Mom, What’s for Dinner????

“What is for dinner”, you might say to yourself. Believe me, as a busy mom of 2 daughters ages 11 & 3 ½ yrs, I know how hard it is to come up with varied, healthy – and let’s not forget- yummy, meals for my family night after night. To keep my oldest daughter enthused about dinner and to let her have a little control over what we have (which in turn would get her to try new things) she came up with theme nights. Monday is Mexican, Tuesday is Meat or Fish, Wednesday is Pasta, Thursday is Chicken and Friday is Pizza. This leaves the weekend to BBQ in the backyard or to go out and explore some local restaurants. Instead of being bored cooking the “same old, same old”, I am constantly excited to come up with my weekly menu, using the themes as my guide and you can be too. If you expose your children to a variety of flavors early on chances are they’ll be better eaters.

You’re in luck, it is nearing the end of summer, but the bounty is still here. An abundance of fruit and vegetables are in season now, making it easier to come up with healthy, delicious meals for you and your family. The best way to ensure your children are getting the freshest, healthiest foods is to buy right from the source and teach them where things like fruits and vegetables come from. Coming up with good weekly meals is so easy, most of the time you barely need to do any cooking! Breakfast can consist of some fresh sliced peaches topped with plain low-fat yogurt, a scoop of granola and a drizzle of honey. For Lunch, blanch some chopped veggies, add them to your favorite shaped pasta that has been cooked al-dente, and toss with a light vinaigrette for an easy pasta salad. Dinner (Mexican night for example) could be Cheesy Corn and Bean Quesadillas made with fresh corn from the cob.

Our friend Lucian LOVES corn!

While it might not be enjoyable to bring your children along with you to the grocery store, bringing them to a roadside farm stand or a farmer’s market could be a great learning tool and adventure! The colors and smells of the fruits and vegetables out right now are so vibrant and fragrant. From a deep glossy green zucchini to a crimson red cherry to inhaling the sweet perfume of a perfectly ripe peach all will appeal to your child’s senses. Using your theme nights and what is fresh in season and what looks good, at the markets as your guide, you should be able to whip up some fabulous meals that you and your family will love. There are 30 Farmer’s Markets in the Rhode Island area. Farm Fresh RI manages 7 Farmer’s Markets in the State. Their website ( is a great resource. You can sign up to receive weekly e-mail updates of what’s going on at the market, what’s in season and find out where the nearest market is to you with directions and maps included. The site also lists; “Pick Your Own” farms and “Roadside” farm stands. If you live outside the Rhode Island area, you can find out when and where local markets are held by contacting your State’s agriculture department (or go to:

Mmmmm, Peaches!

Despite the beauty of the bounty, some kids might not want to eat their fruits and veggies! Get creative, put shredded vegetables in burgers, turn-pureed fruit mixed with yogurt into frozen pops or steam your Childs’ favorite veggies such as sweet carrots and serve with a cool creamy dressing for dipping. If your kids don’t like one vegetable move on to another, such as sliced tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with a little salt & pepper, or a medley of grilled vegetables topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It doesn’t take much to make your simple summer meals great.

Having your children help you in the kitchen preparing the meals is another great way to help persuade them to try new things. Kids as young as 4 can start to take on some responsibility with guidance. My oldest daughter started helping me in the kitchen when she was 5, rolling and forming the dough for Friday night Pizza. I then let her spread the sauce all around and sprinkle on the cheese, which she of course had to sample! She used to love watching the cheese bubble in the oven. Now she can’t wait until it is finished!

FOODIE FIELD TRIP: Camping in Maine


Jim, Zoe, Emma and I recently went camping in Southern Maine with my Sister-in-law Jen and my niece Desiree, who were up from Florida for the summer. We were very lucky to find a site considering we did not make reservations till a week before our trip! It was a bit rainy and chilly for much of the weekend, but that did not deter us from having a wonderful time together and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We were hoping to be close to Ogonquit, but our campground (located on Rt. 1) in Wells was much closer to Kennebunkport. New places to explore!

We took 95N up from Providence and made a favorite stop in York: Stonewall Kitchen! If you have never been, run, don’t walk. Jonathan King and Jim Stott started their business by selling some terrific jams at the local famer’s market (I remember purchasing some of their now-famous, award-winning, Roasted Garlic Onion Jam at the Hampton Beach farmer’s market oh, so many years ago!). Their headquarter’s now encompasses a cafe, store and a beyond fabulous cooking school where they hold classes daily! We picked up some of our favorites (wild maine blueberry) and a few new jars (you get to sample just about everything) , and then decided to take the “scenic” route 1, to our campground (instead of zipping back onto the highway).

Traffic was bumper to bumper on the Rt. 1, so by the time we got to our campsite and set up on our first night, it was dark, a bit late and drizzly. We were so very hungry (and a bit crabby) that we headed over to Wells House of Pizza (207-646-5578). A pepperoni pizza never tasted so good!
We woke up to a cool and sunny day, so we decided to check out the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge located about 5 min. from camp. Through her numerous books (most notably Silent Spring: 1962), Rachel Carson alerted the public to the link between human actions and their environmental effect. It is a beautiful preserve with trails that take you through a salt marsh. Since we were a minute from Kennebunkport, we just had to check out the Bush family summer home! We wanted to pop in to say hello to the President, but alas he and his family had just left for Bejing. Maybe next time……….
The drive along the coast thru Kennebunkport on to Cape Porpoise is gorgeous. The local fire station was having a lobster roll sale, but we opted for rolls and clam chowder from Port Lobster Company market across from The Breakwater Inn and Spa and parked ourselves on a bench overlooking the harbor where we watched the lobsterboats come in.
The lobstermen had to park here and count all of the lobsters, and then move on to let the other boats park and count.

After spending the day looking for edible plants in a salt marsh, driving along the ocean, doing some shopping in Kennebunkport :
(My favorite shop by the way is: Daytrip Society.)
We were ready for some good campfire grub!! The kids kept busy at the playground across from our site (not as wonderful as you might think!), and Jen and Jim and I popped open some terrific local beer: Geary’s Summer Ale

While the rice pilaf was cooking on the camp-stove and Jim prepared the fire, I put together an easy Caprese salad made with RI basil, Maine grown tomatoes and Narragansett Creamery’s fresh Mozzarella.
Jennifer had marinated some awesome steaks, so we threw those on the grill along with some corn and bread.
No camp dinner is complete without S’mores!
Here Zoe shows us how it is done!

The next morning Jim decided to make a hearty breakfast: coffee, hot chocolate, juice, bacon and pancakes!

Feeling full and happy, we decided to head down to York Beach and relive some happy moments from our childhood. Since we also had eager children with us and it was not a perfect beach day, we headed for the arcade!

Jim had almost as much fun as the kids! Me, I am not the biggest fan of arcades. Just don’t like playing the games too much. I did enjoy Skee-ball though!
“Look into my crystal ball. Ooh, I see great things in your future!”
We were hungry after playing all of those games. Being by the seaside we had to go with the fish-n-chips. Crunchy and fresh. Really scrumptious!

You cannot visit York Beach without visiting The Goldenrod; home of the famous Goldenrod Kisses!

They have been making (my favorite taffy!!!!) their famous kisses since, 1896! My favorite flavor and their best-seller is Molasses. It is so fun to press your face against the window and watch the taffy being made!

Stretching the taffy
Pulling the taffy
Wrapping the taffy
Pick up an assorted box the next time you are in town or order online!

No trip to coastal Maine would be complete without a visit to a lighthouse and a lobster dinner.

We took Jen and Desi to see the famous Nubble Light in Cape Neddick.
This Cape Neddick Lighthouse began operating in 1879.
The forecast was calling for severe thunderstorms in the area, so we ended our camping trip a day early, but not without treating ourselves to a lobster dinner at my favorite lobster in-the-rough location: Ogunquit Lobster Pound (504 Main St, Ogunquit, ME (207) 646-2516) You pick out your lobsters as they are swimming around the tank outside, and then the guys take the steamers and lobsters and tie them up in a net and boil them in sea water for you!

The other Jen Corbin (my sweet sister-in-law) loved them so much she decided she would eat everyone’s lobstah!

Woonsocket Farmer’s Market TODAY!

There were massive down pours at the start of last week’s Woonsocket Farmer’s Market, but that didn’t deter the faithful foodies on their hunt for farm fresh goodies!
What can you expect to to see today? Hopefully no rain!
Moosup River Farm: cantaloupe, red bliss potatoes, broccoli (or, as Zoe calls them. little green trees), beautiful big eggplant(with chilly weather around the corner I see Eggplant Parmesan in my future!).

last week I purchased some of White Oak Farm’s ‘famous” corn. It was so scrumptious! Naturally buttery sweet, I can’t wait to get more this week!
They also had green beans, field grown tomatoes, blueberries, Sicilian eggplant and some lovely , tiny, lavender colored fairy tale eggplant.

Hill Orchards had vibrant green peppers, corn, squash and cucumbers. Some early short term apples are starting to appear! Pristine Apples, Wellingtons and Jersey Macs. All are on the tart side. Alan also had some lovely, little, golden Japanese Shiso Plums along with some Santa Rosa plums which are actually very hard to grow here in New England. They prefer an all around warmer climate.

Here is a great deal: the Hill Orchards stand had: 3lbs. of plums, peaches and nectarines for $5.00!!

Cooks Valley Farm had 2ND Quality Peaches for sale which are great for canning, freezing and baking. At one section of the table, you could fill a bag of 2ND quality(I saw nothing wrong with them!) peppers and squash for $2.50! Terrific for stews, quiches and freezing.

They also had their own onions, shallots, potatoes. Green, golden and purple peppers. Big heads of lettuce and kale. Big, beautiful melons as well.
I love heading to the local markets every week. I always see something new and delicious I can’t wait to take home and try. Or if you are like me, leave some napkins in the car. Those juicy plums and tasty tart apples, might not make it all the way home!

As always, the Woonsocket Farmer’s Market is held every Tuesday from 4pm-7pm at St. Ann’s Church. For more information about this market and others please go to the Farm Fresh RI web-site:
****A big thank you to market manager Laura Genello for this week’s market pictures!

Caprese Salad: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

1.) Traditional: Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad from the Italian region of Campania.
The dish reproduces the colours of the flag of Italy.
Alternately layer slices of garden fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella (my favorite mozz?: Narragansett Creamery‘s of course!) with basil leaves, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with your favorite extra virgin olive oil. Serve with a crusty baguette on the side.

2.) Twist: Quarter a pint’s worth of cherry tomatoes ( I recently used a colorful assorted pint from Zephyr Farm),
Slice and quarter a ball of fresh mozzarella. Place all into a big bowl, add some shredded basil leaves, salt to taste add some olive oil and stir carefully. Serve at room temperature alongside some grilled chicken or hamburgers.

3.) Tasty: Save some of the previous salad. Pick up pizza dough at your local pizza bakery or grocery store (I get my dough fresh from Sal’s in Providence). Preheat your oven to 425. Spray your pizza pan, roll out your dough to fit the pan and place on top. Spread dough with some Pesto (we happened to have some of Jim’s homemade Pesto in the fridge) and top the Pesto with the salad. Add some chopped scallions. Bake in the oven for 15-20min. until crust is golden and the cheese is slightly bubbly.

4.) Terrific: My friend Kara LOVES fresh mozzarella so much she would happily eat it every day, in every way. That is until the weather cools enough for her to enjoy her beloved brie! While our kids were having their picnic lunch on the lawn today, we enjoyed a Kara special: Caprese Sandwiches!
Cut 4 slices of foccacia bread and place them in toaster oven just until crunchy.
Slice some fresh mozz, place on top of a slice of foccacia, top with cherry tomatoes, basil and a
little drizzle of olive oil and place the other slice on top.

Four very simple ways to enjoy the bounty of the summer. ENJOY!!!

Beantown is Greentown

Planning a “staycation” this summer? Have I got a great idea for you! Head on up (or N,S or E) to Boston & Cambridge for a Green weekend! Jim and I did just that a few weeks ago and had a fabulous time.

**”Locals and visitors alike can explore Boston in a whole new way with the debut of BeanTown is GreenTownSM, which highlights Boston and Cambridge as a “green” destination.

Boasting an exclusive collection of eco-friendly businesses, such as The Lenox Hotel, the shop Envi on Newbury Street, Boston Pedicab tours, the Cambridge inn Irving House and restaurants Garden at the Cellar and Taranta, BeanTown is GreenTown itineraries pack a variety of earth-friendly things to do into a weekend or a week.

Saturday: After checking in to the Irving House, and pinching ourselves that it would be just the two of us for the weekend, we headed out for our first green adventure: a Pedicab tour of Boston! What a treat it was: our Pedicab driver Kyle gave us a 75-minute all-encompassing tour of Boston’s Hot spots and historical destinations. Jim and I are no strangers to the city, but this Pedicab tour gave us a unique view of the city you cannot get from riding in a car.

Our driver Kyle, was an Emerson College alum and since I attended the school as well, he made sure to point out all of the changes the school has been going through over the years. For example: almost all of the buildings used in my time, such as the theatre building and my old dorm, have been sold and are now fancy condos! The young kids attending the school now have moved up the Common a bit and live in and attend classes in more modern, cutting edge structures.
He told us that the facades of many of the old buildings are being saved and new structures will be built behind them. We saw many familiar sights. Back in the day, this was The Blue Diner, open all night!
The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, part of The Big Dig Project in Boston, is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The Bridge serves as the northern entrance to and exit from Boston. The Bridge is named after civil rights activist Lenny Zakim and the American colonists who fought the British in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

There is always construction going on in the city!
Being on the bike you really get to see the cool shapes of the city.
Custom House
City sidewalks, pretty sidewalks…..
Our Green Pedicab tour of Boston couldn’t have ended at a more perfect location!

After heading back to the Irving House to rest, it was soon time to head out for dinner. We had a spot reserved for us at The Garden at the Cellar on Mass Ave. in Cambridge. This cool gastropub is conveniently located between Harvard Square and Central Square. Chef Will Gilson is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University and was raised to appreciate what is local and in season. His family runs The Herb Lyceum at Gilson’s.
We started off with local-handmade Burrata cheese drizzled with olive oil and topped with roasted grapes that had been coated with a heavenly mixture of Middle Eastern spices. Burrata cheese looks at first glance like fresh mozzarella, but wait, when you cut into the center it oozes with a tangy core of cream. In this case, mascarpone!!

Next up were Island Creek Oysters topped with a warm mignonette (sauce) and placed on individual beds of sea salt. We then moved on to Watermelon Gazpacho with Lillet, local tomatoes and red shiso. The gazpacho was so smooth and creamy(although no cream was added)! With a divine mellow flavor offset beautifully with the tender shiso.
Just when I thought the dinner couldn’t get any better we moved on to our main courses:
Roasted mushroom flatbread with thyme and herbed ricotta. The mushrooms were so pleasantly hearty, they reminded Jim of the mushroom hunt we took while on our honeymoon in France, oh so many years ago.
Skillet of striped bass with summer beans, baby onions, basil, wine braised fennel, and brown butter. This dish was so scrumptious I hardly wanted to share! The crispy skin on the fish reminded me of summers with my Mom and Dad at our favorite campground. My Dad and I would take the rowboat out and fish, and then my Mom would fry up our catch in the cast-iron skillet for breakfast! Yum
Garden at The Cellar does not serve dessert. However, we did leave with a copy of Edible Boston and 2 single origin, 59% dark chocolate coins from Columbia. The night was still young so Chef Will sent us to one of his top three favorite drinking holes in Boston and Cambridge: Green Street Grill(how appropriate!). We asked for his favorite bartender, Misty K. and she made the most divine drink for me:
The Summer of Sureau
Misty had received very high marks with it at a recent St. Germain mixology competition in NYC. She was happy to share the recipe with me and my readers!
1 1/2oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2oz Batavia Arrack
1/2oz lemon juice
1/4oz pineapple syrup
3 dashes Bittermans Boston Summer Bittahs

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. *Pineapple syrup: pass fresh pineapple juice through a fine strainer lined with a cone filter (a coffee filter would work, too). Then take the pineapple water and make a syrup that’s two parts pineapple water, one part sugar. Recipe: Misty Kalkofen via **Sorry there are no pictures of our drinks. It was very dark in the bar area!
With very full bellies and tired legs we were so happy to finally rest our heads at the Irving House at Harvard. This lovely hybrid hotel allows guests to experience the vibe of a historic college neighborhood, while providing a charming and cozy alternative to a typical hotel stay. Visitors are encouraged to participate in recycling an composting initiatives. In addition to using local products (so many yummy breakfast choices!) and amenities, reducing waste, conserving energy and promoting public transportation, Irving House is pleased to support Renewable Choice, the leader in providing clean energy to organizations and individuals across the country. Irving House has been repeatedly bestowed with the EPA’s Energy Star Award.
I so thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Irving House I wished I could have stayed one more night!

Sunday: We had one more Green destination to visit. Feeling a bit discouraged at first after heading over the bridge to Newbury St. Everyone was out visiting their favorite brunch spots (it was a beautiful day to sit outside) so a parking spot on Newbury at first seemed impossible to come by. However, the parking angel was watching over Jim. He scored a spot right in front of Johnson Paint store and very close to the Mass Ave. turnpike on-ramp!
After window shopping for a little bit and visiting a favorite shop of mine: Kitchen Arts, we arrived at our final BeanTown is GreenTown destination: ENVI.

Driven by a passion for Green fashion, Callie Smith and Ursula Stahl opened Envi about a year ago to much acclaim. This cool boutique offers an exclusive selection of style-conscious clothing by designers like, Covet, Kelly B and the very popular Linda Loudermilk. Items are made with vintage fabrics, hemp, organic cotton bamboo and vegetable tanned leather. With its pro-environment construction, store design and use of recycled products in daily business practices, Envi’s planet-positive concept goes deeper than it’s clothing, shoes and jewelry. Stephanie was a very helpful saleswoman giving us a tour of the store and mentioning green fashion tidbits here and there.
Jim took some fabulous photos of Envi, but my computer is not letting me download them right now. Will try again tomorrow.)
After picking up some cupcakes at Sweet, for my sister in law (she babysat!), my niece and the girls, (Ok, not very green: pink actually!) we hopped on the turnpike and headed home.

For more information on how you can have your own BeanTown is GreenTown weekend, please contact Civetta Comunicazioni at 617-577-8098 or visit them online at:
**I would like to thank Colleen Oteri and Nancy Civetta of Civetta Comunicazioni, for setting up this spectacular “staycation“. Irving House GM Rachel Solem, Kyle with Boston Pedicab, Stephanie of Envi and Chef Will Gilson of Garden at the Cellar for their fabulous food and terrific hospitality!!

Saturday Foodie Field Trip: Wickford

Despite the gloomy forecast of showers for the day; my Mom and I along with the girls went off to the Hope St. Market this morning.
At the market we picked out some bright orange & pale yellow carrots from Bettencourt Farm (Hi Al!). Bought (bribed the girls really, “We won’t be long at the market! Mommy won’t run into anyone she knows today; I promise. Oh look, here are a couple of yummy cookies!”: a Mom has do to what a Mom has to do!) 2 Ginger Star cookies from Seven Stars Bakery stand, some awesome Pepper Jack Cheese from Narragansett Creamery and my favorite Diva Cukes form Arcadian Fields and something special to top the pizza with tonight: Pistou Basil (really tiny bunches of leaves a local chef asked them to grow.). I have never had it before and am looking forward to experimenting! Oh, I did run into my friend Anisa, she has a terrifc blog you really should check out:!
Since Jim wanted the majority of the day to himself to finish up some home projects, we took off down south and stopped in the charming historic town of Wickford, RI. Seeing as it was lunch time when we arrived and knowing that I did not want to shop with a cranky preschooler: we started our visit with lunch.
I have not been to Wickford in a while so I really had no clue where to eat (hard to believe I know!). Since it wasn’t raining, we picked one of the places on the water. What great decision! We chose: the Beach Rose Cafe. We all had clam chowder and clam cakes. SCRUMPTIOUS! Actually the clam chowder was awfully hot, so we did not get to finish it all. My Mom was most impressed by the addition of Dill in the chowder, not too much mind you, just enough to add a great flavorful dimension. Nice array of clams and potatoes and a not too thick, creamy broth. The restaurant recycles and uses compostable take-out containers and sources local ingredients whenever possible. After making some new friends (Hi Brook!) we were ready to shop. Wickford is filled with charming shops all along the boat-filled harbor. I was looking of for a wedding present for some friends who were recently married in Tuscany. I looked in a few charming shops and finally found the perfect gift at Kitchen and Table of Wickford (401-295-1105).
Ann E. Cobb is the lovely new proprieter. She is so friendly and helpful and the shop is stock ful of everything you might need for the kitchen and dining room: pots, pans, gadgets, glasware, dishes and more. Including some fab locally made pottery and pottery from Ann’s home country of Ireland.
I hope you get a chance sometime this Summer or Fall to venture south to Wickford and check out these places and more. Be sure to tell the proprieters that Jen’s dish sent you!
*****(sorry there are no pics: I was spacey today due to the antihistamine I had to take this morning. Taking pictures required way too much energy since all I wanted to do was sleep!).

EZ "Baked Beans"

Here is the “Baked Bean” recipe I promised one of my radio show listeners on Wednesday. I think this will pair perfectly with anything you might throw on the grill this weekend! ENJOY.

Time: About 21/2 hours, plus overnight soaking

1 pound dry white beans, like navy, pea or cannellini (see note) I like to mix up the size of the beans a bit. Some small and some large.
2 whole cloves
1 small onion, halved lengthwise and peeled
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices thick-cut bacon
Chopped red onion, for garnish.

1. Cover beans with water to top them by 2 inches and refrigerate overnight, or bring to boil in water to cover, cool 1 hour.

2. Drain and rinse beans. Put them in a pot. Stick whole cloves into onion halves and add to pot along with garlic and bay leaf. Cover with enough water to top them by 1 inch. Simmer beans, partly covered, until just tender, about 1 to 2 hours depending upon age and size of beans; do not overcook. Add boiling water if beans look dry during cooking; they should be surrounded by just a little liquid.

3. Remove onion, cloves, garlic (if desired) and bay leaf from pot. Stir in the salt.

4. In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, molasses, vinegar, mustard powder, Tabasco and pepper. Pour mixture into beans and stir well. Add a slice of bacon to pot and bring everything to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat until beans are thickened, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove bacon slice, if desired. Season with more salt if needed.

5. Just before serving, reheat beans, if necessary. Fry remaining bacon in large skillet and drain on paper-towel-lined plate. Transfer beans to heated gratin dish or baking pan and top with bacon and red onion. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings.

Note: You can substitute three 15-ounce cans of white beans, if desired. Put them, with their liquid, in a pot and simmer with the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, mustard, Tabasco, pepper and bacon as directed in Step 4. Serve as above.

**To make this a vegetarian dish: do not add BACON.