December 18, 2013

Freezer Burritos Recipe


Before leaving for our extended Christmas vacation in Massachusetts I worked furiously to fill our freezer with quick and easy meals that would feed Scott until he is able to join us. It's the end of the semester so he is extremely busy with running the Office of Undergraduate Studies and teaching, plus the zillion other projects he has taken on. On top of all of this, last weekend he also had to prepare the condo for an appraisal to refinance and conduct two rounds of Intel evaluations (so that I get to go to the fancy awards gala in March). With his hectic schedule, and me out of the kitchen, I wanted to make sure that he still had delicious and nourishing food that just needed heating.

I found this fantastic freezer-friendly beef burrito recipe at Taste of Home and made a batch. He LOVES them!

What is your favorite freezer-friendly meal?

December 15, 2013

Rag Quilt

Our family loves the beach so when Scott and I were planning Morgan's nursery room we went with a surfer boy theme. When it was time to convert the crib into a toddler bed I knew that I wanted to make a bright tropical quilt for it.


Last Christmas was the perfect time to make one since we were visiting my parents and I could take advantage of having my mom around for guidance... like threading the machine :) I wasn't going to have a lot of time to throw it together so I decided to try what seemed to be a quick and easy rag quilt. We made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts (with our must have coupons in hand) to pick out the material.

After reading several rag quilt tutorials on the web I found Creations by Kara and Green Apple Orchard's posts to be the most helpful. The quilt itself is wicked easy to make, the longest part for me was laying it out in a pattern that didn't look like I had laid it out in a pattern :) I opted to sew the X stitching on the squares, it tacked on a little extra time to the project but it adds a simple detail that was totally worth it. And I love the fringe! It brought so much character to the quilt and the more I wash it the better it gets.


All in all, I whipped it up in about two days and had it under the tree just in time for Santa.


Curious George is standing guard while we are back in New England for Christmas 2014.



December 10, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan



The first time I had eggplant parmesan was for a special New Year's Eve dinner party our little brother Andrew threw a few years ago. It turned out phenomenal and I took a mental note that I wanted to try to make it sometime with my Dad's spaghetti sauce. As always, I took a lot of time looking through recipes trying to find "the one". I came across this eggplant parmesan recipe from Simply Recipes (adapted from the New York Times) and decided I had found it. What caught my eye was that this recipe used fresh mozzarella and also provided a wise tip (I certainly didn't know) to drain the excess moisture from the eggplant for a couple hours before cooking. The eggplant browned nicely and look at the fresh mozzarella just oozing out the side. Love it!




November 21, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Dip


Last Saturday our brother Andrew had friends over to watch the much anticipated UFC 167 main event between Georges St-Pierre and Johhny Hendricks. Having dinner plans at Ikko Sushi beforehand left me short on time so I threw together this quick and easy Frank's RedHot Buffalo Chicken Dip. Served with Stacy's Pita Chips or carrots and celery this dip will always provide knockout results... an empty bowl :)

GNG Tip: I use one cup of rotisserie chicken instead of canned. Also, if you are making this for friends I suggest using ranch dressing and cheddar cheese instead of blue cheese dressing because not everyone is a fan of blue cheese. Incomprehensible I know!

November 3, 2013

Crock-Pot Tikka Masala


I love Indian food! My mom and I got on a real kick of trying out recipes while we were together for Christmas and spent many late nights watching Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape. Although I wasn't a real fan of his hot head approach on Hell's Kitchen I fell in love with him after watching the first episode of his travels in India. If you are passionate about authentic foods and travel you'll want to check out his show. This Crock-Pot Tikka Masala recipe from Meal Planning 101was the first Indian dish I ever made. Although Scott prefers Thai curries, he loved this recipe.

October 25, 2013

Morgie Turns 3

For Morgan's third birthday (yes, this post is a little late :) we decided to throw a party at one of his favorite places, Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, MD. We invited his future preschool class to join us as we thought this would be a great opportunity for everyone to meet each other before the school year started.

The farm is truly a magical place as it houses several classic childhood storybook characters that were rescued from the Ellicott City's famous Enchanted Forrest. It reminds me of going to StoryLand in Glen, NH as a kid, but in a much smaller, more intimate setting.


Although they have birthday packages available, we were going to have a small enough party that I thought it would be easier to go a la carte and just wing it. Prices at the farm are extremely reasonable so as party favors we paid for admission, provided feed for the petting farm and had tickets for everyone to enjoy the various rides.



Morgan loves riding the ponies!
The Cow Train is always a hit!
It was 105 that day, making food transportation from Silver Spring a logistical nightmare, so we had the local Pizza Hut deliver fresh pizza right to our reserved table. One of our little guests had egg and peanut allergies so I picked up some delicious vegan and nut-free cupcakes from Sticky Fingers in DC. I wish I had a better picture of the cupcakes, but after warning Scott several times to make sure the soft cooler stayed upright so dessert wouldn't get smushed, I tipped them over.


Now the type A in me cringed at the idea that the cupcakes looked less than perfect for the presentation but the type B in me prevailed knowing that the kids didn't care what they looked like they just wanted to dig in... and they did :)

Morgan devoured his Sticky Fingers Cupcake

Reese's Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake from Giant
Life is all about balance. Last year a lot of culinary effort went into Morgie's 2nd birthday so this year it was all about keeping it simple. It was such a hit that Scott would prefer to continue this trend until Morgan is 18 :)

If you live in the DC or Baltimore area I highly recommend getting a family membership pass for the farm. Although we live 10 minutes from the National Zoo (and are FONZ members), I much prefer making the 30 minute drive to the farm during the summer because it's not nearly as crowded and we always get hands on time with the animals. During the fall they have a pumpkin patch, small pumpkins are only $2.75 and parking is still free. The Castle Store sells locally grown grass fed beef, pastured pork, naturally raised lamb, fresh eggs and there is a small produce stand adjacent to the main parking lot.

October 21, 2013

Lemon Rosemary Marinated Grilled Halibut


Bobby Flay's Lemon Rosemary Marinated Grilled Halibut recipe came highly recommended from my soccer friend Little Lisa. She has very good taste in EVERYTHING so I knew I had to try it after she raved one night before stepping out on the field. Easy to make and bursting with flavor, this fresh fish dish is a keeper!

October 18, 2013

Maine Baked Beans

Ready to go in the oven!
There's nothing like walking into a home where Maine Baked Beans have been slowly cooking in the oven all day. The sweet and savory aroma of molasses and salt pork starts to permeate the kitchen almost immediately. Growing up in Maine, baked beans were a staple. Whether we were having a traditional Saturday Suppah with Red Snappers and brown bread in a can, breakfast with eggs and homemade Bakewell bisquits, or sitting poolside with Cartly Bryer's Wicked Good Baby Back Ribs, Potato Salad, and Coleslaw, there was always room for beans.

This recipe is slightly adapted from "Memories from Brownie's Kitchen" a must have compilation of recipes from Orono's one and only Mildred "Brownie" Schrumpf. Brownie graduated form the University of Maine in 1925 with a B.S. in home economics and became local legend with her popular food column in the Bangor Daily News and a highly recognized volunteer for several organizations in the community. Here's the copy my mom gave me a few years ago, it lives in my baker's rack for quick references :)














October 14, 2013

Weekday Pancakes

Banana Pancakes
Does making homemade pancakes seem like a daunting task that you only attempt once in awhile on the weekends? When we are always on the go we can easily find ourselves reaching for the ready-made processed foods to get us out the door on time. I'm not going to preach that you have to serve everything homemade... all the time... because I believe in moderation and balance. But, if you are looking to find ways to cut down on processed foods then you are going to love this breakfast trick. With 10 minutes of prep Sunday night, you and your family can enjoy fresh homemade pancakes all week long!

Use this quick and easy pancake recipe to make your batter, store it in an airtight container, give it a quick stir each morning and you'll have those pancakes on the table in a flash. You can customize your pancakes each morning by throwing in bananas, chocolate chips, blueberries, etc.



October 9, 2013

Jimmie and Sooks

On our way home from a fantastic weekend camping at Janes Island State Park we made a quick lunch detour at Jimmie and Sooks in Cambridge, MD. This stop would have been a total shot in the dark because we were unfamiliar with the area but we once again relied on our handy dandy mobile Yelp and Urbanspoon applications to steer us in the right direction. Wow, what a find!

We started with a cup of their award winning Cream of Crab Soup.


Scott got the Jimmie Club, a crab cake and bacon sandwich that proved to be a winning combination.


I went for the Fried Oysters. Oh my, they were cooked to perfection. They literally melted in my mouth.


We ordered Morgan their grilled cheese, and even that was gourmet! You can see his little fingers anxiously waiting to dig in.


I can't wait to go back and try their Prime Rib! What is your favorite restaurant on the Eastern Shore?

View my food journey on Zomato!


October 7, 2013

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs


Looking for something quick and easy for dinner tonight? This delicious pan roasted chicken thigh recipe from Bon Appetit Test Kitchen produces the perfect combination of crispy skin and tender meat that's ready to be devoured in half an hour. I look at this pic and immediately crave whipped mashed potatoes!

What favorite side dish pops into your mind?

October 3, 2013

Kefir Popsicles


My son Morgan loves popsicles! At the beginning of preschool he got hit hard with the croup cough that was going around so we spent four days managing the fever that came with it. Giving him popsicles was a great way to help keep him hydrated and cool. I started thinking about how I could make healthy popsicles at home and then I came up with the idea throwing Lifeway Kefir and fruit in a blender. Voila! A tasty frozen treat packed with probiotics and vitamins that is 99% lactose free as well as gluten-free. They taste just like frozen Chobani Champions Yogurt Tubes! If you want them a little sweeter add a little honey to the mix.

Probiotics are thought to have several health benefits including: preventing or reducing the severity of colds and flu, treating eczema in children, treating irritable bowel syndrome and several other digestive and infectious problems you can learn about here.  


Looking for popsicle molds? I love my Tovolo Star Ice Pop Mold that comes with a sturdy base and fits well in our narrow freezer. 


October 1, 2013

Roasted Garlic


One of the first times I remember eating whole cloves of roasted garlic was while visiting Marni, one of my BFFs, in Alberta, Canada for Thanksgiving. At the time she was working at the golf course at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis and I was going to school (where we met) at Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta for Adventure Based Counseling. I was lucky enough to accompany her to a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner held at her friend Matty's house and roasted garlic was one the menu. Wow! I never forgot how amazing it tasted, how elegant it looked, and how simple he said it was to make. Next time you are having guests over, get a fresh baguette and throw some cloves in the oven, and you will no doubt dazzle them with this simplistic hors d'oeuvre. When trying it on my own for the first time I followed this recipe from Simply Recipes.

Catching Up 2011
After a few years of being apart we were finally reunited for Marni's beautiful destination wedding at the Sandos Playacar Beach Resort and Spa in Playa del Carmen , Riviera Maya, Mexico.

What recipe reminds you of loved ones and special occasions?



September 27, 2013

Tortilleria Sinaloa Baltimore

GNG visit 2013
Back in June 2010 when I was eight months pregnant with Morgan, Scott had a conference in Baltimore so I tagged along and set up camp at the Sheraton. While Scott attended lectures I waddled all around the city searching for foodie destinations to try. Mind you, my tummy was so big that strangers would walk up to me and say I must be having twins...no really here's a pic...

It was also a scorcher of a summer (52 days reached 90 degrees or higher paired with high humidity) so I relied heavily on Yelp and Urbanspoon reviews to assure my trek was not wasted. After searching for "best tacos" in Baltimore I came across Tortilleria Sinaloa, a tiny mom-and-pop style taco shop near  Fells Point. Their soft tacos made with fresh "hot off the press" tortillas were well worth this mama's hike across Baltimore Harbor... and back.

Fresh Fish Taco drizzled with lime juice
Overstuffed Steak Taco
What's your favorite Baltimore restaurant?
The Golden Nugget Gourmet Miami restaurants
Tortilleria Sinaloa on Foodio54

September 25, 2013

Indian Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)


Although I love going to Tiffin for its all you can eat lunch buffet, I have been searching high and low for restaurant quality Indian recipes that we can enjoy at home. Having tried several recipes from the internet this butter chicken recipe from Ms. Susan on food.com is a keeper.

I love being able to cook authentic ethnic dishes and am lucky to live in Silver Spring, MD where there is an abundance of small family run markets that sell ingredients you can't often find in major grocery chains. For Indian and Sri Lankan ingredients I go to Dana Bazaar in Rockville.


September 3, 2013

Seared Mahi Mahi Fillets with Zesty Basil Butter


Having just come home from almost a month-long vacation in New England where I indulged in every local fare possible, like Maine Red Snappers grilled upta camp, fried seafood from Ken's Place, Pat's Pizza, cheap lobster rolls at The Waterfront (just to name a few :), plus local craft beers from Sea Dog and Allagash, I was eager to get back home in the kitchen and whip up some light and healthy meals. First on the list were these simple yet amazing Seared Mahi Mahi Fillets with Zesty Basil Butter from the Deen Brothers. I love pairing this dish with a customized side of Trader Joe's Wild Rice Medley.

August 31, 2013

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup


There are a lot of great recipes out there that call for a can of cream of mushroom soup but people shy away from them because they are trying to cut down on processed foods. I know I did, until I found out how easy it was to actually make my own cream of mushroom soup. Whether you want to eat an entire bowl or add a few cups to your favorite recipe this cream of mushroom soup from allrecipes is super tasty and takes minutes to make.

GNG Tip: Contrary to the recipe's instructions, it does not take thirty minutes to thicken the soup. It only takes a few minutes on simmer to achieve the desired consistency.

July 28, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Upset Stomach


Our poor little Morgan has been sick with flu like symptoms for the past few days. As a kid, one of my favorite things to eat when I was under the weather was Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup paired with Nabisco Saltine Crackers and an ice cold glass of Ginger Ale.

I wanted to make a simple homemade soup for Morgie that would help soothe his stomach and fight off the virus.... so I knew I wanted to add ginger, garlic, and a splash of lemon. Ginger is an herb known for its anti-inflammatory effect that helps to relieve gastrointestinal stress, garlic is a superfood known for it's antibacterial and antiviral benefits, and lemons are full of Vitamin C that helps boosts our immune system.


After a quick dash to Giant to grab a rotisserie chicken I had this healthy homemade soup made in minutes! What is your favorite comfort food when you're sick?

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July 27, 2013

Pumpkin Hummus


During our 4th of July visit to Virginia Beach, our friend Trista highly recommended this healthy and flavorful pumpkin hummus recipe from Forks over Knives. Why do you want pumpkin in your diet? Pumpkin is a powerhouse full of fiber and disease-fighting nutrients with several health benefits. So grab a can of Libby's Pumpkin (or prepare a fresh one) and you can have this healthy and delicious hummus made in minutes!

Want to try making your own pita chips? It's easier than you think. Check out this recipe!


July 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies


There are hundreds of peanut butter cookie recipes out there, but this recipe from Alaska from Scratch is a must-have. You'll end up with cookies that are slightly crisp and chewy on the outside edges with an inside that is so soft it will literally melt in your mouth. I made these a few weeks ago for Morgan's amazing teachers and promised I would post the recipe ASAP. One of them commented that she had intended to only to eat one but ended up eating the whole bag. 

A little shout out to Ms. Kimberly, Ms. Susan, Ms. Phlycia, and Ms. Erin. Thank you for an amazing four weeks of summer camp! Morgie misses you already!

July 14, 2013

Blender Salsa


Ok, you know that addicting salsa at your favorite Mexican restaurant? You know, the smooth one, it's usually free and comes with a bottomless basket of chips, so you end up sending your waiter back for so many rounds that by the time your meal arrives you're already full. Yah, that one. Well you are either going to thank me or hate me for this, but Pioneer Woman has a super simple blender salsa recipe that tastes just like that darn restaurant salsa. The smooth texture is bang on! I personally like a little more garlic and a little more lime juice, but try the recipe as is and adjust to taste.

GNG Tip: This is a great party recipe because it's cheap, it feeds and army, and it's wicked easy to make.

July 12, 2013

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos


When I think of popular Mexican and Chinese restaurant dishes, light and healthy are usually not the first words that come to mind.... though delicious is! Kung Pao Chicken is definitely one of those guilty pleasures that tastes "so good" but the calorie count is "so bad. With a creative Mexican twist to this popular Chinese takeout dish, Cooking Light solved this dilema with their Kung Pao Chicken Taco recipe that is getting rave reviews from its fans. We recently went up to visit Dad, Joanne, and Rachel for a long weekend in Connecticut to celebrate Rachel's 12th birthday and this was one (of many) delicious dishes we devoured. I liked it so much that I made it again as soon as we returned home. Kung Pao chicken without the caloric guilt? Um, yes please!


July 10, 2013

Virginia Beach Vacation



Going to Virginia Beach to stay with the Imrich's during 4th of July weekend has become a family tradition. Chris is one of Scott's best friends from Hawaii. They worked (and even lived at) at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Lab on Ala Moana Beach Park, near Waikiki Beach, as dolphin trainers. Yup, they really got to live the quintessential childhood dream.

Scott and Hiapo (2003)
VA Beach is so worth the extra 3.5 hours of gridlock traffic we endure (now with a toddler) from DC to Baylake Pines. Usually I holdout from snacking in the car so I can savor rt. 11 chips, a Dogfish beverage and a sandwich from my favorite deli, The Taste Unlimited (conveniently located across the street from our spectacular accommodations at Chris' parents Barb and Jerry).


While sleeping steps from the beach is amazing, it's the hospitality and time with friends that keeps us counting down the days until the next trip.

After a long trip in the car it's so awesome to be greeted with warm hugs and fresh baked treats resting on kitchen counter. One of our favorites is Barb's addicting pumpkin bread recipe. She is always cooking up a storm, trying out new recipes from the paper or pinterest, and we all happily indulge in a week of glorious gluttony. Not only is she an amazing cook, but she is also a retired children's librarian!   Hello? What more could you ask for when vacationing with a toddler? The house is full of vintage Fischer Price toys, musical instruments, bubbles and little science projects like watching butterflies hatch from their chrysalis on the back deck. The finest cruiseships and 5-star resort kiddie clubs will never be able to top the outstanding 'childcare' at the Imrich's.


If you are looking for great recipes or activities to do with children, especially recommendations for children's books, you need to check out Barb's pinterest page!

While the food is great at the house, there are several restaurants we love going to. The first restaurant I ever went to in Virginia Beach is Bubba's Seafood Restaurant and Crabhouse and it remains one of my favorites. I crave their blackened Rockfish! My new favorite restaurant is HK on the Bay, a locals hangout in Chic's Beach. My go-to entree is Dan Walker's (HK Top Chef winner) Tri Tip Chimichurri Sirloin served with a side of Lobster Mac 'n Cheese. (Here is a phenomenal lobster mac 'n cheese recipe you can make at home).

Seafood Pot Pie, HK on the Bay
As for breakfast, I was never much of a scone lover until Barb brought some home from Flour Child Bakery. OMG they are to die for! Morgie thinks so too!

Morgan Devouring a scone from Flour Child Bakery
And last but not least, the Leaping Lizard and Cafe (featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network channel) has become another one of our favorite lunch-time spots that specializes in fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Seafood Penne, Leaping Lizard and Cafe
If you are into antiquing the Leaping Lizard also has an antique shop but my favorite spot is Tin Soldiers Forgotten Treasures.

Shopping with Morgan (2012), Tin Soldiers Forgotten Treasures
And while the food and shopping are great, let's not forget the beach! Baylake Pines has its own private residential beach on the Chesapeake Bay. It is so close to the house that we can walk back and forth several times a day to take a break from the sun. One of the "boys'" favorite past times is crabbing with the kayak then and taking their bounty home to cook on the grill.

Scott's First Catch of the Day
The Harvest
And there is no better spot to watch the fireworks! Can you think of anything better to do while your waiting for the much anticipated show than take a dip in the bay? Morgan can't.

ScottRobertsPhoto.com

ScottRobertsPhoto.com
A huge thank you to the Imrich Family! We can't wait for next year :)