The first day of Fall is tomorrow, and I couldn't be happier! I'll admit, I'm definitely a warm weather person, but there's something about this season that I love. From the food to the celebrations to the sweaters ... I'm sold on Fall!
Tonight, I decided to put together one of my go-to recipes for chillier weather, Swedish Meatballs. Served over mashed potatoes, they are filling (which means a little goes a long way with a crowd) and flavorful. Round this meal out with a green side, and you're set!
Start with ... Allie's Baked Meatballs
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/3c shredded parmesan cheese
3 tbsp chili sauce (or ketchup)
1 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a large mixing bowl (I use my stand mixer), mix everything together.
3. With the meat mixture, form meatballs (about 2 inches) and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes.
As the meatballs are baking ... Mashed Potatoes
Bag of yellow/gold potatoes (or Russet if you prefer)
1/2c heavy cream
1/4c unsalted butter
1/4c sour cream
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters.
2. Put the potatoes into a large stockpot, and cover them with salted water. Allow to boil about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft enough to poke with a fork and begin to fall apart.
3. Drain the potatoes, and then return to the stockpot.
4. Add the heavy cream and begin to mash the potatoes, then add the butter once the cream is mostly combined. Allow the butter to melt a minute and then continue to mash.
5. Mash in the sour cream, and then set aside.
While you're waiting for the potatoes to boil ... Swedish Meatball Gravy
7 tbsp unsalted butter
3c beef broth
3/4c sour cream
1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, slowly whisk in the flour.
2. Slowly pour the beef broth in, one cup at a time, and whisk constantly for a couple of minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.
3. Whisk in the sour cream and add seasoning of your choice (I added a dash of garlic powder and salt).
4. When the meatballs are done cooking, add them into the pot of sauce to heat through.
Pour the Swedish Meatballs over the Mashed Potatoes, and enjoy!
If you know me, you know I love me some southern food. I've found the holy grail.
Back in college, I frequented The Social Lounge; however, I was much more familiar with their bar than I was their menu. On Friday, a girlfriend of mine (and my MOH!), suggested that we grab dinner and double date at The Social in West Chester. Dan and I weren't sure if it was the same place ... and it kind of was but also wasn't.
We haven't been back for dinner to West Chester in a long time, and we're not even sure when The Social expanded their menu and location, but we're very happy about discovering this gem. If you know me, you know I'm a little southern lady trapped in the body of a suburban-Philly twenty-something and so stumbling upon this gem of a restaurant warmed my insides.
On the menu, we found things like Chicken and Waffles, Fried Green Tomatoes, Pimiento Cheese and Shrimp and Grits. To say I was in heaven is one heck of an understatement.
The portions are huge, so we decided to do a few appetizers and drinks instead of the entrees. Next time, I'm doing the Chicken and Waffles (literally dreaming about it). If you're into southern cuisine, you need to add The Social to your list.
For almost a year now, I've been in contact with Gemma from AR Workshop in Malvern, brainstorming an event before they even officially opened their doors. I'm so excited to finally announce that we've got an event on the calendar!
If you haven't heard of AR Workshop just yet, it's essentially Pinterest come to life. The designers behind the company (founded in 2010), has launched into a workshop-based franchise where the public can attend classes and parties to make popular projects for their homes. How fun is that!?
With the autumn season upon us, we thought it would be a fun time to collaborate, so that you can bring some of those fun projects to your own space. While this is not the same as our traditional GNO's (we're still hosting one on October 9 in Downingtown!), we thought it would be fun to incorporate an optional get-together for those who might want to attend.
We're already seeing a lot of you expressing interest in attending ... whether you've been dying to go and couldn't find anyone to go with you or if you have a group of girlfriends who just haven't gotten around to booking a workshop ... now is your chance!
AR Workshop in Malvern is BYOB, so grab a bottle of wine, your girlfriends and register for a project for our special Philadelphia Housewives Workshop!
A simple salad entree with a lot of flavor.
It's hard to believe that we'll be celebrating Labor Day this weekend. Is it just me, or does it feel like two seconds ago we were swapping out our pastel Easter decor for red, white and blue?
One of my favorite parts of this season has been taking care of our first garden here at the house, and from that we had quite a burst of tomatoes. With all of this rain, we're at the end of that harvest and I wanted to make sure to use up what I still had in a tasty and quintessentially summer dish.
This past week the heat crept back (we're talking high 90's!), and I was trying to think of something easy to make that wouldn't require me to stand over the oven for too long. With it being the end of the season, I felt nostalgic for a summertime classic - the BLT! To make this salad a little heartier, I added chicken so that it was a suitable entree.
CHICKEN BLT SALAD
2 hearts of romaine lettuce (there's just two of us, but chop more if you've got more people to feed!)
4-5 chopped tomatoes
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
6 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 c croutons
Dressing (we used caesar)
1. Cook the bacon over medium heat. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towel (to help absorb the grease). If bacon is your favorite part of the BLT, add more to the pan ;)
2. In the same skillet with bacon drippings, add the chicken and a thin layer of water. Cover with a lid and allow to cook, about eight to ten minutes. Halfway through, rotate in the pan with tongs.
3. Once the chicken is done, remove from pan and allow to cool about five minutes.
4. Rinse the romaine, and add to a large salad bowl with chopped tomatoes, croutons and bacon (crumble or chop it first).
5. On a cutting board, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad.
6. Top with your favorite dressing.
It wasn't the easiest week. For years, I've battled with my health whether it be Lyme disease and lingering neurological effects from 2014 or a gluten-intolerance that resulted from the same disease. Before that, I was dealing with a hormone imbalance which caused one heck of a year for me in college.
Freshman year of college, I woke up one morning to find that I'd gotten my period, and just an hour later found myself in the most excruciating pain I'd ever experienced. Realizing that there was something more than cramps going on, my parents took me to the emergency room where I was at first thought to be having an ectopic pregnancy. Once that was ruled out, they conducted ultrasounds to find that I'd had a cyst rupture. Every month, for at least six months after that, I found myself dealing with a ruptured cyst when I'd get my period. Many times this landed me in the ER with morphine-filled IV drip, vomiting and convulsing from the pain. It got to the point that if I was on-campus and felt cramps coming on for my period, I'd rush to my car and rush home for fear that I'd have a rupture. I was also informed around that time that I had fibroids, which are common, but that mine could potentially affect my fertility.
In later months after that, I wound up on the birth control pill because the synthetic hormones would help to regulate mine. It did keep me from experiencing another cyst burst... until recently.
In February, I stopped taking my pill because I realized that masking the symptoms with a band-aid wasn't going to make them go away. The past seven months have been tumultuous to say the least.
After a couple of very long days and a lot of emotions, I took Rufus out into the yard so that he could run around, and I headed over to the garden to check on the tomatoes. Some were ready, some where just getting started, and some were orange and already on their journey. Pausing and taking a moment to look at them, I realized it was the reminder that I needed to slow down and to be OK with this journey my body and I are on, and to not get so frustrated that I'm not where I want to be yet. It can't be forced, it has to just happen. Like our garden that I've dedicated so much time to this season, I need to just continue to nourish my mind, body and soul and it'll heal.
If you've been following me for the past few years, you know that I have a background in archaeology and anthropology. Last year, Historic Yellow Springs asked me on as their archaeology camp instructor, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go back (I worked there out of college before starting my own company).
I was invited back this year, and it's been such a fun experience again. Though we're going to be doing a few makeup days this week because of the flood earlier this week (this seems to be a recurring theme this summer, right!?), we've had some good digging weather.
Our dig location this year is at the poolhouse/old bathhouse - there's a rich history here and if you're interested in learning more about it, I highly recommend that you pop on over to Historic Yellow Springs' site. Since we're digging at a site that was high in activity, we're hoping to continue to find some artifacts like buttons or even clay marbles. We did find one button remnant thus far, and are holding out hope that this week we'll get a little deeper into our pits for more artifacts. Right now, we're mostly finding brick, mortar and glass shards. Still exciting!
On Friday night, I decided (for the first time ever) that I wanted to try making a cocktail for Dan and I from scratch. As it turns out, it's not too hard if you don't mind putting a few minutes into it! We had a bunch of blueberries left over from the week, and a fresh bottle of bourbon that we hadn't broken into (and wouldn't unless we had something to do with it), so I figured I'd do a little something to get some use out of each.
Blueberry Bourbon Cocktail
2 tablespoon fresh (grated) ginger
1 1/2c blueberries
1 1/2 shots of bourbon
Club soda (or if you're winging it like me, a dash of Sprite)
The idea of making simple syrup from scratch seemed intimidating, but as it turns out you just have to boil sugar. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, water and the grated ginger and allow it to come to a boil. Stir, and then reduce the heat. The sugar will begin to dissolve, and when it does you'll want to remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. I found that it took a really long time to cool in the pan, so I transferred it to a small mixing bowl and let it cool on the counter to shorten the waiting time.
Then, in my blender, I added the blueberries, bourbon and the cooled simple syrup. I pulsed it a few times and then poured it into a glass over ice. Add the dash or two of Sprite (or club soda if you've got a better stocked fridge than I do) to top it off.
For the past five years, I've been going to Sea Isle with Dan's family on their annual week-long vacation, and it's always so much fun to spend time together and relax. I love the low-key vibe of Sea Isle, but also enjoy that if I do want to go out to do something the options are there.
This year, we were sitting in one of our favorite spots along the bay, reflecting on how much has changed for us since last years vacation. Dan's in a Master's degree program. We purchased a home together. We're engaged and planning our wedding. By next year's vacation, we'll be married! This year was also special because we had our nephews there, Noah and Rodrick. Last year, my best friend (and future SIL!) was pregnant with her son, so it was so fun to get to see him experience the sand and ocean for the first time. Nothing like seeing the world through a child's eyes! Noah on the other hand is just over 2 years old and has been there before; however, this was the year he really got to enjoy it as a toddler. I've never seen two little boys who love the water so much!
With the boys, it's much easier to eat in the house rather than going out, so that was something new for us. In the past, we've gone out a few nights and cooked in the rest. The nights that we did order, we chose to get some of our favorites .... Mike's Seafood, Marie's Seafood, Manco's (on our boardwalk night in Ocean City), Hank's Sauce, etc. I'm not a seafood eater, as I just don't have a preference for it, but I did try a bite of scallops and didn't mind them! Still not a fan of lobster though.
One of the nights, Dan and I decided to take some time to go on a little date, so we opted for Doc Magrogan's Happy Hour. We were not disappointed! If you are down in Sea Isle, or even Avalon, and are looking for a happy hour in an upscale yet still "beachy" restaurant, I highly recommend. The flatbreads were good, but the potstickers were great. Order them if you have the chance! I also got the blush sangria, which was heaven on a hot and humid day. It started pouring that night... the only rain that we got!
Whether you're craving a vacation or want to take your family on a unique weekend away, we want to remind all of you Philadelphians and suburban-Philadelphians to keep Lancaster in mind. While it's known for it's rural landscape and Amish culture, there's a side to the Lancaster-area that many haven't had a chance to see yet, but one that shouldn't be missed. In recent years, Lancaster has begun to flourish as a food and arts town, and makes the perfect getaway for couples or families alike. Take a day or even a whole weekend to get out and explore the city of Lancaster, or its fun surrounding towns that are just a short drive from your own backyard.
219 E Main St., Lititz // 717-626-4354 // email@example.com
Philly isn't the only place you can go in PA for a great pretzel! The Sturgis' have been in the pretzel business since the 1800's, which means they've had plenty of time to perfect their technique. As a visitor, you can tour the original bakery, learn how to twist a pretzel like the pros or simply shop in the bakery for your favorite variety or souvenir.
Eat + Experience
firstname.lastname@example.org // 717-473-4397
In three hours you will experience the vibrant food scene in the City of Lancaster or the small town of Lititz. Our experienced guides will lead you on a culinary adventure that includes local recipes and tastes from around the world.
Eat + Shop
41 S Broad St., Lititz // 717-627-0088 // email@example.com
Olio Olive Oils & Balsamics is a family-owned and operated store and since they aren't a franchise, they have the freedom to shop the globe for the best of the best. All of their balsamic vinegars come from Modena, Italy and their olive oils come from a variety of countries worldwide. When searching for product, they are keeping your budget in mind and sample each product before they even purchase it to ensure that they are guaranteeing the best flavors for their customers. Stop in to shop and grab free tastings of oils and balsamic vinegar!
3526 Old Phila Pike, Intercourse // 717-768-8093 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Deep in the heart of PA Dutch Country, there is a place that celebrates curiosity, adventure and the thrill of a treasure hunt ... a shop where locals and out-of-towners alike delight in an ever-changing mixture of old and new, vintage and heirloom and charming and whimsical. The Treasure Place is a family business with a history of craftsmanship that goes back many generations. Though they retail high-quality products, they haven't forgotten that heritage and they continue the legacy that was started years ago and pride themselves on their quality, integrity, honesty and value.
Explore + Shop
335 N Queen St, Lancaster // 717-431-8706
The PGC's mission is to create opportunities for traditional and contemporary artists, makers, craft lovers and collectors through education, patronage, advocacy and community ... and that they are. With a variety of art shows, there is always something to see or learn and they offer all sorts of enrichment year-round.
Stay + Play
38 Deborah Dr, Route 23, Leola // 717-656-7002
The Inn at Leola Village holds a AAA Five Diamond Award, holds a Forbes Four Star Experience (the only Lancaster hotel that has this!) and is part of the Historic Hotels of America. If that isn't enough to entice you to schedule a stay at this luxury boutique hotel, we don't know what is! It's the perfect respite after a long day exploring, but is also a fabulous spot for a romantic weekend away (or a treat yo'self weekend at the spa!!).
Looking back on my childhood, I feel fortunate to have been able to experience broadway shows and musicals and think that all children, regardless of their personal struggles should have the same opportunity. I'm thrilled to announce that the Kimmel Center has announced sensory-friendly performances throughout the 2018-19 season, including Broadway Philadelphia and three of the resident companies including Pennsylvania Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Philly POPS.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Where: Merriam Theater
Performance Schedule: December 19-29, 2018
Sensory-Friendly Performance: December 22, 2018 at 11:00AM
This performance will include lowered house lights, adjusted sound and a designated quiet area within the theater.
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker presented by the Pennsylvania Ballet
Where: Academy of Music
Performance Schedule: December 7-31, 2018
Sensory-Friendly Performance: December 27, 2018 at 12:00PM
This performance will include adjusted lighting and sound, lowered house lights and a designated safe/quiet area within the theater. Additionally, guests will be able to talk, leave seats and move freely throughout the performance.
Sound All Around presented by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: Academy of Music Ballroom
Sensory-Friendly Performances (10AM or 11:15AM): September 15, 2018, October 20, 2018, December 1, 2018, March 2, 2019, or April 6, 2019
Full Orchestra presented by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: The Mann Center
Sensory-Friendly Performance: July 24, 2018 at 8:00PM
The Animated Orchestra presented by The Philadelphia Orchestra
Where: Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall
Sensory-Friendly Performance: May 11, 2019 at 11:30AM
Through it's HEAR (Health, Education, Access and Research) initiative, TPO strives to share live orchestral experiences with the diverse communities that make up the region. Sound All Around concerts for music lovers 3-5 and their families, as well as full orchestra performances for all ages, with many featuring relaxed house rules, online pre-visit stories, fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphone, a quiet space and trained staff.
A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season
Where: Verizon Hall
Performance Schedule: December 1-22, 2018
Sensory-Friendly Performance: December 5, 2018 at 8:00PM
This performance will create a welcoming musical performance that is judgement-free and inclusive of guests with a range of sensory, learning and communication difference. Guests are free to vocalize and move about freely, take breaks on the bean bag chairs outside of Verizon Hall, utilize noise-cancelling headphones and fidget toys, etc.