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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Father’s Day is just around the corner, so I’ve put together a few fun baskets in this gift guide. Sure you can go with grill tools and hot sauces, but I thought I’d give a different spin on things. For Mother’s Day, everyone talks about breakfast in bed. Me personally, I don’t want to eat in my bed, but I like the breakfast theme.

This first basket has bagels from the place of your choosing – these happen to be Bruegger’s but there are so many great places to get bagels in the city: Bagelsaurus, Davis Square Donuts and Bagels, and Pavement Coffeehouse to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget the cream cheese!

Cold brew coffee is big these days – why not treat dad to a fun sampling. I picked these up at Brother’s Marketplace in Weston, but you can find them in your local market or even at Target. Our favorites are Stumptown and La Colombe – but even Starbucks and Dunkin’ make a grab a go cold brew option.

I love a good breakfast sandwich – my go to spot when I am not making them at home is Cafe Fresh Bagel (not only are they enormous, they are made fresh to order). My friend Leah introduced me to Mulay’s sausage, which would make a tasty addition to any home made sandwich.

I’m totally obsessed with the Trader Joe’s “everything but the bagel sesame seasoning blend” – I put it on popcorn, used it when I roasted pumpkin seeds, and sprinkle it generously on bagels and cream cheese at home.

I’ve been big into maple syrup these days – testing them out – I had a whole post in the works, and missed maple season this year so I will have to shelve it until next year. “Fancy” syrup can make a good addition to this breakfast basket – bonus points if you make waffles or pancakes on Father’s Day. Runamok Maple makes syrup in flavors like smoked with pecan wood, bourbon barrel aged, cinnamon and vanilla infused and even a ginger root infused flavor.

And when the food is all gone, I always like to have something to remember the day with – so I threw in this cute sriracha pin from Pintrill.

Father’s Day and grilling just seem to go hand in hand, but what about a fun picnic? Pack up some sweet and salty treats and take your dad out to the Boston Common (or the beach) for a day of fun and relaxation.

Salt and pepper peanuts are the way to my heart – but I’m sure my dad would love them too! We picked these up from Formaggio Kitchen.

This Maine Made rope beer bottle opener is the gift that keeps on giving – throw it on a six pack of dad’s favorite beer this year and he’ll have it to use for years to come. I picked this one up at Wescott Mercantile in Belmont. I literally want to buy everything in the store!

Other fun snacks include my favorite ‘cookies’, Effie’s oatcakes, a little sweet, but can certainly be savory if you pair them with cheese!

Speaking of savory, EPIC makes a great line of bites that dad is sure to love –  choose from flavors like sweet and savory boston and uncured bacon, hickory smoked uncured bacon and pork, sweet sesame ginger tender chicken bites and maple glazed and smoked tender salmon bites.

Leah introduced me to a new company recently, Waltham Popcorn. Choose from flavors like butter and salt, orange cheddar, caramel, white cheddar and kettle corn.

I love everything that the Happy Chocolatier makes. Their signature Cubze line makes a great gift on its own, but I liked these milk chocolate potato chip cups for this basket – the ultimate sweet and salty combination.

Recently, an old friend introduced me to Patty Mac’s. This fairly new, local company puts out some seriously delicious bread and butter pickles and the pickled jalapeños have a good strong kick to them! Add them to your favorite grilled treat or sandwich this summer – you won’t be sorry. Right now you can find them online – but follow them on social media to see where they might be popping up next!

And finally, for that dad who loves to cook, ‘A Little Taste of Cape Cod” by Annie B. Copps is a beautifully illustrated cookbook that features classic Cape Cod dishes like fried clam rolls, corn pudding, baked stuffed lobsters, Portuguese sweet bread.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. What are you getting your dad this year?

My friend Leah is the absolute best. Last weekend, these two moms packed our bags and ran away from home! No kids, no husbands – just a weekend worth of quiet time, good laughs and of course, great food. So we headed over to Logan Airport to catch our Cape Air flight. I’ve been to Nantucket a handful of times, but always took the fast ferry (Leah prefers the slow ferry). The plane is quite small, it seats maybe 10 and prepare yourself, they ask for your weight at check in 😉 It’s a bumpy ride today – generally I am a good with small planes, but this one really made my stomach do somersaults. And just as we land, the guy in front of me proceeds to vomit – great start right?!?

We are staying at the beautiful Harborview Nantucket Hotel. The property hosts 11 luxurious cottages that range from 1-4 bedrooms. As you can see, just steps from the water and a short walk into town, the best of both worlds! We stayed in the “Crow’s Nest”, a two bedroom cottage with one bedroom on the main floor and one bedroom on the upper floor. Each had its own private bathroom, a second sitting room upstairs, a full kitchen with stove, microwave and dishwasher and a washer and dryer in unit. You can request a fire to be built at night – which we did, and it certainly made the cottage feel like home. The cottage also has a widow’s walk – so you (and by you, I mean Leah) can go up early in the morning and watch the sun rise.

General Manager Morag, and her husband Matt run the property seamlessly. They arranged to pick us up at the airport, sent us a list of restaurants that were open for the season, set up our tour at Cisco Brewery and answered all of our questions.

Famished from our plane ride, we popped into The Nautilus for a bite to eat. Open for both lunch and dinner, this rustic restaurant has classic New England dishes with hints of Asian flavors. They make their own bitters and syrups for cocktails and of course, they make their own delicious pickles. Everything on the menu looked delicious, and our eyes were certainly bigger than our stomachs, but we ordered a little bit of everything: the prime cheeseburger, the blue crab fried rice, the fried chicken drumettes and I’ll admit that I even had some of the salad – that dressing was so good! Stay tuned for a full review.

If you know me at all, you know I did my research before we took this trip, and I wrote down all of the bakeries and sweet shops I hoped that we would visit. I had been to Petticoat Row before, but was pleasantly surprised by all the fun treats for Daffy weekend (April 27-29). Fun iced sugar cookies in the shapes of daffodils, and cute little pink and yellow whale cookies. I tried out the morning bun and it did not disappoint. Another fun thing if you are on island for Daffy weekend, stop in and pick up one of these cute picnic baskets for the beach – or the ferry ride home. You can order sandwiches and salads – fruit and drinks, and of course some delicious sweets. Leah ordered a $40 basket and it came packed with two sandwiches, 2 side salads, 2 pieces of fruit, a Nantucket Nectar, and a bunch of cookies – so cute! We thought we would add a Cisco beer and a bottle of wine just for fun. Again, full review coming soon.

For dinner, I chose the Greydon House. The luxury hotel was on Conde Nast’s Traveler’s 2017 Hot List – it has 16 luxury rooms and suites – designed by the same people that did The Ace and The Standard Hotel in New York. No wonder it felt familiar! Chef Marcus Ware has a well rounded menu and it was certainly one of the better meals I have had in a LONG time. We started off by sharing the fusilli pasta with veal ragout – so savory – I could have eaten my body weight in this dish! We shared the caramelized sea scallops with English peas, broccoli and yuzu vinaigrette and the grilled black angus steak with crispy smoked potatoes and bernaise sauce. The potatoes were smooth and creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and that steak was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of salt. We ended the night on a high note with the baked Alaska – chocolate and mint ice cream with lady fingers – torched meringue and strawberry. I couldn’t get enough of the strawberry puree – so delicious. Service was excellent – a must try if you are on the island.

We had the next morning free so we decided to rent a Jeep and head out to the lighthouse. We headed into town and picked up this baby at Young’s. We drove to the Northern most lighthouse, Great Point. You can access it by foot – but it’s a 7 mile walk on the beach, or take a Jeep with a beach permit sticker. We had to let out the air in the tires and popped the Jeep into 4 wheel drive. Leah was at the wheel – I was in charge of photos. We brought breakfast with us and enjoyed eating with the seals that were taking a little nap in the sun. Don’t forge to fill up the tires on the way out!

For breakfast, we had stopped at the Downyflake, a family run diner that I can only imagine is packed in peak season. They serve breakfast and lunch – we took some egg sandwiches to go – which totally hit the spot. And how can you leave without trying some of their homemade doughnuts. Try the sugar coated, the chocolate covered, the maple glazed, the coconut or the plain for just 90 cents each! Don’t forget your cash though, they don’t accept cards (ATM is on site if you need it).

Next stop in the afternoon was Cisco Brewers for a tour and some sampling. We brought our own lunch because the food truck wasn’t open for the season yet – stop in at Bartlett’s Farm next door for a sandwich (we had a Cuban sandwich that was just what we needed after an afternoon of sampling!) Back to the brewery – there’s a free shuttle from the Nantucket Visitor’s Center on Federal Street (check websites for times) which I would recommend, as parking is very limited. We were lucky enough to have Matt from the Harborview drive us over and pick us up. We had a fantastic tour guide – with a witty personality and heavy pour (perks of the last tour of the day?).

For dinner we mentioned to Matt and Morag that we were thinking of the Proprietor’s Table for dinner – they happened to be going there as well so we knew that it would be a good meal! A great menu filled with mostly small plates to share at the table – we had the carrot hummus, the kimchee pancake, the shishitos and the braised short rub cannelloni (which was a larger dish). The restaurant had a cool vibe – everything made you feel like you were in a friend’s garden for dinner – mismatched china plates, cutlery in mason jars – really home-like. The naan for the hummus was probably my favorite part of the dish – and I loved the flavor of the hummus. Star might have been that house made twinkie on the bottom right – a lemon poppyseed cake filled with strawberry. YUM!

Other quick side notes – we stopped into the Nantucket Bake Shop for some treats – we were there close to closing time, so there wasn’t much left. They have an old school feeling about them – pick up some classic pastries or a Jamaican patty for lunch!

We also stopped into Wicked Island Bakery and picked up some adorable sugar cookies made by Amy Hinson. Whale cookies and cookies shaped like the island with a cute daffodil flourish on them will make you the envy of all the other picnic go-ers on Daffy weekend. They didn’t have the morning buns when we were there, but they do sell to the Handlebar Cafe, where was got to try one – they’re made from scratch with pure Vermont butter and Tahitian vanilla – they’re gooey on the inside and sugary perfection on the outside! I also picked up an apple pastry which was pretty darn tasty as well. In the mood for something savory? They have breakfast sandwiches and pizzas as well.

On our last morning on the island, I took Leah to the Brant Point Grill for brunch – it’s located inside the White Elephant hotel. The brunch is AMAZING – so much delicious food to choose from. While Leah had stayed at the White Elephant before, she had never eaten there – so I was excited that I got to introduce her to at least ONE new thing! They’re open 10-2 on Sundays for brunch and have tasty items like lobster scrambled eggs, chicken and dumplings (I am still dreaming about this dish), a fresh raw bar, desserts as far as the eye can see, and even an ice cream cart for the kids! We happened to go on a day where they were having a charity event – so all proceeds went to Community Sailing and Nantucket’s Science Center. The weather was perfect and we sat for a long time – eating our way through the buffet and watching the ferry come in.

Thanks to Leah for being the best!

Have you been to Nantucket? What’s your go – to spot?

 

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I’m always on the hunt for a good breakfast spot. Big Apple is located just over the Marlborough line and the prices can’t be beat. I have to admit that it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the packed parking lot every weekend should be a hint that they’re serving up some good food. I recommend going early – as it can fill up pretty quickly.

The egg sandwiches were the way we decided to go – $2.95 for an egg and cheese and $4.45 for an egg and cheese with either sausage or bacon. Pretty tasty! What else is on their menu? Omelets, eggs benedict, pancakes, mini potato cakes and waffles to name just a few things. Kids can get 2 pieces of French toast, 2 pancakes or 1 egg and their choice of meat for $5.95 (drink included).

Lunch items include sandwiches (pastrami, egg salad, ham, tuna, etc.), burgers, salads and wraps. Kids can order chicken fingers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, mozzarella sticks or a flatbread pizza for $5.95. Big Apple is open 7 days a week from 6am – 2pm.

Big Apple

890 Boston Post Road E, Marlborough, MA

www.bigapplerestaurant.net

Big Apple Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Growing up in the area as a kid, I have memories of spending my high school days with my friends at Friendly’s. The service was always horribly slow, but it was a place to go and hangout with friends or to celebrate after a sporting event. When Da Vinci Bistro moved into the former Friendly’s space, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, but when you walk in the front door, you can’t even imagine that a Friendly’s was there in the first place. The decor is sleek and modern and the food is tasty. We went early one night with the family – they offer mac and cheese or spaghetti for the little ones. We started with the arancini ($9), risotto balls with mozzarella served with pomodoro sauce. While they were rich in flavor, they still felt light and crispy.

For my main course I had the bolognese ($18). The house made rigatoni was tossed with a sauce made up of tomatoes, ground sirloin and red wine. Certainly a stick to your ribs kind of meal. Other offerings on the menu include dishes like spaghetti all vongole, tortellini ai quattro formaggi, lasagna and gnocchi. If pasta isn’t what you’re in the mood for, they offer dishes like chicken parmesan, beef tenderloin and salmon.

Service was good. The tables felt a little tight, and while they do offer a children’s menu, I would recommend leaving the kiddos at home (unless you go when they first open – but even then, it felt a bit uncomfortable).

Da Vinci Bistro is now open for lunch Friday – Sunday and they have a 3 course menu every Monday – Wednesday for $29 per person. Reservations can be made online with Reserve or by calling the restaurant. Parking is available in the lot next to the restaurant. You can visit their sister restaurant Da Vinci on Columbus Ave in Boston or their other sister restaurant Soul of India on Boston Post Road in Sudbury.

Da Vinci Bistro

457 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA

www.davincibistro.com

Da Vinci Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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It’s no secret that I love the biscuits at Sweet Cheeks – and oooh that honey butter makes my heart skip a beat. They recently introduced breakfast into their repertoire – choose from a pork belly, egg and cheese for $8, a sausage, egg and cheese for $8 or just  an egg and cheese for $6. Customers can pair their sandwich with Dan Raia’s hash browns ($4) and a cold brew coffee. Not feeling that breakfast sandwich? Pick up some plain biscuits and honey butter for just $3.50 each.

Breakfast is available for take out only, Monday – Friday, 8am – 11am. Hurry in and get your sandwich because the last day is April 5th! Because you know that once the Red Sox are back in town, all things Fenway will be crazy!

Let me just tell you that this is the most decadent breakfast – I had the sausage, egg and cheese and it was ENORMOUS! The sausage was well seasoned and generous in size and the eggs were fluffy and light. The hash browns had a really nice crisp on the outside that I really liked!

Where’s your go – to breakfast spot?

Disclaimer: Sweet Cheeks provided me with a complimentary breakfast. All opinions are my own.

Sweet Cheeks

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

www.sweetcheeksq.com

 

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It’s been a while since I last blogged, so I bet you thought that I forgot about Easter! I’m back, just in time for some last minute Easter basket ideas. While last year I focused on some really great candy/food options, this year I wanted to focus on baskets for kids that were a little older (with less of a focus on sweets). My mother in law is firmly in camp “team cavity” – I’m not really comfortable with so much sugar.

For my first basket, I used my Pottery Barn small basket with blue gingham liner – bought these last year on super sale the day after Easter – I think they were 50% off – so it was a steal!

Armitron sent Nancy this cool watch to review – and at $35 the price is right. I love the idea of watches in an Easter basket, but if that’s too high of a price point, I would go with sunglasses. Babiators are always a good choice and I picked up some cute ones for my kids (I think they were $12, at Nordstroms).

Did you know that if you are a AAA member, you can get discounted movie tickets? This pack of 4 was $38. Perfect for a fun family day out.

Temporary tattoos seem to be really popular with teens and tweens these days. I picked up some really cute ones from Tattly but you can easily pick some up at your local 5 Below store or even Target. I love the Very Hungry Catapiller tattoos from Tattly – Eric Carle is one of our favorite authors!

Crayons are always a great idea – you can never have too many. How cute are these? The vintage style box and the sharpener in the back make these a winner. Oh and they’re only $4.99. But I pick up boxes for $1 at my 5 Below store – you just can’t beat a dollar!

The therapy dough is so cool – it’s stamped with”pinch me” on the actual dough too! While lavender is usually too strong of a scent for me, this was actually quite mellow. We found this at Quinstance in Lynnfield. A substitute could be some Play-Doh – I have seen really affordable packs at Target at at my local T.J.Maxx. Just like crayons, you can never have too much Play-Doh at home.

I couldn’t completely leave out sweets from this basket, so I chose some Cotton Candy popcorn, and two types of chocolates. The Cotton Candy popcorn was from Coast Maine Popcorn Co. They have out of the box flavors like black licorice, cotton candy, apple pie a la mode and red hot cinnamon to name a few. Oh, but they also have your classic favorites and some with chocolate – so you can get something for everyone. You could even make your own if you wanted – drizzle on some chocolate, add some candy and put in a super cute bag with a ribbon!

The chocolates with the  pretty patterns on them are from Serenade Chocolatier in Brookline, a cute little shop specializing in European style chocolates.

My new favorite chocolates may be those “Cubze” from the Happy Chocolatier. Back in my PR days, when Valentine’s Day would come around, we would all have a box of these on our desks in the morning from my boss. Each truffle is hand wrapped with an inspirational message about happiness inside. Makes you feel good about eating chocolate! Located in Acton, owner Paul McMahon left his job in corporate to pursue his love for chocolate. The shop has a wide variety of choices – there is something for everyone! Did I mention that the Acton shop also serves ice cream, year round? You can even get a Cubze Parfait – your choice of ice cream layered with your favorite Cubze flavor and garnished with whipped cream and a chocolate drop.

For my second basket, again, I used a Pottery Barn small Easter basket with a madras lining. I love the prints and look forward to using them year after year.

In this basket I picked up these cute bunny ears from the dollar bin at Target. Super cute way to dress up the basket, and my kids will use it for dress up year round.

My kids use bubbles like there is no tomorrow – I kid you not, I probably have 2 gallons of bubbles in my basement for this upcoming season! I found these personal sized ones at Target – Blitz is my go to brand for bubbles, they just work the best!

Mad Libs were always a favorite thing of mine growing up as a kid – I picked up one for this basket, but you could easily swap it our for a coloring book or an activity book if you have younger kids. Check your local dollar store or 5 Below store for inexpensive options. I’ve seen coloring books for $1 at Party City and Target has some good choices as well. If you don’t want to do books, you could always throw in some stickers. My kids used stickers like we have an endless supply. I don’t even buy “good/expensive” ones anymore – Michael’s has a whole section of stickers that come in books that are a $1. Perfect. Target’s dollar spot also has some good sticker options, but I find it can be hit or miss.

My kids recently told me they “hate baths”. A) where did you even come up with that and B) where did you learn the word hate?! So we try to find inventive ways to get them to take baths. We love the Kneipp pink princess bubble bath, which Leah got us hooked on. They only come in sample packs and they run $4 a packet. I stock up when they have sales, but even at 50% off, that’s still pricey. We love the expandable sponges for the bath but we have been recently introduced to bath balms. I picked up the Rubber Duck one at Paper Store and since unicorns are so in these days, we had to get one of those too. While they are still pricey, 3 for $20 (sale price), it mixes things up for bath time. I’ve seen people make their own – so if you’re crafty like that (I’m not), give that budget friendly option a try!

While I talked about crayons in the other basket, I found these really fun name crayons on Etsy. These are made by Art 2 the Extreme and are perfect not only for Easter, but for birthdays or other events. They have name crayons and some super fun shapes too – how cute is the peep crayon? Prices vary by number of letters in the name.

With all the snow we have been getting, I am seriously itching to get the kids outside. In addition to the bubble blower we have, chalk is one of those things that can keep my kids occupied for a long period of time. I found this company, Twee, that sells the most adorable chalk I’ve ever seen. As I mentioned, we are big into unicorns these days, so the obvious choice here was the unicorn horn chalk, but they come in other shapes like donuts and even sushi!! Prices range from $8 – $22.

I thought that the egg shaped EOS lip balms we a perfect addition to the basket. They come in all different colors and flavors. You don’t have to pick up this particular brand, I was in Target the other day and found a really cute Lip Smacker Disney Tsum Tsum Star Wars Storm Trooper that my son absolutely adores.

Nail polish is always a fun choice for the kids – I picked up various shades of pink and some fun glitter top coat. Essie and Opi are two of my go to brands, you can pick them up at your local Target or even at CVS.

And my one sweet for this basket is the Happy Chocolatier’s milk chocolate m&m bunny. At $4.25, this was a good buy – I would rather give the kids one “good” piece of chocolate than lots of “junky” candy.

So that’s it for this year, leave a comment and let me know what you love to full your Easter baskets with!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The only item that was sponsored was Nancy’s Armitron watch – all other products were purchased at full retail. As always, all opinions are my own.

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I had been wanting to try honeygrow for quite some time now. A few months back, Leah and I were in the Seaport and we were going to get some takeout after we went to Babbo for lunch. By the time we got out from lunch, the line at honeygrow was around the store, outside, and down the street – so we resolved to go another time.

We headed out to the Fenway location, and it was much less crowded. When you walk in you are greeted by terminals where you place your order. Choose from their suggested pairings or create your own. I went with the sesame garlic stir fry with egg white noodles – it came with naturally raised beef, mushrooms, broccoli, scallions, and sesame seeds. For the kids, I ordered egg white noodles with a bunch of veggies and they were happy as can be.

The fast casual concept for restaurants is on the rise – pick your base: egg white noodles, whole wheat noodles, brown rice or lettuce cups. Choose a sauce: spicy garlic, sweet soy five spice, sesame garlic, red coconut curry, or roasted garlic tahini. Proteins include: roasted spicy tofu, cage free eggs, all natural roast pork, all natural roast chicken, naturally raised beef, roasted shrimp or togarashi spicy turkey. Throw on your favorite veggies and you have your perfect lunch. honeygrow might be my favorite of all the new fast casual options – I gobbled this all up!

For dessert, make your own, using fresh fruit, honey, and house made whipped cream. Choose from strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, apples, bananas, and other seasonal fruits. Top with coconut shavings, dark chocolate chips, granola or local plain yogurt. I loved the wildflower honey, but you could certainly go with the buckwheat or the clover. It almost makes you feel good about dessert!

The restaurant is basically self serve – you order at the terminals, find a table, and go to the counter to get your food when your number is called. There were people floating around at the terminals if you needed help with ordering and people in the seating area helping out with cleaning up. The room is spacious and got some great light from the floor to celling windows in front. Parking can be found on the street at meters.

honeygrow

1282 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

www.honeygrow.com

honeygrow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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New to the Seaport  is Mastro’s Ocean Club, a steakhouse chain with locations in AZ, CA, FL, IL, NV, NY, and TX. We decided to go out with two other couples that I have known since high school. Just a fun excuse to get a little dressed up and out of the house with no kids! We arrive a bit early and wait at their enormous bar in the front of the restaurant. The tables are beautifully set and the room is one open floor plan with a separate private dining space in the back. I like steak as much as the next person, but feel like steak houses are where you might go if you wanted to impress a client for work. For the money, I think I could get a better meal elsewhere – but again, just my opinion. Appetizers are in the $20 range, while steaks will run anywhere from $45-$62. Sides are in the $12 range with a few more expensive options such as the lobster mashed potatoes and the Alaskan King Crab black truffle gnocchi.

We started with a half dozen oysters – lovely presentation, but a bit too sandy for our taste and for the price.  Other appetizer options on the menu include: shrimp cocktail,  lobster cocktail, king crab claws, caviar, smoked salmon, fried calamari and sautéed sea scallops. They also have a sushi selection – we ordered the jalapeño tuna sashimi, beautifully presented – almost like a layer cake.

Service was definitely attentive, we had one head server and a handful of others that were always close by for anything we might need. We had a good laugh at a the table when my friend was asking about the steaks. Our server mentioned that it was grass fed beef and she thought he had said it was breast fed beef (she couldn’t imagine how that worked…) – guess you had to be there 😉

I ordered the huge 22oz bone in rib eye which was cooked perfectly. The steaks were brought to the table and the servers helped serve the sides. I just feel like for over $50 for my entree, my plate should be wiped before it comes out – it just looked sloppy for the restaurant.  For sides we ordered the gnocchi, the Brussels sprouts, and the sugar snap peas. The gnocchi was rich and carbs were definitely needed for this meal. My favorite were the sugar snap peas, crisp as can be!

Even though I felt stuffed from the enormous amount of meat we just consumed (I even brought some home), of course we had to get some dessert. Mastro’s is known for their signature warm butter cake – and let me tell you, it’s magical. I found this recipe online for a copycat recipe from Savvy in the Kitchen and can’t wait to see how it compares! Let me tell you, with one bite you can just tell that there is a ton of butter in this cake – it is so rich in flavor!

We also ordered the key lime pie – an enormous slice with that delicious crumb crust – tart and sweet, perfectly balanced and a great way to end the meal.

We had a reservation at 6pm and stayed until about 8 – our waiter asked us politely if he could help us with our valet tickets (hint, hint). The restaurant at 8pm was definitely bustling – if you want a peak time reservation, it would be in your best interest to make reservations in advance.

Mastro’s Ocean Club

25 Fan Pier Boulevard, at 22 Liberty Boston, Boston, MA

www.mastrosrestaurants.com

mastro's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I have tons of memories of late night eating at IHOP in my college days – the one that used to be open in Kenmore Square and then the one that was on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton. Such a novelty to be able to go somewhere at 3am and help cure those cravings.

They recently opened an IHOP on Route 9 in Framingham. Every time I drive by on the weekends, it’s packed, with a line out the door. I figured it was new, so it must be shiny and clean on the inside. My kids had been begging for pancakes one night, so I caved and we went. Early bird dinner hour was pretty quiet, just a few other families in there with us. I feel like IHOP is one of those places that you never want to see with the lights on….kind of like your favorite bar. Do you really want to see what goes on “behind the curtain”? With more people working there than actual customers, you would think that the place would be super clean – but there were wrappers and food under the tables and finished plates waiting to be cleared from empty tables.

Let’s move on to the food. The buttermilk pancakes are pretty good – I mean, how can you mess those up right? As for the specialty pancakes, let me tell you that they don’t look anything like the pictures on the menu (but did I think they really would?). That photo on the bottom right, red velvet waffles. Hint, they weren’t even red. They offer some good combo meals where you can get eggs, pancakes, meat and potatoes. If you’re over 55, you can get some good deals as well, with entrees coming in at $5-$7.

On our recent trip there, we ordered meals for the kids – the meals come with unlimited drinks – so I ordered a hot chocolate for them. Meanwhile, when the bill came, I was charged $3. I asked the server about it, and he said, “oh well, I gave you a large and that’s why I charged you”. My feeling is, yes, but if my kid had three hot chocolates, it would be the same size as your ‘large’ and you shouldn’t charge me for it since it comes with the meal. He didn’t seem to understand and I wasn’t going to fight him over $3, but it seemed a little shady.

Parking is conveniently located in a lot out front. Service is “acceptable” at best, but don’t go in if you are in a rush.

IHOP Framingham

17 Edgell Road, Framigham, MA

IHOP Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Lately I’ve been a home-body. I’ve been cooking up big batch meals so I don’t have to cook every night, and to be honest, we have been eating out a lot too – I’m just tired by the end of the day, aren’t you?

In my head, winter should be over – I mean, we have had the big snow, it has been a frozen tundra, and just recently I was able to see grass again. Isn’t February the longest month? It’s around this time when I get a little stir crazy and need a vacation. Hopefully all this snow we just got will melt on Tuesday when it’s 60 degrees out.

I’m all about quick and easy – so these cute little single serve Key lime pies have been pretty popular in my house these days.  They are sweet and tart, and just bring a little brightness to this winter. I like Key Lime pies because they are 3 ingredients and take no time at all to make. I use Nelly and Joe’s Key West Lime juice (I may have even picked it up at Bed Bath and Beyond with my 20% off coupon). Here’s the recipe, super easy:

14oz can of sweetened condensed milk

3 egg yolks (don’t use the whites)

1/2 cup of Key West lime juice

Directions: Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Pour filling into pre-made graham cracker pie shells. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before placing in refrigerating.

Viola! Done. Take out and top with whipped cream and sprinkle with a little lime zest and you have yourself one fancy looking, it looks like I spent all day in the kitchen, dessert.

Enjoy!

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