Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holiday Cookies for the Homeless 2014

Before 2015 ended, Charles and I participated in a favorite holiday program -  our 3rd annual holiday Cookies for the Homeless Drive.

Fellow Italian Club members next to the cookie collection box

The Holiday Cookies for the Homeless program is designed to bring holiday cheer, in the form of homemade holiday cookies, to residents of the Day Resource Center - Grassroots program that provides meals, showers, limited laundry and social services to homeless individuals and families in Howard County, Maryland.

This year we donated 1,300 holiday cookies to individuals and families in our town. With the help of several student clubs - Red Cross, Salvation Army, It's Academic, National Honor Society, Model United Nations and Indian Dance - we were able to increase our donation count from last year and support more people during the holidays. 
Cookies for the Homeless drop off box

Charles and I first participated in the program back in 2011(click here ) when our Grandma Alberta introduced us to the program's founder Lisa Jablonover.

In 2012 and 2013, we got our high school Italian Club involved in the the program (see here) and challenged other school clubs to a bake-off competition.  The winner receives a pizza party courtesy of the Italian Club. (see more here)

This year, Charles and I decided to bake almond snowball cookies and used this recipe here.
Holiday Cookies for the Homeless is a great program. A big shout out to founder Lisa Jablonover - who created a way for our community to do something special for families in need during the holiday. And to our Grandma Alberta for introducing us to Mrs. Jablonover and for baking awesome cookie donations.
Cookie donations ready for delivery
If you or your school club would like to get involved with the 2015 holiday cookie program, let us know and we'll connect you with Mrs. Jablonover.  In the meantime, if you'd like to help Grassroots, contact them here.

- Thomas

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cafe Normandie - Downtown Annapolis, MD

My girlfriend Gracie suggested we eat at Cafe Normandie. Located in the historic area on Main Street, the restaurant is only blocks away from the Governor's mansion, State House and the Annapolis Waterfront. 

Maryland State House

holiday decorations
There was a glass-enclosed fireplace in the center of the restaurant. How cool is that?!

Gracie ordered the tomato mozzarella prosciutto sandwich on a baguette. It was a hit with Gracie.
The bread was incredibly soft and toasty. The prosciutto, tender, the mozzarella, thick and flavorful. The restaurant gave her a sizable (object may appear to be smaller in photo) lunch portion.
I ordered the Trout Almondine, trout garnished with sliced almonds and served with green beans and carrots. This was my first time trying an almondine fish dish and OHHH BOY was it delicious. The trout was buttered and seasoned to perfection. The moist and crispy trout combined with the delectable sliced almonds and fresh vegetables made for one knockout fish entree.  I'd recommend this dish to anyone who likes seafood or almondine dishes. 
For dessert, Gracie and I shared un crepe a la fraise. This crepe is filled with fresh-cut strawberries and whipped cream topped with strawberry sauce and MORE whipped cream! Everything tasted very fresh and wholesome. Gracie said this dish was "berry" GOOD. This dish really does taste as fantastic as it looks!
Gracie and I both ordered coffee 

Gracie is jubilant that she is getting a
refill of coffee


Our waiter Travis was awesome. He had a great sense of humor and offered several suggestions that turned out to be terrific.
The bathrooms were very stylish and I felt obliged to take a picture.


Cafe Normandie Restaurant on Urbanspoon