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Five on Friday {Last Weekend in March}

 

Happy Friday! I can’t believe this is the last weekend in March!  This month flew by. This week was pretty uneventful….which isn’t a bad thing.  This was the first full week of school that the kids have had in awhile.  I love that it stays lighter later and the weather seems to be warming up.  It’s beginning to feel like spring!  Tonight my son has his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby and tomorrow night we have our Polish-themed supper club which we are hosting.  Here is five from this past week:

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Reading: I just started reading It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman.  If you didn’t see her on either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette and aren’t a fan of the show, then don’t bother reading this book!  I’ve only read the first chapter and it’s a lot of behind the scenes Bachelor show stuff.

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Watching:  Last weekend my husband and I watched Manchester By the Sea.  I knew nothing about the movie before I saw it, only that Casey Affleck had won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for his role.  I thought it took place in England…..like I said, I knew nothing about it.  Overall, I’d give the move 3/5 stars.  I found it to move very slow.  However, it interested me enough that I didn’t fall asleep on the couch while watching!

Family Fun: Last Saturday we completed our last winter family bucket list item, snow tubing!  We went to Mt. Peter in Warwick, NY and had a great time!  This was my bucket list item and the first time any of us had been snow tubing.  The kids especially had a blast and my son is already talking about going again next year!

Sunday we went up to Crown Maple at Madava Farms for the first of NY Maple Weekends.  There were complimentary maple syrup tastings, self guided tours of the facility, tree tapping demonstrations, samples of their maple kettle corn, maple cotton candy, maple granola and maple milk shakes.  We also got to roast marshmallows outside at the fire pit.  Lots of family fun was had last weekend!

Mom Time:  I went out to dinner Monday night with a friend.  Somehow, it’s very difficult for me to schedule time out with my friends!  This friend and I somehow only get to see each other every couple of months.  It’s great to catch up and get some mom time, without kids, in!

Eating:  Besides all the weekend fun and eating we’ve been cooking at home this week too!  Sunday I was craving eggplant parm.  My wonderful husband appeased my craving and made it for dinner.  Even the kids who claimed that they don’t like eggplant both had seconds of this!  Check out this Monday’s post for our weekly meal plan!

ICYMI this week on the blog:
2017 calendar
Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.

Wednesday I shared CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Alternatives.

Thursday I reviewed Great South Bay Brewery’s Blood Orange Pale Ale.

Linking up with Katie, Andrea and April!  Have a great weekend!

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Great South Bay Brewery: Blood Orange Pale Ale {Thirsty Thursday}

In the past, I’ve done a monthly six-pack review of new-to-us craft beer and ciders.  I’ve decided to switch things up and instead do a weekly “Thirsty Thursday” beverage feature.  These posts will include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and cocktail reviews for your reading and drinking pleasure!  Unfortunately, you probably won’t see a lot of wine reviews here since neither my husband or I are big drinkers of the stuff.

Our first Thirsty Thursday feature is Great South Bay Brewery’s Blood Orange Pale Ale.  The Great South Bay Brewery is a New York State brewery located off the south shore of Long Island.   Rick Sobotka, founder and brewmaster is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the small town of Apalachin, New York.  A graduate of Binghamton University, Sobotka is a board-certified Anesthesiologist and a fourth-generation brewer.  Founded in 2010, Great South Bay Brewery has a 4,000 square-foot Tasting Room with fourteen beers on tap.

Disclaimer:  I am not a beer drinker.  I’ll take a hard cider or fruity cocktail over a beer any day.  My husband who enjoys a beer now and then is by no means a craft beer expert.  But, he enjoys trying new beers and volunteering his thoughts! 

Review:  Great South Bay Brewery’s Blood Orange Pale Ale is an American Pale Ale.  Blood oranges are blended with the brewery’s original Pale Ale. It has a nice, golden color, reminiscent of the blood orange that it is named for. However, my husband didn’t think the blood orange flavor was particularly evident while drinking it.  While this beer is intended to be a summer beverage, it is available all year long.  My husband thought that this Blood Orange Pale Ale makes a good winter beer since he found it to be thick, smooth and comforting.

Verdict:  Recommend

 

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CSA Alternatives

It’s March.  Some parts of the country are still getting snow.  But, if you are thinking of joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), now is the time.  While thoughts of warm weather and juicy, sun-ripened tomatoes are at the back of our minds, local farmers are getting ready to start planting.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  By joining a CSA you are purchasing shares of vegetables and produce from a local farm.  When joining a CSA you pay upfront for a certain number of weeks (usually about 20 weeks from June – October) of produce.  While the price can be daunting, (approximately $600-$700 for the season) many farms provide payment plans to help ease the cost.  Each week you pick up your share of locally grown produce.  Most farm CSAs include only veggies.  However, other goodies like fruit, eggs, cheese, syrup and more can be added at an additional charge.

Joining a CSA has many benefits.  Since a CSA is provided by a local farm you are supporting local agriculture.  You are getting fresh produce, every week for a set number of weeks, the quality of which is far superior to anything found on a grocery shelf.  You also get to try new vegetables and/or experience different varieties of familiar favorites.

Last summer my family joined a CSA for the first time.  We experienced all of the benefits listed above and were introduced to new vegetables like mizuna and buttercup squash.  We joined a CSA that offered choices in the veggies we received each week.  For example, one week we could choose a bunch of swiss chard or kale and mix and match 2 pounds of several different varieties of peppers and/or eggplant.  It was fun taking the kids with me each week and having them see and help choose the vegetables.

However, this year we aren’t joining a CSA.  We plan on traveling a lot this summer.  Unfortunately, the CSA that we joined last year was for 20 weeks with a specific day and set times for pick-up.  We would end up missing too many weeks to make it monetarily worth it for us.  However, I still would like fresh, local veggies when we are home.  There is nothing better than a ripe tomato in the summer.  Add a slice of fresh mozzarella, some fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or olive oil and I’m in heaven!

So what are are some CSA alternatives?

Take a trip the Farmer’s Market

Many towns have a local farmer’s market.  It’s nice to wake up early on the weekend and stroll the various stands.   Farmer’s markets differ in number and types of vendors, so you may have to check out a couple before you find a favorite.  A benefit of farmer’s markets is that you can also pick up bread, cheese, eggs and even sometimes meat, jam, pickles or honey.  You are also able to talk with workers who may have helped plant and pick the lettuce you are buying!  Another benefit of visiting the farmer’s market is that you can see the produce and purchase the quantity and type of veggies that you want.

 

 Join a Local Produce Delivery Service

Field Goods is a year-round local produce delivery service that delivers to many areas of the northeast United States.  It’s a subscription service with four different size bags to choose from.  You choose a delivery location convenient to you and the produce bags are delivered there weekly for you to pick up.  They even deliver to workplaces, if enough employees sign up for delivery.  You can put your subscription on hold and restart any time.  The produce bags include both fruit and veggies and they also offer add-on items including artisan breads and dairy products.  Some other produce delivery services include Farmbox Direct, Hungry Harvest and Farm Fresh to You.  Do a quick Google search for “produce delivery” + your town or state and you will likely find several different options.  Almost all of these services work similarly to Field Goods.

Plant a Garden

If you have the time and space try planting a garden!  While this option requires a lot more work on your end, it is much more cost effective.  You can either start plants from seeds or buy starter plants from your local nursery or even Home Depot or Walmart.  We have a super tiny backyard with very little direct sunlight, so unfortunately planting a garden isn’t a viable option for us.  However, we do try to do some container gardening on our deck and grow herbs and tomato plants.

Are you joining a CSA this year?  Or are you choosing a CSA alternative?

 

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 70}

2017 calendar

Happy Monday and happy first day of Spring!  I hope you had a great weekend!  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 most importantly, the 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 family-friendly recipes that are quick and easy!  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.  Here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday:  We normally have homemade pizza on Friday nights, but last Friday I had made a Tater Tot Casserole instead.  Since we had the ingredients on hand, my husband made regular cheese pizzas for us Saturday evening.

Sunday: My husband made Turkey Meatball Subs on garlic bread which he served with roasted asparagus.  He doesn’t use recipes when he cooks, he just throws stuff together, like he did with the meatballs for these subs!

Monday: I made Turkey and Swiss Sloppy Joes from the January/February 2017 issue of Cooking Light.  From past sloppy joe making experience, hamburger rolls get soggy from the filling.  My kids hate a soggy roll so I ended up buying kaiser rolls instead. I thought it was too much bread for these sandwiches, so I served them open-faced.  I found the filling to be tasty and different from what you’d expect of a traditional sloppy joe.  The kids enjoyed this as well.  I served these with fries.

Tuesday: I adapted this recipe from With Salt and Wit and made Creamy Garlic Parmesan Tortellini instead of gnocchi.  I omitted the kale and cooked the tortellini in water instead of the chicken broth recommended in the recipe.  I feel like I’ve made a recipe very similar to this recently.  Overall, this was an okay, quick and easy dinner.  I probably won’t end up making it again though.  I served this with salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday: I adapted this Cooking Light, March 2017 recipe and made Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Pizza.  This was tasty and different from our normal cheese pizza.  Yes, homemade pizza twice in one week.  But there were no complaints!  And this one was very different in flavor than the cheese pizzas we had earlier in the week.

Thursday:  My husband prepped a whole chicken for the slow cooker before he went to work.  Then I heated up some leftover veggies from the week and served it with Simply Potatoes mashed potatoes.  My kids love these potatoes!  We haven’t cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker in awhile.  It’s so easy and tasty and we end up with lots of leftover chicken that can be used in other recipes.  I’ll be using some of the leftover chicken in a recipe this week, which you will see next in next Monday’s post!

Friday:  Since it was St. Patrick’s Day we had the traditional corned beef, cooked in the slow cooker.  We’ve adapted our St. Patrick’s dinner to included mashed red potatoes and sauteed cabbage and onions, instead of the traditional boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes.  My kids love corned beef so much that I buy a second one while there on sale this time of year and freeze it for another dinner.

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Friday Favorites {Happy St. Patrick’s Day}


Happy Friday and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  What a crazy, cold and snowy week it’s been.  We were hit hard by winter storm Stella and got almost two feet of snow dumped on us Tuesday.  The kids ended up with no school Tuesday and Wednesday and had a two-hour delay yesterday.  It’s nice to be back on a somewhat regular schedule after a couple of crazy days!  I haven’t been to the gym in a couple of days because of the weather (although I got plenty of arm and leg exercise from shoveling snow!) and I’m happy to be able to go to yoga class this morning.  So far we have no big weekend plans, which I’m happy about since we are expected to get a little more snow on Saturday.  I’m really hoping that the first day of spring on Monday brings some warmer weather!  Here is five from this week:

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1. Reading – I just finished Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley last night.  It was an interesting book about a woman who is allergic to people.  This isn’t a boy in the bubble type scenario.  She just cannot have physical contact with other humans.

2. Baking –  As much as I enjoy cooking, I’m not much of a baker.  However, snow days are perfect days for baking. I made Irish Soda Bread on Tuesday and Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Chips on Wednesday.  We’ve been eating the deliciousness all week!

3. Watching – The Bachelor Finale! I am SOOOO happy that Nick chose Vanessa!  I still have to watch the This Is Us season finale.  I’m kind of putting it off because I don’t want it to end yet!

4. Eating – This past weekend we dined as a family at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill in Cold Spring for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) lunch.  The kids (and the husband!) were jealous of seeing the pics of my restaurant outings.  So, we decided to go out as a family.  I ordered this Pappardelle with  rabbit and seedless grapes in a grappa sauce.  It was really good! I had the kids try it, since they’ve never eaten rabbit before.  They both said it tasted like chicken!

5.  Planning – I can’t believe that I am currently thinking about summer camp!  Camps around here are starting registrations already.   Spring isn’t officially even here yet (well, three more days!) and I have to think about summer?!!  We are trying to narrow down the kids’ choices and plan when and where we will be traveling this summer.

ICYMI this week:

2017 calendar

Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.

Life According to Steph

Tuesday I shared my February reads and joined the Show Us Your Books linkup.

Wednesday I reviewed Wise Korean Barbeque flavored potato chips and wrote about Korilla BBQ, the food truck that inspired the chip.

I’m linking up with Katie, Andrea and April!  Have a great weekend!

 

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Korilla BBQ inspired Korean Barbeque Potato Chips

I was super excited when I found these Wise Korean Barbeque flavored chips on a recent shopping trip at Shoprite. These potato chips were inspired by NYC’s Korilla BBQ food truck.  The Korilla BBQ food truck was started in 2010 serving items like burritos, rice bowls and salads topped with bulgogi, Korean BBQ pork, chicken or organic tofu.  The Korilla BBQ truck was even a contestant on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race.  Owner Edward Song created such a popular following that he is about to open his second brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown Brooklyn later this spring.   The new Brooklyn eatery will differ from his East Village restaurant in that it will also serve breakfast dishes like breakfast burritos and congee.  Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to try Korilla BBQ.  However, “a burrito with bulgogi and bacon kimchi fried rice” has my mouth watering just thinking about it.

Wise Korean Barbeque flavored potato chips combine two of my favorite foods, Korean BBQ and potato chips.  So, I had high hopes for these chips! These chips are tangy and sweet with a hint of smokiness and a bit of spice. However, if you tried one of these chips without looking at the bag, “Korean Barbeque” is not what would come to mind.We all enjoyed these chips but the spiciness may be a bit too much for some children.

These Korean Barbeque chips are part of Wise’s Food Truck Favorites line. The Food Truck Favorite line of chips was introduced in April 2016, creating chip flavors inspired by actual food trucks.  Other chips in this line include Beef Barbacoa Tacos inspired by Boston’s North East of the Border truck and Loaded Chili Cheese Dog which is inspired by NYC’s Papaya King Truck.

Verdict:  Give these chips a try!

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February Reads {2017}

Life According to Steph

It’s time once again to link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  I love seeing what everyone’s been reading and add a gazillion books to my ever growing to-read list.  Here is look at my February reads.  I only read seven books, however, the majority of them were four stars, which I’m okay with!  Quality definitely rules quantity for me any day.

3 Stars

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Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia – When Hattie Hoffman dies many secrets are uncovered about the high school girl when trying to find her killer.  Although this suspense book had the requisite twist at the end, I found it overall to be a slow read.

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Lucy and Josh work together at the same publishing company.  They are bitter rivals…..until of course, they weren’t.  This was an easy chick lit/contemporary romance read.  I wanted to like it more than I did…….but I didn’t.  It’s an okay read, especially for those who like the genre.

4 Stars

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The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – This psychological suspense book is told via two different girls, Emma (the past) and Jane (the present).  Both women end up living in the same house at One Folgate Street.  Living at the modern, minimalist house comes with lots of rules, which the women accepted after needing fresh starts in their lives.  Although the book wasn’t great, I gave it four stars since it had me guessing until the very end.  It’s also being turned into a movie but a release date hasn’t been announced yet.

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – This book is centers around a hit and run, and is told from the POV of main protagonist, Jenna Gray and the lead detective. I’m hating that every new suspense book has been dubbed the best thriller since Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.  This book is one of them. I honestly almost gave up on this book since it started off so slow.  It picked up mid-way through and then became a page-turner, so I’m glad I stuck with it.

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The One Thing by Gary Keeler –   I first listened to a couple of episodes of the podcast that is based on this book.  This is a great book on time management and productivity, focused more for those in the business sector.  However, I feel like I learned a lot from it and even recommended my husband read it.  The big take-away, no surprise here, is to focus on one thing and get it done.  They apply this to all different areas in your life – family, job, home, etc.

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Unbelievable by Sara Shepard – This is book number four in the Pretty Little Liars series.  I am continuing to read this series, managing about a book a month.  Not much to say about this one except that it’s total brain candy.

5 Stars

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Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult – Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  I hadn’t read a book of hers in awhile and after a long wait, finally got this book from the library.  This book is such a thought-provoking read about race and racism in America.  While race is a difficult subject it seems even more relevant in the current tumultuous times we are experiencing.  I highly recommend this read.

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Weekly Meal Plan {Week 69}

2017 calendar
Happy Monday! I hope you are adjusting to the lost hour of sleep better than I am!  Today is being fueled by lots of coffee!   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 most importantly, the 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 family-friendly recipes that are quick and easy!  If you are new to meal planning, read more about how I make my weekly meal plan.  Here’s a look at what was on our menu this past week:

Saturday – We ordered Moe’s takeout and brought it home to eat.  We like Moe’s but the service that night was horrible.

Sunday – We had pierogies, kielbasa and corn.  We did saute some onions but otherwise, it was just heating things up.  I grew up eating pierogies and kielbasa for dinner on a regular basis. We hadn’t had this for dinner in awhile and it was good!

Monday – I adapted a Cooking Light recipe for Chicken Stroganoff.  Only after starting to cook did I realize that this was a one pot recipe and I had already started cooking the noodles separately.  Somehow I adapted it enough to make it work.  I even think my way was quicker!  I always like a good stroganoff and enjoy variations on the traditional beef version.  This was tasty and we all enjoyed it.

Tuesday – I made Beef and Broccoli Ramen Stir Fry from Damn Delicious.  Instead of the refrigerated Yaki-Soba noodles the recipe called for, I used the dry ramen soup noodles.  I cooked up four packages of the noodles which was approximately the same amount of the refrigerated noodles the original recipe called for.  I also bought beef cut for stir-fry instead of the flank steak the recipe called for.  This recipe was super quick and easy.  It was flavorful and kid-approved!

Wednesday – My husband stopped at HMart, a Korean grocery store hear his office, and picked up some marinated pork belly.  I cooked this up and we had it with rice, roasted asparagus and dumplings.  This meal was more heating things up rather than actual cooking.  But it was tasty!

Thursday – I went out to dinner so my husband and the kids had leftovers, which we had plenty of!

Friday – I made Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole from Buns in My Oven.  It was snowy and cold on Friday so this was the perfect comfort food dish.  My husband was home and we cooked this together.   I couldn’t find a can of sloppy joe sauce, not realizing that Manwich is just sauce (I thought there was meat in the can!).  I ended up finding a sloppy joe sauce packet in the aisle with the gravy and meal sauce packets.  It worked out well.  I liked that it’s a one pan dish, which we made in our cast iron skillet.  It was quick, easy and tasty!

What is on your menu this week?

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Five on Friday {Losing an hour of sleep}

Happy Friday!  Don’t forget to “spring ahead” this weekend and set your clocks an hour forward Saturday evening (Sunday at 2 AM if you want to be technical!).  It doesn’t feel like spring around here.  The kids have a snow day today since we received some snow last night and it’s supposed to continue until the afternoon!  We’re also expecting another 3-5 inches on Tuesday! I’m so over winter!  We don’t have too much planned this weekend.  My daughter is going on a Girl Scout overnight camping trip tonight. Basketball season ended last weekend and we have a few weeks off before soccer starts up again.  Tomorrow night we’ll be going to the elementary school musical production and as of now Sunday is open.  Here is a look at five from this week:

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1. Reading – I am currently reading Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  After rave reviews of this author’s books on the Show Us Your Books link I’ve been slowly making my way through them all.

        

 

2. Eating – This week was a good week.  It’s currently restaurant week here in the Hudson Valley so I enjoyed both a 3-course lunch and dinner this week at area restaurants. My favorite lunch dish was this homemade pasta appetizer with crab, roasted yellow tomatoes and Calabrian chile from Chef Michael Psilakis’ MP Taverna.  My favorite dinner dish was this appetizer from The Cookery.  This doughnut filled with pork, BBQ onions and basil and topped with a spicy maple sauce was amazing!

3. Watching – I finally watched The Girl on the Train.  I read and enjoyed the book and was excited to watch the movie since most of it was filmed right here in Westchester County!  Overall though I found the movie to be “eh” and second-guessed why I had liked the book so much.

4. Bargain shopping – I’ve been trying not to do too much shopping.  However, when I get a 30% off coupon from Kohls I have to shop.  This week I went and was able to buy the kids’ winter coats for next year on clearance and an additional 30% off.  I also got my son a pair of Columbia boots for next winter as well.  I may have also bought a couple of shirts for myself!

5. Cooking – My life basically revolves around food.  Yes, I’m one of those people who while eating one meal is deciding what I’m going to eat for my next meal!  So besides eating out this week I was also cooking some quick and easy dinners.  Check out my weekly meal plan on Monday for the recipe for this Beef and Broccoli Ramen Stir Fry and more!

ICYMI this week on the blog:

2017 calendar

Monday I shared our weekly meal plan.

Wednesday I wrote about Maple Weekend 2017 here in New York.

I’m linking up with Katie, Andrea and April!  Have a great weekend!

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Maple Weekend 2017

When you sit down to eat a hot stack of freshly made pancakes, you pour real maple syrup on top, right?!  With over 2,000 maple sugar makers, New York is a large producer of pure, all-natural syrup.  Back in 1995 the New York State Maple Producers Association organized the first “Maple Sunday” to educate the public about maple syrup production.  22 years later and Maple Weekend continues!

This year Maple Weekend 2017 will be held on March 18-19 and March 25-26.  Over 160 farms and museums will open their sugar houses for tours, samples, family-friendly activities and more.  Now is a great time to see how maple syrup is made, restock your syrup supply and maybe also purchase some additional goodies like maple sugar candy. Some sugar houses are also hosting pancake breakfasts, for an additional charge.

You can read all about our experience at Crown Maple when we visited during NYS Maple Weekends in 2015.  This is a fun, family experience that we will be participating in again this year!