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Keep it simple Sunday: Cold brew coffee

Ahh it’s June!! Which means summer (unofficially) has arrived. Along with fro yo, sangria and seafood — summer means iced coffee!! …more specifically COLD BREW. Yes. I’m obsessed. A few years ago, I did a brief stint as a marketing/social media consultant for a local bakery…and that’s where my love affair with cold brew began. At the time, it was free…and oh man, I drank my weight’s worth, I’m sure. On top of it being just… SO GOOD… cold brew has a ton of benefits :

  • It’s less acidic, perfect for anyone with a sensitive stomach
  • Because it’s less acidic, it tastes smoother and less bitter
  • It’s SO easy to make

That summer I was sucking down cold brewed coffee after cold brewed coffee in between updating the bakery’s Facebook and Twitter accounts (I don’t know how I wasn’t shaking uncontrollably). I had no clue how easy it was to make, and the fact that you can make bulk batches so — for people like me who leave themselves the least amount of time possible to get up and out the door in the morning — you can still enjoy an insanely easy and delicious coffee each and every morning.

So…ready for these steps?

1. Grab your French press (if you don’t have a french press you can do this in a mason jar or something like that as well)

2. Put coffee in the press (rule of thumb seems to be about 1/3 cup coffee grounds per one cup of water…but you can add more or less depending on how you like your coffee)

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3. Add cool water (I use enough coffee/water to just fill up my entire eight cup French press)

4. Stir and let sit for at least 24 hours

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After 24+ hours, use the press to press all the grinds to the bottom and pour out your concentrate into a container for storage (if you don’t use a press…straining through a fine mesh strainer with a coffee filter  or fine cheese cloth would work, too!). This will last me at least the week!

Voila! Pour over ice (depending on the strength of the concentrate I may or may not add extra water when I’m making my drink), and customize! If you’re not an iced coffee person, you can heat it up, as well.

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Thinking 24 hours in advance too much of a long shot? There are also some great companies out there that make delicious cold brew concentrates that are available in any ole grocery story. I was just at an event where we got to sample Grady’s Cold Brew coffee concentrate..and it’s seriously delicious (and available at most Whole Foods!). All you need to do is open the bottle and pour over ice.

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As Ina would say… how easy is that?

 

 

 


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Keep it simple Sundays

Okay – let’s be real. Life’s busy. So starting today, I’m going to feature something simple that I’m loving, whether it’s an idea, recipe, product, activity — whatever, each and every Sunday. So welcome to this lovely little series – here’s to hoping you’ll find some inspiration to take the stress out of starting the week.

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to pull out all the stops and put a more complex (albeit drool-worthy) Ina Garten-inspired, meal together a few times a week…as a result, my eating habits have recently hit an all time lowwww. So in place of cutting corners or rummaging through the junk drawer for takeout menus, I started thinking, “What’s the simplest thing I can cook right now.”

In came some inspiration from a dinner out from my dad’s birthday and my cast iron pan. Don’t have a cast iron? You don’t truly need one but as a lady in a tiny apartment with an even smaller kitchen – this is a multi-tasker that I cannot live without and highly recommend!!

Inspiration: Alden & Harlow’s delicious grilled carrots.

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Problem: Time. Lack of grill. Mostly time.

Simple solution: Pan roasted carrots with sea salt, pepper, dried herbs/spices, olive oil.

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You need:

  • Large cast iron skillet or oven-safe sauté pan or baking sheet with a lip (we don’t need oil falling on the floor of your oven – fires are never good) \
  • Bag of carrots (I found some awesome multi-colored beauties at Trader Joe’s)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Spices to taste (I used what was in my cabinet: onion powder, garlic powder)
  • Dried herbs to taste (I used dried thyme and marjoram)
  • Olive oil

All you need to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F (you could up the temp, I just have a finicky fire alarm so I keep temps lower)
  2. Cut tops of washed/dried carrots – no need to peel them if they’re washed well!
  3. Throw them in the pan and coat with small amount of oil (I used about a 2 tsp) and salt, pepper, spices and dried herbs
  4. Throw in the oven for about 35-45 minutes – or until desired doneness. I still like my carrots to have a bit of a bite to them.

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Super simple. Super delicious. Super good for you. Aaand super customizable!

What are some of your go-to simple side-dishes? 


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Camille Albane – Boston: Sink selfies, mandatory.

Okay, let’s be real…I am not that person who wakes up and spends an hour getting ready in the morning. I give myself just enough time to get up, wake up, get dressed and make myself presentable. Primping and polishing just isn’t on my to-do list…even when I HAVE the time. Overanalyzing myself in the mirror is just not the way I like to start my day. haha

However, I DO love to get my hair done (just not do it myself… have you seen my mane? So.much.hair.) so when I had an opportunity to try out Camille Albane on Newbury Street for a moisturizing treatment, blow out and some makeup through Blog & Tweet Boston – I was totally down!

A bunch of us met up at the (wicked cute) salon where we met with their marketing manager and a few of their stylists over some yummy treats (macarons?? Oooh, be still my heart). The one thing that really struck me was how – honestly- passionate they all were about – not just hair and make up, but the company as well. Their excitement was infectious, and so I couldn’t wait to sit down for a shampoo.

 

 

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They put their moisturizing treatment and a bit of the color treatment (my hair isn’t colored but it adds a little pigment and depth to your hair)…and then we waited about 15 minutes for the treatment to soak in.

And… we took advantage of the time…you know, sink selfies with Morgan (left) and Emily (right), obviously.

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Once rinsed, I was seated with Lillya – who took the reins and tackled my hair. The closest I get to “doing” my hair is blow-drying it (not in any specific way just blasting heat at my head until it’s dry) or straight ironing so a blow out is a treat – props to Lillya for the arms strength required just to get through my head of hair.

When Lillya was finished with me, I then sat down to try our some of their makeup line which had a denim theme. Blues…ahhh! I immediately think of Mimi from The Drew Carey Show…

 

but…they proved me wrong.

I rarely do a lot of eye make up – but loved this look. The end result? Fabulous!

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The only bummer? It was a weeknight – and I had nowhere to go and show off all of their hard work. Haha

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I’ll definitely be visiting Camille Albane (I walk by them practically every day) again…their prices are awesome, the people are super fun and passionate about hair, and their work is just great. If you’re in the market for a cut, color, or blow out — I’d definitely recommend checking them out! Thanks to Blog & Tweet for a fun night out with some great ladies !

 

 

Disclaimer: I received this experience free-of-charge through my affiliation with Blog & Tweet Boston in exchange for a review. Opinions, as always, are my own. 


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Sunday Funday with Puritan & Co. in Cambridge

A couple of weeks ago, I got to hang out with a bunch of fabulous ladies at Puritan & Company in Cambridge for brunch. I was psyched to learn that I had scored a seat with the Boston Brunchers crew (the last time I met up with Renee and other brunchers had been back in November 2013!).

Prior to Renee’s invite, I hadn’t heard of Puritan but with one look at the menu I was really excited to try them out. They source as much as they can from local farms and their pastries just looked to.die.for. So day of, I grabbed an Uber and made the short trip over the Mass Ave. bridge to their location in Inman Square.

Stepping in the front door, I instantly loved it. It was bright, airy, trendy, and homey all at the same time. It was busy but not overly crowded (we were there at 1pm), and I was immediately jealous that this little gem wasn’t in my neighborhood. haha

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So let’s talk the important stuff. The food. Puritan was SUPER generous (thank you!!!). We were able to try ALL of their pastries, a cocktail off their Sunday Sippers menu and an entrée item.  Our waiter was great; so, so nice and willing to answer any question that came his way – I’m sure it’s overwhelming to deal with a table of 10+ women with their cameras out. haha

We started with coffee and pastry. We were able to try their  Boston Cream Donut, Dulce de Leche & Coconut Danish, Banana Bread, Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Blondie, Preserved Lemon Corn Muffin, and Ham & Cheese (I believe they said it was Gruyere) Pinwheel.

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We quickly split up our plate our side of the table, and everyone ooo’d and ahhh’d over the treats. My favorites? The coconut & caramel danish and the boston cream donut were my favorite sweet treats (though the Danish wasn’t nearly as sweet as you might think it would be! – so good!). The ham & cheese pinwheel also incredible!

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My cocktail was their Park Avenue Cocktail (which isn’t listed under the sippers on their site, but was the day of our brunch) was a great combination of gin, pineapple and sweet vermouth. A sweet & strong drink – definitely a sipper – that was good til the last drop!

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For my entrée, I went with their Wagyu Steak and Eggs. The eggs were SO vibrant. Renee had captioned one of her photos  something like – THIS is what happy eggs look like – and it’s just so true. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the potatoes hit the spot, the toast was deceivingly simple looking but drenched in butter and just incredible (it’s the simplest things sometimes!), my steak was so good AND the hollandaise was whipped – so it was rich as well as light and fluffy at the same time. One of the (seemingly) simplest – and best – brunch dishes I’ve had in a while.

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Needless to say. I was a member of the clean plate club.

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We all ate, chatted and took photos to our heart’s content and when Chef/Owner Will Gilson came over toward the end – we couldn’t help but gush over the meal…specifically how gorgeous the eggs were. Again, the little things.

Puritan does more than brunch, too – their dinner menu looks great, and I know I’ll be back to dive in. If you’re in the area go check them out! Seriously.

Thanks again to Chris & Will at Puritan and Co. for such a great experience, and to Renee and Boston Brunchers for the opportunity to join! See you guys again soon!! 

 

 

This brunch was provided to me free of charge through my association with Boston Brunchers. Opinions are always my own. 

 


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popchips pop-up

Okay – so what do you get when you combine popchips, Polar Seltzer and Deep Eddy Vodka with a bunch of Boston bloggers and some talented chefs?

A crunchy, bubbly, boozy good time.

A couple of weeks ago, I made my way out to Central Square in Cambridge to Workbar, a really amazing, membership-based co-working space (complete with beer on tap…I wish my office could have this! haha) for a popchips sponsored cook-off featuring local Boston chefs who are associated with Kitchen Surfing Boston.

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To be honest, I hadn’t heard of Kitchen Surfing prior to this event; however, it’s an online marketplace for chefs that helps connects them with people like me (and presumably you, too) who like to eat (in Boston – and other cities…and countries… as well).

You can pick or be matched up with a local chef (you can even search by specialty…want someone who specializes in molecular gastronomy? Get ready for liquid nitrogen ice cream – they’ve got you covered) who will prepare a unique menu for you, come to your home and cook it for you in your own kitchen – they can even bring their own pots, pans, knives…salt, pepper, you name it. Oh – and they clean up, too. Say what? Yes. Amazing. As my uncle would say — get after it!

And if the chefs we hung out with that night are any indication – they’re not only talented but super nice people.

I arrived with enough time to munch, drink, and mingle — I met some great new people and caught up with some old blogger buddies that I hadn’t seen in a while. Polar Seltzer and Deep Eddy Vodka teamed up to make some pretty stellar (and strong – no complaints here!) cranberry cocktails. I’m officially obsessed with Deep Eddy’s Cranberry Vodka and neeeeeed to find their other flavors.

The chefs set up their workstations and jumped into assembling their creations. Yes, you read that right before…a popchips cook-off. Each chef had been assigned a specific flavor of popchips and had to create a dish based on that.

The stuff they came up with was awesome –

  • The duo of Chefs Mark O’Leary and Justin Hackett from Aprons Off Catering made: A Vietnamese Banh Mi & Popchips Had a Baby. “A classic banh mi with BBQ popchip-cured pork, salt & vinegar popchip may and Katy Perry’s supernatural popchip pate on an original popchip Vietnamese style baguette. Yes. Seriously. Their creations were amazing (and adorable), and they made the buns themselves. Some of them were still warm. Mhmmm. And they get bonus points for badass tattoos.
  • Chef Jitti Chaithiraphant made a corn and cheddar popchips chowder. It was seriously decadent and so, so perfect for a cold night. He told us he had to open like 300 bags of popchips for the recipe (it made a lot of soup)– insane!!
  • Chef Jen Rogers of PerfectBite made: Popchips Chicken & Waffles – She was not only wickedly funny…but she her  fun play on chicken and waffles  included a homemade hot & sweet BBQ sauce and slaw. Also, she knew the way to most of our hearts and included the most amazingly spicy bloody mary (and I’m usually not a bloody mary person….who knew the secret to my undying affection was more horseradish?! UPDATEStrike that! Jen gave me ONE clue and that was that there was no horseradish (c’mon tastebuds you should know better than that!)…now, to figure out the key to the spice!!  I asked her for the recipe…but it’s a closely guarded secret. Time to start experimenting.

Enough yapping about it… here’s the good stuff:

Mark & Adam from Aprons Off -- told ya, the tattoos...general badassery & stellar food

Mark & Adam from Aprons Off — ..general badassery & stellar food…win/win

Mark & Adam's epic mini banh mi.

Mark & Adam’s epic mini banh mi.

Chef Jitt putting the final touches on the chowder

Chef Jitti putting the final touches on the chowder

Seriously good corn & cheddar showder

Seriously good corn & cheddar showder

Jen putting the final touches on her chicken and waffles inspired app

Jen putting the final touches on her chicken and waffles inspired app

Chicken & waffles and that amazing bloody mary shot

#happyhour indeed

#happyhour indeed

All together now.

All together now.

In the end — I think my favorite went to the banh mi. It was just so many of my favorite flavors, but allll of the dishes were amazing. After the event were able to enter into a popchips contest and create their own recipes — and while I unfortunately didn’t have the time in my schedule these past couple of weeks — some of my blogger friends made some absolutely epic dishes with popchips! :) Check them out here!  

Before we left, Workbar gave us a tour of their facility which is just awesome…I seriously wish my office could be as awesome as this place is — thank you to Blog & Tweet Boston for the opportunity to hang with some great people and eat some amazing food and to popchips, Polar Selzter, Deep Eddy Vodka, Workbar, and Kitchen Surfing for a fantastic time!!

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What’s in a name…

Alright. So it’s been a hot minute since we got the ball rolling over here — and I figured I’d give a little background on myself.

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Yup…that’d be me…

First off, what’s in a name? Why “just one elle“? 

So, starting over, I wanted a space that wasn’t tooo specific. I wanted something indicative of me, but not so focused that I could possibly (quickly) out grow it as my life, location, and interests change — as they tend to do at a rapid clip. So out of that… “just one elle” was born. As you may have noticed, I’m a Jilian…or more commonly, Jil, with just one “L” — it’s different, and while I’m not the only “Jilian with one L”  in the world, it makes me, ME. Plus, I’ve learned to love it (I spelled “Jill” with two “Ls” through at least 8th grade…you know whole “not wanting to be different” thing). Yes, people still constantly misspell it (and I honestly, don’t care) and they joke that I’ve spelled my own name wrong — but there’s a story behind my name (one that I won’t bore you with right now) and that makes it all the more special. I chose “elle”…because 1. it looks better and 2. in French (which I adore) it translates to “she”, “her”, and technically the feminine form of “it” …and while not necessarily grammatically correct, it just felt right.

How long have I been blogging? 

Technically, I’ve been blogging since high school — LiveJournal was all the rage (and uber dramatic…), but I really started blogging in 2009 after discovering Jenna Beaugh’s (formerly, Webber): Eat, Live, Run. At the time I was finishing up my degree, and working full time. Blogging was a way for me to write, and — inspired by Jenna — keep tabs on what I was eating/making. This is my third blog — having previously written two other food-based blogs — the most recent one being: big city, lil kitchen.

What do I do…like… in real life? 

I write. Okay, that’s a generalization. So in real life, I work in Internal/Corporate/Employee (however you want to slice it) Communications for a Financial Services company in the Boston-area. I get to write a lot, strategize, and engage employees so that’s pretty great. Boiled down…it’s essentially Marketing/PR just done within the walls of my company — our employees are our stakeholders.

What’s your degree?

I have a B.A. in Communication and Journalism with a focus in Public Relations.

A little more…?

I’m a 20-something living in Boston, and a native of New Hampshire. I’m tall (5’10). No, I didn’t play basketball or volleyball in high school. …I was a chorus and theatre kid — and prrrroud of it!

Favorite thing about blogging? 

Hands.down. The community. I’ve met some amazing people in Boston through blogging. When I first started — I was so skeptical of meeting blogging people (it actually took maybe four years for me and one of my most amazing friends, Naomi @ OneFitFoodie, to meet in real life haha). I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many different types of people, who do so many different things (very few  are actually full-time bloggers), and…on top of it are really nice. Plus, unless you’re one of the lucky ones — we all know how difficult it can be sometimes to “make new friends” as an adult — especially in a city.  Major blessing. On top of it, I’ve had some awesome opportunities and been able to work with some fantastic brands that I might not have been able to otherwise! Win.Win.Win.

Spare time? What am I doing?

If it involves: carbohydrates, chocolate, wine (and honestly… booze of any kind), music, or coffee. I’m there. I have a love/hate relationship with running…most days the love outweighs the hate. Wandering around Boston with friends, discovering something new – there’s always something happening somewhere. Volunteering. Reading. People watching. Taking photos of my food with my phone… Grocery shopping (let’s be real, I do this…A LOT).

Sum myself up in a word (or two or three…oh, who are we kidding)? 
Nerd.  Goofball. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

The rest of it? You’ll find out along with me. haha


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Fresh starts

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Everyone talks about fresh starts. The promise of a “clean slate” sounds absolutely amazing – but at the same time, it’s definitely frightening. Walking away from a “sure-thing” is never fun…but then again…I can’t think of a time when something truly stellar has occurred when you choosing a “sure-thing” over a risk (even a calculated risk). So this new blog is definitely a fresh start for me. And that’s a little scary, but I think that’s what I need in my life right now. “Starting over” on my former blog, big city, lil kitchen, wasn’t a reality…I can’t count the number of posts that started with “So…it’s been awhile..”

At the end of the day, I wanted a place that wasn’t pigeon-holed and I felt like that space did that to me (whether it actually did that or not).

So…

Is this a “healthy living” blog? No.
Is this a “review” blog? No.
Is this a “food” blog? No.
Is this a “lifestyle” blog? No.
Is this a “travel” blog? No.
Is this a “weight loss” blog? No.
Is this a “running” blog? No.
Is this a “style” blog? No.
Could it be any and all of those things at one time? Sure?

Then what the hell is it?

It’s me.

You know, I’ve written in a couple of different spaces and I think the thing I’ve learned most is that I can’t just try and squeeze myself into some existing slice of blogging. I like the fact that I can *like* a lot of things. I can write about a lot of things. Focusing on just one or two small aspects of my life seems forced, and really wouldn’t make sure the most interesting reading. Or writing for that matter.

I’m writing for me – and because it’s what I do best and something essential for me. Writing’s always been my thing. It’s how I work through things; how I create. This is a place where I’m going to write about any thing and everything — what I’m doing, thinking, loving, creating, struggling with…etc, etc.

If there’s anyone out there who ends up following along – that’s awesome!  I look forward to having you along for the ride.

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