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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Fiesta

So, when it is New Year's Eve and you have small children your options are pretty limited. Unless you can score a babysitter, you are pretty much limited to a few things. This year we decided to trek to New Jersey to have a "sleepover" at our dear friends house. They have kids roughly the same age as ours and we vacationed with them to Vermont this past summer. We decided to cook an extravaganza and spend the night playing trivia and pop culture games, all while the little ones sleep. Bliss!

My friend's decided since we can't eat out, we would bring "out" "in". We are going with a Bobby Flay, southwestern theme. They are doing the main course and some sides, and I am responsible for a side or salad and dessert. I prepped my dessert tonight and I have to say I did an amazing job with it. I made profiteroles that I am going to serve with vanilla ice cream and warm Mexican chocolate sauce. I made pate a choux for the first time tonight and it was surprisingly easy but impressive. Brian was my helper in the kitchen as I balanced cinnamon and cayenne pepper to achieve the perfect combination. I have to say I nailed it. You get the taste of the cinnamon, then the chocolate and then a slight burn from the cayenne.

I still have to think about my salad. This is going to be more of a challenge for me, since I am not into beans, olives and the usual suspects that accompany southwestern salads..but I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Happy Healthy New Year to all!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ok..Now I'm stuffed!

Today Brian took the day off so we decided to take a ride down to the harbor to the Baltimore Aquarium. We have not been there in ages and we figured the kids were at a good age to enjoy it. After 3 hours in the dark, serene fish tank we were all hungry for we headed to our favorite Italian haunt, Amicci's (231 S. High Street, Baltimore 410-528-1096). Brian and I discovered this place about 2 years ago when looking for a place in Little Italy to eat. The food is outstanding, reasonably priced and they give gigantic portions. The first few times we went we way over-ordered and either went home with tons of leftovers or with indigestion. The problem is that they have so many good starters, by the time you get to your entree you are ready to be sick. The have a great house salad (4.50)that they dress with that dressing that all the restaurants seem to use in Little Italy. We usually get the calamari (9.00) that is really good as well. They have this one signature appetizer called a panne rotundo (14.99). Basically, they hollow out a round loaf of bread, cover it in butter and toast it, pour a garlic scampi sauce in it and float jumbo shrimp in it. It is totally a heart attack waiting to happen, but it is so good. We got it a few times, but I just can't do it anymore. I pay for it later. The entrees are really good as well. They don't have alot of chicken dishes and they have no veal dishes, but they have a nice assortment of pastas and seafood entrees. Tonight Brian and I shared the lasagna and the kids shared spaghetti and meatballs. We finally get our ordering right by ordering a few starters and just sharing an entree.

After dinner (since we didn't eat enough)we headed over to Vaccaro's (222 Albemarle Street 410-685-4905) for dessert. We always stop their on our way home form dinner for our mandatory Italian cookie (the pignoli are the best). We discovered that they do an all-you-can eat/drink dessert and coffee special on Monday nights for $15. We did it once and basically starved all day to train for it. They have a rule that you have to eat half of what they give you before they will bring you something else. When Brian and I did it in the past our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs. We only ate half of our first order and could barely get through the second order. Tonight we got a huge waffle and ice cream concoction for the four of us to share. If we ate a third of it we were lucky.

Now I am sick. Count down to eating healthier...4 more days!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


We were inside all day yesterday, organizing and playing with gifts. We decided to take a ride out to Hunt Valley and do a little Wegmans shopping. Oh how I love Wegmans! That is a post or 2 in itself. We are heading up to our friends for New Years Eve and I have 2 dishes to make that need to be Southwest inspired. I got dessert covered, but the side dish is stumping me. I thought Wegmans would give me some inspiration. I'm no closer to a side dish, but I did buy a bag of plantain chips.

After Wegmans we were were debating where to eat dinner. We ended up at the Silver Spring Mining Company. There are 3 locations that I know of in the Baltimore area. Bel Air, Perry Hall and Hunt Valley. I have only eaten there once since living in Baltimore. I remember it pretty well. I was about 8 months pregnant with Sophie and was craving hamburgers in the later months of my pregnancy. I remember my meal being pretty can a hamburger be so bad when you are pregnant?

So last night the kids got their standard (mac and cheese and chicken tenders). Pretty pricey for kids meals and drinks not included. The chicken tenders were so heavily battered and tasteless (yuck). Brian and I shared fajitas and were pretty disappointed with our meal. We were served a platter of tasteless chicken, steak and onions. Apparently everything that usually comes with fajitas were extra. It was really bad.

So, after paying $60 for a bad meal, lesson learned..I haven't been missing much not going to Silver Spring in the last 6 years.

Friday, December 26, 2008

On a Mission

One of my favorite things to do is to shop after a big holiday. I love to get the clearance on Valentines Day..hey, hearts are good any time of the year. I love candy. I know I love it more than I should but I enjoy scoring cheap holiday candy after the holidays. Who cares what color the wrapper is? It is the inside that counts. However, during the Christmas season Hershey puts out Candy Cane kisses. I can't describe the taste exactly, but it is like peppermint bark, without the dark chocolate. I was all set to stock up on them today and went to my local Target in Bel Air. All I can find was 2 measly bags. I was so bummed. They had tons of the cherry cordial and Mint Truffle, but none of my beloved candy cane. Apparently everyone else likes them too. I was really hoping to get a load of them and cruise through the summer. If anyone is knows where to find them, let me know!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Roll With It..

Well, today is Christmas Eve day. Kind of a slow day for us here. Since we are Jewish we don't have too much to do today and tomorrow. The kids friends will be knee deep in wrapping paper and visiting with friends and family. We are actually headed up to Philadelphia to visit family of our own. We have always had our tradition (with pretty much every other Jewish family) of going to the movies and having Chinese or Asian food on these days. They are pretty much the only business's open on Christmas Day.

When we first moved to Harford County I was disheartened by the lack of Japanese restaurants in the area. I basically had Sakura Japanese Steakhouse as my option for sushi. It was good, but kind of commercial sushi in my opinion. Nothing too special about it. The hibachi grill was fun though. We discovered Edo Sushi in Timonium for our sushi fix. This place makes some serious sushi. We found ourselves taking the 20 minute ride at least once a month for the best spicy tuna we have found. In the last couple years we have had a bit of jump start with ethnic cuisine in Harford County. Three sushi restaurants opened up in the Bel Air area within a year of each other. The first to come was Fuji Sushi in the Festival Shopping Center in Bel Air. I was excited and it was good. Not as good as Edo, but certainly adequate. The next came Toki Sushi in Forest Hill. I preferred this place to Fuji and we started frequenting there. We found the restaurant to always be empty, but we did carryout anyway. The last to arrive was Zen 16. Ding, ding, ding..we hit the jackpot. This place is so good and seriously gives Edo Sushi a run for the money. The staff in Zen are so super nice and the food is always top notch. The spicy tuna is as good at Edo. My one friend goes and the sushi chef actually makes her platters based on what she likes.

I know the economy is shaky right now and I really hope these places can stick it out. Small independent restaurants are usually the first on the chopping block so if you are from Harford County go get some sushi!

So, there you go. we will be getting our takeout from Zen 16 tomorrow night. Since we have little ones, we will be renting the flick, and not going to the movies. Times have changed a little!

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Breakfast. The Most Important Meal of the Day

One of the things I look forward to is my husband taking a vacation day and going out for breakfast and shopping or the movies while the kids are in school. We had the opportunity to do it twice this month, as he had a few days stored up before the end of the year.

Our first stop was Blue Moon Cafe (1621 Aliceanna St. (410) 522-3940). We first discovered this little non-descrip place more than 5 years ago when we moved to the Baltimore area. The first few times we went we went on the weekends which was frustrating as this place is very popular and very small. The kitchen is literally a cook with a hot plate. Let me tell you, there is some serious magic happening back there. My husband would always get the D'Mitris Burritos, or eggs and chorizo and I opt for the "Full Moon" which comes with eggs, pancakes and the best hash browns you will ever eat. It's super cheap, huge portions and seriously some of the best breakfast you will ever eat. Totally worth the wait. It has gained even more popularity as it has been visited by the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. They featured Captain Crunch encrusted french toast and now its one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Don't miss the homemade cinnamon rolls either.

The other restaurant we love to go is Miss Shirley's (513 West Cold Spring Lane,
(410) 889-5272.) It is down by Loyola College. We did some research with our Zagat guide one day and happened along this awesome place in November, 2007. We have been back several times and it never disappoints. It's only open for breakfast and lunch and from what I hear is very crowded on the weekends. We have only been there during the week and it has never been a problem. I have also heard they opened a second location in the Inner Harbor (750 E. Pratt St.) The only problem I have with this place is deciding between breakfast and lunch. The few times I have been there I have had a seafood Cesar salad, the Alonsoville (sandwich with turkey, brie and granny smith apples) and omelettes. They also sport amazing sweet potato fries.

We love breakfast!

The Start of Something New

Usually people wait until the new year to start something new. Losing weight, working out, a new project, etc. So, why am I sitting at my computer an hour before my daughter is to get off the school bus from an early dismissal to start a holiday vacation? I don't know. I do know when I get an idea in my head, I run with it.

I love food. I love to cook it, I love to eat it, and I love to talk about it. I am addicted to Food Network, I watch cooking reality shows like Top Chef and I have a cookbook collection that is starting to take over my house. Before I was married I would frequent all the top, trendy restaurants in the Philadelphia area. When I got married (pre-kids) my husband and I would spend weekends discovering new restaurants, farmers markets, etc. Then the kids came. So, while we could not hire babysitters non stop to support our eating out habit, we got creative. Going out when we can and taking the kids with us to explore new places.

My friends challenged me to write about my experiences. So, here we are. December 23rd, about to embark on a new project. My aim is to share with you places we have been, places we would like to go and places we should have skipped. Feel free to chime in with your favorites!