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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

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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Mom Nonmi is Chef Chris Chung’s latest venture in Cambridge. You may know him from his time at Clio and Uni, or even his most recent (now closed) restaurant, AKA Bistro in Lincoln. Momi Nonmi is a modern Izakaya and features lots of gluten free options. Leah, Fiona and I decided to meet for lunch one day and we wanted to try one of everything on the menu! Above is the shokado bento ($29) that is a sampling of 9 different creations. It changes daily, sometimes hourly, depending on what is fresh. How beautiful is the presentation?

The wagyu dumplings were as delicious as can be. Sukiyaki consume, mushroom and daikon.

The deconstructed oyako dip was amazing (bottom in the middle). The chicken was fried perfection and it was served with a poached egg and onion.

Momi Nonmi is open for lunch on Fridays and for brunch on both days of the weekend. Late night service is offered Thursday – Saturday. Parking is on the street at meters. The restaurant is on the smaller side, reservations for peak times would probably be a good idea.

Momi Nonmi

1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

www.mominonmi.com

momi nonmi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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My friend, and fellow blogger, Niri told me about this place Nzuko a while back and I had been meaning to get there for some time. You would probably drive right past it if you didn’t know about it, it’s in a strip mall, sandwiched between a pizza place and a bagel shop. Nzuko brings influences from the Mediterranean and Carribean and uses super fresh ingredients.

They offer a bunch of vegan options (that my friend Nancy’s daughter would be a fan of) as well as a nice selection of kebab options, fresh salads and wraps. Many choices are organic or gluten free. I was debating about the chicken options (see below), but ultimately went with the vegetable stir fry option (topped with an egg of course). How super healthy of me – who dis?

Nzuko Chicken

Chicken marinated in Lolo’s unique spice blend with a tomato and red wine aroma

Jerk Chicken

Jerk spiced chicken arousing Caribbean vibes

Curry Chicken

Chicken marinated in turmeric and curry seasoning

Chicken Kebab Plate *New*

Chicken kebab on a bed of salad paired with pita bread + Dinner Kebab Plate comes with two kebabs

Yaya’s Chicken *New*

Lightly healthy-crusted baked chicken with a Greek touch (Limited Item)

I’m sure I will be back to try them out – everything on the menu sounded quite tasty. For the main entrees, lunch is served with rice and two plantains. Dinner portions include rice, three plantains and veggies. Service was excellent, the woman at the register talked us through the options and made some good suggestions (oh that mushroom rice). We basically had the place to ourselves for an early lunch – although it started to get a bit more crowded as we were leaving.

Nzuko

341 Cochituate Road, Framingham, MA

www.nzukorestaurant.com

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