Far East Feast

As my friends and I sat down for dinner on Thursday night, they had no idea what HUDS had in store in the servery. I, on the other hand, had been anticipating this meal all week: a Chinese New Year celebration. After doing my research, I learned that the traditional meal served on New Year’s Eve typically includes both meat and fish, as well as eight individual dishes which reflect the number’s significance as a good luck symbol.

HUDS certainly delivered its version of the traditional Chinese New Year feast. I walked away with a full plate, excited to try the dining hall’s take on (the vegetarian) Buddha’s Delight, the hoisin glazed salmon, spicy green beans, peking cabbage, and some egg fried rice.

my plate

While I might be alone on this one, I was most excited for the Buddha’s Delight (pictured below). The elaborate vegetarian dish is one often served by families on Chinese New Year, and the dining hall staff created a great replication. Their version included tofu, water chestnuts, carrots, pea pods, baby corn, broccoli, and scallions, with soy sauce and sesame oil tossed in, and topped with a nice blend of ginger, sugar, and garlic. While the ingredients created a perfect combination, the dish was a bit too saucy, but a tasty addition as it leaked onto the cabbage and green beans underneath.

buddha's delight

Continuing to break outside the normal veggie offerings this evening, the Chinese New Year fare included spicy green beans (read: green beans with crushed garlic, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and cumin) and peking cabbage. The green beans definitely had an extra kick, making them an exciting and delicious break from the usual, but not quite what I would call spicy.

green beans

The fried foods were all table favorites: vegetable egg rolls (top) and pork dumplings (middle). I can speak for the egg rolls, and they were spot on this evening. Perfectly crisp on the exterior, without too much breading, and enough to give all of the inside veggies just the right flavor. The egg fried rice (bottom) was also well executed – filled with celery and mushrooms for an added touch.

veggie springrolls

pork dumplingsfried rice

Last but not least on my plate was the hoisin glazed salmon, cooked just right. Hoisin sauce, similar to American barbecue sauce, is made from a combination of soybeans, garlic, sugar, sesame seeds, and chili pepper. The slightly sugary sauce adds a sweet and savory marinade to the dish without taking away from the main attraction.


HUDS’ Chinese New Year meal was a complete success if you ask me. With a few tweaks and improvements, next year’s edition could be even better, but watching my friends walk into the dining hall to find the surprise was worth my full week’s wait. While my Chinese friends were able to celebrate a taste of home, my American ones (myself included) were able to enjoy a cultural experience we won’t forget.



Why Did the Turkey Stop Eating? He Was Stuffed!

By Orlea Miller ‘16

Thanksgiving is easily a foodie’s favorite holiday of the year. While my day-to-day life revolves around the foods I’m eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Thanksgiving is the one time of year when everyone else does the same. We begin looking into airline fares months ahead of time when making our holiday plans, and then spend at least a week or two carefully selecting Thanksgiving recipes and entering the grocery store madness just to eat together as a family.

My family sticks to the traditional foods for this annual event: turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and green beans (and a countless number of pies and other treats). Unfortunately, they don’t like straying from the recipes they’re used to either. However, after years of box-made stuffing, I decided to try out a new recipe for Thanksgiving this time around.

I found the recipe for “Save-the-Day Stuffing” online (a.k.a. homemade stuffing with a few healthy swaps) to lighten everyone’s plates this year. I used the typical veggies but included light bread and liquid egg substitute, and ended up with a pretty tasty addition to our household’s Thanksgiving repertoire.


6 slices light bread

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup fat-free chicken broth, room temperature

1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute

1 tbsp. light buttery spread

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, to taste

1 oz dried cranberries (if desired)


Leave bread uncovered at room temperature overnight. Otherwise, begin by lightly toasting bread.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spray a medium baking dish with nonstick spray, and place bread cubes evenly along the bottom of the dish.


Chop up the celery and onion to prepare it for the stuffing.


In a medium pot, combine broth, celery, and onion. Cook for 8 minutes over medium heat.


Remove pot from heat, and add mushrooms and garlic. Season mixture to taste with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Let cool for several minutes.

Add egg substitute and butter to veggie/broth mixture and stir. Pour mixture into the baking pan, evenly covering bread cubes. Mix gently with a fork. Bread cubes should be moist, but not saturated (if necessary, add 1 – 2 tbsp. water, and then mix again).

If desired, throw in the dried cranberries to add a sweet kick to your stuffing!

Cover with foil, and cook dish in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove foil, and fluff and rearrange stuffing. Return dish to oven (uncovered), and cook for an additional 15 minutes.


After comparing my homemade stuffing to the boxed one we have had at our Thanksgiving table in years past, I was impressed. This version had more flavor and texture, though I admittedly added in more chicken broth than the recipe called for after noticing it looked dry before putting it in the oven.

I found the stuffing recipe, along with quite a few other holiday dishes at www.hungry-girl.com, one of my go-to websites for healthy sides, entrees, and desserts that are just as tasty as the original version, yet far more nutritious and lower in calories and fat.

Indulge in a Fall Favorite: Crustless Pumpkin Pie

By Orlea Miller ‘16

By the time November rolls around in Cambridge, winter has arrived, ready or not. But at least the fall foods can continue, giving me the opportunity to indulge in all of the rich, creamy, delicious pumpkin treats fathomable: scones, cookies, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, and most importantly pumpkin pie.

With all of the holiday cooking, and the continuous eating that takes place from October through December, I like to bake healthy versions of my favorite desserts when I have the chance. If I’m sneaky enough, my family members might even enjoy the sweets I’ve made without realizing what’s inside.

I also try to find recipes with ingredients I’m likely to use in the future, preferably with items that are already at home. One of my favorites is ChocolateCoveredKatie.com, a dessert blog full of healthy pies, cakes, cookies, and single-serving desserts that can satisfy even the pickiest sweet tooth!

Last fall, I selected a healthy pumpkin pie from the blog during holiday season, and decided to replicate the mouthwatering treat a second time around. My plan is to bring the pie back to school, freeze it, and top a slice with whipped cream whenever I crave the delectable fall flavor while I’m away from a kitchen.


1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup xylitol or brown sugar

pinch uncut stevia or 2 extra tbsp. brown sugar

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

¾ cup plus 2 tbsp milk

2 tbsp oil, or omit and increase milk to 1 cup

1 tsp ener-g powder or 1 tbsp ground flax

2 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 400 F, and grease a 10-inch round pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine first 7 ingredients, and stir very well.


In a separate bowl, combine all liquid ingredients with the ener-g or flax, and whisk.


Pour wet into dry, stir to combine, then pour into the pan and bake 35 minutes. (It’ll still be gooey after baking, but that’s okay.)


Allow to cool completely before transferring uncovered to the fridge to “set” for at least 6 hours before trying to slice. Each slice of this healthy take on pumpkin pie came out to about 55 calories (with an additional 25 calories per slice if the optional oil is included).

I like to take a slice out of the freezer every few days, heat it up, and top it with whipped cream or chocolate chips! My only problem is making the eight slices last until I’m home to bake again…




“Chocolate by the Bald Man”

Orlea Miller ‘16

As I walk into the renowned Max Brenner, revered by chocolate lovers like myself, I can’t help but be pleasantly taken aback by all of the wall paintings and decor, bringing me into some alternative Willie Wonka-esque world. As I glance from wall to wall, I immediately notice the chocolate concoctions filling the shelves, both of the restaurant and the chocolate bar that greets you as you enter.


In 1996, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner combined their names and opened their first shop together in Israel, selling homemade chocolates. Within four years, the first Max Brenner Chocolate Bar opened in Australia, home to the majority of the company’s 50 locations today. By 2006, Max Brenner opened in the United States as a restaurant, offering sweet and savory menu options. The wildly popular concept continues to expand annually, opening locations in Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, and Russia.

After hearing about the international sensation, I knew Max Brenner was a restaurant I had to visit. I was warned of the irresistible Chocolate Bar that sells every type of chocolate truffle you can think of, chocolate covered nuts, and even holiday-themed bonbon collections. The edible options are endless, and that isn’t even taking into account the Max Brenner mugs, recipe books, and clothing that line the small store.

But I was there for more than the world famous chocolate bar. The Restaurant. Indulging in a meal centered around dessert. Needless to say, I did my research before arriving. I know that in order to fully enjoy the treasured final course, I have to select a light option for lunch.

When we sit down, I immediately open the menu (the “drinks & sweets” menu that is), and spend a good 20 minutes selecting the perfect dessert to share with my lunch partner. Starting with smaller treats, the menu first describes the hot chocolate creations and milkshakes—both good choices, but not enough to satisfy our dessert palates.

Next are descriptions of the waffles, which come in banana split, tutti frutti, and “munchies” (your choice of two ice cream flavors, whipped cream, milk chocolate ganache, and their signature “Choco-Pops”). Then, the crepes: banana hazelnut, strawberry hazelnut, peanut butter and banana, and s’mores. Quite the selection, and quite the challenge. There are plenty of other options too—the menu is over 20 pages long, and includes sundaes, dessert pizzas, ice cream bars for dipping, and a variety of fondue options…


Since we were dining over the weekend, we both selected eggs from the brunch menu to start. I chose one of their “outrageous omelets,” stuffed with mushroom, spinach, onion, peppers, tomato and swiss cheese. But savory isn’t enough at Max Brenner; my omelet comes with fruit and a “diamond-dusted sugar buttermilk biscuit,” as if to ensure I am getting my sweet fix in each course. While the restaurant isn’t necessarily known for its food, I am satisfied in this department, and quickly finish my breakfast selection.  


As we let our food digest, we contemplate the dessert menu for a few more minutes, trying to decide between our final two choices: the s’mores crepe and the chocolate chunks pizza. We hold out as long as we can, extending our experience and making sure we have made the best choice on the menu.

Once we can’t wait to taste the first bites of the treat we truly came for, we select the s’mores crepe: a warm, smooth crepe filled to the brim with crunchy graham crackers, milk chocolate chunks, hazelnut spread, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, and served with milk chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream.


I can’t confirm all of the items listed are included, because the crepe somehow disappears before I know it. I did my best to savor each bite, trying to refrain from swallowing the crepe whole. As if the buttery outer layer isn’t enough, it’s filled with the perfect amount of each ingredient, allowing me to enjoy the true “s’more” flavor in every bite.


Everything about the experience was perfect, from the ambiance to the glorious scent wafting through the air to every last morsel of the crepe (and its accompaniments). And if you’re not quite ready to foot the bill, your waiter leaves it enclosed in a tin container reminding you of the importance of chocolate, in case you somehow forgot.


As Max Brenner explains, “chocolate is not just about taste. It’s a symbol of different aspects in our lives – of romance, of sensuality, of decadence.”







Faneuil Hall: A Food Lover’s Paradise

Orlea Miller ‘16

Because this is my third year living in Cambridge, I like to consider myself a Faneuil Hall expert. Every time I have a visitor at school, Faneuil Hall is one of our first stops on the trip: it is a place I know will always deliver the perfect taste of Boston, in more ways than one.

Faneuil Hall gives tourists the chance to try just about every cuisine (local and beyond) while also serving as the perfect haven for all the foodies out there.

I’ve heard of a few unfortunate Faneuil Hall experiences, typically involving a friend walking into the marketplace hungry, and selecting the first option they encounter. They then saunter through the rest of the food booths, barely able to walk as they regret their cursory decision to buy the first bagel pizza or Chinese dish they smelled. As they pass Boston Chowda, Pizzeria Regina, or the cannoli and cake slices from the North End Bakery, they cannot believe all of the opportunities they missed in their ravenous haste. When it comes to Faneuil Hall, this is biggest mistake you can make.

Foreseeing this problem, I typically advise my guests beforehand to be patient. Walk up and down, survey every Faneuil Hall food booth carefully before selecting anything; share two to four entrees with the rest of your party, so you can enjoy all that the marketplace has to offer. Most importantly, stop when you feel the slightest bit full so you can take advantage of the cakes, pastries, caramel apples, and gelato that you’ll have to choose at the end of the outing.

On my most recent visit, my aunt and I arrived on Friday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. Though I was admittedly starving, there were a few people and plenty of space to walk, so I was able to show her all that Faneuil Hall without feeling overwhelmed by the tourists that saturate the central aisle during lunchtime, and especially on the weekends.

Upon entering the Hall, we were greeted with sweet and savory choices at the booths displaying their fall offerings. First up, we eyed Sprinkles Ice Cream and Fudge Shop, showcasing its traditional fudge flavors alongside seasonal favorites.


As we moved two inches further, we smelled Boston Pretzel Bakery’s oven. As if the plain, salted, cinnamon sugar, a
nd Parmesan options weren’t enough, this pretzel shop was advertising its Boston Pretzel (pictured right): a mix of salt and sesame shaped like a “B”. As we neared the counter, the owner offered us a sample of her signature pretzel, which we immediately agreed was tastier than any pretzel we’d ever tried. The Boston pretzel wasn’t too salted or under flavored; it was the perfect combination of crispy and doughy. The owner also made sure to share that it was even all-natural!



Like I said, Faneuil Hall has something for everyone, even the meat-lovers out there! The next popular booth appeared to be the Prime Shoppe, serving up your traditional barbeque fare such as turkey, ribs, mashed potatoes, and corn.


We quickly spotted the second dessert option of the day, Carol Ann Bake Shop. While the windows weren’t totally stocked following the lunch crowd consumption, there was a little bit of everything left including Boston Crème Pie, German Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Mousse Cake, and Strawberry Shortcake; we were quickly able to tell what the popular choices were!



Before finding our lunch for the day, we were tempted by a few other sweet options: The North End Bakery’s mouth-watering cake slices (which always look and taste the best in my opinion) and Joey’s Gelateria, a reminder that the North End is really just down the street.

I tried the Chocolate Truffle Bomb (pictured below; middle of the top row) on a previous visit, and let me say it’s a necessity on one of your trips to Faneuil Hall (because there should be many!). A word of advice, it is best enjoyed when you have plenty of room after your meal.



The Berry Twist’s caramel apples, which are pictured in the header, provide yet another option for your second (or third or fourth) course. While the fall creations looked the tastiest, the Berry Twist had more than enough choices: chocolate covered strawberries, several ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors, and unique sundaes and smoothies.

As we passed the booth Boston Chowda, I knew my aunt wouldn’t be able to resist! From Maine Lobster Pie to Lobster Mac’ and Cheese to Atlantic Haddock Pie, the booth puts a spin on chicken pot pie that pleases both the New England and comfort food palate.


Sure enough, she went for Lobster Mac’ and Cheese, and thought it was one of the best things she’d ever tried. With huge pieces of lobster throughout, my aunt felt like she was getting a real bang for her buck, enjoying the traditional New England products smothered in cheese and perfectly cooked and crispy.


Pizzeria Regina is always a favorite in my family, and during our visit they cooked up a fall pie (below) along with the simple margherita pizza guaranteed to please little kids or any picky eaters out there.


Our trip couldn’t be complete without taking something for the road. Right outside the food booth halls stands Wicked Good Cupcakes (featured on Shark Tank) which lucky for us, provides just that. These are just any cupcakes — they are cupcakes created for mason jars. My aunt packed the simple Chocolate Cupcake to take home, but flavors below include(left to right) Coconut Calico, Black Cat, Dalmatian, Mocha Maine Coon Cat, and Marble Mutt.


So, if you haven’t ever been to Faneuil, it’s time to go! And if you’ve already been, there’s never been a more delicious time to go again.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Orlea Miller ‘16

As the temperatures cool down and the leaves change, I’m reminded that fall is well on its way to Cambridge, for better or for worse. While I’d much prefer that the warmer weather stick around, I look forward to all the wonderful treats that autumn has to offer.

Living away from my own kitchen makes apple cakes, pies, and crumbles difficult to prepare, so I’ve created and perfected my own version of apple cobbler.

Complemented by a hint of cinnamon and topped with the dining hall’s vanilla soft serve ice cream, my healthy take on warm apple cobbler satisfies my taste buds throughout the long, cold months, without ever having to leave the comforts of Eliot House.

You’ll need an apple, cinnamon, and ice cream, along with a knife, some water, and a microwave for this perfect fall recipe.

Start by washing and slicing your apple into bite-sized pieces, the smaller the better in my opinion. Place the pieces into a microwave-safe bowl, and fill it with enough water to cover the apple.

Cover your bowl with a napkin, and microwave for two minutes. Next, drain your water and add your toppings. It’s as easy as that!


The warm, mushy apples beneath the ice cream taste just like your traditional apple pie filling. Enjoy your “apple crumble” guilt and hassle free, without having to measure any ingredients out or leaving your dining hall! Sharing is optional.

Feel free to add other toppings including oats or granola for a crunchier texture (resembling an apple crisp), whipped cream, and chocolate chips if you can get your hands on those. You can also replace apples for peaches or plums from the dining hall, or other fruits from the weekly Farmer’s Market in front of the Science Center!


If you’re an experienced baker with a few more ingredients on hand, check out some other microwaveable desserts you can make in a mug at www.number-2-pencil.com/2013/02/26/30-mug-recipes/.