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5 Essential Cookware Pieces for the Beginner Home Cook

 

I'm a mom trying to get dinner on the table every night. Here are 5 essential cookware pieces that I think are useful for any beginner home cook.

(This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting this blog!)

As much as I love to eat out, I also like to cook.  I’m not a fancy or creative cook, but I can follow a recipe.  I’m a busy mom and when I’m in the kitchen my main goal is to cook quick and easy meals for my family. While there are all kinds of kitchen gadgets and cookware out there, I hate having lots of “stuff”cluttering my kitchen. Here are 5 essential cookware pieces that I think will be useful for any beginner home cook.  These are pieces that I use on a regular basis to create basic, everyday weeknight meals.

This Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker is one of the kitchen tools that I can't live without. There's nothing like prepping your slow cooker in the morning and having dinner ready when you get home from work!

Slow Cooker – There is nothing nicer than throwing ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning and coming home to a ready-to-eat meal.  As you can tell from this picture, my slow cooker is well used!  I have a 6 quart Hamilton Beach Set & Forget Programmable slow cooker.   I find that this slow cooker cooks things very quickly.  I’ve had it for several years now and know to reduce recommended cooking times in recipes. I use my slow cooker mainly for soups and stews.  However, I’ve also made stuffed peppers, lasagna, Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Tacos and more in it.

Pizza Stone – I received this Emile Henry pizza stone as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and it’s become a kitchen favorite.  The ceramic stone is made in France and comes in small, medium and large sizes.  I have a 14.5″ large ceramic stone in burgundy.  When I make pizza, I set the oven to 450 degrees F. and this stone gives the pizza a crispy bottom and crust. Although I’ve never tried it, the stone can be used on the barbecue grill.  Almost every Friday night I use the stone to make homemade pizza for dinner. Lately, I’ve been making plain, cheese pizza.  However, we enjoyed this Onion, Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza with Balsamic Glaze.

Immersion Blender – Have you seen soup or sauce recipes where they direct you to pour the liquid (sometimes hot) into a blender to puree?  An immersion blender saves you this awful step.  While I don’t use it very often, my immersion blender comes in handy often in the fall and winter when I tend to make a lot of soups.   I’ve been happy with our Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender.  It has two speed settings which is more than enough for my basic home cooking needs.  It’s useful when making Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup.

Our Cast Iron Skillet is a kitchen tool that I can't live wihout. It's able to go from stove top to oven and evenly cooks food.

Cast Iron Skillet – A cast iron skillet is such a versatile piece of cookware.  They come in many sizes from individual pans to large Dutch oven styles.  I have a 10-inch Lodge skillet that gets well used. Cast iron cookware is able to withstand high temperatures and retains heat.  It can easily go from the stove top into the oven (with the assistance of good oven mitts!).  It does need to be seasoned to avoid rusting, which is an easy process.  I often sear meat in this skillet before putting it in the slow cooker for extra flavor. I also cook burgers and cornbread in it. My husband makes fried chicken in our cast iron skillet.

Dutch Oven –  A dutch oven is another useful, multi-purpose cooking vessel.  It is a thick-walled pot, often made out of cast iron.  However, dutch ovens can also be made of cast aluminum or ceramic.  I have a 5.5-quart Food Network Ceramic Dutch Oven. I use it to braise meat as well as to cook soups and stews.  It’s also large enough for cooking one pot meals in.  This dutch oven is perfect for making Simple Clam Chowder.

Do you use any of these cookware pieces?  What’s an essential piece of cookware that you use that I didn’t mention?  

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Five on Friday {Friday already?!}

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Happy Friday guys!  I can’t believe how quickly this week flew by! It’s definitely starting to feel like fall around here.  We haven’t turned on the heat yet, but the down comforter did come out!  Tonight we have tickets to go to the Blaze, a famous, local jack-o-lantern display.  Currently, our only weekend plans include a Cub Scout event for my son and our monthly supper club. It’s supposed to be a nice weekend, so we will hopefully find something fun to do in our free time!  Here are five from this week:

1. Eating – Last night I attended a tasting of local restaurant Winston’s new fall menu.  I enjoyed the scallops pictured above, as well as many other delicious dishes that I will be writing about in a future post.

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2. Reading – I’m actually in the middle of reading several books.  However, Class Mom by Laurie Gelman has received most of my reading attention. This book justifies why I have and never will volunteer for the position of class mom!  It’s a fun, light read that is perfect for my recent reading slump.

3. Watching – Last Friday we had a picnic dinner on the floor of our living room and watched part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I know the book is huge and they had to leave a lot out and change things.  But my husband was ready to kill me after I kept commenting, “This isn’t what was in the book!”  We didn’t have time to watch part 2, so we’ll have to watch that one soon.

4. Walking – Last weekend, the family participated in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk. This is a special cause for us, since my mother is a breast cancer survivor.  Unfortunately, the weather was pretty dreary.  And we didn’t realize until we got to the walk that it was 4.4 miles!  But we did it!

5. Getting in shape – I’ve decided that I need to be more serious in getting in shape and losing weight.  My once or twice a week zumba classes are not enough.  My husband showed me this article and basically I need to start lifting heavy weights…..but I hate lifting any kinds of weights! Any motivational words of wisdom are appreciated! LOL!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

2017 calendar

Monday I shared the last weekly meal plan that I’ll be posting on the blog.

Tuesday I posted a review of Brunch at NYC restaurant Calle Dao.

You will enjoy a full day of family fun at the Strong Museum of Play.

Wednesday I shared our day of family fun at the Strong Museum of Play.

A short interview with Wes Henderson of Angel's Envy.

Thursday I featured Wes Henderson in our “5 Questions with…” interview.

I’m linking up with Katie, and Andrea!  Hope you have a great weekend!

 

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5 Questions with Wes Henderson

A short interview with Wes Henderson of Angel's Envy.

(photo courtesy of Angel’s Envy)

Our 5 Questions feature is where we interview notable people in the food and travel industry. Wes Henderson is the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Louisville Distilling Company, the makers of Angel’s Envy Bourbon.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky Angel’s Envy has made a name for itself in the few short years of its existence. Wes and his late father Lincoln Henderson founded the company to create a super-premium bourbon.  What sets their bourbon apart from others is their use of port barrels in the finishing process.

Angel’s Envy is typically aged between 4-6 years in new, charred 53-gallon American white oak barrels. Then, the aged bourbon is aged up to 6 more months in 60-gallon port barrels from Portugal. This bourbon is produced in small batches, of only 8-12 barrels at a time.  They also make a limited edition Cask Strength Bourbon.  These barrels are deemed exceptional, and the aged bourbon is given a lengthier stay in the port barrels and then bottled at full strength. The 2017 edition is 124.5 proof and is a rare, limited edition release, of only 10,000 bottles. We here at NY Foodie Family were fascinated learning about how this spirit is created, as Kentucky bourbon is one of the few spirits originated in America.

 

(photo courtesy of Angel’s Envy – (L-R) Kyle, Wes and Lincoln Henderson)

Angel’s Envy is truly a family operation.  Although Wes and his father Lincoln created Angel’s Envy, his son Kyle has joined as production manager.  Other son, Andrew, is a distillery operator and is also learning the distilling process. Since Lincoln’s passing in 2013, Wes is continuing to carry on the family legacy.

1. What is one thing that would surprise people who know nothing about bourbon?

WH: 60% is an interesting number to look at. It’s been estimated to be the percentage of bourbon’s flavor that comes from barrel aging, and it’s also roughly the amount that each bottle is taxed by the government.

2. What do you suppose your profession might be if you weren’t the son of a Master Distiller?

WH: Well, being the son of a Master Distiller isn’t really a profession, and I had several professions before co-founding Angel’s Envy. But if I had to return to an old favorite, it would have to be a radio personality. I genuinely loved that job.

3. Kentucky produces 95% of all bourbon. What is it that makes the state so special in its production?

WH: The easy answer is the state’s limestone-filtered water. But I genuinely believe that it’s the people. For generations now, we’ve had a unique community, a truly close circle of individuals, committed to distilling great whiskey. It’s a surprisingly supportive group that understands that we all succeed together, and I’ve always thought that that was Kentucky’s secret to success.

4. How would you describe the perfect barrel of bourbon?  And have you ever found one?

WH: I have had the pleasure of tasting a perfect barrel of bourbon on several occasions. That’s actually the basis for our Cask Strength release. We usually refer to them as honey barrels, and the second you taste it, you just know.

5. What’s your favorite drink that doesn’t involve a drop of bourbon?

WH: Mexican Coke.

We’d like to thank Wes Henderson for sharing his perspectives and insight with us. Stay tuned for the next entry in our series of “5 Questions With…”

You can learn more about Angel’s Envy and get cocktail recipes on their website.  

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A Day of Family Fun at the Strong Museum of Play

You will enjoy a full day of family fun at the Strong Museum of Play.

{Thank you to the Strong and Visit Rochester for hosting us.}

The Strong Museum located in Rochester, NY is a must-see family attraction.

Bringing out your inner kid is easy to do when you visit the Strong Museum in Rochester.  Encompassing two floors and over 100,000 square feet of exhibits, you will easily spend an entire day visiting this museum.  I visited the Strong this summer with my 9 and 11-year-old children. During our visit we saw kids of all ages, from babies to college freshman visiting with the University of Rochester as part of orientation!

The kids playing Dance Dance Revolution at the Strong Museum of Play.

This is a very popular place! When we arrived at the 10 AM opening, there was already a line at the admission desk. Every exhibit in the Strong has interactive elements.  We first headed towards the Field of Play, where the focus is on the six different elements of play.  Here the kids climbed a rock wall, walked through a giant kaleidoscope, stood in an optical illusion house and more. They loved playing Dance Dance Revolution and I may have even danced a round or two for old time’s sake!

Younger children will love the Sesame Street Exhibit where they can sit on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street, visit Elmo’s World, watch old episodes of the show and more.

The Wegmans Super Kids Market at the Strong Museum.

My kids loved the Wegmans Super Kids Market and WKID TV.  When you enter the exhibit, you can pick either a shopping basket or a miniature shopping cart to shop with.  You are allowed to shop for six items at a time and then are requested to check out.  While shopping you can choose from a variety of foods including fruits & veggies, breads, fish, meats and cheese.  My son even picked up some sushi at the prepared foods section!  Checking out was their favorite part.  You place your items on the movable conveyor belt, scan them and then get an itemized, printed receipt! When you are finished, you are asked to re-shelve your items for the next group of shoppers.  The back of the store has the WKID TV station where kids can be on television or work the camera and lights.

During our visit, “Have a Ball” was in the short-term exhibit gallery.  This exhibit showcased the importance of ball play through different zones. We especially enjoyed playing with Spheros, remote-controlled balls, in the Robot Park. Upcoming exhibits include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Sept. 16, 2017 – January 1, 2018) and Thomas & Friends (January 20 – May 6, 2018).

Superhero fans will love the American Comic Book Heroes exhibit. Young and old will see a collection of familiar superheroes.  There are several hands-on displays and a fun photo op too!

A whole room of pinball machines at the Strong Museum. For a couple of bucks you can get a ton of tokens and play almost all the pinball machines.

The kids were sad that my husband couldn’t make the trip with us. He’s a huge pinball machine fan and they knew he would have loved the Pinball Playfields exhibit. It’s a huge room filled only with pinball machines! Included in the exhibit are the early, basic pinball machines to the fancy, themed ones of today. For only a couple of dollars you can get a bunch of tokens and play to your heart’s content.

You can spend the entire day at Reading Adventureland at the Strong Museum. There is so much to see and do!

One of my favorite areas of the museum was Reading Adventureland.  You can literally spend the entire day in just this one exhibit.  There are five different areas inspired by children’s literature including Adventure Island,  Fairy Tale Forest, Mystery Mansion, Upside-Down Nonsense House and Wizard’s Workshop.  Each landscape has books, interactive elements and some even have craft areas.

We didn’t spend much time in The Berenstein Bears exhibit, but younger children will have a blast with all of the hands-on fun here.  We also didn’t visit One History Place, an interactive exhibit of toys from the past.  For $1 per person you can ride on the Strong Express Train or the Elaine Wilson Carousel.

While we were visiting the Strong Museum we stopped for a lunch break at Billy Gray's.

Before heading upstairs we took a lunch break.  We opted to eat at Bill Gray’s where the kids got a cheeseburger and hot dog kids meal and I got a mushroom swiss burger.  I shared their fries and had brought a water bottle with me.  The kids were super excited that they could get a slushie with their kids meal.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum.

After lunch we visited the second floor.  We first stopped at the World Video Game Hall of Fame, where there is a pay-per-play video game room.  There is also a Toy Hall of Fame with the most popular toys of the different decades.  Definitely a walk down memory lane for me!

The kids loved playing electronic Bingo at the Strong Museum.

Upstairs  we also visited the “Game Time!” exhibit.  The kids really enjoyed playing oversized versions of classic games like Connect Four and Battleship. There are games including Jenga, an electronic word search, an electronic big screen Bingo game and more.  We didn’t spend too much time in the other upstairs exhibits, Play Pals, Build, Drive Go and America at Play, due to lack of time.

I was most impressed with the literature connections the museum makes.  Every exhibit in the library houses a collection of books related to the featured theme.  Even better, local area residents can borrow the books!  The Grada Hopeman Gelser Library is a circulating library open during normal museum hours.  Children can borrow books and then return them either back at the museum or any other public library branch in the system.  I think this is such an amazing resource.

As crowded as the museum was on a Friday during the summer, it’s spacious enough that it never felt like it.  The kids never had to wait more than a minute or two to interact with different exhibits. As you can see, there is a lot to do at the Strong.  We visited on a Friday, to take advantage of the longer hours.  When visiting the Rochester area, a visit to the Strong is a must!

The Details:

Strong National Museum of Play
One Manhattan Square
Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 263-2700

Parking:  Free large parking lot

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 10 AM – 5 PM Friday & Saturday, 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM

Admission: $14.50/ages 2+ (does not include admission to the butterfly garden)

Food: There is a food court with a Pizza Hut Express, Taco Bell Express, Subway and Louie’s Sweet Shoppe.  Billy Gray’s Restaurant is located in the museum atrium.  Outside food is permitted but must be eaten in lunchroom C, as the dining room tables and chairs in the food court and atrium are reserved for restaurant guests.

Tips:

*Bill Gray’s has a Happy Hour everyday from 2:30-4:30 PM with 1/2 price milkshakes.  Take a break and enjoy a sweet treat!

*Bill Gray’s restaurant accepts online coupons from its website.

*To make the most of your visit, get there at opening.  Plus, it’s less crowded!

*I recommend that moms wear a crossbody pocketbook or a backpack.  Having a bag keep falling off your shoulder can be very annoying (I know from personal experience!). You will want your hands free, because you will be playing and interacting with the exhibits too!

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Brunching at Calle Dao {Chelsea}

 

{I was invited to a tasting of the everyday brunch menu. All opinions are my own.}

Just hearing the restaurant name Calle Dao, you know you are going to get a global dining experience. Calle Dao serves Cuban-Chinese cuisine, paying tribute to the heyday of Havana’s Chinatown. Located at 461 West 23rd street, the new Chelsea location opened in the beginning of September. This is the second Calle Dao location (the first one is located in Bryant Park).

Owner of Calle Dao Marco Britti.

Owner Marco Britti, a musician by trade, has traveled the world as a drummer.  He has spent a good amount of time in Cuba, playing music and studying the culture and food. Calle Dao Chelsea is his seventh restaurant.

The Dining Space at Calle Dao in Chelsea.

The restaurant’s decor reflects more of a Cuban vibe. The white-washed walls lighten the space and each table has its own overhead light.  The abundance of potted green leafy plants, Chinese prints and neon lit signs add pops of color.  The beats of the Latin music playing will have you tapping your toes and make you want to get up and dance.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Bradley Warner helped create the menu at Calle Dao.

The restaurant serves brunch seven days a week.  From 11 AM to 4 PM, you can enjoy all the deliciousness they offer!  Appetizers are in the $9-$10 range, with options like these Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls and Shrimp Empanadas.  I highly recommend the spring rolls that are served with a Mojo Lime Mustard.  They really showcase the fusion of the Cuban and Asian cuisines.

Calle Dao's tasty version of the classic Beef and Broccoli. One of the entrees offered on their seven day a week brunch menu.

Main entrees are priced from $15-$23.  I was most impressed with the restaurant’s take on Beef & Broccoli.  Tender pieces of smoked short ribs are served with Chinese broccoli and noodles in a garlic hoisin sauce.  I just wish there was more than three small pieces of meat.  They also serve a vegetarian, mushroom and broccoli version of this dish.

An entree served on the seven day a week brunch menu at Calle Dao.

Another one of my favorite entrees was the Chorizo and Garbanzo Hash.  The chorizo and garbanzo beans are mixed with sweet potatoes, peppers and onions and topped with sunny-side up eggs.  This was a very flavorful dish with a great combo of flavors.

Other dishes I tried were a Lamb Picadillo & Corn Congee, topped with poached eggs and Huevos Al Horno (eggs baked in a white bean stew with Chinese sausage).  The picadillo was an interesting fusion of the two cuisines.  The Huevos Al Horno was a hearty dish.  However, this was one of the few dishes that I felt that I could make myself at home.  When I dine out I try to order dishes that I wouldn’t make at home due to the complex ingredients, flavors, or cooking methods.

A classic Cuban sandwich served on the everyday brunch menu at Calle Dao.

The menu has a couple of classic dishes like this Cubano sandwich with Mojo glazed pork, cured ham, salami, pickles and Gruyere cheese.

Besides the Mushroom and Broccoli noodle bowl, Calle Dao offers several other vegetarian-friendly options.  They make a Black Bean and Mushroom Burger, Shiitake Spring Rolls and two different salads. More breakfast-y options include a vegetarian omelette, Maduro & Eggs (fried rice topped with eggs), Avocado Toast and a strawberry jam and cream cheese filled french toast.

One of the delicious cocktails served at Calle Dao. I enjoyed a brunch tasting at the newest Chelsea location.

The restaurant has a fully stocked bar and also serves wine and beer.  Master mixologist Joy Daniel has created several unique Cuban-Asian cocktails to accompany Calle Dao’s menu.  I prefer my drinks on the sweeter side and sampled the “Flor de Oro”. Made with vodka, rose and vanilla infused dry vermouth, cherry jam and fresh lemon juice, this cocktail did not disappoint.

Calle Dao serves some amazing desserts like these Bunuelos and Matcha Tres Leches.

You have to leave room for dessert!  I tried both the Bunuelos (fried dough balls, rolled in Chinese Five Spice Sugar and served with a chocolate coconut sauce) and Matcha Tres Leches.  Both were amazing, but if I had to recommend only one, I’d vote the Tres Leches.

Whether you are in Chelsea to visit an art gallery, see a show or to shop, take a brunch break at Calle Dao.  You are in for a great dining experience!

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 89}

2017 calendar

Monday, Monday, back so quickly!  Time to start another week and another weekly meal plan. If you’re new to meal planning, you can read all about my meal planning process.  This is the last week of my weekly meal plan posts. You can still see my more photogenic dinners (and other tasty eats) by following me on Instagram.  Plus, there are 88 other weekly meal plans that you can check out on the blog! I look forward to posting a wider variety of food and restaurant related posts.

Saturday:  I had spent the day at my parent’s house with the kids visiting my nieces.  My husband stayed home, sick with a cold.  My mom sent me home with some homemade chicken soup which he enjoyed.  The rest of us had leftover calzones.

Sunday:  My daughter requested tacos for dinner.  My husband made ground beef tacos which he served with yellow rice.

Monday:  This week I tried another Make Once, Cook 3x recipe from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I made Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs.  I made 42 meatballs that were then divided up into three different recipes.  I made my meatballs with just ground beef, since the grocery store didn’t have ground pork the day I went food shopping.  The meatballs weren’t super flavorful but the sauces and recipe variations helped.  I served these Swedish meatballs over mashed potatoes, as recommended, and with some veggies.

Tuesday:  Using some of the leftover meatballs from Monday, I made Greek Stuffed Pitas from Cooking Light, September 2016.  I added some sliced cucumber to the pitas.  Unfortunately, the pitas that I bought were thin. When I put all the “stuff” in them, they fell apart as soon as I picked it up.  So, we ended up eating these with a fork and knife! Cucumber yogurt sauce can make anything taste good!

Wednesday: The last recipe using the meatballs was this Banh Mi Bowl from Cooking Light, September 2016.  Quick pickling the carrots and radishes is a game changer!  I didn’t realize how easy it was to do and the flavor is amazing!  I seriously could just eat these veggies.  This was my favorite meatball dish of the three.  I think I’d make this again using a more Asian flavored meatball.

Thursday:  I made Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry from Chef Savvy.  Would you believe that I forgot to buy the broccoli for this recipe and only realized it when I was starting to cook?!!  This was a tasty sauce and it actually thickened like it was supposed to!  This is a quick, easy and tasty recipe.  I served it over rice.

Friday: Mr. NY Foodie Family went fishing Friday morning with some guys from work.  He caught eight Porgies on his fishing trip.  When he got home he fried up the fish and made us FLT (Fish, Lettuce, Tomato) sandwiches for dinner.  He served them with fries.

What is on your dinner menu this week? 

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Stepping Back In Time at the Genesee Country Village & Museum

(Thank you to the Genesee Country Village & Museum and Visit Rochester for hosting us.)

Imagine living in a time when you had to grow all of your own food and go to school in a one room schoolhouse.  It’s very difficult for children today to believe such times existed! When I learned that the Genesee Country Village & Museum is the largest living history museum in New York State, I knew that it had to be a stop on our #NYSummer2017.  History is so important in understanding the present and I know my kids learn best from hands-on experiences.

The Genesee Country Village is located approximately 25 minutes away from where we were staying in Rochester.  We arrived at the 10 AM opening ready for a day of fun.  Even though we were there from opening to close, we still weren’t able to see and do everything! When we arrived we received a map and a daily visitor’s guide of all the activities.

We started our visit at the John L Wehle Gallery.  A large collection of hunting and wildlife art is housed here, including paintings and sculptures.  There is also a historic costume collection display featuring 3,500 articles of historic clothing.  They have a room especially for children that has Lincoln Logs, a play kitchen, books and more. I let the kids play while I walked around the gallery.

After leaving the gallery, we headed towards the Historic Village.  The Village is comprised of 68 buildings and encompasses three different time periods: the Pioneer Settlement (1780’s -1830’s), Antebellum Village (1830’s – 1860’s) and Turn of the Century (1870’s – 1920’s).  To visit in time period order, you must start at the left after passing through the village entrance.

Costumed interpreters are in almost every building acting the part of a 19th century villager.  We met many villagers during our visit including a blacksmith, a printer, a tailor, a tinsmith and a dressmaker.  They are both knowledgeable and informative and able to answer any questions you may have.  They actually practice their craft while you visit, building baskets, spinning yarn, making prints and more.

We enjoyed sitting at a desk in the one room schoolhouse and learned that approximately 20 students of different ages would attend each day.  The exception was during planting season, when they would be needed to help in the fields.

Another favorite building was the Pioneer Farmstead.  There we watched a woman preparing Bubble & Squeak (cabbage, onion and potato) for the lunchtime meal.  There are animals on the farmstead  including a pig, sheep and chickens that the kids especially enjoyed visiting.

At 11:30 AM we headed to the Civil War Camp for the Civil War Cooking demonstration.  There we learned about the different types and small amounts of rations the soldiers received. Since there was no mess hall, soldiers had to prepare their own food.  With limited supplies, they had to cook their meager rations to make them edible and to prolong their shelf life. Besides the cooking demonstration we were also able to peek into a camp tent.

Watching the cooking demonstration made us hungry.  After the demo we headed to lunch at the Depot Restaurant.  The restaurant serves sandwiches, burgers, salads, chicken fingers, soup, mac and cheese and more.  The chicken salad sandwich was very good and the kids liked the mac and cheese and chicken fingers.  The restaurant sells ales for those interested in an adult beverage.  Everything is reasonably priced as well.

When the kids needed a break, we headed to the village square where they played 19th century games and attempted to walk on stilts.

D.B. Munger Confectionery is located in the village square and sells sweets and homemade baked goods.

We stopped by Silver Base Ball Park to some of the match between Spring Creek and Flower City.  It was fun to sit in the stands and see them playing ball, with no baseball gloves!

At 2:30 we returned to the Gallery for the free adult-and-child art activity.  On our visit we first took a look at a Bruno Liljefors fox painting out in the gallery. Then we went into the art studio and under the instruction of a gallery staff member painted our own copy. (If you have children 10 or older who enjoy art, like my children, try to take advantage of this fun activity!)

We left the Historic Village right around the 4 PM closing time.  Unfortunately, by the time we visited the Nature Center adjacent to the parking lot, it was closed.  There is access to several hiking trails from the Center but our feet were so tired from walking all day that we opted not to.  We did stop to take some pictures of the  beautiful water gardens before heading out.

We enjoyed our visit to the Genesee Country Village & Museum.  As you can see, there is a lot to see and do here!  When you’re in the Rochester area, make time to visit this fun and educational living history museum.

The Details:

Genesee Country Village & Museum
1410 Flint Hill Road
Mumford, NY 14511
(585) 538-6822

Parking:  Free, large parking lot

Hours: 10 AM – 4 PM, Tuesday through Sunday (May through September)  Wednesday- Sunday (September & October) The Historic Village and John L. Wehle Gallery are closed for the winter months except for special holiday events.  Please check the website for more details  as well as for the nature trail hours.

Admission:  $18/adult, $15/senior citizens (62+) and college students (w/ID), $10/youth (4-18)
-includes access to the Historic Village, John L. Wehle Gallery and nature trails (please check the website for admission prices for only the gallery or nature trails)

Food:  Food and snacks are available on premise at the Depot Restaurant, Freight House Pub and Pavilion Garden Restaurant (summer only).

Tips:

*The Historic Village is very large and you will most likely not be able to do or see everything.  Make sure to check out the daily visitor’s guide to plan which timed activities you’d like to visit.  They only occur once throughout the day.

*Certain village buildings close between 11 AM and 2 PM for staff lunch breaks.  You may want to visit the village before or after those times if you wish to see all the buildings.

*There is a free trolley on weekends (or by advanced registration if needed).

*This attraction requires a lot of walking. Wear sneakers or comfortable shoes.

*These are historic buildings.  Most of them are not stroller friendly.  You may need to park your stroller outside the building and walk with or hold younger children.

*For an additional fee you can make your own punched-tin ornament or purchase prints at the Printing Office.

*Go to the gift shop at the end of your visit.  During the summer it stays open until 4:30 PM, 3o minutes after the museum closes.

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California Globetrotter
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Cardoso Cookies {Made in New York}

Cardoso Cookies are made locally in the Hudson Valley. Anthony Cardoso is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and makes his cookies with all natural ingredients.

I recently attended the Fall Hudson Valley Restaurant Week kick-off event at the Culinary Institute of America.  By now, you know I’m attracted to all things sweet and I was compelled to stop by the Cardoso Cookies table.  There, I had the pleasure of meeting founder Anthony Cardoso.  He graduated from the Culinary Institute in 2002 so you can bet he’s qualified to make a good cookie!

Anthony Cardoso is the founder of cookie company Cardoso Cookies. A graduate of the Culinary Institute he uses fresh ingredients with no preservatives.

 What was his motivation for starting Cardoso Cookies?

Anthony wanted to start a food business where the primary focus was on producing a consistent, high quality, and fresh (made to order & from scratch) product. He didn’t want a brick and mortar storefront or a food truck (at the time it was too big of an investment). While visiting the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, he realized that there was a lack of sweet options.  This helped him narrow his focus down to cookies.  The following months included lots of recipe development, package testing, and test shipments all over the nation to friends and family. Cardoso Cookies was launched on August 1, 2015.

Based out of Hopewell Junction, Cardoso Cookies are primarily available for purchase online. Orders can be placed through the company website and  shipped anywhere in the United States.  Once an order is placed, the cookies are baked to order and usually shipped or delivered the next day. He even offers free local delivery if you happen to live near Hopewell Junction! Additionally, Anthony sells his products at local events and markets to grow a following.  Past events have included the Hudson Valley Wine and Chocolate Festival, the Stormville Flea Market and the Fishkill Farmer’s Market.  You can also purchase his cookies at Crown Maple, in Dover Plains or North River Roasters in Poughkeepsie.

I asked Anthony which was his most popular selling cookie.  He said it’s the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie. That’s not terribly surprising but it also happens to be his favorite, too!  What sets their chocolate chip cookie apart from a classic chocolate chip is the inclusion of 4 different types of chocolate chips (milk, semisweet, bittersweet, and white).  As a bittersweet chocolate lover,  Anthony also really enjoys the Bittersweet Brownie cookie. The bittersweet chocolate batter and semisweet chocolate chips make it a rich and delicious cookie.

But how do they taste?!

Anthony was offering samples of many of the different cookies he makes and sells.  I took him up on his offer to bring a selection of cookies home to share with the family.  As a family lifestyle blogger, I seek to highlight family-friendly products in my “Made in New York” feature.  I try to have everyone in the family sample and give opinions on the products.  Cookies definitely qualify as family-friendly in my house and my kids were super excited to be cookie taste testers.

Of course, I had to try the famous Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie although I was a bit more intrigued by some of the other variety of cookies that we sampled.

Birthday  Sugar Cookie – This is a sugar cookie filled with sprinkles.  I liked the soft chewiness the most.

Hot Cocoa Cookie –  This is a dark chocolate cookie with milk chocolate chips and marshmallows.  This was a soft cookie and one of the more fragile ones.

“New”Tella Cookie – This is a thick sandwich cookie filled with Callebaut chocolate ganache and chocolate hazelnut spread filling.  I wasn’t expecting the cookies to have a cinnamon flavor and, although they were tasty, I think I’d prefer them with a plain butter cookie.

Red Velvet Cookie – This is a classic red velvet cookie with white chocolate chips.

Salted Caramel Chocolate – This is another delicious sandwich cookie.  A thick chocolate filling and local Hudson Valley-made Cara-Sel Salted Caramel are sandwiched between two chocolate cookies.

Thick Mints Cookie – This is a super thick, chocolate and mint flavored cookie, covered in a chocolate coating.

All of the cookies were delicious.  However, the unanimous family favorite was the Hot Cocoa Cookie.  Although I didn’t try them myself,  Anthony had other varieties available to sample including the Brookie (1/2 chocolate chip, 1/2 brownie), Bittersweet Brownie, and Apple Oatmeal.  He also sells Maple Doodles, Peanut Butter cookies, Peanut Butter Cup cookies, Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, and a S’mores cookie.  He even sells a vegan chocolate chip cookie.

As you can see from the labels, these cookies are made with all natural ingredients.  Because there are no preservatives, these cookie are best eaten with a week. You probably won’t have to worry about that because there’s no way they’ll be sitting around uneaten! If you’re planning to save some cookies for a future date, though, they can be frozen for up to three months.

Besides cookies, Cardoso Cookies also sells edible cookie dough. The dough contains no eggs or egg products and is ready to eat.  The 3-pack sampler contains 10 oz. jars of Classic Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake and Brownie Batter.

The cookies and cookie dough make great gifts and party favors.  Gift tins and boxes are available and would make great holiday gifts or a tasty treat for a dinner party.  His prices are quite reasonable too.  Small gift tins of 6-8 cookies start at $12.99.  A (21-24 count) sampler pack of 3 different cookies of your choice is $36.99.

Be sure to follow Cardoso Cookies on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date on where they are selling.  They will also soon be offering special deals for social media fans.

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September 2017 Reads

 

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It’s time once again for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  I love being able to share what I read during the past month as well as get lots of new reading recommendations. Most of my September 2017 reads are suspense/thrillers, which is my favorite genre to read.  Even though I didn’t get as many books as I would have liked read this month, the ones that I did read were pretty good.

3 Stars

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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware – Four girls meet at a boarding school and play “the Lying Game,” earning points for telling lies.  Fast forward to adults, and the women are summoned back to Salten when one of them texts the others, “I need you.” The girls were expelled their last year of school after being involved in an incident which now has them worried that it will be discovered.  It was really annoying being dragged along for so long with “the incident” being referred to, but not knowing what it was.  I found the ending to be pretty anti-climatic.  I’ve enjoyed Ware’s other books but wasn’t a big fan of this one.

4 Stars

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The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – On her way home from a night out, Cass takes a shortcut and drives through the woods.  She sees a car pulled over on the side of the road but doesn’t stop due to the pouring rain from a storm.  Only later she discovers that the woman in the car was killed.  Now she fills guilty for not stopping and starts forgetting things.  Then she starts receiving silent phone calls and thinks the killer is after her.  Although this had a slow start it turned into a suspenseful read.

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A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman – After reading Beartown a couple of months ago I had to read another Frederik Backman book.  Ove is an eccentric old man who is used to his solitary life. A young family moves in next door, turning his world upside down. Backman is an excellent storyteller and I really liked Ove and other characters. I really liked this book but I loved Beartown more.

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond – The goal of the Pact is to keep couples happy and married.  While it sounds good in the beginning, Alice and Jake don’t realize what they have gotten themselves into when they sign up. When the two decide that this isn’t for them, they learn too late that the Pact is for life.  This was a great psychological suspense read.

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The Other Girl by Erica Spindler – Officer Miranda Rader is called to investigate the brutal murder of an esteemed college professor.  A newspaper clipping detailing a horrible night from her teenage years is found at the scene.  Then a retired cop who took her statement that night many years ago is found murdered. Miranda is unsure of who she can trust but knows that she has to prove her innocence.  This is the first book I’ve ready by Spindler, but I enjoyed this one enough to read more.

5 Stars

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – I finally read the last book in the Harry Potter series!  We started listening to this on CD and then my son and I finished reading it together. This book had me angry at times and crying at others.  I thought Rowling wrapped up the series nicely.  Now, we have to see the movies and then plan a trip to Universal Studios to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 88}

2017 calendar

Happy Columbus Day!  It’s Monday, which means that it’s time for another weekly meal plan.  If you are looking for some dinner time inspiration, my weekly meal plan is the place for you. Each week I showcase what was on my previous week’s meal plan, with pictures, recipe links and my family’s review of each dish.  There are so many food blogs, cookbooks and recipes out there and I am always on the lookout for new family-friendly recipes to try.  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.

Saturday:  We were out shopping for most of the afternoon and had a late lunch (hello Chick-fil-A!).  On the way home we stopped at Stew Leonard’s and picked up some soup to have for a light dinner.

Sunday: We were at the Baptism of my friend’s son. We ate a late lunch/dinner (linner) after the ceremony at the celebratory reception.

Monday:  I made One Pot Creamy Tomato Orzo from Lovely Little Kitchen.  I think this came out a little more liquidy than it was supposed to be, but it was tasty. Instead of heavy cream I used half-and-half, so this probably wasn’t as creamy as intended either. I enjoy one pot meals because less clean-up is always a win.  We all enjoyed this meal.

Tuesday: I made Bottom Round Roast with Onion Gravy from allrecipes.  I had high hopes for this, expecting a nice and tender roast.  I cooked this in the slow cooker as per one of the reviewers directions.  Well, my beef overcooked and my gravy didn’t thicken.  It was a bit of a disappointing meal.  I served it with some mashed potatoes and corn.

Wednesday: I made Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken from Chef Savvy.  This only cooks for about two hours, so this is not one of those recipes that you can set and let cook for the day.  There’s also a little prep work involved with cutting the chicken, coating in cornstarch and browning on both sides. I served this with rice and roasted broccoli. This is a super tasty dish that the whole family enjoyed. I would make this meal again.

Thursday:  We used the leftover beef roast from Tuesday in these burritos.  There’s no recipe for this meal.  I just cooked some rice up in the slow cooker.  Then we put the rice, chopped beef, black beans and shredded cheddar in a large tortilla.  We wrapped them up and baked them in the oven for about 10 minutes to warm up and get the tortillas a little crispy.  We had this with a garden salad.  This kind of meal is a great way to use up leftover proteins and is always a winner with the kids.

Friday:  This week there were no after-school activities.  While homemade pizza is quick and easy, we are getting kind of tired of it every week.  My husband made pepperoni calzones.  He mixed ricotta, mozzarella and the pepperoni and cooked it in some pizza dough.  He served them with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.  These were good but I thought that they were a little light on the filling.  I would have stuffed them a little bit more.

What is on your dinner menu this week?