Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...and to many days of Leftovers!

Every year, we always have a surplus of food for our Thanksgiving meal.  I suppose our families lives by the saying, "We would rather have plenty than NOT enough food for everyone."  For my Thanksgiving Day festivity (Part I), the Mo and I hosted 25 people, 90% being his side.

We usually do it buffet style but this year, the Mo created a seating arrangement out of mismatched chairs and white folding tables using whatever candles and fall decor we had.  Although it wasn't something that would be featured in Martha's Stewart's Living magazine, I thought it was quite lovely and the guests appreciated having a seat and eating their meal without the dogs jumping on them.

We had 2 turkeys, a large pork shoulder and 11 different side dishes not including dessert.  Of course, we had plenty of leftovers, EVEN after the teenagers went for round 2 a few hours later.

I knew we would be eating the leftovers on Friday, but I didn't want to eat the usual Turkey sandwiches or turkey salad, so I did a few different things today.

Leftover Turkey Meat

For breakfast, I made the Mo a turkey, bacon and cheddar melt omelette with mushroom using the leftover turkey.
Fried Bacon
Chopped up Mushrooms

Turkey and Bacon Cheddar Omelette with Mushroom

For myself, I made a spinach and onion omelette using the remainder of the creamed spinach from yesterday's side dish.

Leftover Creamed Spinach
Creamed Spinach Omelette
His and Her's Post Turkey Day Breakfast 
After breakfast, I added all the ingredients for Weightwatcher's Turkey Chili Verde recipe to my slow cooker.  In addition to using the lean ground turkey, I also added 2 cups of shredded leftover turkey breast to the chili.  Instead of cooking it on the stop top as the recipe suggests, I set my slow cooker on High for 4 hours and went black Friday shopping. The original recipe is 6 points per a serving, but since I added additional meal, I'm giving it 8 points per serving. (It's probably even less) then another point for cheese.

Shredded Turkey Breast
Slow Cooker set on High for 4 Hrs
Bowl of Weightwatcher's Turkey chili with a tablespoon of cheese
For dinner, I made the Mo turkey and roasted pepper quesadilla using the same leftover turkey meat and leftover corn from last night.
Turkey, Peppers, Jalapeno and Onions
Must Have seasoning, Lawry's

Turkey Quesadilla with Corn and fresh baked honey corn bread
For tomorrow's Thanksgiving Dinner part II in CT, I signed up to make a simple Spanish rice among other things.  Although, I usually use chicken breast, I substituted the chicken with leftover turkey breast and the rice still came out delicious! (I only had a taste, not a plate) I kept the rice basic since it would be served as a side dish.  If it was going to be a main entree, I would have added olives, pigeon peas, bell peppers, ham and onions.
Goya Rice

Bottomline, Thanksgiving leftovers doesn't have to be boring. Be creative and try something new.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Turkish Delight!

Restaurant Review-Saray Restaurant
In preparation for our trip to Turkey, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the Turkish cuisine.  We are a frequent customer of, a website where you can purchase prepaid gift certificates at deeply discounted and saw the restaurant featured in the Mediterranean cuisine category.  Intrigued by the online menu, we purchased two gift certificates, one at a $25.00 value (for $ 2.00) and one at a $50.00 value (for $6.00).

I thought it was funny that my Cambodian uncle shares the same name as the restaurant.  His name is Saray, and based on WikipediaSaray is a Turkic word of Persian origin (Persianسرای sarai) which means "palace".  I couldn't find any correlation between Turkey, Persia, or Iran with Cambodia.  I guess its just a coincidence??

We originally planned on going just the two of us for an anniversary dinner on a weekday but since there were rush hour traffic delays, we decided to move Turkish dinner to Sunday and invited out my brother and his girlfriend to celebrate her birthday that usually takes place before, on or after Thanksgiving Day.

We met up for an early dinner at 5:00 PM and found ample parking which was a pleasant surprise in the usually crowded streets around Boston University.  We walked to the nearby grocery store, Star Market to pick up a 6 pack of beer since I have read on other reviews on Yelp that one could B.Y.O.B. since they do not have a liquor license.

The restaurant was very clean and the decor was simple but charming.  Upon arrival, the waitresses sat us and provided us with our menus, water and bread quickly.  There were a few other patrons dining in the restaurant.

Hot Appetizer plate
We started off with a few different appetizers including: Calamari, Sigara Borek (Fried Cheese Pastry), Grape leaves and the hot appetizer plate that included homemade hummus, pastrami, Zucchini Pancakes and more fried cheese.

Although I really like the hummus, I wished they provided something to dip it with.  I'm not sure if its a Turkish or American tradition, but I've always had hummus with pita chips, crackers or vegetables.  The Zucchini pancakes were also tasty and interesting.

The fried cheese pastry resembled a Chinese crab rangoon and I felt like it needed some kind of dipping sauce. The pastrami was a bit too salty for me and others also agreed.
Cheese Pastry
Grape Leaves
Zucchini Pancakes
We ordered an array of entrees and each had a sample of the different dishes we ordered.  On our table, we had: Stuffed Cabbage Roll, "Hunkar Begendi" (Sultan's Delight), Doner Kebab, and Char Grilled Chicken Kebab.  The meat portions were smaller than expected.

Cabbage Roll

The filling of the stuffed cabbage roll was lamb and rice and the taste and texture resembled corn beef, except that it didn't have any potatoes.

The most expensive dish, the "Sultan's Delight" had much to be desired for.  Although the lamb was delicious, there was only 5 meager pieces that looked like it was actually a larger piece cut into 5.  The eggplant puree was tasty and flavorful.

Doner Kebab

The Doner Kebab that was supposed to be sliced lamb and beef looked like it was only one type of meat instead of two.  There was no distinguishment among the lamb or beef.  Lastly, a few of us agreed that the rice may have been under cooked as there were some hard grains.

Chicken Kebab

The grilled chicken kebab was the tastiest dish that we ordered. I think I can live off of chicken kebabs for two weeks in Turkey.

Turkish Coffee

As a finale to our meal, we shared a pudding that was topped with pistachios.  It was just OK.  We also got delicious Turkish coffee that set us back $ 4.00 for a tiny cup.

Overall, the service was extremely nice.  Our water goblets were never empty and they turned off the lights and brought out a small dessert for us and sang "Happy Birthday" to the birthday girl. Saray Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Restaurant Review- Moonstones

enjoy life.
one bite at a time
That's their motto and I love it!

For our anniversary, we wanted to do something special and made plans to have dinner in Boston.  After Google Nav informed us that it would take us about 90 minutes from my office in Burlington to Brighton with the rush hour traffic, we opted to head back home to Lowell and find something nearby.

We finally opened up our new bottle of Balvenie Portwood 21 Year Old and had a few drinks before we decided on where to go for dinner.  The first option was our usual favorite, Fortunato's in Downtown Lowell, but since it is under new management, we were a bit reluctant since their website lacked information.  We also considered Ricardo's Cafe Trattoria but then chose Moonstones on a whim.

I've always received email specials from Scott Platt who owns both Cobblestones in Lowell and Moonstones in Chelsmford but never had a chance to make it over to Moonstones.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly hostess who advised us that there was one single table left in the dining area.  We opted to sit at the bar and wait for a table in the lounge where the scene was livelier.  The restaurant decor was very chic and modern. It's hard to believe that the place once used to be the Ground Round.
Moonstone's Bar and Lounge Area
(Photo Courtesy of Moonstone's Website)
Moonston's Raw Bar
(Photo Courtesy of Moonstone's Website)
At the bar, I ordered the House white wine and the Mo ordered a scotch.  I checked out what the other patron's were eating and everything looked amazing.  Even something as simple as a burger looked delicious.  After a short 15 minutes, two tables opened up in the lounge and we chose the option of sitting in a cozy table in the lounge.  We ordered a few more drinks at our table and looked over the global menu.  There were dishes inspired from Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, just to name a few countries.
Mami Eggroll and House White wine

We started off with 2 pairs of raw oysters and home made chips.  The oysters were lacked the "plump" that I was accustomed to but they were still sweet and delicious.
Oysters on the Half Shell

I was under the impression that the homemade seasoned chips would be hot or at least warm, but they were served at room temperature as if they were already premade.

Instead of ordering entrees, we decided to share a variety of Global Small Plates and a side of Phad Thai Noodles.  The noodles were just OK and the flavor was not up to par with the traditional noodle dish served at authentic Thai restaurants.
Phad Thai Noodles
The Korean Spicy Wings were reminiscent of Korean Bonchon wings.  Although the flavor was similiar, it lacked the extra crispiness of the double fried staple wings that Bonchon offers.
Moonstone's Korean Spicy Wings
The Turkish spiced chicken skewers and hummus was exquisiteness.  It had the perfect amount of seasoning that balanced well with the hummus.
Moonstone's Turkish Skewers and Hummus
The Mo and I both enjoyed the savory Mango Lemongrass BBQ Beef Skewers.  The beef sticks were tender and had a nice sweet taste to it.

Mango Lemongrass Beef Skewers

The Asian BBQ 5 spice short rib reminded me of a dish my mom makes called, "Kaw Kow", Cambodian beef stew which uses the same ingredients in the 5 spice blend.  The 5 spice is common among Asian dishes varying from Chinese Duck to Vietnamese Bon Bo Hue and Cambodian Beef Stew.  The 5 spice powder consists of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, pepper and fennel seeds.  The short ribs was very tender and succulent.  I am accustomed to being served short ribs on the bone but I was surprised that the dish was served boneless.

Asian 5 Spice Braised Short Rib
We are usually too stuffed for dessert, but we found some room for a Maple Cheesecake finale.  I'm glad we ordered it, it was scrumptious. It had a hint of maple and the perfect amount of chocolate and caramel swirls for dipping.

Maple Cheesecake
Overall, we would definitely recommend this restaurant to our friends and would be back.  We had a great time and would like to try the other global tapas on the menu.  Our final bill (less the original bar total) was just shy of $100.00 including a few drinks we ordered at the table.

Time to pay up the Mo!

Cheap Date night at Pizzico Ristorante
TreMonte Pizzeria in Downtown Lowell

Moonstones on Urbanspoon