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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!