Cute Christmas Party Food: Olive Wreath

Permalink to Cute%20Christmas%20Party%20Food%3A%20Olive%20Wreath
Published: 12/17/2013
These are from my cookie swap last December (believe it or not, I'm writing this post in January 2013.  How's that for planning?) I have to warn you now, though, that while you may be used to my typical crappy iphone photos, these were taken on someone's flip phone.  That's right, a flip phone.  Apparently those aren't all in museums yet, because my kids' "Auntie Elaine" has one.  It takes EVEN CRAPPIER pictures! Holla!

Anyway, you'll still get the idea :)

Love it? Don't forget to Pin It!

 Olive and Tomato Wreath
On a round serving platter, arrange 3 large bunches of Rosemary in a circular form for your "wreath".  Next, arrange olives (these are three different types from the grocery store's bulk olives, which was much cheaper than three jars!) in three mounds at the "points" of an imaginary triangle around the platter, and then fill in the empty spaces with cherry tomatoes.  Be sure to provide toothpicks or forks for your guests to spear their olives!

Veggie Tray Soup

Permalink to Veggie%20Tray%20Soup
Published: 12/16/2013

Believe it or not based on my cow-like build, I actually try to keep things relatively healthy around here.  That means that when I'm doing lots of entertaining, I make a lot of veggie trays.  I feel like if I fill 3/4 of my plate with raw veggies, I can fill the last 1/4 with a treat and not being doing too badly for myself.  That means, too, though, that I end up with a lot of odds and ends form my veggie trays.  Celery, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower all end up in baggies together and they never make it to the next tray, they just hang out in my fridge.  

Inspired by my children's love of Panera Bread's Broccoli Cheddar Soup, I decided I would make Veggie Tray Soup using a similar  flavor profile.  It's super easy, too!  Shred/Chop/Coarsely Food Processor the mixed veggies of your choice.  I used 2 cups of chopped veggies, total.  

Next, in a soup pot, place 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 a cup of chopped onion and sauté until the onions are clear and cooked through.  Next, add the veggies plus and 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are your desired level of doneness, between 5-10 minutes depending on your taste and the size you chopped your vegetables. 

Next, add one can of Cheddar Cheese condensed soup (I said it was easy and good, not gourmet!) and 1/2 cup of whatever mixed cheeses you have laying around, and heat until cooked through and warm.  If the soup isn't thin enough, use milk to think it out.  I also added salt and pepper to taste.



If you'd rather not use the condensed soup, you can easily switch it out.  After cooking your onion and butter, and then add and additional 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour, and cook while stirring for 3 minutes.  Then, add 1.5 cups of milk, 1.5 cups of chicken stock, stirring until slightly thickened, and then your vegetables (cooked in water and drained).  1 cup of shredded cheese will finish you up nicely.  

Enjoy!  (We had ours with warm Pampered Chef Beer Bread, and it was awesome!) 

Cute Christmas Crafts: Brownie Trees

Permalink to Cute%20Christmas%20Crafts%3A%20Brownie%20Trees
Published: 12/14/2013
How Cute Are These Cookies?

You don't have to answer.  They're pretty freaking cute.  For our cookie swap last year, these are what my mom made.  Again, this isn't even a tutorial, it's me showing off something cute as captured on a horrible mobile phone picture.

So, make your favorite brownie recipe.

Done? Excellent.

Cut into triangles.  You don't need an engineer for that, but if you have one available (we did) they can diagram the way to cut the brownies for minimal waste.  I don't believe you can have waste when cutting brownies, because it just means more for you.

Next, gently work a piece of mini candy-cane into the triangle to serve as the trunk of your "tree".  Decorate each tree with a swirl of frosting and ball candies or red hots.

Done.

These are such an easy and adorable treat, and I love that they're not cookies- it's a nice change!  What are you baking this year? Leave a comment and bonus points for a link to your blog!

Cute Christmas Foods: Santa Cheese Tray

Permalink to Cute%20Christmas%20Foods%3A%20Santa%20Cheese%20Tray
Published: 12/10/2013
These are from my cookie swap last December (believe it or not, I'm writing this post in January 2013.  How's that for planning?) I have to warn you now, though, that while you may be used to my typical crappy iphone photos, these were taken on someone's flip phone.  That's right, a flip phone.  Apparently those aren't all in museums yet, because my kids' "Auntie Elaine" has one.  It takes EVEN CRAPPIER pictures! Holla!

Anyway, you'll still get the idea :)

Love it? Don't forget to Pin It!


Santa Cheese Tray
For the Santa Bellies- use Baby Bel Light cheese wheels.  Leave the cheese unpeeled.  Cut a 1/4 inch strip of black construction paper and then cut to fit around each wedge.  Attach with tape.  On the front of each piece of cheese, use a square of silver tape or silver or gold paper for the "belt buckle" For the Rudolphs, use unwrapped wedges of Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese.  Gently wedge two mini pretzels on either site of the wide part of the triangle (this works best if the cheese has been on the counter for a few minutes).  Using a round piping tip, cut small circles out of red and green bell peppers, using the green for eyes and the red for noses.  

Cute Christmas Foods: Christmas Tree Veggie Bread

Permalink to Cute%20Christmas%20Foods%3A%20Christmas%20Tree%20Veggie%20Bread
Published: 12/03/2013

These are from my cookie swap last December (believe it or not, I'm writing this post in January 2013.  How's that for planning?) I have to warn you now, though, that while you may be used to my typical crappy iphone photos, these were taken on someone's flip phone.  That's right, a flip phone.  Apparently those aren't all in museums yet, because my kids' "Auntie Elaine" has one.  It takes EVEN CRAPPIER pictures! Holla!

Anyway, you'll still get the idea :)

Love it? Don't forget to Pin It!

Christmas Tree Veggie Bread
Pop open two cans of your favorite refrigerator crescent dough, but don't unroll them.  Cut each with a seraded knife into 8 equal pieces.  Arrange the slices on a greased baking sheet into a triangle with one piece at the bottom for your "trunk".  Bake according to package directions.  Meanwhile, mix one softened block of cream cheese with one cup of mayonnaise and one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix.  After the crescents have cooled, cover them with the ranch mix, and then decorate with the veggies of your choice, using finely chopped broccoli as your base.  (This comes out cuter if you don't let your 4 year old help, but what's the fun in that?) 

Guest Post: Prince William Living Creative Halloween Drinks

Permalink to Guest%20Post%3A%20Prince%20William%20Living%20Creative%20Halloween%20Drinks
Published: 10/22/2013

This post is reprinted with permission from Prince William Living Magazine.  Be sure to check them out for more great ideas, and their fantastic "Family Fun" column, which I personally find to be both witty and enjoyable.  The author is a genius.  ;) 
You can find free copies at Wegmans, Prince William Ice Center and many other distributors.  Subscriptions are also available for a very affordable rate. 


Chillingly Creative Drinks For Halloween

11677_AIf you’re planning a monster bash this Halloween, brew up drinks so frightfully delicious that it will spook the taste buds of every little ghost, witch and goblin.

The Spooky Smoothie is a flavorful combination of vanilla milk and Greek yogurt, which is blended with ice and topped with whipped cream. The fun is all in the orange-tinted Limited Edition TruMoo Lowfat Vanilla Milk, so make sure to serve it in a clear glass. And ghosts will rise from the dead for the chocolaty Monster Mash Mudslide. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/TruMooMilk.11677_B

Both of these tasty concoctions feature TruMoo, which is made with 35 percent less total sugar than the leading chocolate and vanilla milk competitor and has no high fructose corn syrup. That’s one thing that won’t scare you this Halloween season.

Spooky Smoothie
Yield: 4 servings

3         cups Limited Edition TruMoo Lowfat Vanilla Milk, orange color
1 1/2   cups lowfat vanilla Greek yogurt
5         cups ice cubes
1/4       cup fat free whipped cream
Candy corn for garnish, optional

In blender, combine vanilla milk, yogurt and ice cubes. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.

To serve, pour into serving glasses. Top with whipped cream and candy corn.

Monster Mash Mudslide
Yield: 4 servings

4         cups TruMoo Lowfat Chocolate Milk
10       chocolate wafer cookies, coarsely broken
1/2      cup frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
8         mini chocolate chips or mini chocolate candies (orange/brown color recommended)

In blender, blend chocolate milk and chocolate wafer cookies until smooth. Heat mixture in saucepan or microwave until just heated through.

To serve, pour chocolate milk mixture into 4 glasses. For each serving, spoon a large, upright dollop of whipped topping to resemble a ghost. Insert chocolate chips or chocolate candies into dollop for eyes.

Note: To enjoy a cold mudslide, do not heat in saucepan or microwave.

Review: Great Food Tours Chocolate Tour of DC

Permalink to Review%3A%20Great%20Food%20Tours%20Chocolate%20Tour%20of%20DC
Published: 08/08/2013
So, there was this Groupon.  It was for Chocolate Tours of DC.

That had to happen, right?

I ended up buying two (they were $60 each for 4 people and the tours are usually $50/person), but had a few people decide not to go at the last minute, so there were only 5 of us, but we had a really great time, so I wanted to share.

We started off with lunch at Peacock Cafe in Georgetown, which didn't have the same menu it had online for lunch, but did have amazing tomato soup.  There's garage parking right next to the Cafe, which is nice, as far as I'm concerned, because I don't like street parking in DC, not that I was driving. Georgetown is a cute neighborhood, although parts of it are under construction right now for road and sidewalk repair, so leave yourself a little time to park.

(You know who else has parking? The hospital! It was a little weird for me to be so close to Georgetown University Hospital and not have some kind of medical testing done...I thought about seeing if my oncologist wanted to join us for chocolate, but figured she was probably pretty busy.)

So.  The tour.  

You meet up at the Old Stone House
Not actually IN the Old Stone House, but just outside.  There's not a bathroom there, but there is one across the street in the Nike store.  You're going to be walking a fair amount for the next 2 hours, so this is good info to have.

 The tour started with a brief (and I do mean brief) history of Georgetown.  The first stop for us was at Sprinkles Cupcakes, which was founded by the woman who judges Cupcake Wars on Food Network. I have to be honest, I didn't realize there was one in DC!! I knew about Georgetown Cupcakes (from the TV, obviously) and Red Velvet, because it's by the Verizon Center and the first place I ever went "for cupcakes".

Let me be really honest for a minute.  That mini-cupcake I'm holding? It may be the most amazing thing I've ever put in my mouth.  I usually hate chocolate cakes that other people make because they're never moist enough, but this was awesome.  I have an MRI on Friday, and I am having that cupcake for lunch after as a reward for laying in the giant plastic coffin for 2 hours.  They don't give you Dora stickers at my age, so I should get something, right?
After Sprinkles, we walked over to the Godiva Store, and they gave us samples of chocolate with dried strawberries in it.  The manager at Godiva was probably the best stop all day.  She actually talked to our group about Godiva and their chocolates and was funny and personable.  

After Godiva, there was a little bit of a hill to climb.  It wasn't very bad at all, but one member of our group has a bit of a foot condition and would've rather not done it, although with all the stops none of us had any trouble walking the entire tour, and there were people who brought children with, and all of them did well, too. 

Our next stops were Thomas Sweet for fudge, Marvelous Market for Chocolate Babka, which we decided would make AMAZING French Toast, Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates, where we got salted caramel covered in chocolate....

I just need to think about that one again for a moment.....

Then we went down to Dean & Deluca, which previously I thought only existed in movies with Nicolas Cage because, clearly, I grew up in Hoodbridge and until we got Wegmans, we didn't have anything that classy.  Dean & Deluca let everyone pick out their own amazing looking truffles, and I tried the Vanilla Bean filling, which was yummy, but at this point, I was actually really full and over chocolate! We had one final stop, though, which was Pie Sisters, where they gave us mini chocolate bourbon pecan pies.  

By the time we finished, we were all stuffed with chocolate.  It was nice to have the walk between each location, and it was fun to have just a bite or two of each thing to try.  My favorites were definitely Sprinkles and Fleurir as far as actual chocolate, but Godiva for the ambiance, which sounds a little funny, but it was the only place that someone talked to us.  

The chocolate part of the tour was fantastic, but the tour part of the tour left a lot to be desired.  We had a lot of fun chatting with each other while we walked, but it would have been nice to have the shops tell us about their facility or their founders or something, or for the tour guide to have told us more about chocolate or DC, or really anything.  The tour guide was very friendly, he just didn't talk much!

Also, if I was a business owner, I'd give out coupons so people came back.  Something like "$5 off your next dozen cupcakes when you return after your chocolate tour!".  Otherwise, there's not really motivation for people to return....but that's just me. 

At the end of the day, our group had a fantastic time, and we were all happy we came out.  I don't think I'd pay the full $50 to do this, but if you catch a deal or someone offers to take you, it's definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon!!  There's definitely a manageable amount of walking involved, so bring a water bottle or plan to buy one at one of your stops, and if you can, plan for a cooler day.  We got great weather for ours, and we all had a fantastic time.  

Disclosure: I (fine, my husband) bought my own Groupon, and all opinions are my own.  


Guest Post: A Red, White, and Blue Breakfast Celebration!

Permalink to Guest%20Post%3A%20A%20Red%2C%20White%2C%20and%20Blue%20Breakfast%20Celebration%21
Published: 06/28/2013

A Red, White, and Blue Breakfast Celebration!
Breakfast is a big deal in our house. A slice of toast or a glass of juice just won’t cut it. And you can forget skipping it! That just wouldn’t fly (or be healthy) with our group of five, especially on the weekend.  Instead, breakfast usually looks like a veggie omelet with whole wheat toast and a side of fresh fruit, a fruit smoothie with a bowl of steel cut oats and a dollop of natural peanut butter, or a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with homemade granola and fresh berries. See, I told you that it was a big deal!
Since breakfast tends to be a big production anyway, I like to center a lot of our family celebrations around the first meal of the day. It is fun, a little unexpected, and it starts our morning out on a happy note. Most people think of celebrating July 4th over the grill with hot dogs, hamburgers, deviled eggs, and lots of creamy salads. While I love a good cookout, I challenge you to mix things up a bit this year and try some fun, festive, and HEALTHY alternatives. Breakfast is a great place to start!  Experiment by incorporating some familiar, but healthy, alternatives such as whole wheat waffles instead of those “Lego my Eggos” and plain Greek yogurt instead of the popular blue yogurt tubes. With some fresh fruit to dress everything up and a few festive accessories, you will be well on your way to celebrating a happy, healthy July 4th with your family.
A couple of years ago I put together a Red, White, and Blue July 4th breakfast celebration for our family. I included some of our favorite healthy breakfast staples and “blinged” them up a bit with some simple and festive accessories.
Our menu included: whole wheat waffles with pure maple syrup; fresh fruit salad (sliced strawberries, blueberries, and bananas); Greek yogurt parfaits topped with homemade granola; and homemade pumpkin muffins with a swirl of vanilla yogurt on top. Don’t worry; the gumballs were just for decoration!
It was a HUGE hit with our kids. We started our day with a healthy AND festive breakfast together and we had fun.  

Recipe links:

Sarah Young resides in Prince William County with her husband and three young children. Sarah is a full-time mother, Certified Health Education Specialist, healthy living advocate, and the creator of Health Wise Home, an online resource that focuses on educating, empowering, and inspiring others to help build a healthier future. In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking, gardening, being outside, and spending time with her family.
For healthy recipes, information, and inspiration you can follow Sarah and Health Wise Home on Facebook and at her blog, https://www.facebook.com/HealthWiseHome and http://healthwisehome.wordpress.com/ .

New Chick-fil-A Salads & Wraps

Permalink to New%20Chick-fil-A%20Salads%20%26%20Wraps
Published: 04/18/2013

Chick-fil-A has been listening to what customers want when they visit restaurants – and that’s more nutritious options made with premium ingredients packed full of flavor. Two recent studies found that:

  • 50% of consumers want restaurants to offer healthier foods
  • 64% of consumers agree that it is important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition
  • 38% of consumers are more likely to visit restaurants with healthy menu options
  • 48% of consumers are very likely to try new or unique flavors    
Chick-fil-A is confident customers will find that in its new salads and wrap.


That’s right…On April 29, Chick-fil-A’s® entrée salad line is getting a makeover. The company is introducing three new premium salads – the Chick-fil-A® Cobb Salad, Chick-fil-A® Asian Salad, Chick-fil-A® Grilled Market Salad – as well as an improved Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap® for the health-conscious customer. All three of the new salads contain two full servings of vegetables and are each less than 430 calories. Check out this video for a “Behind the Scenes” look at the new Chick-fil-A salads.

In addition to these new nutritious menu items, Chick-fil-A is adding calorie counts to its menu boards nationally in conjunction with the salads launch. The new menu boards are just another way Chick-fil-A has made nutritional information easily accessible to its customers, including an online meal calculator, in-restaurant nutrition pamphlets and even nutritional information printed from the register upon request.

I'll be giving away four (yes 4!!) Chick-fil-A gift cards with a free salad/wrap offer each month through April!  
To enter, tell us your favorite Chick-fil-A location in a post below and "Like" us on Facebook. You can also "like" your favorite CFA location on Facebook for extra chances to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: The giveaway items were provided to me free of charge and I received a gift card to enjoy myself too. All opinions shared on this blog are always my own. 

Guest Post: Top 10 Tips to Save Money at Grocery Stores (Besides Using Coupons) Part 1

Permalink to Guest%20Post%3A%20Top%2010%20Tips%20to%20Save%20Money%20at%20Grocery%20Stores%20%28Besides%20Using%20Coupons%29%20Part%201
Published: 02/14/2013

This guest post was originally published on BeltwayBargainMom.com.  We hope it helps you out, and that if it does, you subscribe to Laura Harders' blog posts for more money-saving tips each week! 


I know most of you reading my blog are regular coupon-users, but I wanted to share some simple tips on ways you can save at the grocery store besides couponing. This post may also be helpful for those of you who are new to couponing and want to find ways to save money now as you gradually learn the ropes of “extreme couponing.” For those of you seasoned savers and savvy shoppers: I’m sure you’ve heard these tips from other frugal folks before, and there is nothing below that is a shocking, new discovery in the land of grocery store savings, by any means. But hopefully this will help some of you put on your thinking caps on how you can save even more money at the grocery store in addition to regular coupon use.

Ten tips to save more money on your grocery shopping trips:
  1. Make a list and stick to it! To avoid impulse buys, create a meal plan and grocery list at home based on deals featured in the weekly circular or on frugal blogs/coupon forums. Take your list with you to the store and stick to it (an exception I make to this is purchasing “quickly reduced” items… see #9).
  2. Buy less prepared foods. For example, buying a small bagged salad will usually cost you much more than buying a head of lettuce, some tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, etc. You may not have quite the same convenience factor, but you will save money.
  3. Be willing to go generic, try new brands and put aside your brand loyalty/bias. Yes, I know it may be hard to “leave your loyalty at the door” initially, but think of it as a way to be adventurous and try new things with your main goal being: saving money. I will stock up on name brand items when there is a really good sale and/or coupon that brings that item price down to my “price point.” However, when my stock pile runs out and I want to purchase that item to use for a meal during the week, I’ll buy that item at ALDI (discount grocery store) or buy generic at another store. For example, a jar of Peanut Butter at my local ALDI is $1.29. This week Safeway has a deal on Skippy Peanut Butter for $2 each.  If there were any Skippy coupons available (which I don’t believe there are…there was one from the 1/31/10 Red Plum but it expired on 2/28/10) I would buy these if the coupon made it less than my regular ALDI price.
  4. Learn the different store policies. Find out the return policies, reusable bag policies, coupon policies, rain check policies, price-matching policies, etc. for your favorite or most frequently visited stores. Many, but not all, grocery stores in the DC metro area double manufacturer coupons up to $0.99. Some stores accept a manufacturer coupon combined with a store coupon on the same item (this is called “stacking coupons” because normally you can only use one coupon per item you are purchasing). Some stores offer a small credit (like $0.05) toward your total grocery purchase if you bring your own re-usable tote.  Most stores will accept returned items with an original receipt within a certain time frame (say 30-90 days).
  5. Sign up for your grocery store’s membership card and e-mail list. These are free to sign up for, and you need them to get the special sales price at many stores. For example, at Bloom this is the “Breeze Card”, at Bottom Dollar this is the “Membership Card”, at Giant this is the “Bonus Card”, at Harris Teeter this is the “VIC Card”, at Safeway this is the “Club Card” and at Wegmans this is the “Shoppers Club Card.” Also, sign up for email updates or special offers from the store.
Check back next Thursday for the rest of Laura's Tips!

Laura Harders lives in Prince William County and is a native Northern Virginian who loves to share ways to save. She runs the blog BeltwayBargainMom.com and teaches local Savings Nation coupon workshops. You can find Laura sharing tips & being social on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Gameday Offer From CiCi's Pizza

Permalink to Gameday%20Offer%20From%20CiCi%27s%20Pizza
Published: 01/28/2013
As far as I'm concerned there's no reason to watch the Superbowl this year.  (I am a slightly bitter Patriots fan....) However, since the men in my house will probably watch the game anyway, that means I'll be in charge of snacks.  CiCis sent me this coupon to share with you guys which allows you to get unlimited large to-go pizzas for $5 each.  The image they sent is pretty fuzzy, but it's one-topping.  Enjoy :)

Nutella Breakfast Tour Woodbridge

Permalink to Nutella%20Breakfast%20Tour%20Woodbridge
Published: 12/20/2012



POTOMAC MILLS TO HOST NUTELLA BREAKFAST TOUR TRUCK FILLED WITH 5,000 JARS OF FREE NUTELLA® ON DECEMBER 23*

Woodbridge, VA Announced as Winners of Nutella® City Challenge

WHAT:                 Residents of Woodbridge, VA will be awarded five thousand (13 oz.) jars of free Nutella hazelnut spread and a visit from the Nutella Breakfast Tour Truck this December as winners of the nationwide Nutella Tour City Challenge.  The truck will be making one last stop in the winning city to spread the love at Potomac Mills on December 23 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., just in time for the holidays.
                                The Nutella Breakfast Tour Truck visited 12 cities across the country from September to December encouraging fans to tweet their favorite way to wake up with Nutella.  Woodbridge, VA posted the most eligible tweets, winning the top prize, a special visit from the Nutella Breakfast Tour Truck filled with free Nutella.
Local residents are invited to come out to celebrate the holidays and claim their free jar of Nutella while supplies last. Fans can also take a picture next to the giant inflatable Nutella® jar, enjoy festive music and spread some holiday cheer.
For more information and Official Rules for the Nutella Tour City Challenge, visit the Nutella USA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NutellaUSA

WHEN:                 Sunday, December 23, 2012
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

WHERE:               Potomac Mills (Parking lot near Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH and jcpenney)
Woodbridge, VA


* Handing out up to 5,000 13 oz. jars while supplies last.

About Nutella
Nutella® was first imported from Italy to the U.S. over 25 years ago by Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. The popularity of Nutella® has grown steadily over the years and it is the number one selling branded hazelnut spread in America.

Nutella® is a tasty hazelnut spread that gets its unique taste from the combination of hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa.   In addition, Nutella® has no artificial colors or preservatives. It can be found in grocery stores, warehouse clubs and mass merchandisers and is generally found near the peanut butter and sweet spreads section. 

When used in moderation with complementary foods such as a glass of milk, piece of fruit or a glass of orange juice, and spread on whole grain toast, Nutella® can turn a balanced breakfast into a tasty one too.  It can be a quick and easy way to encourage kids to eat whole grains, such as whole wheat toast, English muffins, toaster waffles and bagels.  Nutella®.  Breakfast never tasted this good®.

12 Days of Giveaways: Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

Permalink to 12%20Days%20of%20Giveaways%3A%20Firebirds%20Wood%20Fired%20Grill
Published: 12/14/2012
 We're 12 Days Away from Christmas, so I want to hit you guys with a few giveaway items!! First up, I've got a $25 gift card to Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in Woodbridge.  This fairly new restaurant is located in my favorite place- Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.  Love Love Love :) The restaurant had us for a preview meal, and they've got a pretty amazing children's menu.  My son got the children's salmon, and I'm not a seafood lover, but his fish was awesome.  I really appreciated that there were some exciting and healthier grilled items, in addition to standbys like burgers.  If it were me, though, I would probably choose Firebirds for a great date night.  Nobody minded our children, and the volume level in the restaurant is that magical point where you can hear the people at your table but there's enough background noise to mask your children bemoaning the fact that someone else is currently using the ketchup ;)
The restaurant is beautiful inside, I love the waterfall concept bar display, the wine bottle wall, the stone and the fireplace.  There is definitely tons of ambiance.  Entrees include steaks, fish, chicken, pastas, and some delicious sounding salads.  Yelp rates the restaurant between $$ (moderate) and $$$ (pricey).

Want to head to Firebirds for your own date night or happy hour? (It's so cozy and sleek inside-  it'd be a beautiful place to meet up with girlfriends for a special drink!) Check out the Rafflecopter below and enter to win!! I'll be drawing all the winners for these contests on Christmas Day- my way of giving some presents to you guys :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


We were able to try a meal at Firebirds before offering this giveaway, also provided by Firebirds.  Winner assumes all liability.  All photo credits are to the Firebirds Facebook Page.

(C/K)Han(n)uk(k)a(h) Craft

Permalink to %28C%2FK%29Han%28n%29uk%28k%29a%28h%29%20Craft
Published: 12/08/2012
However you like to spell it, here's a fun Hannukah craft that's super easy!  You'll need some candy canes, a baking sheet, and an oven. 




Break the candy canes into pieces and make equilateral(ish) triangles on a greased cookie sheet and bake them for 2-5 minutes at 300 degrees. Take them out, stack one on the other, back in for one minute to set them together, and then out to harden. Use a metal spatula or board scraper, the plastic ones are too fat and roll the candy. These are SweetTart candy canes, and they're pretty yummy :) Blueberry ones would be cute and the right colors :) When they're hard, you wipe any non-stick spray residue off with a napkin, and then you can hang them up or eat them after you light your candles :) You can use little pieces all put together, too- actually my favorite one was all the different leftover colors together!"

Halloween Frankenstein Pops

Permalink to Halloween%20Frankenstein%20Pops
Published: 10/31/2012
Since you guys seem to enjoy craft and food ideas, I've been trying to share more of them since I really like to Martha Stewart it up as much as possible.

I especially like it when it's REALLY easy.  The Frankenstein Pops I shared on Facebook? They're so easy a four year old can do it.

Assemble your troops.  You'll need frosting, sugar bones, sugar eyes, lollipop sticks, and black sugar or chocolate jimmies, oh, and marshmallows.
 Step One: Get a bag of frosting out of your freezer.  Here we have cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, and hot pink lemonade buttercream.  What's that? You don't make a double batch of frosting every time and freeze the leftovers for emergency cake-frosting? You don't MAKE your own frosting? Sigh.  Yes, go ask Betty Crocker for a can of white frosting...that'll work, too.
 Step Two: Plop your frosting into a bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds if it's room temperature, or about a minute if it was a popsicle when you put it in there.  You're looking for fondue-consistency frosting.
 Step Three: Curse yourself for not getting green food dye at the Walmart when you were JUST THERE.  Remember that yellow an blue make green.  Mix well. (These are Wilton gel dyes, which I love because they don't water down whatever you're tinting.  However, for this, you could use the liquid dye you get at the grocery store, too.  Wilton gels are sold at craft stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels and Walmart stores)
Step Four: Pop a marshmallow onto a lollipop stick and dunk it in your frosting.  Tap gently on the side of the bowl to remove any excess and then set the stick into a heavy glass cup set over a plate to let the frosting set just slightly (a minute or two, tops).
 Step Five: After your frosting has had a minute to settle and drip off and excess, give your marshmallow a roll in the black sugar or chocolate jimmies to add hair.
 Step Six: Add eyes (you could pipe these on, but this whole treat was inspired by the sugar candy eyeballs being on sale for $2) and imbed a sugar bone on either side of your Frankenstein's head.  You could also pipe on a mouth, but if I was creating a monster, it would do my bidding without talking back.  I'm just saying.
Optional Bonus Points For Step Seven: Pop some floral foam covered in a seasonal napkin inside your Frankenstein Can and go on a shock and awe campaign at your preschool party.  Winning.

You could also do these heads with cake pops, you'd just want to form them into squares instead of balls.  Witches would be cute, too, with purple frosting, a mini green m&m nose, and just the cookie part of an Oreo with a Hershey's Kiss glued on top with some melted chocolate.

Have fun!

Giveaway: IHOP Simple & Fit

Permalink to Giveaway%3A%20IHOP%20Simple%20%26%20Fit
Published: 09/11/2012

One of the really hard parts about trying to be healthy is going out to eat, which, let's be honest, happens.  We're in the middle of football season and hockey will start on the 15th, as well as scouts picking back up.  Everyone's busy, and sometimes, even though you plan, you end up having nothing made for dinner! Or, maybe you're meeting friends or family for a special meal together.  Whatever happens, you have to be able to eat out without completely ruining your diet.

(PS- I think I'm supposed to tell you to use IHOP for Breakfast, but in our family we believe that breakfast is an excellent dinner!!)

IHOP has had a "Simple & Fit" menu for a few years now, which helps patrons to select options from their menu with under 600 calories.  At a restaurant with bacon and home fries on the menu, that's a pretty significant reduction! Starting this month, though, IHOP has added several new items including whole wheat waffles with blueberries, whole wheat pancakes with blueberries, and several new types of oatmeal, which is one of my favorite breakfasts when the morning starts turning cool! There are also whole wheat crepes and whole wheat french toast on the new menu, and everything comes with a lemon wedge instead of butter, which is really pretty genius since it gives you a little burst of flavor without tons of fat.
On the Simple & Fit menu, you can still find the traditional "pancakes/meat/eggs" that most of us associate IHOP with, but they've altered it to fit a more moderate lifestyle, using egg substitute and turkey bacon.  I didn't get to try the egg substitute on our visit, but I know from my Max Muscle plan that scrambled egg whites are really good, especially with a little hot sauce, so I'd imagine the same is true for egg substitute, especially since I didn't get to try it because my kids ate it (they shared the whole wheat blueberry pancakes) albeit with ketchup, although they require tomato product, whether it's salsa or ketchup, on any type of eggs they eat.  My third child ordered off the children's menu, which only lists options under 600 calories, and includes an option to make your own smiley face with yogurt, so you know that had to happen.

The new oatmeal comes in great flavors like Banana and Brown Sugar and Super Fruit (dried blueberries, dark cherries, cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, and you can also get almonds and walnuts).  I opted for the Super Fruit the morning that we went and it was really tasty.  I love dried fruit, so having it come portioned for me is important or I'll eat it all! I thought that the oatmeal was fantastic and it gave me that happy, warm, comforting feeling oatmeal always does. :)

Bad news- my images are apparently all corrupted...soooo, here's some pictures from another blogger!
http://www.momfiles.com/
And another one...
The Mom Reviews
Here in P-dubya-C (that's Prince William County) we have several IHOP options:
13718 Smoketown Road, Woodbridge
3914 Fettler Park Drive, Dumfries
8785 Centreville Road, Manassas (actual Manassas)
12901 Galveston Court, Manassas (Manassas where it's still really Woodbridge) 

Want to go check out the new menu yourself? I've got a $50 gift card to your favorite IHOP store! 







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest closes on the 19th, note that as always, I'm not responsible for lost or stolen cards or for your personal experience, although we have always has a pretty quick and tasty time at IHOP ourselves.


PwcMoms was provided with a gift card to conduct our review of the new menu, however all opinions expressed here are my own.

Smiley Face Pizzas

Permalink to Smiley%20Face%20Pizzas
Published: 09/05/2012
As I shared a few weeks ago, I'm on a constant hunt for easy-to-eat foods for our co-op days.  We tried out corn dog muffins, which were a hit with my kids, so I thought I'd switch it up for some vegetarian fare this time!

So pizza.  Pretty easy.  Easier than rotating pictures in your blog posts.  True story.  For these, we used whole wheat mini pitas as our base, leftover spaghetti sauce as our sauce, some part-skim mozzarella, and some bell peppers.  My kids adore bell peppers, and snack on the red ones whenever they can get their hands on them.  
I used the wrong end of a piping tip to cut circles, but a small cookie cutter or even a knife would help you get shapes just as well.  You could use other veggies, too, to make your faces, but we had bell peppers, sooooo....we just went with it. 
This one isn't rocket science.  Place a mini pita on the pan, add sauce to your liking (I let the kids make their own, so you'll notice various levels of sauce and cheese application) and then funny face it up! Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts, but do not over bake or the pitas will become too crunchy to be enjoyable.

These were a big hit for us.  We baked them the day before and ate them room temperature at CC for lunch.  The kids thought they were great, and didn't mind that they weren't hot.  My 8 year old ate two, but one was enough for each of the others.

Smiley Face Pizzas
4 Whole Wheat Mini Pitas
1/2 Cup Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Cup Marina or Pizza Sauce
Vegetables to top

The Sweet Life Woodbridge 2012

Permalink to The%20Sweet%20Life%20Woodbridge%202012
Published: 08/11/2012
Looking for something a little fun and different for this weekend?  How about checking out The Sweet Life tour as it hits Woodbridge?

Claudia Johnson Photography via The Sweet Life Facebook
From their Goldstar.com deal (now expired) "About a dozen of the area's top treat-makers will be on hand to show off their decadent creations at this fun event. From cakes to cookies to pies and more, you can sample many of the sweets, with plenty of items available for purchase to take home as well. Whether you're planning for an event, you're an event-planner or you just happen to love baked goods, this pop-up shop brings all the best local bakers and confectioners together under one roof for you to enjoy. Admission includes access to the sampling floor, plus one beverage ticket."
Claudia Johnson Photography via The Sweet Life Facebook
This even takes place at the Country Inn and Suites and is described as a "bake sale with professional bakers", but you pay for your food up front with your entry fee.  Tickets are available via Eventbrite and are $15 for adults and  $8 for children.  The event runs from 1pm-4pm today, and sounds like it'd be fun for the kids, but also would be a really fun afternoon with a few girlfriends, I think!

Head over and check out some of our local bakeshops and enjoy a sweet afternoon. It's supposed to thunderstorm today, so you need to be inside, anyway!!

Corn Dog Muffins

Permalink to Corn%20Dog%20Muffins
Published: 08/08/2012
We love almost everything about our Classical Conversations group, with the exception of lunch.  We don't do tables, we just sit on the floor, picnic style, but for some reasons indoor picnics don't go very well for my kids.  My daughter spills something every week and then cries because she thinks she's in trouble.  She's not in trouble, it's a laminate floor, very little she could have in her possession is going to mess the floor up.  My boys try to avoid eating if humanly possible and blame it on the fact that it's hard to eat or they're uncomfortable.  The only thing we've had any success with is lunchables, which I'm too cheap to buy on a regular basis, so they generally get turkey pepperoni, cheese, and crackers.  Fruit goes relatively well as long as it's already cut and bite-sized.  Veggies require ranch dressing and that's a whole other mess.

Anyway, enough whining.

I decided that in my last few weeks before classes resume at our campus I was going to head to Pinterest and StumbleUpon and try to find some bite-sized lunch options that I could make ahead, freeze, and toss in lunch boxes.  The only real requirement is that they be easy to eat sitting on the floor.  Today we tried corn dog muffins, which we did, in fact, eat sitting in my living room on the hardwood.  The kids approved, and even said they were good enough to enjoy without ketchup and mustard, although that was their preference.
 Not to be bothered by actually reading and following a recipe, this is what we came up with.  Rather than using a mini-muffin pan (although we tried that, too) we actually preferred using the bottom half of our cake-pop pan.  The recipe I'm providing here made 22 cake pop bottom sized corn dog muffins which were, in fact, easy to eat sitting on the floor.
Hot dogs totally creep me out.  I broke one of the muffins open for you, but that's as good as it gets for me, people.  The nice part about this is that you could change the hot dog portion for anything you'd feed your kids.  These are reduced fat Hebrew Nationals, but you could use turkey dogs, veggie dogs, or whatever mixed-bag brand of choice your family enjoys.  My kids all gave this two thumbs way up. Not the healthiest thing ever, but it's better for my sanity than listening to them ask if it's time for recess yet every 30 seconds for half an hour!

Corn Dog Muffins
1 box corn muffin mix (we used Jiffy, but Giant has Guaranteed Value for something like 44 cents this week!)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (ours is white cheddar which is why you can't see it)
4 regular sized hot dogs, cut in to quarters length wise and then chopped into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk

Mix the corn muffin mix, egg, and milk.  Add the cheese and hot dog pieces.  You could also mix in chopped jalepeno if you were making this for spice lovers.  If you're using a mini muffin pan, fill it about 3/4 of the way.  If you're using a cake pop pan, just slightly under full baked perfectly for us.  We did not find we needed to grease our non-stick type pans, but a spray of cooking spray will ensure success.  Bake at 400 for 11-15 minutes, depending on the size of your mini muffin tin.

Have a suggestion for a bite-sized lunch option we should try? I'd love to try your recipe!! Email it or leave a link or directions in the comments below.

Guest Post: Healthy Poolside Snacks

Permalink to Guest%20Post%3A%20Healthy%20Poolside%20Snacks
Published: 08/01/2012

Beat the Heat with Healthy Pool Side Snacks
Freeze half bottles of water overnight, and fill with water in the am. Great for keeping your foor cold, and great when the kids want something cold to drink. Freeze a few full bottles that will last until you are readyto leave.
Freeze slices of bananas rolled in chopped peanuts. They are easy, pop in your mouth snacks and taste just like ice cream. Bananas are also a quick burning carb so they will keep up the kids energy level.
Packed full of protein, boiled eggs are easy to transport and filling. Veggie sticks are a given - by themselves, or great dipped in hummus for a little extra oomph!
Sweet, refreshing, and delicious! Never frozen grapes before? It is so easy.
Who says muffins are just for breakfast? Packed full of healthy carbohydrates, they are the perfect pool snack to give your kids lots of energy. Make them ahead, freeze them and then pull a few out for your next trip to the pool.
Laughing cow cheese is one of our favorite snacks. It is great to bring to the pool - fast and convenient. It is delicious spread on veggie sticks, apples, pears, and crackers.
Homemade Lunchables: Cheese, turkey, whole-grain crackers and your favorite fruit. Great for a pool-side snack or lunch!
Edamame: This simple and quick snack is packed full of protein and fiber.

Liz & Jim Faison run Fit For Christ  Providing Complete Health and Wellness Programs for Individuals, Churches, Ministries and Corporations
They also run a FIT FOR CHRIST BOOT CAMP: Join them every Saturday, 8a at First Baptist Church Woodbridge, VA for 75 minutes of fun, fellowship and fitness. $10 Adults, children 9-15 FREE with a paying adult, otherwise $5.  
As a special offer for PwcMoms.com readers:
August Offer: Buy 10 boot camps, get 10 free. Children 9-15 participating with a parent are FREE. Every Saturday. The certificate is good for one year, and can be used on a drop in basis. 

Review: The Frostie Moose

Permalink to Review%3A%20The%20Frostie%20Moose
Published: 07/17/2012
On Monday, we went to check out the Frostie Moose over at the intersection of Hoadly Road and the Prince William County Parkway.  They were hosting a spirit night for our swim team, and who are we to not support the team, right?
Of course right. So, my husband claims that he's tried to take the kids before on two occasions and the store has been closed, even though their hours indicate they should be open.  I can neither confirm nor deny that, but since he was asked for his input, there it is.

Frostie Moose serves up ice cream soft-serve style and features several permanent flavors as well as a flavor of the day, which you can find up on the board or by following them on Facebook.  They offer limited indoor and outdoor seating, and their prices seemed very comparable to other ice cream shops in the area.


My kiddos went with a kiddie sized cone (which was pretty substantial in size) with sprinkles, and a chocolate milkshake and a cookie dough milk shake.  Everyone was happy with their choices, and I thought the flavors were good (I snuck a bite from each kid- quality control check, you know how it is!) our only complaint was that the pieces of cookie dough in my son's shake were too big to come up the straw, despite the fact that he snagged a bubble-tea sized one.  His sister was happy to eat them with a spoon after he slurped up all the ice cream, though.

The kids enjoyed the giant moose mural, the owner and her staff seemed friendly and quick, and all three munchkins said they would be happy to come back anytime.  I appreciate, too, that they offer booster night options.

We enjoyed our visit, and think we'd definitely go back for another special treat night.
(pictures from the Frostie Moose Facebook page and Yelp.com because PWC Daddy refused to take pictures for me because he was afraid he'd get someone's face in them.  Sigh.)

Giveaway/Guest Post: Sweet Frog

Permalink to Giveaway%2FGuest%20Post%3A%20Sweet%20Frog
Published: 07/01/2012

Out and About:  Sweet Frog

I've seen the Sweet Frog sign from the road while visiting my favorite Chick-fil-A on Sudley Manor Drive and wondered what kind of establishment it was.  After seeing that they are opening another store in Woodbridge (thanks Super NoVa Mommy!) I decided to check the place out online.


SweetFrog is one of the fastest growing brands of premium, all natural, self-serve yogurt restaurants.  Our concept is simple:  SweetFrog is a bright, positive, family-friendly environment where customers can create their dessert, their way – at a very modest price point.......

SweetFrog was founded on the principles of Christianity and our belief in bringing happiness and a positive attitude into the lives of our consumers.  At SweetFrog, F.R.O.G stands for Fully Rely on God – and we hope to be an example of that in every community.

After reading this, I knew I definitely had to check this place out in person!
 
The restaurant opens at 11:30am so I figured we would get there right when they opened.  I was surprised to see people inside and some were even outside already eating their frozen yogurt!  The outside of the store is inviting and has tables and chairs (behind the bushes) for patrons to enjoy their frozen treats. 

The Goods!  
Notice the hat she wore from home!
As we entered the restaurant, we were hit with the colorful, clean and bright atmosphere mentioned on their website plus those adorable green frogs!  The self-serve frozen yogurt machines line the side wall in the back of the store .  There are over 10 flavors to choose from--all of which are clearly labeled with the flavors and nutritional information!  I thought it would be a little over whelming for a three year old to pick her favorite (it would've been for me if they didn't have my absolute favorite—coconut!), but she made her decision rather quickly.  They do have taste test cups if you are having trouble making up your mind.  :)

Brace yourself for the toppings bar! 
You pick out the size cup you want and fill it up as much as you want with your chosen flavor(s).  We got three of the smaller cups with the intentions of eating some in the store and taking the rest home.  (Yes, we were good and took some home!)  After filling up our cups, we headed to the toppings bar.  Wow!  I thought the frozen yogurt  choices were overwhelming!  There are at least 40 different toppings plus a variety of sauces you can add to your frozen yogurt.  Be warned!  You pay by weight, so be careful as the weight of those toppings adds up fast!  My daughter had seen pictures online of the restaurant and thankfully knew ahead of time that she wanted mini M&Ms. 
 
They weigh your cups up front and then you pay $0.42/ounce.  (They do take credit cards.) Our three cups came to about $7.00.  Not bad considering the price of ice cream treats at other places.  We also got a customer appreciation card (which I saw by the register and had to ask for) which you earn one free frozen yogurt after purchasing ten.  We are about a third of the way there!
 
Time to dig in!  My daughter got strawberry frozen yogurt.  It was so fresh and it appears to have real strawberries in it.  I got the sugar free vanilla for my 14 month old.  I was a bit more exotic with the coconut frozen yogurt with slivered almonds and mini chocolate chips.  Everyone enjoyed our treat!  It was hard to stop, but we did knowing we would have some more later!

They have a single bathroom (which is nice for taking both girls and a stroller in!) for boys and one for girls.  The boy and girl frog adorn the appropriate door.  The bathroom was clean and colorful.  (Remember bathrooms are a pet peeve of mine!)

My only complaint was that they don't have bags or carriers for the frozen yogurt.  They do have tops, so at least I could stack the containers up and carry them out to the car.

All in all, our trip to Sweet Frog made for a fun, little morning outing.  We will definitely go back again and we might even bring Daddy with us. ;)

Even Horton had fun!  (He joins us on many of our adventures as you will learn!)

Pros
·Kid-friendly
·Colorful and inviting
·Clean
·Decent pricing
·Yummy frozen yogurt
·Has high chairs
·Nice bathroom
·Ample parking

Cons
·No bags or carriers if you have leftovers or get it to go.
·Multitude of choices could be overwhelming for younger children.

Angela Pounders is a transplant to Manassas Park from Arlington.  She is blessed to be a stay at home mama to two beautiful girls.  As a former teacher (as well as preschool director and Children and Family Director), she is always on the look out for fun, easy and educational things to do with her girls.  She also loves to share her ideas and is looking to start her own blog, Master's Daughter, by the fall.


Thanks to Angela for her awesome guest post on Sweet Frog!! We liked it so much we went to check it out ourselves, and the great team over at Sweet Frog Manassas is offering one lucky PwcMoms reader a $20 gift card to come out and treat their family!  Winner must pick up and redeem their gift card at the Sweet Frog Manassas store.  No purchase is necessary to win, PwcMoms was not compensated for this post, winner assumes all liability...you know the drill :) 


To win, go and like Sweet Frog Manassas on Facebook and tell them you saw them on PwcMoms.com! Then, head back over here and leave a comment saying you did. Contest closes Monday night at 6pm.  Winner may be notified via email, Facebook and/or twitter.  

Summer Fun Ideas- Make Your Own Ice Cream

Permalink to Summer%20Fun%20Ideas-%20Make%20Your%20Own%20Ice%20Cream
Published: 06/27/2012
There is nothing quite as good as homemade ice cream :)

Seriously.

One of the best parts about the process is that it's totally customizable!  I have two recipes for vanilla ice cream that I love to use.  One is literally brainless, and the other actually involves a measuring cup, but they're both delicious and no-cook.  They're also eggless ice cream recipes, which is great if you have a child with allergies.

Recipe One
-1 Quart of Half and Half
-1 14oz can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Mix until the sweetened condensed milk is fully incorporated.  Freeze according to your manufacturer's instructions.  (Most important part- if you have an ice-based freezer don't skimp on the rock salt!!)

Recipe Two
-2 cups milk (this freezes better if you do not use skim)
-1 pint of heavy cream
-1 cup of sugar
-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Mix the milk and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Add the remaining ingredients and freeze according to your manufacturer's instructions.


What's that you say? You don't have an ice cream maker? No problem!  Scoop 1/2 a cup of the finished ice cream mix into a sandwich size Ziplock bag.  Put that Ziplock in another Ziplock and then put those two inside of a gallon size Ziplock bag and fill the bag with crushed ice and table salt.  Take the whole shebang outside and have your kids shake it for about 10-15 minutes (you can even play catch with it).  Take out the inside bags, dry quickly on a towel (salt water in your ice cream is gross) and you'll have some fresh soft serve!


Now, once your ice cream is done, you can eat it as is, or everyone can add their own toppings to an individual serving and set it in the freezer to firm slightly (or not, whatever, I'm not here to judge).  Great mix-ins include:
-Chopped peaches, strawberries, bananas, or blueberries
-Peanuts, walnuts, pecans
-M&Ms, marshmallows, gummi bears
-Chopped girl scout cookies, chopped Oreos
-Crushed pretzels

Mix in whatever you'd like (note: if you want to make an entire batch of cookies and cream, it's 20 chopped Oreos.  Just saying.) and enjoy your ice cream.  I prefer to take mine poolside, but you can do whatever you want!

Have you ever made ice cream at home? What's your favorite recipe or flavor? Leave a comment (or a link) below!

Readers Recommend: Best Pizza in Prince William County

Permalink to Readers%20Recommend%3A%20Best%20Pizza%20in%20Prince%20William%20County
Published: 06/22/2012
When I asked a reader question about the Best Real Pizza in Prince William County, I got a TON of responses! From Deep Dish in Dumfries to Meat Lovers in Manassas, you guys have some serious feelings about Pizza!! Here are the responses!  If you have a favorite location for the Best Pizza in Prince William County, be sure to leave a comment!!


Tony's in Bristow/Manassas/Bull Run/Haymarket x25
(Manassas Location is the Best, We moved to Manassas from Woodbridge to be closer to that place!) 



Astoria's 123/Route 1 in Woodbridge x15
(My husband's favorite and he went to culinary school! Best in the area!) 

Amici's Pizza off Hoadly Road x5
(Run by an Italian Family.  If you pick it up you get Buy One Get One free for Large One-Topping)

Presto Pizza in Merchant Plaza x5
(Woman is from Sicily, Run by Italian Family, Great Customer Service, grows her own basil)


Padrino's in Dale City x4

Pizza Margherita in Gainesville x4

Lake Ridge Pizzaria x3

Brooklyn Brothers in Gainesville (x3)


Papa Petrone's Take and Bake x3

zPizza x3

Brothers in Montclair x2

L&B in Dale City x2

Costco Pizza x2



Ledos of Liberia

Pizza Time in Manassas

Vocelli's

Bella Vita in Manassas on Liberia

Roma Restaurant in Lake Ridge

Big Joe's in Manassas

Pizza Spot in Manassas Park

Joe's Pizza and Subs on Route 1

Armetta's

Pizzarama in Manassas


Where do MamaMafia Dons Dine?

Permalink to Where%20do%20MamaMafia%20Dons%20Dine%3F
Published: 05/25/2012
Where do MamaMafia Dons Dine?

It sounds like there should be a punchline to that question- but the answer is anything but a joke.

This week I was able to spend some time (okay, almost 5 hours) at Carmello's in Old Town Manassas.  Y'all recommended Carmello's on our Reader Recommendation Restaurant Guide, and I've been wanting to try it ever since!  Andrea from Real Housewives of Northern Virginia set up a tasting, and from the moment we walked in, I was completely sold.  

Walking into Carmello's you'd never know that you're feet away from the Train Depot. Its warm colors and gold chargers invite you in, and even the sign glistens.  This would be the perfect location for a wedding or rehearsal dinner meal, and they are able to offer multiple room sizes to meet group needs.  Joining our dinner were Denise from Let Mommy Sleep/Mission Sleep, Rebecca from 3 Tiny Tyrants/Maguire Media Group, Laura from BeltwayBargainMom, and Micaela from SuperNovaMommy.  
Denise, Me, Micaela, the awesome manager Jacob, Rebeca, Laura, and Andrea
Rebecca selected a bottle from their extensive wine list for us.  There was what can only be described as the Cheesecake Factory Menu worth of wine on their list, but she picked out a fantastic red.  Twice :) (Please note- all photo credit is to Real Housewives of Northern Virginia who shared with me since I forgot to charge my phone before dinner) 
We were able to tour the restaurant.  This is the wine room.  Just for the reds.  
We had so much fun chatting with the manager, Jacob.  He selected a few dishes for us and I quickly shocked everyone since I love to cook and will try just about anything because I had never eaten ANYTHING that we had. I decided to try to handle it cultural-exchange style and just eat it :) It was all amazing, and I think I'm in love with scallops.  (Yeah, say that you've never had a scallop before at this table of women and you get 5 horrified gasps followed by two "Well you can pass them over here if you're not gonna try them!")


Okay, cell phones don't do food justice (sorry Andrea). This is shrimp and scallops over saffron rice with artichokes in a delicious creamy sauce.  I had never had a scallop before (gasp!) and am very selective about my shrimp, and since I'm not a seafood lover, let me say I loved all the seafood dishes here.  Everything was fresh and not the least bit "fishy".  Next we had veal medallions wrapped in bacon with a mushroom sauce, also over rice.





 I had (shocker) never had veal.  Also, let me confess to typically eating my meat "Well done, please, and then cook it a little more".  I didn't lick the plate....but I thought about it. This literally melted in your mouth.








Next we sampled the seafood ravioli, which had salmon (never had) and lobster cream sauce (never had lobster, either).  The salmon was probably the most out of my comfort zone, but the lobster cream sauce and I are now BFF's and I'm following it on twitter.





Now, all of this is very fancy and amazing, but it's of course special occasion/date night food.  And, when you have your next special occasion, this is where you should go.  Besides the food being amazing and the manager being friendly and knowledgable, the staff was attentive and I didn't see a single table that wanted for anything from water to clean forks.

But if you just need a little cocktail hour, Carmello's has you covered, too.  This delicious Pizza Margharita (yeah, I'd actually had this before!) Is actually from the adjoining bar, Monza.  If you're looking for a place for lunch, a light supper, or drinks with the girls, Monza has got to be it.  In addition, let me share something with you:
On Mondays, Monza has $5 martinis from a list about a mile long.  We sampled the pear, root beer float, grapefruit, a few I can't remember, and the awesome bar tender Jeff's espresso martini, which, if it were available at Starbucks, would land me in AA.  Meeting up with a few friends after work (even if work involves chasing toddlers!) at Monza would be epic. With the same warm and upscale feel, but substantially more flatscreen TVs (playing the hockey game!!) Monza is a great guy-friend or girl-friend meet up.

Also, now that summer is approaching, keep in mind that on Friday and Saturday nights, the patio is open and the side street shut down to accommodate live music.  What a great way to spend a warm summer night!

Carmello's- Entrees $23-30, elegant warm atmosphere. Going to the Hylton Performing Arts Center? Call ahead and bring your tickets and take advantage of their $35 Theatre Special before 6pm (Appetizer/Soup/Salad, Entree, Dessert).  Plan Carmello's for your next occasion and you definitely won't regret it!

Monza- $5-$17, fun upscale atmosphere, great for meeting friends! Don't forget the $5 martini Mondays, and that pasta is $4 off before 4pm, so a late lunch is an option!
Denise, Rebecca and me.  We like to segregate our Blondes and Brunettes when we dine out ;)




My group was provided with products or services for this review, however it represents my honest opinion, and I'd have written the same thing either way.  Just saying :)

daytime playtime - a fun place to Learn.... a great place to Grow