August 31, 2011

Easiest Double Chocolate Brownies (and oh-so-good!)

Every summer friends of ours have a barbeque down in South Jersey.  Usually, they don't ask me to bring anything, but this time I wanted to contribute something and they said ok.  Dessert was requested, which is one of my favorite things to share when invited somewhere.

Since I didn't have time the night before to make something and didn't actually decide what I was making until that morning, I had to come up with something based on things I already had on hand.  So, where to go searching for a recipe?  Camilla Saulsury's The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book

I'm not ashamed to say that I keep a few boxes of cake mix on hand, just so I can throw together a quick and easy cookie or brownie dessert in a pinch.  One really nice thing about this cookbook is that there is an index based on the type of ingredient you want to use: chocolate cake mix, brownie mix, cookie dough and so forth.  Makes the searching all that much easier.

August 29, 2011

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips

I adore homemade ice cream! I am loving my New Air ice cream maker and so is my family! 

This time, My Youngest chose the flavor and vanilla was the winner.  When I suggested adding chocolate chips to it, he was all over that idea. 

I decided it was finally time to pull out my copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.  I only slightly adapted her recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream to make this batch.


August 26, 2011

Review: Rattlesnake Ranch Cafe (Denville, NJ)

On a recent rainy Sunday, we did something different.  We went out to eat at a restaurant.... not a fast food place where we could grab something and go, but rather a place to sit and enjoy a casual meal.

My Husband had been to Rattlesnake Ranch Cafe recently with friends from work for lunch.  As we were driving along, on this Sunday trying to decide what to do about lunch we decided to give it a try as a family.

It is worth noting that on Sundays they do not have their usual weekday lunch menu, which means the dinner menu is what you will be ordering from.

On this particular Sunday, they were not busy at 12:30, but I'd attribute that to the lazy, rainy day.  If I didn't have to be out running errands that day, I don't think I would have been out for lunch either.  This meant a quiet restaurant with another couple of families in there at the time we were there.


The kid's menu has a nice selection with their own appetizers available.  Would you believe that the nachos in the photo above are the kid's appetizer?  They were huge!  And, the cheese was not just melted on top... it was melted in between the layers of chips.  These were some pretty darn good nachos for the kids to dig into.

August 24, 2011

Crispy Onion Rings at Home

One of our favorite things to order when we go out to eat is onion rings... we love the when they come in a tower at Red Robin.... or in a pile with BBQ sauce at Applebee's.  My Husband and I usually get one or two and the boys devour the rest.

We really love the crunchy coating, it's so hard to resist. 

August 22, 2011

Soaking Up Every Last Moment of Summer (Strawberry Lemonade)

The countdown to the start of school is nearly upon us... I know much of the rest of the country has already returned to school.  I can't believe that we are almost to the end of August... where did June and July go?

So many things I wanted to do, perhaps I should have made up a bucket list like Cate did.  I'll have to make one for next summer.  I do hope that even with soccer and fall baseball starting up soon that we'll be able to steal a few fall days to do some fun things... perhaps a fall picnic in Central Park, visit the Harry Potter exhibit at the Discovery Museum... apple picking with friends... an end of the summer bbq and ice cream party... I need to get these things on the calendar before the warm days come to an end.  I do enjoy fall, but it's the cold winter that I dread.  So, for now, I am going to pretend that we are still in the middle of the warm days of summer with weeks and weeks left before it'll be over... and make another pitcher of Strawberry Lemonade.


August 19, 2011

Cupcakes from a Food Truck? (Cupcake Stop Truck)

It's not often that I am in NYC on my own, but a couple weeks ago I went into the city for a full day training class for work.  I was thrilled that they didn't bring in lunch because it meant that I could go outside and take a walk in the beautiful weather and get some fresh air.

Of course, it also meant that I could find my own lunch, which I was very happy to do.  Lunch is not what I was excited enough to take photos of though...

When I exited the building, I was greeted by this cute food truck.  Imagine that... a food truck that sells freshly baked cupcakes!  Each cupcake is handmade, so they may not look exactly identical.  I'm fine with that, as long as the cupcake is not dry and tasteless.

August 17, 2011

Quick & Easy Balsamic Marinade for Steak

Summer is zooming by at lightening speed and I'm really not quite ready for it to come to an end.  This is my time of year, I love the longer days... the lack of weekday schedules... the relaxed way we can spend time together at the beach or the pool, or wherever... oh, and the sunshine and warmth!  In spite of the heatwave we have had this summer, I'm still ok with summer.

Even My Boys have been commenting that summer is going by much too fast.  This is the last week of summer camp for them and it's been so much fun for them.  They've gone on some fabulous field trips and learned some great things in their classes.  My Oldest even took in the recipe for Matzah Buttercrunch that I make to share with the Kids in the Kitchen class.  He even helped demonstrate how to make it.  Yep, one proud mom here. 

I can't say that the days of summer are truly lazy days for us since we still have to get up at the same time every day and I am still packing lunches for both boys.  But, there is just a different feeling in the summer... life is just easier if you know what I mean.  We all look forward to our time together at the end of the day and the fun things that we manage to squeeze in on the weekends.  It's all good stuff and memories are being made every moment we are together. 

One of the things we really enjoy this time of year, is grilling and eating dinner outside.  The meal is laid back and tends to take a little longer.  We get to have conversations we might not get to if we didn't sit down to a meal together. 


August 15, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: The Vanderbilt Wife (Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake)

I'm so excited to be posting as part of the Secret Recipe Club today!  In case you have somehow have missed what the Secret Recipe Club is all about, here's a quick review... a whole list of bloggers sign up to secretly scour each other blogs for a recipe to make and share on an assigned date.  It's a great way to get to know blogs you may not have come across before and find some new recipes.

This month, I was assigned The Vanderbilt Wife.  This blog is not just about food, but all kinds of fun things!  There are crafts and she shares links to other sites she thinks others would enjoy.  It took me a bit of time to decide what to make.  She cooks a lot like I do - simple, yet delicious food.  I found a lot of similarities in flavors between the two of us as I read through her blog.  Go check her out, I'm sure you'll find something you'll enjoy!

I had a few different recipes marked to try, and then we ended up having family up to visit recently.  We treated them to smoked baby back ribs, fried pasta and fresh corn on the cob.  To top off a meal like that, I decided to make Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake after reading about it over at The Vanderbilt Wife. 

This recipe originated at Cooking Light and I knew it would be something we would enjoy.  The cream cheese ensures a moist, yet light tasting coffee cake.


The recipe really couldn't be easier.  The cake went together within a matter of 10 minutes and was baking away while we watched Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1. 

My Oldest has a nose for fresh baked goodies, so he was having a hard time waiting for dessert.  Once I felt it was cool enough to finally slice into it, we dug in and enjoyed the moistness of this simple cake.  The best part, was the cinnamon and turbinado sugar topping - there was a definite "crunch" when you bit into that part and it added a wonderful additional texture to the cake.

The only thing I would change the next time I make this cake is to perhaps double the recipe.  The cake was a bit thinner than I would have liked... I know that will change the calorie count and all that, but I would prefer a slimmer slice that is taller.  That's just me and my family though.

Now, go check out the rest of the fabulous Secret Recipe Club posts today!  The links are set-up to appear at the bottom of this post... share some love and go visit and leave some comments on the delicious blogs that are participating!

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.
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August 12, 2011

A New Kind of Normal (Peanut Butter Pie for Jennie)

Earlier this week, I noticed some unusual posts on Twitter and Facebook by a blogging friend, Jennifer Perillo (In Jennie's Kitchen).  The posts seemed out of place with what she typically shares and after the reality of what she was sharing came to me, my heart broke for her.

You see, Jennie's husband died suddenly earlier this week.  I can't even pretend to know what she must be feeling or going through right now.  To have your whole world turned upside-down in a single instant like that means that what was normal before that moment won't be the same again.

She wrote a wonderful post For Mikey this week where she talks about their last "date".  As married people with children, many of us can relate to the "dates" we go on when we get a rare moment just the two of you.  So many times we put off a "date" to do something else we "have" to do. 


August 11, 2011

Simple Pizza with the Kids (Gorgonzola, Carmelized Onion & Mushroom Pizza)

I get these ideas on my head every once in awhile about what I want to make for dinner.  Like last week, I had picked up some pizza dough from the grocery store and thought it would be fun to make grilled pizza.  It was something fun to do on a summer evening and it would be a simple dinner.

I even had this idea in my head as to what I wanted to top my pizza with.... sauteed mushrooms, carmelized onions and gorgonzola cheese. 

The weather was not on my side since I don't grill in the rain.  I had to relocate the pizza to the oven instead.  That's ok, we still made the best of it.


One of the best things about making pizza is that the kids can get in on the action.  I let them choose their toppings and make their own personal pizzas. 

August 8, 2011

Review: New Air Ice Cream Maker (Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream)

When you take a road trip, you have a lot of time to talk.  When I was talking to Cate during our recent trip to Boston I mentioned that I was oh-so-very-close to buying an ice cream maker.  She mentioned that she had one that was sent to her for review and hadn't had the time to give it a try yet... and would I like to take it and do the review?  Hmmmm.... didn't take long for me to say yes!

I've always loved homemade ice cream... one of the best things about having a summer birthday was that I was usually able to get My Mom to drag out her ice cream maker so I could have some homemade chocolate ice cream to go with my birthday cake.  I remember how loud that machine was and I think she had to use rock salt or something like that, but she never had to pre-freeze the bowl or anything (that I remember).

When Cate and I met for lunch a little over a week ago, she presented me with a large box that weighed about 30 pounds.  My first thought was "what in the world is inside this box?"   Seriously, what could make the New Air Ice Cream Maker weigh so much?  Other machines I had been shopping out were not nearly this big or heavy.


August 1, 2011

Review: Bum Rogers Tavern, Totally Worth the Trip!

When we head down to the shore, we go a little farther than many of our Northern NJ friends.  Our favorite beach is Island Beach State Park.  For just $10 per carload, you have beautiful beaches and it's typically filled with lots of other families.  None of those Jersey Shore crazies there!  It's a little bit farther South and right next to Seaside Park.  If you don't make it there early enough on a perfect beach day to enjoy Island Beach State Park (because the state park will close once all the parking spots are filled), take a drive over to Seaside Park's beach and you will be able to enjoy a similar atmosphere.


Since our nephew was visiting from Arizona AND it was his birthday, he chose to go to Bum Rogers Tavern for dinner Friday night.  Gotta love a kid who knows how to truly enjoy seafood!  Of course, after seeing how all 3 boys dug into the calamari and the drunken clams, it seems we have some definite seafood lovers in this family!

My Husband's family has been going to Bum's since he was a kid.  The big draw here are the Garlic Crabs!

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