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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'll Eat My Hat!

Spring has sprung my friends. Ok, maybe it has not fully sprung, but it is indeed springing. I happily lost an hour of sleep this past weekend to gain an hour of daylight, my crocuses are blooming and we are getting ready for Purim.

Ah, Purim. One of the most fun Jewish Holidays to celebrate during the year. It is taken from the Book of Esther. I won’t take up the space with the story of Purim. You can read that here. But basically every Jewish Holiday is based on the same principal. The Jews are persecuted, the Jews find a way, and they celebrate their freedom.

Jewish people get together on 13th day of the Jewish month, Adar to read the story of Purim in the Megillah. Children dress in costume, adults are encouraged to get intoxicated and shake noisemakers and boo loudly when the name “Hamen” is read.

The villain of the Purim story is a character named Hamen. He was a prime minister of sorts to the Persian King who punished Jews for not bowing down to him. Basically the villain of Purim. Haman wore an triangular shaped hat , and that is the story of how the hamentashen cookie came to be.

Before attempting to make my hamentashen this year, I researched for the perfect recipe. Last year I decided to take a short cut and use ready made refridgarated pie crust for the dough. Big mistake. The dough was way too flaky and not sweet enough. Since the cookies are typically filled with a sweet fruit filling, you really have to be careful to balance the sweetness of the dough with the filling. You do not want it too sweet, but yet it shouldn’t taste like a dinner biscuit either. My sister had a disappointing hamentashen experience this year as well. She used a cake mix, added a few extra ingredients, but was not happy with her results. While the taste was decent, the dough did not hold together.

My friend pointed me to a blog that her cousin writes for her Jewish Community. I scanned the recipe and had all the ingredients on hand for the dough, which was one of my requirements for selection. The ingredients seem to provide what I was looking for in a dough. Butter which would lend the fat, a full cup of sugar which would give it proper sweetness, but not too much and a cup of heavy cream which I felt would give finished product a soft bite, unlike a sugar cookie.

I set to work with 3 little helpers ages 5-7. After rolling out the dough we all took turns cutting out perfect circles with an upside down drinking cup. As we were cutting, my 7-year old could not figure out how the cookies were going to be triangles. My 5-year old son an his friend filled each circle with a generous teaspoon of apricot and red raspberry jam. Traditionally poppy seed and prune filling is used, but since I figured the kids would be eating most of them, I stuck with the flavors I knew would be winners to younger, less advanced palates.
Folding up the edges of the circle to seal the fruit filling produced the triangle shape. Once my daughter saw how it was done, it was a easy job for her to do.
After a bake in the oven to turn light golden brown, it was decided that this will be my Hamentashen recipe. Easy ingredients, it came together easy, and tasted absolutely delicious!

Perfect Hamentashen

Adapted from the

I found that chilling the dough for a few hours before rolling it out made a better cookie. The ingredients came together easily in the mixer and I patted it down into a disc and threw it in the fridge. I took it out about 45 minutes before rolling it out.

• ½ lb butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 4 1/2-5 1/2 cups flour
• 2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder
• 8 ounces of heavy cream

2 jars of preserves. I think apricot and raspberry work the best.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and baking powder. Slowly add the flour with the cream until the dough is no longer sticky. You will need some of the flour to put on the counter in order roll out the dough and put on the rolling pin.

Roll dough out and use a glass or round cookie cutter. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the circle. Pinch dough to form a triangle. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Advantage of Being Indecisive

The phone woke me up way too early this morning with the news I was dreading to hear. Schools will be closed today for inclement weather. Why is the woman delivering this recorded message so chipper? She must not have kids. My kids have been home now since last Friday (early dismissal day) through today and my patience level is wearing thin. We have had so many snow days this school year so far. Some legitimate, some that left me scratching my head. I do know when I hear the words “Snow Day”, my thoughts turn to baking. I know I am not unique to this association. Everyone seems to get their bake on when the white stuff falls.
I was not quite sure what I was in the mood to create this morning. I wanted some type of cookie, so that the kids can help with the measuring and pouring. I was drawn to the Monster Cookies by the guys at Baked.

Let me back track and talk about my love of Baked.

My first experience with Baked, was with their brownie mix. Normally I do not go for mixes. I figure with what you have to add to a mix, you get a sub-par product which you could have easily created yourself. However, the reviews for this brownie mix were obscene. Consistent 5 star reviews piqued my interest. I bought the mix ($16 dollars, no less!) and prepared them. The five star reviews were dead on. I have never had a brownie so good, from a mix, homemade or purchased from a bakery. It was positively perfect. After the brownies, I became obsessed. I bought the two cookbooks by the guys at Baked Bakery the area of Red Hook, Brooklyn and read them cover to cover, covering it with post it notes of what I wanted to conquer, including those brownies.

Today was Monster Cookies. These cookies are an insane combination of whatever cookie you are craving. Chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies are covered by this recipe. So, if you can’t make up your mind, the monster cookie will fit the bill nicely.

Scanning the ingredients, you immediately see this is a hefty cookie. Three cups of sugar, both granulated and brown. Two cups of peanut butter. More than 5 cups of oatmeal. Plus a generous 2 cups of M&Ms and chocolate chips. I needed 2 hands plus a helper to lift the mixing bowl. A scant amount of flour (just a ½ cup) is needed. A very small amount of corn syrup (1/4 of a teaspoon) is essential to the recipe according the Baked guys. I can’t seem to figure that one out, but I am in full compliance.

After all the ingredients are incorporated, you are instructed to cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for 5 hours. The mix was fairly soft, so I am guessing the extra chilling time was to give the dough a chance to tighten up to be able to form scoops. I took the 5 hours of wait time as the inability to snack on the insanely delicious dough.

I put 6 scoops on a tray, but soon learned that this was a mistake. The cookie dough portions were made with an ice cream scoop that was approximately 3 tablespoons.

The 6 scoops were too many and as they cooked, they spread into each other in the hot oven. I reduced it to four cookies for the next tray and had better results. The cookie spread a little more than I thought it would. The picture in the book showed a hefty, thicker cookie. Mine was a flatter, lacy cookie. Delicious, none the less. Even though it was thin, it still had a nice chew, mostly due to the oatmeal.

The batter was so good. Cleanup and waste was not an issue.

Monster Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Makes 3 dozen cookies bigger than your head

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
5 ½ cups of rolled oats
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups creamy peanut butter (NOT the natural kind)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&M's

In a large bowl, combine flour, soda, salt and oats. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream butter until smooth and pale. Add sugars and mix until just incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and peanut butter and mix until smooth but do not over mix. Stir in oat mixture in three additions, then fold in chocolate chips and candies. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop generously sized balls (about 3-4 tablespoons worth) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes until just barely browned, then remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to cooling rack.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Well worth the Wait (and the weight!)

I feel like I am always apologizing for not writing. Here I am again, looking at my last post..5 months ago, and so much has changed in those past five months. Verizon finally got the iPhone, Egypt’s president finally stepped down, there is going to be another Royal Wedding (why are we so damn fascinated by that, anyway?) and Bel Air FINALLY has a Cupcake Shop.

Flavor Cupcakery finally opened in December in the convenient area of Tollgate Road and Boulton Street (118 North Tollgate Road). After months of delivering cupcakes to local area coffee shops, Flavor Cupcakery took the plunge and opened up a storefront.

Of course I went on opening day to wish them good luck and bring some treats home for the family. The shop sits between a take out chinese restaurant and Fritzies Deli, right across from the Bel Air Athletic Center. So, after I have burned 500+ calories during a workout, I can pass by and pick up my portion controlled cupcake without the guilt. Right? Don’t judge me!

Flavor offers tons of flavors. They rotate 4 flavors daily in addition to a classic nine flavors. The classics offered daily include Vanilla, Vanilla Milk Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Chocolate Vanilla, Red Velvet, Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel and Cookies 'n Cream. A gluten free option is also available daily. Milk, coffee and tea is also available to purchase.

When you walk into the shop, you are immediately charmed by the cuteness of it. A display of cupcake merchandise (aprons, T-shirts, notepads etc.) are available to browse and purchase while you wait to order your sweets. The cupcakes sit behind a beautiful bakery counter on silver cake stands, lined up like jewels, making the decision of what to get really hard. I have tried almost all the flavors to date (all research related, of course!) I have some stand out favorites including Maple Bacon, Key Lime, Creamsicle, Salted Caramel (My 7 year old’s favorite, what can I say, she has an advanced palate) and Red Velvet.

photo by Mark Rosica

Check out their website for all their additional flavors, cupcake accessories and pricing. They do gorgeous specialty cupcake displays for parties, showers, and corporate events. Also, give them a “like” on Facebook. You will get daily notifications of their flavors of the day and mouth watering photos from happy customers!

I wish Flavor Cupcakery tons of success! It’s about time that Harford County has gotten on board with what is hip and happening!

Flavor is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-6, and Sunday from 10-2. They are closed Mondays.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Get Your Free Dessert at Vaccarro's on September 15th!

Oh Happy Day! Look what I got in my email mailbox tonight!

Dear Vaccaro's Customers:

Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop will be giving away our famous cannoli, colleseos, eclairs, large gelatos, large mochaccinos and a five-cookie assortment tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15th from 1-3 p.m.

Why all the SWEET free desserts? Vaccaro's is participating in a two-hour promotion tomorrow (Wed. 9/15 from 1-3 p.m.) to promote the season premiere of Top Chef Just Desserts, airing 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night on Bravo TV.

Four Vaccaro's locations that are participating: Little Italy - 222 Albemarle Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 Canton Square - 2919 O'Donnell Street, Baltimore, MD 21224 Hunt Valley - 118 Shawann Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21030 Harford Mall - 696 Belair Road, Bel Air, MD 21014

Other Baltimore places are participating too, along with Charm City Cupcakes and Godiva.

Win $5,000 - while at Vaccaro's eating your complimentary dessert, take a picture of you/Vaccaro's Desserts and upload to:

Additional information can be found on Top Chef Just Desserts Fan Page

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow - tell your friends!

I'm not certain if you can do takeout for this deal, or you have to eat it there. I'm hoping takeout is an option so I can bring some home to Mr. Baltimore Bites.

I'm a huge fan of Top Chef, and I am really looking forward to Top Chef Just Desserts!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baltimore Bites Goes on a Road Trip!

Summer is winding down. You can see the hints everywhere. In my house it is school buses, new backpacks, new clothes and a schedule that is so tightly synchronized, the Pentagon would be proud.

Before we headed back to a "routine" we decided to "Get out of Dodge", mind you, with a little escape to that magical city of New York. For a 3 day trip, we put a lot on the agenda. American Girl for my daughter and me. The Lego Store and Nintendo for my son, ice cream at Serendipity, pizza from the oldest pizza restaurant in the country, Central Park, and heart attack inducing rice pudding. The final thing on our list not to miss was doughnuts.

Doughnuts. I am so "take it or leave it" with donuts. Mostly, I am a leave it (unless Krispy Kreme glazed are involved). I can proudly walk into Dunkin Donuts at any given time of the day, get my coffee and that's it. I can not make this statement anymore because I discovered Doughnut Plant.

Doughnut Plant has been getting a lot of press as of lately, which steered my husband and I to find it when we went to NYC this time around. The Neeleys of Food Network mentioned it on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Bobby Flay challenged the guy on "Throwdown", and it was written up in Bon Appetit magazine as one of America's top 10 donuts. Yeah. We had to go see what the fuss was about.

After taking a jaunt to the Lower East Side, we found the place. Small little place. Non-descript with the exception of a sidewalk blackboard outside with today's specials. I've been to this neighborhood of NYC before and totally have walked by.

Walking in, we were armed to try a few. Sadly, they were cash only, and we only had $10. (This has changed since then!) Doughnuts were not cheap..we are talking anywhere from $2 to $3 per donut. We decided on the Peanut Butter and Jelly, the creme brulee and the tres leches.

These are not doughnuts. They are true pastries.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Not a traditional looking doughnut. The doughnut is square shaped so that the filling (real raspberry jam) goes ALL THE WAY AROUND the donut. Not a glob in the middle. The outside is a yeast doughnut, smothered in a peanut butter glaze with chopped peanuts. Unbelievable. The four of of each had a bit and I can honestly say it was a huge doughnut.

Creme Brulee: This came out looking like an over sized munchkin. This was no munchkin, my friend. The exterior had caramelized sugary coating and the inside was a creamy custard. Yeah. Creme Brulee.

Tres Leches: Oh dear God, this was the most amazing doughnut I ever had. It is a cake doughnut that has almost a milk filling inside. I am generally not a cake doughnut fan. If I am going to eat a doughnut, I like my doughnut yeasty and fluffy.

Everyone agreed the tres leches was absolutely knee buckling. So, with the change we had from the $10 and some coins I found in the bottom of my purse we got another.

This location is the original Doughnut Plant. Doughnuts can be found in specialty food stores in NYC as well, including Dean and DeLuca, Zabars, Joe's Art of Coffee, among other vendors. Weirdly enough, Doughnut Plant also has bakeries in Japan and Korea.

Doughnut Plant 379 Grand Street, NYC, NY 10002 (212) 505-3700
Closed Mondays

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cupcake Wars in Haford County: It's On!

I was on Facebook over the weekend and noticed one of my friend's "like" of a Cupcakery in Havre De Grace. Immediately I looked at the page, and indeed, there is a Cupcake lady in Havre de Grace who already has over 600 followers. How have I not heard of her before? Her shop is called Sweet Devotion Cupcake & Creperie and it appears that she will open a storefront location in the Havre De Grace area in early September. It will be located along route 40 (near Bulle Rock) in the small shopping strip next to Bruester's Ice Cream. Along with a variety of cupcakes daily she will also have sweet and savory crepes, scones and coffee. Sweet Devotion also does beautiful cupcake bouquets that are amazing and would be a unique centerpiece for a party.

Well Harford County, it appears we have 2 cupcake businesses which can mean some yummy and friendly competition.

Flavor Cupcakery has been public for about 3-4 months now and I can testify first hand that her product is delicious. There is not currently a storefront for the cupcakes, but 4 flavors a day (Tuesday through Saturday) can be found at several Bel Air area coffee shop locations. When I spoke with employees of the coffee shop, it appears that she provides them with a dozen assorted flavors each day along with some sampler packs. She also does custom orders as well. I have already had my fair share and the flavors are really great. I have been hearing some buzz that a storefront is in the future so we will have that to look forward too.

Sweet Devotion is in another area of Harford County. At first I thought to myself..Havre De Grace, Aberdeen...wasn't my first thought to put a cupcake joint. But with the changing demographics of that area, BRAC coming in...this may work. I don't have a business or marketing background, but I think of cupcakes as "impulse" buys (outside of ordering them for events, birthday parties, etc). Most cupcake places I know in other cities tend to be in walking neighborhoods. This location will definitely require the forethought of wanting a cupcake. I think an ideal location for a "Cupcakery" would be downtown Bel Air. There is quite a bit of foot traffic for local businesses, the courthouse and various town celebrations. Let's face it. Cupcakes are downright trendy right now, so that local would be a natural and fit in with the shops such as Tiddlywinks, Tiny Toes and Tiger Lily.

I have not had a chance to taste Sweet Devotion's cupcakes yet, but I'm quite excited to try them! She already has a few things going for her in her favor. It appears she has a large following on Facebook, a storefront that will be open 7 days a week and many more flavors to choose from daily. While I do not live close by (this may be a good thing!) I will have opportunity to stop by a bit as it may be a great place to have breakfast while my kids are in Hebrew School in Havre de Grace.

I'll be back with a review as soon as I can!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Salad I Keep Going Back To

So hot here last week. I'm sure that statement is like playing a broken record for the East Coast. I really do not remember a summer when the temperature has been this hot for so long. We are not even getting good rain out of it. We will get a dark sky, a rumble of thunder to set my dog off in an anxiety attack and a quick shot of rain. Not enough to cool things off. It's positively dreadful.

These days I don't feel much like cooking anything. Surprisingly I'm still hungry for meals though. I just don't feel like going through the efforts of preparation. Thoughts have turned to salad.

My routine this summer is pretty non-stressful. Two days of working out of the house where I pack my lunch and 3 days that I work from home. Those days, after dropping the minors off at camp I get a good workout in at the gym and come home wanting to eat, but not wanting to cook. Salad fits the bill.

The salad I have been making almost daily has been a goat cheese salad. Love, love, love goat cheese. Something about the texture and the tang. I also love the fact you don't need a ton of it to get great flavor. I used to make a breaded goat cheese salad as an show stopping first course, but wanted to make something a little faster and a tad healthier.

Goat Cheese Salad with Creamy Vinaigrette
1 serving

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of champagne vinegar
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 clove of minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste.
2 heaping cups of mescalin
4 very thinly slices of a leftover baguette from dinner the night before (if you are married to someone like my husband, there is always bread, but I have to hide the leftovers)
1-2 ounces of goat cheese.
2 tablespoons of roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven (or toaster oven!) to 450 degrees

In a big bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil slowly until the mixture forms an emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the greens on top of the salad and put aside.

On a cookie sheet, very lightly sprinkle some olive oil on the bread slices. Put the bread in the oven and watch it close. Since it is cut thin you do not want to burn it. You are looking for a nice golden color. Remove the bread and divide the goat cheese on slices. Return to oven and melt the cheese ever so slightly.

Toss the greens in the bowl with the dressing and put on a plate. Arrange the goat cheese toasts on the salad and sprinkle with the walnuts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is it Too Much to Ask?

Searching my archives for dinner yesterday I decided on a healthy chicken and veggie dish. I searched my pantry and had everything I needed for the most part except the veggies. I remembered that the Bel Air Farmers Market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so I figured I would hit it after dropping off the kids at camp for the broccoli and red pepper I needed.

Let's go back a couple years. I had been to the farmer's market before and to say I was disappointed in it was an understatement. I think there were maybe 6 vendors basically spread out in a parking lot with what looks like was picked from their home vegetable garden. There were a few produce guys, flowers, a baked good lady and a meat truck.

Well, apparently there has still been no vision to what a farmers market should be. When I picture a farmers market, I see a variety of vendors selling produce, homemade food items, dairy, meats, etc. I also see places that shoppers can sit, enjoy freshly prepared foods purchased at the said market. The Bel Air Farmers Market remains exactly as I remember it from a few years ago. A huge disappointment. I was able to get a couple of heads of broccoli, but not a red pepper to be found.

Come on people. We are in Harford County. One of the more rural counties in Maryland. I pass by tons of farms when I drive around. Yes, there has been a boom in commercial properties in the last few years and yes, we are losing some of our green pastures to chain restaurants and shopping. However, there is still so much more that can be done!

I've been to the Pennsylvania Dutch Market in Cockeysville several times. While this is still not the big farmers market I envision, it is closer to what I think would be a no-brainer for the county. Open on the weekends. Fridays and Saturdays. A place to shop for fresh foods for the week. A place to have breakfast and lunch. A place to have ice cream and hang out with friends. Popular vendors can have satellite markets such as Bloom Broom for dairy, Bomboys for candy and ice cream. A local Italian restaurant can sell packaged, stove to table entrees. I have so many ideas.

Indoors would be ideal. The now abandoned Giant and Superfresh in Bel Air would be the perfect location.

Anyone on board with me?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Unprentious Scone

Oh, how I love a day with nothing on the agenda. Trust me. This is a very rare occurrence in our household. Between family obligations, birthday parties, baseball games, other scheduled activities and other commitments a day off is few and far between. Today is one of those days. Nothing. I don’t even care if it stopped raining and it is sunny outside and I should go to the pool. I have a whole day to myself with my family to catch up on things at home.

Sleeping until 8:30 am was a great way to start off the morning. Even better was my kids were still sleeping. I can’t even begin to tell you how I treasure that window of time that I am up in the morning catching up on email or Facebook with my cup of coffee before the chaos sets in.

With days like this, the whole day looming ahead I think about things I can cook or bake. I really did not want to invest a lot of time with a hot oven while it’s record breaking heat out there, so It would have to be something that needed a small amount of bake time. Peering in my refrigerator I spot a pint of blueberries and a quart of open buttermilk and my thoughts turned to scones.

My husband loves scones. It is his usual "go to" pastry at Starbucks along with this coffee. However, this man is picky about his scones. He does not like them too sweet, does not want them too crumbly and they should have some denseness to them. I had the perfect recipe tucked away that is quick and easy and gets a seal of approval from him. These scones are from Tyler Florence, of Food Network fame. What I love about them is my choice of using buttermilk or heavy cream during the prep. Don’t get me started on the cream. Oh boy, does that make them good. Today, I had buttermilk in my fridge and since I am trying to eat more low fat this was the source of dairy today. Also, these scones aren’t prepped and shaped like traditional scones. They are not rolled out, cut with a cutter in traditional triangular scone shapes. Once the batter is combined the dough is a sticky mess that is just scooped out in large spoonfuls on cookie sheets to bake for 15 or 20 minutes. Presenting the more rustic, casual scone. No heirs about this breakfast biscuit.

For fast prep, I combine all the dry ingredients in my food processor. I keep my butter in the freezer, cut in little pieces and pulse it through the dry ingredients until it resembles damp sand. I then beat the egg with the buttermilk and ran that through the food tube until the dough is just combined. You could make them the traditional way that is stated in the recipe below. Personally I like to take shortcuts when I can.

The orange glaze is completely optional. I personally like it. I like my pastries to have a sweet side, and the glaze gives the not so sweet scones a little something extra. The orange complements the blueberries beautifully. My husband asked to leave the glaze off a few. He is purist and thinks the glaze was not needed. I obliged, but after he sampled it both ways, he ended up with the way Tyler meant them to be.

Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones (recipe by Tyler Florence)

Makes 6 enormous scones

• 2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling berries
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in chunks
• 3/4 cup buttermilk or cream
• 1 egg
• 1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; mix thoroughly. Cut in butter using 2 forks or a pastry blender. The butter pieces should be coated with flour and resemble crumbs.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk and egg together, and then add to the flour mixture.

Mix just to incorporate, do no overwork the dough.

Roll blueberries in flour to coat, this will help prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the scone when baked. Fold the blueberries into batter, being careful not to bruise. Drop large tablespoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until brown. Cool before applying orange glaze.

Orange Glaze:

• 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
• 3 tablespoons of orange juice

To prepare Orange Glaze:
Combine powdered sugar and orange juice in the a small bowl. Whisk until the mixture forms a glaze.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Cake for Now. A Cake for Later.

I am of the firm belief that everyone needs a basic cake recipe. I am not talking about the kind of cake that is covered in frosting and has candles stuck in it. Cheesecakes and fruitcakes also do not fit this statement. You know the kind of cake I am talking about. The go to cake. The cake that can be brought to the impromptu barbecue. The kind to serve at Sunday brunch along side of a good egg dish and really good coffee. The one that you can always have on hand.

I have been making this cake lately. I made it for the first time from a mix (shock..gasp!). While browsing through Stonewall Kitchens website for products I ran across Ina Garten’s pantry items that are sold on the site. Specifically I scanned down to the “sale” items. An orange pound cake caught my eye. Only $5.99, marked down from $10.95. I added it to my cart along with a few other goodies and waited for my shipment.

Flash forward 3 days. My cake mix arrives and I wrinkle my brow in a bit of frustration. To the mix I have to add my own butter, egg, fresh orange juice and orange zest. Hmph. This does not sound very convenient to me. So, I gather up the needed ingredients, lugged out my juicer and got to work. The end result was very good. A very good solid pound cake.

Out of curiosity, I took out my Ina Garten Family Style cookbook. I opened to the Orange Pound Cake recipe and scanned the ingredients. I had pretty much bought a mix for everything I already had in the pantry. Sugar. Flour. Baking Powder. Salt. Confectioners Sugar. Plus, this recipe makes 2 loaves. One for now, and one for later. I don’t need a mix for this. I can do this freehand!

Once again, I set out to work. It’s a basic pound cake recipe with all the ingredients you would suspect. A small amount of buttermilk added to the mix adds the slightest tang. Orange is the star here, so if you are not a fan of orange we really can’t be friends and you probably will not like this cake. It’s a triple shot of orange. Zest running through the cake, a sweet orange syrup infused in the warm cake as it cools on racks and an optional orange glaze to adorn the top.

This recipe makes 2 loaves, so make sure you have 2 pans before you start. I suppose you can half the recipe, but really..what would be the point of doing that? The workload would be the same to make two and you end up with an extra cake that freezes beautifully for the next time you need that “Go to Cake”.

I have a big container of blueberries that the markets seem to be giving away this week, they are so cheap that would complement that cake I have in my freezer right now.

Orange Pound Cake
(adapted by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

*If you are freezing the cake for a later use, omit the glaze.

• 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
• 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
• 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1/3 cup grated orange zest (6 oranges)
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
• 3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

• 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
• 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of the granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, and the orange zest.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the orange juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

While the cakes bake, cook the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with remaining 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans and place them on a baking rack set over a tray. Spoon the orange syrup over the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the orange juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hello Cupcake!

First, my apologize for being so lazy with the blog. What can I say? I can make excuses, but I won't. You know how life gets busy and things are put on a back burner. Yeah. That's what happened.

I'm also thinking of twisting the blog topics a little. Yes, when the blog was first created it was a place to talk about place to eat. I'm thinking about mixing it up a bit with some cooking of my own too. additions to the places to go, hopefully I can offer up some great food to make as well.

Let's get back to the original purpose of the blog. Food to eat in and about Harford County. It's exciting people. We got Wegmans coming in about a year, Famous Daves just around the corner in August and we now have a cupcake lady! Cupcakes! I am obsessed with cupcakes. Love to make them..I even dreamed of having my own little cupcake shop at some point..still a pipe dream. In the meantime I can enjoy the Flavor Cupcakery.

My first experience with the Flavor Cupcakery was at my friend's 40th birthday party. My friend Lisa had the cupcakes at her party and told me that she was going to open up a bakery on Main Street in Bel Air. Bell and Whistles...I was so excited. At the party I was able to sample traditional vanilla and chocolate ones and they were quite good.

Flash forward about 6 months. Flavor Cupcakery is supplying many of the local Harford County coffee shops with several flavors a day. She also has a website with an extensive menu for personal orders and catering. It appears that you can pick up personal orders at the coffee shops she supplies or they can be delivered to you for a nominal delivery fee. I was in Coffee Coffee the other day with my little ones and we shared a Cookies and Creme (chocolate cupcake with Oreo icing) and a Turkish Coffee (vanilla with cardamon tones with an expresso icing). Both were delish. It does not appear that she has her own walk in bakery at this point, but is well on her way to a very successful venture.

I mean, really? Who does not love a cupcake. It is relatively harmless (I tell myself this every time I peel back the paper wrapper) with only a few bites, right? It's not like eating a piece of cake, huh?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Baltimore List

Since moving to Baltimore 7 and 1/2 years ago, my husband and I have ventured into all aspects of the city and suburbs. Living in Harford County has its limitations. Basically we have our choice of almost every chain restaurant, but we definitely like to "eat outside the box". That being said, we also like to go where people recommend as well. Recommendations from trusted friends have led us to Blue Moon Cafe for breakfast, Salt for dinner, and Little Italy for the Pane Rotundo and all you can eat dessert at Vacarros. I found this list that appealed to me immensely from the Baltimore Sun.

100 Things that Baltimore Foodies Must Try

After browsing the list, I have had 28 of them. Looks like I've got another resolution for 2010.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A big cheer for Sushi..RA! RA! RA!

Yes readers. I know it has been a long time since I last posted. I know that I really have no excuses, but I can claim 2 kids, 2 dogs, a husband, a job and running a house...but I know you don;t want to hear that. You are hungry and just want to eat. I'll try to do better.

Last weekend, my mother-in-law took my kids for a few days which allowed me and the Mr. to get out and whoop it up. We have been wanting to try Ra Sushi in Fells Point for about a year no. The restaurant is a chain out of Scottsdale, Arizona and serves traditional sushi and some inventive rolls in a hip atmosphere that does not represent the typical Japanese restaurant. It is noisy, with loud music pumping. So anyway, I was researching the menu before we went to get recommendations on what to get and I discovered that they do a happy hour every day of the week. From Monday through Saturday (3 pm-7 pm) they offer many of their drinks ,sushi items and appetizers for half price. On Sunday they do a reverse happy hour from 8 pm until midnight. We decided to go to the reverse happy hour. It was a no brainer. Most of the items on the happy hour menu were things we wanted anyway. It was a little tough waiting until 8 pm to eat, as we were used to eating with kids. So by 8 pm our tummys were rumbling and we were ready to take on some serious sushi. We ordered way more than we usually do, but we figured it was so cheap and allowed us to try different things. We ate ourselves silly along with drinks for about 4o dollars. Probably could have done it even cheaper if we did not order so much food.

Last night we went back to RA for the Saturday Happy Hour and took the kids with us. They were the youngest patrons there (and we were probably the oldest), but they were happy to munch on edemame, veggie tempura and chicken yakatori while we got our sushi on. We ate our typical favorites like spicy tuna and spicy yellow tuna rolls. RA has a signature rolls called the Viva Las Vegas Roll which is a filled with kani kama and cream cheese, the Viva Las Vegas roll is fried tempura style and topped with crab and a sliced lotus root. The lotus root is sweet and light and perfectly complements the spicy tuna and tempura batter. It is a pretty heavy roll and after 2 pieces I'm pretty much full from it but it is really good.

We were so happy to discover RA, and to be honest we would probably only frequent RA during the Happy Hour since sushi is quite expensive anyway and the happy hour is such a ridiculous good deal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finally, a sandwich I can get on board with! has become my good friend. I have mentioned it several times on this blog, but if you missed it you can read about it here. In this trying economy everyone is looking for a good deal. We love to eat out, and while the economy hasn't affected us terribly yet, we are always on the lookout for deals. Last week, the website ran a special to buy $25 gift certificate for $1. That is insane..basically it's a free $25 gift certificate. When browsing through the offerings, I found certificates to buy at Pickles and Chips in Towson (1220 East Joppa Road Towson, MD 21286 Phone: 410-321-1088). I have seen this place driving down Joppa Road to go to the mall but never stopped in. I further heard about them when they had a mention in Baltimore Magazine for a top sandwich.

With our $25 gift certificate in hand, we went to lunch on Sunday with the kids. The place was empty as we expected on the Ravens home opener. Brian and I got hot corned beef sandwiches on rye. My daughter got a turkey sandwich and my son got a bagel and cream cheese. We have been very skeptical of corned beef since moving to Maryland. No one seems to know how to make it down here. We are used to Jewish style delis from Philly and New York and frankly no one in Harford County has come close. While not as good as our favorite NY delis, Pickles and Chips had a very good sandwich that was what I was used to. Brian, the owner owned a deli in Owings Mills, MD and understands what pastrami and corned beef are really all about. The sandwiches came with really good homemade potato chips and a pickle as well.

They have a huge menu with many standard sandwiches and a selection of specialty sandwiches names after Baltimore celebrities. Order one of these and they donate 25 cents to charity. They also offer breakfast as well. We will definitely go back!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

High on the Hog

It's not always easy to eat healthy. Most of the times I can make a decent choice when eating out. However, my weakness this summer has turned to BBQ. We have been going to Famous Dave's a number of times this summer and it has become one of our favorite chain restaurants to go to. The problem was we had to drive at least 40 minutes to get to one. There is one in Columbia and a few in Delaware.

Our days of traveling far for BBQ are over. We happened across Andy Nelson's in Cockeysville last night. The place is a nondescript building on York Road with a pig on the roof. We have driven past it enough times and never gave it a second thought. After talking to some people and reading some reviews we decided to give it a shot.

Waiting in line to order, we noted it was counter service. Order your food and have a choice of taking it to go, or eating at one of the tables inside or out. Brian and I decided on sampler platter that let us try a little of several things. We got beef brisket, pulled pork and a half of slab of Memphis style ribs. We chose cornbread and potato wedges to round out our meal. Our picky kids wanted know part of BBQ and settled on Mac and Cheese and Hot Dogs. A bit of a ripoff, but you don't go to this place for the kids meals. Once we convinced my daughter to take a taste of what we had, she loved it and started eating our meals.

Can't wait to go back..the only bad bad thing to say about the place is that it is not open on Sundays. You would think they would make a killing on Football Sundays, but I guess they know what they are doing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Lovely Day for a Tea Party

The school year is upon us. My kids went back this son started daycare/preschool on Monday and my daughter stated first grade on Thursday. Last year, before entering the big bad world of kindergarten, I took my daughter to Afternoon Tea at Two By Tea in Bel Air (814 S Main Street, Bel Air, MD 410-838-3611).

I have been to tea a few other times in my life, but never as a little girl. I knew that if I ever had a daughter it would be something I would love to introduce her to at a young age. I decided that the week before school starts we would go for tea. And so the tradition begins.

For those not familiar with afternoon tea, it is an experience. This is not sitting down to a Lipton tea bag steeping in water. The Tea room has about 8 tables in the main room and a larger table in another room. All the staff got a kick out of daughter decked out in a cute summer sundress with her best manners. Tradiditional tea consists of hot tea (the Tea room has so many flavors to pick from) and it is generally served with a trio of traditional tea standbys..a scone, tea sandwiches and little pastries. You can vary the tradtional afternoon tea by adding soup, quiche or salad as well. For young kids under the age of 12..Tea By Two offers a Cambric Tea for young tea totters which includes a chocolate chip scone, peanut butter and jelly tea sandwich and a teapot shaped sugar cookie.

It was a nice relaxing afternoon with my daughter and my mom and already looking forward to the next tea time!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have to Stop

Our extended family all live in Delaware or Pennsylvania. A hop on 95 and we are at our destination in either an hour or 2...depending on who we are visiting. To get there we have to go through Cecil County to enter Delaware. We always thought that Cecil is a relatively rural county, more so than Harford, so there was no need of stopping. From what we understood there is no mall, no what's the point? I was tipped off to a restaurant in North East, MD that is supposed to be known for crabs and other seafood entrees. I gave a call to my mother-in-law who resides in Philly to meet for would be a 40 minute drive for us and a shorter distance for her to see her grand kids.

I put the address of Woody's Crabhouse (29 S. Main Street, North East, MD 410-287-3541) in my GPS and set out on my drive..we were approaching quickly and turned onto the street of the restaurant..Holy was a quaint little street lined with boutiques, antique shops. specialty stores and restaurants. It wasn't plentiful but it was several blocks that could keep me entertained for an hour or so after dinner.

About Woody's. A fun place. My mother and I ordered crabcake sandwiches (10.99) which were really good. The cakes were full of lump crab meat and barely had any filler. They served it on a standard soft hamburger roll with chips, cole slaw and pickle. There were lots of other things on the menu that looked worthy of exploring..but decided on what the restaurant was known for. They also ship their crabcakes nationwide. Woody's is a very kid friendly place. My kids were provided with activity books and crayons. Since it is a crab place, the tables were covered in brown paper which let them color on that as well. Kids meals were really reasonable..your standard kid fare served with fries, applesauce, a drink and ice cream for $4.95. Surprisingly they did not have macaroni and cheese, for which I was thankful cause I'm so sick of my kids ordering that every time we go out.

We will for sure go back. Its a great meeting place for our "northern" family. I just can't believe in our 7 years of commuting back and forth to Philly and Delaware we zipped right by. We seriously should have stopped.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Let the Real Summer Begin

Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxing and not adhering to a schedule. Not in our house for the past five weeks. The kids went to camp at the Bel Air Athletic Club while I worked 3 mornings a week doing speech at summer school. I can't turn down the's too easy and since the kids were already enrolled in camp..why not? So we have been having to rush in the morning to get out the door to get to our respective places on time and get to bed at decent hour so we are not grumps in the morning. Today was the last day of camp so I am declaring the next month to be one of no schedules. Sleep in, stay up a little late, vacation next week, see what the day brings.

Sometimes on Friday I choose to cook, but maybe half the time we grab something to eat locally. Since I snagged a few $25 gift certificates for $2 on this week we decided to try The Open Door Cafe in Bel Air (528 Baltimore Pike, Bel Air, MD). We have never been there and have wanted to give it a shot. When we got to the place we were immediately greeted by a very friendly staff who gushed all over our kids (they are very gush worthy, if I do say so myself). The kids ordered their favorite dinner in the world, mac and cheese with a side of french fries (don't judge me). A drink was included, all for $4. I should note that after 4:00 pm kids eat free at the Open Door. A great deal, but did not apply to us tonight because we had a coupon. Brian had a hot turkey cranberry sandwich which included hot turkey breast, cranberry spread and Gouda on sourdough bread. ($9.79). I had a blackened ahi tuna salad which was served on spinach, onions and almonds ($12.49). The tuna was a bit skimpy for the portion and too well done for my liking. It was cut in small bite size strips. I like my tuna barely passed over a flame or else I don't like the texture or flavor. The seasoning on the tuna was good, so overall it was OK, but I would not order it again.

In addition to salads, soups and sandwiches, Open Door offers a selection of entrees that vary each evening. Breakfast is also offered each morning.

From the time we walked in the door, my kids were obsessed with the revolving dessert cabinet that had some amazing looking desserts. Homemade I'm sure, but definitely not house-made. My kids picked out a piece of chocolate cake ($5) before they even ordered dinner and it arrived (after our server made sure our kids finished their dinner!) doctored up with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Service was great. Everyone was extremely friendly and pleasant. We will definitely go back.I purchased a few more gift certificates, so it will continue to be a good deal for the next few times we go.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Scoops of Heaven

Living up in Harford County gives us some of the luxuries of living in a county that still has rural roots. I'm not a country gal by any means. Any time a commerical property pops up, I am all over it. I'm always excited for the next restaurant, shop and supermarket (yes, Wegmans..I'm talking about you) that pops up. However, one of the county delights that we have enjoyed for the past few years has been ice cream at Brooms Bloom Dairy.

They are located on 1700 S. Fountain Green Road (543) in Bel Air, owned by the Dallam family. We started going to Brooms when it first started selling its ice cream. Now the place is crazy on a warm summer night. We wait in line 40 people deep for a single dip of their farm fresh ice cream. Prices are excellent too. We are able to get an extra small dip for under 2 dollars and a small (which is huge by the way for a little over $2). Flavors change daily, (depending on the cows..hahaha) but you can usually count on the standbys of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc. They have some of their own flavors such as caramel cashew (my personal favorite) and cranberry walnut. Once my husband and I had a flavor, English Cream and it tasted like the very best vanilla ice cream I ever had. It tasted like frozen whipped cream. Every time we go back there we hope to see it scrawled on their blackboard of flavors..but we never saw it again. You can enjoy lunch there which includes soups, salads, quiches and sandwiches. Brooms also sells local products such a cheese, milk, pork, lamb and beef.
With the live music on Saturday and Sunday, you will feel like you have stepped into childhood, sitting on the porch, listening to music and catching the drips off your cone.

The other ice cream place that we love to go to Harford County is Bomboys in Havre De Grace (322 Market Street, Havre de Grace, Maryland, 21078). Bomboys is known for their candy. During the holidays you can wait up to an hour to get candy. They decided to get into the ice cream business and took an ice cream making course up at Penn State (just like those 2 famous guys on the pint..) and have created some amazing ice cream as well. Interesting flavors as well..Lick the Beater, Salty Dog (vanilla with chocolate covered pretzels), Myrtle Turtle (caramel with cashews). They have expanded the building since the last time we were there and now there is a place to sit as well.

Both these places are great for ice cream. Brooms is definitely less expensive and has that "farm" ambiance. Closer for us too. Those reasons alone makes us usually pick Brooms.

All that being said, check back for a future posting on my new craze, making homemade ice cream!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Secret Word is "napkin"

A little late in reporting this..I just found out myself. Head on over to I posted about this site earlier in the year about how you can do a search by zip code and buy gift certificates at a very reduced rate. You can buy a $10 gift certificate for $4, a $25 gift certificate for $10...etc. You aren't going to find the creme de la creme of restaurants here..such as Ruths Chris, the Charleston and others..but there are some hidden gems here. My husband and I were surprised to find places we go all the time.

Now through tomorrow (July 28th) you can buy $25 gift certificates for $2! That's 80% off, people! I bought 5 for $10 straight away. You have to read the restaurant stipulations on each one. Some may not honor on a weekend, some have you spend a certain amount before being able to use it.

You have a year from purchase to use the gift certificate and you can print them out as you need it. I love this site!

Put the word "napkin" in the promotional code before you check out and enjoy the savings!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm back..say cheese!

Sorry friends. It has been a while since my last post. I really don't have any excuses..well, yes I do. I've been a little busy. With the kids out of school for the summer my schedule is a little less flexible and I am busy entertaining them, working summer school and still working the home business. With all this craziness, it leaves little time to cook and we have to go out to eat a bit more...and I really should have reported what's new. I'll try to do better. I feel really badly that I was not hear to tell you about free pastry day at Starbucks which was last Thursday. Brian was pretty pissed I missed the boat on telling him about that one. So here is the next great deal...and oh it is a good one. This Thursday, head on over to your Cheesecake Factory. It't National Cheesecake Day and all cheesecake slices are half off. Oh yeah...

PRESS RELEASE: CALABASAS HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With more than 30 decadent cheesecakes on the menu, The Cheesecake Factory is the perfect place to raise a fork in honor of America's favorite dessert - cheesecake! In celebration of National Cheesecake Day, The Cheesecake Factory invites guests who dine in at any of its 146 restaurants on July 30 to enjoy any slice of cheesecake for half price. The restaurant will also debut Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake(tm), which supports Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief charity.

On July 30, dine in guests will be the first to experience Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake(tm), featuring moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and Original cheesecake covered with special Cheesecake Factory cream cheese frosting. The idea for this new cheesecake originated with Redondo Beach, Calif., resident Stefanie Gaxiola, whose flavor suggestion was chosen from nearly 10,000 submissions in The Cheesecake Factory's "What's Your Flavor?" cheesecake contest earlier this year. The winner of the contest was given the opportunity to have their cheesecake creation named after them and included on the menu for one year. This represents the first time The Cheesecake Factory has named a menu item after one of its guests.

"Our famous cheesecake made with my Mother's recipe was the secret that inspired our restaurant more than 30 years ago and we're delighted that it has become America's favorite today," said David Overton, Founder of The Cheesecake Factory. "As we celebrate National Cheesecake Day on July 30, we are inviting our dine in guests to celebrate with us by offering any slice for half price; we are thrilled to honor Stefanie by naming a cheesecake after her and making it the centerpiece of our ongoing commitment to Feeding America."

With the introduction of Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake(tm), The Cheesecake Factory is strengthening its partnership with Feeding America by donating 25 cents for each slice sold over the next year. Feeding America is the nation's largest hunger-relief organization that helps to feed more than 25 million hungry Americans each year. During the past year, The Cheesecake Factory has donated more than $400,000 to Feeding America and hopes to surpass that donation in the coming year.

To become a "fan" of The Cheesecake Factory on Facebook and learn more about their plans for National Cheesecake Day, visit, or visit their website at

I'll try to be better about posting more reviews and recipes. I've been into making homemade ice cream with the kids, and we have discovered Famous Dave's BBQ which is a bit of a drive, but oh so worth it. Until then, go get some cheesecake!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cute as a Cupcake

Happy Mothers Day all you mommies out there!

Had a lovely day with the family. The morning started out with cards and the coveted Vera Bradley bag I had my eye on from the kids and my husband making me breakfast. Nothing too complicated...just my standard weekend egg-white sandwich.

We decided to head down to Annapolis today to walk around since it was such a nice day out. We checked out the shops, went down to the water and watched the boats and took in the atmosphere. Brian noticed several people carrying bakery boxes and his radar came out. My husband loves his sweets and is always on the lookout for his next conquest. Don't get me wrong..I love sweets too..but have been trying to be good as of lately so my will power needs to be way up.

The bakery boxes came from Nostalgia Cupcakes (188 Main Street, Suite 102) right in the heart of Annapolis. We walked into the charming clean little shop and stared down the choices. Since it was 4:00 there was not too much left. They had about 6 flavors of mini cupcakes left and a standard sized mocha cupcake. The minis were $1.75 a piece which we thought were a little pricey for a 2-bite cupcake. However, since portion control is the name of my game right now I went for a mini coconut cup cake and got 2 minis for the kids. The standard size cupcakes are normally $3.00 which is competitively priced. Today the cupcakes were 1 day old, so they were half price. Brian was all over he got the standard sized mocha. My daughter had a pink lady (vanilla cake with strawberry filling, topped with pink butter cream frosting) and my son had a grandma's best which was vanilla cake and chocolate frosting.

Overall a very good snack..I can really never turn down a cupcake and the mini fit the bill nicely today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Perfect Timing

With these crazy Summer like temperatures, ice cream is a natural treat to enjoy. So, it is with good timing that Baskin-Robbins has their annual 31 cents scoop night today, April 29th. We went to our local Baskin-Robbins last year (18 Bel Air South Pkwy, Bel Air - (410) 569-4205) and it was pretty crowded. If they do it like last year, the scoops are very small..somewhere around 3 ounces. I'm not really annoyed about that..first of all it's free..and second of all..I really don't need to be consuming too much ice cream right now..I'm in crunch time for summer and vacation!

Here is the information I got in my email...

Join us for 31 Cent Scoop Night at Baskin-Robbins®
and help us honor America’s firefighters with a $100,000
donation to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
National Junior Firefighter Program.

Participating stores will reduce prices of small ice cream
scoops to 31 cents*. At some locations, you may also have
an opportunity to make a donation to local fire charities.

I don't think they limit how many "scoops" you can buy, so maybe you can can spend a buck for a triple scoop..if you are inclined.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

Well, it's not exactly dinner..but today you can get a free piece of chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken. They are promoting their grilled chicken. I can't even tell you the last time I ate at Kentucky Fried Chicken, but I can tell you this..I didn't have a drivers licence when it was.

Today, April 27th, KFC is giving away a piece of their new grilled chicken. No purchase necessary. The piece is at the discretion of the restaurant. According to the email I got:

Since Kentucky Grilled Chicken was introduced last week, America has been UNTHINKING what they always thought about KFC; there's a lot more to us than fried chicken! Now, America will get to UNTHINK their definition of "Monday," as KFC introduces "UNFry Day."
KFC is so confident America will love our new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, we're inviting you to sample our newest mouth-watering menu item on “UNFry Day,” Monday, April 27. Consumers are encouraged to stop by KFC throughout the day on “UNFry Day” and receive a FREE* piece of Kentucky Grilled Chicken.

Visit to view commercial outtakes, upload your personal video of the chicken dance and download a cool "Get Your Grill On" phone app.

And remember, for a limited time, you can enjoy a two-piece Grilled meal (breast & wing or drumstick & thigh) including two side items and a biscuit for just $3.99 plus tax. (Pricing and participation may vary by location.)

Obviously this is a nod to healthier eating, but I have a hard time visualizing grilled chicken in a bucket. It just doesn't seem natural.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheapies and Freebies!

Some great deals today, April 21st for those of you craving something icy and cold! Good thing we are not dealing with the weather we had yesterday. I wouldn't be in the mood for either of these.

For just half a George Washington bill you can get a 16 ounce iced coffee at your local Dunkin' Donuts. That is just 50 cents all day. For each small Iced Coffee you buy on Iced Coffee Day, 10% of the purchase price will go to The Dunkin’ Brands Community Foundation to support Homes for Our Troops.

Today is also free scoop day at Ben and Jerry's scoop shops. From 12-8 you can get a free cone of your favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor. The bad news about this one is there is not one for locals of Harford County. If memories serve me, there is one in the Inner Harbor. So, it seems more reasonable for me that for the money I would spend in gas driving down to the Inner Harbor, parking my car and dealing with the lines for a 4-ounce ice cream scoop, I may be better off heading over to WAWA and picking up a pint of my heath bar crunch!

Whatever you decide to do...enjoy the bargains!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pie..Oh My!

Last night was the last day of Passover, so I was really looking forward to dinner that night. It was all up for grabs..after not eating bread, noodles, most baked products, rice and the like all week. We decided to go with pizza and I decided that instead of picking up the phone, I would cook it up..homemade pizza seemed a fitting way to end the Passover holiday.

My favorite homemade pizza combination is caramelized onions, sausage and goat cheese. I can't remember where I first came across this combination. I'm thinking it was Martha Stewart. Anyhow, I have been making it for over 7 years.

I get my pizza dough from Trader Joes, and roll it out thin to fit my pizza stone. To make the caramelized onions I cut two large sweet onions into thin rings. I had to a hot skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Start sauteing them on medium high heat. When they begin to brown, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Reduce the head to medium low and stir often until the onions are a deep amber color. This can take 45 minutes to an hour. For the sausage, I usually use turkey sausage. Three links typically suffice as I remove the casings and crumble to sausage in a hot skillet and cook until brown.

Add the onions and the sausage evenly to the pizza dough and sprinkle with 3-4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese. Bake on a pizza stone in a 450 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

So delicious.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tax Crunch

Freebie alert...

Tomorrow is the 15th of April. Lots of things happen on the 15th. Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and the IRS tax deadline comes to mind. To help America get through the day of filing their taxes they are offering a FREE small hot McCafe beverage or a FREE medium iced McCafe beverage all day at participating McDonalds!
Drink up and hope you get a refund!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Over the Shoulder for Luck

I was out with my girlfriends on Friday night and was gently reminded by my friend Kim that I have not posted for a little while. I admit I'm slowing down. Maybe it's because I haven't been anywhere overly exciting lately, maybe we are eating home more..I don;t know. I do know that when someone tells me that my posts are old I should start writing because I can't take my blog fans for granted.

We were able to secure our trusty babysitter last night and Brian and I headed down to Salt in Butchers Hill(2127 E. Pratt St). Previously Salt was a place you were not able to make reservations for. They had a rule that your party had to be 6 or more. It was a pretty popular place, so you either had to eat early or wait over an hour. In the last year, they lifted their reservation rule and now they take them for any size party. We were there once before and it definitely is on my list as one of my top 5 restaurants in Baltimore.

We started off our meal with a drink for Brian. Just an iced tea for me last night. Brian had the "Bottoms Up Doc" drink which was fresh squeezed carrot juice, blood orange vodka and triple sec. He liked it, although he thought it was a little strong. For appetizers we had the famous duck fat fries with a trio of aioli and an arugula salad with roasted beets and goat cheese. I know some of you may be grimacing from the mention of duck fat fries..but this is a piece of heaven I can't even describe. I may not be able to button my jeans this morning, but totally worth it. It's a once a year (maybe twice) treat. We were originally just going to go with the fries, but our waitress was quite a sales person, she talked us into the salad as well.

For our main entrees, Brian scored a grilled Kobe skirt steak Chimichurri.It had a smoked paprika rub, sweet potato short stack, huckleberry syrup and a jalapeno popper. I was debating between 3 things. I could not decide between the lamb chop, tuna or rockfsh. I let our waitress make the final decision and I got the rockfish which was served with Spicy crab empanada, mango butter, Chinese long beans and a pomegranate drizzle. Yum all around.

Even though we were really full, of course we got dessert. Salt makes all their desserts in house, including homemade ice creams. We shared a ice cream sandwich made with a homemade brownie and cotton candy ice cream.

So, there you go Kim. Grab Ernie and get down to Salt! (And call us when you go!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'ts Time to Make the Donuts (for pocket change)

I pretty much have taken donuts out of my food repertoire, but must report on the recent article I read on the Internet last week. Looks like Dunkin' Donuts is getting back to basics.

From the AP (3/18/09)

It's time again to make doughnuts.

After focusing on waffle breakfast sandwiches and espresso-based coffee drinks, Dunkin' Donuts is coming full circle with a new advertising campaign to remind people it also sells doughnuts.

Francis Allen, brand marketing officer, said the company has not embarked on a major campaign for doughnuts since 1997.

"We've been doing so much innovation that it really is timed to refocus back on our core," Allen said.

Allen said the yearlong effort will include a $10 million promotional campaign featuring television, radio and Internet ads and a contest for customers to design their own doughnut.

The winning doughnut, to be sold in the chain's roughly 8,000 stores nationwide, will be unveiled June 5.

Customers can start designing new flavors on the company's Web site on Wednesday, when two other new doughnuts, including a Berries n' Kreme filled doughnut, will appear on menus.

Dunkin' Donuts, a subsidiary of Dunkin' Brands Inc., operates shops in 34 states and 30 countries outside the U.S.

Doughnut sales account for about 12 percent of Dunkin' Donuts revenue. Allen hopes the new push will boost that number, helped in part by the recession. The chain's fluffy treats cost about 89 cents - a few cents more in certain markets - and the company figures any price less than $1 will appeal to thrifty consumers.

"Faced with daily disappointments and struggles, the doughnut is one of those affordable treats that can make someone's day," Allen said.

To give consumers an extra incentive to stop by, the chain is also offering doughnuts for 49 cents with the purchase of a medium or larger hot coffee starting Wednesday, March 25th.

I most likely will not be swayed by the price slashing of the donuts. Don't get me wrong, I love food..but I's rather spend my calories in other departments. I still dig their coffee though.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

The mercury may only be in the low 50's today, but we won't care. We will be zipping the jackets and heading out to our nearest Rita's for our annual free water ice.

For the past 16 years, Rita's has been giving away a free, regular size Italian Ice to each and every guest to mark the first day of spring! This is a sweet date for Italian Ice lovers, as each year, hundreds of thousands of our guests visit Rita's in search of the first taste of spring.
A Philadelphia-born springtime tradition, the 17th annual Rita's giveaway will be held on Friday, March 20, 2009 from noon to 10 p.m. at participating Rita's locations.

Rits's has added a few things to their menu this year, including a "slenderita" which is a non fat custard in addition to their already established sugar free water ice. The flavors of the sugar free are:
Cherry, Chocolate, Mango, Peach, Pineapple, Pink Lemonade, Root Beer, Tangerine. The pineapple is new this year, so I'm excited to try that one.

In addition, Rits's launches new flavors every year and this year the flavors are: a mystery flavor (March 20th), strawberry margaRITA (May 1), Blue Raspberry (June 5), Pineapple (July 3), Swedish Fish (July 31), Caramel Apple (September 4).