Osteria, Moorestown, NJ

On November 25th, Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin opened their second location of Osteria.  Jay and I were lucky enough  to be able to try it before  they even opened!  We even bumped into our good friend Lisa – and we were all able to enjoy Osteria together.
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Located at the Moorestown Mall, in Moorestown, NJ, diners can now experience a memorable and unique Italian dining experience that once only existed in Philadelphia.
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Whether diners choose one of the 100 wines available, an Italian beer, or specialty cocktail, there is a beverage to wet everyone’s whistle.
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The dining room is welcoming, warm and filled with authentic Italian charm and rustic appeal.  Diners can enjoy the dining room or sit at the bar, where food is prepared before their eyes in an open kitchen.
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The ingredients are fresh, simple, vibrant and seasonal.  Menu items include house-cured meat, handmade pasta, pizza, fish, and vegetables.  Pastas are handmade – a real Italian specialty  and treat.
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While every item on the menu should be tasted, the star of the show is the wood-fired pizza.  Each pizza is carefully crafted and cooked to  golden perfection.  The crust is perfectly crisp, with a gooey, melty, flavorful  center.   A must try!
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No Italian meal would be complete without a sweet  ending.  Dessert, or Dolci, changes seasonally as well and diners are in for a fantastic treat – especially if bombolini – an Italian filled donut – are on the menu!
Now that Osteria is open – go give it a try!  Located  at the Moorestown Mall, it is a convenient spot whether you live in NJ or are  in the area shopping.  Dining hours are 10 am – 10 pm Sunday – Thursday and 11 am – 11 pm Friday and Saturday.  You are going to love one of my favorite Italian restaurants!

Cheesesteak Pockets

As it gets chillier by the day, I have been looking forward to cooking comfort  foods and baking.  This recipe was something that Jay and I dreamed up after watching a commercial for sloppy joes inside of crescent rolls.  Brilliant!  Moments later we were discussing all of the tasty  things you could put inside crescent rolls or biscuits.  And that was when cheeseteak pockets were born!  This  recipe is easy, quick and tasty.

Cheesesteak Pockets

Recipe yields 3 pockets
You will need:
Ingredients:
  • 1 can of biscuits (any brand will work)
  • 1 package of sliced steak such as Steak Ums or thinly sliced beef
  • 3 slices of American Cheese
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • A few tablespoons of  flour
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
Tools:
  • Baking sheet
  • Foil
  • Rolling pin
  • Sautee pan
-Preheat  oven to 350
1.) Begin by lining a baking sheet with foil and spraying the cooking spray.
2.) You will need one biscuit per cheesesteak pocket.  Sprinkle some flour on your surface and roll each biscuit until it is flat without ripping.  Set rolled out biscuits on baking sheet and set aside.
3.) Spray a small amount of cooking spray  in pan.  Add onion to pan and cook until  soft.  Add steak to pan and cook until no longer pink.  If you are using Steak Ums, one sheet is enough per pocket,  and if you are using fresh beef, I would use  the whole package and evenly  divide  the meat per  pocket.  The meat  will  cook very quickly, about 5 minutes total.  Add Worcestershire sauce  and stir onion and steak together.  Season with salt  and pepper  Allow to cool.
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4.) Evenly distribute meat and onion mixture among flattened biscuits.  Top with one slice of cheese per pocket.
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5.) Fold pocket over and pinch edges. Spray  tops with cooking spray.
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6.)  Bake  for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.   Enjoy!
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The great thing about this recipe is that it is obviously customizable.  You can add peppers, more cheese, substitute chicken… anything goes!  While this dish isn’t particularly  healthy, you could add a salad and make it a little better for you.  Or do what we did and add tater tots!!!
Try  this recipe  for dinner and I bet you’ll wonder what you can put inside a biscuit or crescent roll next!

Shrimp Salad.

 

There are some foods that will always be associated with memories, and this shrimp salad is one of those.  I believe my Grandmother had this salad at a restaurant and then went on to recreate it.  But by the time I tried it and loved it, it was simply her shrimp salad.
Depending on how much you want to make, I would just double, triple or quadruple the recipe.  We normally ate this as an appetizer so you didn’t need a lot.
You will need:
    • A half pound of shrimp, cooked, cleaned and chilled. You could use fresh or frozen.
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • Half an onion (I used a white onion this time but it is best with red onion)
    • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
    • 1 lemon
    • salt and pepper
1.) Begin by cutting the shrimp into small, bite sized pieces.  Add to a bowl.
2.) Add the remaining ingredients, and stir so that everything is well mixed.  Cover the bowl and let chill for at least an hour.
3.) Serve as an appetizer, or over some fresh greens for a light lunch or dinner.

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I had to share this easy and refreshing salad before summer was officially over, though you can enjoy it year round.  No matter when you make it, I can assure you that it will be a recipe you make time and time again!

Apple Butter Brie

 

In one week I will be attending the fourth Big Summer Potluck!!!  This is actually going to be my first experience attending and I can’t wait to go.
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Prior to BSP4, Musselman’s is holding a recipe contest using their Apple Butter.  Not only do I love apple butter, but I was up for the challenge!
Apple Butter Topped Brie
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of Musselman’s Apple Butter
  • 1 wheel of brie
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place wheel of brie on an oven safe dish.  Top with apple butter and pecans and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Brie should be very soft and apple butter will be caramelized.
  3. Serve with crackers and enjoy!

 

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While this recipe is very easy, it is simply delicious!  The brie becomes so deliciously gooey, paired with the sweet apple butter that melts into the brie, topped with the crunchy pecans!
Whether you make this simple appetizer for the next gathering you have or whip it up for some unexpected guests, everyone is sure to love Musselman’s Apple Butter Brie!

Clean Eating Thoughts

During the month of June, Jay and I, as well as my sister, Carrie, and brother-in-law, Ryan, committed to eating clean.

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At first, it seemed like a definite challenge.  The first few days were pretty tough and it felt hard to know what we could and couldn’t have.  While the “rules” were easy, it was an adjustment compared to everything we normally eat.  Our goal was to eat as natural as possible, and if you did not know what the ingredients were, you did not eat it.

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In theory, only eating foods you know should be easy.  That does limit your choices though.  Eating on the outside of the grocery store makes it very easy to follow this guideline.  While some may be able to eat just veggies and meat, we found ourselves getting creative and making different recipes, such as homemade potato chips, cheez-its, tortillas, and croutons.  Of course these foods are not healthy or necessary, but they are things that we eat on a normal basis, so making homemade versions of them showed us that we can eat foods that we enjoy without eating preservatives.
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 I will say that one of the foods I avoided most was bread.  Believe it or not, there are a lot of chemicals in bread.  Even the bread that is sold in grocery store “bakeries” is not all that fresh.

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After we got the hang of things, we realized that with some adjustments and careful consideration, eating clean is possible.  Sure, you go through a LOT more dishes, and eating at restaurants may be the biggest challenge of all,  but it definitely is doable.
My favorite part about eating clean was that it brought awareness to not only what I was eating, but also those around me.  Not eating certain things definitely started conversations about my eating choices, and in turn, others would discuss how they might be able to change their eating habits as well.
So will I continue to eat clean?  Yes!  I think we all agreed that we could continue to eat mostly real food.  Sure, there will be situations where we decide to eat something that may be unhealthy, but during our regular routines, we will continue to eat clean.
It would be great if we could think that companies wouldn’t use products that could harm us or cause us problems down the road.  But the truth is that you simply need to know what is in your food, and that starts by reading labels and deciding if you are willing to put something into your body, not knowing how it will help or harm you.  And while this may be a scary thought, we are lucky enough to have this knowledge.  In a world where there are so many choices and not all of them are good, it is so important to simply be aware.
If you want to check out my other posts related to clean eating, you can read them here:

Cherry Hill Mall Restaurant Week

Have you ever experienced Restaurant Week?  Whether it has been in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, South Jersey, or your local hometown, you know that it is that magical week where you can dine at restaurants for a set price and really experience all they have to offer! 
208 This year from July 14-20th, you can enjoy restaurant week at the Cherry Hill Mall!  Participating restaurants include:
The Capital Grille
Seasons 52
California Pizza Kitchen
Maggiano’s Little Italy
Grand Lux Cafe
Bahama Breeze
Bobby’s Burger Palace
Nordstrom Marketplace Cafe
Bistro at Cherry Hill
During this time you will be able to try special menus and are encouraged to make a reservation!
Last week, Jay and I were lucky enough to sample some of the items that will be featured at the Capital Grille during Restaurant Week.
To start, we got to sample a fresh salad: Field Greens, Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Clam Chowder.
While there are many other choices on the Restaurant Week Menu, we tasted some delicious entrees that you will be able to chose from!
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Seared Sea Scallops with Sweet and Sour Tomatoes
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Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Shallot Butter
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Lobster Roll with Parmesan Truffle Fries

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Aside from tasting all of these delicious dishes, we also got to watch Executive Chef Kevin Kramer prepare both the scallops and the dry aged sirloin.
As if our taste buds weren’t already on flavor overload, we were treated to a decadent dessert!

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Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake and The Capital Grille Handcrafted Ice Cream
I hope that you’ll be able to experience Cherry Hill Mall’s first Restaurant Week and have a top notch experience!  If you do, please share where you decide to dine and how your meal was!