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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).


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back on Track

It seems I have dropped the ball a bit. I have not posted here for over a week and apologies are in order. I haven't even been more busy than normal..but enough of my excuses.

We haven't been anywhere really new and exciting in the past week or so. Last week I was able to have a girls day lunch out with my friend at one of my favorite lunch spots, Miss Shirley's. This is one of my favorite places for breakfast as I have previously posted, but there also great lunch to be had here. I had their signature sandwich, The Alonso. It is smoked turkey, granny smith apples, brie cheese and mustard on ciabatta. Yum. My friend had a Po Boy..deep fired oysters and remoulade on a roll. Nothing wrong with that either. We started our lunch with some southern favorites, sweet potato fries and fried green tomatoes.

Then, this weekend with the sun shining and the mercury hitting around 70, I had some spring/summer fever going. I scratched the socks for the day, opened the windows and decided on steamed crabs for dinner. The Seafood Stop in Fallston has some of the best crabs in the local area. It's right around the corner from my house that makes it even better. My parents came down for the day and we made a fine mess with some old bay spiced steamed crabs. They were small, but heavy. We paid $65 for 3 dozen..and it was enough for the four of us.

Other than that, just some casual pick up food. We have been hitting Subway pretty hard they have their $5 footlong special and it is quick and healthy for those crazy nights.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Short Cuts are Sometimes Best

For this past Valentine’s Day, Brian and I decided to give each other handmade gifts from Etsy. Etsy is an amazing website that has handmade items..anything you can imagine. We decided on a $50 limit and got to work. For Brian, I selected a necktie and a toffee/caramel dipped apple. For me, Brian selected a piece of pottery and gourmet caramel popcorn.

More about the popcorn. The popcorn was cinnamon roll popcorn. It was insanely good. So good that I had to hide it so no one else in the house could have some. Brian tasted it as well and also admitted it was one of the best confections he ever had. As good as it was, it was a little expensive. A one pound bag cost $20 which included the shipping. As I ate it over the next 2 weeks, I was trying to identify the ingredients. Popcorn. Well that’s a no brainer. There was white chocolate and there was cinnamon. Looking more carefully, it looked liked caramel corn as well. I went back to Etsy and read the description of the product. Popcorn, white chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter. I came up with a plan. I would make caramel popcorn and mix it with melted white chocolate and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Since it was a snow day today, I had the whole afternoon in front of me. Well, and 2 kids..but they occupied themselves. I popped the corn in my hot air popper. Once I measured out 10 cups I started on the caramel. Butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla. This was a messy job. The caramel turned out ok, but sort of had a burnt quality to it. Maybe I let it cook a bit too long. Once I had that poured over the popcorn, I had to let it cool down before I could start the chocolate component. I searched the internet for chocolate covered popcorn and the 3 top ones I found had the chocolate, butter and marshmallows. I made the chocolate, tossed it all together and came up with my version.

I tasted. Brian tasted. It was good. He thought it was a little sweeter than the version he bought me and not as crispy. The whole process took about 3 hours with the prep and waiting for the layers to cool. Maybe 3 hours of my time is worth $20 after all. Next time I’ll take the shortcut and head over to Etsy.

Here is my recipe if you are interested:

First the Caramel Corn:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Combine the following ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate pieces
18 large marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons water

Microwave the ingredients on HIGH in minute intervals, stirring several times, until chocolate and marshmallows are melted, and mixture is smooth. Place the caramel corn in a bowl; add the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly until well coated. Spread out in a shallow pan to cool.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Slow Cooking

Sadly we have not been out to dinner this past week too much. A couple nights of take out of Subway, a quick bite at TGI Fridays, but other than that, we have been home bound. Tonight, I was was surveying the fridge and pantry for tonight's inspiration. I found some crab cakes I had frozen last month. I also had a big package of campari tomatoes sitting on my counter screaming to be used.

Funny thing is, I really don't like tomatoes all that much. Straight up tomatoes that is. In a salad, I generally asked to have them removed. However, I love tomatoes flavoring things..such as ketchup, spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc. I also love sun dried tomatoes.

I came across this recipe from Nigella Lawson for Moon Blush Tomatoes. She takes cherry tomatoes, halves them and adds a few simple ingredients and puts them in a hot oven and instantly turns the oven off. The tomatoes sit in the hot oven all day and intensify in flavor. They can be eaten alone or used in recipes. I decided on using them with goat cheese on a mixed green salad tonight. Along with the crab cakes.

Moon Blush Tomatoes (Recipe by Nigella Lawson, Nigella Express)

about 24 on-the-vine cherry or other baby tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cut the tomatoes in half and sit them cut side up in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the salt, sugar, thyme and olive oil.
Put them in the oven, and immediately turn it off. Leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight or for a day without opening the door.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Klein's Markets Beginning their Transformation

Driving my daughter to dance tonight, I noticed that Klein's Supermarket in Forest Hill is now officially a Shoprite. The signs are down and the new Shoprite logo is now on the front of the building. I learned late last year that Klein's was bought out by ShopRite. Being from Philadelphia, I know Shoprite. There is some comfort level there. When I moved here from Pennsylvania, Acme was the only market familiar to me. The Acme is Fallston is nothing to brag about, but that's another issue. Shoprites have been taking over other stores in the Philadelphia area as well. So, while I am excited for the comforts of "home", it is a little sad that a family business that has been in Harford County for a long, long time is no more. I'm going to miss the Jewish Apple Cake and their rotisserie chickens. They were the best.

For the full story, click here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dreams Can Come True!

So, we were out for dinner last night at Harford Mall..a quick bite at Five Guys and as we were walking to the restaurant I noticed a sign on the vacant store next to Zacks Hot Dogs (does anyone eat here? Its always empty when I walk by). Coming this Spring...drum roll please...


Oh yes! I'm a major sweet tooth girl and Vaccaro's rocks my world. We go every time we are in Little Italy. Everything they have is great, particularly the canolli and pignoli cookies.

I recall that Maggie Moos was supposed to go into Harford Mall. I'm assuming that is not happening now. That's OK by me, because if Vacacaro's plans to have the same menu items as their Little Italy location then they will have gelato as well.

I can't wait..but on the other hand, I'm going to have to compensate for them coming with extra visits to the gym!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I love you. I hate you.

Let's just say that it is a really good thing that my local Wegmans is 25 minutes away. It's close enough that I can get there easily if I want, but far enough away that I can't run there for my everyday food pick-ups.

If you haven't been to a Wegmans you are really missing out. Wegmans is a foodie's version of paradise. You can find anything and everthing there. Based out of upstate New York, this supermarket has had the distinction of being in Fortune Magazine year after year as being one of the best companies to work for. Customer service is supreme. When Wegmans came to Hunt Valley, MD in 2005 I was truly excited. I have heard about this store from some friends in New York singing its praises They have been slowly expanding on the east coast.

The store in Hunt Valley is their biggest to date. It has a huge section for prepared foods, a huge bakery, a meat and fish section that would have your eyes rolling and a cheese section that rivals many cheese shops. On the upper level is seating where you can eat lunch/dinner.

Today I set out to get my ingredients for my Valentine's Dinner. I'm preparing a kitchen clambake, so I needed lobster, clams and shrimp..along with some other goodies. I picked up a tiny carrot cake for dessert to round off the meal. For the kids, I bought ingredients for the kids to make their own pizza and chocolate fondue for dessert. I am also having company the next day..Brian's dad and his wife. She keeps kosher so I had to pick up kosher meat to prepare dinner for the next night. Add a few moe things in the aisles I could not resist, some take home sushi for lunch and my bill was $130. Ugh. I hate you, Wegmans.

NEWSFLASH!!! I just read on a local blog that Wegmans is coming to Bel Air! Woo Hoo! Its proposed to go in on Emmorton now it will be 15 minutes away..oh this is going to be dangerous!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Some Valentine Value in Harford County

As I am writing this post I notice I am talking about Outback Steakhouse. Again. Hmm..Im looking back through my posts and I seem to have several posts regarding Outback Steakhouse or some of their other restaurants in their corporation. Bonefish Grill, Carrabas, Roy's, Flemings. I'm thinking Harford County needs to step it up and and get some more variety..but for now here we go.

This Saturday is Valentines Day and for those of you who like to go out for dinner (more power to you) I saw these deals online in the past few days. Outback Steakhouse is offering a dinner for 2 for $49.99. This includes a Blooming Onion to share, 2 7 oz. fillets, 2 sides, 2 salads and 2 slices of cheesecake. Hmmm..after that much food you can go home and be sick. Very romantic. Bonefish Grill is also serving up a special as well. For $22.50 you get surf and turf"..a sirloin and lobster tail, along with a salad and a side. They have also partnered with Lindt chocolate and diners will get a 1.2 ounce dark chocolate bar at the end of their meal.

We will not be patronizing any restaurant this Valentine's Day. We are not believers in dining out on Valentines Day. Places are always packed and restautants usually limit their menus and jack up the prices. I like to make dinner that night. It's my time to go all out with decadent ingredients and cook up a storm. This year, I'm thinking of doing a "Kitchen Clambake" which I have made in the past. It's one pot, but very indulgent with good seafood. The recipe comes from Ina Garten and could not be easier. You start by sauteing some onions and leeks in a big pot..layering potatoes, sausage, corn, shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster. You pour a half of bottle of white wine on it and let it simmer until everything is cooked perfectly.

Kitchen Clambake (recipe courtesy of Ina Garten)
(Serves 6-8 people)

1 1/2 pounds kielbasa
3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 cups chopped leeks, well cleaned (2 leeks, white parts only)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (red or white)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 dozen steamer clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, in the shell
3 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters
2 cups good dry white wine

Slice the kielbasa diagonally into 1-inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute the onions and leeks in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 16 to 20 quart stockpot over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.

Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order: first the potatoes, salt, and pepper; then the kielbasa, little neck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium-high heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open. Remove the lobsters to a wooden board, cut them up, and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes, and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste, and ladle over the seafood, being very careful to avoid any sand in the bottom.

Serve with lots of crusty bread to sop up all that sauce. Delicious!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fighting Back

Well, it looks like consumers are going to be the winners in the coffee wars. I read yesterday that Starbucks is going to aggressively go after McDonalds for their breakfast crowd. McDonalds has recently exploded as the place to go for breakfast with the addition of the McCafe. The coffee is pretty good, I have to say. Realistically, Starbucks cannot complete with the dollar value menu at McDonalds. The one thing Starbucks had going for them were the lattes and cappuccinos. Now McDonalds has that.
Starting in March, Starbucks is going to offer a “Value Combos”. For $3.95 you will be able to get a tall latte and either a slice of their coffee cake or their oatmeal. Or you can get a tall coffee and a breakfast sandwich. This is a pretty good deal, as the savings are over a dollar on each.
On a side note, the Oatmeal at Starbucks is priced at $2.45 (in Maryland anyway). It’s pretty good and comes with an assortment of toppings you can choose from. However, that being said, I’ve seen them make the oatmeal, and it is instant oatmeal. You know the kind that comes 10 packets to the box for about $3.99. You do the math. It’s kind of a rip-off. Like I said, I have had the oatmeal because it is really a healthy choice among the pastries in the case, and I’m usually patronizing my local Starbucks after going to the gym.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It Makes Perfect Sense to Bake when the Mercury Hits 60

My love of cooking starts with baking. I have been baking ever since I have been on my own. My most coveted gift from my wedding was my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I know most girls register for the mixer and it becomes a lovely fixture on their counter. I have given mine good use and consider it a vital part of my cooking tools. I did not cook or bake much as a kid. My mom also was a good cook and loved to be in the kitchen. As much as we were invited in the kitchen to watch her create, my sister and I were not active participants. My mom had her ways. She liked to do things her way and often our help was a hindrance to her.

What can I say. I love chocolate chip cookies. I’m pretty particular about them however. I won’t waste my time on store bought ones. They have to be homemade. Yesterday I had a craving for some. Oddly enough it was the warmest it has been in a while, so you would think I would not want to put my oven on, but I did and I enlisted my five-year old to be my assistant. I have experimented with several different recipes and sizes. The first one I went to was the old standby on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. An excellent cookie and one I remember fondly from my youth. This is the one my mom made. She would make them smaller than the package recommended. There would be over 100 cookies in the batch. It took a while to bake all those cookies.

Over the holidays, I baked those that were reminiscent of my childhood. Even though I have a double oven, it was still an all day project..but I got a lot of cookies out of it. Some were gifts, and some went directly down the hatch. That’s the problem with little cookies. One or two is not the’s when you eat a dozen.

I recently saw an episode of Good Eats on Food Network. Alton Brown discussed how changing a few ingredients completely change the texture of the cookie. He did three variations of the classic chocolate chip cookie..a chewy cookie, a puffy cookie and a thin crisp one. Today I decided to go with the crisp one. Instead of tiny, little cookies I made huge bakery style ones..using an ice cream scooper to measure the dough. I was only able to fit 5 cookies to a tray and they took 15 minutes to cook each tray. I only got 18 cookies out of the batch, but oh perfection. They turned out bakery quality and you could taste the butter in each bite. So, I present you with the recipe for the thin…go make some cookies! As you can see, my youngest food critics approved.

The Thin Chocolate Chip Cookie (recipe courtesy of Alton Brown)

You will need:
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2 ounces of milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Combine the egg, milk and vanilla and bring to room temperature.
Cream the butter and add the sugars, increasing the speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed and add in the egg mixture slowly. Increase the speed of the mixer until it is well combined. Slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop with an ice cream scooper onto parchment or silpat lined sheet pans, 5 cookies to the sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the pans for even browning.
Remove the cookies from the pan immediately and put on a cooling rack. When cool, store in an airtight container. If they last for storing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Use it or Lose it.

Last night, when deciding where to go for dinner, I remembered that I had a gift card to Bonefish that I got during the holidays when I bought gift cards. The card was only valid until February 10th, so we figured we might as well use it. We decided to go to Outback, as we had not been there for a while. So, as I always do, I used call ahead sitting. If you have never done this at Outback, here is a tip from me to you. Always call ahead. We called at around 5:00 pm, wanting to get seated around 6. We were told we could have a 6:15 time, but we would have to wait about 15-20 beyond that. When we checked in we were given our beeper and assured another 20 minute wait. As we were waiting we were hearing the wait of people walking in. Over a 2 hour wait. Seriously. People waited. I could not believe it. First of all, there is no chain restaurant I would ever wait 2 hours for. That is just ridiculous. However, as long as I can remember going to Outback this wait is not uncommon. Secondly, isn’t there supposed to be a recession going on? I guess Harford County is not part of that, because the restaurants are jammed.
I had had steak the night before, so I decided to try a burger. I’ve never had a burger from Outback. Because, if you go to Outback you go for steak, not a burger. There are plenty of other places for that. My mom had told me that she has been getting burgers recently at Outback as swears that they are the best burger she has ever had. So, listening to mom, I went ahead and ordered one. I subbed out a baked potato for the fries and awaited my meal. I have to say it was a really good burger. The meat tasted like their steak, only ground up. I felt the bun was a little big for the burger and ended up leaving most of it. For $8.95, a really good deal.
Brian stayed with tradition and ordered the Outback Special, which is a sirloin cut, with a baked potato and a salad. His standard.
For dessert, we had a new item on their menu..peanut butter pie. I was a little sceptical with the whole peanut butter/salmonella scare thing going round, but our waiter assured us that it was ok. It was more than was really good!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Sweetest Thing

Wednesday is usually our "pinch hit dinner" night. My daughter takes dance after school and my husband usually picks up my son from daycare. By the time everyone gets home its after 6 and we are usually eating leftovers, pizza or picking up a quick bite somewhere. Tonight, my husband was in DC for work so he was unable to pick up our son, so I had to take him with me to dance class.

After dance, I knew I did not have the time to get home and get a meal on the table for the 3 of us, so I took the kids to McDonalds. We went to the Forest Hill location, since it was on the way home from dance. Very busy there tonight. The reason being their was a celebration going on. A large group (at least 25 people) of senior citizens were there celebrating a birthday of one of their friends. There is a nursing home/assisted living place right next door, so I am sure they are all residents there. They had a huge cake, a woman humming tunes on a kazoo, and one of the McDonald's staff members pouring the coffee. My kids got tons of smiles from this group, and my kids were thoroughly entertained by the group. No one offered my kids any cake, which was fine, as my son ended up throwing up in the McDonalds. Nice.

It got me thinking about being little and my own memories of McDonald birthday parties. Remember them? The happy meal, and the Ronald McDonald cake? Surprisingly, my kids have never attended a McDonald's birthday party. Until tonight.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Better Late than Never

I'm finally sitting down with a half hour to spare and catching my breath. We had an extremely busy weekend that started out with Restaurant Week. We had our sitter on Friday night and we headed down to Louisana (1708 Aliciana Street, 410-327-2610) in Fells Point. We had been there once before for my birthday and we were excited to go back (and pay a little less!) Louisiana features french/creole cuisine. The restaurant is really beautiful and when we were seated they took us back to a huge room I did not even know they had. We were able to get a 3 course prix fix dinner for $30.09. I'm assuming the 9 cents is for 2009. Brian got fried oysters, a New York Strip steak and an apple beinet for dessert. I had crab bisque (which they are known for), sea bass and chocolate mousse for dessert. C'est Manifique! Brian thought my meal was a little better than his. He thought the oysters were a little heavy and the steak was good, just not his favorite cut. We did not have any other dining out adventures this past weekend. We were busy with family and the SuperBowl..which is always good eating!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Get your Java on!

McDonald's is offering a great deal for the early risers this Month. Apparently you can get a free medium sized McCafe drink between the hours of 5-8 am every day in February (the shortest month of the year, but hey, who cares). I heard the commercial twice now. Both times, I was still in bed, just waking up so I wanted to make sure I heard it twice before posting. I personally will not be able to take advantage of this deal since I don't leave the house before 8:30 am, but Brian is super excited as he leaves for work at 6:30 in the morning and passes McDonalds every morning on his commute.

It appears that McDonalds is aggressively trying to compete with Starbucks with their coffee drinks. I had heard that they put in a "coffee bar" in the Bel Air location (Route 1/route 24). They actually closed the restaurant for a few days while this renovation was being made. I have had the cafe mocha and it is really good. I was in nutritional sticker shock when I got home and checked the stats..but it was good none the less and hit the spot on one of those cold, running around like a lunatic, holiday shopping days.

Just check with your local McDonalds to make sure they are participating! Drink up!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Everyone Loves a Freebie!

Head to Panera Bread tomorrow (1/28/09) for free coffee and samplings of their breakfast sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. It's all in efforts to get people excited for their new roast in coffee and their breakfast sandwich that has been around for a little while. Of all the quick breakfast stops, Panera does top the list in my eyes for breakfast sandwiches. They use a real egg and its not cooked in the microwave like other places (I'm looking at you WaWa and Einstein). They use a really sharp cheddar cheese and offer it with plain egg, bacon or sausage. They put all that yummy protein on a warm ciabatta bread. Yum. The only complaint is that you can't get the sandwich with turkey sausage. I don't get it because they offer turkey sausage in their egg souffles. Oh well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We traveled this far for this?

Over the holiday season, Outback, Carrabas and Bonefish offered promotions of buying 100 dollars of gift certificates and getting $20 dollars in free gift cards. We bought a slew of gift cards for people so we ended up with a nice amount for ourselves to use. We decided to use some of the money from the cards for dinner last night.

We had to run some errands last night, including Costco which is down in Whitemarsh. So, we decided to travel an extra 15-20 minutes to go to Cheeseburger in Paradise in Glen Burnie which is a restaurant owned by the Outback Corporation. There is no CIP in the Bel Air area and its a great hamburger place. It is modeled after the well known Jimmy Buffet song and has an island feel with great libations. We got down there, and the place was dead. Very surprisingly dead. There were no football games to be watched so we expected a bit of a wait at 6:00 pm, but there was none. While we were surprised we were not too unhappy about it as we had the kids and we had a 40 minute ride home so a quick dinner was in order.

When we went to pay with our Outback gift card they would not accept it, as we found out, Outback is selling off the Cheeseburger in Paradise chain to another owner. Since Outback is not a publicly traded company we don;t have the information as to who is acquiring them..if anyone.

I hope this place does not go under. It is really good even if there is not one near us. It's the first place I've ever had fried pickles. A weird concept in an appetizer, but really yummy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

If I can only remember eating it...

Last night was a kid free night at our favorite restaurant, Roy's. Roy's cuisine is Hawaiian Fusion. We have had the reservation for about a month and I am realizing now how timely it is we went this week with Obama's inauguration (since Hawaii is his home state). We were able to go out with free babysitting under our belt, as my parents came down to watch the kids and take them out for a more "kid friendly dinner". We also had a few gift cards, so it really was an economical evening.

We did not realize that Baltimore Restaurant Week started on Friday, so Roy's had a special 3 course dinner for 30.09. Nothing on that menu appealed to me, so I ordered my standard, Island Ahi. I could probably eat this meal 3-4 times a week for the rest of my life and never tire of it. It's a sashimi grade tuna fillet seared, served rare with a soy, mustard wasabi butter sauce which they serve with jasmine rice and baby bok choy. Total heaven. I started my dinner with lobster potstickers which were also excellent.
lobster potstickers
ahi tuna

Brian opted for the special menu and his dinner included a spinach salad, braised short ribs and a white chocolate/raspberry mousse concoction.

Prior to dinner I ordered a cocktail which is rare for me. I'm not much of a drinker and since I'm always watching my calories (sometimes watching them go up and up..) I will always choose food over beverage. I ordered their Island Mai Tai which was ridiculously strong. The first few sips were "whoa"..and then it became much smoother and went down much easier. I found myself quite inebriated as I was eating my appetizer and was down right drunk during my entree. I sadly cannot report on my entree because I barely remember eating it. For dessert, Brian and I shared the famous Melting hot molten chocolate cake, which they serve with ice cream and raspberry sauce. Tip if you go..order this dessert when your dinner is served as it takes 25 minutes to prepare.

My alcohol induced condition did not last too long with the two cups of coffee with dessert and the few minutes of waiting in the 20 degree temps waiting for the valet to bring the car around. I sobered up quickly!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Since it's been a few days..

I just realized that I haven't blogged in a few days. I guess that means I have not been out to eat this week. As luck would have it, I did not feel like cooking tonight so we rounded up the kids and headed into Bel Air for a quick bite. I was hankering for Mexican so we ended up at Qdoba. I had only eaten there once before (at a different location) and the menu did not feel to be the same as I remembered. It now reminds me of Chipolte (which I ate at once and did not care for). Is there anyone who can confirm if they have changed their menu significantly? I guess I am still partial to Baja Fresh for my choice of casual Mexican dining.

The kids had quesadillas and Brian and I had burritos. I'm tyring to figure out where $24 was spent. Two kids meals, 2 burritos, a side of chips and no drinks. The burrito was pretty huge though and I could not finish it so it was a decent value. Looking forward to tomorrow's dinner. It's a date night which means, no kids meals, no macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets or hot dogs. Stay tuned for the re-cap!