Peep Show! The Best Five Things To Do With Peeps

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


Happy almost spring, friends! I, for one, have been counting down the days until three-twenty-one, aka the first full day of spring. However, Mother Nature doesn’t give a crap about the calendar date.

In Boston, the weather forecast for spring’s grand opening will likely be cloudy with a chance of wind, snow, sleet and freezing rain all at once. Luckily you don’t have to wait for the sun to shine to enjoy everyone’s favorite spring snack.

Let’s see if you can guess what I’m referring to (and just pretend I didn’t give it away in the title). They’re the funnest animal shaped, sugar coated lil’ marshmallows you’ll ever eat.

Give up? It’s PEEPS! Also known as one of the greatest gifts to the candy aisle (in my humble opinion). But whoda' thought they could be so versatile?  

So if you have an itch to celebrate the coming of spring in style, and find your creative side taking over, try these 5 unique things to do with peeps.

1. The Classic (aka stick ‘em in the microwave)

Watch them grow into shapeless blobs. Why pay for dinner and a show when you can watch 18 seconds of magic happen and get to eat the final product!

2. Peeps Popcorn

 Plain popcorn is for beginners. Sweeten up ya corn with melted peeps.

3. Peep fondue*

*For fancy people only.

Impress your dinner date by serving a bunch of these seasonal dipping morsels alongside your banana slices and grahams.

4.  Replace them for board game pieces

If you’re in a rut and need a both an X and an O for your high-stakes tic tac toe game, bite a rabbit peep in half and now you’ve got both letters! (more or less)

5. Not in the DIY spirit? Savor a homemade peep at the end of your Easter brunch at Bastille Kitchen (49 Melcher St, Boston).

“But Melissa, I’m not a peeps fan.” While I think you’re definitely missing out on all peeps have to offer, be sure to still treat yo self to some deliciousness in other ways this March 21.  

Luck of the Irish

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


When I was in kindergarten, on Saint Patrick’s Day our teacher had us create leprechaun-spotting binoculars. These high tech glasses were made from two toilet paper tubes and green plastic wrap (two thumbs up for Glad®’s marketing team who just had to participate in a holiday trend).

Anyway, we constructed our binoculars and started scanning the 1990s decorated classroom for any sign of those sneaky buggers. My teacher would look with us then randomly point and shout, “I think I see one! I think I see one!” All of us five-year-olds would freak the eff out and swing our heads all over the place to try to see where she was pointing.

Alas, while I never did find a leprechaun, I found something better—carbs. After our unsuccessful search for the ‘lil creatures, we sat down to a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day snack to refuel —Irish soda bread. And every year since, I’ve either baked or bought this simple, yet satisfying traditional Irish bread.

Yeast ye forget, this bread is made with baking soda instead of yeast, hence the name (and hence the pun). The acid from another key ingredient, buttermilk, reacts with the base of the baking soda to leaven the bread.

The traditional bread also includes raisins (quick PSA on raisins: YOU'RE ALL ADULTS SO JUST EAT THE FRIGGIN RAISINS) and/or caraway seeds, an earthy-flavored spice.  

A cross was cut on the top of the bread before baking to ward off evil spirits (so it should probably work on my upstairs neighbors) and was cooked in a cast iron frying pan over an open hearth. For those of us who have an electric hearth, this bread can be easily baked on a baking sheet. No bread maker required! Try this recipe from Simply Recipes. The bread will last 2-3 days so I give you permission to eat multiple slices in one sitting.

Or, if you need an authentic loaf,  stat, head down to Greenhills Bakery, one of the few traditional Irish bakeries in the area, in Dorchester. Just don’t go after 4 pm (like we did) because they close at that time during the winter (Google, you deceitful beast, you). If you arrive after 4 pm, go next door to Adams Corner Cafe & Butcher, to pick up a loaf of soda bread, or Irish candy, some sausage, and yes, potatoes.  


Rye not? A Breakdown of Jewish Cuisine

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


Smoked salmon (aka lox)--check.





Either we’re in my ideal heaven or we’re in a Jewish deli. Oh wait--that’s right-- they’re one in the same.

While I am not Jewish, I grew up tasting some of the finest Jewish cuisine available, thanks to the incredible cooking of our close family friend and my other mother, Syd Rubin, who just so happens to be Jewish.

She’d make us kids matzo ball soup, latkes (if you’re wondering, it’s “lat-kuhs”), challah (like the kids these days “holla” at their friend) and a nice brisket.

She’ll still often make brisket now--slow cooked with onions, carrots and potatoes--but she explained how many of these traditional foods, like brisket, have been getting pricer over the years.

“A lot of what [Jews] ate was stuff nobody wanted, because our people were poor,” said Syd. “Now a lot of those foods have become very expensive.” And after having tasted an authentic bagel and lox sandwich, I see why the food is in high demand.

Flash forward a few years and now I’m married to a nice Jewish boy,  so I luckily had only a short time in between my childhood Jewish feasts and dinners at my in-laws.

When asking her what she commonly ate growing up, my mother-in-law, Andi, fondly remembers having chopped liver on rye or Hebrew National salami with mustard on toast for lunch in elementary school. “Nobody wanted to trade with me for lunch,” she laughs, “but I loved it!”

While I luckily don’t have chopped liver in my future, I can look forward to juicy lamb shanks, potato kugel (casserole), rugelach (crescent roll often filled with chocolate) and many more delicious foods.

Whether you’re Jewish or not, check out these great Jewish delis around Boston and experience your own doughy, salmon-y, tasty heaven. I guarantee you’ll like it a lox!

Michael’s Deli-- 256 Harvard St, Brookline

Zaftigs Delicatessen -- 335 Harvard St, Brookline

Kupel’s Bakery -- 421 Harvard St, Brookline (Do I sense a theme here?)

Mamaleh's Delicatessen -- One Kendall Square, 15 Hampshire St., Cambridge

Inna's Kitchen - Boston Public Market -- 100 Hanover St, Boston

Check back next Sunday for next week’s Weekly Digest!


Shots! Shots! Shots!

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


It’s a beautiful Sunday morning; I’m dressed in my finest flannel and hip-est beanie, and am on my way to Life Alive, an organic cafe in Cambridge, to take shots. At 10 a.m.

Before you give me two thumbs up, flash a cheesy smile and say, “You do you!” or “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”--don’t worry, I’ll be shooting back wheatgrass, not whiskey.

“Shots, please!” I say as I get up to the cashier, and she asks me if I want to do them right at the bar. (But I swear it’s not booze!)

After a few minutes, she brings my wheatgrass, turmeric and ginger shots to the table. They were beautiful shades of green, pumpkin orange (well, turmeric, technically) and a lovely light yellow.

I oogle them for a moment before hopping on the phone with one of Live Alive’s owners, Hema Narayan, to break down all the concentrated superfood goodness I’m about to consume.

We start with the wheatgrass...and I have to say, GRASS is right. Now I see why I was instructed to drink it quick. So why drink it at all?

Wheatgrass is one of the best sources of living chlorophyll, said Hema. “Living” means you snip the grass from the living plant and immediately juice it, but it’s efficacy degrades the minute you mow.  “Many customers will get a wheatgrass shot to go, so we’ll even have folks call when they’re close to ensure the juice is as fresh as possible.”

The living chlorophyll contained in the grass is great for your blood, is cleansing and is energizing. Wheatgrass also contains enzymes that help with aging (and it’s never too early to anti-age, which is why I still look like a 12 year old). The kicker here is that liquid form is the only way to access these benefits (unless you’d like to consume it goat-style--aka straight outta the dirt--which will not give you the same nutrients and people will stare).

On the subject of accessibility, Hema stresses to me that one of the biggest components to Life Alive’s mission is a “focus on making things accessible for all.” The cafe aims to take something that exists in nature (i.e. wheatgrass), and present it in a way that makes it consumable and enjoyable.

She compares it to having a spa day (#yesplease). Your stress fades away, your skin gets nourished, and you feel great from top to bottom. But you can’t replicate what you experienced when you get home. Similarly, it’s hard to recreate the intensely healthy foods you might have consumed there, too. When you get home, life gets busy, and you go back to eating out of a bag. Or a box. Or a Starbucks cup.  Life Alive creates their menus around the idea that you can eat out on a busy schedule, enjoy what you’re eating, and not have to give up your values or health goals. “It’s like a spa for your insides,” jokes Hema.

Onto turmeric. (Side note: Is it just me, or do other people always forget to include the first “r” when spelling it out, too?) This bad boy helps fight inflammation and contains antioxidants.

Ginger is up next. This spicy little number aids digestion and nausea. Often used in Asian cuisine, juiced ginger is a great alternative if you’re not a fan of the stir fry.

After discussing each concentrate, Hema leaves me with a final, but important, piece of advice. After revealing to her that I’ve never done these type of shots before, she stressed that newbies should start slow. She suggests the Golden Spice Latte, which contains turmeric and ginger in smaller quantities, as a great place to start. A few of the juices, including Life Alive and Elevate Alive, contain wheatgrass. Try these if you’re a newbie like me.

So I left Life Alive feeling simply fabulous. I had food for my body, and food for thought. Now that’s something to chew on (or shoot back, in this case).
Live Alive has three locations in Cambridge, Lowell and Salem, with a fourth in the works.

Japchae Noodles: The Best Noodle You’ve Never Tried

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


Raise your hand if you know what the heck japchae noodles are! Hint: it’s a type of noodle. Hint to self: Think of better hints. 

Also called glass or cellophane noodles (due to their transparent appearance), these spaghetti-counterparts are made from sweet potato starch and witchcraft. I say ‘witchcraft’ because they taste nothing like sweet potatoes or veggies of any kind. This is not your mom’s veggie pasta. And although I’m a big consumer of zoodles (they’re low in cals and high in fiber), those impastas (pun very much intended) are no noodle.

Japchae means “mixed vegetables” in Korean, but the noodle itself is only made with sweet potatoes (which are technically a starchy tuber, but I digress). The name comes from the mixed vegetables included in the dish, which also contains stir fried beef or pork. 

While you can certainly whip up delicious japchae yourself, here are a few restaurants in the Boston area that serve up this reasonably-priced dish: 

Koy Boston -- 16 North St, Boston

Try their stir fried japchae with marinated beef bulgogi and seasonal vegetables. 

Kimchi Kitchen -- 847 Cambridge St, Cambridge

Try their house-seasoned japchae, tossed with a variety vegetables. Add protein, but keep it vegetarian, with tofu. 

Buk Kyung Korean Restaurant -- 9a Union Square, Somerville or 151 Brighton Ave, Allston

Try their japchae, stir fried in sesame oil and with pork and veggies. 

You may also come across the noodles that are made with starches of other veggies including yam, cassava and mung bean. While I have only tried japchae with sweet potato noodles, I’d expect to enjoy the other varieties just as much. 

So for those of you looking for gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy free and Paleo noodles that also taste good (read: not like cardboard), look no further than japchae. They’re impastable to resist! 


Single And Ready To...Hula?

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


Although I’m happily married, this Valentine’s Day, I’ll be single.

While that phrase could be interpreted in many ways, or just generally be confusing (because it is), I’m only trying to say that my husband will be out of town on V Day. Which is a bummer.

It’s a bummer because this is practically the only day that you can oogle over your S.O. and stare deeply into each other’s eyes in public without getting eye rolls from everyone else. It’s also a bummer because I’m rusty at taking myself on a date.    

Since I’m unpracticed, I did a test run for my big date at Drink in Fort Point. The restaurant is almost entirely made up of a massive bar, snaking its way from one end to the other— ideal for a solo date. Soft-light Edison bulbs decorate the ceiling (light EVERYONE looks good in) and there’s not a stereotypical “sports bar” TV in sight.

While Drink has a wine list and modest food menu, the guests decide the cocktails. Not wanting to waste this opportunity for creativity on a vodka soda (I highly recommended against it), I asked the bartender, Rob, for a drink that says, “I’m here to enjoy my own company and maybe strike up a conversation with my bar mate.”

Pausing for a minute, he decides I need a Bohemian cocktail. The in-house invented drink was a fusion of gin, fresh grapefruit juice, St. Germain and bitters, and it was fantastic. The gin was strong enough that you knew it was there, but not too overpowering. The grapefruit juice added a touch of sweetness, but not too much.

While sipping my summery drink, I struck up a conversation with Ezra Star, Drink’s general manager. After revealing I was doing a practice run of solo dining, she told me, “Drink is great for single guests because it's not the type of bar where people get unwanted attention.” And, bonus points, she said that single guests rarely have a wait to be seated.

I asked her what to expect on Valentine’s Day. She explained that Drink’s V Day plans--Hula with Your Honey--will include tiki-themed drinks and punch bowls to share. For single people that venture out, Ezra said that Drink will have a punch bowl for one, with two straws, so lone guests can “have a good time on their own” (if you know what she means).

So if you want to oogle into your own eyes this Wednesday, check out Drink. Its creative drinks, cozy environment and short wait time is the perfect cocktail for your happy hour of one.

Be sure to check back next Sunday for the next WD!

Nothing Goes Together Better Than Grilled Cheese And…

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


We all know the second food in that combo (except my husband, who never had a snow day or a childhood, apparently).

Either way, in honor of this humble comfort dish, today is National Homemade Soup Day. Because, you know, soup doesn’t get enough recognition the rest of the year.

But before I dig into my review, let’s learn a bit.

Where did this combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup come from?

Our friends at J.L. Kraft and Bros. Company (ring any bells?) first introduced their spoil-free cheese in the early 1900s. Then during WWII, Navy cooks were known to have made “American cheese filled sandwiches” for sailors due to the sandwiches’ long shelf life and easy preparation. Following in the footsteps of the military, other institutions including schools added the easy cheese sandwich (not to be confused with an Easy Cheese sandwich, which sounds terrible) to their lunchroom menu.

So how does the tomato soup fit in?

Since tomatoes are a good source of vitamins, school cafeterias served the soup along with the “toasted cheese” sandwiches in order to fulfill school lunch Vitamin C requirements. (Editor’s note: ketchup/tomato paste/pizza sauce are still considered vegetables for school lunches.)

Regardless of how you feel about the validity of this veggie, there’s no arguing that a warm bowl of tomato soup and a melty, cheesy, buttery sandwich is precisely what’s needed for National Homemade Soup Day. So check out this souper easy (couldn’t resist) homemade tomato soup recipe , and since it’s not National Homemade Grilled Cheese Day, head over to Roxy’s Grilled Cheese in Central Square and order the Hot Honey Bacon grilled cheese.

The HHB is made with Vermont cheddar, muenster, fontina, North Country Smokehouse bacon and Mike's Hot Honey--no Kraft American cheese in sight.

Roxy’s has a great seating area if you want to eat in, and a secret arcade with retro games in the back room(!) if you want to relive your childhood of playing games and eating grilled cheese--but with beer. Otherwise, get that sandwich to-go because you have some soup to make! Although, I promise I won’t tell if you decide to crack open a can of Campbell’s instead.

Be sure to check back next Sunday for the next WD!

It's Worth Shelling Out The Money

Welcome to the first-ever Weekly Digest! 

Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance. 


You can never get enough seafood living right next to the ocean. The only problem is that lobster (pronounced: lab-stah) ain’t cheap.

For those of you wanting to feel fancy (because you’re eating lobster, crab or shrimp) but be hip (because it’s served in a bag and you wear gloves), then look no further than the Shaking Crab and it’s newest Boston Common location.

The seven locations of the Shaking Crab serve up Cajun-style seafood in a savory, aromatic and spicy sauce of your choice, and it's delivered to the table in a bag. Yes, you eat out of a bag. The bag is given a little shake (you’re at the Shaking Crab, get it?) to ensure even sauce distribution. Now it’s your turn: tie on your bib, put on those gloves, and get down to business.

Catering to both college students (an Emerson building is literally directly above them) and theatergoers, this newest location at 140 Boylston St. mirrors the décor and menu of the other restaurants, but co-owner Kevin Duong stresses that each location has its own personality. To start, this location is the first to have two stories.

“Our restaurants are high energy and communal, but not stuffy,” said Duong, greeting us at our table wearing a bubblegum pink shirt.

High energy is certainly what we got. The place was jam-packed for its “friends and family” test drive last Monday. With wait staff moving quickly between tables, taking orders on tablets, the scene was a bit chaotic. But that’s certainly to be expected for an opening night.

We started with cocktails (obvi). I ordered the color-changing gin and tonic, which you’ve got to try. Adding the tonic water turns the gin from a bright blue to a lilac color. So you can impress your friends with a lil magic trick and get tipsy--a win-win in my book.

For dinner, we each ordered the shrimp and mussels combo. Yes, the shrimp still had their heads on, and yes I enjoyed ripping them off (a great post-work stress reliever). The order came with 1 lb of shrimp and ½ pound of mussels all for under $20 bucks--a great bang for your buck.

And oh my goodness the smell. Absolutely heavenly. It’s the fragrant garlic that Duong insists on using plenty of in the recipes--including the mac and cheese side dish.  The waiter brought an order to the table next to us and I just about helped ma’self.

Ultimately, we had quite an enjoyable experience at the Boston Common’s newest seafood joint--friendly, tasty and worth shelling out the money for. Although, with reasonable prices, you don’t have to shell out much.

Shaking Crab Boston opened on January 23 for dinner, and will serve lunch and dinner on the weekend. Visit for more.

Check back next Sunday for the next WD!