Sunday, December 13, 2015

Not Your Average Dining Experience At Not Your Average Joe’s

Ah, the chain restaurants. Its comforting knowing what your in for- same restaurant setup and décor, same drink selection, same food cooked from a microwave.

Comfort…no, just completely boring.

I know what your thinking: “Not Your AverageJoe’s, that’s a chain restaurant that has that same color concept and menu selection at all their locations”.

Now, what if I told you, you were wrong about your thinking of Not Your Average Joe’s being a typical chain restaurant (trust me, after my experience, I did a complete 180 of how I view Joe’s!).

I was invited to NYAJ’s newest restaurant in Waltham located in what I call the ‘new outside mall’ on Market Place Drive and try out their fall/winter menu.  Right off the bat, I was impressed by their newest addition- a fire pit roaring outside, the floor to ceiling windows to create a more open atmosphere, and the communal tables- tables for couples to mingle with one another and meet and greet other people.

Outside view of Not Your Average Joe's Waltham

Outside fire-pit and patio used all year long! They even have complimentary blankets if you're cold!

Have a seat and munch on some bread as you wait for you table
Open bar space 

Our host for the evening was Executive Chef Jeff, a master of the culinary field. He led us a tour of their open kitchen where we able to see food prepping at its finest, the roaring fire in the pizza oven and the popular “walk-in”, essentially a large freezer you walk into.

Pizza oven hard at work

Open kitchen space

Next it was time for the fun- drinks and dinner!


I started off with a Berry Me in Bubbles Cocktail, a NYAJ’s favorite, which features strawberry wine, elderflower liqueur, and house-made lemonade.

Berry me in Bubble Cocktail

Main Event- Tasting Menu (I’m breaking this down course by course, as there were a lot! Oh, and remember, all the food listed here and everything on their menu is made from scratch in-house with fresh, never frozen ingredients).


Deviled Eggs-
Mixed with sriracha chili spice, topped with togarashi spice and cucumber potato crisps

Deviled Eggs

Mango Shrimp Rolls-
Shrimp, mango, cucumber, mint, cilantro and rice noodles with tangy peanut dipping sauce

Mango Shrimp Rolls

Buffalo Caribbean Chicken Tenders-
Breaded and tossed with mango-buffalo bbq sauce served with pineapple-jalapeno salsa

Buffalo Caribbean Chicken Tenders

Salads & Flatbreads:

Butternut Squash Flatbread-
Sage-pecan pest, roasted butternut squash, shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella and balsamic reduction

Butternut Squash Flatbread

Super Crunch Salad-
Grilled chicken tossed with quinoa, green apples, pistachios, avocado, spinach, mint and cilantro in an orang-sesame dressing

Super Crunch Salad


Mustard-Crusted Chicken *NYAJ’s most popular dish*
Chicken breasts in a three-mustard marinade and panko crumbs, pan seared and served with green beans, garlic mashed potatoes and lemon aioli

Mustard Crusted Chicken

Vietnamese Salmon-
Spice rubbed and grilled, with a lime-infused chili broth, rice noodles, crunchy veggies and crushed peanuts

Vietnamese Salmon

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese-
Veggie version of an Italian classis made with a mushroom Bolognese, roasted spaghetti squash, sautéed spinach and grated Romano cheese

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese 

Rosemary Skewered Scallops-
All natural scallops pan seared and served over a succotash of Israeli couscous, grilled corn, bacon and tomatoes with an orange-chipotle glaze

Rosemary Skewered Scallops

Cranberry-Teriyaki Roasted Chicken *my personal favorite*
Pan-roasted bell & evans all natural chicken, house-made butternut squash ricotta cannelloni with sautéed spinach

Chicken Teriyaki Roasted Chicken 

Peanut Butter Thing-
Peanut butter and chocolate chunks folded into vanilla ice cream and rolled in oreo cookie crumbs, topped with fresh whipped cream and drizzled with hot chocolate and caramel sauces

Peanut Butter Thing
Gogi Berry Apple Crisp *my other favorite of the night*
Cinnamon spiced apples, goji berries and ginger with a brown-sugar oat crust served warm with vanilla ice cream

Gogi Berry Apple Crisp
Carrot Cake-
Not your average carrot cake with delicious cream cheese frosting caramel sauce

Carrot Cake
By the end of the night, I basically rolled myself out of the restaurant after having such delectable dishes.

Seriously, it’s time you made a stop to your local Not Your Average Joe’s; with their menu changing in the spring, you have a limited time to try all their amazing seasonal dishes!

What is your favorite fall/winter dish?
 photo bean-sig_zps47e75846.png

Note: This event was provided free of charge. All opinions, whether you like them or not, are all my own.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Whittl: The Best Appointment You Ever Kept

We’ve all been there, need to call to make that mani/pedi appointment, it’s on your list, but you completely forgot until it’s too late. Or, how about that time you actually did remember to book your appointment, got a great new style and wanted to thank your stylist, except you spent your extra cash last night at the bar. Wouldn’t just be great if you could book your appointment on the run and even pay with your phone and completely skip the hassle of remembering your cash tip? Well, hassle no more because Whittl is here for your booking convenience.

 Whittl allows you to book appointments anytime with the best salons and spa businesses in Boston, pay and tip online and there are no fees added to your payment! Although Whittl is new to Boston, the opportunities are expanding past the spas and salons and right to the ophthalmology and dental exam rooms. Still need more convincing, take a look at my experience with Whittl.

I was in need of a haircut before the leaves started to change color and hit the ground, so I thought I’d give Whittl a try. The website was easy to follow and showed me a listing of companies profiles along with pricing. I decided to check out Salon Acote based on the location for my haircut and as I was booking my appointment, I was given an array of options from stylist (categorized by Levels) and an assortment of times to choose from. When it came time to checking out and pay for my service (my card didn’t get charged until after my appointment), I was given the option adding a percent tip, which for me was my favorite part, I always forget to bring cash! Whittl kept in touch with me via emails and text messaging letting me know my appointment was booked, added to my calendar so I wouldn’t forget, and texted me to remind me of my upcoming appointment.

Salon Acote

Oodles of Refreshments
Salon Acote is a contemporary 3rd floor salon located right in the heart of Newbury Street. I was seen right away and was offered an array of light refreshments and small bites. Olta took care of me and gave me just the trim I needed to get ready for the fall weather.

Cozy salon with a view!
 It was such a delight using Whittl to book and pay for may appointment; I can’t wait to use it again for my next pampering day.

What will your first appointmet be with 

 photo bean-sig_zps47e75846.png

Note: I was given a discount to participate with Whittl. My opinions, whether you like them or not, are all my own.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Getting Fit and Eating Fab at University Station

If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s been a Renaissance blooming in the way we shop. No, I’m not talking online shopping, but by way of new destinations and all-in-one shopping consisted of all outdoor storefronts, restaurants, parks, and even living and working spaces. (Live, work and shop all in once place…sign me up!). What began with Legacy Place in Dedham, this idea seems to have spread from the Northshore with Market Place in Lynnfield, to Assembly Row in Somerville and now the newest, eat/work/shop location, University Station in Westwood, about 20 minutes outside Boston.

I was graciously invited to scope out the new location with the emphasis on their new workout club- Life Time Fitness, a shopping excursion at The Sports Authority and dining at Bonefish Grill.

Walking into Life Time Fitness, you can tell right away, this isn’t your typical neighborhood Planet Fitness, this exclusive club offers everything from a full-service salon, healthy cafeteria, Olympic sized pools, learning center for children, boxing area, Alpha Training classes, and best of all, outdoor water slide.

Yoga/Pilates Room

Outdoor Pool & Water Slide!
After a tour of the luxurious facility, it was time get our butts moving with the Alpha Training class. Describing and Alpha Training class can be best summed up as-

“Designed for groups of 2 to 6 people, Alpha Training is the most intense, highest form of training we offer. It is an outcome-based regimen that works all of the body’s core energy systems. By focusing on speed, power, strength and endurance, it pushes the body to extreme limits and eliminates weakness while incorporating proper technique and nutrition to achieve maximum results”.

AKA- Get ready for an intense butt kicking!

Our trainers Tanya and Keith were not only amazing but also were gentle on us. After an hour of high knees, rowing, weightlifting and a little jogging, it was time to wrap it up, change and head out to our next destination.

Group Fitness Studio

Stay Motivated! 

The Sports Authority was kind enough to offer us $25 gift cards for any of our sports/workout needs. For me, that need was a new pair of sneakers. After 10 year and probably over 1000 miles, this past Walk For Hunger was the last walk my sneakers would take with me, as at the end of the 20 mile walk, the soles of my sneakers fell off!

I ended up choosing a pair of Asics Gel-Exalt 2 Running sneakers that were kind to my feet and my wallet. 

Asics Gel_Exhat 2 Running
Last but certainly not least of our amazing evening, it was time to wind down and dine at Bonefish Grill.

Our very attentive wait staff warmly welcomed us with a bottle of 19 Crimes red wine. (yes, please!)

19 Crimes Red Wine
Our group started with an array of appetizers- Thai Coconut Shrimp, Ahi Tuna Sashimi, their most popular app Bang Bang Shrimp and Calamari.
Coconut Shrimp, Ahi Tuna Sashimi, Bang Bang Shrimp, Calamari 
Next up, it was time to sample the Chicken and Salmon both topped with mango sauce and cooked spinach.
Chicken & Salmon with Mango Sauce 

Next plate coming at us was the Fortina Pork Chop with fontina cheese, garlic, prosciutto, mushroom marsala wine sauce.

Fortina Pork Chop 
With room to spare, it was time to try Lily’s Chicken with Goat cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts + lemon basil sauce. (My personal favorite).

Lily's Chicken 
Lastly, for the entrées, we tried a steak medley with a cheese sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Steak Medley 
Even with our tummies full to capacity, we just had to try the desserts, (we kept hearing about these ‘fill your own’ doughnuts since we walked in the door). It was no wonder, because as soon at the doughnuts hit our table, they were gone in a flash, mini croissant-type doughnuts that you can stuff with your choice of chocolate, caramel or both fillings!

There was also, Macadamia Nut Brownie, although flowerless, its rich chocolate tastes pack a punch in your mouth.

Macademia Nut Brownie
Very last, but certainly not least, were the Coconut Crème Pie and a seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Crème Brule.

Coconut Creme Pie

Pumpkin Creme Brule 

With so much to offer and in such a short distance from Boston, University Station is certainly the go-to place to eat/shop/live/repeat!

What’s your favorite new destination to shop?

 photo bean-sig_zps47e75846.png

Note: This event was provided free of charge. All opinions, whether you like them or not, are all my own.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Boston & Bale- Boston’s Best Local’s Delivered Right to Your Door

Looking around today, you notice a few trends happening, more people are opting for local, fresh food while having everything delivered from clothing you can rent and return to samples of the top makeup companies. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have both, local goods delivered right to our house? Well, now we can with Boston’s newest delivery service- Boson & Bale.

Created by Boston locals Michelle and Elise, Boston & Bale was thought up after stumbling up a hidden farmers market in Cambridge. As many small and local businesses know, getting recognized in a world of over advertising, big box stores with lower pricing, can be pretty tough, if not almost impossible. Boston & Bale carefully picks local designers and companies to be included in their delivery service, and with each month containing new products, there’s no telling what local maker you’ll discover next. Best of all, if your more interested in a certain product or perhaps aren’t a fan of chocolate (what?!), Boston & Bale packages boxes tailored to every subscriber, so you’ll be sure to love (and use) every product you receive.

If I still haven’t convinced you to try Boston & Bale, the company is also donating 10% of their monthly sales to a local charity or organization. Local products sent to you by a local company who gives back to the local community, all this adds up to you being one sustainable, local lover. And let’s be honest, what’s better than shopping and being local? If you ask me, nothing! Why else would I write this blog?!

August’s Makers

AtlanticSaltworks- Handcrafted sea salt proudly made in small batches with water harvested from the shores of historic Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Cuppow - Develops everyday products that help us live a low impact life made of recycled materials.

Extra’s By Alaina - Handmade in Boston calligraphy & paper goods for events & everydays.

Kitchen Millie - Bringing back that fresh from the oven taste at a size that's right for your body and spirit, one two-bit cookie at a time.

Middle Dune Paper Goods - Handmade paper goods - cut, bound, carved, and printed in Somerville, MA.

Monique Aimee – Illustrating and Lettering antiques from saws with classic phrases, embroidering hoops with sass, and bringing life to common items through illustration talents.

One Delightful Button - Handmade earrings, cufflinks, bookmarks -- you name it -- all from vintage buttons and fabulous fabric finds.

Pure7 Chocolates - Handcrafted raw and organic honey-sweetened chocolate, unprocessed, unrefined and free of chemicals, dairy, soy, gluten and refined sugars.
Westborough Wicks - Hand poured soy candles in recyclable vessels and all natural handmade soaps made in small batches w/solar power, recycled packaging & a curated artisan process, created in Westborough, MA.

Studdly - Friendship bracelets, leather, and studs- does it get any better?

Can't wait until your first Boston & Bale package delivery? Get a sneak peak of The Makers and thier products this August 7th, 8th and 9th Pop-Up Shop at Forge Baking Company

What are you looking forward to see in you Boston & Bale Box?  

 photo bean-sig_zps47e75846.png