Friendsgiving

This weekend marked our FIRST appearance at Donny’s annual “Friendsgiving (formally known as Pre-Thanksgiving)” dinner and celebration.  Friendsgiving is a potluck dinner where everyone signed up to bring a different Thanksgiving themed dish or dessert.  All the perks of a Thanksgiving dinner without all the family drama… what a great idea, right?

Donny had Dave and I over all weekend and we got to help him prepare his dishes, have his help with the mashed potatoes I signed up to bring, and the best part of course was our trip to the Farmers Market in Baltimore and our 4-mile walk around the Harbor.

Donny is amaaaaaaaaaazing at cooking, and I had the best time ever learning from him and getting to use all of his fancy kitchen tools- including an infrared thermometer which is just about the most fun thing ever.

We got to try so many recipes… Turkey, Stuffing, Sweet Potato & Apple Soup, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Brussels Sprouts, Pies, Cookies, Cupcakes, and SOOOO MUCH MORE!  Check it out:

Sat night dinner… leftovers from Donny’s DELICIOUS Cassoulet… amazing

Retro Potato Ricer… so much fun… sooo messy!

Super yummy and easy recipe for Cranberry Sauce from Donny’s family

Our Mashed Potato-Butternut Squash Swirl w/ Sage Butter

Working hard!

So much yummy produce at the Farmers Market

Where else would you split a Falafel at 8:30am?!

The stuffing went so fast!

 

Heidi and Donny carving the turkey

What a spread!! (and that’s only half of it!!)

 

MMMM!!!

What are you making for your family’s Thanksgiving this year?

A Foodie Trip to Baltimore

My original plan for It’s Good to be the Cook was to do part recipes, part restaurants… and part travel.  Well, it’s true, 2 outta 3 ‘aint bad.

Times have been tough for both myself and my boyfriend Dave (or Dahv as I usually call him) for the past year.  We have been dating for almost four years and until 2012, we’ve taken too many trips to even count.  We’ve traveled to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas (for <2 days!), Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Florida, and even Israel.  We haven’t been able to travel in 2012 YET, but to keep ourselves sane, we’ve planned a ton of little day and weekend trips that are affordable yet awesome.

A few weekends ago now, we ventured down to Baltimore to visit Donny.  Donny is famous on It’s Good to be the Cook at this point.  Dave and I met Donny on our trip to Israel and have been able to keep in touch and visit with him often.  He is one of the smartest people I know, I can never beat him on Scramble with Friends, and he is the most fun foodie to be around.  Donny introduced me to Slab Bacon, Homemade Corned BeefWhite-Trash Creme Brulee Pie, and now the Baltimore JFX Farmers Market.  OMG.  I died and went to heaven.  Seriously.

Let me start at the beginning of our weekend.  We arrived in Baltimore on Saturday, early afternoon.  The first stop on the agenda was to Tortilleria Sinaloa, a teeny-tiny little Mexican Taco place not too far from Donny’s house.  There were maybe 8 seats in the entire place.  The rest of the space is taken up by a giant tortilla-making-machine.  YUM!  We ordered a few Tacos- I obviously had to choose one of each:  Chicken, Steak, and Pork.  Each taco was amazing, and the tortillas were fresh as fresh gets.  The salsas were spicy but flavorful.  I couldn’t decide which I liked better.

After shoving our faces with tacos, we walked around town for a bit.  Outside one of the bars, they had a table set up for $1 OYSTERS.  🙂  How cute?  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have DOLLAR OYSTERS ON THE STREET!

Dolla Dolla Oysters!

My only requirement for the weekend was that I had to have a “Crush”.  Crushes come in either Orange or Grapefruit, and are probably my favorite drink ever.  They are flavored Vodka (either grapefruit or orange), Triple Sec, Crushed ice, Soda, and FRESH SQUEEZED JUICE.  Like… they take a grapefruit… and muddle it all into the drink… then squeeze the juices of one in too.  MMMMMM!  They’re so refreshing!  We headed over to a really fun bar to satisfy my Crush craving- Alexander’s Tavern.  We grabbed 3 crushes and went upstairs to part of the bar that had tons of games.  We played shuffleboard & photo hunt and made friends with another couple from Philly.

Nothing like a Grapefruit Crush…

A few Crushes were crushed then we headed back to Donny’s to relax for a few minutes.  Next up, we went to a party with Donny’s co-workers in a gorgeous apartment.  These people had windows everywhere, such an amazing view of the city.  The three of us got a little hungry and went to Tapas Adela in Fells Point.  We enjoyed a pitcher of Sangria (which I made the boys drink) and a few tapas- Short Rib Flatbread, Blistered Padron Peppers, Crispy Artichokes, and Chilled Lemongrass Mussels.  We continued onto another bar, then not too long after took the walk home to catch up on some sleep for our BIG day coming up:  THE JFX FARMERS MARKET!

Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and VATS of the best Pickles out there.

I was amazed.  Donny is my new hero for introducing me to this amazing place.  There were several produce vendors, meat, cheese, pastries, dairy, seafood… anything and everything imaginable.  There were also so many vendors serving food to eat at the market we could hardly decide.  We shared a Gary’s Turkey Burger, a Garlic-Sage Biscuit (my favorite), and a pit-beef sandwich.  We also were introduced to the most delicious Ginger drink, with lime, mint, and blueberries.  It was super refreshing and I could have drank an extra one… despite how huge they were!

All of the ingredients ready to be filled up for the ginger drink

I wish I had this at home… and I’m not even a huge fan of Ginger!! Oh, the best part being that we’re drinking out of a giant Wonton Soup container 🙂

The best biscuit ever! Sage and Garlic Flavor. I could have eaten it all by myself…lol

Gary’s Turkey Burgers… so yummy!

Dave picked the open pit BBQ Sandwich… wow!

some amazing action at the JFX Farmers Market!

We had the best time ever, Donny won 1lb of free shrimp for trivia, we bought GIANT zucchinis, tomatoes, corn, goat chorizo, horseradish, beets, the best spicy pickles and olives ever, and so much more.  We dropped off our arsenal at Donny’s, then were back out on the town and headed for the Oriole’s game.  It couldn’t have been any hotter outside.  My clothes were literally sticking to me!

Despite the terribly humid weather, Camden Yards is one pretty cool place.  We had awesome seats up high behind home plate and (duh) ate some pretty awesome food… bacon on a stick!

This trip to Baltimore was one of the best yet, and now that I know about the farmers market… I’m sure we’ll be back really soon!

St. Patty’s Day in Baltimore

I hope everyone had a fun St. Patty’s Day! Dave and I celebrated the holiday in Baltimore at our friend Donny’s house. Donny has the best backyard ever and the weather was just beautiful for the day. Donny was celebrating his birthday and so many of his friends came out to spend the day. We had such a great time and his friends were all so outgoing and fun. Lots of green food and beer was consumed as expected, but I had to give a few foodie shoutouts…

1. Irish Soda Bread. I have never had this before but WOW is it good! I don’t know what makes it different from a regular raisin bread roll but it’s amazing. Donny served it with some Irish butter too.

Irish Soda Bread

2. Donny (this is the same Donny who cut his own slab of bacon during our last visit) cooked up his own Corned Beef. YUM! As if it was possible to be better than the meat itself, the potatoes and carrots that cooked alongside of it were unreal. I think I ate the entire plate of them. Whoops.

Donny's outstanding homemade corned beef

3. Reuben Rolls. Need I say more? Donny’s friend brought these over and they were gone almost immediately! She said it was so easy: a sheet of crescent rolls, some sauerkraut, swiss cheese and corned beef. Roll, slice, and bake. Top it off with some DIY Russian Dressing and enjoy! (Trust me, you will)

Reuben Rolls

4. And in case you missed it, my Green Hummus and Mint Chocolate Muddy Buddies were a huge hit as well.

As if lots of delicious food and drink isn’t enough for me, Donny’s friends brought their Daschund, Rory (short for Aurora). I spent the rest of the night playing around with Rory… she was dressed for the occasion and so adorable!

Heidi and Rory... adorable!

What did everyone else do or eat for St. Patty’s this year? Any good recipes to share?

Mama’s On The Half Shell…

… turtle power!  I just can’t help but sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles song in my head when I hear of Mama’s.  Mama’s On The Half Shell is an excellent seafood restaurant in the Canton area of Baltimore.  This was the second time I’ve been to Mama’s and I had quiet a different experience this time!

After my first dining experience at Mama’s, I was immediately hooked, considering it to be one of the best seafood places I’ve ever been to.  I couldn’t wait to go back (which is exactly why Donny took us there this weekend!).  I was right about one thing- the food is unbelievable.  The seafood is fresh, the menu is huge, and there is even OLDBAY on the table.

The brunch started out fantastic, finding out we only had a half hour wait we settled in at the bar and ordered some creatively garnished Bloody Marys and their signature Grapefruit Crush drink- with FRESH grapefruit juice.  After about 40 minutes, we were seated and were all excited about our choice to split a bunch of things and order a whole lot of food.  YUM!  We were so caught up in chatting that about 30-40 more minutes passed before we were even served our soup (which I was too hungry to remember to take a picture of).  We were told the kitchen lost our order and had to re-order.  The soup came out immediately but the rest of our meal took maybe another 30-40 minutes.  WTF!  This is not my idea of a “rush” order.  Our waitress avoided us for the rest of the time we were there.  We even had to ask to speak to the manager two times.  Although the food was outstanding, it was VERY hard to ignore the way we were treated and the fact that we had been there from 10:50am-1pm.  Not cool.

Now that I’m done ranting, you can drool over the FABULOUS food we eventually got to eat.  Donny even convinced Dave and I to try raw Oysters, which we both liked!

3 types of Raw Oysters

The best crabcake... ever

Sauteed Scallops over a Potato Pancake and Creamed Spinach... so creative and so tasty

Crispy Fried Oysters