Pat’s Pizza, Orono, Maine

 Posted by on September 6, 2012  No Responses »
Sep 062012
 

 

If you live in Maine, then you’ve certainly heard about Pat’s Pizza.  If you don’t live in Maine, then I pity you for not being able to try this amazingly delicious pizza!  Pat’s Pizza has several locations throughout the State of Maine – Hampden, Orono (my personal favorite), Augusta, Presque Isle, Lincoln, Ellsworth, Hermon, Auburn, Yarmouth, Old Port, Windham, Bethel, Scarborough, and Sanford.

 Pat’s Pizza, Orono, ME 

“Pat” Farnsworth opened Farnsworth’s Cafe back in 1931.  He started his business with only $175.00, and put a lot of time and effort into turning it into a full service restaurant.  Pizza was added to the menu in 1953, and is now their most popular item.  Along with the addition of pizza to their menu, came the change of their restaurant name to “Pat’s Pizza”.

The thing I love most about Pat’s Pizza, is the sauce.  I have never tasted another pizza with a sauce like this before.  It truly stands out, and I could easily pick it out of a line up of other pizzas.  It’s really quite savory tasting, which I tend to prefer over sweeter tasting sauces.  This very special sauce was developed by Pat and his wife Fran.

Over the years, Pat’s Pizza has become a favorite of University of Maine students.  I recall having Pat’s Pizza for the first time while my best friend’s sister was attending school there, and I was instantly hooked on it!  It has been said that an education at the University of Maine in Orono, is not complete without trying a slice of Pat’s Pizza.  I completely agree.

Lucky for me, I work pretty much right next door to Pat’s Pizza, and can have it whenever I want!  My personal favorite is the taco pizza.  It is the most unusual and delicious pizza I have ever tasted.  This pizza does not have Pat’s special sauce on it, but instead has a sauce made from taco sauce and cheese (I think it’s some sort of con queso).

While I do love Pat’s special sauce, there’s just something about this sauce that I can’t get enough of!  Nestled on top of this sauce, is a combination of finely chopped onions (I really hate it when pizza places put HUGE onion slices on their pizzas, don’t you?), green peppers, hamburg, tomatoes, lettuce and crushed Doritos!  Yes, there tomatoes, lettuce, and crushed Doritos on this pizza!  It is absolutely amazing.  Because there are so many toppings on this pizza, they use an extra layer of dough (called double dough) to hold it all up, so it’s much easier for you to eat without making a mess all over the place.  This pizza is EXTREMELY filling, but I’ve been known to devour an entire small one by myself at times…  it’s just.so.good!

My co-worker and I had Pat’s Pizza for lunch today.  She ordered a chicken caesar salad (which is also delicious!) and I ordered a spinach and garlic pizza.  I was craving both spinach and garlic in a bad way for some reason (I think it was my body’s way of telling me I was lacking some important things).  I was absolutely STARVING by the time I picked it up, so upon opening it, I devoured a slice before I could even take a picture of it.  Sorry!

The crust is nice and crispy around the edges, the cheese is cooked just the way I like it – not all gooey and sliding off the pizza.  There’s lots of finely chopped spinach scattered all over it, and very finely chopped garlic pieces, that I could smell the second the cashier put it down on the counter in front of me.  I ate.the.entire.thing. in about 10 minutes!

Pat’s Pizza carries a wide variety of other items on their menu as well, including lasagna, spaghetti, sandwiches (hot and cold), breakfast, salads, calzones, and lots of different appetizers.  One of my favorite appetizers are their cheese breadsticks.  Oh.my.gosh. they are the BEST cheese breadsticks I have ever tasted.  They pretty much create a cheese calzone, without the sauce in it, then slice it up into cheese breadsticks.  This is served with a tub (or two!) of their special sauce.  They are to die for!

So, if you’re ever in Maine, check out Pat’s Pizza for one of the most delicious pizzas you have ever had!

 

 

Sep 052012
 

 

If you read my earlier post from today, you already know I’ve been having a pretty rough day.  I spent most of my lunch break from work out in the car crying.  I miss my parents.  I can’t stop thinking about what they’re going through right now.  Living in a hotel room, in a strange city, far away from their small hometown for an entire month.  My Dad being poked and prodded, and tested for everything under the sun.  My parents were both born and raised in the same area they live now.  They are definitely homebodies and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Maine woods.  Now, they’re in Chicago of all places!  Why couldn’t this stem cell treatment be done in Boston or something?!  At least then I could drive down to see them on the weekends.

Anyway, so, after spending an entire hour crying in my car today, I was just not in a great mood this afternoon.  One thing that pretty much always makes me feel better is ice cream, so I asked my boyfriend if he would mind going to Cold Stone Creamery with me after work to spoil our dinner by stuffing our faces full of ice cream.  Being the awesome boyfriend that he is, he immediately said he’d love to go with me.  I had a coupon good for a BOGO free ice cream because my birthday is coming up very soon, on the 9th to be exact (hint, hint for all of my family & friends out there reading this!).  So, not only did we get to eat amazing ice cream, we got one of them for free too!

My boyfriend went with Berry Berry Berry Good, and because it was in celebration of my birthday, I decided on the Birthday Cake Remix.  This one is usually made with a birthday cake ice cream base, but they were all out, so I chose sweet cream instead.  Then, they threw in some amazing brownie chunks, fudge, and yummy sprinkles!  My ice cream was awesome!  I wish I had been able to try it with the birthday cake ice cream, but it was still great.  Sure enough, a belly full of ice cream seemed to cheer me up a bit.

coldstone creamery birthday remix

After we got home, I checked the mail, and I had received a birthday note from my best friend’s Mom, my “second Mom”.  My friend and I have been best friends for 24 years.  Can you believe that?!  Her parents had a house just two houses down from my parents, and when my family moved to town, Terri and I connected almost immediately, and became inseparable.  Earlier this year, Terri’s parents moved to Florida.  So, not only did I lose my parents to another state temporarily, but I lost my second parents to another state as well…  It’s been a pretty rough year.  This birthday note though, it really made my day.  To know that she was down there in Florida thinking about me, that was really awesome and brought a smile to my face.  So once again, thank you Jean for cheering me up today!

What about you?  What things cheer you up when you’re having a rough day?

Sep 042012
 

 

This post is late, but a couple of months ago, July 21, 2012, to be exact, my boyfriend and I visited Vaughn’s Woods, also known as Hobbit Land, in Hallowell, Maine, with my younger sister, Angela.  My sister lives near this beautiful place and visits quite often, but this was the first time visiting for my boyfriend and I.  We fell in love with this place.  It’s so beautiful and peaceful.

Vaughn’s Woods, Hallowell, Maine

I can’t wait to go back to Vaughn’s Woods!

Overwhelmed with Emotion

 Posted by on September 4, 2012  No Responses »
Sep 042012
 

 

I am filled with so many different emotions right now.  I’m anxious, sad, scared, nervous, reminiscent, and hopeful all at the same time.  What is causing me to feel this way, you may ask. Well, this past Saturday, my boyfriend, two younger sisters and I drove 2 hours south to meet my parents at the airport.  My parents took a flight to Chicago (we live in Maine) and will be there for an entire month before returning home for a 3 week period, and flying back out to Chicago for another full month.

Seeing Dad off at the Airport

My father has a rare condition called CIDP. CIDP stands for Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy.  This is an auto-immune disease, which means his very own immune system is attacking his body, and in particular, eating away the outer lining of his nerves.

This condition causes my father a lot of pain, fatigue, muscle aches, burning and shooting pain throughout his body, numbness in his hands and feet, loss of strength and more.

My father is only 51 years old.  He worked in a paper mill since the age of 17, and supported my Mom, my two sisters and I by working very hard shift work, and taking as many overtime shifts as he possibly could.  Around 1999-2000, my Dad began taking classes at a local college, towards earning a degree in Mental Health and Human Services.  On top of working overtime shifts in the paper mill, he attended classes, and maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his college years.  He now has his Master’s Degree, and works as a Substance Abuse Counselor for Manna Ministries.

 

About 5 years ago, my Dad started having numbness in his feet. Having worked in a paper mill, which entailed standing on a concrete floor for hours at a time, he didn’t really think much of it.  He let this go on for a while before finally seeing a Dr.  One day my Dad was having severe back pain, so my Mom forced him to go to the ER to be looked at.  The ER referred him to a neurologist.  After many, many tests, it was found that my Dad had CIDP.

 

My Dad was put through every treatment there is for CIDP.  He tried IVIG, which is intravenously administered antibody extracted from plasma of 1,000 donors, immunosuppression, which reduces activation of the immune system, steroids, and plasma exchange.  None of these treatments really helped my Dad, and actually made him feel much worse.

 

For years, while he was working in the mill, my Dad got little to no sleep for days on end because he was working so hard.  In his free time, he would take my family camping, go hiking and biking for miles and miles at a time, climb mountains, maintain a huge vegetable garden and more.  He was always an over-achiever, and still is to this day.  He works a 40 hour week every week counseling people, even though it takes a toll on his body.  He is such a strong man, and a true inspiration.  He forgets about his pain, so that he can help others with theirs.  This is how my Dad has always been.  He is the most loving, giving man I know.

 

Now, because of CIDP, my Dad can barely walk.  He uses a walking stick, and stumbles and even falls down quite often. People who don’t know my Dad, and his condition, often think he is drunk because he cannot walk straight, and without stumbling.

 

The last time my parents went out to eat at a restaurant, my Dad lost his balance and fell into another man.  He was mortified, and vowed that his restaurant days were over, because he has such a hard time walking through their narrow paths, and he also has a hard time feeding himself without his hands constantly shaking. Some days his hands don’t work right, and he doesn’t even have enough strength to turn the key to start his car.  This is very humiliating for him.  He has always been a very proud man, and now he has to rely on other people to help him do simple tasks, like starting a vehicle.

 

Earlier this year, my Dad contacted staff at Northwestern University regarding their Stem Cell Transplant Clinical Trial Study for CIDP, and has been accepted into the program.  About 40 people have now been through this trial study, and most are showing drastic signs of improvement, and having been cured of CIDP.

 

Their flight to Chicago on Saturday was just the first step in my Dad’s stem cell transplant.  My parents will have to stay in a hotel (which they have to pay for out of their own pocket) for an entire month, while my Dad receives outpatient treatment at Northwestern University.  He will undergo many tests, and receive medications to stimulate stem cell growth.  He will have his stem cells harvested.  He will also receive a shot of chemo to see how his body will react to it, and then he and my Mom will fly back home to Maine for 3 weeks for a resting period.

 

My parents will then fly back to Chicago at the end of October, and my Dad will be admitted to the hospital for another month.  During this month, my Dad will go through chemotherapy to completely destroy his immune system.  He will have no immune system left at all.  Then, they will infuse the stem cells they harvested, to build him a brand new immune system.  It will take TWO years for his immune system to be entirely back to normal.

 

During their time in Chicago, my parents will not be able to work. They are both currently working full time.  My Mom works very hard as a CNA for a nursing home.  This procedure is going to cost my parents at least $50,000 out of pocket.  They will have flight, hotel and food expenses as well.  This is really going to put a hardship on them.

 

This procedure has been proven to work in other patients. There are other patients who are now walking and running, are pain free and not on any medications at all. I want this more than anything for my Dad.  He has worked so hard all of his life, and he is still very young, and has many years ahead of him.  I want him to be able to enjoy those years, instead of watching his body grow weaker and weaker.

 

Here is an amazing video done by a recent stem cell transplant recipient, that explains CIDP and the stem cell treatment process.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18-HW1A_18g  This video has been a true inspiration to me and my family.  My Dad will be meeting Andy, the man in this video later this month.  I can’t wait to hear about their visit.

 

My Mom, my sisters and I want my Dad back more than anything.  He has been going through hell for 5 years now, and he doesn’t deserve this at all. The treatment he will be going through is going to be absolutely awful.  He is going to feel very sick for a while.  My Dad deserves to live a normal, healthy, pain free life.  Once this treatment is all done with, his goal is to open up his own counseling office to help others in need.

 

I’m anxious because I’ve never been this far away from my parents for this long of a time.  They’ve always lived an hour north of me.  While I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, just knowing they are within driving distance eases my mind.  Now, they are a 2.5 hour (and $500+) flight away from me.  They are in a different time zone.  For an entire month, and will be for another month later this year too.

 

I am sad, because I miss my parents.  I truly miss them.  Chicago feels SO far away to me right now.  I text with them, I talk to them on the phone, I keep up with them on Facebook, but it’s just not the same as having them here in Maine.

 

I am scared.  I am scared of my parents being in such a big city for so long of a time.  You always hear about all the crime that happens in big cities.  I pray that my parents are safe at all times.  I am scared at the thought of my Dad not having an immune system for such a long period of time.  To hear those words “no immune system” just brings so much fear to me.  That’s such a scary thing to think about.  Can you imagine not having an immune system??

 

I am nervous.  What if something happens to my Dad while he’s there?  They are so far away.  What if this doesn’t help my Dad?  What if all of this was for  nothing?

 

I am reminiscent.  As my parents take this journey together, I can’t help but flash back to my childhood and think about the good times we had.  The times when my Dad was healthy, and I felt so safe in his care.  He has always been a wonderful provider, and the strongest man I know.  I think back to all of the places my Dad took us – camping, trips to Santa’s Village & Story Land, hiking Maine’s beautiful trails, climbing Mt. Katahdin, the Caribbean cruise he took our whole family on…  I have so many great memories with my parents.  I miss them tremendously right now.

 

I am hopeful.  I am hopeful that this treatment is going to work for my Dad.  I am hopeful that six months down the road, he will show a drastic improvement in his health.  I am hopeful that this CIDP will BE CURED.  I am hopeful that my Dad will feel strong again.  I am hopeful that he will not have to rely on a walking stick to walk anymore.  I am hopeful that my Dad’s life will return to normal, and that he will see all of his dreams come true.

 

Dad and his dog, Baxter

 

I feel like this whole thing has happened for some reason.  A reason I don’t quite understand, but I know this had to have happened to my Dad in order to teach a lesson.  Whether it be to my sisters and I, to appreciate our parents more, or to be inspired by what my Dad has gone through, and goes through on a daily basis.  Whether it be to my Mom, who has been forced to come out of her shell since this whole thing started.  She was always so nervous and timid around people, and now she’s been thrown into an unfamiliar city, surrounded by complete strangers.  Whether it be to my Dad, to teach him to slow down, and to put himself first for once.  I don’t think there has ever been a time in his life when he has put himself before others.  Now, he needs to.  He needs to focus on getting better.

 

My Dad, the strongest man I know, got this debilitating disease that has weakened his body and his spirit.  For most people, this would be absolutely crushing.  If this had happened to me, I don’t know that I could push through the pain enough to work a 40+ hour work week.  I don’t know that I could still meet with patients on a daily basis to help them with their problems, when I have plenty of my own to deal with.  I don’t know that I could look this treatment in the eye and take it on, knowing how scary it is, and knowing the pain and misery it’s going to cause at first.

 

For whatever reason, this path was chosen for my Dad.  He is strong enough to go through this.  The doctors at Northwestern University will learn more because my Dad went through this procedure.  They will be closer to announcing a cure for CIDP, and to using this same treatment to cure other diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and MS.  There is a reason for all of this happening.  We may not see it just yet, but it’s there.

 

This is a picture of my Mom and Dad atop of Mt. Katahdin, taken before my Dad got sick.  He used to love hiking.  This stem cell treatment is one more mountain my parents have to climb together.

 

At the top of Mt. Katahdin

Orange Dream Cupcakes Recipe

 Posted by on September 3, 2012  1 Response »
Sep 032012
 

 

So, a few months ago, I had a brilliant idea.  Yes, it has taken me several months to finally finish writing this post!  Anyway, a few months ago, I still had a bottle of Blood Orange Infused Culinary Oil from Extravagonzo Foods from when I did a review from them.  I had seriously been craving oranges around that time for some reason, and had the urge to bake something orange flavored.

I had previously added this oil to brownie batter to add a hint of orange flavor, but this time I wanted the orange flavor to take center stage.  The first idea that popped into my head were Orange Dream Cupcakes.  I imagined those delicious orange creamsicle pops, only in cupcake form. Then, began my experiment.  Take a look at how it turned out:

 Orange Dream Cupcakes

Orange Dream Cupcakes

Creamy orange-flavored frosting, topped with a gummy orange slice.

Orange Dream Cupcakes

This orange-flavored cake was super moist and delicious.

Orange Dream Cupcakes

Oh yes, I did.  Just when you thought this cupcake  could not get anymore delicious, I filled them with light & fluffy marshmallow cream too!

Now that you’re drooling all over your keyboard, I’m happy to share my recipe for these amazing Orange Dream Cupcakes with you!

Ingredients: 

Set Your Oven to 350 degrees F.  Place cupcake liners in your cupcake pans.  This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

 

Then, combine cake mix, eggs and oil in bowl and mix until well moistened.  Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 with the cake batter.  Bake the cupcakes for the amount of time it says on the box (sorry, it’s escaping my mind at the moment!).

 

When the cupcakes are done, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool completely.  While you’re waiting for them to cool, go ahead and make the filling:

 
Marshmallow Cream Filling:

  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine water and salt in a small bowl until the salt is dissolved.  Allow the salt water to cool.  In a separate small bowl, beat the marshmallow creme, shortening, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until it’s light and fluffy.  Then, add the salt mixture and stir until combined.  Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert round pastry tip. Fill the bag with cream filling.
Once your cupcakes have cooled completely, go ahead and push the tip of your pastry or plastic bag through the top of the cupcake to fill it with the cream.

 

After you have filled all of the cupcakes with the marshmallow cream filling, combine the remaining  2 tablespoons of Blood Orange Infused Culinary Oil (or your homemade oil) with the tub of frosting.  It may become a little bit runny.  If so, stick it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden it up a bit.  Frost all of your cupcakes with the orange flavored frosting.  To decorate, place a gummy orange slice on top of each cupcake.

 

Enjoy!  :)