November 30, 2011

Old Florida

This past weekend, we ventured to Ponce de Leon Springs near Deland to show Mike's mom a little bit of what my mom likes to call "Old Florida".

Many visitors that come to our state, especially to Orlando,  just think of Florida as only having palm trees and Mickey Mouse ears.  Quite the contrary!  There are so many hidden gems around the Orlando area that are worth exploring! This is one of them.


DeLeon Springs is a beatiful state park, named after the legendary Spanish explorer, located about an hour north of Orlando.  The restaturant located inside of the park recreation area, The Old Spanish Sugar Mill, is a unique restaurant that serves in a fun and unusaul way. 

Inside of the restaurant, originally constructed to crush sugar came, each of the tables has a griddle inset in the middle.  It is famous for being able to pour and flip your own pancakes right at your table. 

There are two different homemade pancake batters provided - a stone ground mixture of five different flours and an unbleached white.

DeLeon Springs-1

Although the restaurant is known for pancakes, breakfast sides, salads and sandwiches are also available. 

We opted for an order of eggs as well to add some protein to our meal and cooked them on the griddle with the pancakes. 


The pancake batter comes to the table in adorable handmade pitchers that are also available for purchase in their gift shop - so cute!


They also offer many toppings for the pancakes to fancy them up a bit. 

Toppings available:
peanut butter
chocolate chips

DeLeon Springs2-1

We tried them all. 

I, of course, loved the peanut butter on top, but was very surprised with the applesauce topping.  It was declicious!  It tasted like an apple pie pancake - we will definitely be adding this to our pancake repertoire at home!




After we filled up on breakfast we took a look around the park.  There is a huge swimming area right outside of the restaurant that is crystal clear and beautiful. 

The swimming area wasn't too busy this past weekend even though it was warm out, but is definitely packed during the summer months.

There are also canoe and kayak rentals available along with hiking trails to work off those delicious pancakes.


The water temperature at the spring is always steady at 72 degrees.  Chilly, clear and beautiful!


All in all, a great day!


Low on cash? 

Recreate the unique restaurant style at home on a weekend morning. 
  • Make your favorite pancake batter and put in a pitcher, put toppings in cute remekins and place the griddle in the middle of the table. 
  • Add eggs and turkey sausage and make it a family affair.  Take turns pouring pancakes, adding toppings, and flipping. 
  • Cook the eggs and sausage right on the griddle.  Fun memories and quick clean up!
You'll have the same experience without getting out of your pajamas!

November 29, 2011

A is for Apple

A is for apple.  C is for crisp.  D is for delicious. 

The topping of this crisp recipe is irresistible and definitely the best part.  It is a no fail, delicious combination that can be used with any kind of fruit. The key?  Room temperature butter.  It makes the yummiest crumbles you have ever had. I promise.

The best part?  Make a double batch of the topping and freeze the rest so you have it on hand anytime you need it.  Love that!



Apple Crisp

Print this recipe!

Crumb topping:

  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter – softened at room temperature
  • 1 t cinnamon (optional)
(for crunch you could also add in some walnuts or pecans)

Apple Filling:
  • 3-4 apples
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 t cinnamon (optional)


For the crumb topping, using your hands, mix all the ingredients together until combined.  Set aside.



For the apple filling, peel apples using a vegetable peeler.  Cut all four sides off of the apple, leaving the core intact.  This makes it much easier to cut into thin pieces.  Thinly slice the apple pieces lengthwise and then cut in half. 

Sprinkle with lemon juice to stop the apples from browning.  Add the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and mix together. 

Apple Crisp-1

Pour apples into the bottom of a baking dish, or individual ramekins.  Add the crumb topping to cover.  Bake at 350 degrees until apples are soft and bubbly with a golden brown topping.  About 30-35 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.



Remember – play around with this recipe.  Don’t like cinnamon?  Leave it out.  Want a sweeter filling?  Add more sugar.  Would rather have blueberries?  Substitute them for apples.  Make it your own and enjoy!

The Last Supper

My mother in law, Pam, has been our guest for the last week and a half and just departed early this morning to go back to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin.  While she was here, she:

  • loved sitting on our back porch and soaking up the sun 
  • couldn't believe that we actually get to hang our outside Christmas lights in 80 degree weather
  • thinks it's pretty peculiar to hear Christmas music on the radio when it feels like we could be heading to the beach.

We enjoyed having her here for the Thanksgiving holiday and will definitely miss her company!

For her last supper with us in Florida we feasted on Cuban Burgers. 
This burger has all of the components of a Cuban sandwich (dill pickles, yellow mustard, Swiss cheese, ham) only substituted with  hamburger meat  instead of pork and pressed in between a bun instead of Cuban bread. 

Definitely a fun twist on a classic sandwich!

Cuban Burgers:

Print this recipe!
  • Ground Sirloin
  • thinly sliced sill pickles (I used my mandoline - awesome)
  • reduced fat Swiss cheese
  • sliced ham
  • yellow mustard
  • hamburger buns

Grill/cook hamburgers to preferred doneness. 
Make an assembly line of toppings. 
Spread yellow mustard on both sides of the bun. 
I love pickles, so I put them on the top and bottom of the bun. 
Add the hamburger and then stack the ham and cheese. 
Wrap in foil and press on a panini (optional).


No panini press?  Wrap the burger in foil and heat up a saute pan.  Add another saute pan on top of the burger and put a can of soup on top of that for some weight.  You will get the same effect!



This was a simple Monday night meal that even the rain couldn't stop.  The original plan was to have Mike grill while we sat on the back porch with a glass of wine enjoying the weather.  That was until the rain came barreling through. 

We moved our plan inside and I just used my grill pan and we enjoyed wine by the Christmas tree instead.  Almost as perfect!

Cuban Burgers

November 28, 2011

Stocking Stuffers

Yippeeeeee!  It’s officially the Christmas season and finally alright to start listening to Christmas music!  Our house is fully decorated and very festive.  I am so excited and wanted to share a few stocking stuffer ideas as you start stocking up (pun intended).

Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas. 

I remember waking up on Christmas morning and running into my parents room to wake them up.  I couldn't wait to get to the family room to see what Santa left in my stocking.  My mom would have to get up, wash her face and freshen up.  My dad was in charge of putting on a pot of coffee and piping the Christmas music throughout the house. 

The whole process took what seemed like forever as I would have to wait until we were all ready to go into the family room.  I think secretly my parents just wanted to torture me because each and every year it was the same daunting process.  In reality, it probably didn’t actually take that long, and is one of my fondest Christmas memories.

In some households stockings don't play an important role, but I love them more than the actual process of unwrapping gifts.  I shop for stocking stuffers all year long and wanted to offer a few stuffer ideas for you!  Besides the basics of razors, deodorant, toothbrushes or body wash that usually makes it into stockings, here are a few ideas that can add little bit of surprise!

-jewelry cleaner
-special mug
-small umbrella
-sunglasses case
-camera case
-kitchen gadgets (spatulas, sponges, scissors)
-lip balm
-Hair accessories (bobby pins, elastic bands, headbands)
-travel coffee mug
-sample sized flavored coffee/teas
-fun ornament 
-DIY coupon books
-Scratch off lotto tickets
-dress/athletic socks
-brain games/card games
-head light/flashlight
-grill seasonings/grill tools
-hot sauces/bbq sauces from favorite restaurants
-book by favorite author
-themed Tervis Tumbler (favorite team/activity)
-colored duck tape (they even have college themed now)
-DIY coupon books

Menu Monday

It's Monday again!  I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving holiday.  I know we did, and so did our bellies.  After eating all of the rich, delicious goodies over the break, we are desperate to get back to some normalcy.  Thank goodness our Christmas decorations are already up and we have a relatively quiet week. 
Here's what we have planned:

M:  Cuban Burgers with Steak Fries and Salad

T:  Grilled Ham and Cheese with Tomato Soup

W:  Mexican Potatoes

Th:  FLO* Pulled Pork with Low Fat Broccoli Casserole (new recipe)

F:  Sweet and Spicy Wings with Pasta Salad

Sa:  Happy Thankschristmukkah Party (Happy Birthday to me!)

Su:  Ravioli with Broccoli

Have a great week!

November 27, 2011

Stuffin’ Muffins


Thanksgiving leftover alert! 

This dish definitely hit the spot the morning after our gigantic feast and used up some of the many leftovers at the same time. 

Stuffing/dressing is my favorite dish on our Thanksgiving buffet by far.  I love any excuse to eat it and by adding an egg, you have an excuse to eat it for breakfast as well as dinner.  This is a throw-together-at-the-last-minute recipe that really turned out tasty!  Enjoy!




Stuffin’ Muffins

Print this recipe!

Leftover stuffing

6 eggs

nonstick spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray large muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Scoop leftover stuffing into the bottom of muffin tin about halfway to two thirds of the way up.  Crack an egg on top of the stuffing in each of the muffin cups.  Season with salt and pepper.







Bake for 25-30 minutes or until whites of the egg are set.

Serve with leftover gravy drizzled on top or on the side.  Cranberry sauce, ham or turkey sausage are also great sides.



November 26, 2011



What could be better than a chilly night, fire and S’mores?  Not much.


I remember my first experience with s’mores.  I was at a Girl Scout campout and thought those little nuggets of ooey goodness were the best things I had ever tasted. 

Fast forward 20ish years.  I still love the original recipe with graham crackers, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and marshmallows, but now it’s fun to make them with a twist.



Instead of regular graham crackers try:

-chocolate graham crackers/wafers
-cinnamon graham crackers
-tea biscuits
-chocolate chip cookies




Instead of milk chocolate try:

-Reese's Cups
-Dark Chocolate
-Flavored/Specialty Chocolate:  caramel, raspberry, orange, mint, cookies and cream



Add ons:

-Peanut butter
-Biscoff spread
-Sliced strawberries or bananas
-Toasted Coconut
-Chopped Nuts (walnuts, peanuts, pecans, etc)


No fire?  No problem!
Microwave: Place graham cracker on the bottom of a microwave safe plate.  Put marshmallow on top and microwave for 10-12 seconds until it doubles in size.Top with chocolate and remaining part of the graham cracker.  Enjoy!
Oven:  Place graham crackers on baking sheet. Put 1 square of chocolate on each cracker. Place a marshmallow on each piece of chocolate. Put in a 350° oven for 4 to 6 minutes, just long enough to melt marshmallow and soften the chocolate. Remove from oven and put another graham cracker on top to make a sandwich.

Eurotrip 2011-Venice in Pictures


























Next Up:  Vienna

November 25, 2011

Gobble Gobble


This year’s Thanksgiving spread was one of the best: sweet, savory and plenty of leftovers.  The weather was cool and breezy and the sunset was gorgeous.  An absolutely perfect day to be thankful.




My mom was the hostess and in charge of the turkey and dressing.  Topped with butter and Herbs de Provence, it was the best turkey yet. 

Uncle Jerry is the carver extraordinaire and definitely gets presentation points.





Aunt Janie made two baking dishes full of her famous Mac and Cheese, which she also made for our wedding, and it was a hit.  She was even kind enough to share the recipe.

Aunt Janie's Mac and Cheese

Print this recipe!


16 oz. box of Ziti noodles
Velveeta cheese (1 pound block)
Sharp chunk cheese (16 oz.)
Extra sharp cheese shredded (1 pound bag)
4 eggs
1 1/2 coup of milk
2 sticks butter


Boil noodles, drain and add Velveeta, chunk cheese, and butter.  Mix well.  Beat eggs and milk.  Pour over mixture and combine.  Add shredded cheese to top of mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven so that it doesn't dry out and let stand before serving.



Having spent years and years collecting plates, bowls and serving pieces, the turkey table settings with leftover Harvest Festival pumpkins and East Palatka pine cones definitely set the scene.



Mike’s plate:  1 of 2. 




 Nana’s Homemade Pumpkin Pie and Cranberry Relish with apples.





 Nana with two of her granddaughters, my cousin Devan and me.




So much to be thankful for.



Delicious food, loving family and lots of fun.  Definitely a success!



I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!