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Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

Every February and March I think about visiting a maple tree farm. Then somehow I forget about it. Perhaps it is because usually February and March are super cold and I do not feel like being outside to check out the maple trees. Ha!

Vermont is always associated with maple syrup, but we have a lot of maple tree farms in New York too. There are a slew of them in the Finger Lakes. Just do a search on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website and you will be amazed. You do not have to drive too far to find a maple tree farm.

One of the most popular spots is probably Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn. Every year the Inn serves a pancake breakfast with their new batch of maple syrup. I know folks who go there every year. The pancake part probably made them popular… who does not like pancakes with maple syrup? About 6 years ago, we decided to give them a try. The Inn is a drive, so when we visited it we bundled the trek with a hike through Letchworth State Park. Hiking through Letchworth in the winter is super pretty. I loved seeing the frozen water near the falls. Then after a 45 minute wait outside in the frigid cold but luckily sunny day, we made it in. The pancakes and the maple syrup were pretty good, but I was not sure if the long drive was worth it every year.

Last weekend was Maple Weekend in New York state. I decided to check out what farms are in the area so we can take Julia to learn how maple syrup is made. After searching on the New York State Maple Weekend’s website, I was surprised to find out how many farms are just in my area, let alone in the surrounding counties. I was super excited to find that there was a farm 5 minutes away from my house on Log Cabin Road.

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I actually had an idea that there was some kind of a maple tree farm around there. Whenever I ride my bike from home, I like to ride on Benson Road, which leads into Log Cabin. Benson Road is super pretty! It reminds me of the Adirondacks… super wooded and the trees’ canopies form an umbrella over the road. Towards the end of Benson right before Log Cabin there is always a little stand on the left side of the street with a maple syrup and honey sign. Since I was always on my bike, I never stopped, but I always told myself to go there with the car. But of course it always escaped my mind. There is another little stand on Willis Hill Road too, which I have never stopped there either since I am always on my bike when I pass by it.

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So last weekend we drove to the maple tree farm. We found out that the farm is called Kettle Ridge Farm and they make maple syrup, collect honey, sell eggs from their farm chickens, and are trying to grow shiitake mushrooms. How cool is that?!? The farm is family run by a father/son duo.

Julia loved learning how maple syrup is made. Eating a pancake with the maple syrup was even more exciting! And checking out the chickens was the highlight of her trip, especially since she was able to feed them. :)

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The tour of course included tasting the maple syrup. It was definitely delicious! One of the surprising things that we found out during the tour was the fact that the color is based on the weather during the tapping season. It has nothing to do with the boiling process. Apparently, the color of their maple syrup this year was light, then it got darker, and then it got light again. Interesting!!

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Maple syrup color ranges…

This morning I decided to make pancakes in order to taste test my usual maple syrup, Wegmans Organic Maple Syrup, with our new found maple syrup. Kettle Ridge Farm’s maple syrup was a clear winner. The maple syrup is more complex and flavorful.

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I am very excited that I found the farm. Who would have thought that I can find delicious maple syrup that is made 5 minutes from the house! Love it!

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Sometimes when I find a new place that I fall in love with, I do not want to share the news in fear that it will become super popular and will be difficult to go there. This was the case with The Village Bakery in Pittsford. I have been thinking about dedicating a post to it for a while now, but I could not do it. But it is so good, that I had to share. Plus it has become popular, so I already lost that battle.

As I was driving home through the village last fall, I noticed some construction behind the Starbucks. I kept an eye on it and one day the sign went up… it said “Bakery”. I got excited. I could not wait to check it out. As soon as I walked in, I knew that I was going to spend a lot of time in there. It reminded me of Le Pain Quotidien in DC. The communal table, the fresh breads, the sandwiches, and the pastries… perfect! So the Saturday following my first drop in visit, Joel and I went there for breakfast. I remember ordering the breakfast sandwich that included a poached egg, arugula, pesto, and goat cheese. It was delicious!

We continued to go there for breakfast several more times. Then one day we went there for lunch and I ordered the tuna melt minus the cheese. Oh my! It was the best tuna sandwich that I have ever eaten. I am not kidding! We practically go there almost every weekend and that is what I order each time. I just cannot get myself to order anything else. The bread is perfectly toasted but still super soft and fresh and the tuna salad is just so tasty. I am not sure what they put in it, aside from the obvious ingredients such as tuna and dill. But it’s just amazing!

Ok, maybe I have ordered other sandwiches here and there. The B.A.L.T and the Turkey sandwiches are very good. Joel has ordered the Croque Madame several times and that is pretty good too. The only sandwich that I did not really care for was the Chicken Salad. I really wanted to like it, but I found it too dry. It needed a tomato or something. The actual salad is pretty tasty but as a whole, it is just ok. Same goes for the Egg Salad… it was good. It was tasty and not drenched in mayo, which is a plus in my book. If you like egg salad, I would definitely give it a try.

Each time we go there for lunch, I also have to order 2 cake bites. These are the most delicious and moist cake bites ever! What a brilliant idea… make a cake and roll it in a bite sized ball. My favorite is the vanilla followed by the chocolate peanut butter. The perfect ending to a perfect lunch!

The breads are really nice too. One of my favorites is the VB Table Bread. It’s a really nice everyday bread. It’s not super crusty and the inside is soft. My kind of a bread. I have also tried their brioche and it is good, but does not compare to the brioche at Le Pain Quotidien. That is still the best brioche that I have tasted since having it in France.

I am looking forward to the summer since they have a very nice patio that is decorated with beautiful potted flowers. I spent some time there last summer once Julia was born and I was on maternity leave. It was the perfect location to kill some time while Julia was napping in her stroller. In fact, she has practically grown up there. The place is great for her too. She loves it there. I guess it helps that we have taken her there since she was in my belly. :)

Julia at the Bakery

Julia in the big girl high chair at the Bakery.

Now please try not to go there too much or if you do and is crowded, please save us a seat.

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While browsing through the current issue of the Whole Living magazine, I came across an article about snacks. Avocado with Black Bean Salsa, Sharp Cheddar, Hummus, and Sprouts, Dry-Roasted Edamame with Cranberries, Chocolate Apricot Nut Bars… I don’t know if I was hungry at that particular time, but all of them sounded super tasty. No?!? I decided to make the Chocolate Apricot Nut Bars.

The recipe is super simple. You pulse 1½ cups of apricots with ½ cup toasted almonds, 2 teaspoons of toasted coconut flakes (I used a lot more since I had shredded coconut), and a pinch of salt until finely ground. You then add the mixture into a dish lined with parchment paper, and spread it pressing firmly to form it into a block.

Lastly, you remove the formed bar from the dish, drizzle it with 2 ounces of melted chocolate (I used unsweetened chocolate), and sprinkle it with a bit of toasted coconut flakes. Before cutting it into bars, refrigerate it until firm, about 15 minutes. That’s it! So simple, but so delicious!

As I was making the bars, I thought of other different dried fruits that I can experiment with. Dates, figs, raisins… the possibilities are endless!

If you are looking for a good snack, I highly recommend these bars. I look forward to eating them throughout the week. (Except that Joel informed me that they will be gone in 2 days. HA!)

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Yes, I know what you are saying… finally, a post about hiking! I am well aware of the fact that I have been slacking in the hiking department. I blame cycling for this! Plus, it has been winter here for the past 4 months. :) However, since it is still a bit too cold for cycling and the snow has finally melted away, a hike seemed like a perfect thing to do on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning.

A few weeks ago, my friend Kristin mentioned that she and our friend Marc talked about going for a hike in Letchworth State Park and then going to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn for all you can eat pancakes. I was sold! I am not a huge fan of pancakes, but why on earth would anyone pass up the opportunity to have fresh maple syrup? Beats me!! Plus, I have been wanting to check out the Inn for a while, so I was excited to go.

Letchworth was really beautiful! I have actually never been there during spring. I really loved the bare trees and the shadows that the sunrays painted on them. The waterfalls were amazing too! I have never seen so much water gushing out. It makes perfect sense, since I have only been there in the summer when the water levels are lower, which yields tamer waterfalls.

Another amazing sight were the ice walls. I have never seen them close up. The best ones were near the popular Lower Falls bridge.

After about 2 hours of hiking, we were ready for some pancakes! After a short drive to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn, we were in line waiting to get in. Yes, there was a line to get in… this place is very popular! Fortunate for us, the line moved fairly quickly (we waited for ½ an hour), since by that point we were super hungry and a bit cold. (I cannot imagine waiting in line in the middle of the winter. Brr!!)

While we were waiting for our food, we decided to sample some maple syrup. Why spoil it with pancakes when you can taste it by the spoonful? YUM!!

Apparently the maple syrup is made in the restaurant’s basement, which is not a very large area. I do not know much about the process, but it seemed amazing to me that they can produce so much maple syrup in such a small area. Perhaps they have another facility nearby.

All of us ordered pancakes (of course) and some kind of a combination of eggs, sausages, and ham. The pancakes were good. They were made with buckwheat so they had a slight nutty flavor. As I mentioned before, I am not a huge fan, but they were pretty tasty, especially drizzled with the maple syrup. The sausages were good too. Breakfast sausages can be pretty rich and greasy, but these were not like that at all. Also, apparently the sausages are made only a few miles away from the Inn. I love it! Local business supporting each other!

The outing was fun! I am not sure that I would make the drive very frequently though. It is a far drive for pancakes and maple syrup. But I perhaps could be persuaded if a hike or a ride around the area is involved. HA!

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I have been on a baking kick lately. It’s Kristin’s fault! :) A few weeks ago, while we were making plans to get together, she kept mentioning this Nectarine Upside Down Cake that she discovered in her new cookbook called Everyday Greens: Home Cooking from Greens the Celebrated Vegetarian Restaurant. I really wanted to try it, so I asked her if she would make the cake in return for a dinner at my house. She agreed. The cake was fantastic! I asked her for the recipe and she gladly gave it to me.

This past weekend we were going to a small get together with a few friends so I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to make the cake. The recipe is very simple. You make a caramel mixture from butter, brown sugar, and some rum. You add the sliced nectarines (or peaches, which I bought by mistake, since I thought that the recipe required them) on top of the caramel in a spoke-like fashion, and then you top if off with a cake batter made from almond paste, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, and salt.

As I was making the cake batter, I noticed the almond paste requirement. I apparently did not read the recipe very well before going to the grocery store, since I did not buy the almond paste. I decided to pulverize a bunch of almonds in my small food processor and add it to the batter. The end result was delicious! The cake was a hit! In fact, I liked the cake so much that I made it again this past Sunday. :) The recipe mentions that the cake can also be made with other fruits such as peaches (HA!), apricots, plums, and fresh cherries. I think that even pears and apples would work. The possibilities are endless!

I am a sucker for fresh things… bread, fruit, anything. Oh, and especially if they are locally made/grown. While I was grocery shopping on Sunday, I saw these beautiful apricots that were brought in from a local farm. I could not resist! I bought a fairly large pint, and as soon as I got home from the grocery store, I ate a bunch of them. An hour later my stomach was killing me. (I am unable to eat a lot of fresh fruits. That pesky stomach! But I could not resist!)

It was another rainy day in Rochester, which put a damper on my bike riding plans, so I decided to make something with those beautiful apricots, especially since Joel informed me that they were getting very ripe. I searched on my trusted sites and came across a recipe for a Breakfast Apricot Crisp. Perfect! And oh, how perfect it was. YUM!

I did however make a few adjustments to the crisp recipe. I doubled the amount of oats and flour (I used white and whole wheat flour), cut the sugar to only 4 tablespoons, added a teaspoon of honey to thicken it a bit, substituted pumpkin seeds for almonds, and added vanilla and coconut flakes. :)

Ok… so I did make a fair amount of changes, but I think that you can add whatever you like in it. Next time I will try adding some cinnamon and cardamom. (My friend Sally gave me a delicious granola recipe a few years ago that included cinnamon and cardamom, and it worked wonderfully.)

Happy baking!

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Breakfast on weekends is one of my favorite meals. I usually have oatmeal for breakfast during the week, so on weekends I like to fancy it up. :) Joel and I have a ritual where every Saturday or Sunday we go out for breakfast. We usually end up at Jines, and I always order the same thing – waffles with pecans and real maple syrup. Real maple syrup is a must!!

I do make breakfast at home too, of course. I have made crepes (of course!!), French toast, eggs, and waffles. I despise cleaning the waffle maker, so I don’t make waffles very often. A long time ago (in 2001 to be exact), I found a delicious recipe for an Apple Puff Pancake in the Wegmans Menu Magazine. It was a keeper! I have made it numerous times since then. One day I used pears instead of apples and I loved it! I think that it works better with the pears, so I have used them ever since. I have also added some pecans, which makes it even more delicious.

Pear Puff Pancake

Last weekend, our friends Kristin and Anton invited us over for breakfast. Kristin mentioned that she was making pumpkin pancakes. YUM! For some reason, I don’t ever make pancakes. I have made them a couple of times, but they just did not excite me very much. Perhaps I did not have the best recipe. The pancakes that Kristin made were another story. They were just delicious!! They were fluffy and the pumpkin really made the dish. She also sautéed a few apples with some spices to use as a topping. The breakfast was delicious! I will definitely ask her for the recipe.

Kristin's Pumpkin Pancake with apple topping

A few weeks ago we were invited to a dinner party. I volunteered to bring a dessert. I was not sure what to make, so while searching for recipes, I came across a recipe called Mom’s Apple Cake on Smitten Kitchen. The cake was delicious! It was very moist and it had the consistency of a coffee cake. It would be a great cake to make for a brunch. The cake is supposed to be made in a tube pan and you are supposed to layer the apples with the cake batter. I don’t have a tube pan, so I made it in a bundt pan instead. It worked just as well. I also think that it can be made in a deeper square pan, if you don’t have a tube or bundt pan. Also, the recipe requires a cup of oil and 2 cups of sugar, which is unnecessary. I used a 1/2 of a cup of oil and 1 cup of sugar, and it was tasty. The cake is even better the next day.

Another favorite breakfast dish (for me at least) is eggs with feta with a side of fresh bread and a pickle. But not just any pickle. You have to get the pickles from the Russian store, Europa Deli, located near Panorama Plaza in Penfield. If you do go there, you have to ask for the pickles from the bucket. They will know what you are referring to. :) I know what you are thinking… pickle with eggs? Really?? (Joel agrees with you.) What can I say… I think that it really works. :) It reminds me of my childhood. My dad used to make eggs for us all the time and we always had home made pickles with them. The fresh bread is also a must!! The eggs are simple – you just scramble them and then add some feta, salt, and a dash of vinegar. The vinegar makes them a little fluffy and adds a subtle interesting flavor. I can’t really describe it but it is tasty.

One last thing that I would like to mention. Last week, February 5th to be exact, my nephew Jack was born!

Since he lives in Brooklyn, I have not officially met him yet. With the help of technology (Skype to be exact), I was able to watch him for about 1/2 an hour. :) He did not do much. He did make lots of amusing faces. :) I might be partial, but I think that he is very adorable. I am in love with him already! I cannot wait to meet him in person. I will for sure dedicate a post describing our encounter. :)

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I know that my posts have only been about food so far. What can I say… I really enjoy food! I did go for a bike ride on Monday evening and it was lovely. I had great company, the ride was very scenic, and I saw an amazing sunset. Ok, back to the food…

I am a sucker for crêpes! I especially love crêpes filled with a thin layer of jam. I could eat them all day. Crêpes for me are comfort food. I grew up making and eating them. My mom would make the batter in a huge pot, which would yield maybe a 12 inch stack of cooked crêpes. It would take us hours to make them. I remember one incident that makes me laugh every time. I grew up on the 7th floor of an apartment building in Bucharest, Romania. Our kitchen window looked onto a small courtyard where the residents parked their cars. My cousins were over so we decided to make crêpes. As we tried to flip a crêpe (I don’t remember exactly who was making it), it hit the ceiling and fell on the floor. My cousin quickly picked it up and threw it out the window. It landed on a car! :) We could not stop laughing. :) Imagine walking out to your car and seeing a crêpe on the car’s hood. It was very funny! My mom was a little annoyed at first but thought it was pretty funny as well.

Whenever I visit a city, I always search to see if that city has a crêperie. We recently visited my sister- and brother-in-law in Madison, WI. As we were thinking about places to go for breakfast, I asked if there was a crêperie in the area. We quickly Googled crêpes in Madison, and we found one. I was ecstatic!! :)

Breakfast at Bradbury's in Madison, WI.

Breakfast at Bradbury's in Madison, WI.

Bradbury’s is one of the greatest crêperies I have ever visited, and I have visited a bunch of them (I have been to crêperies in France, Romania, Toronto, California, and here in Rochester). The place was just lovely! If I were to open a crêperie (which I have thought and dreamed about), it would be just like Bradbury’s.

My crêpe. YUM!! :)

My crêpe. YUM!! :)

The restaurant was very small, but that is what I loved about it. The atmosphere was cozy and warm. And the crêpes were to die for! The coffee was amazing too, which is difficult to find around here. You can tell that the owners really thought about the space and the quality of their products. They also use only local ingredients from farmers around that area, which I love!

Cappucino

Cappucino

Who can resist a crêpe and a good cup of coffee? My kind of breakfast! :)

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