Destination: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

My 10 year old’s dream job is to be a LEGO Master Builder. My boys play almost exclusively with LEGO—every day. LEGOS can often be found in the washing machine, in the kitchen, as living room decor, in the bathroom, and under my feet, most assuredly you can guess that they end up under my feet. When some one offered to hook me up with 4 review tickets for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester, I said yes.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester NY highlight pictures

Confession, if I had said no my kids would have found out some day and in some way and I would never hear the end of it. Quite honestly, I wanted to see what it was all about. Before we hit the road we planned our day there. You can find our plan for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester here.

The day was here. The kids were prepared….earlier than we were ready. This made for a quick and easy get away. No fighting with kids who want to sleep in. They were ready to go the night before. If you are coming from a distance make sure to plan some other fun things to do for your NYC adventure. Spur of the moment add-ons are difficult and if you aren’t prepared you will end up just going home. Be prepared to spend about 2-3 hours exploring LEGOLAND Discovery Center, then another 30 minutes in the gift shop because it’s LEGO overload for kids and the decisions are TOUGH. Yeah, they loved the gift shop.

Tip 1: if you are driving from a distance, plan a few other NYC adventures for your day or overnight trip.

After a very long car ride, we were there. Finally, we spotted the sign and it was magic. We were truly there—the moment they have waited for THEIR WHOLE LIVES. We parked in the lot right around the corner from LEGOLAND Discovery Center. We were pleasantly surprised that parking was only $3.25 for up to 6 hours. LEGOLAND Discovery Center also validated tickets so anything under 3 hours was $1.25.

We walked into the building to smiling employees, bought my husband his ticket, and bought the activity packs. The activity packs ($4) had a page for stamps that you get at every station you visit and a little trinket at the end of the tour in the gift shop. Here is where I was a little bummed. I was hoping it would be a LEGO piece or mini-figure or something they could use. They get a little LEGO plastic piece. If it has a purpose we have yet to figure it out. The kids did have fun looking for the stamps stations and the activities are great busy work for the ride home.

Then the doors opened and we were IN! *Cue angels singing*. Here they were each given a LEGO DUPLO piece that can connect to the mini LEGO also. We figured out the stamping station and learned how they make LEGOS. Dave and I loved checking out this part longer than the kids. They checked it all out and wanted to be off to the next part.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Factory Tour

Next up was the Laser Ride. We all piled in and were off to save the princess. The daddy came in first with the 10 year old coming in a close second. We won’t talk about the rest of our scores. The ride was fun, the princess was saved. That’s what matters, right?

Tip 2: Make sure you pre-book your tickets so you can save a little bit of money. Also beware that you MUST bring a child for your visit unless it is a special adult visitor event.

Then we entered NY, NY, aka Miniland. A mini city made of LEGO, that goes from day to night and back again. This was my favorite part. I am pretty sure you could be here half the day and still miss something. The amount of detail and the interactive parts of it are pretty amazing. I am also pretty certain this is one huge reason my son would love to be a Master Builder.

NYC Miniland

In the center of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester, is the soft playground for the younger kids (36 inches and under), DUPLO Village, an animal themed building area for the littles, and Earthquake Towers (DUPLO).

DUPLO Play areas LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Off the side of this main area are small centers. The LEGO Racers Speedway was a favorite for kids and daddy alike.  They each built their racer, thinking carefully about how it would play out, then tested them on both tracks. Oddly enough, without watching each other, they all chose the same basic design. The LEGO Friends area was skipped by the boys while the girl checked it out. She loved that there was a karaoke station even though she didn’t really know the song. You can choose different songs but she was too anxious to move on to the next ride.

LEGO Racer building

Friends Karaoke LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

Merlin’s Apprentice Ride played a catchy tune and was the perfect ride for kids. It was fun, like a carnival or amusement park ride, but not scary. It went “high” but in reality was probably no more than 12 feet off the ground at its highest point.

Merlin's Apprentice Ride

We finished the ride just in time for the LEGO Master Builder Academy. The kids were excited about this and were a little bummed they couldn’t bring their creations home. We got pictures though and they now know how to build their tree and bird creations at home. The cool thing about the Master Builder Academy is that what the Master Builder is doing is put onto a TV screen so the kids can see what he is doing from a different angle as he talks and teaches them. It would be cool if the creation was either included in the ticket price or cost just a few extra dollars.

LEGO Tree and Bird

Our final stop was the 4D theater. We saw a 15 minute LEGO Racer movie, and at points you feel like you are in the movie. They also have weather effects that are really cool for the kids. Careful, you might get a little wet.

LEGO Friends

Tip 3: Remember cash for tolls and bridges if you don’t have E-Z Pass. Also remember to go through the proper booth so you don’t pay extra toll. Don’t ask how I know this.

There is a nice little cafe in the center of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester, with kid friendly menu options. The Discovery Center is located in a plaza with many shops, a variety of restaurants, quick serve and sit down, and a Whole Foods Market. There many options for food and shopping available just a quick stroll away.

Blueberry Lemon Donut French Toast Bake

I can’t believe I’m posting this. Really, it’s possibly a bit scandalous to a few people because it’s so not “real” food. It’s so not simple or few ingredients, but it is so good, and easy, and delicious. You don’t even have to be a cook to make this recipe. Bing, bang, BOOM! Easter Brunch, or really, just plain decadence any day. Blueberry Lemon Donut French Toast Bake has left the building. It came, it got eaten. It’s gone—all within an hour.

Blueberry Lemon Donut French Toast Bake

Truly, it was that quick and easy. It’s Friday and that means donut day in our house. This week I stocked up on the donuts at the bread outlet. We rarely go there, and for very good reason. After all, what sense does it make to buy 1 box of donuts for $2.25 when we don’t have to choose only 1 kind, and can get 3 boxes for $6? Who needs 3 boxes of donuts in the house?

Blueberry Lemon Donut French Toast Bake

Entenmann’s Donuts may be a little too local for some of you but if you can find a lemon cake type donut you are good. I used 8 of those beauties. I recommend letting them sit a day or 2 if you buy them fresh. Using them just a little dried out is perfect.

Blueberry Lemon Donut French Toast Bake
Serves 4
Quick, easy, and delicious, this brunch type breakfast dish will be gone in no time.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 lemon cake type donuts (I use Entenmann's Lemon Crumb)
  2. 4 large eggs
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  5. Butter (to grease baking dish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Grease baking dish. (appr. 9 x 9 or 10 x 10)
  3. Beat eggs and milk together in a bowl.
  4. Add crumbled donuts.
  5. Mix and pour into baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle blueberries over top.
  7. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until edges are brown and dish is baked through.
Real: The Kitchen and Beyond http://www.realthekitchenandbeyond.com/
 

East Passyunk Happenings: Flavors of The Avenue

Flavors of the Avenue

Happy Birthday to me…just a little bit early. April 26, Flavors of the Avenue is coming back. Last year’s Flavors of the Avenue was a smashing success – SOLD OUT! This year I had the opportunity to check out a preview tour (Hence the early birthday present since I can’t go April 26), and before we even had that tour, VIP tickets for this year’s event were sold out. Rumor has it they are running low on tickets already this year so you better get your fingers moving and order your tickets. Go on, before you even finish this post, get them ordered. Then come back to finish my preview.

I love trying new foods, and my absolute favorite way to do this are food tours. You get a little this, a little that, and so many new restaurants to try and love. That means Flavors of The Avenue is perfect for me and you. Because I’m assuming you will love them too. There were 4 groups of us and I admit, I am totally jealous of the 2 groups that toured other restaurants. Not because I didn’t love our stops but because I would have loved to try them all.

From fine dining to coffee shop, there’s a “flavor” for every palate. Let’s check out what really matters—the food.

Collage of Flavors of the Avenue  preview tour

Flavors of The Avenue

  • Birra (1700 East Passyunk) – We sampled dry rub pork ribs, and while I am not usually a fan of pork ribs they were delicious. We concluded there is really no way to be refined while eating ribs so don’t be shy, just dig in. They followed the ribs up with a bread pudding. I was told it was delicious but since nuts and bread pudding go hand in hand I passed. I do have to say that Mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Cider is pretty smashing, even for a girl who isn’t into hard cider.
  • Stateside (1536), known for whiskey, wine, and small plates, served a Pom Collins. No, not a typo. Truly, a Pom Collins. This I need to try at home. I loved this drink. It was paired with a Pig Head lettuce wrap. Now this is not your grandma’s pork souse. Small squares of pig head, fried and placed in a lettuce leaf—crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I am no connoisseur of pig’s head but I liked it. 
  • Mama Maria (1637), is authentically Italian. Stepping into her restaurant is like stepping into the past. Old style decor and carpeting set the scene before you even order. We had bruschetta (what Italian meal is complete without?), meatballs, and gnocchi. Hands down the best gnocchi I have ever eaten. I would go back for the gnocchi alone. Oh, and Mama makes Limoncello. She doesn’t pass out the recipe but oh mama, limoncello is good strong stuff. Personally I like to take a shot and mix it with a strawberry lemonade but you can drink it straight if you want.
  • Cantina Los Caballitos (1651), is a place I have been dying to try for a year now. I just never got there. Inside, every day is a party. Every time I have gone past it it has been packed out. The margaritas are strong and the tacos are great. Hey, they even have a vegetarian taco. I am all about the beef though. I do love my Mexican food. I’m headed back to sample other things on the menu.
  • Plenty (1710) a quick serve gourmet coffee shop, smells divine. Step inside and just take a deep breath. The scent of espresso calls to me like home. I was so ready for a cup of coffee or a latte. But, it was dinner and Skinny Girl wine was visiting the building. We were served a deconstructed Porchetta sandwich. The Porchetta Salad made me want to come back and try the sandwich. The flavors were great individually, and I bet they would taste even better on a sandwich. They kindly made me a nut-free version. (Thank you for that!)
  • Stogie Joe’s (1801)—if tavern ambiance is what you want, with sports on TV and a visit with regulars, pull up to the bar and have a drink. They apologized for the noise but isn’t that what is part of the draw? They were serving meatballs but I didn’t have a chance to look at what other food they had to offer.
  • Paradiso (1627) served us a sampler plate of a few of my favorite things. Check out their menu. So may things to choose from but I want to try the wild boar.
  • Ms. Goody (1838) at the future home of Townsend (1623)— Ms. Goody cupcake shots and a sneak peek at the soon to be Townsend Restaurant.  Ms. Goody always delivers when it comes to cupcakes. No matter what, no trip to East Passyunk is complete without a stop for cupcakes. The minis are cute and adult friendly, but don’t share with kids. If you needed an excuse to be selfish about your cupcake, now you have one.

Here is a list of all participating restaurants: Belle Cakery, Birra, Brigantessa, Cantina Los Caballitos, Chiarella’s, El Zarape, Fond, Fuel, Garage, Ippolito’s, Izumi, Laurel, Le Virtu, Lucky 13, Mamma Maria Ristorante, Marra’s, Ms Goody Cupcake, Noir, Noord, Palladino’s, Paradiso, Plenty, POPE, Stateside, Stogie Joe’s, Townsend, Tre Scalini and Will BYOB.

What are you waiting for? If you didn’t click over to order already, I sure hope you are now. Don’t be one of those people from last year who were disappointed they hadn’t ordered in time.

#PinterestFoodie Link up #35

Whew! Long day and a last minute post but guess what! I have a rocking recipe to share. In light of Easter on it’s way I wanted to share my Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs. SERIOUSLY awesome and SERIOUSLY easy. So, here’s that post. Oh, and did I mention it includes an awesome giveaway? Some friends and I partnered up for an Easter gift for adults. All PG but amazing. Wish I could enter myself.

So, on to last week’s features and your weekly chance to share your recipes and food posts with us.

Pinterestfoodie 35 featured pictures

Avocado Quinoa Brownies | Jenn’s Random Scraps

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (No Machine Needed) | Gator Mommy Reviews

Deviled Egg Sugar Cookies | Feeding Big

The Best Potatoes You will Ever Eat, Seriously | Mommy Like Whoa