the rest of the flavors change based on mood or season or whats available. Trim the tops of the choke so it’s flat at the top and clip the tips of the outer leaves. Spread the leaves a bit to make pockets for the meat. Lightly salt & pepper the insides of the leaves  (optional – you can also use any flavored seasoning mix you prefer). Then stuff the meat into as many crooks and crannies as you can and top with more meat. In a large pot, with a few inches of cold water. Place the chokes in and simmer until leaves pull out easily and meat is done. Cooke time is 60 -90 min (depends on size) covered. I included a formal recipe version below. What to eat with them? Well in our hours they were always a sort of add on to a big mean. A combo side and meat dish meet vegetable. But in the summer or warm weather months – it pairs great with a salad. Just have plenty of napkins. They can get messy to eat.

For those of new to artichokes – I can across this little guy showing folks how to do it!

 

Then for a treat,  later Sunday afternoon and for Monday’s Breakfast was a new variation on boxed lemon poppyseed loaf. This is your standard box mix with a few variations to amp up the flavor profile. Once I get it perfected I will share.

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Meat Stuffed Artichokes

This is a variation of a version I grew up eating. In our house, we always stuffed them with a ground meat mixture.

Course Appetizer, Brunch, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author CyberGuy

Ingredients

  • 4 Artichokes They should feel firm and heavy. I tend to like ones that are around the size of a softball over smaller ones.
  • 1 lb Ground beef more lean than not.
  • 1 lb Bulk italian sausage (no casing) seasoned pork also works well.
  • 1/2 Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parsley (chopped) Dried is fine but reduce to 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup Seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder Optional
  • 1 Egg For use as a binder
  • Red Pepper flakes I generally use about a 1/2 teaspoon in the mix and some sprinkled on top at the end
  • Onions (diced) Optional
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Herbs and spices as needed This part is all about your tastes and pleasures.

Instructions

  1. Trim the tops of each artichoke so it is flat at the top and clip the tips of the outer leaves. 

  2. Spread the leaves a bit to make pockets. 

  3. Salt and pepper the insides of the leaves lightly (optional). 

  4. Then stuff the meat mixture into as many crooks and crannies as you can and top with more meat.

  5. In a large pot, with a few inches of cold water. Place the artichokes in, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt

  6. Cover and simmer until leaves pull out easily and meat is done approximately 60 - 90 mins. (Some recipes on line combine two cooking methods and steam the artichokes first then stuff and bake.)

  7. To serve; place in a warm, large bowl or plate with a small dish for the used leaves. 

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July 4th was our “unday” having worked on Monday..

Even after all these years living here, a July 4th in the Bay, with its fog never really feels right, so we rarely make plans for much unless its a bbq here at the house.

But this year, we made no plans,  since we both were planning to work Monday, and again on Wednesday, I opted for some kitchen time.

First, off it was protein breakfast prep for the next few days with my super simple egg “muffins” (aka no flour) with leftover grilled chicken and veggies from last night.

That will cover us for breakfast for a few days (and they freeze well by the way).
Then having snagged some of my pal Bryan’s left over Irish mashed potatoes from book club, I repurposed them as “Irish potato hash cakes” and topped off with a few cherry tomatoes right from my own plant.

For dinner, I put in to bake a “Cheese Quick Bread” from Martha Stewarts collection. Her recipe for Cheddar Bread is the basis for it and can be found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/1165536/cheddar-bread. My only change was using a combination of types of Cheddars. The recipe is easy and fast to mix up, but with a solid 50 min bake and cool down time it’s a think ahead deal.

But once cooled, the part I like is it can be sliced thin and topped with jam, meat, sliced apples or pears, drizzled with honey or even more cheese. Sliced thicker it can be used as a “dunker” with soups and stews. Or as I found out becomes a great alternative bread option for Italian Panzanella Salad, a traditional salad that used cubes of hard bread with tomatoes and dressing. In this case, I used the leftovers from pickled cucumber & tomato salsa from the other night.
Leftovers for dinner just carries the repurpose theme with a cold chicken & veg salad. The final “re-purpose ”  was adding fresh corn and tomatoes to go with the grilled tri-tip on Tuesday. While Mr. Dino gets ready for the fireworks.

 

 

 

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Preholiday dinner night

While some had today off,  I didn’t so I ended up not only working a partial day (we got two hours early approved leave) while also trying to tackle the week 2 of a training module to teach part time at a new institution. 

So tonights dinner needed to be simple and a no brainer. Grilled chicken, vegatables and homemade salsa.