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Checking in, post-Portland

I’m halfway through my big travel stretch with one more trip to go (Newport, then Portland, and soon Florida). Gotta say, it’s not a bad way to break up the winter! I hate, hate, HATE this stretch from November to February when it’s so cold and dark that you can barely drag yourself out of bed every morning. I show up everywhere late this time of year, and each winter I seem to want to travel farther and longer. I sometimes wonder if I’m eventually going to end up just…moving. No place is perfect, but sometimes you really start to wonder what’s so great about Boston when you fly into this dirty, old airport and people are rude and it’s snowing and cold and it takes you 90 minutes to drive four miles home…but somehow I’m always homesick for this place when I’m gone! So I guess I won’t be moving away anytime soon.

So I’ve been cooking despite all the travel, and obviously eating pretty well on the road, too, considering the quality of places I’ve visited. In Portland, although I was there for work, I can recommend a few great restaurants and shops we managed to visit. I stayed Downtown/the Pioneer District and ventured out into a couple of the neighborhoods, including Northeast (Buckman/Kerns), Southeast Portland, NW 23rd (Nob Hill), and the South Auditorium District, where we toured a post-urban-renewal district and accompanying sequence of public parks and fountains created by noted landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, who worked primarily in the American Northwest. No big surprise — it was raining 100% of the time I was in Portland — so we didn’t get to experience how awesome these spaces must be in the warm weather.



Amazing meals were had at The Picnic House Downtown, and Jake’s in the Governor’s Hotel (maybe not so much amazing as just “solid,” and noted for their Dungeness Crab, a west coast specialty that was indeed worth trying). We tried unsuccessfully to get a table at Tasty n Alder, but it books up too far in advance for business travelers! If you make it across the river to Northeast Portland, check out the pocket of restaurants in The Zipper, a new micro-restaurant space that opened last fall. Though the food counters are tiny, there’s a gigantic shared dining room and patio with room for probably 100 people, and I was pretty darn satisfied with the falafel and beer selection. Pictured: Blood Orange Hard Cider, courtesy of Paydirt.

I also did some decent shopping at the famous Powell’s Books, and in the Nob Hill/Alphabet City area north of Burnside along NW 23rd Avenue, where I actually bought a new pair of glasses at Fetch and picked up some Poplandia popcorn, chocolate-covered Hazelnuts (apparently a distinctive crop in Oregon) and Moonstruck Chocolates for my Valentines back home. Of course, no visit to Portland would be complete without partaking in the coffee snobbery or the donut trend, so I did both! My favorites were VooDoo (the most famous) and Blue Star Donuts, which locals told me they prefer. And, seriously, I didn’t have a bad cup of coffee (or tea) the entire time I was there. Boston honestly needs to get on board this boxed iced coffee train IMMEDIATELY.



Eating aside, it felt like I barely scratched the surface of Portland. Didn’t make it to the Japanese or Chinese gardens, or take a bike tour, or visit any breweries, though I certainly got a chance to try a few beers while eating out. I only sampled one food truck plaza, didn’t get to the International Rose Test Garden that gives the city its nickname, and I would have loved to better explore the waterfront as well as to check out some of the famed jazz clubs. Sadly with the time difference and work starting up early every morning, that had to get postponed to my next visit! There’s so much to do here and I’d love to bring Georgia and Mark to see everything. This is one of the most family-friendly places I’ve ever been. Baby wearing seems to be the norm, public parks abound, restaurants welcome tots of all ages, and most stores seemed cool with them, too, even offering indoor stroller parking (and I didn’t see a single $1,000 carriage in site — which has sadly become the barometer by which I judge new places). I felt like me, my clogs, my jogging stroller and my hyperactive toddler & artist husband could have just moved right in among bike-riding, vegetarian friends. As fun as Portland was, I was so happy to get back home to be with my babies this week! We celebrated by hitting Disney on Ice together!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

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Food Travels through Newport

You guys. You GUYS. For time first time in 2.5 years — yes, that’s right, years — I spent an overnight away from my baby and ate in restaurants without interruption, talked to my husband without someone yelling “mama! dada! I wanna show you something!” two seconds after we start chatting, and woke up whenever I felt like it. Which, you know, turned out to still be 7:30 a.m., because I haven’t done it any other way for 30 months. But the point is I got away, pretended to be an adult with a life, and had a blast! And boy, did we eat well. Allow me to share with  you our itinerary in beautiful Newport, R.I., which is only a 90-minute drive south of Boston. I can’t believe we were walking around in almost 60-degree weather just last weekend and today it’s a sloppy snow mess out there!

 I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but one goal Mark and I have for 2016 and beyond is to date each other again. I know, it sounds corny — but it’s so critical. When life gets busy with work, volunteer commitments, church, blogging, exercise, and (the best part!) little children, it’s easy to push quality time and relaxation to the back burner. But this leads to bad moods and burnout! So, we have resolved to fit in more date nights and mini vacations amid all our regularly-scheduled business trips and family visits. I already feel rejuvenated, and less stressed about my upcoming work trip to the West Coast. Because I’m not going into it frazzled and burning the candle at both ends, I’m hoping to come out of it the same way.

WHERE WE ATE

With a shout-out to my intern Hannah, who grew up in Newport and basically wrote our culinary itinerary for the weekend, here are the top-notch places we went for lunch, dinner and brunch. I’m not exaggerating when I say we ate better than almost anywhere else I’ve been in recent memory — every single meal was a home run.

MISSION

All the burgers and dogs are ground and cased in house, and the only other thing on the menu is falafel. They also serve local beer, wine, prosecco and soda (and, oddly, boxed water) and seating is group style, though we managed to grab a corner of a bench to ourselves in the back. Seemed very kid-friendly from the clientele we saw at lunchtime, with the rest of the crowd evenly split between hipsters and Naval types from the nearby officer training command. Service was fast and our food was insane. We could have just kept eating until we exploded, but tourism awaited! Not up for burgers or dogs? Boru Noodle Bar, right next door, has an awesome ramen-inspired menu.

      left to right, a Chicago dog, fries, and a bacon cheeseburger.

SALVATION CAFE

For dinner, we had an amazing meal in the Broadway area at a place called Salvation Cafe. I think reservations are usually recommended, but on a cold January night we were able to show up at 6:30 and get a pretty cozy corner table in the back with cushions and our own miniature fireplace! At the risk of repeating myself, everything we had here set a new bar in terms of quality and flavor. Mark had the bolognese (beef, veal + pork ragout, fresh wagon wheel pasta, scallions + tomatoes, Narragansett Creamery ricotta), I had the teriyaki salmon with lemon-coconut rice, pickled ginger and crispy spinach c(almost like kale chips — amazing!), and then we tried a few of their special cocktails and desserts, which change seasonally. It was hands-down the best salmon I’ve ever had! Mark said the same about his pasta (and I stupidly offered to try to recreate it at home!)

There are several other fun spots within walking distance, too, including Hope (great local music), Pour Judgment and The Fastnet Pub (an Irish bar). In the mood to caffeinate or relax with a warm drink? Check out Empire Tea and Coffee, which features free wi-fi, a delicious dirty chai, and a lite-brite table (!) for big and little kids to enjoy. Perfect place to curl up and read the newspaper in the afternoon.

CORNER CAFE

OK. When I say this is the best brunch I’ve ever had, I’m being deadly serious. Mark and I have made an art form out of eating brunch wherever we’ve lived and we have been to a LOT of fabulous places over the years. This just took the top spot for us! Well worth the 40-minute wait, Corner Cafe is BYOB and has some creative menu options, like my blackberry/blue cheese/diced turkey omelette topped with powdered sugar:

Plus, we got the best seat in the house, and everyone was giving us serious side eye because of it.

Other highly-recommended restaurants which we didn’t get to try: Revolving Door, which has rotating guest chefs and famously-fab mixed drinks; Fifth Element for live jazz; and Perro Salado, for Mexican (in a Colonial-era tavern!)

We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Viking, located in the center of everything, and loved it.

The Mansions

Obviously, the reason most people come to Newport is to see The Breakers and other famous Gilded Age estates. Only three are open in the winter, but that’s just the right amount for a weekend away! We saw The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms (our favorite), and then made it to Ocean Drive just in time for sunset over Brenton Point. We’ve already agreed to go back this summer and see more of the mansions, do the Servant Life Tour that we missed, and take Georgia along the famous Cliff Walk.

   


Marble House.
  The Breakers.

The inside of these homes is almost impossible to adequately capture on camera. I loved seeing the mosaics, the kitchens full of copper pots and dozens of specialty chef’s items, and the grounds laid out with walking paths, statues, carriage houses and stables.



Marble House.

There’s lots more to do in Newport, too. The area is home to several wineries that offer tours, there is abundant shopping in different parts of town, and we didn’t even get to visit any of the waterfront. We also had hoped to find time to visit their art museum, historic Touro SynagogueRedwood Library & Athenaeum, nearby Sachuest Point wildlife refuge and Norman Point Bird SanctuaryAnd, of course, if you are looking for a much fancier meal than we had, the place to try is Tallulah

Stay safe in this weather and let me know if I missed any of your favorite Newport hot spots! Enjoy Superbowl Sunday ~ I’ll be blogging about a freezer meal workshop I’m doing this weekend, and heading to Portland, Ore. on Wednesday. Happy Friday!

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One-pan Chicken & Roasted Vegetables 

Talk about easy! With a small kitchen, a picky toddler and scant dinner-prep time every day after work, I need all the quick & healthy recipes I can get my hands on. This one is so simple and so tasty, and it made just enough for our family of 3. You could EASILY stretch this into two pans in order to feed more people if your family is larger than ours. I used pre-breaded and frozen cutlets from Omaha Steaks, but I’ll include the step-by-step to preparing fresh chicken, too. For the veggies, I grabbed a steam-ready bag of pre-trimmed green beans and one container of cherry tomatoes, and those went straight into the pan (after washing, of course). Roasting veggies make them sweet and bright and both Mark and Georgia gobbled them up when I made this last week. Enjoy!

 

One-Pan Roasted Chicken & Veggies

INGREDIENTS

  • About a dozen boneless chicken cutlets*
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

*For pre-breaded like I used, no further work is required. If you are breading your own, then purchase enough for your family — probably 1.5 pounds will do — and slice into smaller strips if necessary, as pictured below. Combine 1/2 C breadcrumbs (Italian seasoning flavor; or, add dried basil, oregano and thyme to your plain mix), 1/4 cup grated parmesan (fresh or store bought), plus a dash of salt and pepper, then working one cutlet at a time dredge in olive oil then coat in the breadcrumb mixture before placing onto your baking sheet. If you have extra, sprinkle the leftover breadcrumb and cheese mixture on them before cooking.

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 400. If you are using pre-breaded chicken, simply add it onto one side of the pan. I like to cover my pans with tinfoil for easy clean-up; drizzle with olive oil and spread around with fingers or a spatula, then add the chicken.

If you are breading the chicken yourself, see instructions above under ingredients.

Next, add the green beans, top with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, shaking halfway through. Add the halved tomatoes during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Serve warm.

This recipe was inspired by something I saw on Cooking Classy. Love their fresh and easy food ideas!

Mark and I are heading to Newport, R.I. for a couple days. I’ll report back soon on what we ate! And in two weeks, I’m traveling to Portlane, Ore., so I can’t WAIT to get my food and drink on out there. I’ll need something to console myself when I can’t be with my baby, after all!

  Have a great weekend, everyone.

Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

Well, I guess the nasty weather has officially arrived. The Southern temps were fun while they lasted! (Although 70 degrees on Christmas just felt wrong). Now that we’ve had to turn the heat back on and bundle up for commuting again, it feels like it’s time to start making casseroles again. Especially all that holiday cooking…who wants to do anything fussy now? This vegetarian dish is hearty, nutritious and as spicy as you want it to be (or not). A few inexpensive ingredients will feed you for days and warm you from the inside out. As a bonus, you can make tea from the leftover ginger peels, and that’s great for healthy digestion (and for kicking the common cold, if you toss in some honey, lemon and bourbon 😉 ). Cuddle up for some home cooking and, as Georgia likes to say, “get cozy.”

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Ounces Egg Noodles
  • 1¾ Cups Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Pound Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1-Inch Piece of Fresh Ginger
  • ⅓ C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ C Panko Breadcrumbs
  • If you want it spicier, add some red pepper flakes or chilli powder. Totally optional.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat two large pots of water to boiling on high. Peel and medium-dice the sweet potatoes. Peel and mince the ginger. Remove and discard the kale stems and rough-chop the leaves.

Add the sweet potatoes to the first pot of boiling water. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl.

While the sweet potatoes cook, add the noodles to the second pot of boiling water. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until just shy of al dente. Drain thoroughly and transfer to the bowl of cooked sweet potatoes. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

In the pot used to cook the noodles, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened and fragrant. Add the flour and spices, if using; cook, whisking frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until toasted and fragrant. Slowly add the coconut milk (shaking the can before opening) and ¾ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the kale into the pot of béchamel sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and noodles; stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the finished filling to a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly top the filling with the breadcrumb-cheese mixture. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bubbly and browned on top. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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This recipe is modified from my Blue Apron delivery subscription. I love when they have budget-friendly, easily-replicable recipes for our family to add to our repertoire! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. The first time I made it as part of my Blue Apron delivery, it came out rather spicy, so I toned it down a LOT the next time I made it. I’m really happy with the non-spicy version and will likely make it that way from here on out. I hope you like it! It reheats for lunches and leftovers so well.

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a healthy, fulfilling 2016.

Tiny Prints - Birth Announcements and More

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Merry Christmas (+leftover ideas!)

To quote Georgia, “SANTA IS COMING!!” We started getting ready for the big day at our house by watching Christmas movies all day, finishing our wrapping, going to church at night, having dinner as a family and then making some of the food we’ll have tomorrow when relatives join us to celebrate.

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We are sticking to the same menu we’ve had for the past few years, except that we are making turkey instead of spiral ham, and (sniffle) we’re omitting anything Italian like stuffed shells or lasagna. My mom is making the turkey, stuffing and gravy, with applesauce on the side, and then I’ll be making Corn Casserole, Swedish Meatballs with cream sauce and Lingonberry on the side (thanks Ikea!), and my in-laws are bringing potatoes. My brother and his girlfriend are making Stuffed Mushrooms and a salad, as well as apple pie cookies with vanilla ice cream. Finally, I’m making a Peppermint Ice Cream freezer cake (recipe coming shortly), and Mark is making his go-to appetizer, Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls. I’m sure we’ll have lots of other snacks around, too.

SAUSAGE CRESCENT BITES

I’m pretty ready to relax with my family after going through two rounds of toddler illness recently, from that barking cough every kid seems to have caught, to the (blessedly brief) stomach bug that hit us last weekend. Better last week than on Christmas Day, I guess!

While prepping for our holiday cooking, I decided to throw together  a savory dip using leftover ingredients and a couple pantry staples this afternoon, and it came out great so I wanted to share. It’s perfect for the day after Christmas,  a New Year’s Eve party, or just relaxing on New Year’s Day. 

CARAMELIZED ONION DIP

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 container plain Greek yogurt such as Chobani (~7 oz.)
  • A little less than 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium then add the onions and brown sugar and cook until caramelized. Reserve about 1/4 cup.

In a blender, combine the applesauce, yogurt and the rest of the onions and mix until smooth. Add the minced garlic and give one last pulse. Taste, and add more garlic if you feel it’s needed.

Serve warm or cold with chips, crudités or French fries, adding the reserved onion on top for guests to mix in as they dip. I also added a little bit of salt upon taste-tasting.

  


True confession: I dropped the applesauce in the measuring cup onto the floor as I was trying to carry it to the blender, so this was made with the kind of applesauce you find in toddler snack pouches (organic still, of course 😉 ). It made me think, though, that you could make this dip with lots of different types of leftover fruit sauces, chutneys or relish. Pump up the garlic if you like, too!

From my house to yours, I hope you have a wonderful, restful, peaceful, and relaxing holiday. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

Thanks to Chobani for partnering with us to inspire this post. Find more fun recipe ideas featuring Chobani Greek Yogurt here!

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We’re Back! {A White Mountains Adventure}

Well, our last vacation of the summer is in the books, and I woke up to a dreary, drizzly morning in the 60’s yesterday, just in time for my return to work. To think that just a few days ago we were sweltering up to the top of Loon Mountain in a ski gondola under sunny skies amid 90 degree heat!



I spent a lot of my childhood summers in New Hampshire, so taking Georgia to the White Mountains this past week was a fun trip down memory lane. A lot has changed since the 1980’s though! For one thing, there’s basically wireless everywhere, and even as recently as 2007 when Mark lived in Lincoln doing summer stock with Papermill Playhouse, you had to visit an internet cafe to go online, or walk into the center of town to make a cell phone call. Even the rest stops along 93 north looked like Disney Land when compared to the log-cabin-style facilities of my memory!

And, of course, there’s no more Old Man of the Mountain.

But there is so much to do in the Whites! We stayed at The Village of Loon, and we brought along this blow-up toddler bed which Georgia was NOT having unless I held her hand until she fell asleep, which is exactly what I did every night.

The first day, we hiked in Franconia Notch, which was so overrun with people I thought maybe we’d accidentally gone to the Cape. But we made it pretty far in before Georgia started to get tired, and there weren’t as many hikers further up the trail. Lots and lots of dogs, though, including one in a stroller (?!) and several people swimming down the flume as if it was some kind of damn water park. Made me think of this article about how people no longer know how to behave in nature. 
  
  After that hike, we got lunch at Black Mtn. Burger Co., then visited Chutters, “home of the world’s longest candy counter,” which has everything old and new you could possibly imagine. After a frenzied five minutes inside with Georgia, we hastily selected some gummy butterflies for her and sour watermelon slices for me and beat it.

The next day we went to StoryLand! 

I knew it was geared toward kids of all ages, but I just wasn’t sure how Georgia would respond. Let me just tell you, at two years old she was utterly enthralled. We visited all the fairy tale houses — the three little bears, the old woman in the shoe, humpty dumpty (at which point she recited the whole rhyme out loud), schoolhouse, grandfather tree — and she got really, really excited by the talking characters. When we got to the farm animals, she would not stop calling out to them, and broke into song with “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Old MacDonald” as we walked away! Next up came the teacups ride (oof) and the pumpkin coach to Cinderella’s Castle, after which we finally broke for food and then rode the train back to the park entrance. She napped on our drive back through the White Mountain National Forest on the Kancamagus Highway. We honestly saw about half the rides and attractions at StoryLand, but we’ll have to leave the rest for another visit!    

    
    
   IMG_2413The next day, we took the gondola up Loon Mountain (a favorite ski spot of mine) and explored caves at the summit, had a picnic lunch, even climbed atop the fire tower to see 360-degree views of the Presidential Range, including Mt. Washington. We did have one minor incident in which Georgia threw her binky down a ravine and I climbed over the railing and scaled a few boulders to retrieve it…only to have her throw it back over the edge a second time. And, in case I needed any more reason to ditch the pacifier for good, I actually went and got it a second time, and she clapped for me and yelled “yay, mama!” while I scrambled back up.


        We spent all our down time in the resort’s pools, helping Georgia to overcome her new-found fear of the water (and it worked!) We also had a great dinner at The Common Man our last night in town, followed by the biggest kiddie size ice cream cone I’ve ever seen at Ice Cream Delights. They have some solid old-school flavors like butter crunch, black raspberry and maple walnut. Highly recommend.  My other two favorite places to eat up in this area are Polly’s Pancake Parlor and the Woodstock Inn & Brewery. Looking for more to do up in the White Mountains? Next time, we want to add Santa’s Village, the Cannon Tramway, Whale’s Tale Water ParkClark’s Trading Post, The Polar Caves, The Lost River and the Mount Washington Cog Railway to our itinerary. And, of course, there are countless opportunities for outlet shopping on your way to or from the mountains in Tilton, North Conway and Merrimack! There’s plenty to keep you busy for a week or more, and that’s exactly how long I hope to stay next time.
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Back with new recipes real soon! 

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Georgia and Daddy Sing Show Tunes

This isn’t food related at all, except for the fact that Georgia is eating bread (so what else is new) throughout the entire video. The other night Mark started singing one of his go-to audition songs in preparation for a concert he had this week, and a little voice chimed in from the other room! It was so cute we whipped out the camera phone to take a video and she kept doing it, so I just had to share. I hope this brightens your week a little 🙂

If you’re interested (and have a life besides knowing musical theater standards), the song is “I Won’t Send Roses” from the musical Mack and Mabel, a Jerry Herman show from the 1970s.

Christmas · Holidays · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Michelle’s Stuffed Mushrooms

By popular demand, I’ve got Michelle, my brother’s girlfriend and an awesome cook, to guest blog about how she makes her easy yet delicious stuffed mushrooms. They’ve been a staple at our holiday celebrations this year, and are truly addictive! Interested in finding out how she makes this healthy dish? Keep reading!

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Michelle’s Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • White mushrooms, 3 or 4 packages
  • Plain bread crumbs, any brand
  • Butter (5 TBSP total)

DIRECTIONS

The number of people you are planning to serve determines how many packages of mushrooms to buy. I buy the white mushrooms that still have the stems attached. For Christmas, when we had 12 guests, I got four packages, and for Easter I got three. It may seem like a lot, but remember that mushrooms shrink! I also use the 4C Plain Bread Crumbs but you can use your favorite kind.

Usually the night before I am going to make them, I take the stems out and I save about 10 of them. Then I wash all the mushrooms to make sure I have all the dirt off, and put them back in the fridge. (Don’t forget to wash the stems too!)

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To make them, I get a pot of boiling water and put the mushrooms in the water for 5 minutes. Make sure not to leave them in any longer then that! I have a limited amount of large pots in my house so I boiled them in three batches, and it works well either way. Then use a (clean) towel and put them facing down so the water doesn’t pool. Then, you want to use the stems: chop them up very fine and use about 1-2 tablespoons of butter (it can be salted or unsalted). I use salted butter for mine. Have the butter melt in the frying pan then put your stems in and let them cook until they get a deeper brown color. Make sure to keep stirring them so they don’t burn. That usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat.

In a bowl, have your bread crumbs ready. The amount will vary depending on how many mushrooms you have. I used a little less than a cup. If you’re making more mushrooms, then add more breadcrumbs. Once the stems are done cooking you add those in with your bread crumbs.

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You will need to melt about 2-3 more tablespoons of butter (just use the same frying pan you cooked the stems in) and once that is melted add that to your bread crumbs and mix it all up until it kind of looks like wet sand. (You can do a taste test here ~ I promise you it doesn’t taste like sand!) You just want to make sure that all the breadcrumbs are coated.

**At this time if you wanted, you could add whatever spices you like, for example garlic powder, cheese, onion powder, etc. You can get creative, but I keep things plain.**

Now time for stuffing! I have a large round glass dish that I like to cook my mushrooms in. By this time they will be cooled from being boiled so just move them into whatever dish you baking them in and stuff them! I use a small spoon and make sure I really pack the stuffing into each mushroom by using the back of the spoon. You will more than likely have a little left over stuffing, so that’s what I sprinkle over the top. Put them in the oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes (or until the stuffing looks golden brown) and that’s it! Very easy and delicious!

Thanks, Michelle! We are so glad to have you sharing your recipe with us by popular demand, and can’t wait to see what you cook up next 🙂

Baby & Toddler · Books · Uncategorized

Escaping Boston

I am writing this to you from — now don’t be jealous — my aunt’s kitchen table in Florida, where I’m enjoying a view overlooking the pool while eating a smoothie bowl that I made myself for breakfast. Mark and Georgia both slept late today (!) and the weather has been in the low 70s all week, so I am in a pretty good mood!

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We had a rough ride in last week because the post-Blizzard traffic in Boston is still in utter gridlock, so even though we live four miles from the airport it took us over an hour to get there. Then our flight was delayed and plagued by turbulence the whole four hours, which resulted in Georgia throwing up all over me just a little while before we landed. We were not a pretty sight upon arrival in Fort Myers!!

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Luckily we’ve really made up for that one bad travel day, which isn’t to say I haven’t spent the entire week dreading our return trip. And secretly hoping this next storm will force us to stay south even longer. Though we’ve been here countless times since my family moved to Sarasota ten years ago, it’s wonderful seeing Georgia encounter all these special places for the first time as a toddler! She came here at 7 weeks, 6 months and now 18 months, and she’s able to enjoy it a little more each time because she’s so much more mobile and aware of her surroundings.

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Yesterday, we took Georgia to Nokomis Beach, and the day before we met friends of Mark’s from college for lunch at the Daiquiri Deck on Siesta Key. They just had a baby and they live in Chicago, and we haven’t seen them since their wedding a few years ago. It was so awesome that we were all on vacation in the same place at the same time!

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I’ve been reading a really good book while I’m here: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Appealing for anyone who likes science and narrative journalism, it is fascinating but also slightly depressing because it tells the story of a poor black tobacco farmer whose cancerous cells were taken without her knowledge just before her death in 1951 and used to develop the polio vaccine, gene mapping, cloning and more; meanwhile, her descendants live without health insurance. Despite the dark topic, I definitely recommend it.

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We’ve also had some awesome meals so far. Brunch yesterday was at The Breakfast House in Venice, where we had French toast, sausage and biscuits, and a blackberry-and-Brie omelet. Later today we are going for my favorite ice cream at Nokomis Groves, where the only flavors are orange, lime, pineapple and soft serve chocolate or vanilla. I always get a citrus-vanilla swirl. Try not to be jealous, and I’ll write more later this week!

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Last-minute Super Bowl snack ideas!

Did you procrastinate, run out of time, or just generally flake on what you’re making to snack on while you watch the Super Bowl until now? Are you going to be one of those idiots in the grocery store on Super Bowl Sunday? As the sleep-deprived, frazzled mother of a hyperactive toddler, I can’t relate to that AT ALL! 🙂

SAUSAGE CRESCENT BITES

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you will have just seen Mark’s favorite Game Day snack, Pillsbury Sausage Crescent Rolls. They are sweet/savory, just like my super easy Brown Sugar Kielbasa in the Slow Cooker.

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Of course, no Super Bowl party would be complete without Chips and SalsaDip, Wings, Beer, and some Classic Chili. But there are so many other options!

Got a big crowd? How about making them Beef Stew, Baked Macaroni & Cheese — the guilty kind, or the healthy kind — or heck, throw both in together and make a heaping pot of Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni and Chili with Coconut Milk, which happens to be meatless and oh so creamy!

Being Italian, I always have options like Stuffed Shells with Tomato Sauce and Meatball Pizza at the ready. But for those who prefer to go lighter, or want some more vegetarian options, try Kale Chips, homemade, better-for-you Tortilla Chips, or this awesome Sweet Potato “Chorizo” Chili that is totally meat-free.

I also like to pick up a container of Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili and place it in the bottom of a glass baking dish then pour corn bread batter on top and bake together. It’s like cornbread-chili upside down cake, and it’s delicious!! Add some heat by throwing in some chopped jalapenos before baking, or mix in some cheese before baking … slather on some butter …. and mmmmm.

Got any good recipes I should know for next year? Share ’em!

Did you enjoy this post? Like it! Pin it! Share it! And most of all, GO PATS!