April 15, 2015

Date Night at Lithos Greek Restaurant

Every once in awhile, we find the time to get out for a really nice dinner for date night. Do you get out regularly for date nights? I highly recommend making them a regular part of your routine... at least once a month. It's so nice to get out and just have time to reconnect without other distractions.

Last summer, we tried Lithos for the first time and I've daydreamed about it ever since. I had tried their oven braised short ribs and fell in love with the restaurant from that moment! They literally melt in your mouth and scream "comfort food" as you enjoy each bite.

We recently returned to Lithos for dinner again.  They have a beautiful dining room that is elegant and yet warm and cozy, if that's possible. It's really a shame that it's a little bit out of the way in Livingston, and not on a main road because you really have to be looking for it to find it. My husband found it on Open Table, which has been a great way for us to find some of the local gems that we've tried.

We began our meal with their pan-fried calamari, which was perfectly seasoned and crispy. Exactly the way it should be alongside their house made tartar sauce. An unusual accompaniment based on prior experience, but I'd have no problem ordering this one again.

We also decided to try the spanakopita, which has me craving more of it as I think about it now. This is one of my favorite appetizers and the spanakopita at Lithos is so much better than I've had anywhere else.

Lithos Greek restaurant

March 1, 2015

The Week in Food Photos

So, here we are... it's Sunday night and that means Monday will be making it's usual unwelcome arrival. I know many of us feel the same way, even one of my boys said around 3 p.m. on Sunday he typically get's the "Monday Blues".  It doesn't help that the weather isn't conducive to getting out and doing some fun things - and at this point, playing in the snow is no longer a novelty. We are all ready for spring to get here so we can fully enjoy our weekends without feeling cooped up.

In spite of that feeling, I decided to make a few things today which included a new crockpot pork tenderloin recipe... which needs a little tweaking as far as timing goes, so I'll share it after I've got the recipe perfected. However, I did make our favorite cheesey twice baked potatoes.

We like our twice baked potatoes extra #cheesey!
Cheesey Twice Baked Potatoes

February 25, 2015

Spanish Cooking Class

One way to chase the winter blues away is to do something fun with a friend. Last week, I took a Spanish cooking class with a friend and it was such a fun class!

I have taken a few cooking classes before and I learn a bit of something new from each experience.  What I've also found is that taking a class with someone else that I know makes it even better.

So, the class I took was at a local grocery store and very reasonably priced. So, those two things alone made it appealing! Add to that a Spanish theme that included paella and sangria and I was ready to sign up!

Full participation classes are where you often learn the most, but one caveat to that is when the class is very full, you may not be able to do something for each recipe. In this class, we had three recipes to make: Seafood Paella, Artichoke and Asparagus Fritters and Sangria.
The finished paella from class tonight!  #cookingclass #trysomethingnew
Seafood Paella

I've enjoyed paella at restaurants many times, so it was cool to be in a class where we were preparing it. There is so much to do to prep the various proteins before the dish goes into the oven. More than one set of hands is very necessary!

Spanish cooking class
Chicken and Sausage after browning in the skillet

The Artichoke and Asparagus Fritters were very easy, but do require a lot of chopping depending on the number you need to make.  They didn't have any egg, and there was the addition of baking powder that allowed them to fry up lighter than other fritters that I've made.

Spanish cooking class
Artichoke and Asparagus Fritters

Every time I take a cooking class, which isn't all that often, I come back inspired again. Each little tidbit of information leads to some other idea that I want to play around with in the kitchen.

Things I want to try:

  1. Using baking powder and no egg in my zucchini fritters - adding a bit of flour as well next time.   
  2. Paella! I love the idea of a dish that finishes doing it's magic in the oven. Making it just for my family of four, I'd probably tailor it more to our seafood preferences... plenty of clams, not so much of the mussels and chicken.
  3. Sangria! I didn't share a photo because the plastic cup just didn't showcase it as nicely as I would have liked. I've made Sangria before, but I love the idea of trying other versions. I found a few different ones on Pinterest that I am going to give a try in the coming months as warmer temps arrive.

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.

February 23, 2015

Counting Down to Spring and Cookie Butter Cookies

Oh what a tease yesterday was warming up to over 40 degrees! Now, I'm wishing time away to get us to spring and melt all this white stuff that is still hanging around! Today its back below freezing and I'm sitting here feeling a bit too chilled at the moment. I need to go sit under a blanket on the couch!

As I've been known to do, regardless of the weather, I baked cookies over the weekend.  I even went so far as to bake two different kinds to appeal to the various tastes in my house. One thing that I've heard complaints about is that I make my cookies too small... so, the last couple of weekends, I've been making them bigger and the world is happier for my family as a result.

Seems that my portion control ideas don't go over so well with the men in my house. Oh well... they do bake up so nice and don't require as many baking sheets when I make them bigger. So, there is an up-side to it, right?

The first batch I made was an old favorite, Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I've been making them forever (at least it feels that way) because they are quick and easy and I love that they keep that soft, cake texture even after a few days in a sealed container.

Fresh baked cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. #cookies #baking #sweettooth
Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 22, 2015

Meal Planning & Enjoying the Heatwave here in NJ

Who would have thought that budging over 30 degrees this morning would have felt pretty warm after all those below zero days we've had recently? As I write this, the temperature has risen to 39 degrees and the snow is melting and slushy... sadly, this will be short-lived as the temps are dipping back below freezing again tonight. Bringing back dangerous black ice, ear warmers and extra layers.

What did I do on the snowy, cold day yesterday? I spent time planning out some potential meals for the next two weeks. Keeping in mind that life changes daily and moods swing in different directions, I didn't assign a date for each meal I've planned.

Meal planning

I try really hard to meal plan each week. I've event spent numerous hours shopping at different stores trying to get the best deals on whatever it is I have planned. This week, my thinking is to plan out two weeks and get the majority of the shopping done now... and only have to fill in with missing necessities next week.

February 20, 2015

Back to Blogging and Making Social Ties a Priority

It seems kind of random but in the last week I think I figured out what I've been missing. I think my (significantly) reduced writing / blogging activities are what's keeping me from feeling like I'm doing what I enjoy.

When I was writing more often, I think it was my opportunity to be creative after a day of work that was tied more to numbers (my day job). Having a hobby, which is what blogging is for me, that allows me to stretch my creative side allows me to feel more fulfilled.

Finding ways to express myself creatively through writing, recipes and photographs is what I enjoy. Taking time to just not feel tied to a self-imposed schedule felt good... for awhile. But, it's time to get back to it, and begin sharing things more often around here.

What will that mean? Hopefully, more frequent posts with more variety. Still with a primary focus on food and how I share it with my family and friends. But, with some other posts that may focus just on photography or writing about something beyond food. I'm going to use this space to find my way back to writing and see where it takes me. It's something that brings me happiness so, I'll share what's on my mind at the moment and I promise that most of the time that will tie in to food in some way.
Matzah ball soup to cure what ails you!  #365imperfect #dinner #soup
Matzah Ball Soup will cure what ails you!

February 2, 2015

Soft Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {recipe}

It was just a few weeks ago that I was thinking how thankful I was that we've had a pretty mild winter so far... then, last week arrived! The Blizzard of 2015 was expected came through our part of the world. New York City shut down and New Jersey had a state of emergency declared which meant no one should be on the roads. Of course, when we woke up the next morning we were greeted with only a few inches of snow and clear roads within the first morning hours. So, even though many people are knocking the over-reaction, having everyone off the roads meant that the local municipalities could get them cleared before anyone needed to get out and go for the day.

This weekend, I heard another round of snow was coming our way... oh joy! No, I'm not a winter person... so, the snow began during the big game last night.  Nothing too crazy, but overnight we gained another 5-6 inches or so.  So,while I'm glad we had a mild start to the season, I'm very ready to see the snow melt and some warmer temperatures come our way!

One thing that I do love about this time of year is that I end up making sure I can be home more on the weekend.  I try to get all of my errands done on one day so that I have the other day to cook and bake.  Last weekend, I baked up some cookies that I know are going to be repeated over and over again!
Soft Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | www.famfriendsfood.com

Oh, how I absolutely love these soft and chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

January 19, 2015

Mini Cinnamon Banana Bread Loaves {Recipe}

What a crazy weekend it's been for us!  We started off with a house full of boys sleeping over Friday night, which isn't as crazy as it sounds... they are 11 and 12 year olds and just give them food and video games, and it's all good!  It helps that we have a finished basement that is "their space" for hanging out.  Then, we had some neighbors over for dinner Saturday night, which was so great because sometimes we don't get to see them during these colder months.

After some sort of milder weather the last part of the week, we really didn't expect when we woke up on Sunday morning that the streets would be an ice rink!  I knew we were going to get a day of rain, but didn't really figure it would be freezing rain when we woke up.  So, plans were cancelled that morning and we ended up with a day at home.  Snow won't keep us home so much anymore, but ice... that's a whole other story!

After having a day of lounging around watching Grimm and a bunch of Shark Tank episodes... I think I was ready to get busy today.  Thank goodness, for a bonus day off from work this week!  Food shopping got done, I did a little baking (which means I have something to share here!) and have a good plan for the week's meals.  If only I could have every Monday off, I think I would be so much more prepared for each week.

Mini Cinnamon Banana Bread Loaves

January 1, 2015

Happy 2015 and Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Happy New Year!  Hard to believe that we are at the start of a brand new year!  I hope each and everyone one of you has a year filled with peace, love, happiness and good health!

We spent the last week of the year on vacation and returned home in time to wish each other a Happy New Year and then fall into our own comfy beds.  It was a lovely way to end the year, and I know we are ready for whatever 2015 has in store for each of us!

This year, I'm not going to make resolutions.  The truth is, that no matter how many times you make a resolution, it's not going to stick until you are truly ready.  I think that it's depressing to make resolutions and then to forget about them in a month or so.  I'm more interested in seeing how I can be the best person I can be each day.  Take everything day-by-day and enjoy each moment for what it is.  There is something to be learned in each experience, and that's what life is all about... Experiences that shape who we are and create memories with those we love.

While many of you are going to be trying to cut back on the sweets or high calorie treats, I do have a recipe that's been waiting to be shared since mid-December... but, I was caught up in the holidays and sharing those experiences with family and friends, so it didn't get posted until now.

These cookies will freeze beautifully for up to 3 months or so in a tightly sealed container.  I included these in my cookie trays that I gave to friends and neighbors.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies January 2015

December 8, 2014

Let's Bake! Butterscotch Tassies {recipe}

What a weekend of baking I had!  The weather was cold and wet, so it was the perfect time to spend a bit of time in the kitchen getting my treats ready!

I ended up making two batches of these adorable Butterscotch Tassies over the weekend.  I had these marked to make last year and just ran out of time.  I love that they can be frozen for up to three months... that means I can make a batch or two and put aside for another time when we are heading off to see a friend or someone unexpectedly comes over to hang out for the evening.

Butterscotch Tassies 12082014

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