Easy Chicken Tagine recipe

I have always wanted to go to Morocco to experience the rich culture and the delicious food and spices. For a long time I wanted a tagine which is a traditional earthenware pot with a conical lid. The beauty of tagine cooking is that you do not need a lot of liquid as the conical lid creates condensation which returns back to the pot. This results in the the food cooking in its own juices for intense flavor. 

This is by no means the traditional recipe but it is pretty close and tastes amazing. If you are in the Market for a tagine pot Sur La Table has 12.5 inch tagine pot for under $50. 

2 lbs chicken drumsticks and thighs
4 potatoes quartered
3 large carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
1 1/2 onions sliced
4 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh ginger thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted olives
1 1/2 preserved lemons
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinammon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 cinnamon stick
olive oil

- Season chicken pieces with salt, 1/2 the pepper and brown in non stick pan with olive oil.
- While chicken is browning mince garlic, ginger, 1/2 a preserved lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil, saffron and cilantro in a food processor. 
- Remove chicken from pan and add the onions, spices and saute' for about 2 minutes. 
- Layer the cooked onions in the pot followed by the chicken pieces, carrots, potatoes,olives and remaining lemon 
-  Pour garlic and herb mixture over vegetables and season with a salt and pepper. 
- Add the cinnamon stick to the pot and cover. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. 
- Remember not to place tagine pot in preheated oven. Start with a cold oven. 

12.5 inch Terra Cotta pot from Sur La Table

The Poynt - Newburyport : New England's hottest brunch spot.

One of the great things about living in New England is that there are plenty of beautiful surrounding towns to visit. I remember reading an article that mentioned Newburyport as being one of the most beautiful towns in New England, so when I was invited for a day of shopping and brunch there I was very excited to finally take teh tip there. 
I went with my blogger BFF Kristin and when we arrived our first stop was brunch at The Poynt a fabulous new restaurant in Newburyport. I loved the decor of the place, an interesting fact is that the interior was designed by world famous interior designer Taniya Nayak. 

To say their brunch menu is great is an understatement, it is just pure deliciousness and that means a lot coming from me, one of the worlds biggest food snobs. The stuffed french toast was one of my favorites. It is stuffed with maple infused mascarpone and served with a berry compote...yum.

I also tried the Bananas Fosters Crepes which were delicious. The cinnamon whipped cream really takes the crepes to another level and the rum caramel adds a very unique and tasty flavor. 

The Poynt has a in house Pizza oven which means perfect pizza all the time. I had a slice of their breakfast pizza which was another favorite menu item. The breakfast pizza has grilled potatoes, apple bacon, fontina cheese, fried eggs and creme fraiche...need I say more. 

You would think after all that eating I would not have room for anything else but the greedy person in me had to order something else. I went with a smoked brisket hash which was topped with poached eggs and jalapeno barbeque hollandaise. This dish is perfect for those that need something savory and filling for brunch. 

Poynt gets a Spoons and Stilettos thumbs up and if you happen to visit Newburyport I would recommend The Poynt for brunch. I plan on going back next summer with the boyfriend and cannot wait to try their dinner menu. 

Be sure to check out part 2 of my Newburyport experience featuring my pure choice in outfit and the charming streets and shops of Newburyport.. 

disclaimer: although this meal was complimentary the views, images and opinions in this post are purely my own. 

Beginners guide to delicious homemade Pho

If you haven't tried pho you are missing out some good stuff. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with broth, meat and herbs. Marcus and I usually have it at Pho Pasteur in downtown Boston but since we moved to the burbs its much easier to just make it at home. I will painfully admit that he makes better soups and Pho than I do including the delicious bowl below which I enjoyed. I cook most of the time so it is even better when someone else has made it. 

Pho is pretty simple to make however there are some important tips to remember if you want to get great results:

- Use a good quality broth: Some may say the meat makes the pho but I say a good broth is the key to a delicious pho. You can either make your broth from scratch using beef or chicken bones if you have time or use a very good quality store bought broth. I love the organic Imagine free range chicken broth. Can be found at your local whole foods or grocery store. 
- Select the right cut of meat: Brisket or shin meat are great choices for this dish. Avoid using regular steaks as these will get tough and chewy in the end. You can use flank if you will add it right at the end. Not a meat eater, use extra firm tofu. We used meat and tofu in ours because we are just greedy. 
- Aromatics are a must: Spices, onions, ginger, garlic will give your pho a delicious aroma and taste. 
- Add Fresh herbs: I love to add fresh cilantro or parsley as it adds a extra flavor dimension to the dish. Dried spices will not cut it. 
- Use yellow rock sugar: Finish the dish with yellow rock sugar and a dash of fish sauce. I find this adds authenticity and more flavor to the dish. Yellow rock sugar especially brings the flavors together.
- Use rice noodles: I really find rice noodles to be the best for this dish. I would not use regular pasta as the texture doesn't work with this dish. 

For a pho recipe: The Viet Kitchen has a great recipe that I'm sure you will enjoy. 

Savvy Shopping: My great TJ Maxx beauty haul!

TJ Maxx is truly one of my favorite stores because I can get anything from handbags to Home goods at discount prices. I would like to think of myself as a true maxxinista especially after a recent trip there. I got these beauty treatments including an eye mask, oils, nail polish and facial mask all for 12 bucks. If like me you cannot afford visits to the spa I highly recommend doing it yourself at home.Your face and wallet will be glad you did. 

The easiest Scallop recipe

I used to be one of those people who was intimidated by scallops especially after watching the TV show chopped on the food network.The chefs would get eliminated for slightly overcooking their scallops. I decided to take the plunge and was surprised at how simple they were to prepare. Since my first try, scallops have been part of my dinner rotation and I love them simply seared. 

8 fresh scallops
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove sliced thinly

- Rinse and pat dry scallops with a paper towel. It is very important that scallops are dry so they brown well. 
- Season scallops with salt and pepper. 
- Add olive oil followed by butter in a heated non stick pan. 
-  Add garlic to butter and cook each side of scallops for 3 minutes until golden brown. 
- Remove from pan and serve immediately. 
- I served mine with spinach and whole wheat bulgur.