The Cucina Bella Gang Invades Sweetnicks

by Cate on September 21, 2009

This weekend, we had a houseful of visitors as the gang from Sarah’s Cucina Bella came to experience a little bit ‘o Jersey life.  I gotta say, it was a lot of (fun) pressure to try and plan a weekend that would be enjoyable for the kids (she has two also) and speak to the foodie in her as well.  There’s, of course, no way I could possibly show her everything that makes New Jersey so grand, but I went for a nice cross-section with an itinerary that wouldn’t leave us exhausted.  At least that was the plan.  I think I may have succeeded on all counts except exhaustion, because by the time Sunday night rolled around, I was spent.  Totally and completely.  But in a very good way.

The Gang

We started off with a local flea market and then I introduced her to pasties.  When I mentioned pasties, our Google Talk conversation went something like this.

“I think we should get pasties over the weekend,” I suggested.


“Pasties?  You mean like the things women use to cover up … um …”

“There’s more than one kind of pasties, woman.  Go on and go look it up.”

Then she starts copying and pasting the definition, and before she could finish, I told her to go look at the second definition.

“Yeah, yeah…” came the reply.  Good.  I’d be introducing her to something new.

So Rocky’s pasties for lunch in a local playground so the kids could run around.

Paige at the Park

Then nap time.  For the kids.  Unfortunately not for us.

Once they woke up, we packed them up and headed to Candyland Crafts so her mind could be slightly blown by the sheer sprinkle selection.  Which reminds me.  I’m pretty sure my own sprinkle bag is still in the car.

Dinner was at home after a quick stop at the grocery store.  On the way back from the store, Nick saw we were going to pass by Rita’s and started negotiating for a stop.  At first I said no, but when Sarah mentioned she had never been to Rita’s, Nick got lucky and I had to stop.  I mean, c’mon, let Sarah miss out on the fun that is Rita’s?

For dinner, we let the kids make their own pizza, and we made a more grown-up version (more on that tomorrow).


Sarah made her delicious artichoke risotto studded with Kalamata olives.


Mom Juice to wash it all down.  Kids finally in bed, we sat down in the living room to eat and happened to catch the second half of Dirty Dancing.

Sunday morning, we headed out early to the farmer’s market and then a local farm to feed the animals and do some apple picking.

Group Pick

Maddie Apple Picking

(What a difference a year makes – those cheeks!)

Back home for nap time and then another field trip to a new cupcake place that I discovered this summer (more on that later this week).


I didn’t get to cram everything in that I wanted to, but it was sure fun trying – there’s always next time!  You can check out Sarah’s site for more details and pictures.

Tomorrow?  Pesto Shrimp Scampi Pizza with Melted Cambozola.

A year agomenu planning.
Two years agoa sad anniversary (didn’t realize it had been two years already) and a good dinner.
Three years agothe debut of Rachael Ray’s talk show and a seven-minute dinner.
Four years agooh my gosh, the baby face!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Starnesfam September 21, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Yes, if it was another kind of pasties, this could be a whole different post. :)

Dirty Dancing. The best…..reminds me of my childhood…..saw it dozens of times in the theater. Literally.


Sarah Caron September 22, 2009 at 12:17 am

Psst! Thanks for having us! Will can’t stop talking about all the things we did (especially the last car ride … doesn’t that figure?). We’re happy to invade anytime!


unconfidentialcook September 22, 2009 at 12:50 am

Adorable!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and please come again….


Joanne September 22, 2009 at 6:17 am

Meeting up with fellow bloggers is always fun. It’s funny how much you feel you know someone after reading their blog religiously for a while.


Kris #40 September 22, 2009 at 8:24 am

Never been to Rocky’s although I’ve heard of it. I’m sure my hub would love these.

Can’t wait to hear more of that pizza – my mouth is watering!

I’m due to a Candyland run again. I need some green and yellow sprinkles, for my Morris Knolls treats and some black and light blue for some Blue Angels tailgating (which reminds me I have to make Oreo Truffles for this weekend – or possible some more cakeballs).

Love the pics!

And lastly, I’d be happy to share some mom juice with you anytime! Still haven’t made this – although I just found the recipe in a pile on my counter the other day.


The Neighbor (Wife) September 22, 2009 at 8:54 am

So funny, We were at the farm on Saturday afternoon!


Ramona September 22, 2009 at 9:02 am

Looks like ya’ll had a grand time. Bet everyone was tired!



Jaimie September 22, 2009 at 11:47 am

Sounds so fun! Those pasties sound wonderous!


Kalyn September 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I love it that you two got together. Last time I asked Sarah, you hadn’t met each other. Sounds like a fun time.


Michele September 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Where in New Jersey are you? I thought we lived pretty close. I never had a pasty before either and I never heard of that candy shop. In my defense I’m still fairly new to NJ! I plan on making artichoke risotto for the first time this week. I just bought baby artichokes at lunch so I’m off to check out your friend’s recipe to see if there are any tips I need to know! Great post!


Cate September 22, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Starnesfam – lol, you ain’t kidding! Re: Dirty Dancing — I’m totally there with you. I remember the first time I saw it in the theater — and the three times I went back just that first week alone. Can’t wait for Fame to open up this weekend!

Michele – Morris County. Pretty sure we’re fairly close. Rocky’s is definitely worth a visit – it’s a well-kept secret. I know people who live in Wharton (and have for years) and didn’t even realize it was there. :)

Kalyn – yeah, considering we talk many times a day, for the past few years, it was time. We met last year, and spent the day at a taping of Martha Stewart, and then speaking at a conference for The Voice of Mom. Next stop: BlogHer NYC! You going?

Jaimie – total tummy-warming food.

Ramona – completely exhausted, but in a good way. :)

Kris – total guy food. As far as Mom Juice, you’re on. Maybe a Soup Night in the fall?

Joanne – I know, right? Weird, but familiar.

Sarah – lol, yeah that last car ride was a wild one!


mandy September 22, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Ritas has a special place in my heart. Sounds like a great visit!


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