Our Buffalo summer top 5 list

Now that we’re officially into summer, and with this being our first summer in Buffalo, we put together our Buffalo summer top 5 list: (in no particular order)

1. Eat local: berry picking & shop the farmer’s market

Brandon and I have been picking berries for years — blueberries and raspberries are our favorites, since the picking is easy (no bending required) — and Western NY has a ton of u-pick farms. Last summer we picked raspberries, apples, and pumpkins and we went strawberry-picking a few weeks ago — perfect for a 3 foot tall individual… far less bending…

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick Farm in Clarence NY

Berry picking is in Michael’s blood!

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick Farm in Clarence NY

Yum! Strawberries!

Strawberry picking at Greg's U-Pick

Michael loved strawberry picking

We’ve also been loving all of the farmer’s markets in WNY and have made a point to buy whatever fruits and veggies (that we’re not picking) at the local farmer’s markets. We’re having fun and really enjoying the food!

2. Patio happy hours 

Winter in Buffalo wasn’t as bad as we expected (knock on wood!) but now that summer is here — there wasn’t a spring, it was skipped this year — we’re ready to enjoy the heat and humidity that is summer in Buffalo. We’re looking forward to tackling this (year old) list of patio happy hours this summer. Sun + drink & food specials + kid in school = an excellent time.

3. Camping 

We’re already making progress on this item with our recent camping trip at Letchworth Park. It’s been 10+ years since I camped and was Michael’s first time. All-in-all, we enjoyed it. It was ~10 degrees colder than we expected at night, so we have a better idea of what to pack for next time. Also, friendly skunks and raccoons aren’t cool.

Letchworth State Park 2018

Father’s Day camping trip to Letchworth State Park

We’re looking forward to checking out: Four-Mile Creek State Park, the Adirondacks (maybe Cranberry Lake with Michael’s BFF?!), around the Finger Lakes (maybe some glamping through The Quiet Place?) and any other parks you recommend in the comments below.

4. Pool time 

We moved to Buffalo and discovered the splash park with only a week left of summer. Michael loved it and was so excited for his first visit on the 4th of July. The hours are a little wonky and really cut into nap time, but we’ll get there as often as we can!

Clearfield Pool

Michael’s new happy place

5. Play tourist

Buffalo was ranked one of the 52 places to visit this year by the New York Times. While my job allows me to drive around and explore a lot, it’s not quite the same without my boys. So, I’ve been keeping track of places I want to show to them. Here are of a few of the places I’ve already found and some that I’m eager to explore:

What am I missing? Fill me in, Buffalo. We’re still new here and know we have a ton left to do!

National Doughnut Day {2018}

This week we’ll celebrate National Doughnut Day on Friday, June 1.

It seems like there is a new National ____ Day every day, but this is a holiday we can really get behind as doughnuts are some of our favorite foods.

In Seattle, we had our favorite shops and doughnuts: Top Pot (maple old-fashioned, apple fritter) and Daily Dozen Doughnuts (assorted dozen or a dozen sprinkled).

We love Daily Dozen Doughnuts so much they made an appearance in our wedding photos! {Photo by Mike Fiechtner Photography}

We were sad to leave them, but pleased to find that Buffalo is a doughnut city too! Buffalo also fancies itself an expert in wings (duh), pizza (the greasier, the better), and ice cream (it’s so good! That’s for another post!), among others.

We’ve sampled most of the doughnut-eries in Buffalo and Donut Kraze is hands-down our favorite shop. Brandon doesn’t have a favorite doughnut yet and always tries the classic or seasonal favorites. Michael always gets the white cake doughnut with frosting and sprinkles. I opt for the blueberry old-fashioned (it’s like eating just the crispy parts of a blueberry muffin) and a bagel egg sandwich that I share with Michael.

Weekend breakfast goals.

Michael and his favorite breakfast

As you get ready to celebrate National Doughnut Day the best way you know how, let me offer some ideas and recipes I found on the internet that are sure to be your new favorites:

Travel the Ohio Donut Trail with us? We’re legitimately looking into a trip…

S’more doughnuts

Triple dipped chocolate peanut butter doughnuts: Two of Brandon’s favorite flavors!

Catnip doughnut with pink frosting: I met the owner of this Etsy shop at Craft Camp last year and fell in love with her catnip toys, especially this doughnut!

If you still haven’t had your fill of doughnuts yet, keep reading some of my favorite doughnut posts:

Our current Instant Pot favorites {April 2018}

Even though we hauled our Instant Pot across the country with us on our big drive last summer, it took me a little bit of time to warm up to it.

While it’s nice to be able to saute, slow cook, pressure cook, etc in one dish, the time needed to get up to pressure (15+ minutes) is annoying and makes weeknight IP’ing (as the cool kids are saying) more difficult.

Nonetheless, I’ve persevered and have been actually enjoying our Instant Pot lately and found a few recipes I’d like to share here (and keep on record for quick reference):

Urvashi Pitre’s Instant Pot Butter Chicken from the New Yorker

We pair ours with naan, jasmine rice, and roasted cauliflower with slivered almonds and raisins.

Delicious, delicious IP butter chicken

Instant Pot Salisbury Steak With Mushroom Gravy by Live Simply

We nestle these Salisbury steaks in a bed of creamy, garlic mashed potatoes with a veggie on the side.

It’s not that photogenic of a dish and I always devour it right away, so no photos. Please use your imagination.

Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli by Savory Tooth

Michael has a soy sensitivity, so when we can avoid it, we do. Thankfully, coconut aminos exist and are delicious as a soy sauce substitute in this recipe. We sub them 1:1 and the sauce tastes so much like “normal” sauce!

IP Broccoli beef

I electronically hoard other Instant Pot tips, tricks, and recipes on Pinterest too. Check them out. And please share some of your IP favorites for me to try out!

The BEST lactation cookies

Lactation cookies: a reason to eat cookies? Yes, please!

As a breastfeeding working mom I had a little help in keeping my supply up: COOKIES!

When I was pregnant with Michael my love of chocolate chip cookies greatly intensified and I had at least one a day. My obsession didn’t end with pregnancy and my sweet craving — especially for chocolate chip cookies — has stuck with me ever since.

When Michael was still nursing, I tried a million recipes for lactation cookies — cookies with a purpose! An excuse to eat even more! — and my favorite one came from Milkin’ Mamas, but the link doesn’t work anymore, so I’m re-typing it here.

You know a recipe is legit if it’s posted in the lactation room at work and dated almost two years prior! Enjoy!

The BEST lactation cookies (Makes a lot of cookies! Bake extras to share with your lactation room friends! Freeze what you don’t want to bake now!)

  • 2 T flax seed meal
  • 4 T water
  • 1 c butter, soften to room temperature
  • 1.5 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room teperature
  • 1 t vanilla (I usually use don’t measure and just add a steady pour…)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3-4 T brewer’s yeast
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 c rolled oats
  • 1 c chocolate chip (I prefer milk chocolate!)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flax seed meal and water. Let stand for 5 minutes. (This simulates an egg in texture for baking.)
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, beat butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. Add flax seed mixture and vanilla, beat well.
  6. Add dry ingredients: flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop rounded tablespoons onto baking tray.
  9. Bake 12 minutes.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack.

Some notes: 

  • Use whole oats, not quick oats. Extra thick oats are even better.
  • Do not substitute the brewer’s yeast with regular yeast. These are not the same thing. Brewer’s yeast is available on Amazon, as well as at natural food stores.
  • Flax seed meal is available at Trader Joe’s and natural food stores.

I would make a large batch of cookie dough, bake the cookies I needed for the week and then freeze the extras, so I could bake them whenever I needed cookies.

Need other ideas for keeping your supply high? Read this post!

 

Halloween recap {2017}

While I’m very behind in posting about our adventures in Buffalo, I did want to share this year’s Halloween recap with you. Only a month late. Oy.

Michael loves the zoo these days so he celebrated Halloween as Zookeeper Michael! He dressed in his safari khakis complete with a hat, vest, and animal cookies for his friends at school.

Michael’s Halloween costume

Zookeeper Michael

One of Michael’s (and our) friends came over and we trick-or-treated around our neighborhood and met some of our new neighbors, which was nice. It only took us 45 minutes to visit 10 homes. Michael brought his zoo along with him. This was the perfect costume for the chilly Halloween night in Buffalo: Michael stayed warm!

“Trick or treat!”

I did a quick Halloween craft too. It was a Pinterest find and very easy and inexpensive. There are an obscene number of dollar stores here, which I’m getting more accustomed to frequenting for party needs. For this project you need only a couple of supplies: vase (I chose three in varying sizes), googly eyes, a roll of gauze, super glue, and a flameless votive.

Ghost votives!

How do you make these spooky ghosts? 

  1. Clean glass in lower quadrant and eye area with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Glue on eyes.
  3. Place glue in area you’ve just cleaned.
  4. Place gauze on top of glue (don’t glue your finger!)
  5. Wrap gauze around the vase, avoiding the googly eyes.
  6. As you’re reaching the end of your vase or gauze, place a dab of glue.

It’s not a holiday without some candy eyes. I colored my favorite browned butter Rice Krispies treats, added some green candy melts to the stem, and made these magical pumpkins:

Rice Krispies pumpkins!

Finally, what do you think of my cheese plate?! I love it. I also love our new local grocery store Wegman’s– and their orange cheese! It’s kid and adult friendly and was delicious!

Halloween cheese tray

Finally, Brandon and I ditched Michael to attend an adults-only Halloween party! We had a blast as Homer and Marge Simpson.

The Simpsons: Brandon and Megan

I hope you had a wonderful Halloween! I’m already thinking about family costume ideas for next year, so please share your ideas if you have any!!

Still thinking about Halloween? Check out my recaps: 2013 | 2014 | 2015.

(I didn’t do a Halloween recap for 2016!? I’ll get right on it! It was too cute not to share!)

Super Bowl eats {2017}

SuperBowl LI ~ 2017

SuperBowl LI ~ 2017

We didn’t go all out for this year’s Super Bowl, like we have in the past (2016, 2014), but we tried out some new recipes and rekindled some old favorites!

We’ll start with dessert.

Cocoa Krispies Football Treats

Cocoa Krispies Football Treats

I used my very favorite rice krispie treat recipe and swapped normal Rice Krispies for Cocoa Krispies. These take less than 5 minutes to make and they’re delicious!

Cocoa Krispie football treats

Make a batch of the rice krispie per the instructions and spread them out on a jellyroll pan instead of a 9″ x 9″ pan, making them thinner than a normal batch (about 1″ tall).

Once cooled, use your football cookie cutter to cut out your treats.

Use icing (I used store-bought icing from my pantry, but you could easily make your own) to draw on your laces.

And… Enjoy!

Cocoa Krispies football treats

Cocoa Krispies football treats

We also enjoyed a large plate of shredded pork nachos, topped with my infamous black bean and corn salsa (recipe below!), which I can’t believe I haven’t shared here yet.

We went basic (but SO delicious): shredded pork nachos

We went basic (but SO delicious): shredded pork nachos

Our delicious SuperBowl nacho plate

Our delicious SuperBowl nacho plateWe also made pretzels from scratch!

First-time, homemade pretzel bites

First-time, homemade pretzel bites

I hope you had a great Super Bowl 51. I’d love to hear about any favorite recipes from your game day celebrations!

Megan's famous black bean and corn salsa

Megan’s famous black bean and corn salsa

Megan’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I’ve committed this recipe to memory and trigger that memory by going through the colors of the rainbow: red (tomato), orange (and orange), yellow (corn), green (cilantro, lime juice), blue (no ingredient, but a stickler for Roy G Biv), and purple (shallots).

Combine the following in a bowl:

  • 1 can corn, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped (or a handful of grape tomatoes, whatever you have on hand!)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • The juice of one orange
  • ~2 T lime juice
  • ~2 T White balsamic vinegar (I haven’t tried the normal balsamic vinegar because this one is too good! Buy it. It’s worth it.)
  • A liberal drizzle of honey (maybe 1 T?)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The nachos were a hit, especially with Michael!

Nacho lover: Michael

Nacho lover: Michael

 

{Wine Wednesday} Pie & wine!

WineWednesday

I appreciate the desire for a good pie this time of year, but personably I’m not a pie person. (I much prefer to drink my desserts!) When I found this pie and wine pairing guide from VinePair though, I knew I had to share with you and plan appropriately!

wines-and-pie

I’m pretty excited to make this pumpkin pecan baked brie on Sunday for our big feast. Have you made something similar? Did you love it? Any tips?

brie

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Check out photos of our day tomorrow on Instagram!