Friday Fun! March 16, 2012

Happy Friday again everyone!  I’m back for another edition of Friday Fun.  I’ll tell you what’s not so fun is that I am starting to write this at 2:50am.  Why, you ask?  Well, for some reason I m having a bout of insomnia tonight, and just as I was starting to wind down, The Bug decided to have a bit of a crying fit.  Well, he settled down, sort of, but now I can’t wind myself back down.  I’m sure staring at the glow of the computer screen is going to do wonders for helping to get me off to dreamland, but c’est la vie.  Gotta use the time somehow, especially since I’ll probably crash when The Bug goes down for his nap tomorrow, umm, I mean later today.  I’m sure I won’t finish this before I try to go to sleep, but at least I’ll get a start.

Last weekend, The Hubby and I got a date night, which was wonderful.  I’m actually hoping to do a little post about it, because we had yet another fabulous meal at The Frog & The Peach, in New Brunswick, NJ.  Every one in a while, we like to go out to somewhere REALLY good.  A lot of the time we try new places, but when we want a good meal with good service and a good atmosphere, without the wildcard aspect of trying a new place, we go to The Frog.

This weekend I am so excited for a Girls’ Night on Saturday with two good friends, Amy and Bethie, and Amy’s future sister-in-law, Megan.  Of course this has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day, but we bought a Groupon for a Four-Course Chocolate Supper Club dinner at the Chocolate Lovers Club in Princeton, “celebrating cuisine from chocolate-producing countries,” and supposedly includes virgin choctails, three appetizers, four tasting-size entrees, dessert, a cooking demo, and a chocolate tasting.  We will be experiencing A Taste of Hawaii.  OMG!!!!  I also think I will be picking up a bottle of Cupcake Red Velvet to bring along, because it sounds like the perfect pairing to me.

And Sunday I’ll be heading to a birthday party for The Half-Baked Housewife‘s little guy.  She has a huge family and tons of friends, so parties at her house are always such happy chaos.

OK, I think I can go to sleep now.

Apple cheddar and almond salad with balsamic maple dijon vinaigretteSo I am back, and having a salad for lunch inspired The Fountain Avenue Kitchen’s Apple Pecan Spring Greens with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette.  I only had romaine and cheddar, though I would much prefer spring greens and blue cheese.  Also, I used almonds instead of pecans, and left out the raw onion (yuck!).  Plus I fudged the dressing a little because I was only making a little for myself, and I used balsamic instead of apple cider vinegar, because I LOVE balsamic.  I also realized I forgot the dried cranberries.  Bummer!  But it was so tasty!

This week I also received several blogger awards from some of my new bloggie friends.  I am so honored, but it has been a busy week with attempting, unsuccessfully, to potty train The Bug, getting my Improv Cooking Challenge post completed, and pulling together my package for my Foodie Penpal, Jessica, that I haven’t had a chance to share the love.  So since the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys are always on Sundays, I am thinking I will be doing a Sunday Awards Show post, so that I can highlight the lovely ladies who nominated me, and tell you all about some other awesome bloggers.

The Bug Planting SeedsThe Bug and I planted herbs this week from Growums.  Let’s see if my Black Thumb of Death rears its ugly head again.  Oh, and my random adorable Bug tidbit of the week is that when you ask him where something is, he points, and says “Right right there.”  Oh, and on the way home from pre-school the other day, he fell asleep in the car.  Usually he asks to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar when we get home, but since he was out cold, I just carried him up to his bed.  As I was laying down, he goes, “Hungry Caterpilaaaaa..zzzzzzzzzz” as he fell back to sleep.  So cute!  And one more thing – apparently at pre-school he is counting EVERYTHING.  He has no interest in letters, but he is all over the numbers.  Clearly the offspring of two engineers.

At Shop Rite I picked up a 5 lb box of Whole Wheat Matzoh.  I’m not Jewish and I have a wheat allergy, so don’t eat too many things like that.  But I thought I might be able to come up with some creative recipes.  And it was free.  And bonus, the only ingredients are whole wheat flour and water, so it’ll make a great whole grain, sugar/salt/preservative-free snack for The Bug.  Any other ideas what I can do with it?

The Bug and his car

Some things I came across this week:

  • In the early stages of tonight’s insomnia, I found this article about food bloggers posting recipes using “real food” versus packaged items and junk food to create visually appealing, drool-inducing recipes that don’t do wonders for the health of the nation.  I am all about balance and moderation.  So while I do try to focus on wholesome, nutritious, “real” food, I do think there is room in life for a little fun, like these Lucky Charms Cupcakes.  That being said, though, so far I think the most popular recipe on my blog is my Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce.
  • The Lean Green Bean put together a list of 60 Blogs You Should Be Reading.  There are a lot on there that I already read, and some that I have to add to my list.
  • Every year for Christmas, I make my dad Snickerdoodles.  He even says I now make them better than my grandma used to.  And The Hubby loves molasses gingersnaps.  These Snickercrinkles are like a combo of the two – I have to try them!
  • Ann at Sumptuous Spoonfuls had me hooked with this Double Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread.  I mean, it has Nutella, and it is chock full of healthy things like flax, whole wheat flour, yogurt and applesauce.
  • Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting and Snickers Cake – ’nuff said!
  • OK, I am not all about dessert.  I am always looking for some new vegetarian ideas for Meatless Mondays and Lent Fridays.  This week I found BBQ Chickpea Burgers and Black Bean Spaghetti Stir Fry.  I am very interested to try black bean pasta after my first venture into gluten-free pasta with brown rice spaghetti last week.  And I thing this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad sounds amazing, with two of my favorites – asparagus and mushrooms – but I think I may have to add shrimp or chicken for The Hubby to consider it a meal.
  • How cute are these?!?!

I could go on, but I have towels to fold.  Ugh!

Remember, f you like what you see here, I’d love for you to subscribe to updates by email, “Like” me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  And tell your friends…

And here is the weekly question:

What are your plans for the weekend?  Cooking up anything special?

Enjoy!

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Living the Sweet (and Savory) Life this Weekend in Rehoboth Beach

a.k.a. Why I eat lots of salad and workout a lot during the week…

Throughout my whole life, my mom and I were likethis.  We did EVERYTHING together.  And yes, “likethis” and “EVERYTHING” deserve the visual emphasis.  So needless to say, even though I was thrilled about beginning married life with my wonderful new hubby, I was pretty sad that she moved over 3 hours away while I was on my honeymoon!  I actually moved back home after college, and lived with her, my stepfather (who I affectionately refer to as “My Larry”, and my sister (who The Bug affectionately refers to as “Ham-Ham”, a.k.a. Aunt Sam) until my wedding day.  I miss her (and all of them) everyday, and especially since The Bug was born.  So after a lifetime in Central New Jersey, they now live just outside of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and not too far from some other cool shore towns, like Lewes, Bethany Beach, and Dewey Beach, Delaware, and Fenwick Island and Ocean City, Maryland.

The best thing about them living there is that it is like going on vacation every time we visit.  We go to the beach and boardwalk in the summer, check out lots of live music at the clubs and bars, shop, watch fireworks and parades, go to local events like tree lightings and Polar Bear Plunges, and try out lots of great restaurants.  And The Hubby and I get to go on some dates, since we have some ready and willing babysitters available.  And we are away from home, and the projects and chores staring at us, keeping us from relaxing like we probably need to.

The worst thing about them living there is that it is like going on vacation every time we visit.  We eat lots of beach and boardwalk food like ice cream and french fries, enjoy some drinks at the local clubs and bars, eat ice cream while watching fireworks and parades, go to local events like the Chocolate Festival and Punkin’ Chunkin’, and try out lots of great restaurants.  And don’t exercise as much as at home, except for maybe a dip in the pool or a walk on the beach or boardwalk.

This is a ton of fun and good for our mental well-being, though perhaps not so good for our health and waistline.  This weekend was no exception.  The Bug and I came down for a visit, and while the Hubby went to work, did chores around the house, feasted on meat and political discussions with his best friend, and went fishing, we opted for a different kind of fun, mostly centered around food.

When we arrived on Thursday, we went out for Mexican food at La Tonalteca.  This wasn’t too bad, since The Bug ate a third of what was on my plate.  If you saw the video I posted, you saw that he loves Mexican.  Oh, and I found a great trick to keep yourself from eating too many tortilla chips – bring a toddler who you don’t want to stuff himself on chips before the “real food” comes.  My mom and I both found that our hands went into the chip basket less, because if The Bug saw us eating them, he wouldn’t have stopped.

Friday morning, after a quick stop to buy some new clothes for The Bug, he, Mom, Ham-Ham and I headed into Rehoboth Beach to buy our tickets for the Chocolate Festival.  Now we could have picked them up at the Rehoboth Beach Main Street office, one of the clothing stores, or The Boardwalk Plaza Hotel.  But we decided to go to Cake Break.  Just to get the tickets.

Cake Break Box

Right….

Cupcakes from Cake Break Rehoboth Beach

The owners were so nice, and the cupcakes looked so delectable that we could not pass them up.  Cake Break is also a great, family friendly place.  They have decorate-your-own cupcakes for the little ones, coffee and pastries for the moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas, and also cater to those with allergies, offering up gluten-free cupcakes and running an entirely nut-free shop.

The Bug was not too happy when we told him that he had to wait until later to eat his cupcake.

Ham-Ham and The Bug at The Point

So then it was lunchtime, and we headed back out towards Rt. 1 to The Point.

The Point

Obviously the best way to placate a toddler who was denied a cupcake is to take him to a place where you are greeted by this display case,

The Bug at pastry case at The Point

and then make him eat this…

The Bug's Cheese Sandwich and Fruit

Special request cheddar cheese sandwich with fresh fruit.

The Point is owned and operated by the same folks as The Boardwalk Plaza Hotel and Victoria’s Restaurant (where they do an extensive and delicious Sunday brunch, I might add).  It is an awesome little cafe and pastry shop with amazing baked goods,

The Point Sticky Bun

Sticky Buns!!

tasty, yummy sandwiches, salads made with fresh, often local and organic ingredients,

The Point Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg salad sandwich

delicious soups, made fresh daily,

Tomato Gorgonzola and Shrimp Bisque at The Point

Tomato, gorgonzola, and shrimp bisque

and lots of great coffees and coffee drinks,

Caramel Frappe

Caramel Frappe

and the most amazingly friendly manager, Tom, who greets regular by name (and often with their “usual”), and makes non-regulars feel like they are visiting him in his own home, so that they want to come back again and again.

Tom at The Point

Tom is greeting his customers

I imagine that this is what Starbucks was before there were 9,089,57,892,678,123,904 locations.  And I should add that their Espresso Chocolate Torte won the Grand Prize at the Chocolate Festival last year.

So I was just going to have a nice, light (and might I add, very tasty) salad for lunch.

The Point Fresh Fruit Salad

Salad of organic greens, fresh fruit, your choice of cheese (I had blue cheese), walnuts, almonds, and raspberry vinaigrette.

But then I looked towards the pastry cake, and it was like a magnetic field drawing me in…

Pastry Case with Chocolate Parfait

closer…

Pastry Case with Chocolate Parfait closer

Umm, just a salad?!  Sure…

The Point Chocolate Parfait

But I did share.

Sharing with The Bug

So later that evening, I made a nice, healthy dinner full of veggies, which was so good that I will definitely be posting it later this week.

And then topped it off with cupcakes…

Cake Break Yellow Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting

The Bug approved!

The Bug with Cupcake

7:58 pm

The Messy Bug

8:00 pm

Empty Plate

8:02 pm

Unlike my son, I savored my rich, sweet, but not too sweet Rocky Road cupcake, because two insanely chocolatey desserts in one day is perfectly acceptable…

Rocky Road Cupcake from Cake Break

Especially the day before you are going here:

Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival Tickets

Now it was Saturday morning, and time to head to the Chocolate Festival.  So here is the fabulous thing about the Chocolate Festival.  Lots of restaurants, bakeries, professional chefs, and amateurs enter their best chocolate creations, and for a $2 entry fee (which includes on tasting), and $0.50 for each additional tasting, you can try all of these goodies.  And Mom and I did.  For a grand total of $14, we split all of our tastings, so got to try around 20 different, amazing chocolate treats.  Silly Mom gave up candy for Lent, though, so I can’t tell you about any of the candy entries, and neither of us are big cheesecake fans, so we passed on those.  But when it came to cakes and brownies and cookies, well we were all over that!

So are you tempted by this photo?!?!

Table of cakes

Then you have to click here to see all of the chocolate awesomeness we experienced!  I am still not a WordPress expert, and can’t figure out how to put a slideshow and still photos in the same post without the still photos ending up in the slideshow. Sorry!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Dru Tevis, the pastry chef at Hobos and Cloud 9, two places I actually haven’t been yet, but will definitely be adding to my list for future visits.  He will also be having a stand at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market, which starts up Tuesday, May 1st.

Dru Tevis

As you can see from the picture, his confections had beautifully, perfectly imperfect layers of moist cake and cream and custard and ganache.  And Mom and I can attest that the banana cake and Nutella cookies were fabulous!

His entries from Cloud 9 also won a couple of ribbons in the Brownie and Cake Categories.

Restaurant Winners List

Many of the other local restaurants and bakeries were in on the action, too, producing some more beautiful and equally tasty treats to enter in the contest, display, and sell.

The Point Palm Beach Silk CakeThe Point entered their Palm Beach Silk Cake, a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry-Chambord compote.

Stingrays Chocolate SushiStingrays had a unique display of chocolate “sushi.”

Cake Break Mini CupcakesCake Break brought the uber-trendy and delicious cake pops and these adorable mini cupcakes.

Cake Bar

Cake Bar had some beautiful display cakes, and had a couple of winning entries.

Sugar Bakers

Sugar Bakers also displayed their cakes, and they won the Grand Prize in Cakes.

Touch of Italy

Touch of Italy also had some award winners, and I can tell you the Nutella brownies were as good as you would expect Nutella brownies to be.

Gelato Gal

Gelato Gal scooped a couple of their most chocolaty flavors of creamy gelato.

If you read my first post, you know I am all about balance.  So to balance all of the sugar and chocolate, what better than Bethany Blues BBQ in Lewes for:

Bethany Blues Lettuce Wedge

Veggies - Lettuce Wedge with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Bethany Blues Pulled Pork

Protein - Pulled Pork

Bethany Blues Cheesy Creamed Corn and Baked Beans

Grains and Legumes - Cheesy Creamed Corn and Baked Beans

The Bug clearly approves!

The Bug at Bethany Blues

And just to show you that we didn’t just stuff our faces all weekend, we did go to the park…

Mom, Larry and The Bug at the park in Lewes

and played…

The Bug on the slide

for about 20 minutes…

The Bug in the tube

before lunch!!

If you have made it this far, either you are pictured in one of these photos, are very bored, or you love sweets just as much as I do.  I hope you enjoyed this deviation from your not-so-regularly scheduled recipe posts to read about my tasty weekend.  If you are in the area, check out some of these places or events.  In the interest in some more balance, coming up this week will be a vegetarian eggplant recipe, a spaghetti squash tutorial, and maybe a smoothie or two.  And “Muff-cakes.”  You know, BALANCE!  Now back to the gym…

Do you love chocolate?  What are some of your favorite sweet treats?  Help inspire some future blog posts, and hopefully and entry for me into next year’s competition.

March Foodie Photo-a-Day Challenge

March Foodie Photo-a-Day ChallengeThe Purple Carrot created a foodie edition of the photo-a-day challenges that have been going on on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.!  I thought this sounded like a blast, and an awesome way to connect with other foodies!  I could take nice pictures with my good camera, but I like the instant ability to post and the different filters on Instagram, even though I have the old iPhone 3G with a pretty lame camera.  So these won’t be the best pictures, but they are spontaneous, and so I think that makes it fun.  Enjoy!

Day 1 Breakfast Cinnamon Apple Raisin Quinoa

Day 1: Breakfast - Cinnamon Apple Raisin Quinoa

Day 2 Something Sweet Cupcakes from Cake Break

Day 2: Something Sweet - Cupcakes from Cake Break in Rehoboth Beach

March Foodie Photo a Day 2 Kitchen

Day 3: Kitchen - My favorite feature in my mom's kitchen. I NEED a double oven!

Foodie Photo a Day 4 Dishes

Day 4: Dishes - since I was not at home to take a picture of my Fiestaware, I found a store with an awesome display.

Day 5 Best Condiment Hunts Ketchup

Day 5: Best condiment - this one is for my little guy. When you are almost two years old, what else is there besides ketchup?!

Day 5 Whats Cooking Slow Cooker Veggie Tomato Sauce with Sausage

Day 5: What's Cooking - Slow Cooker Veggie Tomato Sauce for Moms Crazy Cooking Challenge.

March Foodie Photo Challenge Day 7 Pantry

Day 7: Pantry - Clearly I have some organizing to do.

Day 8 Vegetable Roasted Broccoli

Day 8: Vegetable - Our family favorite, Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli.

Day 9 Lunch Break

Day 9: Lunch Break - A delicious salad inspired by Sumptuous Spoonfuls.

Day 10 Most Used Appliance

Day 10: Most Used Appliance - My Magic Bullet for smoothies everyday.

Day 11: Can't Live Without

Day 11: Can't Live Without - Generic, all-natural peanut butter, often eaten straight up, with a spoon.

Day 12: Favorite Drink

Day 12: Favorite Drink - Since I gave up wine for Lent, right now it is a large cup of tea, which I tried to finish while The Bug was still napping.

Day 13 Silverware

Day 13: Silverware - A spoon in my yummy Chocolate Almond Banana Oatmeal.

Day 14 Fruit

Day 14: Fruit - An apple a day is even better with peanut butter.

Day 15: Freezer

Day 15: Freezer - Kitchenaid ice cream bowl was ready to churn some Andes Candies ice cream. Recipe coming soon!

Day 16: Restaurant

Day 16: Restaurant - I didn't have any plans to go out to eat today, so here is the webpage of one of my favorite restaurants, The Frog & The Peach.

Enjoy!

The Bug vs. Guac

The Bug and I are visiting my mom for the weekend in Delaware.  We just arrived late this afternoon, so decided to go out to eat at La Tonalteca in Rehoboth Beach.  Well, Mom and I got to witness our own version of Man vs. Food.

THE BUG vs. GUAC


I’ve think I’ve mentioned that my kid is a good eater.  Well, nothing exemplifies this more than when you put him in front of a plate of Mexican food.  No enchilada stands a chance.  And mind you, this video taken was after he had already eaten an entire plate of food.

On Saturday, Mom and I are going to the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival! I can’t wait to taste some treats, and get some recipe inspiration.  I’ll definitely be posting pictures of all of the wonderful, chocolate goodness.

Are you surprised by any of the foods that your kid(s) love?