A Night Out

Between my Grandmother passing away and a few very stressful weeks of work for both Dustin and I, we were in desperate need of a date night.  We are big-time foodies, and we decided to treat ourselves to fancy dinner at our new favorite restaurant Aqua 103, located in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland.

The restaurant is upscale, but not fussy.  We have eaten there 3 or 4 times, and the food has been spectacular every time.  We started the meal with a Martini-specifically a new, seasonal Autumn Apple Martini.  I don’t get super excited about cocktails, but I realized that it was one of the first times we had been out in 2 years when I wasn’t pregnant or nursing, so we decided to splurge.  I believe it was a mixture of Rum, Apple Cider, Vanilla Schnapps and a fall spice mix.  It was very spicy, and definitely seasonal.

We each decided to get an appetizer, and I went with the Calamari.  The breading was so, so light, and the marinara it was served with was delicious.  I know that calamari, specifically the tentacles, can look scary, but seriously-the tentacles are the best part!

Dustin has a serious love for tuna sashimi, and he loved Aqua 103’s version, which had a spicy rub and was served with a seaweed salad.

Each of our entrees came with a house salad, which we enjoyed next.

Now for the really exciting food!  Aqua 103’s menu has so many interesting entrees, and I was really tempted by the crab cakes, and a pasta dish with shrimp, scallops and crab meat in a garlic cream sauce, but I felt like trying something new, so I ordered a Maple-Leaf Duck Breast, which was served with Asiago Bacon Risotto with a Raspberry Coulis.  This was my first experience having duck, and it was INCREDIBLE.  And yes, it was served Medium Rare!  I was a little apprehensive about the medium rare poultry, but it had such a lovely texture, and the skin was delicious.  That risotto was incredible, and the tart raspberry coulis helped balance the rich duck and risotto.

Dustin went with the Filet Oscar, a special, which was a Filet Mignon steak covered in crab meat.  The filet was served with Asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.  Much like my dish, it was very rich, but incredibly delicious.  I don’t know that we had ever tasted REAL Hollandaise sauce and it was lovely.

At this point we were pretty full, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a dish of chocolate hazelnut gelato.  Like the rest of our meal, it was absolutely delicious.

I just had to share some pictures of our delightful meal, and I highly recommend Aqua 103 the next time you want to treat yourself in Hagerstown.

Here’s to a less stressful week!

My Chicken Salad

This is my new house:

It is wonderful in so many ways, but one of the things I love about it is that I have a dishwasher! I know it probably doesn’t sound like the biggest deal, but prior to our move I was really beginning to dread cooking because I just didn’t want to deal with doing the dishes after a day at work and a little guy to take care of.  Now that I have a dishwasher, I’m really falling in love with cooking again.  I am not a cook that creates many of my own recipes, but I have created a chicken salad recipe that I love which was based on a chicken salad that is served at Cafe d’Italia on the square of Chambersburg.  I have made this a few times recently and I have had some requests for the recipe so I hope you enjoy!  I haven’t spent a lot of time testing this, so my measurements are approximate-feel free to add or take away what you don’t want.

Golden Chicken Salad-serves 3 or 4
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (you can roast it, grill it, poach it…I have even used the Perdue Shortcut precooked chicken when I have been in a hurry)
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
big pinch of salt

Combine the chicken, celery, raisins and almonds in a big bowl.  Stir the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Add about 3/4 of the dressing to the other ingredients and stir to combine-add more dressing if it seems dry.  Enjoy!

I’m sure you could easily substitute low-fat mayo and sour cream if you desire.  The recipe is super easy to double (or triple) and it’s great to serve at a baby shower or for an expectant mama that is avoiding deli meat.  Even my son likes the chicken mixed with the dressing.

This is terrible, but if you put mayo on meat, he is much more likely to eat it (bad mommy!)

Have a great Tuesday!



Baby Food

I am a big believer in buying fruits and veggies in season.  Here in Pennsylvania we are blessed with so much incredible local produce in the summer, and I wanted to take advantage of that great flavor for my baby, even though I knew that he wouldn’t be eating fruits and veggies until the winter.  So, while I was still on maternity leave in September I prepared some baby food with the end of the summer bounty.

I made applesauce, peaches, pears and green beans.  There are certainly other fruits and veggies that we want Jude to eat, but it has been so helpful to have this food already prepared.

For the most part it was very easy to prepare:

For the apples, I peeled and cored the apples, and then I cut them into cubes and simmered them in water until fork tender, and then I pureed them in the food processor (adding extra water if it was too thick). I halved the peaches, placed them in a roasting pan filled with water, and roasted in a 400 degree oven until the peaches were tender. I then easily peeled the skin of the peaches, and pureed them in the food processor (adding extra water if too thick).

I peeled and cored the pears, and then steamed them until fork tender, and then I pureed them (adding extra water if necessary). I also steamed the green beans, and pureed them as with the other foods.

After preparing all of the purees, I put the puree in clean ice cube trays and froze them until they were frozen solid.  I then popped out the cubes and put them in freezer safe bags, which I store in my deep freeze.  Then every morning (or the night before) I put one cube in a dish to thaw.

Then when I get home from work, the puree is thawed and ready to eat!

I have had a few bites of my purees, and I’m happy to say that they are quite good!  I was able to make enough to fill 17 ice cube trays, and all for about $50 in produce.  I haven’t purchased any baby food, but I have to think that I’m saving at least some money.

I also need to give a shout out to my wonderful mother-in-law who came to my house on the baby food making day to watch Jude so that I could get my purees done as quickly as possible.

Do you have any great recipes for baby food?  Any fruit/veggie combos that your little ones love?