Where to Eat: The Main Cup Middletown, Maryland

The Main Cup: My Tea Cup

There is a restaurant in Middletown, Maryland that I have wanted to blog about for a while for my Where to Eat section, but as you can tell I haven’t been blogging much lately. Today Alexis and I ate lunch there and I remembered to take some pictures, so today is the day! Let me tell you about The Main Cup.

The food there is great, but we’ll get to that in a minute, first let’s talk a little about the ambiance. Ambiance…who cares? I do, and so should you. This restaurant is in a charming historic building on Main Street in Middletown and you can read a little bit about it’s history here.

It has charming brick walls, art from local artists you can purchase and a nice homey feel. As you can see above, Alexis likes to sit at the table with the leather couches. They open early, have free wifi and I’ve been known to pop in to write in the mornings, especially when we lived on that side of the county, and enjoy a muffin or bagel, along with some hot tea. It has a laid back attitude and friendly service that makes it a very pleasant place to stop.

Now let’s talk food….

Alexis and I usually go for lunch, but Jamison and I have gone for dinner before too. I’ve never ordered anything I didn’t like. If you want to start out with a fabulous appetizer, I recommend the buffalo or crab dips. Their salads are fabulous, and so are their soups. Their burgers and pizza are extremely good too. They also have some really great fish and chips, some of the best I’ve ever had.

The Main Cup: Reuben and Sweet Potato Fries

One of my favorite things to get is their Reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries. It is perfection, especially the fries. Alexis likes to get their chicken tenders with regular fries:

The Main Cup: Chicken Tenders and Fries

They even have a fabulous selection of desserts. Alexis is particularly fond of the lava cake and I like the carrot cake a lot too. Today we tried the Smith Island Cake, which is Maryland’s official cake, the more you know! 😉

The Main Cup: Smith Island Cake

So if you’re in, or around, Middletown, stop by and check it out, or even drive over…it’s worth it I promise. Even now that we live across the county we still pop back over and now and then. You won’t be sorry you did.

Cocktail Time: Grown Up Jungle Juice

I have to admit, when it comes to cocktails, I like fruity drinks. In fact the less of the alcohol you can taste, the more happy I am with the concoction. For a while now I’ve been looking for a fruity, adult punch type drink, and I’ve never quite come across what I was looking for, so I made this. This, lovely, fruity combo that really packs a punch.

When I was finished I let Jamison taste it, even though this isn’t his type of drink at all and his face was priceless. He informed me this is similar “hunch punch” and was often served at frat parties he attended with friends. I had heard of hunch punch, but someone never actually tried during my years in college, probably because I was a huge dork, and I went to a frat party all of once in my time at UT. I wasn’t impressed and drank nothing. I might have been there for all of 30 minutes, if that long. My roommate insisted I go along with her and we walked around Frat Row after a football game. The whole thing didn’t make of an impression on me, other than not being impressed. It’s funny how that notion sticks with you. I think it was the equivalent of, “Hey, hold my beer and watch this!” and that just wasn’t me thing.

Anyway…I got sidetracked again didn’t I? I’m good at that. 😉

Another thing this reminds me of is the Jungle Juice they used to serve in the school cafeteria when I was growing up. I don’t know why, but it does. It’s probably the Kool-Aide component come to think of it; I think Jungle Juice was a fruit punch as well, which would explain the similarity. The idea of the Jungle Juice stuck though, and thus Grown-Up Jungle Juice was born.

This is definitely a drink to share. It makes a large pitcher of goodness, and did I mention how strong it was? Of course I did! 😉

What You’ll Need:
1 lid full of Kool-Aide Fruit Punch mix
1 – 12 ounce frozen pineapple juice
4 cups of lemonade
1 cup of peach schnapps
1 cup of dark rum
1 cup of triple sec
1 cup of limoncello or limoncino
1 cup of Everclear
1 bottle of sweet red wine (Note: I used a bottle of muscadine wine from Savannah Oaks Winery in Tennessee.)
1 cup of whipped cream vodka
1 cup of Absolut Mandarin vodka

First off, again let me warn you…this stuff is STRONG!! You’ve got a lot of alcohol here, mixed with a little juice, and a splash of Kool-Aide for fun. This is a stay where you are sort of drink, not a have a glass and go drive sort of libation. Stay where you are, have fun with friends, tell some stories, relax, but not drive. Do not drive.

And yes the Kool-Aide is a little low brow, but who cares…this is a fun drink, not a sophisticated sort of deal. If you want sophisticated, make some sangria. This is more of a beachy, party, have fun, be silly with your friends sort of drink.

Now let’s make some Jungle Juice!

You’ll need a very large pitcher, at least a gallon. Add all of your ingredients and stir to mix. Chill at least an hour before serving. If you want to make it really fun you can put it in the freezer and let it get slushy, like I did as you can see in the picture above, which might take a while depending on the temperature of your freezer.

Notes: You can different kinds of juice if you like. You could even leave out the Kool-Aide and add a bottle of cherry juice instead. If it’s too sweet, you can water it down with a little lemon-lime soda or even plain sparkling water.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

As some of you know Jamison is a pick eater. On top of this, a few years back, we found out he can’t really tolerate gluten. Not a big deal, but when the majority of your diet is in some form of gluten, you’ve got problems. Every once in a while, I go out on a limb and try to make something different for him to eat, though he’s not much of a “Let’s try something new!” sort of person. I get bored with his food. He suffers through, but I’m completely bored to tears, and this is how this came about.

He’ll eat bacon, he’ll eat cheese, he’ll eat potatoes, why not toss them all together and make something new. I knew it was a crap shoot whether he’d eat it or not, but hey, I like all those things too, so it was all good, and that’s exactly what this was…all good! Jamison even liked it, and Jamison liking something, especially food, well that’s not a common occurrence.

The great thing about this, is there are no wrong answers. A little more of this, a little more of that, it all works. This is also a good dish for using left over baked or mashed potatoes. I always like something that takes leftovers to a new level. It’s a win, win, win, win situation! 😉

What You’ll Need:
10-12 potatoes, baked and peeled (Note: Just fill up most of a 13 X 9 inch dish with potatoes.)
1 package of uncured, natural bacon, chopped and cooked and drained
1 cup of half and half or heavy cream, divided
1 stick of butter, melted
Sea salt (Note: If you want to just go crazy use season salt instead!)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 – 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

First you want to bake your potatoes and let them cool. Or you can use left over potatoes. It’s all up to you. You want enough potatoes to basically fill a 13 X 9 inch dish with mashed potatoes when it’s done. This go around I baked them for the recipe specifically.

Bake those potatoes, let them cool, peel the skin off. Set aside.

While the potatoes are baking, chop up a package of bacon and cook until crispy. Drain and set aside.

Next shred your cheese. I can’t stress this enough…take the time and shred it yourself. The stuff you buy pre-shredded is weird and has stuff in it to keep it “separate” and from molding. You want cheese, not fillers. It’s so much better when you start with a block of cheese and shred it yourself.

Trust me.

After your potatoes are cooled, and all of your ingredients are ready, turn your oven on and start mixing!

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl mash the potatoes with butter, 1/2 cup of half and half or cream, salt, pepper, 1 cup of cheese and sour cream. You want the consistency of mashed potatoes. If you need to add a bit more dairy or sour cream to get it right, go for it. Once you hit the right consistency stop adding. Just add a bit at a time. Sometimes you won’t need to, others you might. Sometimes potatoes are more dry than others.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray. You can use the dish you baked the potatoes in if you like, that’s what I did. Spread potato mixture in to the dish. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the rest of the cheese and all of the bacon. Then pour 1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream over the top of the cheese and bacon evenly.

Bake for for 25 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until slightly golden and bubbly.

Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You could serve this by topping it with a bit of sour cream and some chives or green onion if you wanted, but trust me, it’s good just as it is!

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Long time, no see huh?

I’ll bet you thought I’ve gotten lost and I guess in a way I have.

I needed a little blog break, so I took one. 2013 really has been a horrible year for my family as a whole, and topped with my on and off again depression, it just got the better of me for a while. Depression kind of moves in, takes up camp, drives its stakes down deep and dares you to remove them. The human psyche is such a fragile place.

Last week however I actually got back in the kitchen in a big way and I thought I’d share these muffins with you. I can’t promise I’m back on a regular basis, but I’m feeling better, and I’m feeling creative, so we’ll see where we end up from here.

For now, if you’re a pumpkin lover, grab a cuppa and make some of these muffins…you won’t be sorry you did!

What You’ll Need for the Muffins:
2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 cup of brown sugar (preferably natural)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cinnamon (preferably Saigon)
1/3 cup of oil (preferably safflower)
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1 cup of buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 – 15 ounce container of mashed pumpkin
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
Crumble topping (see below)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Prepare muffins pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, sea salt, baking powder and cinnamon until completely incorporated.

Add oil, maple syrup, buttermilk, eggs, pumpkin and bananas to the dry ingredients and stir until completely mixed.

Add batter to prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 2/3 of the way full.

Top each cup with a layer of crumble topping.

Place muffin pan on top of a baking sheet to prevent spill overs. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden and muffins stick clean.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 32-36 muffins.

Notes on the Muffins: You can add in nutmeg and/or allspice if you like. 1/4 of a teaspoon would be fine. You can also add 1 cup of raisins to the batter if you like them.

What You’ll Need for the Crumble Topping:
1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup of brown sugar (preferably natural)
1/2 cup of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 stick of butter, softened and cut into chunks

In a large bowl stir together pumpkin seeds, brown sugar and flour until completely mixed.

Add butter chunks and work in to the dry mixture with your hands until mixture is crumbly.

Use mixture in recipe above.

Notes on the Crumble Topping: You can use nuts instead of pumpkin seeds, or a mixture of the two. This is also a good topping for sweet potatoes.

Happy 10th Birthday Alexis!

It's Your Birthday Baby A!

Dear Alexis,

Yesterday you turned 10.

10.

How is that possible?

I normally write a little letter to you on each of your birthdays and post it on my blog. One day you’ll read them all, and I hope you’ll understand how much I love you, how much I have always loved you, how much I will always love you, and what you truly mean to me. Yesterday however, we were out having birthday fun and I didn’t get to write my little missive. Today I’m diving right in!

You got money from various people for your birthday as people tend to do and you couldn’t wait to go buy things. But first you wanted to make sure that you helped others before you spent anything on yourself. When I asked you what you wanted to donate to you replied, “Children and wildlife!” You have such a big heart. I love that about you.

It has been a long year. 2013 hasn’t been good to us as a family, and quite frankly I’m ready for 2014 to roll on in. We started out on January the 2nd with your aunt’s breast cancer diagnosis, we moved, school got all shuffled around, Pop had a heart attack, and that’s just a mere summary. But through it all you’ve kept good spirits. You look for the good, even when bad things happen around you. I hope that you can continue to do this as you grow older. It’s a very good skill to have.

Before you were born I would hear people say you didn’t understand love until you had a child. I used to think that was complete bollocks. I knew children I loved dearly. I loved your father. I loved family. But they were right…the minute I looked at you I was hit by a wave of emotion I had never expected. I loved you instantly, and I thought I had loved you before you were born, but I had no clue what love actually was. You were love.

You want to grow up so fast. I always tell you, “Slow down. Trust me, you’ll grow up all too soon and you’ll wonder where your childhood went.” I wonder where mine went. At 39 I can’t figure out where the time has gone. At 29, when you were born, I thought you’d be small for a long time. 10 years is a long time in some ways I suppose, but it has gone by so quickly! My beautiful baby girl has grown in to my beautiful young tween. Slowing down time is like trying to hold water in your fist…you can try, but it just runs out. And no matter how much I might want to keep you as my little girl, time has other ideas. Enjoy life. Make the time matter. Make the time count.
The Birthday Girl!

Keep your amazing spirit. Keep your love of all things and people around you. Keep being cool. Because you really are cool kid. Really, really cool. And I’m so glad out of all the moms in the world, you picked me.

Love,
Mom

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

First off let me say thank you for all the prayers, good thoughts, emails, etc. that you sent to me for my father. We really appreciate all of you. It meant a lot.

Let me give you a little update….

Daddy ended up having to have a defibrillator inserted in to his chest. The unsettling thing about everything that happened was they could never tell us exactly what happened and why. One thing they were adamant about though was, if it happened once, it would happen again, and we needed a safeguard in place to deal with what may come. Daddy’s slowly regaining strength now that’s he home and allowed to get up and move around. I stayed in Tennessee for the week he was in the hospital and the week after to help out mom and then headed back to Maryland. Alexis and I will be going back to Tennessee in late July/early August to check in. Again, thank you for all the thoughts and emails. Again, they really meant a lot to me.

And now let’s discuss some cinnamon rolls!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls: Ready to Eat

One day when I was at Mom’s house I was watching the Food Network. I’ll admit it…I highjacked the TV because I was tired of hearing the tripe on Faux News and needed a break. One of the shows in my little marathon Food Network block was was Alton Brown’s.

I love Alton Brown. Most of the time anyway. There have been shows where he’s told you things to do to make the best whatever that I totally disagreed with, but that’s a rare occasion, and as always it’s always good to remember it’s OK to disagree. For the most part he amuses me. His humor and quirky wit are fun to watch. On this day he was making cinnamon rolls. I mean who doesn’t like cinnamon rolls? I’m sure there are those out there who don’t, but I’d say they’re hard to find, and really do we want to do all that searching?

No. Not me!

Anyway…

These cinnamon rolls were amazing to look at. It was one of those times when you wish you had smellavision so you could smell them baking. There’s something so settling and satisfying about smelling cinnamon (or even just dough for that matter) when it’s baking. They were big, fluffy, absolutely awesome just to look at! I found the recipe online and left it open in a window on my iPad browser. I had to make these and yesterday I started the dough.

The dough is made the day before, rises and then you roll the dough out, fill it with the goodness of brown sugar and cinnamon, roll, cut, and put in a baking dish, cover it, and let it rise in the fridge overnight.

Easy peasy.

The next morning you let them rise for 30 minutes in an oven with a dish of boiling water underneath them for 30 minutes, remove and preheat oven to 350 F. Put them back in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, ice and eat.

Seriously, what’s not to like about that?

And when they come out of the oven, they’re browned and gooey and perfect!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls: Ready to Ice

Even the icing loves these rolls! Don’t believe me? Take a look at this heart Alexis found on hers:

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls: Even the Icing Loves These Rolls!

How cool is that?

Try these cinnamon rolls. You’ll love them!

You can find the recipe here.

Pick a Side

Mom and Daddy

Since daddy has been in the hospital all of his tests except for the heart catherization have been in the gray area. The heart cath yesterday showed that there were no blockages in his heart, which while very good news still doesn’t tell us what actually happened. None of the tests have shown the reasons behind what occurred so the only option at this point is a defibrillator being inserted in his chest to give us some of an insurance that next time, if there is one, this would be harder to happen . His doctor teased him and said, “Dude. You’ve got to pick a side!” We all laughed at that. His doctor is awesome.

After we got home I started thinking about picking a side. As we go through life we all have sides..Christian, non-christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Democrat, Republican, one side, the other, up and down. There are sides, and we as humans divide ourselves into categories, with nice little labels that “define” us. (I’ll get in to my thoughts on what defines us at another time. Trust me that’s a long rant, but right now that is irrelevant.) We are each individuals, yet we long for a side.

So I’m going to pick some sides…

I’m picking the side that is against 2013. I’m not sure what side that is yet, maybe I’ll have to make a side myself, but that’s the side I’m picking.

I’m picking the side against my sister having breast cancer. That one is self explanatory.

I’m picking the side against heart problems.

I’m picking the side of puppies and kittens, sun and warmth, ice cream and chocolate, bunnies and chipmunks, oceans and seas, and most definitely any side that keeps my entire family healthy. All of us. That makes us a side too.

I’ve picked my sides.

Have you?

Sometimes Life Throws You Curve Balls

UT Hospital Lobby border=0

Sunday afternoon I got the call I had been dreading for quite a while….

“Hi, it’s mom. We think your daddy had another stroke.”

Pit opened, free fall begin now.

They were at a church potluck. When daddy returned to the table he was carrying the entire pan of brownies from the buffet line and two pieces of cake and Mom knew something wasn’t right. She asked him what he was doing, but he had zoned out like when he had his TIA in November of 2011 and didn’t know what she was saying. My mom went over to a nurse in the room and asked her to come take a look at Daddy. By the time she looked over, Daddy was on his way to his heart stopping and not breathing. Another nurse in the room saw what was happening right as the other started rushing to daddy and they went to work immediately.

The next few hours were an adventure that none of us ever wanted to travel.

Daddy’s heart stopped.

He stopped breathing

CPR was done.

Daddy’s skin turned gray.

He was intubated.

The ambulance came.

He was taken to the local emergency room to be received by an arrogant, incompetent doctor (who will be dealt with at a future time) that acted like my father in fact hadn’t been dead for a few minutes. He wouldn’t listen to my mom…he wouldn’t listen to the paramedics…he wouldn’t listen to the people who were there, that saw what was done. He said nothing was wrong, daddy merely passed out, he never stopped breathing, his heart never stopped. He acted like he hadn’t been intubated or ever in dire straits.

But he did stop breathing, and his heart stopped beating, in a room full of witnesses with two nurses who immediately went to work.

Mom told the doctor she wanted him sent to UT hospital. His response was that UT was full and refused. When he was actually transferred the nurse told us here they never refused patients.

Monday morning came and we got a new doctor. He looked at daddy’s EKG and told mom right off the bat, “He had a heart attack. There’s no way you can look at this and not see that. We’re going to transfer him to UT. We can’t care for this here.”

Monday morning I drove down to Tennessee not knowing what would await me when I got there, but I was determined to get to my mom. At the same time, this week was my sister’s last big chemo treatment and I had planned to be with her to help out. She and I talked about it and decided she had enough friends that could help her if needed and that I needed to go ahead and come help my mom. So I did.

It is 547 miles from my house to my parents. I left at 7:45 Monday morning and got to their house at 4:30 that afternoon.

Sometimes life throws you curve balls and you have to catch them whether you want to or not. 2013 started out on January 2nd throwing us the first major curve ball of my sister’s breast cancer diagnosis. Then we got to move. Now daddy’s having heart problems.

I’m not so fond of 2013 I must say. How about you?

Still

Home Sweet Home

We’re moving.

Still.

It’s been three weeks and even with all the stuff we’ve gotten rid of, and hiring some moving guys, we’re moving crap.

Still.

I teased Jamison the last time we moved and told him if we were moving again he’d have to have get people to come in and have everything packed, moved and cleaned. Granted we did have some moving help, both the hired guys and some very wonderful friends, and the cleaning service is going to clean the other house, but I’m exhausted. I started packing and going through stuff more than 2 months ago. So in moving math that’s almost 3 months of moving.

Moving.

Still.

This time I’m not so much joking…if we move again there will be complete packing and moving service. Heck, I might even have them unpack on the other end. If we move again. And quite frankly folks, that’s a big IF as far as I am concerned, because did I mention we’re moving?

Still.

I finally got to cook a meal in this house on Monday. I had baked Jamison his gluten free peanut butter muffins he eats for breakfast, but we’ve been shuffling back and forth between this house and the old one when he gets off work a lot, and considering he doesn’t get home until 7, there hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking.

I even went wild yesterday and baked banana bread. I swear the banana’s made me do it…they kept whispering, “We’re perfect for banana bread!” and “You really should make some banana bread!” How could I not listen?

On top of all of this I’ve fallen behind in school because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done, because…you guess it…we’re moving.

Still.

But all in all I love the new house. I love my view. I love that my desk is set up to look out over the water. It’s calming to me. Alexis loves it too. Having a lake in the backyard is a novelty that isn’t fading with her. She’s a water child, just like me.

With all of the boxes still here and there, and the unpacked things, and the general chaos, I have moments of complete despair. I don’t function well when things aren’t ordered, and I can’t get it ordered fast enough. We’ll return to regularly scheduled programming soon. I have to find my kitchen in all the boxes and moving minutia. Despite all of that though, I really do love it here.

Still.

Pardon the Prolonged Absence

New House

Pardon the prolonged absence…we’re in the process of moving and I haven’t had time to sit down, let alone blog. Believe me this process seems as if it takes a billion and two years, instead of just a few weeks or months. The clutter and chaos that are synonymous with a move are really wearing on me. I don’t like disorder, it makes me grumpy and nervous.

Anyway…that’s neither here nor there. Where we we?

We’re moving from one mountain, over to another, this time with a lake in our backyard. I’ve always wanted to live next to a lake (or an ocean) as I really am a water girl at heart, so this is a huge thing for me. I’m beyond excited.

The house we’re moving to is much smaller than the one we are in now, but it has an open, old world cottage feel to the house, and it’s just perfect. It also gave us the perfect, much needed, excuse to evaluate what we had, what we actually need, and what we could get rid of. Goodwill has loved us the past few weeks, the things that weren’t worth keeping were handled by renting a large dumpster. I’m really looking forward to a much smaller, less cluttered existence, and of course a lake in our backyard!

New House: Lake in the backyard

I’ll be back soon with recipes, or food in general, I’m not sure, but soon. Jamison and I have also been discussing a complete revamp of Dianne’s Dishes, so we’ll see what the future holds. Until then, I wish you all hope and light.

Did I mention the lake?

New House: Lake in the backyard

I see a canoe in my near future. I might just have one all picked out on my Amazon Wishlist. Maybe, just maybe. 😉