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?